items of joy

All posts tagged items of joy

In the summers of 1995-1997, I spent three amazing, magical, life-changing long weekends in Los Angeles. In October of 2018, once my memories of LA were old enough to get drunk there, I returned.

These are the stories of my return to the City of Angels.

And the jags with the mixtapes.

But First, A Quick Summary

I’m kind of skipping over a day of the trip, here, ’cause, well, it was two things that either require no explanation or utterly defy it.

In the afternoon I made a trip to Universal Studios, which I had visited in both 1983 and 1997, so, yes, this qualified for the “nostalgia tour” portion of the trip. The rides were decent, the crowds a fraction of those at Disneyland (I got into the biggest marquee ride in about five minutes, and that was with stops to watch videos by the Harry Potter cast), but as theme parks go, it’s still just a shadow of its younger sibling in Orlando. But that’s not entirely fair, since Universal Studios Orlando can spread out and be as lavish as they want, while Universal Studios Hollywood is a mini-theme park latched onto a working film/TV studio, so there’s really only so much space.

Rides and restaurants based on Harry Potter, the Simpsons, Transformers, Despicable Me, and a little bit The Mummy were fun, the Waterworld stunt show was impressive, but then there’s the studio tour, which now includes two 3D experiences based on Peter Jackson’s King Kong and the Fasts and Furiousesand also the exact same animatronic shark from 1983.

I suppose realistic sharks aren’t on-brand for the Jaws movies.

I guess some things are just institutions. 

That evening I made my way downtown… and isn’t rush hour LA traffic just a joy… to meet up with friends also in LA for a show called Lucha VaVOOM

There is little point in trying to blog about that experience. I have only words. And words cannot do it justice. So here’s this.

GLORIOUS.

Anyhoo. Our top story this entry.

Back When: LAFF ’95

Why is it that I’m devoted enough to comic book television that last season I watched and ranked 22 different shows, some of which were excruciating to get through? Because there was a time when seeing superheroes I loved on television was a rarity. Something rare and special to be clung to, no matter how dumb the villains could be. And so it was that I spent four years religiously watching, taping, and rewatching Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

As good as it got in 1993.

I came to this show right before I started exploring these newfangled things my friends were on about called “email” and “webpages.” And so did I join an online community devoted to the show, the Fans of Lois and Clark, or “FOLCs.” A group that existed through email, because while discussion boards very obviously existed and had done for quite some time, the email list was less troll-infested, flame-war free, and a more positive experience. 

Positive enough that in the summer following season two, many of us agreed to all meet in Los Angeles, see the Warner Bros. studio, and have ourselves a big, nerdy party.

It was a weekend of non-stop fun, where people who had been names on a screen became the closest of close friends, even if only for a few days. Groups of us hit Disneyland, went to Venice Beach. We had a costume party and a big fancy dinner attended by K Callan, who played Superman’s mother on the show. And of course, the Warner Bros. studio tour.

I’m next to the traffic light. In an Edmonton Fringe graphic t-shirt. Thanks for dressing up, Young Me.

We not only saw all of the usual tour stops, they let us into two of the soundstages: Clark Kent’s apartment, and the Daily Planet.

Gathered in the bullpen.

Where we were met for a Q&A/meet and greet with the show’s producers, K Callan… and to our surprise, Dean Cain, Teri Hatcher, and Justin Whalen, the second Jimmy Olsen. Which was bold, because the recasting was not met with the openest of arms. Justin made himself some die-hard fans that afternoon.

It was a magical three days that not even a sudden case of stomach flu or maybe food poisoning on the last morning could spoil. There was no question about going back the next summer, or the summer after that. I think they may have kept it going until 2000, or maybe that was just a reunion. And maybe the studio tour was never as awesome as that first trip, but each Los Angeles FOLC Fest remained magical. Each time was a reunion with treasured friends, and a chance to make new ones.

Friends I lost track of as the show ended and we drifted apart. This was the 90s. Social media was a decade away. Keeping up with people in other cities was a challenge. It was like summer camp… or what TV tells me “summer camp” was like, since all I have to personally base that comparison on is a drama camp called Artstrek I went to a couple of summers in high school–

I just admitted to going to a convention for fans of Lois and Clark. Thrice. You think you can shame me over drama camp? Bring it.

Anyway, you go to summer camp, you meet other kids, you promise to write each other, and then you don’t. Except in this case you wrote each other a lot, talked about a TV show, swapped fanfics– you’ll never prove I wrote one– but then the show ended and you just kind of… stopped. Most of us. The community never died completely, there’s still an active message board… including a thread on Supergirl, so hey, still active… but by and large, it’s just a treasured memory. Even if all I have are a handful of old photos that are… somewhere? Maybe in my house? I honestly don’t know.

But those three weekends were the heart of the nostalgia driving large chunks of this trip. Outside of Disney with Dara, almost everything I did in LA was connected to something I did at one of the Los Angeles FOLC* Fests.

And while it might not have been first, the most notable was a return to the Warner Bros. Studio.

Road to the WB

You don’t need to be part of a convention to get a tour of the Warner Bros. lot. You just need to show up and pay for the tour. Or, in my case, have your travel agent book it for you, and also include a shuttle because the studio is in Burbank and that is not close to Anaheim, nothing is close to Anaheim, but your hotel was picked for proximity to Disneyland so here you are.

The drawback, in my case, is that the shuttle was not taking us directly to the studio. First, there was a stop in Hollywood, for some individual sightseeing by Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, right in the heart of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

I’d never been to the Walk of Fame. Not… not 100% due to lack of interest, because back during LAFF ’95, the OG LAFF, there had been talk between me and another attendee about trying to catch a movie at Grauman’s, which technically would have meant going to the Walk of Fame (the best Walk real estate is within a block of that theatre), but it is mostly from lack of interest.

Because Hollywood is kind of a dive.

It’s not even the heart of the movie industry if we’re being honest. Warner Brothers and Disney’s studios are both in Burbank, as Universal might be if they hadn’t declared themselves to be a separate division called “Universal City.” And all of that is a ways from Hollywood. But there was 90 minutes before my shuttle would depart for the studio, so I decided to explore.

The Mix Tape

The vast majority of the Walk of Fame is not exactly glamorous. It’s people’s names on stars in front of small car dealerships and apartment buildings and fast food joints. Really, there’s just one block that’s really noteworthy and touristy. It has Grauman’s, the theatre where Jimmy Kimmel records, two rival wax museums… can we agree that it was a dick move for Madame Tussaud’s to move in down the street from the Hollywood Wax Museum? All that city and they just…

And because all the tourist spots were right there, so were the Scavengers.

