Dark Shadows: The Leviathans – Week 1

Episode 886 – Monday 11/17/69

So the Countess duPres shows up just in time and stops Josette from jumping. Fair enough.

Barnabas bites the Countess. OK.

Barnabas convinces Josette to meet him at the old house. Alrighty.

Barnabas discovers an altar. Oh boy. Here we go. A bunch of nonsense dialog from these two white ashen beings in black robes, Oberon and Haza, are doing something to our hero. And that in a nutshell is the beginning of this tragic tale.

Episode 886 – Tuesday 11/18/69

So after a strange ceremony on this altar, Barnabas arises and is 100% pure evil… or so it seems. He’s being referred to as Master and gets this thing called the Leviathan Box.

Remember this box well kids, it will annoy you so much as the weeks go on.

We are now back in the present, to the day, with Dr. Hoffman reading a journal entry. Oh how we missed the great plot expositor that is Julia! Oh, and what’s this, a mysterious man!? Do go on.

I keep trying to put myself in the shoes of the viewers in 1969 who have no idea what in the hell is going on here.

Carolyn is wrapping a Christmas present for her mother. This is a rare reference to the time of year on the show. Believe me, it almost never happens. We also get our first mention of this bloody antique shop. More on that later. Feelings of doom and gloom are permeating this conversation. This is even further driven home when Julia starts hearing voices. I love how Lela Swift uses fast cutting between the portraits of Barnabas and Josette to drive the terror factor up to the max. Add to that the great skill of Grayson Hall as an actor and this is one of the better scenes of the week.

So now we have this old man skulking about. He finds the altar. He is in the old house. Then Julia happens to intercept him. Wuh-oh!

The plot seems good enough at this point. I sincerely think that if someone has missed this episode, they missed some very essential plot points. On your typical soap you could miss one, two, maybe even three episodes and still not miss essential points to understand what has been going on. Not on a show paced like Dark Shadows. Miss an episode and miss a lot!

Episode 888 – Wednesday 11/19/69

So the man has a face and a voice. But the audience still hasn’t a clue as to who he is. (Well, the end credits of this episode will spoil that!)

Antiquing-we-go! Say hello to the Todds, Phillip and Megan. Greg quipped “Oh look, it’s the antique shop ran by Eve and Alan Spaulding!”

It’s great to see Marie Wallace back on the show. The seem normal enough at first. Julia makes a big deal out of a Charles Delaware Tate painting, paying $300 for it (in 2017 money it would be worth $2,003!) OK, so I can grant Julia a pass on this, she is as she explains after the portrait of Quentin.

Alas, Carolyn meets the strange man and verbally kicks him off the property. Forget that the Leviathan altar is there just as a point.

The Todds turn weird towards the end of the episode. Just what do they mean here? And why is that altar splitting apart all of a sudden?

Episode 889 – Thursday 11/20/69

Barnabas appears all of sudden with that box again in the latest edition of Chromakey Theater. Somehow the effect is better utilized here than other times.

Professor Stokes is back and he’s seeing Sabrina Stuart – the victim of Chris Jennings.

Julia and Barnabas are reunited. The box is there, of course. He is acting all strange. Oh yeah, and the box is very old.

So Sabrina is talking all of a sudden and wants to see Carolyn. She warns her that Chris Jennings will try to kill her. There is a device in soap operas called SORAS… Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome. I think we need to come up with some other version of that for people that make miraculous recoveries for the convenience of the plot. There are more crazy examples of this in later years on other soaps.

At the end, Julia wants to open that damn box. We are treated to the first of many times of having just some random person (probably a stagehand) breathe into the boom mic. Are you frightened at 4:26 in the afternoon?

Episode 890 – Friday 11/21/69

Of course Barnabas shows up to prevent Julia from opening the box. I think everyone in the audience knew that was going to happen.

So a mysterious Corey is interested in buying Tate paintings as well. Julia thinks it’s Quentin. That is too easy and such a naive solution, way out of her character. But she can’t stop fawning over how much Barnabas is out of his usual self. The audience is just as confused and mystified. Remember when I said that if you miss a show you miss a lot? It’s been said that people starting writing in when Barnabas went back to evil ways in this plot in protest. I can certainly understand why they did so. Imagine Star Trek fans doing the same should Mr. Spock or Captain Kirk do the same thing. Fans are a strange breed, you never can predict what they are going to do or how they are going to react. Maybe someday I will dig through local newspapers of the period to see if there were a lot of letters to TV mailbags complaining about this.

Oh look, a pentagram!

Barnabas wants guidance from Oberon on how he is to know who the chosen ones are. And, of course, right at the Friday cliffhanger, they are at the door!

