Saturday, February 28, 2015

Live Long and Prosper

Live long and prosper.

A Vulcan goodbye, live long is not the amount of time endured between birth and death but making the most of that time, to truly live for as long a time as you are given. And prosper was not about mere monetary gain but an accumulation of more important things, knowledge, insight, wisdom, it's these gifts which mark us as truly prosperous.

If anyone truly lived the mantra of "live long and prosper", it was Leonard Nimoy

It's been a day and it's still hard to fathom that he is no longer amongst the living. 

The announcement Friday that Leonard Nimoy had passed away at the age 83 came as a shock to me and a lot of people. Even if you're weren't a Star Trek fan, chances are you knew who Mr. Spock was. I would be hard pressed to name another TV character who became so ingrained in pop culture as Mr. Spock. Which is kind of weird when one considers Spock's time on TV was just three years. Yet cancellation did not kill Star Trek and by extension, it did not kill Mr. Spock. Spock and the Enterprise crew lived on in cartoons, comic books and novels. 

Early on this ubiquitous presence of Mr. Spock on the cultural landscape was a burden for Leonard Nimoy. He wrote a book called I Am Not Spock to put some distance between Leonard Nimoy, actor, and Mr. Spock of the planet Vulcan. 

Perhaps Nimoy's return to the role of Spock for the Star Trek movies may have played a role in his acceptance of being forever linked to Spock. It was not the daily grind of making episodic TV and Leonard Nimoy began to really explore what made Spock tick. 

The story goes that Nimoy agreed to come back as Mr. Spock for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn only if Mr. Spock died at the end. Later at the wrap party, Leonard Nimoy announced he couldn't wait to get back to work on the next Star Trek movie. 

Oh boy. 

So Spock came back and thank goodness because Leonard Nimoy seemed more comfortable inside Spock's skin as Spock himself became for comfortable with being a man of two worlds, Vulcan and Earth. 

Leonard Nimoy wrote another book, this the title was I Am Spock. It was not a grim resignation to carry the burden of being Spock but an acceptance born of wisdom and good humor. Nimoy would have fun at his own expense, blurring the lines between actor and character such as Leonard Nimoy's animated appearances on The Simpsons

I know I'm babbling a lot about Spock and Leonard Nimoy was so much more than the character he played. But it was in Spock that I found an almost kindred spirit. Like most people, I discovered Star Trek years after it was cancelled by NBC and the same 79 episodes continued to play on a moebius strip of endless syndication. Spock was a man of two worlds but not fully belonging to either. When I was a young boy, I felt a similar alienation from those around me. I didn't quite fit in. 

As I've gotten older, I've become a bit less concerned about fitting in with the worlds of others and more focused on finding my own way. Mr. Spock seemed to come to a similar conclusion; being part human was part of who he was and it would be illogical to deny that. 

Leonard Nimoy seemed to find similar wisdom. I think after Star Trek was cancelled, Nimoy probably thought he had to run from Spock or else be dragged down by him. Then Nimoy found another way, not to run away from Spock but run with him. 

To Leonard Nimoy, a fond farewell as you enter into the next great unknown adventure that awaits beyond this world. 

Be good to one another... and live long and prosper.

A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, 
but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP
— Leonard Nimoy (@TheRealNimoy) February 23, 2015

Friday, February 27, 2015

Snow Day Dilemmas

Dave-el here and welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, the Polar Vortex of the Internet.

As you could probably discern from yesterday's post, snow has fallen upon the El Family Fortress of Ineptitude and also on the moderately significant surrounding suburban and metropolitan environs. A lot of snow. Well, for us. 

I live and work in an area of North Carolina known as the Piedmont. Piedmont is derived from two words: "Pie" which stands for "pie" and "D'mont" which is French for "Are you going to eat that?" For us, a lot of snow is about 3 to 5 inches. 

Up in New Hampshire where my employer has an office, they laugh in the face of 3 to 5 inches of snow. That's what they call a Tuesday. That's what they call a dusting. Of course, they have a lot more practice with snow as it begins snowing in New Hampshire some time after Labor Day. This winter has tested even their fortitude with several especially cold winter storms dropping snow that could be measured in yards. 

