Friday, July 1, 2011

4 Reasons Why Firefly Shouldn't Have Been Cancelled

Okay, I have to admit it right now, I’m a Browncoat. If you don’t know what that means, well, I actually kinda feel sorry for you. And you MUST watch Joss Whedon’s Firefly right now! You’ve got no excuse, it’s on Netflix instant play. You know, that thing you all signed up for that never has anything you want to watch on instant play. But to their credit, they do have Firefly.  (feel free to read this first, however)

I have to warn you, you will be angry. I haven’t known anyone who has watched the 14 episodes produced that didn’t have a visceral reaction to the fact that it was cancelled after only 11 episodes.  It truly is a gem among TV shows. So why did it get cancelled? I, like all Browncoats ponder this very thing more often than most of you would imagine.  The harsh reality is that not enough people watched it. But I don’t think 11 episodes was a long enough chance to build an audience, and there were plenty of reasons to keep it around to build a larger following. I’m going to list 4 of them here.

1) They Were Just Too Pretty To Cancel. Seriously, look at the cast. Being a somewhat average American male, I’ll start with the females first. Morena Baccarin, Jewel Staite, Gina Torres, and Summer Glau. Are you kiddin’ me? The only shows that have that kind of beauty are shows about beautiful women. You know, the shows with nothing else to offer. (Baywatch comes to mind) But Firefly’s women were smart and strong and at times truly amazing. We all know Joss Whedon has a thing for strong women, (Buffy, anyone?) and this shows it off. Oh, and the guys, according to my 14 year old daughter, were nothing to sneeze at! Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, Sean Maher, Alan Tudyk, and Ron Glass.

2) Humorous, Intelligent Dialog. Really, it happens occasionally on TV. (but don’t hold your breath) I am thoroughly convinced that Joss Whedon is the master of dialog. His characters talk like we wish we and our friends talked. Notable catch phrases abound, that most of you have heard across the Internet. (“I aim to misbehave”, “Shiny, let’s be bad guys”, “Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal”, etc.) I try to emulate him while I write dialog, and at times I almost make it, but alas, I am not worthy! Watch any of his shows, and you’ll know what I mean. (and Toy Story)

3) A Believable Sci-Fi Universe. I have trouble believing most of the sci-fi/fantasy worlds that writers create because their universes don’t quite match up with humanity as a whole. Firefly never was a problem for me, because although it was set in the future, the problems associated with humanity were ever present. I’m a huge Star Trek geek too, but trying to imagine a future where humans suddenly lost the urge to acquire wealth was always way too far-fetched. Firefly embraced humanity, the good and the bad, and created a future that was a product of that.

4) Big Damn Heroes. I saved the best for last! And this might be one of the big reasons it didn’t command the viewership it should have. Heroes have kind of gone “out of fashion” in our society, which is a shame. The general public seems to want characters who are as hugely flawed as we are. More and more books and shows are being written about people who are not good people. I think of things like “The Shield”, or “Breaking Bad” where the “heroes” are crooked cops or drug dealers, and there are several other examples. I suspect it’s all about us feeling better about ourselves, but it doesn’t make me feel better. And although the crew of Serenity were thieves and smugglers as a matter of survival, they had the nasty habit of always doing the right thing, even when it meant a great deal of self-sacrifice. In this day and age that sets the bar too high for most of us to feel good about ourselves. But that’s what I loved about it the most. William Faulkner when accepting his Nobel Prize said that authors must learn to write about “…the old verities and truths of the heart, the universal truths, lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed.” Joss Whedon understands this, and he creates characters that although they are very human, they have the courage to rise above their weaknesses to become truly heroic. He truly was the inspiration to write my book “Harold Finn – Ninja Warrior”, and to create a human, but heroic cast of characters. So even though Firefly was cancelled, it lives on through those who appreciate the ability of flawed humanity to occasionally rise above itself to accomplish the truly heroic. “You can’t stop the signal.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I'm Not That Popular

Okay, so we all want to be popular. It starts at an early age with the need to not be picked last. You remember, right? Those kids that never really seemed to fit in, usually because there was something different about them. I remember one guy who always smelled like bacon. (seriously, he always made my stomach growl, and dogs loved him) So while bacon is not necessarily a bad smell if you're cooking breakfast, it's kinda social suicide if you're a kid wanting to play kick ball.