So, after one week of this plot where do we stand? I think the massive ticking off of the audience has well and truly started. It’s only going to get worse from here. I don’t know if anything could save the course the writers and producers have went on at this point. There was definitely no turning back.

Dark Shadows: The Leviathans – Week 0

This is the first in a series of blog entries about Dark Shadows. A show that is truly near and dear to my heart.

I could drone on about how much I love this show but let’s cut right to the chase.

Greg and myself have both been watching 5 episodes a week that the audience would have watched exactly 50 years ago. We experience the show how the captive audience experienced it, complete with the Friday cliffhanger. Since 2016, we have enjoyed lots of memorable moments and stories. If you know the show, you know what has happened.

At this point 50 years ago, the 1897 story, which was arguably the best storyline the show ever had in its almost five-year run, was wrapping up and the audience was about to be catapulted into one of the most interesting and daring storylines that they could have tried to continue the momentum that they had built up over the preceding months.

I realize that this isn’t the true beginning of the Leviathan plot, but I want to use these preceding shows for a couple of reasons: To get used to doing this and also to show how good the show is at this point before it’s creepy slight downfall.

I will be giving my thoughts episode by episode. I will not be going into too much detail on the plot, please use my episode guide and follow along!

Episode 881 – Monday 11/10/69

Garth Blackwood, played here by John Harkins, is really trying to chew up the scenery. Not quite on a Shatner level, but he sure leaves his mark on the walls. So much so that he flubs his lines in the teaser/recap of Friday’s cliffhanger.

Roger Davis doesn’t do much better. Through his eagerness, he has to pump the prop gun *five* times before it fires a blank.

So Petofi wants to change minds with Quentin a second time. Quentin Collins of course expects this. So why does he delay leaving? I would leave IMMEDIATELY!

The technical effect used during Pansy Faye’s second sight is quite good for the time. I am always amazed at what they could pull off with limited means of the era.

This 1897 plot has always been rock solid in so many ways. I don’t have enough time to describe them. My concern for Quentin is always at its peak, especially now. I suspect there isn’t a person in the 1969 audience who would even remotely be on Count Petofi’s side.

There is another viewing angle to note on this particular date… I defer to another great blog, Dark Shadows Everyday, to expand on that matter.

Episode 882 – Tuesday 11/11/69

Quentin has to stay awake to avoid the mind switch. Hasn’t anyone thought of using a carriage? A horse? Something else? These are the kinds of dilemmas that are all to absent in the plot to come.

Angelique is making a very hard plea here in her description of why she was granted a reprieve from the great fiasco she had in 1968! At least she wasn’t forced to keep wearing that black wig and green dress.

Of course they have to sing “I Wanna Dance With You” again, they have a record to sell! Problem is it didn’t sell that well.

Surely someone could try giving Quentin coffee to keep him awake!

But, alas, someone is caught trying to do something good by the bad person. A standard soap opera trope!

Episode 883 – Wednesday 11/12/69

Oh that hand. One last time it rears its ugly head.

There are all sorts of audio issues throughout this episode. The technical oriented side of me (blast having a career in this medium) notices this every time!

The great thing about a story that you have been following for months is watching the character you have hated get their comeuppance.

Why couldn’t Pansy Faye find the portrait of Quentin with her second sight before? It’s just a convenient plot point, isn’t it?

Episode 884 – Thursday 11/13/69

It’s sad to see the Evans cottage set go. It was one of the original sets from the beginning.

It’s also so sad to see the end of this part of the Quentin and Amanda story. If you’ve seen the show before, you know this isn’t the end for them. To be continued…

Now Kitty shows up and we start to get to the meat and potatoes of what leads up to the Leviathans. While Barnabas is trying to convince Kitty to do what is best for her, Jonathan Frid commits a very egregious flubbed line…

“To go among strangers…well, no one will love you nor you or Kitty or Josette.”

Barnabas Collins – 1897

You had to admire Judith for thinking out this entire plan in what seems like no time. Driving a scheming bastard like Gregory Trask to his comeuppance with great elegance. I will spare you the non-gory details. It’s not gory of course because the reader must remember that this is daytime television in 1969 and things aren’t very suggestive yet.

But, what is suggestive is how you can pull off the special effects in 1969 of having Kitty and Barnabas fade into the portrait of Josette duPres.

Episode 885 – Friday 11/14/69

So Kitty and Barnabas have both ended up in the past. Correction: Josette. Confused yet? So now we’re back in 1795… or 1796… or 1797… whatever the writers feel like referring to this time as.

