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

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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

Ghosts, Snoopy, Haunted Mansions and Halloween

haunted-mansionA few years ago, the inventive filmmaker Guillermo del Toro was hired by Disney to write a screenplay for a new movie based on The Haunted Mansion ride.  Over the summer I read an interview with him claiming that him and his team of writers were still struggling with the story.

Seriously?

I have to admit I am a little surprised. I mean it seems to me a Haunted Mansion film writes itself. Do you want to know how I would do it if Disney asked me? Of course you do!

First off I would set it in the 1950s. That way you can tap into the cliches and stereotypes you would see in classic old black-and-white horror films. And set it in a small town (think Back to the Future).  Now on to my very brief synopsis!

  • Act 1- We meet the eccentric and comic people in the town. There are two twin teenage sisters, one is a cheerleader and popular, the other is a bookworm (our heroes). They go to a dance at their school. That night there is a huge thunderstorm and the power goes out. A bunch of teenagers ride together in car; which, of course, stalls in front of the Haunted Mansion.
  • Act 2- The group of teenagers (including our female heroes) tour the Haunted Mansion. The ghosts want to get out but are trapped in (a curse put in place by Madame Leota). One of the teenagers is tricked by the evil Hatbox Ghost (an urban legend by the way around the ride), releasing all the ghosts.
  • Act 3- The ghosts playfully attack and spook the town (like Gremlins). The teenagers are split into teams, one to collect the ghosts, the other to get the curse put back on the house and stop the Hatbox Ghost (the sisters lead the different teams)… this all has to be done by dawn.
  • Act 4- In a suspenseful last act, the curse is reinstated, the ghosts are drawn back and the sisters now are friends. The end.

Disney you can send me the check. (Okay, that was a little snippy of me, but seriously I could write this script and would love to do it… Oh, and Guillermo del Toro is awesome.)

Here are some of the posts in the past I have written about Halloween. Enjoy!

The Halloween TreeBook Review: The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. Last year I reviewed this book (which should be a holiday classic) for WKAR’s Current State. You can check it out (and listen) via the link. This week I’ll be reviewing Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I hope you tune in for it, I think it turned out great.

It's The Great PumpkinWatching It’s The Great  Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. I love this special. Absolutely love it. Actually, I’m kind of obsessed about it, and this post proves it. In it, I share my insight on the show and my thoughts on each of the scenes and characters. Seriously… obsessed.

CostumedIf I Could Wear a Halloween Costume… If I had the courage, I would dress up on the holiday. I’m just not that guy… but I wish I was. This comic post deals with my dreams and hopes and masks.

HalloweenHalloween, In Spirit. I wrote this post during my first year on the site, and it was one of my most popular. It is a little comic, a little philosophical, a little serious. In many ways it contains all of my thoughts on the holiday, tied up in a bow… that probably has skeletons on it.

I hope you enjoy the posts! (And Guillermo call me!)

 

My Week Without Coke Zero

The bad boyI am not a man of vices.

When compared to other writers I would be considered very tame, like comparing a cocker spaniel to a mountain lion. If I do luckily find any success for my books and someone decides to write a book about me, I pity them the experience. Seriously, there is just nothing there.

  • I don’t drink or hunt or act suicidal like an Ernest Hemingway.
  • I have never done drugs or partied like a beatnik writer.
  • And I have not left a trail of scandalous relationships in my wake like a romantic poet.

I’m just a boring normal Joe, happily married, who just happens to be an author as well. Sorry. Heck, I didn’t even enjoy the occasional drink until recently when my wife and I discovered the great mix book Tequila Mockingbird by Tim Federle (my current favorite drink being “Crime and Punish-mint.” Seriously, check this book out). Again, future biographers- sorry.

The only vice I could ever be said to have had is so minor that I’m sure Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda would have laughed at me. Nope, I’m not talking about my fandom of Doctor Who or Final Fantasy video games. Or my interest in bow ties. Or maybe my possibly embarrassing fascination with Disneyland or collecting Peanuts comic books.

No, no, no… I’m talking about Coke Zero.

Continue reading

New WKAR Book Review: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Current StateJust in time for the holidays!

Today on WKAR I take on one of the greats, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

I’m really proud of this review and I hope you will check it out. You can listen to the review here:

http://wkar.org/post/book-review-charles-dickens-christmas-carol

If you would rather read my review, you can do so below.

This was my twelfth appearance on Current State and you can hear/read my other reviews via this page on my site or on the Current State site here. I have reviewed other classics as well as contemporary books.