But popularity is a tricky thing, and not easily managed. And sometimes people can be popular for all the wrong reasons. This brings to mind my high school classmate Claudia. She was extremely popular with the males of the high school. (although it must be said she was, conversely,  extremely unpopular with the females) Which led to a sort of general downfall of her overall popularity. Which is a shame, because I always thought she was sweet, and hope she did well in life.

Then there's that saying, "What is right is not always popular, and what is popular is not always right." I don't know who said it, I just saw it on the wall in "10 Things I Hate About You" and figured it must be a famous saying. It does seem to ring true, but there's a strong chance it was just made up by someone who smelled like bacon. I admit that as one of the "have-nots" in society there is a tendency for a bit of sour grapes to be thrown around, and I've done my fair share. Still hoping to end up on  a wall in a movie. (it could happen)

And now it's time to reveal the cause of this pondering of popularity. You see that little counter on the upper right hand side of my blog? Yeah, everyone has one, right? It counts the number of page views that your little blog gets, and it makes you feel really happy that while you're not exactly Lady Gaga, there are people who visit your site. Well as I was working on my blog pages the other day, moving things around, trying to get it just right, I noticed that the counter kept ticking every time I would view a page to see if I liked it. It counts ME. And since I like to tinker around with my blog a bit, most of the hits on that counter belong to yours truly. So you see, I'm not that popular. (but at least I don't smell like bacon)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

She Loves You, Yay, Yea, Yeah...

Alright, I realize most of you don't really know me, but take my word for it, I'm a pretty easy-going guy. Which is not always easy on the Internet when you've got a degree in English. Now don't worry, I'm not the militant English degree guy. You know the people who feel the need to correct every little thing that is wrong. I used to call them the "Grammar Nazis". When I first started teaching, they were the older women in the English department that thought that the survival of mankind hinged on correct comma placement. (by the way, I think my first sentence might be a little dicey as far as commas go) And they would spend like 20 minutes of a 45 minute class beating kids over the head with a grammar club. My philosophy was, and still is, if you haven't got it by high school, there's nothing I can do that's going to cause the clouds to part and send divine grammar knowledge directly to your noggin. So while I'm better than most at grammar, I'm not great, and I don't care. I also don't care if you're not that great.(and mankind seems to be surviving)

 What does drive me a little nuts, is people using words incorrectly. (thus the title of this entry) You see "Yay", "Yea", and "Yeah", used interchangeably all over the place. AND IT'S MAKING ME CRAZY! Okay, maybe I was already crazy, but that's not my point! (try to stay on task, people)

The most common one is "Yea" for "Yeah". Like adding that "H" at the end was just a little too much to do. "I wanted to use the right word, but I just got so tired..." C'mon! Take some pride in your vocabulary! But now I'm getting a little tired of this semi-educational rant. So let's just lay out the definitions::

Yay - Your team just scored!
Yea - Your bill just passed!
Yeah - You're using slang again, please say "yes" instead, or the survival of mankind could be in jeopardy!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

And So It Begins...

Well, I guess I’ve finally come to the end of my rampant avoidance of a blog. I recently published my first novel, (it’s really awesome, you should check it out) and I need to work on establishing a “web presence”, so here it is!

I thought about a standard web page. It seems like a lot less pressure. You know, set it up, let it set there, try your best to direct traffic to it. Every now and then update it here and there. But then it hit me. I’m a writer now, and what self-respecting author doesn’t have a blog? (it’s rhetorical, don’t spend a lot of time trying to think of one)

So now comes the pressure of keeping a blog updated! Trying to think of things to write. And then the pressure of trying to be entertaining, and the question of why am I trying so hard to be entertaining and informative and stimulating? Is anyone going to read this?

I understand it takes a while to build a following. So should I wait to publish the good stuff when somebody is actually going to read it? Or do I start right off with my “A” game and take pride in my own abilities even though nobody reads it. (actually, that sounds a lot like my novel!)

I think maybe I’ll just keep changing the date on this post until I actually get a hit. (shhh, don’t tell anyone)

And speaking of my novel, (time for shameless plug) there’s all kinds of info one here about it, including a free sample! (and seriously, who doesn’t like free stuff?) I enjoyed writing it, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading it.

Alright, that’s about it for today. It’s time for BTVS. I’m going through the DVD’s once again. It’s season 3 and the Scooby gang is off to college.

Have a good one!