Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hippies and Eskimos

It was just after midnight. My mother's first birthday since her murder had just passed. I went out into the cold and rain to run an errand. It had recently been hard to move for any reason at all. Any sense of purpose or passion had drained away months ago. However, hunger still seemed to be a pretty good motivator. I had no money other than the old check in my jacket pocket that I kept forgetting to deposit; that's what led me to the grocery store's ATM.

The ATM was on my right as I walked in the exit. The entrance is closed at that time of night. On my left was a computer station open to all who wish to submit an employment application for the grocery store, and as such goes mostly unused. That night there was a young man declaring his desire to move food. He was perhaps twenty years old. His hair was brown, long, and stringy. His goatee was scraggly. His T-shirt was faded. His jeans were ripped. His sneakers were green and well-worn. On his head sat a pair of enormous, old-fashioned, 80s-style black headphones.

His body jerked along with whatever music he was listening to.

As I began my deposit, the ambient noise of the universe faded away and I heard him quite clearly singing along to his music. I couldn't bring myself to move as my brain processed what it was hearing. This man was singing out loud, off key, word for word the Corky and the Juice Pigs song "Eskimo."

So, in case you've never heard the song and can't spend three minutes watching pure happiness, the chorus laments the fact that the singer is the only gay Eskimo in his tribe. This song, though delightful, is twenty years old. I don't think anyone's cared about it in fifteen or so.

But there he was.

In the middle of a night made cold by wind and melancholy was a single dirty hippie badly singing a song as old as he was to the entire checkout about being lonesome homosexual Inuit. I remained in front of the ATM long after I had finished my transaction, transfixed by the sublime absurdity of the moment.

The song ended.

He looked off at the wall behind the monitor and paused. After a moment of reflection he mused out loud to himself "Huh. That song's pretty gay."

I hastened to the back of the store, where they no longer feel it necessary to light the dairy products at 1:00am, and sat by the yogurt, and laughed. And wept. But mostly laughed.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Writers Write

The lady down below is Tessa Violet (MeekaKitty) and is one of the most populars on the YouTubes. I have no recollection of learning about her, she just sat, ignored, on by subscription bar for years. I recently decided to cull my subs and went through some of her videos to see if I wanted to keep her around. 

I found this video where she talks about being young and getting older. She talks about how great it is that she is regularly maturing and gaining perspective.

I could not help but consider that in the decade I have lived that she has not, I stopped being excited about the person I was becoming, and started making peace with the person I became. 

Writers have this half joke/half mournful plea for help that goes "writers don't choose to write, they have to." One time I asked a poet, "When did you first self-identify as a poet?" and he replied "When I couldn't stop writing poetry."As a final example of this philosophy, let me share with you a poem that writers love sharing:

"–you know, I’ve either had a family, a job,
something has always been in the
but now
I’ve sold my house, I’ve found this
place, a large studio, you should see the space and
the light.
for the first time in my life I’m going to have
a place and the time to

no baby, if you’re going to create
you’re going to create whether you work
16 hours a day in a coal mine
you’re going to create in a small room with 3 children
while you’re on
you’re going to create with part of your mind and your body blown
you’re going to create blind
you’re going to create with a cat crawling up your
back while
the whole city trembles in earthquake, bombardment,
flood and fire.

baby, air and light and time and space
have nothing to do with it
and don’t create anything
except maybe a longer life to find
new excuses

© Charles Bukowski, Black Sparrow Press
I read things like that and I look at my place in life and in my darker moments I think "well, I guess I'm not a writer after all. All these years have gone by... I'm old enough now that I should be balls deep in my chosen profession... and poetry doesn't force its way out of my hand... I've had air and light and time and space... I've also had 16 hour days, been through earthquakes, floods, fires, had a cat crawling up my back, and have been demented... and I didn't create.

Writers shout at each other in no uncertain terms that writers write. Always. And, because deep down I'm very stupid, I just now figured out why that is. Writers are a cowardly and superstitious lot. Busy days, bad moods, shiny objects, or a little too much gas can keep a writer from working if they're not careful. We have to tell each other these fairy tails in order to guilt ourselves into turning off Netflix for one goddam minute and get something done. I suspect that if we didn't feel the need to write all of the time, we wouldn't write any of the time.

So, instead of resigning myself to withering away as a stagnant, non-creative husk, why not get over myself, remember that you're never too old to grow into a better person, and fucking do something.

Also, because I'm totally into quotes right now, I'll leave you with my favorite quote from a sword:
The enemy is one -- You are one. What is there to fear? Cast off your fear! Look forward! Go forward! Never stand still. Retreat, and you will age. Hesitate, and you will die.  - Zangetsu (斬月)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Untitled Death Post

Three weeks ago I got a phone call from the police letting me know that my mother was dead. She had been shot in her sleep by her husband, who then shot himself. No one found them for two weeks.

I never talked to her all that often, sometimes only once a month, so it wasn't strange that I hadn't heard from her. She didn't call me on my birthday, but I attributed that to her being a forgetful, wacky old broad. Instead she was rotting on her bed near the corpse of her killer.

