Sunday, August 31, 2014

Doctor Who Is NEW: Into the Dalek

Hello again! 

Dave-El here and welcome to my blog, I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, shrink wrapped to seal in freshness and flavor.

Once again I'm posting a double shot of Doctor Who Weekend. Yesterday I looked at the first episodes of newly regenerated Doctors including last week's episode, Deep Breath featuring the debut of Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor.  

Well, that was last week. OK, the Doctor has regenerated, different face, different quirks, etc. It's time now to get down to work. 

So coming up I'm going to document my impression of this week's new episode, Into the Dalek

But first....


That spoiler warning still scares me! Brrrr! 

All righty, then. 

What do we have this week?

The episode starts off with an epic space battle between humans and Daleks that classic series producer John Nathan-Turner could only dream about. In the middle of the conflagration, the Doctor rescues a soldier named Journey from an exploding ship. The Doctor take Journey back to her base where the Doctor is presented with a most unusual patient: a Dalek. A Dalek that thinks Daleks should be destroyed.

Is this a good Dalek?

Back on Earth at the Coal Hill School, we meet new teacher Danny Pink, a nice guy who is a former soldier with a tragic past. All the women it seems are really into him but it turns out he has absolutely no clue how to talk to women. It takes Clara very much directing Danny towards having a drink with her. 

But then the Doctor pops back into her life with the coffee she sent him to fetch. Three weeks ago. In Glasgow. So the Doctor says he needs Clara to accompany him. She says she has other plans. And of course off they go. 

Back at the base, the Doctor, Clara, Journey and two other soldiers get shrunk (yes, they have a shrink ray thingy, as all army bases do) to go into the Dalek (hey, that's the title of the episode) and find out what's making this Dalek good. 

After a battle with some Dalek antibodies where the Doctor takes a very cold calculated action to save their lives, the mission team winds up in, well, gloop. Disposed of biomatter. Well, you work it out. It's gross. 

From here the Doctor fixes a radiation leak that's killing the Dalek and not doing the Doctor's team a lot of good either. Unfortunate one fix undoes another and our good Dalek is off on a rampage to exterminate humans. And he's called in his Dalek buddies as well.

After another valiant sacrifice from the mission team, Clara and Journey begin searching for the Dalek's suppressed memories, one that may trigger its earlier good behavior. Meanwhile the Doctor meets the Dalek's organic center head on. Literally. The Doctor lets the Dalek enter his mind to show him the beauty of the universe. The Dalek sees that but also sees hatred: the Doctor's hatred of the Daleks. 

The good news is that this Dalek stops attacking the humans and repels the other Daleks invading the base. The bad news, at least for the Doctor, is the realization that the Dalek was never good. It was and still is an entity of hatred and destruction. It just has, thanks to the Doctor, a new target for hatred and destruction. The Doctor does not see that as a victory. 

A few things of note: 

Call outs to other science fiction, specifically Star Trek ("Into darkness" and "Resistance is futile) and Fantastic Voyage (The Doctor on the shrinking device: ”Fantastic idea for a movie, terrible idea for a proctologist”.)  

Danny Pink is going to be OK. I think. I know I was concerned that Danny was just going to be there to give Clara someone to moon over now that the Doctor was no longer... moonable. But Danny is endearingly awkward but with a soldier's training, he may have certain skills that will come in handy when his path inevitably crosses the Doctor's.

That darker Doctor we've been promised shows up this episode. There's one scene where we think the Doctor is trying to save someone but instead is using the fact of the person's inevitable demise to his advantage. There was indeed nothing that could be done to save this person but the Doctor's assessment of the matter still a bit shocking.

But no matter the face, the Doctor is a being of hope which drives him in this mission to find the secret of a good Dalek, even as he knows there can be no such thing. That hope gets dashed when the Dalek reverts to form and begins killing everything. But thankfully Clara is there to slap some sense into him. (That's NOT a metaphor.)  The Doctor does find another way but its costs another life and in the end, the Doctor doesn't make the Dalek good. He can only give the Dalek a different target for its hatred.  

Like last week's episode, there's a bit at the end that I consider yet another misstep. At the end, Journey asks the Doctor is she can come with him. Its an earnest plea from a woman who has lost much and endured much during the previous hour. We know that Journey is not coming with the Doctor; we know how these things work. But instead of telling Journey something like, "Your place is here. These people need someone of leadership and more importantly, of compassion", the Doctor says this:

"You seem nice. Too bad you are a soldier." 


