Friday, February 5, 2016

R.I.P Joe Alaskey

I'm too old now to pretend that 63 is a good, long life. It's clearly too short a span for a splendid vocal performer who hand-delivered me a lotta yuks in times of gloom. The prolific successor to Mel Blanc of blessed memory, Joe Alaskey was probably from space, or he wouldn't have been so believably bad as nerdy would-be world-conquering Martians like Marvin & Dr. Ziplock. Mr. Alaskey taught me to love the sound (but never the taste!) of "Corrugated Bran Puffs" as Grampa Pickles from Rugrats. Plus, not for nothing, he's got my vote for immortality as the unlikeable yet unkillable Duck Dodgers. Joe Alaskey- a talent to remember beyond the 24th & a Half Century.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

R.I.P. Alan Rickman

Because the universe is not always fair, cancer continues to destroy Englishmen I admire. 

Doctor Lazarus, Metatron, Marvin the Paranoid Android, & Severus Snape will always be deeply memorable and valuable to me and many millions of you.

I don't have the right words of my own for my sadness lately, and now I don't have the Voice of God to speak the snark for me, either. I fear that being older means losing all my heroes. And I'm forced to remind myself that nothing and no energy and no one loved is ever truly lost.

By Grabthar's hammer, by the suns of Warvan, you shall be avenged!

Monday, January 11, 2016

R.I.P. David Bowie

I can't claim special knowledge of The Man Who Fell To Earth, but I am bummed out that he's fallen off it again.

Thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy, I've listened to 'Moonage Daydream' a lot lately. I'm full of doing my own thing and I didn't even know David Bowie was sick, so it goes to show you can snap your fingers and turn around... and lose something important in a moment. It's only forever- not long at all.

My wife rightly suggested we revisit 'Labyrinth' tonight, and it remains a wonder and a delight. Sing sadly tonight for a troubador, performer, space oddity, and Goblin King.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

R.I.P. Christopher Lee

This week Death died, you guys.

So... I don't have to tell you that Christopher Lee was a top drawer actor with a MASSIVE career and achievements. If you've seen any horror movies from... well, EVER, then you know this dude.

Draculas, Mummys, evil Germans, evil Asians, evil Englishmen, evil doctors, evil wizards, guys with crystal balls, guys with lightsabers, guys with golden guns, princes of darkness, and LITERALLY the grim spectre of Death. He's ACTUALLY narrated my nightmares!

Because I am who I am, I enjoyed my first exposure to Mr. Lee as Dr. Catheter in Gremlins 2. I've also really enjoyed every subsequent exposure to this towering genius, with a vast history of films I've never even attempted.

Celebrate the shadow. Celebrate the life. Rest in Peace, Mr. Lee... and live everlasting.

Monday, May 25, 2015

TV Review: Battlestar Galactica

I can be like a daggit with a Borellian bone once I get an idea in my head, so I recently finished re-watching the entire GOL-MONGING saga of Battlestar Galactica! As my pal Kirk asked: "For punishment?" 

Was it all worth it? You decide! (No, strike that. I'll decide.)

Of course, I watched it the way the One True God intended: Chronologically by Content! 

First- the Remake's Prequel Series! "Caprica", or as it is more popularly known- "Patton Oswalt Explains It All", takes us far way and long ago to a decadent planet where everything is edgy except the sheets of paper. (Because all the corners are cut off. Actually... they have MORE edges. I might be getting off topic...) Everyone's out for number one as an evil robot army congeals inexorably out of the quest for immortality during a clash of political, religious, and racial ideologies. Plus it has Eric Stoltz!

Fav. Ep.: "Apotheosis"- Cylon heroes fight for the forces of decency and corporate profit vs monotheist terrorists in a crowded sports stadium! There may be some explosions involved.
Least Fav. Ep.: "Retribution"- Intrigue becomes intriguing as machinations turn wheels within wheels and schemes near the point of no return while the thick, simmering plot begins to... *snore*

Next, I watched Battlestar Galactica (2004) AKA "Battleglum Galacticglum". It's as glum as the Black Hole of Hades but on stunning blu-ray it turns out it's also one of the finest TV dramas of my lifetime. There, I admit it.

Fav. Ep.: "Battlestar Galactica: The Plan" Again, the Cylons are the heroes! Yes, he may stab little children, but he's Dean Stockwell, so it's all good!
Least Fav. Ep.: "Black Market" If it wasn't bad enough that Re-imagined Apollo had a dull, human name like Lee Adama, now they've made him a whoring John with a heart of gold. Who battles child sex slavers! Yikes! It may or may not be the darkest tale from a collapsed society trapped in the void of space, but it's pretty dark stuff.

From the troubled ancestors of the Incas, the Toltecs, and the Lemurians we proceed to the star-brothers of contemporary man: on a 30 year star voyage beginning sometime after 1969, culminating in 1980, and full of too many other inconsistencies to believe for a single micron!

Battlestar Galactica (1978) is a ridiculous, archaic piece of misogynist quasi-Mormon laser disco. Dirk "Face-Man" Benedict and Lorne "Bonanza" Greene light up the small screen, sharing equal billing with some poor chimp stuffed inside a Muppet. Kids will scratch their heads with delight unless they were born in the late seventies. In which case they already spent hundreds of centons watching and loving it like an Ovion grub loves an overfed gambler who's stumbled drunkenly into its honeycomb!