Where I live in North Carolina, snow is a less frequent occurrence. Even the appearance of a half-inch of, scratch that. Even the appearance of flurries sends everyone scurrying to the grocery store for milk and bread. That's a big thing around here when a winter storm or I should say "storm" comes around, the going forth and the purchasing of bread and milk. It's such a panic here that even the rye bread and that all organic crap milk disappears from the shelves. 

I've had this happen of a couple of occasions where I've really needed milk in advance of an approaching snow thing. I feel compelled to explain to total strangers, "I am not panicking in the face of what will likely be a mild atmospheric disruption; I am truly out of milk."  Wednesday night was one of those times. As the cashier rang up the milk, she said, "Getting ready for the snow storm, huh?" I have a daughter who loves milk, just loves it. She would mainline it right into a vein if she could. The only storm I'm preparing for is when my lovely angel discovers we're out of milk. 

Just as schools have to make decisions to keep schools open, start late, leave early or close down, yours truly has to face the disturbing dilemma of what to do about work. It seems like every damn company but mine is scrolling on the bottom of the TV screen with word of cancellations or delays. But not mine. 

Don't misjudge me, I like my job and where I work. Indeed the problem I have on snow days is not "Should I go to work?" but "Should I stay home?" Can I make a compelling case that snow has fallen into deep drifts of life threatening doom? My threshold for not going to work is, "Will doing this kill me?" If I can't justify that the conditions on the ground could do me mortal harm, I go to work or otherwise stay home in a pool of overwhelming guilt. Particularly when I find out that everybody else in my department made it in, including people who live near my fortress. If they can get out, I can get out. 

The major source of friction on this "Should I stay or should I go?" debate is my wife Andrea. When it comes to snow and ice, she is...oh, how can I put this politely?...a freakin' lunatic! For example, we had some places to be Wednesday night after work but Andrea wanted to go straight home and stay there. Why? BECAUSE IT'S GOING TO SNOW, THAT'S WHY! 

OK, let's do some math. From my wife's job to our fortress is about a 20 minute drive and she leaves work around 5:00. Now compare that piece of information to this factoid: the snow wasn't expected to hit our area until after 9:00. But she felt she NEEDED a 3.5 hour window of safety between her and the winter weather.  

To be fair, she once got stuck in what I would admittedly describe as nightmare-ish scenario. One winter many years ago, she got stuck on a road with a line of other cars that were not moving at all. The snow was coming down hard. Visibility was poor, movement was minimal. There was no clear, safe option to turn around. But here's the thing: from where she was stuck on that road, she could've walked to our house.*

*I later realized that I could've loaded up some provisions and walked from the house to the car to keep her company or even take her place while she walked back to the house. But this thought did not occur to me until later. Much later. This very moment, approximately 17 years after the fact. Yes, ladies, sometimes men are THAT slow.  

So I went to work and nobody was there except 3 people. All 3 of them live near where I live. I wonder if the same thought goes through their minds, "If the others are there, particularly that dufus David, and I'm not, that will not look good." I think I should approach them sometime and agree to a pact, that we all stay home for the next storm. 

OK, I've babbled enough about snow. I think a lot of people are tired of snow. Below I have a list that provides...

The 8 Stages of Snow

  1. WOO-HOO!!! SNOW!!!!
  2. Woo-hoo!! Snow!!!
  3. Woo! Snow!!
  4. Snow! 
  5. Snow. 
  6. Yep, snow. 
  7. Snow, snow, snow.
  8. Is the snow gone yet?
Before I wrap up today's post, here are some classic Calvin and Hobbes by the great Bill Watterson on the topic of snow and the clever things a sociopathic young boy can do with it. 

So that's all for today. I'll be back tomorrow with another post. Until then, be good to one another.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

You Just Can't Win

There are certain jobs that I don't think you could pay me enough money to have. One of those jobs involves deciding if schools should close. 

