Greetings and Thanks for Visiting.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

TARDIS Tuesday: "The Cave of Skulls" [Review]

THE BASICS
Episode: Doctor Who, Season 01, Episode 002, Story 001 - Part 2 of 4
Title: "The Cave of Skulls"
Original Air Date: 30 November 1963
Run-time: 24:26

CAST:
Doctor:
First Doctor (William Hartnell)
Companions:
Susan Foreman (Carole Ann Ford)
Ian Chesterton (William Russell)
Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill)

[Image Source: The BBC]
REVIEW:

In last week's "TARDIS Tuesday", we focused on the very first episode of Doctor Who, "The Unearthly Child." In that episode we met school schoolteachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright who serves as the audience's surrogates in our first encounter with the enigmatic Doctor and his granddaughter, Susan Foreman. That episode was fairly slow-paced and served mostly to introduce us to the four main characters and to the TARDIS, the Doctor's mysterious time machine. The episode ended in a cliffhanger as the Doctor kidnaps the schoolteachers in an attempt to prevent them from going to the authorities.

Episode 2 is when everything starts to get interesting. We learn that the TARDIS disguises itself to match its surroundings. (Previous disguises include an ionic column and a sedan chair.) Unfortunately, this time around the ship does not change forms, establishing one of the most iconic elements of the show: a time-traveling police box. The cranky, old Doctor reveals a cunning side and acts as a protector to his companions. Also a running joke in the series finds its genesis in this episode when Ian says, "Well just open the doors, Doctor Foreman." To which the Doctor replies, "Eh, Doctor who? — what's he talking about?"

We also begin to see how low-budget the show really was. Seams between sections of background set pieces are visible—as if the fake horizon was not obviously-painted enough.  A lot of the action takes place in close quarters, so when the entire episode cast (extras and all) are in a scene, it gets very claustrophobic very fast, and is indicative of the small sound stage used for production.

Yet, at the same time, the story is itself is compelling, replete with allegory and subtext.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

TARDIS Tuesday: "An Unearthly Child" [Review]


THE BASICS
Episode: Doctor Who, Season 01, Episode 001, Story 001 - Part 1 of 4
Title: "An Earthly Child"
Original Air Date: 23 November 1963
Run-time: 23:24

CAST:
Doctor:
First Doctor (William Hartnell)
Companions:
Susan Foreman (Carole Ann Ford)
Ian Chesterton (William Russell)
Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill)

REVIEW:
The uninitiated watching "An Unearthly Child" may find it disconcertingly hard to get used to at first. I know that each time I watch these classic episodes of Doctor Who, I still have to take the time to adjust to the stark differences between the fast-paced, big budget production of the revived series and its slower—sometimes cheesy—counterpart. Although both series are very story driven, the original show had to rely more heavily on the art of storytelling. The fact of the matter is that, even for it time, the classic series was ridiculously low-budget. It is a wonder that this Saturday children's educational show ever became the worldwide sci-fi sensation that it is today. This first episode is especially slow-paced and serves mainly as an introduction of the four main characters.

TARDIS Tuesday: Introduction

So how was your Doctor Who 50th Anniversary experience this past Saturday? I hope to it was everything you expected it to be and much more. It was like gasoline to the fire that is my passion for everything Doctor Who. 

Last week, I commemorated the Anniversary by dedicating a post everyday leading up to Saturday's premiere of "The Day of the Doctor." My review for that brilliant episode is forthcoming and I hope to have it out by the Blu-ray release later this year. For now, I DVR'ed the episode and I've been watching it over and over, basking in its awesomeness. I really want to do the episode justice so I am taking my time to gather my thoughts and to get my words right. 


But, with the 50th Anniversary episode behind us, we will be returning to our usual content and if you've been following for a while now, you've witness the evolution said content has taken over the years. Most recently, I've been trying to direct my post towards attractions and things-to-do in Georgia and the Metro Atlanta area. This helped satisfy the first part of my content-refocusing plan I laid out back in January. I'm still working on integrating more Pinterest and life-hack related posts, so stay tuned.

However, just because the 50th Anniversary is officially over, that doesn't mean the celebration has to end. The title of this blog is, after all, Wibbly-wobbly, Timey-wimey Stuff.

At this time, I would like to introduce a new weekly segment I like to call "TARDIS Tuesday"!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Doctor Who: "The Day of the Doctor" Predictions

[Image Source: Radiotimes.com]


I really like Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat. His ingenious writing makes for great television. A lot of his stories are driven by things the Doctor sees in the corner of his eye or brushes against. Even a very attentive audience may miss these subtle details. Moffat is also the devil when it comes to stories about paradoxes and negated timelines.  I would love to one write like him one day.

So, since I apparently didn't learn my lesson from the last time I tried to make predictions about Doctor Who, here are my predictions for what we'll see in today's Doctor Who 50th Anniversary episode. 

Most of these are based off of trailers and the mini episode "The Night of the Doctor."


  1. The episodes will star the Eleventh and Tenth Doctors. It will also feature John Hurt's War Doctor.
  2. The story will be set between the Tenth Doctor episode "Wars of Mars" and "End of Time" in the Tenth Doctor's timeline. Base on the Children in Need teaser preview, this may be the oft reference adventure that led the Doctor marrying Queen Elisabeth I.
  3. This episode is set shortly after the events of the series seven season finale "The Name of the Doctor" in the eleventh Doctor's timeline.
  4. The story will involve the end of the Time War and how the War Doctor ended it. I don't think any of the classic Doctors will actually be in the episode. Although this doesn't mean that there won't be some CG magic like in "The Name of the Doctor."
  5. I think, despite Christopher Eccleston stating he won't be in the episode, we will see the War Doctor regenerate into the ninth Doctor. There is also a good chance the War Doctor will be negated and we will see McGann's eighth in a redux of his regeneration in "The Night of the Doctor" I. Which he becomes Ecclesston's ninth.
  6. We will see Billie Piper as Rose Tyler but this isn't the companion we know and love. Based on the glowing eyes we saw in the trailers and on her outfit, this might be Bad Wolf Rose who we saw in "Parting of the Ways." If we do see a regeneration sequence, I think this will be the precursor to the revived era series premiere episode  "Rose." I would not be surprised if we learn that ninth's meeting with Rose Tyler was not coincidental at all and follows immediately after the events of the 50th anniversary episode.

