Thursday, June 30, 2011

Knitting Project: Dalek Plushie

As I mentioned previously, the bad part about doing a craft blog is that when I am making a gift for someone, the gifts cannot be featured here until after they have been given. Otherwise, the recipient could find their gift featured on the blog, and that would ruin the surprise.

Anyway, I found this great pattern for a Dalek plushie a while back. I decided that I had to make one for Jason for his birthday, which was last weekend. Here it is!

I used plain black for the main color and a great silver yarn with metallic strands for the details. The black was worsted weight, and the only metallic yarn they had was sport weight, so I just used two strands of the silver together. For some of the details, where it was supposed to be doubled, I ended up using four strands held together! I stuck a pipe cleaner in the plunger arm, and another in the eyestalk. For the eye, I actually left an extra bit of pipe cleaner and sewed it in place inside the Dalek. This enables the eye to move up and down. I could have done that for the arm as well, but I had already sewn the arm in place when I decided to try it on the eyestalk. I used a Dalek photo to make sure I had the colors right. The one change I made from the original pattern was to make the end of the eyestalk black, instead of making it all one color. I had originally wanted to make the other bump blue, but ultimately decided too many color changes on such a small piece would be a bad idea.

Here it is from another angle.

I am really pleased with the way it came out. This little guy is not a Dalek. He is a D'awwwwlek.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

30 Days of Doctor Who, Day 15

Today's topic: Favorite Rose Moment

Another quick one today. My favorite Rose moment is from "The Idiot's Lantern," where she confronts the misogynistic man who is trying to prevent her and the Doctor from investigating the strange goings-on in the neighborhood. She gets to him in the best way possible: by showing that she knows more than he does.

Tomorrow's topic: Favorite Martha moment

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

30 Days of Doctor Who, Day 14

Today's topic: Favorite Doctor Moment

There are so many great moments with the Doctor! In addition to the ones I have mentioned already, another favorite moment comes from "Forest of the Dead." The Doctor has confronted the immensely creepy Vashta Nerada and must prove to them that they need to leave him and his friends alone. How does he do this? He tells them, "I'm The Doctor, and you're in the biggest library in the universe. Look me up!" And, of course, it works.

Tomorrow's topic: Favorite Rose moment.

Monday, June 13, 2011

30 Days of Doctor Who, Day 13 AND Who Review

Today's topic: Favorite Era Visited by the Doctor

For some reason, I have to say 1950's Britain, as seen in the Ten/Rose episode "The Idiot's Lantern." Man, that was another great episode. The monster attacks people through their televisions. Of course, this being the 1950s, televisions are rather difficult to come by...except for that nice television salesman who is selling sets at ridiculously low prices so that everyone in the neighborhood can watch the coronation. Or, you know, so the monster can attack everyone at the same time. Did I mention that the monster eats people's faces? Incredibly creepy, yet cool.

Tomorrow's topic: Favorite Doctor moment.

Now for the Who Review for "A Good Man Goes to War."


Even with one twist revealed for me beforehand (Melody Pond=River Song), this episode still had some surprises. The Sontaran nurse was hilarious, especially when he offered to nurse the baby. That was kinda weird. In fact, I would say that was weirder than the human/Silurian lesbian couple.

And at the end, when the baby turned out to be a ganger...I am so glad I do not have kids, because that would probably give me actual nightmares. To have your baby melt in your arms? I cannot think of anything that would be more horrifying for a new mother. Compounded with the realization that this means your actual child is in the clutches of the creepy eyepatch lady, who wants to turn her into a super-weapon.

This episode raised an interesting point: For someone who is opposed to violence, the Doctor does seem to cause a lot of it. And how much of a badass do you need to be if people are intimidated when all you do is show up? What kind of awful acts do you need to commit to earn that kind of reputation? Poor Doctor. As if he did not have enough to feel guilty about already.

And, with the "Only water in the forest is the River" explained, we are now on hiatus until fall. Grr. On a brighter note, in two weeks there will be new episodes of Leverage! This will be season 4, and I have yet to see an episode that disappointed me. I will probably do Leverage recaps here too, starting soon after June 26. Like Doctor Who, they will be delayed by a day or two due to my lack of cable. Hooray for iTunes!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

30 Days of Doctor Who, Day 12

Today's Topic: Favorite Scene or Moment that Makes you Giggle

This is another tough one. There have been a ton of scenes and lines in Doctor Who that made me crack up, particularly Eleven's running joke of declaring various things to be "cool." However, my favorite scene is this one with Ten and Donna, from the episode "The Unicorn and the Wasp."

Yeah, Donna is not the best person to have on your team when playing charades.

My other favorite funny moment was the deleted scene I posted back on Day 7. It still makes me laugh every time I watch it. "Yickity-doo, yickity-dah, ping-pong, lippy-tappy-too-tah. And finally, number 23..."

Tomorrow's topic: Favorite era visited by the Doctor.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

30 Days of Doctor Who, Day 11

Today's topic: Favorite Scene or Moment that Makes you Cry

Another quick one here. I can think of several, but right now my favorite is the scene at the end of "Vincent and the Doctor" where they take Vincent to the gallery with all of his artwork, and he talks to the curator (with the bow tie!) and realizes for the first time that his work is important and people will appreciate his talent. Such a beautiful moment.

Tomorrow's topic: Favorite scene or moment that makes you giggle.

Friday, June 10, 2011

30 Days of Doctor Who, Day 10

Today's topic: Favorite Scene or Moment

Later in the month, we have various clarifications of that question (favorite moment that makes you cry, favorite moment that makes you laugh, etc) so I suppose to avoid duplication this favorite moment should not fit into any of those categories. Which leaves me to think of a scene that is just indescribably awesome.

The first one that comes to mind is Ten coming to save Reinette at the end of "Girl of the Fireplace." The Doctor, Rose, and Mickey landed on a ship that is connected through a fireplace to a little girl's bedroom in 18th-century France. The ship is piloted by the clockwork demons, and the Doctor finds out that they want to take the little girl and use her as the navigator of the ship...or, more specifically, they want to add her brain to the navigational system. So to stop them, the Doctor uses another portal on the ship and comes crashing through a mirror on horseback. If that is not impressive, then I do not know what is. It definitely made me cheer.

Tomorrow's topic: Favorite scene or moment that makes you cry.

For more Doctor Who goodness, check out Neil Gaiman's Q&A on "The Doctor's Wife."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

30 Days of Doctor Who, Day 9

Today's Topic: Least Favorite Episode

Of the ones I have seen so far, my least favorite is "The End of the World" from Series 1. It has everything I disliked about Nine; he comes off as insensitive to Rose's discomfort and rather dismissive of humanity in general. This was rather jarring, after seeing Ten spend his first appearance talking about how wonderful humans are...

This was added to my long list of reasons why David Tennant is made of awesome.

By the time the season ended, Nine had grown on me somewhat. However, in my mind at least, "The End of the World" was an unimpressive early episode that did not live up to its full potential. Even if it was the first appearance of Cassandra, and the Face of Boe.

Tomorrow's topic: Favorite Scene or Moment. Are you kidding me?? Prepare for another long one, folks.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

30 Days of Doctor Who, Day 8

Today's topic: Favorite Season/Series

My favorite season is Series 4. This is for several different reasons. A big part of it is probably because Donna is my favorite companion, but I think another reason is because I watched most of s4 for the first time with Jason. After I introduced him to Doctor Who, we watched all of David Tennant's run together. I started watching Who a few months before we met, and in that time I had seen some of Series 2 and most of Series 3. Most of this was by myself; attempts to get my dad and brother interested in Doctor Who were futile. Mostly. Now Johnny is a Doctor Who fan, in the same way that I am a video game fan. He hangs out so much with other fans that he has enough secondhand knowledge to follow our conversations and insert Dalek jokes.

Which is a rather roundabout way of explaining that I enjoy watching Doctor Who even more when I am watching it with someone else. This is probably at least part of why I am enjoying Series 6 more than Series 5; Jason and I ended up watching most of s5 separately.

But there are a lot of excellent episodes in Series 4. In addition to "Partners in Crime" and "Turn Left" (both discussed in previous entries), you also have "The Doctor's Daughter" and the Moffat-penned two-part episode "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead." In addition to creating the Vashta Nerada (shadow monsters that eat all the flesh off of your bones), Silence/Forest was the first appearance of River Song.