I started calling people I knew to tell them. I didn't need anything from them, I just thought that it was the sort of thing friends should know about when it happens. There was a fascinating spectrum of reactions. Some were quiet, some were angry, some were startled, but all were stunned, wanted to help, and had no idea of how to do it. They would fumble over their words and tell me that they didn't know what to say. I told them that it was okay, that no reasonable person could possibly be expected to know what to say. It was strange finding myself comforting my friends who were trying to comfort me. Eventually we all fell back on our standby coping mechanism: Gallows Humor

There was an impromptu party at my place that night as people kept coming over and no one left. In fact, I barely got a moment to myself for three days as people kept coming by with pies and casseroles, as is custom in the southeast U.S.. All of it was a blur and none of it seemed real, until I got to her house.

One of the more overwhelming parts of the experience is that I had no idea of what needed to be done, how to do it, or where to start. There was no other family and none of my friends had ever been the ones to deal directly with arrangements. I realized that I needed information. Life insurance, health insurance, car title, utilities... I couldn't even get her out of the examiners office without her Social Security Number, which I didn't know off the top of my head. I was going to have to go to her house and try to find it all.

Let me start by saying that my mother had many fantastic qualities, however, she was also a slob and a borderline hoarder. Also, in case you didn't know, the police don't get anybody to come clean up when they're done investigating a murder, that's up to you. However, crime scene cleanup guys cost thousands of dollars, and I have approximately no dollars. So the blood and stink of two rotting old people as well as the cats who starved to death and the weeks old litter box were going to be a concern while we were digging through piles of papers, boxes, and knickknacks to find a few sheets of relevant information.

I find it strange that I've been saying things that I only hear about on television. Like, sometimes I mention a conversation I had with the lead homicide detective. That's not something real people do, that's a TV thing. Also, sometimes you see a person on TV go glass-eyed and say "The blood. There was... so much blood." I totally get that now. There's a lot of blood in a person and on a hardwood floor, it has no where to go. Also, fun fact, when there's that much of it, it doesn't actually dry, it just turns into a dark sludge.. which we know because one of the friends who went with me to the unspeakable horror house slipped in it and nearly fell on his bottom. We knew it was going to be bad, so we brought gloves and masks, and Vicks VapoRub to put in our noses. However, the stench crept through our masks, past our VapoRub, and into our souls.

There has been a lot of contemplation on the subject, and I may or may not delve deeper into that later, but I just needed to get the gritty horror of it out. Thanks for listening, guys.

I love you all very much.

Monday, April 8, 2013

G is for Geek

My 25 is Geek Pride Day. I'm sure I'll be posting about it again when the day gets here.

Until then I have a gripe. A geek gripe. Not a legitimate complaint, mind you.

I consider myself to be the last generation of geeks who grew up when being a geek wasn't cool. 

We had video games, but like, Frogger. We had tabletop RPGs, well, we had 2nd edition D&D and World of Darkness for the Goth kids. We had Magic: The Gathering and couldn't imagine a better life.

Kids today, am I right? They have this Wonderland of geek culture to roll around in and it's pretty much all socially acceptable now. We're... we're still working on getting LARPing recognized, but hell, there's even been a movie or two about that. Not flattering ones, but still.

I can't express this enough: I am so happy that things are better now than they used to be. I just can't help but be jealous. 

I mean where was this shit when I was in high school?

Of course, looking back on it, I actually did know a few super-hot nerd girls back then. So I guess being shy and awkward might have been the real culprit. Why can't you people let me blame my failures on things that aren't me?

Are you a geek? Are you picking up what I am putting down? Let me know and join me tomorrow for "H is for Hot for Con."

Saturday, April 6, 2013

F is for Falksen

Since I said that this month I would be focusing primarily on a writing theme, I decided to take this opportunity to talk about another author I know. Last time it was about chocolate-covered Josh Corin, this time it's about the amazingly delightful G.D. Falksen. I could use all of my positive adjectives on this man, I adore him. Also, he does all the Internets.

And that's just the shit I found without really looking. I swear, if I hadn't met him in person, I'd think he existed exclusively on the internet. I don't know how he gets anything done in between doing all these things.

We crossed paths on the Steampunk circuit. Honestly, in the grand scheme of things, we haven't spent that much time in each other's company, but... cons are a different world, especially when you're working them. There's a lot of stress, a lot of bullshit, and nothing ever, ever goes quite right. The company you keep can keep you sane. This guy right here? Turns every green room into a fuckin' Class Fest.

He once slept on the floor of my apartment and I once slept on the floor of his hotel room. The difference was that he wasn't too drunk to go anywhere else. That's class. Oh, and he writes. Also, he once sang me this song:

Is there anyone that you don't see often, but makes a big impact in your life? And join me Monday, when our topic will be "G is for Geek."

Friday, April 5, 2013

E is for Editing (out my filth)

I consider my blog to be a form of art. Not highfalutin art, mind you, but in the category. I'd say I am to Mark Twain what a street mime is to Derek Jacobi. Still, as an "artist" I must contend with the age old struggle between expression and entertainment.

