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Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Subject:1970s Daleks
Time:12:15 am.
Mood: contemplative.
So I was left to my own devices over the weekend, much of which was consumed by more (fairly) rare overtime opportunity at work. This meant re-creating an old-style bachelor's night involving pizza and something to watch on the couch. I decided to throw in a Doctor Who which I hadn't watched in years: "Death to the Daleks".

"Death to the Daleks" was one of the first VHS tapes I ordered from the old CBS Video Club back when I was first getting into the show around 1992. I'm pretty sure it was my first real exposure to the Daleks and to Jon Pertwee's Doctor. Even now my first thought of the pepperpots is them in the silver and black livery they wore only for this story. In a lot of ways I'm sorry that this was my introduction to the Daleks, because as Dalek stories go this one's near the bottom. Michael Briant does a nice job at the helm with some perspective shots and the resurrection of "Dalek-cam". And while the story is not a blatant ripoff of a prior serial ("Planet of the Daleks" the year before is a thin re-tread of most of the elements from "The Daleks") the script isn't any better for the original elements injected from script editor Terrance Dicks' brainstorm sessions with Terry Nation.

This may be the Daleks at their least menacing. In part that's the key to the story -- their weapons are deactivated by the power-draining field of Exxilon City. So the tension should be the mounting worry that as soon as they're capable of killing again they'll exterminate everything in sight. This plot thread is never, ever exploited and although the Daleks betray the party of humans at the first opportunity there's really no drama behind it. As a result they come across as much more impotent than they ought and that's sad. I keep wanting to compare it to "Power of the Daleks" which also featured powerless Daleks, except that was David Whitaker's work (and some of the series' best).

From what I've read, this letdown is equal measures of Jon Pertwee not believing in the Daleks and Terrance Dicks disliking them but accepting that their ratings draw was essential to the series. This is also about the time when producer Barry Letts announced he was leaving. Pertwee is visibly, obviously bored by this story and plays it with such lack of conviction that what there is in the script wobbles and falls down. Maybe he's depressed because he can't subdue them with his Venusian Akido moves.

This leads me to think in general about Dalek stories from the '70s. Much of the decade contains Doctor Who's finest and most consistent seasons. But what of the Dalek stories?

Day of the DaleksPertwee (1972)Louis Marks/Terrance DicksGood
Planet of the DaleksPertwee (1973)Terry Nation/Terrance DicksLame
Death to the DaleksPertwee (1974)Terry Nation/Terrance DicksAwful
Genesis of the DaleksT. Baker (1975)Terry Nation/Robert HolmesFantastic
Destiny of the DaleksT. Baker (1979)Terry Nation/Douglas AdamsOkay


If we discount "Day of the Daleks" since it's really a time travel story with the Daleks grafted onto it (and the only one of the group not penned by Nation), the superlative "Genesis of the Daleks" is the only Dalek story between 1968 and 1983 that's really worthwhile. (As an interesting aside, the Cybermen have one bad story between 1969 and 1981, so which enemy is worse off?)

What the hell happened? I can understand the Dalek operators having some issues maintaining believability wandering through the quarries for location footage for Death and Destiny, but even in the studio scenes, the Daleks in 1974 are utterly unconvincing. Parts are attached crookedly, the dome pieces all wobble, the voice acting is flat. How far they sank since the heyday in the 1960s! Put in perspective, it's a testament to what Phillip Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes were able to do with a little conviction and prodding Terry Nation to cough up a story that's a bit more inspired than usual. But that just leaves so much wasted opportunity behind.
Comments: Add Your Own.

Monday, July 5th, 2010

Subject:7/5/10
Time:5:15 pm.
Work
So tired of working. Put in 8 hours of overtime between Wednesday and Friday on top of my normal schedule. Then a full day on July 4th and half a day today talking to customers. Work was going to be completely closed today and then decided at the last minute to run with a skeleton staff. Which was probably a good idea, because when I left at 2pm there were 80 calls in queue and some poor bastard had been waiting 20 minutes to talk to someone. Tomorrow is going to be hell.

But I did introduce my coworkers to the pastry delight known as Tim Horton's, which hardly anyone I work with knows a) exists, and b) is now open in our neck of the woods. Their coffee isn't quite as good as Dunkin's but the donuts are so much better!!

