Note: This is my response to my daughter's high school essay pleading with me to take care of my health by eating fruit.

Dear Daughter,

Fruit is sickening. I don't want it near me. Keep it away. I'd rather shove fistfuls of Cheetos in my mouth and munch on artificial ingredients whipped up in a Frito-Lay lab than put a single finger on a hairy kiwi. I know you want me to be there for important events like graduations and your wedding. But I've made it this far in life avoiding fruit, and I'll be perfectly fine. You know why? Science!

The way I see it, I'm mostly chemical additives by now. I've ingested so many preservatives, I'm practically going to live forever. My insides are coated with such a slick chemical glaze that any melanoma cell seeking purchase would explode on contact. To introduce something like an apple slice into my superior body's ecosystem now would be to disturb its fragile balance. I thought you loved me. Why would you want to kill me with fruit?

But let's assume for a moment that the orange slice I ate in a moment of stupidity in 2009 has caused an irreversible chain reaction--perhaps my spinal column is about to collapse like a Jenga tower. I'm still not worried. I only have to make it another five years from now until I'm able to upload my consciousness into a brand new synthetic body. It's going to be awesome. Imagine you dropping me off at Rush-Copley Medical Center in the morning, and when you pick me up before lunch it'll be my head on Chris Hemsworth's body. Imagine how happy mom will be! We'll all celebrate at Taco Bell!

So you see, I have faith in science, Boo. There's no getting rid of me. Sure, I might attend your wedding as a head in a jar filled with blue Powerade, and I won't walk you down the aisle so much as maneuver my floating platform alongside you with controls worked by my tongue, but I'll be there. And I'll be there for your kids' weddings. And so on. Because by not eating fruit I'm gonna live forever. In closing, screw tomatoes.

Love forever,



I watched an unknown number of DOCTOR WHO episodes when I was in junior high or high school. When I say "unknown" I don't mean "too many to count." It was probably less than ten. These were the Tom Baker years, before Peter Davison took over as the Fifth Doctor. I'm not sure when they aired in the States, but the show's original air dates indicate Baker had assumed the role in late 1974. In the three years between STAR WARS and EMPIRE, I became obsessed with science fiction, seeking out anything and everything to satisfy my hunger. I consumed Alan Dean Foster novels and scores of Starlog magazines. This is purely a guess, but I first discovered the good Doctor in the late hours following MONTY PYTHON on Channel 11 in Chicago toward the end of 1978. I had a tiny black and white TV in my room, and long past the point where I was supposed to be asleep, I was watching cheaply constructed robots rolling down nondescript hallways after a man in a scarf. The production values were slightly off-putting, but at least it was sci-fi. I even enjoyed the show enough to read a few Who novels. But my interest soon waned.

