Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year's!

In just a few short hours, it will be 2015, and people will get very, very drunk and act very, very silly.



Meanwhile, I shall be watching Paul McGann and his Hair save the world while the Master and Grace fight for his affections while the Master turns into a snake for some reason and Grace falls in love with him about as fast as girls on Doctor Who usually fall in love with people.

Wait your turn, Master. You'll get to snog him soon enough.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

CELEBRATE! CELEBRATE! CELEBRATE!

Remember what I said about "Daleks" and "Christmas"?

Image from nerdapproved.com


Obviously the Doctor will never see past its clever disguise.

Have a very Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Some Christmas Eve fun

First, Neil Gaiman reads A Christmas Carol aloud according to Charles Dickens' directions. I haven't listened to it yet, but it's amazing because Neil Gaiman.



Also, I want to remind everyone that a Christmas song about a Dalek does in fact exist. Here, I'll just post the video again!



This will never get old

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Book Review: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

     Previously, I read a book about a woman in black. Now, I have read a book about a woman in white.



     Walter Hartright is making his lonely way home one night when he is startled by a woman dressed in white, frightened and trying to find the way to London. He directs her to London, but once there overhears two men searching for an escapee from an insane asylum. He is disturbed by this, but has no time to fret. The next day he has taken up the position of art teacher to two young ladies at Limmeridge House. There he meets the plain but sharp and intelligent Marian Halcombe and her beautiful younger half-sister, Laura Fairlie, who bears a strange resemblance to the woman in white, Anne Catherick.

     It doesn’t take long for the two young people to fall in love, but Laura has already promised to wed another man, Sir Percival Glyde, who has some connection to Anne Catherick. Anne Catherick sends a strange, cryptic warning letter to Laura, but has to flee when Sir Percival arrives. Walter leaves the distressing situation, but after Laura’s marriage, odd things begin happening in her household. Marian begins to suspect both Sir Percival and his strange Italian friend, Count Fosco, of plotting a way to seize Laura’s wealth.

     I actually thought this was a rather riveting novel. Apparently this is known as the first Victorian sensation novel, following on the heels of the popular Gothic novels of the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. Collins sets up a very elaborate plot, but manages to hold all the threads together quite well. Walter was a bit dull at first, but once he got deep into investigating, I started thinking he should quit art and open up a detective agency. (Hartright/Halcombe detective agency? I’d read that book.) Laura was a bit boring, but sweetly inoffensive.

     I enjoyed Mr. Fairlie, who seemed like a dark spiritual successor to poor Mr. Woodhouse. His constant whinging and the different ways people manage him was amusing, although not so much as with Mr. Woodhouse. Mr. Fairlie is all selfishness.

     Marian was an absolute delight. She was intelligent, resourceful, and active. The woman crawls onto a wet roof to eavesdrop! That takes gumption. Alas, she falls prey to Victorian “I got rained on” syndrome, but at least it was depicted as more than just a cold. (I have a feeling a simple cold wouldn’t have kept her down.) Honestly, I kept hoping Walter would give up on Laura and just get with Marian. (Detective agency, remember? Maybe I’ll write that one day.) This is the woman who nearly managed to outwit Count Fosco. (This is why I think she suddenly developed a severe illness. Otherwise, Count Fosco would have been defeated very quickly.)

     Speaking of Count Fosco, he was just as wonderfully slimy as he was in Brimstone. Messrs. Preston and Child translated him into the modern era very well. He is a colorful (in all senses of the word) character, steeped in high culture yet clearly capable of horrible brutality. Marian very quickly discerns that Count Fosco is the real threat, and Sir Percival is a mere bully. What is so frightening about Count Fosco is his absolutely amorality. He is absolutely convinced that nothing he is doing is wrong. He is the embodiment of “it’s not wrong unless you get caught”. This is demonstrated in a very interesting dialogue between him, Laura, and Marian regarding criminals who escape justice.

     That said, I feel like the final ending-the sudden appearance of a global conspiracy, the coincidental connection to Walter’s Italian friend, and the way Count Fosco is brought to justice-was starting to stretch the story too long. I believe Collins was trying to eke out another paycheck or two from it. If anything, it felt like it came from some different story altogether. Perhaps Collins considered writing that and just threw it into this one. Still, the story was coherent, interesting, and had very real and detailed characters that drove the plot forward.

Seriously, Hartright and Halcombe Detective Agency.  That would have been awesome.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Quick Lit/The List Formerly Known As Twitterature December 2014

Over at Modern Mrs. Darcy, it was decided to stop calling this Twitterature, since most of us are going way over 140 characters. So...Quick Lit. It sounds like a library program.


So as you all know, I finished NaNoWriMo, and promptly realized how terrible my novel was written. I've signed up at Scribophile for writing critiques, and we'll see where this goes.

So, I have more reading time! This means I can get started on the second of the LotR trilogy.

1.) The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

A literal illustration.


     Once again, I was struck by how far Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli run. I can't even run down the block. What if I have to catch some orcs?
     Wait, I have a car. I'll just use my car.
     Also, Legolas meditates while running. That's talent.
     With the fellowship broken, Aragorn is forced into the difficult decision of which way to go. Should he follow Frodo and Sam into Mordor, and try to speed them on their way as best he can, or should he follow the orcs and rescue Merry and Pippin before they are brought to Isengard?

In case Legolas didn't make that clear.

     The first scenes are so tense, and then you see the kind of mistreatment Merry and Pippin are undergoing, and realize it's going to get so much worse if Saruman gets his hands on them, and you realize how high the stakes are, even if they aren't the main players in this. We also get a look at orc politics and realize it's not much different from today.
     Also, Treebeard is nothing but awesome. Pure, unmitigated awesome.
     I was reading this before bed, but then I started getting close to Helm's Deep, and I'm like, "I can't read this right before bed. I'll never sleep." So that's reserved for another day. What I am reading before bed is...

2.) The Sumerians by Samuel Noah Kramer...Still.

     You saw the cover last time.
     I'm moving much faster on this now that NaNoWriMo is over. It's fascinating just how much information they've gotten on this ancient culture, and how much more they're still finding.
     On interesting tidbit I noticed last night was one of the myths about Enki. Apparently the poor gods weren't even able to get enough to eat, because the goddesses were eating them out of house and home, or something. So Enki asks his mom to create servants for them out of clay. She does so, and people get right on that making bread for the most powerful beings in the universe.
     Then Enki decides he wants to make people too! Unfortunately his first attempt went...not so well. The person he made lay there like a lump and did nothing, and the other gods yelled at him and cursed him.
     One wonders if this information was available while Tolkien was writing The Silmarillion. It sounds a lot like the origin story of the dwarves.