Tomorrow's topic: Least favorite episode.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

30 Days of Doctor Who, Day 7

Today's topic: Favorite Episode(s)

As I mentioned yesterday, this was incredibly difficult. Therefore, I will list my favorite episodes from Series 1-6 of the new Who. I have not seen enough of Classic Who to really name favorites.

Series 1 (Christopher Eccleston): As much as I enjoyed "Father's Day," I will have to go with the two-parter "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances" for introducing us to Steven Moffat, Evil Genius and Creator of Nightmares. It also gave us a line to quote whenever we see someone with a gas mask: Are you my mummy? Oh, and this is also the first time we meet Captain Jack Harkness.

Series 2 (David Tennant): I am really torn between another pair of back-to-back episodes, but in this case they are two separate stories. I suppose I will have to go with another Moffat creation, "Girl in the Fireplace," because I covered "School Reunion" pretty thoroughly a couple days ago. The clockwork demons are some of the creepiest Who villains I have ever seen. It must be their empty eyes and jerky movements, straight out of the Uncanny Valley. I loved the scene at the end where the Doctor comes bursting in to save Reinette on horseback. Through a mirror. Oh, and I recognized the actress who played Reinette from the underrated, unfairly cancelled Moonlight.

Series 3: Another two-parter: "Human Nature/The Family of Blood." I loved seeing Human!Doctor. I thought it was cleverly plotted, and because they had twice as much time, I was really able to get a sense of the historical atmosphere. I know some fans are not too crazy about Martha, because of the whole unrequited love subplot that ran through the series, but I have nothing against her. I thought it was handled particularly well here. Oh, and this scene was done so that they would have something for Martha to fast-forward through while watching the Doctor's video. I find it absolutely hilarious.

Series 4: So many good episodes here! For a lighthearted favorite, you cannot beat "Partners in Crime," which I discussed when explaining why Donna is my favorite companion. I actually really liked "Turn Left." Although it is one of the darkest episodes of the whole show, I am a sucker for alternate realities (see "Father's Day" in s1). Jason and I were watching it together, and he pointed out that the problem with alternate continuities is that they are always solved by pushing the Magic Reset Button. Of course, if you make your alternate reality as horrible as the one shown in "Turn Left," the reset button comes as a relief.

Series 5 (Matt Smith): New series, new Doctor, new favorite episode is, by a wide margin, "Vincent and the Doctor." I have always been intrigued by Van Gogh, and I love the historical facts thrown in along with the invisible monster and time travelers. It reminds me of the original intent of Doctor Who, which was to be an educational program with fantasy/sci-fi elements thrown in. Kind of like a live-action version of The Magic School Bus, but British. And in 1963. Anyway, the characterization in this episode was magnificent. The ending nearly made me cry. Beautiful and tragic, like the painter they focused on.

Series 6: We are only halfway through s6, so my answer may change by the time we get to the season finale, but as it stands right now, my favorite is "The Doctor's Wife." You can read the review from a couple weeks ago for more info.

Tomorrow's topic: Favorite series/season. Hmm... will this be easier or harder?

Monday, June 6, 2011

30 Days of Doctor Who, Day 6

Today's topic: Least Favorite Character

This is going to be another quick one. It is difficult, because I really like all of the main characters. Even the ones I was not too fond of at first tend to grow on me. I suppose, if I had to choose a least favorite, it would be Mickey. He really seemed like the third wheel, always in the Doctor and Rose's way. As he pointed out, he is the "tin dog" of the team.

Tomorrow: Favorite episode(s). Yikes. That will probably be "favorite episode from each season of New Who." And even then, it will be tough.

Catch you on the flip side! Also coming soon, my review of X-Men: First Class.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

30 Days of Doctor Who, Day 5 AND Who Review

Today's Topic: Favorite Guest Star

As I said yesterday, this is easy for me: the double whammy of Anthony Stewart Head and Elisabeth Sladen in "School Reunion." Doctor Who fans recognized him as the guy who did the voiceover for "Doctor Who Insider." Buffy fans recognize him as Giles, Buffy's mentor and trainer. Though I was not fully aware of it at the time, "School Reunion" featured a much more notable guest star for the Who fans: Elisabeth Sladen's first appearance on New Who as Sarah Jane Smith. As I mentioned a few days ago, this was one of the first Who episodes I ever saw, and I tracked it down specifically because of Anthony Stewart Head. As soon as I saw her, Sarah Jane became one of my favorite characters. I was so glad to see her return several times through David Tennant's run. Naturally, I was shocked and saddened when she passed away earlier this year.

Tomorrow's topic: Least Favorite Character. Hoo boy.

Now for the review of The Almost People.


Wow. What a tight, action-packed episode. I liked it much better than the first part, actually. Loved the interaction between the two Doctors. Oh, and I totally called that Jenn had two gangers. What tipped me off was when she put Rory's hand on the scanner.

Depending on exactly when the Doctor and Ganger!Doctor switched places, Amy may have told him that he is going to die. Whoops.

Creepiest moment: the eyes set into the wall. Eeew.

Favorite moment: the Doctor's phone call to Jimmy's son. And at the end when ganger!Jimmy came home, though in a bittersweet way. I guess I am just a sucker for touching family scenes.

Well, I guess Amy being a ganger explains how she can be sort of pregnant. Though, this being Steven Moffat, we have one answer and about a dozen new questions. How long has she been there? Actually, probably about 9 months, so moving on. Where is "there?" My guess: in the clutches of the Silence. Just to tie everything together. Whose baby is it? Will the baby be okay? Is it a boy or a girl? I actually have the answers to those questions, because Jason tracked down the preview for next week's episode, "A Good Man Goes to War," which has already aired in Britain. If you want to know, scroll down.

Rory is the father. The baby is a girl named Melody. Melody Pond.

Ready for one more crazy revelation?

Melody Pond=River Song.

Ten points if you guessed that.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

30 Days of Doctor Who, Day 4

Today's topic: Favorite Character

I would assume that this means "favorite character aside from the categories I already mentioned," which narrows my list down quite a bit. Favorite character, aside from the Doctor, his companions, and the villains? Who is left? Actually, my favorite character has been in the show from the very beginning, but in another sense only showed up this season. And it would require a...flexible definition of "character."

I loved, loved, loved the anthropomorphized TARDIS from "The Doctor's Wife." It was just a fascinating concept, to figure out what the TARDIS could say if it (she?) could talk, and to give her a personality. If these walls could talk, indeed. And we will probably never see the return of Idris!TARDIS, which only makes it that much more unique.

Tomorrow: Favorite guest star. That one is easy for me. Who is it? Check back tomorrow to find out!

Friday, June 3, 2011

30 Days of Doctor Who, Day 3

Today's topic: Favorite Villain

This is going to be a quick one; this has been a pleasantly busy day and I plan to go to bed a bit early. My favorite recurring villain is definitely the Master. The only version I have seen is his latest incarnation, played by John Simm. He is just so... unapologetically evil. TV Tropes would describe him as "Evilly Affable." He loves to listen to music, make speeches to important people, and communicate with the world via television. Oh, and he gassed Parliament. And ushered in a year of hell on earth, accompanied by this surprisingly catchy song.

Here...come...THE DRUMS!! And thus, the "technopocalypse" begins.

My favorite one-shot villain has got to be the clockwork demons from "The Girl in the Fireplace." Brr. They are creepy.

Tomorrow: Favorite character. Another toughie.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

30 Days of Doctor Who, Day 2 AND Nail Art

Today's topic on 30 Days of Doctor Who: Favorite Companion

I like all of the companions I have seen so far, but my favorite is Donna. I think she and the Doctor had great chemistry, and they were good for each other. He needed her as his moral compass, someone to challenge his more extreme decisions. At the same time, she really became a happier, more well-rounded person when she was with him. What happened at the end of Journey's End was just heartbreaking. (I will leave it at that. If I say any more...SPOILERS!) I love the first episode of season 4, especially the scene where she and the Doctor finally reunite.

Tomorrow on 30DoDW: Favorite Villain

Now for a quick craft: How to do ladybug nail art!

With the warmer weather, I love wearing sandals or even going barefoot. I will paint my toenails once a week or so, and recently I became interested in doing some different designs. I picked up a black nail art pen at Wallgreen's. My original thought was to do pink nails with a watermelon design, but the green polish I had was so thin that I had to throw it out. So I did a base coat of red for a ladybug design instead.

