Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Doctor & Me

With the Fiftieth Anniversary of Doctor Who occurring this year,  It makes me look back at my own personal history with the show.  So do I know the exact date I was introduced to Doctor Who?  No, I do not.  Do I remember the exact episode?  I cannot help you there either.  It was on a UHF channel from Glendale.  It was a Tom Baker and Sarah Jane Smith Episode.  It was in a Frankenstein like castle on an Alien Planet.  It was some time between 1976 and 1977, maybe even 1975.  You know what?  It had me hooked.  One small problem, getting reception was trying.  This was the days of Antennas and rabbit ears.  Cable was still new.  I am not sure if our local PBS carried it either.  Our reception of that in Oxnard, California was not the best either.  It was not until I visited my extended family in Oregon and later moved there that I was able to truly catch up on Doctor Who.  OPB or Oregon Public Broadcasting has always had a good relationship with Doctor Who.  Even after it went into hibernation they still showed episodes.  They even found old shows and broadcast them. 

Of course there is a saying among Whovians, Doctor Who Fans, there is nothing like your first Doctor.  In my case that is true.  The Fourth Doctor Portrayed by Tom Baker has a special place in my heart as well as my first companion Sarah Jane Smith.  Tom Baker was the delightfully mad and playful Doctor.  He still holds the record for most seasons and episodes.  His Jelly Baby eating, Scarf wearing and Sonic Screwdriver wielding Doctor is one of the most iconic of the Doctors. I watched most of his adventures with Leela, K-9, Romana and Sarah Jane Smith.  Later through the mid to late Eighties I caught up with the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors.  As older shows became available I was able to catch the stories of the First, Second and Third Doctors; I also saw the Fourth Doctor’s adventures I had missed.  When The BBC made the Video tape about Shada, the Fourth Doctor’s Story that was never finished, I bought that too.

Doctor Who was always fascinating.  His different incarnations made him refreshing and unpredictable.  During the Seventies to the Nineties, American Whovians were still kinda fringe.  In the UK Doctor Who was like what Star Trek is here in the U.S.  It was also very popular in British Commonwealth countries like Canada, New Zealand and Australia.  In The U.S., it was not as widely known.  It took more to get into Doctor Who.  Not to mention, mainstream found the low budget costumes and special effects silly.  If you look closely, that can be said of many 20th Century Science Fiction Movies and Television.  From 1989 to 2005, when the BBC put Doctor Who on its long Hiatus there was very little fueling Doctor Who Fans.  There were books, audio plays, comic books, and in 1995 the failed Fox/ BBC reboot Television Movie with Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor.

I personally loved the show; the idea of a Protagonist who tried to avoid physical confrontation and in some incarnations did not what the adulation was amazing to me.  I still found the Fourth Doctor to be my favorite, although the Seventh Doctor was a Close second.  The other concept I loved was the Companion.  Anyone could become a companion.  A companion did not need to be the fastest or strongest.  They definitely did not need to be the smartest; all they needed was the spark of spirit that the Doctor could see clearly.  Many of the Doctor’s companions were outsiders to their respective cultures.  Those things did not just resonate with me, but many Geeks and Nerds who grew up with the earlier version of the show.

In the Eighties many BBC executives saw the show as this silly little children’s show.  Some felt it had not place in the BBC.  Funny thing happened during the long Hiatus.  The people, who became BBC heads, were now the generations who grew up the Doctor.  That led to another discussion to attempt to revive the show.  The attempt in 1995 had some serious issues.  By being a joint U.S. and UK Production, it lost many of the things that made it unique.  Many of the unique flavors of Doctor Who have to do with it being ensconced in British Culture.  The 1995 Movie tried to Americanize it too much.  So in 2005, Doctor Who re-premiered.   This time with the Ninth Doctor and a young London Shop Girl, named Rose Tyler.