3.) Alone with the Horrors by Ramsey Campbell



    "Campbell Country" is the British version of "Lovecraft Country". Most of his stories take place, not in the back woods, but in run down urban areas. There's also a ridiculous amount of class angst, but that's the British for you.
      Refreshingly, most of these are not solely based off the Lovecraft mythos, but are still quite creepy. I've seen authors that write well within the mythos fall apart when trying to come up with their own thing. Campbell has given us: Y'Golonac curses I have doomed us all!; spiders dressed up as people, because of course they are; and an evil pram. No, seriously, an evil pram.
     One thing I noticed is the very surreal quality to stories, even if they start out completely normal. This works well to set up the atmosphere. It throws off the reader and lends a sinister quality to everything, and makes you second guess the narrator.


     Now, I must go write Christmas cards. Because I am actually going to write Christmas cards this year. What madness is this?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A quick word about a certain Preston Child...

No, no, not Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Preston Child. It's totally his real name guys, really. Sure, he was inspired by Doug and Linc's technothrillers, to the point it practically sounds like a Lincoln Child novel, but that's totally his real name. Sure, he has used pseudonyms in the past, and uses stock photos for his pictures, but he's really, incredibly legit. And if people bought his books thinking that they were by the other guys, well, it's not his fault. At all.



GUYS. HE'S SO SAD. LOOK AT THE SAD FACE EMOTICON. HE'S VERY SAD.


The Nostalgia Chick knows that tears are an important part of every balanced meal.

You know...even if that really was his name, he probably should have realized how it would be perceived. Instead, he and his deranged fans lament the madness of the evil Amazon bullies who leave bad reviews and use the word "rip-off" You know, kind of like...

GUYS HE'S A MALE, THRILLER-WRITER VERSION OF STEPHENIE MEYERS.

This actually explains everything about this situation. (Given that most of the reviews that are not obviously sock puppets are pretty bad.)


Monday, December 8, 2014

ClassicWho Reviews: Robot, The Sontaran Experiment, Genesis of the Daleks, and Revenge of the Cybermen

Robot

     The Doctor is a bit confused after his regeneration. He isn’t quite sure who all these people are (although he’s happy enough to latch on to Sarah Jane with a death grip), tries on various silly costumes before dressing like a deranged hobo, and insists being grown up means being able to act childish (while throwing a slight tantrum at the Brig trying to confine him to a hospital bed). Also he shoves Harry Sullivan into a chest.

Poor Harry gets abused a lot, actually.


     However, when a mystery crops up, it immediately catches his interest. Parts of a disintegration gun (to be used in traffic, obviously) are being stolen. While UNIT moves out to protect the different factories, the Doctor gets distracted by crushed flowers and lounges around in Bessie with his hat over his face.

     Meanwhile, Sarah Jane looks into the Nation Institute for Advanced Scientific Research, known as “Think Tank”. There she learns they are testing a robot called “K1”to perform dangerous tasks, but she finds out the actual creator of the robot, Kettlewell, thought he had disassembled it. When she goes to see the robot, she finds it torn between conflicting programs to kill intruders, and to protect humans. Sarah Jane expresses sympathy, but the director of the robot program, Winters, scoffs at this.

     After she leaves, K1 arrives at Kettlewell’s place and attacks him, but the Doctor arrives in time to defeat the robot with his scarf. K1 flees, only to be handed the disintegrator gun and ordered to steal papers from a cabinet minister-launch codes for nuclear missiles!

     Sarah Jane’s investigations lead her to the conclusion that many of the scientist at Think Tank are members of the Scientific Reform society, who believe scientists should be in charge of the world.

     Also, one believes science is just too hard for girls. Sarah Jane gives a devastating burn in response, and it is beautiful.

     With the realization that Reform now has the nuclear codes and can enact their plan, it’s a race against time and a size-changing robot that is not Optimus Prime.

     This was a pretty good introduction to the Great and Powerful Tom. He was suitably manic, and his eccentric way of solving the problems just set the tone for the rest of his run.

Tom Baker, showing off the majority of his facial expressions.



The Sontaran Experiment

     Mr. Potato Head and his clones are back again! The Doctor, Sarah Jane, and Harry Sullivan teleports to Earth from the Nerva space station (previous serial, could not find). They find Earth apparently abandoned. While the Doctor works on the teleporter, Harry falls down and Sarah Jane is surprised by an astronaut named Roth, who claims he was captured and tortured by an alien. The Doctor, meanwhile, has been captured by the other astronauts. After a rescue effort, they go back to the crevasse where Harry fell, only to Field Major Styre, a Sontaran who has been experimenting on, and killing, the astronauts. Styre has been preparing for an invasion of Earth.

     This was…apparently a fairly forgettable one, as I don’t remember much about it. Styre was suitably evil, subjecting Sarah Jane to frightening hallucinations and being pretty much a jerk (as Sontarans tend to be). The Doctor was, of course, awesome, because Tom Baker. He also takes great joy in picking on Harry.

He apparently gets excited over mines as well.


     Possibly part of the reason this didn’t make an impression on me is because of the next one.


Genesis of the Daleks

     The Doctor intends to take Sarah Jane and Harry back to Earth, but the Time Lords grab the TARDIS and land it on Skaro, telling the Doctor to stop the creation of the Daleks. The trio exit the TARDIS only to find themselves in a war zone reminiscent of a World War II movie. This is near the end of the thousand-year war between the Thals and the Kaleds. When a poison gas is released, the Doctor and Harry are captured by the Kaleds while Sarah Jane is left outside, unconscious.

     Sarah discovers the Mutos, the partially mutated victims of the war who have been abandoned by both sides. One saves Sarah from the others, but before they can make any plans, the Thals capture them and force them to load radioactive materials into a missile.

     Meanwhile, the Doctor and Harry meet the main players on the Kaled side: General Ravon, Security Commander Nyder (looking about as Nazi as they come), and Ronson, a more thoughtful scientist who discovers, to everyone’s surprise, that their captives are alien.

     Then, Davros arrives with a Dalek.

THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS


     To everyone’s further surprise, the Doctor calls it a Dalek, something that Davros had literally just come up with. A few of the scientists collude with the Doctor to help him escape and stop Davros’ experiments.

     The Doctor and Harry manage to slip out and rescue Sarah from the Thal dome, but while there, they discover Davros providing the Thal leaders with deadly chemicals. The Kaled dome is destroyed, and the Daleks are unleashed on both the unsuspecting  Thals.

