no moral dilemma is much better than a dumb moral dilemma

So, yeah, the latest Doctor Who, “Into the Dalek,” tipped the metre into wretched. Seriously, if I wanted to watch people traipsing through a giant robot, I’d watch Lost in Space, so I’m going to talk a little about this episode using stills from the Series 2 Lost in Space episode, “Trip Through the Robot.”

So first, there’s explosions. In media res, and all that. It’s not as good as starting a story, but it works in a pinch. And hey, future setting! I like those. Explosions!

Then there’s more explosions, in case you missed the first ones.

But all that’s more okay than it should be, because The Doctor is watching! And he saves the one that hasn’t completely blown up yet, even though she keeps wanting to shoot him too.

Yay! Saved! The whole crew gets together and thanks The Doctor, but then decides well, we like you, but we still have to kill you. That’s how we show gratitude here in the future!

But that’s not important either, because in fact none of it matters a few seconds later because the The Doctor runs and gets The Companion, which The Crew apparently decided he could do instead of shooting him, because The Crew have serious mood-instability issues have a patient. WHO COULD IT BE? Whups, not yet, time for new credits.

…and then we run about with The Companion for a while, but then The Doctor shows up, and we all go find out who is The Patient. And who is The Patient? Dun dun dunnnnnn A DALEK! O NOES!

This Dalek is very sick – so sick it has turned into a drama queen.

So, whelp, there’s only one thing to be done for it – Let’s Get Small! Now, this makes no damn sense even for Doctor Who, because honestly, have you priced tiny atoms lately? Nobody has the money for that. Even Lost in Space knew better, and just made the Robot Dalek Robot really huge.

But that’s not important either! All that matters is that even at this size, it’s bigger on the inside, because really, who can manage scale. Scale is difficult, who cares, it’s Doctor Who, suspend some goddamn disbelief already. Anyway, The Doctor and The Companion go inside. (And to be fair, this was a visually interesting moment in the actual episode, and I kind of liked that bit. Now, back to the hack job I’m doing here.)

And there’s a bit of wandering around inside, and finding things. None of those bits might be important, could they? Eh. Oh, look, it’s the engine room of the BroTrek Enterprise, a.k.a., a brewery! This would be convenient, except alcohol did not help this episode, and believe me, right about here, I started trying.

But oh no! There are antibodies inside the robot and they’re after us! Anybody got some gum? It won’t help, but hey, gum!

Run! Run some more! Oh good, here, here’s a diode heart food storage area, we’ll be safe there – it’s too important to have defences! (STRATEGY!)

Oh, as an aside, Happy Christmas! Apparently. But I digress.

We need to Fix The Dalek! Because this Dalek is so broken it’s become ‘good,’ which apparently means ranting about killing the things a Dalek doesn’t normally want to kill, and sure, that makes ethical sense, but hey, carry on.

And they get inside the jukebox reactor which powers the Dalek, and weld together the broken bit with… a screwdriver. Fine, whatever. Radiation: It’s Fucking Magic. So is the sonic. I’m kind of okay with that, it’s part of the territory.




Strangely, the Dalek boarding party is really not very large. And they board instead of just blowing up the ship some more. Anyway, then there’s a bunch of running around while The Doctor and The Companion try to re-reboot The Dalek into Good Mode again. Because sure, enough hits on the reboot button has to do something, right?

And The Doctor climbs up into The Dalek’s brain chamber and talks to it for a while.

And The Crew is running around getting shot at and killed sometimes because they don’t run away very well. And who are these jerks, anyway? Mostly people who wanted to kill The Doctor for saving and returning one of their fighter pilots. They must just hate her.

But eventually, they reboot The Dalek again, and this time it comes back up Good! Yay! But that just means it wants to kill Daleks again, which they thought was good before, but now it’s all depressing for some reason, I guess because The Dalek found out that The Doctor really does not like Daleks. And that’s just like The Good Dalek! And that’s bad. So The Doctor is being all mopey about not being better than The Dalek, even though that’s bollocks.

There’s supposed to be a dilemma in there about how The Doctor makes a better Dalek than The Dalek, except we saw that in the new series before already, and frankly, we saw it a lot better and more convincingly.

But in the end it works out kind of okay anyway, because The Companion tells The Doctor hey, you’re trying, and intent – like radiation! – is fucking magic, and matters a lot more than saving the universe a couple of zillion times, and that picks him up a bit. That’s… nice? I guess?

