Saturday, November 30, 2013

Big Things Come in Small Blue Boxes: Speaking of Things that Turned 50 this Month

So, Doctor Who premiered two days before I did, November 23, 1963. I’ve been a fan since junior high, which makes Tom Baker “my” Doctor. It aired in the late afternoon on weekdays on channel 52 in the days before cable. It was an Orange County station that didn’t have much power, so the reception was not great. Not long after that, channel 52 became the home of ON TV, which was subscription television service the broadcast movies and such on a scrambled signal. It was the late 70s; they were trying all kinds of things. Anyone remember Betamax? Of course not; people barely remember VHS these days.

Anyway, I DVRed (he says without a hint of irony after the last paragraph) all the specials and retrospectives leading up to last Saturday’s “Day of the Doctor,” which certainly lived up to expectations as far as I was concerned. What did turn out to be an unexpected treat was An Adventure in Time and Space, a dramatization (or, if you prefer, a dramatisation) of the creation of Doctor Who and William Hartnell’s tenure as the first Doctor. David Bradley’s portrayal of Hartnell was nothing short of brilliant and anyone who didn’t get at least a little choked up in the last five minutes you’ve obviously had the cyberman upgrade.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

But Enough About Me: Not as Young as I Used to Be

“Yesterday it was my birthday. I hung one more year on the line. My desk’s a mess, I should be depressed, but I’m havin’ a good time,” if I may paraphrase Paul Simon. Nonetheless, I admit to having mixed feelings about turning 50. At this point, there are only three circumstances under which I’d be described as young: (1) If I drop dead (oh, he died young); (2) if I’m appointed to the Supreme Court; or (3) if I’m named Pope. None of these appeal to me much, though I wouldn’t mind visiting Rome again. Or D.C. for that matter.

I remember the first time it hit me that I was no longer the young generation. It was about ten years ago. I was in the bedroom folding some laundry and there was some concert channel on TV. I don’t remember the name of the band (I suppose I could look it up because this is the Internet, but I’m not going to because shut up), but it was one that had its hits sometime after I graduated from college. Anyway, I’m folding laundry and enjoying the tunes when the lead singer comes up and announces they’re going to play an oldie.

It turned out to be “Give a Little Bit,” by Supertramp, circa 1977. Next thing I know, I’m standing on the bed shouting at the TV. “You snot-nosed little punk! I’ve got tee-shirts older than you!”

Of course, by this date, the band in question is probably only getting play on oldies stations itself, but I’m not sure if that counts as consolation.

Another time I realized I’m not as young as I used to be was only a few years ago. We were touring the Princeton campus on a beautiful warm September day and a lot of the students were taking advantage of the opportunity to catch some rays. I’m talking highly intelligent, hot-looking coeds in bikinis. The thought that came to my mind was startling and I remember it verbatim: “Good God, 1986 was a long time ago!”

But perhaps it’s time to look forward. You’re never too old to think about who you want to be when you grow up. I’ve decided that I want to be either Uncle Iroh from Avatar: The Last Air Bender or giant Russian Santa Claus from Rise of the Guardians. Either way, I’m going t have to grow a really sweet beard.

(This could work. I already drink a lot of tea.)

(Giant Russian Santa is the Santa I believe in.)