You know the Scavengers. They lurk in Hollywood, Times Square, the Las Vegas Strip, Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus, downtown Havana… they wear pop culture costumes and pose for pictures in exchange for tips. In cities where they can get away with it, women wear as little as possible and offer pictures with them. They dress as Yoda or monks and pretend to hover or balance on a pole. On the Walk of Fame, they’ll put your name on a blank star and let you pose by it with an Oscar statue, and yes people did that in my presence, so I guess there’s a demand.

But the worst, to my current estimation, are the jags handing out their “mixtape.”

Sure, some of the costume folk don’t have the best outfits… some are downright unsettling… 

Filthy Elmo is a haunting sight.

…but most of them let you come to them. Sure they’ll wave and encourage you to come over, but they won’t chase you down. Probably? Damn, shouldn’t have put the image in my head, gonna have nightmares about Filthy Elmo loping after me… 

The Mixtape Hawkers, on the other hand, will come right at you and all but shove a CD they claim contains their music right into your hands. Putting aside that this is the exact method a Chinese hacker army used to compromise a security company on Mr. Robot, they’re peak annoying because of that aggression. When the second hawkster approached me outside Grauman’s, I sighed and took the CD, thinking that maybe this was a Fringe artist handing out fliers situation, that he just wanted his music Out There. No. Oh no.

“Sir! Sir? Sir! Sir!” came his voice as he followed after me. “Want me to sign it for five bucks?” I did not, and told him so. “Sir! Sir? Sir!” He assures me he’s not a bum, he’s an artist. I try to keep walking. “Sir! Sir! Sir? Sir!” Will I share his music with my friends? Yes, I say, as I absolutely have friends I’m willing to torment with some mamaluke’s shitty rap CD. “Sir? Sir! Sir!” I turn back one more time, saying “I would really like to move on with my day now.” He asks for a tip. What he gets is his CD shoved back into his hands, and I depart.

I have learned the best defense from his ilk is a brisk walking pace. Don’t break your gait, don’t make physical contact with the CD, don’t make eye contact, don’t acknowledge them as people. Which led me, weeks later, to text my brother saying our father could no longer be allowed to walk Times Square unaccompanied. Without some combination of my brother, myself, and our mother, his genial and outgoing nature would leave him a target for the Mixtape Hawksters, who need only a friendly word to lock onto you with their pitch. And my dad has a friendly word for everyone.

I did not inherit this. I take after my more suspicious mother. Or perhaps eight years of dealing with bullies left me with a wary eye to outsiders. Who knows? Our lives are complex tapestries. Anyway.

The Exploration

To avoid this mope and his nonsense, I move away from Grauman’s for the next chunk of my mandatory 90 minute exploration of Hollywood. I follow one side of the Walk of Fame as far west as it goes, to see who’s on the end. The answer is no one. The western terminus of the north side of the Walk of Fame is a blank star. Can’t blame modern celebrities for not jumping at the chance to claim it, it’s basically by just a minimall. The last name, right before this blank star, is Spanky McFarland.

Calm down. He was a Little Rascal.

I suppose I could have seen how the other side of the street ended. Not sure why I didn’t.

I note that Lloyd Bridges is flanked by both of his sons, and that Charles Schultz is right next to his signature creation, Snoopy. A courtesy not extended to Walt Disney, a few feet from Mickey Mouse, or Chuck Jones, who is separated from Bugs Bunny by Lurene Tuttle.

A character actress and acting coach who went from Vaudeville to being known as the
“First Lady of Radio,” and someone thought her worth remembering.

From there I headed north, wanting to catch a glimpse of the Magic Castle, because I think it’s neat that place exists. I don’t know what one has to do to score an invite to a show there, but if the Netflix series Love is correct, part of the process is “wear a suit jacket,” and I did not pack one.

I went to a Walgreen’s to buy water and contact lens solution. That’s not exciting, it’s just something I did. I was worried about running out. Look, not everything is an adventure.

And finally, I paid homage to my first WB Studio tour. On the way back to the hotel, someone in my carpool said they were craving a milkshake. Within seconds, we all were. I don’t know what every other car was doing, but we pulled into a 50s diner down the road from the hotel for burgers and milkshakes. It seemed fitting, then, to seek one out now, since it was lunchtime and there was a Hard Rock Cafe near the Grauman’s hub, because of course there was.

Chocolate, frosty, and delicious.

I didn’t succumb to either wax museum, lacking both time and interest… I once loved wax museums, for reasons that I recall only vaguely, like a half-remembered dream, but lost interest in 2011. I didn’t pay anyone for a photo with them or a fake Hollywood star. And I didn’t take advantage of an offer our tour shuttle provided, a free gift with any purchase (presumably over a certain, unspecified amount) at the large souvenir shop across from Madame Tussaud’s. Because I couldn’t see one thing among the chintzy souvenirs, t-shirts, coffee mugs, or obligatory Funko Pops that I’d want to bring home and display. Or give as a gift. There is no one in my life who seems like they need a miniature director’s megaphone or a coffee mug with “Hollywood!” written on it. Or a tiny statue of a Walking Dead character with a giant, rectangular head.

I don’t really get Funko Pops. Yes I own three of them but not by choice. 

And so, eventually, it was time to wait for my shuttle to the Warner lot… where a moment of utter joy awaited me.

Which we’ll discuss next time.

Complaining about the jag with the mixtape took up a lot of space.

God he was a jag, though.

In the summers of 1995-1997, I spent three amazing, magical, life-changing long weekends in Los Angeles. In October of 2018, once my memories of LA were old enough to get drunk there, I returned.

These are the stories of my return to the City of Angels.

And the self-proclaimed Happiest Place on Earth.

Dara’s First Disney

The motivation for the trip, the reason for the season, as it were, was that when my parents were babysitting my niece Dara while her parents were in Seattle for a conference, my father seized the opportunity to take Dara on her first trip to Disneyland, now that she’s old enough to appreciate/ remember it but my parents aren’t yet too old to go with her. Which… was a tricky needle to thread. This year was kind of The Window.

More enthused than she looks, I assure you.

Still, they felt some backup would be useful, in the form of their other son, who refuses to admit he hasn’t been 27 for some time, and thus is 100% ready to go on every ride with young Dara.