And then The Doctor drops off The Companion and wanders off in television space and time again. l8r l8r don’t be a h8r.

Roll credits while rolling eyes. The moral of the story is, “don’t let the robot run out of power, you morons, you’ll need it later” “rebooting fixes everything” “everybody can be good” “any chance to redeem a murderous psychopathic alien should be taken so I can feel better about myself” “one good dalek who wants to genocide the right aliens because it saw a star being born trumps a couple of hundred other… humanoids… because… yeah I’ll get back to you on that” “Samuel Anderson is kinda hot.”

Or, you know, that’s as much as I gleaned from this mess. Moffet is starting to make me miss Most Hated (6th) Doctor and No Really I’m An American Companion Peri, and goddamn, that takes some work. Is he a secret Colin Baker fan? Is all this about improving the past’s reputation by contrast? Because yeah, which is better, “Twin Dilemma” or “Into the Dalek”? Some questions should not be asked.

well that was unexpectedly easy: bongo drum mic stand mount

I’m working on Fake Drumkit part for Song for a Free Court/Anarchy Now, and it needed more real drums, so I got out…

Oh, right, it’s been a while since I’ve talked about Fake Drumkit. So the musical shtick behind the band – as opposed to the political/theme idea – is, “what if a bunch of elves heard metal and thought WE HAVE TO DO THIS” and used what they had.

Since that includes a drumkit, I make what I call Fake Drumkit. It’s made of real drums like bodhran and djembe and bongo and wood block and metal and glass, and fake drums like big sampled bass taiko or at least things which sound kind of like taiko. Anarchy Now also has three tuned glass cymbals. It’s gonna be awesome. \n/

Anyway, I have a few drums recorded (and all those glass cymbals), but it needs more. And the bongos sound right so far. Not as bongos – I don’t play them as bongos, don’t expect that – but as midrange drums.

But I don’t have a stand, which makes them a pain to mic. So I drilled a hole in the little plastic bridge that holds the two bongo drums together, and epoxyed down one of those metal threaded rings that are on every mic stand ever and I don’t know why.

Anybody know what these are supposed to be for? They’re no good at anchoring mic clips, so that can’t be it.

I clamped it down with wax paper and tape, to keep the epoxy from sticking to the wrong things (like the clamp), and let it sit until this evening. Then I tried it tonight.

I’m holding the mic stand up, to be safe, but I didn’t need to.

Hey, it even looks kind of intentional:

Lots of room for underneath microphones

I’m a little worried about leverage on heavier strikes, but so far, so good.

Fake Drumkit is a lot of work, but I like it when it comes together. Wait’ll you hear the track for Something’s Coming. It’s not half as complex as this, but it’s totally bombastic – kind of 80s hair metal, really. BOOM BOOM BOOM awesome XD

would you review music, or do you know someone who does?

The soundtrack album may not be finished yet, but I’m looking for people who would post reviews (50-100 words or more, about the length of an Amazon customer review) if they received an advance review copy. Is that you?

You don’t have to review music regularly to do so, and you don’t have to promise what kind of review (positive, negative, etc) – just give it some actual words and thought. And it has to be posted publicly online somewhere.

Interested, or have a pointer? Here’s the contact form. Let me know. Thanks!

and how did you spend your weekend?

Aside from tampering recklessly in god’s domain, and catching up on some media, I spent mine playing with Leannan Sidhe. Thanks to everyone who turned out on such a hot night! If you’re looking for the free downloads, they’re right here. And thank you again to The Dreaming Comics and Games for having us!

Life-Size Spiderman Sold Separately
(photo Angela Korra’ti)

We also watched the new Doctor Who, which was… nowhere near as good as the 50th, but so much better than the awful Christmas Special departure for Matt Smith. I’m with Anna on Moffat’s sexism, but at least Clara’s feeling like a character again, finally. And Peter Capaldi as The Doctor is extremely strong out of the gate.

It’s not up to Legend of Korra levels though. If you bailed out during the sluggish first year, I don’t blame you – but since then, Legend of Korra became pretty awesome. The turnaround happened about halfway through year two, and year three has just been insane. Seriously, start with the run-up to “The First Avatar” and catch up from there, it’s totally worth your time.