Now this is not an entirely out of left field sentiment of the Doctor. For example, the 10th Doctor is clearly disdainful of the soldiers he encounters in The Doctor's Daughter and refuses to accept his "daughter" Jenny because of it. But he's won over as he sees Jenny try to exceed her life's definition as an agent of war. 

Here, the 12th Doctor has watched Journey go from an extremely distrustful person when he first rescued her to a person who realizes there are other weapons besides guns and bombs. There is nothing in her character arc that warrants the Doctor's dismissal at the end. Maybe we're just setting up this "soldier prejudice" to lay the groundwork for any future conflicts with ex-soldier Danny Pink. But still, this strikes me as a very discordant note, even for this darker, edgier Doctor. 

Despite that misstep, I still enjoyed the episode overall. Once you've been through the excitement of a post regeneration episode, the follow up tends to be a bit underwhelming. (The Beast Below, anybody?). But this episode had a nice mixture of action, adventure, tragedy, comedy and humanity, all of which makes a good Doctor Who story. 

Oh and we see Missy again. One of the dead soldiers pops up in her "heaven". The nature of the soldier's death may shed some light on what happened to Half Face Man last week. We'll see if the pattern holds as further episodes develop. 


Next Saturday and Sunday is another double shot of Doctor Who Weekend

Saturday: I probably should've done this back in December but last week's look at the first episodes of new Doctors made me want to look at their last stories. Who got the best send off? And who really got shafted before getting the shaft? 

Sunday: Another new episode so another review as we look at Robot of Sherwood

Until then, remember to be good to one another.  

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Doctor Who Weekend: First Impressions

So it’s been six days since I saw Deep Breath, the debut episode of Doctor Who Series 8 and Peter Capaldi as the Doctor.  So that prompted me to think about other first episodes for new Doctors. So if you don’t mind (and even if you do), I’m going to take a look at the debut of other Doctors. 

This review will not cover William Hartnell (as the one who started it all in the first place) or Christopher Eccleston as the 9th Doctor (who didn’t get a post-regenerative episode.)  Oh, also John Hurt’s War Doctor will not be covered here (for the same reason).

Patrick Troughton in Power of the Daleks 
This is one is hard to assess for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is I haven't seen it. I did see an animated re-creation of the opening episode (sadly, Power of the Daleks remains so far lost to time) demonstrates a 2nd Doctor who is a bit amused by this turn of events, alternating between familiarity and puzzlement over his surroundings. 

But another factor to consider this is the first time this has ever been tried. Actors had been replaced in roles before but usually there was at least some semblance at maintaining the physicality of the actors. But here the producers had the job of convincing viewers that the tall white haired man from before and the short dark haired man on screen now were in fact both the same man, the Doctor. 

Bringing in the Daleks was a good move on the part of the producers to sustain a sense of continuity between the two Doctors and entice viewers to stay with the program despite the change in lead actors.  Patrick Troughton has quite the task of being new but immediately accepted as an old friend. There was no guide book for how to do this; Patrick Troughton had to make his own rules.

Jon Pertwee in Spearhead From Space
Here we see regeneration actually doing a number on the Doctor. Pertwee’s first scene was falling out of the TARDIS, still shaky from his change. Eventually the Doctor finds himself in a hospital where he stays for the whole first half hour. The second part finds the Doctor a bit more aware of himself but it’s not until the 3rd half hour of the 4 part story that the Doctor takes charge. The menace of the Autons is an effective start with lots of suspense being built with supporting and guest actors while the Doctor recovers his bearings. 

The Doctor does act a bit more humorously in this story than he does later in Jon Pertwee’s five year run. Pertwee’s background was mostly in comedy and it makes sense that he would play the part a bit more broadly until he could settle into a comfortable rhythm.  This would not be the last time we would see this phenomenon play out.

Tom Baker in Robot
Other than being unconscious in the first minutes of part one, Tom Baker is quickly in action, acting manic and talking fast. This would turn out to be not just post-regenerative mania; the Doctor was just being his new self. The story is a bit pedestrian, a standard UNIT story unused from the Pertwee era and dusted off for Tom Baker’s debut. But like the Daleks in Patrick Troughton’s first episode, the Doctor joining UNIT to combat a super menace provided an effective transition and gave the 4th Doctor lots of opportunities to show off.

Peter Davison in Castrovalva
Like Jon Pertwee’s Doctor, the 5th Doctor is not coping well with regeneration. On the plus side, we get to see wonderful scenes of Davison channeling his successors from Hartnell to Baker as he brain tries to settle down. 

