Tuesday, December 29, 2009

British Actor of the Month--Out With the Old Edition


As New Years rolls around and we get ready to say goodbye to the tenth Doctor, I'd like to salute him while we prepare ourselves for the new guy. So, without further ado, I present you with:

Ten Things to Love About David Tennant

1) First and foremost, Doctor Who. Unless you've been living under a large, blood-sucking rock* for the last four years, then you're probably aware that Tennant is the most recent incarnation of that beloved time-space traveller. Tennant has become the most well-loved Doctor since Tom Baker, and has even supplanted ol' Teeth 'n' Curls himself in many fans hearts. And with good reason. Tennant brings not only humor, style, and brainy specs to the role, he also gives his Doctor an emotional depth that has helped the show's renewed popularity. Oh, and did I mention that he's dead sexy in pinstripes?

2) On a related note, Tennant is an uber-nerd whose passion for Doctor Who extends far back into his childhood. Seriously. Tennant has said that as a kid he decided to become an actor so that he could be the Doctor one day. Fanboy much?

3) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The first glimpse that many of us in the States had of Tennant was as the red herring bad guy in the fourth Potter installment. And with that leather jacket and, um, "interesting" tongue thing, he made it a good month for Death Eater recruitment.

4) Blackpool. Tennant plays a singing detective in this BBC musical cop show. Unfortuneately this isn't widely available in the U.S., but from what I've heard, it sounds delicious.

5) But have no fear, Tennant still graces the American screens as the host of PBS's Masterpiece Contemporary. What could possibly go better with quality television drama?

6) Casanova. No, not that one. The BBC production written by--surprise, surprise--Russell T. Davies and shown on Masterpiece, albeit with a few moderations. Tennant put his own twist on the legendary lover by playing him as a bit of a scrapper with a cheeky sense of humor. And boy, was he ever hot doing it.

7) To feature Tennant or not to feature Tennant. Is that even a question given item 7? Tennant has done many productions with the Royal Shakespeare Company, but in the summer of 2008, he fulfilled the ambitions of many an actor and played the Dane. Keep an eye on your TV guides, PBS is going to air his performance in Hamlet on Great Performances in the New Year.

8) The Rule of Austen. Remember, way back in the first British Actor of the Month feature, that any man who dates a Jane Austen heroine (or her sister) is OK in my book. Tennant used to go out with Sophia Miles, who played Fanny Price's younger sister in Mansfield Park. (She is also awesome as Madame de Pompadour in the Doctor Who episode "The Girl in the Fireplace," where the couple met.)

9) He's Scottish. Need I say more?

10) He's also very funny. Seriously, go to YouTube, and check out the video clips of him on various U.K. comedy shows (and some shows that aren't comedy). Observe him and Catherine Tate in this clip from her Comic Relief (U.K.) special:


(For those reading via the Facebook thingy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxB1gB6K-2A)

Well, there you have it. And didn't even have to allude to him being nicknamed "Ten-Inch."



*Pretty funny, right, Old Skool fans?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Break Out the Kleenex, This One's A Bit Sappy

Now, everyone has their favorite traditions for the Early Winter Holiday of their choice. Spinning the dreidle, opening presents, spending time with family, telling Dad to stop reciting all the dialogue to White Christmas, beating the other little old Italian ladies at Caputo's to the artichokes, and the screaming, oh, Lord, the screaming. But I thought it would be best to profile all those one-of-a-kind moments that, for better or worse, will only be repeated as memories shared around a holiday table, perhaps sparking new special moments. Although, really, in my family, an argument is more likely.

10. The Time I Met Santa. For Real.
Ok, well, it was really my grandma's boss who'd been playing the Jolly Old Elf at a party, and thought it would be fun to drop in--in costume--on Christmas Eve. I remember him asking me if there was anything else I wanted to add to my list before he started doing his rounds, and I said that, yes, actually, there was this doll I saw on TV.... Naturally, every adult in the room cringed, and the next morning, beside the empty plate of cookies, "Santa" left a note--in handwriting mysteriously similar to my dad's--saying that he was glad Toys 'R' Us was open late.

9. The First Time I Got Freaked Out by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
I was about seven, and we were doing Christmas Eve at my great-aunt's. Because the conversation on that side of the family could be ever-so-scintillating (not), I was watching the George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol in another room. When that final Ghost came on the screen accompanied by that weird, electronic music, my cousin Laura and I both screamed and jumped into her dad's lap. (Trust me, there was plenty of room for us both.) Even to this day, that part of the movie still scares me just a little bit.

8. The Cats Waste No Time Moving In
When I was six, my mom built me this huge wooden dollhouse. It was waiting for me under the tree on Christmas morning. However, by the time everyone got up on the 26th, the cats had knocked the widows out to give themselves easy access, thus beginning their takeover.

7. The Santa Files
It was third grade, and the debate over whether or not Santa was real was hot. I'd gone over to my friend Nicole's house so that our new American Girl dolls could play, and we started comparing notes. The evidence in St. Nick's favor didn't look to good, so we decided to confront our parents. So that evening I asked my mom, and got the truth. Did I cry? Get angry? No, I immediately went to the phone and called Nicole to report.

6. Yet Another Game We Don't Play Anymore
It's been a long-standing truth in my family that my father is unbeatable at Scrabble, and nearly unbeatable at Trivial Pursuit. (Only three people, myself included, have been able to do it.) So the after dinner games have, in recent years, tended more toward the likes of Monopoly or Uno. But one year, my aunt decided that we should try out Taboo. Dad and I teamed up and proceeded to wipe the floor with the rest of the family. Needless to say, we've since stuck to dominoes.

5. Kitty's First Christmas
My cat Fern died shortly after Thanksgiving, so we went to the shelter and brought Lucy home just a week or two before Christmas. The house was already decorated, and the first thing she did when we let her out of the carrier was run over to and start climbing the tree. And, for an encore, she "helped" unwrap the package that held my mom's new coat with a fur-lined hood.

