Sometimes

trenzaloreI have a disorganized mind. I feel like I’m always tired. I’m not sure why. At work, my coworkers and my manager are constantly correcting me on stuff. Thing is, I usually figure out my mistake…one second after I make it. So I don’t really need what I just did wrong explained to me. But I feel awkward saying that. So I stand there and nod. I still am not on bar, which is a bit of a problem for a guy who’s been working at a coffee shop for almost two months. Every day, I show up and do whatever they tell me to. So I guess the fact that they haven’t gotten around to training me on that stuff is more a function of my getting stuck at the cash register all the time than anything else. I just feel awkward all the time.

Someone is bound to ask me what I thought of “The Day of the Doctor”, so I’ll just say this: It sucked. The Tom Baker cameo was inspired and God knows Steven Moffat has a gift for writing snappy one-liners, but the plot was basically a feature-length retcon. Defenders will argue that since the 10th Doctor and the War Doctor go back to their own lives unable to remember that they actually did manage to avoid wiping out their own race, stuff really has changed, but that just seems like a way to have your cake and eat it, too. The message of the 50th Anniversary Special, as far as I can tell, is that no matter how big your mistake was, you can always go back in time and fix it. That is a deeply cynical message–dangerous, even. So if you think I’m just some grouch who hates anything even remotely optimistic, ask yourself why I’m such a bad guy for asking people to face the fact that sometimes, life just sucks. Moffat’s storylines tend to be well-constructed, but leave me disengaged. This one was no different.

And one more thing: How exactly does wiping the memories of both the humans and the Zygons help them negotiate a peace treaty? That only works if both sides are a little bit right and a little bit wrong. But they weren’t: The Zygons invaded unprovoked. That means they need to get the fuck off planet Earth and never come back. I suppose you could argue that whatshername was wrong to threaten to blow up London, too, but that’s just false equivalency bullshit. As always, Moffat’s solution to the conflict is, essentially, to avoid it. Forgive me if I find that unconvincing.

I’m searching for words to explain why I still butt heads with other nerds over shit like this, and I think the answer is this: prejudice. I know I’m not the only one who felt this way about “The Day of the Doctor”, but voice that opinion on some of the message boards out there and you will be laughed out of the room. Is it so hard for the fans of the current series to admit that maybe there are contrary opinions out there? No, because if you disagree, you’re the bad guy. At a certain point, it’s useless to argue with people, because they see whatever they want to see. One person mocked me for saying that the Doctor’s actions in the special had no consequence because he’s still bound for Trenzalore, same as he was before. Um…how the fuck is that a consequence? If everything’s exactly the same as it was an hour ago, then nothing has changed. That’s exactly the opposite of a consequence.

A lot of people think they are defending change when they are actually just defending the status quo. There’s one gay couple on YouTube that I tend to follow closely, but have found myself getting bored with as of late. Sure, I would welcome the chance to hang out with them; I just don’t understand why they are so anxious to make themselves an icon of modern gay life. It takes remarkable humility to let the public see the mundane (actually, surprisingly interesting) details of your day-to-day life, but also a hint of self-satisfaction. You might change some folks’ minds, and that’s a good thing, but any progress that you make is dependent on your life and relationship staying healthy. I’ve watched a lot of Will and RJ’s videos, but I still don’t know what they look like when they’re at their worst. That’s a problem, albeit one that it took me a while to tease out.

At a certain point, I don’t see a distinction between rewriting history and rewriting history but making sure nobody knows you rewrote history. The 9th Doctor’s character was defined by the tragedy of seeing his entire race get wiped out in the Time War. If you’re going to have the 11th Doctor go back in time and prevent that from happening, why not have him prevent the assassination of Abraham Lincoln or JFK? Why not just have him prevent every bad thing that has ever happened, ever? If you set up a universe in which anything can be changed at any time, then nothing has any meaning, and the whole thing is pointless. I don’t give a shit that he won’t remember that he rewrote history until he regenerates twice. It’s a copout. Moffat wants to change some things, but have everything else stay the same. It’s too convenient. Life doesn’t work that way. And neither does science fiction.

I guess what’s giving me such a hard time these days is that people want an explanation out of me, and sometimes, I don’t know why I did what I just did. But I’m not going to apologize for it, nor will I apologize for saying that there is something wrong with somebody else’s opinion. You can disagree with me, ignore me, or call me a bigot. But I remain unconvinced.

