• 90 Years of “Top 40” Music: It Begins (1925)

    On Christmas Eve 1906, wireless radio operators on board ships from the North Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico heard something startling through their headphones. Normally, the radio men would listen through the static for the dots and dashes of Morse code, but on that night a century ago, they heard something different. They heard music.

    American RadioWorks: Hearing America – A Century of Music on the Radio

    If you were a rich, white, young American in 1925, it must have seemed like the 20th Century was finally arriving. Hi-tech inventions like cars, airplanes, records, movies and radio were all over the place, and engineers were coming out with new amazing things all the time. There was even talk of being able to send moving pictures over the radio someday! Even President Coolidge was sworn in, live, on the radio.

    Europe was a wreck after World War I, but that just meant American industry was the only game in town. The Stock Market was soaring. After surviving the Great War and the Spanish Flu Pandemic, it was time to party.

    Sure, it was illegal to buy alcohol, but you could get around that if you wanted. For the first time, it wasn’t just the super rich who could afford some luxury. A lot of young people had the means to spend money on entertainment. You could catch a movie and see an epic like Ben-Hur or the great comic, Charlie Chaplin, in The Gold Rush. You could bring your favorite artists, like the Paul Whiteman Orchestra and Eddie Cantor into your living room and play their music any time you liked, thanks to the Big Three record companies: Edison, Victor and Columbia.

    By comparison, radio was still a baby. In 1925, despite being around for 20 years and with stations popping up everywhere, the general public was just starting to buy receivers. They were big, ugly things, but the prices were coming down to the point where you could get a surplus production leftover AR-812 from RCA for $10 (about the same as $135 today).

    So, what would I have heard on one of them newfangled boxes?

    Well, assuming I could find a station that wasn’t simply news or classical music, there was both a ton of variety and a ton of repetition. Tin Pan Alley was in its prime, so there were plenty of the catchy tunes in the Top 40, like Irving Berlin’s tearjerker, All Alone, and Maceo Pinkard’s hot jazz tune, Sweet Georgia Brown. Many songs, like the aforementioned “All Alone,” were so popular that multiple versions were hits. There are versions of that song by Al Jolson, Paul Whiteman & His Orchestra, and John McCormack all in the year’s top hits.

    However, there were no radio networks, yet, and no one to tell stations what “format” they should follow. So, among the perfectly enunciated phrases and rolling “R’s” of the classically trained singers, I heard Bessie Smith belt out St. Louis Blues with Louis Armstrong on cornet and Vernon Dalhart’s twangy folk songs, like Wreck of the Old ’97 and The Prisoner’s Song, and Ernest V. Stoneman’s Sinking of the Titanic and the amazing George Gershwin with Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra and Rhapsody in Blue. There seemed to be lots of ukulele, too, as in the year’s #1 hit by Gene Austin, Yes, Sir That’s My Baby or Cliff ‘Ukulele Ike’ Edwards in Paddlin’ Madelin’ Home (which also contains some pretty wacky scat singing).

    I was also surprised at the number of songs that I knew from childhood like “Sweet Georgia Brown” (the Harlem Globetrotters theme), Tea For Two, and If You Knew Susie Like I Know Susie, The song Collegiate was adapted by Chico Marx in the movie Horse Feathers in 1932.

    Overall, we’re off to a pretty good start. There’s variety and memorable tunes. The recording technology wasn’t the greatest, but spending a day listening to 1925’s top 40 songs isn’t the same kind of aural agony I seem to remember living through in 1974.

    Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 at 23:03
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  • 90 Years of “Top 40” Music: Intro.

    I have known for a long time about the seemingly seismic shift in music that happened the first time someone dropped the needle on a record of Chuck Berry’s Maybellene in 1955. In my head, people had spent hundreds of years listening to boring, bland pop songs when, suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, that blast of overdriven guitar came out of nowhere and shattered the windows. Sometimes it was Bill Haley and Rock Around the Clock, instead. Sometimes it was Elvis and That’s All Right or Mystery Train. Sometimes it was Ike Turner and Rocket 88…or a half dozen other songs. (Side note: The most perfect rock-and-roll song ever is Big Joe Turner’s Shake, Rattle & Roll. Don’t bother arguing.)

    It doesn’t matter which was the first. At some point, the smooth, “How Much Is That Doggy In The Window” snoozefest was replaced by Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, then the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Sex Pistols, Clash and Lady Gaga. I’ve seen the documentaries and read the books.

    But what did it actually feel like?

    I mean, after spending years listening to “old people” music, how awesome it must have been to hear something come out of the radio that wasn’t Guy Lombardo. Right? (Sadly, my TARDIS has been back-ordered for so long, I don’t think I’m going to be making any trips to the past very soon.)

    Yet, growing up in a house where nothing was played but country music, I was able to have a few, small musical epiphanies. While I didn’t feel like I was drowning in the steady stream of Johnny Cash, Buck Owens and George Jones that was my usual soundtrack, I wasn’t as appreciative of its awesomeness as I am now. So, when I got to listen to my mother’s 45’s from when she was a teenager–Clyde McPhatter, Jimmie Rodgers, Buddy Knox, Sam Cooke–or hear the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” at a cousin’s house, or, eventually, be in places where the radio was tuned to a pop station, it was an ear-opening experience.

    Around the time I was beginning to carve out my own tastes in music, I began reading a lot of rock histories (Charlie Gillett’s The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll sticks out in my memory) and back issues of Rolling Stone magazine. Being a huge Beatle fan, the fact that John Lennon in his garb from the film How I Won the War was on its first cover was a big factor there. I got heavy into the progression of music from blues and country to rock-n-roll to rock and the explosion of genres that followed. And I always tried to imagine what it was like to go from listening to Bing Crosby to Elvis to the Beatles to whatever and to pick out the roots of earlier music hidden inside current songs.

    So, that’s what this is. Sorta.

    It’s partly a trip across 90 years of radio music, starting with 1925, when radio was just hitting its stride as something to which everyone had access. I thought it would be fun to follow radio music across the years to see how it has changed.

    It’s partly a way to experience the sudden shift in tone from 1940’s big bands and jazz to 1950’s rock-n-roll. By immersing myself in listening to nothing but the music of the 20’s, then 30’s, then 40’s, etc., would I experience that same rush of excitement when hearing something new?

    It’s partly to deconstruct the songs of one era by really listening to what came before. If you’ve heard enough of its predecessors, then maybe you can more readily hear things like Bob Wills’ “Ida Red” in Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene.”

    So, here’s how we do it.

    I went to Spotify and created a playlist for each year from 1925 onward. In order to pick the songs, I found a place called Bullfrogs Pond that has a spreadsheet of every song that has ever hit the Billboard Hot 100 (or something else for the really old stuff). (NOTE: It is a massive spreadsheet, and I don’t recommend that you download it unless you plan on spending a ton of time just trying to open the thing. I wound up cutting it down by extracting it as a comma-separated file and uploading certain columns to a SQL database.). From the spreadsheet, I determined that I would use the Top 40 songs of each year.