4. RJ Says What, Well, No One Was Thinking
Christmas Eve, my cousin RJ's in first grade. It's just him, his mom, dad, sister, and me, and we're in the overflow overflow mass service in the school gym. Presents have yet to be opened, and he's acting up. So my aunt whispers to him, "If you don't settle down I'll call Santa on my portable phone (this was back in the 90s, before there was a clear distinction between portable and cellular) and tell him to take back your presents." Perhaps he didn't hear her properly over the din, or perhaps he was just being perverse (my money's on the latter), but anyway RJ proceeded to shout, so that all could hear, "Santa works off a Port-a-Potty? SANTA WORKS OFF A PORT-A-POTTY!!!!!"

3. Toboggan Championship
The house my grandparents owned up on Lake Wisconsin holds a lot of heart-warming memories, holiday and otherwise. The one that makes the list, however, is from the first Christmas after they bought it. There was this ridiculously steep hill in the backyard that dropped off sharply to the lake. My aunt and uncle had given them a toboggan that year, so one night, either Christmas Day or the day after, the two of them, my dad, step-mom, grandpa, and I decided to try it out. On most trips down the hill, we landed on the ice no further than the end of the pier. But on the last run, the sled soared through the air, eventually crashing us into the brambles that lined the tiny island in the middle of the bay.

2. Even on Christmas, Irony Can Bite You in the Ass
My aunt and uncle moved into their mini-mansion a few weeks before Christmas, and were using the holiday as an excuse to show it off. On Christmas Eve, my aunt went to preheat the several thousand dollar professional oven to cook the ham, when it exploded. Oh, the delicious irony. Of course, it would have been funnier if we hadn't had to wait forever for my grandmother to take it to her house to cook it. I think there was a new family record for amount of pepperoni consumed that year.

1. The Best Christmas Surprise Ever
One year, my dad, for various reasons--including a huge ice storm, said that he wasn't going to be able to come home for Christmas. That Christmas Eve, as we were all seated for dinner, a car pulled up in the driveway. My aunt opened the door, and in walked Dad, carrying a sack of presents he picked up for everyone at a truck stop somewhere in Kentucky. (They were gag gifts. He'd already mailed the real ones.) He was really missing the family, so that morning he decided--weather be damned--that he was going home anyway. It was probably the best present everyone got that year.

Wow! What a list! And there's so many flaming turkeys, trees, and neighbor's roofs that didn't make the cut. Whatever you celebrate, have a happy holiday season, and go out there and make some priceless memories.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Kind of Like "High Fidelity," But Without Jack Black

So to what productive uses did I put my time tonight? Did I finish Heart of Darkness? Read for my exams? Continue the PhD program search? Wash the dishes?

No. I yanked every studio release off my cd rack and put them in order of my favorites. So not a complete waste of my time.

I'm presenting the list of all 99 here for you because, well, heck, why not? Perhaps one day I will be tempted to write a proper blog on the top ten or something. But until then, enjoy the list in an of itself.

Note: To avoid what could amount to months, if not years, worth of agonizing over which albums I like better, I made snap judgments. Plus, I was a bit tipsy. Furthermore, I reserve the right to change the order once I have given it more thought and/or sobered up.

98. Bob Dylan--Christmas in the Heart
97. ""--Good as I Been to You
96. Jakob Dylan--Seeing Things
95. Billy Bragg & Wilco--Mermaid Avenue Vol. II
94. Bob Dylan--Together Through Life
93. Pearl Jam--Ten
92. Train--Drops of Jupiter
91. Norah Jones--Come Away with Me
90. Jet--Get Born
89. The Wallflowers--Red Letter Days
88. Flogging Molly--Drunken Lullabies
87. U2--No Line on the Horizon
86. The Wallflowers--The Wallflowers
85. Billy Bragg--The Internationale
84. Tie: U2--Boy and War
83. The Traveling Wilburys--The Traveling Wilburys
82. The Killers--Hot Fuss
81. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes--Are a Drag
80. Bob Dylan--"Love and Theft"
79. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes--Love Their Country
78. Faculty Lounge--Faculty Lounge
77. Bob Dylan--Oh Mercy
76. ""--World Gone Wrong
75. Led Zeppelin--Led Zeppelin
74. The Raconteurs--Broken Boy Soldiers
73. Joni Mitchell--Court and Spark
72. Bob Dylan--Bob Dylan
71. U2--The Joshua Tree
70. Bob Dylan--Planet Waves
69. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young--Deja Vu
68. Crosby, Stills and Nash--Crosby, Stills and Nash
67. Bob Dylan--Nashville Skyline
66. Joni Mitchell--Ladies of the Canyon
65. Bruce Springsteen--Magic
64. Green Day--21st Century Breakdown
63. Bob Dylan--Street Legal
62. The Beatles--Magical Mystery Tour
61. The Rolling Stones--Beggars Banquet
60. Bob Dylan--Time Out of Mind
59. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes--Blow in the Wind
58. Green Day--Dookie
57. The Beatles--Beatles for Sale
56. The Wallflowers--Bringing Down the Horse
55. Simon and Garfunkel--Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
54. Bob Dylan--The Times They Are A-Changin'
53. Neil Young--Harvest
52. Bob Dylan--Another Side of Bob Dylan
51. Van Morrison--Moondance
50. Alanis Morissette--Jagged Little Pill
49. Foxboro Hot Tubs--Stop Drop and Roll!!!
48. Bob Dylan--Modern Times
47. David Bowie--Aladdin Sane
46. Nirvana--Nevermind
45. Carole King--Tapestry
44. Bruce Springsteen--Born to Run
43. The Beatles--Let It Be
42. ""--Please Please Me
41. Bob Dylan--Desire
40. U2--All That You Can't Leave Behind
39. Led Zeppelin--Led Zeppelin II
38. The Doors--The Doors
37. The Wallflowers--Rebel, Sweetheart
36. Simon and Garfunkel--Bookends
35. The Beatles--With the Beatles
34. Bob Dylan--John Wesley Harding
33. David Bowie--The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
32. The Sex Pistols--Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols
31. The Wallflowers--(Breach)
30. Paul McCartney and Wings--Band on the Run
29. Led Zeppelin--Led Zeppelin IV (a.k.a. ZOSO)
28. The Beatles--Help!
27. Bob Dylan--The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
26. U2--How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
25. George Harrison--All Things Must Pass
24. The Rolling Stones--Exile on Main Street
23. ""--Sticky Fingers
22. Bruce Springsteen--We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
21. The Velvet Underground and Nico--The Velvet Underground and Nico
20. The Who--Who's Next
19. The Rolling Stones--Some Girls
18. The Beatles--A Hard Day's Night
17. Simon and Garfunkel--Bridge Over Troubled Water
16. Fleetwood Mac--Rumors
15. Bob Dylan--Blood on the Tracks
14. The Rolling Stones--Let It Bleed
13. Green Day--American Idiot
12. The Beatles--Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
11. ""--The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album)
10. The Who--Tommy
9. David Bowie--Hunky Dory
8. U2--Achtung Baby
7. Bob Dylan--Bringing It All Back Home
6. The Beatles--Rubber Soul
5. Bob Dylan--Highway 61 Revisited
4. The Beatles--Abbey Road
3. The Clash--London Calling
2. Bob Dylan--Blonde on Blonde
1. The Beatles--Revolver

