Archive for April, 2013

A trip to Disneyland 2013

April 30, 2013

A trip to Disneyland 2013

My Significant Other and I just got back from a trip to Disneyland, where we celebrated a 25th anniversary.

I thought I’d give you some impressions of it.

I’m a Disney fan from way back, and have been there many times…including with my SO before.

I continue to be amazed (every time) at how good their Customer Service is.

We did have a problem before we even got to the park. We had booked a hotel through Disney travel, and when we got the confirmation, I didn’t realize it was for another hotel.

When we got down there (we drove for about 6 1/2 hours), and walked to the hotel, we realized it was the wrong one.

That was an issue, because we have special dietary needs, so we bring our own food…we really need a kitchen.

I called Disney Travel, and they got us into another hotel with a kitchen smoothly and efficiently. It was a bit funny when they offered us a food credit in the park (after I’d explained the food issue)…so instead, they just waived the change fee (making an exception for us).

One really cool thing they did was give us buttons to wear that said it was our anniversary. What was nice was that so many of the park cast members (employees) would yell, “Happy anniversary!” as we walked past…even people selling popcorn and such. That sounds hokey, but it really did make us feel special. They also have buttons if it’s your birthday…if you go, check in at Town Hall about getting them.

We got in on an Early Morning, and Tomorrowland and Fantasyland were open.

We went on Star Tours…wow, has that changed! I missed the Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman) voiced robot, but it was fun. My SO (like some other people on simulators) has had problems with the ride before, but didn’t have that same effect this time.

We rode the Matterhorn, which we enjoy…it got me wondering as to how many people now think of that as the “Abominable Snowman” ride…I heard a lot of people mentioning that, which is a relatively new addition.

We were able to pretty much walk onto Indiana Jones after the rest of the park opened: that’s our favorite ride! It’s interesting that some of the best rides are not based on strictly Disney characters, but of course, they were also added later.

We continued around to Pirates, which now prominently features Captain Jack Sparrow…even the dialog in the siege scene has changed to relate to the Captain.

There were also some projection effects that were new.

Next up: The Haunted Mansion. While we were on it, there was a delay (that happens), and a new voice was instructing us what to do with our “Doom Buggies”. There were some other changes (fewer “jump scares”), but it was certainly nostalgic to hear the legendary Paul Frees doing the regular narration.

One thing that has improved: more healthy food options. We bought Vegetarian Disneyland – How To Find Great Vegetarian Food at Disneyland before we went, and that did help us find some  tofu. 🙂 We still ate most of our food in the hotel room, but it was good to be able to get something in the middle of the day.

We went to Cars Land: that one was all new to us. It’s actually in Disney California Adventure (DCA to fans).

I had deliberately not read up on the new rides before we went (I like to be surprised), and there was one there that was quite a surprise. It was Luigi’s Flying Tires, and it was very much like the old Flying Saucers ride at Disneyland (although considerably improved).

What happens is that the ride is like a giant air hockey table. You get in a tire (in the old ride, it was a flying saucer), and then airjets blow up out of the ground, making you hover. You can make the tire move in different directions by leaning (two of you are in one tire, typically, so you have to work together). It is also like (gentle) bumper cars…you can careen into other people.

I had read a great article years back about the physics of why the flying saucer ride kept failing: apparently, when visitors bounced up and down at a certain rate, it caused the jets to shut off…and it took some time to power them up again. No problem like that here. We would definitely do that one again…and I think you’d improve over time.

Another major ride there was Radiator Springs Racers. This one was clearly a next generation ride, with a lot of sophistication to it. It’s a bit like Splash Mountain, in the sense that there is a “dark ride” section (where you pass by scenes while you are inside a building), and then a thrill ride part. The movement was a lot of fun: it was not only fast, it was smooth. The cars were like slot cars…you weren’t riding on a track with two rails, but there was a track directly in the middle.