Not only did it premiere in the UK, but within a year it showed up all over the world.  With the advent of the internet, fans worldwide were able to keep each other up and discuss their passion for the show.  The show seemed to be a cultural juggernaut.  Some old school Whovians get irritated that the newer fans do not know the pre-2005 cannon.  Is it Necessary to enjoy the show? Not really.  My ex was a fan of the old show like me.  We watched faithfully the Ninth and Tenth Doctor’s tenures.  We enjoyed the spin-off, Torchwood, up until the Last series.  When that relationship ended, Sixth season had just finished.  Honestly I am not a huge fan of the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith.  He is better than some of his predecessors.  He just does not connect with me like previous Doctors.  I will continue to watch, because I enjoy the show.  I still plan on catching up with another spin-off, the Sarah Jane Adventures, mostly due to my fond memories of the character when I was a kid.  To this Day Sarah Jane Smith and the Fourth Doctor are my Doctor and companion.  That Is My Not So Humble Opinion.  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Books versus TV


Lately a lot of TV Shows have been coming out based on successful Book Series.  I have a few in which I read and watched both iterations.  Some have not lasted long on TV like Dresden Files.  Others have become big, like Game of Thrones and True Blood. There are a few in which I only watched the TV show, I was not really interested in the books based on subject matter.  Those shows, Vampire Diaries and Blood Ties, I even stopped watching.  I even read a series of books that became a series then a few TV Movies later, Robert B. Parker’s Spenser.  I will go over those shows and/ or Books I still watch and/ or read.  I will try not to go into plotline or stories.


Dresden Files

The TV Series only lasted one short season on SciFi Channel.  It is about a Wizard/ Private Investigator who tries to help regular humans versus all the supernatural nastiness.  Paul Blackthorn was great on the show.  I later devoured the book series which is still going strong.  The audio books have James Marters, Buffy and Angel’s Spike, as the narrator.  On TV they had Dresden use every day items, a drumstick instead of a wand or blasting rod or a hockey stick instead of a staff.  His VW Bug, Hat and Duster were not there on the show.  They changed his Cop friend from a small blonde hard case to a Latina.  Who knows where they would have gone if they had more seasons and how it would have impacted the way Jim Butcher wrote the novels.  The Novels are very influenced by Noir, but they try to do something different when it comes to the fantasy elements.  I enjoyed both and even now there is a series of comic books based on the novels and original stories. 


True Blood/ The Southern Vampire Mysteries

Like most of these I found the show first.  I read the books later.  With this to be honest I enjoy the novels better.  They are both filled with bat crap craziness.  In the books Sookie and Jason are a bit smarter.  Eric is a bigger Jerk and Pam is a hoot.  Tara is a lot different too.  The faerie thing is in the books.  The TV writers did not make that stuff up themselves.  The books do more with various Supernatural creatures than the series has yet.  That may be due to the fact there are twelve books instead of five seasons. The two versions are seriously diverging since the second season versus the second novel.  The show has become a bit too silly and campy for me.  I still watch it, it is better than others on TV.  The Show has ratcheted up the Melodrama and camp to the Nth degree.  Sometimes it is nice not to take things too seriously. 


Game of Thrones/ A Song of Ice and Fire

This I heard of years before the series was in production.  I was a fan of George R. R. Martin’s Shared world series Wild Cards.  It was a series about people with Super powers and had a group of authors all working in the same world.  So when I heard it was becoming a TV series I listened to the Audio book before the TV show’s First Season Premiere.  The show has made changes, Tyrion is not quite as deformed and names have been changed to avoid confusion.  Other changes were made for show logistics and budgetary concerns.  In general it has been very true to the books.  First season the biggest difference were the ages of the kids and Tyrion’s appearance.  Second Season changes were done to streamline the story.  The Books can be more epic and have so many more characters.  That however does not work as well with television.  As the Show continues there with be more variations from the Novels.  They are talking that the Third book may be broken up into two Seasons.  They also may need to mix the books up since two of the books only cover half the characters roughly in the same time period.


Spenser/ Spenser for Hire and the A&E Spenser Movies

The Spenser series first hit the bookshelves in 1973.  In 1985 to 1988 ABC had the Spenser for Hire TV Series Starring Robert Urich and Avery Brooks as Spenser and Hawk.  The same cast returned for four TV Movies on Lifetime from 1993-1995.  From 1999 to 2001 Joe Mantegna starred in three TV movies based on Spenser Novels for A&E.  The novels are your typical hard nosed gumshoe mysteries, although Spenser is not your typical P.I.  He is a Gourmet cook and well read.  Robert B. Parker referred to the Spenser for Hire series as Spenser lite.  It was Spenser without the hardness of the novels.  Parker was one of the Producers of the A&E TV Movies.  The A&E films were closer to the novels than the Urich series and Films.  I personally prefer the books entirely.  I feel the A&E films came closest, but still did not hit the scope.  One thing that is interesting is that Joe Mantegna is the narrator for many of the Spenser Audio books. 

