Don’t Quit On Daredevil: Season 3

ScreenRant.com is saying that a lot of people gave up on Daredevil: Season 3.  If you’re one of those viewers, give it another try.  I finished this latest season about a week ago, and I have to tell you that after reflecting on it, I think this season is my favorite of all the Netflix Marvel shows.

First of all, the smartest of all the Marvel shows got even smarter.  Everyone in this series has actual motivation.  The plot unfolds organically and without any abrupt shifts in direction or tone.  Almost everything in this season actually makes sense.  One event leads to the next, which leads to the next, which leads to the next.

Consequently, the pacing is what actually makes this season my favorite.  The Netflix Marvel shows have had disastrous pacing issues–particularly in regards to Luke Cage and Iron FistDaredevil: Season 3 moves at a quick pace, and the story keeps developing from episode to episode to episode.  Other Marvel series have felt like three or four different story arcs within a single season.  Oftentimes they have an out-of-the-blue event occur around episode 7 or 8 that changes everything.  Not so with this one.  In fact, it’s the first time I didn’t tell myself (regarding a Netflix Marvel show) that thirteen episodes was too long.  I wanted more!

I groaned a bit when I heard Bullseye would be the villain of this season because he’s about as cliched a villain as you can get.  Fortunately, they grew “Dex” Poindexter into an antagonist only as the show progressed.  Getting him to that point was a slow burn.  Best of all, they never actually called him “Bullseye.”  Dex got more and more interesting as the show moved along in large part due to his mental torment.  I won’t spoil it for you, but they were quite creative in displaying this anguish.  Poindexter does awful things in this season, yet he is not entirely unlikable.  You can’t help but empathize with his plight a bit, especially because he can turn on the charm when he wants to.  I felt his frustration at being a hero when his talent for killing was done on behalf of the government, yet, when not working on behalf of his country, he was deemed a criminal.

Of course, I love Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk.  He, too, while certainly a villain, is a complicated man who is actually worthy of sympathy from time to time.  D’Onofrio plays him with such repression–it’s something to behold.  I love that Fisk is constantly flexing his fingers or working his hands.  He always seems as though he’s just barely constraining himself.  I’ve heard some say that D’Onofrio plays him too over the top, but I think it’s perfect.  Fisks merciless intellect always makes him a formidable opponent.

Jay Ali proved a welcome addition to the cast.  He played FBI agent Ray Nadeem.  Nadeem found himself at the center of everything in this season, and suffered as a result.  Ali delivered an average man just trying to do the right thing, and he showed us just how convoluted the “right thing” can be.  Nadeem provided a necessary emotional tether to the season that helped me to invest in the entire story as a whole.

Charlie Cox, though, is what makes this season something special.  This man is the perfect embodiment of Matt Murdock.  I think leaving the costume behind, having Murdock go back to the black shirt and pants really brought this series back to it’s street-level grittiness.  Murdock’s crisis of conscience, his battle with this faith, and his obsession with Fisk drove this season forward.  Cox benefited from getting to be the star of the show again.  He didn’t have to compete with an Electra or a Punisher taking up his screen time.  He didn’t have a gang of mystical ninjas to defeat.  He just had to outsmart Wilson Fisk, which is awfully hard to do, especially when you’ve got a man throwing items in your direction at terminal velocity.  The simplicity of this intricate plot made this season very entertaining.  It never got too big, but it never felt small, either.

Is this season perfect?  No, it’s not.  I think they don’t quite know what to do with Foggy Nelson, and I personally believe that Elden Henson is playing him more and more as a type rather than as a person.  Deborah Ann Woll, conversely, has gotten better and better as Karen Page.  The only misstep they had with her character involved an entire episode devoted to her background which was completely unneeded.  I’m also not a fan of a hero fighting an evil version of himself or herself.  If you’ve seen the trailers, you know that Dex himself dons the Daredevil costume.  They have a good reason for it that serves the story very well, but it’s still a pet peeve of mine.  I guess I should be glad they didn’t put him in the comic book version of the Bullseye costume.

As always, the fight scenes were incredible.  These feel like real brawls–everyone looks exhausted by the end of them.  There’s a prison fight and a fight in a church that are just flat-out amazing.

Because of Murdock’s complex identity issues regarding his alias, his faith, and even his morals, and because of the well-paced, methodical character development regarding Poindexter, Fisk, and Nadeem, I found this season extremely satisfying.  I was hooked on Season 3 by the first episode, but if you gave up on it for some reason, I hope you’ll give it another chance.  I think you’ll end up loving it as much as I did.

