Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Oozing Skull Vs. War Of The Insects

* = I think I look like this every time Cassandra comes back from any number of stores.

The ‘Staycation’ has come and went and now we’re back to the daily slog. It’s amazing how much having five days away from somewhere makes you NEVER want to go back. It was, for the most part, such an enjoyable set of days spent getting small projects accomplished, hanging with my lovely wife, spending time with the P.L.P., and watching more Doctor Who than should legally be consumed in such a short time. Wanna hear about the episodes? OF COURSE YOU DO!

- The Macra Terror (**** out of 5) –
If this one wasn’t a Reconstruction it would have been a 5 out of 5. The mere fact that you never, in the Reconstruction, get a good look at the giant crab-like Macra leaves me a little cold. However, I love the premise. An isolated ‘Colony’ with very specific rules of conduct who work relentlessly for an overseer who they never really see, and the sinister menace of those gas mines all lead to some exceptional moments. When you finally DO get a glimpse of that claw grabbing ‘Control’ by his old scrawny neck it’s shocking and incredibly cool. It’s made even more so by the denial that it happened by some of the ‘True Believers’ even though they too witnessed it. There is a sense of paranoia, dread, and as viewer uncertainty in this serial that works incredibly well. This is the first serial in some time where I wasn’t convinced everyone was going to make it out alive. It wasn’t even that the Macra are great ‘Baddies’, far from it, we never really see them do much of anything besides menace Jamie in a cave, instead it’s what they’ve already done in to the Colony itself, they’ve had control over these people for so long that they don’t know anything else. It’s a brilliantly fun serial, and further proof how even ‘Old School’ Doctor Who can do more with less.

- The Faceless Ones (*** out of 5) –
 Six episodes primarily taking place in an Airport. If it was any other show I’d have turned it off, but in Who I trust, so I trudged on. In my mind the main sin of ‘The Faceless Ones’ is its length. Six episode serials should be reserved for BIG stories, and I just didn’t get that feeling from this one. I like the ‘Invasion Of The Body Snatchers’ premise, the very inventive twist of the ‘why’, and even was surprised at how pragmatic The Doctor was in his end solution, but it just drags. The Doctor dilly dallies with local authorities for very banal reasons. Ben and Polly are really non-factors throughout most of it, more on that in a second, and Jamie ends up playing love struck puppy dog to his new friend Samantha. As soon as Ben & Polly sort of disappeared from the tale I knew it was over for them. This was their last episode as companions as they both stayed in modern London. I had such high hopes for them both, Polly being easy on the eyes, smart, and easy to empathize with. As for Ben, he was a soldier, a loyal friend to the Doctor, and had good chemistry with Polly. I just feel that they both ended up being sort of card board cut outs of who they could have been. All that being said Jamie has VAULTED up my list of best Companions. He’s not the brightest; he’s steadfast, hot headed, and not afraid of a scrap. I was a bit sad by his ‘ending’ with Samantha, as I thought she might have made a good Companion. Overall this isn’t a bad serial, it’s just goes WAY to slow, and while the ending is satisfying, it is a little strange.

- The Evil Of The Daleks (**** out of 5) –
 Thus far this is the strangest Dalek episode I’ve ever seen, it’s also the most ‘fun’. Jamie and The Doctor are still in modern London and have the TARDIS stolen. They are on the case to find it through a bizarre set of clues; they eventually meet a procurer of Victorian style antiques. It turns out that he’s an unwitting agent of the Daleks! The Daleks’ want the key to defeating the Human Race, and they need The Doctor to get it for them. This involves The Doctor & Jamie being shanghaied to 1866 where Jamie is put through a battery of tests to find out just what the ‘Human Factor’ is. Once The Doctor has it he infects three Daleks with it, causing them to become very Human-like. HOWEVER, the joke is on him, the Daleks didn’t want the ‘Human Factor’ after all; they just wanted it identified so they could distill down ‘The Dalek Factor’, eliminating any humanity from themselves, and re-code that into ALL DALEKS as well as their enemies! TWIST! This one is another serial that would have most likely been 5 out of 5 if it wasn’t almost half Reconstruction. Jamie shows just why he’s such a fantastic Companion in this serial, The Doctor is at his devious best, the Daleks show just why they are his arch-nemeses, and we get a new Companion in Victoria. I like the fact that The Doctor has to take Victoria; he is becoming a surrogate father again which is something that hasn’t occurred since Dodo left. We also get our first glimpse of the Dalek Emperor and it’s pretty damn cool. By the end of this episode the Daleks feel like a menace that is larger than we realize, and even though this serial was meant to be the LAST Dalek episode, there is an overwhelming sense that The Doctor has only delayed the inevitable. I also want to point out that the actor who played Maxtible looks INSANE! I mean he has the crazy Victorian scientist thing down to an art. Great serial that’s sort of a fun gonzo take on The Doctor’s most enduring enemies.

