Doomcast: The Scrimshaw Meme

With the end of June comes the height of summer, and with the height of summer comes podcast adventure nine, a meandering tale of glory, villainy, the epic fight between good and evil, and the downfall of modern society, vis-a-vis the Internet. Join us in our mental perambulations as we consider:

  • ye olde podcastinge
  • Mad Mel Beyond Northampton
  • Law of the Boy Scouts
  • matters scientifically humorous

And for you lucky blog-post readers, enjoy your special bonus content, a pair of outtakes from this episode.

Download, for your listening enjoyment. [17m 16s]

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Spam of the Day: Poetry edition

From: Alec Justice
Subject: the peace with thy grim castanet! on the bared rocks around me lie,–

the peace with thy grim castanet!
all the time sprung from corruption. & the air was full of them, & seemd

[For what it’s worth, the first line seems to be from a poem about rattlesnakes by an American named Bret Harte. But I still thing there’s something wonderfully lyrical about the whole construction.]

Doomcast: Honesty is the Best-Selling Policy

It’s not that podcast adventure eight couldn’t have been longer: it’s merely that we didn’t want to tarnish what we had with any extraneous information. This is concentrated podcasting at its finest, condensed from unadulterated rays of sunshine into the purest audio gold.

  • cards, and the greetings that adorn them
  • matters of salutatory placards
  • a full discussion of the socio-economic impact of capitalism in today’s uncertain financial markets, with particular regard to the writings of Smith, Marx, and Keynes CANCELLED
  • Bonus Content: more on greeting cards

Download, for your listening enjoyment. [11m 28s]

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Doomcast: TMYK

Podcast adventure number seven may be short, but it’s sweet, like the finest fruits of a mystical far off-land, tasting of summer and first love. Allow us to take you back to those innocent days, with our discussion of topics such as:

  • alternative payment plan or money-making scheme: you decide!
  • matters of awareness, campaign-style
  • cryptozoological creatures and other animals of Australia
  • Special Bonus: Nikola Tesla jokes

Download, for your listening enjoyment. [16m 38s]

Subscribe via iTunes

Doomcast: Brought To You By

It may be long overdo, but the sixth episode of our podcast-to-end-all-podcasts is now ready for your listening consumption. Note that we do not recommend consuming this podcast orally, as the ingredients contained in this episode *could* be harmful to your health, including:

  • cake
  • parodies, and the 13 year-old losers who make them
  • matters financial and fiduciary
  • correctional facilities: separating fact from fiction
  • Do-It-Yourself apocalypse-proofing

Download, for your listening enjoyment. [18m 37s]

Subscribe via iTunes

Daily Doom 5/4/09

Once again, I’m filling in for the inimitable Tony by bring you this week’s DOOM. Remember, folks, Doombot is 100% guaranteed not to give you the swine flu, so drink up.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Politics

Animal House

  • Residents of an Australian nursing home have been repeatedly attacked by mice, including one 89 year-old veteran who was found drenched in blood after the mice chewed at his ears, neck, and throat. Once again proving that every living thing in Australia is vicious and deadly.
  • Scotland’s Edinburgh Zoo renamed its sole wolverine as “Logan” in honor of the titular character of the new Wolverine movie. Discarded plans for a proposed photo op would have included taping metal claws to the animal’s feet and gluing a cigar into its mouth. At least one of our friends thinks this is a great idea.
  • A scientific study suggests that birds can dance. Their overwhelmingly favorite piece is apparently a catchy tune titled “Suck It, Dolphins.”

Night of the Dead Dead

Heartwarming YouTube Story of the Week

Daily Doom 4/27/09

As Tony, your usual emissary of all things doom-ish, is currently hibernating in his underground laboratory, completing plans for world domination—or possibly perfecting the Guinness Chocolate Cake—I’ve agreed to sit in for him to bring your weekly fix of, yes, DOOM.

The Black Art of Science

Law, Hold the Order

  • A Wisconsin landlord demands dead victim’s late rent, fees from parents of the deceased, including an “early termination fee.” By the end of the day, the company had received Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Person of the Week” award and, when reached for comment, our lord and savior Jesus Christ added, “What the fuck, people?”
  • The U.S. Supreme Court has been debating whether school strip-searching students is constitutional. Said Justice Antonin Scalia, “You’ve searched everywhere else. By God, the drugs must be in her underpants.” Court was immediately recessed, as nobody was mentally prepared for the images conjured by the words “Antonin Scalia” and “underpants” in the same sentence.
  • A six-year old Norwegian boy wrote to the country’s monarch for permission to change his own name to “Sonic X,” after the video game character. The king said he couldn’t grant the request, as the boy was under 18. Personally we think that’s a little hypocritical there, Harald V.

What is Technology?

Doomcast: N-1

Step right up, step right up and experience the fifth episode of our continuing experiment in the magical art of sound broadcast right over these very here Internets. You’ll witness amazing, death-defying conversations concerning such wonders of the world as:

  • hybrid foods
  • games of shame
  • Rest in Peace, John Moschitta, Jr.*
  • matters robotic

Download, for your listening enjoyment. [17m 30s]

Subscribe via iTunes

* Not actually dead.