The line was very cleverly designed, weaving you in and out of shelters, and even having the equivalent of rock climbing walls (the “rocks” were bottles in cement) to entertain the kids. That was a good thing, though…I’m sure we were in line for over an hour. When we got out, the “stand by” wait time (that’s for regular riders, not people using Fastpass) was listed as 90 (!) minutes.

It was a great ride, and benefited from a newer technology they are using to make the audi0-animatronic type figures more realistic…using screens to project their eyes (that’s the same thing that they do with the Mr. Potato Head barker outside the Toy Story shooting gallery ride…which is also a lot of fun).

The other new ride we did was Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! in Hollywood Land in DCA. It was a more traditional dark ride…slow moving vehicle going past scenes. It was nice.

The one other big new thing for us was the World of Color. This was a spectacular show, with colored fountains. They projected images onto the water, which was very effective. They used fire jets, and they were hot! I uncomfortably felt the heat from probably fifty yards away.

That was one of the few things where they really need to make some improvements, though. We had a Fastpass for it, but still had to wait on an uncomfortable hard surface for about an hour. It was clear that many people were uncomfortable sitting there, and we were quite crowded. Then, we had to stand up for the show for an hour…still on that hard surface. If you were short, it was definitely hard to see a lot of the show…that was a problem for some kids and shorter adults. I’m sure they’ll figure something out for that eventually…even if they had railings come up out of the floor so you could lean it would be a lot better.

Overall, for us, it was still The Magic Kingdom…the Happiest Place on Earth. 🙂

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

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Bufo in Oz: was Dorothy’s house used as a weapon?

April 23, 2013

Bufo in Oz: was Dorothy’s house used as a weapon?

I’ve been a big fan of Oz for a very long time. In this series, Bufo in Oz, I’m going to address specific topics about L. Frank Baum’s Oz.

SPOILER ALERT: This post talk about specific things that happen in the Wizard of Oz series by L. Frank Baum. If you have not read them yet, and would like the joy of discovery, I would skip this post.

While the books can be downloaded individually for free at places like Project Gutenberg, this collection

The Complete Wizard of Oz Collection

has all fourteen of the original books for ninety-nine cents at the time of writing. 

Was Dorothy’s house used as a weapon?

There had been equilibrium in Oz for many years.

After four “wicked” witches had split the country evenly (following one of them, Mombi, abducting the king), two of them were overthrown by “good” witches.

When Oscar Diggs arrived in a balloon, he was believed to be very powerful (flight was, and would remain, unusual in Oz). He was able to have a city built, and ostensibly ruled the whole land.

However, he had been chased out of the West by use of the flying monkeys, and never ventured outside the Emerald City (or even outside of his own living quarters).

It’s safe to assume that the real balance was between the two pairs of aligned witches: Glinda in the South (she is called the Good Witch of the North in the 1939 Judy Garland version, but that was a change) and the Good Witch of the North (who is unnamed) on one side, and the Wicked Witches of the East and West on the other.

Mombi had been part of the Wicked Witches’ alliance, but had been overthrown herself by the Good Witch of the North. She was still around, but being a witch was forbidden, and her power was considerably diminished.

It’s not entirely clear what happened to the Wicked Witch who had ruled the South, except that Glinda had “conquered” her. Glinda later threatens to kill Mombi, although she says it is an idle threat…but Glinda also maintains an army. The fate of the Wicked Witch of the South may not have been as merciful as that of Mombi.

That is where the balance was.

Then, an extraordinary event occurred.

A farmhouse from the Outside World (containing Dorothy Gale, an orphan living with her aunt and uncle, and Toto, a dog) was picked up by a cyclone, blown to Oz, and dropped on the Wicked Witch of the East, killing her…and changing the status quo in a way that led to the defeat of the Wicked Witch of the West and a change in the central authority.

That seems like an amazing coincidence: of all the places in Oz, the house happens to fall on one of the most powerful magic users and important people?

What if it wasn’t a coincidence?

Is it possible that Dorothy’s house was used as a deliberate weapon…that someone used magic to direct its path?

There are some indicators that that’s what happened.

First, who would do it?

