Doctor Crap?

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Somewhere in the David Tennant era the train came off the tracks. It started to be about romance, too many episodes were on earth, there were too many folks following the Doctor around and related to him, too much self-reference to previous lives and eras, too many people actually saying “Doctor Who?” out loud. Too few good stories.  Steven Moffat took control and things really got awful. In the last few years I can only think of a handful of episodes I really enjoyed. I think the Doctor actors have come off pretty well as characters, but especially Matt Smith was fed almost nothing but crap for scripts. He did as well as he could.

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If you go back to the first era the series really petered out during the Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy Doctors. BBC screwed up the franchise then with poor writers and poor choices for Doctors seeing it still as a children’s program with little potential beyond that, and it’s on the verge now. Similar to what NBC did to Star Trek in the ’60s.  Capaldi is a good choice for an actor but somebody has to hand him a bloody script.

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Doctor What?

You cannot save this by bringing back the Daleks to menace the earth once again. How many times have we seen that? Quit bringing back “beloved” characters from previous episodes, eras, without some original and exciting writing to go with it.  Piss on the romance.  It was always about affection not romance.  A certain amount of sexual tension is good until outright romance jumps the shark; a grasping at simpering sentimentality instead of good writing.

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The Current Problem?

I missed Dr. Who when it went off the air in 1989 and I miss it now.

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Classic Doctor Who

Thomas Ligotti

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Thomas Ligotti is my kind of guy, sorta.  He always expects the worst.  He spends all his time worrying about how he’s going to suffer and die and expects that everyone else is just the same, except some of us are better at fooling ourselves about the outcome.  That makes him mad.  He thinks all the folks that don’t worry about dying and suffering are deceiving themselves and just distracting themselves with ideas of afterlives or just having a good time, you know, trying not to think about it.  And he’s right, but these other folks are a whole lot happier than he is.  Now we can see the real problem, sorta.

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Ligotti has a big head, a really big head and that’s why he thinks about all these dreary things all the time instead of watching television or playing golf.  He’s always talking about how consciousness and self awareness are a tragedy and a curse on humankind; a crappy adaptation that evolution sneaked in there.  The thing he forgets is most people are really unconscious most of the time anyway, even when they’re not sleeping; they’re clueless about this kind of stuff, so why does he want to remind them and take them into his pity party?  Leave them alone with their fairy tale lives.  Don’t bring ’em down.  Don’t rain on their parade.  Not enough hobbies I guess.  Not enough television.  Not enough high speed internet downloading those “short films.”

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Well what’s Ligotti’s answer?  Don’t have any kids.  That’s it.  What, you say?  That makes him feel better about things?  Yeah, his basic argument is that by having kids we doom all the future generations to the suffering and death we have so we shouldn’t have any:  antinatalism they call it.  Let the species die out.  Well if Ligotti had any kids he wouldn’t be worrying about his great grandbaby’s suffering, he’d be worrying about his own suffering trying to deal with his own kids, getting them through college and boyfriends, etc.  I bet his parents suffered plenty with him.  Forget about future generation’s suffering.  Besides his kids would be the kind that would suffer because all the bullies would rag them about their egghead dad.

I think his problem maybe is really low testosterone and therefore low sperm count.  He isn’t gettin’ it on enough.  Only those coffin chicks would even consider hangin’ out with him he’s so dreary and down.  He needs to jerk it more too, take some of the tension and pressure off it.  He can’t have kids so he wants us to join him.  Sour grapes.

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Ligotti writes a horror story about once every decade or so, when he isn’t feeling sorry for himself and the rest of us.  They’re pretty good, but enigmatic.  Now I don’t expect you to understand a word like that, nor a story like that, because you are correctly spending your time feeling good and not worrying about future generation’s suffering or how the joke’s on us.  Stay away from funerals.  Hide the razorblades.