Television Review Revisited: Life on Mars (US)

How many reviews of *Life on Mars* must a man write in life? If the late, great Douglas Adams is to be believed, 42. So: only 40 to go. The American version, cancelled by ABC, concluded with a 17th episode, lasting one episode more than the BBC series that inspired it. Now that it’s finished, it’s interesting to see how two shows with the same exact premise ended up differing so wildly.

As I said in a comment to [my original review](http://doombot.com/2008/10/18/short-television-review-life-on-mars-us/), a strange thing happened as the British show went on: it became more about Gene Hunt than protagonist Sam Tyler. In fact, Gene became so central to the show that when they concluded the series, they immediately spun him and compatriots Ray and Chris off to [a new show](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashes_to_Ashes_(TV_series)).

By contrast, the US version always kept its focus on Sam and his predicament. Here, Gene is just another supporting character, a piece of the vintage scenery, and though Keitel’s performance grew (and grew on *me*) over the course of the series, Gene never became the same show-stealer that he did at the hands of Philip Glenister (I did appreciate the tip of the hat that the US series creators gave him in a later episode, naming a police bar “Glenister’s”). Keitel did much better when he wasn’t treading in Glenister’s footsteps, allowing the American version of Gene Hunt to become his own character rather than the pale imitation of another man’s performance.

To my biggest surprise, by the end of the series I found myself liking the US version of Ray far more than the original’s. In the British series, Ray always came across as two-dimensional: the dimwit caveman comic relief who acted as Gene’s contemporary counterweight to Sam’s modern-day influence. The US version’s Ray, on the other hand, is a surprisingly complex character: he’s painfully aware that the world he knows is in the process of changing all around him, whether he likes it or not—and he most assuredly does not. I came to enjoy his ribbing of Sam—his constant taunt of “spaceman”—and his complicated relationship with female liberation in the form of Annie.

From a story perspective, the US version also attempted to turn itself into a mythology show in a way that the UK series never did—by comparison, it was more cerebral—a psychodrama. The UK shows always felt very tight, very claustrophobic, somehow conveying an atmosphere that we were all in Sam’s head and it was very much reflected in the way that the show eventually came to a close.

Meanwhile, the US version tried to insert hints of a deeper meaning, of archetypal conflicts between good and evil, light and darkness, and even between father and son. I think that attempt, to make Sam’s struggle *larger* than just himself, is somewhat emblematic of an American storytelling ethic in a way that it isn’t for the British—but perhaps that’s an investigation for another time.

Despite their differences, the shows weren’t totally dissimilar. As both progressed, they became more about the idea of a man out of time than about the mystery of *how* he’d come to be there. We derived our entertainment from the dramatic irony of viewing the past through the lens of our present, while the 1973 inhabitants are stuck in the dark ages. While the ongoing mystery of how Sam came to be in the past was the hook that kept us coming back for more, fed by occasional breadcrumbs scattered through the episodes, it’s not *really* the reason that we tune in. Part of that was, of course, a matter of necessity—for Sam to find out how he’d gotten to the past would have robbed us of our impetus to watch—but part of it was because we, like Sam, start to *like* 1973 a bit more than the present.

And so it’s little surprise to me that the US ending, like its UK counterpart, is a bit of a letdown. In the US case, you can blame it on the show’s premature cancelation—I don’t know if this is the ending they’d planned had they gone for a longer run, and it’s undeniably a bit silly and cutesy—though not entirely in a bad way. I’ll give them credit for this: I sure as hell didn’t see it coming. If nothing else, I applaud the creators with letting their imaginations run wild. As with many serial dramas—[*Battlestar Galactica*](http://doombot.com/2009/04/01/short-television-review-battlestar-galactica/) comes to mind—the real interest in *Life on Mars* turned out to be in its journey, not its destination.

Halls of Montezuma, Dubbie!

middleman.jpgIt is a fact that my love for [*The Middleman*](http://doombot.com/2008/07/22/short-television-review-the-middleman/) knows no bounds, corporeal or spiritual, so despite the fact that the show is—in [the words of its creator Javier Grillo-Marxuach](http://themiddleblog.livejournal.com/41963.html)—”hibernating in a high-tech vat, or a sac filled with a translucent amniotic fluid”, I can still rest secure in the knowledge that come July, I will be able to own all twelve episodes in [one handy DVD package](http://www.amazon.com/Middleman-Complete-Matt-Keeslar/dp/B001XW7ICW/). Not only that, but arriving at the same time is a graphic novel that concludes the storyline from the TV show (which, if you’ll cast your mind back to more carefree days, you’ll remember was itself based on a comic series).

To my mind, *The Middleman* is undoubtedly the best prematurely-cancelled show since *Firefly* walked upon England’s mountains of green—and let’s be fair: I watch a lot of shows that get cancelled. I could almost be the patron saint of cancelled television shows—well, except for that whole “performing miracles” business. Then again, *Firefly* already got revived once, so maybe if a couple more shows I liked come back from the dead, that’ll count.

Basically, this is all a long way of saying that you should really watch *The Middleman*. This is, after all, the show that brought us fish zombies, vampire bat puppets, and five intergalactic dictators masquerading as a boy band. Matt Keeslar as the eponymous Middleman is a square-jawed, all-American hero in the vein of pulp heroes of old, and Natalie Morales’s Wendy Watson is probably geekdom’s best heroine since Veronica Mars. If you like the show *half* as much as I like it, well, I’ll have liked it twice as much as you.

And that’s logic you can’t argue with.