Monday, September 29, 2014

ClassicWho Reviews: The Spearhead from Space to Inferno

Spearhead from Space


     The Doctor, having been forced to look like Jon Pertwee, arrives on Earth and has a post-regeneration collapse. At the same time, meteors arrive, bringing the Uncanny Valley with them. The Brigadier, investigating the meteors, also discovers the Doctor, and is very, very puzzled indeed.

     As it turns out, the meteors are in fact the Nestene Consciousness, which can animate plastic. This means Walking Mannequins, which are wonderful. And by “wonderful” I mean “incredibly creepy”. They attempt to kidnap the Doctor, who promptly escapes in a wheelchair. After dressing himself up in an opera cape, assuring the Brig he is in fact the Doctor, and discovering a pretty girl to follow him around, he thinks he’s found a way to defeat the Autons with SCIENCE.

    Not that it lasts.

     This was a perfect way to start out the Third Doctor’s run. It combined the Doctor’s usual zaniness with an unruffled certainty. It also changed the show quite a bit, as the Doctor is grounded and forced to work with UNIT. And he has a tattoo.

Bad decision for Pertwee, good decision for everyone else.

     Also, Bessie.

"But Doctor, why can't I drive?" "ZOOM ZOOM LOL WHEEE"

Doctor Who and the Silurians

"About those TPS reports..."

     The Doctor, Liz, and the Brig arrive at a nuclear research facility, where they’re experiencing odd power outages and a strange illness that’s affecting the crew that investigate the cave system underneath. While the Director tries to impede UNIT, it becomes evident that the Deputy Director knows more than he lets on.

     When they enter the caverns, however, they discover an ancient reptilian race that’s been in hiding, and it appears some members of their race have become aggressive. The Doctor must discover the source of the aggression before an all-out war begins.

     This was a good follow-up. It established the friendly dissension between the Doctor and UNIT, and started his trend of preferring to take in the situation first. (Which doesn’t stop him using Venusian karate.)

The Ambassadors of Death

Afterward, the alien ambassadors, inspired by their time on Earth, chose to form a rap band.

     Mars Probe Seven, which is not the Mars Rover, has been lost, along with the two astronauts piloting it. A recovery probe has been sent under UNIT’s supervision, but when the recovery probe makes contact, it emits a strange sound that the Doctor suspects is a coded message. He and Liz arrive on site to investigate. He realizes a reply to the coded message has been sent from a nearby warehouse.

     Meanwhile, General Carrington appears to have plans of his own, as once the recovery probe returns he detains the three astronauts elsewhere in an irradiated room. As the plot deepens, the Doctor must unravel the various threads to discover just what happened to Mars Probe Seven.

     While I feel like the entire plot was a little too convoluted, it was definitely interesting. The actual twist wasn’t much of a twist, but it was part of the growing trend of having the more “alien” aliens being benevolent.

     Also, it was hilarious watching Liz trying to run in her mini-skirt and boots. Wacky fun!

Above: An entirely practical outfit for leaping over fences and running through muddy fields.


"An eye patch, Brig? What do you think this is, some sort of cheesy sci-fi show?"

     Disco inferno! (It was the 70s. You could tell.) This was the first serial to introduce the idea of alternate realities, and the last serial with Liz as companion. Stahlman’s Gas is attempting to penetrate the Earth’s crust, because we all know that ends well. While UNIT runs security, the Doctor tries to use the nuclear power to get his TARDIS up and running. However, a toxic green slime is starting to change people into primitive, aggressive forms while Stahlman himself refuses to stop for anything.

     While the Doctor messes around with the TARDIS, he is transported to an alternate Earth where England is under fascism (Liz stomping around in combat boots and the Brig wearing a Sinister Eye Patch), and Keith Gold, the project director, has mysteriously died. It appears the Stahlman project is farther ahead, and when the Doctor sees the results of the project on alternate Earth, he must do all he can to return to his universe and stop the same from happening there.

     This was a nice ending to the season, with some excellent banter between the Doctor and the Brig, and giving the actors all a chance to act evil for a while.

     Next season we'll return with


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Photo Saturday: The Bridge That Formerly Went Somewhere

Once upon a time, Illinois had money. Then Blagojevich happened, and they didn't have money. So when for reasons as yet unknown Sylvan Island bridge was declared unsafe even though we all walked across it while feeling safer than being stuck in traffic on the I-74 bridge, Illinois didn't have the money to fix it. And then no one had an awesome out of the way trail to walk. The End.

But seriously it's well past a year since they did this and it was basically the coolest place to walk, because it was nice and woodsy and fairly quiet, whereas the "recreation trail" in Moline is constantly beaten by the sun, goes right by the road, and dust from construction sites blow over that thing so hard you can't see where you're going. THANKS ILLINOIS.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Review: Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks

     Budo has been alive for four years. That’s much longer than most imaginary friends last. This is because his child, Max, is “on the spectrum” and cannot face the outer world alone. So Budo has accompanied him for far longer than most children need their imaginary friends. Budo knows, however, that one day Max will stop believing in him, and he will stop existing.

     All seems well for the moment; but then something terrible happens, and Budo must get the help of other imaginary friends to save Max—even if it means Budo must come to an end.