There are so many variables that can affect making such a decision, all of which are in some fashion or another very difficult to assess. And whatever decision is made will bring about the unholy wrath of inconvenienced parents. 

  • Winter weather is coming. The forecasters warn of imminent death and destruction from the ice and/or snow that's coming your way. You wait to make sure that the bad weather is actually going to arrive and be as bad as predicted. You will be lambasted for waiting too long to make a decision when any idiot could see the weather was going to be bad.
  • Winter weather is coming. All the weather people say the frigid breath of winter's vengeance will wreak havoc across the land. Well, no sense putting this decision off: schools will be closed. And then no snow falls. And you are chastised for making the decision too soon when any idiot could see it wasn't going to snow. 
  • Winter weather is NOT coming. All the meteorologists say the winter snow hitting other places isn't coming here. So leave the schools open. The next morning, the streets have been replaced with snow capped ice skating rinks. What the hell is wrong with you? You should've closed the schools! 
  • Winter weather has come. Everything is coated with ice. It's a glistening spectacle that is both beautiful to behold but dangerous to travel amongst. Schools have been closed for a few days now. Half the parents are berating you because its not that bad out there where they live. The other half of the parents are complaining that ice is several feet thick where they are and you better not do something stupid like re-open the schools.  
Whatever you decide, your decision will be wrong. Whatever choice you make, you just can't win. 

Be good to one another.

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Politics Of Saying Something Stupid

Last week, Rudy (The Love Guru) Giuliani declared that "Obama doesn't love America", certainly not the way Rudy and everyone else in the room have learned to love America.  (Want to make a guess on the level of whiteness in that room?) 

It appears Rudy Giuliani is trying to walk back his comments and if this seems familiar, it's because it is. This has become a pattern not just with Giuliani but with a whole bunch of GOP types trying to preach to the thinking impaired crowd on the far, far right. 
  • Senator Duh is speaking to a group called Free America/Right Track or FART. At this meeting, the senator says something like, "When Obama comes to take away your commemorative NASCAR plates featuring Dale Earnhardt, the terrorists will win." This gets members of FART all worked up with paroxysms of hate. Or maybe joy because there's nothing better than having something new to hate. 
  • Senator Duh's statement to FART gets out to the mainstream media. People with more than two functioning brain cells come to the very sensible conclusion that what Senator Duh said is wrong, stupid, offensive, morally reprehensible, clueless out of touch and, quite possibly, mispronounced.
  • Senator Duh stands by his statement and says it again, totally incredulous that there are people who can't see the very obvious truth of what he's saying. 
  • Senator Duh's remarks takes over the 24 hour news cycle. Fox News defends Senator Duh's statement as being the cornerstone of the rage-fueled demographic of Fox, we mean America. MSNBC is outraged Senator Duh is permitted to continue breathing oxygen. CNN looks sad and wonders if it's too late to get their dignity back. 
  • Senator Duh attempts to explain his remarks and winds up deeper down the gopher hole of his stupidity even as his supporters twist themselves into pretzels to justify the senator's remarks. "We're not saying Obama is coming for our NASCAR stuff. We're just saying we need to be ready to stand firm and fight for our rights to keep our commemorative NASCAR plates featuring Dale Earnhardt out of Obama's liberal Muslim, Kenya-born hands!" 
  • Fox News is incredulous that in Obama's America, Senator Duh can't speak his mind. Over on MSNBC, Chris Matthews continues to shout things to an empty room. CNN, realizing dignity is like virginity (once you've lost it, it ain't coming back), stumbles into the fray. 
  • Senator Duh now says he didn't say what we think he said but rather he was actually making a point to get a whole other message across. The message apparently is, "I'm a douchebag." Except to the members of FART who hear, "I'm all that stands between your NASCAR memorabilia and the insidious evil of Obama."  
Here is where the narrative can split in three directions: 
  • Senator Duh makes an apology while trying to make it not sound to the members of FART like an apology. 
  • The fervor dies down but there's a stink on Senator Duh now and he becomes marginalized, the only people who listen to him now are the members of FART.
  • The news backs off the stupid statement because Senator Duh says an even dumber thing. "Obama is a Martian who wants all the white women!" 
The Republican Party has veered so far to the right, leftovers are called rightovers. In the past, politicians would try to appeal to the broadest base of their constituents and tell them what they felt needed to said

Now all the effort goes towards appeasing the more radical elements of right wing ideologues. And in order to win elections, politicians have to talk to them and tell them what they want to hear

So you'll be hearing from someone like Senator Duh again and again. 

