Thursday, February 27, 2014

What I Did, and Didn't Do


Hi, Folks,
 So it's a little dusty around the Corner, and there are sheets on all the furniture (I didn't put them there, but I think they spontaneously appear in any place that's abandoned for more than a few months) but the fridge still works, and the beer is cold and drinkable. So pull up a packing crate, or a bit of Voyager Commemorative Shuttle Debris™, have a seat, and let me unfold a tale of a journey, and a hard decision.

 I have a very dear friend with whom I worked back in the swamps of Louisiana that I shall call RL. RL is one of the most talented teachers/directors/actors I know, and when we parted company at the end of my time in the bayou (although, to be fair, there are no bayous in Central LA) it was a sad ending of a very rewarding three years. Fast forward to last year. RL is a tenured professor at a university in Alabama, and I'm the Technical Director at Eckerd College. Ironically I had just had a conversation with my wife about maybe considering leaving Florida eventually, but not so long as my dad was still alive since I want my baby to know her grandfather. Lo, not many nights after that talk RL informed me that they got the approval to add a Technical Director to the faculty. I told her that I wasn't really looking to go anywhere, but she slowly, gently began to work her magic on me. (she's very persuasive) It's a full faculty position (I'm 'only' staff here). The cost of living is much lower there. They're almost certainly/probably/hopefully going to be getting a new theatre sometime real soon. But, as I had just passed the five year mark at Eckerd, which a record for me, I gently refused.

 Then, in October, RL and I attended the nuptials of a former student of ours in Orlando. There was one question I purposely omitted, and at the reception I finally asked the salary. It's not a king's ransom, but it is considerably more than I'm making now. My resolve was melting faster than an ice chip in Satan's butt-cleavage. I asked the Mrs. and she agreed that I should at least apply. So after five years of being out of the job hunt I dug out the portfolio, updated the resume, and then hit emotional speed bump number 1...asked my colleagues for letters of recommendation. Now, I work with some amazing people, and of course they all said yes, but I was nervous enough to chew through neutronium before they all said yes, and how happy they were for me, and 'yes, you absolutely have to go for it.'

 Next came the online application. Work history, references, resume, evaluations, and any other documents. What on Earth could that mean. I asked and was told student testimonials. So I contacted some of my former students from as many different schools as I could find and asked them to write me up a letter of recommendation. And by the Flying Spaghetti Monster they came through in an embarrassingly effusive manner. It took a few hours over a couple of days to track down all the addresses and phone numbers that were pertinent to the past two decades of my life, but eventually all the data was input, and the waiting began. I began gathering photos for my portfolio which hadn't been touched in five years, save to move it from one bookshelf to another. Then came the phone interview. K was to call me and we'd chat for half an hour or so. I'd met K at the South Eastern Theatre Conference last year, so while it was a little bit awkward, it melted into a nice banter in no time. I got the impression that I did well on that part. After the phone interview came a lot of nothing. Then two weeks ago I get the call. The want to fly me up for some face time. So I book the flight, and begin to frantically get my shit together. One strange thing they asked for was a list of shows I've done. That was a tricky compilation, and it took emails to several old friends and students, but it ended up being about 111 shows, and I'm sure there are a few that slipped through the cracks of time. Seems like it should be more, but that's still a lot of theatre.

 So the time arrived, and on the 20th I departed Saint Petersburg. It would seem that the 7am flight to Birmingham isn't overly popular, and I had my whole row to myself. It was an uneventful flight until the landing, when the impatient hand of God swatted us out of the air and onto the tarmac. The landing gear did not, to my surprise, collapse and then all was well. K collected me and showed me around a bit of the lovely countryside. Then we arrived at my hotel room for as much time as it took to check in and drop off my bags. The next 36 hours or so went by in a heartbeat. Tours, meetings, lunches, more meetings, chats, talks, dinner, sleep, meetings, classes, and then almost before I knew it I was back at the airport, exhausted but confident that I had done my level best. I'll say this for the folks up there, I wouldn't want to play poker with them. I had no idea which way the wind was blowing in their minds since such a job interview is as much a sales pitch to the candidate as it is an appraisal of their value to the school. But inscrutability aside they are a lovely, warm, talented group of women and men, and anyone would be proud to work there.

...But...