    While the concept of “Top 40” radio wasn’t really invented until the 1950’s, if your time-travel machine landed in a certain year, it’s likely that you’d hear those songs. Granted, Top 40 leaves out huge swaths of non-pop genres–blues, country, jazz, metal, punk–but it does represent what most mainstream Americans would have been listening to on the radio…at least until the recent demise of radio as a primary means of listening to music.

    Another small problem came from using Spotify. While you can find practically any song there, certain artists have not allowed their music on it. The biggest issue was the Beatles. It’s kinda hard to have a Top 40 list from 1964 to 1969 without them. So, I opted to do two lists for those years–one without Beatles and one with “fake” Beatles. There really weren’t any big songs I had to leave off besides those until I got to the Taylor Swift era. Fortunately, she’s only had one or two Top 40 hits before 2014 (hard to believe), and when the list for this year is published in May 2015, perhaps she’ll be on Spotify, too. In any case, you still get the flavor of a year’s music without these one or two skipped songs.

    Please, subscribe to the playlists on Spotify and follow along. I will be writing about the years in small bites…sometimes four or five years at a time…sometimes focusing on a single year…and highlighting notable songs, genres, and styles. I think you will at least hear a lot of music, and that’s rarely a bad thing.

     

    Saturday, December 13th, 2014 at 07:30
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  • Wait…why is that funny?

    A couple of weeks ago, Whiny the Elder and I were flipping around the TV dial when we stumbled upon an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show–one of the best of the early 60’s sitcoms (if not of all time). I found out later that it was episode 4 of the third season, entitled “Very Old Shoes, Very Old Rice.”

    It was an enjoyable enough episode, but then something happened at a little after the 16-minute mark. Everyone laughed at a reference joke, and we looked at each other in utter bewilderment. (Watch it and see for yourself. Background for the joke is at the end of this post.)

    Now, reference jokes are nothing new, and not getting the reference being made in a 50-year-old sitcom isn’t exactly surprising, either. But it made us wonder about the nature of reference jokes and how something so full of them, like Saturday Night Live or South Park or Family Guy would be perceived in 50 years.

    Even more than that, we wondered if we had discovered something that was indeed rare. It was a joke that included a reference without any context, thus making it completely unfunny to those who didn’t get the reference–but a reference that (at the time) was not so obscure that most people wouldn’t have been expected to understand it. People laughed, not because the joke was funny without the reference or the simple mention of the reference, but because it was a funny joke that included a reference that everyone knew.

    Most of the time, a reference can be interpreted as funny (or at least understood) from its context. For example, you might not remember actress Sally Struthers and her commercials asking for help for starving children…

    But you can still watch South Park’s Sally Struthers hides food and understand the absurd notion that this is a woman hoarding food while there are starving Ethiopians outside her door. Whether you just assume that the name “Sally Struthers” was pulled out of a hat by the writers, or you remember her and get the joke that this is the polar opposite of something that was on TV 30 years ago, it’s still comprehensible (if not funny, depending on your taste).

    On the other hand, there are tons of examples where a reference isn’t even a joke. The laughter comes from the shared experience of the thing that’s been mentioned. It seems like every time I see Big Bang Theory the joke is simply “hey, I know that nerd reference! ah-ha-ha-ha!” There’s no joke. Just the reference. Or, again, going to South Park…a parody of Family Guy where the reference is to their constant use of non-sequitur references…

    I guess the reference we saw in Dick Van Dyke was pretty close to the latter. There was no context that gave the slightest clue what was funny about a man being called “Judge Crater.” It’s just weird to find a reference that was so well-known in 1963 that the writers of a nationally televised show, including Carl Reiner, John Whedon (Josh Whedon’s grandfather), and Garry Marshall, felt like it was safe to get a laugh without a setup…yet, no one I know of today would have the slightest clue about it. (Although, I did find a Judge Crater reference in Archer, “Skytanic”. When Malory and Lana complain about the absent bartender, Malory says, “Guy sees an empty glass and all of the sudden he’s Judge Crater.”)

    It makes me wonder how many references from old Warner Brothers cartoons I missed, because I didn’t get the reference, and they didn’t bother setting up the joke because “everyone will know who that is!”

    So, now, I guess you’re wondering: Who was Judge Crater?

    Monday, November 24th, 2014 at 15:01
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  • Robin Williams, RIP

    I’ve been kind of stunned since learning of the death of Robin Williams. I’m older now, and have seen real people I know pass from my life. So, I’m not quite as shocked and upset as, say, the night John Lennon died and my 18-year-old self was crushed. However, not many human beings have dug such deep grooves into my brain. Every time I turn a corner in my mind over the last couple of days, there he is. Robin Williams took up so many roles that have had a lasting impression on me that I keep stumbling into one that I forgot about.

    Sure, he was “Mork from Ork” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” and the genie from Aladdin. But then I remember he was Garp and, along with Glenn Close and John Lithgow, he brought to life the most quirky of books in the most quirky of fashions.

    He was the Frog Prince on the first Faerie Tale Theater, Shelly Duvall’s lovely, quietly twisted series of children’s stories. That Eric Idle wrote, directed, and narrated the episode only added to its awesomenity.

    He was Vladimir Ivanoff in Moscow On the Hudson. At a time when I was still having nuclear nightmares, he reminded us that Russians were human, too. It’s hard to fathom these days (though Putin isn’t helping), but that wasn’t always easy in Reagan’s ‘murrica. Yet, I will always remember the 4th of July scene in the diner where immigrants of varying stripes recite the Declaration of Independence.

    Then came Comic Relief and his legendary riffing with Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg, and as Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning, Vietnam, he improvised his way into an Oscar nomination. He got another one as John Keating in Dead Poet’s Society.

    He was the King of the Moon. He was John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.

    As the severely damaged Parry in The Fisher King (one of my favorite Terry Gilliam movies, if one can play favorites with such things), his fear of the Red Knight, and what that turned out to be, is still one of the most affecting plot twists I’ve ever seen.

    He was Peter Pan and a demented anti-war toy maker. He was a weird hermit stuck in a board game. Then another left turn and he was breaking down barriers to understanding “others” all over again in The Birdcage.

    I turn another corner, and there he is in Good Will Hunting. Then, he’s back to making kids laugh as Teddy Roosevelt.

    But I think I liked him best when he was just let loose in things like Whose Line is it Anyway? and on interview shows like Inside the Actor’s Studio.

    Here are two of my favorite lunatics just making me laugh (that there’s a TARDIS with a haggis inside is just bonus).

    Wednesday, August 13th, 2014 at 10:53
  • Today’s story is brought to you by the letter “D” for “Doctor Who” and “dork”

    Unlike the previous entries in the Tales of Woe series, this one isn’t so much woe to me as woe to thee, dear reader, because this is the day that I subject you to more Doctor Who-age!

    Back in January, I posted my Doctor Who Series Highlights, which is a document I created to list all of the “important” Doctor Who episodes based on a spreadsheet that I maintain which ranks the episodes based on a weighted average of ratings from various sources. Well, today, someone on Facebook made the mistake of asking if he should begin his own Whovian journey by starting with the very first episode, “An Unearthly Child.” To which, I not only posted a definite “no” in the comments (giving him the fairly standard response of “watch the new series first”), but also vowed to lay bare all my fanboy geekery in one fell swoop. I promised (to myself more than anyone else) to post the entire list of episodes in ranked order from my spreadsheet.

