Friday, April 18, 2014

Back To Who: What To Think About Martha Jones



I have a lot of feelings about Martha Jones.

When she first showed up, I was hopeful and open-minded about her. I loved Rose, but I was excited about having a change of pace. Martha was supposed to be a little bit older than Rose, a little wiser and a bright young medical student. I had hoped this would mean she'd be a bit nerdy with the Doctor and a little less reverent towards him.

And from looking at the first three episodes, I think they might've originally intended that for her.

But that damn crush. They gave her that stupid crush on him and made him very harsh towards her in response. I sometimes wonder if Russell made the Doctor extra harsh towards Martha in a way to get the audience on her side. But if that's what he was aiming for, I think he missed a bit as the unrequited love she had for the Doctor made the brilliant Dr. Jones seem like she was a little bit stupid. Why would anyone be so loyal to someone that treated her so terribly?

I loved when Martha would have some attitude. Like her snitty little knock in Human Nature when Matron Redfern tells her she should knock when entering a room. Or when she made the Doctor stop and explain himself on New Earth. The best being when she basically told him to fuck off (not using those words) when her apartment blew up and she was calling her parents. She should've been like that all the way through. She should've been giving him major grief about asking like she was still a guest on the TARDIS rather than looking like she was being given the holiest of communions when he finally gave her a key.

And it kills me that they barely played with the fact that the Doctor was traveling with someone with a lot of medical and science knowledge. Other than in The Lazarus Experiment, you never see her and the Doctor talking about anything scientific together. Martha tells people she's studying to be a Doctor but barely ever shows people (her little lesson to Redfern barely counts). Why weren't there more episodes where she and the Doctor could play off of each other's scientific knowledge to figure out what was going on? Or even by having the Doctor show-off with showing her medical techniques from the future? Would that have been too much to ask for?

Instead, the poor girl was given the worst trips around the universe ever. She gets kidnapped at (fake) gunpoint, almost killed by a giant scorpion-man creature, stuck in freakin' 1913 as a maid for several weeks, briefly jettisoned towards a sun in an escape pod, and then stuck in flippin' 1969 for several weeks. How cruel is it to have two trapped-in-the-past-for-weeks adventures happen to the black companion? And have them both be "not-terribly-enlightened" time periods? Ugh. I hope there are unseen adventures where the doctor takes her to spas and amusement parks for weeks on end and gives her presents to show thanks.

Then she walks the damn earth for the Doctor for a year. I remember watching The Last of the Time Lords for the first time quite vividly. I was in a Panera. I had met up with a friend that had been out of the country for the past year and only had a couple weeks before she was heading back to Asia for another year. We huddled together and watched the episode on my laptop the day after it aired. And I have to admit, I first thought there was going to be an "it was all a dream" reveal A LOT sooner than the "it was all reversed" ending. It just didn't ring true that Martha would do that. Or could do that. Her family had become slaves to a madman, her "hero" was turned into a feeble old man, and she was given this ridiculous mission... wha? But I've gone on about the episode before, so I'll stop here and just say... what a horrible way to spend a year.

How the hell did she recover from that year? From having memories of a terrible time that almost no one else remembered? How did her whole family cope? It always bugged me that it wasn't really dealt with more than a single line in one of her Torchwood episodes.

Oh, and then there are her Torchwood episodes. Martha's actually pretty badass on Torchwood. I think Freema even seems a little more confident as an actor in the Torchwood episodes. But shit goes down in those as well and she nearly dies in each episode.

By the time The Doctor's Daughter ends, I can't blame Martha for being all, "Dude, I'm DONE. See ya!" but then she get's screwed again by not only having an untested teleportation device strapped to her, but she's given the horrific responsibility of killing everyone on Earth to save them from threat. Thankfully, she doesn't need to use it, but... OH MY GOD!

How has this girl not had a mental breakdown?! How is she not Theon in the beginning of season four of Game of Thrones at that point?!

Also... her and Mickey? Really? Really?

Anyway, I feel that Martha really got a shitty situation compared to the other companions. Yeah, she's one of the few that got to live her post-Doctor life the way she wanted to, but her time on the TARDIS was really terrible. I think her time with Shakespeare might've been the only adventure where her life wasn't directly threatened. I guess maybe that's how it has to be to be one of the few that walks away?

On the upside- she had the best clothes out of all the Tenth Doctor's companions. So, there is that.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What Is This Feeling?

So, today I arrived at work an hour before anyone else. It was glorious. I love being alone in the office. I put on my headphones and then just started to zone out into website edits (work website edits, sadly, not fun websites that I've been neglecting). And by the time 9 AM rolled around, I realized that I hadn't yet had to speak to anyone all day. It was beautiful.

I normally do like speaking to my co-workers... it's just that the really talk-y ones were absent. And the really annoying ones ended up being absent as well. So, it gave me a chance to just relax and work and not be disturbed for a few more hours. I continued to feel calm and collected. I still had little moments of work rage, but nothing as severe as I've had in recent day and weeks.

But I also started to realize that I was ridiculously achey. My jaw has been acting up for ages due to all the weather changes and I've been so tense recently that my neck was reacting to release of tension and aching more because of it. Like, my neck hurts so much that my throat muscles, on the inside, hurt. It's been a while since I felt that.

And now, with half an hour left in my work day, I think I'm just tired.

Or dying.

But I still feel calm and sort of at peace about it all. I don't really get it.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Spores, Molds, and Fungus: Harold Ramis Has Died



I seriously don't remember ever watching a movie before Ghostbusters. And I certainly don't remember voluntarily rewatching any movies before Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II.