Everyone, be good to one another. And remember to protect your commemorative NASCAR plates featuring Dale Earnhardt from the overreaching grasp of Obama.

Who does not love you.  

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Now I Know Why the Green Arrow Weeps

So this Neal Adams illustrated Green Arrow image found its way onto my Twitter feed a few weeks back. Something is bothering the Emerald Archer, a torment that claws at the core of his very soul. It is an anguish that rends his heart. 

What terrible tragedy occurred to reduce Green Arrow to tears? 

His eyes burning & watering, Ollie's decision to save money & buy a cheaper mask glue comes back to haunt him. 

Okay, that was just... random? Stupid? Yeah, all that and... less. 

I'll see if I can cobble together a proper blog post for tomorrow. 

Until then, be good to one another. And if you see a crying Green Arrow, please, don't turn away. Instead, offer him a hug.

Hugs are nice.

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

Monday, February 23, 2015

Glory Is Awesome

Just wanted to pop in to share a quick story about watching the Oscars Sunday night. I had not intended to watch much of the telecast, just get past whatever opening musical number Neil Patrick Harris would perform in his debut as Oscar host. 

My daughter Miranda was watching with me which was unusual for her as she has never expressed any interest in this sort of thing before. But she's a big fan of Harris from his role as Barney on How I Met Your Mother so she wanted to see what he would do.  

But after Harris' big production number that opened the show, Miranda wanted to keep watching. Somehow this self-congratulatory spectacle had captured her attention. One of the things she thought was very cool (and so did I) was the over the top performance of Everything Is Awesome from The Lego Movie. The El family saw it in the theater last spring and it's theme song was stuck in our heads for a long time. 

So Miranda decided she wanted to see which song would win the Oscar. Other musical performances came and went, rather good performances, particularly Tim McGraw's very touching take on Glen Campbell's song from the documentary about Glen's descent into Alzheimer's. But my daughter and I were still pulling for Everything Is Awesome

Then came the performance of the final nominated song: Glory by John Legend and Common from the film Selma. We watched and listened in silence as John Legend's singing and Common's rap combined to form something quite powerful. Behind the two men was a set designed to look like the bridge that men and women crossed 50 years ago in a bid for freedom and equality. And across that bridge came men and women, perhaps only dozens but it looked like hundreds filling the stage. And their voices rang with the melodic sounds of a choir, a choir on a mission. 

And when the song was over, my daughter said, "That song has to win." I chided her a bit for abandoning Everything Is Awesome. Miranda responded that The Lego Movie song was a lot of fun. "But this," she said, shaking her head, "this is something else." 

And when the winner for Best Song from a Motion Picture was announced, everybody in the theater at the Oscars cheered; back in our home, Miranda and I actually clapped to the announcement. 

Glory had won.

And awesome

Everybody, be good to one another. 

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Dave-El's Oscar Picks Game For 2015

Hi, there! Dave-El here and it's time for my annual Oscar Picks Game! 

Here's how the game is played. I pick a winner for each category and if I'm right, I award myself a point. I also pick a back up choice if that wins, I give myself 1/2 point.

I've been very consistent at scoring 90% or better when I make these picks but I must warn you: of all the films represented below, I have only seen two: Big Hero 6 and How to Train Your Dragon 2. This is not an unusual situation. I rarely get to see any Oscar nominated films or performances. 

So what accounts for my rate of 90% or better? I super powers? Yeah, let's go with that.

So join in and play along at home! (Or wherever you happen to be reading this).  