Cut to 2014 and I'm binge-watching the new DOCTOR WHO serials with the raw hunger of a thirteen-year-old geek. It's awakened something in me. The television shows I watched between then and now to keep the sci-fi flame alive (STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION and THE X-FILES, for example) weren't as consistently great as this new show. I've analyzed the reasons why, in no particular order, but the first one is huge:
  • The writers have a plan. They know where the current season's arc is going--but more than that, they plant seeds for stories which won't pan out for years. Yet individual episodes stand alone. It's an incredible feeling when you sense drawstrings coming together, followed by the thought, "Oh shit, that was mentioned two seasons ago!" It's almost like watching LOST, except Doctor Who showrunners aren't winging it as they go along. Rather the opposite. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER went off the air in 2003. In September of that year, the BBC went to Russell Davies to bring the Doctor back. I only mention BUFFY because it feels like Davies learned at least one big lesson from Joss Whedon: write a season toward an ending. When you watch Doctor Who you're in a creator's confident hands.
  • The Doctor is a great, original character. Americans never see their heroes facing down bad guys completely unarmed. The Doctor uses psychic paper and a sonic screwdriver, which aren't weapons at all. He hates guns. He rarely resorts to physical contact. It's all about using his wits. How many fictional characters can you name who face down violent adversaries without needing to punch them out? You're forced to regard him as a hero because he doesn't act the way we would in similar situations. Yet he's an alien who utterly admires human beings. And he routinely tells them how incredible mankind is as a species. He feels about us the way we used to feel about ourselves when we landed on the moon.
  • The Earth is threatened all the time. Seriously. All the time. Saving the Earth is a tired cliché. Especially in comics. You watch any given Star Trek series, and other worlds are usually under attack. But creating legitimate threats to our entire planet is hard to do with any originality. It's similar to the reason why it's hard to come up with powerful enemies for Superman. The writers of DOCTOR WHO aren't afraid to tackle cosmic-level danger. You throw alternate timelines and dimensions into the mix, and you've got crazy-ass situations you won't see in any other show.
  • The Doctor is lonely. He's a tragic figure. The last of his kind. Loneliness is arguably the show's entire theme. It's palpable. It's relatable. He feels alone, but he can't survive by himself. Which brings us to:
  • The Doctor's Companions (usually) become the best humanity has to offer. If you're fortunate enough to travel with him, it's only because The Doctor realizes you have the capacity to be brilliant or brave and he can trust you with his life. He wants to awaken a sense of adventure in a companion, and along the way show them how he sees humanity. Close-minded people need not apply. When a companion contributes something unique, The Doctor recognizes and appreciates their contribution. He helps willing individuals grow as people, like an amazing intergalactic mentor. And after their adventures with him are over, he does everything in his power to care for them--even when they're beyond this plane.
  • Rose Tyler and the Companions to follow are memorable. Rose's role is obviously a significant one, but even the one-off companions from the various holiday specials are strong characters. (Note: despite what I thought before watching these current adventures, the Doctor's companions aren't female only. Wilfred Mott, specifically, was an incredible choice.)
  • Christopher Eccleston was good as the Ninth Doctor. He was having fun and set the tone.
  • David Tennant took it to another level as the Tenth. He ran with what Eccleston briefly accomplished with one season, fleshed it out, and made the alien Doctor more human. He infused his two hearts with pain and gave him a soul. And when he had to go, you truly didn't want him to.
  • Matt Smith looks worthy as the Eleventh. I'm only two episodes into his tenure, but with Steven Moffat as the current lead creative force, there's very little to worry about.
I'm beyond thrilled that I gave the new series a chance. I'm not sure why I waited as long as I did to watch it. My hesitation may have had something to do with preconceived notions about the low production values of the old show. Plus the original series had never blown me away. I couldn't fairly call myself a fan. I came around once I got into SHERLOCK and realized Steven Moffat was involved with the new series. And of course, I give major props to Russell Davies as showrunner for those first four seasons. I still have three seasons to watch before the Twelfth Doctor appears on August 23.


Am I a Who fan now?

Say it with me, in David Tennant's hearty growl:

"Oh YES."


"It's Science." - Ron Burgundy

Note: Superior Spider-Man #1 spoiler below

Peter Parker is a nerd with an aptitude for science. He gained his powers because of a scientific experiment gone awry. He invented his web-shooters, which are a marvel of engineering and chemistry. A majority of the villains in his rogues gallery also received their powers due to laboratory accidents. Spider-Man typically defeated them by employing scientific methods. Spidey's best friend got his powers while rocketing through space with the smartest man on the planet.

Five years ago, a DEMON used MAGIC to erase Peter's marriage.

Today, Peter haunts his greatest foe as a GHOST.

What the hell is going on at Marvel Comics?


Justice League Movie Teaser

It's been three years, but I've returned to Blogger for a quick post.

I know what you're saying: "We were doing fine without you, dick." And that's all well and good. I'm just here to pop in and leave because there's a better party uptown I'm heading to, anyway.

But first, please indulge me.

I was seeing THE DARK KNIGHT RISES for the second time, and during the MAN OF STEEL trailer I found myself wondering exactly what would happen after the credits of that movie had rolled. We know DC is developing a JUSTICE LEAGUE movie, and it's likely it will already be filming before the Superman reboot is released. With all the characters cast and shooting underway, they almost have to address a larger mythology.

