Monday, July 18, 2011

A Land in Turmoil Cries Out For a Hero!

To call me an aficionado of escapist fiction would be... a nice way of putting it. Just don't call me a twitchy nut job to my face and we can surely be fast friends. Friends just like Xena the Warrior Princess and Gabrielle the Battling Bard!

In 1995, as most of you will surely be aware, New Zealand gave us the first of what would become SIX seasons of a spin-off program from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. It was, and ever shall be, known as Xena: Warrior Princess. It features the motley adventures of the titular Xena (Lucy Lawless), a notorious baddun-turned-good by a close encounter with hunky Hercules (Kevin Sorbo), and her jocular, endlessly talkative companion Gabrielle of Potidea (the lovely Renee O'Connor whose poster adorned my chambers from 1996-2002. *Sigh*).

X:WP takes place in a fantasy version of mytho-historical Greece, where one might encounter the Trojan Horse (1184 BC), blind Homer (800 BC), and noble young Hippocrates (440 BC) all in the space of a few months. Not to mention Pandora's granddaughter, sleeping giants, hungry cyclopses, and shrieking "vintage" CGI harpies.

Xena is somehow a superhuman, with limitless abilities dictated only by the tale in which she finds herself. Horsemaster, weaponer, martial artist, medic, and able to literally leap thatched three-story buildings in a single bound. She was the beloved of Ares, God of War, due to her formerly wicked ways, and he ever seeks to reclaim her heart. A woman of wry wit who prefers to speak with her bladed chakram or a boot in the face of evil.

Gabby is anything but ordinary, the anachronistic scholar/farmgirl who attaches herself to Xena for story material, extolling her more powerful chum's many virtues to anybody unable to get out of earshot fast enough. Amateur pan flautist, honorary Amazon, and wielder of the staff (so to speak), Gabrielle can out-talk Euripides and dodge arranged marriages with style (even one to Morpheus, God of Dreams).

Together with long-suffering mare Argo, they roam the beautiful countryside spoiling for a fight with tyranny and bullying brigands. Crossovers and cameos abound, cross-pollinating with sister series Herc at every opportunity.


"Sins of The Past" by producer Robert Tapert & R. J. Stewart
Everything you need to know about X, G and the world they kick butts in.

"The Titans" by R. J. Stewart
Yup, it's X & G vs the sleeping giants who should never have been awoken... awaked... roused.

"The Royal Couple of Thieves" by Steven L. Sears
There is nothing so good Bruce Campbell cannot make it ten times as awesome. Appearing here as sleazy Autolycus, self-proclaimed King of Thieves.

"Callisto" by R. J. Stewart
It's two-for-one with the menace of Xena's arch-nemesis the hissing lunatic Callisto out for entirely justified vengrance, and the first appearance of Ted Raimi as Joxer the Mighty, inept warlord from a line of warlords who would really be much better off in ANY other profession. Fishmonger, for example.
O.K., so it's Cheesy Cheesecake from Cheeselog Junction, but I enjoy it ever so much. I prefer my mythology like my history: a string of horrible nonsense and lies with corny jokes, strange costumes and occasional sex. (Suitable for television circa 1995.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My Favourite Characters: Almost Heroes

Battleglum Galactiglum's dead presidential aide Billy wound up on a wacky Canadian comedy series airing now on Showcase that likely won't last as long as I wish it would: Almost Heroes.

Terry (Paul Campbell) returns home from business school upon the death of his father to run a floundering comic book store in a strip mall. Run it on the strength of his looks and charm alone, since, in truth, he flunked out.

His younger brother and business partner Peter (series creator Peter Belleville) is a Geek Supreme with life skills similar to my own. For example, he can write a Klingon Haiku but his attempts to manage anything from a coffee machine to a clogged toilet results in fire.

Bernie (Lauren Ash) next door in a demeaning dead-end job at trendy clothing store Sassitude is crushing on Terry big time, all unnoticed just as she'd been back in high school. I find her hilarious.

The comic geek should be my favourite by a mile, but I enjoy the interplay of all three, each uncool in their own unique way . A trio of superfriends like DC's Trinity of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, except powerless failures with only their sense of humor to defend themselves.

Add the landlord love interest who's not interested, Bernie's bitchy boss, the jock jerk from the sports store, and the security guard Boyd (Colin Mochrie) nobody remembers hiring, and you've got a hit*.

(*Hit not guaranteed. But it sure makes me happy.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Things I Pretend To Notice: I'm A Grown Up

It's not like I watch 'The Mentalist' or anything, but for better or worse, mostly for worse (?), I'm an adult now.

I hold down two low-paying jobs, I'm married (that's the sweetest part, actually), and last weekend I read a dull Soviet SF book by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky. No, I don't want to talk about it, I want to talk about being a grown-up. Damn it.

Because, in dog years, I'm a rapidly aging human man. With a human man-sized mortgage. And my own sets of keys to things.

My BFF's daughter turns 19 tomorrow (yay!) and that just can't be, since I'M still nineteen!

I think I'm in a state of shock that apparently retroactively turned my temples grey over the previous couple of years. (And gave me one pernicious white ear-hair.)

Long ago, I genuinely believed that, (one future day) I would wake up and KNOW I was a responsible adult. Everything (well, maybe not EVERYTHING) would make sense and I'd have a clear idea of how to run all my affairs alone. I'm thankful beyond the telling for my amazing spouse, who usually makes that unnecessary.

But, with my lovely Trish away for a time, I noticed that I am still a relatively functional guy.

Granted, I've let my body go. (I'm a nice guy, I let it go where it wants!) Plus, I was weak and scrawny before I was weak and porky. (I only need this meat sack to carry my brain in, anyway.)

I do my dishes and laundry (well, machines do them). I got myself to the dentist (well, Trish made the appointments and paid the nice people to give us a going over with the cleaning pick). I even get groceries and haircuts and stuff.

And when I have no inspiration or interest I force myself to write drivel at you because that's what I do. It's the kind of guy I am.

So here's to looking after myself.

Keep looking after yourselves, too.

Now to make some dinner.