Saturday, August 11, 2012

Tiny Hippo

This and more personal posts can now be found on the "My Blog" page above or here...

There is a web address at the end if the cartoon, but if anyone knows who the actual cartoonist is let me know so I can give full credit for the brilliance that is tiny hippo.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Top 10 Things I've Been Watching This Summer

Anybody else remember when nothing was on TV in the summer? Seasons all aired at the same time starting in the fall and didn't take a break halfway through. Everything is different now. For one thing we have more than 3 networks. The load is lighter during summer, but there are plenty of programs to choose from on the myriads of channels available to keep TV junkies like me satisfied. The summer is also a time to catch up on missed episodes and old favorites. Don't go thinking that watching TV is all I've done, but what I've been reading, writing and listening to are for other posts.

So here, in no particular order, are the top ten things I've been watching this summer.

1 DOCTOR WHO - It's pretty much a given that this would be on the list, and given my propensity to talk about this show I'll refrain from any details I'm bound to repeat in future posts, or have in past ones. I am anxiously awaiting the new season's beginning around the end of this month on BBC America. In anticipation of this, I spent the summer watching the entire show again from its return in 2005.

2 CHARLIE'S ANGELS - I almost put this in a post I'm writing about TV guilty pleasures. This is pure nostalgia for me. I wanted to be an angel. The kid up the street had the dolls, the original ones with Farrah. My Matchbox cars were angels on a big case. But Universal channel's weekday airings make me feel like a kid again, as well as providing many laughs. Apparently they never let the actresses do even the simplest of stunts, and the wigs were ridiculous in their attempt to match. And people must have been so stupid in the 70's. I was a kid so I wouldn't know, but many scenarios were either really being done by idiotic cops and businessmen and even the general public, or the audience was ignorantly buying into it as plausible. They do the worst surveillance work and tail a car from 10 feet behind. One of my favorite things is Sabrina's undercover disguise, which is usually chewing gum and speaking with an accent. And Christ were our standards in leading men low back then or what? Regardless, it's a silly, fun time they weren't able to reproduce in the 2011 remake.

3 Master Chef / Hell's Kitchen - Admittedly I would never have watched these if not for my partner. He is a chef and together we get a kick out of the mistakes made by people who supposedly have what it takes. I've come to really like these two, as different as they are. One with the contestants being screamed at by Gordon Ramsey as they make amateur bungles under high stress situations in a competition for a head chef position, and the other with creative challenges being taken on by home cooks who have dreams of stardom. It's really changed the way I think about cooking.

4 Rupaul's Drag U -  Not as exciting as Drag Race, Rupaul's drag queen competition show, Drag U has more heart as it helps 3 real women get in touch with the feminine side they've lost touch with. The one thing I don't like is that at no point does Rupaul appear in drag, but on the plus side you can't get through an episode without multiple laughs at the smack talk of the drag queen "professors" in charge of guiding the women.

5 Dallas - In its original form, Dallas would certainly come under guilty pleasures, along with Falcon Crest and Knots Landing. But this summer's reboot, little more than a miniseries, is to the original show as the new Doctor Who is to the old version. Like Who, Dallas picked up from the end of the original, albeit years later, and has a complete history of loves and hates and battles and bottles to build on. I've tried to think if I would like the show the same as I would if I hadn't watched the original, and I'm not quite sure I would. I'm still thinking of it as a show about Bobby and J.R., when it truly is about the new generation. I think I'm finally seeing that now that we are at the end of the (mini)season. Thankfully it's coming back for a second season. For me all the wheeling and dealing backstabbing twists are back in 21st century form.

6 True Blood - If ever there was anyone who was dragged kicking into True Blood fandom it was me. First off, I abhor bandwagons and tend to resist them until I see if they have any merit. The show has had ups and downs. I didn't care much for season 2, with Maryann, but it has steadily gotten better in my opinion. It must be my religious upbringing that makes the religious mythology we are discovering appealing. It's a very interesting idea that God was a vampire, creating vampire in His image first, then humans for food. They only have 3 episodes left, so it should really get revved up now, one hopes.

7 Chelsea Lately - I could never work for Chelsea Handler, I'd be too afraid, given what she "makes" her staff do on camera. Hanging out with her is a different story. I have read her books and watched her shows for years now and I think she is one of the funniest women on TV today, and all in a natural way that doesn't feel forced or scripted. If you watch her show you see what I mean. The casual banter and remarks on whatever "news" topics came up that day is the crux of what makes this show work. Add to that a funny, sometimes quirky, staff and no punches being pulled and wrap it up in Chelsea's honest and unapologetic attitude and you've got entertainment gold (occasionally silver) Monday through Thursday.

