Modern Love

Recently, I read a blog whose author indicated right off the bat the post to follow was more for them than for the reader. Reading that reminded me of a post rattling around in my brain which never got out into the Ether until now.

This site you are reading. My space. Am I blogging primarily for those of you who read it…or am I really, honestly creating first and foremost for myself?

Neil Gaiman, a legend in the land of comic books and who possesses the brilliant mind behind “The Sandman” , was interviewed earlier this year by the New York Times before the Sandman adaptation series debuted on Netflix. I thought he provided a very interesting take on what audiences want, and how a writer makes a decision to write for oneself, or one’s audience.

“Sandman has been huge, but it was never huge when it was coming out. Since then it has gone on to become this ridiculous steady seller because new people are always finding it when they’re 16, 18, 22 years old. They find it, and it’s their comic. It’s their story. I didn’t get to that by going, “I will please my audience.” But audiences do want more of the last thing that they liked. That’s how audiences work. They say, “Hey, I love this strawberry ice cream. Can I have more?” In response to that, I can do one of two things. I can give them more strawberry ice cream. If I do that, I am doomed to give them strawberry ice cream for as long as I do this thing, and I will hate myself. Or I can go, “Nobody is clamoring for chocolate ice cream. Nobody even knows they like chocolate ice cream. However, I want to do chocolate ice cream next. So why don’t I do chocolate ice cream and keep my own interest up?” It’s how the entirety of my writing career has gone.”

Gaiman went on…“I’ll use another analogy. Years ago, my friend Teresa Nielsen Hayden said some authors are dolphins, and some are otters. You can train a dolphin. Give a dolphin a fish if it does a trick, and it will do that trick again. Otters are untrainable. They’ll do something, and you give them a fish, and then they’ll do something else. Because, why would they do the thing they already did? I tend to be an otter.”

One of the things I hope readers like is when you see there’s a new post here you’ll wonder what I’ve written about this time around. Subjects come to my mind from multiple, unpredictable directions.  In the context of Gaiman’s observations above, I think I am very much Team Otter. My writing is true to my nature, and I am very much creating what I want. Of course, I also hope each of you thinks your time is well-spent…and you’ll enjoy what you find. That’s a cherished bonus.

However, one scenario where I lean into Team Dolphin is with regard to any sports-related posts. I believe a number of readers here have little or no interest in sports. Hell, over the years I’VE started to care less about sports which I never, ever thought I’d type out. But when I do write something about sports these days, I admittedly do try to craft those posts in such a way they will also be amusing and/or informative and/or entertaining to non-sports fans.

A new documentary on the life and times of the late music legend David Bowie is currently playing in theatres titled “Moonage Daydream,” directed by Brett Morgen. Madison Bloom from the website Pitchfork wrote about one segment of this film where Bowie reveals how he felt about the time he had his most lucrative success, following the release of his 1983 album “Let’s Dance.”

“At one point, Morgen slips in early footage of Ziggy Stardust (Bowie) singing “Rock n’ Roll Suicide.” He then splices it with ‘80’s stadium tour footage and clips from Bowie’s Pepsi commercial with Tina Turner, which turned “Modern Love” into an embarrassing jingle for the soft drink. The director is formally commenting on the gross commercial excess of the era, if not foreshadowing Bowie’s hindsight on it. “Even though it was enormously successful, there was no growth going on at all,” Bowie says later in voiceover, admitting that he was confining himself to “what I perceived people wanted.” It is the film’s most honest moment…hearing Bowie confess that he’d betrayed his artistic nature is disarming. Knowing that this resulted in his most lucrative phase is its own meta commentary on art and commerce.”

You have to appreciate the honesty. Bowie is admitting to creating work based on what he believed audiences wanted and in doing so, felt stagnant as an artist. When Bowie released that album…writing most of the songs on it including “Modern Love”…I just assumed back then he had a natural curiosity and passion to write songs and create music within a brand-new space. In reality, it sounds like he was way more invested in writing and creating what he felt others wanted him to do.

These quotes from Gaiman and Bowie made me stop and think for a moment. Do I most often create and write for myself here…or for what I think readers would best respond to…or maybe it’s usually a little of both?