The pen was very easy to use. I was afraid it would be hard to control, but as you can see the line down the middle was nice and thin. I drew a little shape on the top for the head, with four dots on each side of the line. I was going to stop with just decorating the big toes, but then decided to do dots on the smaller toes as well. I am nowhere near professional level yet, but for a first attempt I am quite pleased with the results.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

30 Days of Doctor Who, Day 1

Today's topic: Favorite incarnation of the Doctor.

Ten. Full stop. David Tennant is marvelous as the Doctor. He was also my first Doctor. I started watching about a year ago, after a friend at work told me about the show. I thought it sounded really good, so I tracked down the episode she said was her family's favorite. That episode was "Blink." David Tennant is only in there for a few scenes, but I enjoyed him very much. Everyone talks about "Blink" being the scariest episode ever, but for some reason I did not find it particularly scary. This is probably a combination of watching it on YouTube and having the ending spoiled.

Then I read up some more about Doctor Who on TV Tropes and decided to watch "School Reunion," AKA "the one with Evil Giles." I absolutely loved the Doctor going undercover as a teacher. I actually cheered when he showed up at the beginning. In my mind, he will always be the Doctor.

I like Matt Smith almost as much. He acts very much like an old man trapped in a young man's body, which actually works quite well most of the time. Christopher Eccleston grew on me, although I did not like him too much at first. Of the classic Who, I have seen one or two serials each with William Hartnell, John Pertwee, and Tom Baker.

Speaking of Tom, I will try to do a Classic Who Review of "Genesis of the Daleks." Jason picked up the DVD, and we watched it a few days ago. There is no Who Review for season 6 this week, due to reruns for Memorial Day weekend.

Up next: Favorite companion. We shall see if I can blog every day for thirty days...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Who Review: The Rebel Flesh

Why is this review almost a week late, you ask? Well, I shall explain. The problem was twofold. Part of it can be blamed on Jason's job and part of it can be blamed on iTunes. But mostly on iTunes. See, Doctor Who runs on Saturday evenings on BBC America. This means that they are usually available on iTunes for download on Sunday morning. This week, for whatever reason, it was not available until Tuesday. To top it off, Jason got stuck working nights all week, and we always watch Doctor Who together. We finally had some time together yesterday. And now I can finally review The Rebel Flesh!

As always, SPOILERS! Once again, just for this episode.

Incidentally, the title is much more intimidating than the working title for Curse of the Black Spot: The Rebel Fish. Yes, I just made that up.

So I guess I was wrong about the Sontarans showing up. Ah, well. Jason and I both called that the Doctor was going to get a "ganger." Not too much of a shock when he showed up right before the credits.

I really like the concept of the Flesh, and the complex moral questions that it raises. What if there was someone running around with your memories, thoughts, and feelings, who looked exactly like you? It actually reminded us of a miniseries called Jekyll, which was also written by Who showrunner Steven Moffat. Especially the scene were the one man was talking with his ganger about the day his son was born. Incidentally, I noticed that the "original" was wearing a chain with a ring on it around his neck, but the ganger was not. Continuity error? Or will this become important? Were any of the other gangers missing something? I may have to re-watch.

Once again, the TARDIS is in danger. That seems to be a thing this season. Put the TARDIS in peril, and kill Rory. Now we just need to be watching for scenes where Rory is left alone in the TARDIS...

The good thing about not getting to watch last week's episode until yesterday is that we only have to wait until tomorrow for the next one. This is especially nice with it being a two-parter.

Also, starting on June 1, I will have 30 Days of Doctor Who! Found this online and decided to do it.

1. Favorite incarnation of the Doctor
2. Favorite companion
3. Favorite villain
4. Favorite character
5. Favorite guest star
6. Least favorite character
7. Favorite episode(s)
8. Favorite series/season
9. Least favorite episode
10. Favorite scene/moment
11. Favorite scene or moment that makes you cry
12. Favorite scene or moment that makes you giggle
13. Favorite era visited by the Doctor
14. Favorite Doctor moment
15. Favorite Rose moment
16. Favorite Martha moment
17. Favorite Donna moment
18. Favorite Amy moment
19. Favorite relationship
20. Prettiest scene
21. Favorite location
22. Something silly
23. Something epic
24. Favorite accessory of the doctor's
25. Favorite TARDIS team
26. Scene or moment that makes you go "aww"
27. Scene or moment that makes you go "argh"
28. Favorite series arc
29. Favorite music or song
30. Why do you love Doctor Who?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Crochet Project: Custom Care Bears

When I think of '80s pop culture, I immediately think of the Care Bears. I am too young to remember when they were actually popular, but when I was a little kid I thought they were the coolest thing ever. I have almost all of them, because my parents would pick them up at secondhand stores for my collection. To this day, I will buy almost anything with the vintage Care Bears (I do not care too much for their anime-inspired re-design). So when I saw this book at the fabric store a few years ago, you can bet I snatched it up.

Unfortunately, the book is now out of print, but a little searching should turn up some used copies.

Anyway, the book gives instructions for your basic Care Bear, followed by instructions to crochet the various "tummy symbols" for each bear. My first project from the book was Funshine Bear, one of the few I did not have in my collection already.

But as I was working on it, I realized the potential for customization here. My first thought was to do Cheer Bear (pink, with a rainbow) as Pink Floyd Bear (hot pink, with the prism from Dark Side of the Moon). This really got the creative juices flowing. With the right color/symbol combination, you could create a Care Bear reflecting almost any interest or hobby. I decided to test this by making my brother a Nintendo Bear for his birthday.

Here he is! Click on the pics for a full-sized view.

I used Vanna's Choice in (Nintendo-logo) red and white, with a Mario mushroom as the tummy symbol. I made the mushroom out of felt, rather than try and figure out how to crochet the exact shape. The eyes are also from felt on both bears, and the heart nose and foot pads are crocheted from embroidery floss. The instructions for the face and foot pads are included in the book. Funshine Bear's mouth is crocheted, but Nintendo Bear's is backstitched with the same yarn I used for the body.

Here is a close-up of the mushroom.

I found a picture online, printed it out in the exact size I wanted, and used that as my pattern and template. Then I used hot glue to attach everything together. There are several layers in some places. I glued the white spots onto the red cap, and then glued the red cap and white stem onto black and cut it out with about a quarter-inch border. The little "eyes" on the mushroom are backstitched right onto the felt, done before gluing onto the black. The whole thing was glued right onto the tummy, although you could sew it on as well. Sewing is probably the way to go if this is intended for a small child; it is less likely to fall off through normal wear and tear, and would be less likely to fall apart in the washing machine. Although the hot glue does stick the layers of felt together very well.

Other ideas I had:
-Sports bears: Made in team colors, with a football/basketball/whatever on the tummy
-Superhero bears: Black for Batman, red/blue for Superman (or Spider-Man), green for Green Lantern, etc, with the corresponding bat/S logo/spider/green symbol, etc on the tummy
-Star Wars Bear: Jedi symbol on the tummy
-Star Wars Bear (Dark Side): Made in black, with the empire symbol on the tummy
-Star Trek Bear: Made in gold, blue, or red, with the Starfleet symbol
-Doctor Who Bear: Made in TARDIS blue...not sure what the tummy symbol should be, though. The logo? Which one? It would be pretty tricky to do in felt. Maybe a police box.

You get the idea. I still want to make a Pink Floyd bear, though.

Question for the comments: What would you most like to see?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Wizard World Update!

Jason and I were looking up the updated guest list for Wizard World yesterday. I was thrilled to see Charisma Carpenter on the list. There are going to be a ton of Buffy/Angel alumni there, but she definitely takes the top spot on my list (sorry, James Marsters!). I remember the first episode of Angel I ever watched was their 100th episode special. I had no idea who this "Cordy" girl was, but I liked her, and I was completely baffled when she died--off-screen, no less--at the end of the episode.

Like I said, this was my first experience with a Joss Whedon show. Seriously, if I ever meet him I will not know whether to shake his hand or punch him in the face.

Since then I have seen every episode of Angel at least once. It is still the only show where I own the entire run on DVD. Cordelia is still probably my favorite character. I love how much her character develops, especially considering her start on Buffy. I think I will have her sign one of my DVD sets...I will have to see if she is on the cover of any of them.

Morena Baccarin is going to be there as well. I would love to meet her, but I have a feeling that would involve waiting in line with an uncomfortable number of creepy middle-aged men. I went to a panel last year (at Cyphan) with Jewel Staite, and unfortunately sat next to someone who must have been the inspiration for Fanboy. I felt so bad for Jewel having to answer his questions, which showed that he knew more about the show than she did. He was also leaning forward in his seat and preventing me from getting a decent picture. So yeah, my goal is to avoid guys like him as much as possible.

