John Ostrander: The Man

Our last article about Stan Lee’s life and death? We aren’t sure, but it’s certainly one of the best.

by John Ostrander

So there I was, working on finishing up this week’s column, when I heard the news. Stan Lee had died.

I can’t say it was unexpected. The Man was 95, his health wasn’t great, but still – Stan the Man.

I never actually met him to say hello or shake his hand. The closest I came was at a convention; Kim and I were having dinner in the hotel restaurant and it turned out Stan was having dinner at a table near us. I could’ve said hello but he was eating and talking with someone. I got the shys and didn’t feel I could break in on his dinner.

However, in a way I did know him in a manner that all of us could and still can. Through his work.

It was in high school, my sophomore or junior year, when I first met him. I was idly looking at a comic book spinner rack in a train station. (Note to younger readers: there was no comic book stores in those days. It was spinner racks or nothing and you couldn’t always be sure that the next issue was going to show up or when.)  I was already a comic book fan. I came across a comic I had never seen before from a company I didn’t know. It was Spiderman 49; on the cover, Spiderman was being towed through the air, arms bound and mask ripped off by his enemy, a grotesque character I would come to know as the Green Goblin.

This was serious. I could tell. Nothing like that ever happened to Batman or any of the other DC stalwarts. The image grabbed me and I grabbed the comic. I knew nothing about Spiderman and yet I had no trouble keying into the story and the breathless climax where the real identity of the Green Goblin was revealed. That didn’t really mean much to me although I would later learn it had been a secret for years. Still I was hooked and haunted that spinner rack until Spiderman 50 came out.

Marvel comics used to have “house ads” on the interior of the books, pointing the reader to other characters and other books that the company sold. I sought them out on spinner racks and newsstands. Almost all of them were written by Stan (the Man) Lee. Look, I know that Stan would give a few sentences of plot to the artist assigned to the book who then worked it out and drew it. Stan would then dialogue it. How else was he going to write all those books in the time he had? It still makes my head spin.

I learned things from Stan. One issue started with Spidey in the middle of a pitched battle with a brand new character called the Rhino. In a caption, Stan told the reader not to worry, effendi, and that he would catch us up as the fight went on. He did, too. That taught me you could do exposition without boring the crap out of everyone.

In the same issue, Rhino tries to stomp Spiderman who is on the ground, rolling out of the way. As Spidey went, he admonished Rhino, “Uh uh! Kickies no fair!” I laughed out loud. You know how everyone loves how Deadshot motormouths his way through battles? Started here, folks.

In an issue of Fantastic Four, the team was trapped in the Negative Zone, heading to the exploding center of that dimension. Three of them got out safe but their leader, Reed Richards, was sacrificing himself so the other three could make it. They can’t reach him and that issue ended with Reed heading towards certain death with no way the others can save him.

I wanted that next issue RIGHT THEN and it taught me how you want the reader to feel when you did a cliffhanger.

His characters were more complex than DC’s, having real life problems and neuroses. There were themes and a greater depth to the stories. And, of course, there’s that single sentence that has transcended comics and has become pop culture wisdom: “With great power comes great responsibility.” It has been quoted and used by many folks outside of our comic book realm.

That’s how I know Stan Lee and that is why I think of him as still living. His work, the characters that he created, still speaks to people. There are living people in your everyday life who don’t do that. So long as his words are read and his characters survive, Stan lives on.

Excelsior.

I had to do that.


John Ostrander is one of LB’s favorite writers in any medium. It’s been awhile since he’s been here, but now John’s back with a new column at a new blog, PopCultureSquad, where this piece first appeared (with lots of pictures even). You can learn more about John and his many masterworks HERE

TV Series Thanksgiving Episodes You’ll Be Glad You Watched

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYBODY!

For those of you who don’t realize how much kinder American television has been to the descendants of those who stole our country from the Native Americans than the early settlers have been to those they stole it from, here is a random sample of some pretty damn cool Thanksgiving TV episodes through the years.

