Sunday, April 26, 2009

Just like changing banks against your will

Since 2000, I have had my own little piece of the internet, thanks to Yahoo Geocities. It is known as Impaler General's Home Page.

These days, it's more of a scrapbook of my days as a loyal Joss Whedon fan. I have special sections on conventions I have attended, includnig the Browncoat Ball, historic moments like the day Angel got cancelled, and even a memorial to the old WB Bronze, the first true fan bulletin board from which all others are least in spirit.

So imagine my surprise when I got this message...

After careful consideration, AT&T Yahoo! has decided to close GeoCities later this year.

You can continue enjoying your GeoCities service until then, and when we close, we'll make it easy for you to transition to AT&T Yahoo! Web Hosting. You don't need to change a thing right now — we just wanted you to let you know about the closure as soon as possible. We'll share more details this summer.

I pay 60 bucks a year for extra storage, which is worth it. I am proud of my little home page, which contains rare history, along with web awards from long ago. I don't want to lose that. I am sure other owners of Geocities websites are on my side.
This is just like people who have Washington Mutual bank accounts waking up to find they're now part of Chase. You're told nothing will change, but you still have to wonder.
Granted, getting into blogging is great because it's helped me with my writing skills. It's a more direct way of communication to people. Still, I like my web site, and Yahoo Geocities better let me keep it when AT&T takes it over. Heck, they should give me a discount because of long-time loyalty.

So, God willing, Impaler General's Home Page will still be around, even if I roll the dice and try Google. AT&T better give me a reason to stay with them. I'm still waiting for them to offer U-Verse, otherwise known as my only chance to give Comcast the finger, in my neighborhood.

Friday, April 24, 2009

100 posts and other milestones

On my MySpace is a countdown timer that says that I will turn 50 in less than eight weeks.

I can say with a lot of confidence...I probably won't get a party or gag gifts or anything like that.
When you get older, the chance of birthday cake, balloons or any goofy gifts decline a bit, or a lot. Another season is the fact I work overnights at my radio station. Thus, the people I work for won't be able to join me to wish me a happy birthday. During the day, some of the staff do get the cake and the "Happy Birthday" song when it's their special day. Since I work along, I don't.
So, hitting 50 will be just like any other day, and I've been used to it.
To be honest, I rarely enjoy birthday wishes. The last time anyone baked a birthday cake for me was the day after I graduated from high school. It was also the day I threw away plastic frames and switched to wire frames. Three years later, I bought my first beer, a can of Tecate without lime or salt. I did that later.
In 1992, when I worked in Eureka, I got a big cookie for my birthday...then laid off five months later. Of course, that's something other people are experiencing now.
Eight years later, I got to see a Giants game in the Press Box at Pacific Bell/AT&T Park. Since then, not much.

Also, I wouldn't know how to celebrate hitting 50. Would I go to San Francisco, and where would I go? How could I get friends to join me? It's best that I treat it like any other day, and just work. Maybe I should have been born a month later, and I could combine my birthday with Comic-Con. Not only would I have a better time, I could combine it with actually being part of the press there.

Or...maybe being 50 may be better than I expected. I don't know how, but that is what the future is for. I just wanted to say how I feel right now.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pushing Daisies Lives at Paley Fest

At this very moment in Hollywood, CA, the ninth day of the Paley Festival ended with a rare afternoon session that was more a celebration than a wake. Even if Pushing Daisies has only three episodes left, the crowd was still excited to see them before everyone else.
The facts are these...people still had a blast seeing creator Bryan Fuller, now trying to save Heroes,

The new hero of "Heroes"

Jim Dooley and the Pushing Daisies Orchestra..

Jim Dooley and the Pushing Daisies Orchestra

and a couple of cast members...

Look who came to the Paley Fest

Yes, that is Chi McBride, Ellen Greene and Barry Sonnenfeld, who has an Emmy for directing the pilot.

This was also a general admission event, which means anyone can sit anywhere. I was lucky to get a second row seat in the middle, and even more later on.
The final three episodes start right after Ned decides not to use his magic finger to ask dead people who killed them, figuring that would make his life simpler.
Well, not so. For one thing, two guys who were sent to prison for kidnapping Olive when she was nine escape from prison to have a nice little chat with her...literally. It has something to do with the kidnapping being, well, fudged. But never mind that. The real treat is seeing George Segal and Richard Benjamin as the not-kidnappers. For once, the Crime of the Week, involving murder and window-dressing at a department store, is almost the "B" story.