     The trio, along with the Thal and Mutos survivors, sneak back to the Kaled bunker. The soldiers are instructed to destroy the bunker, while the Doctor goes in, hoping to stop the Daleks in their tracks.

     There’s a reason this serial is held in such high regard. It gives us a very visceral look at the war that started the Dalek race, and it hits on a lot of different points of the war: the helpless victims caught in between, young people going out and dying, the horrible deaths that result, the desperation and loosening morals, and the relief when people think it’s finally over. The World War II analogues were quite obvious. Both sides seemed  represent the different terrible aspects of Nazi ideology. The Thals were the vicious, warlike people (to begin with), and the Kaleds were the ruthless scientists. Neither side was particularly good at the end.

     It also gives us a couple very iconic moments. The first is Davros’ speech about holding the fate of the universe in his hands. If the end was in his power, would he cause it? Oh, you bet he would. (As he demonstrates clearly  in Journey’s End.) It’s very chilling to watch-someone who has been so warped by war that he would kill everyone just for the sake of his ego.

     The other moment is the image of the Doctor holding the two wires together, debating with himself about whether or not destroying the Daleks while they are helpless is truly the right thing to do. (Yes, he mentions the Hitler argument during his debate.) This sets up a very common moral dilemma for the Doctor. How far is too far?

"Doctor, what vexes all men?"
"The dichotomy of good and evil?"
"You're...you're not normal, are you?"


     This was a fantastic serial. It introduced Davros, it showed us what circumstances it took to cause the Daleks, and it gave us some fantastic acting from Tom Baker.

10/10 would watch forever.

Something about Davros seemed so familiar...if only I could figure out what...



Revenge of the Cybermen

     If it ain’t Daleks, it’s Cybermen. I tell you.

     Our heroic trio arrive back at the Nerva space station, a few thousand years in the past, only to find wacky hijinks are afoot. A plague has hit the station, leaving them under quarantine and isolated, with only three men to continue running the beacon to warn ships away from the nearby planet of Voga. When an alien warning comes through transmission, it seems the only source could be the planet, but Professor Kellman insists that there was no life on the planet when he visited it six months previous.

     Meanwhile, on Voga, there is in fact life on the planet. The alien who attempted to warn the space station is dead; the military leader has some kind of plan, and is in contact with someone on the station. (Three guesses who, and the first two don’t count.) The Vogans (lol) are tense from the nearby Cybermen, who are monitoring transmissions.

     On the station, the Doctor realizes the Cyberman are involved; Voga is known as the “planet of gold”, and gold is known to weaken the Cybermen. The planet was a very important asset in a previous war. Then, Sarah is bitten by a cybermat, the real cause of the deaths on the station, and the Doctor manages to get past Kellman’s sabotage of the transmat system to send Sarah and Harry down to the planet, filtering the poison from Sarah’s body. Unfortunately, the two are captured by the Vogans. There, they discover there is a conflict between two sides. Vorus, the military leader, wants to stop hiding from the Cybermen, and has a plan involving the humans above. But the chief councilor Tyrum wants his people to use caution. Sarah and Harry are caught up in the fighting, while on the space station the Doctor tries to fix the transmat system to bring them back.

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.


     However, before he can, the Cybermen arrive on the station, so they can destroy the asteroid and the main source of weapons against them. They send the Doctor and two of the men on board to plant bombs throughout the asteroid. They have fourteen minutes to make it back to the transmat system (almost impossible), and if they try to take the bombs off, they’ll blow up anyways.

     This was a pretty fun serial. The chief of the action, however, takes place as the Doctor makes his way across the asteroid with a bomb strapped to his back. It was really a tense scene, as it wasn’t entirely clear how the Doctor would manage to get out of it. Kellman was a bit transparently evil; but on the other hand, it was nice to see the Cybermen back (even if it led to complaints that their weakness was too ridiculous.) It had a slow start, but the end was worth it.

     
"If you're so technologically advanced, why do we need to do this?"
"IT IS LOGICAL THAT THE CLIMAX BE ILLOGICAL."
"That...that doesn't...oh, never mind."


Sunday, November 30, 2014

AT LONG, LONG LAST

IT IS OVER. I CAN EXIST AGAIN.










Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm just going to go and not think at all for a good, long while.

This is basically me right now

Monday, November 17, 2014

THERE'S A THING! IT'S A TRAILER!

LOOKITLOOKIT

Proof that The Operator is still a thing! IT'S A THING, AND IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN GUYS.

Respect the thing, everyone. Respect the thing.

Book Review: A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

First off, I think we need several pictures to demonstrate exactly how I feel about this book.






     Right-o, then.

     What do I say about this book? It cleared up a lot of things. It made even more things more complicated. There were dragons, and dragons are cool.

     Things are getting crazy in the Land of Doom. (That's what I'm calling Westeros and the surrounding areas now. Land of Doom.) 

     There's a recurring theme of the younger generation having to take up the mantle where the older generation has failed. Thus far, it has ended really badly for everyone. Jon Snow is probably the most sensible person on the Wall, yet he has to face thousands of years of "tradition" and generally idiocy. It is completely logical to forge an alliance with the Wildlings because there are supernatural ice zombies that want to eat your souls. Unfortunately, few people seem to think this is at all a good idea. GUYS WHAT ABOUT THE ICE ZOMBIES.

     Also interesting is that Melisandre apparently isn't as manipulative and power-hungry as I thought. At the very least, she relies far too much on her "visions", and is as deluded as everyone else regarding the "chosen one". She tries, at times, to actually do something good, but she's so intent on being mystical that she fails at generating trust. Sacrificing people probably doesn't help with PR either.

     I also "enjoyed" Theon's arc, in the sense that seeing him finally overcome his fear and get something done was good. Everything in between was horrifying, and I hope a dragon eats Ramsay Bolton. I want him to be eaten a lot. Asha, of course, was completely awesome, and I probably would have never forgiven Martin if he killed her off. (I still have lots of anger towards him. He's superseded Rowling on "list of authors who like killing off everything I love in their books".)

     Bran's continuing story was surprising and really awesome. We get to meet the "Children of the Forest" and see precisely what the three-eyed crow meant. I'm sure "become ageless tree mystic" is low on anyone's list of plans for their life, but I hope this means Bran will play a bigger part as he gets a better hold on his abilities.

     Arya is finally starting to learn a bit, while discovering her own abilities to jump into animal bodies. What this will lead to, I don't know. I don't think she'll be as happy as Bran to be eaten by Old Man Willow. That said, I was pleased with her arc in this one. She's clever, and ironically the death worshippers seem to be drawing her back from her continued journey into darkness.

