Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas 2014


The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2
  1. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David

  2. To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

  3. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

  4. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

  5. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

  6. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

  7. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

  8. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

  9. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

  10. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

  11. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Night Before Christmas


'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads; And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled down for a long winter's nap, When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the luster of mid-day to objects below, When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer, With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name: "Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen! To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall! Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky, so up to the house-top the coursers they flew, With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too. And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my hand, and was turning around, down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound. He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot; A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard of his chin was as white as the snow; The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly, that shook, when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself; A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, and filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk, Laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

-- Clement Clarke Moore

Sunday, December 7, 2014

College football playoffs 2014 (done right)


For several years, I've been saying that the NCAA needs a playoff for Division 1-A football. Apparently, the NCAA agrees with me ... to some degree. They finally dumped the horribly flawed BCS for a horribly-flawed 4-team playoff.

My plan would work, and it answers all the questions and controversies that have arisen over the BCS years.

My plan has sixteen teams in the playoffs. Each of the ten conference champions get a slot, and the remaining slots are filled with teams selected by a committee. The committee also seeds the teams.

My preference is that conference champions get the top ten slots, with the wild card teams filling slots 11-16, much as the NFL does. This adds weight to winning the conference. If a wild card team from the SEC feels they should be ranked higher than, say, the Sun Belt champion, then they should have won their own conference.

Here is how the playoffs -- the playoffs done right -- would have shaped up this year.

Top ten seeds are the conference champions.

1. Alabama (Southeastern Conference champion)
2. Oregon (Pac-12 Conference champion)
3. Florida State (Atlantic Coast Conference champion)
4. Ohio State (Big Ten Conference champion)
5. Baylor (Big 12 Conference champion)
6. Boise State (Mountain West Conference champion)
7. Marshall (Conference USA champion)
8. Northern Illinois (Mid-American Conference champion)
9. Cincinnati (American Athletic Conference champion)
10. Georgia Southern (Sun Belt Conference champion)
11. Texas Christian (Big 12 wild card)
12. Mississippi State (Southeastern wild card)
13. Michigan State (Big Ten wild card)
14. Mississippi (Southeastern wild card)
15. Arizona (Pac-12 wild card)
16. Kansas State (Big 12 wild card)

Some of the matchups would be great. Others, yeah, not so much. And, yeah, we end up with a third Arizona vs Oregon matchup. We also get a Marshall-Georgia Southern matchup, which won't top the TV ratings ... outside of Huntington or Statesboro.

Look at the whole package. Winning the conference means something; you get an automatic bid and a better seeding. Really good teams aren't penalized by having one bad game (or a good close loss) that knocks them out of contention. And, if Northern Illinois or Georgia Southern ran the table, who could argue that they aren't the best team?

What the NCAA is giving us this year is better than the BCS. If that was in play, we'd have a single game of Alabama vs Florida State, based on polls and computer rankings. But it's not as good as this plan.

One day, this will be the great idea that some suit in the NCAA comes up with, and he'll be hailed as a genius.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

How to spot a liar

Monday, December 1, 2014

U. S. Air Force Blue

Uncle Doug
Thinking of Uncle Doug
They took the blue from the skies and a pretty girl's eyes
and a touch of Old Glory's hue,
And gave it to the men who proudly wear the U.S. Air Force blue.

The U.S. Air Force Blue

Oh, they are men with a dream on America's team,
They're a rugged and ready crew.
And you can bet your boots the world looks up to U.S. Air Force Blue.

To U.S. Air Force Blue!

They know where they're goin', they've set their course,
the sky's no limit in the Air Force.

They took the blue from the skies and a pretty girl's eyes
And gave it to the men who proudly wear the U.S. Air Force Blue.
Uncle Doug
2 February 1938 - 28 November 2014

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Traditions

Erk Russell
I'm in full, old man, get off my lawn mode. And, it's a college football team that set me off.

First, some background. You may already know that I'm a fan of the University of Georgia. My daughter went there (and she was a cheerleader) and I almost went there. But I didn't.

However, a little closer to my home town in southeast Georgia is another college, Georgia Southern University. Back then, it was Georgia Southern College. And, they didn't have a football team. But, that would change.

In 1981, Georgia Southern announced the hiring of Erk Russell as head coach. Russell had been defensive coordinator at the University of Georgia for the previous 17 seasons, but accepted the challenge of starting up a football program from scratch. The school had no football facilities when Russell was hired. In fact, they didn't even have a football. The Athletic Director had to run across the street to the K-Mart to buy a football as a prop at the press conference to announce Russell's hiring.

Georgia Southern did things simply back then. They got old yellow school buses from the Bulloch County school system to take the team to games. And in those games, the Eagles wore simple white pants with no stripe down the leg, simple blue jerseys at home and plain white jerseys on the road with no stripes on the sleeve, and blue helmets with numbers on the side. Old fashioned, simple football uniforms. And the reason is because they were the cheapest available.

Turns out, though, that you don't need fancy buses or fancy uniforms to win. Georgia Southern won the Division 1-AA national championship 1985, their first of three under Russell, and six overall. And they did it while wearing cheap uniforms and riding yellow school buses to games.

Today, and for several years, Georgia Southern has been able to afford a lot more. This season is their first year moving up to Division 1-A, officially called Division 1 FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision), and they've kept the traditions.

This weekend, though, they're kinda ticking me off. They're showing off some new uniforms to be worn special for homecoming. And they have the nerve to call it "Traditions."

Traditions?
I know all the cool schools do this crap. But, it's crap. At least, to a traditionalist like me. I hate it when schools come up with gimmicky uniforms. You know what kind of gimmick I like? Winning.

It's a great tradition, too.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Dreams do come true

A few months ago, I was speaking with local (to the Columbus area) author Larynn Ford, and mentioned that I was seriously looking at going to DragonCon. She certainly knows me well enough to generate that "What? You?" look.

Same look I got when people who knew me a long time saw me using a Mac. Same look I got when someone saw me eating a salad. Same look I always get when I do something that makes people wonder if I was replaced with a Pod Person. Because I'm not the DragonCon type.

Anyway, I mentioned that Colin Baker -- the Sixth Doctor for those that need that explained to them -- would be there. She was one that needed that explained. She's never seen an episode of Doctor Who, whether the new series of the old series. She knew it existed, and wasn't really surprised that I would like the show, since it's one of those "really weird British shows."

Though the explanation of who Colin Baker was helped her understand why I would consider going to DragonCon, she still wasn't convinced I was in my right mind. Until she suddenly changed the subject.