  The one fly in the ointment came when I spoke with their HR people. The health insurance package is very similar to what I have now, with one very important exception. Prescription medicines must be paid for out-of-pocket, and then reimbursed later. As we have a teenager with Asperger's Syndrome we have a rather large number of copays each month, and a quick calculation meant that we'd be paying over $1600 a month, and getting back around 80% of it 'later'. This gave me great pause, but I put it on the back burner until I could speak to my wife.

 So I came home, and I thought...and I thought...and I thought. There were some nagging doubts, both about the gig, and about my own abilities. It's natural to doubt yourself in such a situation, and ultimately I know I could do the job, but I kept swinging from 'how could they not hire me?' to 'what on Earth would make them want me?' Other things preyed on my mind as well. This job would require much more of my time than my current gig, and with the baby, and our teen I'm not sure how well that would work out. Plus our teen is finally in a school where they understand her needs, and her grades are starting to reflect that for the first time ever. Not to mention how upset she got when we told her that we might be moving again. Also my wife, who handles our finances, confirmed that the prescription situation would be virtually impossible. So it was with a very heavy heart that I contacted RL and withdrew from consideration. It was a painful choice, made all the more so because she told me they were going to offer me the job, but I had to do what is best for all of us, and not just for me. And though it saddened me to have to say no, I don't feel it was wasted time, since it would have hung over me as a 'if only I had...' forever had I not given it a shot.

So RL, if you're reading this, I am truly sorry I couldn't take the job, and I am so humbled and honored that such an amazingly talented group of people feel that I am worthy of joining their ranks. Your students are top notch, and I wish all of you the very best in your future endeavors. And if any of my current students are reading this, I look forward to completing your training...now get back to work!!! ;-)

Marius

Friday, August 09, 2013

The Kennedy Space Center Revisited

  I love the Kennedy Space Center. Pretty much everyone that knows me knows this. I've been there numerous times, and even got to go on some special behind-the-scenes tours thanks to the magnanimity of the mighty Unkk, but I haven't been back there since the baby was born due to, well, taking care of the baby. In the interim the shuttle program shut down, and Unkk was forced to seek employment elesewhere, and I feared that the KSC would be a pale shadow of its former self.

   I was wrong.

   Since last I was in Titusville the orbiter Atlantis was put on display there. My dear friend Ted went there recently and posted pictures of the shuttle that piqued my interest, and so I decided to take this last week before work begins anew and went to, as I thought it would be, pay my respects to the dearly departed...or in this case the dearly decommissioned.

   I left early Thursday morning and managed to avoid the worst of the morning rush hour, arriving at the KSC a little after 10am. As I was driving across the causeway toward the visitors center I could see the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) in the distance, and I grew wistful. Unkk had given me the gift of a lifetime not too long ago and took me into that Mecca of technology back when very few members of the public were allowed within. Now that the shuttle program was scuttled I assumed the building was being turned into a vast museum. That didn't stop me from paying to go inside again, but it didn't have that same spice once it became something anyone with an extra $25 could do. But more on that later.

   As I entered the center I got my first unpleasant shock of the day. I had already paid double what tickets cost on my previous visits for admission, but parking had always been free...but no longer. $10 to park seemed a bit steep, but what are you going to do? I parked, slathered myself with sunscreen, and sallied forth.

The first different thing I saw, though I did see this from the road as well, was a shuttle external fuel tank and two solid rocket boosters towering, sans orbiter, over the park. I correctly guessed this to be the entrance to the Atlantis display. Then I got to the actual entrance which has had a complete revamp, and a gorgeous one at that:


   The new entrance deposits you in the Rocket Garden,

and I wandered there a bit til it was time to catch the bus to the VAB. The guide was personable, and amusing, and rattled off stats that I almost knew by heart about the wildlife around the Space Center and various other bits of trivia. We drove along a road I'd never been on before, and saw some of the unmanned launchpads, including this:
   That, ladies and gentlemen, is Space X's facility. If you don't know, Space X is the leading civilian contractor involved in spaceflight. They've sent two successful unmanned cargo missions to the ISS, and hope to have man-rated ships before too much longer.

   We then drove to the VAB, passing the place where Unkk brought us in 2008 to see Discovery launch.

   Here is an aerial view of the VAB, since I didn't think to take any still shots of the exterior:
   It's the building where all the Apollo rockets were assembled, and all the shuttles were mated to their rockets and fuel tanks. I've seen the outside of it since I was 5, and going inside once was the dream of a lifetime. Going inside again was just unbelievable.



