Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How I Met Your Mother: "Rally"

Quick Review: A very funny start to the final set of episodes.

Episode Synopsis: On the day of his wedding, Barney is suffering from a horrific hangover, and the gang tries to concoct a, wait for it, legendary Stinson Hangover Fixer Elixir, but finding the bizarre ingredients proves to be a challenge. -tvguide

Spoiler alert. I realize that there aren't that many of these left to give. I'm starting to get a little emotional thinking about how this is one of my last spoiler warnings. This show has really gone by in a blink. It seems like only yesterday I was reviewing season seven, and now we're on the final run of episodes. But that won't stop me from my duty of warning you that there are spoilers beyond this point, so think twice before proceeding. I'd hate for you to get depressed and go an an epic binge and then vow never to do that again. It won't be pretty.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Comedy Advice (part 1)

Everyone once in a while, I talk to people who are interested in writing comedy. They have funny ideas, but don't know where to start. (And I can tell you from experience, trying to eat the heart of a clown is not the most efficient way to get better at comedy...despite the shoes those guys are really, really fast.) Since clown cannibalism is pretty much out of the question, we have to realize that there is no one, easy way to learn how to be funny. So here's my advice on how to work on improving your comedy skills.

First, you need to find funny people and spend time with them. Humor is one thing that can be absorbed through osmosis, sort of. One of the best ways I got better at being funny and writing comedy is spending time with people smarter and wittier than me. It forced me to keep up, to train my brain to have an ear for comedy. It took a while to get the hang of it, but eventually I was able to make people laugh with a casual comment, and that's helped my writing.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How I Met Your Mother: "Sunrise"

Quick Review: A good theme, nice character moments, but perhaps a bit too packed.

Episode Synopsis: On the day of the wedding, a tipsy Barney goes missing, and while out searching for him, Ted and Robin recall Ted's former relationships. Meanwhile, Lily and Marshall clear up their on-going issues; and Barney imparts his women-meeting wisdom and techniques to two young wannabe ladies' men. -tvguide

Spoilers ahead, so you might want to hold off on reading this review until you watch the episode. You know, it's hard to believe that there are only seven episodes left of the series. And here you are, squandering those last moments with spoilers. Is that really how you want to end this experience, being spoiled on a fairly good episode? It's your choice, obviously, but is this a choice you're going to regret. I've seen those old yearbook pictures. Trust me, you're going to regret a few of those. Especially when your kids find them.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Harry Potter and the Hindsight Bias

I will proudly declare my love of the Harry Potter novels. I got into them well before the first movie came out, back when there were only 4 books. What began as a lark, wondering just what everyone saw in these British imports, quickly turned into a literary addiction by the end of the first chapter of the first book. I was hooked, and those years between novel releases were long. (Of course, Harry Potter readers have nothing on fans of the Dark Tower or Song of Ice and Fire sagas.)

As a writer myself, I am hugely envious of what J.K. Rowling was able to accomplish. She crafted an amazing seven volume series, which is already becoming a classic staple of English literature. Generations of children will tear into the world of Harry Potter much the same way previous generations enjoyed the Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and the Chronicles of Prydain. Not only are these books good, they inspired a love of reading into a generation of children. It's hard to argue with that kind of success.

Except now, seven years after the publication of the final Harry Potter volume, Rowling regrets one of the biggest plot points of the series. (I should warn you that some spoilers will follow. If you haven't read the books and want to remain unspoiled, I suggest you log off the internet entirely, lock yourself in a secure bunker, and read all seven books. Because otherwise you will be spoiled.)