Monday, June 22, 2015

NuWho Reviews: Bad Wolf and The Parting of Ways

     Geez, it’s been a while since I last talked about Doctor Who, hasn’t it? Well, let’s list off why I haven’t written jack in a couple months. Finals, full time job, prep for starting on my bachelor’s, three stomach bugs within a month (THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I BRAG ABOUT HARDLY EVER BEING SICK), and then, most unfortunately, my husband’s aunt passed away and we’ve been working overtime cleaning the house and trying to sort everything for an estate sale.

     But here I am, with a couple hours to kill before bed. So let’s talk about the Ninth Doctor. Or rather, the end of the Ninth Doctor, because Christopher Eccleston only had one season, and thus we have been deprived of his ears ever since.


Bad Wolf

     Finally, after a whole season, we get to figure out what Bad Wolf is all about! They just keep talking about it! So how does this story kick off?

     By placing our heroes on reality TV shows.

     Umm…what?

     No, really, they get zapped, and suddenly the Doctor is on Big Brother, and the look on his face mirrors the fans’ quite well. Rose winds up on The Weakest Link with an android Anne Robinson (no, really, she does the voice), and Jack Harkness is being given a makeover, not that he needs it. Clearly some sort of wacky hijinks are going to ensue, right?

Uh..."wacky". Yeah. We'll go with that.


     Except…in these reality shows, when you get kicked off…YOU DIE. Yup, zapped into tiny bits. Skeptical Doctor is Skeptical, and he saves the Token Nice Person on Big Brother and discovers they are all on Satellite Five. Again. It is now known as the Game Station, and is owned by the Badwolf Corporation. Oh, so it’s an evil corporation then? Is this going to be one of those anvilicious episodes?

     Then Rose is disintegrated.

     The Doctor goes into full on REAG mode, and makes his way up to the top floor, where he discovers the Controller, a human all borged up into the computer. She uses a solar flare to be able to talk to him without being overheard. She zapped our heroes into the games to save them from her bosses, who don’t watch these silly “reality TV things” the humans always talk about. Her bosses, man, what jerks. They zap people from the games away from the station, and they’re always shouting at her to “obey”, and…

     The solar flare ends, but the Controller manages to give the Doctor the coordinates to where people are zapped…and then she herself is zapped. (Look, I just really like using the phrase “zapped”. It’s very scientific.)

     Rose awakes on a ship, and discovers a Dalek, and yep, the Doctor disrupts a signal and discovers LOTS AND LOTS OF DALEK SHIPS.

Now would be a good time to panic.

     So, yes, the Daleks’ scheme this time was to control humanity through reality TV. This is funnier than anything they did on The Chase.

     It was kind of a weird episode, especially looking back and seeing how dated all the pop culture references are. That said, it’s so bizarre that it kind of works. Of course the Daleks would come up with a plan like this. They don’t understand the good side of humanity, but they sure understand how to keep humans distracted. But since this is a two-parter, let’s see how this all ends…


The Parting of Ways

     Daleks are crazy. Like, really crazy. You just won’t believe how unbelievably crazy Daleks are.

     And their emperor is even crazier.

And possibly compensating for something.


     Y’see, a few Daleks escaped the Time War (this seems to happen a lot-I don’t think the Doctor’s genocide was as effective as he intended it to be) and they started turning humans into Daleks. So now the Emperor Dalek believes he is a god to them. See? Crazy. (Also, every time the Daleks turn people into mutated blobs, some annoying pop culture happens. In the 80’s, it was the DJ. Now, it’s reality TV. Daleks are sadistic jerks.)

     Our heroes escape into the TARDIS, and return to the Game Station. The Doctor has a plan: generate a delta wave from the station and destroy the Daleks. Jack starts setting up defenses, and Rose goes into the TARDIS, only to be sent back home. It’s revealed that the Doctor set up a failsafe in the TARDIS. If anything got too dangerous, she would take Rose back home and then shut down until the danger was over. And then we get an even more horrifying reveal-the Doctor is essentially about to do the same thing he did in the Time War. The delta wave will destroy most of Earth along with the Daleks.