   I won't bore you with a bunch of stats, but if you remember how tall a Saturn V rocket is, the doors to this place are six feet taller. Anyway, as I was ignoring the tour guide in my orgy of photography, I took this picture:

   And as I did so I realized it reminded me of a similar shot I took in Westminster Abbey of a stained glass window, and then it hit me. The emotions I was feeling must be similar to what a devout person feels when visiting a grand cathedral or other such place of significance to them. Science, especially the Space Program, is sort of my religion. It fills me with awe, and wonder, and brings me joy when I can share it with others. Kinda cool, no?  I was also assured by several of the KSC people that the VAB was not being mothballed, and that as the new Space Launch System/Orion project ramped up the VAB would become off-limits to the public again, perhaps as soon as a few weeks from now! (though I don't really believe it's quite that imminent)

   Eventually we moved along. We drove past the remains of launch pad 39A, which has been relatively untouched since Atlantis blasted off from there for the last time in July of 2011:
   I couldn't help but remember the last time I was on that road, in Unkk's car, Atlantis was standing on that pad waiting to take her final journey into space. Now all is silence, and corroding metal. I asked why the pad was left more or less as it was right after the launch and the answer was no funding to tear it down. The tour guides are glad of that, but also said, with no small amount of disdain, that they're sure it will be leased to some company or other eventually, then the last of the shuttle launch equipment there will be swept away. It was a bittersweet part of the tour, and I was actually glad to get away from there.

   The tour debauched at the Saturn V display building, another area I've chronicled extensively here before, but I do want to share this
   
   So after lunching 'neath the 'most complex machine ever built' I took the bus back to the visitors center, and my main reason for the visit...Atlantis. As I approached the giant display of fuel tank and SRBs, I was gripped with both excitement and sadness. This was, after all, going to be like going to the grave of an old friend, right? I mean the tombstone imagery is kind of unavoidable:





   But into the building I went. You walk up and in circles til finally you reach a line. Seriously? We have to line up to go into the room with the shuttle? But I chilled, and waited, and looked out the window:
  Then, finally, we were ushered into a room where we watched a short film that, though very cheesily written, depicted the genesis of the shuttle program. The the doors beneath the screens opened, and we were funneled into a smaller, cone shaped room with a smaller, roundish projection screen directly ahead. It was pretty obvious that this screen was the entrance to the actual exhibit, but the launch videos were pretty amazing, and the music appropriately bombastic and inspiring. Then I saw an inner door behind the projection scrim rise up, though the projected star field kept what was beyond obscured. Then, with a final musical flourish, the scrim rose, and we beheld Atlantis!
   Now I will tell you straight up that these pictures do not do this display even the slightest amount of justice. Instead of a dour, dead, static display of a now-defunct spacecraft, this building, which explains the higher ticket and parking prices, spares no expense in celebrating the Atlantis, and the entire shuttle program. I was actually moved to tears at points, and I look forward to the day when I can bring my baby girl here and share this wonderful place with her. But enough blabber, let me post a few thousand words:













   In addition to the Atlantis herself there are numerous interactive displays, mock-ups that you can sit in, games, an "International Space Station" for kids to climb through (including the above-pictured part that's a clear plastic tube 30' off the deck for the truly brave kids to traverse), a giant slide that replicates the angle of the shuttle's landing glide path, and, of course, the Shuttle Launch Simulator, which is one of my all time favorite motion simulator rides. There is a beautiful memorial to the crews of Challenger and Columbia, and the ubiquitous gift shop.

   I find it hard to describe how moving this display is. I've seen spacecraft up close and personal before. Apollo stuff is all over the KSC, and it's never made me this emotional. I think it's because Apollo, and Skylab, while events I dimly remember watching, are artifacts of a time before mine. I watched as the shuttle program was born, I've seen launches with my own eyes. I've cried along with the country when the crews of Challenger and Columbia never came home. Atlantis, Discovery, Endeavour, and Enterprise are not just names in a book to me, and to be almost close enough to touch one of them was a profoundly affecting moment. So rather than feeling like I was visiting the grave of a dead celebrity, I felt like I was finally meeting an old friend. If you ever get a chance to see one of the orbiters on display, I strongly urge you to do so. And if you find yourself heading for the Kennedy Space Center, give me a call. I'm always up for an excuse to go there.