On the negative side, it takes too long for the Doctor to find his groove. While in costume fairly early on in part one, Peter Davison’s Doctor is not fully in character until part four. There are too many scenes of the Doctor being fretful, distressed and not being particularly effective. A lot of that probably owes to the story having to cover the actions of three (yes, THREE!) companions, something that would hamper the 5th Doctor’s development through much of Peter Davison’s three years on Doctor Who.

Colin Baker in The Twin Dilemma
A recent poll conducted by Doctor Who Magazine ranks this story as the worst of ALL Doctor Who episodes. (Yes, even below Love and Monsters.) And for good reason: the story is trite and not at all engaging. The acting of the titular twins was beyond wooden. And then there’s the Doctor who decides to dress in the ugliest outfit he has and tries to strangle Peri. 

Twin Dilemma.jpg

Yeah, it’s not good. 

The only good point here is that Colin Baker’s Doctor is quickly put to action even if part of that action was trying to strangle Peri.

Sylvester McCoy in Time and the Rani
Like most of the 24th season, this story is not very good. Similar to Jon Pertwee, Sylvester McCoy was from a comedy background and brought that to the fore in this outing. There is an inspired bit where the 7th Doctor goes through a variety of outfits that resemble those of his previous selves. 

Time and the Rani.jpg

Thankfully, also like Pertwee, McCoy was not content to play the Doctor as a comedic tramp and with the help of script editor Andrew Carmel, McCoy began to explore a darker, more serious tone to the Doctor. The result was that the 25th and 26th seasons were overall a vast improvement. Sylvester McCoy is remembered correctly as an important part of the Doctor Who chain but I doubt that memory would be as kind if the he had continued to play the Doctor as he did in his first story.

Paul McGann in The Enemy Within (AKA, the Doctor Who movie) 
Other than maybe a flashback to the final seconds of the previous Doctor’s end, a new Doctor's first story is theirs. This person is THE Doctor now. 

Except in the Doctor Who movie. Sylvester McCoy returns as the 7th Doctor and is in about 25% of the movie before regenerating. And at least another 45% is Paul McGann’s Doctor dealing with post regenerative loopiness. The upshot is that Paul McGann gets maybe 30% of the movie’s time to actually be the Doctor. Which would not have been a bad thing if subsequent episodes had followed the movie but those failed to materialize. Still kudos to McGann’s eccentric behavior as he copes with his new body and for getting the Doctor, even as off as he was, immediately into action.

David Tennant in The Christmas Invasion
David Tennant is on record as citing Peter Davison’s Doctor as his Doctor when he was a kid. So shades of the celery wearing 5th Doctor, Tennant’s Doctor spends a great deal of the special lying around. And even when he gets up to confront the alien menace, he’s still in his pajamas. The 10th Doctor is not fully realized in form and character until the story’s epilogue. 

Granted, what David Tennant does get to do in this episode is brilliant and very quotable. (“This new hand is a FIGHTIN’ HAND!”) And as the pressure builds, as the aliens look to be the new owners of Earth and there is absolutely no hope of victory or salvation, the anticipation built to a fever pitch explodes as the TARDIS doors open and there stands the Doctor. “Miss me?” he says with a grin. So while The Christmas Invasion follows the Castrovalva model of a Doctor who needs time to rest and recover, it works better due to a faster pace and a basic easy to understand plot with a threat to others that the Doctor must save.  

Matt Smith in The Eleventh Hour
While post regeneration episodes are fairly hit or miss, this one knocks it out of the park so effectively that it remains the standard by which all subsequent 11th Doctor stories are measured by. Within moments of his change and his TARDIS crashing, the Doctor finds himself engaged in a young girl’s mystery. He’s ready to help, even if he is, as he put it, “still cooking”. There are dire things afoot and there’s no time to take any kind of personal stock. When Prisoner Zero impersonates the Doctor, the Doctor doesn’t recognize him because he hasn’t had time to even look in a mirror. Dashing about in the tattered remains of the 10th Doctor’s suit, even that gets plugged into the Doctor’s narrative as Amy Pond keeps calling him “Raggedy Man”, even up the imagined farewell to the 11th Doctor in Time of the Doctor.

