The Little Tramp

Throughout history I don’t think there has ever been a more creative genius than Charlie Chaplin.

Ever since I was 6 or 7 and I sat hidden on the stairs, looking through the holes and watching “Chaplin” with Robert Downey Jr as my parents watching it, I’ve been fascinated by him. His films, his creativeness, his personal life and all the controversy surrounding him. That little tramp character that he brought so much life to still intrigues me to this day and finding out more and more about what he went through. The story of him being kicked out of America and the sad story of Hetty Kelly who Charlie fell in love with in England and sadly died while he was in America, of course she had since married someone else which just makes it even more heart wrenching.

Charlies enduring love for film and entertainment is evident in everything that he touched. From his silent beginnings through to The Great Dictator and Limelight. He worked tirelessly to make sure his movies were perfect, he wrote the scripts, the scores and took control of the editing. Charlie Chaplin put everything he had into entertaining millions. That aspect inspires me, especially when I watch his work. Almost 100 years on and it’s still as funny today as was back then.

Charlie was also loyal, he kept Edna Purviance on his payroll for the rest of her life even after she couldn’t land any more film roles. A mark of a man who knew that (to some extent) the people around him were important, even if he didn’t always make it clear.

Of course there controversies galore. J Edgar Hoover seemed to have a personal vendetta against him, naming him a Communist Sympathiser which eventually led to him being banned from re-entering the USA when he was touring the UK to promote his latest film. Then there were the divorces and the blood test controversies.

Every idol has their flaws and Charlie Chaplin sure had his.

When I lived in Switzerland in 2005 I remember jumping on a train for almost two hours to go to Vevey just to try and get a peek at his home (all I managed to see was a gate and trees) but just being that close to such a place was strangely fulfilling. In 2015 his home will be opened as a museum and will be open to the public, so perhaps I’ll get my chance to walk those hallways.
If you’ve never watched a Charlie Chaplin film, I suggest you do so immediately.

 

 

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The age old question………

When speaking about Doctor Who amongst friends there’s always one question that comes up. The answers are always interesting and varied. The question is of course “Who is your favourite Doctor?”

For some it’s Tom Baker, without a doubt the icon of the Classic Series and possibly Doctor Who as a whole. A 7 year run as the Time Lord with various companions, a variety of stories and of course the Key to Time arc. Baker was the essence of Doctor Who for so many years and his following hardly wavered after his subsequent departure from the show that transformed him into a household name.

For others, they’ll say that their Doctor is David Tennant. DT’s recent trip in the TARDIS arguably took Doctor Who to heights that wasn’t dreamed of when it was recommissioned back in 2003 and returned to the screen in 2005. Taking over from Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant is commonly voted as the most popular Doctor in polls by fans all across the world.

Many people will tell you that their favourite Doctor is William Hartnell, the man who started it all. They might tell you that it’s Peter Davison, Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker, Eccleston, Jon Pertwee or even Paul McGann with his very short screen time but with his amazing audio adventures. Or they could be swayed in the direction of the more recent incarnation of Matt Smith who without a doubt has brought a crazy and childish persona and made it work in such a wonderful way.

If you were to ask me that age old question however, I would tell you without any hesitation that Patrick Troughton is my Doctor. The original childish persona, the original crazy Doctor. His storys are fantastical and energetic and his portrayal of the Doctor opened the door to the possibilty of the 9 actors (soon to be 10) who followed him. He was the first regeneration and the greatest of them all. Getting to finally watch “Enemy of the World” only cemented that for me. I will argue until I am blue in the fact that Patrick Troughton is greater than any other Doctor and I will refute any evidence that you can show me that says otherwise. Tom Baker may have been the most iconic but without Troughton he wouldn’t have had that opportunity, none of them would have.

It’s an interesting concept, that the same character divides so many of us. A lot of people forget that essentially all those wonderful and talented actors were portraying the exact same man. So I suppose the question “Who is your favourite Doctor?” should be made redundant because technically there is only one Doctor it just so happens he’s had 11 different faces.