To infinity, and beyond, y'all.
Marius






Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Searched Soul


Recently there was a high-profile news story about the murder of a 17-year-old boy here in Florida. It seemed to me to be an open-and-shut case and when the trial began I didn't pay it much attention since I was putting up a show and didn't really have time to follow the news closely. When the not guilty verdict was announced I was outraged, and vented much anger on Facebook and twitter. I labeled it a miscarriage of justice, and defied anyone to disagree with me. As time went on, and people I respect told me things about the trial that I did not know, I began to see that while I still felt that the situation was the defendant's fault, the jury had no choice but to acquit him. This kind of short circuited my brain. I tried to equivocate a bit on Facebook, but that quickly brought hints of ire from those who championed the cause of equality and justice, as I had, and still do. This sent me further into a mental conflict between beliefs, guilt, and the desire to assess facts rather than opinions. Eventually I locked up, and withdrew. I couldn't continue on my course of decrying the verdict, but I couldn't announce that I had changed my mind without seeming to betray the cause I so deeply believe in. I groused about trivialities, bitched about royal babies, and generally became a curmudgeon for a couple of days. Then, yesterday, I took the day off.

  It may not seem like that radical a thing, but I don't get many actual days off. Sure, there are usually at least two days a week when I don't go to work, but since my wife's schedule is so weird (she works 4am-12:30pm) even on my days off I get the lion's share of the baby handling. And no, I'm not grumping about the baby, it's just that caring for a two-year-old is not the most relaxing thing. So yesterday, after dropping the baby off at day care, to took a true day off. I did a little bit of housework, mostly dishes and laundry that desperately needed doing, but I also watched grown-up shows on the TV (a delicious luxury) played on the PS2 (don't judge me and my ancient console ways) drank a couple of beers in the late morning (oh, such hedonism) and essentially did nothing I didn't want to until it was time to pick up the baby in the early evening. I didn't realize how much I needed such a day, or how energizing just chilling out can be. Today will be more of the same, with a bit more housework thrown in, before I must needs go back to work tomorrow to fix a few things and clean the shop in preparation for next week's strike.

So why am I telling y'all this? I'm glad you asked. One of the most important realizations I came to yesterday was that if I try to shape my opinions and beliefs based on the way people will react to them, I'm going to drive myself insane. I believe in equality for all, be they black, Asian, Hispanic, White, Gay, Straight, Bi, Transgendered, Intersexed, Nongendered, tetrapod, amputee, handicapped or handicapable, or whatever the pc term for whomever you are happens to be. I don't care what you do in your own home, so long as no one is hurt against their will. I don't care who you love, or if you love. I don't care who or what you worship, or don't, so long as you don't inflict your views on others who don't wish it. I don't care what your political affiliations are, until those affiliations negatively affect others. I will defend the weak, the impoverished, the marginalized, the trivialized, the abused, the ignored, the forgotten, and the damaged. I will rail against the powerful when they tread on the powerless, and I will accept your criticism when it is constructive, and valid. One thing I will not do anymore, however, is allow myself to become rigid in my beliefs and opinions out of fear of upsetting someone else. For example the fact that I've come to accept the Zimmerman verdict does not change my stance on racism or inequality in the slightest. Nor does it reflect approval of the verdict. It merely means that given our legal system as it is, the jury had no choice but to acquit. I still don't like it. I still think race played a major role in the events of that evening, and I will still do my best to stamp out racism whenever and wherever I can.

Here are a few other things I believe:
Government is necessary, but our government is very broken.

Government regulation of business is, to a certain extent, necessary to prevent the abuses of workers that were rampant in ages past. This system, too, is horribly broken.

Governments, both federal and state, have no business being involved in medical decisions, nor do they have any right to legislate morality. What goes on behind closed doors, so long as no one is being victimized, is not the business of anyone but the participants.

Our military, while necessary, is way too big, too expensive, and too bloated. We need to reduce our presence in the Middle East, and stop trying to inflict our ways and values on people who don't want them.

Politicians, aside from Elizabeth Warren, suck.

Most conspiracy theories presuppose a level of competence from the government that just isn't there.

9/11 was not an inside job.

While it is possible that there is a large, heretofore undocumented simian species inhabiting the deep woods of the United States, the continued lack of hard evidence leads me to believe that there is no Bigfoot.

Or Loch Ness Monster, for that matter.

And on the whole, the Western world has its priorities so screwed up that we care more about Twinkies going out of production than we do housing, feeding, and educating those who have nothing.