Well those are my predictions. In an hour or so we will she how close I came. Have fun, my dear Whovians. Happy anniversary!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Doctor Who: "The Night of the Doctor" Mini-Episode [Review]




On November 14, the BBC released a mini episode to the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary episdoe "The Day of the Doctor." The prequel titled “The Night of the Doctor,” starred, much to the surprise of fans and critics, the eighth Doctor played by Paul McGann. McGann's Doctor was last seen in the Doctor Who TV movie, which was released in 1996 as a failed pilot to revive the series in an American setting.

The episode was critically acclaimed and applauded by fans and critics alike. At only seven minutes in length, the mini episode has the potential to be one of the most significant episodes to date both for the show's production history and for the Doctor Who lore.

As the mini episode opens, a ship is crashing onto the planet Karn, its pilot desperately seeking help. "I'm a Doctor," a voice says off screen. The camera pans and there stands the Doctor. "But probably not the one you were expecting," he says. True to his ironic words, this Doctor was not the Doctor we, the audience, expected. This was a great misdirection on the part of the BBC would originally teased the prequel this way:
The 50th Anniversary features Matt Smith, David Tennant and a mysterious incarnation played by John Hurt. Only one appears in the mini episode, The Night Of The Doctor. But which?
Later, unable to prevent the crash, the Doctor is dying from wounds. He encounters the Sisters of Karn, an exiled cult of Time Lords who provides him with a concoction to force a regeneration, the process by which Time Lords are able to stave of death by regenerating their body into a new form. This regeneration would be specific, the Sisters tell him. He can pick the from a selection of forms but whichever he chooses, he must take that form into battle to end the Last Great Time War, a war the Doctor has been able to avoid thus far.

He choose his form and becomes the "War Doctor." A look in the mirror reveals the face of John Hurt which has been digital edited to look younger than he is now. He is "Doctor no more."

In the span of seven minutes, "The Night of the Doctor" not only created the bookends to the eighth Doctor's life that began with the TV movie but also established Hurt's position in the Doctor's timeline. It was no longer a mystery where the War Doctor fit.

In those seven minutes we learned that the eighth Doctor ran away from the Time War, whereas until this point fans only speculated that he actually fought in the War before regenerating into Christopher Eccleston's ninth Doctor. We now know that he was conscripted and that the numbering sequence is actually off (although, since the Doctor refuses to acknowledge him as a Doctor, therefore thanks to semantics, we don't need to adjust our numbering.) It is also implied by the War Doctor's youth after regeneration, that this incarnation would fight the Time War for a long time to come, possibly culminating into "The Day of the Doctor," and could possibly hint at another regeneration sequence.

What really makes these seven minutes so special and so significant is that shortly before regenerating, the eight Doctor invoked and saluted the names of several companions from the Big Finish audio-plays. Up until this point the audio plays, like many of the Doctor's other spin-off media adventures in comics and novels, were considered apocrypha at best, in that although they were licensed by the BBC, the powers that be refused to acknowledge their canonicity. When the movie pilot did not take off, fans soon turned to these source to provide them with the eighth Doctor adventures the craved. But now, in a brief sentence, "The Night of the Doctor," canonized at least the audio-plays that featured these characters.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Doctor Who: Fish Fingers and Custard [Recipe]


One of the most memorable moments in Doctor Who comes from the Fifth Series season premiere in which the newly regenerated eleventh Doctor (played by Matt Smith) gets a young Amelia Pond to rustle him up some grub. Except...nothing seems to taste quite right. That is, until...FISH FINGERS AND CUSTARD!!!


Now, fish fingers and custard has become a Whovian staple. It's as ubiquitous in the fandom as Jelly Babies and "The Angel Have the Phone Box."

In reality, Matt Smith actually ate "coconut thingies in bread crumbs" with his custard [1] during production. But this hasn't deterred many a fanboy (and fangirl) from trying it with actual fish fingers.

So, I decide to join the ranks of über-dorks and have fish fingers and custard for the first time for dinner tonight.

Since it's almost impossible to find British-style custard in American grocery stores and since custard and vanilla pudding are actually two different things, I decide to make the custard from scratch. (Pudding is a lot thicker and sweeter than custard and the best description of custard's consistency I've found is that it is "drinkable.")

I got my recipe for the custard from my copy of Dining With The Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook by Chris-Rachael Oseland [2][3]. The recipe itself is pretty standard and matches almost exactly to those I've found on Pinterest and elsewhere on the internet. I've included the ingredients list and a step-by-step instructions toward the end of this post.

Now, if you aren't brave enough to actually dip real fish fingers in your custard, you can follow the show's lead and make faux fish fingers. Dining With The Doctor actually has several recipes for making these out of french toasts, cornbread, cake, etc. I recommend picking up your own copy. There is also a Kindle Edition. You can also find recipes for these mock fish fingers on the internet and Pinterest.

For my part, I decided to try the real thing. I had a bag of Costco Brand (Kirkland's) fish sticks in the freezer, so I threw a bunch in the oven while I made the custard.

So, how did I like them?


It was good! Well, it wasn't disgusting, anyways. It tasted like a milder-flavored vanilla pudding. I was actually surprised how runny the consistency of the custard end up being. It definitely was "drinkable." Granted that could have more to do with my cooking than the recipe. The recipe called for milk, without distinguishing what type. I used skim milk, so perhaps using whole milk might have made it thicker. Also the recipe called for double cream which is not sold in the America, as far as I know. Double cream has about a 48% fat content. I used heavy cream which is about 35% fat content [4]. Also you could probably adjust the amount of cornstarch if you're feeling adventurous or find a recipe to make your own double cream.


