Monthly Archives: December 2015

Emerald Specter 11: Last Post of the Year?

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This isn’t going to be the last post of the year. Who are you kidding? There is still a whole week I can post things!

Coming in this new year: the Emerald Specter Premier League. Starting when the schedule says that it starts (January 3), you’ll start seeing results from matches from the only soccer league of this website. If this turns out the way I think it will, there will be multiple “seasons” per year. The format will evolve as it needs to but I’m hoping to bring more than just a single season per year. Expansion is already in the wind… hmmm…

Also coming in the new year: original fiction. I’ll be writing stuff, and I’m about to start trying to create my own monthly comic book. That counts, too, but it isn’t what I’m referring to… I’ll be writing and posting.

There is more on the horizon and I hope you’ll come on over and join me.

Specter Who 6: A Retrospective

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It’s time to revitalize Specter Who and start numbering this bad boy. The most recent Capaldi season is over and I have decided to start pushing forward with some content and looking at what it is we all love… in a new way.

We all have our favorites: stories, Doctors, companions, episodes… but when I looked at the number of stories for each Doctor, I discovered something I hadn’t realized before. I don’t want to spoil the column, so let’s move to the first part.

William Hartnell was the Doctor from 1963-1966 and has 134 episodes to his run. When I say it like that, you think “damn, that was a lot of episodes.” What I realized was that those 134 episodes are actually only 29 stories (serials, as the BBC calls it). Hartnell’s era was almost non-stop filming, which is a credit to how bad ass production was back then, and he’s set a foundation for the future with only 29 stories.

Patrick Troughton was the Doctor from 1966-1969, taking over for Hartnell after only 8 episodes in Hartnell’s 4th “year.” Troughton only has 127 episodes (nearly filming as often as Hartnell), but that is only 21 stories. Less than Hartnell in every way (years, stories, and episodes). Troughton’s era was the last to have the hefty filming schedule, so things do a bit of changing at this point.

Jon Pertwee was the Doctor from 1970-1974. There was no direct “regeneration” scene filmed with the two of them because when Troughton left, they weren’t sure who was replacing him. Pertwee had 5 seasons and 128 episodes. That equates to 24 stories. He outlasted both of his predecessors as far as years go but didn’t eclipse the episodes nor the stories of Hartnell.

Tom Baker was the Doctor from 1974-1981, setting the stage (in most fans’ minds) for the pinnacle of Doctor Who (classic era) greatness. While I enjoyed the Tom Baker stuff, he’s not my favorite. Baker had 144 episodes (setting the record), as well as 41 stories (also record setting). The reason most people favor Tom Baker is that he’s got the largest body of work to look at… and he is genuinely entertaining in the role.

Peter Davison was the Doctor from 1982-1984, having the only other “shared season” as the outgoing Doctor with Hartnell’s earlier run. Davison ran for almost 3 full years and had 68 episodes (the smallest run yet), which was only 21 stories. This is my first Doctor and I’d happened to start pretty early in his run, so this is the era I remember best.

Colin Baker was the Doctor from 1984-1986, having the shortest run to date with only 31 episodes (the format of these changed from 30 minutes to 45 minutes each), equating to only 14 episodes. There was turmoil at the BBC during this time and Baker was sacked, so he may have lasted longer but never got the opportunity on screen.

Sylvester McCoy was the Doctor from 1987-1989, having 3 seasons and 42 episodes, but that’s only 12 stories. McCoy also has the dubious distinction of being the longest reigning Doctor (despite only having the 12 stories, he didn’t regenerate until 1996) at 9 years. The only mark I have against McCoy’s run is the hokey looking graphics they were using during that era, making it seem like every other late 80s, early 90s TV show that looks odd when watching them now.

Paul McGann was the Doctor for 1996’s telemovie “Doctor Who,” also known as the Enemy Within. His only appearance in a full-length story was this one episode, leaving him as a “take him or leave him” Doctor for many fans. Some could claim that he’s the longest reigning Doctor, he also has about 9 years, but he didn’t regenerate on screen until just before the 50th Anniversary. The added distinction of not really having “a run” and not truly considered one of the Doctors by some fans leaves the “few months” McCoy has on him in length firmly placed.