Doctor Who
After dinner tonight I think I am going to totally zone out and watch a long classic DW start to finish with breaks only to get a new beer and to recycle old beer. I've got my eye on The Silurians which I recently grabbed on DVD. Incidentally, if you're a DW fan and you haven't been to Androzani you are missing out. It's ostensibly a group of female DW fans from New Zealand who have reviewed a large swath of the series. Their commentary is both entertaining and insightful -- and includes both the old and new series.

And has anyone heard why the Restoration Team Website stopped updating? I'd heard that The Mind of Evil was being restored via the new Colour Recovery process and have been itching like crazy to read about it so it really puts my undies in a twist to suddenly find out this won't happen.

Food
Grilled some mahi mahi last night. It was good. I think there will need to be more grilled fish. I also think whenever we move that I will pursue a new grill that will be more friendly to things like fish and spiedies without the use of a grill basket.

eBay
I also just picked this up on eBay and am quite excited. It differs slightly from the versions used in the 1984 DIC series, but it was such a cool random find I couldn't pass it by.
Comments: Add Your Own.

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Subject:The D-Team
Time:11:00 pm.
So, I was coming home from work tonight thinking about catching the A-Team movie tomorrow night. This put the theme song and titles from the classic series in my head, and a crazy mashup idea slowly emerged.

"Still wanted by the Time Lords they exist as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem -- if no one else can help -- and if you can find them, maybe you can hire -- THE D TEAM."

This is, of course, the A-Team title sequence replaced with footage from Doctor Who. It would be corny but also possibly awesome. So I started trying to figure out which Doctor I would align against each A-Team character.

I think Christopher Eccleston would match up as B.A. since he's kind of the "bad boy" Doctor. Sylvester McCoy as Murdock since he's the goofy one. William Hartnell as Hannibal -- I don't really know why I make this connection but this seems pretty common given the role BillDoc was given in The Ten Doctors. That just leaves Face, who I want to connect with Jon Pertwee.

Oh, how I wish I had the hours of free time necessary to edit such a beast.

Anyone care to make a case for other Doctors as other characters?
Comments: Add Your Own.

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Subject:SIL0680
Time:11:30 pm.
This entry is to record the experiences I've had with the SIL0680 PCI ATA controller card, both for my own records and in case someone else is googling for help. Tech geeks or anyone looking for help with this should follow the cut, otherwise you won't miss anything.

Read more...Collapse )
Comments: Read 2 orAdd Your Own.

Subject:Hulk SMASH
Time:8:45 pm.
Mood: annoyed.
I love it when technology paints me into a corner.

A year ago I upgraded my video editing system, which includes a pair of swappable drive bays. Which was really great when I was buying 120GB drives whenever I could afford them and swap them in two at a time. This was also back when I was using my editor as a homeade PVR before the term was coined and I was sucking down 5GB of broadcast quality video a day.

Except, oops, the motherboard I bought only has 1 PATA port. No problem, I had a Promise Ultra ATA 100 card. Except the firmware is old enough it won't see above 140GB or whatever that ceiling is. So I bought a replacement from the electronics place in town. Ever since I got it the system has been plagued with inexplicable behavior: death rattles from the drives attached (but only sometimes), seeing and then not seeing drives, spontaneously corruputing partition tables.

So over the last couple of weeks I've really sunk my time into it to try and figure it out because I want to actually edit some video. I thought for sure I had it narrowed down when I tried some cable swapping. I was convinced I had a bum cable. So I bought two new ones and also upgraded the firmware on the controller. For some reason, the 2nd ATA port would work fine but the system wouldn't even boot with a drive connected to the 1st port. So I bought another (identical) controller. Same thing.

I'm ready to tear my hair out and so I start looking over the Engrish flyer that passes for an instruction manual. That's when I read and then re-read something buried in the middle of the sheet:

"The IDE cable must be ATA-133 (80-wires/40-pin) and the length of the cable should not exceed 18 inches (44.1cm)."

And that's when I realize that because this is a server case (I used to have a 5-drive RAID-0 array in it) that both cables are 36". The cables -- which were no problem with the old Promise card -- are too long for the design of the card.

