Five Things I Am Into Right Now, July 2016

This introduction has some spoilers for Game of Thrones, but seriously not a big deal. Don’t worry, I got your back.

Game-of-Thrones-Jon-SnowOkay, I have to say something about Game of Thrones. I have no choice. The fact I am only doing here as an intro is pretty surprising, since I find what we just saw happen over the season fascinating.

Every year I complain about the show. About the darkness, the violence, the aggression. Sometimes I am taking on George R.R. Martin, sometimes the writers of the show. But this season was easily the best the show had ever done.

I think a big part is that they weren’t slowed down by Martin’s books. Honestly, the last two books felt like filler for me. Something to extend the shelf life of the series as compared to moving the story forward. Obviously, the TV writers agreed with me when they cut those two books down to one season on the show.

My big love of the season is finally we are getting some comeuppance on the more villainous characters and we are getting answers to things that book readers have been debating for years. It almost makes a fan of the books want to send a thank you card and a box of chocolate to HBO.

Yet, I wonder what it is doing to Martin. It must be really hard to sit down at the computer each day and work on a book that has been spoiled for so many already. He must feel like he is just going through the motions. It almost makes me wonder if we will ever see the next two books in the series. Wouldn’t it at some point feel like writing one of those lame novels adapted from a film screenplay?

Read the book about the movie you just saw! Experience it again on the page! You loved it on the screen, just wait until you experience it again inside your head, written by someone unconnected to the screenplay or production who is just doing it for the paycheck!

Anyway, Game of Thrones is done. Here are the five things I am really into this summer not related to dragons. Continue reading

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Really??? Three Things I Can’t Believe I Was Once Into

CompassSo I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what makes up a life. What is truly important and what is, honestly, fluff. Or better yet, what milestones make us who we are, that make our life the final story it will be? The marks on our compass. Is this something important, for example, or just another day, something that will be forgotten.

Okay, I know this sounds like heady stuff, but stick with me. The shift is about to happen.

Yet, for me, as I pondered these deep thoughts I kept returning to things I was once into, especially things that now make me feel a little, honestly, humiliated. We all have those. I can easily name right now a hundred friends on Facebook that were into New Kids on the Block when they were in high school. (To those friends I’ll like to say: “Yes, you should be embarrassed; and, no, going to see them in concert now is not a good idea. You are watching people in their mid-forties pretending to be teenagers because they need the money.”)

Here are three things right now that make me blush. I can’t say why, they just do. And if I could go back in time I might have a few words with myself. Maybe even pat the past me on the back and say:

It’s okay, but you know this is kind of lame… No, seriously lame… Not boy bands lame…. Nothing you have liked has ever been that lame, Scott. So no worries… But lame, yes.

You know, looking back over this intro, let me correct myself. I just wanted an excuse to talk about three things that I’m not into anymore. (And by the way, I always thought boy bands were lame.)   Continue reading

Thoughts on The Winds of Winter

winds-of-winterAre there spoilers at this point? No! Read away!

On New Year’s Day, George R.R. Martin dropped this literary bomb on his readers (here).  Boom! And you can still feel the aftereffects of the explosion reverberating over the comments and fansites even today.

Yes, the next novel in his A Song of Ice and Fire series will not be out before the next season of Game of Thrones. Which means the show will pass the book, spoiling what George had planned to do in the rest of the series.  Jon Snow, your death secret is about to come out!

Let me get this out of the way… I never saw the book series as perfect. I know, I know, heresy! Blasphemy! String this guy up and call in the silent sisters to take away the corpse! But the fact is that while I found the first two books very solid, things started to come apart for me during the third book and then came the mess that was the fourth book (let’s not talk about it… okay, we probably will in a bit). The fifth book tried to recover the problems, and it was fun to read the first time, but when you finish the giant tome, you realize how little went on for so, so, so many pages.

Okay, I got that out of the way.

Now, I’ve read all the books, including his giant history about the world of Westeros. AND I’ve given people copies of the books and DVDs of the show for presents. Heck, just this Christmas I gave my dad an Iron Throne Christmas ornament. (Thank you Target for finding such a unique way to celebrate the holidays!) So it’s a love-hate relationship. I truly respect the creativity behind the series, and his surprises get me each time, but I also question a lot of the storytelling decisions he takes, especially as he continues to expand his world beyond the lands actually threatened by the terrors behind the Wall. Continue reading

Please, Make It Stop: A Rant About Game of Thrones

DragonAvast there, me hearties! Here thar be spoilers aplenty! (Wait! It’s not Talk Like a Pirate day? What was I thinking?)