"Oh, did I tell you about this weird dream I had?"

"No," I said. Then I thought better. "Maybe." That way, if she started telling me about it, and I really didn't want to hear about it, I could say, "Oh, yeah, you told me." Then maybe she'd stop.

"Well," she said, "I dreamed I was asleep..."

"Are you sure that was a dream? Maybe you were really asleep," I offered.

"Shut up. I was dreaming that I was asleep. Then I hear a strange noise, so I got up. It was coming from down there." She pointed down the hall toward her daughters' old bedrooms. "There was this strange woman there."

"That makes two that were in the house," I thought. I knew better than to say that out loud. Aloud, I said, "What do you mean, 'strange'?" I figured this would be the inspiration for another one of the characters in one of her books.

"She had curly blond hair and a really odd dress. It was made up of a bunch of different colors. Red, green, blue, all kinds of patterns and checks. Really odd looking dress."

I thought for a second. "Hang on." I reached for my iPad and typed something in the search box, and found the result I wanted. "Was this her?"




"THAT'S HER? Wait. That's a guy. Who is that?"

"Colin Baker. That's the outfit he wore as The Doctor."

We bought DragonCon tickets that night.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bicycle Race

Everyone's seen the pictures of Obama riding a bike. Turns out that his Secretary of State can ride a bike, too.

So, in a bicycle race between Barack Obama and John Kerry, who would win?




[Credit: Obama - AP, Kerry - Eliana Johnson]

Monday, August 4, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mr. President

Some of you may be too young to remember when Marilyn Monroe sang "Happy Birthday" to President Kennedy in 1962. Heck, most of you are too young to remember it.


[The YouTube]

Well, today is the birthday of our 44th president. There is no Marilyn Monroe around to sing to him, but that doesn't mean Barack Obama shouldn't get a song. And that's your task today. (Nobody told you there would be an assignment? You should always be ready for a surprise assignment!)

Who should sing to Barack Obama? And what should they sing?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Some days you just can't get rid of a cheeseburger!


You ever had one of those days where it felt kinda like a Twilight Zone episode? I had one recently.

I had taken a sandwich to work, planning to eat at my desk at lunch and get a few things done without being bothered. Of course, some things came up and I needed to run an errand. So, despite my plans to the contrary, it turns out that I'm leaving the office at lunch anyway. I eat and drive as I run my errands, and then, as I'm heading back to the office, I wind up stopped at a stop sign.

I saw her before I got to the intersection. So did the car in front of me. And the car in front of them. She finished talking to the car in front of me as I was approaching the intersection, and she walked out of the street back onto the sidewalk to the left.

I stopped at the stop sign, looked to the right, back to the left ... and there she was at my window. Some sad story about wanting to get some money to buy food for her three kids -- maybe it was four; more on that in a minute -- in her car that's over on 11th. She points the wrong way.

"I won't give you any money, but I'll get you some food. Be right back."

So, I turn, realize that there's a Burger King closer if I go the other way. So, I turn around and head towards the BK.

I forgot there's also a McDonald's right near the Burger King, and the McDonald's is actually easier to get into and out of. So, I hit the drive-thru at the McDonald's.

Couldn't remember if it was three kids and four of them total, or if she said four kids. So, I order five McDoubles, five small fries, three bottles of milk, and two bottles of water.

I head back to the intersection where she was, and she's nowhere to be found. So, I head towards 11th. She's not there, and there's no car with kids.

Okay, fine. I have five McDouble meals. Not a problem. Every time I stop for gas at the gas station across the street from the McDonald's downtown (not the one I bought the burgers from), someone always approaches wanting money or a ride or something. So, I'll just swing by there and find one of those people and give them some Mickey D's. Only, for the first time in memory, there's no bums hanging around.

Okay, there's a few that hang around the downtown Burger King, so I head by there. None to be found.

Post Office. I often get accosted at the Post Office by someone claiming to be a veteran that served in some Army unit that never existed. So, I head to the Post Office. Nobody hanging around out front. There are even plenty of parking spaces. That never happens.

Ah. I know. The Synovus building. It's over by the river, and there's some homeless guy that sits on a bench overlooking the river walk and eats, sleeps, and does whatever else there, 24/7. So, off to the river. He's not there.

It seems that all the homeless people took the day off. Here I am, stuck with five McDoubles, and now I'm starting to run late getting back to work.

The good news, I suppose, is that those people at work can eat. I mean, I've seen goats eat less.

I sorta wondered about all the homeless people. You see them all the time, but you never notice them. And now, here I am looking for them and I can't find any. I'm still trying to figure out where they all went.

If you have any ideas, let me know. I'm curious as to what they're up to.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

SEC! SEC!


You're probably thinking I'm about the brag about how great SEC football is, aren't you. Well, it is, but I'm not gonna do that right now. Wait until a little closer to football season.

But, I am gonna brag about our SEC. Our state execution chambers. You know. Where they take folks on death row when it's time to execute their sentence. The one in Georgia works quite well.

I bring this up because Arizona took 117 minutes to put one Joseph Rudolph Wood to death yesterday. I'm not crying over the length of time it took for Wood to die for the murders of his ex-girlfriend and her father back in 1989. No, he's had nearly 25 years on the state dime. If it took him a little long to pay the piper, that's too bad. But I do have a problem with his execution. An hour and 57 minutes is just way too long. There's overtime involved, for one thing. And at the most basic level, it's inefficient.

And Arizona isn't the only state running an inefficient death chamber. Back in January, it took Ohio 26 minutes to put down Dennis B. McGuire for raping, sodomizing, and killing a pregnant woman in 1989. The 25 years that Ohio kept him around more than makes up for the 26 minutes it took him to die. But, still, 26 minutes is not very efficient.

Then there's Oklahoma and the trouble they had with Clayton Derrell Lockett back in April. They actually didn't execute him, not really, but he died anyway. That's the one where they stopped the execution when it didn't go exactly as planned, but the convict had a heart attack on the gurney and died anyway. So it worked out. He died at the hands of the state for burying a girl alive back in 1999.

I have a solution for these states that have trouble executing convicted killers. Come to Georgia. We do it right.

Remember when everybody got their panties in a wad over the Oklahoma execution by heart attack? Well, about seven weeks later, Georgia marched Marcus A. Wellons to the little room at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison in Jackson, and put him to sleep for raping and strangling a 15-year-old girl back in 1989. Georgia simply strapped him down and ended his life. Quick, simple, efficient.

So, for the states that have trouble, contact the state of Georgia about contracting out the executions. Chain your convict up real good, give him some escorts, and y'all come on over. Drop the intended off at Jackson, then ... go play tourist.