BRITISH_STYLE CUSTRD RECIPE

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

IDW's Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time Gives Whovians Their Fantasy Team-up [Review]

Every true Whovian dreams to one day watch a Doctor Who episode in which all the actors who played the various incarnations of the titular characters reprise their roles for that one epic team-up adventure. However, for various reasons, that most likely will never happen. Not for the foreseeable future, anyways. The 50th Anniversary episode "The Day of the Doctor," which will air this Saturday, is the series' most promising and, possibly, last opportunity to do so—at least for a while. Unfortunately, show-runner Steven Moffat indicated in interviews that the fandom will just have to settle for the tenth and eleventh Doctors played by David Tennant and Matt Smith, respectively. Doctors Ten and Eleven will team up with the recently revealed "War Doctor," a previously unknown incarnation played by John Hurt. Three Doctors are enough, I suppose.

Then, again: Moffat's penchant for lying and misdirection to protect the magic of the show from leaks and spoilers until their scheduled air times might also indicate that this door is not competely closed. I submit as evidence,  the series seven season finale, "The Name of The Doctor," which used clever camera angles and computer-generated movie magic to splice old Doctor Who footage into the episode to bring all the previous Doctors back, even the late William Hartnell (1st Doctor), Patrick Troughton (2nd), and Jon Pertwee (3rd).

Prisoner of Time's
12 Covers Merged
[Image Source:
comicsblend.com]
I suppose until then, we Whovians will just have to settle for spin-off media like novels, audio-plays, and graphic novels as stop-gaps. In which case: may I recommend IDW Publishing's Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time graphic novel mini-series?

IDW, one of todays leading comic book publishers, specializes in licensed property. They also hold the license for popular titles like Star Trek, Transformers, and G.I.Joe. Unfortunately, their relationship with the BBC and their license to publish Doctor Who will end with the 50th Anniversary of the show. Fortunately, they refuse to leave without a big bang.

Prisoners of Time, a 12-issue limited series comic book, is IDW's year-long contribution to the 50th Anniversary. From January through November 2013, each issue of the first 11 were dedicated to one of the eleven Doctors and followed each of the Doctors in sequence on an adventure. As each issue closed, a shadowy figure kidnapped that Doctor's traveling companion(s), linking each story together and leading into today's release of issue 12 in which the Doctor team-up with all himselves to save his friends.

Written by siblings Scott and David Tipton, the story asks the reader to examine the Batman-ification of the Doctor and the effects, both good and bad, that he leaves in his wake. We see this same question in the current TV series in such episodes as "Vampires in Venice" and "A Good Man Goes to War." Yet, by end of issue 12, we are still left with that strange feeling that, just as in life, everything remains gray and blurry despite all the arguments for the Doctor's goodness, despite the fact that those arguments won.

IDW has given fans well-written, canon-worthy between-the-episodes adventures for a while now. In fact, they have gone out of their way to carefully integrate on-screen story elements to each of their stories as well as to avoid contradicting Doctor Who Proper. Prisoners of Time is no exception. I love how they blended elements from both the show's classic run and the revived modern series. IDW went a step further and included Frobisher, the Sixth's and Seventh's shapeshifting companion from Panini Comics' Doctor Who Magazine comic strip adventures from the Eighties. (Frobisher likes to use the form of a talking penguin as his "normal" appearance, by the way. What's cooler than that?)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Doctor Who: A Bigger Time-suck Than a Black Hole

In yesterday's Doctor Who post, I presented you with a watered-down synopsis of the television show's history. I also provided you with a must-watch list of the revived series episodes that I think will give you a richer understanding of the show, not to mention, get you caught up for the Saturday premiere of the 50th Anniversary special, "The Day of the Doctor.".

Today, I want to direct you towards some fun and often quirky Doctor Who related things you can find on the World Wide Web. If you're already a Doctor Who Fan—I mean a PROPER Whovian—you probably already know about all of these. AND THEN SOME! But for the uninitiated, I present to you a list of some of my favorite places to get my Who on!




WHERE TO GET YOU WHO ON

Pinterest - 

Well, sure, you can get on Google or Bing but unless you know what you're looking for you're more likely to end up on a Wikipedia entry or yet another news article about the 50th Anniversary Special. Instead, I recommend heading over to Pinterest where a search for "Doctor Who" can turn up some interesting finds. This is especially true as you explore the plethora of boards created by Doctor Who fans. Here, you'll find links to fan art, parodies and memes, official BBC promotional materials, and cosplay photos—most of which you probably will not get unless you are a die-hard fan.

Here is my "Doctor Who" Pinterest Board. I'm still working on building it up.

Fair warning: Pinterest is addictive on its own. Be prepared. This can become a bigger time suck than a black hole.


YouTube - 

YouTube has a lot of cool videos, everything from fan-made parodies, vlogs, and episode reviews to official trailers and mini-episodes from the both the Doctor Who and the BBC's official YouTube pages. Here are some of my favorite.

Alisa Stern has a cute YouTube tribute series called Doctor Puppet. Basically, Doctor Who marionette style. The series has been featured on the Nerdist. In fact the Nerdist has some awesome YouTube videos embedded on their page.



Monday, November 18, 2013

Doctor Who: A 50th Anniversary Primer

Happy Monday, All! 

Today begins my week long countdown to the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special "The Day of the Doctor" which will premier this Saturday, November 23, 2013 on the BBC and BBC America. To celebrate this milestone, I will be dedicating a daily post every day this week leading up to the premier of the special. Hey! That's what you get with a blog which gets its title from a line in the show.

[Image Source: Radiotimes.com]

Today's post is a bit of a primer for those who have no clue what Doctor Who is all about. 