Christopher Eccleston was the Doctor for a single season in 2005. We switch from “episodes and stories” being separated to them being combined into (most of the time) single episodes at 1 hour a piece. Eccleston has 13 episodes under him, and since there were technically a couple of “two parter” episodes, the stories can technically be dropped down to only 10 stories.

David Tennant was the Doctor from 2006-2010, having 3 years (and a 4th “specials” year) and 41 episodes. That makes 33 stories (which is actually impressive because of the filming format). Tennant was voted by fans as the best Doctor, knocking Tom Baker out of that spot.

Matt Smith was the Doctor from 2010-2013, having the same 3 years and a “specials” 4th year. Smith had 41 episodes and 36 stories, but was the reigning Doctor for the 50th Anniversary episode. As far as “New Who” goes, there are a lot of Matt Smith fans out there and though I didn’t find him completely appealing (as far as his characterization), there are bright points in his run that I enjoy.

Peter Capaldi is the Doctor (from 2014-present) and so far has had 2 full seasons, with 24 episodes making up his 17 stories. Rumors swirl that his third season might be his final season and he’s the most “connected to the original series” (i.e. the Hartnell through McCoy years) than any of the other modern Doctors. His era can’t really be evaluated, yet, but without having an end so far, I’d like to say that I’m enjoying his run.

Some may point at my list above and ask about the “War Doctor,” John Hurt. Hurt’s only on screen appearance was in “The Day of the Doctor,” the 50th Anniversary special. He’s the missing link between McGann and Eccleston, which is another reason McGann loses on the “9 year reign” to McCoy. Hurt would be an interesting Doctor to see for a few episodes, but his “fleshing out” will come with what I’m about to touch on next.

Each of the Doctor’s above has at least one “adventure in audio” from Big Finish. The actors who are still alive to play their parts (Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, and David Tennant) are all producing further adventures of their Doctor. John Hurt is also having some dramas produced, giving some depth to his character and giving a little background into what went on during the Time War. Steven Moffat, the current “show runner” for Doctor Who, canonized the Big Finish audio dramas when Paul McGann regenerated in a mini-episode “The Night of the Doctor” by reciting thanks for all his audio drama companions. While this is nice to include in the catalogue of stories, the Big Finish audios aren’t included in my list here because they aren’t the video productions that Doctor Who was founded upon.

The stats for Big Finish are too numerous and scattered for me to calculate. There are extenuating circumstances to these, too, as some of them are simply read in the third person, some are “short trips” (short stories told in the third person), specials for one reason or another, and multi-Doctor stories that don’t neatly fit into a time line. The audio dramas are good (the ones with a full cast), and there is merit to the third person reads, but as far as Doctor Who goes I’m more interested in the TV version.

As far as multi-Doctor stories go, I also wanted to touch on the fact that these are rare occurrences. The Three Doctors (Hartnell, Troughton, and Pertwee) for the 10th Anniversary, the Five Doctors (Richard Hurndall as Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee, an appearance by Tom Baker’s Doctor, and Davison) for the 20th Anniversary, The Two Doctors (Troughton and Colin Baker) for no particular reason, and the Day of the Doctor (John Hurt as the War Doctor, Tennant, and Smith… with glimpses of Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee, Tom Baker, Davison, Colin Baker, McCoy, McGann, and Eccleston) for the 50th Anniversary. That’s only four times and only one of those didn’t coincide with an anniversary of some kind.

So, when you look at what I have above, seeing that there aren’t as many “stories” as you thought there were puts some perspective on things. Some Doctors are famous for extremely short runs, some are famous for longer ones, but in all, no one has been the Doctor (actively playing the role) so long that we have been unable to get past their characterization as the Doctor. I suppose we’ll see if things keep moving along as is or if something changes the status quo enough to really get someone energized to do something big.

Emerald Specter 10: Stream of Consciousness

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My intent was to write a Fitness Specter about stress… and the more I thought about things, the more I realized I just need to write something that maybe doesn’t have a whole lot of focus. The term for that is “stream of consciousness” and I’ve not done a whole lot of that because I like to have a point… maybe it’s time I just don’t have a point.