Expression: I got things that need saying. However, if I don't pay close attention, I run the risk of turning this into a dry diary filled with shit like "Today I went to the DMV and had to stand in a long line. I forgot my book so it was really boring. The people in line were bored and angry, but the teller was actually pretty nice when I finally got to her. After that I went to go eat a burger." Oh my god, are you still reading? Thank you for not leaving just then.

Entertainment: I want you guys to have a good time and keep coming back. I want you to feel compelled to leave comments and share with your friends. I am an artist and I feel a deep need for you to LOVE ME! So sometimes I find myself on virulent expletive-filled rants about things I don't actually care about, just because I think it might be funny.

Somewhere in the middle you get what I'm going for, but it's a constant dance.

Like this post. I've said all I need to say, but I feel that it lacks pizazz... so I'll leave you with this cover of Comic Action Pizazz:

Let me know what kind of similar struggles you face, and don't forget to come back tomorrow, when out topic will be "F is for Falksen."

Thursday, April 4, 2013

D is for Deadpool

Maintaining character integrity is crucial to creative writing. There is a razor-thin line between a character's actions being unexpected and unbelievable.

It is also vital to set a tone for the narrative and to stick with it, only deviating during certain key moments in order to provide emphasis for the situation.

And let's not forget the importance of maintaining the continuity of the complex world that you create.

Except that sometimes doing those things is fucking boring as all hell.

That's why there's Deadpool.

Marvel comics has dozens of ongoing titles. All of them have writers that occasionally have bad ideas that can't fit into their story's continuity. All of those ideas combine to form Deadpool, the Merc with the Mouth.

He's like the Voltron of stupid... or maybe the Captain Planet of inane. The point is, that Doctor Strange, Master of Black Magic occasionally goes poopsies, and no one is going to bring it up but D-Pooly. Comic books are all about wish fulfillment, right? Well, Deadpool is the incarnation of that part of us that wonders why the Hulk manages to keep his pants or what b-list heroes and villains do in their off-time. His inability to die, smart mouth and constant need for entertainment ensure that those of us who follow along are going to enjoy the ride.

The Regeneratin' Degenerate is only able to remain interesting as a font is pie-slinging, cross-dressing, chimichanga-eating gags because he is also the darkest, most deeply disturbed man who ever got a title at Marvel, because:

1. Wade Wilson has murdered hundreds of people. Not out of a misplaced sense of judgement, like the Punisher, but for money.

2. The healing factor that grants his immortality also causes him to be hideously deformed. His whole body is riddled with tumors which resemble 3rd-degree burn scars over 100 percent of his body, that's why he never takes off his mask.

3. He is schizophrenic. There are two complete voices in addition to his own that occupy his mind. They are always watching him and there are often conversations between the three of them.

4. He is fully aware that he is a fictional character. In the whole of the Marvel Universe, only 'Pool knows what's up. He often makes asides to the reader or comments on what's happening in the next panel. If fact, in one universe he takes it in himself to kill everyone in the world so that they can be free of the slavery of being manipulated by writers.

5. He absolutely and completely hates himself. He knows he's crazy, he knows he's physically and ethically disgusting.  His unending life has made him forget how much life is worth. This is why he acts out, trying to remember.

In the end, what you get is the unique ability to tell absolutely whatever story you feel like at the moment and no matter what, it's in character. Whether it's Deadpool trying to redeem himself, robbing a bank, stopping a villain, having lunch with a villain, stalking Spider-Man, or TPing the X-Mansion, it all makes sense and it's all fun to watch.

How do you feel about it? Have you even heard of the guy? Don't forget to comment, and don't forget to stop by tomorrow when we'll be discussing "E is for Editing (out my filth)."

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C is for Chocolate

A while ago I decided to take a creative writing class with my dear friend and new blogger Kendra. The class was being taught by a delightful young man named Joshua Corin. I believe he might be known amongst his people as a "mensch." The class was a ridiculous assortment of hilarious characters, remind me to tell you about them some time.

He would regularly advise us against indulging in stereotypical self-destructive writer behavior, such as taking drugs or alcohol in order to "improve" our writing. He informed us that most of the writers who were known for drinking began to do so after they got famous, and that their work declined after that. I asked him if there was anything he did indulge in to put him in the writing space. He looked down and got a little sheepish. It looked like he was trying to decide what sort of classroom-appropriate answer he could give and eventually decided on "Chocolate. I eat a lot of chocolate."

I've often wondered what he chose not to say just then. Does he go home and prepare two buckets of chocolate sauce, undress and quaff from one until he's drenched and then sit in front of a tape recorder, dictating his novel while pawing cocoa from the other bucket like Winnie the Pooh from a jar of honey?

I like to imagine that he does. Important note: I don't like to imagine him doing it, I need to make that clear. I just like to imagine that sometimes when he comes to class after having finished up a chapter for his new book, that there's still a little chocolate behind his ears.

Don't forget leave a comment with your feelings on chocolate, and don't forget to meet me here tomorrow for "D is for Deadpool."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

B is for Bloggess

There is no shortage of people around here that drip with adoration for The Bloggess. My story is nothing special, and I think that's the best part.