NOTE TO LB: Um, boss, is this gonna get us in trouble?

NOTE FROM LB: Shaddup, minion, and double check the links!

And of course (because this isn’t really all that random:

Seeya tomorrow, boys and girls, moms and dads, um, etcetera!

Wynne McLaughlin sees ‘The Kominsky Method’

NOTE FROM LB: Wynne McLaughlin is a video game rock star – what else would you call the lead writer of The Elder Scrolls Online and The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind, among other things? – and one of my favorite guys to hang with here online (because he’s not exactly in my Puget Sound nabe, you know? But if he was we’d be on the beach crabbing together right now…)

You get the idea, yeah? And in this short review Wynne makes sure we get his idea, and pronto. Talk about a hell of a lede:


by Wynne McLaughlin

OMG, this new Netflix show starring Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method, is perfection.

Seriously, Emmy material.

Funny, touching, perfectly cast, and most remarkably, created, largely written, and very often directed by Chuck Lorre, the writer-producer of sitcoms like Two And A Half Men and Big Bang Theory.

The Kominsky Method is a single camera show with no audience or laugh track, a complete departure for Lorre, and by FAR the best work he’s ever done.

We watched three straight episodes and had to reluctantly force ourselves to stop and not binge-watch the whole season.

Watch it, right now if you can.

Trust me!


MORE FROM LB: Wynne’s response to this show struck more than a chord with me. It resonated like Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (which, as my, um intimates can tell you, is the song that plays in my head 24/7, keeping me focused on, well, living, but that’s another story).

Gwen the Beautiful and I have seen five of the eight episodes comprising the first season, and we both feel that they perfectly captured our lives at our ages.

We too had to force ourselves to take a break from watching, Gwen because she wanted to have the remaining episodes to look forward to for awhile, I because my brain was totally knotted up from  spending two and a half continuous hours laughing and crying simultaneously.

In other words, watch The Kominsky Method.

In other, other words – Trust Wynne!

Change Your Life in Just 2 Minutes a Day: 10 Quick Habits

Worthwhile reading for those of us who aren’t perfect. Especially writers whose positivity needs a boost or ten. (In other words, all of us, you know?)

by Henrik Edberg

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
Lao Tzu

“The distance is nothing; it is only the first step that is difficult.”
Madame Marie du Deffand

Making a positive change in your life does not have to be about making a huge leap.

But I believe that belief is one of those things that hold people back from improving their life and world.

A simpler way that more often results in actual action being taken and new habits being established – in my life at least – is to take smaller steps but many of them.

So today I’d like to share 10 quick habits that can help you to change your life in just 2 minutes or so a day.

Through these small steps you can start to build habits that become stronger and over time can change your life in ways you perhaps can’t imagine now.

To remember to actually do one of the things below each day I recommend writing down a simple reminder.

Put it on your nightstand so that you see it when you wake up each morning. Or put the note in your workspace so you see it early in your day.

If you like and if possible, expand on the small habit after a week or two and do it for just a few more minutes a day.

1. Just start working for 2 minutes on your most important task.

I use this one at least one day every week.

On some days I simply don’t feel like getting started with work. I’d much rather stay lazily on the sofa.

So on such days I just start to work for 2 minutes on my most important task.

That is the deal.

The thing is: getting started is pretty much always the hardest part.

After I have started moving and been at work for those 2 minutes it is usually pretty easy to just continue working on that task….

Read it all at The Positivity Blog

The Best Way to Pitch Your Project to Netflix or Amazon

Richard Botto knows this stuff

Speaking of writing your way into the future (as we were just a moment ago here), does anybody remember when Netflix and Amazon were streaming dreams about tomorrow?

Well, they’re here, buddies, and also here is a quick primer in how to get your foot/feet/arms/face/imagination/whole self in today’s door:

Brought to us by everlovin’ Stage 32