I hope you enjoy my book review… and Merry Christmas! Continue reading

Time on the Yellow Brick Road: 13 of My Thoughts on The Wizard Of Oz

1939-wizard-of-oz-blu-ray-yellow-brick-road1.  My parents claim that the first movie  I saw in the movie theater was The Wizard of Oz. I have to trust them on this, because I have no memory of it. A complete blank. My first movie-going memory (and possible first memory) relates to Star Wars. That memory stuck, and I can still bring it up in my head to this day. So if I really did see The Wizard of Oz with its magical munchkins, flexible Scarecrow and stiff Tin Man… well, I would have remembered that, right? How could my childish reaction be, “Whatever…”

2.  When I was growing up The Wizard of Oz meant something. This was back in the day when people didn’t own their own video recordings of it and it would be shown on TV only once a year (usually on CBS). And at that moment you knew you were watching it with everyone else. I could go to school the next day and talk about it with my friends (and we did). With the purchase of our first VCR I made sure to record it; however, I must admit re-watching it that way, fast-forwarding through the commercial breaks, lost some of the magic for me. For I knew in my heart I was watching it alone then.

3.  I also had, growing up, a record that was the soundtrack for the film. It was not merely the music, but most of the audio track of the film. No narrator voice, just the actors and the song cues. I remember sitting in my room, in front of my little record player, with eyes closed imagining the film in my mind. Everything alway seemed a little bigger, cleaner and grander in that imaginary version.  Continue reading

Wookies, Princesses, and the Return of the Force: My Life With Star Wars

Milleniun FalconEpisode I

THE NEW DISCOVERY

Star Wars was my childhood and my childhood was Star Wars.

To know me as a child was to know my love of the galaxy far, far away.

One of my first memories (if not the very first) was of seeing the first Star Wars (Oh hell, the fourth one) in a theater. I was three and R2-D2 was on the screen. This image and moment is burned onto my retinas to the point I can almost touch it. R2 is in the Death Star and the heads of all of the other filmgoers line the bottom of the screen (and being little, they take up more then one might imagine).

My parents claim as I left the theater I could not stop talking about it, even going so far as to debate the film with some college students standing nearby us; listing in my opinion what was the best parts of the film (considering who I am as an adult, this is not at all surprising). Continue reading

Writing About Tolkien

How did this guy think up ents?Tomorrow! Tomorrow! To say, I am looking forward to seeing The Hobbit tomorrow is to not to do it justice. Tolkien and his writing was a major influence on my writing (I discuss this in the post here). Yes, I don’t write fantasy typically, but this is more soul-related, life direction. Okay, this may all sound dramatic, but it is so very, very true for me. So I will be there, the first showing on Friday, turning off my iphone (with its Hobbit case) off for three hours… the only question is do I wear my Middle Earth t-shirt?

I’ve written three different articles about Tolkien this year. I think it is a record. Here are the articles:

I hope you enjoy the movie!

Reblog- Discussing Brave

This film comes out on Blu-Ray this week and this is my initial response to the film (which is great). My daughter is only 18-months old and is obsessed with Princess Merida. She has a toddler doll of her and walks around with it, calling it her baby. She runs her hands through her hair, gives it kisses, sleeps with it each night… Yes, it is all very cute. The day I show her the film and she realizes her “baby” can walk and talk too, her little mind will certainly be wowed.

The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

This discussion/review is filled with spoilers so if you have not seen Brave… Well, go see it, it is great.

I’m not sure whether to compliment the marketing division at Disney or scold them, but Brave is not the movie they were selling to us. Oh, it is a good film, and I really enjoyed the trip, but it’s not the film I felt like we were seeing in the ads.

Yes, there is magic, there is the princess with the bow, there is some adventure in the end, but it is not on a grand magical stage. If anything the film seems smaller than all that, and even seems to decrease in size over the picture, since we keep returning to locations we have seen before, again and again.

Yes, in many ways, Brave is a small  and personal film, with only a small cast dealing with an issue…

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Indy this weekend…

This weekend, Raiders of the Lost Ark opens for a limited run on IMAX… Now this is a movie I have seen over a dozen times in my life, but on a big screen like that it is tempting again.

So very, very tempting.

The trick is just working this out with the schedule. I have to take my son to a birthday party on Sunday (it is at a Martial Arts studio which with a bunch of five-year olds sounds like a disaster just waiting to happen), and there are groceries and the typical errands around the house. And that is not including the writing and editing I need to do around Chapter 8 of my book (I’m worried I might be getting behind, and it was so nice to be a week ahead). And, let’s be honest, with two very little kids you are putting a burden on the partner when you leave them with the kiddies while you do something selfish like this. But it is Indy… on IMAX…

I hear the theme song everywhere I go… Okay, that might be because I have the new whip sound app on my iPhone. It’s freaking awesome!

The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

While my first real memory is seeing R2-D2 on the big screen, the first time I felt real fear in a movie theater belongs to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

I was seven, and for some unexplained reason my relatives thought I was the perfect age for seeing the Temple of Doom on opening day, the first PG-13 movie. I chalk it up to a very selfish decision on their part personally; my parents were not thrilled that they did this by the way and complained to them later. As everyone on the planet knows, the Temple of Doom is a dark movie that only seems to get darker with each step it takes into those underground caverns.

For most of the film, my seven-year old frame was on the edge of my seat, somewhere emotionally between terror and excitement; I wanted to see what would happen…

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