Clearly, Glinda, and her ally, the Good Witch of the North, stood to benefit. Rather than two versus two, the “witch war” would become two against one…much better odds.

The Good Witch alliance might also have the power to do it…they are, after all, magic users. Diggs himself later says, “…it is quite beyond my powers to make a cyclone…” Is the Wizard saying it is beyond everyone’s powers, or just his? Does he know that the Witches can do it? Should he have said, “No one can make a cyclone”…or is he being specific about himself?

In fact, L. Frank Baum makes a point about how the house is first lifted by the cyclone:

“From the far north they heard a low wail of the wind, and Uncle Henry and Dorothy could see where the long grass bowed in waves before the coming storm. There now came a sharp whistling in the air from the south, and as they turned their eyes that way they saw ripples in the grass coming from that direction also.”

Notice that the winds came from the north and the south? Those are the parts of the Land of Oz that were under the control of the Good Witches alliance. Could that have been, at the least, symbolic?

I asked Dr. Scott Calvin, a physics professor at Sarah Lawrence College, if what Baum had described was likely without magical intervention:

The Measured Circle: “Does the wind coming from the North and the South make meteorological sense? Does it not make any difference (winds can come from any direction before a cyclone?) or would this be anomalous?”

Professor Calvin: “It’s anomalous. For a typical Kansas (or Dakota, for that matter) tornado, the winds would be from the south. Around the thunderstorm systems that form tornadoes, there could be a lot of variations, but I really don’t understand the kind of converging winds that Baum describes.”

Of course, L. Frank Baum, the “Royal Historian”, could simply have been wrong…but why make up those particular details? Cardinal directions are important in the Oz books, and certainly may matter here.

The house does not break apart and Dorothy and Toto have no trouble surviving the journey (which lasts hours…and crosses the Deadly Deserts surrounding Oz). In fact, we are told

“The cyclone had set the house down very gently–for a cyclone–“

This could suggest a controlled descent…that could have been done to protect Dorothy and Toto, although it could conceivably have been due to a defensive action by the Wicked Witch of the East (who might have slowed the descent without being able to stop it). The Royal Historian says that Dorothy would have been hurt by the jarring landing if she didn’t happen to be on the bed, suggesting that the latter may be more likely.

Suspiciously, the Good Witch of the North is on the scene almost immediately after the house lands.

The witch explains it this way:

“When they saw the Witch of the East was dead the Munchkins sent a swift messenger to me, and I came at once. I am the Witch of the North.”

That would have to have been a very swift messenger indeed. Dorothy is awakened by the shock of the landing, springs from the bed, and runs outside. She is looking at the sights, but there is no suggestion that any real time passes before a group of people, including the Good Witch of the North, come up to her.

People typically travel by foot in Oz (although there are some other methods described in the books). It doesn’t seem likely that there is any swift mass transport, or telecommunication to get the information about the house which has just landed to the Good Witch of the North, and give her time to get there.

It seems much more likely that she was already nearby when her enemy was killed. Did she know where the house was going to land? Was she in some way distracting the Wicked Witch, or even keeping her in the right spot?

The Good Witch doesn’t seem particularly surprised about the death of the Wicked Witch. She even laughs when the woman dissolves.

Then, there is one of the most interesting events in Oz.

While the group tries to assess the situation, the Good Witch does something specific:

“As for the little old woman, she took off her cap and balanced the point on the end of her nose, while she counted “One, two, three” in a solemn voice. At once the cap changed to a slate, on which was written in big, white chalk marks:

“LET DOROTHY GO TO THE CITY OF EMERALDS”

The little old woman took the slate from her nose, and having read the words on it, asked, “Is your name Dorothy, my dear?”

“Yes,” answered the child, looking up and drying her tears.

Who was communicating with the Good Witch of the North? Who knew Dorothy’s name?

It’s possible that this is supposed to be a spirit of some kind. “Slate writing” had been a part of the Spiritualism movement, with which L. Frank Baum would likely have been familiar.

However, we don’t get a lot of communicating with the dead in Oz (or appearances of ghosts).