As for “Modern Love,” I hope David Bowie at least got some satisfaction knowing many people enjoyed it…regardless of his motivation.


Picture Courtesy Pinstripe Hourglass

Adapting To Death – Neil Gaiman Brings The Sandman To Netflix

In this age of “social” media, offering a review or opinion of just about anything creative can yield comments and responses supporting your take, but more often than not you’ll also generate opinions which are not only the polar opposite, but served up with a heaping side of snark and venom.

It is also a time that when creative works are adapted into different mediums, that fact alone can inspire an outpouring of fiery anger and hatred.

I find it ironic whenever a baby boomer guy like myself complains about something, we’re designated as “the old man on the porch,” supposedly resistant to change and complaining just for the sake of complaining. Yet, it seems to me people now learn at a very early age to come for and declare war on anyone who doesn’t completely agree with their views…or wants to mess with something they love.

When I was in college, I took a course on Film Criticism. One of the takeaways I still abide by is to not only be tolerant but inquisitive when someone views films/series/plays/books/art differently than I. My feeling is reviews and opinions of creative work are subjective in every way (unless or course the company that employs you also owns the creative property you’re reviewing but I digress). Further, you might actually learn something from differing viewpoints which could lead to your modifying or even changing your thoughts about the work. Finally, creative forms or mediums provide vastly different experiences, even if the subject matter is essentially the same.

I recently saw the movie “Where the Crawdads Sing,” based on a best-selling book by Delia Owens. I never read the novel, but was drawn to seeing the film because of the book’s overwhelming success. For a number of reasons, I did not enjoy the movie. However, in leaving the theatre with my wife I mentioned it probably made for a very good book. While I didn’t like the way it was portrayed on the big screen, I considered what I saw as it might have played out in written form – in other medium – and could see where it might well be a most compelling novel. In fact, my suspicion in the instance of “Where The Crawdads Sing” was and is the filmmakers stayed quite true to those written words…which may be why I felt it wasn’t a very good watch.

I later read reviews which highly praised the movie, but I didn’t feel there were any opinions or observations that altered my feelings about it. Yet, I did do that personal due diligence and seek out positive reviews to see what those folks had taken away from the film, what experiences they had. And in my comments back to those reviewers, I was respectful of their opinions while expressing mine.

The release of the Netflix series “The Sandman” has garnered much reaction on social media over the past couple of weeks. For decades, this distinguished work in the world of comics languished in development hell until its creator, Neil Gaiman, found just the right folks to help bring his adaptation to the screen. Yet, even though Gaiman was fully immersed in developing this project, there were those who began tirades the moment it came out saying the comic is still great, but the TV adaptation is rubbish, and don’t even give it a look. You would have thought they owned the property themselves and hadn’t gotten paid for it. Of course, there were others who absolutely loved the series and they raved about it, heaping over-the-top, God-like praise upon it. Indeed, yet another social media flexing of the extremes had broken out. People these days can’t just calmly state they like or dislike creative work, and sometimes can’t even remain civil when opposite opinions appear.

Fandom on social media seems to me to be fairly toxic most of the time. If you don’t like something someone else does, you’re right and they’re wrong. The actor and comedian Patton Oswalt, who lends his voice to the character Raven in “The Sandman,” had this to say to IndieWire regarding current fan culture:

“This happens with everything, including sports and music. There are fans out there who unfortunately look at everything they love as showing the person how much they love them by hating other things. If I express hatred toward the thing that’s not them, that shows them how much I love them. It’s a sad and ugly way to show how you love things, but unfortunately that’s how a lot of people are being taught and how people are being modeled by our leaders now, which sucks.”