You can head over to Hampton if there's a NASCAR race that weekend.

Or, if the Braves are in town, catch a game at The Ted (it'll be gone soon).

There's Six Flags just west of Atlanta.

Stone Mountain on the east side of the capital city might have a fireworks show, if you don't want to see a bunch of 90-foot-tall Confederate generals.

Grab a meal at Chick-Fil-A (they're all over the place in Georgia) and a Coca-Cola (the formula was invented in Columbus, not Atlanta).

Drive down to the Golden Isles and put your feet in the water on Jekyll or Saint Simons.

Savannah is a nice place to visit, particularly if you want to get drunk on St. Patrick's Day, so try to schedule your execution for mid-March.

If there's the chance of a last-minute delay, and you don't mind paying the state for the prison overtime, you can spend a few days in a cabin up in the north Georgia mountains.

Of course, you can go to Lookout Mountain just south of the state line at Chattanooga, TN, and, like the old signs on the barns used to say, "See Rock City."

Go get yourself a real Vidalia onion.

Or, just sit on the banks of the Altamaha, relax, and catch some fish. Or, at the very least, drown some worms or crickets.

There's lots to do. And, for you, as well as for your convict, there'll be memories to last the rest of your life.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Peggy Joseph 2014

Remember Peggy Joseph? Sure you do.


[The YouTube]

Well, she's using different words now.


[The YouTube]
Tip: The Other McCain

The question is not who "will she vote for in 2016?", it's "who will she vote for in 2014?"

I didn't mind making fun of her in 2008, or in the years since. But she seems to be wising up. So, maybe there's hope -- real hope -- after all.

But, if I stop making fun of Peggy Joseph, that doesn't mean I'll stop making fun of Barack Obama and others who still drink his Kool-Aid. None of us should.

Do you have a funny story of someone who was Peggy Joseph then and is still that way? Share it. We could all use a good laugh.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Thor got boobies


Thor has boobies.

That's some comic book thing, by the way. But, a lot of comic book people seem to hang around the internetz, so you may already know what I'm talking about. You kids with your Archie comics and your hula hoops and your fax machines...

Anyway, Marvel comics has announced that Thor is a woman now.
“The inscription on Thor's hammer reads ‘Whosoever holds this hammer, if HE be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.’ Well it's time to update that inscription,” says Marvel editor Wil Moss. “The new Thor continues Marvel's proud tradition of strong female characters like Captain Marvel, Storm, Black Widow and more. And this new Thor isn't a temporary female substitute - she's now the one and only Thor, and she is worthy!”
I'm not sure how I feel about that. Partly, I don't care, because I don't read Marvel or any other comics. But, I do sorta care because it points out what's wrong with entertainment today: people don't have any ideas for story, so they use gimmicks.

I mean, there's no reason to give boobies to Thor and make the Norse god really irritable on certain days. Well, unless you can't come up with a good idea for a real story. Then, of course, making the god of thunder a chick keeps you from having to actually be creative. Plus, you get all the Hillary supporters on your side. After all, if Thor can be female, why not the president? They forget that Hillary would be less feminine than the current office-holder. And that's not a slap directed at Hillary.

Anyway, what are the ramifications of Thor having boobies? No, really. What are they? You see, I really don't read comics, so I have no idea what Thor the comic is all about. I did some research, but ran across things like alternate universes and the Negative Zone, and villains like Zarrko, Bloodaxe, Surfer, Thunderball and such.

Yeah. I'm not reading all that.

Anyway, Thor's got boobies. Did I mention that? Will this really work? And, if so, what's next? Batman and Robin as lesbians? Catwoman as a dude?



I've never been so anxious for a meteor to take us out than I am now.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Carney a Day...

Didya hear? Jay Carney is being considered for a new job. Spokesman for Apple.

Yes, that Jay Carney. Barack Obama's own Baghdad Bob, Jay Carney. Former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. That's the one.

According to reports -- or several reports all quoting one source -- Carney is being considered as the head of PR at the tech giant.

That's not really what I want to hear. But, I'm sure some Apple bashers will love it. So, go ahead.

First, let me tell you that I'm not one of the Apple bashers. I'm typing this up on my MacBook Pro (my second Apple laptop), with my iPhone 5s (my third iPhone) and iPad Air (my second iPad) nearby. Oh, and the TV screen is showing content from my Apple TV (my second). So, no, I'm not an Apple basher. But, the Cupertino Kids are opening themselves up for it now. So now, go ahead. Bash away.

Let me offer a couple of topics, to try to direct this thing. Who would be a "better" head of PR than Jay Carney? Or, just as bad? Like Tommy Flanagen? The Jon Lovitz character, not that actor with the similar name, although maybe him, too.

Or Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf? You know him as Baghdad Bob.

Perhaps other suggestions for positions at Apple? If Jay Carney is a good fit, who else would be?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Doctor Who - Epilogue

The Doctor
As I watched all the episodes of the Classic Doctor Who show, I wrote my thoughts down. Then, when I was done, I mulled over going ahead and watching the newer stuff. That meant watching The Movie, and Paul McGann's Doctor. So, I did. Had to buy it, sight unseen.

Eh. McGann himself was okay, but I didn't like The Doctor being involved with a companion. Sure, there's no question that The Doctor and Ramona had a thing going on, but that was off-screen. The show wasn't about that, it was about Adventures In Time And Space. I loved that Sylvester McCoy opened the movie as The Doctor. He never explained how he had destroyed Skaros but then was able to travel to Skaros and get The Master's body.

And, they should have had Anthony Ainley reprise the role of The Master for the opening. Or at least used his image from clips and paid him for that. Nothing wrong with Eric Roberts' portrayal.

And, after watching The Movie, I watched the other episodes (the newer ones, from 2005 on) and specials. And Webisodes.

Yeah, it's okay. But, there are things I didn't like. And, me being me, I'm gonna tell you what I didn't like. I'll assume you have seen the newer episodes, and specials, and webisodes, up to and including Peter Capaldi's Doctor asking Clara if she knew how to fly the TARDIS.

The Doctor and companions being more than simple companions? Don't like it. Maybe that's why I really like the dynamic with The Doctor and Donna. She is truly a friend of The Doctor. The relationship was more like The Doctor (2.0) and Jamie. That worked well. And The Doctor and Donna worked well.

Rose? Not a fan. Even her surprise appearances don't thrill me. The Brigadier's occasional returns were treats. Rose's? Not so much. Rose should've ended up with Mickey. Not the early Mickey, but the later Mickey.

