Nathan's Laserium: Half-Formed Thoughts in Late August

I was getting ice cubes from our fridge's ice-maker to put in the cooler for our upcoming little vacation. I pressed one of the six or so mysterious buttons on the panel of the ice-maker by accident. Power saver it said. Saving power is good, right? Yay for me!

Michelle pointed out that now the little digital readout said OF OF. "I think you just turned it off."

"No way," I said. "What kind of crazy fridge would have an off button? I think it says zero fahrenheit. See, there's this little power freeze button, I must have hit that by accident too." Being Canadian, fahrenheits have always been these weird inscrutable units that mean absolutely nothing in the real world, kind of like ha'pennies or cubits. So it didn't really seem like much of a stretch to assume that my fridge had a setting where you could power freeze the freezer down to zero fahrenheits. That certainly made more sense than a fridge with an off button.

Vacation was really great.

About a week later we came home and the fridge still said OF OF and also it really was off and all our food was ruined. Hundreds of dollars worth of food.

I still laugh at that part in Emperor's New Groove:

"Pull the lever, Kronk."

*splash*

"Why do we even have that lever?"

The answer to the question, "Why does my fridge even have that button?" is so that floor models in dealerships can have all the lights but not the power expenditure of actual refrigeration. I did not laugh at that part.

 

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I'm turning 40 shortly- September 11th. I'm doing okay with this fact. What's freaking me out a bit mroe is that my oldest daughter, Pallas, is starting kindergarten next week. How did that happen? She's still so new! She took pre-school out of her dayhome and "graduated" a couple of months ago. I was oddly proud of this feat, nearly tearing up a bit when I walked her home the last day, and even felt a pang of regret that I wouldn't be able to make it to the little graduation ceremony for her. But then I remembered the scene in The Incredibles where Mr. Incredible questions why they are having a similar ceremony for JackJack.  His exact words escape me but they illuminate the entire theme of the movie, which is essentially "Why be mediocre when you can be incredible?"

I'm certainly not saying that Pallas is mediocre, but between you and me, graduating pre-school doesn't really rank as her greatest achievement. She can do all kinds of stuff, like sing the entire soundtrack of Frozen, and name every member of the Sinister Six. She also made up her own superhero once, Owie Badguy. I dressed up as Owie for Halloween since he is so awesome. He punches badguys and makes them say "Owie!"

Did I mention she hasn't even started Kindergarten yet? She's pretty incredible.

 

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I bought Pallas a new book I'd heard of on Twitter, written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by noted comics-letterer-and-penciller Chris Eliopoulos, called 'I Am Amelia Earhart'. As you might expect, it's a book for little girls about how little girls can do anything they bloody well please, even when others say you can't or shouldn't. This is an important lesson I whole-heartedly agree with and have been trying to impart, with some success, to both our daughters. Our youngest, Naia, seems to have this lesson encoded in her DNA or something, but Pallas sometimes needs reminding, and then is able to kick ten tons of ass.

The book was a hit, became our recurring night-night story several days in a row (thankfully and appropriately, it doesn't get into Amelia's ultimate fate). The thing that seems to have impressed Pallas the most about Amelia, however, is that someone made a book about her.

"Dad, when I grow up, I want to be in a book too."

"Oh. Good for you! You know, uh, just do some incredible things like Amelia and someone will probably write a book about you I'm sure."

"Were you ever in a book?"

"No. No, I think it might be too late for me for that."

She actually came back to me a few times and asked me why it was too late for me. I didn't really have a good answer. Well, did I mention I'm turning 40 soon? That's practically death's door.

No it's not. Truthfully, I never really wanted to be IN a book. But I always kind of wanted to be ON a book- my name on the cover I mean.

A nice little kick in the ass from my daughter courtesy of Amelia Earhart.

 

-º-

 

I wasn't going to write these little anecdotes up unless I could find a uniting theme, and the theme of this mini-essay is themes! Cue theme music here. The discerning reader will note that I didn't really elucidate the theme of Emperor's New Groove, but only because that's one everyone knows, right? Try not to get turned into a llama if you can help it.

 

- Nathan Waddell

 

So long, True Blood. It was a long, weird and ultimately dull ride.

 

True Blood ended Sunday night and for reasons I can't explain I stuck around for the whole insane ride.  As the series finale was ending, I captured my reactions for posterity.  Unedited, this is what went down as I watched.
Oh yeah, there are totally spoilers here.  If you call telling you in advance what color the paint you're watching dry will be a spoiler.  *SPOILER*  White.
 