    Naturally, I couldn’t just take the existing spreadsheet and slap it up on the internets. No! I had to make sure it was updated. So, here it is, the 4th of July, and I have spent the last three hours plugging numbers into little boxes and updating all the rankings and the highlights document.

    You’re welcome.

    The original spreadsheet can be found HERE.

    Episode Grade Doctor Airdate Writer Director
    Blink A 10 (Tennant) Jun 9, 2007 Steven Moffat Hettie MacDonald
    The Day of the Doctor A 11 (Smith) Nov 23, 2013 Steven Moffat Nick Hurran
    The Girl in the Fireplace A 10 (Tennant) May 6, 2006 Steven Moffat Euros Lyn
    Forest of the Dead A 10 (Tennant) Jun 7, 2008 Steven Moffat Euros Lyn
    The Empty Child A 9 (Eccleston) May 21, 2005 Steven Moffat James Hawes
    Silence in the Library A 10 (Tennant) May 31, 2008 Steven Moffat Euros Lyn
    The Doctor Dances A 9 (Eccleston) May 28, 2005 Steven Moffat James Hawes
    The Family of Blood A 10 (Tennant) Jun 2, 2007 Paul Cornell Charles Palmer
    Genesis of the Daleks A 4 (T. Baker) Mar 8, 1975 Terry Nation David Maloney
    Talons of Weng-Chiang A 4 (T. Baker) Feb 26, 1977 Robert Holmes & Robert Banks Stewart David Maloney
    The Name of the Doctor A 11 (Smith) May 18, 2013 Steven Moffat Saul Metzstein
    The Caves of Androzani A 5 (Davison) Mar 8, 1984 Robert Holmes Graeme Harper
    Human Nature A 10 (Tennant) May 26, 2007 Paul Cornell Charles Palmer
    City of Death A 4 (T. Baker) Sep 29, 1979 Douglas Adams, Graham Williams & David Fisher Michael Hayes
    The Eleventh Hour A 11 (Smith) Apr 3, 2010 Steven Moffat Adam Smith
    The Pandorica Opens A 11 (Smith) Jun 19, 2010 Steven Moffat Toby Haynes
    The Doctor’s Wife A 11 (Smith) May 14, 2011 Neil Gaiman Richard Clark
    The Parting of the Ways A 9 (Eccleston) Jun 18, 2005 Russell T. Davies Joe Ahearne
    Doomsday A 10 (Tennant) Jul 8, 2006 Russell T. Davies Graeme Harper
    The Impossible Astronaut A 11 (Smith) Apr 23, 2011 Steven Moffat Toby Haynes
    The Big Bang A 11 (Smith) Jun 26, 2010 Steven Moffat Toby Haynes
    Dalek A 9 (Eccleston) Apr 30, 2005 Robert Shearman Joe Ahearne
    A Good Man Goes to War A 11 (Smith) Jun 4, 2011 Steven Moffat Peter Hoar
    Pyramids of Mars A 4 (T. Baker) Oct 25, 1975 Robert Holmes & Lewis Greifer Paddy Russell
    The Time of Angels A 11 (Smith) Apr 24, 2010 Steven Moffat Adam Smith
    Vincent & The Doctor A 11 (Smith) Jun 5, 2010 Richard Curtis Johnny Campbell
    The Impossible Planet A 10 (Tennant) Jun 3, 2006 Matt Jones James Strong
    The Satan Pit A 10 (Tennant) Jun 10, 2006 Matt Jones James Strong
    Day of the Moon A 11 (Smith) Apr 30, 2011 Steven Moffat Toby Haynes
    Inferno A 3 (Pertwee) May 9, 1970 Don Houghton Douglas Camfield & Barry Letts
    Utopia A 10 (Tennant) Jun 16, 2007 Russell T. Davies Graeme Harper
    The Seeds of Doom A 4 (T. Baker) Jan 31, 1976 Robert Banks Stewart Douglas Camfield
    Turn Left A 10 (Tennant) Jun 21, 2008 Russell T. Davies Graeme Harper
    The Stolen Earth A 10 (Tennant) Jun 28, 2008 Russell T. Davies Graeme Harper
    The Robots of Death A 4 (T. Baker) Jan 29, 1977 Chris Boucher Michael E. Briant
    Asylum of the Daleks A 11 (Smith) Sep 1, 2012 Steven Moffat Nick Hurran
    Midnight A 10 (Tennant) Jun 14, 2008 Russell T. Davies Alice Troughton
    Bad Wolf A 9 (Eccleston) Jun 11, 2005 Russell T. Davies Joe Ahearne
    The Deadly Assassin A 4 (T. Baker) Oct 30, 1976 Robert Holmes David Maloney
    The Angels Take Manhattan A 11 (Smith) Sep 29, 2012 Steven Moffat Nick Hurran
    The Waters of Mars A 10 (Tennant) Nov 15, 2009 Russell T. Davies & Phil Ford Graeme Harper
    The Girl Who Waited A 11 (Smith) Sep 10, 2011 Tom MacRae Nick Hurran
    The War Games A 2 (Troughton) Apr 19, 1969 Malcolm Hulke & Terrance Dicks David Maloney
    School Reunion A 10 (Tennant) Apr 29, 2006 Toby Whithouse James Hawes
    The Sound of Drums A 10 (Tennant) Jun 23, 2007 Russell T. Davies Colin Teague
    Remembrance of the Daleks A 7 (McCoy) Oct 5, 1988 Ben Aaronovitch Andrew Morgan
    Flesh and Stone A 11 (Smith) May 1, 2010 Steven Moffat Adam Smith
    Journey’s End A 10 (Tennant) Jul 5, 2008 Russell T. Davies Graeme Harper
    The Web of Fear A 2 (Troughton) Feb 3, 1968 Mervyn Haisman & Henry Lincoln Douglas Camfield
    Army of Ghosts B 10 (Tennant) Jul 1, 2006 Russell T. Davies Graeme Harper
    Earthshock B 5 (Davison) Mar 8, 1982 Eric Saward Peter Grimwade
    The Curse of Fenric B 7 (McCoy) Oct 25, 1989 Ian Briggs Nicholas Mallett
    Horror of Fang Rock B 4 (T. Baker) Sep 3, 1977 Terrance Dicks Paddy Russell
    The Tomb of the Cybermen B 2 (Troughton) Sep 2, 1967 Kit Pedler & Gerry Davis Morris Barry
    The Daleks’ Master Plan B 1 (Hartnell) Nov 13, 1965 Terry Nation & Dennis Spooner Douglas Camfield
    Terror of the Zygons B 4 (T. Baker) Aug 30, 1975 Robert Banks Stewart Douglas Camfield
    The Wedding of River Song B 11 (Smith) Oct 1, 2011 Steven Moffat Jeremy Webb
    The Ark in Space B 4 (T. Baker) Jan 25, 1975 Robert Holmes & John Lucarotti Rodney Bennett
    Father’s Day B 9 (Eccleston) May 14, 2005 Paul Cornell Joe Ahearne
    Logopolis B 4 (T. Baker) Feb 28, 1981 Christopher H. Bidmead Peter Grimwade
    The Evil of the Daleks B 2 (Troughton) May 20, 1967 David Whitaker Derek Martinus
    The Snowmen B 11 (Smith) Dec 25, 2012 Steven Moffat Saul Metzstein