I am also still completely psyched about meeting Patrick Stewart and Christopher Lloyd. I already know what I want C.L. to sign. Last week, I found this on clearance at Toys "R" Us.

I want him to sign the hood of the DeLorean. I thought about having him sign the back of the package, but that would mean I could never open it. Personally, I have never understood the appeal of leaving toys inside the box. I want to take it out and play with it! And Jason still wants his (Sega) Genesis Device signed. I still think that is a brilliantly hilarious idea.

Now I just need to figure out what I want Patrick Stewart to sign...Man, Wizard World is going to be awesome this year. So excited!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Who Review: The Doctor's Wife


Again, just for this episode.

Jason and I thought it was hilarious that the title character is supposed to be...the TARDIS. In a weird way, I suppose it makes sense. They have been together for 700 years. Fans had suspected for years that the Doctor did have some sort of "relationship" with the TARDIS. I expect this episode spawned some interesting fanfiction. Or disturbing, depending on your personal feelings on that sort of thing. I loved their last conversation. Very poignant, that the last thing she wanted to tell him was, "Hello."

It was great to see the old control room set! Jason spotted that in the preview. Amy, Rory, and Eleven looked right at home. Unfortunately, if House really did delete it, that means it will not be returning again. Unless the TARDIS made a backup. One of the many things I love about Doctor Who is that anything is possible. Even the impossible. Especially the impossible, perhaps.

Now to begin dissecting clues from her final message! "The only water in the forest is the river." Jason pointed out that "river" probably refers to River Song. When I heard "forest" I thought of the Vashta Nerada. In case that fails to ring a bell, they were the shadow monsters that live in the forest, featured in River's first appearance in "Silence of the Library/Forest of the Dead." Honestly, I think Jason has a better chance of being right than I do. While the Vashta Nerada creeped me out to no end, they will probably not be making a return appearance.

The only thing I would have changed was giving the Ood a little more screen time. They seemed to have struck a chord with the fans; they are one of the few creatures from the new series who have appeared more than once. Overall though, this was an excellent episode. Cleverly plotted, very well written...I loved the actress who played Idris!TARDIS. I have a feeling this one is going to become a series classic.

Next week: Sontarans? Maybe? That is my Official Prediction.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Who Review: Curse of the Black Spot


But only for this episode; no arc-wide shocking revelations this week.

Hands up if the title reminded you of "Curse of the Black Pearl." Probably intentional, because of the whole pirate ship thing. I loved the Doctor's first line: "Yo-ho-ho! Oh...does no one actually say that?"

I thought this was a pretty good episode, but there were a lot of twists and turns and not all of them were fully explained. I thought the Doctor shouted, "Completely forget my previous theories!" a couple times too often. Still a good episode, though. I think shows that only do 12 or 13 episodes a season (rather than the more common 22) have a higher percentage of good shows. The writers presumably have more time to work on them, and each episode has to count.

I did think it was clever that the Siren is summoned through reflections because she is from the mirror universe (hands up if you immediately thought of Spock with a goatee!). I like how the pirate crew all decided to stay there. I loved how the captain immediately knew what everything was on the TARDIS. Oh, and I figured out that they would find the TARDIS if they allowed the Siren to touch them, because I recognized the disappearing effect. Once they got there, though, the ending seemed...rushed? I guess that is the best way to explain it. The Doctor was able to immediately work out exactly what was going on. "Hold on! She's not evil! She's a computer! This is a hospital! Amy, stick your hand in the circle and then you can take Rory!" After all of the Doctor's incorrect theories, I would have been hesitant to trust him on that one.

I was convinced that Rory had actually died...for about two seconds. I was already wondering, "If he dies, how are they going to bring him back THIS time?" Of course, if he had died, it could have given the Doctor and Amy an excuse to shack up. In other news, the Doctor is still going to die in the future and Amy is still sort of pregnant.

Next week: Neil Gaiman's episode! He has trailers and minor spoilers up on his blog. I cannot wait!

Side note: Read this article that I found out about from EPBOT. If you are/were a geek in high school, congratulations! You are more likely to be successful than the popular kids. Geeks for the win!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May the Fourth Be With You!

Yes, May 4th, the unofficial Star Wars Day. I am celebrating by wearing my Lego Star Wars shirt that says "Support Our Troops" along with a picture of Lego Stormtroopers. I also have a geeky countdown to share with you: my Top Ten Favorite Aliens from TV and Film.

10. The alien from Alien. When it comes to villainous extraterrestrials, ALIEN can't be beat! From suffocating you, to bursting out of your chest, to managing to single-handedly wipe out almost the entire crew of the Nostromo, this is one seriously dangerous creature. "Fun" fact: in the original ending, the Alien was going to bite off Ripley's head and record a mission log in her voice. I think if it had ended that way, I would still be afraid to go to sleep with the lights off. Brr.

9. Chewbacca from the Star Wars movies. Who doesn't love Chewie? Not only is he incredibly big and strong, he is loyal to his friends and smarter than he appears at first glance. He needs no further explanation.

8. Harry from Third Rock from the Sun. The absent-minded, lovably stupid member of the Solomon family. Probably knows more about Earth pop culture than the rest of the crew, because he spends all of his time watching television. Has hidden depths. And a transmitter in his head, to contact their leader, the Big Giant Head. The BGH made a few appearances in later seasons, played by none. Other. Than. William. Shatner!

7. The guy who turns out to be an alien at the end from UHF. If you have never seen Weird Al's movie, it is worth checking out (and, at least at the moment, it is up in its entirety on YouTube). During the ending scene, it is revealed that one of the characters is actually an alien, complete with a transformation sequence and "beaming up" to his space ship. I do not want to give away who it is, because the surprise gave my brother and me one of the biggest laughs in the entire movie. Johnny still says it is his favorite scene. I will say that his character was originally going to be played by a young comic named Joel Hodgson. Joel declined, because he had this idea for his own TV show where robot puppets make fun of old movies. He probably made a good call there.

6. Guinan from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The thing that I find so intriguing about Guinan is all of the mystery surrounding her. She is very old, and wise, and her people were taken over by the Borg. She and Picard apparently have a history, which is never fully explained. Also, I love her costume. It looks like an intergalactic graduation robe and cap, available in multiple metallic colors! Whoopi Goldberg wanted a part in Next Gen because she credits Nichelle Nichols' Uhura as her inspiration to become an actress. So the writers created a character for her. Because Whoopi Goldberg is that awesome.

5. Delenn from Babylon 5. Jason introduced me to B5, and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite shows. It has a complex, well-planned out storyline and includes multiple alien races. Delenn is a member of the Minbari, who were at war with Earth before the show took place. She is the Minbari ambassador, and actually turned down a chance to be the leader of the High Council because it would mean giving up her position on B5. At the beginning of the second season (where I am now) she actually transformed into a sort of human-Minbari hybrid. She is pretty badass. I have a feeling she might move even higher on the list once I get further along in the series.

4. Ranger Mira Nova from Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. This surprisingly good spin-off from Toy Story featured a host of original characters, including a butt-kicking blue-skinned princess from the planet Tangea. She joined the Space Rangers after Buzz Lightyear saved her planet, and ends up becoming part of his team. Her ability to walk through walls, referred to as "ghosting," comes in handy pretty often. She is also a skilled fighter and knows how to stand up for herself. You know, for kids! And for once, I do not mean that sarcastically.

3. Yoda from Star Wars. Ancient and wise, he is. Voiced by Frank Oz, who was recommended for the part by his good friend Jim Henson. Mentor, dispenser of wisdom, and far more powerful than his size would make him appear. Subject of a song by Weird Al Yankovic. The shiznit Yoda is.

2. Spock from Star Trek. He is my favorite character from the original Trek, bar none. Any other choice would be most illogical. I am not sure exactly what it is about Spock. The ears, for one thing. Beyond that...I think he is a great foil for Kirk and Bones. He is the straight man during the really campy scenes, the outside observer who is not (entirely) human but still finds the human race "fascinating." Leonard Nimoy was actually responsible for most of Spock's trademark actions. He came up with the idea for the Vulcan nerve pinch because he did not think his character should get into fistfights. The idea to say, "Live long and prosper" was his too. He also suggested the Vulcan salute, but actually borrowed the gesture from the rabbi's blessing at the end of Jewish services. Oh, and he looks good in a 1920's gangster suit. On the awesomeness scale of one to ten, Spock is a perfect ten. To top him, someone would have to take the awesomeness up to...eleven.