I doubt that I would have ever started this blog if it weren't for her encouraging everyone around her to be proud of who they were, even if especially if who they were was a bunch of weirdos. In fact, it was my experience with this blog that inspired me to pursue my dream of going back to school and pursuing a journalism degree.

Now, I'm not afraid to take responsibility for my own success, but I feel compelled to express appreciation when it manages to seep into my lonesome, wicked heart.

Last year, I wrote a post called B is for Bucket List. I decided it was time that I put together a short list of some life goals. On that list was
  • Meet Jenny Lawson - This woman has helped me tremendously and I would like to thank her in person one day.  Also, I want to get a picture of me staring at her boobs.
Well, I haven't been posting much in the last year, but I'm pleased to announce that May 16, 2012, I was able to make this dream a reality. On that day, the Bloggess was in town doing a book signing and I went to go visit her. I thanked her. We were both a little awkward, then I stared at her boobs.

You can't see them because of the arm, but I could.

Mission. Fucking. Accomplished. Thank you again, Bloggess, for enabling me to reach my goals.

So I guess this post actually ties together all three of my B posts for the past A-Z challenges. My first year was B is for Boobs.

I like to get to know you wonderful people, so don't forget to leave a comment and come back tomorrow when our topic will be "C is for Chocolate." Don't worry, I'll make sure to make it a little inappropriate.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A is for Adult Content

Wonderful news, everyone!

It is once again time for the annual A-Z blogging challenge. It's that magical time of year, full of shiny hope, where I pretend I'm capable of assimilating into the blog-o-sphere, but have my hopes dashed throughout the month as my ideas degenerate into discussing yaks and offending like, 70% of the Mommy Bloggers.

They shouldn't be talking about their boobs if they don't want me to be talking about their boobs. I'm kidding. Who doesn't like people talking about their boobs? That was rhetorical. I know that the people who have lost a breast to cancer, or have the super-floppy-pancakey ones often don't like to discuss it, but you didn't need to bring that up.

Have some fucking tact.

Which brings me to today's point.

This is the first year in the A-Z challenge where a blog can sign up under a particular category. It's completely optional, except if you're an Adult Content blog, then you'll be removed if you're not listed as such.

I took a look at some of the (AC) blogs and a lot of them were talking about dildos, buttsex techniques, and all sorts of miscellaneous things about genitals and how to use them.

Now, I almost never actually write about sex, but I sure do say fuck a lot. I figured that whether you're writing about dicks and twats, or you're just calling people dicks and twats, it still comes under that category of "adult content." If my posts were being read aloud on television, that guy would have to come on beforehand and say "viewer discretion is advised."

So, if you're coming here from the A-Z blog list because you saw the (AC) and you were looking for tips on how to find the best glory holes, I'm not your guy.

If you're looking for somebody to use a considerable about of profanity to go on a long rant about why their favorite television show is degrading, then we're all in luck! 

I've decided to do a vaguely writing-centered series of posts this month. Join me tomorrow for "B is for Bloggess." So, leave a comment, Like me on Facebook, watch my About video, and let's get started!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Shall I Compare Steven Moffat to a Bloody Diaper? - Part 3

Here we are at last. The Unforgivable Episode. The one that ruined the Doctor.

This was originally going to be its own standalone post, but I felt that I ultimately needed more background to explain why this episode was so maddening and so very, very disappointing. That's why there had to be two preceding segments, Part 1 and Part 2.

I've been re-watching a lot of these episodes to make sure that I have my facts straight and my ducks in a row. I cannot describe to you the sense of dread I experienced sitting down and pressing play on this episode. Hopefully by getting this out, it will begin to hurt less.

So, what was wrong with this episode? Well, not to sound too melodramatic, but everything. Every single premise on which the episode relies is false or flawed.

I'll go in the order of the notes I took while re-watching the episode:

The Weeping Angels are a vastly ancient, mysterious race of beings who bear the physical appearance of angels and involuntarily turn to stone whenever seen. In the episode we see a group of their young, who appear as cherubs. Adorable. That makes sense. However, we also see a mother and child statue that end up being "Angels" and in the beginning of the episode we see that the Statue of Liberty is in fact also an "Angel."

What? No! In no previous episode containing the Angels (all written by Moffat) were they able to infect statues to become animate. The Angels are not statues. They are living beings turned to stone. What I mean is that no one ever sculpted the Angels, they are a biological life form. They're ostensibly fleshy when no one's watching. This "infection" angle is brand new, out of left-field, and once again, as with the Dalek sleeper agents, no one talks about it. In previous episodes, it was always a big deal when we discovered a new ability of theirs, but not this time. None of it makes any sense.

Also, I cannot emphasize enough what a foolish notion it is that the Statue of Liberty is an "Angel." First of all, when is no one looking at it? Second, remember the huge footsteps that would occasionally pause and it turned out it was her all along? Well, the only reason that it would have occasionally paused like that is if someone were looking at it. Which means that people would occasionally notice Lady Liberty creeping through the city on her way to that hotel. And what, then they just looked away long enough for her to continue? A 15-story copper monster can apparently just mosey through 7 million people and no one notices. And remember that whole "That which bears the image of an Angel becomes and Angel" business? That means that all of the tourists through New York, students with textbooks, and maybe even some stamp collectors are all harboring the Angel of Liberty.