There was a time, many years ago, when I didn’t have an issue with Christmas. The further into the future I go, the less I like the holiday. I’m not a Christian and the issue isn’t with the religious implications. My issue is that the holiday just causes me undo stress and problems. I hate Christmas and there’s no two ways about it.

If you know me personally, I’m pretty easy going. I let a lot of stuff slide right by without being bothered by them. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, then you also know that I talk about work at a minimum and I refrain from saying things (for sure) that could get me into trouble at work. The reason for that is I once got into trouble for posting something on Facebook… my own, private page where it was screen captured and turned in to “take me down.” Since then, I don’t talk much openly about work in a fashion that can be kept.

Thus I am vague. It’s time to include it into the stream of consciousness, though.

What I do for a living gives me a headache, not most of the time, but definitely during the holidays. I have grown to hate Christmas because the expectations are so high at work that reaching them is nearly impossible. Some might see this as an “I’ve been challenged and I succeeded” type situation and I just look at work differently, I suppose. Lots of times in life you’ll hear “I just wasn’t challenged enough at work.” Why would you want to be challenged at work? I want to do the same, mundane thing over and over and over again and clock off in 8 hours and go home. I don’t want a challenge, I’m there for a fucking pay check.

The challenges at Christmas, even for the people who want them, are too much. The base level employee has issues, the supervisors of those employees have issues, the supervisors of the supervisors have issues, and what that boils down to (in my case) is several people telling me several things, all of which are vitally important at this very second, and several of those things contradict each other. On top of that, I’m putting in hours that I don’t want to put in… mostly because others won’t. I’m tired of it and it’s affecting my life, my health, and I’m fucking tired of it.

I’ve recently discovered a new, potential health problem that, if I don’t correct what I can, will develop into a debilitating issue that will cause me even more stress. Another “greatest hit” for Christmas.

When I moved away from my “state of origin,” I came to a place where the population of the inner city is bigger than my previous entire state. I don’t have as many friends here, I would go so far as to say that I have very few (I can count them on one hand), but at least I’m not in a place where I don’t fit in.

I don’t have to be vague about this. I lived in North Dakota for most of my life and the place, in a nutshell, is a “Conservative Christian red state mentality that is uber-religious and is roughly 10 years behind the times.” Everyone there thinks their shit doesn’t stink and that they’re better than everyone else. Part of the reason I left is the smug attitude that everyone back there has… and I say everyone, but not everyone sucked. Unlike the “one bad apple spoils the bunch” saying, one good apple doesn’t save the bunch, either.

Someone might point at my recent move and say “part of your stress is living in a new, wholly different environment without support.” I’ve lived “without support” for more than a decade, now, and that isn’t any worse here.

I learned a term last night from watching Hemlock Grove on Netflix. The term is “gas lighting,” and I’ll be damned if that doesn’t fit how my family treats me. Yeah, family. There’s a saying about family, lots of them actually, but none of them ring true in my experience. They don’t have my back, they aren’t there for me, and because of my experience with my own “blood” I’ve come to have a very particular opinion about what family means. Right now I’m closer with my in-laws than I am with my actual blood relatives.

That adds to my stress, sure, but that’s something I can’t affect anymore. I’m done trying, too. There are a few members of my family I’m speaking with on a regular basis, but they’re not immediate family.

I’m writing all this at 7:30 AM on a Sunday, one of my two very difficult to keep days off. I was up until about midnight last night and about 6:30 this morning I just couldn’t sleep anymore. I’m tired enough to want to try but I end up just laying in bed, flopping around, and feeling ill. What’s my problem? Stress. Anxiety.

While this has been slightly therapeutic, nothing is really getting solved. I have a lingering pain in my lower back from injuring it over two weeks ago (see my Fitness Specter 34 for more details) and while I thought it was significantly better, I still have problems doing things because of it. I lost a lot of weight last year and gained all of it back, thus I’m lamenting over the fact that I have the motivation to workout and lose weight, I am lacking the significant capability to accomplish that.