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Things

“Yeah, I don’t have a problem with the things I like becoming more popular, I have a problem with the things I like becoming more like the things that are popular.” –Some anonymous internet commmenter

Craig Ferguson said something about the enduring popularity of Doctor Who that helps to explain it: “It’s all about the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism.” At its core, Doctor Who maintains the belief that love and friendship can win out even in the most desperate of circumstances. Russell T. Davies, the first showrunner for the reboot, was criticized both for his over-reliance on broad humor and his melodramatic tendencies. It’s an odd combo. Under his guidance, Who tended to be either too dark or too goofy. Occasionally, he hit the sweet spot, and while I have issues with what he did to the show, I think there he showed a little bit more consistency than he gets credit for. One thing people forget about Who is that even though it has matured a lot over the years, it’s still basically a kids’ showor at least, a kid-friendly one. So good on RTD for at least not doing some sort of Christopher Nolanesque gritty reboot.

Now let’s talk about Steven Moffat. He’s been running the show for the last couple seasons. I don’t like him very much. He is probably a more talented writer than RTD, but he doesn’t get the show the way Davies did. It’s not supposed to be a time travel show; it’s an adventure show that features time travel. There’s a difference. It used to be that time travel paradoxes were the exception rather than the rule, but Moffat has never met a time travel paradox he didn’t like. I’ve said this before and I will say it again: Doctor Who has gotten watered down. It’s far more mainstream than it used to be, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I have problems with some of the changes that have been made along the way.

It’s hard to pin down any one thing that explains my growing distaste for Doctor Who fandom. I mean, I should be happy that more people are getting into it, shouldn’t I? And it’s not like I was into it before it was popular, because I didn’t start watching until late 2009/early 2010, which is not so very long ago. I could argue that since I stared with the original series rather than the new one, my fandom is somehow purer, but that’s pure horseshit. It’s not about Classic Who vs. NuWho anyway. There is stuff I like about the new series, and since the show reinvents itself every time they bring in a new Doctor or showrunner, both series have had their fair share of ups and downs. There aren’t two series, just one that had a sixteen year break in the middle. Even so, there are trends that have creeped in over the years that bug me. Who gives a shit about Rose’s quasi-romance with the Doctor? I mean, I know there are people who do, but I hate them, so they don’t count. Some found Donna shrill, but she was the only NuWho companion who talked back. And who didn’t have romantic feelings. I miss the days when the Doctor-companion relationships were platonic. Not every story needs a romance to be complete.

Pretty much everybody agrees the Colin Baker years were a low point in Doctor Who history. Tell me that isn't the single most hideous outfit you've ever seen.

Pretty much everybody agrees that the Colin Baker years were a low point in Doctor Who history. Tell me that isn’t the single most hideous outfit you’ve ever seen.

I don’t like to be “that guy”. I refuse to go around telling my fellow Whovians that they don’t get what Doctor Who is really about, but I do. So I’ll just explain why I like what I like and hope somebody listens. Eccleston is only NuWho Doctor I really like. He’s uncannily convincing as an alien. I respect David Tennant, but found that there was something phony about his acting. He played the Doctor like he had a checklist of traits that the character should possess, and as long as he hit those points, he’d be fine. It doesn’t work that way. Tennant was an obsessed fanboy from an early age, citing Peter Davison, the Fifth Doctor, as his main inspiration for getting into acting. (He’s also married to Davison’s daughter. Talk about obsessed…) But I just don’t like Matt Smith. He’s surprisingly believable as a 900 year-old, but most of the time, all he does is talk about how clever he is. Remember when Eccleston told the Dalek to “just die”? That was intense. I do feel that Smith brings a certain gravitas to the role (like when he tells the Silurian not to try any of that “last of my kind” bullshit on him, thank you very much), but his performance (like most of Steven Moffat’s tenure) just feels soulless to me.

I don’t get along with one of my coworkers. If that seems out of nowhere, it’s because I’ve run out of things to say about Doctor Who and this is my blog, so fuck you. He has the same job as me (retail associate), but treats me like a subordinate. I suppose me he means well (he’s awfully friendly when he’s not being a dick), but he snaps at me every time I make a mistake, and sometimes even when I don’t. The shift leader will tell me to do something, I’ll leave the register to do it, and he’ll chastise me for leaving the register. Um…who made you shift leader, dude? Some days, he’ll come in even though he doesn’t work that day and sit around chatting with customers and the other employees and criticizing me every time I do something differently than he would. It’s got to stop, and I’m starting to talk back, just a little. I hope he’ll get the message. I don’t like drama and I don’t like confrontation, so as far as I’m concerned, if he could show just a little bit more restraint when it comes to “helping” the people who are newer to the job, we’ll be fine. Because I am not apologizing for a single word that I have just written.