Oswalt also had this to say regarding the priorities of people in our world today versus being opposed against any adaptation of “The Sandman”:

“If you can look out your window and this is what you’re mad about, then you have way bigger pathologies to deal with than I can handle. If you are looking at the headlines and going, “I am planting my flag on the hill of “don’t fuck with The Sandman” well then, you’ve got some really serious problems. You’ll love this show, especially Episode Six, “The Sound of Her Wings,” which is so goddamn beautiful.” (Do hold that thought about Episode Six…I’ll circle back to that in a moment…)

The following is an excerpt from The Nerdist where Michael Walsh wrote about why adaptations are done in the first place:

“Why does anyone bother making or watching adaptations of great stories? If we already love something, why do we need to experience it in a different medium? Especially, when adaptations so often disappoint the people who care about the source material the most. “The Sandman’s” sixth episode, “The Sound of Her Wings,” is why. The Netflix series did more than introduce new fans to the beauty of Neil Gaiman’s Death. “The Sandman” gave old fans new ways to appreciate a beloved character with an episode and performance that exemplifies the best of what adaptations can and should be.”

I thoroughly enjoyed Netflix’s “The Sandman.” I didn’t find it perfect in every way, but to me it’s a very high-quality production. I am only diving into the source material now, but I was already aware there were several significant changes from the comics which were made in bringing this to the screen. Why? Because it’s a completely different medium, designed for a global streaming audience.

And for fans of Gaiman’s original comics, considering they surely knew he was involved in every aspect of this television project, why would they not be thrilled which the fact millions of more folks now get exposure to his stories, his characters?

Since I recently asked readers to give “Evil” a watch, knowing everyone has thousands of entertainment options these days, it’s downright obscene of me so soon thereafter to now suggest you give this series a look if you weren’t otherwise inclined…but before I wrap this up I must give Episode Six of “The Sandman” its due.

It is one of the most moving episodes of television I have ever experienced. It’s about dying and Death, but equal measures of dignity, faith, and hope are baked in as well. Here’s another excerpt from Walsh regarding that particular episode, and how seeing scenes play out is such a different dynamic than reading them:

“Dying doesn’t seem as terrifying when you imagine this Death will be by your side. The act of dying on “The Sandman” – whether in old age doing what you love, or alone in an alleyway far too young – certainly wasn’t horrible, it wasn’t defined by sadness or anger, nor even by the finality of life. Instead, it was about the comfort of holding a hand and the soft sound of wings. And seeing and hearing all of that in “The Sandman” was powerful in a way than reading about them isn’t. Not better or worse, just different. Because while no TV show or movie can ever fully capture every aspect of what makes a book or comic great, live-action adaptations bring elements the written word or a static illustration inherently can’t.”

“The existence of Netflix’s “The Sandman” will never change the existence of Neil Gaiman’s comic book. Nor will Netflix’s Death change how you think about the version you first met on the page. All that’s changed is that we now have two versions of Death to appreciate, each in a different medium that offer elements the other one can’t. The two aren’t competing with each other or for our admiration, either. They complement one another, and in doing each elevates their counterpart. That’s the best you can hope from any adaptation of a great story. That’s the reason adaptations are worth attempting even if they so often disappoint us. When done right, they give us something new to love while reminding us why we loved the original in the first place. And you can’t do that better than “The Sound of Her Wings.”

We all die. We all have our own ideas about the moment life will end. One thought on that subject is offered in “The Sandman,” and it is one worth considering.

In any medium.


Picture Courtesy Netflix

The Intermission

In the time since the creative part of my brain once again regained the wheel from the analytical section…and I started a new blog…I have been reading what other folks have been up to in the interim through their prior posts.

It occurred to me as well all of you…many of you…some…OK, perhaps ONE of you may actually be curious as to what’s been happening with me since I last lived on WordPress. So…in chronological order:

February 4, 2018: The Super Bowl

The hometown Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl, which was also the franchise’s first championship since 1960. It was oh-so-hard-to-believe then…and I STILL can’t quite accept this really happened. In a season where Carson Wentz (playing at an elite level) suffered a season-ending injury in mid-December, they still managed to win it all. This one really snuck up on me, as I feared the worst when Wentz’s knee exploded all over Los Angeles. But Nick Foles, who was considering retirement during the prior off-season, crafted a magical underdog story which ended in a Super Bowl MVP nod.