Peter Capaldi in Deep Breath
Dealing with a first wherein the Doctor’s regeneration actually leads to a significantly older face, Peter Capaldi’s debut as the 12th Doctor is a whirlwind. His marbles appear more disorganized than during the 11th Doctor’s first hours and it takes a while for the 12th Doctor to settle in. Yet like the 11th Doctor, the 12th Doctor still has work to do even while half-mad and dressed in a night shirt. While the plot involving robot zombies is just plain off the hook gonzo, watching the Doctor’s development is fascinating. From the start when he first pops out of the TARDIS, all wide eyed and manic, unable to tell the difference between Clara and Strax to the showdown with the sinister Half Faced Man where the Doctor is clearly in control, there’s an incredible progression that I really do not know at what point the Doctor stop being crazy and start being himself.

So which one is tops and which one leaves a lot to be desired? Here’s what I’m looking for in a post regeneration episode.

  • Regenerating ain’t easy so the Doctor better have at least some issues with figuring out his new body, his new face and his new personality.
  • But we’re not watching Doctor Who to see the Doctor lying in bed. We’re anxious to see what this new Doctor can do.
So to end on a positive note, let me first address the least of these. And that would be Castrovalva.

Wait! I didn’t pick The Twin Dilemma? Yes, it’s a flat out awful story and it would still be awful no matter where it landed. The fact it landed at the first of a Doctor’s run just makes it hurt worse. That being said, it does deliver on the two things I look for in a post regeneration episode: complications for regeneration but the Doctor still getting quickly to action.

Whereas Castrovalva meanders for too long with too many people who are not the Doctor and even the Doctor is not the Doctor for much of this story. And while the concept of an invented city and culture has possibilities, in the end this is just a convoluted plot by the Master to trap and destroy the Doctor. Again. The only people in jeopardy are the Doctor and his companions. 

Do understand this: I would rather watch Castrovalva than The Twin Dilemma anyday. There should be some kind of United Nations resolution against The Twin Dilemma. But as to delivering what a post regeneration story needs to do (and that's what this review is about), then Castrovalva is found wanting.  

A post regeneration story that does not come up short is The Eleventh Hour. The Doctor's new body comes with new rules and the Doctor spends some time working that out. The sequence of the Doctor in the kitchen with young Amelia is a perfect distillation of watching the Doctor work out the kinks even as strange, alien events begin to demand his attention. 

And those events are simple: Aliens have placed the Earth in danger and the Doctor has to stop them. Of course, it's a bit more complicated that; we're talking Steven Moffat here. But the basic gist is easy to grasp so we can focus attention on both the story and the Doctor getting use to a new persona.  The Doctor is not at his best and he's without a working TARDIS or even a sonic screwdriver. And the Doctor still wins. 

A man stands on a rooftop across from a giant eyeball.

That's one hell of a great first impression.

Tomorrow: Doctor Who Series 8 continues with its 2nd new episode, Into the Dalek. And I'll have my review of it right here.

Until then, be good to one another.

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

Friday, August 29, 2014

Broken News (On a Break) For Friday, August 29th, 2014

Hi there! I’m Dave-El and welcome to I’m So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, the blog that did not win any VMAs or Emmys this year, what the hell is up with that? 

In honor of a movie you’ve already seen being in theaters this weekend (Ghostbusters), this Friday’s edition of Broken News is featuring headlines you’ve already seen. 

Or I’m just being a lazy bastard today, one or the other. 

Let’s get to them there classic Broken News headlines in 5…





March 7, 2014
"Russia TV Anchor Condemns Invasion Of Ukraine" 
She is now on "special assignment" to Siberia.

"State Votes Not To Kick Poor People Off Medicaid" 
There's no fun in kicking poor people; throw them off Medicaid using catapults! Weeee!

"'Real Housewives' Stars Plead Guilty To Fraud Charges" Turns out, they're not so much "housewives", closer to "housewhores". 

March 14, 2014
"Ann Coulter Disparages 'Browning Of America'" 
There's no reason to be bitter just because you have trouble getting a good tan, Mister Coulter.

"Iraq Bill Would Legalize Child Marriage, Severely Limit Women's Rights" 
Or what the Tea Party here in America would call "progress". 

"FBI Hunting Hawaii For Country's Top Domestic Terror Suspect" 
The FBI is determined to find this terrorist bastard, even if they have to search every inch of Hawaii as well as Barbados, the Cayman Islands and the French Riviera!

April 4, 2014
"Russia Threatened Nations Before Vote" 
Threats were made using "Do As We Say Or We Will Crush You" floral bouquets from FTD*.  

*They're gorgeous! I send those on Valentine's Day!

"Can We Handle Life On Mars? " 
Hell, I'm not sure we can handle life on Earth! 