So yeah, uh, the 50th anniversary special airs today. Enjoy your coffee.

Want One

A coffee shop is kind of an odd place for an introvert to work. Oh, I’m sure I’m not the only one, but my coworkers are almost all more outgoing and personable than I am. Of course, the same could be said for the general population. Nonetheless, the difference is even more pronounced here. I like to think that I can still relate to customers but even if my shift is only four hours long, I tend to go home and sit alone in the dark for hours on end. It’s tiring.

I think I’m starting to get to the bottom of why I find my affection for Tarantino slipping. His massive ego and punchable face don’t help, but they aren’t really the problem. In his interview with Howard Stern (over an hour long, but I’ll post it here just in case anyone has the time), he said that he doesn’t want to have any bad films on his resume. I would argue that he already does, but never mind. He claims that making one stinker removes two good films from your oeuvre, which is simply bullshit. Robert Altman cranked out at least one movie a year for several decades and the occasional dud does nothing to diminish the greatness of his (many) classics. To be fair, the game is probably a little different for Tarantino, who makes only one movie every two or three years. Even so, he seems as if he’s playing it a little safe. Since he’s scared to make a total piece of shit, he can’t bring himself to swing for the fences. So he makes hyperviolent revenge fantasy after hyperviolent revenge fantasy because he knows he can do it. No surprise that his most mature film—Jackie Brown—is also his most underrated.

This story has been circulating the internet lately. In it, a bunch of churchgoing dbags go out to eat and stiff their waiter because he’s gay. How did they know he was gay? Most likely, it’s because he was really effeminate. But how did they know he had sex with men? They claim not to approve of his lifestyle, but they know nothing about his lifestyle. Maybe he doesn’t have sex with men because he knows that’s not God’s plan. Maybe he even has a wife. But they refused to tip him anyway because they don’t approve of his “lifestyle”, which is basically just a churchy way of saying, “Your mannerisms offend us; fuck off and die, faggot.” Doesn’t sound very Christian to me.

One of my favorite websites, The A.V. Club, is no longer the site it used to be. It’s disappointing. For over five years, it has been my go-to spot for all things pop cultural. It was a safe space, if you will, and the writers, to use a cliche, did start to seem like my friends after a while. But now, everything has changed. A handful of my favorite writers have left to work on another website that is not quite as interesting. The comment section has been revamped, and it’s nowhere near as convenient and easy to navigate as it used to be. And to top it all off, they’ve given it a new layout that is an eyesore. It used to be lots of text with some pictures, which may not have been an attention-getter, but was easy to scroll through. Now, it’s cluttered with so many pictures and a font size so large that I want to lean back as I read it. What’s worse, the staffers seem to think this is an improvement, and are already talking about all the features they’ll be adding (features that used to come standard, but that they neglected to have in place before the launch). I guess I should just accept that change is the only constant, because man, I do not like this one bit.

This has mostly been a disorganized collection of thoughts so far, so let me try to tie it all together: I’m not really sure where I’m going here. My father asked me a while ago what my long-term plans were. I know I want to get back to New York and look for work in some sort of grassroots campaigning/activism kind of mold. But that, at the moment, is looking to still be a ways away. He suggested I look for a second job and I didn’t, because I was too busy getting used to my current one and besides, back the fuck off, Dad. But now, I’m thinking I might have to. Because unless I get promoted very soon and start working a lot more hours every week, I will not be able to pay all of my bills with the current job. One coworker has a second job as a bartender. Maybe I should look into that. The hours might not conflict with the coffee shop, anyway. It would be rather ironic, as I don’t drink much alcohol and I don’t drink much coffee, and I’m already working with the latter.

Why did I choose to look for a job in retail rather than environmental activism or whatever? I think it’s because I felt I should do something a bit more practical. I’m tired of not knowing what good my work is doing. A lot of nonprofit organizations mean well, but who are they actually helping? Maybe that’s a bit unfair. I’m just saying that six months after getting my degree, I’m still not sure how to translate what I’ve studied into a viable career. I don’t want to work in an office all day. That’s not going to be enough. But serving coffee feels like one thing. I know what I’m doing and who it benefits. And for the time being, it’s the best I can do. So there.