History

The Versions of the TARDIS
[Image Source: TheDoctorWhoSite]
Premiering on November 23, 1963, Doctor Who started out as a British children's Saturday educational show in which a cranky old man called The Doctor, his granddaughter, and her two teachers travel through time and space learning about history and science in a ship called a TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimensions In Space), which, as a running joke has the ability to change its appearance but is permanently stuck as a 1960's blue police call box. (An Adventure in Space and Time, a dramatized account of the show's inception will on November 21, 2103.)

Versions of the Doctor
[Image Source: Wikipedia.com]
Not long after, it would be revealed that the Doctor is a member of an alien race called the Time Lords and had the ability to regenerate his body (which had the side effect of creating the same man with a new face and a new personality) as a way to cheat death. This device would allowed the show to continue with a new lead actor and came in handy as William Hartnell, the first actor to portray the titular lead, left the show due to his failing health. To date eleven actors have played the coveted role with a 12th—Peter Capaldi—set to take up mantel beginning with the 2103 Christmas Special [1][2]. 

The show's original run aired for 26 season until December 1989 and quickly became a cult classic, especially in the United State when the show began to air on PBS. In that time, the show would go through seven Doctors and inspire writers for other, more famous shows like Star Trek as well as geeks and scientist alike. There was just something about a low budget show about an alien who travelled with a rotating cast of companions saving the universe from evil. 

The show would get a TV movie and a new Doctor in 1996.  Produced as a partnership between the BBC and Fox, it would serve as a failed pilot to revive the show in an American setting. The show would then continue on in spin-off media like audio-plays, comic books, and novels creating a sort of apocrypha which helped fill the void in many-a-nerds' double hearts.

Then in 2005, the BBC would revive the series. The show got a bigger budget and sleeker storytelling. Since then three new Doctors have helped user the show (both classic run and revived series) into a new era with a whole new generation of fans. It is now a world-wide phenomenon with spin-offs, merchandising, and one of the nerdiest, most obsessed followings around.


The 50th Anniversary Episode

The 50th Anniversary episode titled "The Day of The Doctor" will air this Saturday and will star eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith and his companion Clara Oswald played by Jenna-Louise Coleman. The episode will also feature the return of tenth Doctor David Tennent and companion Rose Tyler played by Billie Piper. The sorry will revolve around the events of the Last Great Time War. A previously unknown incarnation of the Doctor (played by John Hurt) which was revealed in last minutes of the Series Seven season finale will play a large role.

Playing Catch-up

Want to catch-up on all the fun but don't have the time to watch all 33 seasons, 239 serials, 798 episodes? (You can't, by the way, even if you wanted to do so. Due to the BBC's "junking policy" in the 60s and 70s, there are 97 missing episodes.) Netflix has seasons one through six available while season seven is now out on DVD and Bluray. BBC America will also air most of these episodes leading up to the Saturday's Premier. Set your DVRs!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Braves Move North. Will Traffic Nightmare Follow?

On Monday morning November 11th 2013, Atlantans were greeted by the news that the Braves, Atlanta's iconic baseball team, will leave Turner Field when their lease ends in 2016 and will move into a new stadium in Cobb County in time for the 2017 season. The announcement left many questions in its wake and social media and news outlets quickly became a cornucopia of commentary ranging from jubilant acceptance to vitriolic criticism.

But as the day and week wore on, and as the shock that followed Braves President John Schuerholz's press conference wore off, it became evident that the club's decision will have a much broader impact on the city which goes beyond the zip code the team will call home.

To their credit, the Braves PR team launched a new website, www.homeofthebraves.com, to provide a central place where fans and interested parties can go to get the organizations stance on the matter. The website is comprehensive and does an excellent job answering why they think moving is a great idea. As Max Blau of Creative Loafing puts it, the website "sums [the Braves’] rationale up in one paragraph:"

The reason for moving is simple. The current location has certain issues that are insurmountable and will only become more problematic over the years. These fundamental issues involve how you, our fans, access Turner Field. There is a lack of consistent mass transportation, a lack of sufficient parking and a lack of direct access to interstates. Furthermore, the Braves do not have control over the development of our immediate surroundings[1][2].

Therefore the answer to the Brave's predicament, the website argues, is to move closer to the geographic center of the team's fan base. Their evidence: a map showing ticket sales for the 2102 season that paints Atlanta’s north suburbs in a sea of red, clearly delineating the heart of Braves Country.

Last Season's Ticket Sales
[Image Source: HomeOfTheBraves.com]

Shortly thereafter, politicians and special interests began quibbling over key concerns. Is the move truly a “done deal?” Can Braves be enticed to stay Downtown? Are the Braves and the city betraying a promise of revitalization made to the folks living in the neighborhoods around Turner Field, a promise that has yet to materialize? How much will Cobb taxpayers be on the hook with this move? But, one common concern seems to haunt the minds of Atlantans regardless of the positions they take. Traffic.

It is no secret that traffic on the Northside Perimeter is a nightmare on a good day, especially near where Interstates 75 and 285 meet, the very same area where the proposed stadium is to be built. So, what happens to everyone’s commute when you build at its crux a 60-acre mixed-used development with a 42,000-seat stadium as it’s main attraction?


Proposed Site Layout
[Image Source: HomeOfTheBraves.com]

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Lawrenceville Trolley Ghost Tour

Madame Macabre doing her think.
What: Lawrenceville Ghost Tours
Where: Historic Downtown Lawrenceville, Ga.
When: May-September: Fridays and Saturdays, 8:30 p.m.
then
Every Night in October: Sunday-Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. and 8:00 and Fridays and Saturdays, 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
Website: www.scarystoll.com
Cost: Varies Depending on Tour Day and Time, See Website; Free parking downtown


***Special Engagement Times and Prices for Trolley Tour - See Website***


Last year Brooke and I went on the Lawrenceville Ghost Tours. This ghost tour, which was created and is run by the Aurora Theater in partnership with the Lawrenceville Tourism and Trade Association, offers both a walking tour of Historic Downtown Lawrenceville and a trolley tour that takes you around town as well as for a walk though Historic Lawrenceville Cemetery[1][2]. Having missed the last trolley tour slot last year, we ended up doing only the walking tour. (You can read my review of the walking tour here.) But we decided then to make it a point of going on the trolley this year. So last Friday, we decided to make a date night of it.

