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Black Friday Thursday

26 Nov

November 26, 2014

This is to all of you who are complaining about stores being open on Thanksgiving.

Stop it.

Stop blaming the stores. Thousands of people line up hours before the shops open, skipping food, sleep, and basic human comforts just to get a cheap TV. Blame them.

If thousands of people lined up outside of your house and waved money at you, what would you do? You’d open your door and invite them in for coffee. So until people stop sacrificing their humanity for a shot at a bargain on an iPad, leave the stores alone.

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Doctor Who: My Contrary View

11 Nov

November 11, 2014

This contains major spoilers for the series finale of Doctor Who, Death in Heaven. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading here.

I really enjoyed Death in Heaven. The highlight was Michelle Gomez as the Mistress. I’d love for her to somehow come back. I also think Peter Capaldi is a fantastic Doctor. In fact, though I mostly enjoyed this season, I think Capaldi has been better than the scripts he’s had to work with. I’m looking forward to next year. He should really come into his own, with a companion that will be written just for him. I liked his relationship with Clara, but it was clear she wasn’t the right companion for him.

But I had some major problems with the finale, and judging from the online reviews I’ve seen, I may be in the minority. Let’s start off with what stood out to me the most, then take the rest in no particular order.

The Bad Guys Won

Mistress and the Cybermen may not be around to savor their victory, but they achieved it nonetheless. Think about what they did: they successfully robbed every known grave on Earth. Every tomb in every cemetery is now empty. Think about the seismic shift in how people grieve/mourn/worship that must create. How will people react to their beloved ancestors not only being taken from their resting places, but then blown to atoms? There would have to be a seismic shift in most people’s world- or religion- view. What would the world’s religious leaders say? How would society react? And what becomes of all the now vacant cemeteries? Yes, everyone who dies post-invasion will continue to be buried, but in some respects, a huge chunk of the past is now moot.

cybermen-and-the-12th-doctor

The Cybermen Are No Longer Interesting

Honestly, the new series Doctor Who has never been able to make the Cybermen interesting. Even when they were introduced, they weren’t the real thing; they were parallel-universe versions. By the time Neil Gaiman got to them, all he did was manage to make them faster and sleeker. Their motivations? Backstory? Unexplored. And that’s a shame since they have such a rich backstory. Want Cybermen done right? Big Finish did it with Spare Parts. All this series finale did was finish them off. There was no indication that the Cybermen were working with Mistress, no indication that they had any motivation or agenda of their own. By all appearances, Missy was using them as she would any other weapon. The Cybermen were merely tools, same as a gun or a tank. And they are so far from their Mondas/Telos origins that they might as well have a new name. These are Cybermen in name only.

The Brigadier

Most reviews are calling this episode a touching goodbye to the Brig.

Nonsense. Seeing the Brigadier as a Cyberman was just painful. I’ve been watching Doctor Who since I was a child in the 70’s and I have seen every existing episode. To see a man who fought the Cybermen in his second appearance turned into one was just sad. Yes, it was great that he overcame his programming and saved his daughter, but when was the Brigaider ever a murderer? That laser bolt truly did come from out of the blue. You can argue that he saved the Doctor from becoming a murderer, you can debate that he was a soldier doing what soldiers do in war, you can argue that he was just doing what had to be done. But again, when did the Brigadier ever kill someone in cold blood? And you can’t blame it on his cyber-conversion. If he overcame his programming to save his daughter and not fly off into the sky with the others, then you can’t use it as an excuse here. This scene just sullied the Brigadier’s memory.

And then he became one.

And then he became one.

President Who

Seriously? On the show, it has been established that the Doctor is too well known. He wiped his memory from people’s minds and erased himself from the entire Dalek network. Behind the scenes, the producers said that the Doctor was too big and had to go back to being more mysterious . So what do they do? They make him President of Earth. Yes, on the show the Doctor protested, but the bottom line is when they wrote this episode, they wrote him into being President of Earth.

So much for mystery.

 

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October 2014: Chiller Theater!