Let’s get this out of the way first. We’ve all been holding off saying this for a while, but it’s time.

Game of Thrones is a soap opera.

I don’t know about you, but I feel a lot better after saying it.

I’ve recently found an interview with George R.R. Martin where he argues his book series is not a soap opera, maybe it was his way of preparing an argument before it came at him from outside his circle, but it is. Both the TV series and his book series… two words… soap opera.

Look, I hate to say it as much as the next person. The idea of someone truly doing something new in a very established (and usually predictable genre) is an awesome idea. He combined the history of the middle ages and fantasy… but the result is a freaking soap opera. With history almost being used as an excuse (or as a resource) for twists that help the soap opera continue.

Consider:

  • Soap operas and A Song of Ice and Fire both has multiple POVs of good and questionable individuals.
  • Both end every moment in a cliffhanger (You can almost hear the “stay tuned” at the end of some of the chapters in the books).
  • Both have meandering plots (I feel like I should be capitalizing meandering; no seriously, all caps).
  • Time seems to have its own rules. And both have marriages that seem to last for the same amount of time (and just like in soap operas most are bad matches).
  • And both are not working towards a clean resolution. There is no Mount Doom in sight from what I can see.

Oh, and all of these points is before I even bring up the fact that George R.R. Martin used to work in television and was a writer on a popular fantasy-lite soap opera in the 1980s.

Game of Thrones is a soap opera with people in funny costumes and dragons and we have bought into it.

Heck, I didn’t just buy in, I bought the DVDs, the books, the shirts and even gave them as Birthday presents to people I love. (I was like: “Hi, I love cocaine, I want you to take it too. Here- Happy Birthday!”) Continue reading

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, April 2015

kids-bike-16-inchYesterday, I got to have one of those dad moments. It is so cliche, it could be used in a TV commercial (and probably has been), but there is a reason for it. It is a great feeling.

I got to teach my son how to ride a bike.

We went to our local park that has a smooth cement trail around it. After a few falls and nervousness, he was up and going, and there I was huffing and puffing to try and keep up.

Yeah, I could go on about the symbolism of the kid finally being able to race away from the dad, leaving the early years behind, but I’m not in that frame of mind. If anything this has opened a whole new world of possibility for us. I look forward to taking him on different trails in our area, finding new bike paths to explore. In other words, my summer just got a lot more interesting.

What is also interesting is that most of what I mention below is all done while sitting down. My Fitbit would probably be disappointed by my list this month, actually. But I listen to it enough, so I think it is all fine. Continue reading

4 Dreams of Little Consequences

dreamingDream #1

Lorne Michaels was mad at me and I had no idea why.

I had two assignments to write for this upcoming episode of Saturday Night Live. Just two, and they were good ideas. So good! When I pitched them at the writing table, everyone laughed. We were already acting out possibilities for the bits right there at the table! It was a good and friendly vibe. So I figured I was safe for the week, sure to have my first draft in the head writer’s hands by Thursday.

Which begs the question, why was Lorne, the great producer of SNL, upset with little ol’ me?

The first skit was such a great idea that there was a strong possibility it might open the show! It was so easy to pitch, so easy to imagine. Basically, the premise was what if the founding fathers of our country were like the political pundits on Fox News.

You see, a funny idea?

Now it was the second idea that I really loved since it was a Game of Thrones parody. What if Cersei Lannister joined the local PTA? So you have all these typical Midwest women dealing with the problem of planning a bake-off and Cersei is drinking wine at the table and threatening all of their children.

Why, why, why was Lorne angry with me?

I first heard he was upset from one of the cast members. I brushed it off initially since his gossip was always unreliable. But when I heard it from another cast member (a much more reliable one) then I began to worry. God, I needed this job. This job was my life. (Being a writer on SNL doesn’t really give you a chance to have a life, so this was it.)