     Also, let's talk about Cersei. I hate Cersei. She has major issues, and I'm pretty sure she's one of the most horrible people in this book, but her comeuppance in this book was genuinely horrifying. Rather than being punished for the really horrible things she's done, she's punished for being a promiscuous woman. It's especially terrible since they turn a blind eye to men's promiscuity. It's sort of an anvilicious move on Martin's part, but it's a good view of the hypocrisy we even see today. I felt sympathetic to her. The little detail of her taking so many baths after being parade around the city has a very Lady Macbeth feel. Unfortunately, that means she's probably going to be even crazier.

     Tyrion's character arc slowed down a bit, but that didn't mean it stopped. He's a jerk, but he can't help but be less of a jerk than he intends. His behavior to the dwarf Penny betrays that, deep down, he's not as terrible a person as he wants everyone to think. 

     Also, young Griff. Is he really a Targaryen? Are they faking? I'm actually not so sure, but I hope it's a fake because there is seriously more than enough incest in this book. We don't need anymore.

     This is just one of many plans to bring back the Targaryens to power. You've got Quentyn Martell, whose brother was supposed to marry Dany but has died, leaving it up to him, even though he is basically the nerd of everything. Also, he makes Bad Life Decisions Involving Dragons. You really shouldn't make Bad Life Decisions Involving Dragons. You have Victarion, who wants to "rescue Dany", which after her arc, is the funniest thing I have ever heard ever (and also shows his own attitude toward women-she'll just swoon away when he comes to her aid! HAHAHAHAHA)

     This leads me to Dany. DANY WHY ARE YOU SO AWESOME. WHY CAN'T YOUR AWESOMENESS JUST INFECT EVERYONE ELSE, AND STOP THIS BEING THE LAND OF DOOM?

     Unfortunately, Martin does a good job of deconstructing Dany's "free all the things" tendencies. She may have freed the slaves of many cities, but she left a power vacuum that led to just as many abuses of power, including by the former slaves themselves. (I'm kind of reminded of that Ballydowse song: "Peasants turn princes and chain them again.") She's also made a lot of enemies, and finds herself hemmed in by them. She also finds herself forced to lock the gates against the former slaves who journeyed to get her help when a plague ravages them all.

     She wants to be a good leader, but she is still more naive than she likes to think. She hopes a marriage alliance will bring about peace, but the guy is so sketchy it's clear it will all end badly. She's also losing control of her dragons, particularly Drogon who flies off and decides to eat someone. Luckily, though, DROGON SUDDENLY APPEARS AGAIN AND EVERYTHING IS AWESOME AND DANY GETS TO FLY ON A DRAGON AND YAYYYY.

     It almost makes up for MARTIN KILLING OFF PEOPLE I LOVE. Almost.

     Now, I'll just sit here and wait for The Winds of Winter...





     

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Twitterature: November 2014-I SHOULD BE WRITING A NOVEL RIGHT NOW

     It's Twitterature time, and I'm linking up once again with Modern Mrs. Darcy! Not much in the way of books this time. I suffered a burst of insanity and signed up for NaNoWriMo. Good news? I'm almost to 10,000 words. Bad news? I have 40,000 more to go within fifteen days.



It's not quite time to panic...that will probably come on November 29th....

Anyways! I've got a couple books going anyways, and no one is likely to want them any time soon so I can RENEW THEM FOREVER.


1.) Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary by J.R.R. Tolkien



     I've been wanting to get my hands on this for a while now. Also, there's going to be a book discussion about it in, like, two weeks which AAAGHH ANOTHER DEADLINE. But it's okay. I'm perfectly okay.

     I skimmed over Christopher Tolkien's commentary for now, because I wanted to get right back into the story. I did notice that Tolkien originally wanted to write it entirely in alliterations, which would have been awesome, but I'm just as happy that he chose to retain the rhythm. I read some of it aloud and I caught that pretty quickly. Thus far I think I like this translation a bit better than the one I have. I can't even remember the guy's name, but it's not the one everyone talks about. I think it's the one everyone hates.

     I've just gotten to where Grendel's mother bursts in unexpectedly (like the Spanish Inquisition). She is not Angelina Jolie. Just say no to hypersexualized monsters!


2.) The Sumerians: Their History, Culture, and Character by Samuel Noah Kramer


     I've got a bit of a convoluted story here. I decided to get some history into my system before heading back to school. I'll be focusing on an English degree, but since I'm interested in archiving I will probably be minoring in history. Feeling way out of the loop, I decided to start filling my mind again. I originally got the Great Courses DVD on ancient civilizations (Brian Fagan is an excellent professor, by the way. Even if Dale does like to make fun of his gestures.) However, just as I was getting to China, the DVD player died overnight. Why? I don't know. I blame the Doctor, because Day of the Doctor was in it when it died. There is a strange orange substance, and I suspect an alien incursion.

     So, because I have aliens in my DVD player, I decided to go ahead and take a closer look at some of the cultures mentioned in that lecture series. Dr. Fagan recommended The Sumerians as one of the most comprehensive books on that culture, so here we are.

     Right now I'm still reading about the archaeological history. Originally, everyone thought the Assyrians were the oldest civilization, until they accidentally discovered Sumerian artifacts. And originally, everyone thought it was either a hoax or a misinterpretation of Assyrian artifacts. As such, it took a while for the study of Sumer to really kick off.

     I really love hearing about old cultures, so this should be fun.

A/N: For some reason my addled brain wanted to call Sumer "Sumeria". I knew it looked wrong but it took me nearly 12 hours to realize what was off about it. My brain needs a break!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

ClassicWho Reviews: The Time Warrior, Death to the Daleks, and Planet of the Spiders

The Time Warrior

     Back in the Middle Ages, a pair of ruffians discover a crashed spaceship. The alien inside is a Sontaran named “Linx”, and he promises them his “magic weapons” if they help repair his ship.

     In the 70’s, the Doctor and the Brig are at a secret research facility, where several scientists have disappeared. He meets two scientists, Rubeish and Smith (prompting everyone asking if he’s related to her); but that night, Rubeish disappears. The Doctor manages to follow the trail in his TARDIS, and discovers that the bandit Irongron (really???) has stolen a castle, and Linx has been using it as a place to keep the scientists captive while they work on repairing his ship for him.

     Meanwhile, it appears that “Smith” is really just Sarah Jane impersonating her aunt to get the big scoop and has stowed away on board the TARDIS. Oh, Sarah Jane.