I wanna punch that face so hard...

Most punchable face this side of Glenn Beck.

Faith and Why It Matters

faith

I Googled “faith” and got boring motivational stuff, so I’m using her instead.

It’s taking me longer and longer to get out of bed in the morning. I’ve always said that I have one goal in life and one goal only: to wake up every morning not feeling like shit. I almost always fail. These days, I tend to get a decent amount of sleep, but want to spend the first couple hours of my day sitting in bed dicking around on my laptop. We’ve all been there, right?

The problem with this is that it throws off my rhythm. I think of myself as a morning person, but sometimes I don’t get around to eating breakfast until 11 or later. Then, since I like to wait a few hours between meals, I might not get around to eating lunch until 2 or 3. Dinner could be 8 or later. That’s not that late, but it’s later than I’d like it to be, especially because I like to go to bed around 10:30, but often don’t finish the stuff I need to do each day until close to midnight. This needs to change. You should go to bed because you’ve done what you need to do, not just because you’re tired. It’s not a sustainable mode of living.

I’ve been in and out of therapy over the years. I saw a shrink once, too, although she wasn’t very helpful. I’ve had OCD and hypochondria so bad that I could barely even function in day-to-day life anymore. My family could see that something was wrong, but they didn’t really help all that much either, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. I’m not going to go into any more detail there. If there’s one thing I don’t need, it’s people feeling sorry for me. I’m good at wallowing in self-pity. I do it all the time. In all honesty, I think it can be quite healthy. Did you just get dumped? Eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and rewatch The Princess Bride, followed by Casablanca. Bring a box of tissues. It’s okay.

I think part of the reason people tend to either overshare or avoid discussing serious matters on the internet is that they still don’t know what to make of it. I’ve been told that I shouldn’t argue with people on Facebook because it’s harder to communicate through writing than through face-to-face interactions. Of course, the person who told me that did so on Facebook, so I’ll go ahead and assume that his intentions were to put me in my place because he is a self-righteous douche. There is nothing wrong with being honest on the internet, and besides, if you honestly think arguing on Facebook is pointless, you shouldn’t wait until you realize that you’re losing to tell the person you’re arguing with that you have better things to do. There are more important things in life than getting the last word.

I don’t much care for this Republican idea that anyone who doesn’t or can’t work for what they have doesn’t deserve to have it. No matter who you are, I can guarantee that somebody has helped you out at some point in your life. You are not special. The rules that apply to everyone else apply to you as well. If your response to somebody asking for a favor is, “What’s in it for me?”, you’re doing it wrong. What’s wrong with this view is simple: it’s shortsighted. Sometimes, what you did comes back around, and the person who you helped out ages ago swoops in to help you at a crucial moment. And sometimes it doesn’t, in which case you should definitely do the whole wallow in self-pity thing that I just talked about. That’s not as much fun as it sounds, but it’ll help.

My mother still goes to church every Sunday. My father identifies as Catholic, but doesn’t go to church. I gave up on that years ago. Catholic masses are boring anyway. That said, I have little use for this Richard Dawkins bullshit that people who believe are simply “childish” or intellectually immature. I may think the Bible is a load of fairy tales, but I can think of way worse places to start trying to understand the unknown than there. Believers aren’t after facts; they’re after stories. It’s about trying to make sense of the universe by looking for meaning in the things that we do. You might think that they’re reaching, but so what? Don’t we all do that from time to time?

The reason so many people need religion is that it helps them get through the day. It’s as simple as that. I try not to live my life with my head in the clouds, but it’s hard sometimes. I spent a year getting a masters degree, then, after months of trying unsuccessfully to get a job in a field related to what I’d studied, settled for a job in a coffee shop. There are worse places to work. I’m trying to get down to what really matters, to build up a daily routine that makes sense so that I won’t feel so bad when everything goes to shit. But there are infinite ways for something like that to go wrong. Things were looking promising in New York, but all of that depended on my finding a roommate who was not a total psycho. I failed at that, so the rest is irrelevant.

I hope to read the Bible someday. So far, I’ve read only a few books in the New Testament. It’s slow going. There is a lot of historical context and stuff that can throw off one’s understanding, and you might want to just skip all the stuff about who begat who. What I do know is that it was a text written by humans, not God, in an attempt to make sense of what was by definition unknowable. I respect that, even if I think they got a lot wrong.