Best Supporting Actor

  • Robert Duvall, The Judge
  • Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
  • Edward Norton, Birdman
  • Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
  • J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Simmons' name has been everywhere for his role in Whiplash. Everything I've read has basically engraved his name on the statue already.  And so what? He's very deserving of this accolade. We all loved him as J Jonah Jameson in the (good) Spider-Man films. His work for the "We are Farmers! Da Da Da Da Da Da!" commercials is exemplary.

For the win: J. K. Simmons. 
Back up choice: Oh, I don't know. What the hell, Ethan Hawke.  

Best Supporting Actress
  • Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
  • Laura Dern, Wild
  • Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone, Birdman
  • Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Into the Wood did not catch fire as expected and Meryl Streep's got that "been there done that" thing going on. Imitation Game and Birdman are dominated by their male leads and Wild by its female lead. But Patricia Arquette's role in Boyhood which took 12 years to shoot seems to have the most attention and is a true acting challenge that makes Academy voters take notice.  

For the win: Patricia Arquette
Back up choice: Why not Emma Stone? The Academy can show Emma they do not hold Amazing Spider-Man 2 against her. 

Best Animated Feature
  • Big Hero 6
  • The Boxtrolls
  • How To Train Your Dragon 2
  • Song of the Sea
  • The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Trailers for The Boxtrolls irritated me and I have no idea what either Song of the Sea or Princess Kaguya is and neither does anyone in the Academy. The tough choice is what's left. How To Train Your Dragon 2 was a most excellent follow up to the already very good first film of the series. But something about Big Hero 6 resonated more with viewers as it did with me. Beymax was a standout character of incredible humor, sweetness and ultimately drama. And the world in which Big Hero 6 was set was wonderfully realized with its mash up of Tokyo and San Francisco. 

For the win: Big Hero 6
Back up choice: How to Train Your Dragon 2. This is my first back up pick that I think has a chance to actually get selected. 

Best Actor
  • Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
  • Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
  • Michael Keaton, Birdman
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

There was a lot of buzz for Steve Carell's performance in Foxcatcher in Cannes last year but that all seemed to evaporate with the actual wide release of the film. Benedict Cumberbatch elevates everything he's in but I don't think this role is the one that will give him the win. And I'm thinking American Sniper polarization of the audience will probably work against Bradley Cooper. Right now momentum is going Michael Keaton's way and Hollywood does like to reward a long time actor who finally makes good. That being said, Eddie Redmayne delivers the kind of performance that Oscar voters just eat up.  

For the win: Michael Keaton. But it's going to be close and it could very well go to the...
Back up choice: Eddie Redmayne

Best Actress
  • Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night
  • Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
  • Julianne Moore, Still Alice
  • Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
  • Reese Witherspoon, Wild

I could write a bunch of speculation but let's save time with this one.

For the win: Julianne Moore
Back up choice: Not going to happen but hey, if it did...Reese Witherspoon? OK, sure. 

Best Original Screenplay
  • Birdman, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
  • Boyhood, Richard Linklater
  • Foxcatcher, E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
  • Nightcrawler, Dan Gilroy

The early buzz on Foxcatcher burned out before the film was actually released. And I don't think Nightcrawler is really on the Academy's radar. While attention is on Birdman and Boyhood, I think this more for performances and directing. So...

For the win: The Grand Budapest Hotel because Hollywood loves Wes Anderson scripts even if they don't like Wes Anderson movies.  
Back up choice: Foxcatcher (just to throw this movie a bone)

Best Adapted Screenplay
  • American Sniper, Jason Hall
  • The Imitation Game, Graham Moore
  • Inherent Vice, Paul Thomas Anderson
  • The Theory of Everything, Anthony McCarten
  • Whiplash, Damien Chazelle

Seriously, I'm rolling dice here to help pick this one.  

For the win: The Imitation Game
Back up choice: The Theory of Everything

Best Director
  • Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
  • Richard Linklater, Boyhood
  • Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
  • Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Best Picture
  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Selma
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Whiplash

These two are tough. Right now, the focus seems to be on the two "B" movies, Birdman and Boyhood. Both presented unique stories in unique ways.Typically whoever wins Best Director sets the stage for Best Picture. Typically but not always. Last year I picked Alfonse Curan and Gravity for Best Director and Best Picture and while I was right on one, I underestimated the pull of 12 Years a Slave.   