Things I will miss about True Blood:
The way Bill says Sook-eh.
Eric.
Pam.
Lafayette.
Jessica.

Things I will not miss about True Blood:
Everything else.
Especially Sookie’s endless sex scenes.


I am direly bored.  Other than Eric’s sexy blood spattered car singing and Pam attacking Sarah, it’s been the worst episode ever aired.  I am including every one of the were-panther and maenad episodes in that tally too.  It’s twenty-five minutes into the series finale and it’s a bunch of reflection and bullshit disguised as altruism and some madcap flash wedding for Jessica and Hoyt?!  Dear god this is dull.  True Blood, end things in a rock and roll vampire bloodbath, not all this blather and soft-focus memory crap.  If the next half hour doesn’t implode in a gigantic mess I will have to glamor myself into forgetting I ever watched this show.

Okay, fine.  Sheriff Andy’s awesome.  Andy agreeing to give Bill’s house to Jessica after Bill dies was sweet.

Bill: King Vampire of Guilt Trip Mansion.  

Stupid weddings.  Stupid spontaneous middle-of-the-damn-day vampire weddings.  Is that what brides want?  To be bleeding from their eyes and ears on their wedding day?  

If they find a way to shoehorn one more sex scene into this show in the next twenty minutes I will give kudos where due.

I thought it couldn’t get more boring than the wedding.  I was wrong.  It’s all fancily dressed characters driving around in hick mobiles in dappled sunlight reflecting on personal growth.  I feel like I maybe stumbled into a Hallmark card by accident.

Ginger thinks Sookie is pregnant with Bill’s baby because a) she can hear his thoughts now that he’s dying, and b) he’s said that Hep-V has made him feel more human than ever before.  If that turns out to be true not enough glamor in the world will be able to sear that from my mind’s eye.  And though I am loathe to say this sentence, here it is: Twilight did it first.

Forty-four minutes in, no sex.  No bloodbath.  No Lafayette.  So bored.

So now it’s the final countdown.... and it is so much less exciting than the Europe song.  Why Bill can’t just throw himself into sunlight like a self-respecting suicidal vampire instead of putting it on Sookie to fairy him to death is beyond me  That entire sentence is giving me hives.

Of course Bill has a coffin.  And of course his reasoning for it is firmly rooted somewhere between century old bullshit and misguided chivalry.

And now she’s not going to give up her fairyhood because finally she’s accepted who she is.  A vampire-lovin’ lightball-formin’ bad-decision-makin’ fairy.  One who’s totally gonna stake Bill with a snapped-off shovel handle.  This show is so many kinds of classy.

I  can’t even with Sookie climbing out of a puddle of her dead boyfriend and walking off into the moonlight.

Eric and Pam’s New Blood commercial is the only thing keeping me from throwing myself into sunlight.

Future wrap up... Sookie is preggo and making a Thanksgiving turkey, Jason and the girlfriend-who-was-formerly-Hoyt’s have like three kids, Sam and his family come to visit... Pam whoring out Sarah for her blood in the basement of Fangtasia might be awesome... and the ghost of Steve Newlin returns!

It’s a Bon Temps town Thanksgiving at Jessica and Hoyt’s estate.  But who is Sookie’s baby-daddy?  *drum roll please*  It’s a random bearded dude whose face we never see.  

What utter horseshit, True Blood.  

 

- Corinne Simpson

 

Pick of the Week – August 25-31, 2014

I can be a bit of an intense moviegoer.  I don’t talk during the film, and I don’t want people talking to me.  I don’t even get up to use the bathroom unless it’s heading into potty emergency territory (Sorry about the TMI there).  And the last thing I want is a bunch of smartasses making comments back at the screen.

Unless those smartasses happen to reside on the Satellite of Love, home of this week’s pick: Mystery Science Theater 3000.

In case you’ve never heard of the Satellite of Love, it is where the nefarious Dr. Clayton Forrester imprisoned mild-mannered Gizmonics Institute employee Joel Robinson and forced him to watch the worst movies ever made.  To keep himself sane, Joel built several robots, two of whom, Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo, accompanied Joel into the satellite’s theater where they endured films such as Teenage Cavemen and Manos: The Hands of Fate.  The movies may be terrible, but the running commentary from Joel and the bots was absolutely hysterical.

