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Archive for the tag “dinosaurs”

DOCTOR WHO SEASON 8 IS HERE!

“I think there should be more round things on the walls. I used to have a lot of round things.”

– The Doctor, Season 8, Episode 1, “Deep Breath”

Capal-Day came.

Capal-Day conquered.

Anyone who had doubts whether Peter Capaldi could embody the Doctor can rest easy.

Even if he can’t.

This Doctor is a Doctor in distress. All regenerations result in some sort of post-regenerative crisis. But Capaldi’s is second only to Colin Baker who wins by virtue of having tried to kill Peri.

I’m writing this in the immediate aftermath of the episode so, much like our new Doctor, my thoughts are a little scrambled. “Deep Breath” opens great and ends with a truly stunning twist. You’ll get no plot spoilers from me, though. Suffice to say, it was so good, I really want to find one of those leaked scripts now just so I can read the thing and see what did and didn’t change from the page to the screen.

I do want to talk about this new 12th doctor though. (Yes, I’m sticking with the original numbering. Hurt is just “the war doctor”, not a number, and meta-crisis Doctor is just…silly.) The word was this new doctor is “darker”. He is certainly not a Tennant-type cocky goofball or a Smith-esque puppy dog, or even a war-torn “fantastic” Eccleston. But I’m undecided as yet whether he’s really “darker”. He’s certainly more alien, way less comfortable in his skin than Tennant’s or Smith’s Doctors, and certainly seems colder. Time will tell if that’s just post-regenerative angst or if this Doctor really is one who will go to darker places. I do get the sense that this doctor, will be simultaneously unable to connect with humans and yet perhaps more dependent on his human companion than ever.

One of the podcasts about Doctor Who that I listen to is the Verity Podcast . On an episode last week, one of the panelists pitched the theory that Capaldi’s doctor might be the doctor that Colin Baker’s 6th doctor was intended to be, but never quit achieved. Six was arrogant and intense and alien, but he suffered from weak stories and, yes, a bad costume. Capaldi is reserved, to be sure. I don’t think he’s arrogant, but he can’t relate to people as the other recent doctors could.

The show feels different.It doesn’t bounce around in the attention-deficit way previous seasons often have. It takes time with their scenes, holding your attention with the events and dialogue found there, not the music and jump cuts. The opening title sequence is radically different. (Not totally sold on the new arrangement of the theme song though.) The whole show moves at a slightly different pace. Even the incidental music is a bit more subdued. The show is still both family-friendly and, somehow, more grown-up at the same time.

Even the Paternoster Gang has taken it down a notch. I’ve always been ambivalent about them. It often feels like they only show up in episodes because some producer somewhere really, really, wants another spinoff now that Torchwood is gone and is pushing this clever, witty trio on us and forcing us to like them. Tonight though, they were funny, but it was a much lighter touch for them.

Great as Capaldi is, the real winner in the season opener might be Jenna Coleman’s Clara. Jenna Coleman is a good actress, but I don’t think her character has been served very well since the “soufflé girl” bit and her official debut in The Snowmen. But tonight, it was like the old Clara woke up. She was angry and frightened and defiant and clever and warm and tough. She was what a modern companion should be. Finally. I wasn’t sorry, honestly, about those rumors she’s leaving at the Christmas episode, but I kind of am now.

“Deep Breath” opens dinosaur big (literally) and ends with a WTF moment followed by a really ambiguous-I-gotta-tune-next-week-scene.

Don’t let me down, Moffat.

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MY SON, FUTURE AMERICAN HACKER

Recently, the four-year-old asked to play on my iPad. There are some games on there just for him and sometimes he just likes to open Pages or something and type seemingly random strings of letters and numbers. It’s sort of like how I write this blog.

Everything is secured on the iPad so he can’t go where he shouldn’t or blow his college fund purchasing the “women in Viking helmets shooting things” game apps that inexplicably appear in ads for otherwise g-rated games. I said, “Sure. Go ahead.”

He picked up the iPad and announced proudly, “I know Daddy’s number”, then proceeded to type in my iPad passcode. My wife and I just looked at each other bewildered. The little turkey that I have to ask ten times to find his shoes before he actually concentrates enough to know what I said, had, over time, slyly spied on me entering my passcode and memorized it.

You can’t really punish him, can you? Seriously, can you? I’m totally okay with letting him eat nothing but fresh-baked bread and perfectly chilled water and limiting him to only nine hours of cartoons a day. Never let it be said I’m not a strict parent.

The thing is, he’s not trying to get away with anything. He doesn’t even know what a passcode is. There’s no thievery intended. The immediate reaction, though, was to go in and change the code. Problem with that is, the iPad is set up so that if you type in the code incorrectly ten times, it wipes out more or less everything on the iPad as sort of a scorched-Earth security system. I could envision a nightmare scenario where I’m busy doing something and the boy grabs the pad and starts trying to enter what he thinks is still my code. It doesn’t work so he keeps trying. And trying. And trying. Then suddenly, my life is reduced to factory pre-sets. Wonder if that means I’d look younger…

So the code remains what it was. The boy entering my passcode has just become another part of the ritual of pre-school iPad time. Someday, when he’s older and, let’s face it, more interested in screwing with Dad, I’ll have to clamp down on the security. But for now, my boy has (largely) unfettered access to that portal to the Information Super-Highway. (They still call the Internet that, right? Groovy.)