It only took me $55 in parts and about as many hours to figure that out, as the system is working fine with the card and a 18" cable. Not to mention the 2 cables I threw away earlier this year convinced they were damaged. And I have no idea how I'm going to get a cable to the second drive bay because it's more than 18" from the card.

HULK SMASH!
Comments: Add Your Own.

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Subject:Thank you
Time:10:00 am.
I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for their support over the last two weeks.

It's greatly appreciated.
Comments: Add Your Own.

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

Subject:Tasty Adult Beverage
Time:1:30 am.
Mood: tipsy.
So, I've created a new-to-me shot.

Firefly (tea infused vodka) and Limoncello.

It's like a really intense Kooshtayle.
Comments: Read 1 orAdd Your Own.

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Subject:Time of Angels/Flesh And Stone, Vampires of Venice, Amy's Choice
Time:10:45 pm.
Mood: okay.
I didn't want to do an entry for half of a two-parter, and I've squashed three episodes into the last week to get caught up (well, until an hour or so ago when I downloaded today's episode).

I've started skipping the title sequence. This makes me less cranky and more apt to enjoy the episodes, it seems. I still believe it's time for Murray Gold to go.

I can't put my finger on it, but there's something about Matt Smith's Doctor that just doesn't click for me visually. It's like when I watch On Her Majesty's Secret Service, I see George Lazenby on the screen and somehow he just isn't James Bond. Same thing with Matt Smith. The costuming seems to be part of it, it's like he's almost monochromatic or something.

Spoilery Bits UnderneathCollapse )
Comments: Add Your Own.

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Subject:Next!
Time:11:00 pm.
Mood: contemplative.
Barring some crisis, tomorrow I will finally watch the last episode of Kare Kano and move on to another series to accompany me on the treadmill. Probably Season 2 of Thundercats or Season 1 of DuckTales, although now that I see there's a new season of InuYasha out, that's pretty damn tempting too.

Decisions, decisions.
Comments: Add Your Own.

Subject:Heh
Time:9:20 pm.
Mood: amused.
My amazon.com Pay Phrase today is "Matthew's Cool Car".

Nice.
Comments: Add Your Own.

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Subject:Yay
Time:9:45 pm.
Mood: happy.
  • Have an ongoing issue with a P0133 OBDII code from my Volvo, but my mechanic didn't charge me for their latest look at it today.
  • Had lunch with my pretty wife at Pizza Hut buffet where the cheese pizza was awesome (and I generally don't care much for cheese).
  • Had the corporate VP of Operations spend 5 minutes speaking well of me in front of assembled coworkers at two separate multi-departmental staff meetings.
  • Have been sipping Sicilian Kiss for better than an hour and am now happily buzzed.

    Life is fucking good.
  • Comments: Read 2 orAdd Your Own.

    Saturday, April 24th, 2010

    Subject:Victory of the Daleks
    Time:12:00 pm.
    Surprisingly, didn't hate it.

    I think I will stop watching the title sequence in the future.

    Couldn't decide whether I liked or disliked the obvious borrowings from 1966's Power of the Daleks.

    And I found something I liked but it's spoilery so I'll add it as a comment.

    I've also managed to put my finger on what I don't like about Steven Moffat's approach. He's trying far too hard and too obviously to reboot the reboot.
    Comments: Read 2 orAdd Your Own.

    Thursday, April 15th, 2010

    Subject:The Beast Below
    Time:10:45 am.
    Still hate the new theme.
    Still hate the new titles.
    Still deeply dislike the new Doctor.

    Thoroughly disgusted that at the moment I find myself wishing to have Russel T. Davies back.

    As before, comments may contain spoilers.
    Comments: Add Your Own.

    Monday, April 5th, 2010

    Subject:The Eleventh Hour
    Time:11:45 pm.
    Mood: annoyed.
    My opinions have been known to change over time, but I watched Matt Smith's debut and I can sum it up in two non-spoilery words.

    Hated it.

    Comments, if any, may contain spoilers.
    Comments: Read 2 orAdd Your Own.