That Is My Not So Humble Opinion

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

More Fun with Podcasting


So after a few months since I wrote my last blog post about Podcasts, I noticed I forgot some podcasts I listen to.  Some of these were new when I wrote Fun with Podcasting.  Others have very irregular schedules.  Two I mentioned in the opening, I will do a full write up here for both.    Quite a few of these are Audio drama’s or podcast novel, anthologies.  In the Portland, Oregon area the predominant format of Podcast is talk show.  This is regardless of whether the content is geeky or not.  However thanks to various podcasts I was introduced through Chooch and Viv, I found the Audio Dramas, the Podcast Novel, the Podcast Anthologies and the Podcast story collections.  These types of podcasts showcase the talent of writers.  Many of whom do not have major publication deals.  In the last few years they have started offering their works in digital book formats.  Even if the podcasts are free, show your support of any talent whose work you enjoy.  The more you support them, the more content they will offer.



Byron Chronicles

Byron Chronicles is an audio drama podcast set in Portland and made by a Portlander, Eric Busby.  It is a decent Urban Fantasy/ Horror show.  It does not have a regular schedule, but it is worth the wait.  It does not have the stereotypical tragically hip Vampires.  Vampires here are menacing.  If you want an Urban Fantasy that breaks the tropes of the genre, check this out.


The Shared Desk

Tee Morris and Philippa “Pip” Ballantine are well known podcast Novelists.  They also are married to each other.  Shared Desk is their podcast that center on writing and what it means to be a writer.  Due to their history in Podcasting, they cover that subject quite often.  They talk about what they are doing, what interests them and geek/ nerd and podcast culture.  They also have guests in publishing and other writers, who talk about what it takes in today changing paradigm.


Accidental Housewives

 Another Funemployment Radio Network Show, the hosts are Nate Ayling, Kaebel Hashitani and Royal Hebert.  All three are recently unemployed Gentlemen who found themselves with female significant others as the household breadwinners.  As their tagline says they are over educated under employed.  The show talks about the travails of being unemployed in today’s economic situation.  They talk about the new phenomenon of the male homemaker.  It includes tips about dealing with the Employment Office, and dinner recipes.  They use their experiences as fodder for the show.  They are a weekly show. UPDATE: Sadly the site is down.  Looks like this podcast is gone.


Leviathan Chronicles

The Leviathan Chronicles is a full cast audio drama Podcast.  It melds a world wide conspiracy with Science Fiction.  It has the elements of a spy thriller with a conspiratorial historical mystery.  So Bounre meets the Da Vinci Code is kind of what it is like.  It however is so much more than just that. The mystery is what is Leviathan and what it is up to.  After a three year hiatus the second season is up and running.  They are on a bi-weekly schedule. 


Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences: Tales of the Archives

This is another Podcast from Morris and Ballantine.  This one is a short story anthology based in their Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences world.  Their setting is a Victorian Steampunk Alternate world.  Many of the Authors are from the Podcast community.  The stories try to flush out the setting by going places the novels, which are written by Morris and Ballantine, do not.  These stories are also available to purchase in e-book formats.  Either way, brew a pot of tea, sit and enjoy these tales.  This show has an irregular schedule.


Shadow Publications

This is Paul Eldard Cooley’s Podcast feed.  Everything from short stories, novellas, novelettes, essays and novels are in this blog.  Mr. Cooley tends to be very adult in his work so not safe for kids or work.  He does a lot of in the Thriller and Horror genres.    This is definitely not for the squeamish.  So just don’t say I did not warn you.  Shows come out irregularly.


CrimeWav

This is Seth Harwood’s Crime genre podcast it is mostly short stories from various crime writers.  If it is hardboiled, Noir, gritty or anything along those lines it is in here.  Not always cops but definitely robber represented here.  This is not safe for work or kids.  Some of the stories will shock you.  This feed drops irregularly, but worth the wait.