     Meanwhile, Rose mopes around in restaurants with her mom and Mickey, until she notices all the Bad Wolf messages too. She uses a truck to pry open the Heart of the TARDIS, hoping to get into the telepathic circuits. Instead, Rose gets an eyeful of bright light and the TARDIS flies away.

     Meanwhile, people die. People die a lot. A Dalek that’s still outside shouts exterminate anyways, even though no one can hear it, because shouting is very, very important to Daleks. Lynda dies, Jack dies, and the Doctor finds he can’t bring himself to commit double genocide again. Then, the TARDIS arrives.

Even space deities like using dramatic hand gestures.

     ROSE HAS NOW BECOME A LITERAL GODDESS. Apparently instead of telepathically piloting the TARDIS, she accidentally swallowed the Time Vortex, and is now the Bad Wolf. All those messages, all those things named Bad Wolf? Yeah, she just went over and put them there, just to remind herself to become a literal goddess. HAPPENS ALL THE TIME. Also, she accidentally makes Jack immortal and causes the Torchwood series, and disintegrates Daleks with her mind, because screw all y’all. Unfortunately, her puny human body can’t handle the power, so the Doctor decides it’s about time he snogged another companion, and swallows the Time Vortex instead.

That shrieking noise was simply over-excited fans.


     A WILD DAVID TENNANT APPEARS! HE USES “COMMENT ON TEETH”! IT’S SUPER EFFECTIVE!

See? Teeth!


     Rose, and the audience who has never seen Doctor Who before, are all very, very confused.

     You guys, you guys, I loved this finale. It had Daleks! Crazy Daleks! I love crazy Daleks. It had witty one liners! IT HAD ROSE AS A LITERAL GODDESS!

     I was sad to see Christopher Eccleston go, but quite happy to see David Tennant, who I only knew as Barty Crouch Jr. at that point. It was a nice wrap-up to the season arc, and I was excited to get to the next one. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Book Review: Watership Down by Richard Adams

     World building. Let’s talk about it. It’s the process of, well, building a world. World building is what happens when you think about the details of your fictional universe, the beliefs, the social order, the diversity and governments and interactions. Some authors, for the record, are really really bad at this. And some are really good.

     You generally hear the phrase “world building” in the context of fantasy or sci-fi. But Watership Down isn’t really a fantastic universe, unless you count the occasional clairvoyance that pops up. Yes, it’s from the point of view of rabbits, but it’s so real and detailed that it doesn’t seem strange at all.



     Hazel is on one of the lower rungs of the social order at Sandleford Warren. When his brother, Fiver, has a vision of devastation, and the chief rabbit won’t listen, Hazel, Fiver, and a few others set out to form their own warren. The first half of the book follows their journey to their eventual destination, and the problems they encounter. As rabbits, they have rarely wandered far from their home, and it takes all their bravery to face the woods, cross the river, and climb numerous downs to make it to the warren of Fiver’s vision: Watership Down. Through this journey, Hazel becomes de facto leader of their group and learns more of himself and the others.

     The second half of the book focuses on the problems they have after establishing the warren: mainly, the lack of females. Their attempts to find females to help grow their warren lead them into danger, but also gives them a chance to exercise their wits. In this process, they encounter two different warrens: one feels quite free, and has constant access to food without having to search for it. The other is extremely strict and violent. Both demonstrate two bad ways of handling danger and fear.

     Richard Adams based this book around the actual countryside of England; both Watership Down and Nuthanger farm exist in real life. It was also nice to see places where the plot was inspired by mythology. My first thought about Cowslip’s warren was that it was a kind of Lotus Eater trap for the heroes.

     But the fictional mythology is what makes this book so rich. Every so often, the main story is interrupted for a tale from lapine mythology, usually centered around the trickster hero El-ahrairah, clearly inspired by trickster figures such as Brer Rabbit (although in-universe, it is said that he inspired our stories). The tales range from funny to frightening, and usually mimic the mood of the main story, or even outright inform it.

