Monday, December 31, 2012

The Snowmen

As a reminder, here's my wish list  for the episode, along with a summery of how close it got.

  • Clara to be a non-modern companion. My hopes are pretty high on this one, seeing as The Snowmen is set in Victorian London.
Well, yes...and no... jury's still out on that one.
  • Clara NOT to be a love interest for the Doctor. Not only because it would mess with my otps, but because I’m kind of sick of companions falling in love with him.
At this point, it seems she'll try to be a love interest. I hope she backs off.
  • An explanation for the title monsters that won’t leave me terrified for the rest of the winter. If Moffat makes me scared of snow, my Midwestern location will make life very difficult for me.
As long as I don't start complaining to snowmen, I'm safe.
  • An explanation for the new TARDIS interior.
Not exactly.
  • Someone explaining to the Doctor how incredibly stupid he is to be alone (preferable with a slap)
Yes, explained. But no slap, sadly.
  • The episode to download in less than an hour.
Failed epic-ally. It took nearly four hours.
And, most of all, what I really want to see in this episode is something simple.
The Doctor’s smile. A real, honest, happy smile, not to hide pain or avoid questions, but because he’s actually happy.
Close enough.
 The digital age may have spend things up a bit, but I still spent 8 pm-4 pm (including some of the sleeping hours) going stir-crazy for The Snowmen.  Whatever else the episode did or did not do, it certifiably kept me engaged. The older of my two brothers kept complaining about my cries of "no, no" or "mah Doctor," but the other was equally entertained.

Besides the new companion--who I will discuss later--this episode also marked a new title sequence, a new costume for Eleven, and a new TARDIS theme.  First of all, the title sequence.
It's absolutely beautiful. It startled me at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it.  All the colors are absolutely beautiful,  like images from the Hubble Space telescope. And the face-effect is very subtle--not terrifying like Colin Baker's (it's just sort of creepy.) It also seems a fitting tribute to the classic series, with the fiftieth anniversary approaching next fall.

The new costume seems equally fitting. It's still him, but a sadder, more serious him. And that scene with the bowtie...ouch, very much ouch.
The Doctor: No, it's just...I didn't know I put it on. Old habits...
And the glasses, please...Ten had "brainy specs:" Eleven has "specs of sorrow." Sad specs.

Now, the new TARDIS console. I have two equal and opposite statements to make regarding it.
I think it completely suits the Eleventh Doctor at this point in time. He's trying to get rid of anything that reminds him of the Ponds, from his bowtie to his TARDIS. Whether he chose the new "desktop" or the TARDIS chose it, it just seems so much colder, darker and smaller, reflecting his choice to withdraw from the world. The orange set would have been too big, too happy for him.  (side note: Clara's TARDIS key: the Ponds never got one. That makes me sad.)

I can't stand it. It feels wrong--the metal panels feel like they belong in a military building, not the TARDIS. It feels claustrophobic compared to the glass, coral, or even the classic models. Overall, it feels like a machine, not our dear, clever, Sexy. I spent at least a minute yelling "Wrong, it feels wrong" at the screen when it first came up. It feels wrong for my Doctor, the madman with a box, who is now a lonely, sad man. I can't stand to see his feelings reflected that way. It's like walking into your best friend's room and finding it covered with posters of skulls and quotes advocating suicide.  I just want to tear it all down and paint bright colors on the wall.

Before I get to the main plot, one more element: the Paternoster Gang. The gag about Sherlock Holmes was funny, Strax's militant nature made me chuckle, and Vastra had some good scenes, especially the interview of Clara. But...I have an elementary-age Whovian brother, and the whole interspecies lesbians thing makes me uncomfortable. At least with most of the previous episodes, it was subtle enough he missed it (Closing Time was an exception). I can handle it, even if I disagree, but with a younger brother...awkward.

 Matt Smith was wonderful, showing how the Doctor's darker tendencies would play out after Manhattan. The memory worm scene was a bit surprising--I didn't think he'd go that far, even if he saw it as for the character's own good.  Clara...she was straightforward and bold: anything less wouldn't have caught his attention at this point. She's clever, too, as shown by her analysis of their escape. In some ways she reminds me of Donna, but with flirting--and one of the reasons I liked Donna was her lack of flirting.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a staunch Doctor/River shipper and the Ponds were my first companions; I'm still mourning them and reluctant to accept a new companion. Even if I didn't ship them, I think grief is a bad place to start a relationship--Eleven is grieving at least as as hard as Ten did in Doomsday, and we all know how Martha's crush turned out.  And I'm sick of companions crushing on the Doctor. Can't he just have a friend?

Plotwise: regardless of what anyone says, I liked it. Moffat rarely focuses on the monsters in his specials; he focuses on characters. The real enemy wasn't the Snowmen or the Great Intelligence--it was the Doctor's crippling depression and resulting apathy. But I knew he'd come to the Latimers' aid (Latimer--anyone else notice that?). He still can't let children cry.

On first watch, this episode seemed to be a Davies/Moffat hybrid.  But when I rewatched it, I felt the  "Davies" elements--Clara's death, the Doctor's loneliness--grew naturally from the mid-season finale. And when I was looking for it, the sense of wonder that infused The Christmas Carol or  The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe is still there...just a bit hidden. Some of the scenes--the ladder to the clouds, the shot of Clara and Eleven drenched by the melted snowmen--are absolutely beautiful.