Next, the Doctor believes that River has to get a broken wrist because Amy read it in the book that River will write about this adventure, and not doing so would break causality. This is a deeply flawed presumption. Amy read out a couple of lines of dialog, that's it. The only thing that would actually have to happen is the saying of those words. As long River says "Why do you have to break mine?" and the Doctor says "Because Amy read it in a book and now I have no choice," then the prophecy is fulfilled. Nothing actually has to get broken. This whole thing also relies on the belief that the book was 100% accurate. What if River had gotten the line wrong when she wrote it?

So River breaks her wrist getting out and the Doctor uses his Paladin ability "Lay on Hands" in order to heal it... What?! This is not a thing. Why did this happen? The Doctor cannot heal with a touch. If he could, I'm pretty sure we would have seen this before. Well, maybe it only works on other Timelords. Well, if that were the case, I'm pretty sure he would have given it a try when his daughter got shot, or when the Master got shot. Okay, when I said that I wasn't going to bitch about Moffat ignoring anything that came before him, I meant like him not referencing previous characters and plot-lines, not tearing causality a new asshole.

. . .

So, Rory's trapped in a basement with a bunch of Weeping Cherubs. He's holding a match and one of them, in stone form, blows it out. Bullshit. It's never been implied that an Angel simply gets encased in a molecular thin layer of stone when being observed. They turn completely to stone. You can't blow out a match with stone lungs.

But they got him anyway and he gets teleported to the middle of a street somewhere. From there, instead of trying to phone his wife of just staying put until they come and get him, he wanders into the Angel Hotel for no reason whatsoever. Except that it was necessary for the plot to continue. And if the Angels wanted him in the hotel,
why not just teleport him directly inside?

Right, so the Angel Hotel. This is a brilliant idea. However, it's too bad that they got it completely wrong in every way. Here's how it should work: Let's say for sake of argument that the Angels send a person back 50 years whenever they touch them. Let's also say that they built the hotel in 1880. That means that their first victim will pop into existence in 1830, well before the hotel is build and live out their lives. From 1880 until 1930, their crop of first-round victims will be sent back to 1830 to 1880. Their first victim after their 50th anniversary in 1930 will get sent back to 1880 in the hotel, where they will feed on him again and send him back to 1830 with the first guy. So basically, the second that they open their doors in 1880, they're getting not only their first-round victims, but also their victims from 50, 100, 150 years in the future and so on. Interestingly enough, they'll have the most food they'll ever have in the very beginning and all of their victims ever end up in the 50 years before the hotel opens. It's a brilliant idea. The thing is, they get their food from displacing people back in time, so there's absolutely zero benefit from keeping them there and taking care of them until they die of old age. Speaking of which, who the fuck is taking care of them? Who is printing out those name cards? Who is making their food? Is there an Angel in a kitchen somewhere making stew for everyone? It's just ludicrous.

So in the end, an Angel gets Amy and Rory and they get sent back in time. The Doctor can't go back and rescue them because they already lived out their lives and died, which is confirmed by their gravestone. Undoing this outcome would cause another paradox and rip like, everything ever apart.

Except, that is complete foolishness. Like the book dialog, all that it written in stone is their names. There is absolutely nothing keeping the Doctor from going back, grabbing them, and placing a gravestone with their names in the cemetery. Causality would be ensured and Rory and Amy wouldn't have to live and die in old-timey New York. And it doesn't matter that the TARDIS can't go back to 1938 New York (if that's where they went), because even if he can't, there's no reason he can't go to 1938 New Jersey and take a cab. Besides, there shouldn't even be time distortions anymore now that the Angels never had their hotel. And whatever happened to the Angel that got them? What do you even do with a spare, rogue Angel?

The big emotional climax of the half-season arc was how tragic it was that after everything, at the last moment Amy and Rory were taken away in an unavoidable moment of destiny.

Except that, no. Just...

Friday, March 29, 2013

Shall I Compare Steven Moffat to a Bloody Diaper? - Part 2

This is the second of a three part segment in which I explain my negative feelings concerning Steven Moffat. If you missed part one, you can find it here. For the rest of us, let's continue...

Season seven finally rolled around and I was cautiously optimistic. I'm a bit of a fool that way. It was my hope that they had just had a couple of bad moments and that everyone had gotten used to working with each other and were ready to blow my mind.

My excitement was increased when I watched an interview with Moffat in which he talked about the season premier. The Doctor would face off against the Daleks that even the Daleks thought were too mad. The possibilities were enthralling. 

What if they went down and found this compound filled with Dalek prison gangs all fighting for dominance? Since Daleks are a lot like Beholders in that any variation amongst them is seen as inferiority, this could lead to some truly intriguing power struggles. Can you imagine a 12-foot tall, mad, Dalek faction leader with a couple of side mounted missile launchers and symbols carved into its chassis like prison tats? It would be a remarkable opportunity to introduce named, possibly recurring villains and introduce some depth.