Fav. Ep.: "Saga of A Star World" This is where it all began! Well, "Star Wars" is where it all began, but this is also available! 
Least Fav. Ep. Tie: "The Lost Warrior" & "The Young Lords". Which is worse: space cowboys in tinfoil Stetsons versus a tribe of horny pig-men, or seven to twelve 7 to 12 year olds in ratty Viking costumes riding unicorns against the most flamboyant candy-cane that ever called itself a Cylon?

Yeah, the cutesy robots are purest felgercarb. Granted, my beloved Muffit 2 gets a pass, but the goofy awkward "dancing" Hector & Vector were MUCH worse. Just picture the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz re-imagined as a pair of pasty dildos in overalls. Just awful. 
Honourable mention: "Experiment in Terra" for having all the conceptual ingredients for "Quantum Leap". It's not as good by half as any episode of Quantum Leap, but the seed is there.

Galactica 1980 AKA "Space Invaders Meet Wolfman Jack". This is where the punishment really begins, but I'm a completist, gods frack it all. Our rag-tag fugitive fleet has lost all but 2 of its lead characters and replaced them with one angelic teenage boy with magic science powers. You'll believe a motorcycle can fly.
Fav. Ep.: "The Return of Starbuck" It does what it says on the tin, and it's not half bad. Again, the evil Cylon is the good guy. What does this say about me, I wonder?
Least Fav. Ep.: "Spaceball" Precocious super-powered moppets spewing precocious nonsense and playing baseball as if they were from space. Get it?

Series creator Glen A. Larson, made a lot of cool things happen on TV for a lot of years. This was definitely one of my favourites, along with the arguably slightly more successful 'Buck Rogers'. Also, I read that Mr. Larson stole a song from James Garner, so Rockford socked him in the snoot! 

Series re-imagineer Ronald D. Moore used to work on Star Trek. He's good at stuff.

Much praise extended to Netflix, YouTube, and my buddy Ron for the blu-rays that made it all possible. So say we all!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

My Favourite Characters: Self-Portable Sapient

What little hacker boy or girl wouldn't want a Banana Junior 6000 for Christmas, 1984?

Oliver Wendell Jones of Bloom County, U.S.A., for example.

Little wonder (considering the havoc caused him by his son's previous computers) that Oliver's father Floyd was reluctant to part with $2500, and indeed may have put it on an overzealous department store Santa's very own VISA!

But there is was! On Xmas morn! The cheery, yellow, walking, talking, 9000 series personal computer from Banana Electronics, Inc.

When not assisting Oliver by engaging in nefarious schemes to bring about the collapse of their own decadent Western civilization, the Banana Jr. could be found contemplating the nature of the electronic mortal soul, or offering lesser appliances in sacrifice to its mercurial god: the Jones family television set.
Both characters were the inventions of Berkeley Breathed, an insane Texan. I guess that's redundant. A Texan, then.

Along with all their huggable, liberal, MERCHANDISABLE pals (like Mr. P. Opus & Bill The Cat), Banana Junior and Oliver have amused me greatly this week in volume after volume. Just as they did when I was a precocious young scamp, save that thanks to Breathed's annotations I now get some of the more esoteric jokes.

I also admire Mr. Breathed for his ongoing efforts to conserve living things, and look forward this year to Disney's adaptation of his adorable kids' book "Mars Needs Moms".

Favourite Kid-Friendly Catch-phrase from the Banana 6000: "Ted Koppel is a Waffle."

Monday, March 16, 2015

My Favourite Characters: Captain Crash

Superheroes tend to have code names. The closest Ralph Hinkley ever got was "Super Guy" or "Captain Gonzo". As you probably know or can recall hearing an old man jabbering about, Ralph was 'The Greatest American Hero' from 1981-1983.  When I was six he was the best. Ralph tried really hard and he crashed into things... a lot! In my early 20s, GAH became synonymous with making rash purchases based on nostalgia. One of my first complete season DVD acquisitions... turned into bitter disappointment. My arrogant opinion back then: the show was bland, only sporadically funny, hellishly repetitive, and inconsequential.

Trying again is what a superhero is all about, so when all it was costing me was time and my sanity... I watched all 44 hour-long episodes on YouTube. And (much like using a powerful alien spacesuit when you've lost the instructions), I CANNOT recommend it. GAH is a phenomenal concept, executed by well-meaning people, and it was NEVER intended to be shotgunned in this way. I got SO bored during season 2 that I tried screening 4 episodes at once on all 4 devices at my disposal- TV, laptop, iPad, and iPhone. Does this count? Was I even following the story at that point? Don't Care! I finally watched it, and I'm never doing it again. Until next time.

With the assistance of mysterious alien voices on the radio, snarling FBI agent Bill, and long, long, LONG suffering girlfriend Pam, Ralph overcomes adversity, often caused by his own inability with his abilities. He breaks his own home, and doors, and friends. His ESP has him wearing women's clothes and reacting to things that aren't there. His invisibility is unreliable and his shrinking is pretty damn unconvincing. He flies as low as he dares and as rarely as he can. He ends up looking silly all the time, and would rather not be caught dead in his own magic jammies. But he can always shrug it off. Ralph's a teacher, and from Ralph I learned something valuable: I will fail. I will look ridiculous. And I will not stop trying even when the payoff is mediocre. Here's to ordinary people who help others- especially if the only cost is your dignity.