Idle Thoughts

The last couple of months of the year always end up being incredibly hectic for me.  Starting at about Halloween, there’s something going on every weekend, and I get pulled in a hundred different directions.  That same scattering effect is happening in my brain right now as well, so, rather than my usual extended discussion of a single topic, this week I bring you a snapshot of some of the things running through my mind.

Lucky you.

Fall Television Carnage – Two of the new shows I decided to check out this season, Selfie and  A to Z, have already been canceled.  Gracepoint, which was always billed as a limited-run series, also certainly isn’t coming back for a second season (Unlike its British progenitor, Broadchurch), and Constantine’s ratings haven’t been great either.  Of the six new shows I decided to watch this Fall, it’s very likely that only Gotham and The Flash will survive to air a second season.  That's brutal.  On the upside, I'm getting more time back in my schedule.


Twitter – I’m on Twitter (@CmdrAJD), but I can’t say that I tweet very often.  As my posts may indicate, I’m a wordy bastard, so saying anything of relevance in 140 characters is very hard for me.  Aside from my friends, the main people I’m following are celebrities I admire.  But what I’m finding is that most of them know and talk to each other.  I’ll see conversations between Wil Wheaton and Adam Savage.  Or maybe Felicia Day will have a brief exchange with Neil Gaiman.  In some ways, it’s cool to be privy to these tweets between people whose work I enjoy, but in others it feels like sitting at the table next to the cool kids' table in high school.  You can hear everything that’s going on and about all the cool things they’re doing together, but, as much as you might want to, you can’t be a part of  it.  They’re not your friends, nor will they ever be.


The Power of The Doctor – I went to a trivia night at a local restaurant this week, and my friends and I decided to call our team, “Bowties Are Cool.”  After the game, a man and woman, both of whom were probably in their late teens or early twenties, came over to our table to let us know that they were Doctor Who fans and appreciated the reference in our team name.  Since I knew they’d appreciate it, I showed them the picture I had taken with Matt Smith and Karen Gillan at the Calgary Entertainment Expo back in April.  I underestimated the reaction I’d get a wee bit.  The woman was almost in tears.  I’m not kidding.  She immediately started stammering, “What?  How?  Where?” and showed me that her phone wallpaper was a picture of Matt Smith.

This is not the first time that I’ve been able to draw that kind of reaction with that picture.  Back in August, I got a similar response from a couple of twenty-somethings in Portland.  Based on that and the number of my son’s friends who seem to be Who fans, I’ve come to the conclusion that I was born 15-20 years too early.  The Doctor is In!  Geek Culture is In!  I wonder how my dating life in school would be if I was growing up now...

…Who am I kidding?  It would probably still suck.


Capaldi Season Review – But back to the Doctor, Peter Capaldi recently finished his first season in the role, and with the exception of two episodes, I enjoyed his take on the character and the direction of the series.  We’ll start with the negatives: “Kill the Moon” was just a terrible, TERRIBLE episode that made zero sense and hinged on an event that was preposterous even for the universe of Doctor Who.  “In the Forest of the Night,” while not terrible, felt pointless.  Our characters really had little effect on the episode’s story.  Many of the episodes also had plot points that felt rushed and not well-developed, which really has been true of the show for the last couple of seasons. 

In the plus column, though, Capaldi has put his own stamp on the Doctor, one that is very different than his recent predecessors.  This season’s Big Bad, Michelle Gomez, was wonderful when she was finally able to let loose.  Despite the promise of “darkness,” the show kept much of its sense of humor intact.  And, most satisfying to me, this season has completed the development of Clara from plot device to actual character.  Jenna Coleman has been given so many different aspects of her character to play over the course of these episodes, and she’s done a fantastic job.  I know the rumors are that she will be leaving after this year’s Christmas special, but at this point, I’d be quite pleased if she stuck around.  If she does another full season, she will be the longest serving modern companion.


Random Morbid Thought – Everyone dies.  From the moment a person’s life begins, they are on an inexorable march to their inevitable demise.  By having you, your mom and dad doomed you to die.  That means, from a certain point of view, all parents are murderers.


A Movie Moment – I went to see The Book of Life with my daughter a couple of weeks ago.  The movie itself, which is a computer animated film about the Day of the Dead in Mexico, drew a decided “meh” from the two of us, but it has within it one of the most bizarre scenes I’ve come across in a long time.  At one point our main character, who is a singing bullfighter (He’s also a figurine made out of wood, but that’s not really relevant right now.), is lamenting that he may lose the love of his life to another man.  To express his sorrow, he breaks into a somewhat-Mariachi inspired version of Radiohead’s “Creep.”  I love that song.  It’s one of my absolute favorites.  But hearing it this way in that film…well…I started laughing in the middle of the theater.  Yes, I’m a terrible person.


Thanksgiving – This Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, and this year will be the first time since they were born that my kids won’t be with me.  Before you start feeling sorry for me, I will be with my parents and other family, so I won’t be alone staring forlornly into a microwave dinner.  This has, however, gotten me thinking about Thanksgivings I spent away from my family.  There was one that my ex-wife and I had with friends in Fort Polk, Louisiana.  Another we spent having a fantastic time in Los Angeles with another dear friend.  While we may have called these “Orphan Thanksgivings,” they really weren’t.  We were with families of our own creation, and I firmly believe that the families we build through our friendships are just as important as our biological ones. 

However you’re spending your Thanksgiving (with friends, family, a combination thereof...or even if it’s just a regular Thursday for you), I wish you a happy one.  Enjoy the peace and tranquility before the Christmas season descends upon us in earnest.

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter