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

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Five Things I Am Into Right Now, November 2014

BoredI am suffering the case of the blahs. Oh, this is not a bad thing related to my life or anything, this is related to books. I’ve done the book reviews for my local NPR station now for over a year and half. That is over 30 books. (You can listen and read my reviews via the links on this page of my site.)

See, I’m struggling through a book review by a very popular author. Some people will love the book, I am certain; others will hate it. Me, I’m just mildly disappointed and that is what gives me the blahs.

Let me start this over… I love writing a good book review. There is nothing more fun for me as a reviewer than breaking down a good book, introducing it to a listener/reader and discussing why the high points are the high points. Talking about good books is my soapbox and I like being on it, thank you very much!

I am not Dorothy Parker. She used to take a glee in writing a bad review. Me, I find it disappointing. I can do it certainly, and they are easy to do, but they do not give me pleasure. Also, I like to say more than simply “I don’t like it.” I go out of my way to explain why something doesn’t work. Okay, this could be argued as a second soapbox, but not as big or important as the other one.

But there are no soapboxes when the book is a blah, middle-of-the road, half-a-shoulder-shrug. In a way, I see this blah around me in the environment too, as all the days are gray and getting colder. Of course, the review will be written in a week or so and my life will go on. I can’t guarantee anything regarding the weather.

Let’s move on to happier thoughts! Here are the five things I think are awesome right now. Continue reading

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, September 2014

Doctor WhoOkay, let’s get this out of the way first. I’m not sure what I think about the new Doctor on Doctor Who.

Yes, I get why they cast Peter Capaldi, he is in an interesting choice with a vibe very different from Matt Smith and David Tennant. It’s a fresh choice. (I’m still not a fan of Clara, but really it would be hard for anyone to follow Amy, Rory, and River. It’s a pretty high bar.)

This maybe all because I thought the direction of the first two episodes felt off. A lot of people were excited to have Ben Wheatley direct the first two episodes (again a fresh choice), but there is a certain “buy in” that I didn’t feel in those two episodes. It almost (and this may seem cruel) felt like a fan’s version of Doctor Who, not truly capturing the spirit and energy of the show.

It was Doctor Who, it just didn’t feel like Doctor Who.

Oh, who knows? Maybe I am just bitter since Matt Smith is off the show and he was in many ways my Doctor. In a few episodes I might be singing a different tune (and I have no problem admitting when I am wrong).

You know, whatever happens, even if I get so out of it that I walk away from the show for a few seasons, it doesn’t mean I stop being a Doctor Who fan. I will still rewatch the seasons I love. For example, I still consider myself a Star Trek fan, even though I didn’t watch a single episode of Enterprise (did you hear that theme song?) and I thought the last film contradicted a lot of Star Trek norms (like, for example, remember when it was a big deal when Voyager could land on a planet? I guess the Enterprise could do that decades earlier.).

Let’s move on to more pleasant stuff than my possible science-fiction nerd disappointment. Here are five things for September. Continue reading

The Conundrum of Men in Capes

Even Superman writes!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

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, May 2013

Books! Everywhere! Books!My life revolves right now around books.

Well… let me correct that. My life revolves right now around MY books. And that is not a bad thing. A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM was just published by Madison Street Publishing (you can find it for an incredibly reasonable price on amazon.com right here), I just ordered the proof copy of MAXIMILIAN STANDFORTH AND THE CASE OF THE DANGEROUS DARE to review, and I am debating what to do with PERMANENT SPRING SHOWERS.

Remember PERMANENT SPRING SHOWERS? It was my novel experiment last year. I wrote a book in real time, one chapter a week. It was originally based on a screenplay, but that went out the window after chapter 2. It was a fun challenge and looking back I am really proud of myself for getting through it with my creativity in one piece. My hope is to find a publisher for the book later this year; of course, it really comes down to how good JANE and MAXIMILIAN do on the market (sales, reviews, etc.).

Until then, I need to be strategic around the book. Which means, as soon as I get a spare evening, I’ll probably be taking it down from my website. The page will stay up with my updates, insights and lessons learned on the process, you just won’t be able to read it. (For those that are still working their way through the book you have been warned.)

