Tuesday, April 30, 2013

An Eureka Moment

The sun is shining, the birds are singing—and the pollen is gathering in my sinuses. But it’s so wonderful to go outside in shorts and a t-shirt, to sit in the sun and eat a cup of maple nut ice cream without freezing my teeth.
I finally understand how people can do drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and other things that may seem pleasant at the time, but cause long-term harm. It’s because the world seems so much brighter, so much happier, so much more satisfying, even though you know it will only make things worse in the end. And maybe there are things you can do to stave off the harm—a healthy meal here, exercise there—which are good in themselves,  but don’t reverse the damage. Someone smoking knows that it damages his lungs, but it makes him feel so good at the moment that it doesn’t matter.
Likewise, I could sit outside for hours, even though I know my sinuses will make me regret it later.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Not a Ghost Story: Hide

Okay, so this post is late. But I had lots of homework due this week, and to be frank I should be working on more of it right now, but I feel like I should get this post up now.
I'm still adjusting to Clara, so that has to be factored into my review. I thought there were some good quotes
Boy and girl fall in love, get separated by events, all politics, accidents in time. She’s thrown out of the hex, or he’s thrown into it, since then they’ve been yearning for each other across time and space.
Which I thought was a beautiful reference to River, even if some people took it for Rose Tyler. And the professor's comments about WWII:
Because I killed. And I caused to have killed. I sent young men and women to their deaths, but here I am still alive and.. That tend to haunt you, living, after so much of.. the other thing.
Another beautiful reference to the Time War,  even though the character didn't mean it. On the other hand, I would have liked to see the TARDIS snark at Clara even more--it seemed to get resolved rather quickly for the potential consequences.  The setting was interesting--I wonder if it's a deliberate callback to Four's era,  with the '70s and "assistants."  But the whole was less than the sum of its parts.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Life on Earth can be an Adventure Too

Life on Earth can be an adventure too...in all the universe, I never expected to find a family--"The Lost Boy" 
The more I watch Sarah Jane Adventures, the more I admire it. The writing is brilliant, the characters are wonderful, and the stories are beautifully done--in season one alone, we have storylines dealing with kidnapping, Alzheimer's and child warriors.  The stories make perfect sense out of order, but also have little "bonuses" when watched chronologically--such as the idea of missing children in "Warriors of Kudlak" that reappears with heartbreaking power in "The Lost Boy."
But one of my favorite parts of Sarah Jane Adventures is the character development of Sarah Jane Smith. After her brief appearance in "School Reunion," Sarah Jane's icy demeanor in "Invasion of the Bane" is surprising at first, but if you think about all those years she spent alone, how much she felt abandoned in Aberdeen. But if you look at her reaction to Luke's "parents" in "The Lost Boy,"--oh, it hurts. Because if she loses Luke, that just means she was right to withdraw, because the world would have let her down again, she would lose the person she cares about. And how she responds when they come for her--you can tell she wants him to be happy, she doesn't want her feelings to get in the way of what's right, but it's breaking her heart.
The other characters are amazing too. Clyde starts analyzing Slitheen weakness in his first episode, and Maria knocks out someone who's holding a gun at Sarah Jane.I love Alan too--it's too bad they leave in season two. But it's a wonderful show, really good.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Do You Like Steampunk?

Interested in tales of airships, steam engines, and Victorian fashions? Interested in a free story? Visit The Lost Scribes for a serial story written by friends of mine. The first novel,  Falls the Shadow, is already complete, with the second story, Burns the Fire, started this month, with updates on the first and fifteenth of the month.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Base Under Siege (Underwater): Cold War

Worst of the Time Lords,  129 
(alt text:  ”I plotted to destroy the Earth!” “Sorry, doesn’t narrow it down.”
Okay, this comic doesn’t really have much to do with this episode, but I was having trouble coming up with a good title for this review and I thought this quote could be worked in as a “returning-monster-reference.”
With that out of the way…Cold War. I’ve seen enough Classic episodes with this format to know what to expect. And setting the story on a submarine definitely increased the dramatic tension. Not only is something running around trying to kill you, but the machine itself is in danger. The way Gatiss used the Ice Warrior was clever too—you weren’t really sure what you were looking for. 
All that said, I didn’t really enjoy it in the same way I enjoyed Rings of Akhaten. Clara had an interesting scene with the Ice Warrior, but the cramped scenery and pacing made it difficult to see any further development in her character. I did like the Professor—was expecting him to die all the way through and was immensely pleased when he didn’t, especially since his only question about the future was if the the band Ultravox splits up. 
And what was with the Barbie? Nice to see the return of the HDS, though it’s a ridiculous function for him to invent in the first place.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Whole Terrible Wonderful Universe of Impossibilities—The Rings of Akhaten review

Through crimson stars and silent stars and tumbling nebulas like oceans set on fire. Through empires of glass and civilizations of pure thought. And a whole terrible wonderful universe of impossibilities. 
--Night Terrors 
After reading the second half of this post, I realized the author’s three objectives for a companion’s first trip in the TARDIS fit nicely alongside some of the things I was still hoping to see in Clara.  I thought she needed to be enthusiastic, a good listener and compassionate—and all three of those traits were displayed in this episode.
First of all, the visuals. Oh my word, this is the most beautiful planet I’ve seen since Apalapuchia—and we don’t know how much of the scenery in the episode was the Two Streams Facility and how much was natural. And the inhabitants—we finally got some proper aliens. Okay, they were humanoid in the sense of bipedal, symmetrical, but they have unique facial features and clothing, so it counts. And they weren’t out to kill us, which is even rarer. The scenes at the end, with him silhouetted against the Old God, were beautiful in their starkness.
Secondly, the Queen of Years. Eleven is especially sweet when kids are around, and Merry Gejelh was no exception. Her scenes with Clara were adorable too. Full props to the actress—really, she had the most important role in the episode after the Doctor and Clara and she knocked it out of the park! And she’s only eleven years old. That mixture of fear and determination is so hard to pull off and she nailed it!
Speeches—oh, there were some absolutely wonderful ones

