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Archive for the tag “X-Files”

NOSTALGIA-FEST 2015 ROLLS ON

I’ve been partying, well, living, like it’s 1999 a lot lately. Also 1977. And 1985, and 1991. 1983. Pretty much anytime other than the time it is.

Why? I dunno.

I don’t think it coincided with my birthday earliest this year, but the timing of my age steamrolling toward obsolescence and my affinity for hallmarks of my past sure is suspect.

I’ve been into lots of things from my past: Legos; Doctor Who *ding*

*obligatory my blog Doctor Who reference*

I’ve started listening to podcasts about X-Files, Greatest American Hero, M*A*S*H. I’ve been getting back into the Atari video games I enjoyed as a kid.

And of course there’s this little thing: The force is strong with this…

I was a HUGE Star Wars kid. The first movie came out when I was six so it was right in my wheelhouse. I had the toys. The movie tie-in books (including a kickass pop-up book) The neighbor kids and I played Star Wars – I got to be Han Solo because I had a black vest from one of Dad’s old suits. As an adult, I sort of fell out of the SW universe. Episode 1 disappointed me. Episode 2 bored me. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep during Episode 3.

But I’m totally on board with The Force Awakens. Please don’t suck.

And if new Star Wars looming large is fueling my nostalgia train like Doc Brown’s Mr. Fusion, this other thing is about to make the train jump the tracks. Cue Snoopy dance.

If there was one thing I loved more than Star Wars as a kid, it’s Peanuts. The TV specials, I’ve memorized. Old strips, I can still quote verbatim. What can I say? I love mankind. It’s people I can’t stand. But I REALLY like Peanuts. The movie later this year might be good, might be bad, but I’m psyched for new Charlie Brown anytime.

So, this is shaping up to be a pretty good year for me. I’m pretty sure there’s other stuff going on: presidential campaigns, family events and whatnot. But right now, in my head, nostalgia is the food that provides the fuel. Don’t know if that’s healthy or wise. But that’s the way it is.

It’s time to start the music. It’s time to light the lights.*

*Did I mention they’re working on a pilot for a new Muppet Show for TV? My nostalgia cup overflows. Good thing I’ve got my Doctor Who mug from that public television event thirty years ago to catch the excess.

Party on, Wayne. (I really need to stop now.)

WHAT I’M THINKING ABOUT THIS WEEK

COLD TWEET FEET

This morning, a little song was running through my head. My own composition. Here, I’ll sing it for you. *Takes out pitch pipe. Blows* Ahem

Kick me in the nuts
Kick me in the nuts
Go ahead. Kick away!
Kick me in the nuts

Its not Grammy-worthy, but in the rush of an early morning work day, it made me laugh. I was going to tweet it, maybe make someone else smile too. But…

I hesitated,. Thumbs poised over the touchpad, I couldn’t pull the Twitter trigger. Was my little ditty..dirty? Well, no, that’s over stating it. But still, it is a little…blue I guess. Was I embarrassed? I’m no prude, and the Internet definitely isn’t, so why not just post the damn thing? I think I will. Right now.

Or maybe tomorrow.

GOOD WRITING: BIGGER ON THE INSIDE

So, I’m editing a book manuscript right now. A couple weeks ago, I was editing a play script. I’m always writing something. Writing a new story, putting words to the page on a new adventure is a thrill. The editing process doesn’t have the excitement of the new, but it does have something just as good, maybe better: creation.

Writing a story is just vomiting words on a page. Editing a story is where the real act of creation happens. It’s where the story gets its depth, it’s meaning, it’s power. Whatever you want to call it. A good story, a polished piece of writing, is more than a collection of words and clever ideas. A good piece of writing is like a TARDIS. It’s bigger on the inside.

And that’s exciting to me.

THE X-FILES IS BACK!

The news that Fox has ordered a limited six-episode series of one of my favorite shows ever fills me with joy and nostalgic glee. I especially like that it’s going to be centered on Mulder and Scully and not some sort of lame hand-off from Duchovny and Anderson to the hot, new X-Files Avengers or whatever. The X-Files movie series never really took off. Perhaps ratings success, like the truth, is still out there.*

*See what I did there?

**Well. Just exactly how much didyou pay to read this?

TINY LITTLE CELL PHONE POCKET

When I was considering what to write about for this week’s blog post, I had two possibilities: my looming birthday or my Atari 2600.