One possible clue is that the writing is in white letters…and white is the color of witches in Oz. Even the fact that Dorothy’s gingham dress has white checks in it marks her as a witch:

When Boq saw her silver shoes he said, “You must be a great sorceress.”

“Why?” asked the girl. “Because you wear silver shoes and have killed the Wicked Witch. Besides, you have white in your frock, and only witches and sorceresses wear white.”

“My dress is blue and white checked,” said Dorothy, smoothing out the wrinkles in it.

“It is kind of you to wear that,” said Boq. “Blue is the color of the Munchkins, and white is the witch color. So we know you are a friendly witch.”

Could Glinda have been the author of the recommendation that Dorothy be sent to see the Wizard? How would she know Dorothy’s name at that point?

One of Glinda’s specialties is surveillance and knowledge. She talks later on about having “spies” (who gather intelligence on the Wizard…it’s clear that Glinda wasn’t exactly loyal to the Wonderful Wizard).

More importantly, she has the Great Book of Records:

“Among the many wonderful things in Glinda’s palace is the Great Book of Records. In this book is inscribed everything that takes place in all the world, just the instant it happens; so that by referring to its pages Glinda knows what is taking place far and near, in every country that exists.”

While it appears that events can be magically blocked from appearing in the Book (Mombi does that with the location of the rightful ruler of Oz, Ozma), it should have been possible for Glinda to know instantly that “Dorothy Gale’s house has landed on and killed the Wicked Witch of the East” (or some entry like that). It’s also reasonable to assume that you have to be looking for something specific, since the book must be constantly changing with new information.

We don’t hear about the magical slate in later books, but some magic in Oz is limited as the number of times it can be used. Perhaps this was a single use device, or was on its last use.

When Dorothy does meet Glinda towards the end of the first book, we don’t get any indication that Glinda is surprised by her arrival (even though she might not have consulted the Book of Records about it, if she didn’t know what had been happening).

Strategically, Dorothy’s visit works very well for Glinda and her alliance.

The Wicked Witch of the East is killed. Dorothy is armed with a powerful charm, and sent to see the Wizard. The Wicked Witch of the West is killed. The Wizard ends up leaving Oz, ending his reign. Two powerful potential weapons, the silver shoes and the Golden Cap that controls the flying monkeys, are both made harmless.

What does Glinda do with Dorothy, an Outsider and possible loose end (who still has the silver shoes when she meets her)?

She sends her back to Kansas…in such a way that the magical shoes no longer are going to be part of the calculations as the power shifts in Oz.

Glinda will end up being a very powerful advisor to Princess Ozma, who she helps regain her throne.

Dorothy’s house: meteorological accident, or calculated coup? The evidence points to the latter.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

My take on…42

April 14, 2013

My take on…42

42 is not a baseball movie.

Yes, it’s a movie that loves baseball, and shows us baseball…but it’s a movie about people.

The fact that I use the plural there is part of what makes the movie good.

Certainly, it’s the story of Jackie Robinson, and Chadwick Boseman (of Persons Unknown) is great in the part. You can see what a hero is: not somebody who thinks they are a hero, or who chooses to be a hero, but who does the right thing for others, no matter how much it costs personally.

However, it’s also the story of Branch Rickey (played by Harrison Ford, in a Supporting actor Oscar worthy performance), the baseball executive who made the decision to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier…knowing it would be hard, knowing it would be a long, hard fought struggle.

That might be enough of a dynamic, but director (and screenwriter) Brian Helgeland gives us a rich cast of characters.

In fact, I want to take a moment to praise Helgeland’s direction. One of the ways you can tell if something is well-directed is if there is a consistency of vision, and an evenness of tone. Are the actors all working towards the same goal? Are performances there to help the story?

In this case, absolutely. There isn’t a bad or showboaty performance in the movie…from the smallest parts to the largest.

The art direction and costumes also fit right into it.

If this movie was released in November, I could see it garnering several Oscar nominations. With the release being this early in the year, though, that will be more of a challenge.