1. The Doctor from Doctor Who. Oh, snap. See what I did there? 'Cause the Doctor has been played by eleven different actors? Right, then. Moving on. Where to start? The Doctor has been around since 1963, and is still going strong today, which makes it both older and newer than Star Trek. Sure, there was a period of nearly 20 years where all we got was a crummy TV movie, but you cannot keep the good Doctor down. I fell in love with the show during David Tennant's run, so he will always be the definitive Doctor in my mind. Still, Matt Smith and Christopher Eccleston are both very good. From what I have seen of the other Doctors, there is not a bad actor in the lot. The brilliant thing about Doctor Who is that it has evolved to change with the times. Your main actor is not interested in doing another season? No problem. He gets a big, dramatic send-off where he literally changes into his replacement. I could go on and on all day, but this post is long enough already. If you are a fan of the show, you know what I am talking about.

Question for the comments: Who is on your list?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Who Review: Day of the Moon


Seriously, I think Steven Moffat is trying to give all of the Who fans a heart attack. This review assumes you have seen the ending. You have been warned.

Naturally, instead of answers, we end up with more questions. Only Doctor Who could have a character who is sort of pregnant. Time for more predictions! First, I think the Silence are going to continue as major villains in this arc. Even money on that one; they spent too much of last season building them up for just one appearance (even a two-part episode). Second, I think Amy's sort-of pregnancy is not connected to the junior Time Lord we saw regenerating at the end of the episode. I think the setup is a red herring, to make the audience believe that Amy and the Doctor got it on/will get it on. I am predicting this partly because you would get more mileage that way--two mysteries instead of one--and partly because I do not ship Amy with the Doctor. So where did the kid in the spacesuit come from? My guess: the Doctor and River. The "River is his wife" theory is looking a whole lot more likely now that they have kissed. Jason suggested (before we saw this episode) that River IS the girl in the spacesuit. It sounded intriguing at the time. Now we both hope that one is wrong, especially if she is Doctor/Amy's lovechild. Last week's predictions are all still unconfirmed.

I loved the idea of hiding the TARDIS inside the Doctor's prison! It was a brilliant plan. Good to know that Canton is still on their side. It is still strange to see him as a good guy, because his character on Leverage is such a slimeball. Matt Smith is almost unrecognizable with all that facial hair. In fact, until he spoke, I did not realize it was him. Oh, and parking the TARDIS on the side of the building to catch River after she jumps out of the window? Awesome!

The Doctor's explanation of the Silence was effectively creepy. The best horror stories provide a sinister origin for something people see every day. You thought you saw something out of the corner of your eye? Yeah. You did. You forgot where you were a minute ago? You encountered a horrible monster that makes you forget it even exists the moment you look away. You have probably seen it before. Maybe hundreds of times...but you always forget.

Good night, kiddies! Pleasant dreams...

As ancient conspiracy theories go, this one is pretty good. But the Doctor's sabotage was brilliant. Now the human race is programmed to rebel against the Silence, and they will still not remember a thing. Of course, our alien overlords will not be that easy to stop.

And underneath the story, we have all of the character interactions. I think the Doctor and Rory have a really interesting dynamic, and they are actually developing mutual respect for each other. Which will, of course, make it all the more painful if the Doctor turns out to be Amy's baby-daddy. The look on River's face at the end, when she realizes she will never get to kiss the Doctor again, was almost too painful to watch. Their relationship reminds me of Claire and Henry from The Time Traveler's Wife. As the title implies, Henry is a time traveler. Unlike the Doctor, he has absolutely no control over when he will leave, where he will go, or how long he will stay there. He is always popping in and out of Claire's life, although for once Doctor Who actually has the less complicated timeline. The book does a surprisingly good job of explaining things, though.

Season six is shaping up to be the most infuriating season yet.
What do we want?
When do we want them?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Spam of the Week

Today's spam is supposedly from Nokia, and unlike the other scams, claims that I have won a large sum of money in a contest I never entered (and likely does not exist).

Subject: Congratulations!

Suite 210, Coborn House, 3 Coborn Road,
Docklands, London,E3 2DA, UK
United Kingdom
Ref: BTD/968/09
Batch: 409978E.

Nokia 2010 winning Bonanza!!!"
Wow, three exclamation marks and a quotation mark. Very...professional? Also, what exactly is a "winning Bonanza"?


Dear Winner,

We wish to inform you that your email address has emerged as one of the lucky winners in this year Nokia Promotion Award Team, and you have therefore won for yourself a total cash sum of £500,000.00 GBP (Five hundred thousand Great Britain Pounds) in this category (Batch:409978E).
Sweet! Five hundred thousand pounds? That would be, what, a million dollars? I wonder what else I could win for myself. I hate winning stuff for other people. Of course, I do not live in Britain, so even if I had entered this contest I doubt I would be eligible.
Typo: "year" instead of "year's"

All email addresses entered for this promotional draws were randomly inputted from an internet resource database using the Synchronized Random Selection System (SRSS).
I wonder if my email address was "randomly inputted" into any other databases. I hope not. Is "inputted" a word? I thought it was "input" for past and present tense. Oh well.
Error: "this promotional draws" instead of "this...draw" or "these...draws."

To process your winning/claim your won funds, send the following informations to

Name:Mr.Lester Gold
Tel:+44 704 5747 360
Nokia Promotion Award Team
Head Winning Claims Dept
Ha! Not likely. Maybe I should forward some unique business opportunities to that email address, though. I wonder what would happen...

1. Your Full Names: Full names? Tom Jackman. And Mr. Hyde.
2. Address: 123 Sesame Street (What can I say...I'm old-school)
3. Country:: Anvilania
4. Age: Older than I look
5. Telephone/Fax Number: What would they do with a fax number? Send the bills through the machine?
6. Occupation: What does this have to do with claiming my money?
7. Gender: See above. Creeps.

Congratulations to you from the management and staff of Nokia Promotion
Award Team.
Wow, the management AND staff are congratulating me! Did they throw me a party? Was there cake? WHY DIDN'T I GET A SLICE??

Yours Faithfully,

Mrs.Ross Webb
Head Customer Care Service
Nokia Promotion Award Team.
Copyright © 1976-2010

Mine faithfully AND sincerely. What an honor. Also, I love how they assume people will think it is legitimate because they stuck a Copyright symbol in there.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Who Review: The Impossible Astronaut


Seriously, if you watch Doctor Who, watch the episode before you read this. You have been warned.

Jason and I finally got a chance to watch the first episode of season 6 yesterday. I wrote in my last post how excited I was to finally watch it at the same time as everyone else, instead of waiting for the DVD. I was reminded of the disadvantage of that: WE WANT THE NEXT EPISODE NOW! Darn you, Steven Moffat.

I am just going to get my predictions out of the way right now. First, River was the astronaut in the lake. Second, the Doctor had this all planned out. That is why he told them very strongly not to interfere. Third, the kid that Amy shot did not die, because this is a family show and we cannot have characters shooting children to death. Fourth, we are not going to find out what the hell was going on with Future!Doctor getting shot until the end of this season at the earliest. And one more for good measure: Amy's baby is evil. We shall see how accurate those predictions are as the series continues.

I really like the new aliens. Jason recognized their creation from last season's episode The Lodger, where the mysterious forces were trying to build a TARDIS. I think the idea of a monster that you forget as soon as you stop looking at it is brilliant. How would you fight it? How would you warn anyone else about it? I just hope it shows up in that photograph on Amy's phone. Apparently their name is The Silence or The Silent. Very cool.

I love that the episode was set in America. They actually filmed most of it in Utah. I do think they are trying to draw in more of an American audience now, which is excellent. It is interesting to see how a British show portrays Americans. Especially when they first show up in the Oval Office and are met with all those guns.

Interesting bit of trivia: British actor Mark Sheppard is in a British show with an American accent. He is also a recurring character in several American shows (including Leverage) with a British accent.

I WANT THE NEXT EPISODE NOW! Oh, right, I said that already.

Question for the comments: Which is cooler, a fez or a Stetson?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Doctor Who News: Goodbye and Hello

First, I was very sad to learn that actress Elisabeth Sladen passed away earlier this week. Doctor Who fans remember her as Sarah Jane Smith, who was a long-time companion of the Third and Fourth Doctors. Her character was so popular that she was brought back in her own spin-off, some 30 years after first appearing on the show. Sarah Jane also re-appeared several times on the new Who during David Tennant's run. Elisabeth was 63. She will be missed.