So, was it worth the $25 per person?

Monday, October 28, 2013

HOWLphartta Ghost Tour

[Image Source: AlpharettaTours.com]
What: HOWLpharetta Ghost Tour
Where: Historic Downtown Alpharetta, Ga.
When: Fridays and Saturdays, 8:00 p.m. March - November
Website: www.AlpharettaTours.com
Cost: $15 Admission, Free Parking


As you all may—or may not know if you've only recently started following me—one of my favorite traditions is going on ghost tours with the wife. Each Halloween season, we try to check out at least one new tour. It's a fun little obsession we have that allows us to learn about Georgia's quirky local history while sightseeing the state's many historic down-towns.  This year, one of those tours was the HOWLpharetta Ghost Tour.

Located in Historic Downtown Alpharetta in northern Fulton County about half an hour north of Atlanta, HOWLpharetta is a guided ghost story tour presented by the nice folks at Alpharetta Tours. Tours meet at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays in front of the historic Dodd Hotel at the corner of Milton Avenue and Roswell Street and follows a two mile stroll around town, making frequent stops to weave history with local legends and tales of ghost sightings. "I have permission from the owners to tell you of their ghostly encounters," Jen Hunt, our guide tells our tour group. She goes on to say that many of the store owners and residences enthusiastically volunteered their stories when she initially approached them about doing a history tour. "I don't even mention ghosts," she says. "'Did you know, this building is haunted?' Would be the first thing they say to me."

Jen Hunt of [Image Source: AlpharettaTours.com]
Bring a flashlight as this tour not only only takes you in front of several shops in the well-lit Business District, but also down a couple dark alleyways and side streets as well as Resthaven Cemetery where many of Alpharetta's founding families are buried and to which Alpharetta Tours claims an exclusive night-time access. Add the fact that all the rain this year has caused many of the graves to shift, rise, and/or sink, and you have the making for an eerie and enjoyable night out.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Duluth Food Truck Fridays - Duluth, Georgia

[Image Source: DuluthGA.net]
What: Duluth Food Truck Fridays
When: Fridays, 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.,
September 6th - October 25th   Extended to November 15th!!!!
Cost: Free Parking, Free Admission, Food Prices Vary 


Billed as a "community block party," this Historic Downtown Duluth, Ga. event runs every Friday from September 6th through October 25th and features a rotating line-up of Atlanta's best mobile eateries. Check out the event website for that week's food truck lineup as well as the entertainment planned for the day. In fact, Friday September 20th's line up was announced yesterday morning. There will be live music starting at 5:30 p.m. and a screening of Great Gatsby on the lawn planned for 8 o'clock.

I do have one piece of advice for you if you ever decide to check out Duluth Food Truck Fridays this fall: get there early! Let me re-iterate that: GET THERE EARLY!!!

That was probably the only regret the wife and I had when we went this past Friday for our first ever visit. I had geek-related errands and Brooke was working late. So, by the time we finally got there around 7:30 p.m., the lines were long and most of the food trucks had sold out of many of their best dishes. Parking wasn't too bad but the combination of event traffic and the tail end of Friday night rush hour was somewhat frustrating. At least parking was free!

But don't let all that deter you from getting your munch on at this family-friendly shindigBrooke and I learned about this event earlier that morning when one of the food trucks that Brooke stalks on Facebook, Ibiza Bites, posted that they would be making an appearance. We decided to check it out as a last minute date night idea and we were glad we did. We will definitely go again. It was well worth it. Heck! If we can manage it, we might even go each week that Food Truck Fridays is running. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

TV Review: Sleepy Hollow



Fox's new Monday night drama Sleepy Hollow premiered yesterday, taking the #1 slot with 10 million viewers and making it the broadcasting company's "highest-rated fall drama premiere in six years," according to Entertainment Weekly [1]. Described by complex.com as "the bastard child of ABC's Once Upon a Time and NBC's Grimm,"[2] the show was created by Transformers and Star Trek scribes Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, director Len Wiseman (Underworld), and writer/producer Phillip Iscove.


As could be expected from a retelling of one of America's most adapted literary stories, Sleepy Hollow isn't a wholly original show. Following a TV Land trend of taking a public domain story or fairy-tale and resetting it in the modern world, the series is basically a supernatural procedural thriller that takes many liberties with Washington Irving's 1820 short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Included among these liberties is chief protagonist Ichabod Crane (played by Brit import Tom Mison) who has been transformed (no pun intended) by the writers from a cowardly and lanky 1790's Connecticut schoolmaster into a determine and hunky British Redcoat turned Continental Army soldier and George Washington spy. Dying from a wound sustained during battle in which he beheads a Hessian mercenary, Crane wakes up Rip Van Winkle-style in 2013 where he must team up with Sheriff's Deputy Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) to unlock the secrets behind the town of Sleepy Hollow, New York and to stop the Hessian who has also returned as the Headless Horseman.

Despite some questionable plot points and some bad acting from Beharie and Orlando Jones who plays Police Captain Frank Irving (hmmm...Irving? Coincidence?), the show was actually pretty enjoyable. There were a lot of creative angles and camera work that one might expect from one a Hollywood blockbuster. The special effect were also pretty amazing with the Horseman moving fluidly and CG elements being rendered realistically.

The writing wasn't too bad either. It was interesting to see how the writers interwove different elements into their story to make it their own and separate it from previous retelling. Historical details like George Washington as spymaster or the witch hysteria of 17th and 18th century brought color into this tale. Crane's 18th century worldview also made for some hilarious moments as our time-displaced hero experienced his new environment with awkwardness and culture-shock. The recasting of classical monster fairy-tale is reminiscent more of the success behind CW's Supernatural than that the shortcomings of Grimm and the slightly more tolerable, yet still tedious Once Upon a Time. Time will tell whether or not Sleepy Hollow will keep a place on my DVR schedule.  Next Monday's episode does looks promising. Just saying.