I could go on with more things, but I think I've made my point. Please feel free to agree or disagree with me. I may not always agree with what you say, but I will defend unto my last breath your right to say it, and I will always do my best to consider any informed opinion, especially when it differs from my own.

Hey, it's almost 10am. Beer time!!!! ;-)

Marius

ps
Actually I just want more coffee.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Man of Steel

It may seem odd to you, gentle reader, but I have never been a comic book fan. That being said, the only comics I ever owned were Superman comics. I've loved Superman as long as I can remember. I read the few comics I had over and over, watched George Reeves on TV, and spent most of my Saturday mornings glued to the TV. In fact if you ask me what the Superman theme music is, there's a 50/50 chance you'll hear me hum this tune:


What I loved about the old cartoons was there was none of this 'violence must never solve the problem' bullshit. If something, or someone was messing with Supes, they got a face full of invincible knuckles. Now that's not to say that I only dug that aspect of Superman. When Superman: The Movie came out in '78 I was so blown away by the charisma of Christopher Reeve, and the amazing (for the time) special effects that I did believe a man could fly, and there was relatively little in the way of fisticuffs by the Man of Steel in that film. I even enjoyed Reeve's second and third outings (yes, I enjoyed Superman 3, Richard Pryor and all). But then Superman 4 was a real let down and they stopped making Superman movies.

   When Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman premiered in '93 I watched, and I enjoyed, but it wasn't really what I wanted in a Superman series. Why I never watched any of the 'new' animated series I'm not sure. Maybe I just didn't know they were there. Oh, and I almost forgot The Superfriends. Well, maybe that should remain forgotten.

   Anyway, moving right along, 2006 brought the promise of a renewal of the Superman movies, but all it delivered was a wiry, emo Superman in low-rise stripper panties and yet another ludicrous Lex Luthor real estate caper. I gave up on ever seeing a decent Superman movie.

   Then, a couple of years ago, the buzz began that Zack Snyder was teaming up with Christopher Nolan to bring Supes back to the big screen. I held my breath. The production stills looked good. Henry Cavil looked buff and had muscles on his muscles, and I dared to hope. Well, today I saw Man of Steel, and I was not disappointed.

     ::::There be spoilers from here on:::::

   I went into the cinema with very mixed emotions. I wanted this movie to not suck, but I fully expected it to, and I was very relieved that it didn't. It rewrites the destruction of Krypton just a bit, so that the Kryptonian people themselves are responsible for the disaster that dooms their planet, but the basics are there. Jor-El, played with understated sincerity by Russel Crowe, warns the elders that the planet is about to go boom, but before they can tell Jor-El that he's full of it, General Zod, played with manic energy by Michael Shannon, stages a coup that sends Jor-El to steal an important artifact, secret it aboard Kal-El's ship, and launch the infant toward Earth. Then he dies, they die, everybody dies...well, except Zod who along with his army is banished to the Phantom Zone.

   Once on Earth we have the obligatory difficult childhood/adolescence stuff, but similar to Tim Burton's Batman we see it in flashbacks while more exciting stuff happens. Diane Lane and Kevin Costner turn in wonderful performances as Ma and Pa Kent, as do the kids who play Clark at various ages. And Cavil acquits himself admirably as the alien amongst us suddenly faced with the decision of whether or not to reveal himself to the people of Earth, or continue hiding behind a mask of normalcy. Of course he has the computer generated ghost of Jor-El guiding him at certain points, but Snyder and Nolan wisely worked things so that deus-ex-machina probably won't be around in future films.

   The other players were fine, too. I've already mentioned Zod, and Laurence Fishburne was an excellent choice for Perry White. No Jimmy Olson in this one, which is another mark in its favor in my book. The only real disappointment, and I think it was more in the writing than the performance, was Amy Adams as Lois Lane. I just didn't feel any force of personality from her. Yes she has lines that clearly show how she goes where she wants regardless of whether she was given permission or not, but maybe I'm just spoiled by Margot Kidder. She may make Sean Young look positively centered, but there's no denying that she made Lois Lane into far more than just a handy hostage or damsel in distress. Adams isn't bad as Lane, she just doesn't stand out that much.

   As for the story, all you really need to know is that Zod eventually finds his way to Earth, and the ensuing smack-down leaves Metropolis in ruins. I will say that the final battle between Superman and Zod gets a bit tedious, and they could have very easily taken five or more minutes out of it, but the effects are top-notch and breath-taking. You will have no doubt what a bunch of supermen and women trying to kill the crap out of each other will do to a city, and the ending is surprising. I won't spoil that, but I will say I'm very impressed that they went there, and with appropriate repercussions.

