Finding Comfort in Possessions: 14 Days Until 40

Back to the FutureOne of the films I loved growing up was Back to the Future.  I’ve owned the trilogy a few different times now, and have the current version on Blu-Ray. I believe I bought it that opening week when it came out. Yeah, I’m one of those kind of collectors. I like things fresh off the shelves like fruits and vegetables.

Well, a few years ago I was reading an interview with one of the creators. To be honest, I can’t remember if it was Robert Zemeckis or one or the producers or writers, but the speaker complained about the importance of greed in the film. If he had a chance to go back, he argued, he would have made it more about family as compared to the acquisition of possessions at the end.

In other words, Marty’s family didn’t have to be rich and successful and Marty didn’t need the sweet new truck. Just getting his family back together should have been enough.

Being a child of the 80’s, this idea kind of blew my mind. And between you and me, I feel like Marty had earned that truck… but now as a dad trying to imagine a better world for my kids, I side with that speaker. I would like my kids to see it that way. Marty won without the truck.

Yet, with 40 fast approaching, I seem to be finding comfort in some of my possessions. They help me turn off my brain, focus my thoughts. And, in a way, define my journey up to this point and where I would like to see myself go. Of course, being the blogger I am, I have written about most of these things before.  So I will link to an original post and then give you an update on where I am now. Therapy? Partially. Helpful? Definitely.  These are my sanity as I step slowly towards this halfway mark… Continue reading

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Re-Blog: Downton Abbey Post.

Tonight on PBS Masterpiece Theater, the third season of Downton Abbey begins. It’s been fascinating reading some of the articles leading up to the premiere. For example, a lot of critics seem to dismiss the second season. I think that is harsh. (Heck, critics also like to attack the new Hobbit movie. Seriously, what do people expect? Both series are not going to change! They are what they are; and I think they are great.) Of course, it can be argued that critics (and it should be) need to find something to write about. It’s their job, and controversy will always bring in readers over a nice little pat-on-the-back article… which I guess this one is! I hope you enjoy the new season.

The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

Television is rarely art.

A big part of that is because of how it is made, this is especially true in America.

American television is a business model made out of light entertainment, with the hope of reaching as much of the viewing population as possible.  While a creator may start with the spark of an idea, it is in the manufacturing of that idea where the art is lost; and business men take over, hoping to stretch an idea out for as long as possible, generating the highest quota of viewers and advertising sales. And through this process sadly creators can disappear (Consider Dan Harmon and Community, which I wrote about here), walking away (or forced away) from their own creations, their own babies.

To understand what I mean about art, consider one important element that makes a good novel art. It is not merely the initial…

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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!

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Crazy and Magical Grandfather

I remember the thought I had when I spied my first glimpse of a picture of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Grandfather?

There he was, the professor, a chubby old man, white balding hair and a pipe in what looked like an old and battered brown suit. Yes, he looked like a grandfather to be honest, but… there was this spark in his eye. I couldn’t put my finger on why I thought this, but there was power in that spark.

It’s hard sometimes when you consider the sheer mass of creativity to link the image of the man to the creation. The creator of Treebeard, Gandalf, and Bilbo looks like he could be at your local grocery store, waiting in line by you at the Pharmacy, complaining about the rising prices of bananas, just an average senior citizen. Yes, I am doing him in an injustice by talking about his image in this fashion, but you would expect that someone with that incredible amount of imagination would have something that would, well, make him stand out in a crowd.

Shouldn’t someone like that sparkle? Continue reading

Pixar: the Film Studio I Would Sell My Soul to Write For

Being a parent of young children has made me an expert in a few different, new, and exciting fields.

You need to talk about superheroes, I am your man. If you want to discuss which lullaby CDs are best, and more importantly, work, talk to me.  Which TV shows for kids might actually educate your child, I’m an e-mail away. Also, if you want to know about Pixar, I have an altar for them in my house.