    Spearhead from Space B 3 (Pertwee) Jan 3, 1970 Robert Holmes Derek Martinus
    The Daemons B 3 (Pertwee) May 22, 1971 Robert Sloman & Barry Letts Christopher Barry
    The End of Time II B 10 (Tennant) Jan 1, 2010 Russell T. Davies Euros Lyn
    Fury from the Deep B 2 (Troughton) Mar 16, 1968 Victor Pemberton Hugh David
    The Green Death B 3 (Pertwee) May 19, 1973 Robert Sloman & Barry Letts Michael E. Briant
    Amy’s Choice B 11 (Smith) May 15, 2010 Simon Nye Catherine Morshead
    The Invasion B 2 (Troughton) Nov 2, 1968 Derrick Sherwin & Kit Pedler Douglas Camfield
    The Silurians B 3 (Pertwee) Jan 31, 1970 Malcolm Hulke Timothy Combe
    A Christmas Carol B 11 (Smith) Dec 25, 2010 Steven Moffat Toby Haynes
    The Christmas Invasion B 10 (Tennant) Dec 25, 2005 Russell T. Davies James Hawes
    The Five Doctors B 5 (Davison) Nov 23, 1983 Terrance Dicks Peter Moffatt
    The Fires of Pompeii B 10 (Tennant) Apr 12, 2008 James Moran & Russell T. Davies Colin Teague
    Power of the Daleks B 2 (Troughton) Nov 5, 1966 David Whitaker & Dennis Spooner Christopher Barry
    Tooth and Claw B 10 (Tennant) Apr 22, 2006 Russell T. Davies Euros Lyn
    The God Complex B 11 (Smith) Sep 17, 2011 Toby Whithouse Nick Hurran
    The Time Warrior B 3 (Pertwee) Dec 15, 1973 Robert Holmes Alan Bromly
    The Lodger B 11 (Smith) Jun 12, 2010 Gareth Roberts Catherine Morshead
    The Stones of Blood B 4 (T. Baker) Oct 28, 1978 David Fisher Darrol Blake
    State of Decay B 4 (T. Baker) Nov 22, 1980 Terrance Dicks Peter Moffatt
    The Bells of St. John B 11 (Smith) Mar 30, 2013 Steven Moffat Colm McCarthy
    Carnival of Monsters B 3 (Pertwee) Jan 27, 1973 Robert Holmes Barry Letts
    Enlightenment B 5 (Davison) Mar 1, 1983 Barbara Clegg Fiona Cumming
    Ghost Light B 7 (McCoy) Oct 4, 1989 Marc Platt Alan Wareing
    The Brain of Morbius B 4 (T. Baker) Jan 3, 1976 Terrance Dicks & Robert Holmes Christopher Barry
    The Unquiet Dead B 9 (Eccleston) Apr 9, 2005 Mark Gatiss Euros Lyn
    The Abominable Snowmen B 2 (Troughton) Sep 30, 1967 Mervyn Haisman & Henry Lincoln Gerald Blake
    Smith and Jones B 10 (Tennant) Mar 31, 2007 Russell T. Davies Charles Palmer
    Warriors’ Gate B 4 (T. Baker) Jan 3, 1981 Stephen Gallagher Paul Joyce & Graeme Harper
    The Keeper of Traken B 4 (T. Baker) Jan 31, 1981 Johnny Byrne John Black
    Terror of the Autons B 3 (Pertwee) Jan 2, 1971 Robert Holmes Barry Letts
    The Sea Devils B 3 (Pertwee) Feb 26, 1972 Malcolm Hulke Michael E. Briant
    Last of the Time Lords B 10 (Tennant) Jun 30, 2007 Russell T. Davies Colin Teague
    The Daleks B 1 (Hartnell) Dec 21, 1963 Terry Nation Richard Martin & Christopher Barry
    The Mind Robber B 2 (Troughton) Sep 14, 1968 Peter Ling & Derrick Sherwin David Maloney
    Gridlock B 10 (Tennant) Apr 14, 2007 Russell T. Davies Richard Clark
    Let’s Kill Hitler B 11 (Smith) Aug 27, 2011 Steven Moffat Richard Senior
    The Ambassadors of Death B 3 (Pertwee) Mar 21, 1970 David Whitaker, Trevor Ray & Malcolme Hulke Michael Ferguson
    Revelation of the Daleks B 6 (C. Baker) Mar 23, 1985 Eric Saward Graeme Harper
    The Mind of Evil B 3 (Pertwee) Jan 30, 1971 Don Houghton Timothy Combe
    Planet of the Ood B 10 (Tennant) Apr 19, 2008 Keith Temple Graeme Harper
    Masque of Mandragora B 4 (T. Baker) Sep 4, 1976 Louis Marks Rodney Bennett
    The Pirate Planet B 4 (T. Baker) Sep 30, 1978 Douglas Adams Pennant Roberts
    Day of the Daleks B 3 (Pertwee) Jan 1, 1972 Louis Marks Paul Bernard
    The Dalek Invasion of Earth B 1 (Hartnell) Nov 21, 1964 Terry Nation Richard Martin
    The Ice Warriors B 2 (Troughton) Nov 11, 1967 Brian Hayles Derek Martinus
    Castrovalva B 5 (Davison) Jan 4, 1982 Christopher H. Bidmead Fiona Cumming
    The Age of Steel B 10 (Tennant) May 20, 2006 Tom MacRae Graeme Harper
    Mawdryn Undead B 5 (Davison) Feb 1, 1983 Peter Grimwade Peter Moffatt
    Frontier in Space B 3 (Pertwee) Feb 24, 1973 Malcolm Hulke Paul Bernard
    Kinda B 5 (Davison) Feb 1, 1982 Christopher Bailey Peter Grimwade
    Survival B 7 (McCoy) Nov 22, 1989 Rona Munro Alan Wareing
    The Face of Evil B 4 (T. Baker) Jan 1, 1977 Chris Boucher Pennant Roberts
    The End of the World B 9 (Eccleston) Apr 2, 2005 Russell T. Davies Euros Lyn
    Black Orchid B 5 (Davison) Mar 1, 1982 Terence Dudley Ron Jones
    Image of the Fendahl B 4 (T. Baker) Oct 29, 1977 Chris Boucher George Spenton-Foster
    Hide B 11 (Smith) Apr 20, 2013 Neil Cross Jamie Payne
    The Hand of Fear B 4 (T. Baker) Oct 2, 1976 Bob Baker & Dave Martin Lennie Mayne
    The Three Doctors B 3 (Pertwee) Dec 30, 1972 Bob Baker & Dave Martin Lennie Mayne
    The Aztecs B 1 (Hartnell) May 23, 1964 John Lucarotti John Crockett
    Curse of Peladon B 3 (Pertwee) Jan 29, 1972 Brian Hayles Lennie Mayne
    Marco Polo B 1 (Hartnell) Feb 22, 1964 John Lucarotti Waris Hussein
    Rise of the Cybermen B 10 (Tennant) May 13, 2006 Tom MacRae Graeme Harper
    The Visitation B 5 (Davison) Feb 15, 1982 Eric Saward Peter Moffatt
    Closing Time B 11 (Smith) Sep 24, 2011 Gareth Roberts Steve Hughes
    The Tenth Planet B 1 (Hartnell) Oct 8, 1966 Gerry Davis Derek Martinus
    The Ribos Operation B 4 (T. Baker) Sep 2, 1978 Robert Holmes George Spenton-Foster
    The Shakespeare Code B 10 (Tennant) Apr 7, 2007 Gareth Roberts Charles Palmer
    Resurrection of the Daleks B 5 (Davison) Feb 8, 1984 Eric Saward Matthew Robinson
