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Archive for the tag “Doctor Who”

FILM-BASED FACE-OFF: JAMES LEER VS. THE 12TH DOCTOR

So, there’s this movie my favorite movie is the best movie ever is Wonderboys. (I’ll whup any soul what says different.) This was the 2000 cinematic adaptation of Michael Chabon’s novel set at a small college over the course of a weekend in which the lives of pot-smoking professor Grady Tripp (played by Michael Douglas), still working on the follow-up to a hugely successful novel seven years later, and his very brilliant, but very odd, writing student James Leer (played by Tobey Maguire), are turned upside down.

I’ve watched this movie, um… *counts on fingers* *takes off shoes for additional counting space* Let’s see…

Seven billion times.

Okay, not really, but I do watch it at least once a year. It’s an annual event like Christmas. Or underwear rotation. I don’t get tired of it. The characters are still interesting. the dialogue sparkles. The plot sustains. And, bonus: After so many viewings, the things you loved at first are still there, but other things emerge from the background. There’s always something new to appreciate.

I recently had this year’s Wonderboys viewing. (My shorts are doing fine, too. Thanks.) And here’s the startling revelation that jumped out me.

James Leer is a timelord.

Like from Gallifrey. Doctor Who, anyone? The most obvious first indicator is how James dresses. Dark pants, long dark coat, white shirt buttoned up to the collar. To whit:

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Okay, now check out this guy:

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Eerie, isn’t it? Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor dresses a lot like James Leer. The prosecution rests.

Consider also, each man is never without a particular item which gives him his power. James has an ugly, green knapsack with books and videos and his precious, completed first novel manuscript; the thing that unlocks his future. The Doctor has his sonic screwdriver; the thing that unlocks doors. Unless they’re wood.

James is a brilliant writer. The Doctor is brilliant at everything else. I’ve never actually seen him write, though. It’d be weird if it turned out he was illiterate, wouldn’t it?

James knows all about what’s happened in the past, mostly as the past pertains to suicides of famous actors, but still…The Doctor, a time traveler, knows all about history too; and may have married Marilyn Monroe.

James has socialization issues. He’s arrogant, laughs at inappropriate times, thinks nothing of helping himself to a stranger’s bourbon and smoking a doobie in the person’s living room. The Doctor has trouble remembering faces from one minute to the next and is fond of telling people to “shut up, shut up, shut up, shut-ity up up up.”

So the question is: Is James Leer the Doctor, or some other time lord? He’s not really evil, so probably not the Master or the Rani. He could be some other time lord like the meddling monk or Professor Chronitis. Or he could be yet another surprise, formerly unknown, incarnation of the Doctor himself (we’ve had a lot of those the last couple years).

I think this is a pretty air-tight case. Go ahead. Prove me wrong. Just try.

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NOT A DOCTOR WHO FAN? MAYBE SKIP THIS ONE

Yeah, so I think about the show Doctor Who a lot. And I mention it frequently in these posts. If you don’t know the show, this may not be the post for you. Maybe go watch some sports ball or knit something or, you know, read a book.

*Waits. Taps foot.*

Now that the squares are gone, time for me to talk a bit about Doctor Whoish bits that are making me happy right now. And then I’ll mention a wondering that isn’t really new, but have been on my mind lately.

So, Season 8 of new Who ended with the fabulous episode “Last Christmas” on Christmas Day. That makes me sad, but, trying to fill the months ahead before Season 9, I’ve come across a few little gems.

1. Doctor Puppet

Doctor Puppet is a fan-based creation of Alisa Stern. It’s a series of stop-motion animation short films featuring adventures of The Doctor in puppet form. I’d heard about this on podcasts and fan sites for a while, but only recently checked it out. It’s…delightful. The stories are pleasingly simple, short, and there’s pretty much no dialogue. It’s atmosphere above substance in the best way possible. And the attention to detail is impressive – particularly the console room. Go to YouTube sometime and check it out. While there, look at the “making of” videos. These creators do a hell of a lot of work, but are also clearly having a hell of a good time.

