Embracing the Charlie Brown Within

As anyone who has followed my site knows, I am a big Peanuts nerd. I’ve been collecting the complete Schulz’s work for years. I even wrote a blogpost breaking down the joys and perfections of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”  (I kid you not! Check it out here.)

Well… I honestly don’t know if making The Peanuts Movie is a good idea without Charles M. Schulz around (and really he wanted everything to stop after he died); however, I did like the trailer and today on their site (here) you can make yourself a Peanuts character.

So as a big Snoopy nerd, here I am, living the dream…

profile-picture-1442861925Yeah, I can’t stop smiling about this.

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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.

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

Watching It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

It's The Great PumpkinThere are two things I love the most about October.

It’s not carving pumpkins. To be honest, I am lousy at them and even my faces with simple shapes are barely adequate. Soon my children are just going to revolt on me and attempt to do them by themselves.

It’s not the costumes. Yes, they are fun when you are a kid but I always feel creepy by adults wearing them (except when my local city counsel member dressed up as Sarah Palin and went around the neighborhood threatening us with death panels, that was hilarious!).

No, the two things I love are candy corn and It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. And because it doesn’t rot my teeth I love The Great Pumpkin more. Whenever this month rolls along and the leaves change, the show appears on my television and usually is on there until the holiday has passed. Before I was married and had kids, I was known to let it run continuously, just enjoying the ambiance of having it on. And once I had an iPod and an IPhone both immediately had a digital file  of it (so my family doesn’t have to deal with my love of it). I have even been known to have it play while walking the dog, just listening to it like an audiobook.

This may all seem crazy, but everyone has their things, their quirks. This strange little tale of delusional faith, mean children, and a dog that thinks he is a pilot is one of my mine and I don’t see that changing anytime soon… And I’m going to watch it right now with you. Get the candy corn! Continue reading

Hidden Away: The Marvel of Disappearing Writers

Covered in dustIt takes courage to be an artist.

Many people don’t realize this in that first moment they pick up a pen or paintbrush, but they are put on display with the creation the second of its completion.

My favorite example of what I mean comes from being married to a dancer and choreographer. See, when a dancer performs, especially in a piece that they have created, their audience is watching many things.

Yes, the hope is that the audience is focused on the artistic performance, expression and emotional message of the piece, but an audience does so much more than that. They also may compare the dancers in the piece (which are better, which are worse), they might try to find the artist’s personality in it, they may look for mistakes, they may even study the bodies of the dancers. Of all of the art forms, this is in my opinion the most exposed and bravest.

But when you are writing a book, in the beginning you are alone, probably sitting in front of a desk someplace, a large drink with caffeine right nearby (well, that is me); it’s hard to remember that the real world is out there. However, it is out there and if your creation finds an audience, the audience will find you…. 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

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, March 2012

It’s March in Michigan and you can feel the shackles of winter breaking all around us… To be replaced, of course, by the wet shackles of non-stop rainstorms. February and March are always such dreary months in the state of the mitten. Glen Phillips has a song that says “winter pays for spring.” Nah, in Michigan I can point to two overly depressing months as being the cost.

So usually, around this time of the year, I am drawn to lighter entertainment. This is not the time for a serious novel for me.  You won’t see one on the list. I’m looking for fun and comfort here. For example, just check out the first on my list:

Complete Peanuts by Charles M. Schultz (1979-1980)

It’s become a tradition for me and my mom. Every year, I get the box set for Christmas of the next two installments in the Complete Peanuts series. And each year around this time, these collections save me from the natural funk around me… Which is hilarious to consider since the world of Mr. Charles Brown is not exactly a nice place to live.

It’s cruel, it’s full of sarcasm, and your friends have no problem pulling a football from you, letting you land right on your back. Ouch. Continue reading