My Significant Other thought this was the best movie we’ve seen this year, and the audience seemed to enjoy it. I liked the old-fashioned, pure movie tone…no nudity, no gore, just story-telling. You do hear the “n word” (repeatedly, but appropriately), and the “s word” is used once. I thought it moved along nicely, but I can see how some people might find it…too quiet. There certainly is drama (even though we know how it eventually turns out), but not a lot of dramatic incidents.

I recommend this one…and think that it might end up being shown in schools.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

Jonathan Winters reported dead

April 12, 2013

Jonathan Winters reported dead

Jonathan Winters was one of a kind…or perhaps, kind of one hundred.

By that I mean that the improv comic had the ability to switch into many different characters at the drop of a hat…and then become the hat as well.

This

Variety article

does a good job of covering the basics, and includes some video clips. I’d recommend the Jack Paar clip, to see the early Winters…although he oddly does talk about dying in it.

I first think of Jonathan Winters from comedy albums, but also from live TV performances.

There’s no question that we wouldn’t have had Robin Williams without Jonathan Winters…and one of the things I like most about Williams was his support of Winters. Not just in having him on Mork & Mindy (which is how a lot of these obits are being headlined), but I recall some sort of news or magazine show where they did a profile together. Robin Williams was completely showcasing Jonathan Winters in a very generous way.

While movies were not the largest part of his career, they do form part of his geek-friendly credits:

  • The Magic Land of Alakazam (this was a 1960 Japanese animated movie, and they did an American dub with Frankie Avalon, Sterling Holloway, and Jonathan Winters)
  • Shirley Temple’s Storybook (Winters appeared in both The Land of Oz and Babes in Toyland)
  • The Twilight Zone (Winters had a rare dramatic turn portraying a dead pool player…the ep also starred Jack Klugman)
  • It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World
  • Linus! The Lion Hearted
  • Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad (quite a bizarre movie…)
  • Wait Till Your Father Gets Home (an animated sitcom…Winters voiced his Maude Frickert character)
  • Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color (he played a talking pumpkin)
  • The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh
  • I Go Pogo
  • More Wild Wild West (a follow-on TV movie from 1980)
  • Mork & Mindy (as Robin Williams’ Mork’s son…they age backwards on Ork)
  • Star Fairies
  • The Pound Puppies
  • Alice in Wonderland (as Humpty Dumpty in an all-star TV version…other stars included Donald O’Connor, Sherman Helmsley, Martha Raye, and Carol Channing)
  • The Smurfs (the TV series…Grandpa Smurf in the American version)
  • Alice in Wonderland (unlike the last one, this one was animated…but all-star again. Would you believe Mr. T as the  Jabberwock?)
  • The Muppet Show
  • The Little Troll Prince
  • The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley
  • Rabbit Ears: Paul Bunyan
  • Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures (cartoon spin-off)
  • Gravedale High (as Coach Cadaver)
  • Garfield and Friends
  • King Kong! The Living Legend
  • Tiny Toon Adventures
  • Little Dracula
  • The Wish That Changed Christmas
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation (as Superman…and Wade Pig)
  • Fish Police (as Mayor Cod)
  • Frosty Returns
  • The Princess and the Cobbler
  • Animaniacs
  • Yogi the Easter Bear
  • The Flintstones (the live-action movie with John Goodman)
  • The Shadow (Alec Baldwin)
  • Aaahh!!! Real Monsters
  • The Bears Who Saved Christmas
  • Spaced out! (Winters stars, and it includes a visit to the bridge of the Enterprise in a Star Trek bit)
  • The Mouse Factory
  • Daisy-Head Mayze
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers
  • Johnny Bravo
  • Santa vs. the Snowman (as Santa)
  • The New Scooby Doo Movies (in The Frickert Fracas)
  • Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big (directed by Berkeley Breathed of Bloom County fame, and co-starring John Cleese, Harry Shearer, and Catherine O’Hara, among others)
  • The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (the live action movie with Robert De Niro and Jason Alexander…no, no, they didn’t play “Moose and Squirrel”) 😉
  • Swing
  • Squatching (as himself, in a Bigfoot documentary with Loren Coleman)
  • Comic Book: The Movie
  • The Smurfs (the Neil Patrick Harris movie…playing Papa Smurf)
  • The Smurfs 2 (I think his role was probably completed)
  • Big Finish (a comedy movie with Jerry Lewis, Bob Newhart, Don Rickles, Tim Conway..scheduled for release December 12 of 2014)