Sleepy Hollow airs on Monday nights at 9 p.m. EST following Bones at 8 o'clock. Check your local listings. If you missed yesterday's episode, the four minute trailer below from Fox actually highlights some of the key points. But if you'd rather watch the show, the full episode is currently available on Hulu.






Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Georgia Travel: Pendergrass Flea Market

Photo by Nicole Brooke Blackburn

What: Pendergrass Flea Market
Where: 5641 US Hwy 129N, Pendergrass, Georgia 30567
Hours of Operation: Saturdays and Sundays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Website: http://www.pendflea.com/
Cost: Free Parking & Admission


This weekend was fairly uneventful for the Spousal Unit and me. I mostly spent it doing schoolwork and finishing a The Walking Dead season two marathon. We did watch a couple movies from Redbox that we'd been wanting to check off our list, so that was a plus. The highlight of the weekend, however, was when Brooke and I, on a random whim, decided to head a few exists north on I-85 to Jackson County and walk around the Pendergrass Flea Market Saturday afternoon.

Photo by Nicole Brooke Blackburn
Located in Pendergrass, a town about an hour northeast of Atlanta on I-85 with a population pushing 425 people [1], the site is about a quarter of a mile west of the interstate as soon as you get off at Exit 137. The flea market claims to be the largest one in Georgia, boasting on its website to have "more than 700 booths and 250,000 square feet of air conditioned space centered around a turn of the century-style 'Old Town Main Street'" (see picture below). It also hosts a petting zoo, carnival style games, pony rides, a paintball field, and much more. There is even live music featuring many local artists [click here for schedule]. 


A panoramic view of Old Town Main Street when you first step inside

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Next Doctor is...

PETER CAPALDI!!!!!


[Image Source: IMDB]
Wow! What a great live show! Can you believe how wrong I was? I can! If you read my last post I out right declared Capaldi as a red herring:
The first thing that must be pointed out is that showrunner Stephen Moffat is an evil genius at leaking false clues and misinformation. So when he says that he's lied about something so could pretty much bet that one of those lies is that very statement. So, if there is a sudden surge in betting for Peter Capaldi or if the BBC lists him as top favorite, I have no doubts that Capaldi is a red herring. I could be wrong.
Sure enough the choice that was made to seem too obvious was indeed our man! I guess I'm glad I didn't actually bet any money.

Honestly, I'm pretty excited. A long time Whovian himself, Capaldi revealed on the BBC Doctor Who Live Special that he use to play Doctor Who as a child and is now realizing a childhood dream. I look forward to how he will portray our favorite Time Lord. Only time will tell if Capaldi will live up to the hype. Although I wonder if I will be able to suspend my disbelief enough to overcome his other roles in Torchwood and Doctor Who, I have faith that Capaldi will be a great Doctor.

Ultimately, I think this will be up to the writers more than it would be to Capaldi who has already proved himself as a talented actor. Take Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor for example. Baker had a darker Doctor in mind for his performance. As he said during his clips on the Live Special, he had intended his Doctor to be more like that of Eccleston's Ninth but the show-runners had a different plan in mind at the time. He was an underrate Doctor during his television run and his performances in the Audio Series prove this point.

I'll probably be crucified for pointing this out, but the last season of the show was definitely the weaker of the Matt Smith run so hopeful Capaldi won't suffer the same fate as Colin Baker, who was blamed for ruining the classic series even though he came in when the show had been slipping in ratings and the producers were already making questionable decisions. With that said, unlike the classic series, the currently Doctor Who series is still running strong and has great writing, so I wouldn't dwell on that too much further.

As others have commented, Capaldi's post 50th Anniversary tenure will be the shows (and show-runner Stephan Moffat's) chance to make bold decisions and forge new paths for Doctor Who. Like I said, time will tell if this is the beginning of an end or just the a new great beginning...and I am overcome by the excitement.


Who Will Be The Next Doctor?, Part 2

[Image Source: DoctorWhoTV.co.uk]

In a few minutes, the BBC Doctor Who Live Special will reveal who will take on the role of the 12th Doctor. My excitement is pulling Zero-G maneuvers in my stomach, occasionally sending tingles to my taint. (Too much information, I know, but find me a Whovian who doesn't feel the same way right now.) Soon all the speculations and betting and theories will end. Some will be disappointed (and possibly destitute) but most, regardless of who might will play the Doctor, will be have their excitement amplified and redirected towards the #awesomeness that will be Doctor Who Series 8!

But, until the reveal finally ends said speculations and betting and theories, why not contribute to the fun? Back in June, I wrote about which actors I thought would make excellent choices to play our favorite Time Lord. In that post, I tried to present fun but unfounded theories and I still stand by my views when I wrote:
Honestly, looking back to when Matt Smith was announced as the next Doctor, everyone wondered who he was. He came almost out of nowhere as the youngest Doctor yet and with a relatively short résumé. The same could be said of David Tennant to a certain degree. I would not be surprised if, just like last time, the speculations run rampant and then we are blindside by the selection of a relative nobody.
But as promised, I want to take this time to challenge some of the fan favorites currently in the running.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Life, GNerks, and More Promises.

I hate these update posts, mostly because I feel like I do too many off them instead of writing something actually worth your time reading. This isn't supposed to be a blog about my personal life. Although many of my post are informed and prefaced by what happens to me personally, this isn't a diary. I try to be informative: entertainment reviews, news and pop culture commentary, yada yada yada.  Sure! I might have gone to Savannah over the weekend, but you're going to read a post that reviews something I did, not one on how great it was I got to spend time with my family.

Second, I feel that I make a lot of promises I don't keep when I write these posts. (Sorry.) I promised to focus more on social media related stuff but I don't. I promised I'd tone do the politics, but then the government does (or in most cases, doesn't do) something that I can't help but comment on.