This isn't my full thoughts on The Snowmen--I have a post on Clara's identity and another comparing 10 post-Doomsday and 11 post-Manhattan in the works. But I'd love to hear your thoughts too. So what did you think of the Snowmen?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

No one should be alone at Christmas: An Eleventh Doctor Meta

These two pictures explain so much about Eleven. In the first one, he's just saved 4003 people from a crash-landing spaceship, rewritten an old man's timeline, and built over a dozen people. He teased Amy and Rory about their costumes because that's just what he does, and now they're off to another adventure. In the second one, he's alone, mourning the loss of his Ponds, retired, and convinced that the universe doesn't care. And the two episodes are only two seasons apart. From the Christmas Carol to the upcoming "The Snowmen," he's gone from playing Ghost of Christmas Past to being Scrooge (by Word of Moffat).  
 Do you know why I'm going to let those people die?... I don't get anything from it. It's just that I don't care. I'm not like you. I don't even want to be like you. I don't and never ever will care.
--These lines from old Kazran are chillingly appropriate for Eleven from the clips we've seen. Maybe he wouldn't let someone die, but he doesn't seem to care. He doesn't even grin at Starx's declaration of war on the moon. And instead of the grand scenery with fog fish or tree-souls, we're wandering in a London fog, lost and alone.

The most important elements of his previous specials was family.  "A Christmas Carol" begins with a family asking for someone to be returned for Christmas, as well as showing the negative effects of Kazran's family on his life. When Abigail does reunite with her family,  we have a beautiful, cheerful scene of Christmas dinner, complete with paper crowns and crackers. "The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe" has even stronger themes, with Madge trying to protect her children from learning that their father is dead.  But the best, most wonderful scene for family comes at the end. After Madge guilts Eleven into visiting the Ponds-- You can't let them think that you're dead, not at Christmas-- he shows up at their front door.  Despite the initial awkwardness, they not only invite him in, but reveal they have a place set for him. Even though he's let them think he's dead for two years,  they've still held out hope that he'd come back. Just before he turns to go inside, he reaches up to wipe a tear from his eyes. Happy crying, you can almost hear him say.
That's my favorite Christmas special--not just because of the Narnia-inspired plot, but because he's so happy. After all he said to Madge about not having a family, not having a home--the last five minutes of the episode prove him so, so wrong. He does have a home and a family, and he's with them for Christmas. Most of David Tennant's specials featured a one-off companion --Astrid, Adelaide, Jackson--who leaves or dies, but the 2011 special ends with a reunion. 

And then...the snowmen trailer. The prequels. The clips. And, oh, my poor, poor, woobie Doctor. "No one should be alone at Christmas," especially after a loss like that. Even his top hat looks sad; Amy won't tease him about bowties, and River's not going to shoot this piece of apparel.  He needs someone.  River told him, Amy wrote in her letter----don't be alone.  I don't think he'll go all Time Lord Victorious--he doesn't seem to care enough for that. But just the horrible idea of him sitting in his box, day after day, perhaps only venturing out when Vastra tries to get his attention--the new TARDIS interior only makes it worse. If the TARDIS is a reflection of the Doctor, and it's gone so dark, grim, and cold after being so large and bright while he had the Ponds...and I don't even want to think about what those Gallifreyan symbols mean. Something sad, I imagine.  He's trying to get rid of everything that could possibly remind him of them--maybe even River. She said "Don't travel alone," but...okay, part of this is my Doctor/River ship, but I want her to walk up to him, slap him in the face and remind him that people still care. Or maybe have Sarah Jane back (a mad, impossible dream that makes me rather sad) and repeat what she said in Journey's End:
You know, you act like such a lonely man. But look at you. You've got the biggest family on Earth.
That's what he needs. That's why on my wish list for "The Snowman" is 
The Doctor’s smile. A real, honest, happy smile, not to hide pain or avoid questions, but because he’s actually happy.
 I don't care much if Clara snogs the Doctor. I don't care if the logic is silly or the title is simple. I just want him to be happy again.

Isle of Shadows

After reading Tracy Higley's previous novel Gardens of Madness, I was eager to read the next book in her series focusing on the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Set in the shadow of the Colossus of Rhodes days before the earthquake, Tracy focuses on Tessa, the heteara of a professional politician. As a trained courtesan, she has rare authority, even the ability to speak in the assembly, but her life has left her like Athena--beautiful, but cold as marble.
Unlike Tia, the heroine of Gardens of Madness, I didn't find Tessa to be a well-written character. Her motivations were consistent and understandable, but she seemed to be a stock character, another Hooker with a Heart of Gold and a tragic backstory. One element that might have helped develop Tessa more would be exploring her relationship with her owner's wife and daughter. The wife seems to have gone insane at some point, and Tessa hints that she might be responsible.
I received this book free from Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze program and was not required to write a positive review. As a causal read, it's fine--despite the protagonist's profession, there are no graphically explicit scenes. But it's somewhat predictable for those familiar with the genre.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

All I want for (Doctor Who) Christmas (special) is.

  • Clara to be a non-modern companion. My hopes are pretty high on this one, seeing as The Snowmen is set in Victorian London.
  • Clara NOT to be a love interest for the Doctor. Not only because it would mess with my otps, but because I’m kind of sick of companions falling in love with him.
  • An explanation for the title monsters that won’t leave me terrified for the rest of the winter. If Moffat makes me scared of snow, my Midwestern location will make life very difficult for me.
  • An explanation for the new TARDIS interior.
  • Someone explaining to the Doctor how incredibly stupid he is to be alone (preferable with a slap)
  • The episode to download in less than an hour.
And, most of all, what I really want to see in this episode is something simple.
The Doctor’s smile. A real, honest, happy smile, not to hide pain or avoid questions, but because he’s actually happy.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Twelve Recommendations from 2012

Not all of these books were published in 2012---some I only found this year. But I thought I'd be cool to post twelve recommendations from this year's reading list. Some have been previously reviewed here, some have not. They vary from biography to graphic novels and satire, but I enjoyed them all. In no particular order, here they are.

1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Won't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

As the title suggests, this book focuses on the power of introverts in today's extroverted world. It is divided into four sections--the extrovert ideal, the influence of biology inintrovert-ism, culture's effect on the extrovert ideal, and how to live as an introvert in today's extrovert world. As an introvert myself, I wanted to underline many passages, especially the ones about introverts being "differently," not less, social. I also appreciated the tips in the last part about how to use introvertism, as well as ways to remain honest in situations that seem to call for extrovertism. I recommend this book to introverts and friends of introverts--very insightful.