A touch of the Man Flu

Today I appear to have been afflicted by that terrorising illness known only as man flu. As I type I can feel it attacking my nervous system and creating weakness in every part of my body. It’s at times like these when I wish I had some form of super power to protect me from illness. Nobody likes being ill but I absolutely hate it. If I get ill in the middle of the year I can normally cope, I just battle through it and get on with what I’m doing, hell this year I battled through it and went to a festival. When I get ill between October and February my body just shuts down, it’s a horrible feeling and I get annoyed at the slightest of things. 

On a plus side, being ill today allowed me to catch up on the New 52 Justice League. I had previously only reached issue 6 but I’m now all caught up and as much as I’m looking forward to the next issue I’m not impatient about it. Again that’s probably just my lack of enthusiasm for anything from DC or that involves Superman. The JLA comics have had some pretty good stories in them so far and the art work is just striking, I’ve actually found myself just staring at some pages and admiring the pencil work on a number of pages. If I’m totally honest though I was much more into the “Shazam” stories that were added at the end of each issue. I always did like DC’s Captain Marvel so it was good to have that thrown in and have it as an origin story, although I don’t like this total change to the name Shazam. Granted it’s what he was known as before but up until 2012 he was always officially Captain Marvel. 

One reason I do like the Justice League is for Green Lantern, and I don’t know why. I wouldn’t exactly call him a favourite of mine but I hold a soft spot for him. Green Lantern was my first ever introduction to comic books when I was a toddler so I always look at him as my gateway. All-American Comics #16 is my dream comic to own but truthfully I will probably never have the cash to buy a copy unless somewhere down the line I either win the lottery or write a best selling novel, both of which are as likely as Spider-man showing up in the Justice League Watchtower with cakes and Ribena.

Of course the other thing that could get me enough money to own a copy of All-American Comics #16 would be to write a best selling Comic, but alas my drawing skills are non-existent. So for now it looks like I shall have to be resigned to lying on the couch with the man flu, a bottle of Irn-Bru and Bill Bailey DVDs.

 

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Damn Forms

Today I took the first step in achieving one of my life goals, I got the registration forms through for my creative writing university course. Of course as always things are never simple, I actually think whoever designed the registration form took creative writing too far. It’s a bunch of boxes and words grouped together that actually make no sense, perhaps it’s a test to see if I am clever enough to study? Or perhaps people who design forms just don’t care.

I’m currently trying to wrap my head around it before I start filling it in. Perhaps I should just write them a story? I’ve been accepted anyway, this is just the formalities of actually paying for the course. In my mind I know that this is important but at the same time I’m looking at it and thinking it’s a hell of a lot of work that my brain can’t handle. I absolutely love to write, but ask me to fill in a form and I will try and avoid it for as long as possible. I think the only document I have ever been in a rush to fill in was the registration form when my daughter was born, that’s it. Anything else………paaah it can wait. Although at the very top of this form in massive type it says “RETURN THIS AGREEMENT BY 26/11/2013” so not only are they asking me to fill in a form but they’re putting a time limit on it? I suppose it’s good practice for the actual course. I’ve never been one for working to deadlines, my old Editor at the newspaper used to have to chase me three or four times and more often than not my work would reach her inbox bang on when the deadline was. Hey, at least I got it completed on time right?

I’m looking forward to this course, hopefully it will reach into my untapped creative side and train me in the ways of the Jedi. I shall be a padawan in the ways of creative writing, learning with my mind and bringing it to it’s full potential. Who knows, perhaps one day I shall write the worlds greatest novel, of course it would be science fiction. 

Speaking of which, we’re just over a month away from the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special, I don’t know about you but my nipples are rock solid at the thought of it. Of course I have immersed myself in a number of debates on Gallifrey Base which is both satisfying and frustrating at the same time. For those of you who don’t know Gallifrey Base is the internets top hangout site for Doctor Who nutters such as myself. You can often find me getting annoyed at people who make assumptions and then get mad at their own assumptions on there. It’s quite entertaining. If you are on there, hit me up my name is Valeyard87.

I guess it’s time for me to get back to trying to decipher this form and then to read the latest Superior Spider-man issue.

