Month: October 2012

Roelof Kiers Documentary, Part 3

Still NSFW, for drug references, lady butt, and more open, not-altogether-pretty discussion of rock musicians' sex lives.

But I find the discussion of bloodless revolution far more interesting.


You know, it feels different this time.

The last long-term contract I had ended in 2010 and was followed by three months' unemployment (aside from a few freelance Web assignments).

This time I've already had an interview. Haven't heard back from them (they never call when they say they will -- you know, I've often made the unflattering comparison between looking for work and trying to meet women, and I'm afraid it's once again apt here) but I think it went pretty well.

And today I got a cold call. Well, a bulk E-Mail, at any rate. Only for a three-day job, and it steps on the last few hours of my current contract, but I think I can make it work.

Good pay for three days; obviously I'd rather get something longer-term, but it beats the hell out of unemployment.

Seriously, unemployment sucks; I very much hope to avoid it. We'll see...

Roelof Kiers Documentary, Part 2

More on Frank's influences, Call Any Vegetable, and some time with the family and the GTO's. There's a naked baby Dweezil, in case that's something you're concerned about, and Miss Lucy's frank discussion of being a groupie lands this pretty squarely in NSFW territory.

Doctor Who: Scream of the Shalka

Another old Who review. Originally posted Bronto, 2008-07-11. This is about Scream of the Shalka, starring Richard E Grant -- which is timely, as Grant's set to show up in this year's Christmas special.

Scream of the Shalka is an animated Webcast from '03 that was originally intended to serve as a pilot for a new series.

All in all, the biggest weakness is Richard E Grant's Doctor: bluntly, he's a prick. He's got all of Eccleston's sarcasm and condescension, with none of his whimsy or manic energy.

Now, there's a reason the Doctor is a prick, it's just not a very good or interesting one. The canonical #9 and #10 have done the "guilt and isolation" schtick too, but much better; the Doctor covering up his personal pain with constant wackiness is much more enjoyable than covering it up by simply insulting everyone and brooding all the time.

The most interesting element of the series is the robotic Master -- one of very few hints that Grant's Doctor has a sense of humor, and the only thread I would have liked to see developed had this made it to series. (The one brief nod on the current series: Derek Jacobi appearing as the Master in Utopia.) The serial's writer, Paul Cornell, would go on to use a similar idea years later in his Action Comics run, starring Lex Luthor and a robotic Lois Lane.

Aside from that, it's a generic alien invasion plot. The animation is serviceable -- and, since it's properly-done Flash, vector graphics and all, looks great on an HDTV -- but very low-budget; it would definitely look at home alongside any number of current cartoons on Nickelodeon or CN. Animations are simple, backgrounds are practically nonexistent (but lots of Kirby dots!). The animators' later attempts (the missing eps in The Invasion and The Infinite Quest) look a good deal better.

Anyway. It's worth checking out; the price is right. And I'd like to see more animated Who (either new stuff or more Invasion-style fill-ins of missing episodes). But ultimately, it's like the '96 movie: it's an interesting "What-If" for a series that never was, but the one we got instead is much better.

Roelof Kiers Documentary, Part 1

A Dutch documentary from 1971. In this segment, Zappa talks about being a juvenile delinquent, becoming interested in R&B guitar, and being influenced by Edgard Varèse.

Live In-Person Replication of Freeze-Dried Material -> Milli Vanilli-ism

You know who knows how to put on a concert that doesn't sound like an album? Bob Dylan. I've seen him a couple times -- you can't even sing along; even if you know the lyrics he completely changes the rhythm and phrasing. (And yes there is an easy joke in there somewhere about not being able to understand Dylan's lyrics. But even if you do!)

You've probably noticed by now that Frank's concert arrangements were not the same as the album arrangements -- and that's without even getting into improvisation.

I never got to see Frank live; he died when I was 11 years old. But I've seen Zappa Plays Zappa some 3 or 4 times, and it's fucking delightful how different it is from what's on Frank's albums. (There are plenty of examples but the one that jumps out at me is Dirty Love -- maybe 3, 4 years ago? Woo woo!)

Can't imagine why anyone would go to a fucking concert to duplicate the experience of listening to a recording. I want to be surprised and delighted.

As One Door Closes

Today was the celebration for the end of the project I'm on.

I'll be honest -- I wasn't terribly in the mood for celebration. The thing we were celebrating is the same thing that means I will be filling out an unemployment form two weeks from now.

(That's a little glib. My temp agency has, once again, stepped up; I've already had an interview and even if that doesn't work out they told me they've got another bite. Still and all, the point is that with the project over I've got my walking papers, wherever I may be walking to.)

The boss took us out to lunch. And one of the help desk guys asked me, "So what's next for Thad?"

This is exactly the kind of thing that I would have assumed would upset or depress me -- people actually acknowledging that yeah my days here are numbered. (Ten.)

But it didn't. The way he said it -- friendly, upbeat. Optimistic. Just the assumption in his phrasing -- there is something that's next for Thad.

And that cheered me right the fuck up. After that my day wasn't such a downer.

And then we went and raced go-karts.

Powdered Toastman

Featuring Frank Zappa as the Pope.

Ren & Stimpy is available for purchase or streaming at Amazon, or on Netflix. Contrary to the title of the DVD set, the episodes are not uncut; most notably the entire Bloody Head Fairy sequence is missing from Haunted House. This episode, however, is intact and is not the cut-up version shown on Nickelodeon.

(I'm not sure about the streaming versions but have no reason to think they'd be any different from the DVD release.)

Anyway. Zappa loved oddball cartoons, so he fits right in here.

And I'm sure one of these days I'll get to Duckman...

Doctor Who: Survival

Another old Who review; originally posted on Brontoforumus, 2008-04-11. This episode directly follows the last two I reviewed, Ghost Light and The Curse of Fenric.

The original 26-year run concludes with the ironically-titled Survival. (Gloria Gaynor can relate, I'm sure.)

It lacks the deeper themes and clever storytelling of the two preceding serials, and, due to the presence of Cheetah People, is far, far sillier. But it's a fun, if nonsensical, straight-up Doctor versus Master story, and is significant both for the last appearance of Ainley as the Master (a 1990's adventure game notwithstanding) and of course the series finale. Plus it explains what the Master's doing with yellow cat eyes in the 1996 TV movie.

$25 at Amazon; comes with a second disc that apparently has a lot of extra features dealing with the historical significance of the ep. It's not available streaming on Amazon Prime or Netflix; if you're still doing the disc version of Netflix I'd say get it that way, and the second disc is optional. The serial's worth checking out, but its predecessors are better.