2. The End of Time – Bye, bye, Ten!

I just watched David Tennant’s swan song as the Doctor again recently. “The End of Time” gets a lot of grief from Whovians, but I will go on record here as saying I quite enjoy it. Also, I’m really excited that on this most recent viewing, I noticed something I hadn’t before. Get this: in the opening of episode 2, Rassilon is addressing the high council and someone tells him, “The Doctor still possesses the Moment and he intends to use it” to destroy the Daleks and everyone else. This was three years before “Day of the Doctor”. Before Moffat. Before the War Doctor. The seed for the Moment was already planted.

Yes, the story is overwrought. But so was the whole Russell T. Davies era. Yeah, John Simm chews the scenery. But this story called for a Master who wasn’t just insane (as he always was), but totally unhinged. People bitch about the absurd plot to turn all humans into the Master, but they forget this was a ludicrous plan hatched by a deranged mind.

Then there’s Ten. His scenes with Wilf are beautiful. Yeah, he gets teary a couple times and that puts people off. But Eleven got weepy a LOT and no one complains about that. And, okay, Ten does leap out of a spaceship and crash through a roof mostly unscathed, but, hey, this is Doctor Who. Just go with it.

And, of course, there’s regeneration… Up to this point, the various Doctors were pretty blasé about regeneration. It was a refreshing change to have one say, “this is crap.” And it worked for Ten. For all his altruism and good humor, he had a strong streak of ego too. But even after putting up a fuss, he, of course, sacrifices himself. I found “End of Time” a very fitting, very fun end to Ten’s era and RTD’s time as show runner.  Go watch and appreciate it for what it is.

3.  Lost episode recons.

Let me be straight with you. Those first seasons of classic Who are not my favorite (though I have a soft spot for “The Tenth Planet” and “The War Games” and “The Mind Robber”). Everyone holds up “The Aztecs” as the greatest story of that first Doctor era. I, however, find that story excruciatingly boring – with the exception of the scene where the Doctor and Barbara debate whether history can be changed. This is not to say I don’t enjoy classic, black and white Who. And I, just as much as anyone, hope for the return of those still missing episodes.

In the meantime, I’ve recently become a devotee of reconstructed stories. So far, I’ve watched Hartnell’s historical story “Marco Polo” as a recon and, much to my surprise, really enjoyed it. The audio from the televised episodes was there, along with still photos for illustration. In a few places, there were subtitles to explain things that were happening that you couldn’t see. I really liked it. A first doctor story! And a historical one at that!

I also just got done watching “The Power of the Daleks”, the second doctor’s first story, as a recon. Mostly, the episodes I watched were like “Marco Polo”. Audio with still images and subtitles. I did watch one reconstructed episode of the story where the mouths on the actors’ still images were animated so it looked like they were talking. That was too damn freaky.

I may seek out others. Probably will. It’s a nice little diversion while I wait for Season 9 next fall.

 

Okay, so here’ s a couple long-standing wonderings about Doctor Who:

A. We often see the TARDIS spinning through space or Earth’s atmosphere or whatever. So why does the ship have to dematerialize on take-off and rematerialize on landing? We already know it’s there.

B.  There was much well-deserved excitement when Paul McGann reprised his role as the eighth doctor ON SCREEN in “Night of the Doctor.” By all reports, he was thrilled to do it. So when it became clear Christopher Eccleston wasn’t coming back for “Day of the Doctor,” why didn’t Moffat just put McGann in instead of creating a whole new “lost” incarnation, John Hurt’s War Doctor? The War Doctor is a great creation – even if he does mess up the numbering – but seeing McGann in action, hangin’ with Ten and Eleven, would have been great.

Right. I think I’ve got all that Doctor Who-ey out of my system. For now…

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MR. PEABODY: ABSENTEE TIME LORD?

When I was a kid, I was a little young for the original run of “Rocky and Bullwinkle”, but I really liked the reruns. One of my favorite features was the segment “Mr. Peabody and Sherman.” Now, many years later, I still hear Mr. Peabody saying in his most contemptuous voice, “Quiet, you.” He whisked around through time in the Way Back machine with his young friend Sherman maki g pithy remarks and giving Shedman lessons about history.

As I got older, I discovered Doctor Who. about a renegade time lord who was always the smartest person in the room who flies around in time and space in his TARDIS.

Recently, I watched the 2014 film “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” with the kids. It’s a lot of fun, keeping the spirit of the original characters in a contemporary setting. As I was watching this, I suddenly realized:

THE DOCTOR. MR. PEABODY.