See one of your own favorites on the list? Appalled that I don't own White Light/White Heat? Outraged that Led Zeppelin only comes in at #75? Feel free to comment.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

British Actor of the Month--Cracked* Edition

What's hotter, a rock star or a British actor? Answer: a rock star who is also a British actor.

Since I'm doing papers this semester on glam rock and 80s fantasy films, this month's featured fella is none other than

David Bowie

OK, you probably know Bowie as the aging rocker who used to wear women's clothes and pretend to be an alien now married to a supermodel, but unless you've been floating around in space for the past 40 years,** you're probably at least somewhat aware of his acting career. While many of the other guys on this list learned acting at RADA or Cambridge, Bowie had mime training. (No, seriously. Stop laughing.) Though Bowie's tours from his Ziggy Stardust days could be pretty theatrical, he first gained attention as an actor when he played the lead in Nicholas Roeg's The Man Who Fell to Earth, an arty sci-fi critique of American life and imperialism. Since then, Bowie has had roles as diverse as his music, playing the title character in The Elephant Man on stage, the Goblin King in nerdy fan-girl favorite Labyrinth, and most recently as Nikola Tesla in The Prestige.

Of course, it's always fun to see him make cameo appearances as himself, so enjoy this clip from Extras:






*See Aladdin Sane.
**Haha. Get it?

Friday, October 2, 2009

British Actor(s) of the Month: Completely Different Edition



In 1969 the writing teams of John Cleese and Graham Chapman and Terry Jones and Michael Palin teamed up with Eric Idle and American animator Terry Gilliam to write and perform in their own sketch show, which premiered on the BBC forty years ago this month. Love it, hate it, or just plain don't get it, Monty Python's Flying Circus would change television--and comedy--forever. So, this month we pay tribute to

Monty Python

Back l-r: Chapman, Idle, Gilliam; front l-r: Jones, Cleese, Palin


Graham Chapman. A fully-qualified doctor, Chapman was best known for playing the lead roles--King Arthur, Brian--in the Python films, and for being the colonel who would occasionally break up a sketch when it got "too silly." Chapman's post-Python career was cut short when he died of cancer in 1989.

John Cleese. Cleese appears as the begrudged purchaser of a Norwegian blue in the famous "Dead Parrot Sketch," which he helped write, but his most iconic role on the show was as the BBC announcer who would occasionally say, "And now for something completely different." Of all the Pythons, Cleese's career has probably been the most high profile since leaving the group. He wrote and starred in the acclaimed sitcom Fawlty Towers as well as the films A Fish Called Wanda and Fierce Creatures. Cleese's most recent Hollywood role has been in the James Bond franchise as Q.

Eric Idle. Perhaps best remembered as "Mr. Nudge" (wink, wink say-no-more), Idle also wrote the song "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" from The Life of Brian. His career has, in a way, continued on in a musical bent. Idle created The Rutles--the pre-fab four whose music would last "a lunchtime" and whose career and music seemed suspiciously similar to a certain other Liverpool pop group. He was also behind bringing Monty Python and the Holy Grail to the stage as the Broadway musical Spamalot.

Terry Jones. Jones was the Python most frequently in drag, appearing as a middle-aged Pepperpot and Brian's mother. But the role Jones is best known for is that of Meaning of Life's disgusting Mr. Creosote. (Trust me, if you don't know, you don't want to.) He went on to become a director, working on the Python films, as well as Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, in which he starred alongside Idle and Palin.

Michael Palin. As a Python, Palin played either uber-wimps like Arthur Putney or sleazy gangster types. But Palin has become better known for making several travel shows for the BBC, which he parodied in A&E Biography's episode about Monty Python. In addition, he has performed in many films written or directed by his former cohorts, and wrote a rather good novel called Hemmingway's Chair.

And, finally, last but not least, honorable mention goes to...

Terry Gilliam, who isn't really an actor and definitely isn't British. Minnesota-born Gilliam animated Flying Circus's surreal cartoons, and occasionally played parts that required excessive makeup, like the Old Man from Scene 23. Gilliam, though, has received much critical praise as the edgy and always studio embattled director of films like Brazil, The Fisher King, and Twelve Monkeys.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

"There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all." --Oscar Wilde, 1891

It's Banned Books Week again. Banning books--restricting access to knowledge, ideas, and imagination, in other words--is one of the worst things I can imagine. It is a political act--and one we can easily overlook. "It's only a book." But in banning books, we attempt to shape minds to our way of thinking by getting rid of other potential modes of doing so. It is oppression at its most insidious.

I'm posting the American Library Association's list of the 100 most challenged books from 1990-1999. (The stats from this decade are still being complied.) I've bolded the ones I've read (or started to read). If you'd like to spread awareness you might consider doing the same on your own blog/journal/MySpace/Facebook/whatever.