The second story, involving murder, robbery and the water system, features Gina Torres as a woman from Emerson Cod's past, and Fred Williamson as the victim. Simone's back, too, and her face-off with Gina is automatically better than the cheesy crazy-woman-tries-to-steal-husband-or-else movie, Obsessed.

The final episode has Lily and Vivian given a chance to revive their synchronized swimming act after their formal rivals suffer a tragedy while they perform. Think Orca, the Killer Whale. You have GOT to see this. However, that's nothing compared to the last five minutes, where something happens that changes the game several times over. You will be stunned, and maybe angry at ABC. Before the showing, McBride was directing the crowd to the pitchforks and torches that weren't really there....yet. The crowd gasped when they realized what was about to happen in the final scene of the last episode.

Oh, and I also got this...

Suddenly Vivian is standing beside me

I've always had a soft spot for Ellen, but I really wish the other sister was there, along with a few other cast members. Still, this was the best panel so far. I wish I remembered to suggest in my survey they do more afternoon sessions on Sundays. In fact, why not panels on kids shows or cartoons? The 50th anniversary of Bullwinkle isn't too far off.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Our Scooby Gang is Growing Up, and Other Thoughts

This week I am off to Los Angeles again for the Paley Festival. I will be seeing the Dollhouse panel, which I am sure some people predict will be a wake for what is now a program that should be too intriguing to die. Still, with some people claiming that Joss isn't too confident the show will last past May 8th, you can't help but pray for another season. The other panel is definitely a wake: the showing of the final three episodes of Pushing Daisies, which should look even more incredible on the big screen. That's worth 15 dollars. I kind of hope that someone from the cast will drop by to say thanks to those who supported the show. After the show, I may just head to the House of Pies to pay my respects.

The real reason for this post, however, is admitting that it has been a long time since a little girl named Buffy, who is born to slay vampires, came into our long as we were near a WB station. In fact, it's been 12 years since the show started.

It really dawned on me yesterday when I learned that Sarah Michelle Gellar is now 32. Nick Brendon just turned 38 (!) while Alyson Hannigan is now 35. David Boreanaz, the one true repenting vampire, will turn 40 next month (about a month before 50 pins me to the mat), while James Marsters aka Spike is 46(!!). Also, Charisma Carpenter is also 38. If Sunnydale was still around, we'd have enough to create a horror version of Desperate Housewives. That's quite a long way from Sunnydale High School.

On the other hand, they would be the perfect group to establish a new generation of Slayers, led by not-quite-Slayer-but-on-her-way, Dawn. Since Michelle Trachtenberg is only in her mid-20's, that may be an interesting idea. Eliza Dushku, as Faith, could also help out as a young Watcher..and Slayer, too. Throw in Felicia Day as a Slayer and internet icon and you could have something there.

Realizing how old our Scooby Gang is right now makes me dread hitting 50 a bit less. It also shows that if we do get a new set of Tales of the Slayers for TV or the movies, I'd rather have Emma Roberts or Kristen Stewart cast as a Slayer than, say, anybody from Gossip Girl or 90210.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Joss Music

It may be April, where people are recovering from March Madness and are now looking forward to baseball.
However, some are already making plans for this year's Comic-Con in San Diego. As we have seen with the four-day tickets already selling out, and concerns abut getting hotel rooms, it's never too early to plan.

Some are also hoping that another screening of the classic Buffy musical episode, "Once More With Feeling," will close this year's event, just like last year. Whedonopolis, and the, sponsored the OMWF screening that ended this year's Wondercon last month. Hundreds of people packed the Esplanade ballroom at the Moscone Center in San Francisco to sing along to "I'm Under Your Spell", "Rest in Peace" to "Something to Sing About", among others. Attendees also were lucky enough to get buttons, monster finger puppets and fake Sunnydale parking tickets (in honor of Marni Noxon trying to sing her way out of a ticket). The ballroom was close to full as people finished their Wondercon experience with this show. Even those who participated for the first time kept up, thanks to the lyrics being shown on screen. It was a bright moment for many who attended, especially after a cloudy weekend.

Last year's showing of OMWF at Comic-Con was the first official sing-a-long after Fox suspended previous public showings because of concerns about royalties. Now, it looks like the episode is becoming the traditional closing event to both Comic-Con and Wondercon. It's not confirmed if the episode will be shown again at Comic-Con this year, but we will keep you posted.