Also this week: the season 6 premiere of Doctor Who was last night on BBC and BBC America. We do not have cable, so I am currently downloading it from iTunes onto my computer. I think TV show downloads are one of the best things about the Internet. In all honesty, I do not watch much TV because there is very little worth watching. For that reason, we do not have cable. When there is a show on cable that I actually want to watch, I can download it the next day. Sure, iTunes charges two bucks per episode, but that comes out to $8 a month. Comcast is $30 a month. AT&T U-Verse "starts at" $19 a month. Both of them come with hidden fees and upcharges and promotional rates that end after 6 months or a year. And who knows how much they charge once the "promotional period" ends. Much better to pay for exactly what I want.

This will actually be the first time I get to watch Doctor Who at the same time as everyone else. I did not start watching until after David Tennant finished his run as the Doctor, and by the time I got all caught up with seasons 2-4, Matt Smith had finished season 5. Thank goodness our library bought all of the DVDs! Ten is still my favorite Doctor, but Matt Smith is quite good. I also really like the look and feel of s5. It has kind of a retro vibe. I think Steven Moffat (Evil Genius) does quite a good job as showrunner. Why is Steven Moffat an evil genius? Because he writes stuff that scares the crap out of people, but it all works out in the end. I am really looking forward to more adventures with the Doctor, Amy, and Rory. And River Song. Apparently this season we will finally find out who she is. Because the Doctor is a time traveler, he meets River in his future, but she has already met him in her past. If that makes your head hurt, just remember: Time is like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey...stuff.

Coming soon: Thoughts on Doctor Who, season 6!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Spam of the Week

We continue our Spam of the Week feature with this gem from "Miss. Julia Tammy." What makes this one interesting is that she appears to be offering herself as a sort of mail-order bride along with promising money. Did I say "interesting"? I meant "disturbing." Oh, and just to make these more interesting to read, I will write comments after each paragraph.

Subject: Thanks and remain blessed, Please reply

Text: Thanks and remain blessed.
From Miss. Julia Tammy
14 bp cocody rue
05 koumassi
Abidjan / Cote D'Ivoire

Dearest friend,

Compliment of the day, I am so glad to write this letter to you. Having obtained your contact from the internet and after reading your profiles that you deserve trust, coupled with my deep interest to invest in your country, I decided to contact you for mutual assistance at all cost.
Compliment of the day! I think they make Page-A-Day calendars for that. It is so good to know that I "deserve trust," although I am worried that this "mutual assistance" comes "at all cost."

I am Miss Julia Tammy the only daughter of Mr and Mrs George Tammy from Ivory-Coast. My father was a highly reputable cocoa merchant who operated in the capital of Ivory coast before his untimely death. It is sad to say that my father was sick mysteriously in France during one of his business trips abroad in the year 12th.February 2008. Though his sudden sickness was rather suspected to be poison and has been masterminded by an uncle of his who traveled with him at that time. But God knows the truth!
I was not aware that Ivory-Coast was the name of a country. I wonder how long ago "the year 12th.February" is. Hmm...she suspects that her father was poisoned by his uncle. Was the poison poured into his ear, I wonder? God knows the truth! Like: was this idea stolen from Hamlet, or The Lion King?

When my mother died on the 21st October 2006, My father took me so special because I am motherless. Before the death of my father on 6th April 2008 in a private hospital here in Abidjan . He secretly called me on his bedside and told me that he has a sum of $3.500.000 (three million, five hundred thousand dollars) deposited in one of the bank here in Abidjan, that he used my name as the only daughter for his next of kin in deposited of the funds.
Man, nothing tugs at the heartstrings like hearing someone "took me so special." Wait, did her father die in February or April? -Rereads- All right, it sounds like he was poisoned in February but did not die until April. That is one slow-acting poison. Unless the uncle kept poisoning him? He must have bribed the doctors. He named his next of kin "in deposited of the funds"? It sounds like this letter was run through the Babel Fish translator.

He also explained to me that it was because of this money that he was poisoned. He also told me that I should seek for a God fearing foreign partner in a country of my choice where I will transfer this money for investment purposes.
Geez, he was poisoned over three and a half million dollars? For a spam scam, that is not much of a fortune. So his dying wish to his daughter was that she should find a business partner in another country. Nice guy. I wonder why so many of these scams specify that they are looking for "God fearing" people to help them with shady business dealings. Do they think it makes them sound more respectable?

I am just 22 years old and a university undergraduate and really don't know what to do. Please, I want an account where I can transfer this funds and after the transaction i will come and live with you as a partner and I'm ready to do anything of your choice. I am all alone right now.
I have actually been collecting these e-mails for a while. When I received this one, I too was a "22 years old university undergraduate." Sorry, I know as little about foreign investment as you do. And here we go: "i will come and live with you as a partner." That is troubling by itself. "I'm ready to do anything of your choice." NO! WRONG! WRONG! You do not promise "anything of your choice" to random strangers on the Internet!

The death of my father actually brought sorrow to my life and i wished to invested under your care with your advise. Please, I am in a sincere desire of your humble assistance in this regards.Your suggestions and ideas will be highly regarded.
Well, it is good to know that your father's death "actually brought sorrow." This establishes that you are not a sociopath incapable of emotion. You want suggestions and ideas? Here we go: STOP SOLICITING RANDOM STRANGERS FOR ADVICE AND OFFERING TO DO WHATEVER THEY WANT!

Please,Consider this and get back to me as soon as possible. Immediately I confirmed your willingness then i will send to you my picture and i will need your own picture as well.
I wonder if this started out as a sex scam and then became a money scam in addition. Especially because pictures are more important than contact information.

Thanks and remain blessed.
Your's Sincerely,
Miss Julia George Tammy

Friday, April 8, 2011

Quote of the Day

Today's quote is from Neil Gaiman's blog. He was at a convention in San Francisco this past weekend for a Doctor Who panel, because he wrote one of the episodes. Neil was asked how he would explain Doctor Who to someone who was worried about not being able to follow a show with 47 years of back story. His response: “No, look, there’s a blue box. It’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. It can go anywhere in time and space and sometimes even where it’s meant to go. And when it turns up, there’s a bloke in it called The Doctor and there will be stuff wrong and he will do his best to sort it out and he will probably succeed cos he’s awesome. Now sit down, shut up, and watch ‘Blink’.”

Neil Gaiman is awesome.

Now sit down, shut up, and watch the Season 6 trailer.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Book Recap: BSC #32 (part four)

Missed parts one through three? Start here.

Chapter 10: The girls are at school (for once) and Kristy is dismayed to hear that there will be a school assembly. Kristy thinks, "Thank goodness we don't have to sit with our classes during assemblies." Really? Wow, I wish I had gone to their school! This policy actually makes no sense; allowing students to sit wherever they wanted would lead to more confusion while people find their seats and more distractions during the assembly. I mean, the students all want to sit and talk to their friends, but teachers and administrators are actively trying to avoid that. And they are the ones making the rules. We also find out that the students ARE segregated by grade at lunch. Go figure. Maybe the real-world schools are better after all.

Anyway, the assembly seating policy is an excuse to have the BSC members all sit together. Coincidentally, they end up right behind the special ed class, which consists of a grand total of ten students. Their various problems are all briefly explained. Three kids have Down's Syndrome, which is explained thusly: "Down's syndrome people have sort of slanted eyes and flattish faces, and are usually docile, affectionate, and friendly." Find me a thirteen-year-old who can define "docile." Interestingly, Down's syndrome is discussed more in-depth in a later book, when Dawn is hired to sit for a girl with Down's. The complication there is that the girl is only a year or two younger than she is, and does not know that Dawn is being paid to spend time with her.

There is also a boy whose unidentified problem sounds a lot like ADHD. Did that really qualify you for special ed twenty years ago? Yikes. Kristy wonders how the teachers are able to teach these kids in the same classroom, with all of their various issues and different learning methods. It is obvious here that Martin has great respect for special ed teachers. And she probably knew what she was talking about (as much as was known) when describing autism. At the end of the book, there is an author note where she talks about basing Susan on real-life kids with autism she worked with while she was in college.

Kristy notices that one of the boys in the special ed class is similar to Susan in many ways: clapping for no reason, waving his hand in front of his eyes, and staring off into space. However, he is more advanced than Susan; he talks to himself, and at one point even talks with a teacher. Kristy figures that if this boy could learn to carry on a conversation, Susan can too.