Scary Stories (Series), by Alvin Schwartz
Daddy’s Roommate
, by Michael Willhoite
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
, by Maya Angelou
The Chocolate War
, by Robert Cormier
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
, by Mark Twain
Of Mice and Men
, by John Steinbeck
Foreve
r, by Judy Blume
Bridge to Terabithia
, by Katherine Paterson
Heather Has Two Mommies
, by Leslea Newman
The Catcher in the Rye
, by J.D. Salinger
The Giver
, by Lois Lowry
My Brother Sam is Dead
, by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
It’s Perfectly Normal
, by Robie Harris
Alice
(Series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Goosebumps
(Series), by R.L. Stine
A Day No Pigs Would Die
, by Robert Newton Peck
The Color Purple
, by Alice Walker
Sex
, by Madonna
Earth’s Children
(Series), by Jean M. Auel
The Great Gilly Hopkins
, by Katherine Paterson
In the Night Kitchen
, by Maurice Sendak
The Witches
, by Roald Dahl
A Wrinkle in Time
, by Madeleine L’Engle
The New Joy of Gay Sex
, by Charles Silverstein
Go Ask Alice
, by Anonymous
The Goats
, by Brock Cole
The Stupids
(Series), by Harry Allard
Anastasia Krupnik
(Series), by Lois Lowry
Final Exit
, by Derek Humphry
Blubber
, by Judy Blume
Halloween ABC
, by Eve Merriam
Julie of the Wolves
, by Jean Craighead George
Kaffir Boy
, by Mark Mathabane
The Bluest Eye
, by Toni Morrison
What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters
, by Lynda Madaras
Fallen Angels
, by Walter Dean Myers
The Handmaid’s Tale
, by Margaret Atwood
The Outsiders
, by S.E. Hinton
The Pigman
, by Paul Zindel
To Kill a Mockingbird
, by Harper Lee
We All Fall Down
, by Robert Cormier
Deenie
, by Judy Blume
Flowers for Algernon
, by Daniel Keyes
Annie on my Mind
, by Nancy Garden
Beloved
, by Toni Morrison
The Boy Who Lost His Face
, by Louis Sachar
Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat
, by Alvin Schwartz
Harry Potter (Series)
, by J.K. Rowling
Cujo
, by Stephen King
James and the Giant Peach
, by Roald Dahl
A Light in the Attic
, by Shel Silverstein
Ordinary People
, by Judith Guest
American Psycho
, by Bret Easton Ellis
Brave New World
, by Aldous Huxley
Sleeping Beauty Trilogy
, by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
Bumps in the Night
, by Harry Allard
Asking About Sex and Growing Up
, by Joanna Cole
What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons
, by Lynda Madaras
The Anarchist Cookbook
, by William Powell
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret
, by Judy Blume
Boys and Sex
, by Wardell Pomeroy
Crazy Lady
, by Jane Conly
Athletic Shorts
, by Chris Crutcher
Killing Mr. Griffin
, by Lois Duncan
Fade
, by Robert Cormier
Guess What?
, by Mem Fox
Slaughterhouse-Five
, by Kurt Vonnegut
Lord of the Flies
, by William Golding
Native Son
by Richard Wright
Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies
, by Nancy Friday
Curses, Hexes and Spells
, by Daniel Cohen
On My Honor
, by Marion Dane Bauer
The House of Spirits
, by Isabel Allende
Jack
, by A.M. Homes
Arizona Kid
, by Ron Koertge
Family Secrets
, by Norma Klein
Mommy Laid An Egg
, by Babette Cole
Bless Me, Ultima
, by Rudolfo A. Anaya
Where Did I Come From?
, by Peter Mayle
The Face on the Milk Carton
, by Caroline Cooney
Carrie
, by Stephen King
The Dead Zone
, by Stephen King
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
, by Mark Twain
Song of Solomon
, by Toni Morrison
Always Running
, by Luis Rodriguez
Private Parts
, by Howard Stern
Where’s Waldo?
, by Martin Hanford
Summer of My German Soldier
, by Bette Greene
Tiger Eyes
, by Judy Blume
Little Black Sambo
, by Helen Bannerman
Pillars of the Earth
, by Ken Follett
Running Loose
, by Chris Crutcher
Sex Education
, by Jenny Davis
Jumper
, by Steven Gould
Christine
, by Stephen King
The Drowning of Stephen Jones
, by Bette Greene
That Was Then, This is Now
, by S.E. Hinton
Girls and Sex
, by Wardell Pomeroy
The Wish Giver
, by Bill Brittain
Jump Ship to Freedom, by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"I Think We're Going to Need a Bigger Bookshelf"

Watching House play McMurphy tonight made me remember that, despite having started it twice and that it's one of my favorite movies, I have never finished One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Which got me wondering what other books I've never gotten around to finishing.

Note: Since my library is spread out over two locations, it is quite likely that I will have left out a few titles. (Not to mention books I checked out of the library!) I am intentionally making these lists long-form fiction (novels and novellas) and drama only; excluded are: non-fiction, anthologies and collected works, volumes of short stories and poetry, graphic novels or comics, and Doctor Who spin-off books.

Books I Started But Never Finished

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility also by Austen
Century's Son by Robert Boswell
The Plague by Albert Camus
The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
The Mind-Boy Problem by Rebecca Goldstein
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway
Ulysses by James Joyce
I suspect I am not the only person to have never finished it.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence
Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
Trust me, if you've seen the movie, there's no need to finish the book.
Taltos, by Anne Rice
Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre
The Last of the Just by Andre Schwartz-Bart
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien
I know, I'm a bad nerd.
Porno by Irvine Welsh
The Lover by A. B. Yehoshua

Books I've Bought Fully Intending to Read But Just Haven't Gotten Around to It Yet

The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul by Douglas Adams
The Grace That Keeps This World by Tom Bailey
I have a perfectly good excuse for not reading this.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Evelina by Frances Burney
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
King of the Jews by Leslie Epstein
Joseph Andrews/Shamela by Henry Fielding
A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
The Quiet American by Graham Greene
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Too Late the Phalarope by Alan Patton
Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
Again, probably not the only person to have bought but never read it.
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Huis clos/Les mouches by Jean-Paul Sartre
The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
Sophie's Choice by William Styron
A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh
Maria, or The Wrongs of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
The Waves by Virginia Woolf

Finally, there is Pete Dexter's Paris Trout, which I have no idea if I started or not.

Monday, September 7, 2009

So, who's excited for "Rock Band: The Beatles"? Who went out and bought a Wii just so they could play it? Um... anyone but me? Moving along then...

What with the release of this video game and the remastered albums (yes, all of them), in the near future, I can easily see Beatlemania reaching levels it hasn't seen since Paul McCartney's hair really was brown (You're not fooling anyone, pal), so I've decided to present

A Guide to Beatles Movies

9. Magical Mystery Tour. The boys got high and decided they could make a movie themselves. Problem was, no one told them it would be better to do so sober. Stick to the album.