In My Secret Life

I feel that I haven’t written at length about Doctor Who in a long time. I don’t have too much to say, really. The 50th anniversary is coming out, and I hope I have the day off of work to watch it. It’ll be a big event, that’s for sure. I’m hoping it’s good, and not just an overstuffed mess. I’m on record not much caring for Matt Smith and respecting but not actually liking David Tennant all that much, but as usual, I’m in the minority, and if they can play off of each other well enough, I’ll consider it time well spent. It’s nice to see John Hurt in there, although—ugh—what the fuck is Rose doing there? Her character arc is over. I know that some people think that her romance with the 10th Doctor is some sort of grand, epic love story, but I want to beat those people to death with a copy of Antony and Cleopatra. She’s been brought back so many times that I’m tempted to kill Billie Piper just to make sure that it doesn’t happen again and I don’t even blame her for how much I hate her character.

So with that out of the way, I will go on a nerdy digression that will make no sense whatsoever to those of you who aren’t Whovians. I feel that Tomb of the Cybermen is due for a reappraisal. It was thought lost for many years and garnered a reputation as one of the all-time greats. Then it was unearthed in the early ’90s and suffered quite a backlash. I think it’s time for a bit of a backlash against the backlash. It’s far from perfect, but the moments that work far outnumber the ones that don’t. For one thing, Troughton is awesome, and the scene where he consoles Victoria about the death of her father is one of the finest moments in Who history. The Cybermats look silly and Toberman is a horribly racist caricature, but his character still has a moving arc, fighting back against the Cyber-conversion to eventually save the day.

The momentum does stall a bit in the last two episodes, but I think people who criticize it for having plot holes are missing the point. The Cybermen intended the facility to basically be a hibernation facility for the ones inside to hang out until, I don’t know, Cyber Central Control needed them or something. They filled it with puzzles to entice the curious (the Doctor), but when the space crew wakes them up, they realize that the only one of them who will make a good Cyberman is Toberman. So they kill the dude who thought he could team up with the Cybermen once they were reawakened (there’s always somebody like that in a story like this) and set about converting Toberman so they can kill the others. In the end, the Doctor and the others escape and the Cybermen go back to hibernating because that’s what they were there for in the first place. It does make sense if you are willing to overthink it (which, of course, I am).

Did you get all that? Good. There’s a test. And yeah, the ending is anticlimactic, but somehow, that kind of works for me. It’s like they’re still there…waiting for someone else to disturb them. That’s almost scarier than if they had kept chasing the Doctor and the others. Kind of like a monster movie.

Oh, and this makes me swoon. It’s also very funny. I think my favorite is the dude from Lilo & Stitch. Peter Pan looks like such a sexy twink. After years of Disney Princesses who look like perfect Barbie dolls, I have to say that I am rather turned on by somebody giving the other half of the population a little eye candy.

takeiLet’s talk about classic science fiction for a second. In literature, the big three are Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein. I’m a big fan of the first and only slightly less so of the second, but still unsold on the third. His writing is good; his politics are abhorrent. Starship Troopers is fascist. I guess some people admire it as a portrait of a society gone horribly, horribly wrong, but it troubles me that the guy who wrote the book seems to have honestly believed that that was the way to go. I also read Stranger in a Strange Land. To some people, it’s a brilliant countercultural document, but the ideas in it struck me as silly and dated. Maybe I’m just grumpy. (I also dislike Easy Rider even though so many think it’s a masterpiece. When I mused that perhaps you had to have been alive in the ’60s to get it, my mother and father both assured me that no, you didn’t, because they thought it was stupid, too.)

It’s possible that I’m missing something. Heinlein is one of those people who you almost have to respect, even if you don’t entirely like him. He was so influential and beloved that he can’t be written off by any serious science fiction fan. (My opinion of him is also tainted by the awful Starship Troopers movie, which set out to satirize fascism and cheesy 50s sci-fi but ended up hewing too close to what it was trying to mock. Some will say that that just makes the movie that much more brilliant, but…they’re wrong.) So I guess I’ll have to pick up something else by him eventually.

I’m going to leave this blog without an ending. If it seems like a collection of disorganized thoughts, oh well. It’s the internet. My dreams are essentially a bizarre hodgepodge of futuristic machines and naked men these days, so that seems fitting. Here’s a funny video.