Good-bye, Jonathan Winters…the world is less wacky (and daring and clever and funny and yes, sweet…and full) without you.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

Annette Funicello reported dead

April 8, 2013

Annette Funicello reported dead

In the 1950s, the original Mickey Mouse Club changed TV…and one of its biggest stars was Annette Funicello.

As the kids who watched grew into teenagers in the 1960s, Annette grew with them…dancing and singing on the beach with Frankie Avalon. While they may seem tame now, at the time, all of those bikinis were daring.

That wouldn’t have been enough for them to still have fans decades later. No question, Annette Funicello, with her sweet smile and fun attitude (and chemistry with Frankie) was part of what made them last.

Was Annette a geek star?

Certainly!

Sure, the beach party movies included some fantasy elements, but it was much more than that.

Annette’s geek friendly credits include:

  • The Shaggy Dog
  • Babes in Toyland
  • The Misadventures of Merlin Jones
  • The Monkey’s Uncle
  • Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (cameo)
  • Head (the Monkees movie…one of the screenwriters was Jack Nicholson)
  • Fantasy Island

Good-bye, Annette…the world is less swingin’ without you.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

My Tivo Season Passes April 2013

April 8, 2013

My Tivo Season Passes April 2013

I don’t always feel like I give my opinions to you enough on the shows I watch. I figured one way to do that was to go through the Season Passes on my Tivo, and just give you a comment on some of them.

For those of you who don’t know, you can ask Tivo to record a series for you, rather than an individual episode. That does make things easier, and there are several options: you can tell it how many episodes to keep at a time, for example, and whether or not to record reruns.

Here are a few of the key ones I actually watch: 😉

Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites

I take credit for having predicted the success of Survivor before the first episode was broadcast in the USA. I used to like it better in the earlier season, when it was so dependent on strength (there were more intellectual challenges back then). However, I still watch every episode. I typically watch them live, but we do record it just in case. How would I do on Survivor? Well, being a vegetarian would be quite difficult. They did have somebody who said that they were a vegetarian in an earlier season, but then ate a “worm”, which isn’t how I define it. I still think it’s worth watching

King of the Nerds

This one isn’t still currently running, but I did enjoy the first season. The challenges were fun, although some of the people were (perhaps not surprisingly) a bit irritating.

Glee

It’s gotten a bit big and epic for me…I like it best when they sing, and could do without some of the soap opera-style plots.

Perception

Not crazy about it…my SO likes it more.

So You Think You Can Dance

We do like this. 🙂 My Significant Other and I disagree about who was best, Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly. For me, Gene Kelly always struck me as a superbly trained athlete with an artistic sense. Astaire was just magic. 😉 It seemed like you could train and train and train and dance something Gene Kelly had danced…but that you couldn’t possibly do what Astaire did.

Psych

There are times when this is great and geeky fun…and then they can get too serious. I do love the pop culture references, and when Gus and Shawn are just being goofy. When Shawn was vengeful about his father being shot, well, that just didn’t work for me.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

I watch a lot of news, but I’m amazed when Jon Stewart and his writers have the best insight (and often the best clips). I also love that he has so many authors on the show. I like John Oliver (and think he has the best chemistry with Stewart, the latter of whom is quite generous with his staff), and will look forward to him hosting this summer.

Cake Boss

My SO and I watch a lot of cooking shows, especially competition shows. However, even if you don’t like cooking, you might like this. Buddy is just such a great character, and the cakes they make are truly “awesome”, as Buddy would say.