On a “good note,” the fact that I can’t even be bothered to be given a proper lunch at work has me losing weight because I’m not really eating as often as I should. Six pounds isn’t anything to write home about, though.

I guess I’ll go try to find something else to do, now. I’d like to sleep but I know that isn’t going to happen. I can’t wait for Christmas to be over because I’ve had nothing but problems since the season started.

Fitness Specter 34: Recovering From Injury

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It’s high time I write a column about fitness again. It’s also high time I explain why I haven’t written in so long, and talk about something on the forefront of what’s been going on lately. It’s high time to stop saying high time. Go.

First and foremost, I’ve been busy as hell lately. I’ve been working so many hours at work that I’m unhealthy and starting to have problems with all kinds of other things… like sleep. Anyone who is reading this should know by now that sleep is an important part of the entire fitness regimen. Well, I’m working on getting more sleep and that leads me to what’s been happening with me (or the topic in the title).

One cannot properly work out if one is injured. Some things can be worked around but there is one injury that really kills all of the abilities to work out: lower back injury. Guess what I got recently? Yep.

So, almost two full weeks ago (as I write this), I was lifting something to help get something done at work and “pop,” there went my back. I could barely stand and for the time since I’m having trouble moving without pain. I’m back to the point now, at least, that I can sit without needing to be rigidly sitting upright with something behind my back for proper posture. That excites me, and I’ll explain why later.

For the first few days, I had to have help putting on socks because I couldn’t bend over. I had to get out of bed in a very specific way, otherwise I couldn’t get out of bed. At work, driving to work, at home, driving to home, etc… I had to be sitting straight, with something behind my lower back giving me “proper posture.” I couldn’t sleep in my favorite position all night (I’m a stomach sleeper), and I would also have issues in staying asleep because I’d be shifting and thrashing all night long.

Just about the time I hurt myself I was ready to jump back on the wagon of lifting and exercising… then I had to wait.

The problem with injury is that when you’re recovering, there is little you can do with a lower back injury to recover quickly. I think I’m really close to the clearing of the injury, which means I can put my money where my mouth is… and that leads me to why I’d be excited.

Since I can actually lift weights again (i’m 95% sure), I am going to be able to start back down the track of losing weight in the vein I was losing weight before: leaps and bounds. My cardio will be the focus at first but once I’m back down under 275, the weight lifting will be the focus and I’ll be building the mass that is good mass instead of holding on to the mass that I’m interested in getting rid of… it’s time.

It’s time to get off the couch and start doing something again and it’s time to start being smarter with how I do things in general life. I won’t want to hurt myself again soon and I’m looking forward to actually succeeding with my efforts.

Lift with me, bro.

Coming in January: The Specter Show

It’s time to announce that my return to podcasting is at hand! I shall be starting my new audio podcast in January (intending on weekly, but we’ll see how that goes) and I’ll be going with as broad of topics as I think I’d like to cover.

There will, of course, be a concentration about what’s going on here at the website, but I want to be able to talk about anything and not rope myself into any one thing… like I have in the past.

Along with the Specter Show, the Greatest Show will be coming back… we aren’t gone, we just had to take a break due to the insanity of the working schedules we’re both deep in the midst of… and when we come back, I can promise Bob will have plenty to say.

Join me! Coming soon!

Never Settle, Never Satisfied

As the title implies, I’m rarely ever content (with my website). I switched to this:

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About halfway through 2015 and it was a novel looking idea but after seeing how difficult it is to navigate and get the attention of certain things within the site, I think it’s time to change to something less “novel” and more practical.

On January 1, 2016, I’m going to have a brand new look to the site up and running. I will need a little time to work on this wonderful new look, which also means that some of the functionality of this site is going to be “iffy” while I work on it. I won’t outright “break” anything (well, now that I say that I know I’ll be breaking a couple of the pages because they won’t work on the new site), but I will be rearranging things quite a bit.

I had recently got an update to this theme that would have allowed me to make a second row of “apps” for more pages but after doing some research and digging for more “icons,” I just don’t think the theme works for what I want to do anymore.

So, be warned… things will be changing… I can work on these things in the background, so hopefully I can just hit a magic button to switch over when the time is ready.

Thanks.