"'Top Gun 2' Plot Details Revealed" 
Wait! Did the first "Top Gun" have a plot? All I remember are a lot of planes and homoerotic subtext.

April 11, 2014
"Nuggets recalled over 'matter'" 
Turned out to be chicken which, of course, surprised everyone. 

“Netanyahu Throws Wrench Into Middle East Peace Talks”
 It was an actual wrench. Netanyahu is not big on metaphors.

"Ohio Gay couples recognized" 
Also known as the least interesting gay couples in the world! 

April 18, 2014
"U.S. Issues Stern Warning To Putin" 
He can't have any pudding if he doesn't eat his meat.

"The KKK Is WAY More Prevalent Than You Think" 
KKK angrily denies they are "prevalent", then asks what "prevalent" means.

"Pastor Blocked From Feeding The Homeless" 
Well, he wouldn't say who he was feeding the homeless to. 

May 2, 2014
"New Poll Has Troubling News For Dems" 
Facts are still considered optional by the GOP.

"Senate GOP Blocks Minimum Wage Bill" 
With a higher minimum wage, the poor can afford cheap shit at Wal-Mart instead of the cheaper shit at Dollar General.

"White House Steps Up Fight Against Campus Rape" 
Just out of habit, GOP began working on an anti-Obama  statement linking campus rape to Benghazi.

May 9, 2014
“It's Already Too Late To Stop Climate Change” 
GOP unfurls a “Mission Accomplished” banner.

"JET Shuts Down Print Magazine" 
Damn! And just when Donald Sterling and Cliven Bundy renewed their subscriptions!

"North Korea State Media: Obama Is A 'Wicked Black Monkey'" 
Fox News looks on in barely repressed jealousy.

May 16, 2014
"Ukraine Crisis Hitting Russia Where It Hurts" 
In the balls?

"There Was An Israeli Spy In Al Gore's Bathroom" 
The spy was discovered when Al realized the lotion dispenser was not circumcised. 

"Karl Rove Says Hillary Clinton May Have Brain Damage" 
Karl Rove is just jealous because his dick is smaller than hers.

May 23, 2014
"Top Aide: Obama 'Madder Than Hell' Over Veterans Affairs Allegations" 
Obama: "The President should do something about this! Oh shit, that's still me, isn't it?"  

"Pat Sajak slams climate change advocates " 
C'mon, Pat, the polar ice caps AND Vanna's plastic surgery are melting! MELTING!

"Thai coup could hurt tourism" 
Shit! If you can't go to Thailand, where can we go to fuck whores?! Oh right: everywhere.  

May 30, 2014
"Europe's New Google Rule Has Many Americans Angry And Confused" 
Well, to tell the truth, "angry and confused" is pretty much America's default setting.

"Obama 'Extremely Troubled' By VA Report " 
Apparently he found some spelling errors and some misuses of commas. 

"GOP Lawmaker: Gay Rep. Should Have Stayed In The Closet" 
Along with women in the kitchen, black people at the back of the bus and American Indians on the reservation. You know, just to keep everything organized.


And that’s a wrap on this week’s Broken News On a Break. A new edition will be back next Friday. 

Tomorrow kicks off another 2 day edition of Doctor Who Weekend

Saturday: After the debut of Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor, which Doctor has gotten off to the best start? And which one started off worst? The answers…well, my opinions…may surprise you.

Sunday: A review of this week’s new episode, Into the Dalek 

In the meantime, be good to one another.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Loneliest Club In the World

I can't say I've ever heard of the band Pink Martini or of its percussionist, Derek Reith. But I heard of both when I read that Reith was the latest member of the loneliest club in the world.

And it's getting too damn crowded.

This past weekend Derek took his own life. 

Another suicide. Is there an epidemic of this? Or are we just paying attention now? 

Or maybe its the world we live in now. Everything moves so fast and lacks any certainty. Decisions upon decisions, small and large, that overwhelm our capability to process them. This breeds confusion which leads to doubt which leads to a less than positive assessment of life and one's place in it.  Life spins out of our control and we fail at so much. And there's the label: failure. It's a word that echos in the mind over and over again. Eventually the minds reaches what it considers a very logical conclusion: the universe neither needs or wants a failure. The universe neither needs or wants you. And who are you to argue with the universe? The totality of existence against you. And you are alone. 

Except you're not, are you? Someone somewhere is staring into a black abyss of despair. It's not like yours or anyone else's but you and this person and another and another and another ad infinitum are all facing a dark chasm that calls you and only you even as the refrain of despair reverberates in mind after mind.  So many people in pain yet so alone. 