Except for It’s a Small World After All. I drew a line at that earworm nightmare factory. Which turned out not to be necessary, because it was closed for refurbishmentScore.

Silent as the grave it belongs in.

We arrived late afternoon on Monday, with three-day park-hopping passes that would allow us to Disney our hearts out until Wednesday. So while I had other things I wanted to tackle in Metropolitan LA, Monday until Wednesday were devoted to Disney. And also, as it turned out, the following Sunday, when it became obvious to me that getting anywhere else from Anaheim and doing something there would easily be as expensive if not moreso than just going back to Disneyland.

I could attempt a blow-by-blow summary of our visit, but instead, here’s what we’re gonna do. I’m going to walk you through the rides we hit along the way, ranked in order of how badly they need an upgrade, least to most. And where there are stories, there’ll be stories.

Haunted Mansion

Okay this one’s probably cheating. Because while Disney was celebrating Halloween, the entire Haunted Mansion ride was remodeled into The Nightmare Before Christmas, which was awesome because I love that movie. Dara… didn’t get the reference, but this ride typically had the second longest lines of anything in either Disneyland or the California Adventure (after that Cars ride that we didn’t go on due to long lines, with Space Mountain a competitive third), so clearly celebrating Nightmare’s 25th anniversary by taking over the Mansion was the right call. And while a Left 4 Dead Disneyland mod had had me nostalgic for the classic ride, it was a thrill seeing so many familiar faces brought to crude, animatronic life.

Jack!

Sally! (Who blinked.)

Mr. Oogie Boogie says that trouble’s close at hand…

This is Halloween!

Including the clown with the tearaway face! Here in a flash and gone without a trace!

So I would say “No update needed.” And frankly the ghost effects they hadn’t changed basically hold up. So… no need for an update, shame they’ve probably changed it back. Or will after Christmas probably? I don’t actually know.

Side story… since Halloween was approaching, and both parks were celebrating it, the all-seeing eyes of Disney Security laid down arms on the whole “no costumes” rule. So it was like being at Disneyland and Comic Expo all at once. Super neat.

No I don’t have pictures. Don’t take cosplayers’ photos without their consent. Comic Expo 101.

Huh? Well why didn’t YOU just ask them for a photo, if you’re so damn smart? Moving on.

The Incredicoaster

Hint: It isn’t the Ferris wheel.

Located on Pixar Pier, one of their attempts to jazz up the less-popular California Adventure park, the Incredicoaster is one of the more thrilling rides in either side of Greater Metropolitan Disneyland, themed after the Incredibles franchise. It’s another ride that I suspect just received an upgrade, based on how much Incredibles 2 there was in it, and one of the two rides visible from our hotel just outside park grounds. The premise, because we’re in Disneyland so rides need a premise, is that baby Jack-Jack has gotten loose and the entire Parr/Incredibles family is out to catch him. The coaster goes through a series of tunnels, each of which contains a few Incredibles statues, with voice-overs from the cast playing through the back of your seat.

It’s a fun experience, and the only ride in either park where you end up upside-down, and Dara loved it. My only real uncle-failing in those three days was not going with her a second time, wanting instead to head back to Disneyland proper for Indiana Jones and maybe another go-round on Haunted Mansion. I don’t know, maybe the next window for Fast Passes* on the Incredicoaster was too far away. Pixar Pier is trying its best but there’s only so much to do there while waiting for your Fast Pass window.

Anyway, the Incredicoaster is basically perfect, change nothing.

*Those wanting to skip longer lines for the more popular marquee rides can get Fast Passes, but they’re for specific times, they only give out so many per time slot, and after you’ve gotten one they make you wait a while before you can get another. A decent way to make shorter lines possible for all without making the express line as long and slow as the regular line.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout

I suspect this was formerly the Tower of Terror, but has now been re-modeled into the Guardians of the Galaxy, likely as a first step into reclaiming Marvel-based rides from Universal Studios Orlando. Stark Industries fences surrounding the area behind this ride imply more might be on the way.

Anyhoo, on a visit to the collection of Taneleer Tivan, an animatronic Rocket Racoon enlists our “aid” in springing the rest of the Guardians from their display cases, which we saw in a video featuring the full cast (save for Mantis or Nebula and whatnot) that played in the lineup area.

This is my one complaint about this ride. The lineup area was so entertaining that it was the only time that week I felt a lineup went too fast. I kept not noticing it had moved because I was watching the video or getting a photo of an Ultron drone.

The ride boils down to being flung up an elevator shaft to a video of the Guardians, then dropped, then repeat a few times, also once instead of the video it was a camera for a souvenir photo. Pretty fun, though Dara enjoyed it somewhat more than me and much, much more than her grandmother.

Nothing to change here.

Star Tours

Security droids at work.

Before this trip I had only ridden Star Tours in French. My first trip to Disneyland it didn’t exist. My second trip was three days before it opened. My third… must have been closed for repairs? July hardly seems like the time for ride maintenance, but I know for a fact that until last month I’d only ridden Star Tours at Eurodisney, where an excitable French droid flew us through a few familiar sights and into the trench of the Death Star. I knew enough french at the time to follow what he was saying (he assured us that it was okay to be nervous on your first Star Tour flight, because hey, it was his first time too), but it wasn’t the same. And so on day two I stayed in the park after everyone else had left for the hotel because I knew on day three we were at least opening with California Adventure and by God I was riding Star Tours in English.

Was the ride always “flown” by C-3PO and R2-D2? I don’t know. I only know that in 1994, outside of Paris, it was some French droid.

Anyway, I was briefed by friends back home that Star Tours now has a variety of locations that shift from ride to ride, so despite thinking it was still out of date (my first ride took us to Hoth circa Empire Strikes Back and Coruscant circa Revenge of the Sith, which is already an update from the 90s), later rides hit scenes and featured characters from both Force Awakens and The Last Jedi… which no doubt angers the worst kind of Star Wars fan but screw them. Toxic fandoms are why we can’t have nice things.

Sorry, got distracted… ride’s great, change nothing.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

It’s fast, it’s fun, it doesn’t hinge on characters that aren’t popular anymore, what’s not to like? Dara loved it and so did I.

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

Dara’s ready to see some sights.

As our second day of Disney began (the first started in the late afternoon, since we all had to fly to LA and be driven to the far side of it from LAX before Disneying), we monorailed into Tomorrowland, where I was eager to settle a 35-year-old score. When I was a small child, I wanted to ride the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea submarine ride, which had a giant squid in it, but my brother had gotten lost and to my great annoyance my parents insisted on finding their misplaced first born before we could go on any more rides.