2. Elisabeth Sladen: The Audiobiography

I went through a lot to find a copy of this book, but when I finally bought it, I thought it well-worth the effort. The foreword by David Tennant is touchingly honest and makes certain scenes in School Reunion even more heartwarming. The biography itself is also well-written, detailing her early career in theatre before landing a few TV roles that eventually led to her best-known role: Sarah Jane Smith, companion to the Third and Fourth Doctors (and eventually, Tenth and Eleventh).
Some of the stories are hilarious and others heartwarming, whether about Classic, New or Sarah Jane Adventures. Some of the lines are harsher in hindsight, especially the ones about the future of the Sarah Jane Adventures. Keep a box of tissues handy, but I recommend this to any and all Whovians.

3. Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
He showed you who you are, didn't he?" Imraldera said. "And he showed you who you could be." 

One of my favorite new authors is Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Her Tales of Goldstone Wood combine the wonder of fairy tales with strong, intriguing characters. In Starflower, the fourth book in the series, readers step back in time, thousands of years before Una, Rose Red, and Lionheart were born, to learn the secrets of Earnin and Imraldera.

Previous hints have been dropped at a past between the two, and in Moonblood, Lionheart identifies her with Maid Starflower, a legendary heroine of Southlands and the mysterious "Silent Lady."  In Starflower, readers meet a much younger Earnin, still dashing, who is infatuated with King Iubdan's sister Gleamdren. When she is captured, Earnin sets off to rescue her, but his quest is interrupted by the discovery of a Mortal in the wood.

4. One of our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde

This book, the fifth of the Thursday Next series, is set in an alternate-history England where cheese smugglers run the line between Wales and Britain,  Bacon apologists go from door to door, and the main character is a veteran of the Russian-English conflict in the Crimera.  But the best part consists of the adventures in the Bookworld, an alternate or parallel dimension. In this book, readers journey from the land of Racy Novel to the island of Vanity and Fan Fiction, meeting lesser-known literary siblings such as the Loser Gatsby. It's full of puns and inside jokes for anyone who loves reading.

5.  Tyndale: The Man Who Gave God an English Voice by David Teems]

William Tyndale may not be a household name, but his work to translate the Bible from Latin into English formed the basis of the King James Bible, which recently celebrated its 500th anniversery. This biography also provides historical background for the period, almost to the point of being a dual biography for Tyndale and his foe Thomas More. 
Not only does it bring Tyndale and Moore to live, it reminds believers how blessed we are to have the Scriptures in our own language, a privilege still unavailable to many people groups around the world.

6. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

This novel by Neil Gaiman is one of the best urban fantasy works I've ever seen. Originally a TV series, then adapted as a novel and graphic novel, it tells the story of Richard Meyhew, whose random act of kindness drops him into the strange world of London Below, where he learns the truth behind Blackfriars, Earl's Court, and the Angel Islington. 
This novel felt like London. I'd be hard put to explain it more clearly than that, but when I read it, I felt like I was back in London, albeit one even stranger and more wonderful than the one I had visited.

7. As One Devil to Another: A Fiendish Correspondence in the Tradition of C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters by Richard Platt
As much as I love The Screwtape Letters, Richard Platt's take on the same idea is so engagingly written that it could claim the same mantle in time. With several shoutouts to the original work--including an outrageously funny rant on the demon's part over Lewis's work--it makes clear its debt to Lewis but carries on the concept with original flair. 
Instead of a young man, the Patient this time is a graduate student at Oxford, a young women with aspirations of literary accomplishment. Her life in our modern world is thoroughly explored and exploited by the Lowarchy, to our amusement and instruction.

8. The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart

I love the Mysterious Benedict Society series, and this prequel focusing on Nicholas Benedict is delightful. So what if Nicholas is rather a Sherlock Holmes expy? He's wonderfully curious and mischievous, and I love the rather lighthearted tone of the book. 
While this book is recommended for elementary, I think it's a wonderful story for older readers who want something romance-free and entertaining. The characters are well-written and very relatable.

9. The Sandman (graphic novel series) by Neil Gaiman

First of all, a warning: these books have a lot of "adult" content, including violence, sexual scenes (both homo and het) and questionable worldviews. I wouldn't recommend them to anyone under eighteen. But that's partially a matter of responsibility.
On the other hand, the stories are wonderful. Neil Gaiman is one of the greatest modern myth-makers I've read: this series focuses on the Endless, seven personifications of forces such as Death,  Dream, and Delirium. The "Sandman," more commonly known as Dream,  faces the consequences of his actions, from imprisoning a former lover to abandoning his son. The stories in the ten volumes range from horror to adventure, sci-fi and modern realistic, and showcase Gaiman's considerable skill in storytelling.

10.  Snuff by Terry Prachett (and all of Discworld, by extension)

 One of my favorite characters in Discworld is Sam Vimes, the head of the Night Watch.  In a world of trolls, dwarfs, elves, and Nobby Nobs, where the laws of Narrative Causality are in full force, he is responsible for keeping something like order in Ankh-Morpkh, the great city of the Discworld.
Discworld in general tends to be a satire, but everything from Hollywood to monotheism gets spoofed, so it's hard to take offense at any one bit. It's a world much like our own, but with enough sense to laugh at itself.

 11. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce

 Originally a fifteen-minute animated short, this picture book testifies to the power of reading and the love of books.  It looks like a library I'd want to have, or at least visit someday, to see all the magically flying books.

12. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger  (author of The Time Traveler's Wife)

As with the Sandman recommendation, I warn of sexual scenes in this book. But after reading The Time Traveler's Wife,  I was eager to read another work in Niffenegger's lush, detailed prose.  When their mother's twin sister dies, twin sisters move to London to live in her flat for a year. The details are amazing--again, it feels like London, not a generic place.
About halfway through the novel, I realized something: this could be called paranormal romance! And i like it! Both Symmetry and Wife are primarily love stories, but with one fantastic element that sets them apart. Why can't there be more stories like this?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Basically, end of the world...

