Fridays were the worst days, Laura decided. No, wait. Saturdays were the worst. Not counting Thursdays, obviously. She sighed, and looked at her watch. Only three hours to go. Then she could take off, change into her Voyager costume and go fight some crime.

She grimaced at the thought. She'd never really wanted to be a superhero, but the job had grown on her. Yeah, a lot of it was kind of stupid. That whole alien gorilla thing she'd dealt with the week before… seriously, what had that been about? But sometimes--not always, but sometimes--the people she had to put in prison were very bad people indeed. It made the whole thing seem a little less pointless. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 27: Terror from Tomorrow"

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'So this is where Dracula was buried?' 'Yup.' 'The actual, literal, tomb of Dracula?' 'Yup.' 'So the vampire brides...' 'Give it up, dude.'
'So this is where Dracula was buried?'
'Yup.'
'The actual, literal, tomb of Dracula?'
'Yup.'
'So the vampire brides...'
'Give it up, dude.'

Near Innsbruck, Nimoy tells us, there is a monument to perversity. And we're off to a flying start! A monument to perversity! I wonder what's written on the brass plaque on front? Something saucy, perhaps? But no, we're talking about Castle Ambras in Austria, which contains a collection of portraits of people who were wounded or deformed, and also a portrait of… Vlad Dracula.

...continue reading "In Search Of… S01E16 Dracula"

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Obviously not a Frankenstein movie as such, the Cabinet of Dr Caligari is a classic silent film that has cast a long shadow across the horror genre, and particularly across the Frankenstein subgenre.

Man, why did skinny jeans go out of style? They look awesome.
Man, why did skinny jeans go out of style? Those look awesome.

I saw Caligari as a pretentious teenager and pretended to like it. I tried to watch it again a couple of years ago, as a pretentious adult, but couldn't get more than ten minutes in. Most recently, I watched it while half asleep on a very long train ride. That's how to do it. The film has a deliberately dreamlike quality to it, and watching it while wide awake takes something away from it. If you're half asleep and slightly depressed, this is the film for you. ...continue reading "Frankenstein and Caligari"

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The trouble with being dead, Bruce thought, was that is was really bloody boring.

The problem of boredom didn't seem to bother the other ghosts. Not that there were many ghosts around. He was the only one in the Handy Pavilion, and there were just a few others in the Super Centre. Yet these others all seemed to have a purpose.

Take young Vinnie. Sixteen year old petrol-head. Died when a tire had blown out while he was doing burnouts in the carpark late one night, sending his stolen Mazda crashing into an open stormwater drain. His spectral vehicle could still be seen from time to time, doing doughnuts in the moonlight. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 26: Ghost in the Machine"

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Amelia Earhart

We start with a nice, matter-of-fact opening. The who-what-where or Amelia Earhart's final flight. Good, basic journalism, over newsreel images of Earhart, 1930s planes, and the ocean. Solid intro. It's going to get silly after this, isn't it?

It is, mostly thanks to this guy.
It is, mostly thanks to this guy.

Next up is newsreel footage of Earhart's triumphant return to New York after her solo crossing of the Atlantic in 1932. A tickertape parade, how nice! Nimoy shushes while Earhart gives a speech from behind a battery of old-timey radio microphones.

"It is much easier to fly the Atlantic Ocean now, than it was a few years ago," she says. "I expect to be able to do it in my lifetime again. Possibly not as a solo expedition, but in regular trans-Atlantic service, which is inevitable in my lifetime." ...continue reading "In Search Off… S01E15 Amelia Earhart"

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Nazi Plunder

It's got Nazis, it's got plunder, it's got treasure hunting. Could be good? Let's find out.

Look, Mein Fuhrer, Waldo is right over... Wait. It's not him. False alarm.
Look, Mein Fuhrer, Waldo is right over... Wait. It's not him. False alarm.

We open on a few minutes of WWII archive footage. WWII. It's nice footage and beautifully narrated, but the TLDR of it is that the Nazis lost the war but didn't have the good manners to put back the stuff they pinched. Then to the studio, where Nimoy talks with righteous relish of the decline of the Third Reich. He explains how senior Nazis like Martin Borman took off with stolen gold and artwork. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S01E14 Nazi Plunder"

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"Abhorred monster! Fiend that thou art! The tortures of hell are too mild a vengeance for thy crimes. Wretched devil!" - Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.

"I can't help it. It's the way I'm made." – Herman Munster, The Munsters.

Cue surf guitar.
Cue surf guitar.

In the generation after World War II, suburban life got to be the big thing in America. That's not just a physical or an economic statement, though it is. Vast new swathes of housing were being built for a new, prosperous class. Rising wages meant the average family could afford a bigger home, and the rise of the automobile meant people could live further from their workplaces.

But as I say, this wasn't just an economic thing, it was a social thing. As more people lived in suburbia, suburbia got to be the place where stories were set. This is particularly true with regard to TV. Upwardly mobile, white suburban dwellers had to own their TVs, and so TVs had to tell stories about white suburban dwellers. Sure, you could still find Lucy in her New York flat, or the stock bumpkins of Petticoat Junction, but mostly it was the comfortable suburban existence of the Cleevers, the Andersons and the Douglasses. And of course, the monsters. ...continue reading "The Munsters are Due on Maple Street"

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Christian looked across garden furniture towards Norman in his little café apron and smirked. So less manly than his own hardware apron! All was going well. Norman was out and he, Christian was the rising star of the Handy Pavillion! Just look at him there, making coffee for Sadie and that guy with the glasses and big chin! Where would he be in five years time? Still making coffee! Where would Christian be? 2IC of the power tools section! Or even… dare he even dream it? Manager of power tools!

Of course, his success was not all down to him. He had his mentor to thank…

His shift had ended, so he made his way to the men's toilet and moved the hidden panel in the floor. Beneath was a narrow tunnel, which he descended by means of a ladder of huge cast iron staples. Hanging on one staple was an old electric lamp. He turned it on, clipped it to his belt, and continued his descent. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself, Chapter 25: Underground"

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I got a warning from the Blog Police today, reminding me that every writer's website needs a bunch of writing tips on it. Well, speaking as someone whose writing sales are in the tens of dollars, I have to say that they are right, and it is my clear duty to impart my great experience to you, the little people. Bask, then, in the light of my wisdom: ...continue reading "Writing Tips"

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Teaching ESP

It's a logical day in the neighbourhood...
It's a logical day in the neighborhood...

We open with Apollo astronauts on the Moon, because of course we do. We're told that the lunar astronauts experienced unusual perceptions during their journeys, and that astronaut Edgar Mitchel tried to send telepathic images from the Moon to the Earth in 1971. We are told that the chance of his results being accidental are quite low.

Cut to Nimoy at a table with a bunch of kids using Zenner cards, for testing telepathic powers. All of a sudden, I find myself switching from scepticism to jealousy. Why didn't I get to play 'psychic guess the card' with Nimoy? I'm not much younger than the kids in the story would have been.

Then it hits me: Nimoy has broken the fourth wall. In a documentary. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S01E13 Teaching ESP"

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