So the first thing I pitched on day two was the submarine ride, which has already been upgraded. Instead of cruising past sea creatures and lost Atlantis maybe, the submarine now brings you through a hologram-filled summary of Finding Nemo. Which, yes, based only on how well Jungle Cruise holds up (it doesn’t), is a distinct improvement over the old version.

Dara may not have been thoroughly impressed by the experience, especially since I don’t believe she’s seen Finding Nemo either. I suspect this because we got off the ride and she said to me “…That’s the ride you wanted to go on twice?”

Still though… entertaining.

Space Mountain

A mountain in space. Could not be more clear.

After the submarine ride, the plan was that Dara and I would check out the Matterhorn Bobsleds while my parents figured out Fast Passes and got us some for Haunted Mansion, then we’d all meet back in front of the submarines.

Well, the Matterhorn was also closed for refurbishment. Maybe it’s getting a facelift, maybe it just needed maintenance before the holiday rush, I don’t know. But we returned to Tomorrowland, to the agreed upon waiting spot. When we arrived I looked around, and thought.

“This is the spot,” I said to Dara. “This is the exact spot I had to wait until Grandpa found your dad. Well. This won’t do at all. Want to go on Space Mountain?” She did, so we did.

Ready for space!

It was one of her favourites. Sure, they’d added some spooky space ghost videos along the way to Halloween it up into Space Mountain: Ghost Galaxy, but it would still be fun without them. This one Dara got to do again, and was not having any protests from her grandparents about not joining us.

I could have put this over Finding Nemo Submarine but the stories flow better this way.

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters

It might not be fast but you get to shoot things.

You get a car you can spin around, and lasers to fire at Buzz Lightyear’s nemeses. Dara and I did it twice at least, and I tried to beat my high score each time. She didn’t notice or at least chose not to comment on the fact that I was much better at shooting targets.

Frankly, I feel that their score chart has some unrealistic numbers on it. I shot targets like a mo’fo’ and sometimes the ride stopped but you could keep shooting, but still only made it to the third ranking. I call shenanigans.

I guess if you rode it enough to know where all of the highest scoring targets are you could get higher. I feel that takes devotion.

Indiana Jones Adventure

Various safety signs and the video featuring a John Rhys-Davies impersonator claimed this was a ride like nothing we’d experienced. Okay. Maybe in the early 90s, when it debuted, but that claim has gotten less credible.

I swear this one used to be a multi-track ride, where there were multiple ways it could go. Not so now. I could see there was only one track.

It’s fast and fairly fun, sure. In the 90s they must have known they’d have to move past slow rides where you drift past recognizable characters (or pirates or ghosts) in order to keep up with Six Flags and the increasingly aggressive push into the theme park business from Universal Studios.

Dara didn’t care for it, though. She kept her head down because the safety video said not to look at the eyes of the big idol and she took that very seriously. Also there were a few sections where it was just dark and kind of slow, and when I went back on my solo Sunday trip I confirmed that in at least one case it was from something not working. Specifically the giant boulder missed its cue. Should have just taken her on the Incredicoaster again.

This one doesn’t need an update so much as some repairs and maybe fewer dark corridors.

Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, that stuff

A car takes you through a series of animatronics based on a popular Disney story. There’s a bunch of them. None of them have Fast Passes as far as I know. They’re fine. Dara went on the 100 Acre Wood ride twice in a row, so clearly the kids still like them.

Soarin’ Around the World

You get on a big bench that raises into the air, then watch an IMAX video of swooping past or over famous landmarks from around the world, ending quite coincidentally at Disneyland of all places.

It’s… fine. A little overhyped but not boring. Don’t exactly know what they could do to improve it, short of Star Tours-ing it somehow.

Also don’t know why Patrick Warburton does the safety video, but there he is.

I guess he is a little less successful than I think he is…

Pirates of the Caribbean

Now we get into the old-and-busted, people.

This ride has changed twice since I saw it last. First, I’m positive all the dead-pirate stuff used to be at the end of the ride. Like, the pirates looted and pillaged and, yes, used to be kinda rapey, and then they all died and we had a bunch of skeleton pirates pantomiming pirate life or just near treasure. Now the skeletons are all at the front. So the people in the restaurant that overlooks the start of the ride might have to listen to the booming voice saying “Dead men tell no tales” more often than the Geneva Convention should allow.

Second, the pirate voice-overs have been changed so that pirates occasionally utter complaints about or threats against Captain Jack Sparrow. And, yes, there is at least one, possibly more, robot Jack Sparrows scattered around, most notably one at the very end of the ride sitting on a pie of treasure and giving C-grade Sparrow monologues.

The issue is, they don’t want to replace all of the decades-old pirate robots for a more modern kind of animatronic… if such a thing exists… so the Jacks Sparrow are all designed to look just as old and jerky as the rest of the pirates.

Has this affected the popularity of this ride, based around drifting past pirates not lifelike enough to even approach the uncanny valley? Well, the line was rarely over 30 minutes and it wasn’t eligible for Fast Passes, so you tell me. It’s clearly beneath Splash Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain… all the mountains, really…and instead on par with Peter Pan’s Flight and Alice in Wonderland.

And Dara didn’t care for this one at all. Can’t say I blame her. The pirate ship battling a fortress was pretty cool, with the Barbosa-looking captain at the helm (I suspect Geoffrey Rush was made up to resemble this robot, rather than vice versa), but this was the one time I rolled my eyes at the tacked-on Jack Sparrow references.

You are in a cannon fight with a fortress, dude. Maybe Jack Sparrow’s location and current schemes aren’t your biggest problem right now.

I’m as shocked as anyone that Pirates of the Caribbean is still a movie franchise, but it is, so maybe this ride could use an overhaul to be a little more exciting.

Jungle Cruise

Soon to be a movie starring DwayneTheRock Johnson (just “Dwayne” if you’re feeling familiar), I suspect this one might be due for an upgrade… but based on how little Pirates of the Caribbean changed, I’m probably wrong.

The problem here is that the fifty year-old animatronic animals aren’t as impressive as they were when the park opened, and there is no getting around this. They’re statues that move slightly, and that is not competing with Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey over at Universal. So their method of making the ride more entertaining for attendees is to give the guides a series of jokes to tell along the route. Example… when we passed under a stone arch, our guide said this:

“Does anyone know what these two things that hold up the arch are called? Yeah, I don’t know what you column either.”