So here we are again. The beginning of new month and the year is half over. I haven't changed. (Sorry.)

Anyways! On to other matters at hand.

GNerks' current FB profile picture.
I'm now doing some managing editor duties at GNerks.com, an entertainment blog written by geeks, nerds, and dorks for other geeks, nerds and dorks about things geeks, nerds, and dorks enjoy. (Think Nerdist.com and other geek sites you might come across on the interweb.) Gnerks was started by my friend Ben Fuller and me back in January but we didn't really do much with it until middle of last month when we started to recruit some of our friends and the site came to life. We are going into our third week already receiving over three thousand page views and our first 75 like on our Facebook page. My duties as managing editor consist mostly of copy-editing and publication management, but it's taken a lot of my time, especially from this blog. Another side effect of this opportunity is that I now have to create content for both sites.

What does this mean? Well, it means that some of my reviews, especially for comic books and graphic novels, movies, and sci-fi and fantasy books; geek related commentary; and event coverage; will probably appear either exclusively or concurrently at Gnerks. I will finish part two of my 12th Doctor speculations in the coming days, after which expect to find similar post at GNerks in all but a few cases.    

As far as Wibbly-wobbly, Timey-Wimey Stuff goes, I really hope to follow through with my plans to turn this site into something more like a general interest blog meets Atlanta Magazine meets LifeHacker with a dash of National Geographic and Popular Science  and a hint of CNN and Mashable. Very tall order, I know. Especially if all I seem to write nowadays are these damn updates. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Who Will Be The Next Doctor?, Part 1

EVERYONE JUST LOST THEIR MINDS

[source: Facebook]
On Friday, June 1st, 2013, Matt Smith, announced that he would be stepping down from the titular role in BBC's popular sci-fi  show Doctor Who. This was a great disappointment to the fandom as Smith's portrayal of the eleventh incarnation of the Doctor had endeared him in the hearts of many since he took over the role after Tenth Doctor David Tennant left the series in 2010. Despite rumors that Smith had intentions of leaving the show, his announcement came as a surprise to many—probably because an August 2012 interview with the Sun, in which Smith stated that he would remain in the role until "at least 2014" was taken by some to mean the "through" the 2014 season. Smith has only two episodes left: the November 23rd 50th Anniversary Special and the 2013 Christmas Special, in which the BBC confirm that the Eleventh Doctor will regeneration into the twelfth incarnation.

That being said, almost immediately after the announcement of Smith departure, the Interweb exploded  with speculations and suggestions as to who is worthy to take up the role of Twelfth Doctor. Online bookies like SkyBet and William Hill are already offering odds on who will be the next Doctor with Law & Order: UK's Ben Daniels as top favorite. Fans the world over have their fantasy list of potential Doctors that include Harry Potter stars; potential first female Doctor, first black Doctor, and first previous Doctor to return; and Benedict Cumberbatch. Even news outlets are picking favorites. Most of these lists border on absurd, however, and I must agree with Dustin Rowles, who in his uproxx.com article on realistic candidates to replace Matt Smith, points out that, for various reasons like casting precedence and ability to dedicate themselves to the show, the next Doctor will need to be a relative unknown. So, no Daniel Radcliffe, no Cumberbatch, no Johnny Depp.

But where is the fun in speculations if they weren't unsupportable and bat-shit off the wall? So, in honor of the folk who really, really, REALLY would crap themselves if Harry Potter or Sherlock Holmes got the role, I present to you my theories on who will be the next Doctor. In today's post, I will present you with my Limited American Knowledge of British Actors list of who I think should and/or will be Twelfth Doctor. Later this week, I'll post Part Two in which, I find reasons why everyone else is wrong.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thirty-Two

It is midnight as I write this and I am now thirty-two years old. Just a few years ago, I was twenty-three: lost and bitter, meandering through life, making mistakes that I should have been old enough not to be making any more. I still make some of those mistakes today from time to time. I like to think I have the maturity now to appreciate them, to see them as guides towards being a better person…or at the very least, a somewhat entertaining one.

Some of my favorite moments in life were some of my most epic fails...and usually involved a girl. Like the time during my junior year of high school when I enlisted in the U.S. Army through their "split-option program" to impress Tabitha Thrash, a petite redhead who had been one of my closest friends. She was in the class above me and had just enlisted herself in hopes of becoming a military police officer. I remember the freckles on her face and how they surrounded her green, determined eyes. I remember not knowing what to do with my life after graduation and whether I could even get into college and how I'd pay for it if I did. So I enlisted. I remember making out with her in the recruiting office parking lot and talking about whether we would see each other after we got back. I saw Tabitha maybe once or twice after that day, then we shipped out to our respective training facilities. I heard some years later that she met someone while at Basic and married him during a weekend pass. Such is life.

The take away: believe only about 50% of what your Army recruiter tells you. Do your own research. To this day I wish I made a better career of the military. Maybe asked for deployment to Europe or picked a military specialty that had a $30k signing bonus attached.

I am thirty-two today and I am as scared of the days to come as I was at sixteen. At least, I am finally a college student. At twenty-nine, I found the courage (read: motivation) to go back to school because of a girl, a brunette this time—although when I met her a few years earlier she had red hair. After years of gentle prodding and out right nagging, I decided to take the plunge—quite randomly actually. I was bored during a slow day at work and since I've been promising for years at this point to do so, I decided to apply for school. It was a whim. I expected that I had missed out on the semester deadlines and thought I'd just get the formalities out of the way in time for the next. I was surprised when I got the invitation to enroll in classes in time for them to begin two weeks hence.

Today, I am thirty-two. A week and a half from today, summer semester begins. It will be my second to last semester at Georgia Perimeter College. If all goes well between now and December, I'll have an Associate's degree and will be deciding on where to transfer to finish my Bachelor's. I feel like I'm sixteen again, scared shitless of what's next, whether I can hack it in my next school and in the real world, and whether I will continue to make my wife proud. Although, I downplay my reaction every time she tells me how proud she is or whenever she brags about my grades to people, I get butterflies every time I see her beaming with pride. I think of the doors that will finally open because of a degree, how my family will benefit from it. I think about how grown up I feel when I think beyond just myself and when I think about my family. Sixteen year old me would probably never understandThe warm and fuzzy feelings spread from my chest and blankets me. And things aren't as scary.