8. Let It Be. Captures the tensions as the band was slowly beginning to break up, and, of course, includes the famous roof top concert. Unfortunately, this film has major structural problems, and has only received release as very badly transfered VHS, which is out of print.

7. Help! The plot (if you could call it that) was allegedly recycled from something Peter Sellers turned down, and it shows. It is probably one of the most ridiculous stories ever committed to film, but the musical numbers are great and really honed the style that would be used for music videos in the decades to come.

6. Yellow Submarine. The Beatles journey to Pepperland to rescue the inhabitants (as well as their doubles--Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band) from the Blue Meanies. Yes, it is trippy, but the vintage psychedelic animation is worth it. Too bad they didn't do their own voice over work, though.

5. Anthology. The 10 or so hour mini-series that leaves few stones unturned as the (then) three surviving Beatles tell their story in their own words. Excellently done, but probably not for the casual fan.

4. The First U.S. Visit. Think a documentary version of A Hard Day's Night. Verite filmmakers David and Albert Mayseles filmed The Beatles on their first U.S. tour, but were never allowed to release it. Apple Records now owns it, and has released it under the above title, unfortunately replacing the original footage of families watching the Ed Sullivan performances with the real thing. However, it's still a really fascinating look at the band's early days.

3. Across the Universe. A musical comprised solely of Beatles music. This could have gone wrong in so many ways, but actually turned out quite good. The plot is a little cliched, but the songs are used creatively, and the relatively unknown performers were excellent.

2. The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash. The greatest Beatles parody ever, and possibly the greatest documentary about them. Eric Idle and Lorne Michaels made it with a little help from George Harrison, so every step the Pre-Fab Four take hilariously echos the real thing.

1. A Hard Day's Night. A fictional version of The First U.S. Visit, this film captures the Fab Four at the height of their fabness. Great, absurd British humor, and, it goes without saying, a soundtrack full of Beatles's classics, such as "And I Love Her" and "Can't Buy Me Love," the latter of which could possibly be considered the first rock video.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

British Actor of the Month--Convincing American Accent Edition

As you may have guessed from the title, this month's featured actor is none other than multiple Emmy nominee Hugh Laurie. Here's a few reasons why he rocks:

  • Blackadder. First appearing in as the ruthless Prince Ludwig (who reaped he "ree-wen-gee" on Queen Elizabeth I), then as the empty-headed Prince Regent, and then finally as the even dumber WWI officer George, Laurie is so convincingly stupid it's sometimes hard to believe he's the same guy that plays House.
  • And speaking of upper-class twits, in Jeeves and Wooster, Laurie brings P. G. Wodehouse's gormless Bertie Wooster perfectly and hilariously to life.
  • A Bit of Fry & Laurie. He and b.f.f. Stephen Fry wrote and starred in their own sketch comedy show for the BBC, which was full of biting social and political commentary. And Laurie in drag.
  • Sure, you may have heard of Band from TV, in which Laurie plays with other TV star musicians, or maybe you knew that he does his own piano playing in Jeeves and Wooster and House. But I bet you didn't know that he wrote all the songs in Fry & Laurie, like this one:
  • The Gun Seller. A novel that he wrote about a seemingly idiotic though really wittily sarcastic private eye who gets caught up in international espionage. A rarity for celebrity authors, it's actually very well written and quite clever.
  • Sense and Sensibility. Laurie had a brief but memorable role as the long-suffering Mr. Palmer, whose sarcasm goes way over the head of his clueless wife.
  • And last but not least, House. It's the character that draws us to the show, not the medical mysteries. He really gets to the humor and pathos of our favorite TV doctor.
With that, I wish Hugh Laurie good luck at this year's Emmys. Although I'm not entirely sure his self-deprecating Britishness would know what to do with a win.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Advice for the College Bound

My little cousin isn't quite so little anymore, and yesterday he moved into the dorm for his first year of college. Seems like only yesterday he was chasing my grandparents' dog around in his walker. *sniffle* Anyway, I'm offering a few lessons I've learned in my, well, many years spent in higher education to him and all the freshmen out there.