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(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

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Words Have Power – Choose Wisely

I learned early on in my teaching career that words have an incredible amount of power.  I could say the simplest thing and absolutely make a student’s day.  However, the opposite also rang true.  I could say something without thinking that had the ability to severely upset a student as well.

We are taught: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”  I don’t know about you, but my friends and I would use this as a mantra in grade school.  It served as almost a spell that warded off  insults.  We teach this to children because we know the cruelty that exists in childhood.  Kids say hurtful things to each other.  Sometimes on purpose with an intent to harm, but usually due to a lack of maturity.

As we get older and wiser, most of us learn to wield are words with caution.  We gain empathy.  We acquire the ability to consider the consequences of our words.  We understand that once a string of words is uttered, it can never be taken back.  We choose our words carefully.

Whether I like it or not, I am an authority figure when in my classroom.  I watch every single word I say because I know that my voice has the most power within those four walls.  My voice sets the tone of the room.  My words influence the actions of my students.  If I am calm, kind, encouraging, and articulate, my students’ mirror that.

During the first few years of my career, when I was barely past twenty-five, I enjoyed zinging my students.  We liked to banter with each other.  Typically, the insults were playful and harmless — I thought I was being funny.  However, sometimes a student would take it too far, and I would get upset.  I eventually realized that I had nothing to get upset about — the students were following my lead.  I set that tone.  My words dictated their actions.

In my early thirties, I stopped zinging kids.  I kept the jokes goofy and innocent — “dad jokes,” as my students call them.  Since then, I’ve found that the environment in my classroom has become far more relaxed, far more tolerant, and far more supportive.

Authority figures must be careful with their words.  I disagree with the notion that leaders have to “tell it like it is” because “like it is” is often a matter of perspective, and “like it is” is typically rooted in an agenda of some sort.  My “like it is” is not the same as your “like it is.”

There’s nothing wrong with considering others’ feelings.  There’s wisdom in predicting the potential ramifications of words.  There’s decency in showing restraint.

Choosing words that inform, inspire, and invigorate — that’s true leadership.

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(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

Back In Touch With An Old Friend …

A few days ago I struggled to make a dent in a book that will remain unnamed.  As it happens, a student in my class raved about an old Stephen King book he’d just finished — Pet Sematary.

Like you, I know about his classic novel, Pet Sematary.  I seen bits and pieces of the old movie on TV throughout the years.  However, I’ve never actually read the thing.  If you’ve visited this site for awhile, you know I’m a Stephen King fan.  His nonfiction is always sublime.  I could read his thoughts on all manner of subjects day and night.  He’s one of the few contemporary writers who strikes me as both present and wise.

His fiction, though, it a little hit or miss with me.  I’m not an admirer of his work past the year 2000 (with the exception of his Dark Tower books).  Much of it strikes me as inflated and meandering.

The classics, though?  You know it.  For the most part, those babies are tight, fast, and going places.  Unfortunately, I haven’t read as many of his classic titles as I would like.

So anyway, as I listened to a student rave about Pet Sematary, I thought to myself, “Yeah, let’s do this!  It’s October; a trailer for the new film adaptation recently released; I’m not enjoying the book I’m currently reading — this is perfect timing!”

I literally put the book down that I was not digging and picked up Pet Sematary.

Ah, as soon as I started reading, it felt like I’d just reunited with an old friend.

I know the Pet Sematary years were a rough patch for King.  He’s very much on record with his addiction struggles.  I’ll be darned, though, if he wasn’t at his peak during those tumultuous days.  I’m in no way suggesting he should go back under the influence — absolutely not.  His style and voice during that time, though, were just so easy to get lost in, and remains so to this very day.  (That voice is still present in his nonfiction, by the way.)

Pet Sematary, like his other works from that era, connect with me in a way his current work does not.  I’m having an absolute ball reading it.  King’s appeal is obvious — there’s a reason he’s been a best selling author for almost fifty years!

It’s wonderful to pick up a book, start reading, and feel instant comfort.

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(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

The Regretful Reason I Love Chick-Fil-A

When Chick-Fil-A first came to Bloomington-Normal, people were, shall we say, enthusiastic.  I lived in North Carolina for two years almost twenty years ago, where Chick-Fil-A abound.  I ate it a few times during my tenure in the south, but didn’t find it particularly special.  I mean, chicken is chicken, right?

So, if we’re being honest, I didn’t understand the Central Illinois fervor.  People were literally counting down the days until it opened.  And once it finally unlocked its doors to the public, oh boy, the lines were legendary.

In fact, to this day, if it’s anywhere close to mealtime, you’re going to see their drive-thrus (yes, they have two lanes) crammed with cars.

Apparently, the BLO-NO passion for Chick-Fil-A has not weakened.

