A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

11 May 2005

Where'd Everybody Go?

There was a newspaper that used to use as their tagline: "Miss a day, miss a lot".

Bloggers have a duty to keep on blogging--it's one of the main reasons I've tried to avoid set, regular postings. But methinks I've managed to slide a bit too far the other way.

There's no excuse for this. I mean, as busy as I am you'd think there was time for a post. Like this one.

First and foremost
I'd like to blog briefly about Doctor Who. As an old fan of the series (though not so old as some, having been born some ten years after it started) I was pleasantly surprised by the updated version. The new Doctor, Christopher Eccleston, has managed to channel the spirit of William Hartnell, giving the character an insatiable appetite for life, while occasionally, sparingly, showing that the Doctor is not without emotion.

Okay: Now for the rough stuff. I was really excited about the reappearance of the Daleks. For those of you who can't understand why these silly-looking pepperpots were ever thought of as menacing, you'll have to take my word that yes, kiddies used to hide behing the settee or sofa (whichever you grew up with in your living room) when those eyestalk-and-blaster-waving dustbins rolled through.

Last episode, the Doctor and his new companion Rose found their way into an underground bunker in Utah in 2012, where a megalomaniac billionaire who owns the internet ("What? No-one owns the internet!" "Ri-ight. And let's just let them keep on believing that, shall we?") is hording the last battered Dalek.

The new Dalek was dope. Smoother, more menacing, apparently capable of independant thought and conversation beyond the old "Exterminate! Exterminate!" The technicial types who set this one up had given a lot of thought to what a creature which was essentially a tank for conquering the universe would need. Bonus points to whoever came up with the rotating gun-and-sucker section, which whirls around like a tank turret. Likewise, it was fun to watch a Dalek float up stairs, reason its way out of a jam, and "sucker" someone to death.

But--and this is my complaint with Star Wars as well, and even the Hannibal Lecter franchise: Why do we seem compelled to make our greatest baddies into heroes? Or try to give them human faces?

From Thirty-Something, a link about Star Wars. Darth Vader started out in Epospde IV as Pure Evil on legs. Now he's this whiny punk who went to the Dark Side for the same reason kids paint their bedrooms black. Why? Because Lucas felt that we needed to see what could cause a Good Man to become the ultimate baddie. Hey George, since you're busy revising history anyway, could you destroy Episodes I through III and wipe our memories?

Hannibal Lecter was so dangerous he didn't need reasons or motivation, and both Thomas Harris and Brian Cox brought him to a sort of "I'm-so-evil-I-look-ordinary" perfection. You didn't need rolling eyes or a flickering tongue or remarks about Chianti and cenus-taker's liver to see the evil in him. I'm talking about Brian Cox's "Manhunter" portrayal, not Anthony Hopkins' overdone ones.

But the worst thing was what Harris was allowed to do to him. Book one showed us a pure evil Lecter, with a papier-maché mask to hide it's flowing, pulsing bulk. Book two showed us that Lecter had a few wants and desires of his own and wasn't above killing people to achieve his aims--Belabouring the point, but okay.

Then we get to book three, and Harris £ü¢λs it up completely. Now Hannibal the Cannibal is a scared little boy watching starving bandits in Latvia or somewhere chow down on his baby sister. Worse yet, he turns into the rescuing angel who sweeps Clarice Starling off her feet (another wonderfully raw character in the second book, she's reduced to a jaded-cop stereotype in the third) hypnotises her into "denying her father and refusing his name", and persuades her to join him for a little snack--a corrupt FBI agent's brains (and if you, O Avid Fan--a term I actually stole from Red Dragon/Manhunter--don't think I tried to find a picture of that little episode, you are sadly mistaken).

Now the Last Dalek has fallen prey to the same black beast. Really cool villain? Okay, let's make him suck up some DNA from the heroine and become like, sensitive. Give it an identity crisis (which allows it to kill all the humans who don't understand it while sparing it's "mum"). And finally, open the Dalek casing to expose the tender bit inside--you can excuse it by claiming that it wants to see the sun before it dies.

Hell, at one point the Dalek gets asked: "What do you want?" and replies, after an agonising dramatic pause "Free-dom". A real Dalek would have responded:
"The ex-ter-min-a-tion of all other life forms!"