 

 

Superior Spider-man

When The Amazing Spider-man run ended at issue 700 I was a bit weary about where it would go next. Peter Parker was dead, Octavius had his mind in Spideys body and for all intents and purposes that could have been the end of the Spider-man comics. Spider-man defeated by Doc Oc in his last battle and then it ends.

Now however we have the Superior Spider-man series which pretty much picks up from where “Amazing” left off. I’ve been following this new run all year and I have to say that I absolutely love it. In my opinion it is by far the best storyline that Spider-man has had in quite sometime. We have Doc Oc running around trying to be a superior Spider-man and whilst he’s saving people and putting the villains out of business he’s doing it in the most polar opposite way to what Parker would have done.

So far we’ve had Spider-man kill Menace, create his own army, build robo-spiders, sever all ties with MJ, create some form of alliance with Jameson and we’ve even witnessed the mind of Doc Oc battle the conciousness of Peter Parker. All in all it’s making for some great reading. On top of that, the art work is phenomenal as it always is.

My only question is how long can this arc last? I’m thoroughly enjoying it and each issue is better than the last and occasionally we get a fantastic cliffhanger which makes me so impatient for the next issue that I attempt to draw my own. Although I have to admit my attempt at drawing Spider-man swinging through the streets looks more like a hot-dog lying on a bed of spaghetti.

There’s only so long you can keep Peter Parker dead without losing an army of fans. For me I don’t see it ever getting old, I am completely loving this new set up. It takes Spider-man to a whole new darker level but at the same time it keeps many of the fundamentals of the character. Gone however are the comedic one liners, which is mentioned a few times in the series. We also have the face off between Spider-man and the Avengers when they figure out that something isn’t right. That alone is an issue worth buying, not for the Avengers but for the writing of it. It’s all very anti-climatic but in a good way as it opens even more doors to the series.

All in all I’m very impressed so far with what we have, Superior Spider-man is a new spin and one that was needed. Lets hope that the quality keeps up because I’m completely immersed in it. I wonder if we’ll see a new form of Venom in this run…………

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Who’s better?

There’s an age old question amongst comic book fans. Who’s better? Marvel or DC? For decades fans have debated over which of the big two was better and I have no doubt they will continue to debate it for much longer. Both sides have a plethora of characters and have developed some spectacular stories over the years so it can be hard to really decide who would come up trumps in a battle.

For me my favourite comic of all time is Watchmen without a doubt. What Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons accomplished was a timeless and fantastic piece of fiction which really stands out for me as the greatest ever put in comic format. It is deep and it shows the vulnerability and frailty of humanity in a way which I had never seen before. Alan Moore tells a story which I feel a lot of comic writers now look back on and take inspiration from. It’s an emotionally charge, high octane piece of literature which was brought to life by Dave Gibbons in the most fantastical way.

For me when trying to decide who I think is better out of Marvel and DC I always go to Watchmen and it sways me towards DC. However, I really think that overall Marvel could be the greater of the two. Spiderman, and the Secret Invasion and Civil war series’ are genius. Marvel has always tried to maintain its continuity within universe whereas DC only started worrying about their continuity in the mid 80’s.

Here’s another point and one which I will probably get a lot of flack for but…………..I don’t like Superman. I think that when he died he should have stayed dead. Superman at no point earned his powers, he’s too strong. He basically has every power that you could want and it just makes for awful story telling. For me Superman stories are at their best when he isn’t invincible. I also don’t think you can call Superman a hero, in my mind heroes are people who sacrifice themselves selflessly, Superman can’t sacrifice himself because he’s not sacrificial 99% of the time and when he is it’s because of kryptonite which he isn’t even aware that it’s there at first.

Watchmen puts DC up in the ranks for me but Superman brings it straight back down.

I spoke to one of my friends Chris about this because I didn’t want to put up a blog without getting other opinions on this but strangely enough he’s also a Marvel fan so it made it pointless.

I’m in no way saying that DC isn’t good because of course it is, they have Batman and they published Watchmen. They just don’t impress me on a regular enough basis.