So I'm hedging my bets on this so here are my picks. 

Best Director
For the win: Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Birdman
Back up choice: Richard Linklater for Boyhood

Best Picture
For the win: Boyhood
Back up choice: Birdman 

My thinking is that Boyhood owes less to directing and more to the herculean task oif assembling it in bits and pieces over a 12 year span. It's a story that touches viewers more that otherworldly weirdness that surrounds Birdman which requires a stronger directorial vision. 

So there you have them, Dave-El's Oscar Picks for 2015. 

Can a guy who hasn't seen these films be as effective at picking Oscar winners as those who actually watch these things for a living?

We'll see 'round midnight. 

Be good to one another and I'll review the results in tomorrow's post.


AMENDED: 02/23/2015

Well, that hurt! 

I got a score of 78%, a very disappointing result given my history with this thing. Here are the missed calls: 

Best Original Screenplay
Because I don't get to watch these films, I have to rely on research and the experience of others to help make my guesses. And it seemed like the screenplay for The Grand Budapest Hotel was a bit of a lock. So much so that I dismissively gave the 1/2 point back up choice to Foxcatcher. Never toss a film a bone. Foxcatcher was not going to win anything. And with Birdman getting the screenplay nod, that's zero points. 

Best Actor
I don't feel too bad for this for this one. But given the Oscars' propensity for rewarding actors playing roles battling physical adversity, I really should've made Edward Redmayne my first pick, not my back up. 

Best Picture 
My research suggested a dead heat run between Boyhood and Birdman so I split my first choice picks between the two films for Best Director and Best Picture. But Boyhood struck me as an experiment in filmmaking but that does not necessarily translate into a great film. Meanwhile Birdman seemed more of a stronger, all around entity. That's what I get for lacking the courage of my convictions. 

In a subsequent post, I will talk a bit more about the show itself. It was the first time my daughter actually paid attention to what happens in an Oscar show and she had some very interesting reactions. 

But that's for next time. Until then, be good to one another.

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

Doctor Who: The Name of the Master

As I posted last week, Whovians have been a bit anxious for news, ANY news about Doctor Series 9 that we  spent a lot of time, WAY too much time, examining a photograph of a map that appears in an episode. Yes, a map. 

This week saw the release of news of a more substantive nature: Michelle Gomez is back as the Master


The Master.


OK, this needs to be sorted out.  

I hope this "Missy" thing was a bit of a diversion designed for Series 8 to keep us from her true identity because she is still The Master. If we are to accept that the character that Michelle Gomez portrays is directly descended from Delgado, Ainley, Simms, et al, then she must be called the Master. To continue to address her as Missy somehow separates her from that lineage. "Master" suggests a wide range of dominance; "Mistress" can be perceived as control only over that which women may have control.  

A person who is or perceives themselves to be a master of an ability, a segment of knowledge, a certain expertise or a planet can be a man or woman. For example, one would not say that Meryl Streep is the mistress of her acting craft or is the mistress of employing different accents. I had no problem with this whole "Missy" thing as a sort of lark on the Master's part, having fun with the concept of now having a female form. But she needs to make use of the name that he/she chose to reflect his/her ambitions when he/she left Gallifrey: to be Master of All! As such (and I made the same observation last year during this post), she is The Master and should be addressed accordingly. 

There are sexual connotations with the term "mistress". It is used to describe the sexual partner of a man married to another woman. It's also used to describe a woman in a dominant role in BDSM. In other words, if the Master in female form insists on being referred to as Missy as in Mistress, that just going to have a whole bunch of unfortunate implications not mention a plethora of Doctor/Master fan fictions

I like Michelle Gomez in the role as the Master. Michelle's portrayal is wickedly fun and sinister at the same time in the spirit of the totally off the hook, gonzo portrayal of the Master by John Simm. I am a little surprised to find that she'll be in the opening episodes of Series 9, so close on the heels of the end of Series 8. I would've thought Steven Moffat would hold off on playing that particular card until later. Having the Master appear at the start of the series is most unexpected....which I suppose is the general idea. 