  • What to bring. Those lists you get at Target or Bed Bath & Beyond are intended to get you to by more of the stores' products. Take inspiration from them, but use common sense, and know your school's regulations.
  • Computers. If you don't buy a Mac, by the third Blue Screen of Death in a week, you'll wish you had. And anyway, no matter what the Windows commercial says, Apple offers most colleges way better deals than PCs do.
  • Quarters. They are the most valuable piece of currency you will have in your pocket for the next four years. Use them for parking meters, bus fare, vending machine snacks, and, above all, laundry!
  • Laundry. I know what your moms told you about sorting colors, but most clothes are ok mixed together if you wash them on cold. It's cheaper (no tiny load of whites wasting your precious quarters), keeps your colors brighter, and is better for the environment. There are even detergents specially designed for cold wash use. At the laundromat, sometimes it's cheaper to shove everything in the triple-loader. Finally, ladies, most commercial washers don't have a delicate cycle, so get yourself a bucket and some Woolite to wash you unmentionables.
  • Cafeteria food. It's disgusting. But it usually comes in all you can eat format, so be wary. Sure, the meatloaf could probably get up and walk around the room, but it's so easy to add to it a side of french fries, pasta, soup, salad, pie, ice cream, cookies... hey, where did those extra 15 pounds come from?? Self control is a must, as is keeping an eye out for healthy options. Other on-campus eateries often offer more palatable fair, but watch out--it might not be on your meal plan. (Susquehanna students: Beware the Encore fries.)
  • Snacks. I like the little individual packs of cookies and chips like you'd put in a kid's lunch box. Sure, technically it's cheaper to buy the big bags, but it's easier to control your portions this way. You'd be surprised how fast that can of Pringles goes. Again, consider healthy options like those little cups of applesauce or fruit cocktail. And for those times when for one reason or another you can't be bothered to leave your room to go eat, Ramen noodles, Easy Mac, and those little microwavable cups of soup or Spaghetti-Os are your new best friends. Also, find out who delivers to campus.
  • Beverages (the boring kind). Avoid those energy drinks. They keep you up, but not focused. Stick to good old fashioned coffee, tea, or soft drinks. Be sure to drink lots of water, and juices high in vitamin C, especially in cold and flu season.
  • Beverages (the fun kind). Get completely wasted once. This will help you know what your limit is, and will also hopefully make you never want to do it again. Also, drink wisely. If you're under 21, don't get drunk. It'll be much easier to convince the cops that you've just come from Communion... uh, I mean, Don't drink at all! It's illegal! Shame on you! If you're over 21, it's ok to get drunk occasionally, but do it safely. Keep an eye on your friends to make sure they're not getting taken advantage of or being an ass. Paying cash at the bar means you have a set limit on how much you'll drink. Obey B.Y.O.B. or else you'll be drinking nasty keg beer. Drink water to avoid a nasty hangover, and KEEP AN EYE ON WHAT'S GOING INTO YOUR DRINK!
  • Hangovers. Here's my cure: 1) Wake up as late as possible. 2) Turn on football, lay on bed or couch, barely paying attention to the game. 3) When you feel you can keep something down, take 3 ibuprofen with a bottle/large glass of water. 4) When you can move around, make Ramen noodles and consume with sufficiently caffeinated beverage. 5) Continue watching TV until you're feeling better. (Note: This works best on Saturday and Sunday. Contrary to popular belief, the weekend does not start on Thursday.)
  • Roommates. You will hate them. And they will hate you. If you're lucky, you can draw a line in chalk down the middle of the room, but chances are you'll be living on top of each other. To survive the year, you both need to be considerate, but sometimes you get stuck with someone who just doesn't get it. The only ways to really get along with your roommate is to a) never EVER be in the room at the same time, or b) get drunk and/or high together.
  • Classes. Don't just take things to fulfill a requirement. Always try to take classes you're interested in. You'll do much better in them. And don't be afraid to challenge yourself or take something way outside your major. One of the best classes I took was taught by a chemical physicist.
  • Studying. Find the place to do so that's right for you. Some people need absolute quiet, some need to study with the TV on. Do all the readings on time, pay attention (and TAKE NOTES) in lecture, and ask questions, and you will do better on the test. Form study groups with other students.
  • Papers. Don't write them the night before. (I know, I'm the last person you'd expect to hear that from, but the only way that works is when it's the paper you've been dying to write for ages.) Do research well in advance. Take advantage of your professors/TAs and talk over your ideas or show them some paragraphs. Make an outline, if only on a napkin. AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD USE A THESIS STATEMENT!!!
  • TAs. Remember, they're students, too, and probably have a full course load in addition to their teaching duties. There's a lot you can do to make their job easier, which will benefit you in the long run. Do the reading on time, pay attention in lecture (and TAKE NOTES), and participate in class. If their method isn't working for you, tell them what you need. And if you don't understand something ASK QUESTIONS!
  • Professors. If you go to a large university, chances are you won't interact with one for about the first two years. If you got to a smaller university or college, you'll more than likely get them straight off the bat. Either way, you need to make them know who you are. The obvious way is to do well in the class. Suck up, but do it sincerely. Don't tell them you loved their book when you haven't even read it. But, if you found something in the class interesting, ask them if there's anything else you can read on it. Let them know if you found a connection between what you're doing in their class and something you learned in another. (Interdisciplinary stuff is hot right now, and profs are always looking for new article ideas.) And if you actually did read their book, ask them questions about it. Professors love talking about their work.
  • Work. The best jobs are the ones that let you play Minesweeper, um, I mean , study while you work, so look for something at the library, in an office, or at a reception desk.
  • Advice. Your parents are good at the general life stuff, but, remember, when they were at college, they had card catalogs. So take what they say with a grain of 20-year-old salt. Good sources of advice: older siblings or cousins, professors, TAs, RAs, upperclassmen, councilors, etc.
  • Activities. Don't spread yourself too thin, but get involved. Your life will be so much better if you do something you enjoy to get your mind off classes and other crap. Most colleges have something for everyone, and if there's nothing you're interested in, it's usually pretty easy to start a club.
  • Travel. Whether for spring break or a whole year, waste no opportunity to go abroad. Don't know where to go for Spring Break? Here's a hint: the cool people might go to Florida or Mexico, but the interesting ones go to Poland.
  • Free Time. At colleges in a big city like New York or Boston, it's not hard to find something to do. And most big universities are in college towns, which, despite their rural local, usually have a vibrant and varied social life. But if you go to a small college in Podunk, U.S.A., your campus may be the only hot spot around. Now, your college will probably provide you with things to do (i.e. other than consuming copious amounts of alcohol), but you may find yourself some Saturday night having to choose between IM-ing your friend in the room next door while watching SNL and going to a frat party and getting drunk with horny Greeks. But fear not! You and your friends can always get creative and make your own fun (see below).

Feel free to add your own advice or anecdotes of what not to do in the comments!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Stuff and Other Stuff

My grandmother will be selling her house in the near-to-distant future, so she's begun to give away her stuff. Now, it's always a little scary when an old person close to you starts thinking they're not going to need there possessions anymore, but it's also kind of annoying when they force said stuff on you. I mean, what on earth am I going to use Christmas trivets for? I kept telling her I don't have room for half the stuff she was trying to give me, but she kept saying, "But you'll need it for when you have your own apartment*!"

Which kind of got me thinking about the future. Where could I picture myself living once my life is supposedly in order? Boston, London, or Paris if I can swing it, but any kind of funky yet not dangerous neighborhood in a city will suffice. And, whether apartment or townhouse, I know I don't want anything that fits the suburban definition of a yard. And as for the inside, I'm thinking something boho vintage with a fun side. (So my aunt's childhood make-up table is definitely out. Especially since my grandmother spray-painted it white.) But there's one room in my future home that I've had planned out meticulously for a very long time, the way some women plan their dream weddings when they're little girls: My Study.

Why is my study so important? For one thing, if I end up doing what I really want to do, I'll do most of my work at home, so I'll need a workspace separate from bathing space, eating space, vegging in front of the TV space, etc. For another, if I end up doing My Second Choice: The Fail Safe Option, I'll have an office at work, but there will be stuff I need to do at home--like grading papers, blech. Furthermore, if I'm not living alone with my 20 cats and end up with a significant other/husband and, God forbid, children, I will need a safe-haven from the outside world, a place to call my own.