    Monday, March 22nd, 2010

    Subject:Not About Health Care
    Time:8:45 pm.
    Mood: amused.
    Dear God, if you have not seen this eBay Motors auction you've missed a great laugh.

    Fark calls it "Modern day UK explained in one car ad." I call it comedy gold!
    Comments: Read 2 orAdd Your Own.

    Sunday, March 14th, 2010

    Subject:Comic Star Search
    Time:11:45 pm.
    Mood: curious.
    I'm interested in suggestions for comic strips to check out to add to my rotation. They can be mainstream or webcomics, currently published or finished. Just give me the name of the comic, a URL where I can find it, and why you think I would enjoy it.

    Here is a list of strips I'm currently actively following, if it helps:

    • 8-Bit Theater

    • Achewood

    • Calvin & Hobbes

    • Dilbert

    • Dinosaur Comics

    • Doonesbury

    • Errant Story

    • Get Fuzzy

    • Sally Forth

    • Shortpacked

    • Sinfest

    • Something Positive


    For those of you looking for suggestions, Sally Forth (http://www.comicstriparchive.com/Sally_Forth) is a hidden gem. It has, IMO, just the right balance of wit and personality which makes it the best mainstream strip published today.

    Oh, and infinite internets to anyone who can point me to a daily reprint or complete archive of The Far Side.
    Comments: Read 1 orAdd Your Own.

    Friday, March 5th, 2010

    Subject:The Phantom Menace: Review
    Time:10:30 am.
    Mood: enthralled.
    Collected here for easy viewing, the teaser and all 7 parts of the best review of The Phantom Menace evar.
    NOTE: Contains NSFW language and coarse humor.

    Click here to ask: "What is wrong with your face?!"Collapse )
    Comments: Read 2 orAdd Your Own.

    Subject:SNL Presidential Reunion
    Time:9:00 am.
    Mood: amused.
    Here's a reasonably funny skit where many Saturday Night Live alums combine their presidential parodies to push for financial reform, directed by Ron Howard:

    Comments: Add Your Own.

    Thursday, February 25th, 2010

    Subject:Mental Health Day
    Time:9:45 pm.
    Mood: amused.
    I've been meaning to schedule a "mental health day" for most of the month but it didn't work out until this week. Today wound up being the day, and it was a good choice since this was supposed to be the start of the snownado or snowpocalypse or whatever people are calling it since, omg, we're getting more than 2" of snow for a change. So it's actually, like, winter. Like it used to be when I was a kid.

    I wound up spending the morning fighting with my Amiga 4000. It stopped booting about 3 months ago and I've grudgingly decided to walk away from it until I'm ready to dedicate more than 6 hours to it as a handful of the surface-mount caps are toast and I don't have the tool that would make swapping SMD caps a reasonable prospect. And here I thought ditching the A2000 (made in 1988) for the A4000 (made in 1992) would have helped with reliability issues...

    But I gave up rather than killing the day on a losing proposition. After frozen pizza and a nap, I started a push to archive some of my old floppy disks since the Commodore 3.5" floppies are readable by modern PC drives (sadly, the 5.25" disks aren't due to hardware issues). And so I discovered a sweet program called OmniFlop which will make disk images of virtually any track/sector format readable by a PC floppy. Amazingly, this includes the 5.25" floppies written by my good old TI-99/4A. To my great joy, despite the fact that these disks, originally written between 1982 and 1989, had been stored in suboptimal conditions for over 12 years they were all completely readable. So among other things, I have retrieved my 8th grade term paper on the history of the computer. Not that I was really dying to read it again, but just knowing it was still there is pleasing.

    DATA INTEGRITY FTW!

    And a couple of downloads later I now also have a decent emulator, Win994a, which can read the disks I've imaged. Sweet!
    Comments: Add Your Own.

    Monday, February 22nd, 2010

    Subject:Morning Anime
    Time:9:30 am.
    I've come to realize that I'm vicariously reliving high school through watching Kare Kano. It's way too good at describing things I felt and wished for back then.
    Comments: Add Your Own.

    LiveJournal for The Captain.

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    You're looking at 20 entries, after skipping 20 newer ones. Missed some entries? Then simply jump back 20 entries orforward 20 entries.