All the elements in your body were forged many, many millions of years ago in the heart of a far away star that exploded and died. That explosion scattered those elements across the desolations of deep space after so, so many millions of years, these elements came together to form new stars and new planets, and on and on it went. The elements came together, and burst apart, forming shoes, and ships, and sealing wax, and cabbages, and kings, until, eventually, they came together to make you. You are unique in the universe.
 When we’re holding on to something precious, we run. We run and run as fast as we can and we don’t stop running until we are out from under the shadows.”

I have lived a long life and I have seen a few things. I walked away from the last great Time War, I marked the passing of the Time Lords, I saw the birth of the universe and I watched as time ran out, moment by moment until nothing remained, no time, no space, just me. I walked in universes where the laws of physics were devised by the mind of a mad man.I watched universes freeze and creations burn,I have seen things you wouldn’t believe, I have lost things you will never understand - and I know things, secrets that must never be told, knowledge that must never be spoken… knowledge that will make parasite gods blaze! So come on then! Take it!
 Oh, my Doctor…it hurts, it hurts so much to see you in pain. To see you standing up to a vengeful god with nothing to offer but your worst memories—and then when Clara came with the leaf—-things that never were, infinities of possibilities, and of course I thought of River, and then the Ponds, and everyone he’s ever lost, from Susan to Katarina, the first companion who died, and Romana left in e-space….

But as for Clara, this episode showed her character much better than Bells did. She’s curious and eager for adventure, following the time-honored tradition of wandering off in strange places and making friends. And the way she talks to Merry—as a friend and an equal, treating her seriously. But she doesn’t hesitate to go after her when she’s in trouble either. She listened to Merry. All traits I was hoping to see—needed to see, to know that she’ll help the Doctor heal.
The lullaby at the end—that had better be on the soundtrack, or else!
(more coherant thoughts will follow at some point)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Replacement Goldfish (The Bells of St. John)

              Saturday was the last day I could say "the Ponds were the Doctor's companions." Today--and everyday afterwards--I have to say "Clara is the Doctor's companion." But I'll never be over the Ponds. I'll always wish we had more time with them, more of Rory's ridiculous deaths and steadfast loyalty, Amy's insights in the Doctor's character and concern for him. I wish Amy could have had more time to tease River about how she always knew the Doctor was going to marry her,  that Rory could have given the Doctor a warning...I just wanted to see the Doctor with his family,  going out to breakfast with the Pharaohs and dinner at Versailles...
            I know the Doctor can't see them again....I understand that, as much I wish it could be otherwise. But I want River to see them again; they are her parents, no matter how much she insists it doesn't matter. Even if she would be okay without them, she deserves so much more time with them, a lifetime of popping in and out of their lives to make up for the little girl they never got to know.  It's not fair, nothing about their lives is fair.
         With that established,  on to "The Bells of St. John." I thought the title was rather clever, as an allusion to the St. John's ambulance sticker on the TARDIS door.  Not to mention the Doctor's reaction to the phone call. After all, the last time it rang was in "Empty Child," over two hundred years ago for him. I mean, being rung up on your generally non-functional phone is odd enough, but being asked for tech support while you're in the thirteenth century is even stranger.
        And he's happy again. Not  carefree, because he can never be that self-forgetful, but he gets to invent the quadricycle, ride a motorcycle up the Shard, and eat half a jammey dodger. He's also very kind and protective in this episode--the  "under my protection" message arguably applies to the whole planet. Just...he's caring about someone besides himself, he's not wallowing in his own self pity. I think that's what he needs most right now. To care for someone, and , eventually, realize that it is appreciated, no matter how much it doesn't seem like that after Manhattan--that will help him heal. At the same time, I like the subtle use of the bowtie and the book to remind us that he's still missing them.
            As for the plot, well, I thought it was distinctive but still fit well without the Doctor Who universe. Aliens in the wi-fi--it was bound to happen sooner or later. Though the strongest moment was when Kizlet, surrounded by UNIT guards,  started blubbering for her parents. Ouch. Poor, poor, woman.
             But the biggest concern, of course, was the proper and lasting introduction of Clara Oswald. As I have already said, she needs to be caring, enthusiastic, and a good listener.  While it's dangerous to judge based on one episode--Donna, especially--I didn't exactly see any of those in Clara. She was serving as a nanny, but we didn't really see her interact with them much, so I don't know how much she cared for them. Enthusiastic  well, I'll suspend judgment on that part, since having a mad monk turn up on your doorstep can be a little disconcerting.  A good listener--eh, not. She either came up with witty retorts--"snog box" comes to mind, which really bugged me-- or just pushed him away.  Some of that can be blamed on the situation, but she's not listening to him right now, and that absolutely has to change. Honestly, part of me would have liked the Victorian Clara--a change of backgrounds and feisty--or even the open flirtiness of Oswin over this Clara, but I'm willing to give her a chance.