It's the loneliest club in the world. 

Last year, I wrote on the subject of "the stupidest reason to live" inspired by a post by comics writer Matt Fraction on facing a darkness that threatened to consume him and lead him to end his own life. Except Matt remembered there was a comic book series he was reading and kind of wanted to see how that turned out. No, not family or friends but a comic book. What a stupid reason to live. But a stupid reason to live is still a reason to live. 

I've kind of followed that avenue to help keep my head on straight. If I'm feeling depressed, telling me about how much I mean to my family and my friends isn't going to work, at least not for me. When I'm in the throes of depression, I feel like I am a failure to everyone and it would be better for them if I'm not around. The big important reasons to live are a strong and vital anchor in the storms of life. But when those storms have tossed you overboard into the cold dark of despair, what's needed is not a heavy weight but a lifeline. Anything you can grasp your fingers around. Something small, maybe even stupid but something you can hold on to and not let go.  

In the weeks following the suicide of Robin Williams, the topics of depression and suicide have been foremost in my thoughts. I can't begin to contemplate what was going through his mind in those final moments before he decided that no, he couldn't do this anymore. Each person's darkness is their own.

But in that swirl of feeling lost and alone and a failure, I can't help but think Robin Williams would've given his fatal course a second thought if someone had made an appeal to live not for the important things but something small, even stupid, something to hold on to. "C'mon, Robin, you gotta be here for David Letterman's last show." Or "You gotta stick around for Scottish independence. What if that happens? A whole country of Scotsmen even more drunk than ever? You'll have a field day with that!" Could Robin's life have been saved with an appeal to the absurd?  

Suicide is the loneliest club in the world. So many people lost yet forever apart.  It's a harsh club and the membership dues are too damn high. 

But as Robin Williams did and sadly too many other people whose names I don't know, Derek Reith paid that price for admittance into the club. I did not know this man but I grieve not only for the loss of life but the absolute absence of hope that he felt at that crucial moment as he stepped across the doorway into the club. 

Find hope. Even a small hope. A mad and stupid hope if you need it. Can't handle the big stuff, the sensible stuff. Then find something that you can hold on to. Never had Rocky Road ice cream? Never been to Akron OH? Still haven't binged watched Orange is the New Black on Netflix? A stupid reason is still a reason. 

Even the smallest, flickering light means that the darkness is not complete. 

Be good to one another. 

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Coming and Going

Hi there! Dave-El here and welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, the blog with the heart of a lion which I'm sure may be illegal, holding contraband lion hearts. Forget I mentioned anything. 

Today, I just want to rummage through the storage bins of my cobwebbed brain and see what's lying around. Come join me, why don't ya. 


Doctor Who returns

OK, I really don't need to go into a lot about that here since I cover that ground on Saturdays and Sundays under the heading of Doctor Who Weekend. But I will note that the El family saw Deep Breath again Monday night at a movie theater here in Greensboro. And great Gallifreyan gooseberries, that place was packed! The crowd was warmly receptive of this episode and of Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. Also the field report from Strax at the beginning and the making featurette at the end were very much appreciated. 


Rising Star ends
As I noted in a earlier post, somehow the El family got into the habit of watching Rising Star, the singing competition show on ABC. Well, somebody had to watch it. The finale Sunday night saw (no surprise here) Jesse Kinch win the competition and win a record contract with Capitol Records.  Excuse me, the LEGENDARY Capital Records (as host Josh Groban kept reminding the viewers.) 

This much could be said of Rising Star: the right person won even if that victory felt like a fait accompli since the first episode. Jesse Kinch would just  blow everybody out of the water. Some of the contestants, with coaching and training, may make viable music stars. But Jesse with his old man's howling vocal and his young man's wavy brown hair, he jumped out ahead of the pack fully formed. 

The likelihood of this show getting picked up for a second season aren't good based on the ever dwindling ratings. (Sunday night's competition from MTV's VMAs and the series finale of True Blood on HBO did not help that at all.) But I have to say I kind of enjoyed watching this series if only to watch Kesha get loopier with every episode. If the show does come back, keep Kesha. Every singing competition show needs its Paula Abdul and Kesha is the Abduliest.  


School returns
My daughter started 8th grade this year which can't be because it means she's getting older and if she's getting older, I'm getting older and that just can't be because I am opposed to aging. It's against my religion. My battered belief system aside, she's back at school and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that. When my daughter was much younger and first starting school, she had a vast joy of learning. Well, after 8 years, the public school system has managed to cure her of that notion. Maybe its just the natural cynicism of a teenager but if it is, that cynicism is fueled by an education system that seems more intent on prepping kids for tests than for life.  