Her thoughts are interrupted when some kids across the aisle start teasing the kids in the special ed class and throw spitballs. See, administrators? This is why seventh graders should not be able to sit with their friends during assemblies. Kristy realizes that this is a drawback to sending a handicapped child to a public school.

Today, things are different. The goal of special education is to place kids with challenges in what is known as the "least restrictive environment." This is basically "as close to 'normal' as possible, while still giving them needed support." The boys with ADHD and autism would probably be in regular classes, though one or both of them may need an assistant. There is a push to integrate kids with special needs as much as possible into the mainstream environment, probably to stop exactly this sort of teasing from happening.

After the assembly is over, Kristy goes to talk to the special ed teachers. They confirm that the boy who reminds her of Susan is autistic, and invite her to come to their classroom during a study hall to see how they run things. Kristy agrees, but sadly, this is never mentioned again. The chapter ends on a positive note as we find out that Ben Hobart is no longer being ridiculed because his family is from Australia.

Chapter 11: Kristy is at the Felders' house again. No sooner does Mrs. Felder leave than the other half of Bob-or-Craig comes to the door. We find out that his name is actually Zach, and he wants to hear Susan's calendar trick again. He stays for about five minutes and then rushes out. As soon as Zach leaves, a girl named Kathie comes to the door with dates for Susan to tell her. As soon as she leaves, another child comes. Kristy is excited that three children have come to see Susan all in the same day! This girl, named Gina, has a song request for Susan: "Sheik of Araby" from the Roaring Twenties. Kristy thinks, "Whatever the Roaring Twenties are." Really, Kristy? Not even a guess? Anyway, Susan has never heard the song before, so Kristy has to play the (vinyl) record that Gina brought. On a turntable. Near the end of the song, the record starts skipping. Some would argue that this dates the book far more than any outdated "facts" about autism.

Susan is able to not only play the song, she comes in singing right on cue. To Kristy's dismay (and Gina's amusement), she even plays the skips at the end. For Kristy, this means that the words really do not mean anything to Susan. To Gina, this means that she really got her money's worth.

Yes, the reason that so many children have been coming to see Susan is because Mel is charging money like she is a sideshow attraction. He is even advertising her as "the incredible retard who can memorize dates and music. The amazing dumbo who can sing but not talk." This is probably the strongest language the book could get away with, and it sounds like an oddly unrealistic insult. I am not sure exactly why; it just does not strike me as something real kids would say. Maybe I am expecting something more creative.

Kristy yells at the kids and tells them she never wants to hear them say "retard" or "dumbo" again (all right, so I guess "retard" was an insult back then). Then she says that Mel owes at least half of his money to Susan. Mel ignores this and runs away, and that is the end of that. The whole situation is never mentioned again. If what these kids are doing is so awful, why are there no consequences? Even for the sake of poetic justice. Kristy mentally kicks herself for being so naive. Obviously nobody wants to be friends with Susan. The message that this book seems to be sending is that kids with autism do not make good friends. Kristy realizes that she could use a friend herself right now, so she and Susan go to hang out with Claudia, who is babysitting the Hobarts.

Chapter 12: Claudia is sitting the Hobart boys for the first time. The youngest has become very wary of strangers since the strange American kids started teasing him for being from Australia. His mother bribes him with the promise of the "telly" and "lollies" if he will let her leave. Perhaps not the ideal strategy, but I am sure every parent has used it at some point. Points for realism!

The boys opt against watching the telly, partly because it is really boring to read descriptions of people watching TV and partly because this will move the story along. Oh, and also because it is a nice day outside. The older boys are swinging on their tire swing when Zach comes into the yard and begins teasing them. He calls them babies, which James protests because he is in "advanced maths" at school. Silly Australians, there is no "s" in "math"! Where did it come from? They probably stole it from the end of "Legos."

Of course, people in Britain and Australia wonder why Americans do not say "Lego" and "maths."

James decides that the best way to prove himself to Zach is to punch a wooden crate in with a boxing glove. Is this a "guy thing" or an "author makes no sense thing"? Zach is impressed and a bit intimidated. Five minutes later, James is loaning Zach his brother's skateboard so they can go skateboarding together. Personally, I would be a bit hesitant before deciding that a kid who had mercilessly teased me was my new best friend. Even if I could break his face. Actually, I would be hesitant about deciding a kid who could break my face was my new best friend. Especially if I had teased him mercilessly. Then again, maybe this is how boys bond.

Kristy shows up with Susan. James decides to go skateboarding instead of hanging around with Susan, and Kristy fills Claudia in on Susan's short-term career as unwitting sideshow performer. Here we have Kristy's conclusion about Susan: "I really don't think she hears us. I don't think she knows who we are. I don't think she even knows where she is. Worse, I don't think any of that matters to her." In other words: Susan is an outcast, and there is nothing anyone can do to fix it. You see why I pegged this book as one of the more depressing ones? Kristy and Claudia conclude that Susan's parents are right after all: she really does not belong at home with them.

But at least James Hobart and the neighborhood bully are friends now.

Coming soon: Part Five (In Which The "Feel-Good" Ending Is Even More Depressing Than The Rest of the Book).

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


It is time for a new feature, which I am calling "Spam of the Week." It is where I will post particularly amusing spam e-mails. The "Spam of the Week" feature will probably not appear every week, due to the unpredictable nature of spam. Here is the first entry, in all its unedited glory.





Full Name:______________

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

All Hail Svengoolie! 21-Chicken Salute!

I just found out over the weekend that Chicago's local horror host is going national. His name is Svengoolie, and he is played by Rich Koz. Sven has been a staple of the Chicago airwaves for over 30 years. His show currently airs on WCIU, which is a local Chicago station. But that station is owned by the same guy who owns Me-TV, which became an independent national station this past December. It took a bit longer to work out how to switch Svengoolie over, probably because they needed to work out the movie rights. It sounds like some exciting stuff is coming our way.

Here are ten things you should know about Svengoolie.
1. At the beginning and ending of each show, he is pelted with rubber chickens.
2. He makes lots of jokes about Chicago suburb Berwyn (BERRRRWYNNN!) because the name sounds funny, and because of the annual Berwyn mushroom parade.
3. He does not live, nor has he lived, in Berwyn.
4. He writes all of his own material and does all of the voices in his skits.
5. He pre-dates MST3K.
6. Rich Koz is not the original Svengoolie. That was Jerry G. Bishop, from 1970 to 1973, on WFLD.
7. Koz took over as "Son of Svengoolie" from 1979 to 1986 on the same station.
8. When WCIU started in 1995, Koz was brought back. He got permission from Bishop to become Svengoolie (rather than "Son of").
9. He writes all of the lyrics for the song parodies that appear in every show. The music is arranged by Doug Scharf, also known as "Doug Graves."
10. His show goes national this Saturday, April second! Thank goodness it runs on Saturday. If it was Friday night I would be worried it was an elaborate April Fool's prank.

I have actually gotten to meet Sven no less than three times, including once when I actually got to go on the set! Our next-door neighbor is a musician and long-time friend of Doug Scharf. So Doug took my brother and me to a taping of the show. It was incredibly cool. Rich is such a nice guy, and just as funny in person as he is on-screen (and yes, I mean that as a compliment!). He was at C2E2, only two tables away from the line for Eliza Dushku. Here he is in the background:
That's him with the top hat and eye makeup.

Jason and I met him last year at Cyphan. Here he is with the two of us (and the rubber chicken we had him sign).

Congratulations again to Svengoolie! May he rule the airwaves for many years to come.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Great Scott!

I cannot WAIT for Wizard World. Yes, I know that I just went to a convention last weekend. But WW is going to be EPIC. There is no other word for it. I was already excited when Jason told me Patrick Stewart was going to be there. I thought there was no way to top Captain Picard. But just the other day, they announced that none other than Christopher Lloyd was going to be there! I started geeking out. He is quite possibly my favorite actor of all time. He is fantastic in all of his roles, from Doc Brown to Reverend Jim to the Klingon commander from Star Trek 3. Jason wants to have him sign his Genesis device:

But yeah, I will watch anything with Christopher Lloyd in it. Including several movies I rented specifically because his name showed up on the cast list. I remember him as Al the angel from Angels in the Outfield...Uncle Martin from the movie remake of My Favorite Martian...the "counselor" from Camp Nowhere...The Hacker in Cyberchase.