     She teams up with an archer from the neighboring lord of Wessex, who is building up an alliance to take the castle back from their absent friend.  After the confusion with the Doctor is cleared up (as cleared up as it can ever be around him), he comes up with a plan to take back the castle and deal with Linx.

"Tickle the ribs, Sarah Jane! It's the Sontarans' only weak spot!"


     I really loved this serial. It introduced our beloved Sarah Jane, who tries to argue feminist politics with a violent bandit from the Middle Ages. Pitting the irascible and egotistical Irongron against the Sontaran meant plenty of comedy, and of course the Doctor is in fine form, both in brains and ability. (He appears to be an excellent archer in this one.) This was a great way to start out Pertwee’s last season.


Death to the Daleks

     The Third Doctor dealt with Daleks a lot, didn’t he? In this one, the Doctor and Sarah Jane are on a trip when the TARDIS suddenly loses energy and lands on the planet Exxilon. When they go outside to take a look, they are separated and attacked by locals.

      Come morning, the Doctor is rescued by a group of space marines, whose own equipment failed. They are there to fetch a mineral that can cure a deadly plague. Suddenly, a saucer arrives! Guess what it looks like? The whole time, the Doctor appears not to recognize his mortal enemies until they actually leave the saucer. Luckily for everyone else, their weapons have failed just like everyone else. Unfortunately, Dalek movement is apparently done mainly by telekinesis. (No really, they have telekinesis but they mainly use it to move. Can you imagine if anyone showed them Carrie? God help us all.)

     As it appears the Daleks are after the Parrinium too, a very uneasy alliance ensues. But, as luck would have it, the native Exxilons reappear, and take them to their holy city, which is forbidden to get near. Unfortunately, Sarah Jane got near it, and is up next for the sacrifice! After wacky hijinks ensue, in which the Daleks inevitably try to betray everyone, the Doctor and Sarah Jane flee underneath the city, where a group of rebel Exxilons tell them the horrible truth: the city is alive, it has turned on its creators, and the beacon at the top is what drains energy for the city to use.

     It’s a matter of destroying the beacon, but the Daleks have, of course, captured everyone, having modified their weapons to use bullets, and are working on that same plan. They are also inexplicably using a tiny model TARDIS as target practice. Presumably they mass produce them and sell them to Whovians to fund their wars.

It's strangely adorable.


     One after another, the Doctor, followed by Daleks, make their way through the city and the logic tests it has constructed. (Some of which require legs and fingers, but we’ll just assume they blew something up to make it work.) Meanwhile, Sarah Jane and the other captive humans come up with a way to defeat the Daleks while preserving the Parrinium.

    The Daleks did feel a bit overused at this point, especially as they were a bit odd in this one. Between the bullet guns, the model TARDIS, and the one Dalek self-destructing because a prisoner escaped, they were just…strange. I mean, stranger than usual. It’s hard to understand the degree of strangeness in the mind of a raving lunatic.

     This was a decent serial, though. Sarah Jane was a breath of fresh air, as she was portrayed as being fairly clever and resourceful. Not gonna lie, Sarah Jane is one of my favorite companions. Her own series was a long time coming, and she well deserved it. RIP Elisabeth Sladen.


The Planet of the Spiders

     This serial has me torn between nightmare fuel and UNENDING TEARS.

     After the events of a serial I didn’t see, in which Mike Yates of UNIT apparently turned against everyone for no reason other than to carry the Idiot Villain ball for a while, Mike has been “finding himself” at a Tibetan monastery run by a mysterious and slightly eccentric abbot. Sarah Jane goes to visit him and to get a story about the monastery. Unfortunately, one resident, named Lupton, along with a few others, are acting…sketchy. They have secret basement rituals in which they talk to spiders. These spiders want a specific blue crystal back…

     Meanwhile, the Doctor has become quite interested in telepathy. Rather than pull out the copies of Babylon 5 he no doubt has in the TARDIS, he instead hooks Professor Clegg up to a machine. When he decides to try it out with the blue crystal Jo mailed back to him (still mucking around in the amazon, looking for mushrooms with Professor Hippie), Professor Clegg’s heart gives out from getting a vision of spiders.

     When the Doctor and Sarah Jane go back to the monastery, the blue crystal is lost, and comes into the hand of the mentally impaired handyman, who suddenly understands the book Flowers for Algernon perfectly. While the universe is in peril, Tommy READS ALL THE THINGS.

     When Lupton is teleported to Metebelis Three, Sarah Jane manages to dive in the portal and follow. The place is ruled by a legion of spiiiidahhhs. 

I saw horrifying things trying to find this...


     The blue crystals of the planet allowed the spiders to grow bigger and become sentient, which, again, is ALL OF MY NIGHTMARES FOREVER. After stirring up trouble, as usual, the Doctor goes to the mountains, where he meets an even bigger spider who wants to take over the universe. The Doctor is understandably freaked out and flees back to Earth with Sarah Jane, who unfortunately has a giant spider on her back. HOORAY FOR NIGHTMARES.

     Luckily, the abbot in charge of the institute is actually the Doctor’s old mentor from Gallifrey, who has decided to retire to Earth, because apparently at this point the Time Lords were noticing that the Doctor had lots of nice things to say about Earth. Did we have an influx of Time Lord tourists before the Time War? (NuWho mentions a “planet of coffee shops”, which I suspect is us.) Either way, the Doctor and his mentor help Sarah Jane fight off the control of the queen spider, and the Doctor plans to take the blue crystal back to the Great One—clearly he has a plan. (Meanwhile, Tommy does not in fact succumb to Flowers for Algernon syndrome, and continues to READ ALL THE THINGS.)

     Three weeks later he returns just in time for the abbot to inform everyone that he will turn into a very manic Tom Baker.

     The story as a whole was pretty decent. I thought it was a good way to wrap up Pertwee’s run. The Third Doctor makes a final sacrifice to save both Metebelis Three and the universe. (It’s also implied in other source material that it took him ten years to find his way back to UNIT. That’s ten years dying of radiation poisoning! No wonder his fourth incarnation was so loopy.) I also enjoyed the additional glimpses we get of Time Lord society, and proof that the Doctor isn’t the only crazy one from Gallifrey who isn’t out to kill us all.

     Also, there was a very long, silly chase scene in which a variety of vehicles were used, simply because Jon Pertwee liked driving cool things. Oh, Jon Pertwee. You so silly.

"Suck it, Doc Brown!"



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

ClassicWho Reviews: Day of the Daleks to The Green Death

Day of the Daleks

     YO DAWG, I HERD U LIEK TIMELOOPS

     Sir Reginald Styles is just hanging out in his awesome mansion when a guy wearing fatigues just suddenly appears out of nowhere and tries to shoot him. UNIT and the Doctor arrive to investigate this “ghost”, as an international conference is to be held there.]