Looking ahead a month or so ago, it seemed natural to write about my birthday. Blogging is, by design, a narcissistic activity and listening (or reading) someone droning on about their own birthday seemed to be the epitome of that. And besides, I don’t think of myself as middle-aged, modern science being what it is, but that’s getting increasingly hard to deny. So, goddammit, I’ve earned the right to blog about it, or whatever.

So, that’s it then. The birthday blog.

Except…

A couple weeks ago, I was cleaning the office and saw my wife’s old, little TV, the one from the tiny apartment she had when we were dating. It sits there now, unused. The remote has disappeared. It’s not a flat screen. But, crucially, what it does have is the correct audio and video connections for the early-eighties technology of the Atari 2600 game console.

So, I plugged in the TV. Works! Then I pulled out the Atari and game cartridges salvaged from my parents’ house years ago. Would they work? Well, see for yourself:

20150131-103347.jpg

It’s not a great picture, but the game on the screen is “Missile Command”, a fun little game about defending your cities from nuclear annihilation. Right out of the box, thirty-odd years since last I played, I scored 28,000 points.

So I was going to to write a post about this. About revisiting Frogger and Pac-Man and Pitfall. About the Joy of showing my kids these games I played when I was not much older than them. The five-year-old, in particular, was thrilled to find the “Superman” game. I was thrilled, and a little surprised, to find that out of a couple dozen cartridges, the only one that didn’t work anymore was “Donkey Kong”; a tragic loss, but only one causality is not too bad.

I could go on and on about his, but the idea of the birthday post still nagged. Which one should I write? Atari or birthday?

Then I noticed something else.

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been surrounding myself with things from my past: the Atari was first. I recently felt compelled to pull out of storage some old Star Trek and X-Files collectibles. The other night, I watched “Back to the Future”. Yesterday, I pulled out of the closet an old pea coat I really liked but hadn’t worn in ten years. Just because I felt like it.

These all seemed to be random exercises in recycling old junk. Then it hit me: could I be doing these things because it’s my birthday? Some sort of subconscious reconnection with youth as a defense against yet another turning of the calendar? Maybe. And it kind of works, I guess, with a little wishful fantasizing.

But here’s the thing. They say you can’t go home again. You also, it turns out, can’t completely return to your youth again. Here’s how I know:

That pea coat fits great and has an inside cell phone pocket with a Velcro flap to secure it. Nice, right? Only, the pocket is a little snug for the modern smartphones. Back when I wore this, everyone had smaller fliphones. Times change. Jackets don’t.

Nothing last forever. The Atari post and the birthday post are one in the same because past and present are linked. On paper (or pixels). But in life, the chain between past and present is there, but you can only move forward.

Man, I need a huge slice of cake. And a Jameson’s. Make it a double. On both.

Happy birthday to everyone with a birthday this year!

BREAKING BAD BROKE AWESOME

Avast, blog-matey! There likely be spoilers below for not just Breaking Bad, but other shows too. As Walter White might say, “tread lightly”.

Some of my favorite shows have had great finales. M*A*S*H. Magnum P.I. (The first one where he dies, not the lame one when they brought him back to life for one more season.)

Other finales to stellar shows have been sort of Meh West Wing was sort of the expected “where will the characters go work next” finale. The X-Files spent nine seasons building to a big alien showdown, only to offer a lukewarm rehash of the details of the mythology that underpinned the show.

The finale of Lost polarized the fan base. Lots of viewers hated it. I thought for most shows it would have been a cop out, but that it worked great for a show like Lost.

Beginnings are hard. Endings are harder.

At least, that’s what I used to think.

Then I started watching Breaking Bad. I’m proud of the fact that I was one of the relative few who watched from the beginning, rather than playing catch up on Netflix as I usually have to do. From the pilot episode with Walter driving an RV through the desert in his underwear with two dead guys in the back to the last episode, I was hooked like one of Walt’s blue-meth addicts. This was the first show since Lost that could surprise me EVERY EPISODE and frequently leave me gaping in disbelief.

People compare Breaking Bad most often to The Sopranos, but I’m not sure that’s accurate. Both shows have anti-heroes at their centers. But mobster Tony Soprano started the series as a criminal and stayed that way, even if he was conflicted about it and craved the straight path.

Walter White, on the other hand, started out Breaking Bad a mild-mannered, even milquetoast high school chemistry teacher, who happens on cooking ultra-pure crystal meth as a way to make money for his medical bills and to provide for his family after a cancer diagnosis. Unlike Tony Soprano, Walt finds he relishes his new criminal life and embraces it. Instead of feeling conflicted, Walt actually becomes more evil as the show goes on.

Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan has said the show was an experiment to see of he could turn Mr. Chips into Scarface and if viewers would stick around. And the did. Every season, Walt did more appalling things and the audience grew.

The show was a treat for viewers and a study in storytelling for writers and film/TV makers. They nailed everything; starting with the concept, the cast, lead by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, and the writing, all the way down to the details – camera angles, color choices, the soundtrack.

It’s hard to think of anything this show got wrong in five seasons. None of my other fav series can boast that batting average. Still, I have questions about that last episode.

Why does Walt leave his watch on the pay phone after getting Schwartz’s address? Gilligan says it was partly continuity because teaser filmed without watch, partly repudiation of the gift from Jesse.

How did Walt get the ricin into the Stevia?

Does Jesse still have his money somewhere?

Do the Schwartzes make good on setting up the trust for Flynn?

So where does Jesse end up?

Where does Saul end up?

What will Skylar tell Holly about her dad? Anything?

Walt admits he did it all for himself.

Is Walt a hero? A villain? Both? He admitted in this last episode that he did all this not for his family, but for himself. He went to kill neo-Nazis. He got revenge for Hank and the theft of his own cash. And he even ended up taking a bullet for Jesse after very recently wanting him killed.

I have my ideas. Other fans have theirs. Vince Gilligan has his.

No other show has so deftly combined crime, tragedy, family, hope, despair, and even a bit of dark humor. I worry no other show ever will. I hope I’m wrong. I hope I write it, but if I can’t, I hope I’m smart enough to find it and tune in.

Go watch this show. Quit your job if necessary. Do it.

DO IT.

TOP TEN TV SHOWS

There are many “top ten” lists.

And here’s another one.

Here is my personal top ten list of TV shows, in no particular order. The list includes the first ten shows I thought of that really made me say, “Yeah. That show was awesome.” For some, I may offer an explanation as to what makes a show “top” on my list, if I actually have one that can be articulated. For others, the reason the show made the top ten is because…reasons.

This is just my opinion, and a gut reaction at that. Your opinion may differ.

And is probably wrong. But feel free to comment below with your objections, flattery at my listing prowess, or suggestions of your own.

1. The X-Files. The truth was out there. We all wanted to find it SO BAD. But…we never did. Bring on that third movie, Christ Carter.
2. Lost. Put me in the camp that thought the series finale was good – and look down on me for it if you must. Most shows couldn’t pull off an ending like they did. Lost could. Lost did.
3. The West Wing. A show that makes policy wonks into action heroes (of a sort) has to be good.
4. Cheers. One of the best of the now near-extinct three-camera comedies.
5. Frasier. I was tempted to lump Cheers and Frasier together given the obvious overlap. A reviewer once called Frasier “peerlessly classy”. I have to agree.
6. Doctor Who. Any regular reader of this blog (all two of you. Well…one of you plus me.) knew that show would be on this list somewhere.
7. Sherlock – I was scared as anybody when Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat launched a Holmes and Watson series updated to present day. There was nothing to be scared of. Just adored.
8. Friends. Yes, they were half a dozen improbably handsome twenty-somethings spouting impossibly clever one-liners while sitting around in huge apartments none of them could afford in reality. But the whole ensemble made “MUST SEE TV” a real thing. Don’t believe me? Has anyone uttered that phrase since the show went off the air?
9. The Greatest American Hero. A few years ago I bought all the DVDs of one of my favorite childhood shows. Many of the stories were poorly constructed and full of plot holes. But the magic was still there. When I was a kid watching Ralph Hinkley crash into a building, ironically, made me believe any order person could be a superhero.
10. M*A*S*H The series finale is still one of the most watched TV shows EVER. And with the splintering of audiences by infinite cable channels, the Internet and movie services like Netflix, no show will ever get the kind of audience M*A*S*H did. Many shows don’t deserve it anyway.
11. I’m adding in #11 as an honorable mention any of the Star Trek series. Classic Trek, The Next Generation, Voyager, Deep Space Nine, or Enterprise. All had good points. All had weaknesses. But all were true, honest-to-god sci-fi. And monsters! And lasers! Fans align with different series as their tastes dictate. But there’s no question the longetivity of this franchise is stunning.

So. What say you?

CICADAS!

Any day now, all life on Earth will end as we know it.