Congratulations! It's almost Christmas and the world is ending--we've broken into the Whoniverse!

And a final message from the dolphins:

How Fandoms are Coping With the End of the World
Supernatural: I suggest we imbibe copious amounts of alcohol and wait for the inevitable blast wave.
Harry Potter: The Earth is burning you know my school burned down just like my childhood and Harry's childhood everything I loved
Doctor Who: It wouldn't be Christmas without a little Apocalypse!
Lord of the Rings: At least we got to see the Hobbit.
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Got my towel. Let's do this.
Avengers: Loki no

And a final message from the dolphins:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Broken Hearts

“Heartbreak is a burden to us all; pity the man with two.”
---Madame Vastra
So, I really don't care for the lesbian relationship between Vastra and Jenny, but the former has some wonderful quotes regarding the Doctor--first her zinger about Time Lords as weapons in A Good Man Goes to War, and then this one.
These prequels are just making it so much worse. Even his top hat is sad, and how he's turning everyone away, so determined to wallow in his misery...oh, my poor, sad Doctor. Where is River? Are you deliberately avoiding her? She didn't blame you,  she just told you not to be alone. This is even worse than Rose--at least with Rose he found someone else (bit of a rebound romance, but he kept adventuring at least).  I'd even rather have you travel with Jack....


Hey, want free music? Stop by The Inkslinger for a chance to win the mp3 soundtrack of The Hobbit or Dark Knight Rises!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"I'll Never See My Baby Again"

This all started when I decided I  needed a new set of tags on Tumblr. I already had otp and  bff tags, but I decided to create one for fictional families.  So far, the only sets I've created are ft(family ties) Ponds and ft:  Charmings. And it made me start thinking about other similarities between them.  As a quick reminder, the Ponds consist of Amy, Rory, Melody/River, plus Brian when he appears and the Doctor as son-in-law. The Charmings (from Once Upon a Time) are Snow, Charming/David, Emma, and Henry.

This video is one of my favorites for the Ponds--the video clips and audio match so beautifully, demonstrating what Amy must have been thinking after Berlin, trying to understand how her daughter could have become River. But in its own way, it could apply to Snow and Emma as well--yes, Snow sent Emma away to protect her, but both Emma and River spent their childhoods alone, brought up in foster care systems. And while River know who her parents were, she couldn't tell them the truth until Demons Run.

There's also character similarities. Amy and Snow are both action girls, with vibrant personalities and lonely upbringings--Amy's parents were eaten by a crack in space and time, while Snow's stepmother Regina hated her for telling Cora about Daniel. Charming and Rory both started out as ordinary guys--Charming a shepherd, Rory a nurse-- who took some serious levels in badassary.  More than that, they are absolutely devoted to their wives. Just compare these quotes:

You will always find me and I will always find you.--David, "Into the Deep."
She can always hear me, Doctor. Always. Wherever she is and she always knows that I am coming for her, do you understand me? Always.--Rory, "Day of the Moon"
And the response from the other end?

"You did it."
"Did you ever doubt I would?"
---David and Snow after she wakes him from his sleeping curse, "Queen of Hearts"
"There's a man who's never going to let us down. And not even an army can get in the way....wherever they take you, Melody, however scared you are, I promise you, you will never be alone. Because this man is your father." --Amy to Melody,  "A Good Man Goes to War"
Even when they can't remember--Snow after the potion,  David in Storybook,  Rory in the 5:13 timeline--they are still dedicated to each other. Oh, it's just glorious to see how they care for and protect each other. And then there's their daughters.  River and Emma, both in their own ways, save their parents before the family relationship is known. For River, that involves Weeping Angels; Emma has to break a curse that she doesn't believe exists. The adventures don't end there, either.

Each group has an odd one out--the Doctor for the Ponds, Henry for the Charmings. But strangely, they play similar rolls. Both Henry and the Doctor are the ones who spark the call to adventure , appearing out of the blue and inviting the person into a new world. And both are members of the family, with a childlike sense of wonder and excitement. Now if only Emma could meet someone as wonderful as the Doctor, someone who would treasure her for who she really is...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wizards vs Aliens: The Last Day

Well, the season finale is over, so it's time for some summery and overall opinions. As for the episode itself, I was really excited by the first half. We finally learn what happened to Tom's mother--disappeared while doing wizardly stuff several years ago. Which makes it very surprising when she shows up randomly one day.

Turns out, she was captured by the Necross and cloned multiple times. The Necross have been feeding off the  magic of the clones.  Stuff happens and they all manage to shut down the cloning factories, but the clones have a short life, and the one Tom found dies.

There were some serious logical fallacies in this episode. If the Necross have had these clones for a few years, why did they suddenly decide to invade Earth? Surely they've been able to sustain themselves without raising human suspicions, so why take the risk now? Also, mightn't the template break down after making multiple copies? I'm also surprised we haven't seen any more of Mark, the wizard boy the Necross aged in the first episode. One of the other episodes--I think last week's--showed a Japanese wizard drained and killed, but I'd like to know more about Mark, and not just because he's played by Brian Miller.

With a full season past, I'd like to summarize my thoughts on Wizards vs Aliens. It started out at a disadvantage, needing to establish a complete world from scratch. It seemed to cycle through several moods, trying to decide what kinds of stories the writers wanted to tell. The special effects were pretty good, as were the Necross costumes. But the characters didn't have much of a chance to develop their own personalities--at least, not the human characters. Lexi and her brother were decent, even if the male Necross were rather stock characters. Ursula shows some depth in "Friend or Foe," and Benny is quite amusing, but Tom and his dad need to be seen in more settings so we can understand them better. I'll keep my eyes open for season two next fall--the season two premiere will be a re-purposed SJA script--but it has a way to go before it reaches the quality of Sarah Jane Adventures.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Once Upon a Time: Queen of Hearts

Okay, I wasn't planning to write a review of this episode, but A. It's the midseason finale, and B. I checked the Tumblr tag and YIKES! I've never been so ashamed of one of my fandoms, not even when Doctor-shipping wars turn into a full-scale invasion with multiple armadas. The whole #Once Upon a Time tag on Tumblr (likely on Twitter too, but I'm not on Twitter) is full of Henry bashing, mixed with general bashing of the Charming family.