Before the beginning of Series 9, this new female Master will be appearing in this very blog in the form of a new fan fiction script. Following last year's Time of the Dominion and Son of the Master, the Doctor and Clara will face a new and terrible threat to the Earth, it's future and worlds beyond worlds. 

What is....The Crucible of Eternity

That's coming up in two weeks. Which is either a threat or a promise, depending on what you've thought of prior stories I've posted in this space. 


Next week, more Doctor Who stuff. In between are daily posts about anything from comic books to politics to whatever random idea pops in my head on any given day. 

I'm Dave-El and I'm so glad my suffering amuses you. 

I hope to see you back here tomorrow.

Friday, February 20, 2015

We Can't Feel the Love

During the tragic hours and fearful days of 9/11, Rudy Giuliani, then the mayor of New York City, comported himself with strength and grace during a very trying time. Giuliani was everywhere throughout the city, a symbol of leadership, a beacon of hope, a promise that yes we would get through this. In many ways, Rudy Giuliani was definitely one of the heroes of 9/11. It is a legacy for which the former mayor should be rightfully proud. 

Too bad he's determined to shit all over it.  

In the years to follow since 9/11, Giuliani has traded on that legacy for political gain in the Republican Party. Unfortunately in the Republican Party that means purveying the snake oil of fear and suspicion. 

Which leads to bullshit like this: 

Rudy Giuliani doesn't think President Barack Obama loves America. 

The former mayor goes on the clarify that he's not questioning Obama's patriotism but isn't patriotism expressing a love and devotion for one's country? I mean, this has got to be the most fucked up thing anyone in the GOP has said about the President. And trust me, there are a LOT of people trying to one up each other in the game of saying stupid fucked up things. 

The response from the White House was essentially "we kind of feel sorry for the guy", noting that Giuliani had made similar statements about Obama back in 2008. 

And here's the thing, others in the GOP have chastised Giuliani for his remarks. His own party is telling Rudy "hey, there's no need to be a total dick about it, OK?" 

But Giuliani is doubling down on his rhetoric, refusing to back down from what he said or apologize for it. He's standing firm with his message: Obama does not love you, America.

Apparently this lack of love manifests itself in Obama's own words that are always (ALWAYS!) saying bad shit about America. Yes, Obama has called out our shortcomings but what kind of leader buries his head in the sand and ignores addressing the negatives. But every speech I've heard (or more accurately the ones I stay awake through) have been mostly positive about the ol' USA. The President does speak on the strengths of America, both in the current real world and in our potential.  

I can't imagine any person sacrificing so much time, effort and money to get the job of President only to preside over a nation he doesn't love. Whatever they're failings, whatever policies or positions I may have not agreed with, I've never questioned a President's devotion to this country. But of course, this is the age of Obama where his political adversaries have done very well in the fear and suspicion marketplace and any damn thing goes.  

So, America, if you don't feel the love, it's Obama's fault. 

Thanks for dropping by. Be good to one another and I'll see you here tomorrow.

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

Insert Boob Joke Here

Comic books have long been mired in the escapist sex and power fantasies of males in arrested development. 

Let me translate that: Guys like boobs = comic books have boobs. 

Comics have long been a medium given to idealized versions of the human form with super heroes in tight clothing stretched over impossibly perfect musculatures. Women are also drawn in an idealized fashion with super heroines in tight clothing stretched over impossibly larges breasts. 

What we see on each chest stands for "hope", right?

This was posted on Twitter a few weeks back and casts in sharp contrast the differences in approaches between male and female superheroes. 

  • Clark Kent rips open his shirt (man, he must go through a lot of shirts! Or he's really good at sewing shirt buttons back on) and the proud emblem of Superman is revealed. Huzzah! The day is saved. 
  • Meanwhile Karen Starr pulls back her outer clothing to become Power Girl  Damn, those tits are LARGE!