98 Degrees is reuniting for a new album.

Just kidding. Actually, the cicadas are returning.

I actually wasn’t kidding about that 98 Degrees thing.

But that’s not what we’re here to talk about, because, you see, I said:

THE CICADAS ARE RETURNING!

Every seventeen years, like clockwork, these creepy little oversized grasshoppers emerge from the ground, make a hell of a lot of noise, mate and go back underground for another seventeen years. It’s kind of like Congress, only the cicadas will actually manage to pass a few laws.

BOOM! That’s free political humor, baby!

So, the cicadas have been gone since 1996. That’s a long time. They’ve missed a lot. We here at the blog got to thinking about what the cicadas might do during the brief time they’re in town. Here’s a few ideas.

  • Pee. They must be about ready to explode. I can barely make it through a 6-8 hour night of sleep.
  • Avoid hitting the bars. This one is true. They especially don’t want to go here, where they will be served as part of the drink. Swear to god.
  • Catch up on Downton Abbey.
  • Find out how the series “The X-Files” finally ended. Spend some time feeling let down.
  • Get strip searched at the airport. “I’ve been underground seventeen years! I didn’t know! …No, I hibernate underground. I do not have an underground terrorist cell.”
  • Wash the bedsheets. Ripe, man.
  • Make some prank calls, only to discover everyone has cell phones now, sort of making prank calling stupid and ineffectual.
  • Get an iPad app that will calculate for them what year they are supposed to emerge from hibernation next time, because counting is so 1996.
  • FINALLY read the Harry Potter books. NOBODY MENTION WHAT HAPPENS TO DUMBLEDORE!
  • Check their investment portfolios they last reviewed in 1996. Incessant buzzing is replaced by sobbing.
  • “We went to war with who?”
  • Which country is threatening us now?”
  • Restock the underground hibernation hole with Cheetos, Maker’s Mark, and insect porn (Oh, it’s out there. This. Is. The. Internet.)
  • Fly around and make a really annoying buzzing sound for hours on end. It’s how they roll.

CICADA TOUR 2013 (I so wish I’d had t-shirts made up.)

STUFF I’M READY FOR MORE OF

Every so often, I think, “Man, X was really awesome. I wish I had more X.” Then, I think, “Goddamn, that sounds way too much like algebra. I need a drink.”

The point is, we all experience things – food, drink, film, lubricants or other myriad experiences we crave to have again. Sensory overloads or deprivations we can’t wait to strap into again.

I thought it would be fun to compile a few of those cravings of my own here. Feel free to share yours in the comments.

A third season of “Flight of the Conchords”. Sure, Brett went on to win an Oscar for “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets”, but Jermaine needs you, man! And so do I.

The return of Pizza Supreme flavor Doritos. Seriously. I WANT THEM RIGHT NOW.

An “X-Files” movie that finally climaxes the mythology arc of the show. That sounds weird. And sort of dirty. According to the mythology woven throughout the nine seasons of the show, the aliens that were present on Earth long before humans and became the black oil (or something) were set to re-colonize the Earth in 2012. How awesome would it have been to have a movie come out IN 2012 where Mulder and Scully kick alien ass? Sure, that boat has sailed (stupid calendar), but they could still do a great movie. Come on, Chris Carter! And, hey, Vince Gilligan, “Breaking Bad” is about done. You’re looking for work, right?

A simpler time, by which I mean 1979. When I was my kids’ age, outside of school, I had almost no “structured” time whatsoever. And I was fine with that. I ran all over, biked or walked to and from school and to friends’ houses. Stayed out until dark. Didn’t have a whole lot of after-school activities. And now, as an adult, I’m only a little weird. I sometimes feel like my kids, whose whole days are monitored and structured might be missing out on something.

A “Greatest American Hero” remake. Remember that show? William Katt played a high school teacher who gets stuck in the desert with Robert Culp’s FBI agent. Some space aliens hand Ralph a suit and cape that gives him super powers, but he loses the instruction manual. The whole show was Culp and Katt fighting crime with Katt usually crashing into things because he didn’t know how to fly. The plots were thin, but the chemistry of the characters and the concept were good. Ten-year-old me ate it up. In the modern age, post 9-11, an age of environmental awareness (sort of), threats of terrorism, and, frankly, a need to laugh a little too this could work if someone was serious about a quality show. Make it happen, Hollywood. I’m waiting. *Taps foot impatiently.*

Sleep. If you have young children, you know what I’m talking about….what were we talking about?

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