Archive for November, 2013

The Day [I Became a Fan of] The Doctor

Throughout my thirty-seven years of life, I’ve been exposed to Doctor Who, but I never fell under the Whovian umbrella of fandom. I remember catching reruns on PBS in the 80s late at night when I was younger. Okay, it was probably only about 9PM, but that was “late” for a six-year-old. I never got in trouble for it. In fact, my elder-geek of a dad subtly encouraged it.

Did I understand any of it? Oh heavens, no. My viewings of the cheesy sci-fi show were sporadic, never in order, and half of the concepts presented in the show were incomprehensible to my post-toddler brain. That and British English might as well have been a second language to me back then.

I had questions like: Why was The Doctor always played by different actors? Why are those slow-moving R2D2-looking things considered a dangerous alien race? What the hell is with that blue police box?! (Yes, I used “hell” rather liberally at that age.)

It wasn’t until later that the adventures of the wayward immortal time-traveling alien were made clear. And while that sort of subject matter would’ve grabbed me – and did when I caught glimpses of it – I quickly lost interest.

That isn’t to say that I wasn’t nudged in the Whovian direction in the interim. As coincidence would have it, I was going to school in London when the ‘96 Doctor Who TV movie (starring Paul McGann in the titular role) was to premiere. Unfortunately, I missed it by a day. I flew back, hungover, the next morning. Long story…but I digress.

Shirt Image Owned by Bamboota

Shirt Image Owned by Bamboota

My next Who-sposure occurred on my 30th birthday. While friends and roommates were doing their darnedest to keep me in the dark about a surprise birthday party, I was glued to the SciFi Channel (pre-Siffy). They were having a marathon of the first new series of Doctor Who – the Christopher Eccleston season. It was then that the first fanboy kernels began to pop.

Immortal time-traveling alien that regenerates into different forms (when the replacement of an actor was needed), following the continuity of decades past? I could get behind this. This was sorta my type of sci-fi.

But then I caught the interim special – “A Christmas Invasion – ” where they introduced David Tennant in the regenerated role. And I hated it. Every stinkin’ minute of it. Sci-fi at its worst.

As “luck” would have it, it was Tennant’s run as The Doctor that reinvigorated the series. A whole new generation of Whovians emerged from the Vortex. Most of them were young, and – to my dismay – hip. I wondered why so many late-teens and early-twentysomethings glommed onto Tennant so quickly and I didn’t.

Then it hit me. Pinstripe suit, trench coat, spiky hair, sideburns, Converse…oh my God! Tennant’s Who was a hipster.

What had they done?! After that, I refused to watch it on principle.

Friends showed me some Tennant episodes here and there in the hopes of swaying me to the Who-side of the Force. To their credit, “The Girl in the Fireplace” was a damn good episode, but for the most part, I was uninterested.

When David Tennant’s run ended (to my relief), the role went to Matt Smith. And he was even more hip and more youthfully oddball than Tennant was. Some staunch fan-friends of mine even noted this by dubbing him “The Special Needs Doctor”.

I got a chuckle out of that.

Which brings us to the present…

Last weekend, “The Day of the Doctor” – the 50th anniversary special – was set to premiere. The special promised a team-up of both David Tennant and Matt Smith – the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, respectively. John Hurt was also cast as an earlier incarnation of the Doctor that hadn’t yet been acknowledged in the series continuity. To top that off were two online mini-episodes that acted as tie-ins to the special. And I had no interest in it Who-so-ever. But a curiosity did linger.

I watched both out of sheer curiosity. The one that grabbed me was “The Night of the Doctor“, a seven-minute short that chronicled how Paul McGann’s incarnation became John Hurt. To put it mildly, my appetite was whetted.

Following that, I watched a parallel special called “The Five(-ish) Doctors Reboot”. It was directed by another Doctor alum – Peter Davison. The mockumentary was star-studded and hilarious. That convinced me to hunt down the 50th anniversary special.

I watched it the Sunday after the initial premiere. And it was…

Glorious!

In my lifetime, I can only name three series that succeeded in blowing the ever-living wad of geekgasmy joy on the small-screen. Those honors belonged to the TV miniseries Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars, Babylon 5 – episode “Into the Fire”, and Firefly‘s cinematic turn in Serenity. Well, “The Day of The Doctor” trumped all of them. It paid homage to the last fifty years of the series, wrapped up old plot threads, and introduced a new direction to the series. All done to almost-note perfection.