    Frontios B 5 (Davison) Jan 26, 1984 Christopher H. Bidmead Ron Jones
    The Crimson Horror B 11 (Smith) May 4, 2013 Mark Gatiss Saul Metzstein
    The End of Time I B 10 (Tennant) Dec 25, 2009 Russell T. Davies Euros Lyn
    The Time Meddler B 1 (Hartnell) Jul 3, 1965 Dennis Spooner Douglas Camfield
    Full Circle B 4 (T. Baker) Oct 25, 1980 Andrew Smith Peter Grimwade
    Dinosaurs on a Spaceship B 11 (Smith) Sep 8, 2012 Chris Chibnall Saul Metzstein
    The Two Doctors B 6 (C. Baker) Feb 16, 1985 Robert Holmes Peter Moffatt
    The Enemy of the World B 2 (Troughton) Dec 23, 1967 David Whitaker Barry Letts
    The Massacre B 1 (Hartnell) Feb 5, 1966 John Lucarotti & Donald Tosh Paddy Russell
    The Power of Three B 11 (Smith) Sep 22, 2012 Chris Boucher Douglas Mackinnon
    Planet of the Spiders B 3 (Pertwee) May 4, 1974 Robert Sloman & Barry Letts Barry Letts
    The Beast Below B 11 (Smith) Apr 10, 2010 Steven Moffat Andrew Gunn
    The Androids of Tara B 4 (T. Baker) Nov 25, 1978 David Fisher Michael Hayes
    Snakedance B 5 (Davison) Jan 18, 1983 Christopher Bailey Fiona Cumming
    Nightmare in Silver B 11 (Smith) May 11, 2013 Neil Gaiman Stephen Woolfenden
    The Greatest Show in the Galaxy B 7 (McCoy) Dec 14, 1988 Stephen Wyatt Alan Wareing
    The Unicorn and the Wasp B 10 (Tennant) May 17, 2008 Gareth Roberts Graeme Harper
    The Poison Sky B 10 (Tennant) May 3, 2008 Helen Raynor Douglas Mackinnon
    Rose B 9 (Eccleston) Mar 26, 2005 Russell T. Davies Keith Boak
    Planet of Evil B 4 (T. Baker) Sep 27, 1975 Louis Marks David Maloney
    Vengeance on Varos B 6 (C. Baker) Jan 19, 1985 Philip Martin Ron Jones
    The Sontaran Stratagem B 10 (Tennant) Apr 26, 2008 Helen Raynor Douglas Mackinnon
    The Crusade B 1 (Hartnell) Mar 27, 1965 David Whitaker Douglas Camfield
    The Seeds of Death B 2 (Troughton) Jan 25, 1969 Brian Hayles & Terrance Dicks Michael Ferguson
    The Sun Makers B 4 (T. Baker) Nov 26, 1977 Robert Holmes Pennant Roberts
    The Android Invasion B 4 (T. Baker) Nov 22, 1975 Terry Nation Barry Letts
    The Sontaran Experiment B 4 (T. Baker) Feb 22, 1975 Bob Baker & Dave Martin Rodney Bennett
    The Romans B 1 (Hartnell) Jan 16, 1965 Dennis Spooner Christopher Barry
    Planet of Fire B 5 (Davison) Feb 23, 1984 Peter Grimwade Fiona Cumming
    Partners in Crime B 10 (Tennant) Apr 5, 2008 Russell T. Davies James Strong
    The Faceless Ones B 2 (Troughton) Apr 8, 1967 David Ellis & Malcolm Hulke Gerry Mill
    A Town Called Mercy B 11 (Smith) Sep 15, 2012 Toby Whithouse Saul Metzstein
    The Myth Makers C 1 (Hartnell) Oct 16, 1965 Donald Cotton Michael Leeston-Smith
    Cold War C 11 (Smith) Apr 13, 2013 Mark Gatiss Douglas Mackinnon
    The Almost People C 11 (Smith) May 28, 2011 Matthew Graham Julian Simpson
    Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS C 11 (Smith) Apr 27, 2013 Stephen Thompson Mat King
    Invasion of the Dinosaurs C 3 (Pertwee) Jan 12, 1974 Malcolm Hulke Paddy Russell
    The Invasion of Time C 4 (T. Baker) Feb 4, 1978 Graham Williams & Anthony Read Gerald Blake
    Planet of the Daleks C 3 (Pertwee) Apr 7, 1973 Terry Nation David Maloney
    Destiny of the Daleks C 4 (T. Baker) Sep 1, 1979 Terry Nation Ken Grieve
    The Doctor’s Daughter C 10 (Tennant) May 10, 2008 Stephen Greenhorn Alice Troughton
    The Awakening C 5 (Davison) Jan 19, 1984 Eric Pringle Michael Owen Morris
    New Earth C 10 (Tennant) Apr 15, 2006 Russell T. Davies James Hawes
    Cold Blood C 11 (Smith) May 29, 2010 Chris Chibnall Ashley Way
    Death to the Daleks C 3 (Pertwee) Feb 23, 1974 Terry Nation Michael E. Briant
    The Celestial Toymaker C 1 (Hartnell) Apr 2, 1966 Brian Hayles & Donald Tosh Bill Sellars
    The Time of the Doctor C 11 (Smith) Dec 25, 2013 Steven Moffat Jamie Payne
    The Runaway Bride C 10 (Tennant) Dec 25, 2006 Russell T. Davies Euros Lyn
    Voyage of the Damned C 10 (Tennant) Dec 25, 2007 Russell T. Davies James Strong
    The Rebel Flesh C 11 (Smith) May 21, 2011 Matthew Graham Julian Simpson
    Attack of the Cybermen C 6 (C. Baker) Jan 5, 1985 Paula Moore Matthew Robinson
    Robot C 4 (T. Baker) Dec 28, 1974 Terrance Dicks Christopher Barry
    Claws of Axos C 3 (Pertwee) Mar 13, 1971 Dave Martin Michael Ferguson
    An Unearthly Child/10,000 BC C 1 (Hartnell) Nov 23, 1963 Anthony Coburn Waris Hussein
    The Wheel in Space C 2 (Troughton) Apr 27, 1968 David Whitaker & Kit Pedler Tristan de Vere Cole
    Planet of the Dead C 10 (Tennant) Apr 11, 2009 Russell T. Davies & Gareth Roberts James Strong
    The Next Doctor C 10 (Tennant) Dec 25, 2008 Russell T. Davies Andy Goddard
    Battlefield C 7 (McCoy) Sep 6, 1989 Ben Aaronovitch Michael Kerrigan
    Vampires of Venice C 11 (Smith) May 8, 2010 Toby Whithouse Johnny Campbell
    The Doctor, the Widow & the Wardrobe C 11 (Smith) Dec 25, 2011 Steven Moffat Farren Blackburn
    42 C 10 (Tennant) May 19, 2007 Chris Chibnall Graeme Harper
    The Hungry Earth C 11 (Smith) May 22, 2010 Chris Chibnall Ashley Way
    The Moonbase C 2 (Troughton) Feb 11, 1967 Kit Pedler Morris Barry
    The Long Game C 9 (Eccleston) May 7, 2005 Russell T. Davies Brian Grant
    The Leisure Hive C 4 (T. Baker) Aug 30, 1980 David Fisher Lovett Bickford
    The War Machines C 1 (Hartnell) Jun 25, 1966 Ian Stuart Black & Kit Pedler Michael Ferguson
    Boom Town C 9 (Eccleston) Jun 4, 2005 Russell T. Davies Joe Ahearne
    The Reign of Terror C 1 (Hartnell) Aug 8, 1964 Dennis Spooner Henric Hirsch & John Gorrie
    The Armageddon Factor C 4 (T. Baker) Jan 20, 1979 Bob Baker & Dave Martin Michael Hayes
    The Mark of the Rani C 6 (C. Baker) Feb 2, 1985 Pip & Jane Baker Sarah Hellings
    The Rescue C 1 (Hartnell) Jan 2, 1965 David Whitaker Christopher Barry
    Colony in Space C 3 (Pertwee) Apr 10, 1971 Malcolm Hulke Michael E. Briant
    Mission to the Unknown C 1 (Hartnell) Oct 9, 1965 Terry Nation Derek Martinus
    Terminus C 5 (Davison) Feb 15, 1983 Stephen Gallagher Mary Ridge
    The Macra Terror C 2 (Troughton) Mar 11, 1967 Ian Stuart Black John Howard Davies
    Revenge of the Cybermen C 4 (T. Baker) Apr 19, 1975 Gerry Davis Michael E. Briant
    Night Terrors C 11 (Smith) Sep 3, 2011 Mark Gatiss Richard Clark
    Aliens of London C 9 (Eccleston) Apr 16, 2005 Russell T. Davies Keith Boak
    The Ultimate Foe C 6 (C. Baker) Nov 29, 1986 Robert Holmes & Pip & Jane Baker Chris Clough
    The Ark C 1 (Hartnell) Mar 5, 1966 Paul Erickson & Lesley Scott Michael Imison
    World War Three C 9 (Eccleston) Apr 23, 2005 Russell T. Davies Keith Boak
    The Mysterious Planet C 6 (C. Baker) Sep 6, 1986 Robert Holmes Nicholas Mallett
    The Highlanders C 2 (Troughton) Dec 17, 1966 Elwyn Jones & Gerry Davis Hugh David
    Arc of Infinity C 5 (Davison) Jan 3, 1983 Johnny Byrne Ron Jones
    Terror of the Vervoids C 6 (C. Baker) Nov 1, 1986 Pip & Jane Baker Chris Clough
    The Keys of Marinus C 1 (Hartnell) Apr 11, 1964 Terry Nation John Gorrie
    The Rings of Akhaten C 11 (Smith) Apr 6, 2013 Neil Cross Farren Blackburn
    Nightmare of Eden C 4 (T. Baker) Nov 24, 1979 Bob Baker Alan Bromly
    Four to Doomsday C 5 (Davison) Jan 18, 1982 Terence Dudley John Black
    The Idiot’s Lantern C 10 (Tennant) May 27, 2006 Mark Gatiss Euros Lyn
    The Mutants C 3 (Pertwee) Apr 8, 1972 Bob Baker & Dave Martin Christopher Barry
    The Edge of Destruction C 1 (Hartnell) Feb 8, 1964 David Whitaker Richard Martin & Frank Cox
    The Krotons C 2 (Troughton) Dec 28, 1968 Robert Holmes David Maloney
    The Chase C 1 (Hartnell) May 22, 1965 Terry Nation Richard Martin & Douglas Camfield
    Daleks in Manhattan C 10 (Tennant) Apr 21, 2007 Helen Raynor James Strong
    The King’s Demons C 5 (Davison) Mar 15, 1983 Terence Dudley Tony Virgo
    The Invisible Enemy C 4 (T. Baker) Oct 1, 1977 Bob Baker & Dave Martin Derrick Goodwin
    Mindwarp C 6 (C. Baker) Oct 4, 1986 Philip Martin Ron Jones
    The Curse of the Black Spot C 11 (Smith) May 7, 2011 Stephen Thompson Jeremy Webb
    The Smugglers C 1 (Hartnell) Sep 10, 1966 Brian Hayles Julia Smith
    Galaxy 4 C 1 (Hartnell) Sep 11, 1965 William Emms Derek Martinus & Mervyn Pinfield
    The Creature from the Pit C 4 (T. Baker) Oct 27, 1979 David Fisher Christopher Barry
    The Happiness Patrol C 7 (McCoy) Nov 2, 1988 Graeme Curry Chris Clough
    The Savages C 1 (Hartnell) May 28, 1966 Ian Stuart Black Christopher Barry
    Victory of the Daleks C 11 (Smith) Apr 17, 2010 Mark Gatiss Andrew Gunn
    The Time Monster C 3 (Pertwee) May 20, 1972 Robert Sloman & Barry Letts Paul Bernard
    Meglos C 4 (T. Baker) Sep 27, 1980 John Flanagan & Andrew McCulloch Terence Dudley
    The Lazarus Experiment C 10 (Tennant) May 5, 2007 Stephen Greenhorn Richard Clark
    Dragonfire C 7 (McCoy) Nov 23, 1987 Ian Briggs Chris Clough
    The Space Museum C 1 (Hartnell) Apr 24, 1965 Glyn Jones Mervyn Pinfield
    Planet of Giants C 1 (Hartnell) Oct 31, 1964 Louis Marks Mervyn Pinfield & Doug Camfield
    Evolution of the Daleks C 10 (Tennant) Apr 28, 2007 Helen Raynor James Strong
    The Power of Kroll C 4 (T. Baker) Dec 23, 1978 Robert Holmes Norman Stewart
    The Monster of Peladon C 3 (Pertwee) Mar 23, 1974 Brian Hayles Lennie Mayne
    Warriors of the Deep C 5 (Davison) Jan 5, 1984 Johnny Byrne Pennant Roberts
    The Gunfighters C 1 (Hartnell) Apr 30, 1966 Donald Cotton Rex Tucker
    The Sensorites D 1 (Hartnell) Jun 20, 1964 Peter R. Newman Mervyn Pinfield & Frank Cox
    Doctor Who: The Movie D 8 (McGann) May 12, 1996 Matthew Jacobs Geoffrey Sax
    Silver Nemesis D 7 (McCoy) Nov 23, 1988 Kevin Clarke Chris Clough
    The Horns of Nimon D 4 (T. Baker) Dec 22, 1979 Anthony Read Kenny McBain
    Love & Monsters D 10 (Tennant) Jun 17, 2006 Russell T. Davies Dan Zeff
    Time-Flight D 5 (Davison) Mar 22, 1982 Peter Grimwade Ron Jones
    The Dominators D 2 (Troughton) Aug 10, 1968 Mervyn Haisman & Henry Lincoln Morris Barry
    The Space Pirates D 2 (Troughton) Mar 8, 1969 Robert Holmes Michael Hart
    The Web Planet D 1 (Hartnell) Feb 13, 1965 Bill Strutton Richard Martin
    Paradise Towers D 7 (McCoy) Oct 8, 1987 Stephen Wyatt Nicholas Mallett
    Fear Her D 10 (Tennant) Jun 24, 2006 Matthew Graham Euros Lyn
    Underworld D 4 (T. Baker) Jan 7, 1978 Bob Baker & Dave Martin Norman Stewart
    Delta and the Bannermen D 7 (McCoy) Nov 2, 1987 Malcolm Kohll Chris Clough
    The Underwater Menace D 2 (Troughton) Jan 14, 1967 Geoffrey Orme Julia Smith
    Time and the Rani F 7 (McCoy) Sep 7, 1987 Pip & Jane Baker Andrew Morgan
    Timelash F 6 (C. Baker) Mar 9, 1985 Glen McCoy Pennant Roberts
    The Twin Dilemma F 6 (C. Baker) Mar 22, 1984 Anthony Steven Peter Moffatt
    Friday, July 4th, 2014 at 17:26
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  • Today’s story is brought to you by the letter “C” for “calescent”, “creepy” and “Christmas”.