- The Tomb Of The Cybermen (***** out of 5) –
I know I said the Daleks are The Doctors most ‘enduring’ enemies, they are however in my opinion, not his best enemy. That distinction falls to The Cybermen. This serial is simply fantastic. It’s the re-skinning of a classic ‘Mummy’s Tomb’ story wrapped in all the ‘tatty’ goodness of Doctor Who. It’s pretty straightforward in reality. We get an archeological team finding the LAST known Cybermen complex. There are a few soldiers, some scientists, and then some sinister patrons involved in the expedition. The Doctor, Victoria, and Jamie’s arrival throw things into disarray of course. The sheer gall of those with ulterior motives makes the serial even more enjoyable, as we see the Cybermen as a force that cannot be reasoned with, cannot be bargained with, that wants to make you like them and beyond that your only hope is a quick death. Whereas the Daleks are alien to us in shape and form, and absolute in their xenophobia and fascist agenda, the Cybermen are US! They are people who didn’t want to grow old, didn’t want to change, and wanted immortality, but in that quest gave up their humanity and they ONLY WANT YOU TO JOIN THEM! It’s so damn creepy. The scene where they emerge from their Tomb is utterly and completely wonderfully done. The Modern Who has done a decent job re-creating the Cybermen, but I’m not sure they’ll ever be able to capture the essence of menace and creepiness that these first few Cybermen episodes have given me. Just wonderful stuff.

I love how THIS is not a ‘Reboot’? Really? Because as a guy who’s read your comics since I was about 5 it certainly looks like one. Listen Marvel, baby, I know we’ve had our differences. I know I haven’t always spoken highly of you recently I, haven’t always carried the torch for you the way you would have liked, but I love you. Yes, I admit it. I love you Marvel comics. It actually physically pains me to say it right now, because I’m having a hard time recognizing it anymore. It’s become that gal you had a crush on in Middle School, all grown up to the point she’s unrecognizable. Whether it be Banner and the Hulk being not only split, but Banner being insanely evil, or Cyclops being an unrepentant DICK, or Spider-Man’s marriage to MJ being ‘Magic’ed away, or Civil War, Secret Invasion, Planet Hulk, the Chaos War, and Fear Itself basically having NO real long term consequences I’ve lost my Marvel Mojo almost completely. You’ve hurt me ‘girl’, hurt me deep. I mean I’m all for ‘growth’, even for change, but I’m not for directionless jumping from event to event. I’m hoping that this all new, all different Marvel NOW ‘soft reboot’ is an attempt to jump forward storytelling wise rather than a fiscal response to DC’s success with their ‘Hard Reboot’ of the DCU as the ‘New 52’. Not every book DC has come out with in its Reboot has been good, but I applaud the effort to bring the Vertigo characters back into the fold, as well the inclusion of very unusual and yet excellent books like ‘I, Vampire’. Thus far in my reading of Marvel’s attempt it simply looks like new creative teams and re-numbering titles. I hope it’s more than that, but I’m very dubious in my opinions of the ‘Brain Trust’ at Marvel currently. It’s like you’re putting on a ‘New’ dress to try and impress, but underneath there is the same old same old. Let me love you Marvel, ‘cause I want to. I do have to admit though DAMN Joe Quesada can draw! That picture, while aggravating as far as it NOT being the Marvel I know and want to love it at least inspires some interest. It gets me thinking, and talking, and hoping that we can rekindle what we once had. Stop hurting me Marvel, because I want to love you again.

That’s right I just ‘Hey Girl(ed)’ an entire Comic Company.