Martha? Good companion, but the whole "feelings" thing was what ruined that. Her ending up with Mickey was good, for both of them. I'd like to see them return.

Donna? Love her. She's up there with Sarah Jane Smith and Jamie McCrimmon in the whole hierarchy of companions.

Amy and Rory? Yeah, they're good. But the best thing to come out of their time with The Doctor was *SPOILERS* River Song.

River Song? Yeah. More River Song. Somehow. That relationship with The Doctor worked. That's wasn't a young, silly girl having a crush on the Time Lord (Rose, Martha, etc), it was a real relationship that stood the test of Time And Space.

Clara? She's alright. Let's see how they wrap all that up. But so far, they've done okay with here.

Ah, but the show isn't called The Companions. It's Doctor Who. And, The Doctor is the star, or stars, of the show.

Paul McGann, I though was just okay. Least favorite Doctor for some time. His later surprise appearance in The Night of the Doctor brought him up in my eyes a bit. I want to see more of that Doctor.

Christopher Eccleston was okay. About the time I got used to him, he bailed on he show. Shoulda stuck around for three years, at least.

David Tennant? Yeah, he was alright. Probably coulda played The Doctor for a lot longer. Overall, liked him. Not Peter Davison or Patrick Troughton liked him. But, he was fine.

Matt Smith? His biggest problem was the scripts. The whole "Oh, I know what to do because myself from the future suddenly appeared and told me what to do" got a little old. It's called the TARDIS, not the Deus Ex Machina.

Oh, and John Hurt? Yeah. He was alright. Particularly when he was keeping Matt Smith's and David Tennant's Doctors in line, he reminded me of William Hartnell keeping Jon Pertwee's and Patrick Troughton's Doctors in line.

Oh, yeah. The villains. Some of the classic villains returned, and it was hit and miss.

The Autons? They did those right. Those were truly the Autons chasing Rose and The Doctor around when the new series launched. With better makeup and effects. That gave me hope for the new series.

The Sontarans? I like what they did with them. Nothing. They are true to form. Better makeup, just as with the Autons. The Sontarans are definitely the same villains as in the old show. And that's a good thing.

The Cybermen? Nope. Well, not the ones from the alternate universe. They did have the ones from Mondas, the real ones, appear later. I think. They looked kinda like the original Cybermen. So, I'll just tell myself those are the real Cybermen and be happy.

Daleks? Nope. Daleks can't fly. That ruined everything. It was a shock when they could elevate up stairs when taking on The Doctor (7.0). Now, they can suddenly fly? Nope. That's wrong.

The Master? He's been okay. Season Eight featured too much of The Master. When they scaled it back, it was wonderful to see him appear. Roger Delgado was fantastic, as was Anthony Ainley. I would like to have seen more of Derek Jacobi as The Master, but John Simm was good in the role. I want to see more of The Master. Once a season. Maybe twice, to throw us off.

New villains? Well, the Weeping Angels were kinda neat. But those fart aliens? Americans, I suppose. None of the other ones stand out, all these weeks after finishing the new series.

But, overall? Yeah, the new series is okay. Maybe Peter Capaldi's Doctor will be a return to the Classic series. More actual story and less generic blowing stuff up.

I'm looking forward to the 8th season of the new series when it returns in August. So, maybe I do like the new series after all.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day 2014

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
  • He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
  • He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
  • He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
  • He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
  • He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
  • He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
  • He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
  • He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
  • He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
  • He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
  • He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
  • He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
    • For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
    • For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
    • For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
    • For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
    • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
    • For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
    • For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
    • For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
    • For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
  • He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
  • He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
  • He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
  • He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
  • He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Monday, June 30, 2014

There Be Dragons!


Have any of you been to DragonCon?

You know. That thing in Atlanta every year with all the weird people running around.

No, not Freaknik. The other one.

No, not the SEC Championship. The other one.

No, not the World Series. That never happens. No, I'm talking about that science fiction fantasy weird sh*t happening that they do every year. Yeah. That one. Have you been?

I've been in Atlanta when it was going on. Didn't realize it until I saw a bunch of Klingons walking down the street. I was at a Sons of the American Revolution thing, and somehow wound up near the Klingons. Didn't have my musket with me, which was probably a good thing.

Anyway, I've never been. One of my sisters has been. Maybe two. Maybe all three, I don't know. It's not the kind of thing I'd want to bring up. Not normally, at least.

Anyway, I've know about the existence of DragonCon for some time, but have never been. Never wanted to go. But, I'm going this year.

I'm going for one reason, and one reason only. The Doctor will be there. If you have to ask "which one?" then you can't go and see him. It doesn't matter. But, it is one of the classic Doctors. I wouldn't go just to see David Tennant, Matt Smith, Christopher Eccleston, Paul McGann, or Peter Capaldi. But, one of the classic Doctors? Yes. Only four of those first seven are still alive. And, though I'm a latecomer to the world of Doctor Who, I'm enough of a fan to want to go see one of the original Doctors at a sci-fi convention.

So, I'm going this year. First time. And, yeah, there are some other people that might be interesting. But, I'm going to see The Doctor. And I'm not sure what it's going to be like. So, if any of you have been before, let me know what to expect.

I'm thinking a bunch of weird people running around all dressed up like some Nerd Nightmare. I suspect the Klingons will be drunk on their asses each night. Or, maybe just the chicks that go to the Klingon Keg parties. Yeah, that.

So, like I was saying, tell me what to expect. And, if you'll be there, maybe we'll run into each other. No, I won't be dressed up like Princess Leia or anything.

Harvey might, though.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Classic Doctor Who - The End

L-R: The Doctor, The Doctor,
The Doctor, The Doctor, The Doctor,
The Doctor, The Doctor
In December, I mentioned that I was thinking of watching all of the episodes of the classic Doctor Who series. I wrote:
...I’ve been hearing how great Doctor Who is. So, maybe I’ll watch that, I thought.

Just kidding. I had no desire to watch Doctor Who.

I remember Doctor Who from way back. Used to catch an occasional episode starring Tom Baker on PBS many years ago. I thought the whole thing was silly. Not Monty Python silly. Just silly.

But, I kept hearing about how great Doctor Who (the current version) was. So, I looked into it. And, I found out it wasn’t really a reboot, but a revival. They kept the original timeline in place, and began the 2005 series with the Ninth Doctor.

Mmmkay. Maybe this won’t be the JJ Adams-ing of Doctor Who. Maybe I would watch it.
Well, watch it I did. You see, I'm the kind of person that won't pick something up in the middle. I want to go back to the beginning and get the full effect. So, I watched all the episodes.