And even though I am among the Chick-Fil-A faithful now, it’s not because of the food.  I still maintain that chicken is chicken.

Whenever we decide to do fast food, I’m the first to suggest Chick-Fil-A for an entirely different reason — a regrettable reason.

The first time we went to Chick-Fil-A here in town (which was long after everyone else paid it a visit), I was astounded.

They were so nice.

They were polite, courteous, warm, engaged, gracious, and just … nice!

The whole experience satisfied me in a way I had not expected.  Was I really so starved for good customer service?

We’ve been back three or four times since, and every time we are treated the same way.  Clearly, exceptional manners are part of their business model.  I have no idea if they hire only those who are predisposed to affability or if they have to train their employees to be considerate, but it totally works on me.

I don’t go to Chick-Fil-A for the food, I go for the experience.

Isn’t that sort of sad?  Is our general customer service so poor that we are surprised when workers present themselves professionally with a smile?  Honestly, I never paid it much attention at other places, particularly fast food places, because I know the employees aren’t making much, don’t have the opportunity for a tip, and probably don’t have a ton of job satisfaction.  But then Chick-Fil-A came along and blew my whole paradigm.

What’s it say that Chick-Fil-A rose above the fast food competition by encouraging their employees to be nice?

By the way, if you want to argue with me that their manners are fake, that they aren’t being sincerely nice, that they are just trying to keep their jobs, that’s fine.  I’ll take fake nice over authentic grumpy with my (waffle) fries any day of the week.

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(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

Ruby Rose Is Batwoman In All Her Glory

Perhaps you heard the news several months ago that Ruby Rose had been cast to play Batwoman in a crossover event on the CW.  She will appear on The Flash, Arrow, and Supergirl as the three shows dive into a combined story line that introduces us to a Gotham City presumably without a Batman.

Believe it or not, Batwoman has been around since 1956, but this current iteration debuted in 2006 and has been wildly popular from that moment on.  She’s regularly carried her own title off and on during the last eight years!

Today, the CW released an official look at Ruby Rose in the Batwoman costume, and it is exceptional.  Generally speaking, the CW costumes are breathtaking, but this one in particular is already by far my favorite.  That’s probably because it’s also the most accurate to the comic book depiction.  They even got the red wig just right!  (Yes, it’s a wig in the comics, too.)

I love that they really seem to be honoring the character.  In the source material, Batwoman is a former member of the armed forces who received a dishonorable discharge due to her homosexuality.  Feeling purposeless, while wandering Gotham City, Batman inadvertently inspired her to take control of her life by becoming Batwoman.

Interestingly enough, judging from the photograph, Batwoman may be Gotham City’s only bat-themed vigilante.  The bat-signal mimics her emblem, not Batman’s.  The CW has been hesitant to use Batman in any capacity, though they did go ahead and include Superman during a few episodes of Supergirl.  If they want to put all of their chips on Batwoman, that’s fine with me!  She’s a rich character full of story potential.

Of course, to be totally honest with you, I’ve quit watching all of the CW/DC Comics shows.  I loved them all in the beginning, especially The Flash.  Unfortunately, because it’s the CW, they got a bit too melodramatic for my taste.  When Arrow devolved into Felicity crying every episode with Oliver endlessly proclaiming everything is his fault, it got to be too much for me.  The Flash fell victim to similar tropes.

I will definitely come back for Batwoman, though.  The costume alone has piqued my curiosity in this crossover event.  I wish Ruby Rose and the CW the best of luck!

If you’d like to learn more about Batwoman, click HERE.

To learn more about Ruby Rose and the controversy surrounding her casting as Batwoman, click HERE.

(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

Cougars Care: Prairieland Elementary Donates To the Red Cross

I’m so proud of our Prairieland Cougars!  Thanks to their donations, the American Red Cross can provide 100 blankets to those suffering after a disaster.

In the midst of Hurricane Florence, our daughters grew extremely concerned about their cousin, aunt, and uncle who live in North Carolina.  To help appease our six-year-old’s worries, my ten-year-old came up with the idea to hold a fundraiser in order to help the victims of the hurricane.  Her logic was that instead of being afraid, they should try to take helpful action.

After discussing it as a family, we decided that our oldest should ask her teacher and principal if she could initiate a school-wide fundraiser.  The staff and administration at Prairieland are excellent, so it came as no surprise when they fully embraced the venture.

Our daughter really wanted to see the entire project through to the end, therefore she asked permission to handle the creation of the fundraising jar, the announcement to the student body, the counting of the money, and the actual deliverance of the donations to our local American Red Cross chapter.