     The characters are rich and well-realized. Adams does an excellent job of making them relatable, while still keeping them strange enough that you remember that they’re animals. The ending was perfect-bittersweet, but an excellent ending to a story so steeped in real world and fictional mythology.

     It’s a long book, but well worth the time it takes to read it. It has a slow build, and is the type of story you take your time with, savoring each bit.

     So long as you’re not offended by Adams’ politically incorrect treatment of female rabbits. (No, really, there are people out there deconstructing the gender politics of animals and complaining that they're anti-feminist. You can't make this stuff up.)

     So give it a go, but make sure you have plenty of time cleared out for reading. You won't be able to put it down.

Monday, June 8, 2015

More Cool Internet Things

     It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve been attempting to combine work and preventing the house from becoming unlivable while poor Dale works, argues politics, and learns code. It’s been a crazy time for both of us. For now, I have some links that you might all find interesting. Per usual they are, in fact, eclectic, because I like looking at all the Internet things. Well, no, not all. There are certain, ah, sections of the Internet that I desperately avoid.

First off, a Project 44 update!

For those not in the know, the Marble Hornets website is actually being updated. Whoever is doing the updating is uncovering Alex’s old blog posts. Alex was one of those really dumb people who don’t know how to protect anything on their computers, because his username is Alex and the password is rocky86. This leads to a blog that follows alongside what we saw of the filming of his terrible and pretentious student film masterpiece. I’m looking forward to seeing the blogs degenerate into madness as The Operator takes over. (Literally-I’m sure he helpfully updated Alex’s blog for him.)


I was looking up folklore and found this hilarious little comic about Boojum and Hootin’ Annie. It’s like Beauty and the Beast, with more rednecks.


Poor Wil Wheaton decided to tackle the extreme hatred of his Star Trek character in the only way the Internet understands-by snarking at everything in the series. Watch his analysis of TNG years later when he outgrows his character enough to wish Wesley would shut up as well.

Before: You want to smack the smirk off his face.

After: THE BEARD YOU GUYS THE BEARD





Chris and Chad took on Beowulf! With a couple of experts and the delicious voice of Andrew Leman (a few episodes back, everyone listening apparently became pregnant from hearing his voice; Chris and Chad were not sure what to name their children from this eldritch liaison).


A look into how “purity culture” focuses on outward appearances rather than our hearts.


These guys break into creepy old buildings and take pictures. Because this isn’t YouTube, there is a considerable lack of Slender Man, although some of the stories behind the buildings are still chilling.

And last but not least, a very special announcement.

Madness is coming. Great madness, and terror. You thought it was over? Well too bad, because there are still more movies, and a POV sequel. Pray, pray to whatever deity you worship, pray to all space, that you do not live to see this horror.

E.L. James is writing another Fifty Shades book.



You can come out from under the desk, for there is a light on the horizon.

Our only hope is Jenny Trout, who has solemnly promised to destroy her sanity for the sake of tearing the book apart and showing us that bad writing and bad life choices do not mix.


I shall have my popcorn at the ready.

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Battle of Five Endings: A Parody

PREVIOUSLY, ON THE HOBBIT:

Tauriel: Arrow’d!

Kili: I’m in love.

Legolas: But Daaaad I want to go fight Sauron too!

Smauglock Cumberkhan: You want the Arkenril? You don’t get the Arkenril.

Bilbo: *yoink*

Sauron: YOU WILL STAY IN YOUR CAGE WITH ONLY A CUP OF COFFEE AT ELEVEN.

Gandalf: NOOOOO!

Thorin: Has anyone seen an Arkenril? I really need that Arkenril. It’s super important.

Smauglock: I’M GOING TO WREAK WANTON DESTRUCTION NOW, OKAY?

Bilbo: Aww we done did it now.


PRESENT DAY

Tauriel: Time to go.