     This was a very odd book, but an amazing one. Budo is the audience surrogate, both into the world of imaginary friends and into Max’s very ordered world. Because Max is very intensely detailed, Budo is more human than the other imaginary friends, and can move around the world much easier. As such Budo is both more intelligent than the other characters, but at the same time more limited. In ways both good and bad Budo is incredibly human, and this is what makes the narrative so fascinating. I would have preferred a larger exploration of the world of imaginary friends. There is an element of “guardian angel” that’s rather compelling, but I think the story really isn’t just about Budo growing as a character, but also Max. Max must learn to handle the things that frighten him, as well as he can with autism.

     This was a wonderful book, and the end was somewhat bittersweet, but also contained a pleasant surprise.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

ClassicWho Reviews: The Krotons, The Seeds of Death, and The War Games

The Krotons:

     The Second Doctor and his companions, Jaime and Zoe (whose first adventure I didn’t see because of the vagaries of fate/BBC DELETED MOST OF IT), land on a planet where the local humanoid aliens, the Grond, are under the iron fist of the Krotons. The most intelligent of their race are chosen by the Kroton as “servants”, but our heroes first view of the planet is of these “chosen ones” getting vaporized. They save one of them, Vana, and hurry to warn the rest of the Grond.

     This was an okay serial. The Krotons are crazy B-movie robots, Zoe is adorably impulsive, and Jamie is adorably clueless as ever. As usual, it’s up to the heroes to whip the local populace into revolution. This wasn’t too bad, but it also wasn’t that memorable to me (I can’t remember many details of it since I first watched it). Most notable is that it’s the first one for Robert Holmes, who quickly became a permanent fixture in the Doctor Who world.

What do you mean, "trying and failing to be a Dalek"?

The Seeds of Death:

     Supposedly some time near the end of this century we’re going to get teleportation technology. I’ll probably be dead by then, but it’ll be up to the later generations to sustain the disappointment we ourselves will experience next year when we inevitably do not have hoverboards.

     However, the Doctor and his companions are not disappointed, but are more interested in an old man in a museum still building rockets. Naturally, the trans-mat system breaks down, and guess who gets to pilot a rocket?

"Worst road trip ever." "Shut up Jaime!" "I...I forgot to go before we left..." "DAMMIT ZOE."

     Turns out, the relay station for the trans-mat has been taken over by those pesky Ice Warriors, whose first serial was not available to me, because the vagaries of fate didn’t leave a copy at the library. They plan on using the trans-mat system to send a deadly fungus to Earth that absorbs the oxygen, because the Ice Warriors didn’t see the zillion other uninhabited planets they could totally live on. Luckily, the Doctor realizes the fungus can be defeated by water, probably because he watched Signs. He then lures the entire fleet into the Sun, because the Doctor didn’t have this weird thing about leaving hostile, deadly aliens alive until later, and Jamie kills the last one because HE IS SCOTTISH, SCREW ALL OF YOU. This was a pretty good if slightly confusing serial. (Seriously, these aliens come up with some of the most convoluted plans to destroy Earth I’ve ever heard. They need to take lessons in simplicity from Marvin, really.) It also showed off how manipulative this seemingly goofy Doctor was. In fact, the goofier the Doctor, the more manipulative he will probably be.

The War Games

     I’ll just finish up with the last of the Second Doctor’s serials. This was quite a big one. It was also the end of Zoe and Jaime’s run as companions; it revealed the Doctor’s race, the Time Lords, and it was the very last serial to be black and white. And what a serial it was.

     The Doctor and Co. arrive on a planet only to find themselves in the Hunger Games. No, really; different soldiers from different time periods have been placed on this planet to fight to the death. The Doctor discovers a rebel from his own race, called the War Chief, is aiding a group of aliens (led by the War Lord) in establishing an army of only the best soldiers, to…you guessed it! Take over the galaxy.

Thank you, Dalek Bison!

     The Doctor is able to help many of the soldiers break through their mental conditioning, and together they make their way to the aliens’ base. They manage to take control, but the Doctor can’t return the soldiers on his own. He must call in the Time Lords, even though they will most likely arrest him for his crimes, such as stealing a TARDIS, being snarky, and impersonating a cleric of the Church of Rassilon altering some historical events throughout the universe. The War Lord is dematerialized, Jamie and Zoe have their minds wiped and sent back to their own times, with only a vague memory of meeting the Doctor, and the Doctor himself is forced to regenerate, and exiled to Earth where he will wind up being even more awesome, which probably just annoys them even more.

"Knock kno--" "DOCTOR THIS ISN'T STAND-UP." "Oh."

     I loved this serial. It gave us a little glimpse into Time Lord society and their past, and it had a very bittersweet ending. It also did bring to light why the Doctor left Gallifrey-the Time Lords do self-righteous and hypocritical so well. This led into possibly my favorite Doctor (it’s a toss-up between Pertwee and Tom Baker, but I think in general Tom Baker wins for the extra quirkiness and defeating a Dalek with his hat) and what I consider one of the best eras of Doctor Who.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Book Review: Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

    Hazel has been best friends with Jack since she was six years old. Adopted by parents now divorced and of a different race than most of her classmates, as well as prone to daydreaming, Hazel just doesn't fit in, and Jack is really her only friend. However, after an argument, Jack gets a piece of glass stuck in his eye and suddenly stops talking to Hazel. When he runs away into the woods with a snow witch, Hazel goes in to rescue him, and finds herself in a strange world where she is tempted at every turn to leave her quest behind her. Whatever the case, both children will be changed by the time the quest is at an end.