THE SAME DUDE.

Thesis: Mr. Peabody is just be another incarnation of the Doctor.

This could be controversial among fans, I know. Doctor Who fandom can’t agree on the potential of a future Doctor being a woman. The idea that the Doctor could be a canine could well destroy the Internet.

Still, the signs are all there. The Doctor has no name other than that title. Mr. Peabody is just “Mr, Peabody”. Even his kid Sherman calls him that. Peabody wears glasses. The tenth Doctor wore glasses. Peabody thinks bow ties are cool, the eleventh Doctor thought bow ties were cool.

And there’s more. Peabody finds other people frustrating, frequently saying “Quiet, you.” The 12th Doctor, frankly, doesn’t really like anyone, often telling people to “shut up shut up shuttity-up-up-up.”

Both adventurers have mad skills. Peabody is a great chef and a master of industry and science. The Doctor juggles, dances, is an absentee president of Gallifrey.

Both characters have hearts (in the Doctor’s case, TWO of them) that would fill a TARDIS, but both are super smart and have trouble relating to us ordinary folk. The 12th Doctor, in particular is “not the hugging type” and has little regard for individual people, even while struggling to save the species as a whole. Peabody loves his boy Sherman, but can only muster the occasional “I have great regard for you.”

The Doctor and Peabody both flit about time in impossible machines, and are a first name basis with historical figures. Both know Davinci. Peabody and Ghandi are pals. The Doctor knows Shakespeare and a Queens Victoria and Elizabeth.

Both have companions who stir up trouble. In the movie, Penny tries to marry King Tut. Sherman wrecks Davinci’s airplane prototype. Clara betrays the 12th Doctor out of desperation, to which he replies, “do you really believe I think so little of you that betraying me could make a difference?” Peabody responds to Sherman’s betrayal by saying he loves him and setting things right.

For both characters, setting things right usually involves some scientific-sounding techno babble. For Peabody, somehow traveling to the future repairs a rift in the past. For the Doctor,saving worlds has involved moving planets, reversing polarities, sending planets into pocket universes and on and on…

A man. A dog. Is the universe big enough for the two of them? Or the ONE of them?

The prosecution (or the valyard, if you like) rests.

I HAVE QUESTIONS

Do you wonder about things? Anything at all?

That’s a dumb question. Are you at least wondering about why I would ask such a stupid question?

I wonder about a lot of things. Serious issues of life and politics and commerce. Funny things like the enduring appeal (to me and more than a few others) of Laurel & Hardy or why Conan O’Brien didn’t work on The Tonight Show at 10:30 central, but does fine at 10 central on TBS.

But mostly, I wonder odd things.

My family likes that I’m on Twitter, @carnivalofglee, because I can subject the Internet to my random thoughts rather than them. To give you an idea what suffering my family occasionally, and the Internet multiple times daily, here’s a peek inside my brain. Brush away the cobwebs and assorted old Archie comics and Dave Barry columns if you must, but do NOT kick the troll out of his barcalounger. He gets pissed. You do not want to have to deal with a pissed brain troll.

Anyway, here’s what’s in my head much of the time:

Why does pizza with a round crust taste better than rectangular?

Why do sandwiches cut into triangles taste better than rectangular ones?

Buffalo wings are chicken, with absolutely no relation to buffalo. Similarly, elephant ears are not what they seem.

Why do I enjoy Superman less than when I was a kid, but enjoy Spider-Man a lot more than when I was a kid?

Why wasn’t Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip a better show?

Why don’t time travelers got sick from all the diseases they’re exposed to in other eras and/or infect the people with unaccustomed diseases?

If the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into?

The necktie is a stupid idea. So why does it really look good?

Was my friend Robert right years ago when he predicted the end of the writing as a form of communication?

Is choosing to cut strangers’ hair as odd a career choice as I think it is?

Why is wearing team colors, debating sports stats with your friends, and setting aside the afternoon to cheer your team on considered less nerdy than wearing a t-shirt of your favorite character or show, debating plots and stats with your friends, and being excited to watch your favorite show?

There’s not a movie made that couldn’t be improved by the addition of Tim Curry.