Since then, I’ve time-wasted at least two days’ worth of Netflix binges on the show. I developed a lurking respect for Tennant’s and Smith’s runs as The Doctor, while desiring to start the show from scratch with the Hartnell years.

Sunday, November 24th, 2013 marked the day I officially became a fan of The Doctor.

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Wednesday, November 27th, 2013 Musings 7 Comments

In Pursuit of Pitch Perfect Cups

I think I’ve mentioned in prior articles about my soft spot for teeny-bopper movies. It all started in the 80s and 90s, and continued well into the new century. Luckily, for my sanity, very few good ones have emerged since Ten Things I Hate About You. Most were clearly out of my age-range, both in wit and wonderment.

Then came Pitch Perfect.

I first heard about it from its trailers. It looked like yet another Glee knock-off by way of Step Up with the plot of Bring It On. However, something interesting caught my eye. A rather rotund Australian woman was taking center stage in many of the scenes – one Rebel Wilson. She was a riot, and that alone gave me pause. Was it enough to make me see it?

Oh no. Not solo. Not I, a man in his mid-30s.

Several months went by, the movie came and went from theaters, and life returned to relative abnormalcy. I went to work, I wrote, I drank tea; rinse, repeat. While at work, several co-subordinates blasted the local pop station amidst chores. One song stood out from the inanity. I didn’t know the name of it, but it sounded vaguely…folksy? What was this doing on the radio, and why was it talking about bottles of whiskey?

I learned later that the song was called “Cups (When I’m Gone)“, and that it was a redux of another song from the movie…Pitch Perfect!? The artist was actress Anna Kendrick.  I’d never known her by name – save for the informal title of “Scott Pilgrim’s Up in the Air Twilight Sister”.  At one point, I even declared my love for her. I think it was after 50/50. Never knew she could sing on top of…uh…acting all cute. All the time!

The song itself had the most varied of histories. It was first given life by one A.P. Carter of The Carter Family. The Almighty Wiki claims it was written in 1931, while others say it was first performed as early as 1928. Point being: It’s really freakin’ old. That and the rhythm was much slower.

Somehow/someway, it was picked up by a group dubbed Lulu and the Lampshades in 2009 and renamed “You’re Gonna Miss Me“. They’re the ones who added the titular “cup game” rhythm, on top of adding an extra verse. The video went viral.

Fast-forward to two years later, and YouTube vlogger/entertainer Anna Burden recorded her own cover of the song, which also went viral. During filming of Pitch Perfect, Anna Kendrick caught wind of this version. I’m not sure how she convinced the producers of the film to incorporate this song into the movie, but it was there as her character’s “audition” scene. And for some unknown reason, that went viral.

The attention paid to that half-minute try-out led Anna Kendrick to re-record a new version of the song – now called “Cups (When I’m Gone)” – five months after Pitch Perfect came out in theaters. The song went superviral. Yes, that’s a thing now. Because I said so. It was released in February of 2013, and it’s still being played. (It is currently November.)

Kendrick and “Krew” filmed a new video for the re-release in March of ’13. I didn’t catch it until well into the summer. At first, I thought the video was a part of the movie. Small town girl working a dead-end job, escapes to the big city for a career in music; sounded Hollywood enough to me. I learned later that the music video had nothing to do with the movie, even though it was filmed by Pitch Perfect’s director, Jason Moore.

With a song that had a backstory such as that, now I had to track the movie down. I tried for two months to track it down via Redbox, but it was always out of order. As a result of this repeated failure, I finally broke down and re-signed up for Netflix’s DVD service. Yes, my reason for signing up for DVD rentals…was a teen music movie.

I finally got it. I finally saw it. Twice that day. In a row.

Not a day goes by without me playing one or two musical excerpts from the movie. Was it deep, masterpiece cinema? Not by a longshot. I was right in my original guess. It was Bring It On, only with a capella. And I loved every voiceboxing minute of it.

Well worth the several months and serendipitous history lesson it took to get there.

Wow, I went that whole article without making one boob joke. The title almost demands it. I should compensate somehow. Ummm…oh yeah!

There we go.

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Wednesday, November 20th, 2013 Musings, Reviews 5 Comments

My Website Bought this Beer – A 5th Anniversary “Speshul”

Roughly a month ago, fellow tea blogger Nicole “Tea For Me Please” Martin celebrated her five-year “bloggiversary”. Like any good mensch, I congratulated her. She followed that up with a query I didn’t expect. She asked, “How old is your blog now?”