Anyway, with summer fast approaching, and the idea of a lot less on my plate, most of the things I am enjoying right now emphasize the word “fun” with only one little book reference in the list. Continue reading

Okay, am I a nerd?

The author as Chewbecca... I'm behind Pac Man.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.”

Nerd?

Nerd!?!

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

Hey Cool! My site was mentioned in the new GraphicAudio podcast!

Kind of had a neat moment a minute ago. My site and my writing was mentioned in the latest GraphicAudio podcast… and they pronounced my last name right too!

I’ve written two articles on GraphicAudio (here and here). Check them out, they do some spectacular radio work.

You can hear the audio podcast here: http://soundcloud.com/graphicaudio/all-in-your-mind-2. I’m discussed about a minute and a half in or so.

I have to say though it was a little weird to hear my name said by the narrator of their DC Comics series. Sadly, I didn’t get super powers afterwards.

Book Review: Superman by Larry Tye

I am the father of a four-year old obsessed with superheroes. And while I am always a little nervous that all of these characters seem to have fathers that meet untimely ends (How can a dad not squirm at that thought?), I have no problem playing with his toys with him and watching his shows.

This late-in-life dip into superheroes has come up with some fun discoveries for me—like GraphicAudio’s amazing radio dramatization of comic books, which I discuss here and here—as I become more and more an unintentional expert in the field of all things with capes.

Superman by Larry Tye is a wonderfully-written nonfiction account of the history of Superman from his birth to most recent times. The book is expansive, not happy with merely talking about his creators or the interesting actors that have portrayed him over the years; showing all of the impacts that the character has had on our society (religion, culturally, etc.) and his own changes as he evolves and gets retooled again and again for new generations.

This is not a simple or playful introduction, but a celebration of an icon and all of the people that made his flight possible. Continue reading

Film Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

I have a new film review up on Green Spot Blue.  It is a review of The Amazing Spider-Man.  Here is a snippet from the beginning:

For years, Peter Parker has not been able to catch a break.

I’m not talking about with the villains like Doctor Octopus or the Green Goblin, or with the girls, like Gwen and Mary Jane; no, I am talking about his issues with pop culture.

From questionable musicals to badly-written TV shows (Ultimate Spider-Man, which does not live up to its title at all) to lackluster movies, Peter Parker has had to endure it all. And he has, not losing an inch of his popularity along the way. That is a feat for any creation, even a superhero.

Growing up I was always more of a DC Comics fan, always feeling like there was “too much” going on around the Marvel universe I had to catch up on (I found the first time I picked up an X-Men to be exhausting, for example). However, I am now a dad of a superhero-obsessed, four-year old and his favorite is Spider-Man, which means I have to answer a lot of questions about this friendly neighborhood webslinger I never had to before. I am becoming more and more an encyclopedia of knowledge around him. Feel free to test me.

You can read the rest of the review (where I compare the film to the previous trilogy and dive more into my opinion on it) here. I hope you like it.

Recommending Four of GraphicAudio’s DC Audiobooks

Since I wrote my initial review of GraphicAudio’s great DC audiobook series for Green Spot Blue (here), the article continues to receive visits and I occasionally get comments and e-mails asking which of theirs I would recommend for listening first.

With summer in full swing and road trips almost every weekend, I thought this might be a great opportunity to share my four top recommendations for helping pass those long hours staring out the window at the lines on the highway.

Also, we are in the midst of a superhero summer here in the US. With The Avengers breaking box office records and the last entry in Christopher Nolan’s Batman series as well, this is as good a time as any for imagining how much more fun (and crazy) the world would be if we had a few people in capes that could fly about.

Justice League of America: Exterminators

Supposedly (based on Facebook comments), GraphicAudio will be making some new DC entries in the Fall or Winter of this year.

When they do, I hope they make some new Justice League episodes. While there are things I liked (and loved) about each of their audiobooks, there is something a lot more “fun” about the Justice League series. They aren’t weighed down by all of the drama that comes with Batman and the Crisis series; what you get is a group of superheroes (with voices that perfectly capture their characters) getting along and getting things done. When I return to listening to these audiobooks from time to time, I usually will go to one of these additions first. Continue reading