Of course, Joss followed up that classic episode with Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog, which could become even more popular. Its first big-screen showing at Comic-Con last year was so successful they needed a couple of extra rooms to fit in all the fans. There will also be a panel on this show at the Paley Festival later this month, a first for any internet media production. There's even going to be a high school musical version in Dayton, Ohio. The difference, of course, is that Joss has control of Dr. Horrible, while Fox officials decide whether to allow OMWF screenings. Otherwise, we'd have just as many OMWF versions at some high school and maybe a prep school or two.

I'm hoping that eventually, we'll get the ultimate doubleheader of OMWF and Dr. Horrible. Aside from it being entertaining, it would be an interesting comparison between the two musicals. OMWF is structured just like those MGM musicals of the past, aside from the fact that some demon is killing people by having them sing and dance to their deaths. With Dr. H, it's more like a comic book set to music. For one thing, instead of "crazy dancing" that we get in Sunnydale, we have one short dance between Dr. H and Penny, hands swaying while Captain Hammer signs his version of "We Are The World", and Dr. H as Godzilla eying the Captain as his own little Bambi, ready to stomp on. That would top last year's OMWF return at Comic-Con. Maybe we'll get that someday.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Dollhouse: After the "Pilots" Are Over

Now that the “seven pilot” stage of Dollhouse has ended, it’s expected the real story of Echo, the girl who can be anyone but herself, will begin.. It’s no longer be the usual pattern of Echo taking on a mission, something goes wrong, and Boyd, her handler, rescues her and makes sure she has her treatment. It’s already reached that stage with “Man on the Street” where FBI agent Paul Ballard finds he has another mission aside from finding the Dollhouse and closing it down, and “Echoes,” where she returns to the scene of a possible crime that led her to being an Active.

Yet some people admit they have a tough time latching on to this premise, a girl who will always be no one, or less, in between the engagements she has to fulfill. Maybe it’s because it’s a role much different than Joss Whedon’s previous heroes (Buffy, Angel and Mal Reynolds) who face difficult challenges every day. Sure, there are signs that Echo may be reclaiming her true self, but is that enough? It seems they want a reason why they should care about Echo, and whether she’ll be a real live girl again.

Also we know more about her thank anyone else: she was once Caroline Farrell, who got into some trouble, maybe with something called the Rossum Corporation that had helped create the Dollhouse. She was given a chance at a clean slate by being an Active for five years, even though that may not be true.

We know very little about the Dollhouse staff, though. We do get a lot of discussion about whether having a group that can make programmable people is really a bad thing. Some may call it a fantasy, while others call it the destruction of Man.

We do learn a lot from the relationships some of the staff have with each other. Adelle DeWitt, who runs the L-A Dollhouse, may look cool and calm at all times, but she admitted last week that, as she put it, she is not a balloon floating above the muck. She is under pressure from the “Senior Partners”, and from Director of Security Laurence Dominic to get rid of Echo when she seems to be unpredictable…just like a previous Active named Alpha who killed other people before escaping. She’s so concerned she even relies on the help of Topher, the guy who programs the Actives and considers himself as a modern-day Geppetto. She does try to be charming,when she recruits Echo to be an Active, or deals with a client.

Topher seems to be type of guy who used his science projects against the jocks who picked on him after school. He’s so certain how an Active will perform, and why, but starts to sweat when something goes wrong. When Echo blanked out in the middle of an engagement in “Grey Hour,” he keeps saying it’s not his fault but quickly comes up with some conspiracy theories.
Also, it looks like Actives don’t always behave as they should. Victor has a man-reaction to seeing Sierra, which they’re not supposed to have. They are also affected by drugs, such as a memory drug they were recruited to find last week.
Dr. Claire Saunders seems to be a forgotten cog in the machine. While she tries to maintain the health of the Actives, she’s usually an afterthought. She writes reports that, according to Topher, no one reads.
Boyd Langton, Echo’s handler, seems to be the only man in the staff with a conscience. In the first episode, he is concerned about the safety of Echo. Yet he has his doubts about whether the company that employs him actually helps people, or hides some deep dark secrets for the right price.
There is one big mystery that hasn’t been resolved. His name is Paul Ballard, an FBI agent that has lost a lot, including his job, to take down the Dollhouse. Yet, we don’t know why he is so determined to close down the Dollhouse. Who gave him this mission, and why is he obsessed with Caroline. More importantly, what does he expect to get if he succeeds?

As the show heads to its second half, viewers are eager to know Paul’s motivation to defeat the Dollhouse, and whether Echo can overcome the “programming” and be Caroline again. Could Alpha show himself, and take the Dollhouse down? This may be the first part of a long road ahead, and many fans will still be interested where it will go, and how it will end.