There is something odd about Canadian sitcoms, in that they can feel quite legitimate, like something made for a minor network in the US, but you don’t hear about them until suddenly, bam, there’s whole seasons of them. That was really the impact of Corner Gas, a show well worth watching. At the moment, I’m Netflixing through the couple dozen episodes of Todd & The Book Of Pure Evil, which is basically early-Buffy-as-a-sitcom. Not a dare-not-miss-this series, but if that sounds like a good idea to you, it’s watchable.
I watched the pilot episode of The Goldbergs last night as my first venture into the upcoming 2013-2014 season (it’s available on ABC.com; the series doesn’t launch on air until the 24th.) I can’t say that I was bowled over with its comedy. The series is built around a creator telling some version of his younger family life (a la Brooklyn Bridge) with an adult version of a child character narrating (a la Wonder Years) while they aggressively put on display the items that make the period it is set on So Different From Ours, with everyone making references to the aspects of fashion/culture/technology which can still be recognized today as being from a specific era (a la That ‘70s Show, etc.)
While this show did not inspire me to want to see a lot more of it, it did set me thinking that it would be fun to try to make an episode or two of this kind of show set very much in the present. No, I don’t just mean voiced-over-from-the-future-by-a-different-actor-who-is-supposed-to-be-one-of-the-guys-on-screen (obviously, we already have How I Met Your Mother); I mean the exaggerated focus on the items of the exact moment that it’s taking place. “Hi mom! I was just watching The Goldbergs, bold new series that I’m sure will run forever! Got it on my iPhone 5.” “Sorry, Bryant, but it’s not as cool as my iPhone 5S I just stood in line for. Look, it knows my finger!” (Mom puts her index finger on the phone’s button. “Now it knows me!” (switches to the adjacent finger) “now it doesn’t” (switching back and forth) “Now it knows me, now it doesn’t, now it knows me, now it doesn’t.” “I would pretend not to know you, too, if you kept sticking that middle finger at me!” It would be fun trying to get it just right, so that if we watch it thirty years from now, it will feel just like The Goldbergs does now.
(And for the intense TV folks, no, there is no sign I saw that they’re trying to embrace the historical import that comes with the title they chose. As for what the show is, it doesn’t have the sense that it is intended to carry some dramatic overtones like Wonder Years or really meaningfully capture the moment and locale like Brooklyn Bridge. Of the batch mentioned before, it’s got more of The ’70s Show in its heart, but not that particular comedic texture – it’s still about a family, whereas ’70s w
Anyone notice their marriage shattering apart last week? Me neither
Today, same-sex marriage becomes legally available in New Zealand. Well, not today today; it’s already tomorrow in New Zealand, and tomorrow is the today I mean. And while there certainly is some grousing there, and church groups trying to figure out what they’re going to do, well, as I said, it’s already tomorrow there, so we know that the world doesn’t end today.
Earlier this month, two more US states started licensing same-sex marriages. Minnesota! Rhode Island! Did I forget to celebrate them on my blog? Prob’ly. Most people actually living in those states probably didn’t even blink about it on the day it happened. The oceans did not rise up and take them. Heterosexuality did not lose its appeal.
The U.S. military now recognizes that not only does it have gay men and women in their ranks, but that some of them have spouses, who need support just as any military spouse does. Our forces are no less at the ready for it.
The shrill voices that were warning what would happen if this sort of thing were to elbow its way into our lives, our churches, our classrooms… well, some of them are still the same shrill voices, now inaccurately predicting yesterday, but they are playing to ever more empty halls.
In the time of the way things have changed, historically, this is lightning. Those who got on this train got on a bullet train. And I cannot help to wonder: what change can we make next like this?
On Halloween, we give out comic books, and it goes over very well. Kids love picking them, parents love having them get something to read. We get a lot of happy faces here each year – and by a lot, I mean in the range of 100-200. “But comics are like $3-$4 each!” I hear you cry. “How can you possibly afford that.
Here’s our trick: we give out special Halloween minicomics that the publishers produce. Cost about twenty cents apiece, in the range of a mini candy bar. But if you want these, you really have to order them right about now. Few if any stores offer these for retail sale; they are really meant more for stores to give out to trick-or-treaters than for folks at home, so stores order them at the same time that they order the comics they’re going to be selling in October. If you go to your local comic shop now, they should be able to order them for you (they’re in the August “Previews” catalog, tell them that.) Or if you don’t have a handy shop that you trust, you can order them online. Here are the links for ordering them through Westfield Comics. Each title comes in a bundle of 20 copies, which lists for $4.99 (although Westfield charges $3.99… but then you’ll have to pay shipping.)
The titles include some famous characters that people will know from the TV and films, some things that have a running success in comics, and some new comics titles just being launched. As much as I would generally push comics-original titles, for Halloween I prefer to go with the known names, as it makes it easier for the kids to recognize the titles and get excited about it. Unfortunately, the two big superhero publishers don’t offer minicomics, so there’s no Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, or Iron Man in the mix. The comics are “mini” in all dimensions, with smaller covers and fewer pages than a standard US comic. In some cases in the past, the “minicomic” proved to be an incomplete tale from a full comic book, which is disappointing.
This year’s titles:
- Ben 10 Omniverse
- Itty Bitty Hellboy (this is a silly fun version of Hellboy aimed at kids… I’m concerned that the folks it is aimed at aren’t likely to have heard of Hellboy, but the creative team is so good that I’ll definitely carry some.)
- Zombie Kid Diaries (this is a parody series of Diary of a Wimpy Kid books)
- My Little Pony
- Sesame Street
- Pantalones,TX, Zombinata (I have no idea)
- Archie’s Pals’n'Gals (that’s Betty and Veronica and such)
- Adventure Time
- Sketch Monsters
- Vamplets: The Legend of the Ghost Pony
- Super Dinosaur (why yes, this is a dinosaur superhero comic. And yes, it is by the writing creator of The Walking Dead)
If you want everything, you can save a bit of money by ordering The Mega Bundle (that’s 20 copies apiece of the 11 books listed above).
Westfield has an extra shipping charge of $5.25 to ship the week that these come out (October 9), to be sure to have them on hand for Halloween. I am not sure that paying this is necessary if you’re only ordering the Halloween comics; I think it may be meant for people who are ordering other things as well, in which case Westfield will want to hold your books until your entire order is in… but my thinks on such things are often wrong.
My current plan is to order two packets each of Ben 10, My Little Pony, and Sesame Street, one packet apiece of Archie’s Pals&Gals, Super Dinosaur, Adventure Time, and Itty Bitty Hellboy… but I may switch that about a bit over teh next couple days.
Tried out for a play… not because I expect to get a role, mainly because I like auditions. The show is Noises Off, a fine show (and the movie adaptation of it is quite good), but one without a lot of cast options. If you read through the character descriptions, because of the varying age of the characters, there’s really only one possible role for each actor. For me, it was Lloyd, director of the play-within-the-play (Michael Caine in the movie). The part is not a bad fit for me; the character is loud and frustrated, which are two things within my repertoire. I delivered a reasonable-for-an-audition performance (I think), but there was one other guy tonight who gave at least as good, and this was the third night of auditions, so this was not going to be my role.
But during the last set of readings, they were swapping people in willy-nilly, and for a while swapped me in on a character that I had not applied for: Selsdon, an actor. The character had five lines in the part I read through…. and for four of them, I got laughs. At times large laughs, coming from the director and his assistants. And things hadn’t been getting laughs in this crowd, particularly not Selsdon lines.
So why does this weird me out? Because the Selsdon character is supposed to be two to three decades older than I am. I really didn’t think that I’m ready to pass for decrepit. (In the movie, it was played by 70 year old Denholm Elliott, in his last film.)
Orson Scott Card is facing down the call for boycott of the Ender’s Game film by releasing a statement basically saying that his side has now lost the war over same-sex marriage in the United States, and thus that his stance is moot. This overlooks several major things:
- He remains on the board of the National Organization For Marriage, a group founded, in their own words “in response to the growing need for an organized opposition to same-sex marriage”. Following the recent Supreme Court rulings, the group has taken the stance that the battle is very far from over (they are calling for a Constitutional amendment), and that people should continue sending them money so that they can continue battling.
- That his organization continues their campaign to boycott General Mills, maintaining a boycott website and linking to it from their main website, over the company’s “public opposition to the Minnesota Marriage Amendment”… an amendment that failed over half a year ago, and is thus genuinely moot.
- Lest you think that that is just a case of them not thinking to end the boycott, remember that in 2010, Card’s group ran a revenge campaign against three Iowa Supreme Court justices who had found state constitutional protection for same-sex marriage, getting all three judges ousted despite the fact that the ruling had already taken place.
- That the opposition to Card is not over just same-sex marriage, but over his anti-gay activism in general, such as his call for homosexual activity to be criminalized.
Just some things to think about when considering whether you are supporting a war against homosexuals by going to see his movie about a war against “buggers”.
(Please note that I am not actually calling for the boycott. I believe that simply having litmus taste for writers over their beliefs will serve to stagnate the creative field; I am quite capable of enjoying creative work from people with whom I have strong political differences. However, Mr. Card pushes beyond merely having opinions to being a key man involved in the battles, being on the board of an organization that may be losing, but has done very real damage along the way, so he enters a more problematic realm for me. But the goal of this post is not to encourage boycott, but to address the fundamental dishonesty of Card’s statement.)
I’m watching an episode of Goodwin Games with scenes with series regular Scott Foley talking to guest star Dave Foley. Had to look it up to make sure they weren’t related. Dave’s full name? David Scott Foley. Oh, the laughs they must’ve had on set! (Foley-comma-Dave’s exit line is brilliant.)
One of the dilemmas faced in modern media is that there are so many outlets for everything, we feel the need to make product that can fit all those outlets, rather than creating a truly optimal experience in one. So our comics no longer have two page spreads, which worked fine in staple-bound format but are problematic in the trade collections; they no longer have hand lettering, which worked fine in original-language print formats but are less than optimal for digital editions, for foreign translations, and so forth; and there’s a move to complex pages which worked fine in print but are too detailed for the resolution of table-based viewing. Movies try to work in both 3-D IMAX and cell phone viewing. Netflix should be giving its original series the freedom from having fixed episode lengths, but someday, they may want to resell them
I was reminded of this when I finished watching The Hangover III the other day. This is the latest in the series of R-rated movies.
Except, well, it isn’t. Not really. The Hangover III is a PG movie, maybe PG-13 for suggested drug use… with an R-rated sequence only after the credits start rolling. Really, the main part lacks the nudity and the other vulgarity of the previous films. Why would they do that? My best guess, so they could show the whole thing on broadcast TV, just chop of the credit sequence (which TV likes to chop off anyway.) But is this for the good of the movie? You’d have to show me a better movie than this to convince me…