Well, maybe not a real altar, but it does feel that way sometimes. Of course, can you truly use the word altar to describe a state that seems to have taken over your whole house? From the toys on the ground to the boy dressed like Dash from The Incredibles.

In my house, simply put, we live Pixar films.

Heck, when I discovered I was going to be having a daughter, her first present from me was a talking Jessie doll. Looking back, I think I honestly made the purchase immediately after calling my family members.

Yet, my own personal love for Pixar goes beyond just the joy they give to my children. As a student of film and a writer, I respect them more than most filmmakers working today. I have yet to be disappointed by a Pixar film; and their weakest film is still far and away better than most exhaled from other studios for our children to consume (Alvin and the Chipmunks, how about The Smurfs, Shrek, etc.; I feel dirty just referencing these films in an editorial about the genius that is Pixar).

Here are three reasons why I am a fan, and would, quite honestly, sell my soul to work with them as a writer: Continue reading

UPDATE: Okay, I have a new (and this makes third) dwarf explanation around The Hobbit. What if, honestly, the dwarf party is a little more upfront pathetic. Follow this, Thorin wants to go to the Lonely Mountain, he asks the dwarf community for two warriors (asking like the king) each and this is the best he can get. If it is explained like that in the film, it paints an interesting picture of the group (explains the humor more) and makes Thorin more a shadow of greatness, as compared to a well-respected leader in the community. He is chasing a dream to the mountain, and these are all that will follow him.

The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

Growing up, I would read J.R.R. Tolkien’s works once a year. Yeah, I was that kid.

I wanted to escape to Middle Earth, and unlike other writers and novels (where I was happy with just having the book), there was always something about his creation that made me wonder about adaptations. I wanted to hear, see, and visit Middle Earth and other mediums would only get me closer to that escapism goal. So I would “try out” every version I could get my hands on.

The Lord of the Rings is not a perfect book. It is a classic, but it is not perfect. That is fine, there are very few perfect books out there (I can only think of Pride and Prejudice and A Christmas Carol off of the top of my head). What “perfect” means to me is that there are no fluctuations in the plot that are…

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Adapting Tolkien

Growing up, I would read J.R.R. Tolkien’s works once a year. Yeah, I was that kid.

I wanted to escape to Middle Earth, and unlike other writers and novels (where I was happy with just having the book), there was always something about his creation that made me wonder about adaptations. I wanted to hear, see, and visit Middle Earth and other mediums would only get me closer to that escapism goal. So I would “try out” every version I could get my hands on.

The Lord of the Rings is not a perfect book. It is a classic, but it is not perfect. That is fine, there are very few perfect books out there (I can only think of Pride and Prejudice and A Christmas Carol off of the top of my head). What “perfect” means to me is that there are no fluctuations in the plot that are unexplained, everything is tied up in a neat bow and there is little to debate because it is all perfectly there on the page. Whew…

Frankly, if that was done with Tolkien we wouldn’t have all of the fun things to debate! Like, why does the ring’s power change over the course of the series is an easy example of what I mean.

The fact is Tolkien didn’t write like other people. He would begin a story at the very beginning and write until he ran out of ideas… But instead of just fixing what he did and moving forward; he would, instead, start over at the beginning again. It’s one of the reason we have so many different versions of The Lord of the Rings to look at thanks to his son’s (Christopher) later releases.

While I can NOT imagine writing a book like that, it does explain to me a few snags I have always noticed about the final version of the book, besides the ring’s changing power. Why, for example, the narrator’s voice changes over the book from cutesy (for example, in the beginning we have Tom Bombadil and a curious fox… Yes, there is a fox that is curious; go back and check it out) to extremely dark.  It’s almost like he discovered what he wanted the series to be like at Weathertop, and didn’t care about going back and changing the beginning.

Yes, to say it again, The Lord of the Rings is classic, but it is not perfect; and since I love the world and the characters I have devoured every adaptation I could get my hands on. Here are my thoughts on the radio, TV, and film versions of the great Oxford professor’s epic. Continue reading