April 2, 2018: The NCAA Championship

The hometown Villanova Wildcats won their second national title in the last three years. This one was a shade easier to believe because of winning it all in 2016, but I wonder if everyone who lives outside of our region understands just how small a community the Wildcats reside within. It’s positively surreal to see how Villanova has become an annual national championship contender over the last few years. Of course, with Head Coach Jay Wright’s retirement, time will tell if they can retain their lofty standing in the college basketball community. Wright was always a great dresser and recruiter. Eventually, he put all of the X and O pieces together, and will likely be adding Hall of Fame Coach to his resume in the near future.

March 13, 2020: The Pandemic 

My wife and I were sent home from work. Our positions converted overnight to remote work. We were/are blessed to a) have a roof over our heads, and b) have a house which allows us enough space to each have our own mini-home offices. It has also been a blessing no one in our family has had – to the best of our knowledge – this illness as of this writing.

October 28, 2020: The Roof

Even though we did not experience any issues with our roof, it had been in place at this point for enough years we judged it would be a solid, pro-active move to replace it. Prior to getting it installed, and having never been a part of such an event, I went online to research what one could expect from a replacement roofing install. There were several comments recommending you get out of the house for the day because it can get quite noisy. My wife and I figured there’d be a decent amount of noise, but felt we would rather stay in/with the house while it was being worked on.

Good Lord, GET OUT of your home if you are replacing your roof. The hammering started at 7 AM, lasted until 4PM…and to this day I still think I’m hearing tiles being put into place.

December 20, 2021: The Barber

This greeted me 5 days before my pre-Christmas haircut. Bill was my barber for approximately 30 of his 58 years in the business. He had two dogs in my time visiting his shop, and they were always with him while he was busily cutting away. Bill is truly one of the nicest people on the planet, and after finding this posted on his shop door, I made it a point to send him a thank-you card for his service…and friendship.

I have since found a great barber shop fairly close to home. It started operating a few years ago, and I always figured if Bill ever did stop working I’d wind up…at none other than “The Grumpy Barber.” As soon as I saw their sign go up, I figured I had to go there at least once…and they are not grumpy at all.

April 29, 2022: The Cold Brew

A long-time Caramel Macchiato drinker, Dunkin’s commercials touting the Cold Foam Cold Brew finally wore me down. Figuring I never would enjoy cold or iced coffee, I finally gave in and tried one…and another…and another.

At this point, hot coffee is in the rear-view mirror. A medium Cold Foam Cold Brew with three pumps of Caramel start my day each day. That being said, I do need to fire off a letter to Dunkin’ to ask them to get some part-time traffic police to manage the area surrounding the one establishment of theirs I most often frequent. Due to the Pandemic, not only this location but a couple of others nearby have not re-opened their doors, continuing to only serve thru drive-thru. With the price of gas these days, maybe that will knock down those lines a little going forward. In any event, it can get crazy when there are multiple pathways to get into one line.

June 1, 2022: The Next Chapter

So…when Bill The Barber hung up his shears in December…that got me thinking…

June 1 became the first day of my first retirement. I refer to it as such because who the hell knows what the future holds for any of us. For this moment in time, it seemed like the right time.

The “honey-do” list is of such length, I figured I’d better get started on it now…


Picture Courtesy iStock

Today Is The First Day Of The Rest Of This Blog

First off, it’s great to be back on WordPress. I had forgotten how much “fun” it is to re-learn the editing and publishing functions.

History will show I started a blog fifteen years ago…and shut it down a couple of years later. Shortly thereafter, I actually tried to provide content to two blogs simultaneously. Their life spans were similar to the first. (My alias then was Sportsattitudes)

And here I am now…giving it another go. This blog might just stand the test of time, especially since I now have carved out more time to devote to writing.

The direction this site will take? As you might have guessed from my previous screen name, sports is a prime contender for capturing my attention…but being a massive consumer of movies, music, tv and streaming shows, etc. this blog should also be an “entertaining” read. 

I’m also always on the outlook for the humorous aspects of things…of life…and like to report in when I find them.

It is so cool to find many familiar folks still blogging away, and I’m not only looking forward to re-connecting with them now, but finding new blogs to enjoy.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope to see you again soon.


Picture Courtesy iStock