Part of me wishes we could have swung private school not that I'm convinced that's a much better alternative with the inherent elitism of privilege that tends to settle over such programs. At any rate, the last two years in middle school have been difficult for my daughter after she did so well in elementary school before that. I'm hoping 8th grade marks a change for her and she has a good year. After all, high school is next. (Yikes!) 


Summer ends
Well, summer is not over yet. The calender says summer has a few more weeks left. I don't know what it was about this summer but the El family did so little to fully enjoy it. Other than our beach trip at the end of June, we've only been to a pool twice this summer and two of our favorite pools have closed with the start of the school year. 

We didn't go to the movies nearly as much as we used to. I will say that it was worth the wait to get to the best movie of summer for 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy. I actually saw that one twice, once alone and once with the family. But overall it feels like the summer of 2014 is going out with a shrug, a sort of "eh, what you gonna do, huh?" type of thing. 

Maybe it was the constant drumbeat of bad news: ebola in Africa, death and destruction in Ukraine, Gaza, Syria and Iraq, the protests in Ferguson MO over the death of an unarmed African American teenager. Can we but hope things will cool down with the weather? Well, we can hope. It's all we have sometimes.  


OK, that's all I've got for today. Y'all take care of yourselves and be good to one another. I'll see you back here tomorrow. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The 500th Blog Post Thingamajiganatororama!

Hello, every damn body out there! 

I am Dave-El, this is I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You and today marks my 500th post to this blog! So you know what that means?

I have no social life I am not managing my time wisely I am neglecting important things like family and hygiene I am delusional I have a warped sense of priorities I need my medication increased I...


It means we get to CELEBRATE with....

The 500th Blog Post 


The 500th Blog Post Thingamajiganatororama is brought to you by...

Burger Beast, home of the Wacky Burger and the Fondue Frosty.  

The North Korean Tourism Board, inviting you to come visit grey, underfed North Korea, a wonderland just like you imagined it wouldn't be.

Whatever the Hell Angie Dickinson Was Selling Back in 1979! Hey, are you really asking questions? You want to KNOW what it is? No, don't ask! Just buy it, dammit!  

Milk! You do know it was squeezed out of a cow, right?  

Plain White Unmarked Van Emporium! Remember, for every ill-considered life choice, you're gonna need a van!   

Google Ass, because you know it's only a matter of time.  

Lemon Scented Benghazi! Did you hear me? LEMON SCENTED!  

Dickhead Television! Are you being a dick? This is the channel for YOU!

The BOOTY to ENGLISH Dictionary! Never question that booty again! 

And now...let's get the 500th Blog Post Thingamajiganatororama started!


First up we have a performance from a surprising group of guests. Performing Iggy Azalea's smash hit single Fancy, the Judicial Branch of Funk! It's...


Thank you, Supreme Court! They'll be performing again later in the post. 


And now...

The Adventures of Telepathy Cat
and the His Crime Fighting Sidekick, 
Mental Kitten!

And this has been...

The Adventures of Telepathy Cat
and the His Crime Fighting Sidekick, 
Mental Kitten!

Join us next time when our Fearless Feline Masters of Mentalism do this! 

On the next...

The Adventures of Telepathy Cat
and the His Crime Fighting Sidekick, 
Mental Kitten!



And now on a serious note. 

Earlier this year, the world lost one of the best radio broadcasters in the business, Casey Kasem. Sadly the last weeks of his life were marred by inter-family squabbling that has continued even past his death. Its gotten to the point that wife Jean Kasem is lugging Casey's body all around the world looking for a place to bury it. So she's took Casey to Norway. 

Yes, Norway. 

Using a mystic ritual involving the blood of Rick Dees (nobody'll miss him), I established contact with the spirit of Casey Kasem for a brief interview. 

Except there's a catch. 

I'm not sure how the afterlife is supposed to work but because Jean took Casey's body to Norway, Casey's spirit is speaking Norwegian. Hey, I don't make the rules, OK? 

So I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You is proud to present an interview with the late, great Casey Kasem. 

Dave-El: Welcome, Casey Kasem. Thank you for joining us today. 

Casey:  Takk David. Det er flott å snakke med deg.

Thank you David. It's great to talk to you. 
Dave-El: I am sorry there has been so much controversy in your family about your recent passing.

