Storytelling Done Okay: Falling Skies

I started watching Falling Skies with real enthusiasm when it first aired. I won’t try to deny that I’m a sucker for anything that prominently features a historian. From the initial season, Falling Skies promised the perfect combination: the chief main character was a history professor, and there were aliens. Awesome. Throw in high stakes and a general sense of human-decency-at-work, and overall this was a pretty good show. At some point it lost a bit of interest for me (the last season languished a long time in the DVR), but I really did like how the characters behaved with a lasting sense of optimism and morality. Too many of the “world gone wrong” shows depict everyone at their most hopeless and worst. And that’s interesting for about five minutes. It’s the cast of characters with a code of conduct that keep me riveted because I wonder how long they will hold up under the strain. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under TV and Movies

My Thoughts on Dead-Dog Children’s Fiction

When I was in second grade, the teacher read us “Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls. Maybe it was part of that year’s curriculum. Or maybe she just hated us. Maybe she thought that a few of us had reached the ripe old age of 7 without losing enough grandparents, getting punched enough on the playground, or that we weren’t spending enough nights lying awake with terror at what little we understood of the Cold War. Perhaps, she thought, “Where the Red Fern Grows” would round out the character building we were surely missing out on. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Traditional books

Storytelling Done Right: How to Get Away with Murder

Both seasons of ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder” have held me spellbound. I generally take forever to watch anything. Shows – show that I really do like – pile up in the DVR. Programs that friends and family strenuously recommend stay on my “to watch” list for months (for years!) because I’m still slogging through the things they recommended before that. I love shows across the genres: science fiction, law dramas, detective shows, fantasy, historical fiction, anything that’s well done. Yet, for all my enthusiasm, I still usually plod through programs because there’s only so many hours in a day. I like to watch when I can actually pay attention, and carving out time for that isn’t easy. This show, however, is one I’ll watch a season of in three days. It’s like a train wreck that I can’t look away from. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under TV and Movies

Audible, a review

I’ve been hearing commercials, mostly on various podcasts, for Audible for years now. Seriously. Years. And it didn’t really snag my interest until a few weeks ago. The basic spiel is that you pay $15 every month in exchange for an audiobook. Now, what’s obvious to the routine purchaser of audiobooks, is that that’s a good deal. Have you priced audiobooks lately? Any typical novel can cost between $20 and $30. A very long novel can run anywhere from $30 to $50. If you normally buy an audiobook every month, Audible’s an excellent idea. I, however, normally never bought any. For some reason I thought reading only ‘counted’ if I actually read the words myself. Having them read to me by a professional narrator seemed…somehow like cheating, as far as reading goes. (I’m not going to try to make that make sense.) Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Fight, Fight, Fight, Bite, Bite, Bite

I enjoyed the first season of Daredevil. Check out that description! Blind lawyer by day, vigilante by night. What’s not to love? In season one we got to meet Matt Murdoch, learn how he developed his awesome fighting skills, and watch him start up the little-lawfirm-that-could. Over the course of that initial season, Murdoch/Daredevil took on the suave-but-crazy Wilson Fisk, risking everything to stand up against corruption. It was a pretty good baker’s dozen of episodes and I queued up each one with a reasonable amount of interest. Then, they offered up season two. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under TV and Movies

Why I’m a Jerk at Dinner Parties

People think I like to help in the kitchen. There’s two truths to the matter. I do like to be involved in cooking (I’ve cooked professionally and love to cook to this day). But I also like to keep tabs on how the food I eat is being prepared. Anyone who wants to be blase about checking the temperature of their Sunday roast or who thinks that wolfing down raw cookie dough is a necessary part of childhood, allow me to steer you to the Food Poison Journal. If you want to be casual about your own health, that’s jim dandy, but when it comes to preparing food for others (which might include young children, the elderly, people with chronic illness, and those who simply wish to not become very ill) being negligent about food safety is inappropriate. Oddly (and, sadly, for me) this stance makes me an unsociable weirdo when I decline ill-prepared food. I’m the villain. Me. The person who’s sharing this article from Nutrition Action Healthletter only because I give a damn about your health. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Embrace the Awkwardness

The Dive-Right-In Disclaimer

A decade ago I emailed the only person I’d gone to high school with who’d gotten a PhD in History. This was someone who had a good job and even better sense of humor. I asked if they thought my plan to pursue an MA in History was a good, or a bad, idea. Their reply was “if you love History and you don’t care if you ever make a dime, then dive right in!” I took that advice to heart, went to grad school, and got exactly what I expected: a fine education, a new set of academic skills, and a degree that was only marketable in the most narrow of niches. (In short, I went after that degree knowing that I probably wouldn’t make any money with it.)  Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing