• Top Eleven – Matt Smith

    Counting down the 11 days to the 50th anniversary, here are my top 11 stories for each Doctor, starting with 11 (Matt Smith).

    1. The Doctor’s WifeDW_60x4_The_Doctor_s_Wife_330
    Rory: He’ll be fine. He’s a Time Lord!
    Amy: It’s just what they’re called. It doesn’t mean he actually knows what he’s doing.

    The first story by Neil Gaiman is a fantasy come true for the Doctor and fans of the show. Finally, the silent co-star of the show for 50 years and the Doctor’s constant companion for 700 years gets a chance to speak.

    2. The Name of the Doctordoctor-name-4
    Time travel is damage, it’s like a tear in the fabric of reality. That is the scar tissue of my journey through the universe. My path through time and space. From Gallifrey to Trenzalore.
    This one is almost a mini-anniversary episode all by itself. There is so much here for fans of the classic series. Plus, we get the fun trio of Vastra, Jenny and Strax, some new, terrifying monsters in the Whisper Men and a resolution to the mystery of Clara Oswald.

    3. Vincent and the Doctor
    Vincent and the Doctor (1)The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant.
    A bittersweet tale written by Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Notting Hill, Blackadder) and featuring a fantastic guest performance by Tony Curran as Vincent van Gogh, this one isn’t epic or loud. It’s just a love letter to an artist and gives the Doctor a chance to show Amy (and us) that not everything can be fixed with the wave of a magic wand, er, sonic screwdriver. There’s also a lesson about judging a book by its cover and a glimpse of how great Bill Nighy would have looked as the Doctor.

    4. The Girl Who Waiteddoctor_who_s06e10_the_girl_who_waited_013
    Do not be alarmed. This is a kindness.

    Karen Gillan got to show her acting chops as Amy gets trapped in an alternate time stream with a bunch of well-meaning but deadly robots. The scenes with her and Rory are heartbreaking.

    5. The Eleventh Hourdoctor-1
    I know what I need! I need… I need… I need… fish fingers and custard!
    When Matt Smith first appeared at the end of David Tennant’s last episode, I was slightly put off by the fact that this big, weepy goodbye moment could be pierced by an odd-looking thing that wasn’t David Tennant. So, for the intervening months I was a bit apprehensive about the new Doctor and whether or not the show would crash and burn along with the TARDIS. But almost from the moment Matt Smith popped his head out of the doors of his overturned machine, he ruled as the Doctor for me. I’m going to miss him terribly.

    6. The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang5x12-The-Pandorica-Opens-doctor-who-13372703-1280-720
    It’s a fez. I wear a fez now. Fezzes are cool.
    It was building to this 2-part story from the beginning. Russell T. Davies put in little hints that would tie into the season finale throughout his series (see “Bad Wolf” and “Vote Saxon”), but none of them were the focus of the entire series the way Steven Moffat wove the crack in the walls of time and space throughout Series 5. Yeah, the big reset button and all the paradoxes stretched the levels of disbelief a bit, but the drama and humor in it won out in the end.

    7. The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moonimpossible-astronaut03
    I am being extremely clever up here and there’s no one to stand around looking impressed. What’s the point in having you all?
    Another 2-parter, this one from the beginning of Series 6. It’s not quite as effective as Pandorica/Big Bang, but it introduces a creepy new monster in the Silence and guest stars Mark Sheppard (He who must appear in every scifi show by the Queen’s Law). The scenes in the orphanage were especially creepy with the Renfield-like caretaker and Amy being stalked by the creatures.

    8. Asylum of the Daleks
    asylum-of-the-daleks-promo-pics-d-5Run, you clever boy, and remember.
    The kick off to the 7th series of New Who, this one was pretty much going to be a standard adventure story…until Clara ‘Oswin’ Oswald showed up. The previously announced new companion wasn’t expected to arrive until after the demise of the Ponds some five or six episodes later, but surprise! Here she was, and she stole the show.

    9. Amy’s Choicenormal_dw_5x07_amy_s_choice_122
    You’re a Time Lord, let’s call me the Dream Lord.

    A choice between realities and, finally, the settling of the question of whether Amy’s going to pine after the Doctor or stick with her childhood sweetheart, Rory. I love the turn taken by Toby Jones as the Dream Lord. He gets all kinds of snarky with the Doctor and hits him right in his core and answers a question we’ve all asked: Why doesn’t the Doctor ever go back and revisit his old friends? The living ones anyway. “Is that the right word for the people you acquire? Friends are people you stay in touch with. Your friends never see you again one they’ve grown up. The old man prefers the company of the young, does he not?”

    10. A Good Man Goes to War6x07-a-good-man-goes-to-war-doctor-who-22613257-1014-570
    When you began all those years ago, sailing off to see the universe, did you ever think you’d become this? The man who can turn an army around at the mention of his name. “Doctor”: the word for “healer” and “wise man”, throughout the universe. We get that word from you, y’know. But if you carry on the way you are, what might that word come to mean?

    The introduction of Vastra, Jenny, and Strax. Madame Kovarian. The Headless Monks. Dorium Maldovar. This one’s got Star Wars written all over it, too. As the ending for the first half of Series 6, it also brought back characters from earlier in the season and set the stage for Let’s Kill Hitler, which would lead off the second half.

    11. The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone
    5x04-Time-of-Angels-doctor-who-11744272-1280-720The eyes are not the windows of the soul, they are the doors. Beware what may enter them.
    The second appearance of the Weeping Angels after 2007’s Blink, this one’s not so jump-out-of your seat scary as it is a puzzle box for the Doctor, River and Amy to figure a way out of. It features a nifty appearance by current Game of Thrones star, Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont), as Father Octavian, the leader of the religious soldiers who are investigating the crash of the Byzantium.

    Tuesday, November 12th, 2013 at 18:46
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  • Return To My Mis-spent Youth

    Gather ’round, kiddies, and I’ll tell you a story. It’s about the days when there weren’t no Xboxes nor Playstations. Sure, there were some home game consoles, but mainly we fed quarters into machines. Oh, so many machines…

    Coin-operated video games were everywhere in 1982. I can remember at least five arcades in Bangor, but they weren’t limited to special rooms just for sweaty game geeks. Every single convenience store, pizza parlor, drug store, laundromat and video rental store had at least one game sitting in a corner. And when I say “mis-spent youth” the accent is on “spent,” because I must have dropped hundreds of dollars in quarters into those things between discovering Pong at the campground up the road in the mid-70’s until they all went away around 1987. It was the Golden Age of Arcade Video Games.

    Well, today, I got to spend some quality time with my old friends, and I didn’t have to feed dollar bills into the change machine. My Disney-employed daughter got us into DisneyQuest with one of her annual perks.

    In case you don’t know what DisneyQuest is, imagine the biggest mall arcade from your youth (talkin’ to the old folks here, kids). Now, take that arcade and double it…then put one of those double-sized arcades on each floor of a four-story building…add two large snack bars, a build-your-own virtual roller coaster simulator ride, a 3D pirate ship adventure, a magic carpet ride, animation art classes, and a couple of other rides and simulators, and you might just about have a picture of the place.

    That list of games from the “Golden Age” link above? Yep, pretty much every one of them is there. I personally played Galaxian, Centipede, Missile Command, Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Galaga, BurgerTime, Dig Dug, Joust, Robotron 2084, Tron, 1942 and…my favoritest game of all time…Asteroids! (And did the virtual roller coaster and pirate ship thing, as well as shooting some baskets, driving about six different race car games, and blasting bugs in a weird, Japanese safari game.)

    Needless to say, it was a ton of fun, and if I were rich, I’d have the biggest, baddest game room ever. (And I’d probably spend 99% of the time playing Asteroids.)

    Friday, February 1st, 2013 at 00:48
  • Another Member of the Family

    This afternoon, we went to the guitar show just to look…after all, most of the guitars there ranged from $2000 to $20,000. But Venita thought it would be a good place to take pictures and that I would like to walk around drooling at all the shiny. And, boy, there was some shiny. There were guitars, basses, mandolins and banjos of every race, creed and color. Gibsons, Fenders, Gretsches, Yamahas, Taylors…green ones, red ones, black ones, sparkly ones…ones covered in fake blood…ones that were such a deep mahogany they sucked out your soul…new ones, old ones…really, really old ones. There was a small row of National steel guitars that made me hyperventilate with desire.  It was after that when I determined to treat this more like a museum than a guitar store (as if looking at a $95,000 guitar didn’t do it before then).

    Anyway, as we were going up and down the rows, a nice young man in a small booth was packing up and selling out his stuff. Front and center, he had an acoustic 12-string for sale at a reasonable price (i.e., one that I could afford to pay cash). I started to walk away, but I have always wanted a 12-string, and so…I am the proud owner of a 1986 Alvarez 5221. Huzzah!

    Sunday, January 20th, 2013 at 15:52
  • Goodbye I-4! I won’t miss ya!

    Today sees the end of a phase of my life that has lasted pretty much uninterrupted for 32 years. In 1981, I got my first real job and, naturally, that meant that I had to get dressed and ready to drive to work…my first commute.

    Over the years, the ride (or walk) to work has taken on many forms. It’s been at various times of day, as with going to the Hogan Road McDonald’s in Bangor…opens, closes, and shifts in between. It’s been short, as with the jaunt across the old Brewer bridge to a bank processing center. It’s been long, as with the drive down to Northeast Harbor to an insurance company’s office. It’s been done on pleasant spring mornings and in treacherous icy snowstorms. It’s been in cab rides to the airport in the wee hours of each Monday morning. It’s been in a carpool with a buddy. It’s been part of a circle of dropping kids off at school and of being dropped off and picked up myself.

    Today is the last time I will need to do any of that for the foreseeable future. Tomorrow, my commute is from my bed to my PC, as I join the ranks of the work-from-home nation.

    I might miss my time to listen to podcasts and music, but I won’t miss the traffic, and I will certainly enjoy getting back the couple hours of prep and drive time each day. It will be nice to save money on gas and food. There will be less social time at lunch, but there will be less money spent on it, too. And I will have time to cook dinner rather than dragging butt home around 7pm each night and saying, “Screw it. Let’s go to McDonald’s or order pizza.”

    I might revisit this after a few months and come to hate it, but I don’t think so. I’m comfortable sitting at a PC and communicating with people via the internets. And technology makes it such that I could go to Panera or Starbucks and do the same thing in a different setting (with lattes!). So, I’m betting that this will work out just fine.

    But for now, I gotta go. It’s foggy out this morning, and that means slow traffic and accidents on the road…

    Thursday, January 10th, 2013 at 08:20
  • Errata-tat-tat!

    Here’s a note, kids. When you spend 10 years annually harassing an idol with something super nerdy like…oh, I don’t know…a list of the Top 100 (or so) Demented Hits (from Funny 25’s), you should have the decency to make sure it’s right before you send it to him. Otherwise, he might send you a really nice email pointing out that it has mistakes in it…ya know, in case he wants to use it for something in the future.

    It’s all fixed now, Doctor D!

    Oh, and in my year of failing to update the blog in favor of Facebook posts, I forgot to mention that he gave me a shout out on his January 14 show last year when I pointed out that “Fish Heads” by Barnes & Barnes had finally become the number one most requested song of all time (according to me). You can hear it at Doctor Demento Online (if you pay for it first), and here’s a promo: http://drdemento.net/promos/1202-promo-32.m3u

    I have been trying to contact my inner 12-year-old and let him know about all of this, but I think he’s gone into catatonic shock.

    Sunday, January 6th, 2013 at 17:10
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  • It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad Countdown

    Last night the Doctor Demento Funny 25 once more treated us to another batch of silliness (Doctor Demento! Huzzah! Long may he reign!) and gave us our annual update to the madness that is the Top 100 (or so) Demented Hits (from Funny 25’s). This year, it was all about Ookla the Mok, and the band had the #1 song (Tantric Yoda) as well as #11 (Go To Bed) and #15 (Mr. Mxyzptlk/Bizarro World). Since there weren’t any additions to the countdown above it, that puts “Tantric Yoda” into the top 100 (or so) at the currently 17-way tie at number 95.

    In fact, the only returning songs to the countdown were “Pencil Neck Geek” by ‘Classy’ Freddie Blassie and Shel Silverstein’s “The Smoke-Off”. Blassie’s wrasslin’ rant gained a few points but didn’t move up from its #7 spot. Meanwhile, the kick from being in this year’s top 20 pushed “The Smoke-Off” up from #15 to a tie with Travis Meyer’s “The Devil Went To Jamaica” at #12.

    Here’s this year’s list from DMDB.org along with some fun links.

    #25 GoogleArt Paul Schlosser
    #24 Green Eggs And PeasCirque du So What?
    #23 What It Was, Was Football (Part I & Part II)Deacon Andy Griffith
    #22 Space OddityJimmy Fallon
    #21 WednesdayDave & Brian
    #20 Pencil Neck GeekFred Blassie

    #19 The Smoke-OffShel Silverstein
    #18 When You Wish Upon A Death Starthe great Luke Ski
    #17 What Can I Do For You?Garden Fresh
    #16 We Were Never Ever Actually TogetherEric Schwartz
    #15 Mr. Mxyzptlk/Bizarro WorldOokla The Mok

    #14 Pregnancy Is StrangeCarrie Dahlby
    #13 MenfriendsFlat 29
    #12 Touch My JunkHarry Shearer
    #11 Go To BedOokla The Mok
    #10 Betty RubbleSteve Goodie
    #9 Don’t Roof Rack Me Bro (Seamus Unleashed)Devo
    #8 Weird Al Yankovic For PresidentSneaky Pete
    #7 Share It MaybeCookie Monster
    #6 TitanicRyan Hopak & The Happy Chinchillas f/ Dana Shaw

    #5 2012 The Musical (edit) – Premeow & Awesomedot TV
    #4 In The 80sDevo Spice
    #3 Cheap FlightsFascinating Aida
    #2 Garden Of Your Mind – Mister Rogers Remixed by John D. Boswell
    #1 Tantric YodaOokla The Mok

    Sunday, December 30th, 2012 at 14:30
  • With Great Intelligence comes Great Responsibility

    (Avert your eyes if you haven’t seen the Doctor Who Christmas special yet. *SPOILERS*)

    This is one of the reasons I love Doctor Who so much…especially when it’s being run by someone who’s a fan of the show, like Steven Moffat. If you’re a casual fan, then The Snowmen is a lovely little romp through Victorian England with a disembodied voice controlling evil snow and ice. We get to meet the new companion and big mystery for the second half of the season (who is Clara Oswin Oswald?) and enjoy some hilarity at the expense of a somehow-resurrected-from-the-dead Sontaran nurse (who I hope will return as a sidekick for the Doctor, as they make a very funny team).

    BUT if you’re an obsessed Whovian, you also get one of the most awesome nerdy nods to your devotion to all things “Who” yet. Not only was the villain of the piece the Great Intelligence, but that is an enemy who appeared in two previous episodes starring Matt Smith’s professed “favorite” Doctor, Patrick Troughton (the 2nd Doctor). That would be a nifty little reference by itself, but the name of the first episode? The Abominable Snowmen. (Heh) And, then, just to add icing to this continuity cake, he has the 11th Doctor waving a map of the London Underground in the “face” of the Intelligence and telling him that it’s from 1967 and shows London’s greatest weakness….meaning that the 11th Doctor gave the Great Intelligence the idea to attack the London Underground in the 2nd Doctor’s story, The Web of Fear.

    I know that all this is not meant for you normal people, but how amazing is it that we have a show-runner who is good enough to weave such things into a story that appeals to casual fans as well as über-nerds like me without messing up the tale for either set of people? Pretty fricking amazing, I’d say. Thank you, Steven Moffat.