Here begin the spoilers:

So, Captain Hook locks everybody in Rumplestiltskin's old cell and runs back to Cora. Through flashbacks, we learn that he's been playing both sides of the game with Cora and Regina for a very long time, and it looks like Hook and Cora will get through the portal first. Rumplestiltskin, banking on that assumption, tries to convince Regina to close the portal to keep Henry safe from Cora.  Anyway, Henry follows her to the wishing well, which is sparkling with green light in a seriously creepy way.

Henry manages to convince his mom to end her spell, and Emma and Snow manage to get through the portal, leaving Cora and Hook in the other world.  Aurora and Mulan, on the other hand, are planning to find and rescue Philip from wherever the wraith took him. (And as a side note, I can see that Hook is hot--my roommate fancies him---but he ripped Aurora's heart from her chest and made very thinly veiled threats of rape to Emma during the swordfight. Sorry, I can't ship you with anyone now)

So, Snow rushes back to Gold's shop, kisses Charming, he wakes up--phew! Happy feels!
You found me.
 Did you ever doubt I would?
No. Though the burning red room did give me pause... 
My Snowing! So cute together, they really are. And in case you forgot, they had less than a week together after the curse before Emma and Snow ended up back in Fairy-Tale Land. So really, they have over 28 years to catch up. Ruby invites the Charmings over to the dinner to catch up on things. Henry, Emma, Snow, and Charming head off.
Regina isn't invited.
And this fact has the OUAT tags up in flames. Henry has been called all sorts of names and insulted; the other Charmings are getting some of it too, but mostly Henry, because Regina's his mother. And it makes me sick to see all this hate directed at a ten-year-old boy. My brother is about that age--maybe it sparked some protective, big-sister instinct, but seriously, he's a little kid! Even if Emma and Regina were just ordinary women, there's be some emotional pulling either way.  Secondly, she's the EVIL QUEEN. She's tried to kill his family several times over--Henry ended up in a coma to stop Emma from eating the turnover herself--and wouldn't it put a damper on the happy family reunion to have your would-be murderer sitting in the corner?
And Emma did try to thank Regina, in an awkward way--"Piece of work, your mom." It's a causal, smoothing-over comment. Just....come on, people. THINK!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Time Traveler's Wife: Movie Review

I originally read the book The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger a few years ago, but have put off seeing the movie a bit. But this weekend, I’m bored, stuck inside in the cold, and in the mood for something that might give me some Doctor/River feels. Steven Moffat drew heavily from the book for River and the Doctor, as well as for his season two episode “Girl in the Fireplace.”
The movie has some good parts—Alba is adorable—but I don’t plan to rewatch it anytime soon. One of the things I liked about the book was how the author worked in lots of details and complexities, which didn’t always translate well to the screen. Even after watching the bonus features about the adaptation, I still felt the film was too rushed. But it was a good film, in its own way. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Best of Me: Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright

After a long hiatus, I have decided to resume my series of companion introductions/fic recommendations for classic who.

The Best of Me: Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright

The original human companions, Ian and Barbara were teachers at Susan's school who followed her to the Totter's Lane junkyard and were kidnapped by the First Doctor. Because of One's rather crusty manner, most modern viewers will more easily identify with them, not the Doctor (I actually confused Ian for the Doctor several times in Unearthly Child). But they have an important role in his character development.

Awakening He shouldn't be having these thoughts.

Lies Told To Children The Doctor explains why he travels with humans, or possibly just spins a tale.
Lost in Translation The TARDIS's translation circuit is sabotaged by small, furry aliens. Then it all goes downhill from there.
RelaxA nice day out ends with a mad dash back to the TARDIS.
What's in a Picture? While exploring the library, Ian stumbles upon a painting that evokes some rather strong emotions from the Doctor. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wizards vs Aliens: Fall of the Necross

Well, I’m not as impressed with this episode as “Friend or Foe,” but it does incorporate complex issues, so I have hopes it will continue to improve. When Benny’s attempt to knock out the aliens’ magic-harvester disables the whole ship, they have to chose whether to let the Necross die or try to help their enemies. Ursula shows a darker side, rejecting the Necrosses’ plea for help, while Benny and Tom try to help.
We have only two more episodes before the season finale—a pox on British brevity—but I’ll keep my eye on it next fall.

Once Upon a Time: Into the Deep

“You can’t, it’s far too dangerous!”
“I’ve faced you, it can’t be worse!”
—Regina and David, Once Upon a Time
Not only do we get a new episode of Once Upon a Time after two weeks, but I got to watch this one on the television itself! Yipee! There are advantages to going home over break, and this is one of them, even if I had to explain characters to my dad and put up with my brother’s insults.
I’m not a fan of Regina, by any means, but she’s making an effort, at least. I still think any scenes with Henry and David are absolutely adorable, and David’s decision to put himself under a sleeping curse was absolutely sweet. I hadn’t even considered a kiss in the neitherworld, so that part didn’t surprise me, but that whole scene was adorable…okay, this is a ramble, but a good ramble