Stuff like that.

So it could probably use a new take. I worry that moving it away from “Slowly drift past robots older than disco” might be too much effort.

Splash Mountain

“Uncle Dan is trying to be cool,” Dara said. “Uncle Dan IS cool,” I replied. Also I promise you Dad is both alive and awake.

Okay. So. Splash Mountain. Where it seemed my job was to act as human shield between Dara and the titular splashes. I got very wet. She did not. So it seems she got her way on that one.

It’s an institution, clearly, so you can’t just get rid of it, but the problem, right, the problem is that in between splash descents, it’s all Brer Rabbit scenes. Brer Rabbit hasn’t been a thing in so long that even I can’t name most of what’s happening on this ride. Shenanigans from a movie that they’ve hidden from the public since the Reagan administration.

Maybe having a ride partially based on a movie they won’t even put out on video anymore isn’t the best plan? This one has clearly been coasting on the splashing.

Yes Dara liked Splash Mountain. But did she like the ride, or did she like the fact that Granpa and Uncle Dan got very, very wet? Because I suspect the latter.

Overall, though, Disneyland sure has its charms. Yes, the streetcar that made its way through the California Adventure playing “California Here We Come” over and over seemed like an unendurable hellscape for the poor staffers who had to ride it and wave to people, but the band on Pixar Pier that played upbeat versions of songs from Pixar movies (including this old favourite) was fun. Sure not every ride is a thrillfest, but the ones that are don’t hold back. And Dara certainly had a great time overall. In fact, she wants to go back soon, and when I heard that, I could only say…

“She wants to go back in July? She’s mad. Mad, I tell you.”

Next time… the nostalgia tour begins. Or continues? Not like Disneyland was free of nostalgia…

So there are certainly no shortage of horrors to be found in 2017. No shortage at all. But in the midst of it all, a few special people, a groundhog, and a red thing tried to make the world a little brighter, only to get cut down by YouTube deciding to screw over creators worldwide. They are Glove and Boots, the funniest non-Henson puppets on YouTube.

Mario and Fafa. No, nobody is actually named “Glove” or “Boots.”

Based out of Brooklyn, New York, they’ve been doing puppet-based YouTube comedy blogs for a few years now. In 2017, they decided to try to grow their channel with an ambitious plan to crank up their output. They set out to make 100 videos in one year, from their usual work to various new mini-episode series to monthly live shows on their main channel and weekly streams on Glove and Boots Gaming, where Fafa the Groundhog and Mario the… Mario would try out games for our amusement. And all of it was fun, but all of a sudden it wasn’t working, because YouTube changed its algorithm.

And anyone who’s noticed how social media channels have been getting progressively worse lately just reflexively clenched up reading that. Facebook pushing “Top stories” and hiding things from your news feed, or demanding that Pages boost posts just to reach their audiences; Twitter taking a perfectly functional chronological feed and ruining it with “In case you missed it” tweets from days ago; and now YouTube is screwing over small-to-medium channels. Algorithms ruin everything. Mario and Fafa try to explain what they think happened here, but basically viewership was taking a bigger hit than they could handle.

But I come not to bury Glove and Boots, but to praise them. First of all, they’re not dead. They’re just taking an unplanned and indefinite hiatus while they try to figure out how to deal with their viewership issues. But while that’s happening, there’s a lot of great material on their channel that I suggest you check out. Every view and subscriber could help bring Fafa and Mario back faster.

And also someone has to point viewers at their A-material, because the only video YouTube’s algorithm thinks to recommend is the one where Gorilla dances to Gangnam Style. Goddamn algorithms ruin everything.

The Blog

I mean they called it a blog, but really it was a series of comedy videos starring puppets. Which isn’t to say that they didn’t occasionally try to inform. Witness this explanation of the characters found in the Monomyth, with assistance from Fafa’s toad cousin Johnny T, and why their absence makes Adam Sandler movies suck now. (Sure, that’s the problem.)

Once upon a time a friend and I were considering writing a modern-day Robin Hood movie. This video really helped me break the general story, as I figured out who would fill which roles, and where that took us. And then Hollywood greenlit like half a dozen Robin Hood movies and there didn’t seem to be a point to writing ours anymore, but that’s hardly Fafa’s fault.

Another time, once again with Johnny T’s help, they tried to teach the internet a much-needed lesson about grammar.

And tips on visiting New York I wish I’d seen before my 2014 trip, when I blew an evening seeking out the Original Ray’s.

That was the first one I ever saw. Took me a couple of videos to learn that Johnny T wasn’t the star. And for the record, if you’ve been walking the Coney Island boardwalk for a couple of hours and it’s really sunny out and you just want to eat something indoors, maybe, maybe, there’s a valid reason to go to Applebee’s.

Maybe.

I mean the next time I was in that area we found multiple better places to be than The Applebee’s of Last Resort but at the time… anyway, he’s not wrong about Olive Garden. Times Square hosts the worst Olive Garden in North America, this is known.

But they’re not all educational. Sometimes it’s just about how life would make for a pretty terrible video game.

I could go on and on, because this channel is a gift, but I want to move to some of their other categories.

Product Testing

Sometimes they’d watch a bunch of infomercials, order the products, and field test them for our education and enjoyment, beginning with the most famous disappointing products of Vince the Shamwow guy.

Or witness their experiments with the Rollie: a device for people who find placing eggs over heat and then eating them to be too taxing.

(I have heard a theory that all of the infomercials showing people finding every day tasks to be too challenging are actually, on the DL, trying to sell products to people with disabilities who legitimately find these things hard, but that’s another post, innit.)

And since the end result is just a cylinder of basically normal cooked egg, they had little option but to get weird with it, and see what kind of nightmare tube-omelette they could create.

Now, this process involved watching a lot of infomercials, and this sometimes resulted in tripping over comedy gold, as explored in their first-ever live broadcast. Join me now for the saga of “I LOVE.”

You know, coming up with comedy is hard, coming up with comedy on the spot is harder… coming up with comedy on the spot whilst operating a puppet? You have to give it up for that.

Songs!

Turns out Fafa the Groundhog can also belt out a tune. So since YouTube is sometimes just a long Weird Al Yankovic album with zero quality control, Glove and Boots got into the song parody game. Sure, some of them are simple parodies, like turning “Uptown Funk” into a ballad honouring Shaolin kung fu, but they’ve done some fun music videos over the years. Here’s a for instance… when Canada’s king of space, gentleman astronaut Chris Hadfield, did a cover of David Bowie’s Space Oddity while actually in space, Glove and Boots decided they wanted in on it and snuck Fafa into space with him.