Sure, we’re all going to step off the pier sometime, but why waste any time thinking about that?  Remember I told you to always expect the worst, so now that that’s over let’s move on to feelin’ good.

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I’ve given you all the prescription you need in this blog to quit thinking about that dirt nap:  TV, NCIS, loud music, giant monster movies, malt liquor.  So, mix up some cocktails and turn on the wide screen to some NCIS and put a Chuck Berry record on that stereo set ’cause we’re goin’ out with a buzz in our heads and a smile on our faces.

What’s so bad about feelin’ good for the rest of your miserable little life?

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Bring May Flowers…

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Well, Walpurgisnacht went pretty well this year:  sixty children in, thirty seven out.  Not great, but okay.  You can’t compare the US to the Old Country.

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Today is May Day for all you doomed atheist communists (get it while you can!) and ironically All Saints Day for the blessed.  Fancy that.

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Still working on that pharma expose but I’ve got to keep a low profile since I’ve been targeted by the big prescription drug cartel.

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I fingered a drunk driver today.  I used to drink so it’s fun to get a little revenge for the bitterness of quitting.  I’m such a nice guy.

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Anarchy in the Ukraine

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Russian Backed Ukraine Crackdown

Update:  Well now the former (yeah, right) Soviet Republic of Russia has invaded the former Soviet Republic of Ukraine.  If people didn’t think that the former Soviet Republic of Georgia wasn’t just a Russian warm-up to imperialistically invading, occupying, and ultimately reabsorbing parts that were formerly the USSR, well then you’re just plain stupid.  This is going to make American imperialism look naive by comparison and the Yugoslavian breakup look like a day in the park.  Too bad nobody but the poor Ukranians on the ground are going to fight against it.  

If this had happened to say West Germany in 1972 would we be sitting around on our asses and just wringing our hands?  What do we have all these nuclear weapons for?  If the enemy doesn’t credibly think you will use them, then we might as well throw them all away.

Oh, and why does the media keep calling it an invasion of the Crimea?  If somebody invaded California they wouldn’t say California was invaded, they’d say the United States of America had been invaded.  Let’s call a spade a spade:  the Ukraine has been invaded.

What happens when they start invading places that weren’t even part of the USSR?  I believe we in the West will eventually look on the USSR as “the good ol’ days.”

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Ras-Putin “former” KGB agent and present General Secretary of the Communist Party and International Public Enemy #1

While the Soviet Union, er, I mean the former Soviet Republic of Russia hosts the the Wintercon, in Sochi their puppet government in the Ukraine continues to violently oppose the will of their own people to have closer ties to the EU in the hopes of someday joining this confederation of peaceful autonomous states.

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Crimean Welcoming Committee

This just proves once again that thetyrannical country of the Soviet Union, er, I mean Russia never

deserved the choice of being the Olympic host.  Politics of the IOC swindle awarded these games to a communist, er, I mean country run by a violent dictator.  In fact that the entire winter games have been ruled by corruption.  It is clear that the people of Sochi, except for the corrupt government stooges, hate that they were even picked for the venue.  The Olympic village itself, especially athlete accommodations are a shambles, and outside the village itself is a dangerous host city run by the Soviet, er, I mean Russian mob.  This city is also one of the worst areas in the country for ethnic and gender hatred and violence.

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Ukraine Repression

The entire mess shows how corrupt the IOC is itself, full of kickbacks and kiss up politicians.  The current games are a disgrace and just should have never been held at all.

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Walpurgisnacht

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When we used to live in the Borgo Pass Walpurgisnacht was way more important than All Hallows Eve.  Children would come from all over the countryside for the unwrapped sweets and plum brandy we would give out.  You better have a lot of both otherwise your house would burn down, your cat would die, or your firstborn would disappear, but it was all in good fun. Talk about your tricks or treats!

candy-tampering-chThen we moved to the United States for the economic opportunity.  Jobs other than chauffeur were scarce in the Borgo Pass so if you didn’t have your drivers license you were pretty much screwed.  Even if you did have a license getting a taxi through the Pass was a pretty treacherous undertaking.  Then there were the European wars, a boom and a bust for us at the same time with so many corpses all around but still no jobs.