That was hard to do. You see, many episodes from the first six seasons no longer exist. Since, with very rare exception, all the stories are multiple episodes (I'm calling those serials) there are some serials with one or more missing episodes. Additionally, ten of the first 49 serials are completely missing, with another 16 serials missing one or more episodes, but not all. In all, 97 episodes are missing from those first six seasons.

BBC animated eleven episodes, and used the still-existing soundtrack combined with stills and surviving video clips to reconstruct five others. Fans have still images, clips, and home movies to reconstruct the other 81 missing episodes. BBC has also done reconstructions of two entire serials as single episodes, but those are heavily edited.

So, with all that, plus with the episodes that exist on DVD, iTunes, or Amazon, I have now seen every episode of the classic Doctor Who.

I liked it.

The Doctor (William Hartnell)
William Hartnell is my favorite. He created the role. Or, the role was created for him. And, with him in the role, The Doctor was mysterious and definitely in charge. Plus, I'm the same age Hartnell was when the first episode was broadcast.

Patrick Troughton was a treat. He always livened up the screen. He reprised the role more times than any other actor who played The Doctor. Come to think of it, he might actually be my favorite.

Jon Pertwee was a joy. I didn't remember him as The Doctor until I saw him as The Doctor. I don't know, prior to this viewing, that I ever saw any of his episodes (and I suspect I did not) but I did recognize him as The Doctor. Somehow.

Tom Baker was everyone's favorite. But not mine. Of course, he was the first actor I remember seeing in the role, but I didn't always enjoy the show. That's when the show got a little preachy.

Peter Davison, I liked. I didn't remember much from his stint, but I did like many of his serials. He may be my second-favorite Doctor. Toss him, Troughton, and Hartnell into a hat (they all wore hats, get it?) and whichever name you pull out is my favorite.

Colin Baker was around the least of any of the actors that played The Doctor. He was in only 31 episodes over two full seasons, and one serial in another.

Sylvester McCoy was the one I knew the least, though he was in more episodes than Colin Baker. McCoy appeared in 42 episodes over three full (but short) seasons.

Yes, I have a TARDIS case
for my iPhone. Shut up.
Each one, during his time, was The Doctor. The companions were ever-changing, and despite the seven actors (eight, actually) that played the first seven incarnations of The Doctor, the lead character was the constant.

Oh, about the companions. My favorite? Well, Sarah Jane Smith. But, I also likes the group of Susan, Barbara, and Ian. Jamie wasn't my favorite, but I didn't dislike him at all, plus I can't imagine The Doctor (2.0) without him. So, maybe Jamie is my second-favorite companion.

And Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, though he wasn't actually a companion, was a regular on the show for some time. I liked him. A lot. Took some getting used to, but he's definitely someone who was a joy to see return after his regular run ended. The others? Yeah, they were okay. I like the cute chicks the best. There were very few I didn't like.

Who didn't I like? Kamelion. K-9. I suppose I'm robotist. And, while a lot of people hated Mel, I didn't. She was okay. Product of her times.

So...

Was it a worthwhile experience? Yep. For me it was. I now understand the Doctor Who universe.

Should you watch them all? I don't know. If you have Hulu Plus, you'll find that as the largest online repository for streaming existing episodes. And, if you subscribe to Hulu Plus and want to check some out, like the early stuff, that's a great place to do that. But, should you?

Well, if you have to ask, the answer is "no." I'm not saying don't watch them. What I'm saying is unless you want to watch them -- really want to watch them -- don't.

But, if you do want to watch them, go ahead. You'll enjoy it.

I'm glad I did this.

Addendum: Actually, I did more. I kept watching. And, even though this was The End, there is an Epilogue. Next week.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Classic Doctor Who Season 26

The last scene of Doctor Who
Last year, I decided to watch the classic Doctor Who series. And now I have.

I just finished Season 26, which was the last episode of the classic series before it was canceled.

The Doctor's clothing changed. He still wore an outfit similar to that he wore the previous two seasons, but they were a darker color. The darker color matched the darker tone of the show. If it was part of an attempt to revitalize the show by bringing some of the initial mystery back to the character of The Doctor, it didn't work. Ratings for the season were at an all-time low, even though the season's serials increased in viewership from one to the next. Even so, the season averaged only 4.2 million viewers over the 14 weeks.

The season featured old friends, old villains, and new villains that were actually old villains. Or something.

The old friends part was easy, and a treat. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) made his final appearance in Doctor Who in a story, Battlefield (4 episodes), that touched on the legend of Arthur. There's some silliness with crossing from universes or alternate realities -- apparently Arthur and everyone from that existed, just not here on our Earth -- and they all knew The Doctor as Merlin. Or something.

Anyway, the story is all convoluted, with Mordred being Arthur's nephew, as some tellings of the Arthur story go, instead of his illegitimate son by his half-sister, as some other tellings of the Arthur story go.
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart unwraps Bessie from mothballs for The Doctor and Ace
The story features Jean Marsh as Morgaine, Mordred's mother and Arthur's half-sister. Only, Mordred's mother was Morgause in some tellings, and Morgan le Fay (AKA Morgaine) in others. Kinda hard to keep straight. But, about Jean Marsh. She played The Doctor's companion, Sara Kingdom, in Season Three's The Daleks' Master Plan, and the character Joanna in Season Two's The Crusade. This was her first appearance on the show since William Hartnell left.

Jean Marsh is always good to see, but I was particularly happy to see Nicholas Courtney's Brigadier. Even though I didn't like the whole change to the storyline during most of Jon Pertwee's stint as The Doctor, setting the series on Earth, I did like some of the characters, particularly Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Without the Earth-based shows, the character wouldn't have developed like it did. So, there is that.

Ace's character was developed in both Ghost Light (3 episodes) and The Curse of Fenric (4 episodes). The first serial involved the history of the place the young delinquent Dorothy (AKA Ace) has burned down, and the other set the stage for her mother's troubled upbringing, with Ace as a catalyst for that.

The Master (Anthony Ainley) was in the final serial of the season (and the classic show), Survival (3 episodes). It ended with The Master again trapped in an impossible situation, and was intended to be the end of that character. Again.

It was known that the show might not be renewed for a 27th season, so after the first episode of Survival aired, the next day, 23 November 1989, the 26th anniversary of the initial broadcast of the first episode of the show, Sylvester McCoy recorded a voice-over that was added to the final scene.
There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea's getting cold. Come on, Ace; we've got work to do!
On 6 December 1989, the final episode aired. The show was canceled early the next year by BBC, and the show would fade into oblivion.