SpecFic Media’s Beyond the Wall Podcast

This is a Game of Thrones round table discussion Podcast.  P.G. Holyfield is the moderator and it includes Chooch, Viv, Nuchtchas, and Christiana Ellis.  They cover each episode each week.  They go into in depth discussion of the characters and plot points.  All but Chooch have read the books.  Chooch being the newbie gives a fresh perspective to the show.  They do not take themselves too seriously.  There is also a video version on YouTube.  They only podcast during the regular run of the show.  They usually have a pre-season and a post-season episode as well.  They include clips from the show they are discussing.  They have fun with interesting polls in which they audience can participate.  For instance how many Freys are mentioned or shown in an episode.  If you enjoy Game of Thrones, you may have a good time with Beyond the Wall from SpecFic Media.  During the regular Game of Thrones Season they are on a weekly schedule.


The Gearheart

The Gearheart is a Steampunk/ Fantasy Audio drama podcast.  Since the first novel is done the feed has had sporadic drops of various short stories set in the same setting.  Although it is Steampunk to me it is more reminiscent of the pulps as opposed to Penny Dreadfuls.   Not all the short stories are from Alex White the Author for the first Novel, but they are just as good.  Mr. White also does the music as well, which is available for purchase.  He ends some of his podcasts with imaginary ads for imaginary products that are quite humorous.  It is worth it to listen.


Welcome to That Whole Thing


Cort Webber and Bobby Roberts just could not stay away.  The format is different.  It is a weekly show.  They stay within the usual 45 minutes to hour length of their former show Cort and Fatboy.  They no longer have guests.    It is usually a discussion of the week’s events in news and pop culture.   They still have that sharp rapport they have always had with each other.  In a way they brought back Bobby’s Dirty laundry as an hour long weekly show.  Their snarky irreverence is still intact.  Since they are in Portland, Oregon, they do get very local with some discussions, however many of these can carry over to any community.  UPDATE:  This show ended in November of 2014.


Big and Loud Podcast

Big Jim Willig and Don Frost host this comedy show.  They are off the cuff and wild, covering their own histories, current events and pop culture.  They style is a little off kilter and no holds barred.  Nothing is sacred here, everything is fair game.  They do not even let the facts deter the humorous cavalcade.  Not Safe for Work or Kids, but definitely fun.  Remember humor is subjective so this might not be for everyone.  This Shows has three Episodes a Week, dropping on Monday Wednesday and Friday.   UPDATE:  After serious technical issues the podcast is in hiatus for new episodes.  There is talk of a new site and starting over.  As of June 12, 2015 no new site.


The Nerd Out

The Nerd Out is a Female centric Nerd/ Geek Culture Podcast from the Greater Los Angeles area.  Lisa and Ritzy P. give the audience the lady nerd perspective.  Both are involved in the L.A. Art and entertainment communities there.  They talk about their Pop culture passions and their point of view of the nerd community in general.  They try to have guests that intrigue them on as often as permitted.  These ladies know what they are talking about.  This show tends to be Monthly.


Boy Howdy Podcast

The Boy Howdy Podcast is a Pop Culture Podcast starring Bill Mudron, Portland area Artist, and Anne E.  They cover everything from Comic Books, Video games, TV Movies and all sorts of Pop Culture.  First thing is they are very Video Game centric, since both hosts are huge video gamers, at least compared to yours truly.  They have been known to have panel shows discussing, Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who and more.  Since both has connections to the Portland, Oregon Comic Book Creative community, many Artists, Writers and others from that community show up as guests.  The show tends to be between 90 minutes and 2 and a half hours.  Longer shows have been known to drop in the feed.  The show has an unrestrained exuberance and sense of glee.  This is a weekly podcast.


Monster Kid Radio

Derek M. Koch’s new podcast is about the monster movies of the 1930’s - 1960’s.  He has covered some non-horror monster movies like the Day the Earth Stood Still and The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad.  The common theme is the ear and there is a monstrous creature in the film.  Derek brings in guests who have a good handle of the subject matter, usually writers, podcasters, bloggers and other creative types.  Derek himself is also a fan.  Derek has had a few other podcasts, so he is not new to podcasting.  This however is the first one I was introduced to.  So far he has been posting two shows a week.  If you like Classic horror and genre films this is the podcast for you.