8 So You Think You Can Dance - This also falls under the category "would've never watched but for my partner." I genuinely enjoy this show, but to be quite frank, I don't usually "get it." I enjoy the show but have never been emotionally effected by it. All I see during a routine is moves. I understand creating moves being used to represent actions, but I don't see a routine and think "I really saw that journey they took from tremulous waif being bullied in school to a modern mature woman taking on the corporate advertising world", they're just dance moves chained together. Pretty, yes. Moving? Sorry, no. Maybe they're thinking of "So You Think You Can Mime."

9 Peep Show - Where do I start with Peep Show? It's fucking brilliant. One of the best sitcoms ever. British. Not for the kids, you'll probably end up hearing every naughty word ever. Roomates, Jeremy, slack musician, Mark corporate muckity muck whose at least a bit OCD and carries Jeremy who has been his mate since school. Mark is obsessed with Hitler's Germany and Sophie from work, Jeremy is obsessed with himself, his shit music and every female simultaneously. Jeremy's "bandmate" Super Hans is a functioning crackhead as self-obsessed as Jeremy. Like Seinfeld it's practically about nothing but what happens to be going on, except we are privy to the inner dialog and occasional point of view of both Mark and Jeremy exposing amazingly ridiculous thought processes and deep dark sides to each ones personality. Check it out on Netflix streaming.

10 Saturday Britcoms - When I was a kid, Saturday night was for Love Boat, Fantasy Island and Doctor Who. Who came on PBS, and while I remember watching the britcoms (British sitcoms) I can't remember when. Now they come on Saturday nights. They are not shows currently airing, but they are among some of the best in British comedy. Right now we are seeing Keeping up Appearances, which is quite silly. Are You Being Served? which is 'and you thought it couldn't get sillier'. But then comes the smart, mature comedy of As Time Goes By with the incredible Dame Judi Dench, who is joined by one of the best ensemble casts ever. There's no way I have space to cover the cast of The Vicar of Dibley, but they are clever and quirky and in a sense simple. But if you haven't seen it you have got to check out Dawn French as Vicar Geraldine Granger. Lastly, not really a Britcom, is The Graham Norton show on BBC America. This is my favorite talk show. It's hilarious and a bit unorthodox. You can always tell his guests are having a good time. As do you.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Saturday Rendezvous With Doctor Who

The Doctor Who page on Tumblr asked for people to post about their introduction to Doctor Who, so i posted the following:

I was about 8 when I started watching Doctor Who, which I hate to say happened in the late 70's. Where I grew up in America, it aired on Saturday nights at ten p.m. on PBS.  We didn't get the individual episodes, but an edited 90 minute (give or take) movie that those episodes comprised. I had to work hard to convince my mom to let me stay up, since we had church the next morning. At that church was the family who introduced me to The Doctor. We are still in contact after all these years, and marvel at the surreal journey we have taken with this uniquely tenacious show. 

You have to have imagination to appreciate Doctor Who, but in classic form it takes on a whole different meaning than today. With typically no budget to work with, the sets and effects of the classic series turn away the viewers who can't get past it. But I had enough imagination to see past any of that and focus on the story, the characters, and the mythology, a mythology that has only deepened with time. For many years Saturday night was THE night. It was the night I was able to escape with The Doctor and his companions to the far reaches of time and the universe. 

Technically, the first episode I saw was "Underworld", with Tom Baker as The Doctor. I understood nothing, but was fascinated by these people and their situation. It wasn't until the last of the fourth Doctor's adventures, Logoplis, that I began regularly watching. When The Doctor regenerated at the end of the episode, I learned early on the frustration many feel when one actor leaves and another takes on the role, but I also learned how thrilling it is to begin anew, yet continue on from the same point in the story. Our local PBS station did not air any episodes previous to Tom Baker, but I saw the other Doctors at viewings at monthly fan club meetings I attended with the friends I mentioned. 

And so for a number of years it went with fan club meetings and cons, which in the early 80's were intimate affairs. The panel with Jon Pertwee at my first con only had about 150 people in the room. I met companions and Doctors and bought merchandise like the TARDIS key, sonic screwdriver, novels and magazine back issues. I even begged my mother to crochet me a scarf, fashioned more on the one Tom Baker wore in his last series. A scarf i still have today.

After the show went off the air and I lost my video tapes, I almost forgot about Doctor Who. Every once in a while I would encounter someone with a tape of episodes and I would insist on watching. I never, at the time, had an opportunity to see the tv movie, but was leery of it anyway.

Then I heard it was coming back. I was dumbstruck and I was elated. A very familiar and welcome part of my childhood was returning, but would it pick up on what was already done or be a complete reboot? Thankfully it continued on from the original, more than less. I couldn't be more pleased with the direction it's taken. My favorite part about it's return has been in introducing new people to The Doctor. It's a given they will like it, because like The Doctor I choose my friends well, but the excitement I get from watching them discovering the show is a rush.