     This was a surprisingly complex and emotional book. The hints of greater magical happenings are just that--hints--while Hazel’s quest is of utmost importance. Hazel is extremely sympathetic but also flawed, and both are intertwined. We sympathize with Hazel because she has so many of our own failings: selfishness, hardheadedness, and resistance to change. Ursu also likes playing with fairy tale tropes (and this as well as the dangerous world of the forest have a very Gaiman-like flavor to them). She introduces a fantastic, quirky old mentor-who has little to do with the story, except inspiring Hazel with his stories. The antagonist is another interesting inversion. I will not give everything away, but the main conflict is inner, not outer.

     In the end, both children really are changed, because they begin to mature. Both have major problems in their lives, and both realize they cannot run away or hide from them. They must face them as best they can. This is a wonderful, bittersweet fairy tale.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Lovecraft used the word "kitties" once

He also called them "confounded pretty".

Yeah, I have no other purpose for this post. Enjoy this addition to the massive Internet knowledge of cats.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

ClassicWho Reviews: The Time Meddler and The Tomb of the Cybermen

The Time Meddler:

     Immediately following the events on Mechanus, the Doctor and Vicki discover Steven Taylor, who is not from Alabama, is on the TARDIS and a wee bit disoriented. When they arrive in England in the Middle Ages, Steven can barely believe it, even though they find a Saxon helmet. The Doctor can barely believe it, but that’s because a monk in the nearby monastery has a gramophone, toaster, and teapot. He promptly gets captured after this, while Steven and Vicki are taken in by local Saxon villagers. However, when they search for the Doctor the next day, some Vikings land, and they discover that the Monk has plans for the current king to defeat the Vikings with bazookas, utterly altering the timeline of the world.

"I think it belongs to that Avenger over there..."

     This was a pretty good one, given that they had to transition after the loss of two beloved companions. Steven’s skepticism is a bit arbitrary, but it’s good to keep in mind how one would react to time-traveling.

     It continues the theme in Doctor Who about not altering history, but even more than that, it gave us another Time Lord for the first time. The Meddling Monk never really took off the way the Master would, but it gave us yet another Time Lord that had gone renegade, and it also showed us that, as much as the Doctor is a free spirit, he still adheres to some rules for the good of essentially the whole Universe. (It also shows the hypocrisy of the Time Lords when, later on in the series, they call him out on his meddling while doing nothing about more egregious and dangerous offenders such as the Meddling Monk and the Master.)

This was, alas, the last of the First Doctor serials I could find.

The Tomb of the Cybermen

     This was actually the first of the Second Doctor serials I could find. I missed a whole season!

     As a side note, I did find the partially finished version of The Evil of the Daleks on YouTube, and dear Lord the Daleks playing trains is the most adorable weird thing ever. See, the Daleks feel something is missing in them…some hole in their hearts…clearly they need to understand why humans cry at sad movies, and stuff like that. So they get the Doctor to send his companion Jamie on a series of dangerous adventures to capture the essence of the Human Factor-the reason humans just seem to keep on going in this series despite constantly being attacked by aliens. When three Daleks are injected with said Human Factor, they become playful and kind…then return to Skaro and start a violent revolution. YAYYYYYY! (One returns in an Eighth Doctor comic, having becoming even more awesome than ever. Yeah, Children of the Revolution…read at the risk of all your feels being punched at once.)


     Ahem. All that aside, this was the following episode. The Doctor, Jamie, and their new companion Victoria (whose dad took an extermination for the Doctor) arrive in the middle of an expedition on the planet Telos, where they have discovered Cybermen on Ice, which would make a hilarious ice skating musical as well. However, it appears shenanigans are afoot, with a crazy leader who has delusions of grandeur and his treacherous second-in-command. (Treacherous to everyone else, not him, oddly enough.)

     This was quite enjoyable. The sight of the Cybermen ripping out of their tombs was actually kind of creepy (the music they use helps-they’ve kept that theme in the new series as well). Also, it gave Victoria more to do than be the damsel in distress. She manages to hold her own pretty well despite the complete weirdness of the situation. It also gives her a sweet moment with the Doctor, where he speaks of his family to help ease her grief over her father.

They were a bit cranky when they realized no one had made them coffee first.

     It must be noted that this started something of a trend with the Doctor undergoing a rather noticeable personality change with each regeneration. The First Doctor was something of a gruff old git. The Second Doctor is positively playful, and something of a “clown” (as the First Doctor himself calls him later on). One of the remarkable things about the writers for this show is that, despite changing the Doctor’s personality, some elements remain steadfast-his love of using his wits to save the day, his ego problem, and his inability to simply walk away from a situation-he has to save the people! It’s no wonder this show has lasted so long. With such an infinity of ways to take the story, I think they’ll have plenty of ideas for a good long time.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Twitterature September 2014: It's More Fantastical!