Trick_or_treat_by_RadojavorAnyway the day before yesterday a whole bunch of kids showed up at the old schloss here and demanded treats.  Well the brandy ran out in a few minutes and the leftover candy from Walpurgisnacht last April didn’t last long either.  We had eaten most of it ourselves.  On top of that I couldn’t find a needle or razor blade in the whole house.  We had some Vicodin around but you wouldn’t want to give that to little kids, it might hurt them and think about the parents that just steal their kids’ candy.

walpurgisnacht2To make a short story longer, last April we had the whole house decked out with booby traps for Walpurgisnacht and we were ready with our unwrapped sweets and cakes.  I’d laid in a good supply of razor blades and Mama had a whole pin cushion of needles just waiting for the little darlings.  I also had literally a barrel of slivovitz shipped in from the old country.  Well guess what happened?  Nobody came.  Nobody used the knocker.  Nobody rang the bell.  You would think people were dead or afraid of us.

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When we carefully asked around people said that nobody made a big deal about Walpurgisnacht in the United States; stupid Halloween was the macabre holiday.  This is simply ridiculous.  This was hard to believe.  When the children surprised us on Halloween many didn’t dress as corpses or revenants at all.  Some dressed as so-called super heroes and princesses!  I didn’t see a single sword, razor, or dagger.  What’s up with that?  America is a very strange place.

Well somebody told me about something called a “trunk or treat” which is some sort of alternative to the Halloween “trick or treat” experience.  It must be trick or treat for lazy people, and heaven knows there are too many of them around.  The other big difference is you invite children to the trunk or treat event not wait for them to just show up.  This got me to thinking, why not host a trunk or treat at the old château on Walpurgisnacht next April 30!

walpurgisnachtI know it is a long time to wait but we sleep most of the winter anyway so that makes the time fly.  A benefit is the candy is super cheap around Walpurgisnacht, unlike Halloween, Christmas, or St. Valentine’s Day.  The dollar stores are the best place to buy.  In the US there still is the problem of most of the candy being individually wrapped, unlike Eastern Europe, so getting the wrappers back on the candy, so many individual pieces, is a real pain but still worth the effort.

Matango!

Matango_1963You know what?  I was engaging in America’s #1 leisure time activity last night, and guess what it is, it ain’t sex, it’s television.  So what you say.  So what!  I was supposed to be out camping and I was but I didn’t let a little thing like that get in the way of MY leisure time.  You see I had my smartphone with me (and what an apt name for the little gadget, get one with the biggest screen size you can).  I was merrily ensconced in the supine position in my sleeping bag watching television and eating Reese’s Pieces while the rest of the clan and friends were out freezing their butts off, getting bug-bit, getting smoked out roasting weenies, S’mores, telling stories, etc.  No sir, your’s truly isn’t going to be found wasting valuable clicks in the ol’ lifetime game on stuff like that when through the wonders of modern technology I could be sitting by myself watching television.

But this is not the main thrust of this essay.  What was I watching you ask?  Why Matango of course, crudely translated into English as Attack of the Mushroom People or Fungus of Terror.  And what a bit of tasty 1963 Japanese fare it was too.  Now I’m sure by now you think you know where this little piece of arcana is going, but you, with your degraded sense of perception are oh so wrong.  So stick around if you want to get that Jethro Bodeen 6th grade edecation stretched a bit.

matango4by3First let’s get a few things about foreign language films straightened out.  This Matango affair is a Japanese language film.  Now I want to make it clear from the start that this is no art film.  Sometimes foreign language and art cinema get confused.  See all art cinema is bad.  Some foreign language films (most) are art films, but by logic not all foreign language films must be art films.  So some foreign language films can be good (but not many).  Did you follow that?  I hope so, most times I’m not too sure about you.