Saturday is D&D. I’m completely stoked to get back in the saddle and throw some dice. The PC’s are on the verge of Monastery Of Erathis, somewhere they’ve been headed since the second session. This is the closing of the Heroic tier for them. In the next few sessions, questions will be answered, and new ones will arise. I’m really hoping to challenge the group with some of the encounters, while creating an area in the setting that they will remember, dread, and possibly want to return to. I’ve put a lot of thought and energy into this and I can’t wait to see where they take it. Here are some ‘Teasers’, if you will, for our final Chapter of the Heroic Tier; INTO THE MONASTERY OF ERATHIS!;

- “Access To The Book Requires…Sacrifice…”
- What Secrets Do The Whispering Bells Hold?
- Dare You Ride The Iron Snake?
- “You Must Stand Before The Sanguine Court!”
- Is A Slave A ‘Slave’ If They Love Their Master?
- In A Society Of Absolute Order, What Is Law?
- “I Can Give You What You Desire More Than Anything Else…Revenge…”
- How Does One Save Those That Don’t Want To Be ‘Saved’?
- What Secrets Dwell In The Bowels Of The Mountain?
- “If You Believe In Nothing, Then At Least I Know You BELIEVE!”
- Just What Is The Stairway To The Stars?
- War In The Teeth Of Gruumsh!
- “You Sacrificed All You Were, For Her?”
- Heavy Is The Head That Wears An Invisible Crown.
- Is The Enemy Of My Enemy My Friend Or Simply An Adder Clutched To My Chest?
- “…And Who Do YOU Serve?”

Hopefully this inspires my Players to be excited to play through this as I am to run it. Saturday can’t get here fast enough as far as I’m concerned.

Hmmm, well I can’t think of much else to ramble on and on about today, so I’ll wrap it up with some…

- The town I grew up in had another classmate of my brother and sister O.D. yesterday. Growing up I was pretty close to this guy’s older brother so I’m slightly shocked. I guess I had my head firmly planted in the sand growing up because I don’t recall drugs, and especially Meth, destroying so many lives. It’s strange to know that it’s culling so many from the ranks of kids I knew. My friend Melanie, who’s a year younger than me, half joking asked my sister, “What the hell is wrong with you kids?” It seems as if my brother and sister’s classes are getting hit the hardest. Is it the depressing nature of being the gravitational pull of a dying town? Is it the idea that it will ‘never get better than this? What is the appeal of a drug that literally punches holes in your frontal lobe? It’s the shits to know that a substance has destroyed someone so thoroughly. I just don’t get it, all I do know is every time I get to hear about one of these deaths I feel really bad for the families these folks left behind.
- The mower isn’t working; I think it’s the Spark Plug. Did you see that? I said that like I actually knew what I was talking about…
- I sold my first thing on Ebay ever. It’s a strange sense of accomplishment. I still have one lot, a Monsterpocalypse lot at that, left. Hopefully, it’ll sell soon as well. That way I can use my ill-gotten gains to get some new games. It’s a vicious cycle, I know. I also need to thank Dave in regards to getting this done, without him I’d still be trying to figure out what to do with all those minis. Thank you Dave!
- We received some Tree Cuttin’ quote(s) this last week. The trees will be down soon and it looks like at a really reasonable cost!
- I’m finding that I value communication a lot more than I ever thought I would or could. If we are unable to speak to each other in a friendly or even respectful manner, even in a debate, then what’s the point? I don’t think being respectful of others is ‘Passive/Aggressive’, I think it’s simply a gesture of interest. To be thoroughly dismissed and spoken down to in a discussion based on upon opinion is very dis-heartening. Even more so when it’s done in the confines of what one thinks is a friendship. Maybe I just don’t get it, relationships, friendships, communication, etc. I’d love to believe that, because it would make this feeling less strong, but the reality is I know I DO get it, and that makes the sting of that discussion all the more disappointing.
- For some reason I’m exhausted, and the more I sleep the more I just want to sleep. I think tonight I’ll be taking a nap AND going to bed early.

I feel directionless today, and I’m not sure why.

“Oh lord I must be crazy, settled down and I find nothing new..
Older days, they used to matter but I don't care
Cause I got nothin' to lose

And if I stare too long, I might not see you right
Over time, the heart goes out of sight

And if I stare too long, I might not see you right
Close the door. Where the heart is out of sight

Many a dreams across the river
But it's too strong for a boy like me, yeah....

Now you're gone but I still remember
Better days as they wash into the sea
And if I stare too long, I might not see you right
Over time, the heart goes out of sight
And if I stare too long, I might not see you right
Close the door. Where the heart is out of sight
I've got the time but I got no reason
I'm broken down, waiting patiently

Now the sun don't shine for me and that's a different season
but she comes around one more time for me...
And if I stare too long, I think I might go blind
Over time the heart goes out of sight

And if I live too long, I might not treat you right
Close the door....Now you're shining way too bright...
Shine on.....”

* = This is one of those cases where I disagree with 'Schrute Logic(s)'.  I've got friends and they are Magic.

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