     I've been consuming fantasy lately. I'm still on my marathon of Game of Thrones, and on a lark one day I started reading my Kindle version of Tarzan. Also, I'm on the verge of starting a re-read of Lord of the Rings (kicked off by a nice breakfast of bacon and mushrooms this morning). So without further ado...

1.) A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

     This man is an evil overlord. I swear he is. He keeps throwing on more and more feels. Furthermore, he has managed to throw in several more viewpoint characters, and gets a perfect voice for each of them. Unlike another book I recently tried to read, you can tell who is who without reading the name at the beginning of the chapter. While it takes some time away from the more major characters, it also gives a wider view of the events in the book, and expands his vivid world.
     Thus far, we have Cersei, who has taken up Joffrey's mantle of Being Crazy. Her younger son, Tommen is king only in name, too young to rule yet old enough for a political marriage. His new wife seems sweet-natured enough, but it's hard to tell with people here. Samwell has discovered Jon tricked him (with good intentions, but still, it throws an extra shade on his character, and Martin is very good at doing that). Brienne is still questing to find Sansa, and she is probably the the most moral character in the book, meaning she's probably doomed. Because Martin does that. Murders characters. BECAUSE HE'S AN EVIL OVERLORD.

2.) Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs

     For someone whose only exposure to Tarzan was through the cheesy old movies with the ridiculously not-tan actor and George of the Jungle parodies, starting this book was a pleasant surprise. Burroughs is good with vivid descriptions as well as setting up dramatic tension. I list this under "fantasy" because the apes have their own drum rituals and language-of course, for all I know that could have been considered good science back then. (It certainly cropped up in Arthur Jermyn, but then again that was Lovecraft, who had...things to say about miscegenation.)
     The narrative of Tarzan slowly growing discontented with the apes as his intelligence grows is quite interesting. I feel like Burroughs was commenting on the nature vs. nurture debate, coming firmly down on the side of nature. (Tarzan being the son of a white aristocrat, he was naturally superior to the apes and the natives!) While Burroughs does have some of those "quaint" Victorian values, he does get a little critical of the Empire's treatment of native peoples. Tarzan's father was, after all, sailing to Africa to investigate claims of abuse, and the introduction of the natives later on shows them in a pretty sympathetic light as they flee said abuse.
     Thus far it's been pretty difficult to put down.

3.) The Lord of the Rings

     It seems like, when fall comes around, I get a hankering to re-read Lord of the Rings. I think it's partly because the quest begins in the fall, and Tolkien's descriptions are so vivid that I can't help but recall them when the seasons change. (On an amusing note, my short friend Kelli's birthday is also September 22nd. Hobbit references abound on that day.)
     Lord of the Rings cannot be read fast. It's less a roller-coaster and more like a journey in and of itself. There are times when things go quickly, and you can get through several chapters with a racing heart. Then, like the characters, you slow down, drinking in the surroundings, hearing the elven songs and listening to the wind in the trees. It will probably take me all winter, but that's okay. It's a good book to read when you're stuck inside.

Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy has her list of September books, and plenty of people have added their own. Go check them out, and remember, if you're a George R.R. Martin character, eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you die. You die a lot.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Parody 5: S2, E4: Lost In Hyperspace!

A message comes to Babylon 5 for Captain Sheridan.

Ivanova: Can I call you Swamp Rat just like Captain Maynard?

Sheridan: NO. Now look at that awesome ship.

Ivanova: Captained by “Stinky”. Who came up with these cheesy nicknames?

JMS: …


Sheridan: So how about that Rim, eh?

Maynard: Very mysterious. Is that a Minbari with hair?

Sheridan: That’s Ambassador Delenn.

Maynard: …is she single?

Sheridan: D-:<


Garibaldi: I want unhealthy food, dammit. UNHEALTHY FOOD.

Franklin: Nope.

Garibaldi: But…but the bagna cauda.

Franklin: Isn’t that the most unhealthy thing the Italians have come up with, including Pizza Hut?

Garibaldi: Pizza Hut isn’t really Italian…

Franklin: Well anyways you can’t have any of that.


Franklin: Tough. Now I can force my diets IMEANFOODPLANS on everyone!


Sheridan: So the Centauri and Narns were trying to kill each other, as usual; the Vorlon kept muttering mysterious things and drifting away, and if you asked him to explain he says something about “whoops time for tea catch you later”; the Minbari wouldn’t let me play their Minbari games, and Delenn was in a cocoon.

Maynard: WHAT.

Sheridan: That was my first day at work.

Maynard: So I figured you would explore forever and not be strapped to a desk and be angsty through the episode.

Sheridan: …


Poor Red Shirt Keffer: So where next, Captain Stinky?

Maynard: Back to the Rim.

Ivanova: The creepy Rim of doom? Where mysterious things happen?

Maynard: Yes. Kind of like people saying something is living in hyperspace. Something which totally has nothing to do with Death Spiders.


Sheridan: Wait, were you serious, or were you trolling them?

Maynard: No, I saw SOMETHING. ON THE WING. I mean on the Rim. Something big and black and creepy.

Sheridan: Which is not a Death Spider.

Maynard: Damn straight.

Sheridan: Huh, G’Kar said something weird was out there too. Maybe we shouldn’t have laughed at him uproariously.


Franklin: Ivanova, you need to gain weight!