Well… not literally. But even if you don’t want Hadfield trivia sung to the tune of Rocket Man (it gets away from them a little), it’s mostly worth it for Mario’s initial confusion over who’s who.

Mario’s failure to get how the song goes is also what makes their cover of “All Together Now” so damned charming. Well, that and Fafa’s stuffed bear. And frankly the original doesn’t have enough references to old-school rapper Biz Markie. Good add, Mario.

Now, if you want to understand who the rest of the puppets are, and why two of the are Wolverine and Thor, you need to get into the back catalogue, but I’m fine with that since that is what I’m trying to get you to do.

Want to hear Blurred Lines turned into an explanation for Robin Thicke’s legal issues over the song? They’ve got you covered. Want to see The Beatles end some pop culture rivalries? They damn it I used “covered” too soon this one IS just a cover the wordplay would have been– anyway here it is. They also taught me what “mumblerap” is, and why it’s awful, yet still created something enjoyable by parodying someone calling himself “Lil Yachty,” and more egregiously, calling himself “talented.”

Moving along…

Shooting for 100 videos

Making 100 videos in one year was an ambitious goal, especially since the main videos have backgrounds to green screen and occasionally puppets to fabricate. So they came up with some easy-to-shoot shorts. Mario attempted to improve our vocabularies through “Mario’s Word of the Week,” sometimes to his own detriment…

Johnny T. tried to show us all a better way of living with “Don’t Be a Dummy…”

And one of their uncles was turned into a squirrel for some true stories that became some of their weirdest material since that countdown to Christmas from two years back, “Santa’s Secret Stories.” Man, those were odd.

Plus there was their gaming channel, which… look, Slime Rancher doesn’t seem, on paper, like a good game. Seems like an FPS merged with Farmville. But watching Fafa play it… or more accurately watching Mario watch Fafa playing it… if I hadn’t been having budgetary issues, I might have bought it and started playing it that day.

Really looking forward to resuming a lifestyle where spending $25 isn’t intimidating. But that’s neither here nor there.

Look, you guys, I know I just threw a lot of videos at you right there, but I promise you, watch even half of them and you’ll thank me, because these guys are delightful, and as someone who tried to launch a YouTube channel of his own, it’s heartbreaking to see them put so much work into providing free entertainment and then hit a wall that forces them to stop because of a goddamned algorithm. 

The worst part, the worst part, isn’t just knowing that Facebook and YouTube and Twitter aren’t adding these algorithms for us, they know we hate them, but are doing it strictly for monetization. The worst part is that knowing that and pointing it out doesn’t help, because as long as it is helping monetization, they’re going to keep doing it, and they’ve got us by the short-n-curlies on this, because I am not going back to calling people to see if they want to see Star Wars when I’m seeing Star Wars. And while new streaming sites are happening, none of them are YouTube killers.

That got away from me.

I had a dream. A dream that one day, my webseries would grow to a point where I could talk Glove and Boots into doing a guest appearance. That Jeff would do a bunch of peyote, end up on a vision quest, and have Mario and Fafa pop up to guide him, or possibly just point out just how badly he’s tripping.

Keith (my co-writer) and I would have guest starred as well. After a few seasons of us being background extras, Jeff would have snapped and demanded to know why we were always in the background of everything he did. Man that would have been a fun episode. But I knew it would be a hard sell. Our first season didn’t break out the way we wanted, so would we ever be worth their attention? And getting funding to keep it going proved daunting, and now it’s been long enough I’m chasing funds for something different… but I liked the idea that it was possible. And I always thought they’d be there if the time came.

Glove and Boots was never supposed to end.

And maybe it hasn’t! They certainly want to keep going. They have an absurd amount of fun making these videos, if the amount of shots that end in one or both of them cracking up tell us anything. But nobody knows when or, more importantly, how yet.

But in the meantime, check them out. Enjoy their back catalogue. There’s great stuff in there and more supporters are always better.

Hurry back, Fafa and Mario. My day was always better when you were in it.

So there came a time, after Christmas and into the first days of January, when I found myself in kind of a bad place. Always feeling run-down, ill, and completely unable to maintain a positive mood for more than a couple of minutes.

It has been seven years since I’ve had THAT little fun at a New Year’s Eve party.

I think I know what the problem was. See, right at the beginning of this rough patch, I ran out of synthroid, the pill I take to replenish the thyroid hormones that my immune system targets when it could be taking less than four god damn months to get over a cough sorry, sorry, digressed a bit there… anyway, it’s the pill I take every morning so that I have anything approaching a metabolism. I’d had to switch to my hoard of older, lower dose pills while I went through the process of getting a re-up from my physician.

Ugh. See what I did there? I could have just said “I was under-medicated,” but instead I spent an entire paragraph making sure you knew this was a physical ailment, not mental. I don’t know if it was out of fear that people would assume I suffer from depression (which is a crap fear to have, that should be less embarrassing than needing to take pills for my cholesterol), or from not wanting to be one of those people faking a mental illness or disability to get attention or justify crap behaviour (“It’s not my fault, it’s my self-diagnosed Asperger’s”), but… you know what? On January 28th we’re having a conversation about this. But for now I’m moving on.

Getting out of a place

Right around the time I returned to a proper dose of synthroid, I also decided that it was time to stop looking without for solutions to my bad headspace, and look within. It was time to double down on the thing that always made me feel, well, if not always happy, per se, at least satisfied. Writing. Creating. Storytelling. So I threw myself into whatever writing project I could find. I blogged about movies, Oscar-bait or Hobbit-based. I finished a first draft of a short one-act play for a possible anthology show. I took a stab at a skeleton of an outline for a screenplay my Writers’ Circle co-writer and I want to do this year. I felt… calm. Fulfilled. Myself again. Ready to let go of some of the anxieties and bad thoughts that had been dragging me down. Not all of them, no, it was a three small writing projects, let’s not ask them to work miracles, but still, a start.

Of course, then my projects all hit the usual wall: the wall of needing someone else’s input. The short play was done (for now), I’d gotten as far as I could on the outline without input from my co-writer, and I was back to blogging about old plays. I wanted more. Writing, creating, this was my way out, and I wasn’t ready to stop, sit back, and play Assassin’s Creed until it was time to do a new draft of something.