“The body lay outside an abandoned, boarded-up theater. The theater had started as a first-run movie house, many years back when the neighborhood had still been fashionable. As the neighborhood began rotting, the theater began showing second-run films, and then old movies, and finally foreign-language films.”  ― Ed McBain

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Typical Art Cinema

Unfortunately before TV took over as the #1 entertainment venue, most foreign language film venues (almost all the dreaded “art film” theater) were in the seedier neighborhoods, in the same alley as the porno houses and peep shows, so a lot of people weren’t aware of the few gems that came out of the foreign language cinema.  Now your intrepid host here, being a courageous sort, wasn’t afraid of these neighborhoods of ill repute so I actively sought out these far too few baubles on the foreign cinematic charm bracelet.  You wouldn’t believe the amount of infantile and prurient fare I had to, um, let’s save that for later.  Where was I?  My point is we don’t want this Matango confused with some far inferior motion pictures, I would say worthless, from Sweden or Italy made by so-called artistes of the cinema.

Then the next thing we need to make clear about enjoying a good foreign language film like Matango is turning the subtitles off and turning the alternate language track for English on.  I know the lips don’t match and the dialog almost certainly doesn’t either, but the last thing we want to do is let something as tedious as reading interfere with our quality leisure time activity.  Sometimes you just have to give up one thing for another better thing.  Anyway with your reading comprehension I wouldn’t want your enjoyment to be ruined by having to hit the pause button all the time to ask a lot of questions.

What most people don’t know about Matango is it’s based on a piece of classic sea faring horror literature.  It’s based on a story called The Voice in the Night by William Hope Hodgson.  This is a most creepy early horror story that influenced a lot of later horror stuff and not the usual drivel that was clogging up literature at the turn of the 19th century.  Hodgson practically invented the giant sea monster and did invent the attacking fungus genre and the latter is what we have here.  See how important he is to modern art?  Now with your education and lack of casual reading I wouldn’t expect you to know any of this plus it’s kind of not that well known anyway so I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt here.

88d78386572b8dae02ad5600649b8b0d3ac30448Well Matango was produced by the far seeing and justly famed Toho studios the visionary folks that also pretty much invented the giant monster flick single handedly.  It’s advertised to be in Tohoscope whatever that is.  Anyway it is wide screen and in color, real pluses.

Anyway let’s get started.  A bunch of high rollers are on a sailing holiday somewhere in the Pacific where their ship is severely damaged in a storm and then becalmed.  Eventually they are shipwrecked on an uncharted weird island that just happens to have a creepy hulk of its own with a lot of fungus on it.  Can you see a classic in the making?

matango-6Well they clean up the old tub and try to make a home out of it until they can get rescued.  The island is all covered with little and big mushrooms and fungi and other weird alien looking stuff.  They’ve got food but it sort of runs out and those little toadstools look tasty and smell so fresh.  Guess what’s on the menu?  Shiitake happens!  Now you know what happened to all the folks on the other boat, and it ain’t rescue.  The usual body snatcher type mayhem ensues.

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Don’t eat that!

The movie is in color and the island is filmed in such a freaky color scheme you might think you’ve eaten some ‘shrooms yourself.  The transformation pustules are pretty gross to look at so that makes ’em cool while your eating some Reese’s Pieces.

Once this little known classic was over it was nighty-night time for your’s truly no matter what nonsense the others were up to, probably eating the toadstools in the campground or those colorful plate things that stick out of trees since the S’mores were gone, but I know better now.  See TV can be informative as well as entertaining.

Anyway, unless they have me tied down and are force feeding me those toad stools I’ll be up early because Saturday morning means just one thing besides breakfast, The Three Stooges!

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The Horror, The Horror

Another serious one so just go away now…  Besides I already put it up at BookLikes so it’s kind of old news.  Really no reason for you to stick around.