Ivanova: What.

Franklin: This way your leg will get better quicker.

Ivanova: But I will become the expanding Russian frontier!

Franklin: Seriously, who is coming up with these jokes?

JMS: …


Random Crew: So here’s the report about—DEAR SWEET LIONFISH WHY DID THAT RANDOMLY EXPLODE?

Commander: Looks like the EMP signal from who knows where but nothing to do with Death Spiders of course blew our navigation.

Maynard: Which means we can’t get a lock-on signal!

Commander: And you kids know what that means! We’re lost in hyperspace! Danger, Will Robinson, danger!

Lennier: Wait, what?


Ivanova: Screw this foodplan diet thing whatsit.

Sheridan: Let’s switch food.

Garibaldi: HELLO CARBS.

Franklin: I see wat u do there.


Mayday message: We have no lock-on signal and we’re screwed. I repeat, WE ARE SCREWED.

Sheridan: Well, damn. Get the pilots ready.

Ivanova: But no one has been found lost in hyperspace before!

Sheridan: As I said, DAMN.


Franklin: I have to make sure you’re okay. Nothing too bad? Like becoming the pariah of the Minbari race?

Delenn: ANYWAYS. I heard that the Bagna Cauda were coming?

Franklin: …


Sheridan: We’ve never gotten a ship back from hyperspace once they get lost, they have no lock-on signal, we can’t find the ship, and it’s fading more and more! They’re all doomed, I say. DOOMED! And some of you may never come back!

Keffer: Why…why is the camera zooming in on me like that? STOP ZOOMING IN ON ME! STOP IT!

Sheridan: Now the plan is that we’re going to link together until we reach the ship. It’s like lifeboats, recycled in space.


Sheridan: WHY IS NOTHING HAPPENING? Go to bed, Ivanova.

Ivanova: You go to bed.

Sheridan: You know Stinky there was my first commanding officer. Odd, huh?

Ivanova: Yeah. Especially if you called each other those stupid names. But let’s all calm down for now, eh?

Sheridan: Oh fine. I’ll wait to angst.


Keffer: I have the signal!

Commander: Great! Nothing terrible will happen, I’m sure.

Shadows: LOL HI

Commander: *dies*

Keffer’s ship: *is almost dead*

Keffer: Here, guys, I’ll fire in the direction you need to go. DAMN YOU CAMERA ZOOM OF DEATH!


Corwin: They’re back!

Sheridan: I suggest we all get drunk now! But where are the commander and Keffer He Who Is Doomed?

Maynard: Doomed.

Sheridan: Well, damn. Let’s all take a moment of silence for the WB’s favorite hotshot pilot.


Orwell: Took you long enough! I got the bagna cauda.

Garibaldi: Oh sweet nectar of the gods…

Franklin: Well, Mr. Obvious Shout-Out, I figured you were the only smuggler who could find all the ingredients for bagna cauda.

Orwell: I’ll…I’ll just go over here…

Garibaldi: It’s for my birthday. My dad used to cook it for me.

Franklin: That’s deeply heartwarming. Let’s eat it together.

Garibaldi: HELL YES.


Delenn: Hello Captain.

Sheridan: :-D

Delenn: I’m sorry for the terrible loss of He Who Is Doomed. But don’t worry, the Universe knows what it’s doing.

Sheridan: You talk about the Universe a lot.

Delenn: It’s my BFF.

Sheridan: *hoverhands her arm*


Computer: Still no lock-on signal. You’re dead in about half an hour.

Keffer: I’ll miss you computer.


Keffer: Follow that spider!


Keffer: Hey I’m back. I followed a creepy spider thing.



Keffer: Farewell Commander Gallus. I’ll beat up those spiders. Those things were creepy.

Maynard: Yeah, tell me about it.

Keffer: I want to find out what it is. I’m sure it will not end terribly for me.

Ivanova: That’s fine, but you get to lead the squadron now. And where’s Garibaldi, anyone know?




Sheridan: Delenn and the Universe are BFFs.

Ivanova: We’re all BFFs.

Sheridan: Did you and Delenn have a hair party or something? Your hair looks oddly like hers.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Book Rage Quit: The Top Ten Books I Just Couldn't Finish

     If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that life is too short to waste on a book you don’t like.

     Unless it’s your textbook. You really need to read that. If you don’t, I don’t wanna hear any whining about the professor being mean and failing you for not actually knowing anything about the class you voluntarily signed up for.

     Ahem. Moving on.

     Sometimes, I find a book, and I realize I don’t like it. I then have two choices. I can force myself through it, or I can move on to the next Game of Thrones book, because SERIOUSLY GEORGE R.R. MARTIN STOP FEEDING OFF OF MY TEARS.

     Some of these I’ve already talked about, but I’m going to talk about again, because why not? It’s either this or I rattle on about Doctor Who some more.

Look, I'm not saying the Doctor is a censored Malcolm Tucker, but the Doctor is a censored Malcolm Tucker.

     So without further ado, the top ten books I just could not finish, from "I really don't know why" to "THIS IS HORRIBLE MAKE IT END".