   The movie does suffer from being an origin story, so it seems to drag a bit at times, but overall it is a fast-paced thrill ride of a film that had yours truly totally enthralled. One warning, it is loud. I mean really loud. If you plan to take little ones to this, and they are sensitive to loud noises, do yourselves a favor and bring some earplugs. It is also long, two and a half hours, but it fills those hours well. I will warn you if you are expecting a fluffy, Christopher Reeve smirking and Gene Hackman hamming it up kind of movie you might not like Man of Steel. But if a more believable depiction of what a being like Kal-El might face in our current world appeals to you, not to mention city destroying Kryptonian vs Kryptonian action is what you want, then this is the Superman movie for you. I can't wait for the next one.

Up! Up! And Awaaaaaay!!!
(yeah, I'm glad he doesn't say that anymore, either)

Marius

Friday, May 17, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness



Admiral, there be spoilers here! But I'll put them in the third paragraph, so if you haven't seen STID yet, go see it. (except you, Ro Karen. You get a pass)  So this may come as something of a surprise to some of you. In fact it was a surprise to me, but I really enjoyed this movie. As my wife and I entered the cinema I was already composing my scathing tweets and reviews, for I was fully prepared for JJ Abrams to shit all over Trek in all kinds of new ways. But as the film progressed I found myself saying, 'OK, so far so good.' over and over again, until finally I just gave in and enjoyed the ride.


I'm not going to summarize the plot here, but suffice to say that this is a thrill-ride of a movie that never really slows down long enough for you to catch your breath, run to the bathroom, or ponder the plot too much. Say what you will about Abrams, and lord knows I have, he is really good at action flicks. As in 2009, most of the performances are spot-on, and while there are a few head-scratching moments, there is nothing as egregiously stupid as red matter or a supernova that threatens the entire galaxy. I'm kind of sad that I dislike the look of the 'new' Enterprise because there are some truly stunning shots involving the ship, but I just can't get over the ugliness of it.

Now don't let it be said that I thought it was all tribbles and tranya, and here come the spoilers. First of all I am really pissed that despite all the flat out denials from the Abrams camp, Benedict Cumberbatch does eventually fess up to being Kahn. But, to be honest, it didn't bother me as much as I thought it would.  But what did piss me off was we see the origins of Section 31, which is the Starfleet black-ops outfit that infuriated me so much in DS9. I also have to admit that I wasn't that taken with Cumberbatch's performance. Maybe I was expecting too much, but he was very monotone. What you hear in the trailers is pretty much how he talks through the entire film, almost like he's trying to do his best Alan Rickman impression, but not quite getting it right. And Scotty was a little bit too much the comic relief this time, but only just a little.

So this is not the Star Trek we all grew up with, but we knew it wouldn't be. Making a multi-million dollar movie leaves very little room for risk taking, so this is all flash and dash, with very little needed in the way of cognition. I don't imagine we'll see thought provoking Trek until, and unless it returns to television where they'll have the luxury of interspersing action with mental stimulation. So until that day comes at least we can look forward to exciting amusement park rides, and if their popularity paves the way for a return to TV, then it will all be worth it...I hope.

Live long and prosper, y'all.

Marius

PS
Nimoy's cameo was kinda stupid and unnecessary, but I liked it anyway.






Monday, May 13, 2013

Doctor Who?



Nerd alert, folks. If you're not into Doctor Who then might I suggest going to flurrious's blog and checking out her wonderful blend of snark, sarcasm, and despair. It truly is hilarious. However if you are no stranger to the TARDIS then come along, my friends, while I rant just a bit.


So this season has been, and I'm being generous here, lackluster.  We got a new companion in the form of the amazingly gorgeous and perky Jenna Louise Coleman, a new TARDIS control room, and a new mystery for the Doctor to solve, i.e. Coleman's Clara. And on top of all this the story lines are all converging toward the massively hyped, and impossibly expectation-heavy 50th Anniversary Special. So why, then, has this season teetered on the brink of suck since the get go? There have been a couple of decent episodes, Cold War with its Hunt For Red Octoberness, and The Crimson Horror, which felt very much like a throwback to the days of Classic Doctor Who, but this weekend's Nightmare in Silver proved that even Neil Gaiman doesn't seem to know what to do with the Doctor right now. It was ok, but just ok. I'll freely admit that I think the Cybermen are kind of silly, but that wasn't the problem with the episode. So what was/is the problem? I'll tell you what I think, and it pains me to say it.