My Ideal Study/Library/Home Office


  • Floor. Hardwood, of course. What else would you find in a funky-yet-not-dangerous neighborhood? Plus, carpet and allergies really don't mix.
  • Rug. Need not match anything else in the room, but should be reasonably soft for getting down on my hands and knees to race R2-D2 and K-9. Uh, I mean, for rug rats to play on while I work. Yeah... *coughs*
  • Window. With a view of a Boston/London/Paris street. Unless the neighbors are interesting, that is.
  • Door. Locks.
  • Wall. Covered with fanish posters, including the ones I have now, Rolling Stone covers, and funny pictures cut out of magazines. So basically, like every dorm room I've every had.
  • Couch. Comfortable and old, though not smelly. To be covered with a tapestry, so ugly is OK. If space does not permit, then may be substituted by a papasan chair.
  • End table. To hold a lamp and glasses/pop cans/beer bottles.
  • Beanbag chair. Preferably tye-dyed. For playing video games or listening to music with headphones.
  • Desk. Has a hutch, on which will be stored reference books, binders, data backup, software, and old journals. There will be drawers to hold office stuff in a not-to-orderly fashion. On top of the desk will be my Mac, one of those printer/scanner/fax machine combo thingies, and various nicknack's to play with while I'm bored.
  • Desk chair. One of those ergonomic things.
  • Lamp. I thought that corner needed something.
And now the fun stuff:
  • CD rack. For all my Cds, so it will be very large.
  • Entertainment unit. Will hold a reasonably sized TV, gaming system that plays Blue Ray, region-free DVD/VCR combo, stereo (turntable, CD player, cassette, and iPod dock), and has storage space for games, TV shows, movies, and LPs and cassettes.
  • Bookshelf 1. Floor to ceiling. This one holds all my sci-fi/fantasy stuff. I even have plans for how I want it all set up. I'm keeping fandoms together, and they will be in alpha order (with one exception). For example: Buffy--DVDs then the Season 8 comics, Harry Potter--books then movies, X-Files--TV with the movies thrown in at chronologically correct places. After all that will be misc. sci-fi books. Finally, all the Doctor Who (and related spin-offs) will be at the bottom since there's a lot of it. I'll probably organize it by media (Doctor Who episodes in order, then SJA, then Torchwood, then audio adventures by number, then books by series and number), though it would be tempting to try to put everything in order of the Doctor's personal chronology.... Finally, most of my action figures will be displayed on this shelf.
  • Bookshelf 2. Floor to ceiling. For literature. To be organized by Dewey Decimal, but I probably won't divide by nationality. Children's lit and comic books not on Bookshelf 1 will be on the bottom where little brats (mine or otherwise--hopefully otherwise) can reach them. Also, will display literary/historical action figures.
  • Bookshelf 3. Floor to ceiling. Non-fiction. Overflow of grown-up books from the other shelf, books on writing, literary theory, film books, and then everything else by subject. Will display things that don't fit either the category or space of other surfaces.
So, how does your ideal study stack up? Do you have other aspects of your "grown up" abode planned out already? And, yes, I suppose you can describe that wedding you've been planning since you were three. Discussion is always welcome.


*Let it be said that I actually have my own apartment now. What she means is when I have a "real" apartment payed for by salary from a "real" job. As if the 12+ course hours a semester, 10-20 hours a week of work, and the studying isn't difficult at all.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

British Actor of the Month--Mystery! Edition

This month's British actor is Nathaniel Parker. You may recognize him from the movie version of Neil Gaiman's Stardust or costume dramas like Vanity Fair and Bleak House. But loyal PBS watchers know him best from Masterpiece Mystery!'s Inspector Lynley series, which is based on the novels by Elizabeth George. (Sadly, they've run out, so no further episodes are being made at this time.) Parker stars as D.I. Thomas Lynley, who gets all the credit for the work his partner, Sgt. Havers, does. But hey, at least he looks good doing it! So, in honor of the late summer season of quality British programming on American public television, I give you:


Just ignore Havers on the right there. Everyone else does.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Sorting, um, Scarf

In honor of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince's box office success its first weekend, and a big week (new Doctor's new outfit, Torchweek on BBC America, and David Tennant's SDCC debut) for the Doctor Who fandom, I decided to sort the Doctor's companions (new, classic, and expanded universe) into Hogwarts houses. Ok, the real reason is that it's every nerd's dream come true to have his or her fandoms intersect, and wouldn't it be awesome if the TARDIS materialized in Diagon Alley?!?!? Anyway, as that is highly unlikely* to happen officially, I guess I'll have to do it myself.

Note: I haven't actually seen/read/heard every single companion in the Whoniverse, so I'm sticking to the characters I know best. Sorry, Dodo fans.

Gryffindor
The house known for its bravery and for producing such figures as Harry Potter, Dumbledore, Hagrid, and Sirius Black. Many of the ones I put in here are warriors--Captain Jack Harkness (9-10), Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (2-5, 7), Jamie McCrimmon (2), Leela (4), and Ace (7). Some you'd never want to get on their bad side, namely Tegan Jovanka (5) and Donna Noble (10), the later of which would be in Gryffindor by default as she is obviously a Weasley. Others display an adventurous spirit: Sarah Jane Smith (3-4), always eager to get to the bottom of a story; Romana's second regeneration (4), who goes off by herself into E-Space; Bernice Summerfield (7--books), our outer-space Indiana Jones; and Charley Pollard (8--audios), the self-proclaimed "Edwardian Adventuress." The remaining ones kind of grow into it. Mickey Smith (9-10) starts out a total wuss, but ends up crossing dimensions a few times to save the multiverse. Anji Kapoor (8--books) thinks of herself as rather ordinary but faces the things that terrify her with great courage.

Ravenclaw
The house the values intelligence and learning and is home to Luna Lovegood and Professor Flitwick. Above all is K-9 (4), the computer who loves to go for walkies. And then there's math geniuses Zoe Heriot (2) and Adric (4-5). Melanie Bush (6-7) is a computer programmer with total recall, and Liz Shaw (3) has a doctorate or two. Nyssa (5) is a bit of a brainiac, and the original Romana (4) likes to remind the Doctor that her grades were higher than his. Rounding out the category are three MD's. Martha Jones (10) displays quick reasoning, Grace Holloway (8) is intellectually curious (especially when it comes to guys with two hearts), and Harry Sullivan (4) is logical almost to a fault.