I am thirty-two now and I have a penchant for introspection on my birthdays. Let me tell you a secret. A few hours before my twenty-first birthday, I had a panic attack. I thought I would die before I turned twenty-one, most likely in my sleep. I got it in my mind that I would die just before May 22. And every year after that I would get all squirrelly. I didn't have panic attacks anymore, I was just convinced that some divine being was trying to kill me. I was sure of it. I had proof: an illness that wrecked my body and caused enough pain that I contemplated ending it, a deer jumping through the driver side window of my car and head-butting me as I drove 55 mile an hour on a busy road days before my birthday, several other near misses on the interstate, having to clear a drainage ditch of debris during a lightning storm or risk water damage to my house on several occasions on or near my birthday, a May hail storm or two. They were just some of the evidence that supported my irrational belief that I would not see my next birthday. So now I stay up past midnight every May 21, just to make sure I make it. I don't even get those feelings anymore. They stopped around my thirtieth birthday—probably because I started forgetting that my birthday was just around the corner. I actually kept forgetting that it was coming up this year. A co-worker reminded me again yesterday afternoon. In hindsight, that probably explains why I was clearing a drainage ditch of debris in the middle of a lightning storm this past Saturday.

But as traditions stand, I'm once again awake past midnight and one year older. I am thirty-two years old, I'm babbling in a blog post at an ungodly hour past my bedtime. You'd think I'm drunk right now, but all I've had was root beer. I'll sign off for now. Goodnight, friends and followers. As  a gift to you, I present to you photo proof of my adulthood.

Me, about age 3
My costume for Dragon*con 2012










Friday, March 8, 2013

Recipes: Filipino Cantaloupe Juice

I can't remember if this recipe was handed down to me by my mother or her mother. Regardless, this juice is a decidedly Filipino recipe. It is one of my favorites and always takes me back to my childhood. Whenever cantaloupes go on sale at the food store, I make sure to pick a couple up to make myself a pitcher or five. What can I say? I'm addicted to cantaloupe juice.


INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 - Cantaloupe
  • 2L - Water
  • 1/2 to 1 Cup Sugar (to Taste)
  • Lots of patience
1 Cantaloupe makes about 2 Liters.

Make sure your pitcher has enough room for juice and displacement caused by melon flesh. You are basically infusing water with fresh fruit. 


STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Thank You Actual Advice Mallard, Episode 1

Memes are great. Aside from being hilarious, memes can offer insight into ourselves in some of the most disturbingly ironic ways. And sometimes, they can be very helpful.

One of my current favorites is "Actual Advice Mallard" (learn more about him and his origins at KnowYourMeme.com by clicking here). As you may guess, this aquatic avian that quacks dispenses little tidbits of life hacks. For example: using the Shift+Ctrl+T key-stroke to reopen an accidently-closed tab in your browser. I tried it and it worked. Then, I shamed myself for not already knowing this trick. As my friend Joey likes to point out—quite exasperatedly, actually: "T.J., you're Asian! Computer stuff should be genetically hardwired into your DNA."

Another great example of the Mallard's sagely advice is featured in the photo below.

Source: KnowYourMeme.com
Now, Brooke told me she knew of this trick already but she couldn't remember where she first came across it. Either way, she assured me, it works. It made sense to me since people sometimes pay a lot of money for personal garment steamers. But I thought I'd give it a try all the same.

Below are the before and after pictures of the three shirts I tried this trick on over the course of several showers. All three are labeled as 100% cotton and are of varying degrees of weight and style. After all was said and done, a 15 minute steamy shower worked on these shirts to a varying degree of success.


Before
After















The first shirt I tried was a gray polo from Old Navy that is part of my uniform for work. The material is somewhat stretchy and I found this trick worked wonders on this shirt. When I got out, the shirt looked as if I had ironed it. There were a few wrinkles still near the bottom but a few quick tugs and a pat down of the shirt took care of it.


Before
After
















This next shirt is a Mossimo brand flannel shirt from Target. The material is less elastic than the polo and is much thicker. I was a little worried that the stream and extreme heat might prematurely shrink one of my favorite shirts but it was fine in the end. This shirt was less wrinkled going in than the gray polo and came out with slightly more wrinkled than the polo when the two end results are compared to each other. The tug and pat down trick helped a little but it did not have that freshly ironed quality of the polo. I'd say the shirt is still wearable if stiffly-ironed is not the look you are looking for. Also, the material and style of the flannel helped to hide some of those persistent wrinkles.


Before
After


Lastly, I tried this trick on a dress shirt. The shirt I chose was a Merona brand shirt, also from Target. The material is still 100% cotton according to the tag but is thinner and stiffer than the polo and the flannel shirt. The shirt went in as a bag of wrinkles and came out still significantly unchanged below the breast line and sleeves. Though it was an improvement, I would have been better off just ironing the damn thing. I definitely would not wear it if I had somewhere to be. Granted, I may not have stayed in the shower long enough or maybe the shirt was just having an off day. Perhaps I would have better luck with another dress shirt, maybe a shirt that is blended with other fabrics.

All in all, a decent advice from our Life Hack Duck. I definitely would try this out with other pieces of my wardrobe. It would help to know which items I own that I can do this with. Brooke says she's done this before with garments of varying materials, so I'm sure I'll have a better success rate with other dress shirts. At least I know that if I'm running late for work, I can save time not having to iron my work shirt. Also, I don't think this trick was made for the boss-level state of wrinkles that these shirts were in. I bet it works best on previously iron shirts that happened to pick up some creases in the closet.

Try it out yourself and let me know what you think.