10.) The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse

        This is an odd one. I don’t know why I couldn’t finish. It seemed like precisely the kind of thing I would like, yet…

         It could be utter confusion at the sheer amount of 20’s slang. I feel like a part of me liked it, but maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for it. Sometimes my reading gets on a theme and I can’t get away from it. I think it also didn’t help that, while comically so, many of the characters were rather unlikeable, Jeeves and Bertie aside. But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? Maybe I’ll try it again when I’m looking for something nonsensical to read, and it will strike me differently.

9.) The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

      Oddly enough, I started out liking this book, surprising as it was. I will give Rand this-she was a good writer. But oh dear Lord, she made the same mistake you see made by so many Christian authors, ironically enough…

      She started preaching. And preaching. And preaching. AND PREACHING. The main story was kind of intriguing. It’s the beginning of a new age, and one man decides to go his own way and follow his own artistic impulses rather than design only what is considered most popular. A hipster, basically. Roark is a hipster. He can’t help it, that scarf just looked so nice at Goodwill. But then Rand had to start hammering on her point about how altruism will be the death of us all.

      This in and of itself wouldn’t have bothered me. Disliking a book solely because it has a different viewpoint from you is ridiculous. Sometimes it’s good to be forced to think things through.

      But the “altruists” Rand used were not, well, altruists. They were all using it as a means to their own selfish ends, and hurting people in the process. They weren’t being depicted as hypocrites; Rand was utterly serious about this. Which means Rand’s philosophy collapses in on itself less than a quarter of the way into her grand and amazing manifesto. It is dead, yet it walks still, single-minded and unstoppable.

      A quarter of the book was all I got through before I had enough of her harping. What might have been a fairly interesting novel was destroyed because someone had never heard the phrase “show don’t tell”.

8.) The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

      This actually sounded like it would be an amazing mystery. A murder in an old bog once used as the site of ritual sacrifice by Druids? Count me in! And some parts of the book really lived up to the eerie atmosphere set up here.

      However, the first problem was the tense used. The author spoke entirely in present tense, unless the narrator was describing something that had happened previously. Ironically, this took me out of the story. It felt strange and clunky. I think there’s a part of all us that prefers stories to really be like stories-like you have the storyteller in front of you, telling you this. Present tense ruins that idea. I’ve seen it used to somewhat good effect elsewhere, but it stills throws me for a loop.

      The second problem is how much time is spent on the protagonist’s personal problems. Her parents nag her about going to church; she frets about her friend having an affair with no compunction, then turns around and has an affair with little provocation save that “he just doesn’t seem that into his wife” (though he has no chemistry with the protagonist; actually he had more chemistry with the crazy hippie professor than anyone, so there’s that). It’s set up as a Very Important Aesop but seems inserted into the story for extra drama. And also she complains about her weight. Yes, we have the Overweight Detective, and we must hear about her being Overweight. A lot.

      I finally got fed up and skipped to the end. The end would have been a good pay off if the rest of it hadn’t been so horrible.

7.) The Ritual by Adam Nevill

      Oh, this book. I loved this book so much. It scared me half to death. It kept me awake at night. It made me fear the old forests bathed in darkness.

      Then the protagonist passed out and found himself in a Crazy Teenage Cultist movie. It was terrible.

      Unfortunately, Nevill had two different book ideas, and tried to squish them together. It didn’t work. I mentioned this in my review, but the tension was cut, and there was no regaining it. If you want to read it, just read to the end of the first part. It’s a nice cliffhanger.

6.) Embers at Galdrilene by A.D Trosper

      This actually looked like it would be an amazing book. It started out, as so many do, as an amazing book. A great war in which all but a remnant of dragons and their magic riders survive, hiding out and waiting for the day they can find more. A world in which magic is outlawed, and those who can use it must submit themselves to execution.

      Then we started jumping viewpoints so fast it made your head spin. At first, it was every chapter, which is great, that’s fine. George R.R. “YOUR MISERY IS MY JOY” Martin does this, and he too keeps piling on more viewpoint characters, and it works. But this did not work.

      For one, it was difficult to tell the characters apart. They were so bland that skipping viewpoints didn’t help; it still sounded like the same person. For another, Trosper started changing viewpoints every couple paragraphs, often ending one with “it seemed like X was unhappy”, and beginning the next with “X was unhappy”. The whole effect was very clunky. Also, the author tried to make two characters dislike each other, but it didn’t seem like they did; it seemed like they were forced into spouting lines that didn’t sound like them.

      And last, but not least, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD HIRE AN EDITOR. PLEASE. NOT THE EDITOR YOU HAVE. ANOTHER ONE. There were so many comma splices it hurt. It wasn’t just in dialogue where they would make sense; no, comma splices were put in to indicate a pause in the text. THAT’S WHAT A PERIOD IS FOR YOU SOD.

5.) Size 12 Is Not Fat by Meg Cabot

      You know what I was saying about the Overweight Detective? They are a detective whose identity is almost entirely consumed by being Overweight. Our Heather Wells here, though, she isn’t overweight. She has simply gained so much weight she is literally unrecognizable to all but her closest friends, and her only exercise is walking to the local bakery or to buy more clothes from those MEAN MEAN JUDGMENTAL SALESGIRLS.

      Like I said in my review, the Dean’s drunken wife was the most interesting character in the few chapters I read. I want a detective novel about the Dean’s drunken wife solving a mystery while struggling against her latest hangover.