Typically I have a hard time with favorites. I don't even have a favorite color. I prefer to find favorite things about each Doctor or episode or writer. But I will say that I am most endeared towards Steven Moffat's way of doing things and hope he is in control for many years to come. And when it comes to Doctors, I prefer to pick a favorite from both new and old. Matt Smith is my pick for the new era of Who. He sucked me in early on and along with the excellent dialog he is given it's a hands down choice for me. For the classic series there is also no hard decision to make. Tom Baker, my first Doctor. His ability to be both man and alien at the same time is seconded only by Matt.

I have gone back and watched the Paul Mcgann movie, ordered merchandise I had lost long ago, ordered new merchandise and listened to the licensed audioplays. I wore out those video tapes I had, and not much has changed except for now they're in dvd and bluray formats. I still get the greatest pleasure from watching episodes multiple times, with my 30+ years of memories flooding back each and every time. Doctor Who is back with a vengeance, though it feels like it was never gone, and I think that's fantastic.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Lap Dance To Go

This and more personal posts can now be found above on the "My Blog" page or here...

While I'm working on a posting about guilty pleasures, like soap operas (mine) and WWE wrestling (not mine), I thought I'd share with you what our neighbor has been up to. In order to get a good mental picture without using the thousand words, I've included a horrible drawing I did that you can reference.

Our apartments are pretty standard buildings from the 90's and 00's, with 3 floors and two breezeways. The buildings are the things in the drawing that look like brown envelopes. The green is obviously landscaping, and the white areas are the sidewalks. You can see where they enter the building at each breezeway. The gray is the asphalt parking and driving area.

At the entrance of our breezeway you also find the gated entrance to the patio by the pool. There's a red 'X' there which I will get back to later. In the lower left corner you can see where the gated entrance to the community lies, in front of the purple 'X'.

Now that I've laid that foundation I can tell you about our neighbor. We have a diverse little group of neighbors, but oddly have about 4 or 5 Mexicans in wheelchairs. Not that I find anything wrong with that, it just strikes me as odd that they all ended up living near each other. But they're all friendly with each other, so that could have been the plan. I can't stress enough how much that doesn't matter. But it is essential to the story so I have to describe it, but I would be telling this no matter who did it.

So there are different degrees of handicap with our neighbors. The neighbor I am talking about seems to be the most severe, or possibly he has suffered the longest. He's young, like 19-22 young. His arms are thin, but strong, and his hands have drawn up some. I think his chair is motorized. None of them have shown any propensity towards knowing english. Their home health workers that come quite often are latina. And I gave up long ago on nodding and smiling, since even eye contact is avoided. Que sera sera, I say. Live and let live. For the most part.

We live in that first breezeway above the red 'X'. There is a coke machine by the pool on the other side of the patio. One day we decided we would get some cans of coke so we didn't have to walk to the convenience store. When we came down our stairs, our neighbor was sitting in his chair at that red 'X', blocking the entrance to the patio. He was not sitting there alone, though, for there was a young latina with him, but in casual clothes, so not one of his home health workers. And they were making out. I mean they were fucking going to town on each other. Hands wandering and hair whipping and honestly I can't remember if at this point she got on his lap yet or not. but WTF, why would you sit right there blocking the way? Were you suddenly overcome and couldn't control yourselves. I don't think so, because of where we next saw them.

We went the other way out the gate and went to the convenience store anyway. I really don't think anything less than a garden hose would've parted them. At some point they did move, though. You see that purple 'X'? This is on the road, off the grass or sidewalk, right by a parking spot, about 30 feet from the gate. When we came back from the store and first caught a glimpse through the gate I couldn't believe it. Sitting there, FACING the gate was his wheelchair. She was on his lap, with her back turned to him, writhing, and her head was turned kissing him furiously as he groped the front of her body. It was like two kids home from the club just as their ecstasy was kicking in.

My boyfriend says she was a hooker, and while she surely looked like she could have been a hooker, I'm not going to jump to that conclusion because it just doesn't matter. I will say that it was a tad bit creepy. Kind of like they were doing it for us, even though I know it was just coincidence. But I don't think that would be so far-fetched. They were obviously doing it as a display, which is sad. If being smack-dab in the middle of the entrance to the patio didn't tell me then "parking" in the middle of the road did. It was a trashy low-class display that I'm glad he isn't in the habit of doing. I don't care who you are, if you want the neighborhood to know you're seconds away from intercourse, "accidentally" leave your blinds open, don't shove it all up in everyone's business.