     Even though Styles now claims he saw nothing, the Doctor takes the opportunity to sample the wine and discovers muddy footprints-clearly not ghostly. He discovers the “ghost” soldiers are using a crude time machine, pursued by Ogrons. When the Doctor tracks down the source of the soldiers-and finds a Dalek.



     Yes, yes, we get it. There, he discovers that the soldiers are rebels, trying to stop an event that weakened Earth and led to the Daleks’ takeover. (One of their takeovers. They do this a lot.)

     Also, they use the mindprobe.

     This was the only one I could get of this season. (Rest assured, I have plans of obtaining the ones I couldn’t find at the library. IT WILL BE DONE.) Next stop, three whole Doctors squabbling at once!


The Three Doctors

     A strange energy blob has arrived at UNIT headquarters, attempting to capture the Doctor. On Gallifrey, they are slowly being sucked into a blackhole, because back then blackholes were like the supervillains of sci-fi. The Time Lords finally give up and decided to let the Doctor and his past selves meet up to figure this out, because it will take three times the zaniness to deal with this problem!
"My bowtie is bigger than your bowtie."
"This isn't a bowtie competition!"


     Hilarity ensues as the Second and Third Doctor start insulting each other, while the First Doctor (trapped in a time eddy and meeting remotely) tries desperately to get them to stop fighting long enough to think. The Brig is horrified to have to deal with Two and Three (even more so when Two decides to handle the crisis by asking Jo how to play “I Am The Walrus” on a recorder), but in no little time the energy blob has transported the TARDIS, containing two Doctors, one Brig, one Sergeant, one Jo, and a Dr. Tyler (who in my head canon is now Rose’s grandfather) into an anti-matter universe. In fact, this is the anti-matter universe that is keeping the Time Lord’s hold on time travel steady.

     It is ruled by the most dramatic Time Lord ever, Omega, who has gone a little crazy from being locked in there alone so long. It’s up to the Doctors to figure out how to keep Omega from destroying everything, and how precisely to chew more scenery than him.

     This is the first serial where someone realized, “Hey, throwing the Doctor’s different incarnations together would be endlessly hilarious!”, and done for the tenth anniversary at that. The beautiful irony of the Doctor essentially finding himself annoying is played to its fullest. Combine that with the Brigadier’s constant snarking at them both, and Hartnell basically saying “DON’T MAKE ME TURN THIS TARDIS AROUND” when things get out of hand, and it’s an entertaining serial.

     It’s also one more step on the road to highlighting that Time Lords really are jerks. Omega was essentially locked in an anti-matter universe, alone, just to keep their secrets safe. He is very much a tragic villain in this case, especially as it was his brilliance that allowed the Time Lords this amazing ability in the first place. Talk about gratitude. (The Time Lords are rarely grateful for anything.) All in all, it was a fun anniversary serial, it introduced variety to the show as the Doctor was released from exile, and it was quite bittersweet, as Hartnell was already very ill and this would be his last appearance on Doctor Who.


Frontier in Space

     The TARDIS appears on an Earth cargo ship in the 26th century. This lasts long enough for a shape-changing ship, seemingly belonging to the Draconians, to come along, attack the ship, and promptly get the Doctor and Jo in trouble with the very ridiculous justice system of Earth. The attackers that board are Ogrons, and they appear to be using some sort of hypnotic sonic device (that is not a screwdriver), but by the time they’ve gone the two men on board are somehow convinced Jo and the Doctor are Draconian spies.

     Meanwhile, the Earth president (wearing a very funny non-professional dress) and the Draconian ambassador, son of the emperor, are bickering over who shot who. It appears the Draconians have similar claims of Earth ships ambushing their own.

     When General Williams arrives with Jo and the Doctor in tow, nonsense ensues as they attempt to get the two to admit to being spies, while the Draconian prince becomes convinced they were hired by Earth’s government to pretend to be spies, and therefore must be questioned. (Also the Doctor uses his mind to break a mind probe. He has a tendency to do this.)

     By the time the charade is over, the Doctor and Jo have somehow been “outed” as career criminals, and the Doctor is trying to lead a prison escape from the moon. Meanwhile, Jo is on Earth, when, a very familiar face arrives…


     WHAT. Jo decides to go along with the Master for the time being, probably due to the higher probability of having a snarkfest, and to “rescue” the Doctor. As the plot thickens, the Doctor must find a way to warn both Earth and Draconia that they’re being used as pawns in a greater war…a war started by…



     WHAT.

     I love this serial, but it’s really a huge jigsaw puzzle plot. It had some great characterization, such as Jo resisting the Master’s attempts at hypnosis with the utmost politeness; the Doctor boring the Master to distraction by telling his life story; and of course the wacky outfits we are apparently going to wear in the 26th century.

     And it only gets more complicated in the next serial. Really, it seems like the Daleks just have dozens of plots lined up, ready to go, just in case the Doctor shows up or something. (But at least they haven’t yet started making plots specifically to drawn the Doctor in…)


Planet of the Daleks

     After the Doctor is wounded by the Master, he calls for help from the Time Lords, who land the TARDIS on a jungle-like planet. As the Doctor becomes catatonic, Jo leaves the TARDIS to find help while plants spray sap around. As the TARDIS is covered by sap, Jo discovers another wrecked spaceship with a dead pilot inside. Before she can make the smart choice and run away, she is discovered by…Thals! Yeah, some Thals are still alive! While the Thals go to search for the TARDIS, Jo hides from the “patrols”, and the ship is searched by some strange invisible being.
     Once the Doctor is rescued, he discovers the Thals are the last remains of a military unit that was trying to find out what the Daleks were planning this time around. It appears the inhabitants of Spiridon can turn invisible at will, and the Daleks were hoping to harness that.

     However, after the Doctor is captured, he discovers that not only are there thousands of Daleks, they are manufacturing a deadly bacteria that will kill all who are not immunized against it. The Doctor has half a day to stop the Daleks before they release the bacteria on the planet, destroying everything.

     Ah, another fun little romp into the twisted minds of the Daleks. They really love their complicated schemes. Straightforward conquest is too mainstream. It also reminded us that the Thals are still around, and still fighting the Daleks. The Doctor has become an old legend to them, but one that has stuck with them all this time. While previously he had to whip the Thals into action, here he warns them against using violence as the go-to answer: he doesn’t want them to glorify war.