The e-mail from Lorne’s office came to my inbox on Wednesday morning and I slowly trudged down the hall. I sat in the waiting room (which looked strangely liked the waiting room at a hospital; all white, even the secretary looked like a nurse). I hung my head and wondered what, what, what!?!, did I do? Continue reading

My Thoughts on Season Four of HBO’s Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones, Season 4This post contains A LOT of spoilers for those who have not read the book… or watched the show… or listened to a podcast… or went on the internet… or opened a magazine… or merely breathed entertainment over the last three years. 

I had serious misgivings around watching season four of Game of Thrones. (I even wrote about it last year in this post.) See, for me it all came down to the Red Wedding. When I read the book, I was furious. Robb Stark was always my favorite character in the book. Part of it is because we only saw him through other characters and he would have these moments of weakness, showing the boy behind the sword.

Then the Red Wedding happened and it didn’t matter what I thought.

Jump forward a few years and we get the Red Wedding on the show, a show where they always like to take the brutality of George R.R. Martin and times it by ten. How did they do it on the show? Why kill a pregnant woman first… by stabbing her in her belly.

Damn HBO.

Anyway, I was offered free HBO for three months and decided to jump in. Honestly, the main driving force for me in watching this season (or merely starting it) is I wanted to see King Joffrey get axed.

Supposedly, the actor who plays Joffrey is really nice and is actually retiring from acting to work in nonprofits. Anyway, I still wanted to see the character die, it wasn’t personal at him. If anything he should be rewarded for making me hate him so much.

The thing that was the most shocking about this season for me—more than the deaths and abundant nudity and other stuff I will get into below— was the fact the writing was soooo much better. Continue reading

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, April 2014

UmbrellaSpring should be a time of rebirth, new things to discover. It’s one of the reasons that the summer blockbusters start in this month and Easter is filled with eggs and rabbits. Yet, when I look over my list I notice that much of it is filled with… well… old stuff.

Maybe this says something about me?

Or maybe I just need to stop psychoanalyzing myself?

I do it a lot, of course, but everyone that has a blog does. We are a collection of little self-therapists, the only difference is the world gets access to the notepad. And can comment on it.

Well, speaking as my own therapist, I see on this list a sonic piece of detective comfort food, a need for silly humor, a demon I can’t escape, a cartoon for the kiddies, and a CD that always puts a smile on my face. My diagnosis is that it is a something like a call for Spring, but a comforting one. So maybe I am almost on the right page, just not quite.

Continue reading

Why I Don’t Like Fan Fiction

BooksThere is a beautiful safety in books. In that time, when you are in a great novel, your focus is clear, and reality can gracefully slips away, leaving you to play in the imagination of the author. You walk with the characters, you explore the land, you fall in (and out of) love, and when the book is closed, a bit of you feels lost, returning to the too real world.

The sad thing is that when you return to a book again it is never the same. That initial spark is diminished. This is because the surprises are gone, and with each additional reading it slips more and more; until it is nothing more than words on paper, something to be almost merely analyzed. It is a memory now, a glimmer of that first magical escape.

The fact is I understand the desire to create fan fiction. As a lover of books and an author, I truly do.

It’s hard to let go, move on, especially if you want more than what the author wanted to give to you. It can feel like an early death, especially when there is so much more to live. And maybe it is that book, that author, that inspired you to write yourself! Your inspiration driven from a need for more and more.

The problem is at the heart of every piece of fan fiction there is one bit of truth, one thing the fan fiction author doesn’t want to consider:

It is not their decision whether the story continues or not.

They are not the author and only the original author should make that call. Continue reading

The Awesomeness of TeeFury

TeeFuryI live everyday with TeeFury regret.

This tragic tale is from last year, sometime in the autumn. It was before I purchased my first TeeFury shirt and this one was a combination of Calvin and Hobbes and Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog.

Let me repeat that- Hobbes and Kermit.

Basically, the artist took an image of rambunctious Calvin carrying his stuffed tiger and replaced it with a child that looked like Henson carrying a puppet of the awesome frog. And for 24 hours I stewed over this shirt, weighing each of the arguments pro and con for getting the shirt (or maybe purchasing it for others). I even shared the link to the shirt with friends and family who I thought might like it! But as the hours dripped by, I forgot about the shirt until it was the next morning… and there I was, head down on the computer keyboard staring forlornly at a new shirt available that did not include my beloved frog.

That is my TeeFury regret and now that I am on the mailing list I think of it each time a shirt appears that I may or may not be interested in purchasing. Do I want to live with that experience again?

Do I? Continue reading