How the hell do people who spend weekends binging entire seasons of TV shows find the time?

Sure, the Twilight series was popular, as was Hunger Games, but will another book series ever capture young readers’ attention the way Harry Potter did?

So there’s a wee sampling of the dross flossing my brain daily. Clearly, I need help. Also cash. And a donut.

CLICKETY CLICKETY DING! CLICKETY CLICKETY DING!

If you thought my posts about Doctor Who were nerdy, better grab hold of something. You haven’t seen anything yet.

Here we go.

Recently, my brother-in-law surprised me with a rebuilt 1931 Smith Corona typewriter, the preferred typewriter of luminaries like T.S. Elliott. It’s very cool. Here it is:

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He found an eighty-five-year-old guy who still knew how to fix typewriters to rebuild it and then drove it across country to give to me. It’s in great shape and types great, the keys striking with a satisfying, cat-terrifying, crack. The only oddity, which turns out not to be so odd, is that there is no numeral 1 key; there’s not even a spot for it. A quick Google search clarified manufacturers at one time didn’t want to waste materials or production time, so they’d leave out superfluous things like the number 1. Makes sense. It was the Depression Era after all. Can’t be throwing around expensive digits willy-nilly. “Rotten sob’s can just type a lower case ‘l”” they apparently thought. “Good enough for the peasants. They’ll make do with 2-9 and like it.” It’s sort of like how these days we choose Congress-people.

The greatest part about this new typewriter is that now I have for my other typewriter.

Oh, yes. I have another.

Settle down, ladies. I’m taken.

Years ago, I picked up at an antique store an old Underwood typewriter; a huge, heavy thing:

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Some knobs are missing and some of the keys are wonky, but it’s charming nonetheless. I have not yet found an eighty-five-year-old dude to fix it.

I like typewriters. I don’t mean Tom Hanks-let’s build-an-app-that-sounds-like-a-typewriter like, but I do like them. I won’t be coming out with any Hanx Writer type apps. Would any of you give me $2.99 for an app that sounds like me typing blog posts?

I’m not alone in enjoying the soothing clicky-clicky of the typewriter keyboard. No less than the London Times has taken to piping the sound of people typing on typewriter keyboards to inspire and stimulate beleaguered reporters trying to file their stories.

I was a newspaper in a past life, writing for The Daily Iowan in college. I did enjoy walking into the newsroom. There was no haze of cigarette smoke or the bank of typewriter keys punctuated by the ding of the carriage return, but even the mellower sound of multiple computer keyboards was thrilling.

But they weren’t typewriters.

I was one of those kids in fourth-fifth grade, down in the basement using my mom’s old portable typewriter to bang out rip-offs of Encyclopedia Brown mysteries. The sound of the keys has stayed with me longer than the plots of most of the stories I plagiarized wrote.  Farting around with the new typewriter has given me that old familiar feeling.

I don’t know when I’ll use these typewriters. Or even if I ever will use them. But I like having them around.

Which is also sort of like how I feel about Congress. (Self-referential call back.)

 

 

 

 

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.

I KIND OF MISS VIDEO STORES

Remember video stores? When I was a kid, they were the coolest new thing. Libraries for movies and for three bucks you could TAKE ONE HOME and watch it, give it back and rent another one. Great big plastic VHS tapes full of any move you wanted – as long as what you wanted was  Back to the Future II . (And it was what I wanted.) Renting VHS movies was awesome. I even rewound the tapes before returning like a good little renter.

Yeah, I know there are still video stores around. But they’re kind of lonely, sad little relics of former hipness now, aren’t they? When you pass a video store in the 21st century, it’s a little like stumbling across a MySpace page. Or the ninth season of “The X-Files”. Or looking in my clothes closet. (For example: right now, I’m wearing TARDIS socks – ding! obligatory Doctor Who reference)

But back in the day, when I was a kid, going to the video store was an event. You no longer had to wait months or years for “Raiders of the Lost Ark” to show up on network television with commercials and the swears dubbed out. You could go to the store, rent it as a new release and – for only 99 cents! – pick up an older movie or two for  a double (triple) feature. You browsed the shelves, read the blurb on the back of the actual tape box or a copy of the label, then took home whatever you like. You could rent as many movies as you wanted – as long as you got them back the next day or they’d fine your ass, especially if you didn’t rewind.