I needed a new project. And, yes, sure, there are some ongoing projects I could have been paying attention to, at least I think there are, I haven’t checked in a lot lately, but… something got into my head.

The Spark

An old idea. One I’d cast aside a long time ago, but found that there were aspects I didn’t hate. Sure, nearly a decade ago, I couldn’t pull it off, certainly not for the stage. This wouldn’t be a dust-off or a quick polish job. This would be, if anything, only slightly less drastic than the process that turned Jade Monkey into Tyler and Selena. And it would be easy to look at everything else I’m doing, stage, internet, and possibly screen, and say… why bother? Leave it in the past. Move on to the next thing. But first, as we established, all of my “next things” are waiting on workshops, other feedback, or meetings with partners. And second…

There was one scene. One scene that I felt should have been the turning point. Where the protagonist finds his first taste of redemption, where the character I wanted to be the Kaylee-from-Firefly of the cast (the sweet one whose affection for the main character tells us we can like said character as well) is rewarded at long last. And in my first attempt… it failed. It failed as purely and utterly as everything else I tried to do with that story.

And that started to stick in my craw a little.

I didn’t want this scene to be awful. I thought there was potential for a moment of beauty here. A moment where the joy of the characters could seep through to the audience. And maybe I’m wrong, maybe that moment’s impossible, but damn it, I could get closer to it than this. And I wanted to at least try to see it realized.

And that notion lingered. How this moment could be improved. It grew from a “what if” into one of those things, where the only way to exorcise the idea from my mind was to write it down. So I decided… take a crack at it. Write that one scene. See how it turns out. And if you think it’s closer to the effect you wanted… keep going.

That was a few days back. I’m still at it.

Friends old and new

There is something… liberating about this project, for the simple reason that I’m not writing it for anything. It’s not a stage play. Scorpio Theatre needs not worry or care about it. It’s written to be filmed, but I haven’t picked a medium. If it’s not too long, maybe it’s a movie. If it keeps stretching, maybe it’s a series. I don’t know and it doesn’t yet matter. I’m just… writing it until I feel it’s written. There’s miles to go and mountains to climb before it’s even worth thinking about rolling cameras. Couldn’t begin to afford it now, have other things I want to do first if we start convincing people to give us money to make things. I’m writing it for the joy. For the rush. For the indescribable way the characters become like friends, and the pleasure of spending time in their world.

That’s when writing stops being a chore and becomes a passion. As, one by one, the cast becomes people I like, that I care about, that I want to see triumph. Well, after I’m done being awful to them in the name of the story. First things first.

It’s been a good feeling. Good enough that I’m not even sweating the fact that eventually I’ll be done, and will have to deal with wanting to do something with it, yet being largely unable to. Or the fact that despite throwing out every word of the first draft and starting over on a white piece of paper, there might be enough flaws in the basic premise that it can’t be saved. I’ll cross those bridges when I come to them.

For now, it’s just nice to be tinkering away, spending time with friends old and new, hoping that nobody thinks the amount of time I’m spending at home with my computer and DVDs is a bad sign and threatens an intervention.

Thought a “here’s the writing projects taking all of my time” post would be a better than a “here’s why there hasn’t been a blog in three weeks” post, which has been my usual approach.

‘Till next time, then.

There’s something missing from my life.

Who Knows, the Doctor Who tribute play I’d been directing since March, came to an end a week and a half ago. And for all my attempts to stay busy and avoid the typical post-show crash of depression… I miss it. I miss seeing my delightful cast every day. I miss waiting for the gasps from the audience when the Dalek made its appearance. I miss the cheers we’d get from certain houses when a notable costume turned up, like when Roger entered as the Master at the top of act two, or when Sarah James emerged from the vent in Amy Pond’s kiss-a-gram outfit. I miss it all… but I can’t have it back.

So, rather than dwell on things left behind (after all, first rehearsal for Frost/Nixon is but 12 days away), let’s do a speed round of Favourite Things that never really seemed worth a full post.

Allons-y! (Damn it, now I’m just depressing myself…)

Welcome Back, Potter

I would do a whole piece on Cracked Studios, and attempt to review each of their three (thus far) series, but every time I try I lose steam something hard. It’s like, “Why am I writing this down, and why would anyone read it?” So instead, let’s just cover everything I like about the latest (and most publicized) series, Welcome Back, Potter.

First, let’s be real, I find Michael Swaim and Daniel O’Brien hilarious, and Katy Stoll to be funny, engaging, and super cute. Put these three together in a parody of anything and I’m going to watch it.

One of my favourite After Hours episodes, also written by Swaim, is the one where they tear apart Harry Potter. It’s not that I dislike Harry Potter (I don’t), but whether we’re talking books or movies, that series has some holes, and Swaim knows how to exploit them for laughs. The notion that 12 year-old Harry Potter (should have been 11, but whatevs) would, upon learning he’s destined to fight the most evil wizard who ever lived, simply book it for America and hide tickles me. As do various other shots at Potter lore, from wondering if they tried to fight Voldemort with anything besides young orphans to the fact that wizarding school gives you zero prep for life in muggle world, to the fate of the Dursleys in a world where Harry lacked adult supervision (they had a run-in with some water moccasins).

It’s a fun series, and Daniel O’Brien’s take on Ron Weasley as a Jersey Shore guido (“I deeply regret so much of how I look and act. OH!”) is reliably amusing. Michael Swaim has been pushing it with behind-the-scenes videos and articles, so he clearly want to make more, and I’m hoping he gets to. Thus, me plugging it.

5-second Films

The mission statement of 5-second Films is a simple one: wasting your time, but not very much of it. For several years, the team put out a video every day, each lasting only five seconds (well, plus two seconds of opening credit and one second of closing). Somehow I managed not to hear about them until just recently, despite the fact that they got popular enough to feature guest appearances from Patton Oswalt, some of the Cracked staffStan Lee, Larry King, Weird Al, and Freddie Wong.

Look, this one’s pretty simple. And if all of those links aren’t swaying you, here’s a sampler.

Their output has diminished recently, as they’ve been working on a feature length film based on one of their videos, Dude Bro Party Massacre Three. Or maybe they actually were concerned that the rise of Vine made them obsolete. I don’t know. I’m not internet-famous enough to have spoken to them personally. But it’s probably the movie thing.

That said, if you’re just discovering them, like me, there are hundreds upon hundreds of five second comedy films to check out (and five really depressing ones from Bummer Week), so have at.

The Flash Trailer

I watch this a lot.

Okay. Lightning round.