Casey: Fortell meg om det. Det er virkelig rote med papirene her oppe i etterlivet.

Tell me about it. It is really messing with the paperwork up here in the afterlife.
Dave-El: Paperwork?
Casey: Ja. På ett skjema, spør de siste kjente posisjon av jordiske gjenstår. Hvordan skulle jeg vite det? Jean har virkelig snudd! Jeg er i Norge? Jeg er libanesiske! Hun kunne ikke finne et sted varm?
Yeah. On one form, they ask "last known location of earthly remains". How should I know? Jean's really flipped! My body's in Norway? I'm Lebanese! She couldn't find somewhere warm?
Dave-El: Do you know you are being translated from the spirit realm in Norwegian?

Casey: Norsk? Hvordan skal jeg anta å gjøre musikken min nedtelling show i norsk?
Norwegian? How am I suppose to do my music countdown show in Norwegian?
Dave-El: You have a countdown show in the afterlife! Sweet!

Casey: Det er søt! Jeg får spille på sanger som faktisk er noe bra med musikk fungerer med navn jeg faktisk kan uttale.

It is sweet! I get to play only songs that are actually any good by music acts with names I can actually pronounce.
Dave-El: So no music after the 1980's.

Casey: Det er noen sanger fra 1990-tallet. Og jeg liker noen aktuelle artister. Akkurat nå, er One Republic på vei opp på listene denne uken. Kommer inn på nummer forteen, her er kjærlighet går ut.
There are a few songs from the 1990's. And I like some current artists. Right now, One Republic is moving up the charts this week. Coming in at number fourteen, here's Love Runs Out
Dave-El: Wow! Casey, you still have the best pipes in radio, even when you're dead and Norwegian.

Casey: Hvorfor, takk, David. Jeg tar det som en lang avstand dedikasjon. Vel, du kan ikke få mer langdistanse enn gapet mellom liv og død.

Why, thank you, David. I'll take that as a long distance dedication. Well, you can't get more long distance than the gulf between life and death.
 Dave-El: So how is the afterlife so far?
Casey: Det har vært stor. Jeg får til å henge ut med noen kule musikkstjernene. Jeg bare så en duett går kveld med Elvis Presley og Michael Jackson.
It has been great. I'm getting to hang out with some cool music stars. I just saw a duet last night with Elvis Presley and John Lennon.

Dave-El: That is so cool!
Casey: Maten er god, men det ser ut til å være mye kjøttboller eller annen grunn.
The food's good but there does seem to be a lot of meatballs for some reason.
Dave-El: Probably because you are buried in Norway.

Casey: Men jeg liker ikke kjøttboller! Jean!
But I don't like meatballs! Jean!
Dave-El: Well it has been a pleasure talking to you today. Before we go, may I ask you to say it one more time?

Casey: Ikke noe problem, David. Husk å holde føttene på bakken og holde nå stjernene!

No problem, David.  Remember to keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!

Always a class act, even in death. And in Norway. Casey Kasem. 


Wow! I didn't know my blog was being read on another world. I've just received a greeting from the Mars Rover! 

Apparently, the Mars Rover is still somewhat bitter.  


With 500 posts on this blog, I have posted a lot of different things, some serious, a lot very silly. Now I'm going to present again my daughter's absolute favoritest thing that I've ever posted to this blog. 

And now...

The larch.

Her most favorite thing on this blog.


Oh my God! I can't believe it! To celebrate my 500th blog post, I have a greeting from the stars of Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman!!!!!  

See, Peter's greeting was sincere; he wouldn't write "sincerely" unless he meant it, right? 
And Jenna? Oh, Jenna has such a wonderful sense of humor! I haven't given up hope that she'll make a fine associate wife someday. 


Hey, let's bring out those 9 Masters of a Groove! Singing Ariana Grande's big hit record Problem, give it up, y'all, for...


Woo hoo! One more round of applause for the hot rockin' Supreme Court!


And now from my favorite Disney movie, The Emperor's New Groove, here's Kronk with a lesson in Witty Repartee



OK, that's about all the damage I can do around here today. This has been....

The 500th Blog Post 


I want to thank all the sponsors for today's post. My thanks to the Supreme Court, Telepathy Cat and Mental Kitten, the late Graham Chapman, the late Casey Kasem, the Mars Rover, the larch tree, Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman and Kronk for appearing today.  And thanks to you, the reader. And I mean the literally one person who reads this blog. 

Here's to days to come and all my love to long ago. And remember, be good to one another. 

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