You can, of course, get more movies now than ever for very little money. But Netflix, Hulu, iTunes and the like are a little like buying books on Amazon or other online repository. Sure, you can get anything you want while sitting on your ass in your lonely, little room. But it’s like shooting cinematic fish in a barrel. Where’s the thrill of the hunt, the joy of nabbing the last copy of “The Pick-Up Artist” before that dork across the store gets it?

I’m not sure why I’m thinking about video stores lately. I enjoy movies. I like being able to turn on TV or instant streaming and watch whatever, whenever. But maybe that’s the problem. When you can have anything you want, you, ironically lose the thrill of discovery. When you had to go to the video store, you didn’t really know what you’d find. Sometimes, you’d find out the thing you wanted most, wasn’t even the thing you went in looking for.  (Mannequin 2) Maybe I’m just yearning for some sort of unanticipated thrill that’s been missing from a pretty static lifestyle of late.

Or maybe I just wanted an excuse to use the word “yearning”, because…awesome word.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go work a shift at my second job. I’m still paying off an overdue rental fee from failing to return the VHS of “Gremlins 2: The New Batch”.

 

THE NOMINAL BLOG

The four-year-old sees a commercial: “That’s the show we’re gonna watch.”

Me: “No,that’s just a commercial. The show’s on later.”

Four-year-old: “Later takes a long time.”

I’m thinking about later right now. (Oooohhhh. Meta. I’m using that right, aren’t I?) More specifically, I’m pondering the stuff that exists between NOW and LATER.

Meal time, playing with the kids, phone calls, looking at Tumblr, writing the blog, feeding the cat, washing the dishes, washing the cat (messy eater), trying to have a conversation with another adult, probably failing because the kids needs something or work intrudes, sleeping…on and on and on and on.

Every day pretty much like the other. Not a rut. Not exactly. But there’s sure a hell of a lot of sameness. That sameness consists of a whole string of events and actions that make up a life.

Dictionary.com defines “nominal” as…(Don’t you hate it when people use the dictionary definition in a speech or an essay? Me too, but deal with it anyway)…

“(of a price, consideration, etc.) named as a mere matter of form, being trifling in comparison with the actual value; minimal.”

I give you a dollar, you give me a houseboat. The dollar is a nominal price for the houseboat. Probably. Especially if it was MacGyver’s houseboat. That was pretty cool. Remember when Murdoc used a blow torch to carve “R.I.P. MacGyver” in the wall? Freaky.

Anyway, what was I talking about?

Right, for most houseboats, a dollar is trifling price.  A pittance. The boat is really worth a lot more, but for whatever reason (probably involving lewd photos) we’ve just agreed on this nominal amount to complete the transaction.

Life is kind of like that.

Lewd.

Wait. No. I meant the nominal transaction part. All the little, day-to-day crap is trifling, busy work. Will the Earth stop revolving around the sun if I don’t look at photos from the set of the new season of Doctor Who filming right now? Probably not (but I don’t know that for sure). BUT, while looking at those photos is little more than time-killing while waiting for the kid to get ready for story time, doing so makes me happy. The nominal activity of scrolling through pictures on the Internet for a few minutes enriches my personal life, which is a huge, not-nominal thing.

Sometimes you have to make time to do BIG NOT-NOMINAL THINGS. File your taxes. Get married. Get buried. Decide whether to go with gin or bourbon (Kidding about that one. Kind of.) Send the kid to college or blow the fund on a European vacation. These are all tent-pole events that, in the end, give a life its overall structure.

But all that nominal stuff in between? The Internet photos and Twitter and debating with your kid if Hulk or Superman is stronger and eating Cocoa Puffs not because they’re good for you but just because they’re GOOD…all that stuff is what actually makes the day-to-day life you have to live. Don’t feel bad for taking time for the nominal. It’s called living.

We all gotta do it, so might as well enjoy it.

So what are your not-nominal-nominals?

A CUT AND PASTE WORLD

Matthew Gödel, a famous logician (a philosopher, not like the people of planet Logopolis on Doctor Who – ding, obligatory Doctor Who reference of the week!) says mathematical concepts are basically real things that exist in their own reality and can’t be changed. If so, that’s why no matter what different beliefs people all over have, we all agree how math works.