During the show’s fifth season, Joel left and was replace on the satellite by Mike Nelson, who continued on as host through the remainder of the series’ 11 season run, which also included a feature film, the appropriately named Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie.   

Pretty much any episode of the show is a lot of fun, but one of my all-time favorite bits is “Last Clear Chance,” a short film about safety around railroad crossings.  Fortunately, some kind person has posted it on Youtube HERE.

The movie is also a great way to get a taste of what the series was like.  It’s really just a bigger budget episode in which they are able to skewer a bigger budget bad movie, the 1955 science fiction film, This Island Earth. 

While Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K to the fans) may no longer be on the air, the cast is still riffing on movies.  Joel and some former cast members created Cinematic Titanic, and Mike along with a different group of cast members has formed RiffTrax, where they offer a large collection of riffs making fun of movies from current blockbusters to classics.

It all started with MST3K, though.  We’ve got Movie Sign! 

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter

 

Who’s Back? Who! That’s Who!

Last night (Saturday, August 23, 2014, for those of you reading this in the fuuuuuuture) was the long-awaited season premiere of Doctor Who.  For Who fans, this is the end of a long drought.  It’s been 15 months since the finale of the previous full season (which itself was cut into two sections with a break of several months in between), and eight months since the Christmas episode, “The Time of the Doctor,” in which Matt Smith finished his tenure in the role and handed the TARDIS over to the new Doctor, Peter Capaldi.

But our patience has finally been rewarded.  We have a full 13 hour season to look forward to…well, 11 now, since the premiere, “Deep Breath,” was two hours.  But that should last us into November, which means we’ll have less than two months to wait until this year’s Christmas special.  Compared to the sparse quantities of Who available to us over the last couple of years, (As I pointed out in THIS post, between the end of Season 6 in May 2011 and last night’s premiere, we only had 17 new episodes, which works out to less than six per 12 month period), this is an embarrassment of riches.  I’ll enjoy it while I can because who knows what the scheduling situation will be like next year.

What about the premiere itself?  Other than a fleeting appearance at the end of “The Time of the Doctor,” this was our first real look at Peter Capaldi’s take on the Time Lord.  At 56, Capaldi is thirty years older than the previous Doctor, Matt Smith, was when he was announced in the role.  For the character, this isn’t a big deal.  He’s been an older man before (William Hartnell, who played the First Doctor, was 55 when he started in the part but played much older), and Matt Smith was the youngest actor to ever take on the part.

The real issue will be how the fans take to this sudden turn toward an older actor.  Since the series returned in 2005, the actors playing the Doctor have been getting younger and younger.  Christopher Eccleston (the Ninth Doctor) was 41 when he started, David Tennant (the Tenth Doctor) was 35, and Matt Smith was 26.  Capaldi is a definite departure, and one person in my house is not happy about the change. 

As soon as Smith regenerated into Capaldi, my nine-year-old daughter (Who had no idea that the regeneration was coming, by the way.  Her daddy is sneaky like that) was upset: 

“He’s the Doctor now?” she asked in disbelief. 

“Yes,” I replied.

“I don’t think he’s going to be very good.  He’s old.”

Some time has now passed, and my daughter has reached the ripe old age of ten.  Her feelings on the subject, however, have not changed.  Just a few days ago, she told me that she missed “the pretty Doctor.”  Honestly, I had no idea she thought of Matt Smith as pretty.  She also misses Karen Gillan’s Amy Pond terribly (and spent the entirety of Guardians of the Galaxy rooting for Gillan’s character, Nebula).  She likes the current Companion, Clara, played by Jenna Coleman, but she’s no Amy.

It’s safe to say that my daughter is skeptical about this new season.  As she is away this weekend, though, I was able to watch the premiere episode without her non-stop scowling at Peter Capaldi.  So how did he do? 

(WARNING: Mild spoilers to follow.  I will be talking about specific moments in the episode in vague terms, but I will avoid a full recap.)

Despite a lot of talk in interviews that Capaldi would be a much darker Doctor, I found him to be very funny in the role.  I particularly loved his realization that he now has a Scottish accent and his comments about his eyebrows.  This is not to say that there isn’t a bit of darkness in his portrayal.  Both his dialogue and his actions during his final confrontation with the episode’s antagonist show that this Doctor is willing to do whatever is necessary to protect his friends and the innocent.   