Kids: But our dad…

Tauriel: THERE IS A DRAGON TIME TO GO


Bard: Anyone? Hello? Anyone there at all?

Master: HAVE FUN BARD WE’RE LEAVING NOW.

Bard: Lol no. *rope loop troll jerk*

Master: Maybe I should become a girl. Maybe that will help.


Smauglock: BURNINATING THE COUNTRYSIDE! BURNINATING THE PEASANTS!

Doomed Old Lady: Smaug, no one likes that song—

Smauglock: THATCHED ROOF COTTAGES!


Bain: Guys, you know how my dad’s climbing the bell tower to shoot Smaug?

Tauriel: Yeah?

Bain: And how he apparently forgot about that super incredibly important magic arrow from the last movie?

Tauriel: Yeah?

Bain: LOLBYE.

Tauriel: …I hate children.


Bard: I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY THESE ARROWS AREN’T WORKING, EVEN THOUGH WE DISCUSSED HOW THEY WOULDN’T WORK BEFORE.

Bain: Dad I found a black arrow!

Bard: Now, if only some helpful thrush would tell me where Smaug’s weak spot is.

Bain: …

Bard: …

Bain: …

Bard: …

Thrush: I quit.

Bard: DAMMIT.


Smauglock: THROGDORRRR!

Bard: Smaug, I—oh, my bow is broken.

Smauglock: I’m going to take my sweet time killing you. Should I monologue? I think I’ll monologue.

Bain: DAD DON’T LET HIM MONOLOGUE!

Bard: DON’T WORRY, SON, I SAW THIS ON DOCTOR WHO!

(He proceeds to tie the arrow string to two planks and brace the arrow against his son’s neck, because of course he does.)

Smaug: Like that would actu—OWWWIEOWWIEPAIN

Master: Sure would be ironic if something landed on me right—

*dragonsmashmasterdead*


GROUND ZERO

Hilda: Can we lynch Lickspittle?

Bard: NO DON’T LYNCH HIM. Lickspittle, go…you know…live up to your name. We’re going to go talk to Thorin, who I am sure is entirely sensible.


LURVE

Tauriel: Kili…

Kili: Tauriel…

Tauriel: Kili…

Kili: Tauriel…

Legolas: COCKBLOCK’D.

Kili: >:-(

Tauriel: >:-(

Legolas: Let’s go troll Angmar!


MEANWHILE IN DOL GOLDUR

Gandalf: How dry I am…how dry I am…

Orc: SHADDUP!

Galadriel: RAIDING PARTY!

(That’s right, Galadriel leads a raiding party, with Elrond, the swordsman! Saruman, the wizard! and Radoctorgast, the Guy With Bunnies!)

Nazghul 1: Guys? Guys, are we allowed to hurt Saruman? I mean—

Saruman: *forcepunch*

Nazghul 2: TELEPORTATION!

Elrond: Are they seriously teleporting?

Galadriel: Gandalf…I always kind of liked you…

Gandalf: Wait, where did this come from? This literally makes no sense.

Galadriel: I…I don’t know.

Radoctorgast: Let’s just leave the scene.

Galadriel: I’m going to faint now.

Elrond: Dammit, Galadriel, you wanted to be plot important!

Sauron: Losers! LOOOOOSERRRRS.

Galadriel: That’s it, I’m going to use my negative image powers!

Sauron: ANYTHING BUT THA—

Saruman: Well, good thing he’s like gone forever and won’t ever cause us problems ever again ever, right?

Elrond: If you say so…

Saruman: LOLBYE YOU KIDS HAVE FUN.


THORIN IS CRAZY

Thorin: Is there an Arkenril here? Is there an Arkenril there? IS THE ARKENRIL SOME SORT OF METAPHOR?

Bilbo: So Balin, hypothetically speaking, if someone had the Arkenril, should they give it to Thorin?

Balin: Hypothetically, the very small person who hypothetically has the Arkenril should hypothetically NOT GIVE IT TO HIM EVER BECAUSE HE WILL BE CRAZY.