Revolution

I watch it, but I’m not riveted. I can go for really silly series, or really serious ones, but this seems a bit stuck in the middle. I can’t buy the characters, but the behavior can be really cruel.

Archer

Quite simply, this may be the best show on television (and that’s saying a lot, with television as good as it is). It’s a raunchy (really raunchy) spy satire…silly, pushing the envelope, and well-written. There are a lot of people who won’t like it, and I’d be surprised if it  isn’t regularly condemned by somebody. 😉

Big Brother

Not back on until the summer (June 26th), but I get into this every year. Unlike Survivor, it hasn’t become all about the pretty people, or all about physicality. Is it lowbrow? Absolutely. 😉

The Walking Dead

This season has been great! This will be one of TV’s legendary shows. I didn’t like it that much the first season…I thought the characters, particularly Rick Grimes, were too simple. Well, that has changed, and every show has emotionally moving moments, mixed with appropriate action and twists and turns. I think next year they may have to gives us some more intimate, small-set pieces…it’s in danger of getting “topititis”, that condition where a show tries to top itself every week, and ends up sailing out of a connection with the audience.

Face Off

One of the coolest competition shows on TV. These are make-up artists, but of the full on, Rick Baker/John Chambers variety. The finale this season was remarkable: I had no idea how the makeups stayed together! I used to do some fantasy make-ups in the theatre, but nothing to that extent. It just finished up the current season, should be back on in the summer.

The Glee Project

A competition show for who gets a guest spot on Glee. A former actor myself, I found this a lot more interesting than I expected. While it is a reality show, the stakes are real…and decisions are made on what the best choice is, not the best television for this week.

Teen Wolf

I won’t say I’ve seen every episode, but this was a lot better than I expected. It’s a bit mythology heavy, but the acting has been fun, especially the Stiles character. Returns in June. It was quite a feat to turn the silly Michael J. Fox movie into this…sure, it’s melodrama, but well-done melodrama.

Finding Bigfoot

Every episode, every week. 🙂

Alphas

Ryan Cartwight’s performance as Gary Bell is astonishingly good. Not only is he realistically autistic (and able to portray genuine emotions, which can be difficult with that condition), I had no idea he was British! I’m usually quite good at picking up accents, and yes, the British have gotten to be good at American accents, but I can often pick up a trace…nothing here. Again, the show can get too heavily into mythology, but I enjoy it.

Bones

It can be wonderfully geeky, and Bones and Booth are strong central characters surrounded by a great supporting cast. My SO is more into the ongoing story of it, and I don’t mind if I miss an ep, but I do think it’s a good show.

Burn Notice

Bruce Campbell! There’s more to the show than that, but isn’t that enough? 😉 I’d still like to see John Saxon as Sam Axe’s father…returns June 6th.

American Ninja Warrior

I watched the original Japanese version of this as well, and they now have it down where the American one is also worth seeing. It’s reality competition against the world’s toughest obstacle course. You have to be fine with almost no one ever winning to love this show…that’s not typical with most shows designed for Americans, but regardless, you might be caught up in the athletics.

Doctor Who

Well, you know, it is bigger on the inside. 😉 While my first Doctor was Tom Baker, I like Matt Smith. I think The Girl Who Waited is one of the best episodes of any TV series. At this point, I’m not a fan of Clara…she’s more of a gimmick than a character for me, and not at all as interesting as the Ponds. I’m hoping that may change.

Elementary

Having written a contemporary Holmes myself (mine is a parody), I am finding that I like this one. Playing Holmes as a “damaged detective” does work for me. Just stay away from building a mythos, please. 😉

The Following

It wants to be a lot smarter than it is, but I am watching this. Part of that is Valorie Curry’s performance, which is magnetic.

American Idol

Gee, am I still recording this? 😉 I don’t watch it regularly, and I used to be really into it. One season, I think I predicted the last ten…in order. Now, well, I think the judging is part of it…when Simon was fresh, it made the show better. Also, I feel less like an unusual singer has a real chance here.