Capaldi also has a lot of physicality in the role.  We have not gone back to the days of the First Doctor standing back while his companions handle the rough and tumble stuff.  He also doesn’t have the near-manic energy of Smith’s Doctor, but during the premiere Capaldi is jumping out of windows, riding horses, leaping off of bridges, and wrestling with robots.  He’s also able to be still and yet still commanding in a way that Smith did not (I won’t say “could not” because that just wasn’t his take on the Doctor.).  By the end of “Deep Breath,” I was absolutely ready to accept Capaldi as the Doctor.

The premiere also gave us Jenna Coleman’s best performance so far as companion Clara Oswald.  I have enjoyed her in the role since she first appeared in “Asylum of the Daleks” (I’m using Clara to cover all Claras.  Regular watchers know what I mean by that statement.), but I did not feel that most of the 7th season episodes gave her much to work with.  I would say that, outside of “Asylum,” “The Snowmen,” “The Day of the Doctor,” and “The Time of the Doctor” were her best work until last night. 

“Deep Breath” puts her in much more dire circumstances, not just in terms of physical peril, but also in terms of her relationship with the Doctor.  The man she knew and had such easy banter with (and kind of controlled, if we’re honest) is gone, replaced by someone who, at first, doesn’t seem to know her or care if she lives or dies.  Coleman gets to play all of Clara’s confusion, hurt, fear, sorrow, and anger while still showing her comedic chops and her ability to go toe-to-toe with Capaldi.  The restaurant scene between the two of them and the subsequent descent into the antagonist’s ship is really a long showcase for Coleman, and she is wonderful.

While the episode’s title, “Deep Breath,” has significance in the episode’s story, it is also relevant to the episode itself.  As the Matt Smith era progressed, episodes would fly by at a quicker and quicker pace.  Showrunner and Head Writer Steven Moffat could easily blow through ten amazing concepts in a single episode, any one of which could have been expanded into an episode of its own.  The pace was frantic, the dialogue passed by so fast that I’d occasionally have to rewatch scenes just to catch the explanation of what was going on, and the stories could feel rushed and incomplete.  The final two episodes of the Smith era, “The Day of the Doctor” and “The Time of the Doctor” were improvements in this area, but “Deep Breath” really gave the story time to…well…breathe.  This isn’t to say that it’s a slow episode.  It’s definitely not.  From the appearance of a dinosaur in Victorian London in the very first scene, the episode moves right along, but it does so while still giving the characters moments to develop and deal with what’s happening around them.

“Deep Breath” was a fun and successful launch of Capaldi’s tenure as the Doctor, and I am looking forward to the rest of the season.  Next up, though, he faces his toughest challenge.  No, not the Daleks.  My daughter.

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter

 

You're gonna be popular!

I’ve been blogging for a very long time.  Well, since 2004 at least.  That’s EONS!  Well, no, it’s a mere heartbeat in the life of a vampire.  No, it’s not even that.  Vampires don’t have heartbeats.  It’s a decade.  Which is nothing and everything at once.

Let me start over.

I’ve been blogging for awhile but this site, this beautiful writerly haven, started in March of 2013.  Just over a year.  I love it here.  And I love Alan and Nathan for joining me on this wordy adventure into the deep unknown of the internet.  Thank you, guys!  I couldn’t do this without you.  And Roger, we miss you!

We’ve explored some wondrous topics since last March.  Robots.  Comics.  Vampires.  Wil Wheaton.  Doctor Who.  Star Trek.  X-Men.  Travel.  Misogyny.  Aliens.  Phobias.  Song lyrics.  Movies.  There are a lot of fabulous things we’ve explored together.

But is there a Most Popular post?  Is there a top dog amongst all the puppies in the kennel?

There is.  

One post has consistently drawn readers to it.  One post has been perpetually searched.  One post to rule them all, one post to find them, one post to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.  I thought you’d be interested to know what that post is.  *cue drum roll*  Voted Most Popular on VampireNomad is...

Dracula’s Lucy Westenra: An Analysis 

So to all you english and literature students who have been assigned essays on Bram Stoker or Lucy Westenra or comparing and contrasting Lucy and Mina... to all you who do exhaustive research online... to those who are maybe vampire aficionados like me or who enjoy reading opinion pieces... or to those of you who plagiarize essays found online and cobble together the sentences of others to pass off as your own... to all of you, you’re welcome.  And thank you.  Dear Lucy has a lot of fans, and that is as it should be. 

 

- Corinne Simpson