The Eternity Clock

I am not a frequent gamer; I've never owned a game system or bought any non-educational games. Even so, I was thrilled when "The Eternity Clock" finally came out for PC. After all, what Whovian wouldn't be thrilled at the prospect of running around as River and Eleven?
The mechanics are good, easy to understand even if you're using a keyboard for controls. The graphics are smooth and of good quality. There were one or two points where the character froze and refused to move, as well as a moment of green tinting while escaping Stormcage when the trap lights affected the whole screen. I also have to log off via task manager, but that might just be me. The audio can be controlled, setting it louder or quieter, with subtitles as an option as well.
In single-player format, one switches between playing as the Doctor and as River. At first, one plays as the Doctor trying to escape the London Bank, but it switches to River in Stormcage. After she joins him, she becomes a NPC and the user plays the Doctor. The main difference between the two is that the Doctor uses his sonic, while River takes a more aggressive approach with her lipstick and gun.
It's a really fun game to play. I enjoyed breaking out of Stormcage, even if the method of disabling guards (the hallucinogenic lipstick) resulted in such thoughts as "stop running around and let me kiss you!" I'm also a Doctor/River shipper, and enjoyed some feels from the scenes with them together. I could just imagine River making sarcastic comments when I made a mistake controlling the Doctor: "Sweetie, why are you impersonating a gibbon?" or "Stop running around and give me a boast. I hate you sometimes."
It's only $10, which seems a reasonable price to me. Here's the US link

Wizards vs Aliens: Friend or Foe

I think Wizards vs Aliens hit a new high with last week’s episode, “Friend or Foe.” When Lexi decides to adapt a human disguise, she has only a few causal encounters with Tom before they are both kidnapped by (human) billionaire Stephanie Gaunt. Gaunt plans to use magic—and alien technology, once Lexi’s disguise is removed—to steal the crown jewels. I had to chuckle at that—Moriarty planned the same in Sherlock’s “The Reichenbach Fall.”  Meanwhile, Benny suggests teaming up with the Necross to get Lexi and Tom back.
By introducing another antagonist, we got to see a new side to both the wizards and aliens. It added complexity to the plot as well, in contrast to the monster-attack format of the second story or dangers-of-magic in the third story. I haven’t watched “The Fall of the Necross” yet, but I have hopes the show is finding its feet.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Wizards vs Aliens: Rebel Magic

After last week’s rather cutesy monsters, I was really impressed with the concept of “Rebel Magic,” even if some people thought the concept came off simplistically. Tom, still struggling with a desire to considered cool, comes across another wizard whose powers exceed his own.  The temptation to use this “grim” magic to finish off the Necross is strong—with no aliens to worry about, Tom could go back to using his spells for homework and soccer. 
Ursula is developing as a strong character, with certain similarities to Sarah Jane’s role in the Sarah Jane Adventures. Tom’s dad isn’t as well-rounded yet, but he’s got a tricky position, as the only “Unenchanted” in the family. He’s taking the reasonable position that Tom needs to learn to do things without shortcuts, but that view is hard to support in a children’s show. 
In my last review, I commented that it would be interesting to see further developments of the magical system. Well, in this episode, we see mind control—one character blocks 12 hours of memories—and a magic-generated pound note that dissolves. Are most of the enchantments in this system short-term or long-term? I would love to see more of these challenges at some point.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update

50948! I won! I even managed to figure out how Sarah Jane Smith got her memories back, so that makes me very happy indeed!
And then I decided to go watch "Forest of the Dead," which made me the opposite of happy, but River/Doctor!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update

I don't have any really good passages from today's work, so I'll just leave you with a wordcount: 41802.


 "He showed you who you are, didn't he?" Imraldera said. "And he showed you who you could be."

One of my favorite new authors is Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Her Tales of Goldstone Wood combine the wonder of fairy tales with strong, intriguing characters. In Starflower, the fourth book in the series, readers step back in time, thousands of years before Una, Rose Red, and Lionheart were born, to learn the secrets of Earnin and Imraldera.

Previous hints have been dropped at a past between the two, and in Moonblood, Lionheart identifies her with Maid Starflower, a legendary heroine of Southlands and the mysterious "Silent Lady."  In Starflower, readers meet a much younger Earnin, still dashing, who is infatuated with King Iubdan's sister Gleamdren. When she is captured, Earnin sets off to rescue her, but his quest is interrupted by the discovery of a Mortal in the wood.

Eanrin grimaced at the sight and almost put her down again. After all, a princess with dreams like those probably had a tale of woe to match. She would certainly wake with expectations of a handsome hero to aid her. As far as Eanrin was concerned, a dash of heroism was one thing, but commitment to a cause? Never. Rushing off to the rescue of Lady Gleamdren was different, for he had determined that she must be his wife and the sole inspiration to his life’s work. Besides, he loved her.
This creature meant nothing to him.
But blood oozed from the abrasions on her wrists. And her body, mortal and vulnerable, lay in his arms. Eanrin rolled his eyes heavenward as though to seek some holy aid. Then he braced himself and wiped the mud off her lips with the edge of his cloak. She frowned in her sleep and stirred, but did not wake.
“Nothing for it,” he muttered. Closing his eyes and trying not to smell her any more than he must, he leaned in and kissed her . . .
Our favorite poet is not inclined to be a romantic hero--at least, not for anyone besides Lady Gleamdren. But his softer side gets the better of him, and he becomes entangled in Starflower's adventures. From pursuit by black Dogs to the mysterious Hound, they are pursued by strange, frightening forces.

I really enjoyed seeing how my favorite characters became who they are in the later books, from Earnin's hidden depths to Imreldera's origins. The writing was rich and captivating, easily pulling me into the world the author created. I also appreciated the spiritual elements, which added depth without becoming preachy or cliche.  In an epilogue, the author acknowledges the influence of the poem "The Hound of Heaven" on this book. I'd highly recommend that poem for a further insight into this work.

Five of Five

A Year with G. K. Chesterton

I doubt whether the best men ever would devote themselves to politics. The best men devote themselves to pigs and babies and things like that.
--G.K. Chesterton, A Miscellany of Men

I appreciate the works of G.K. Chesterton for his humor and wit. Even though his works are nearly a century old, they speak to the modern situation with vigor and joy. He inspired such authors as C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. Works such as Orthodoxy, Heretics and The Everlasting Man are apologetic classics that still speak truth to hearts and minds.