WE WILL NOW PLAN ALL OF OUR BATTLES UTILIZING FIGURINES


     The effects were…questionable. The “army of Daleks” were clearly toys (although I suppose a tiny Dalek ray to the toe would hurt pretty bad), and the Spiridons were invisible people walking around in large purple furs.  It also introduced a Dalek weakness that has never shown up again: they really don’t like the cold. (I can sympathize, as I sit here wrapped in a shawl because it hasn’t hit 70 degrees in here yet.) Unfortunately, Spiridon is a planet that spews ice like lava. (Which is actually a THING. How cool is that? Pun not intended.)

     So, all in all entertaining, but not the best. (But I still liked when the Doctor declares, after pushing a Dalek into ice lava, “I took great satisfaction in doing that.”)


The Green Death

     The Doctor is preparing for a very plot-important trip to Metebelis Three when he hears of the mysterious death of a miner in South Wales. (It should be noted that in the Doctor Who universe, Wales is almost as dangerous as New York City. Apparently there is a rift, but we’ll get there later.) He apparently was found dead and glowing, which isn’t usually how miners die. So the Doctor decides to hop over to Metebelis Three for a quick jaunt, while the Brig and Jo head down to investigate the miner’s death.

     Very shortly thereafter, the Doctor arrives back from Metebelis Three, having annoyed the locals, with only a small blue gem which will also be very plot important. Jo, meanwhile, has been sent off by Professor Jones to investigate the mines, because his work is far too important. Poor Jo just can’t get a break with all these geniuses around. Brig and the Doctor arrive just in time for Jo to find another green glowing guy, and also giant maggots.

     No, really, there are giant maggots.

"Don't worry, Jo, I'll protect you with the power of my Herbal Essence hair."


     The Doctor swipes an egg, and they take it back to Professor Jones’ lab to study. There, they eat mushrooms like a bunch of hobbits, Jo and Professor Jones attempt to have chemistry together after he had spent most of the day shouting at her, and the maggot hatches, luckily killing the mine minion who came to steal the egg back.

     The Doctor returns to the mines, dresses up as one of those old ladies from Monty Python, and discovers the BEST VILLAIN EVER.

     BOSS. Literally, Bimorphic Organisational Systems Supervisor, proving A.I. really is a crapshoot, because BOSS will play classical music as he plans to take over the world, BOSS will declare his plans in the MOST GRANDIOSE VOICE POSSIBLE, BOSS WILL EAT ALL OF THE SCENERY AND LEAVE NONE FOR OMEGA.

"What is the sound a doggy makes?"
"MOO."


     Meanwhile, Jo accidentally discovers how to cure everyone by knocking things over in Professor Jones’ lab. He shouts at her a bit, because this is how to establish chemistry between two characters. The Doctor realizes he can use the Blue Jewel to break mental conditioning, and BOSS serves up some more helpings of Large Ham

     By the end, Jo and Professor Jones have inexplicably decided to get married and run off to the Amazon together, and the Doctor hands over the blue jewel and looks so devastated that it’s the only part of this serial that really hit me hard.

     I sort of liked this. I feel like the parts with Jo and the Professor were forced (remember what I said about unsatisfactory companion departures? This is one of them.) She says he reminds her of the Doctor, but whereas the Doctor superciliousness and impatience seem more out of forgetting he’s around a bunch of puny humans, with Professor Jones it’s just annoying. He really is rather mean, which is why their relationship just doesn’t work for me.

     The Doctor’s reaction to Jo leaving is the only thing that made it work. It’s subtle, and showing him driving off through the darkness is one of the loneliest scenes. It’s part of the theme that decreases with subtlety as the series goes on: the Doctor needs companions..


     That said, the scenes in the mine were creepy, and again, BOSS IS BEST COMPUTER.



Monday, November 3, 2014

IT IS NOVEMBER THIRD AND I COMPLETELY FORGOT

Yeahhh...last year I said I was totally gonna do NaNoWriMo this year. And you know what? I'm going for it. (A post over on Modern Mrs. Darcy both reminded me and inspired me.)

I have no idea what I'm going to write yet. I have a veritable armory of ideas waiting, but where I'm going to take them is really up in the air. But that's what this is about, right? Impulsive, intuitive writing?

Oh boy, this is going to get so rambly.




Friday, October 31, 2014

100 Themes Challenge: Eyes

A/N: I've been saving this one up for Halloween. Seems appropriate.


    Mrs. Tacy was 95 years old and blind. That’s what Jan’s mom told her, anyways. Every day, when she and her friends walked home after school, they’d see the old woman sitting out on her porch, rocking in her chair, the rhythmic creaking causing the children to fall silent as they approached. Jan didn’t know what it was about her that was so scary, though. She had never snapped at them as some old people did, or live in a rundown house, or own dozens of cats. She was, by all appearances, a harmless old lady that liked to sit on her porch in the afternoon. But Jan was still frightened of her.
     Her mom said it was loneliness.
     “Sometimes we can tell things about people without really thinking about it. Mrs. Tacy has been alone for a long time, and sometimes that can do strange things to a person. Maybe you should say hi to her.”
     So far, Jan had not. But her friends kept daring her. It was a big thing, being dared. If you didn’t take the dare, you were a coward. And Jan didn’t want to be a target for bullies.

     One afternoon, after a particular long bout of teasing about it, Jan finally worked up the courage to approach the old woman. As the three girls drew closer to the house, Jan could feel her heart speed up. Her legs moved stiffly, as though unwilling to go near. When she tried to speak to her friends as though nothing was wrong, her voice sounded very far away. But she held her head high, and when they were right across from the porch, Jan turned and walked partway to the stairs.
     “Hi, Mrs. Tacy!” she said, hoping she sounded cheery. The rocking chair stopped creaking. But the old woman made no sound. Her dark glasses continued staring off into space, and the old woman was still. The girls on the sidewalk huddled together, and Jan, fighting the urge to run, tried again.
     “I hope you’re having a nice day!”
     The old woman reached up to her glasses, and suddenly, Jan felt a burst of panic. She ran back to her friends, who promptly fled down the road with her.
     “That was weird!” Liz said after they slowed down. “What was that about?”
     “Maybe she’s hard of hearing too?” Jan looked back at the distant house, where she imagined the rocking chair had begun once more.
     Mel giggled. “Why don’t you run up and take her glasses off tomorrow?”
     Jan was horrified. “No! Besides, that would be kind of mean. She’s blind.”
    “She’s creepy,” Liz said quietly.
     “So? Let’s just…leave her alone. She’s really old. She’ll probably die in, like, a month or something.”
     “My grandparents said she was old when they were kids.” The other two girls looked at Liz, who shrugged defensively. “That’s what they said!”
     “Your grandparents like telling scary stories.”
     “Yeah, but some of them are true! Remember the creepy doll Granny said moved on its own? And we found it on the floor after we put it on the table?”
     “I bet your granny did that herself!” Mel said. “She likes freaking us out. Anyways, Jan is gonna take the old lady’s glasses tomorrow.”
     “I am not!”
     “I’ll tell everyone you were too scared.”
     This was an effective threat. Jan sighed, and adjusted her backpack.
     “Fine, but I’m giving them right back.”