Except that instead, they all went down to the Junkyard of the Daleks. It was just a series of old, dusty garages filled with sleeping, rusty Daleks. None of these creatures were portrayed as unique or interesting in any way. The entire thing seemed like a clumsy vehicle to introduce Clara Oswin Oswald, a way-too-smart, pretty young girl that had managed to get herself turned into a Dalek.

What? What the fuck?! Look, I know I said that I wasn't going to refer back to anything that happened pre-Moffat, but I just can't let this go. Back in the season one finale, one of the big reveals was that the Dalek Emperor had rebuilt the his race by cultivating a few worthy cells from millions of kidnapped and processed humans. This dude went through an insane amount of effort to crate Daleks, while these guys can apparently just flip a switch somewhere get a one-to-one Human/Dalek ratio.

Fine, whatever, but the Daleks also have the ability to cover a planet in a nanite cloud that can convert all tissue, living or dead, into Daleks and make sleeper agents out of them and nobody talks about it?! Everybody just goes along like this is something that just happens now. There's nothing to stop the most vicious race of race of xenophobic psychopaths the universe has ever produced from stopping by a world, dropping in a nanite bomb, and leaving with a whole planet of extra soldiers and no one thinks about it? Not even the Daleks? I just... it hurts.

Then Clara decides to kill herself, because life is easier that way.

The Doctor, Rory, Amy, a big game hunter, and Queen Nefertiti try to wrest control of a giant spaceship from the janitor of Hogwarts before it crashes into Earth. The only thing stopping them are a couple of dimwitted killer robots voiced by the always delightful British comedians David Mitchell and Robert Webb. Also, there are dinosaurs. Through a series of trickery and quick thinking, the Doctor slides into victory, but not before allowing the robots to murder an outrageously adorable dog-like triceratops named Tricey.

We all love dinosaurs and spaceships, so it would seem pretty hard to fuck this one up.

Except that they find a way. I think fucking up is to Steven Moffat what life is to Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park: it finds a way.

The absolute only threat in this entire episode is those two robots. Two rusty, old, not-at-all made of wood robots. Also, the Doctor has a sonic screwdriver that is adept at disrupting all kinds of circuitry, especially, say... two rusty, old, not-at-all made of wood robots.

This wouldn't have been a difficult thing to get around. All it would have taken is five seconds of screen time in which he scans the robots and tells us all that they have some sort of "sonic shielding" or some such. I don't care what they call it, but give us some device to tell us that this wouldn't work. It's not even like this technique is unknown to them. They even use it in that very episode for something else. When they accidentally got teleported somewhere on the ship, they couldn't teleport back because some circuit or another had been fried. It didn't matter, it was just a device to get them to run from some pterodactyls and that was fine. Just have the decency to do the same thing in order to protect the central plot of the story.

The scene opens with a guy named Kahler-Mas getting gunned down in the American Southwest by a cyborg in a poncho and a cowboy hat.

The cyborg, Kahler-Tek is hunting down Kahler-Jex, the last of the war criminals responsible for turning him and many others into war machines against their will. However, in the interim, Jex had become a beloved town physician, leading to some conflicts of interest. In the end, the Doctor distracts the cyborg using the plot of "Amigos, Amigos, Amigos" enabling Jex takes a step toward redemption my ending his own life so that no one else has to die and Tek doesn't have to take another life. Touching.

Except... why was the alien space cyborg wearing a poncho and cowboy hat? This may seem like a tiny complaint, but it's just ridiculous. He clearly wasn't trying to blend in and there was no way that his metal scalp was getting sunburned. Why do this at all? Because someone wanted a cybernetic desperado and they didn't care how they got it. It's just one more example of how willing they are to sacrifice the integrity of their story in order to increase its flair.

Also, the name of the alien race is the Kahler. These three names are equivalent to everyone going around saying "Morning, Human-Bob." "Oh, good morning Human-Jim." It's a ludicrously inefficient naming convention, especially when you consider that on a planet of millions, you're bound to run out of one syllable names pretty quick.

Oh, and "Amigos, Amigos, Amigos" was an episode of The Three Amigos in which everyone in town dressed as an Amigo and overwhelmed the villains with distractions, leading to a town victory. You can also see this play out at the end of the movie about the Three Amigos called ¡Three Amigos!. The problem with this was that the cyborg threatened to kill everyone in town if they didn't deliver Jex, so it doesn't seem like a good idea to dress everyone in town like Jex. There's nothing to stop him from shooting everyone, just like he said he would. Except that's not how it happened in the script.

I... I don't really have anything against this episode. It's only one of the season so far that I'm not going to tear up and it felt weird not to mention it.

In the interest of avoiding an anticlimax, I'm going to skip ahead to the Christmas special.

One of the things that I despise most about Moffat's war of Style against Substance is that occasionally I find myself liking it. As much as I loath the degradation of the narrative, some of the style is just plain lovely. This episode is a prime example of it.

The Grumpy Old Doctor is living in the clouds above Christmastime London and has to be coaxed down by a peppy and clever Clara Oswin Oswald (who is inexplicably no longer dead, or a Dalek, or anything), along with a lizard lady, her human wife, and a potato-nurse. The episode was fun, humorous, and lovely. I really do like Clara and I sincerely hope that they do something worthwhile with her.