    Thursday, December 27th, 2012 at 07:56
  • I’m gonna wreck it!

    We went and saw Wreck-It Ralph on Sunday afternoon, and it was much better than I thought it would be. Not that I thought it would be bad or wouldn’t be good or enjoyable, but I just figured…eh, kid movie…old video game references…Disney…probably just a “Toy Story” wannabe. Probably for the first hour, that’s true. The game of “spot the game references” was pretty much all-consuming. But then it morphed into a version of the classic Disney “know thyself and ye shall be happy” story that, goshdarnit, ain’t so bad.

    To be honest, as much as I love John C. Reilly, Ralph could probably have been played by any number of dudes from Ray Romano to Seth Rogen. He did a fine job, but there really wasn’t much there for him to distinguish himself as a unique voice. What really perked my ears up was the rest of the main cast. Jane Lynch as a no-nonsense, “Call of Duty” type soldier was her typically awesome self. And I don’t think that anyone else could have (or should have) played the over-the-top positive Fix-It Felix besides Jack McBrayer.

    I don’t know if Sarah Silverman has done much cartoon voice acting in the past, but if you told me that her part was ghost-played by Tress MacNeille or Tara Strong, I wouldn’t argue. She nailed the mix of sugar rush and smartass that Vanellope von Schweetz needed to cut through the Bratz doll cuteness of her character.

    Finally, the biggest surprise of them all was the absolutely dead-on Ed Wynn impression by Alan Tudyk! Yep, that Alan Tudyk…Wash from Firefly. He was great as King Candy, practically chewing up the screen and spitting out the animated Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter and Uncle Albert in Mary Poppins. I never would have guessed it was him.

    Sure, it’s “just” another cute Disney animated film that’s good for kids and adults, but I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    Monday, November 5th, 2012 at 21:28
  • Running in place is good for you

    Depending on the source of advice, I have to write something–anything–every day for at least 21 to 30 days in order to establish the habit. So, here I am writing something.

    Yep. This is me. Writing…

    Oh, hey! We went to see Cloud Atlas this weekend. It was good. Long and confusing for much of it, but ultimately good.

    *whistles*

    Yeah, I think I understand now why this blog thing died.

    Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 at 07:38
  • What’s that again about Dick?

    I was perusing blogs and blog-like substances this morning when I came across a post at The Nerdist by Sir Dr. Eric Idle, MBE, DFA, OB/Gyn, wherein he goes on at-length about meeting Brian Cox (who is, apparently, Britain’s version of Bill Nye the Science Guy or something). Professor Cox has a new show on biology coming up soon, and he got Sir Eric to write a version of The Galaxy Song about biological matters. He calls it the Galaxy DNA Song (lyrics included in said post).

    But what caught my eye was the fact that this meeting took place in May at the last night of his play What About Dick? I’d never heard of such a thing! Eric Idle, Billy Connolly, Tim Curry, Eddie Izzard and Tracey Ullman on the same stage? Doing bits and songs by Eric Idle? And it’s over?? Hold on a second while I work through my despair.

    From the video clips of the actors and the description of the plot (“…(beginning) with a sex toy invented in Shagistan in 1898 by Deepak Obi Ben Kingsley (Eddie Izzard), tells the story of the decline of the British Empire as seen through the eyes of a Piano (Eric Idle) and the story of young Dick (Russell Brand), his two cousins (Jane Leeves and Sophie Winkleman) and their dipsomaniac Aunt Maggie (Tracey Ullman), who all live together in Kensington in a large, rambling, Edwardian novel. And there too are the Reverend Whoopsie (Tim Curry), the incomprehensible Scottish Inspector McGuffin (Billy Connolly) and Sergeant Ken Russell (Jim Piddock) and the case of the Houndsditch Mutilator”), this sounds like more fun than a barrel full of monkeys (mind, that’s not really as fun as it sounds).

    Anyway, like all good Python bits, I really don’t have a cute way to end this, so…

    Tuesday, October 30th, 2012 at 07:21
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