Now that I come to think of it the smooth look (the creators call it the "bling" Dalek), the witty, urbane banter, the newfound sensitivity. . .

My God--it's a Dalek Metrosexual!

I'll be watching the series for more Daleks, and hopefully they'll give up this teddy-bear crap. What next? Cybermen wondering what to wear with chrome? I want my baddies bad.

02 May 2005

Oops. Did it again, dammit.

I had to link that in there. It's just more proof that there are far too many people out there with a great deal too much time on their hands.

Prime Minister Martin has just prostituted himself in order to remain in power. This is a failing common to coalition and minority governments, but this one is especially unholy, as it seems unlikely that it'll save him.

Stephen Harper, though, is himself running around like an old whore putting on makeup. He is now determined to bring down the goverment ASAP, but since he knows Canadians can be apathetic about sleaze (as anyone looking at the history of the federal Liberal or Conservative governments would know) and fears that his social issues stance (rather more extreme than the average in this great land) makes him unpopular, he's being very cautious about it.

He's right to worry. The fed libs are pissing me off royally, but what's the alternative? A bunch of social troglodytes who want to drag Canada into the 19th Century? And the federal New Democratic Party--as government? Oh, please . . .

Mind you, they're the only bunch of serious candidates (apart from the marijuana party--who may be the only party who can make heads or tales of it all) who haven't had a shot at it. How bad could they be?

I'm not entirely glad you asked that question.

01 May 2005

It's Been a Long Time Coming

To quote Gord Downie.

I've been nearly ignoring this blog for the past couple of weeks. Instead, I've been working Job I for some fifty-plus hours per week, Job II for anything between five and ten, and in my spare time either being supportive or sleeping.

Job I is, as regular readers might recall, driving. I schlep about the city in a five-tonne truck, collecting used oil filters and other dross of the mechanical trades.

Job II is the dream job that doesn't quite let me quit the other one. Basically I'm in charge of a commercial blog for a company I like and respect, and whose product I find useful and valuable.

Just recently, I turned down Job III, with a seriously heavy heart. The contract was to produce the manuals and associated material for a company which is building hybrid diesel electric vehicles for delivery companies. Unfortunately, the company wanted four manuals in five weeks, which is a severe challenge, even for such a seasoned creator of text as my noble self. Five weeks' pay, even at my "rush job" rate (my contractor rate plus a "well, you wanted it right away" charge of 10% or so) wouldn't hold up the mortgage on the SO's apartment (where I am graciously permitted to camp in a corner), even if we ate the cats.

Which nonetheless remains an intriguing idea. HP sauce, please.

But I wanted that job so badly! To be part of a project that's inching along the path to the future, albeit slowly. Here's a guy who's racing for the future event horizon with a whoosh. But I'm already considering how to build my own electric vehicle--watch this space (for about the next decade--I'm still rebuilding my '61 Metropolitan).

The other thing occupying my time lately is, as I mentioned, being supportive of the SO. It works this way. SO lately became lead production co-ordinator for the Better World Handbook Festival. To sum up the state in which she found preparations when she joined the production, one week prior to festivities: The organizers and production team had yet to settle on a design for t-shirts.

The SO settled that question first, then turned loose on the rest of the fest'. It all came off without a hitch (apart from pot-smoking musical guests, whiny prima donnas and breakdowns on the part of the staff), all due to the effort of the SO, and those efforts alone. This did not go unnoticed. At the conclusion of the three mad days of greeness, the SO was contacted by a local Green Party candidate to manage her campaign.

This is truly a grass-roots campaign, pun intended. The GP is in transition, moving form its traditional root constituancy, whom I refer to as the Green Grannies, to a new, younger, hipper generation of people who intend to be environmental, practical, and (what separates them most from the GG's) winners.

No disrespect intended, the party wouldn't be where it is today without them, but the some of the GG's on the campaign don't even use e-mail. How can one run a campaign today without it?

More on the late-breaking federal whoring, the politics of the upcoming provincial election and the likely-to-fail referendum in the next posting.

This is gonna be fun!

Oh--and I'm gonna burble on about the new Doctor Who, but you knew that was coming sometime, right?