4.) How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back by Sophie Barnes

      Remember that kid years ago you swore you’d marry? Yeah, he’s marrying someone else now. Clearly he should have remembered what you said before when you were like fourteen! What a jerk! GO MAKE A HUGE SCENE IN FRONT OF EVERYONE, AND THEN YOUR FAMILY’S OLDER FRIEND WILL COME AND GROPE YOUR BREASTS TO MAKE IT ALL BETTER.

      Hahahahahahahaha authors like to replace actual relationship building with sex and it’s terrible.

3.) Forest of Shadows by Hunter Shea

      A man who is into supernatural phenomenon has a wonderful relationship with his wife, which means they must have very detailed sex, but then they fight and she dies and something scary is supposed to happen but I’m not even going to try to find out when. Also

      Hahahahahahahaha authors like to replace actual relationship building with sex and it’s terrible.

2.) The Gormenghast Series by Mervyn Peake

      Supposedly the series as a whole is about Titus Groan, lord of Gormenghast, coming into his own and doing heroic things and stuff, but I got a few chapters in when I realized Peake was mainly describing how everyone was crazy, everyone, that guy’s crazy, this guy’s crazy, that guy’s really crazy, I mean, crazier than a GoT character crazy, and you know how crazy they are, did you hear about the bowl of tears Martin drinks every morning that grants him immortality? I did.

      I got really really bored and barely got past Titus’ birth before I gave up.

1.) The Ruins by Scott Smith

      A group of friends decided to go for a walk through the rainforest at Yucatan. However, before we even get to the walk, we get stream-of-consciousness rambling about the Characters’ Neuroses. They have Many Neuroses, and we must talk about them in Great Detail. LOOK AT THEM. THEY ARE NEUROTIC. LOOK AT ALL THESE NEUROSES.

      There are no paragraphs. There are no chapters. There are no likable characters.

      I skipped to the end, and was glad I didn’t read it, because a plant imitating a cell phone sound is really, really stupid. At least Audrey II had style.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Book Review: The Midnight Folk by John Masefield

     Kay Harker is a very normal young boy. He likes getting dirty and daydreaming, and finds his school lessons to be very boring. He is under the care of a foolish, pompous guardian and an overly-strict governess, who constantly punishes him for normal child behavior.

     Then, one night, Kay is surprised when one of the household cats, Nibbins, comes through a secret passage in his room and offers to take him to see a witches’ coven. There, Kay learns of the magic midnight folk, those that only come out at night. It appears the witches’ coven is looking for the treasure Kay’s seafaring ancestor lost long ago.

     Soon, Kay is thrown into a series of dream-like adventures, where paintings become portals, governesses are witches, and the Knights of the Round Table ride at night, seeking to undermine a terrible plot at the house.

     This is such a strange book, but that’s what makes it perfect as a children’s fantasy. Dream-like is the perfect word; if it wasn’t for certain elements being noticed in Kay’s normal, everyday life, it would seem as though everything that happens to him are nothing but dreams. And perhaps they are, on some level; sometimes the adventures end when he begins waking up, yet his clothes are rumpled and dirty from whatever quest he was on.

     I normally hate it when a book isn’t divided into chapters (mainly for ease of finding a stopping place), but I didn’t mind this in the least. Although it did cause me to read far more than I intended, with no reminder of how far I had gone. Ah, well. Reading-induced sleep deprivation is okay.

     This book definitely comes highly recommended. I don’t care if people think you’re weird for reading children’s books. They’re probably in league with Abner Brown anyways, and you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Book Review: Cover Her Face by P.D. James

     A quiet, English village, in a quiet, post-war England. Sounds pleasant, right? Oh, wrong, because P.D. James understands that drama can drop up anywhere. Particularly if you’re in England. All that class angst, you know.

     It all begins when the beautiful Sally Jupp is hired by the Maxie family as a maid. On the surface, she seems to be a quiet, obedient young woman, despite her unfortunately being a single mother. Already prejudice fizzles under the surface, and when the girl is found dead after the village fete, Detective Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh must dig beneath the class veneer to find the murderer.

     As the characters look back at what led up to the murder, we start seeing that there was more to Sally-as well as everyone else-than anyone guessed. But it is Dalgliesh’s keen knowledge of human nature that digs straight into the hardest questions that no one wants to answer.  In this, however, Dalgliesh seems almost a background character. Most of what we know of him, we see through other people’s eyes. This changes as the books go on, and we start seeing more of the disparity between what Dalgliesh is really like, and what people think based on his profession.

     This was a fairly short debut for the woman who would go on to write Death in Holy Orders, but it is still tightly written and intriguing. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

ClassicWho Reviews: The Space Museum and The Chase

     There is a museum. A space museum, you could call it. The TARDIS crew decide to wander around in it and enjoy the exhibits, despite not leaving any sort of trace of their presence at all. Vicki squees over a Dalek casing, because that’s what everyone else was doing in the Sixties, but the fun ends when they find themselves preserved as exhibits.

     They discover the planet, called Xeros, is under occupation by the Morok empire. The Doctor is captured so he can go on holiday, Ian and Barbara get lost, and Vicki joins La Resistance. They easily acquire weapons because she can apparently reprogram the security door to let them in.