Others, like Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom, who have run with that to say that in the far-flung future, some mathematician must have figured out a way to use that math reality to create a computer simulation. And all of us are living in it. Right now. Whenever our geeks figure out some new math problem, that’s just us finding another piece of that computer code. Now, some scientists somewhere are trying to figure out how to detect this simulation – the one we haven’t even figured out how to make yet.

So, nothing is real. Or, more to the point, reality is a construct of some future computer programmer.

I think this is awesome.

Two reasons.

One, this idea is really just an offshoot of my long-held theory that all of us on Earth are just living in a big terrarium belonging to some space alien kid. We’re a school science fair project due on Monday and thrown together Sunday night. Therefore, my insanity narcissism super-brilliance has been confirmed. That’s always nice.

Second, if everything we take as real was just created by some future nerd, that means IT CAN BE CHANGED. Whatever problem we’ve got now, we can just call tech support and with a few key strokes (or telepathic brain control, whatever) it’s taken care of. I’m picturing a bald, blue guy in a plastic suit from the classic Star Trek series, sitting on a sound stage with cardboard rocks and a computer the size of a Winnebago deciding for us whether we as a society want to focus on the Kardashians or global warming. Hmm… Decisions, decisions…

Here’s a few things, other than the Kardashians, I would suggest be done away with. It’s nothing personal (well, sometimes it is). Just tweeking the system to make the world a better place for me for us all to live in.

Congress. We need one,  I guess (job security for C-SPAN), but let’s chuck out the one we got and replace everyone with a random Powerball-type lottery. Can’t be any worse.

Money. How screwed up has society gotten in the chase for more dollars? How much easier would life be if we just bartered for everything? This relates to politicians too. We worry about the influence of money, especially secret donations, on politicians. If, to get a Congressperson to vote for a new hog confinement lot in your district, for example, you actually had to walk into the capital and hand over a sow, everyone would know what you’re doing. Transparency in government would literally be thrust upon us like a squealing pig.

Pajamas as work-wear.

Stores that aren’t bookstores. We do need stuff other than books (shocking, I know), but I don’t want to have to go get it. Food, clothes, booze should just show up on your doorstep.

Telemarketers. I know we have the Do Not Call list, but it almost seems like since that thing was created, I get more annoying calls than I did before. If I wanted your product, I’d call you. Period.

Here’s something we don’t have, but need. I know a lot of people now binge-watch entire seasons of TV series to catch up. That’s great, but I don’t even have time to do that. Make me something that feeds those shows directly into my brain.

Cauliflower. It’s icky and unnecessary.

On the Island of Misfit Toys, there’s a squirt gun that squirts grape jelly. Instead of getting rid of all the guns and missiles and bombs, let’s have our programming overlord just make them all squirt jelly instead of bullets/shrapnel/nuclear stuff.

I’d swear that I had another couple paragraphs of wise world improvements, but I guess I deleted them.

Or did I??????

 

THERE’S NO POINT BEING GROWN UP IF YOU CAN’T BE CHILDISH SOMETIMES

“There’s no point being grown up, if you can’t be childish sometimes.”

– The Fourth Doctor, Doctor Who, “Robot”

I have a birthday coming up. Every year about this same time it comes around.

When I was a kid, birthdays meant indulgen meals, chocolaty cake with some sort of cool topper – a wind up Snoopy, matchbox cars, whatever – and anticipation about what’s in those shiny, wrapped packages. As a special treat, my birthday might come with a trip to the toy or bookstore or maybe I’d get to have some buddies sleep over.

I’m a lot older now. I’m a mature, responsible, father and husband. And as such, I’m done with toy stores and sleep-overs. My special trips now are to treat myself to a good wine or bottle of whisky. I still covet a good cake topper though (one year, my wife made me a TARDIS cake!) and would not be surprised – even kind of look forward to – something immature hidden among the “grown up” gifts. A Doctor Who “collectible” maybe. Or some Superman socks.

I figure, if you have to see more and more gray when you look in the mirror every birthday and inch ever closer to the Age of Prostate Exams and Other Indignities, you deserve a TARDIS console room playset or two.

The Fourth a Doctor, he’s a pretty wise dude.

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