So that’s what I did. But I digress – what’d you do this weekend?

i spent sunday tampering in god’s domain

I may have spent my Sunday off – my first day off in like three weeks – debugging UNIVAC Star Trek game code that was ported to TRS-80 Level II BASIC some decades ago. That may be a thing that happened.

(Well, I found some bugs. No, I did. One crashing! That doesn’t happen anymore. Also, now if you enter your name wrong, instead of hanging, it names you Captain Dunsel. It seemed appropriate.)

Here, have a copy of the audiocassette. Or a printout, if you’d prefer that. 16K required.

Did you know Level II BASIC’s built-in programme editor was based heavily on TECO? I feel a bit like Scarf Doctor stumbling across Shemp Doctor’s TARDIS console room and tin whistle. Or maybe it’s kind of like I spent Sunday afternoon flossing out my brain. For SCIENCE! Or something.

will you look at this stupid thing

It’s a pedal that’s an effects switch-in box, but it’s also just an A/B switch, so you can just switch between two devices. The two top plugs are from my zouk and mandolin, the output is to the recorder, I can pick which I’m recording. We’re doing this so we can record tomorrow’s show (6pm, The Dreaming, 5226 University Way, Seattle) with separate tracks for all instruments.

Note the extra cable sticking out the right side, which is connected to nothing. It’s there because the box won’t work without something being plugged in there. It doesn’t use anything that’s plugged in there; it just won’t work unless something is.

So I plugged in a signal-reduction cable. If we’re gonna have basically a noise antenna plugged in on stage to make this dumbass pedal work, I’m by gods gonna use a noise reducing noise antenna.

Honestly some days I don’t even know. This isn’t as bad as the USB-cable-to-nowhere I’ve got in the server room to make the KVM switch work, but it’s close. At least that cable plugs into something on both ends.

Which poster would you think was better?

This came up in talking about posters for this Saturday’s joint show with Leannan Sidhe at the Dreaming. (6pm, 5225 Univeristy Way NE, Seattle, hope you’ll be there.) What matters more in a poster graphic: relationship to music or dynamism?

I had came up with this poster design:


The background image is from a comic, drawn comic style, which makes sense because hi, comic book and gaming store, and we’re doing some related songs, so it all works. I think it’s quite dynamic and eye-catching, which was my primary consideration.

Shanti, quite correctly really, felt it didn’t relate to her music, and she came up with some other imagery for the background. That’s what made the official poster:

Godking Owl Has No Pity For You

It’s a good image, I like it. It is more evocative of her music. It’s also lower contrast, and less dynamic from a distance. The eyeflow is still good, but… as a designer, I think it’s less attention-grabby.

So, as someone seeing these posters, which matters more to you? A graphic that is more grabbing (but not as evocative of the music style), or one that grabs less attention (and thus makes people less likely to see it) but which is more evocative of the music on some level?

And does it matter if you already know the music or not?

I tried to fit this into a poll, but couldn’t quite get it together in my head. So I’m just asking outright, in text. Do you think relationship of poster graphic to music is more important than eye-catchiness in show posters? Would you even think about the two if you went to a show, or would you forget about it as soon as you walked in?

an inexplicable amalgamation of sounds

No, that’s not the new album title. The people on the other side of the top of the hill have started doing Something which smells occasionally like asphalt, and occasionally like rubber, and sounds like a combination of drills, compressors, and dumpster juggling. We can’t see them from here, but wow, can we hear them. Any ideas what they’re doing? ‘Cause we don’t know.

well hello there canadians

Citizenship and Immigration Canada just made it easier to book gigs – the work-permit requirement to perform anywhere serving food and drinks as a major part of their business model has been removed! Well, mostly – you can’t work anywhere on an ongoing basis without a work permit, and that includes bars and restaurants. But still!

This is a big deal for some of us. Everyone else, carry on as usual.

Show in Seattle this weekend!

We have a joint show this weekend! It’s at The Dreaming in Seattle, two sets, some Supervillain music, some Leannan Sidhe music, a few covers, it’ll be fun and awesome. Here’s the Facebook event page for the show.

Print resolution version of the poster (which is jointly by Shanti and me) here, if you want to, oh, print things and post them places and stuff. That would be awesome.

I may have stolen the circles in the poster design from another music graphic of the past. One hint: the reddish one should be blue if you want a more obvious match. You get a zillion music geek points if you can figure out the source. :D

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