I used to tell people I watched this show because my little brother liked it. Which he did, but I liked it too. Because I am, unapologetically, a huge dork. Oh, and if the voice of the robot bird sounds familiar, that is because he is voiced by Gilbert Gottfried.

As if Christopher Lloyd and Patrick Stewart weren't enough, there are a ton of other people I am excited about. From Buffy/Angel, we have James Marsters (Spike. HELL yes!), Julie Benz (Darla), Nicholas Brendon (Xander!), and Mercedes McNab (Harmony). Incidentally, I found out that one of her early roles was as Amanda from the Addams Family movies.

And Christopher Lloyd was in that movie too! Ooh, maybe I can get both of them to sign it.

We also have LeVar Burton (Geordi from Star Trek Next Gen), Morena Baccarin (Inara from Firefly), and Felicia Day (Penny from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog). And you can find the complete list (and not just the people who worked with Joss Whedon) here. Well, based on my experience at C2E2, I will need to prioritize who I want to meet. It is a very good thing I will be going to Wizard more than one day. And if everyone is charging $30 or $40 for an autograph, I should probably start saving up now. I do love conventions. Next on my schedule is Cyphan at the end of July.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

C2E2 Wrap-Up

Well, C2E2 was pretty awesome. My costume was a huge success. I got a ton of people asking to take my picture. A few were pretty surprised when I held up the BFNG (Big Frickin' Nerf Gun). One guy asked for my picture because he runs a Nerf blog. Here's the photo from his Twitter.

I met him while we were in line for Eliza Dushku. She was in a panel from 1:15-3:30. We got in line at 2:30, and by the time she showed up (15 minutes late, unfortunately) the line stretched from the middle of the convention floor to the bathrooms in the back. I asked someone if the autograph ticket was also good for a photo, and the woman told me, "She's not doing photos." There must have been a misunderstanding, because I meant that I wanted to take a photo with her. That was fine. But there were no photos of her at the autograph table. So, $40 and an hour and a half later, proof that I met Eliza Dushku. She thought my costume was cool, by the way.

She was the only celebrity I ended up meeting. The whole cast of Middleman was there, but they were charging for autographs too. If I had known that before we got there, I might have decided to spring for another autograph. Oh, well. I did get some great costume photos.
Fourth Doctor, Amy, and Eleventh Doctor! All very cool. Fezes are cool.

TARDIS fez. Cool squared!

We stopped at the 501st table, where I got a photo of a lady Stormtrooper. Jason was in his Trooper gear on Friday, and hopes to have his Palpatine costume ready in time for Wizard World in August.
Hooray for girl geeks! Side note: conventions are one of the few places where the line for the men's restroom is longer than the women's. I found that highly amusing.

The lovely female Mario cast. They wanted a photo with me, too.

I actually got very few photos of myself with my camera. This one was too good to pass up, though.

Jason spotted this lady and her robot buddy.

Speaking of Jason, he and two of his friends went as the nWo. They were also very popular with photographers.
Left to right, we have Macho Man Randy Savage (Jason), Hollywood Hogan, and The Undertaker.

One more. Johnny wanted to snag a picture with this Mario walkabout just as we were leaving.

The only bad part about yesterday was that, even though Jason and I were there together, we were unable to spend much time together. We came with a big group, which kept on getting broken up. Somebody wanted to buy t-shirts. Then someone else wandered off. Johnny needed lunch, I was in the autograph line, people wanted a photo of the nWo, etc, etc, etc. Incidentally, there are no photos from yesterday of Jason and me together. Also, stopping for photos can really wear you out after a while. When we got back from the con, Johnny had more energy than either Jason or me.

Will Action Princess Peach make an appearance at any more cons? Probably. I think I will don the dress and bazooka again for Wizard World. But I also need a day to walk around and relax a bit.

Want more costumey goodness? You can find all of my C2E2 photos here on Flickr.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Book Recap: BSC #32 (part three)

Chapter 7: Kristy has planned on taking Susan over to the Hobarts' to make friends with the boys. She finds out that Susan has been stubborn all day, refusing to come away from the piano or eat lunch. Mrs. Felder assures Kristy, and not for the first time, that Susan does not get violent. Well, if you are leaving her with a thirteen-year-old, I would certainly hope not.

Kristy asks why Susan did not eat lunch; her mother explains that it is a common problem among autistic children. The likely explanation (unknown 20 years ago) is because autistic children frequently have sensory issues. It affects everyone differently, but one of the characteristics of autism is being oversensitive to certain smells or tastes (or other senses, but that has nothing to do with Susan not eating lunch). My own brother, who has Asperger's Syndrome, will gag if he smells pickles. This goes way beyond "I hate the way they smell." It actually can make him physically ill. He definitely has a stubborn streak, too. Not when it comes to food, but when his mind is made up about something, nobody can change it. I foresee that he will get some very good deals on cars one day.

Kristy gets Susan to stop playing the piano by putting her hands on top of Susan's. Fine. Then she gets Susan away from the piano by picking her up. I find this hard to believe. Kristy is thirteen; Susan is eight. I take care of a seven-year-old, and I would not be able to lift him. I can lift his five-year-old brother, but just barely. Kristy carries Susan into the kitchen and opens up the refrigerator for Susan to look inside. Yeah, good luck with that. Predictably, Susan ignores this. Kristy gets her to eat a couple of cookies on their way to the Hobarts'.

The kids are unsure how to react to Susan. They try talking to her, but there is no response. Then they try to teach her to play tag, reasoning that you can play tag without talking. Of course, Susan's real problem is her inability to pay attention rather than her inability to speak. Susan just wanders around the yard. Their game is interrupted by two of the neighborhood bullies, referred to as "Bob-or-Craig" because they both claim, "He's Bob and I'm Craig." Kristy concludes that the teasers were actually really interested in learning about Australia, and they were only teasing because they wanted to feel superior. Well, which is it? Do they think the Hobarts are interesting, or do they think they are better than them? When Bob-and-Craig turn on Susan, James Hobart steps up to protect her and declares that she is his "mate." I know "mate" often means "friend" in Britain, but I am not sure about Australia. This would have been the perfect opportunity for Bob-and-Craig to inform James that "mate" means "girlfriend" in America, but there is no mention of that. Kristy gets Susan to perform her calendar trick, and all of the kids are amazed.

Chapter 8: Stacey, one of the other club members, is baby-sitting at Kristy's house. Seven-year-old Karen talks the rest of the kids into playing a dress-up game called "Let's All Come In." Apparently this game shows up fairly often in the books, but it is one detail I had forgotten about entirely. It leads to a lot of filler description of the expensive dress-up clothes, because their dad is a millionaire. From my experience, kids are just as happy with their parents' old clothes or cheap costumes. Then again, their dad may not have known that. Kristy comes home early from her job at Susan's and talks with Stacey about how she is still determined to convince Mrs. Felder that Susan can stay at home. Stacey warns her not to go overboard, and Kristy admits that Susan is "one of the most handicapped" children she has ever seen. Again, if Susan is so hard to manage, why are her parents leaving her with an inexperienced middle-schooler?

Chapter 9: Kristy is sitting for Susan again. Susan is wrapped up in her piano playing when half of "Bob-or-Craig" comes to the door. Kristy finds out his real name is Mel. He is astonished when he hears Susan playing the piano. Kristy grandly proclaims that Susan takes requests, so Mel suggests a few songs. Susan knows them all. The odd thing, though, is that Susan responds immediately to his song requests, but needs several prompts to respond to her own name. There is no logical explanation for this, other than it moves the plot along. But in-story, there is no reason why Susan should do this. Anyway, Kristy explains that Susan can memorize songs in one try. Mel says that Susan is even more amazing than the piano-playing chicken he saw at the circus. He finds out when Kristy will be at the Felders' again, and then abruptly leaves.

Shortly afterward, James comes over to play. Kristy pulls Susan away from the piano. James is a bit uncomfortable about this when Susan protests, but Kristy reasons that it is more important for Susan to make friends. They sit and talk in the Felders' backyard. Kristy fails to realize that when James says "pen friends" he means "pen pals." That seems like a pretty easy colloquialism to translate there, but what do I know? James talks about how he wants someone to ride bikes and go to the park with, and someone who can teach him "what American kids say." Yeah, because if they are confused by "pen friends," he might have to have an interpreter. Kristy knows that something is wrong, but cannot quite put her finger on it. Well, Kristy, does Susan fit James' description of what he is looking for in a friend? There you go.

Coming soon: part four (In Which Kids Are Jerks And Kristy Makes a Decision).