the further adventures of

Mike Pirnat

a leaf on the wind

Did You Get What You Wanted?

As the Christmas Day festivities wound down and we settled into a quiet afternoon together, Liz asked me a question:

"Did you get what you wanted for Christmas?"

My thoughts flickered quickly across the warm and happy morning spent with my beautiful wife and daughter, singing songs, opening presents, cooking breakfast together, playing with the cats. The smiles on the faces of my two favorite ladies. Savoring old memories and making new ones. Being a family.

"Yeah," I said. "I did."

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Dr. WTF?

I grew up watching "Dr. Who" on the PBS station out of Albuquerque, usually late at night, and in my earliest experiences, with my hands over my eyes to protect me from those damned terrifying Daleks. My inner four-year-old can still hear the cries of "EXTERMINATE!" echo in the darkness of my childhood bedroom. As I got older, I got hip to exactly how low-budget the FX were, and love replaced fear. Sure, the scripts were pretty dreadful, the sets and effects worse, but the show had a charm and earnestness that were really endearing, much the same way that the first Star Wars or the original "Star Trek" did. It was goofy, geeky, cheesy, but it had soul.

I was pretty upset when the BBC, in its infinite wisdom, decided to cancel the good doctor, and I had almost completely given up hope of it ever starting back up again after years of on-again, off-again rumors (and one made-for-TV film that was too flawed and too off-mainstream to have ever gone anywhere, despite some glimmers of potential). When I heard that there was to be a new series, and that it would run on the Sci-Fi Network--so I wouldn't even have to worry about being an evil internet pirate, g'yarr!--I leapt to the Tivo with all the glee of being a little kid again...

A little kid who was about to get his childhood crapped all over.

So... Gosh. Wow. I watched the premiere on Friday night, and I'm simply stunned by its awfulness. It's the sort of thing that makes Jar-Jar Binks seem like a pretty good idea.

The new version of the theme music strikes me as pretty bad, and it runs on top of a really ugly opening sequence that looks like a cross between the time-travel sequences in the Bill & Ted movies and the giant, swooshy block letters of Superman. There's almost constant incidental music throughout the entire show, and it is reliably inappropriate and awkward throughout; the least offensive stuff is like a Casio keyboard demo on speed, while the worst is, quite literally, a Britney Spears track. The effects are just as low budget as before, but instead of having the well-intentioned, practical charm of prior incarnations, we are now treated to bad CGI in diarrhea-like abundance (highlights include a character being attacked and eaten by a hungry rubbish bin and the Doctor arguing with a giant mass of molten anger that sloshes around a lot). And the acting... I will admit that the original series were far from great acting, but there was an honesty about it that made you not care. The cast of this latest go-round is pretty well-rounded in its not-very-goodness, but the new Doctor is simply terrible, played completely cartoonishly--and not the good kind of cartoon like the classic Bugs Bunny who has some wit and guile about him, oh, no; this Doctor is Pokemon-grade, Ash Katchum as a Time Lord. And, if you'll permit one more fanboy rant after all that, I am really tired of having the TARDIS set changed every time someone wants to try reviving "Dr. Who." The interior of the TARDIS was what gave the show a needed sense of continuity between regenerations; this "new Doctor, new TARDIS, new music, new everything" approach is just tacky.

Everything about the new show is unconvincing and artificial, a through-and-through phony attempt to cash in on decades of fan support for a beloved and much-missed show. In short, it's missing a soul. Perhaps that was the price of its resurrection.

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Oregon Trail!

Were you a budding computer geek in the mid 1980's? Deadly Hippos has an interview with Philip Bouchard, one of the designers of the immortal Apple II game Oregon Trail. Good stuff that really brings back memories... If you get similarly overcome with nostalgia, you can bust out the emulator and play it--just don't blame me when your office productivity spirals off into oblivion as you re-master your buffalo hunting skills.

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Reunion Travelogue (Part Six)

Monday, 7/25:

Up early to go rafting on the Animas (full name: Rio de las Animas Perdidas; translation: River of Lost Souls). Great trip, lots of fun. Water was about 40-45 degrees F, so definitely an eye-opener. Mostly calm trip, but some great fun rapids around the foot of Smelter Mountain, with much whooping and hollering and soaking. Got cleaned up, went to Holly's shop (Sunnyside Farms Market, plug plug plug) with my folks to get lunch and buy goodies. Dad drove us up into the valley north of town to check out the aftermath of the horrible fire season of 2002. Back into town, we stopped at the high school to take some photos of the new expansions. Did a bit of shopping downtown, then came home to get changed and went out to a lovely dinner at Mahogany Grille. Packed up and turned in so that we could get a bright and early start on our drive to ABQ for the return flight.

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Reunion Travelogue (Part Four)

Saturday, 7/23:

Slept in a bit. Finished the Frank Herbert biography. Started Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Drove out to Holly's place in the afternoon for the reunion BBQ; got a good bit of rain and lightning on the way out that threatened to make the event strictly indoors, but it cleared shortly after our arrival. Continued good times chatting with old classmates. Holly's dad took us on a tour of his slaughterhouse; surprisingly clean and very interesting. Reassuring to see that in this age of assembly-line mass-market meat, there are people like her dad that are spending quality professional time on the disassembly of cows. Watched games of "Dongball" and "Rope and Buckets" played by folks of various levels of drunkenness. Delicious food. Stayed until about 9:30, then drove back into town with Josh Taylor in search of munchies and booze; these needs were met in many terribly wrong ways by the Orehouse, apparently one of the very few Durango establishments that doesn't close its kitchen at 9:45.

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Reunion Travelogue (Part Three)

Friday, 7/22:

Slept late. Lunch at Gazpacho's. Drove Liz around town a bit. Got cleaned up and attended the reunion dinner at Bistro 701. Had a bit of a mind-bending time (being suddenly around a crowd of people I hadn't seen for ten years was just plain weird), but good nonetheless. Some are married, some aren't; some have kids, some don't. Everyone seems to be doing well, and pretty happy about life. Oddly, I guess that includes me too, and that's kind of a nice thing to realize. Made only one stop on the pub crawl--Lady Falconburgh's again--and had continued good times there, despite being quite considerably rained on during the walk over. Liz became the hit of the party, or at least the hit of about one-fifth of it; she was proudly declared to be "beautiful," "awesome," and "hot" by more than one of my classmates, and I suspect that somehow Liz and Holly Zink may have been best friends in a former life or something. Left the bar around 11:45 PM; reportedly, the party moved on to another bar, and then to someone's house, with repeated visits from the police, who, when asked to check into the loud party, stopped by to have a drink. Too bad I can't survive that kind of lifestyle any more (as if I ever could).

Missed seeing a few people that I wanted to... Rita (whose locker was next to mine for four years--apparently busy selling yachts), Curtis (close friend from kindergarten days who is apparently busy getting his PhD in maths or physics, depending on whom one asks), Joel (apparently fallen from the face of the earth itself; his old house is now abandoned and run-down), Josh Bardin (apparently married in Seattle), Amber (apparently now a ski model), and many others too numerous to list... Hope you guys are all doing well; I miss you.

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