That gave me pause. I had no clue!

I looked back through my “records” on Gmail. According to the rather lengthy archive, I activated the site on October 21st, 2008. Memories flooded back to me.

Back then, I did all my blogging on Myspace’s platform. It was a much simpler time. Words like “views” and acronyms like “SEO” hadn’t entered my lexicon. I mostly did it for the attention from friends – recapping prior adventures (usually involving alcohol), and pointless rants of very little import. And speaking of import…

Around this time, I thought, Why don’t I have my own damn site?

Sure, the Myspace platform was fine and all for basic practice, but there was no future in it. (Boy, how right that thought was!) So, I paid a friend a paltry sum, paid a webhosting company, and bought a domain. The last of which was the tough part.

What would I call this newfound site? The decision didn’t take too long. A nickname I’d adopted for myself on the writing front was “The Lazy Literatus”. It came about after a conversation with a girl. (Don’t they all?) We both dreamed of what the perfect retirement gig would be. I thought it’d be nifty to own a bed and breakfast for retired writers called: “The Lazy Literati”. For some reason, the singular of the latter word stuck.

And so, The Lazy Literatus was born.

After making all the necessary purchases, and getting the basic framework for the site set up, I had my cousin – Jason – design a banner image. He’d perfected a version of my likeness, and I figured, what better way to herald…myself.

The last thing I needed was content. So, I began porting over all my old blogs from Myspace to my site. While I hadn’t officially gone “live” with the thing, one of those entries “Stories I’m Glad I Never Wrote” got recognized by io9.com. Tons of trackbacks and comments resulted. I had no clue what to make of it, but I prayed that this wasn’t my “fifteen minutes”. I’d barely started!

I updated the site sporadically for a couple of years, but took an extended break from it during the summer of ’09, and on to the end of August in 2010. In the interim, I did tea reviews on the side…which later led to tea blogging. What had started as an accidental hobby had turned into a full-blown geek obsession. But I hadn’t forgotten about my little unfocused site in the corner. Although, I will admit I used it as a bit of a writing dump.

So, here I was, five years later. The site still had no focus, but it possessed a bit of energy. I made it a point to update it more than I had in the past, and that seemed to be paying off. And speaking of “pay”…

Ever since its inception, this website has been ad supported. Kind of. I carried over an AdSense account I activated after a brief foray on HubPages. While I didn’t stick with the site, I was curious if this Google ad thingy could work on mine. A few days ago, I checked my totals.

Five dollars.

Five years of work resulted in five dollars. That…was…awesome!!!

I had to celebrate both of these minor milestones. Nothing really came to mind except one word: Beer. On a quaint afternoon after a rough work shift, I trekked out to the only place I could think of for such an occasion. The Green Dragon had shown up in more entries than any other bar on my website. The least I could do was celebrate my website anniversary there – albeit solo.

The final hurdle was what beer to order. This is probably something The Green Dragon staff wouldn’t want me to display in public, but fuck it…it’s my damn anniversary. Of the 50+ taps at that place, there is one that’s kept off the menu. Number 19 of the Top 20.

A cute waitress had told me about it a couple of weeks prior. That’s where they occasionally put the really good (and rare) stuff. The last time, I ended up with the best Triple-IPA I’d ever had. This time…

The bartender said it was an imperial stout, but he didn’t know from where or what it was called. I ordered it anyway. When he brought the chalice back, he conferred with the same cute waitress that had told me about it. She confirmed that the beer was part of Ommegang’s Game of Thrones line – the Take the Black stout.

For the record: I hate Game of Thrones. Call me old fashion, but I like a little hope in my fantasy fiction. If I wanted gritty, realistic stories about awful people, I’d watch reruns of Seinfeld.

That said, I liked the beer.

I mean, really liked it. It was full-bodied for a stout with notes of chicory, hickory and hints of wood. Malt showed up toward the end, riding on a sled of smokiness throughout. I still hate the show, but this was a damn good beer to emulate it. That and the concept of The Watch is pretty nifty; I’ll give the book/show that. There were worse ways to spend my five-year blog anniversary.

I could’ve been watching Game of Thrones.

Here’s to another five years…and another five dollars!

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Monday, November 4th, 2013 Beverage Blog 5 Comments

I work for tea money.

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