27 Oct

October 27, 2014

I LOVE the Chiller Theater convention. Twice each year in Parsippany New Jersey, hundreds of actors, artists, wrestlers, former child stars, musicians, and yes, even people involved in horror movies, come together and, when you factor in the huge dealer area, you get a convention that is always fun. I’ve been going for five conventions in a row, and despite Parsippany being a little inconvenient (would it be that hard to hold it in NYC?) it is worth the trip.

Before I go on, let’s check in on Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. In past years, though I am sure, absolutely positive, (I say that from a CYA legal perspective) that he was stone cold sober, he gave every appearance of being drunk. Was he? I have no evidence but, if he or his lawyer is reading this, I’m sure he hasn’t had a drink since dyed his hair black and tagged with the Honky Tonk Man as Rhythm and Blues. Though he looks perpetually drunk.

Hulk Hogan Fan Appreciation Day at Toyota Park - July 10, 2009

So how does he look this year? Pretty much the same.

Hulk Hogan Fan Appreciation Day at Toyota Park - July 10, 2009

The only difference is that I got up close to him, walked right by him, and his face, while looking exactly the same, looks ridiculously heavy, as if his flesh and skin weigh far more than normal flesh and skin and is about to slough off his face. Years of hard living will do that.

Brutus Beefcake was there and he just looked sticky.

But there were high points aplenty this year.

100_0602 blogI met Joel “MST3K” Hodgeson and took a picture with him and Tom Servo, one of the show’s wisecracking robots. Joel Hodgeson may be the nicest guy I ever met at this convention. When I spoke, he listened and made eye contact. He didn’t try to rush anyone despite the long line. He said nice, positive things, smiled all the time, and was so sweet and earnest that I am sure he was out in the parking lot handing out tracts after the show.

True story: As I was entering the room where he was signing, we bumped into each other as he came out of the bathroom. This is now my second celebrity bathroom story.

Saarah and I also had a professional photo taken with Henry THE FONZ! Winkler. For a fee, you can have a professional photo taken with a celeb, with pro lighting and a pro taking the picture. I know from personal experience that Henry Winkler is a very nice man, very generous with his time, and he has a reputation for being good to his fans, so this experience struck me as odd and out of character.

There were about 20 people in line to take a picture with Winkler. The line moved ridiculously fast. When we got near the front, the assistant told us that, as soon as the guy ahead of us was finished, we should jump in and get ready for the picture. I was told that’s how he liked to work. I barely had time to put down the bag I was holding and get next to him. He stuck his hand out, I shook it, and I got five words into “this is a pleasure to-“ when Henry said “HIYAGLADGREATAKATAKA” and the director said “hold it!” and the picture was taken and we were shooed out. Seriously, maybe he had dental work, but though he was smiling a big, sincere smile,  his teeth never parted and he spoke so fast I really have no idea what he said. And it is too bad, since I have a “seven degrees of separation” sort of legit connection to but never got a chance to tell him.

After that, there was the usual assortment of Godzilla actors, Debbie Gibson, and the cast of Good Times and although I couldn’t get close to him, Jimmy Walker seemed to be having a ball. (And yes, he was wearing that silly J.J. Evans hat.)

We were here on Sunday, only the second time I didn’t make it on a Saturday. My only disappointment was that they ran out of Chiller glasses the day before. Every year, the convention sells a commemorative glass with a horror personality on it. In the past they had the likes of Lon Chaney Sr. from London After Midnight and Bela Lugosi from White Zombie. This year’s glass had Edgar Allan Poe, which I feel isn’t that big a deal. It isn’t hard to find Poe stuff. But if anyone would like to like to sell me one so I can keep my collection intact, drop me a note in the comments below. But being here on Sunday had one advantage- much less crowded.

The guest list changes for every convention so, with the exception of some wrestlers, Zacherly (the Cool Ghoul) and some indy guys from some Sherriff Joe film (WHY? Not impressive.), the lineup for the April 2015 show will be nearly 100% different. It is a different convention every year. I’m already looking forward to the next one.

You can read columns about past shows 1, here, 2, here, 3, here and 4, here.

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