Obviously Oblivious

Tha Mike Pilot has another show; this one is with South Philly Paul.  I love the interviews on this show.  Tha Mike Pilot Missed his calling, forget Larry King its all Mike.  This show much like other shows with Tha Mike, have an irreverent streak to them.  If you don’t like it forget you, Mike does it because of his own passions.  He interviews people he finds interesting and thinks so should you.


BCXradio

BCXradio AKA Beyond Comix Radio is the show for Fanboys with a Life.  Host D. Jacob Ryals and his group of revolving guests go into other geeky interest other than comic books.  They do reserve they right to go there if they desire.  This is another geeky Punk related show.  The show is also extremely grounded in the Portland, Oregon Comedy scene, since Mr. Ryals is an up and coming comedian himself.  The host is a recent transplant to the Rose City, but this is a refreshing view compared to the many jaded local podcasters.

So here we are on my podcast choices.  I have listened to more but this is all my current and recent choices.  This Is My Not So Humble Opinion.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Video Games & Me


To start, in the video game world I am Old.  I am over forty and my journey with video games starts in the seventies with Pong.  That was both the Arcade and Home system.  I remember their predecessor the Pin Ball Machine.  After pong there was Gun Fight which like Pong was very archaic compared to today’s games.  Growing up in both Southern California and Oregon, I became very familiar with Arcades.  Mind you they were more prevalent in the Seventies in California than Oregon.  That changed in the Eighties.  I never was that good at the games.  I became more familiar with them from 1978 to 1981 when my Family was bouncing between Alaska and California at the behest of the United States Navy.  The various Airports civilian and military had small arcades of 3 to 5 games.  My brother Mike and I enjoyed them very much.  This was also the time that the first major home console system became big, the Atari 2600.  We wanted one, but we ended up with a Montgomery Wards console.  Funny thing, it had better graphics, but being kids we wanted the Atari.
                                  
In Junior and Senior High Schools, I got into arcade games.  It did not hurt lived near the biggest mall in town and two of the movie theaters in town.  Mind you, I was never a master video gamer.  I had my fun.  Games went from Pong to the line games like Asteroids to Pac-Man and Frogger. I saw the advent of the laser disk games like Space Ace and Dragon’s Lair.  There were even Japanese Anime laser disk games in the mid eighties.  Living is Southern California I frequented the Amusement Parks (Disneyland, Six Flags Magic Mountain, and Knott’s Berry Farm), they all had state of the art arcades.   As you can see I have a soft spot for Arcades.  So as an adult when I found Ground Kontrol in Portland Oregon, I was in seventh heaven.  An old school style video arcade that is 21 and older.  Yes, that means they serve alcohol, however I am not much of a drinker.

By the late eighties early nineties, the NES came out.  I was in college at the time.  I played some of my roommate’s games, but was not that interested in owning one myself.  Mike got heavy into the NES.  I did not get back into gaming till Christmas of 1999.  Barbara, my Ex, bought me a Playstation 1. I got big into fighting and pro-wrestling games.  I loved Dark Stalkers, Bloody Roar and the WWF games.  My Birthday in 2001, My Mom bought my PS2.  I got into RPG’s and Adventure games with that game system.  I kept up with the fighting games and the WWE games too.  In 2005 I had a GameFly account that allowed me to try games I was unsure of.  I tried games I would not have before.  For a short time I even played Football games.  In 2012 I got rid of all my PS1 and PS2 Games, as well as the PS2 console. 

In 2004 I got into the PC game series Sid Meier’s Civilization III and later IV. In 2007, I picked up City of Heroes/Villains.  That was the beginning of the end for my console gaming.  I tried Champions Online and DC Universe Online, for Superhero MMO RPGs City of Heroes was the best in my mind.   I continued with City of Heroes till it closed in November of 2012.  Not sure about returning to either DCU online or Champions Online.  I still have accounts there.  I have been tempted with Civilization V, we will see. 

Recently I acquired an X-Box 360, and I have only played a few games.  Skylanders: Giants, Brutal Legend, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe and Injustice: God Among Us are the ones I have played.  I am interested in the DC game Infinite Crisis.  I stink at Shooters, so even though Bio-Shock Looks interesting I am not sure if I will try it.  It may take another GameFly account to play with what I like.  I am not a hardcore gamer, I am very casual.  I never had a level 50 character in City of heroes for the 5 plus years I played that game.  I enjoy playing them, but they are not the end all.  That Is My Not So Humble Opinion.