Except...
The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) appears in the 1993 Children In Need special
On 26 and 27 November, 1993, as part of an annual fundraiser called Children In Need, several actors from the series reprised their roles for a short two-part special. It was a cross-over of sorts with characters from EastEnders, another BBC show.

Neither the special, titled Dimensions in Time (2 episodes; 7 minutes, 5 minutes) was done partially as a 30th anniversary celebration of the show, which still had a following. There had been a move to make a 30th anniversary special featuring all of the living actors that had played The Doctor, but The Dark Dimension never got off the ground. However, since the actors' involvement had been secured, they agreed to do a charity show, forgoing pay as long as it was never made commercially available. It's not, although bootlegs are available.

Briefly, Dimensions in Time featured The Rani having created a temporal trap that had snared the first two incarnations of The Doctor (William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton, both deceased), and was trying to capture the other five. Her attempts succeeded in having The Doctor change into his various incarnations, as well as his companions being replaced by others. For example, The Doctor (7.0) became The Doctor (6.0) while Ace became Mel. This kept up, and featured, in no particular order within the story, Jon Pertwee, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy. Tom Baker appeared early on, making an attempt to contact his other selves. Companions who appeared included Ace (Sophie Aldred), Susan Foreman (Carole Ann Ford), Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney), Romana (Lalla Ward), Sarah Jane Smith - (Elisabeth Sladen), Nyssa - (Sarah Sutton), Leela - (Louise Jameson), Peri Brown - (Nicola Bryant), Melanie Bush - (Bonnie Langford), K9 (John Leeson/Matt Irvine), Liz Shaw (Caroline John), Mike Yates (Richard Franklin), and Victoria Waterfield (Deborah Watling).

While the show isn't considered canon by either Doctor Who enthusiasts (or EastEnders fans, either), it was all in fun, and for charity. Which must count for something.

And so, to wrap it all up ...

Eh, I'll do that later.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lost Emails? I Don't Believe It

So, the IRS expects us to believe they lost a bunch of emails.

I don't.

And, I'm not the only one.








Who else doesn't believe it?

Well, that's your task. Now, off to work. You're burning daylight.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Classic Doctor Who Season 25

The Doctor and Ace
Several week ago, I began watching the classic Doctor Who series. Several people told me I ought to watch the new series, saying I'd like it. So, I decided to watch the old series instead. I figured I'd watch a few episodes, get bored, and use that as an excuse to not watch the new series.

Hasn't worked out that way. After a little bit, I became a fan of the show. The old show. Still haven't, as of this writing, seen any of the new series. And, until I actually start watching any of the new series, I don't know if I will. But, if I do, I'll have the complete backstory.

I'm up to the last of the incarnations of The Doctor before the show was canceled. And, Season 25 is the next-to-last season of the classic series.

This season was just plain weird. If you remember the 1980s, you know that was a weird time. If you have ever watched British TV, you know it was weird. So, 1980s British TV? Weird2.

The season featured two of The Doctor's most famous opponents: the Daleks and the Cybermen. Remembrance of the Daleks (4 episodes) shows the destruction of the Daleks home world, Skaro, which was the setting for the serial that introduced them, Season One's The Daleks.

Remembrance of the Daleks has several references to the first serial of the show, Season One's An Unearthly Child. It included action at Coal Hill School, where Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton worked before they began traveling with The Doctor. Additional action took place at the I.M. Forman (sic) junk yard at 76 Totter's Lane, where An Unearthly Child had its opening scene. One character was expecting The Doctor to be an older, white-haired man. The episode took place in November 1963, on a Saturday, based on a scene that had a TV in the background, playing a BBC station break, that said "This is BBC Television, the time is quarter past five and Saturday viewing continues with an adventure in the new science fiction series Doc-" before the scene abruptly cut. Also, Ace picked up and opened a book on The French Revolution, similar to what Susan did in the first episode of An Unearthly Child.
Ace reads a book on The French Revolution at Coal Hill School,
November 23, 1963, in Season 25's Remembrance of the Daleks
Susan reads a book on The French Revolution at Coal Hill School,
November 23, 1963, in Season One's An Unearthly Child.
Silver Nemesis (3 episodes) featured the Cybermen, who were responsible for The Doctor's death (and regeneration) in Season Four's The Tenth Planet. Silver Nemesis aired on the 25th anniversary of the very first Doctor Who episode, giving the "silver" an additional meaning.

The show's silver anniversary serial also featured an appearance by none other than the most famous Doctor Who fan, Her Royal Majesty, Elizabeth II, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, and Defender of the Faith. Okay, it was some actress who was made up to look like her. But I had you there for a second, didn't I?

There were reports that the show runners attempted to get the Earl of Wessex (Prince Edward) to appear on the show. The royal family responded that it would not be appropriate. So, they made up some woman (Mary Reynolds) to look like the Queen, and had her out walking her corgis.

The other two serials in the season were just plain weird. The Happiness Patrol (3 episodes) featured a lead female villain that was supposed to be a parody of Margaret Thatcher (yeah, more left-wing British TV stuff). It also featured pink-haired women running around killing people who were unhappy. And a walking ... thing ... made of candy that was the official executioner. Or something.

The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (4 episodes) featured a galactic circus, weird clowns, a rapping ringmaster, a werewolf, and other such nonsense. Those wacky Brits.

Yes, the one with the pink-hairs and the one with the clowns were weird. Just plain weird. But, the Daleks and Cybermen ones were okay. Kinduva mixed bag for the show's penultimate season.

The classic series concludes with Season 26. Hulu and iTunes are locked and loaded.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dead?

I thought they said the TEA Party was dead?




Have fun storming the castle!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Classic Doctor Who Season 24

Season 23 Title Card
I'm nearly done with watching the classic Doctor Who series. I started with the episodes that aired on BBC in November 1963, and have seen every episode -- or reconstructions of missing episodes -- since. I've just finished Season 24, which was Sylvester McCoy's first as The Doctor.

Before I get into that, there's a little matter of some off-screen events that impacted the Doctor Who universe. Between the end of Season 23 and the start of Season 24, Patrick Troughton died. He had made what would be his last appearance as The Doctor in Season 22's The Two Doctors, reprising his role and playing opposite Colin Baker. During the off-season, he had appeared at a science fiction convention here in Columbus, Georgia, and died of a heart attack during the convention, on 28 March 1987.

I mentioned in my Season 23 wrap-up that Colin Baker was fired from the show after that season completed. The reason was that the Controller of BBC One was displeased with the tone of the show, and a complete overhaul was planned, including replacing Baker as The Doctor.