Except... look, I'm not saying that the Doctor can't live on a cloud above 1890s London, but why would he? This is nothing like anything we've seen him do before. Yes, I'm willing to entertain the notion that he's no kind of man that he's ever been before, but still. And if you want to be alone, why surround yourself with people? Why not go to an uninhabited planet or the depths of space? Sure, he had a subconscious desire to be pulled out of his funk, but why not at least allude to it? Why must I continue to tell the the story to myself?

Here's the thing that really gets my goat about this episode: 

Another smitten girl kisses the Doctor. 

First, can we stop having companions fall in love with the Doctor? Why is this such a thing since the restart? It was nice having that break with Donna Noble, but everyone else can't wait to get their hands on Timelord dong. Well, the ladies that is. Well, the ladies and Jack Harkness.

Second, sure he doesn't kiss her back, but neither does he mention the little fact that he's married. You'd think that kind of thing should come up pretty quickly in this kind of situation. I'm not comfortable with this combined with the instant and powerful emotional connection he's formed with this woman. Sadly, this has forced me to come up with a far-fetched and ridiculous theory in order to explain this away so I don't have to think about a philandering Doctor. I will share this now, though you'd be better off skipping it.

*Conspiracy Theory*
So they've never really dealt with the death of River Song. She's not really dead, you see. Her consciousness is fully intact in a giant computer planet along with a handful of others as seen in the end of "The Forest of the Dead." If only we had a way of getting a computerized copy of a person into a custom fit body. Oh wait, we can, as seen in the aforementioned "The Almost People." All that we have to do is connect those two systems and everyone in the library gets a shiny new body. You do River last, because that's the way she would have it. Then, her quasi-timelord genetics muck up the process. We know that the process worked on the Doctor, but it almost failed. If it did fail on River it could cause her to regenerate, because the process might re-imbue her with regeneration energy. Only something goes terribly wrong and not only does she regenerate, she then gets split up through time, one for each remaining regeneration. And all of them are an amnesia stricken Clara Oswin Oswald. This explains her super intelligence, instant draw to the Doctor, and why I don't have to feel weird about them kissing (or that Alex Kingston is 20 years older than Matt Smith).
*End Conspiracy Theory*

That's all we have for today. Join me next time as I wrap up this series on why 

Steven Moffat :: Doctor Who as The guy pooping on your best friend :: Your best friend

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Shall I Compare Steven Moffat to a Bloody Diaper? - Part 1

People communicate on a very superficial level these days. Last night I posted a link on my Facebook page expressing my complete joy that head writer and executive producer of Doctor Who, Steven Moffat is beginning to consider leaving the show.

Not long after a friend of mine asked me why I was so happy about this. My response wasn't more put together than "because he sucks and I hate him." To which Friend responded, "yes, but why?"

I was a bit stunned. Not that I had never bothered putting to words why I hated Steven Moffat, but that someone bothered to dig deeper than surface Social Media bitching. Well, with points in the ether to be made and the show about to start back up again after its winter break, it seemed like a good opportunity to do some kvetching. make some valid points.

If Doctor Who isn't really your thing, you may be better off coming back in a few days once I've gotten this out of my system. We're about to get super Nerd-Ragey up in this bitch. So, here we go...

Why I'm Pleased that Steven Moffat Will Leave "Who"
Why Steven Moffat can Get Regularly Assaulted by a Diseased-Ridden Rape-Griffin and I'd be Okay with It

There are a few things I feel I need to get out of the way before we get started:

First - I'm coming from a place of love. I remember being a small child and hiding behind my couch from Daleks. When the show rebooted in 2005, I was skeptical. However, it didn't take me long to simply fall in love with the show all over again. The stories were complex, but never came across as contrived. The characters didn't always do what I expected them to, but they were always true to themselves. I didn't always know where the show was going, but they always rewarded my faith by pulling everything together by the end.

Second - I think it's ridiculous that Moffat refuses to interact with anything that came before him, but I'm not going to harp on it in this. I understand that it's nearly impossible to maintain 50 years of continuity, and it would actually take a small amount of effort to factor in what Davies did before him, but I will hold Moffat accountable for the reality he sets up himself.

Third - I want to be thorough enough to get my point across, but brief enough to fit into a post. If you would like to elaborate on anything, let me know and I'll try to find a way to fit it in... giggety.

And I loved me some River Song
When the previous executive producer, Russell T Davies decided to step down and Steven Moffat took his place, I was optimistic even then. Moffat had written a couple of my favorite episodes, including Blink, and Silence in the Library. I wasn't afraid of change, I was excited to see the new direction everything would take. He started the job with every advantage a man could have.

Then slowly, ever so slowly that I wasn't at first at all sure that it was happening, Moffat shat the bed. And he just. Won't. Stop. Shitting.

Season 5 came and went before I was even sure I smelled anything. I believe that the only fair way to do this is by listing particular offending episodes and why they contribute to the loathing.

So the Doctor spends a solid week with this chick who sleeps in a stasis pod which has a number that ticks down every day and she asked about her doctors when they first met. The Doctor noticed the number on the stasis pod, but he can't be expected to remember everything.