Jenna Louise Coleman and Matt Smith have zero chemistry together. I don't know if it's a matter of the writers trying to create an Amy Pond type relationship within 6 episodes, or the actors just don't click, but I don't believe that the Doctor really cares about Clara as anything other than an intriguing anomaly, and I really don't buy her level of devotion this soon. Not to mention how totally nonplussed she is at all of their adventures at the stage where previous companions have still been freaking out. Maybe the reasons for that are going to be part of some big reveal later, but right now it just seems like lazy writing to me. Karen Gillan leaves the show, we get a new companion, and she acts very much like Amy Pond. The relationship between the Doctor and the companion usually takes much longer to develop, and I'm just not buying it this time.

I'm still enjoying the show, though I must admit I really don't care what the Doctor's name is, but I sincerely hope that after the season finale next week the writers take a good, hard look at what they're doing, and bring their A game back, otherwise we may very well be witnessing the beginning of the end...again.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Wherein I Once Again Use the First Line From a Book I've Never Read

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. That is 50% of my knowledge of A Tale of Two Cities, and if it weren't for Star Trek and Jeopardy I wouldn't even know that much. But, be that as it may, it is very apropos to yesterday.  As you know I have dear friends by the names of A and B whom I've known since I was but a wee pup.  We haven't seen them, or their younglings G and D, since before Sharon was born.  They live a couple of hours away, which is just far enough to make it more than just a spur of the moment visit, and going for longish drives with the baby has proven to be less than joyous. There have been several aborted attempts to get together, but it just hasn't worked out, until yesterday.  Sharon has finally gotten big enough to use her front-facing car seat, and I thought I'd give it a try. This was also a good chance to see if driving to West Palm Beach, just she and I, would be feasible this summer. So phone calls were made, plans set, and after an hour's delay due to children being slower than the time flow at the event horizon of a black hole (that was this year's winner in the "most obscure simile' contest at Cannes) I finally got Sharon, the CoA, and myself under way.

The drive down wasn't too bad. The portable DVD player and numerous munchies kept the baby occupied, and the CoA's attitude was remarkably pleasant.  We arrived at A's place a bit later than planned, and a fun reunion was had and some of the best steaks I've ever had were eaten. (even Sharon ate some, which is a first)  Everyone adored Sharon, and she was working the room like a seasoned Vegas lounge lizard.



 Well, I say everyone, but there was one being who was less than thrilled with the little pink poop monster's presence. They have a gorgeous dog named BigB (sorry, I'm not sure of the spelling) who is 1/4 wolf. He looks ferocious as all get out:
But he's a big snuggle-bug once he gets to know you. He didn't know what to make of Sharon, though, so he kept his distance. Sharon, on the other hand, is the Baby Who Knows No Fear ™ and kept going after the poor dog with an adorable 'Hi!'. Fortunately he would just move away until we could catch her, but I'll have to keep my eye on her around larger critters until she develops some self-preservation powers.

Not too long after we got there she ran out of steam and crashed:
While she slept they showed me an episode of Community, which is a show I must now watch all of in my copious spare time. We tried to watch another but Sharon woke up and was all giggles and energy, so paying attention to anything else was impossible. D seemed the most taken with her and they played together for quite some time:




Sadly as the day wore on the CoA grew 'bored', the baby started rubbing her eyes, and the time to wend our way home drew nigh. Hugs were given, bags were gathered, and a bundling into the car was accomplished. Assurances were made that the interval twixt visits will be shorter this time (a promise I intend to keep) and we launched ourselves northward. The less I say about the drive home the better, but as fatigue set in, and we all grew cranky, especially the baby, the atmosphere became less than festive. I can now safely say that I won't be sallying forth on any more long trips with both kids without Mrs. Marius along, and I suspect that a 4.5 hour drive with just Sharon and me might not be the best idea, either.  So, as you see, it was the best of times going to see A and B and G and D, but the drive home was quite nearly the worst of times. Curse you, Charles Dickens, for your incredible aptness!! :-)  And our undying love and thanks to A, B, and family. We'll be seeing y'all again soon, promise.

Peace, y'all,
Marius