Sorting out my collection…

Over the last couple of days I’ve decided to sort out my DVD collection. It was on the shelves and it was just a mess, nothing was in order and I didn’t know what I had and what I didn’t have.  I’ve been building my collection for quite some time so I felt that I should give it some sort of love and devotion. 

My original plan was to go through it all and try and clear it out, get rid of some awful DVDs and make it look much neater……….that however, did not turn out to be the case.

As I sat in the middle of my living room floor I found myself surrounded by endless DVDs and try as I might I just couldn’t deal with the idea of parting with any of them. After the first few hours I had finally categorised and alphabetised the television side of the collection. It was at this point I noticed that I didn’t have certain box sets that I thought I did have. So naturally, as this was a DVD clear out, I took myself to Amazon and purchased the missing box sets. Instead of whittling down my collection, here I was adding to it.

The exact same thing happened when I got around to the film side of the collection. I didn’t have full trilogies or origin stories and so I just had to take myself to Amazon and add these as well.

My DVD spring clean turned into an expansion of the collection and a shrinkage of my bank balance. As I sit here now, typing this, I am awaiting the postman to come and hand me the boxes of DVD’s that I’ve ordered whilst he gives me that “do you have order so much from one place and make me carry it” look that he so often sends my way.

At least I know that tonight I will be able to sit down with a chilled can of lager and watch “Watchmen –Tales of the Black Freighter” content in the knowledge that the Watchmen section of my collection is now complete. Then tomorrow when I wake up I will go to the shelf and realise that I’m missing something important and no doubt end up back on Amazon. 

 

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Lost but found

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So we got the announcement finally, 9 of the lost episodes of Doctor Who have been found. After 45 years The Web of Fear and The Enemy of the World have been found. Personally I’m ecstatic about the finds especially The Enemy of the World. It’s a story I’ve been dying to see for as long as I can remember. Patrick Troughton facing off against…….Patrick Troughton? The excitement has been surging through my body since it was announced at midnight. 

The episodes are now available to stream on iTunes but I’m going against my better judgement and waiting for the DVD release in November. Why? Simple…

I am dying to sit down and watch them but I want the extras I want the documentaries and the full experience, I want the physical DVD so I can smell it when it comes through the post. I want to sit down, slip the DVD in the player, sit back and properly enjoy it. This isn’t like waiting for a new film to be released that you haven’t seen, you don’t have to worry about spoilers because I know exactly what the story is, this is simply getting to enjoy something that I’ve waited for for so long. 

The rumour is that there are more episodes to follow and who knows if that’s true or not, I’m just happy we’ve got we have. There are no doubt a plethora of happy fanboys today and I hope they’re lapping it up. 

Right now however, I’m going to go and put on The Green Death and watch as Jo Grant makes her exit from the TARDIS.

Airing my thoughts finally…..

Ok so being cooked up inside today ill has given me a lot of time to work on this here blog (perhaps I should be writing the next chapter in my book or doing something constructive but alas the internet wins)

I’ve kept fairly quiet since the 12th Doctor was announced for various reasons. So many people have opinions so really who would want to listen to mine? I’m also a lover of all things Who so sometimes my opinions can seem biased but lets be honest who’s can’t?

I remember being at a friends on the day of the announcement, by the time Doctor Who Live came on air I had already had a few ciders and the excitement had been building for days. I remember the newspapers were so adamant that it would be Peter Capaldi and I had argued with various people on Facebook that it wouldn’t be. I just couldn’t see it, I thought that taking over from Matt would have to be someone slightly older but not such a big age gap that it ruled Capaldi out.

I am a massive Malcolm Tucker fan, in all honesty I don’t think there has ever been a greater comedic character created for television than the  foul mouthed angry Scotsman which Peter Capaldi so astonishingly lent his time to bringing to life. Being from the fine county of Ayrshire myself I find it hilarious when I see Scottish characters on television that remind me of people I know.

William Hartnell brought Doctor Who to our screens in 63 and I don’t think for one minute that anyone thought it would be still going 50 years later, when Hartnell was leaving I would love to have been a fly on the wall in the offices at BBC to listen to the conversations about whether to stop the show or keep it going. Casting another actor in the role but as a completely different persona was a stroke of genius and one that frankly I don’t think will ever be matched. Patrick Troughton (my Doctor) took on the role and it was really him that showed us all what the Doctor could be.