    (The third in my 26 Tales of Woe series. See “A” is for “ass” and “B” is for “barf”.)

    Today is the first day of Memorial Day weekend, and it is hot.

    No, please, let me rephrase that, because I don’t think anyone outside of Arizona and/or the surface of the sun will quite understand.

    You know when the blast furnace that is the outside air hits the cooler air from inside the house and forms an immediate thunder storm at your front door? Or when you step outside and every exposed bit of skin screams, “For pity’s sake, if you don’t turn this body around right now and head back inside where there’s air conditioning, we swear to whatever God you believe in that we will torture you with a pain the likes of which you haven’t felt since you turned us into that blistering mess back in high school!”?

    Yeah, I wish it were that cool. And this is just Spring warming us up for the main event. Summer is still about a month away.

    But I’m OK. I’ve paid my power bill, so I can pull down some of that sweet, sweet electricity to properly refrigerate my house. (One of the oddest things about moving down here from Maine is going from a cool indoors to a hot outdoors. It’s backwards as hell, and I’m still not used to it after 20 years.) Anyway, that’s not what this post is about.

    We have an ice cream truck that roams the neighborhood most afternoons. Yes, you read that correctly. We have a dude in a white van filled with popsicles and drumsticks that trolls about the streets trying to lure in kids.*

    But I digress . . .

    The really bad part about this is that the van must be owned and operated by someone in our immediate neighborhood. I don’t know this for certain, because I have never actually talked to my neighbors (some of them speak Spanish!). But I suspect it is so, because most afternoons I will be sitting at my desk pretending to work when I am jumped by an eerie, wheezing groan that sounds like the spirits of the dead have finally had enough of this fricking Florida heat and are crying out to their maker for some relief . . . which slowly turns into “Turkey in the Straw.”

    Today was the worst yet. Today, this demon van sprang to life and drove up to the stop sign outside my house is tauntingly playing “Oh, Come All Ye Faithful”!

    Yes, the ice cream van is mocking me with a Christmas carol . . . reminding me of cool days and the promise that this heat too shall pass.

    I wonder if I have the strength of will to go out there and give the driver a piece of my mind. And I wonder if he has any sno-cones . . .

    *Note: I have nothing against ice cream vans, and I am not implying that ours (or any others) are out there stalking children.

    Saturday, May 24th, 2014 at 17:18
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  • Today’s story is brought to you by the letter “B” for “barf”.

    (The second in a, presumably, 26-part series that began with this post.)

    As many of you know, I have been working from home for a little over a year. I no longer have an office with a nameplate over the door or a big desk upon which to scatter my dozens of toys. However, I also don’t have a twice-daily, long-ass drive filled with psychopathic maniacs who were given a license merely because they had $48 and the stamp of approval from a bored DMV worker.

    I have my little desk along a wall in my bedroom. It’s got just enough room for my monitors and keyboard and some other little things like a cup of coffee, my Nook, a notepad and pen, and my sonic screwdriver and Harry Potter wand.

    During the day, our four cats take turns hopping up on the bed and sleeping in the sunny spot under the window. It’s a rare day that I don’t sit back and contentedly take a sip of coffee whilst scratching the ears of a kitty to hear him or her purr. Others may have their problems with working from home, but I love it.

    There are days like today, however, that would never happen in a “real” office.

    As I said, my little desk doesn’t have room for much, and since my business phone service works just as well through software, I use a headset to communicate with the outside world. No handset required. I tried setting up a bluetooth headset, but it didn’t work. So, my headphones are wired to the PC. Most of the time, this is fine. I don’t have to move around during phone calls, so the tethered approach isn’t a bother.

    Today, as I participated in a conference call with one of our software partners and a mutual client, I heard the slow building “urp urp” of a cat preparing to spew a steamy mass of hair and spittle. (Let me stop you here in case you don’t have experience with cats. Google “hairball” and skip the reference to the 80’s metal cover band.)

    To my horror, there was Smudge, the slimy, brown spit already drizzling from her “omg I’m a gaggin” kitty face. Just having stripped the bed and washed the comforter and sheets and replaced them, I was in no mood for a repeat performance. Somehow, I managed to leap from my chair, grab her by a leg and drag her off the bed…but I fear at the expense of my headset and the listeners on the other end of the phone. I’m pretty sure what they heard was: “urp urp gack NOOO! Get off! crash!! rowr!”

    To make matters worse, the door was closed. So, as I settled back in my chair and replaced the headset, I realized that this was only barfus interruptus. There was still a hairball that needed its freedom from my cat’s inner workings. So, yet another round of “urp urp gack AW CRAP! crash! open door, slam door” greeted my conversation mates.

    I didn’t hear anything from either one of them. So, it might not have been as painfully embarrassing as I thought. Still…sorry about that guys!

    Saturday, March 29th, 2014 at 08:24
  • Today’s story is brought to you by the letter “A” for “ass”.

    I went out to the mailbox this afternoon, humming a tune and eating a piece of cheddar cheese (as one does on a lovely day). After retrieving the handful of junk mail…and I only call it “junk” because each piece was a waste of time for so many people–the sender, the printer, the mail carrier, the garbage collector, me–not because each piece wasn’t perfectly designed and created from God’s own trees…I noticed that the garbage can from our bi-weekly donation to the landfill was standing, empty, waiting to be carried back to its little home to await another sack of crap.

    As I approached, randomly flicking through the aforementioned marketing materials in the vain hope that just one of them might magically transform into something of use to humanity, I noticed a small bee or yellowjacket (dammit, Jim, I’m a doctor not an entomologist!) inspecting our empty trash receptacle, looking (I presume) for its now-missing contents.