Hufflepuff
Hufflepuffs are often called "a load of duffers" but often prove to be loyal and loving. These are the Dalek-huggers--literally, in Rose Tyler's (9-10) case. Other companions known for their compassionate, sympathetic natures are Jo Grant (3), who would make even the Master a nice cup of tea if she thought he looked a little down; Peri Brown (5-6), who, on her first trip in the TARDIS, pleaded with the Doctor to end one of the bad guy's sufferings; and Sam Jones (8--books), who cared so much for the underprivileged she got on a lot of readers' nerves. Fitz Kreiner (8--books) is a bit of a duffer, but he is nonetheless loyal. If the Doctor needs him, Fitz pulls through--though usually not without needing to change his shorts.

Slytherin
Though most Slytherins can at worst be called self-interested, this is the house that has produced the majority of the evil or bigoted characters in the Potterverse. Believe it or not, the Doctor has traveled with a few would-be Slytherins. Adam Mitchell (9) tried to use his brief time in the TARDIS to make money. Turlough (5) at first only went with the Doctor to escape school, and tends to sneak off when danger approaches. Compassion (8--books) never really wanted to travel with the Doctor anyway, and once she got the hang of being a TARDIS, she dumps him off on Earth. Trix McMillan (8--books) also seems to travel with the Doctor for lack of a better option, and her selfishness often gets her into trouble.

Finally, there's Kamelion (5), who would not be in any house because, it, had it lived in the Potterverse, would be a Squibb.

So, a few discussion questions. (Yes, I'm gearing up for the fall semester. How can you tell?) What Hogwarts houses would the characters from your favorite fandoms belong to? What kinds of crazy crossovers would make your day?



*The Doctor and Rose made a cameo appearance in the Buffy Season 8 comics, so anything is possible. Which gives me hope for my crack theory about the 10th Doctor's regeneration involving a fob-watch and Dementors.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

In Moff We Trust, All Others Pay Credits

Major Doctor Who Series 5 spoilers ahead, read on at your own risk.









A day or two ago, this picture hit the Internet:



Finally, we got to see what Doctor #11 and his new companion, Amy Pond, look like. I must say, I like the look. The old man get-up is a nice contrast to the fact that Smith is the youngest Doctor to date. I'm thinking that the costume implies some interesting things about the character.

And I was going to write a blog post about how excited this is making me for Series 5, which was to lead into a discussion of which writers I would like to see contribute to the new season.

Then the fandom reacted.

The loudest--if not the biggest--contingent declared that not only is this a terrible way to dress the Eleventh Doctor, not only is this the worst outfit the Doctor had ever worn (I beg to differ), not only does this not bode well for Series 5 in general, but that THIS WILL MEAN THE END OF DOCTOR WHO!!!!!!!!!!!

No, seriously. I read one LiveJournaler who insists that this will drive viewers away in such large numbers that the BBC will have no choice but to cancel the show. (And how many years did the show remain on the air with abysmal ratings in the past?)

I find such lack of faith in Steven Moffat disturbing. Is this not the man who has written six of the best episodes during the last four seasons? Hasn't he proven himself, with "Time Crash" for Children in Need and the spoof "The Curse of Fatal Death" for Comic Relief (U.K.), a big enough Doctor Who fan? Did he not win three (going on four, possibly) Hugo Awards? Is he not a competent, nay, brilliant television writer? Did Jekyll not scare the crap out of you? Did Coupling not make you wet your pants with laughter? There is very little that I can say for sure about season five, except that it will be different than anything we've seen on Doctor Who before. And it will be amazing. Moffat is not going to ruin the show, either with the stories themselves or with executive decisions--including the casting and costuming of the Doctor and his companion.

Now, I know every fandom has its members who declare any and every little change to be horrible and THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT!!!, but what really gets under my skin with this controversy is the faction of the fandom I suspect it's coming from. The usual suspects in this case would be the old-skool fans. After all, whenever there is the slightest hint of romance, be it with Grace, Charley, Rose, Mme. de Pompadour, Rose, Joan Redfern, River Song, Rose, or Rose, they are usually the first to declare that the Doctor is supposed to be asexual, sexual tension does not make for good television, and could we please stop it with the snogging now? (Though they don't seem as adverse to a little Doctor/Master slash. Hmm...) But, on the other hand, these kinds of fans have seen it all before and should be used to change. (They are also the kinds of fan who have two of every action figure--one to leave in the package and one to play with.) I mean, if they stuck with the show through the John Nathan-Turner years, a silly little thing like a drab jacket isn't going to scare them away. I suspect that everyone who says they like the outfit because it's a nod to Patrick Troughton fits in this category.

That leaves the new Who fans--my generation, in other words. Sure, a few of us are Tennant fan girls who will be changing the channel the moment the Doctor starts to get all glowy, but most of us have weathered a regeneration before. What we haven't experienced is a change of production, and hence some of us may be getting a tad too worked up over the whole thing. I blame this on fandom laziness, which, in general, is an unwillingness to investigate the history of whatever it is one loves*. In the specific case of Doctor Who, the lazy fan regards the old series--from "An Unearthly Child" through the latest Big Finish release--as back-story for the new series, which one can just look up on Wikipedia. I don't mean to sound too judgemental about this. A lot of people I respect--my mother and The Park Bench included--love new Who but aren't really all that impressed by the classic series.

So here's some advice to all of you freaking out. Watch both "Pyramids of Mars" and "City of Death." Though both are from Tom Baker's era, they have different production teams, and way different tones. And yet, in their own ways, they are both excellent. Trust me, you'll feel much more confident about the changes to come.

Unless, of course, they reveal that the Doctor is not only half-human on his mother's side, but his fathers (yes, two of them) are also, due to an amusing timey-wimey mix-up, the Frankenstein-esque Morbius monster and Captain Jack Harkness. Then the world really is coming to an end.


EDIT: (I might be willing to forgive if they were all watching Lesbian Spank Inferno at the time.)





*Least I be accused of not admitting to my own hypocrisy, I must admit that, among other things, I have never read nor probably ever will read The Silmarillion.