Thursday, July 15, 2010

To be continued? Not again. . .

One of my silly home movies features a coloring book with a story that basically ends right in the middle. The hero gets captured, then the coloring book ends. Pretty stupid, huh? It just doesn’t seem right to end a story at such a point. And yet this is nothing new. Back in the day, buying or reading comic books was somewhat of a problem for me, since we never subscribed to them, and we weren’t always going down the street to buy them. So if a comic book ended with a cliffhanger (as most of them did), I hardly ever got to find out exactly what happened next. It was not until years later when comic collecting became more intense that I finally began to find out what happened to those characters.

But sometimes, we never found out. Fans of the old “Jack and Jill” magazine may recall the character of “Perky Puppet.” Perky and friends went on an adventure one day and were never heard from again. Another character (Rufus Crustbuster, somebody else you‘ve probably never heard of) took over the storyline, and Perky sort of disappeared into the ether. Sad. And very lazy writing. You may never have heard of Perky Puppet, but now a similar thing has happened to a character you probably have heard of.

The comic strip “Annie” came to an end on Sunday, June 13, 2010. But worse than the fact that Annie is ending is the fact that Annie ended on a CLIFFHANGER! We aren’t going to find out (right away) how Annie gets out of her latest predicament! The last panel in the last strip says “And this is where we leave our Annie. For now-” Great. Just great. Exactly WHEN and HOW we find out what happens to Annie is a complete mystery which I don’t think even Annie’s creators know for sure. Folks, this is not only lazy writing, it’s bad policy. It makes the readers angry. If you only got half of your hamburger when you paid for a whole one, you’d be upset. (Yes, I know we didn’t have to pay much to read Annie, but work with me here).

I’m thinking of some other major shows that have come to an end without everything being completely resolved- namely "Lois and Clark", “Lost” and “The Sopranos.” Is this the latest trend? End with MOST of the questions answered, but not all of them? Or end with some answered and some unanswered? Or, like Annie and so many other comics, end with nothing at all answered? There’s another great comic strip about a one-eyed sailor that has run for many years now. If Annie can end, why not Popeye? With Popeye it will probably be less painful, as the strip (to my knowledge) doesn’t use a storyline as much as it used to. So it likely won’t “end in the middle of the story,” because there isn’t a story.

But meanwhile, we still await word on both Perky Puppet and Annie. Maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a creative guy myself that I don’t like the characters (or the audience) being treated this way. But Kermit’s advice of “write your own ending” is sometimes very wise. And it could be that if you really want to know how Annie gets out of her latest predicament, you’ll have to discover it for yourself. Good luck, and let me know how it all turns out.

TV OR NOT TV: I’m in the middle of a grand experiment here at my place. It’s something I’ve thought about doing for a while now, and now I actually am doing it. For the past 2 months or so, I’ve dropped my cable company, and I haven’t been watching live TV. This actually isn’t the first time I’ve done it, but this is the first time I’ve done it where I wasn’t able/willing to have somebody else tape something for me. :) The good news is that I really don’t miss it that much. I’m not against TV at all, but it was getting foolish to spend money on something that was hardly ever used. As vital as we sometimes think it is, TV is a luxury. We sadly haven’t been using it as a luxury, but as a necessity. It’s time we changed that. We don’t have to watch something just because someone else says we should.

You’ve probably heard of Bruce Springsteen’s “57 channels and nothing on.” Actually, aside from the loads of junk, there’s a lot of fine stuff on TV. But for me, there’s not a lot on TV that makes me want to watch it- and a lot less that makes me want to pay the bills to watch it. I’ve actually “done the math” on this. If you’re paying $60 or more per month for television, and there are only three things on per month that you want to see, that’s like paying $20 to watch something on TV! Indeed, why not just buy the DVD if you can? It honestly is a good question to ask yourself as you’re lounging around complaining about the stupid show you’re watching. . .and then not changing the channel. You just sit there complaining about what’s going on. But you don’t do anything about it, even though you have the power to change things. You remind me of several people I know. Get up. Turn off tube. Do something better. Heck, you might even want to give up surfing the Internet if you really want to.
Wait, where are you going?

NO MORE HOT PANTS? A lot of comic book fans are feeling pretty patriotic these days. They're upset that Wonder Woman is losing her star-spangled blue shorts! I'm only a bit upset, as it has been pointed out that at least you can still see the outline of her legs. I suppose we haven't lost too much. Although I should point out that both WW and Captain America have seen some changes recently- and that both characters traditionally wear patriotic clothing. Are comic book writers turning against patriotism? Is this a plot to reduce the value of the red, white & blue? Well, actually, Wonder Woman changed her outfit for the same reason that Captain America died, and Superman died. To sell comics. I think we'll be seeing the hot pants again. Superman died, and we saw him again. Captain America will be starring in a movie, even though he died. Spider-Man changed his costume. Then he went back to the old one. Pardon my cynicism, but when you've seen it all before. . .It's just like Lady Gaga. I look at her and see Madonna. Some people look at Madonna and see Peggy Lee. Some people look at Peggy Lee and see whoever played the “provocative blonde solo singer” role before she did. I'm not sure who that was. I'm not quite that old. Close, though.

AT LAST WE KNOW: Oh, you lucky reader. I know you thought you were just wasting your time reading my blog, but I am going to reward you handsomely for your efforts. I am going to tell you THE MEANING OF LIFE! It isn't going to be as deep and profound as you'd hope, but it's going to be quite meaningful. I figured it out last week as I went to attend a meeting that I thought was taking place at a local library. I went to the library, but there was no meeting. Kind of reminded me of another event (check out the January 2006 archives for that one). So I decided to use my free time to do some shopping. Went to a store I wanted to go to for a while. It was closed. Went to another store nearby. It was closed. Went to Goodwill to shop and drop off a donation. They were closed - but the lady who was there was glad to take my donation. At this point I was getting mad. Why is nothing going right today? I thought about another nearby store, and immediately thought to myself, “Why bother? They're closed.” Which they were!

Now I realize that this seems like a petty thing to complain about in the big scheme of things. So what if I went out shopping and the stores were closed? Well, it's easy to say that now, because it's over. But it wasn't fun at the time. In the midst of my anger, I decided to stop in at Rite Aid and have a chocolate chip ice cream cone. It was good. Yum. I was reasonably happy again. As I walked along the parking lot eating the ice cream, the secret of life occurred to me. No, it's not ice cream. Life is making the best out of a bad situation. Think about all the people you know or have ever heard of. No matter how much they were blessed or cursed, no matter what they had to go through, they had to make the best they could out of a bad situation - life. Life has always been a challenge. It always will be. We meet the challenge every day and - even to a very small degree - we overcome the challenge. We don't overcome everything, but I think we should be proud of what we do overcome. Life gives us lemons, and we make lemonade. But we MAKE the lemonade. It doesn't appear naturally. The good that we find in this life comes only if we look for it. Most of us are only looking at the lemons and saying, “This sucks,” and going home. It never occurs to us that we have to do something. In a day filled with bad things, I did one thing to make me happy. I overcame. I made it a good day. I'll try to keep doing that, and hopefully next time I won't even need the ice cream.