    Normally, I would have given the insect a wide berth, assuming that it would realize its tardiness and zip off to join its compatriots to catch up with the garbage truck, whereupon I could safely retrieve the can without provoking an incident. However, I was emboldened by the previously noted loveliness of the day and by my cheese. For it is a fact that no one comes to harm when eating cheddar (or so I had been told).

    I approached the rubbermaid can carefully, shifting my burden of mail to my cheese hand and slowly picking up the lid from the ground. With a grunt and a ferocious kick, I tipped over the garbage can, thinking that my nemesis would flee from my shock and awe tactics. But no. The little black and yellow bastard simply descended deeper into the gaping maw of the bin.

    Just as I had given up hope of dislodging him, the bee (yellowjacket, hornet, wasp, whatever) flew to the entrance of the capsized can, and I saw my chance. With all my might, I closed my eyes and swung the garbage can lid toward my enemy, creating a mighty wind with which to drive him off.

    To my horror, when I opened my eyes, I saw the bee (let’s just fricking call him a bee, ok?) RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY FACE, saying “You want a piece of me? I’ll cut you, old man!!!” And I did what anyone would have in that scenario…I fell right flat on my ass, mail and cheese and garbage can lid flying in every direction like a big, fat grenade of random crap had gone off on the sidewalk in front of my house.

    And that, dear readers, is why I will never go outside again. I hate nature.

    Monday, February 24th, 2014 at 08:18
  • And now for a Doctor that’s completely different…

    In this Doctor Who-obsessed year, where it seems that every nerd* is making lists of their favorite Doctors, episodes, companions, monsters, and hair products, we think we need to give it up for a Doctor of a different sort–Doctor Demento! Yes, it’s time for another Doctor Demento Funny 25 with the year’s best in wacky comedy hits.

    It being the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, a couple of entries in the list are Who-related (“Know Your Doctors” by Amanda Cohen and “Companion Application” by Devo Spice). “Companion Application” actually has a cameo by the 5th Doctor, Peter Davison.

    Devo Spice seemed to be the hit of the countdown this year, appearing at #5 with his Doctor Who entry and at #13 with an updated version of “Ozzman” with the great Luke Ski (which first appeared in 2003 by Sudden Death with the great Luke Ski). He also appeared on Insane Ian’s “Run This Game” at #9 and teamed up with Worm Quartet on the #6 song, “Autocomplete.”

    As with last year, Ookla the Mok–“Fandom’s Own Rock Band”–had the #1 song (“Mwahaha”), a tribute to all those mustache-twirling bad guys out there. This puts another entry in at the big tie at the bottom of the Top 100.

    The #1 hit of all-time, “Fish Heads,” picked up 2 more points to extend their lead over “Dead Puppies.” And the #3 song, “They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!,” got 4 points.

    Jef Jaisun’s 1970’s hit, “Friendly Neighborhood Narco Agent” made it’s first appearance since 1978, earning it a point while remaining at #26 in the 100.

    For the first time in a long time, there were quite a number of new entries into the 100.

    “Weird Al” Yankovic’s parody of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”–“Eat It”–made it’s first appearance since 1984 and now has a combined point total moving it up to #51. His other entry into this year’s list, “Craigslist” which first appeared in 2009, entered the Top 100 at #82.

    “When You Wish Upon A Death Star” by the great Luke Ski made its second appearance in a row, earning it enough points to come into the Top 100 at #79.

    Finally, “We Were Never Ever Actually Together” by Eric Schwartz added points from this year’s #11 showing to last year’s 16th place entry to give it enough to enter the tie at the bottom of the Top 100.

    Without further ado, here is this year’s list of the Funny 25 with song and artist links.

    This show is available for online listening at drdemento.com.
    playlist courtesy of DMDB.org

    The Dr. Demento Show #13-52 – December 28, 2013

    #25 Friendly Neighborhood Narco AgentJef Jaisun

    #24 Fish HeadsBarnes & Barnes
    #23 Get Clucky (Daft Punk chicken parody) – Jakazid
    #22 They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!Napoleon XIV
    #21 You Don’t Know JackTony Goldmark
    #20 Dead Giveaway – Charles Ramsey, songified by Gregory Brothers
    #19 Obamacare Joe J. Thomas

    #18 You Might BeInsane Ian
    #17 Zombie GirlDino-Mike
    #16 Baby Got BackJonathan Coulton
    #15 Craigslist“Weird Al” Yankovic

    #14 Know Your Doctors – Amanda Cohen
    #13 Ozzman (2013)Devo Spice f/ the great Luke Ski
    #12 The FoxYlvis
    #11 We Were Never Ever Actually TogetherEric Schwartz
    #10 It’s Time For Winter To End – Rob Magnuson
    #9 Run This GameInsane Ian f/ The Stacey & Devo Spice

    #8 Eat It (Studio 360)“Weird Al” Yankovic
    #7 I’ll Lose WeightMax DeGroot
    #6 AutocompleteDevo Spice f/ Worm Quartet
    #5 Companion ApplicationDevo Spice
    #4 YOLOThe Lonely Island f/ Adam Levine & Kendrick Lamar
    #3 When You Wish Upon A Death Starthe great Luke Ski
    #2 After Ever AfterJon Cozart

    #1 MwahahaOokla the Mok

    *i.e., “me”

    Thursday, January 2nd, 2014 at 07:00
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  • Doctor Who Series Highlights

    For years, one of my many geeky pursuits has been the acquisition of all of the available episodes of Doctor Who on DVD. Buying one or two per month, I knew it would take a while. So, to make sure that if I ever needed to quit, I’d at least have the best stories I could have gotten to that point, I decided to do what all geeks do–make a spreadsheet!

    I wanted to rank every episode from best to worst using the accumulated votes of as many fans as possible. So, I went looking and found four sites that fit the bill:

    • The Global Episode Opinion Survey (GEOS), which is a survey of over 90 current and classic genre TV shows, including everything from Alias to Xena: Warrior Princess.
    • Doctor Who Dynamic Rankings, a site that has been surveying every Doctor Who episode, including spinoffs like Torchwood and the Sarah Jane Adventures since 1995.
    • TV.com, an online community of TV watchers that includes pretty much every television show past or present.
    • The Internet Movie Database (IMDb), a site that, since 1990, has invited internet users to rate and rank every movie and television program ever made.

    I averaged together the ratings users gave to each story on these sites and then assigned each one a letter grade, A thru F, based on how close its score came to the top rated story (which has been “Blink” from David Tennant’s 2nd series for a long, long time).

    Once I had my spreadsheet, I wasn’t content with a simple list of episodes to use in my DVD buying. I also came up with a document that lists, chronologically, all the episodes where something significant occurs (Doctor regenerates, companion enters or leaves, etc.) and all the grade “A” and “B” episodes.

    I used the season titles and episode descriptions from Shannon Patrick Sullivan’s brilliant A Brief History of Time (Travel).

    With the end of the Matt Smith era and yet another eight months to go before we see anymore new Who, I thought it was a good time to make this opus available to my fellow Whovians. If you want a copy, I have place a PDF on my site for download: Doctor Who Series Highlights

    If you’re especially over-the-top geeky, I might even share the spreadsheet with you.

    Wednesday, January 1st, 2014 at 15:41
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