What follows is my script for the teaser I'd love to see at the end of MAN OF STEEL. Aside from one ANCHORMAN reference in the dialogue, I'm being serious here. I approached this as if Chris Nolan himself asked me to write 90 seconds of comic book movie awesomeness.

*grabs a Tostito, double dips in the salsa, leaves*



SUPERMAN swoops into frame and lands on the roof. He strides past the immense, rotating Daily Planet sign, heading toward a roof stairwell.

He reaches up to unfasten his cape but stops, cocking his head. He hears something behind him. He speaks without turning.

Where I come from, the Welcome Wagon doesn't sneak up on new neighbors. And they usually bring apple pie.

A FEMALE FIGURE emerges from the shadows beneath the sign. We catch quick glimpses of her costume and weapons before we see her face: a flowing Amazonian cape, gleaming silver bracelets, a sword in a scabbard hanging off one hip and a golden lasso on the other. Her face is illuminated by the full moon and the lights of Metropolis.

She approaches him with regal confidence, extending a hand.

Forgive me, Superman. My name is Diana.

Their hands clasp. For a moment, we see a tightening of muscles in each of their arms. Their smiling faces betray nothing of this physical exertion as they size each other up. They release their grips.

I didn't mean to startle you. I assumed you had received my message.

Message? No, I'm sorry, I didn't get it. I've been rather...busy.

In a lightning blur of red and yellow originating from behind the globe, a MALE FIGURE practically materializes behind Wonder Woman. Her hair is buffeted by the wind.

Yeah, the whole world caught your showdown in Smallville. Nicely played.

TWO MORE MALES FIGURES step forward. The first stands apart from the others, assuming a majestic stance. He is a blond man, wielding a golden trident.

The other wears a ring on his right middle finger. It pulses with emerald energy. We catch a green glint from a mask around the man's eyes.

You fought with honor and have proven yourself worthy, Superman.

What Brick Tamland here means to say is, "Welcome to the big league."


A FINAL FIGURE appears--literally. A green-skinned, bald man with red eyes slowly fades into sight next to Wonder Woman.

He and Superman exchange looks, each of them understanding the other is not from Earth.

Close on Wonder Woman.

I feel the need to apologize once more, Superman. We were attending to...dire matters or we would have offered our assistance earlier.

Superman's blue eyes scan the faces of the individuals arced around him.

Then his head cocks as it did before. He hears something else.

What kind of "dire matters" require the attention of all six of you?

Wonder Woman's eyes narrow, almost defensively.

There are some threats which are too--
There are five of us.

Superman turns.

A MYSTERIOUS FIGURE is crouched above the roof stairwell. He is wearing a long, billowing black cape and a cowl with pointed ears. He speaks with a growl.

I'm not with them. And I certainly didn't bring pie.


Aquaman © DC Comics, all rights reserved

Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter © Rider's Block Productions, Inc. 

Warner Bros. Legal Department © Calm Down It's Satire, Ltd.


Rider and Obama Vs. China

What would it take to coax your ol' pal Rider out of blogging retirement? How about the sweet promise of a jaunty drive down to the local currency exchange where he'll convert billions and billions of yuan into a cool one hundred U.S. dollars?

Imagine how my eyes lit up tonight upon reading how a cell phone manufacturer ripped off a name I invented in a Photoshopped image of my very own smartphone over a year ago...then mentioned it again the next day in this post...then again a day later.

Seeing as how I've had my fair share of visitors to the Block from China--and since "Haff-Comm" is a Chinese company, I think I have a damn good shot at squeezing some crazy cash out of these copycats.

Now all I need for my lawsuit is to team up with someone with slightly more credibility than a lowly blogger. Someone who may have also been wronged in the ad. Perhaps a public figure whose image was appropriated without permission to hawk knockoff electronics.

Why, if I made enough money to actually retire, I'd have so much time on my hands I'd start blogging again.

Speaking of swipes, Rider asks that you not get him started on the similarity of this photo from his January 19, 2008 post, and the concept behind this T-shirt.