     All day, Jan fretted over the approaching ordeal. She could barely pay attention in class, got snapped at several times by frustrated teachers, and finally given lunch detention. She sat alone in the office, munching on her sandwich and trying to convince herself she was just going to play a harmless prank. She’d give the glasses right back. Maybe Mrs. Tacy would laugh! Then they would find out there was nothing to be afraid of, and she’d invite them in and give them cookies, like old people do on TV. Although Jan wasn’t sure how you could make cookies when you were blind. Practice?
     After school, Mel and Liz seemed to walk far too fast for Jan’s comfort. She didn’t want to go near Mrs. Tacy again, and part of her hoped something would happen to prevent it. Maybe she died overnight! But that was a terrible thought, and Jan mentally kicked herself for it. It wouldn’t take long. She’d just take the glasses off, then put them back on, and tell her it was a dare from her friends. Surely Mrs. Tacy had been a girl before. Didn’t they have dares back in…what, the 20’s, or something? Girls back then couldn’t have been that different.
     Then her friends stopped, and Jan realized they were at Mrs. Tacy’s house. The old woman was there, as usual, and Jan turned to her friends.
     “This will be really mean. We shouldn’t do it.”
     “I already told everyone at school you were gonna,” Mel said.
     “Just…do it really fast.” Liz looked over at the porch and hugged herself. “Then we can get out of here.” At least Liz understood Jan’s nervousness.
     Jan took slow steps toward the porch, heart pounding once more. She paused at the stairs, and looked back at her friends. Mel made a shooing motion, but Liz was half hidden behind the other girl.
     The stairs were thankfully silent as Jan climbed them one by one. She crossed the two feet to Mrs. Tacy, who stopped rocking. Then, taking a deep breath, Jan reached out and grabbed the glasses off.

     Her friends could not see what was going on, but they were confused to find Jan standing there for so long, apparently staring at the old woman's blind eyes. It was supposed to be quick! What if Mrs. Tacy called out for help, and some neighbor came to tell their parents? But then, Jan replaced the glasses and walked back down the stairs. Her step was quick, and she held her head a bit high, looking down at the other two smugly.
     “Well, that was not so bad, was it?” she said. “Shall we go?” Liz and Mel looked at each other.
     “Shall?” Liz said.
     “She thought it was a childish thing for us to do. We oughtn’t do it again.”
     “Oughtn’t?” Mel added.
     A thin, high sound reached their ears. When they turned back, they saw it came from Mrs. Tacy. She was clutching at her head and wailing.
     “Oh, dear, she must be having some sort of fit. We ought to get help. Come on girls!” Jan gestured for them to follow, and started down the sidewalk. Liz and Mel looked at each other for a long time as Mrs. Tacy continued to wail.

     Later that night, both girls got the news that Mrs. Tacy’s heart had simply given out, as though from a great shock.
     “That’s rather dreadful,” Jan had said when Liz called her with the news. “It must be terrible, growing old.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Review: Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs



     It all began with some social commentary.

     See, the Lord and Lady Greystoke were on their way to Africa to investigate some abuses of the colonial system when the ship they were on fell under mutiny and marooned them on the farthest piece of jungle possible.

     You would think two people, having grown up in the lap of luxury, would probably die a lot in this situation. You would be wrong, because they are ENGLISH NOBILITY. Being ENGLISH NOBILITY is very important in this book. Despite not doing much manual labor at all, somehow Lord Greystoke builds a house that keeps out the vicious wild animals whose main motivations are to kill anything that happens to move a bit. (Word is out on whether or not the incredibly lost lions were chasing leaves.) However, an attack by an ape colony leaves the two dead, and their infant son alone. Luckily, he is adopted by the ape Kala who promptly names him Tarzan (which means “Whiter Than Vanilla Ice”).

     These are special apes. They have their own language and weird drum rituals. As Tarzan grows, and realizes he’s basically the wimpy nerd of the tribe, he starts using his special ENGLISH NOBILITY intelligence to compensate, first by devising traps for vicious animals, then by stealing weapons from some of those abused natives mentioned before. (Despite being abused natives, they are still a mad cannibal tribe. Well…E for effort, Mr. Burroughs.)

    He also finds the house where he was born, and learns English by reading children’s books.

   Meanwhile, yet another group has been marooned by Death Jungle. This includes young American woman Jane Porter, her father whose Alzheimer’s is played for laughs, his beleaguered assistant, and the young William Clayton, who, due to Tarzan being presumed dead, is set to inherit the Greystoke estate. He is also not an egotistical big game hunter, despite Disney’s insistence to the contrary. Also there is Jane’s hilariously offensive black servant who screams and faints at literally anything. (Including confused lions chasing leaves.)

    You can see it coming a mile away: Jane gets into various troubles, including being kidnapped by an ape (because the apes were AFTER THE WIMMENZ in those days), and falls in love with Tarzan because…um…he’s strong and pretty.

     While Tarzan goes around doing AWESOME THINGS, Jane frets and broods over her love for Tarzan versus societal expectations (while the author frets and broods over the natural man versus the socially constructed man), her father wanders off dangerously into the forest, and the helpful Frenchmen who arrive to rescue them get kidnapped by the evil abused native cannibal tribesmen.

     Tarzan is also awesome at this point, and while he helps D’Arnot overcome his wounds, he learns French.

     No, not English, he learns to speak French.

     What follows next is the most surreal sequence ever: Tarzan easily incorporating himself into civilized society because he is ENGLISH NOBILITY and can speak French, a race to Wisconsin (presumably to root on the Packers), and a helpful forest fire to prevent the Evil Suitor Who Wasn’t Mentioned Until Last Minute from Enacting His Evil Plan.

     I’ve been flippant in this review, but it really was a fun, wild little ride. Despite some cringe-worthy moments (you know, the cannibal natives and the horrifying portrayal of Esmeralda the servant), the book is good escapist fantasy. I will probably read the next one just to see how much more surreal it can get.

     Also, it led to one of the most fantastically cheesy 80's songs ever.

Enough cheese for the whole of Wisconsin.