This book, by the author of The Quotable Chesterton and Defiant Joy, serves as a one-year introduction to the works of G.K. Chesterton  Each reading has a Bible verse and a passage from one of his books. Some of the days even include longer passages, labeled by origins.

My only problem with this book is that all the passages aren't labeled clearly. Sometimes I read a passage  and wanted more of it, but I didn't know where to look for it. But that's only a minor concern. The book is a wonderful introduction to Chesterton's works.

I received a free copy of this book from Booksneeze but was not obligated to write a positive review.

Wizards vs Aliens: Grazlax Attacks

I've been a bit behind on posting this review. I could blame in on NaNoWriMo, but I also didn't find this episode as good as the premiere. Tom tries to distract himself from the alien threat by hanging out at Benny's place. Benny's parents...well, they're the stereotypical green, cultured folks that embarrass their kids by just being alive. I hope they get some more character development.
The monsters are rather...cute. Fluffy blue things with very large teeth--the sort of thing you'd hug and walk away from sans arms. The solution to them was rather clever, almost sonic.
I was also amused by Tom's grandmother accidentally transforming Benny's house into a gingerbread mansion and bouncy house before efficiently cleaning all the alien gunk (yeah for alien gunk!) Maybe after NaNo, I'll analyze the magic system with some details.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update

40k +91.

And, a passage that I'm particularly proud of:

“She was alive,” Harding said quietly. “Can you imagine, what it’s like to have something you’re so familiar with stand in front of you, wearing flesh and skin? Can you imagine how much it hurt, seeing that flesh dissolve into cold oils and pigments?”
The Doctor stared at him.
“You might think I’m a silly old man, in love with a painting on a wall.”
“No,” he answered.
“You think I’m an idiotcrying over a mirage.”
“No,” he looked Harding in the eye. “I think you were very, very lucky.”

Thursday, November 8, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update

And I went to a write-in at the public library yesterday, so that was kind of cool.

Monday, November 5, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update5


The Hunted Hare by Fay Sampson

The Hunted Hare by Fay Simpson, the first in her Aidan mysteries series,  is a haunting blend of genres. The main characters, Aidan and Jenny, take their daughter Melangell to her namesake community, Pennant Melangell in Wales. But the trip has an additional significant--Jenny is dying of cancer and hopes to visit the healing services there.

Although this book is classified as a mystery, I came away from the reading with an overwhelming sense of place. Pennant Melangell is based on a real place, with a few fictional settings added. This technique adds details and emotional background rarely seen.

Without giving away the plot, I will say that the mystery was well-managed, rejecting easy solutions to the crime and maintaining suspense all the way through. The balance between exterior conflict and Jenny's internal struggle kept the plot from becoming sentimental or too action-focused.

I recieved this book through Kregel Blog Tour but was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update

23,584 And I switched stories too. Now I'm working on an AU of  "The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith"

Friday, November 2, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update 2

11,745. Not bad. And I figured out why Joel ran away and had my first death--in the backstory, so I'm not sure how much it counted.

NaNoWriMo Updates: Two options

I will be posting word count updates on this blog, but will also be posting in-story updates at "Notes from Naveyl." Here's the first one.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wizards vs Aliens: Dawn of the Nekross, part 2

Well, after a rather lengthy search for this episode—finally pulled it up on watchseries—I sat down for a lovely time with Tom, his friend Benny, and his grandmother Ursula. I do hope “Old Mark”—the prematurely aged boy played by Brian Miller—returns, and not just because he’s Elisabeth Sladen’s husband. There’s so much potential in that character, especially if the ring can’t heal him completely. The goblin Randell Moon is great comic relief with extra potential, and  Tom’s dad Micheal has definite depth already, beyond just the muggle-in-the-family role. He kind of reminds me of Alan in SJA. 
And the visuals—WOW! The sequence where Tom, Benny, Ursula and Micheal escape from the Necross ship was stunning, absolutely gorgeous. Maybe the CBBC put some of the money saved from less aliens and used it for other special effects. I also love Benny and Tom’s arguments about magic vs science…I’d love to see Benny meet up with Clyde Langer, or maybe swap places. That would be hilarious.
I’m definitely watching next week’s episodes “Grazlax Attack.”

Monday, October 29, 2012

Wizards vs Aliens: Dawn of the Nekross part 1

Since the untimely death of Elisabeth Sladen in 2011 and the finale of the Sarah Jane Adventures,  I've sorely missed my light-hearted sci-fi fix. As much as I love my other fandoms, SJA hit a sweet spot with the character relationships, lack of romance, and medium-level intensity. Episodes like “Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith,” had their place, but so did lower-stakes episodes like “Secrets of the Stars.” 
So I was really excited to hear about “Wizards vs Aliens,” a new Russell T Davies show combing sci-fi and magic. The opening scene is amazing—a wizard and his dad are enchanting a healing ring, but are interrupted by a glowing alien spaceship. 
In several ways, this show is intended as a “spiritual successor” to the Sarah Jane Adventures. The production staff shares several members, an episode in season two is adapted from a SJA script, and Elisabeth Sladen’s husband played a minor role in the pilot of Wizards vs Aliens.
One episode in, I’m happy to report that WvA continues several SJA traditions, including protagonists getting covered in gunge, arbitrary skepticism, a geeky boy, and a seriously protective grandma. And a quick look on the Wikipedia page suggests the Necross will become primary antagonists, instead of the monster-of-the week format of SJA. 
While nothing can replace the Sarah Jane Adventures, I’d definitely recommend giving this show a shot to anyone who misses that “tone” of adventures.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Spaces Between my Fingers (are right where yours fit perfectly)

While waiting for the 2012 Christmas special, I slack my Whovian thirst by finishing the First Doctor's era (only "The Tenth Planet" left to go) and watching all of River's episodes in her chronological order. As far as I can tell, that means:

  1. Snippets of GMGTW with baby Melody
  2. Little-girl Melody from Impossible Astronaut and Day of Moon
  3. Let’s Kill Hitler
  4. Closing Time cameo
  5. Wedding of River Song
  6. GMGTW as grown-up—anything after here, really
  7. Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon
  8. Pandorica Opens/Big Bang
  9. Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone
  10. Tells Amy the Doctor’s still alive (Wedding of River Song)
  11. Angels Take Manhattan
  12. Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead
But I felt it was time to further explore Angels Take Manhattan,  particularly River and the Doctor's relationship in it. She is now "Professor Song," pardoned because there's now no evidence that the Doctor ever existed. Which means she's that much closer to the Library; his face when he heard those words...he knows she's very near the end.  