So now we see all of the things that took place 460 episodes ago. Well, not quite the same. Or will it be? Josette is at the cliff of Widow’s Hill yet again, but as any good Friday cliffhanger would do, she doesn’t know what to do! At least this is a better cliffhanger (literally) than episode 425 in which she jumped! Maybe it’ll turn out different? Who knows. We’ll find out Monday.

Now, if the viewer back then had no indication that things were about to change, they certainly got a big clue from ABC. Have a listed to the audio of the closing credits from the original broadcast:

Indeed. See you next week!

My First Year in the ATL

One year ago, I moved from a mediocre metro area to a very prominent one. Most people would have looked at me and said, “What, are you crazy?” Nope. I knew exactly what I was doing.

Am I glad I did it? Of course! While I wish what happened in the first few months had went down differently (not a surprise to the reader) it’s all better now.

Do I have any regrets? Not a one. I mean, look at all the positive things that have happened in this last year. I have made some great friends over this year, too many to name. I am still making friends and hope to make lots more going forward.

I have also been witness to memories that I will treasure all of my days. My favorite team, Atlanta United, won the MLS Cup in 2018 capping a spectacular season. I am glad that I got to be there in person. I also saw some great moments in the 2019 season as well. While the 2019 season didn’t end how we wanted it to they still had a great season.

I also marched in the Atlanta Pride parade with Greg. That was an experience I will never forget and plan to do again next year!

What do I have to look forward to in the next year? Everything! The future is a very bright one for me and for Greg as well. I am in a great place right now and I finally feel confident that we are headed in the right direction. My only desire for the immediate future is to save up enough money to travel again. I am confident that will come in due time.

Oh, by the way, did I mention I am turning 40 years old next week? Eh, it’s nothing. Age is just a number.

I’m Okay!

I neglect this blog way too much.

Since that last entry in which I couldn’t seem to get a handle on my feelings, which was OK, I have found my confidence again. I think it’s safe to say that life is never 100% easy. We all have our ups and downs.

I think I can feel very fortunate that I have an awesome support system. Not only do I have the most wonderful husband in the world, but some of the greatest friends as well. You know who you are.

I think it’s safe to say in the last three months that life has slowly but surely gotten back to normal. Everything seems to have a regularity to it now. We can plan on things happening as they should now. I dare say we are pretty much back to the way things were.

So… where do I go from here? Well, the sky’s the limit now!

What is Wrong With Me?

For all intents and purposes… I should be happy. More than that, I should be jumping up and down from the mountain tops to the valleys of the North Georgia landscape. Greg finally has a gig in Atlanta starting in July. I am doing well in my current job. There shouldn’t be any reason that I should feel uneasy. Yet I am.

Human emotions are a very funny thing. Just when you think that you are getting ahead and feeling good there are things in life that can hold you back… even just a little bit but just enough to register on your psyche.

Just to get the reader of this article up to speed: twice in the last week I should have felt elated…

You will forgive me if I feel like that I am faking it for the camera. I may just be down in the dumps when I type this but that’s how I feel at the current moment.

I don’t know where my soul is. I wish I could elaborate further but there are some details that are just not fit for this blog because they could be deemed too personal or too sensitive for the internet to know about. Keep in mind kids, the internet never forgets even if you hit the delete button. It will find a way to come back and haunt you when you lease expect it.

I will find a way to be positive. I have to. I will.

A Love Letter To My Husband

It has been a long time since our paths first crossed. 14 years, as a matter of fact. Can you really believe that is has been that long? Where has all the time gone? It seems like it was only yesterday that we were spending practically every moment out of our college classes together, goofing off, watching old TV shows, meandering about in the middle of nowhere. Enjoying each other and making great memories. Falling in love. I will never forget that first kiss in the middle of a shut down interstate highway. That’s a story for the ages.

I know we have been apart a lot lately. While it has been tough for both of us to love from afar, I still feel your presence by my side every day. When I am having frustrations, I know you are there. You keep me going, you keep me striving to do better, to work harder, to do more.

I know that I am there with you as well. Pushing you to keep going, to do the same. I know how much you have been trying to achieve what you want. I know that someone will see the great potential that you have and give you an opportunity. I believe in you so much that the size of that confidence stretches beyond the limits of this galaxy, and then some.

I could go on forever, but I know how to always sum up our love. It all comes back to our song. We will dance to this song someday. How about on April 17th, 2025?

Nick and Greg’s Song

I love you, Greg Brobeck.