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I’m a huge fan of horror fiction, all kinds.  I do tend to favor the more esoteric sorts of fare that don’t really have a concrete and neat conclusion, but not always.  I can appreciate a good thriller full of monsters, haunted houses, creeps from beyond the grave, space aliens.  I have to admit I’m kind of tired of the big three though:  zombies, vampires, and werewolves.  I’m also a little snobby and avoid the Dean Koontz, Preston Child, and Bentley Little fare.  I like a well written, as in higher literary aspirations, as well as a creepy, eerie, or weird story.  I will just read a suspenseful monster fest for fun however.

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H.P. Lovecraft

Horror is another one of those shamed genres like Romance, Westerns, Crime, SciFi, and Thrillers.  For some unknown reason Mysteries seem to somewhat escape this literary pariah status.  No matter how well written and thoughtful a horror novel is it will be shunned by the true literati (= snobs).  The only novels that escape this fate are those that are written by writers that are already considered literary writers and not classed with the genre outcasts.  Therefore a Colson Whitehead can write a post-apocalyptic zombie book and the literati will accept it as “experimental.”  BS flows nonetheless, such novels are sure to be overrated within the genre because of their literary cachet.  Thus Gravity’s Rainbow, as much a genre novel as anything, is classed literature, while Misery, every bit a literary novel, is not.

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Monster Fest – Robert McCammon’s Stinger

Wherefore does this nonsense arise, I ask?  Partly it is reliance on the short story in the horror genre.  The short story is actually the lifeblood of the horror genre and it has always been the red headed stepchild of what is considered true literature once the novel became the dominant fiction literary form.  Short stories are almost a literary genre unto themselves, treated as a sort of sub-literature or novelty for short attention spans.  This persists even though snob rags like The New Yorker have printed stories and novellas as high brow fiction for decades.  They get away with this by pretending the writers of these shorter bits are really serious novelists just moonlighting in shorter magazine fare.

CoyeNow that we’ve disposed of this bit of silliness, what is left?  Well I think the shunned status is partly also caused by horror being about unreality that largely doesn’t conform to a defined “art” category like surrealism say.  “Literature” is supposed to be about real or possible things.  This obviously is not always true, Thomas Pynchon, Kurt Vonnegut, and Franz Kafka are again notable exceptions.

However I think the main reason horror literature is snubbed is because these fears that we entertain are formed in early childhood and somehow intellectuals think we should be largely beyond these things as adults.  To enjoy, or maybe I should say, savor and ponder these symbols and subjects is considered a sign that we haven’t grown up.  After all grownups don’t believe in ghosts, monsters, aliens, or haunted houses.  The fact that these can be deep seated symbols worth considering is dismissed.

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Pickman’s Ghoul – H.P. Lovecraft

Many horror writers and fans attempt to artificially jump out of the genre by referring to it as “dark fiction” as scifi tried to unsuccessfully re-brand itself as speculative fiction in the ’60s and ’70s.  I’m from Chicago and I believe you should call a spade a spade; used cars are not pre-owned cars.  Like Bentley Little, if a horror writer tries to tell me he/she is a dark fiction writer bad things will result.  Horror fans who want to be called dark fiction fans have an inferiority complex when it comes to their “literature” brethren but this doesn’t justify painting over the genre label.  Get used to it, you are a horror fiction fan and certain types aren’t going to want to discuss your reading list whatever you brand it.

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Thomas Tessier’s Remorseless: Tales of Cruelty

Labels are useful things.  They help us to define and choose what we want.  They provide a convenient place in say a bookstore to filter what we want to look at.  If all books were filed together the shopping experience in a used bookstore would be infinitely more difficult.  Dark fiction isn’t an accepted genre, so filing said books in with regular fiction is silly no matter how inferior the writer/fan feels for having to shamefully go to the horror section, even for a literary masterpiece.  There is little purpose beyond snobbishness for shucking the horror label.

The horror, the horror.

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