BBC offered Baker the opportunity to film a regeneration scene in the first serial of Season 24, but he counter-offered to do the entire season, concluding with a regeneration, because he would have missed out on other work by taking a short-term role. According to one interview, he never heard back from BBC about the counter-offer, and the season opened with a regeneration.

Time and the Rani (4 episodes) featured a cold opening, only the third time this had happened, after Castrovalva (a repeat of the regeneration from Tom Baker to Peter Davison from Logopolis) and The Five Doctors (William Hartnell's farewell to Susan from The Dalek Invasion of Earth). The cold opening shows the TARDIS being attacked and finally landing on a planet. The Doctor and Mel are crumpled on the floor. The Rani enters and has her henchmen secure The Doctor. When they roll him over, he is in the midst of a regeneration, and resolves in Sylvester McCoy's likeness.

For the scene, McCoy had donned a wig and lay on the floor to play the unconscious Doctor (6.0), making him the only actor to play two incarnations of The Doctor (6.0 and 7.0).

Time and the Rani was the first full stand-alone serial to feature Melanie Bush (Bonnie Langford), although she had appeared in Season 23's The Trial of a Time Lord: Terror of the Vervoids. Since Mel had obviously joined The Doctor during his sixth incarnation, and the series was now into his seventh incarnation, the plans to actually have a full introduction couldn't be realized. The only other companion who didn't have an introduction episode was Susan, who was already with The Doctor, her grandfather, when the series began.

Delta and the Bannermen (3 episodes) was Mel's penultimate episode, but caught my ear from all the oldies music playing. My eyes caught the time-traveling bus in space looking a little like Pearl Forrester's space van from Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The Time Bus
Pearl's Van
Mel was definitely an 80s girl, with big shoulders and big 80s hair. And a screamer. Bonnie Langford was a child star in the U.K. and had played Annie on stage in that country. She was 22 when she first appeared in the role, making her the first companion born after the show was first broadcast. The first episode of Doctor Who aired in November 1963, and Langford was born in July 1964. Although some fans of the show didn't like the character, Colin Baker once called her one of the most professional actors with whom he had ever worked.

Langford left the show at the end of the season, with the character Mel deciding to leave The Doctor and travel with rouge spaceman Sabalom Glitz. Dragonfire (3 episodes) featured a chance encounter with Glitz, whom The Doctor (6.0) and Peri had encountered in Season 23's The Trial of a Time Lord: The Mysterious Planet, and The Doctor (6.0) and Mel had dealings in that season's The Trial of a Time Lord: The Ultimate Foe.

The Doctor picked up a new companion, Dorothy Gale McShane, who went by "Ace" (Sophie Aldred). Despite Ace being younger than Mel, Alred is older than Langford. Ace was sixteen when she began traveling with The Doctor, though Alred was 26 at the time.

Sylvester McCoy's portrayal of The Doctor featured his carrying an umbrella, as Colin Baker's had done, carrying many things in his pocket, as Tom Baker had done, and taking a more comedic approach, as Patrick Troughton had done.

The short season meant not much time to learn much else about this incarnation of The Doctor, although he was immediately more likable than his previous incarnation.

And, we only have two more seasons to go.

Friday, June 6, 2014

70 years ago


[Video: The YouTube. Transcript: U. S. Army]
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!

Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

-- Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A manly man workout by a manly man

The manly manness of the manly man doing a manly man workout puts all other manly man men to shame.


[The YouTube]

Original: Daily Mail Tip: Pamela Geller

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

O'Shizzle

IMAO has a strick No Irish policy. I'm not sure if this is evidence supporting it or refuting it.


[The YouTube]

Tip: Roxy Maunz, Facebook

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Classic Doctor Who Season 23

The Doctor and The Valeyard
I'm watching the classic Doctor Who series, because someone wanted me to watch the new series. Or something. I've been doing it so long, I'm not sure on how it all came about.

I'm up through Season 23 now. That's Colin Baker's second full season as The Doctor. It's also his last. BBC would fire him after the season ended.

Before we get to all that, though, let's take a quick look at Season 23.

Rumors were that BBC had canceled the series after Season 22. In fact, they moved it back to a Fall schedule for budgetary reasons. That allowed them to go an entire fiscal year without the expense of a Doctor Who season.

Besides the return to the Fall, Season 23 was a little different. The format returned to 25-minute episodes, after going 45 minutes per episode the previous year. However, they didn't increase the number of episodes. During the first six seasons, there had been 40-45 episodes per season. That schedule took its toll on both William Hartnell and Patrick Traughton, who both lasted around three seasons each in the role of The Doctor. Since Season Seven, there had usually been around 25 episodes per season. That may have been why Jon Pertwee stayed for five seasons, and Tom Baker for seven. Peter Davison only left after three because he was following Patrick Traughton's example of three and done. Traughton had been The Doctor that Davison grew up watching, and was, to him, The Doctor.

With the extended episodes in Season 22, the number of episodes was cut back, making the actual show content consistent with what had been the norm since Season Seven. However, when they went back to 25-minute episodes in Season 23, they left the number of episodes as the contracted number. Season 23 ran 14 episodes.

Season 23 was also a single story, The Trial of a Time Lord. The trial used three stories as evidence in the trial, then added a fourth story to wrap up the trial. While the entire season was considered a single 14-episode serial, the various phases of the trial consist of stand-alone stories that could have aired outside of the framework of the trial.

The Doctor was on trial for meddling. Yes, that was how the Season Six serial, The War Games ended, which concluded with a trial by Time Lords, and The Doctor being sentenced to be stranded on Earth as Jon Pertwee.

The show played it up as him being tried for it again, violating our double jeopardy standard. However, all of the evidence used Colin Baker's likeness as The Doctor, so it was actually a second trial for The Doctor continuing to interfere with time and worlds in space.

The second story in the trial, known as Mindwarp (4 episodes) -- although that was not officially the name of the story -- included the death of Peri (Nicola Bryant). That storyline was changed in the final story, The Ultimate Foe (2 episodes), with Peri's death being said to have been altered records. According to one report, Nicola Bryant filmed her final scene for Mindwarp thinking that her character had been killed off by having her brain removed. She was said to have been unhappy with the in-season retcon of that. Didn't stop her from taking money for appearing in officially licensed (and considered canon) audio programs years later.

New companion Mel with The Doctor
A new companion, Melanie Bush (Bonnie Langford), commonly called "Mel," was introduced with no fanfare in Terror of the Vervoids (4 episodes). It was presented as testimony from the future, after she had joined The Doctor in his travels.

