Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What is the point of Superman?

© by Gerald So |

Having seen Man of Steel, in which, among other things, kryptonite is absent and Superman kills Zod, my friend Jim Winter concludes:

Even the myths of old had vulnerable characters. Chronos swallowed his children, only to vomit them back up so they could condemn him to darkness. The Norse gods will all die someday. The Greek and Roman pantheons are a collection of case studies in human neuroses, from the panicked overlord (Zeus) to perpetual smartass (Hermes) to the borderline autistic (Hades and Hephestus). Pick a god, any god. They have more weaknesses than Superman and more flaws. This lets them be the hero or the villain, depending on the story.

I know I loved Superman as a kid, having this invincible hero take out much more powerful baddies than people could handle. But I’m not a kid anymore. Even my escapism needs a dose of reality. "I know I loved Superman as a kid, having this invincible hero take out much more powerful baddies than people could handle. But I’m not a kid anymore. Even my escapism needs a dose of reality.

I commented that I thought Man of Steel did a good job of showing how Superman empathized with the everyman. The draw of Superman, to me, is his capacity to feel for humanity, to the point he goes out of his way to assimilate into Earth culture. That an alien would do this says something positive about humanity. His empathy also makes him vulnerable to people and supervillains who don’t care who they hurt in pursuit of their goals. His emotional vulnerability, to me, is more compelling than his physical vulnerability to rocks from Krypton.

There are times I’d like Superman to have more personality, like the Greek gods Jim mentions, but that’s not who he’s become. He’s not the tortured Batman or the wise-cracking Spider-Man; he’s the Boy Scout, boy-next-planet Superman.


Ace Atkins' third Spenser continuation novel goes on sale next week, and my review has been posted to the Crimespree Magazine blog. Thanks as always to editors Jon and Ruth Jordan.

Monday, April 28, 2014

At The 5-2: "Trickster Time" by Linda Rodriguez

As The 5-2's April blog tour draws to a close, we wrap up a month of poems on trickery with "Trickster Time" by novelist and poet Linda Rodriguez:

Sunday, April 27, 2014

5-2 Guest Editor Annabelle Edwards

The next 5-2 guest editor is Annabelle Edwards, a young writer and photographer living in New York. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Gone Lawn, Crack The Spine, and the Eunoia Review. She is the Co-Editor of Control Literary Magazine.

To submit for Annabelle's consideration, make your email subject line "5-2 Poetry for Edwards: [Title(s) of Your Work]". In addition to the usual 5-2 guidelines, Annabelle's guidelines are "Nothing homophobic, racist, sexist, or in any way hateful."

For publication the week of June 23-29, the submission deadline is May 23, 2014. I'm accepting regular 5-2 submissions at the same time.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


As you may know, I'm Roman Catholic, but this post isn't about what Easter means to Catholics. It's about embracing the newness of each moment. Anyone can do something new with that time, yet many, myself included, hold back for countless reasons that seem to loom large now but someday may not at all.

It's clear to me the more I embrace the new, the more time I have to become the person I want to be. I wish you the same.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Uncomfortable Language

As part of a series of posts on novel-writing, this week on Naked Authors, James O. Born discusses dialogue. He relates the common author experience of hearing from readers who object to profanity, asking in conclusion, "How do you feel about reading uncomfortable language in a book? Does it sweep you up in the realism of the story? Or does it turn you off?"

A character's language only makes me uncomfortable when it doesn't fit my impression of the character from the rest of the story (or from previous books in a series). For example, Robert B. Parker's P.I. Spenser has a reputation for poetic repartee, so when I notice him using cliches or old jokes, it bothers me.

On the other hand, it baffles me that readers would pick up books about unsavory characters yet expect them to refrain from dirty deeds and profanity. If readers object to profanity, violence, or whatever, they can choose books about polite, repressed pacifists instead.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday, April 07, 2014

Reed Farrel Coleman to continue Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone

Today on his website, Reed Farrel Coleman announced he had accepted the offer last May to continue Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone, following Michael Brandman's Killing The Blues, Fool Me Twice, and Damned If You Do. Coleman's first Stone novel, Blind Spot, goes on sale September 9.

When Parker created Stone in 1997's Night Passage, I liked the challenges he was presenting himself. Younger, flawed, and written from third-person, Stone would be everything Spenser was not. My favorite Stone novel is the fourth, Stone Cold, adapted by Brandman and John Fasano to launch the TV movie series starring Tom Selleck.

After Stone Cold the character went on a three-year hiatus, the Sunny Randall novel Melancholy Baby, period baseball mystery Double Play, and Western Appaloosa filling his usual fall slot. Putnam eventually published five more Stone novels by Parker, but higher paperback prices and weaker-sounding plots kept me from reading them.

Selleck's older Stone became the more compelling portrayal for me. Brandman was chosen on the strength of that portrayal, but a sample of Killing The Blues shows his inexperience as a novelist. I'm glad Putnam and Parker's estate have moved on. I believe, having written the flawed, wounded Moe Prager, Coleman has the right sensibilities to write Jesse Stone.

In the simplest terms, I wasn't interested in the Stone novels, and now I am again.

UPDATE: A further post on Coleman's site reveals he's signed with Putnam for four novels in the Stone series and two in a new series of his own featuring Suffolk County, Long Island cop Gus Murphy.

At The 5-2: "The Stainless Steel Wallet" by Amy Holman

This week, Brooklyn poet Amy Holman brings us a poem that is part Hammacher Schlemmer catalog, part celebrity news:

Our third annual blog tour is underway.

The 5-2 is always open to submissions.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

NCIS: "Crescent City"

Special Agent Dwayne Cassius "King" Pride (Scott Bakula) is called in when the body of his NIS mentor is discovered. As the man was now a member of Congress, the FBI takes the body before the Jefferson Parish M.E. can examine it. Pride goes to Washington to team up with Gibbs on the case.

I've anticipated this episode since early February, when Scott Bakula and Zoe McLellan were cast. The thought of several Bellisario show veterans playing together thrilled me, and the reality did not disappoint.

Agent Pride's openness, established from the start, nicely contrasted Gibbs' gruff silence. That said, their chemistry as a team was also established early. Pride's work in New Orleans, with just one other agent, called to mind Season 1's underdog portrayal of NCIS.

Unlike the others, Agent Brody (McLellan) was closed off, much of her past left for Part Two. As someone who likes to get a sense of characters as quickly as possible, I didn't like that, though I understand it as a technique.

Part Two didn't pick up where Part One left off, instead drawing the characters together when another body appeared to have ties to the same killer. There was little indication how much time passed between the two.

Agent Brody was more open from the start of Part Two, but the time jump made her change of mood seem abrupt. Agent Pride did find out her secret, but they discussed it quickly as they geared up to follow a lead. That discussion was also wrapped in a needless Jeopardy! analogy.

As a whole, "Crescent City" gets credit for keeping the original NCIS characters involved while truly needing to spread them out to solve the case in two locales. As an episode of NCIS, "Crescent City" had star power a spinoff series probably wouldn't have. Time will tell if the New Orleans characters made enough of an impression on CBS execs. The NCIS: Red characters did not.

UPDATE (May 9): Multiple sources report CBS has picked up NCIS: New Orleans for Fall 2014.