     It ends rather easily for them all, since the Moroks aren’t the brightest bulbs in the universe. The Xerons give them a time visualizer and send them on their way.

     While Daleks start revving up their own time machines. Well, darn.

      Once again, this one wasn’t the greatest. Just another planet with strange humanoids who are fighting a resistance. The space museum had potential (and in my opinion was done much better in the new series serial Dalek), but this wasn’t one of the better ones.

     Now, the next one…people don’t seem to like it, but to me, this next one is wonderful and amazing and hilarious and I love it like I love chocolate cake.

     While watching their new visualizer, the TARDIS crew become aware of the Daleks chasing them. They land first on a desert planet, where Daleks reveal their dislike of sand, but also exterminate all the natives because…well, they exist. Barbara’s cardigan is also exterminated, but it was for a good cause.

     Next, they arrive at the Empire State Building, where a good old boy from Alabama is puzzled by both a police box and Daleks, and is taken away by security for reasons of insane fanboying. (He gets reincarnated as a different character, so it’s okay.)

     Then, the TARDIS lands on the Mary Celeste, which is abandoned because Daleks arrived, and scared everyone off.  Ian is hit on the head again by a friend, because that is what his life is like. Also, a Dalek falls off the side of the ship and yells “Yarrr”, because that was the village idiot Dalek, and none of the others liked him anyways.


     They wind up in an abandoned haunted house, that no one knew was actually an abandoned haunted house, which was apparently abandoned because the robot attractions start attacking them, and wind up even scaring away the Daleks. Vicki sneaks aboard the Dalek ship, which is a great idea.

     Finally, they end up on the planet Mechanus, where Steven, who is not from Alabama, is held captive by Mechonoids. Vicki escapes the Dalek ship and the crew help Steven escape, while the Daleks try to build a fake Doctor who looks nothing like the Doctor. The Daleks and the Mechonoids get into a fight, wherein the Daleks shout things about “destroy and rejoice”, which would sound nice if it wasn’t so horrifying.

     In the end, Ian and Barbara have had enough, hop into the Dalek timeship, and go back to London.

     Unfortunately, it’s been two years and they have to explain where precisely they had been for two years.

     (Later, they will have to explain precisely why they haven’t aged since the Sixties…but that’s another question for another time.)

     Overall, this was extremely entertaining, if a bit odd and goofy. The writers were attempting to make the Daleks comic relief, which they were. (I suspect the same Dalek that had trouble with basic math was the one who fell over the side of the ship. It would explain a lot. They hadn’t started exterminating their village idiots yet.)

     A lot of people really hate this one, but I loved it because it was a bit slapstick. To be fair, Daleks were so popular a lot of their scarier aspects were already gone. (Remember that stupid Christmas song?) Luckily for us, the Daleks regain their creepy status later on.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Doctor Who Reviews: The Rescue and The Romans

     On the previous Doctor Who, the Daleks wanted to shove an engine into Earth’s core, because reasons. Everyone pretends it’s World War II again, including the Daleks. Barbara runs over some of them with a lorry. The Slyther auditions for the role of Nagini, and Susan marries a man she just met.

     In this serial, the TARDIS crew (minus one) land on the planet Dido, where an Earth ship has crashed, leaving a paralyzed man and a replacement granddaughter for the Doctor.

     Vicki struggles to care for Bennett while being terrorized by a creature called the Koquillion. Barbara panics and shoots her pet monster, which greatly distresses her. (For a couple minutes; she gets better.) The Doctor can’t figure out why Koquillion is behaving this way; the natives of Dido are generally friendly.

     In the end, the Doctor naturally discovers wacky hijinks have been ensuing. (Leaving one wondering the motives of a grown man who pretends to be a monster in order to terrorize a young girl into becoming emotionally dependent on him…actually, let’s not wonder that, let’s just skip that part, okay? We’re skipping that part.)

     Overall, one of the blander serials, but at least it gave us a look at what Vicki is like. (Namely, things that disturb other people just don’t disturb her. She has a pet monster!)

    In the next serial, Nero is, well…Nero.

     The crew has arrived in ancient Rome, where they settle down to a nice, relaxing holiday. But the Doctor can’t relax, he wants to go on more adventures, so he and Vicki set off for the city while Ian and Barbara sit around and drink wine. Well, until slave-traders arrive to kidnap them. (Barbara tried to hit them, but just wound up hitting Ian. She never admits to it.)

     While Ian is sent to a galley, Barbara is bought and taken to Nero’s palace-where the Doctor has been mistaken for a famous lyre player. Nero chases Barbara around comically, the Doctor pretends to play music so beautiful that no one can hear it, and Vicki watches the hijinks ensue with evident satisfaction.

     It all ends when Ian and Barbara are rescued by one of Nero’s advisers, who turns out to be a secret Christian, and the Doctor accidentally inspires Nero to burn down Rome, which leads to him cackling with glee, because the Doctor has always been a bit strange.

     All in all, this serial was quite funny and entertaining, with plenty of historical in-jokes.

Monday, September 1, 2014

It's Labor Day, and I've run out of my blog buffer

So here's some alien smack talk to get you through.

A/N: This is basically the greatest scene from Doctor Who ever.