Again, to Prairieland’s credit, they allowed her full autonomy in this endeavor.  We are so thankful they trusted our daughter to handle this responsibitliy.

The Prairieland Cougars really came through!  In just one week’s time, with another fundraiser going as well, the students donated $487!  That amount of money astounded our daughter, and me, too, frankly.

Today we drove her to the Bloomington, Illinois, Red Cross building to deliver the cashier’s check in person.  The friendly staff at the Red Cross treated her like gold!  I’m sure they get much bigger donations on a regular basis, but they absolutely made my daughter’s efforts and Prairieland’s donations feel just as important as any other donation.  Coleen particularly made a point to give our daughter so much of her time, showed great interest in both our daughter and Prairieland, and truly made our daughter feel appreciated.  Coleen and the wonderful team at the Red Cross made it an incredibly personal, authentic experience, which provided the perfect conclusion to this adventure.

The personnel at Prairieland Elementary and the Red Cross serving Central Illinois went above and beyond in helping our daughter achieve this goal.  But none of it could have been possible without Prairieland’s student generosity.  Children’s capacity for good never fails to impress me.

Principal Scott Peters always says it’s a great day to be a Cougar, and that’s because Cougars always care about others!  Thanks so much to everyone involved!

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Experiencing The Lion King At Peoria Civic Center

I’ve heard nothing but good things about The Lion King, so I absolutely agreed with my wife when she said we should try to see it after tickets became available at Peoria Civic Center.  After all, according to LionKing.com, over 90 million people worldwide have experienced the world’s number one musical over the last twenty years — surely they can’t be wrong about its quality?

Our day finally arrived, so after church we hit the road headed for Peoria.  Though forty-five minutes from our house, the drive to Peoria is always incredibly quick.  We zipped along Interstate 74, crossed over the Illinois River, and we were there.  I’m pleased to say that parking could not have been simpler.  We pulled into the lot about thirty minutes early with many spaces still available.  I can’t complain about the fee either — just seven dollars!

The walk to the Civic Center took maybe … three minutes.  Once we entered the facility, we moved rapidly through a security check, and then we were in!  With a ten and six-year-old child in tow, I felt elated by the ease of the entire adventure up to that point.  I was almost giddy when we took our seats.  I love it when venues are easy to negotiate, and Peoria Civic Center proved about as convenient as possible.

Because we were so early, we used the bathrooms before getting some drinks and cotton candy — you know, the basics.  The theater itself impressed me, too.  I found it visually appealing and entirely comfortable.  We were in the twentieth row, about right in the middle, which afforded us a wonderful view of the stage.  My wife did a fantastic job selecting our tickets!

As for the show itself … those 90 million other people weren’t wrong!  I loved it, my wife loved it, and my children loved it.  If you’ve seen the movie from 1994, you know the basic plot, dialogue, and songs — it doesn’t deviate much from the source material.  However, the singing, the dancing, the costumes, the makeup, the puppets, the sets, the props — they’re amazing.  Seriously.  You might remember that my main complaint regarding Hamilton centered around the fact that, visually speaking, not much happened.  That’s not the case with The Lion King.  The senses are constantly stimulated between the nonstop music, movement, and changing scenery.

That scenery — wow!  The sets were gorgeous and, most importantly, innovative.  They displayed creative genius in portraying grassland plains, raging rivers, and ominous caves.  I realize I sound a little excessive, but I sincerely haven’t seen anything quite like it.  Wait a minute, I actually have seen something a little bit like it — Disney’s Festival Of the Lion King.  (If you want to read about that equally astounding show, click HERE and scroll down a bit.)

I don’t want to sound utterly devoid of objectivity, so I do have a few criticisms.  Namely, I didn’t think the acoustics were exceptional in the theater.  I found myself struggling to understand the dialogue at times because the audio didn’t strike me as terribly crisp.  This wasn’t a problem during the singing, but the speaking generally sounded a little garbled.  This in no way diminished my enjoyment of the show.  Even if I didn’t understand every word being said, the physical action, facial expressions, and my general knowledge of the movie more than informed me as to the happenings.  I also noticed that the dancers weren’t quite synchronized with each other.  A few were just a second ahead or behind the others.  Do I care?  No, not in the least.  I can’t dance, know nothing about the art, and am regularly in awe of those with the talent.  Nonetheless, I wanted to share my observations.

If you’re even mildly interested in The Lion King, I highly recommend you take a chance on it.  I know you won’t be disappointed.  Hurry, though.  I believe October 13th is their last date.  If you live in the Central Illinois area, you can see what’s available here: Disney Presents The Lion King (Touring) Tickets at Peoria Civic Center.

Enjoy!

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(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)