Robot Combat League

It took a little while, but I am hooked. Giant robots? A single mother who plays Wonder Woman on the street and named her kid Justice Lee after the Justice League? Pools of hydraulic fluid and burning robots? Robots being literally cut in half by their opponents? For me to get into it, the fighters had to be able to improve by learning skills, and that’s happened.

Bates Motel

There have been good shows based on movies before (M*A*S*H, for one), and this one faced a particularly steep challenge. It’s fascinating, though. It is harsh: it’s going to be too horrific for many, but Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore have great chemistry.

Monsters and Mysteries in America

This is a new show for me, and I haven’t seen it enough yet to really judge it. With this kind of show, the question is going to be what makes it stand out? It’s a bit risky to launch a show like this now without a recurring cast…people invest in individuals.

Let’s see…with zooming through commercials, that probably still adds up to twenty hours of television or so a week. Where do I find the time? 😉

For more information on broadcast dates, see

The Measured Circle current events calendar

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

Answers to “Which hero were you calling, sir?”

April 3, 2013

Answers to “Which hero were you calling, sir?

These are the answers to

“Which hero were you calling, sir?”

a post on March 31st. If you’d like to see if you know the answers, go there first before coming back here.

Give yourself credit if you got the show or the character.

Who do you call…

  1. …when criminals in this world appear and break the laws that they should fear? Answer: Underdog Underdog Amazon Instant Video (AIV) Underdog opening at YouTube
  2. …when the FBI is helpless? Answer: Tobor, the 8th Man Tobor the 8th Man AIV Tobor the 8th Man YouTube
  3. …when it looks like you will take a lickin’? Answer: Super Chicken Super Chicken DVD Super Chicken opening at YouTube
  4. …when there’s something strange in your neighborhood? Answer: Ghostbusters Ghostbusters AIV Ghostbusters theme at YouTube
  5. …any time there’s a rumble out West? Answer: The Houndcats The Houndcats DVD The Houndcats opening at YouTube
  6. …when things get rough? Answer: H.R. Pufnstuf H.R. Pufnstuf AIV H.R. Pufnstuf opening on YouTube
  7. …when the going gets tough? Answer: Hong Kong Phooey Hong Kong Phooey DVD Hong Kong Phooey opening at YouTube
  8. …when there’s a hold-up in the Bronx? Answer: Car 54 Car 54 Where Are You? DVD Car 54 Where Are You? intro on YouTube
  9. …when all my dreams have fallen down? Answer: “Superboy” (Clark) (from Smallville) Smallville AIV Smallville theme song on YouTube
  10. …when we’ve got some work to do now? Answer: Scooby Doo Scooby Doo AIV Scooby Doo opening at YouTube
  11. …when your back is to the wall and there’s no one else to call? Answer: 21 Jump Street (any character from that is fine) 21 Jump Street AIV 21 Jump Street opening at YouTube
  12. …when some crimes go slippin’ through the cracks? Answer: Chip ‘N “Dale’s Rescue Rangers Chip ‘N Dale’s Rescue Rangers AIV Chip ‘N Dale’s Rescue Rangers opening on YouTube
  13. …when there’s trouble, you call…? Answer: D.W….Darkwing Duck Darkwing Duck DVD Darkwing Duck intro at YouTube
  14. …when you need some teenagers with attitude? Answer: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Mighty Morphin Power Rangers AIV Mighty Morphin Power Rangers opening on YouTube
  15. …when you need a knight without armor in a savage land? Answer: Paladin (Have Gun Will Travel) Have Gun Will Travel AIV Have Gun Will Travel theme on YouTube
  16. …wherever there is danger? Answer: Danger Mouse Danger Mouse DVD Danger Mouse intro on YouTube
  17. …when your signal watch goes zee-zee-zee? Answer: Superman
  18. …when there are people crying for help? Answer: Hercules
  19. …when you need someone to to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless, the powerless? Answer: Michael Knight (Knightrider) Knight Rider AIV Knight Rider intro at YouTube
  20. …to stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness? Answer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy AIV Buffy intro on YouTube

How did you do?

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.


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