Bilbo: Right.


ORCS

Azog: So, how’d it go, son?

Bolg: Uh…well…they ran away. Totally. Did not, like, beat us up or anything.

Azog: SON I AM DISAPOINT.

Bolg: At least we have Graboids?

Graboids: LOLHI.


THRANDUIL IS STILL A JERK

Thranduil: I fed starving children!

Gandalf: YOU’RE AN IDIOT, THERE ARE ORCS COMING.

Bilbo: I have an Arkenril, everyone!

Thranduil: You also have my keys.

Bilbo: Yes. That.


ANGMAR

Tauriel: So why are we here?

Legolas: I thought if I tried hard enough you would date me?

Tauriel: Seriously?


NEGOTIATION

Bard: Thorin we have your Arkenril

Gandalf: And please don’t throw Bilbo off anything.

Thorin: Fine. But we’re still having war.

Thranduil: But you’re outnumbered!

Thrush: Not with Billy Connolly on the way!

Gandalf: DAMMIT.

Dain: SOD OFF YE BLOODY ENGLISH BASTARDS!

Orcs: OHAI.

Dain: SOD OFF YE BLOODY ORC BASTARDS!

Gandalf: He’s a bit unstable.

Bilbo: You don’t say?



BATTLE, BATTLE EVERYWHERE

(Thranduil decides not to be a jerk for once and helps the dwarves, battle happens, and Dain’s battle pig is killed. A troll literally smashes his head against a wall, which is what happens on Facebook every day. Bard rides a wagon into another troll, and Lickspittle crossdresses in an attempt to stay away from the fight. There’s a complication, however…)

Hilda: NICE BOOBS. THE REST OF US ARE CHARGING IN.

Lickspittle: *cries*

(Basically, though, everyone is getting their butts kicked.)


LET’S GET FREUDIAN

Dwalin: Thorin, we’re concerned.

Thorin: Shaddup.

Dwalin: THORIN YOU ARE LITERALLY SITTING AROUND WHILE ORCS ATTACK. THIS IS WEIRD.

Thorin: I JUST WANT TO BE SPECIAL. NOW GO AWAY.

Dwalin: *cries*

(Thorin then regrets the hallucinogens he took, because he goes on a very bad trip in which he is swallowed up by gold. It’s too anvilicious, even for a dwarf, and he comes to.)

Thorin: Okay guys, time to go fight! I’m gonna go punch Azog in the face.

Dwarves: YAYYYYY


BAD TIMING

Legolas: So there's another army on the way. Isn't that great?

Thranduil: That's it. We're outtie.

Gandalf: FFF--

Bilbo: Fine, I'll go warn them.


SOAP OPERA!

Tauriel: BUT MY BOYFRIEND.

Thranduil: Tauriel, I swear to Eru, I am tired of hearing about your dwarf boyfriend. We are leaving.

Tauriel: I’LL SHOOT YOU.

Thranduil: No. No you won't.

Legolas: DON’T YOU PUT A SWORD TO MY NOT-GIRLFRIEND’S THROAT! SEE TAURIEL I WILL BE THERE FOR YOU EVERY DAY.

Thranduil: What the hell kind of soap opera is this? FINE.


THE REALLY BIG FIGHT AT THE END

Azog: I got one of your neffie-poos.

Fili: Oh, this is going to suck.

Azog: *dwarfdrop*

Kili: I KILL YOU.

Thorin: KILI DON’T BE STUPID.

Dwalin: THORIN DON’T BE STUPID.

Bilbo: I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON ANYMORE.

(Azog, being a proper villain with a fashionable skull cod piece, starts sending orc after orc to fight Thorin, while Dwalin stabs at the enemy and Bilbo throws rocks. Unfortunately, Bilbo is knocked on the head, and is down for the count.)

Tauriel: KILI!

Kili: TAURIEL!

Tauriel: KILI!!

Kili: TAURIEL!!