What Pride Means to Me

This weekend, the Tri-Cities, where Greg and I grew up, is having a pride celebration for the first time. While I think it’s taken entirely way too long to get to this point, I am glad nonetheless that it is finally happening. Greg and I have had a long road in our relationship of over 13 years as a couple and in all of that time we largely and surprisingly did not go to pride celebrations. That of course changed last year with us attending Atlanta Pride. We declared at that point after having so much fun that we would never miss one ever again. We are going to no less than three pride celebrations this year. We’ve already been to Knox Pride, we will be at TriPride this weekend, and in October we will be visiting Atlanta Pride again.

In all of this I ask myself, “What does pride mean to me?”

It’s important to me that I support everyone in my community. We should all be proud of who we are. We should have people around us that love us unconditionally. I have to admit that I have felt at certain times in my life that while people say they love me they secretly have misgivings about me and my sexuality. That is an unfortunate but real feeling for someone to have. It usually comes in the guise of “love the sinner, hate the sin.” I have grown to loathe that way of thinking. One cannot go through life living a by double standards like that.

OK, so that got negative for a second. Let’s focus on the positive. Pride is still a very important thing, especially in the current political climate. I don’t want this post to turn into a history lesson so suffice it to say that you know how things have gotten better while terrifying at the same time in the last 5-10 years. I won’t go into those details here. The point is that the LGBTQ community still faces challenges. Hate is a very, very real thing. It’s sad that in 2018 we even have to say that. Maybe one day we will be past it. Will I see it in my lifetime? I don’t know. I hope so.

Pride is also important because of why it exists in the first place. We must remember the Stonewall riots of 1969. It is very important to respect our elders and the struggles and sacrifices they made to make sure that we can be loud, proud and authentic. Next year will be the 50th anniversary of the riots. I hope we can go on vacation to NYC next year to celebrate pride there. We shall see. Other people in other cities and towns have had similar struggles as well. Each and every one of them needs to be remembered as well. We all have to recognize the adversity of being our true and authentic selves. It’s not an easy road being someone who goes against someone else’s opinion of what is “normal” and “usual.” That is why we celebrate pride.

It’s also important to remember those that we have lost over the years. When we were vlogging in Atlanta last October, we visited the AIDS Quilt in Piedmont Park. I shot a little footage that we did not end up using in the vlog because it was way too emotional. It is sad and tragic what people in our community had to go through when the crisis was happening in the 1980s and 1990s. I read story after story about how people like that were disowned. However, there were a lot of heroes who stepped up at that time and helped out. We must remember these people when we celebrate pride as well.

I have a confident feeling that the majority of people in the country, if not the world, do support the LGBTQ community. Like my friend Joshua Willis said, “It’s getting there. It’s getting there.”


It’s Gonna Be May

As we approach Summer 2018, we are headed into interesting times in our lives. As I have said before, we have great plans and career goals this year. We shall see how it plays out over the next four or five months.

As one approaches this, however, you constantly are looking back on what you have achieved. I would say that in the last seven and a half years in my current position, I have achieved a lot. It’s too much to go into detail here, but suffice it to say that I am proud of myself. I have grown a lot in my area of expertise.

I am extremely proud of Greg. He is the best. I love him so much and I can’t say enough how proud I am to have him as my husband. He holds me up and keeps me going. Without him, I don’t know where I would be.

This is turning into a sappy post.

I’ll end it on a profound and high note then.

Go Atlanta United!

Luck of the Irish

On this St. Patrick’s Day 2018, I wish to document here what I am truly lucky to have.

I am truly lucky to have a great husband who is not only patient with me, but is fun to be around… even after 13 wonderful years.

I am truly lucky to have a great job that I enjoy going to every day.

I am truly lucky to have great friends, both in person and around the world via social media and our YouTube channel.

Most of all, I am truly lucky to have my life itself, which I never take for granted and am always looking to improve. Who knows where that life will be by the end of 2018. I certainly hope that we will have a new and exciting place to call home by the end of this year. Mark my words. We shall see.

Thanks to everyone reading this out there for being such great and awesome people! You rock!

Hey Blog, How’ve You Been?

I guess I should update this thing every once in a while, eh?

Vlogging has taken up the better part of the day-to-day life these days. I do seem to be more focused on that than anything. However, with new tools that I have gotten lately, I have come to realize that I could be doing more with this particular blog.

Speaking of the vlog (which is called Nick and Greg, btw, please do go and look) I have new ideas constantly. It’s a blessing, but a hindrance sometimes. Like at this particular moment. It’s 8:10am on Sunday morning, March 11th. I should be in bed, but I am not. Daylight Saving Time started last night, so that’s one less hour of sleep right out of the box. Dammit.

Guess I’d better go get some sleep while I can.