  • Even people I know who don’t watch Arrow are talking about how good this looks. For me, a massive fan of Arrow? I cannot wait.
  • Harrison Wells (guy in the wheelchair, aka JD’s brother from Scrubs) seems to have a secret room somewhere. Six to five and pick ’em he’s betraying Barry by the end of season one.
  • Some people complain that they’re giving Flash his own team right off, instead of building it organically like Arrow did. On the other hand? One of his team is Caitlin Snow, better known to comics fans as Killer Frost, so between her and Wells this might not be the reliable inner circle that Oliver Queen has.
  • They call the bad guy, generally believed to be classic Flash villain Weather Wizard, “Clyde Mardon,” which is actually the Weather Wizard’s brother, and the man he stole his weather powers from. So if he doesn’t survive the pilot, don’t panic. I’m sure the Rogues are coming.
  • Barry’s father is being played by John Wesley Shipp, the star of the last Flash TV series. Come on, that’s cool.
  • The addition of legit super powers to the Arrowverse is everything I’ve been waiting for.
  • I’m not saying that if enough people watch this, they will cross over Arrow and Flash into the Justice League movie (in fact it is all but assured that they won’t), but it could not hurt.

My webseries films soon

It’s coming, dear readers. Writers’ Circle: the Web Series is mere weeks from rolling. When that starts happening, you’re going to be hearing about it. A lot. I’m not sorry. It’s just what has to happen.

Also, it’s going to be amazing, so you’re going to want to be in the loop.

Next time… I don’t know. I’m hoping by next time I’m past this “Nothing seems worth blogging about” thing and ranting about nerd stuff again. Or, you know, something like that. Well. Until then.

So I hit a chord with many people in writing an open letter to one of my great regrets. Thought I might see if I could strike a similar chord talking about things that bring me real joy. Some of those things have to do with television. I know, it doesn’t seem like a proper subject for such discussions, but until such a time as I can fly to Australia on a whim to watch the sun set over Uluru (formerly known by its slave name, Ayers Rock) or take off to Chicago to see an old friend in a play and then take said friend out for the deep dish pizza I’ve been craving since 1996, well, television just has to do sometimes.

As long as it’s good television.

Which brings me to this: an open letter to a friend I’ve been introducing to Doctor Who, which may prove enlightening to others I’ve tried to convert.

Sad is happy for deep people

Hey there friend. So one day, months ago, I convinced you to try out Doctor Who. The new series, not the classics. Not yet, anyway. And you were hooked fast, amazed when I said these first few episodes that had captured your attention were “the rough patch.” But it hasn’t been an easy journey. This show does like to mix its wit, charm and adventure with frequent doses of heartbreak. Maybe the BBC feels that even what they consider “family programming” should be delivering some important lessons to young viewers: people leave, and sometimes there’s nothing to be done about it but be sad for a while; no matter the tragedy, there may be a triumph right around the corner, you just need to be willing to look for it; bad things happen to good people, and it’s not fair; sometimes humanity is the real monster, whether it’s malice, greed, or the simple laziness that makes people not care how their products were made or by who as long as they stay cheap.

But I digress. Heartbreak comes, and it comes kind of often, and we tease you about that. There were some extremely sad goodbyes already, and you can tell another’s on the horizon, and you’re dreading it. Which our constant reminders don’t help. Well, they’re not supposed to, we’re specifically tormenting you with them because we’re terrible people.

But what we don’t frequently remind you of is the moments of joy that this show delivers. For every “I’m burning up a sun just to say goodbye,” there’s a moment like “Just this once, everybody lives!” Or the simple emotional climax of one of my other favourites: “Not now, not again Craig, the planet’s about to burn, for God’s sake kiss the girl!” Moments like the end of The Big Bang, where you want to cry not because it’s sad, but because it’s so beautiful. So… perfect.

Which is not to say the sad moments won’t come. Just that they’re worth it. Vincent and the Doctor is one of my go-to episodes to rewatch, yet it brings a tear to my eye every time. It may end sadly, but before it does there are moments of such incredible beauty that they can make you, for a moment, see our world for the incredible miracle that it is, and that the occasional tragedy can’t change that. An hour that’s beautiful and tragic at the same time. No wonder it’s about Vincent Van Gogh.

Doctor Who is these things in (relatively) equal measure, and that’s why I love it. Stephen Moffat put it best in his episode The Girl in the Fireplace: one can tolerate a world of demons for the sake of an angel. Those moments when the Doctor works his magic and everything’s wonderful make the moments when he can’t worthwhile. The tear-soaked goodbyes are worth it for those moments when the Doctor realizes he’s thrown on his old bow tie without realizing it, and that the old madman with a box is still alive, even after he thought he’d lost everything. (That doesn’t make sense to you but it will eventually, it’s a nice moment in The Snowmen.)

Or maybe it was Blink that put it best: “Sad is happy for deep people.”

Feeling is good, feeling is human

And what it comes down to is, why would you want to watch anything that can’t make you feel things this strongly? Yes, it breaks your heart now and then, but the fact that it can is part of what makes it amazing. I’ve been looking at my TV viewing, and making some cuts from my line-up as I realize that I’ve been missing out on amazing shows like Homeland and Breaking Bad because I’ve been too busy keeping up on Nashville. Nashville. And I spent most of my time watching that playing Minesweeper while waiting for a plotline I cared about to happen. So I dropped it. Because I’d rather be watching something that grips me, even if it’s not always a laugh. Like Game of Thrones, even if I dreaded The Red Wedding so much it damn near gave me nightmares. Skins might enrage me from time to time, but at least it’s engaging me. In 18 episodes (per generation) they made me care more about some of those stupid self-destructive British teenagers than I ever cared or could possibly care about the Glee kids, even before Glee became an engine for churning out iTunes singles. Hawaii Five-O… still having second thoughts about dropping that one, but for all the witty banter and decent action, it is no Justified and never will be.

Doctor Who is going to crush me later this year. The biggest, most painful goodbye in nearly four years is on the horizon. And yet I still can’t wait to see what happens afterwards. I mean, I’ll have to, there’ll be about nine months in between, but still.

And that is its power. It is a source of wonder, of excitement, and of pure joy, a joy made all the more powerful by the pain that comes along the way. And that’s why I try so hard to share it with people. To spread wonder, excitement, and joy. Isn’t that worth a few tears?

Thanks for bearing with me, folks. Next time, I’ll be hilariously angry about pop culture. That’s always fun, right?