The trial concluded with the surprise that the prosecutor, known as The Valeyard, was actually a future incarnation of The Doctor. The Master (Anthony Ainley), who appeared in, but not as, The Ultimate Foe (2 episodes), was conspiring with The Valeyard, and called him "an amalgamation of the darker side of the Doctor's nature", adding that he came into being somewhere between The Doctor's "twelfth and final incarnations." Along with the High Council of Gallifrey, The Master and The Valeyard were covering up a massive crime by convicting The Doctor, sentencing our hero to death, with The Valeyard gaining all of The Doctor's remaining regenerations. Or something.

Anyway, The Master turned the tables on The Valeyard, but ended up allowing The Doctor to escape and defeat The Master. The High Council was overthrown, The Valeyard escaped, and everything went back to normal.

Except it didn't.

Because of the complaints against the show for its violence, the head of BBC programming wanted to completely overhaul the show, including casting a new actor as The Doctor.

None of that was known when Season 23 ended. As far as Colin Baker knew, he would be back in the TARDIS the next season. But, it was not to be. He offered to appear in the full season, with a regeneration at the end, but BBC wanted to begin with a regeneration, and offered him one serial of the next season. That would have caused him to miss other work with little return, so he declined.

Let me finish the Colin Baker years by saying that I wasn't at all unhappy with his portrayal as The Doctor. However, he had the shortest run of any actor up to this time (December 1986). His character had one season to settle in before the disruption of a trial, then he was fired. I think had he remained in the role longer, he would have grown on me more. Despite the firing, Baker reprised the role in official audio plays in the years since.

Oh, there is an interesting story on how they handled the regeneration from The Doctor (6.0) to The Doctor (7.0) in the next season, without Colin Baker's participation. But, we'll save that for Season 24.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Classic Doctor Who Season 22

"The Two Doctors"
Season 22 of the classic Doctor Who series marked a couple of changes in the show. BBC returned it to once-weekly, but increased the length of each episode from 25 minutes to 45 minutes. Keeping in mind that putting two 25-minute episodes together, removing the opening and closing credits from the middle, and omitting the cliff-hanger and recap, meant that each 45-minute episode contained almost exactly the same amount of show content.

The season consisted of six serials comprising 13 episodes, or what would have been six serials fo 26 episodes. Looking ahead, I saw that the series would return to 25-minute episodes the next season.

There was no cast change in this season. Colin Baker had assumed the role of The Doctor in the previous season, and his companion, Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant) would remain the entire season. This is the first time since Season Eight that there was no introduction or farewell for either The Doctor or any companion during the season. In every other season, at least one companion or an actor playing The Doctor had a first or last episode.

Around this time, there were movements in the UK opposed to violent television shows. Doctor Who was one of the shows targeted. And, there was a lot of violence in the show. Tegan's character had left The Doctor, complaining of all the violence, so the show did acknowledge that. But what did they do about it? Why, they stepped it up a notch.

The serial Attack of the Cybermen (2 episodes) featured Cybermen killing people with their bare hands, something that was not common on British television. The attack by The Doctor (6.0) on Peri in Colin Baker's first serial was roundly criticized, because it was consider so shocking to the audience. Attack of the Cybermen also featured the return of a villainous henchman, Lytton, who had worked for the Daleks in the previous season serial, Resurrection of the Daleks. By the conclusion of the serial, he was redeemed, and The Doctor regretting misjudging him in the end.

Vengeance on Varos (2 episodes) reminded me of The Running Man in a way. The residents of the planet are entertained by a steady stream of violence, torture, and execution. There are a couple of characters that don't interact with any other, just watch all the happenings on the TV, and comment. Kinda like a Greek Chorus. Vengeance on Varos introduced the worm critter Sil, who would show up again.

The Master made a return appearance in The Mark of the Rani (2 episodes). The referenced his last appearance and apparent death at the hands of The Doctor (5.0), but said he wasn't dead after all then went on about their business. Oh, and the Rani is another evil renegade Time Lord. There are a lot of them. The Master, The War Chief, The Monk, The Rani, Morbius, Barusa ... well, let's just say there are a shipload of them.

We get treated to evidence of a story that never aired. Timelash (2 episodes) makes mention that The Doctor (3.0) and Jo Grant had visited the planet Karfel before. In fact, portraits of The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Jo (Katy Manning) are seen. Oh, and H. G. Wells shows up.

The violence continues up through the final serial, Revelation of the Daleks (2 episodes), in which there are disembodied heads, limbs blown off, and general mayhem. There are Daleks, after all. Oh, and "synthesis of food protein is people!"

The season was so-so. Nothing against Colin Baker as The Doctor. I thought he was fine. And, the violence wasn't an issue for me. I was a fan of Breaking Bad, after all. No, it's just that the stories were a little tiresome. But not all of them.

The Two Doctors (3 episodes), which was the fourth of the six serials to air, was a treat. Patrick Troughton reprised his role as The Doctor (2.0), along with Frazer Hines as Jamie McCrimmon. I liked the opening effect of the serial, which featured The Doctor (2.0) and Jamie in the TARDIS, and in black-and-white. The scene shifted to color, and the story got underway.

Two separate stories ran, featuring The Doctor (2.0) with Jamie, and The Doctor (6.0) with Peri. They eventually ran into each other, and saved everyone, defeating the Sontarans along the way.

The Doctor and The Doctor
The writer, Robert Holmes -- who had contributed many characters and concepts to the series over the years -- was a vegetarian and used the serial to promote the absence of meat in a diet. With a hammer. Over the top. At the conclusion, The Doctor and Peri adopted a vegetarian diet.

Still, it was a treat seeing Patrick Troughton as The Doctor again. It was his last appearance in the role, and he would die less than 25 months after the serial aired, at a science fiction convention in Columbus, Georgia.

There was one more aspect to Season 22 that was unusual. Airing as part of the BBC series Jim'll Fix It, a short adventure featured The Doctor, Tegan (Janet Fielding), and a child named Gareth Jenkins defeating the Sontarans. It was presented as a short episode of Doctor Who, complete with opening credits. The ten-minute presentation was part of the show where Jimmy Savile make children's wishes come true. He's "fix it" so things they wanted could happen. Young Gareth Jenkins was a fan of the show and had his own outfit that resembled that of The Doctor (6.0).

By the way, Jimmy Savile was a pedophile and used his position as host of children's programming to gain access to children. Most of the reports of his perversion came to light after his death in 2011.

And, on that sorry note, we'll leave Season 22 behind, and head to Season 23.