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

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Five Things I Am Into Right Now, July 2014

Scooby GangThis might as well be called my month of nerd. With the continuously releasing news about Star Wars Episode 7, Doctor Who, The Hobbit, and everyone else fantastical, I’m in many ways in nerd heaven. Heck, I even thought the last season of Game of Thrones was the best one so far (which I wrote about here)! And there have even been rumblings about Indiana Jones!

Now, here is the thing that has been obsessing me more than any other (possibly making me a king of the nerds)- I’ve got an idea for a Scooby-Doo movie.

You know how they seem to release one to two direct-to-video Scooby-Doo cartoon each year? Some are great (and I have seen them all, so I can judge), some are okay and some are frankly bad (for example, when Shaggy sings a love song to his alien girlfriend). Well, I have an idea/plot/synopsis for a Scooby-Doo cartoon movie and it is doozy.

I’m not joking! I have an idea for a Scooby-Doo animated movie and it would be freaking great!

The trick (and it is a big trick) is figuring out how (and who) to throw my synopsis at. You see I would love to write this script (and it wouldn’t take me long), I just need to know if it would be read before I go to the trouble of doing it. So here I sit, twiddling my thumbs trying to figure out exactly how someone gets a message into the world of WB Animation. Seriously, I have no clue.

Now before anyone worries, I won’t be changing anything we know about Scooby-Doo if this script is picked up and the beats we all expect in his stories. I don’t want to break the mold; I just want to create a fun adventure in that world. Also, as a parent of two little kids who are obsessed with Scooby-Doo, it would be really great to do something like that for them.

“Hey kids, guess what? Your dad wrote a Scooby-Doo movie. Want to watch it?”

Oh, these are all just dreams, I get that. Without contacts or an agent (who works specifically with writers around this) to go to WB Animation and pitch the idea, it will only be a fun daydream. I just can’t help but dream… dream of Scooby Snacks and pizzas covered in ice cream, anchovies, pickles, hamburgers, and salami, that is.

Now on to my very nerdy list for this month! Continue reading

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

One Writer’s Thoughts on the Importance of GRAVITY

GravityIt is a rare and beautiful gift when you get to experience a brand-new form of storytelling. For me, it is electrifying, like being hit by lightning, something that doesn’t happen everyday. It inspires me, realizing that there are still new possibilities out there to discover.

Some might think this is funny but the only other time I really can think of when I felt I was experiencing something entirely new in storytelling was in a videogame. Consider, before RPG video games attempted to tell narratives, we had merely games like Mario and Sonic. Fun sure, but there was no story there, merely saving a princess is not enough. Honestly, Pac Man is fine with an empty stomach or a full one.

Click here. Jump here. Run, don’t walk. 

There was nothing that would make you care about the characters or on the outcome. There were no consequences, no emotions or dreams to be dashed (besides breaking the high score in Tetris).

For me that eye-opening moment  where everything changed around video games was with Final Fantasy VIII. I felt almost blind-sided by the game, caring about the characters more than I ever imagined I would. I cried with them, I cheered them on. And when the game was over and done, I felt like I had just finished a great adventure with those characters.

Ever since that moment, video games changed for me. Never happy with the old school structures now, I wanted stories, the richer the better. Yes, something changed there for me…. Not just for me, but for most of us gamers, because we all experienced that moment with a game or two over the last few decades. A new storytelling artform (the first since the birth of TV) had come into life.

That electric moment, that bolt of lightning, has occurred for me again. Today, Gravity introduced me to the true potential, possibilities and differences there could be for future films made specifically in IMAX and 3D.  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

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

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

Some Thoughts on Harry Potter, Lucy Pevensie, Alice, and Compasses…

Here’s a confession- I’ve always wanted to write Children’s literature.

Oh, not any typical children’s lit/young adult book, I’ve always dreamt of doing something groundbreaking, stupendous. So, in other words, I’ve built up the idea so much in my head that I can’t even begin to start. None of the ideas I get reach that level. Of course, none could.

Why do I love the idea of writing a book in this genre? Because this is the gateway drug for all good readers (I plan to stop the drug references there). We don’t start by reading War and Peace; we start by reading Lewis Carroll and his Alice. A good children’s lit book will inspire a reader (and writer) for decades afterwards.

I can go on about this for pages–and I’ll probably talk about it again at some point–but let me focus today on one thing I love and two things I think children and young adult lit needs help on. Continue reading