It's a hyper sexualized version of a woman as dreamed up by an adolescent or a grown man who still thinks like a horny teenager. 

Power Girl came to life in DC's revival of Justice Society in All Star Comics. Presumably artist Wally Wood kept making PG's breasts slightly larger with each issue to see if anyone would notice. 

Yeah, it was noticed. 

By the time Joe Staton was on board and drawing both Justice Society and Power Girl's 3 issue solo run in Showcase, the concept of Power Girl, possessing the powers of Superman and breasts the size of watermelons, was permanently ensconced.  

It's gotten to the point that this is a joke in-universe as heroes and villains comment on PG's voluptuous nature. 

But if this is an idealized version of womanhood, the question becomes, "Whose ideal is this?" Young girls looking for role models find only sex symbols. Even older men who still read comics might find some boisterous illustrative quirks of the female anatomy to be a bit much. No, the appeal here is to straight young men almost to the exclusion of all else. 

Comics are getting a bit better at visualizing female heroes with a more common sense approach.  A prime example of that is Spiderwoman.  Spiderwoman's original costume was a skin tight red unitard with yellow gloves, boots, etc. It looked like her costume was painted on*.  And when the excesses of certain art styles were applied to, my question was how did she breathe in that get up. But in tone similar to the revamping of Batgirl, Spiderwoman's getting a new outfit; it looks sharp, sexy even. But it has a more utilitarian appeal, making Spiderwoman look less like a Playboy pin-up and more like a superhero.

*There was an Avengers story where Spiderwoman was kidnapped by some villains. She is stripped naked because villains are pervs and this was written by Brian Michael Bendis. Later when this issue was reprinted for Free Comic Book Day, Spiderwoman's costume was quite literally painted on. 

It will be interesting to see where all this goes. Will the de-objectifying of the female super hero drive more female readers to comics? Or is this just a noble experiment and eventually Spiderwoman's costume from a can gets sprayed back on her body? 

I'll tell you what my ideal woman is: she's smart, confident and has a sense of humor. Yeah, I want her to be good looking, of course, but looking good is just a bonus. But the true rock solid foundation of what makes a woman ideal... is what's inside. 

And I'm not just saying that in case my wife reads this blog.

And yes, I'm so glad my suffering amuses you.

Be good to one another.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Cold, the Blues and Greetings From THEM!

Dave-El here and welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, the blog with a wind chill factor of IT'S TOO DAMN COLD!  

Seriously, I'm trying to remember the last time I've seen single digit temperatures here in central part of North Carolina. 

But damn, it's too cold everywhere. How cold is it? It's so cold, Barack Obama and John Boehner have snuggled up for warmth.


One place in the state where temperatures were up was over in Durham at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium where the Blue Devils hosted the UNC Chapel Hill Tarheels in another epic meeting of this long time rivalry.  

Duke's in charge in the 1st half but Carolina takes control in the 2nd. But in the last minute of the game, Duke claws its way to a tie and we're in overtime. 

Arrrrrgghhh! I can't handle the pressure!!

In OT, the lead changes about what, five times? Duke up by one, Carolina up by two, Duke back up by two, Carolina by one!  

Finally it comes down the the last few seconds and...whew!...Duke holds on to a slim margin and wins, 92 - 90.  

 A really great game with neither side giving up. But Duke's got to have a Plan B if Okafor gets hurt again. 

For more info on the game, click here


Totally apropos of nothing, one of my followers on Twitter posted this. 

This prompted the following Tweets from yours truly.

 ·  23 hours ago
Them?! He got a greeting card from GIANT MUTATED ANTS?!?!

23 hours ago
Well, I know I haven't gotten any greeting cards from GIANT MUTATED ANTS in years!

If you have no idea why I would equate THEM with GIANT MUTATED ANTS, it might be a bit tricky to explain. You see, there was a movie back in the 1950's called THEM and it was about GIANT MUTATED ANTS. 

OK, not tricky at all. 

Never mind.


And that's a wrap for today's post. I'll be back with another one tomorrow. Until then, be good to one another and help keep each other warm. 

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