I want my kids to be up on technology. People like to go on and on about how remarkable it is that “kids today” pick up on technology so much faster than we did. That’s largely bullshit. We didn’t have the Internet and iPads and blu-ray DVD players and video game consoles you need advanced degrees and a hell of a lot more patience than I have to master. But we had other stuff (Rocks. Sticks. The rotted carcasses of various marsupials) Whatever technology was around when you were a kid, you mastered it because it was your world. And you did it so fast, that YOUR parents marveled at it, just like I marveled at the boy. I guarantee it. Every generation does it. I did it. My kids do it now. Their kids will do it to. So will I, probably, as that technology could include a way to preserve my talking head in a jar, “Futurama” style. I’ll have a front-row seat to my grandkids taking over the world, just as predicted – every single year since the first generation of humans that didn’t get squished by dinosaurs. (That sound you hear is the world’s scientists’ brains exploding.)

BUT, if I handed my kids my old Atari 2600 (yes, I still have it), I bet they wouldn’t have a clue. Score one for the Old School.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to wrestle the iPad away from the boy. He’s Face Timing Putin.

A BAD CASE OF ASTEROIDS

So last week with a swing and a miss, Earth was spared the type of epic, total destruction of life as we know it that normally would be heralded with a speech by Morgan Freeman.

Remember how scientists always said there was virtually no chance of a huge asteroid colliding with Earth? Well, take that, scientists. Came pretty damn close this week. Guess the weather forecasters got some new blood to sit with them at the loser’s table.

Still…

Once I crawled out from under the dining room table and took off my tinfoil hat (hey, it’s not just to keep out the aliens) I cranked up my solar-powered radio (What? You don’t have one? Go ask at Radio Shack.). I was shocked to learn that my planet had not been destroyed. Despite the hype, it was just an epic Asteroid 2012 DA14 fail, friends.

You win this time, scientists.

Sure, the scientists said all along that asteroid probably wouldn’t hit us, but they left just enough doubt to keep up from walking away from the tv for a potty break (The tinfoil hats also come in handy here. If you’re ever invited to my home – and this is important – never go into my hall closet.) This asteroid came closer to Earth than any other asteroid that wasn’t in a video game ever has. But mass destruction? Blotting out the sun with a dust cloud so big it, uh, blots out the sun?

None of that.

There was that meteor in Russia. (Coincidence? I think not. Pretty sure those guys who faked the moon landing are involved.) That had some promise for dinosaur-level destruction. Big shock waves blowing out windows and such.

But, no….A little property damage is all. Sweep it up, call out the contractors to replace some windows. Ho hum.

Humans have been trying to wipe themselves out pretty much since the first one crawled out of the ooze and stumbled over a Tonka fire truck left at the top of the stairs. (Damn kids) But we’re still here.

The universe steps in, tries to help out by hurling a giant celestial bowling ball at us. But instead of a strike…gutterball!

And we’re still here.

I’m sure there’s something profound to be said here, but I’m not Morgan Freeman.

DINOCALYPSE NOW by Chuck Wendig – My Review

For my first book review on the blog, I really wanted to write something profound about the state of modern literature, the power of the written word. I chose for my first review DINOCALYPSE NOW by Chuck Wendig. Here’s my sophisticated review:

This book is fun.

F-U-N

DINOCALYPSE NOW is written in the style of a 1930’s pulp novel. Inspired by the Spirit of the Century role-playing game from Evil Hat Productions, the book features the heroes of the Century Club defending FDR, and ultimately all of time and space, from extinction at the hands of dinosaurs, psychic dinosaurs, and warrior apes.

Here’s what I like most about this book. I’ve never played the game on which it is based (though it sounds awesome), but I still totally get the appeal. It feels like my childhood toy box full of action figures splayed out on the page of a book. I was a HUGE action figure kid: Star Wars, Star Trek, Batman, Superman, GI Joe, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Zorro, Indiana Jones, Dukes of Hazard, The Love Boat. (Yes, Love Boat action figures really existed. And I had some. Don’t judge me.)

Did I mention the book has psychic dinosaurs?

What does a kid with a box full of action figures do? Dump them all out and make them battle it out for supremacy over the whole family room/yard/backyard pool/bench seat in the back of the conversion van on family vacations. I even staged a battle once while on a fishing boat in Canada.

The cast list could have been drawn directly from my childhood favorites. Consider:

Flyboy Mack Silver = Han Solo

Fix-it queen Sally Slick = Kaylee from “Firefly” (not from my childhood, but the best comparison I can think of)

Amelia Stone = Princess Leia

Benjamin Hu = Zorro

Professor Khan = Ape from “George of the Jungle”

Jet Black = Luke Skywalker

And not just the Centurions. This book has an army of evil apes. Time travel. An old wizard dude who controls all of that time. Marauding neanderthals. And, oh what the hell, the Lost City of Atlantis shows up too.

So as I read about Mack Silver piloting his plane “Lucy” through a flock of soaring dinosaurs, I imagined The Love Boat’s Yeoman Purser Burl “Gopher” Smith piloting Bobba Fett’s ship through a long ago battle for supremacy over my living room. I’m right there again, an eight-year-old Centurion grappling with my own dinocalypse.

Thanks for the memories, Chuck.

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