But that whole scene is so beautiful---so wonderfully played, from her reaction to the mob boss's prize to her deliciously snarky "Just you wait till my husband gets home."  She can ignore the Weeping Angel that caught her wrist and focus on finding her dad through a book she has yet to write. The heartbreaking elements start when he sees chapter titles eleven and twelve: "Death at Winter Quay" and "Amelia's Last Farewell." He starts pounding his face against the book, yelling, and she replies  "Doctor. Doctor, what is it? What's wrong? Tell me. Doctor. Doctor, what is it? Tell me. Okay. I know that face. Calm down! Calm down! Talk to me! Doctor!"

He storms off in a rage. Her wrist isn't the real issue--it's a miniature of the whole story, the weight of fixed points and fate...and if she can escape a detail, they might be able to leave unscatted.  And so his exuberant joy when she walks in, his squeals of "you just changed the future!"--they make so much more sense in context. And he grabs her hand, because now this is just another adventure, they'll be fine...
And she pulls away, shaking her hand. The camera zooms in, revealing an angry red line from pinky to wrist. The small whimper is the only hint we get of the pain--and given River's stoic nature in other episodes, any response means it must hurt like hell.  The scene cuts to Rory in Battery Park, so we don't get to see the Doctor's initial reaction. I'd imagine it's several levels of very seriously not good. But his words to her are so tender and quiet, both in tone and terms:

The Doctor: Why did you lie to me?
River: When one's in love with an ageless god who insists on the face of a twelve-year-old, one does one's best to hide the damage.
The Doctor: It must hurt. Come here.

He takes her wrist in his hands, carefully holding it. 

River: Yes. The wrist is pretty bad too.  

There's just so much pain at the moment, the threat of death and farewells, fixed points threatening to take his friends. And his wife's in pain. So he does the only thing he can do,  focusing on a minor detail... his hands begin to glow with regeneration energy.

RiverNo no. No, stop that! Stop that! Stop it! 

He ignores her protest, maintaining the glow until the lines on her wrist vanish. 

The Doctor: There you go. How's that? 
River: Well. Let's see shall we? {she slaps him} That was a stupid waste of regeneration energy! Nothing is gained by you being a sentimental idiot.

The Doctor: River!
River: No! You embarrass me! {she storms off}
The Doctor: River!

Amy watches the whole scene. The Doctor turns to her, with more than a little-she's-your-daughter in his expression. In the next scene, Amy and River are outside.

Amy: Okay, why did you lie?
River: Never let him see the damage. And never ever let him see you age. He doesn't like endings.

I love River, forever and always, one of my favorite companions,  one of my top ships, etc, but she is so bloody thick to say that. Yes, it's true. Yes, the Doctor has already lost so much. Yes, don't cause him pain, but're his wife! Be strong for each, because you need someone to share those moments. Marriage is all about being vulnerable to each other. But no matter how much she's matter how much she loves him, she can't overcome that psychopathic tendency of emotions as weakness. 

She still feels she needs to be the strong one, the one who will never break down--is she still atoning for Berlin and Silencio? If you look at her behavior towards Amy-at the Byzantium, the Pandorica, Lake Silencio--she's trying to protect her, keep her safe, more like a mother than a daughter. Oh, are forgiven, don't you remember that? You are forgiven. Always and completely forgiven. 

As for a waste of regeneration energy--you're a fine one to talk. Ten regenerations spent in moments, just trying to save her mortal enemy. Or are you the only one who can make sacrifices for the people you love? He was trying to help, River. He loves you, in his own awkward, gangly, son-of-a-giraffe way,  and one way of showing that is caring when you're hurting. The bit at the end where he  kisses her hand--that's what a mother does, everyone knows mom's kisses are magic.  But there's also the chivalric element, kissing the hand of one's lady-love to honor her. And it's not the last handkiss in this episode. 

The later scene in the graveyard also burns with River feels. Rory has already vanished, without even the chance to say goodbye, and Amy stands there, staring at the Angels. I could do a whole nother post on the Angel angel of this and how Eleven will probably react next time he encounters them, but she can't look away, literally can't, and has already made up her mind because she can't live without  Rory. 

--that one word tore my heart in half, because it's never Melody, even after Demons Runs. It's River, always River. But she's saying goodbye to her daughter, the only child she'll ever had, and just this once, it's "Melody."

Amy: You look after him. And you be a good girl and you look after him.

They can't even look each other in the eye, because the Angel's still there.   So Amy reaches her hand backwards, and River holds it and kisses it because this is goodbye forever.  It's even worse with a bit of thought. The Doctor totally breaks down, sobbing and holding his head in his hands, but the Angel must still be there. So River must have been staring at it the whole time, until they got back in the TARDIS, and because she "can't let him see the damage," she can't start crying.

The Doctor: River. They were your parents. Sorry. I didn't even think.
River: Doesn't matter.
The Doctor: Course it matters.

The causal tone in which she says it--oh, River. Break my heart, why don't you?  And then I thought of it in connection with this Tumblr post...don't let go River. Hold on to him, because he needs you.