Except that's exactly what he does. He puts those little clues together and saves people. Abigail asking if he was one of her doctors was very reminiscent of Amy asking if he was a policeman when they first met. There was every indication that the Doctor was onto the mystery, but then he just... forgot. Besides, there wouldn't be as much of an emotional punch if he had fixed her, right?

I would have been satisfied if he had found the illness, but there just wasn't a cure. The fact that he didn't even check seemed incompetent to the point of out of character. I freely admit that it is difficult to write a character who is smarter than you, but this was the first time that line got crossed for me.

This was the first episode that caused me to scream at the television as I was watching it. The moment when they realized that it was reflective surfaces, not just still water, that allowed the Siren to come through, the Doctor decided it would be best if they through all the treasure overboard, which led to the greedy captain dooming his son by accidentally dropping his purloined crown.

Except that they repeatedly proved that it doesn't just have to be reflective, it has to be actively reflecting. They could have thrown a tarp over the treasure and it would have been perfectly safe, but that wouldn't have caused the captain to lose his son over his own greed, so they glazed over it for storytelling purposes.

Then, for no great reason, the Doctor decides that suicide might end well and they all get sent to the phase-shifted spaceship on the other side of the veil. Sure, whatever. Only they got there just like everyone else, and they didn't get put were everyone else got put. Everyone else was laid down unconscious in life-support while the Doctor, Amy, and the captain got sent to an empty room for no damn reason at all.

Then the episode ends with the Doctor giving a bunch of murderous pirates a spaceship.

Cripes, what a downer. That's okay, sad can be good, but this wasn't.

A whole two-parter has gone by in which we learn all sorts of lessons about what it means to be alive, unique, and human. In the end, the Doctor clone and the foreman clone hold off the monster behind the door to buy time for everyone to get away. They then kill the monster, killing themselves in the process. Quite noble, proving that one's origins does not dictate one's morality.

Except that was the stupidest thing they could have done. There was a point where everyone was gathered around the door and the TARDIS was only 20 feet away. Any two people could have stayed behind to fire the clone-killing weapon, including any of the real versions of the ones who died. They even had time to sit around and talk about it. There was absolutely no reason that those two people had to explod-o-melt except that it made for a more emotional ending.

So far we've been talking about the characters being drastically poor decision makers, which is okay in and of itself, except that here it's an example of writing out of character. This episode introduces an entirely new style of cheap writing.

Remember how Amy grew up ostracized and out of sorts because no one believed her stories about the Doctor? Did you catch that his willingness to believe/indulge her was one of the main reasons that Rory and Amy were able to bond?

Except that Moffat doesn't give a corn-filled turd about you or what you remember, so let's ret-con that shit!

Hey, remember how Amy and Rory grew up with this really ballsy black chick who totally believed in the Doctor, was totally with them all the time, only no one ever mentioned her even once until now? Well, it turns out that was River the whole time! What a twist! Aren't you surprised? I bet you didn't see that one coming!

Creating a brand new element that was supposedly there all the time is cheap. Making that the axis of a major plot point is terrible.

Let me first say that I don't actually dislike this episode, it's just that it's a prime example of a trend that I dislike in Who storytelling.

The thing about the Doctor is that he's just a clever guy. A clever guy with a time machine and a dozen more chances at life that the rest of us, sure... but he's still just a guy. He's not super strong or bullet proof. He doesn't know 50 martial arts, in fact, he's much, much better at running away than anything else. He spends most of his time thwarting villains with nefarious schemes and setting right what once went wrong... The bad guys were mean and scary, but they were usually just guys.

Except now he's psychic and defeats abstract concepts with the power of feels. In the God Complex,
there's a space-minotaur prison warden who feeds on the faith of his victims by trapping them in a 1980's Earth hotel with their greatest fears, and the Doctor defeats him by sending his companion into an existential crisis.

One episode later he saves a chubby house-husband from being forcibly turned into a robot by reminding him of how much he loves his kid. Man, it would have been nice if any of the millions of other victims of cyber-conversion had families to think about (they did - it didn't help).

They had spent 50 years establishing a setting and people got used to what sort of things were possible within the scope of this universe. We know what the TARDIS and sonic screwdriver can do. Psychic paper is all right by me. All these things have limitations. If the Doctor's trapped in a wooden box, we know the screwdriver isn't going to help (it doesn't do wood). But when you add feels to his list of weapons as a vague "I will this to work" tool, it cheapens the rest of it.

So the Doctor that died on the beach was the Doctor shrunken inside of a mechanical Doctor suit the whole time.

Fine. Whatever.

Except that if that's the case, then where did all of the regeneration energy come from after River shot the robot? By the way, River Shot the Robot would be a great album title. There was never any mention of the suit having any holographic capabilities, but that's all it would have taken to explain that away.

I like having a mystery to solve. I don't even care if I'm right in the end, I just need the story to make sure its got its facts straight, or else I'm going to feel like they just pulled it out of their ass. I'm looking at you, entirety of "Lost."

Sure, there's a lot of plot holes and questionable story telling going on around here, but does that warrant a man getting buggered by a syphilitic half-lion half-eagle Greek monster? No, of course not. This is just the beginning.