Tauriel: I got rid of Legolas, he got picked up by a giant bat!

Kili: All right!

Bolg: LOOK A GIRL.

(Tauriel finally meets her match after wrecking every orc she comes across. There is a reason for this.)

Kili: Tauriel, I can finally save you! Look at th—

Bolg: STABBITY.

Kili: *DIES*

Kili: *DIES A LOT*

Tauriel: DO NOT WANT!

Bolg: Lol I killed yer boyfriend!

Tauriel: TACKL’D!

(They fall down some stairs, and it does exactly nothing to Bolg. Legolas, meanwhile, has managed to find himself on a tower, where he can play sniper, to the horror of college students everywhere. He sees Tauriel in danger and reaches for an arrow, only to find…)

Legolas: I’m out of arrows. I AM LITERALLY OUT OF ARROWS. I AM NEVER OUT OF ARROWS, HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? Time for another convoluted manipulation of physics!

(This results in he and Bolg fighting for a far longer time than necessary, and then rocks fall and Bolg dies. It’s all a bit disappointing.)

Thorin: Legolas! Legolas, a little help here!

Azog: I’m going to defeat you. Finally. Eventually.

Legolas: Well…this worked in Pirates of the Caribbean.

(He throws a sword into Azog’s chest, like you do, and then Thorin has an elven sword.)


MAIAR EX MACHINA

Gandalf: Did those eagles finally show up?

Radoctorgast: WHEEEE!

(Radagast has exchanged his bunny sled for some eagles, who parachute Beorn into a group of orcs. It’s as hilarious as it sounds.)


THE NEVER ENDING FIGHT SCENE

Thorin: Ow!

Azog: Ow!

Thorin: OWW.

Azog: OWW.

Thorin: Why are you throwing a heavy mace around on thin ice? Are you stupid?

Azog: YES.

Thorin: …glad you recognize that.

(After some fighting, Thorin appears to knock Azog into the icy water below. But Azog isn’t going to let something that killed Rasputin finish him…)

Thorin: Are you…floating by?

Azog: …

Thorin: Like, dead?

Azog: …

Thorin: Should I be walking above you?

Azog: LOL NO.

He stabs Thorin's foot, which is painful to even watch, bursts from the water, and they fight EVEN MORE, ending in mutual stabbing.

Thorin: Well…that sucks. *falls over*


THE SAD PART

Bilbo: Did anyone get the number on that club? Hey, eagles! Good thing they always show up last minute to save us! Thorin? Thorin…

Thorin: I am, and always shall be, your friend.

Bilbo: *sobs*

Audience: *sobs*

Thranduil: So, uh…Tauriel…finished keening over Kili’s dead body yet?

Tauriel: I HATE LOVE.

Thranduil: I’ll…uh…leave you to that, then…

Legolas: Dad, I want to go adventuring since it’s clear Tauriel doesn’t want an alpha male like me.

Thranduil: Son, no. Just…no. Go hang out with Strider for a while, will you? Maybe he can knock some sense into your head...


ONE OF THE ENDINGS

Bilbo: Well, bye everyone.

Balin: Good luck! I’m going to go dig around in Moria. I’m sure nothing bad will happen whatsoever.


ANOTHER ENDING

Bilbo: Well, bye Gandalf. And uh, I totally lost that magic ring. Totally.

Gandalf: Great. I’ll just go…you know…research that. A bit. A bit of research.


YET ANOTHER ENDING

Bilbo: THOSE ARE MY THINGS.

Auctioneer: Are you, or are you not, dead?

Bilbo: THOSE ARE MY SPOONS.

Lobelia: *cries*

Bilbo: Look, here’s my contract, you guys can move everything in later, I AM TIRED.


LOOK ANOTHER ENDING!

Old!Bilbo: I’m sure obsessing over this ring is nothing to worry about.

Gandalf: BILBO I’M IN YOUR HOUSE.

Old!Bilbo: Oh, is it time for Lord of the Rings already?