Jon Pertwee brought us an action hero and Tom Baker brought us a goofball. Peter Davison gave us a quicker pace and Colin Baker took us to a darker place at time. Sylvester McCoy gave us what he could and I really think that he could have been the best Doctor had it not gone off the air and we had witnessed the Cartmell Master Plan in full swing. Paul McGann brought us elegance and adventure and if you listen to his Big Finish audio books he took the Doctor to some amazing places.

2005 brought us Christopher Eccleston and what a Doctor he was. People complain about him only doing one year but in my opinion one year was all he needed to cement his legacy as one of the best Doctors.

Next we were introduced to David Tennant and his Doctor was great but for me it wasn’t as great as everyone seems to think.

Doctor number eleven took us to so many places. Matt Smith took Colin Bakers dark side, Patrick Troughtons childish side, Tom Bakers goofy side and William Hartnells stern side and combined them all into what is a tremendous performance.

This brings me to my opinion on what I think about Capaldi taking on the role……….it’s genius! Matt Smiths Doctor was young but so old at the same time, if you throw that into an older body it works perfectly. Capaldi is a fantastic actor in everything he’s ever done. Who cares that he’s been in Doctor Who before (although as Mr Moffat has said he will work that into the story and it’s something that RTD has come up with)

The very essence of Doctor Who is change and unpredictability and that’s exactly what we’re getting. Thinking about it now I don’t think there’s anyone else who I would rather see take control of the TARDIS than Mr Capaldi. I will always think of him as Mr Malcolm Tucker but now I get to think of him as The Doctor and that to me is just fantastic. Will the Clara/Doctor relationship stay the same? No of course it won’t but quite frankly that doesn’t matter, look at the relationship between Five and Peri and then Six and Peri……….moments after Colin Baker appeared he tried to strangle Peri and instantly it worked, he wasn’t the same Doctor as before but it was exciting. Doctor/Companion relationships change and they should. We’ve had the young “love/lust” thing going on but now I’m excited to see what the hell is going to happen.

Doctor number 12 in the words of Malcolm Tucker…….”Come the fuck in or fuck the fuck off

He is……

Sometimes I like to write short stories, sometimes they’re pointless and other times they just don’t make any sense. This one was one that I just sort of put together when trying to exercise my brain. It’s a short about Doctor Who. If you read my “About Me” page you’ll realise that DW holds a special place in my life.

“He never looked back, he never stopped and he never blinked. Time couldn’t catch up with him because he simply strolled through it. Of course he remembered but remembering and looking back were two different things. When the time came – just as it always does – he slowed down, just briefly, just for the shortest moment.

In every solar system, in every galaxy, in every corner possible, there was blood. Dark blood dripping from the hands of one man. If he stopped for just a minute, it would drip and drip and drip, eventually he would drown in the blood on his hands.

A warrior, a goblin, a trickster, a storm, all who he never intended to be but all who he inevitably became.

From the junkyard to the Valeyard, a Grandfather to a son in law. The longest of lives and the largest of hearts wrapped in the smallest of boxes that was bigger than thought.

The warrior, the teachers, the journalist, the shop assistant, the man in the kilt. They all came and they all left, each taking a part of him. Evolving and moving and running and dancing and crying and watching and fighting and saving and shouting and being alive, so alive.

This man was not a man, he was a hero. A hero to many and an enemy of more. The healer, the wise man, the old man, the young man, the new man, the new men! Always changing but staying the same.

The corner stone of the universe and the centre of hope. Joy and happiness and love and loss – so much loss. So much lost but so much saved. He has seen it, he has walked in the eternal light he has created stars and watched lights flicker out.

His story can’t come in a book, his story can’t be placed in chronologies, his story is for everyone to see. Every star, every planet, every solar system has been touched by him.

He is the one that always comes, the one that always runs, the one who can make time stand still and scares the monsters away.

He is the Doctor.”