Groundhog Day is basically a religious experience for me. It's one of my "I'm having a sad day" movies. It's a movie that I will watch on repeat all day even on days that are not Groundhog Day. I've even driven up to Woodstock, IL in the winter just to take a look at the shooting location in the snow (it's beautiful, by the way).

The emotional journey in that film is something that my mind will wander to frequently in everyday life. Especially the concept that Phil had, by the end of the film, repeated the day for decades worth of time. I always wondered how the hell he would return to life after having lived more life in that one day than before that one day. Would he have forgotten his address back home? Would he not know how to present the weather any more? Are there names of people that he lost during that time, just because he didn't interact with them during the decades he spent trapped in Punxsutawney? And how crushing would his love for Rita be by then, after decades of just trying to win her over and over and over again?

I, quite literally, just found out about Harold Ramis dying. And I got teary. Not just "Oh, that's sad." or "Oh, that's tragic." but honest-to-goodness teary. I don't normally get that way over celebrity deaths. And it's not like he was a spring chicken, right? Nor was he in the middle of a career renaissance. But... he was Harold Ramis. He gave us comedy that wasn't just funny but was also intelligent. He gave us stories that went in directions no one expected and let the characters experience things.

He was able to direct Bill Murray at the height of his Bill Murray-ness. And directed some of the best episodes of the Office.

Not to mention... Egon Spengler. He was Egon Spengler. Possibly the best geek ever put on screen (other than the Doctor).

Mr. Ramis, you will be dearly missed.

Friday, February 14, 2014

It's Not Snow, Not Any More

In my "ignore winter until it gets the hint" move (which is strikingly similar to how I end relationships), I've decided to stop believing that the white stuff that is all over the place is snow.

It's marshmallow.

Marshmallow left over from a second Stay Puft Marshmallow Man attack. And this time it was a bigger Marshmallow Man. We're talking at least 1000 feet tall, rather than 100 feet. That's why there's so much! And why it's all over the country!



You see, a Gozer worshipping cult has been growing in strength across the Midwest and Eastern seaboard. And when this cult, mostly made up of millennials, managed to bring Gozer back this time, they just automatically assumed that his physical form was of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, as that is the form they all know he took in 1984. No one other than the Ghostbusters saw the first form that Gozer took! Therefore, Gozer was a 1000+ foot Marshmallow Man this time.

How did they manage to bring Gozer back? Well, by manipulating Louis Tully into sharing his experiences as the Keymaster. You see, Louis's life has been pretty boring in the past 20 years or so. His stint as a ghostbuster was rather short, as shortly after he donned the uniform, Janine was also trying to convince him to style his hair in a familiar tall and top-heavy style that a certain other ghostbuster styled his hair in. Upon realizing that Janine was unintentionally using his willingness to fill the Egon-shaped hole in her heart, Louis left the ghostbusters and tried to just provide legal and financial advise to the team when needed.

But, eventually, he still wasn't over Janine and when the Ghostbusters shut down in 1991, he felt the need to leave New York entirely. It was then that the cult started watching him. And, eventually, he had reached the point in his life where he was so open and looking for something to fulfill him that the cult swooped in and made him feel like a part of something important again. They told him how amazing he was for being picked to be the Keymaster. How important he was to all of history. How very very special he was. They even started just referring to him as "Vinz", the name of the demon that had taken him over.

Louis lapped it all up, desperate for love. Desperate to be cool. And told them everything.

The cult was lead by the great-grandson of Ivo Shandor, a skilled architect that had studied the designs Ivo had used to make the building used in 1984 and had a few ideas on how to improve upon the original. He built several buildings this time to help create the gateway for Gozer to return, knowing that it would have to be at least 30 years after the first attempt. And in those 30 years, the world kindly suffered so many major problems- wars, economical depression, climate change, and so on- that the cult had no problems recruiting new members that believed that Gozer needed to be summoned to end the world.

And, in early 2014, they summoned him. Big time. As the Stay-Puft Marhsmallow Man. This time it took all the regional versions of the Ghostbusters (instituted by Egon when he re-instated the organization in the late 90s) and every proton pack in existence. It took days, but they defeated him, leaving half the country under a thick coat of marshmallow. Marshmallow that also caused atmospheric disturbances that resulted in extreme cold.

So, there you have it. It's marshmallow. And it's going to suck to clean up when it thaws.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For... So I Checked Out Stand-Up

Last night, I went to watch an Open Mic.

For weeks now, I've been feeling like I need to do something. To take control. And to maybe get some stress off my shoulders.

A couple weeks ago, as I sat in the parking garage at the mall, trying to navigate the internet on the free wifi I can get if I park in a very specific corner of the garage, something in my brain snapped and I found myself Googling for local Open Mic listings.

This "snap" might've been caused by how I was very likely to be listening to a podcast full of comedians at the time.

I like comedy a lot. I listen to a ridiculous amount of podcasts by comedians in the L.A. comedy scene. But I don't know much about the current Chicago comedy scene. It's something that's not easy to access when you don't want to spend money and don't have a lot of free late nights.

And the lack of free nights is why it took until last night for me to attend one. I just wanted to go to watch (a friend said he was going to go as well to finally go up, but he bailed), to see what the caliber was, to see what the environment would be. I still don't know if I really would want to get up- but part of me feels like I might need to. I might need that outlet. But not yet.

The Open Mic was in a truly tiny little dive bar. I chose that one as it was the closest to my apartment, but still a bit of a drive when you factor in how I couldn't find parking nearby to save my life, due to all the snow mounds taking up extra space.

The thing I didn't consider when I chose to go to the show was the Olympics. I showed up ten minutes after the show was supposed to start and there was one non-comic in the bar and only two comics besides the host even there. Eventually, a few more people showed up and three more comics. And when I left, just after eleven, I was sad to have to dash but concerned that 1) my car may have been towed or ticketed (it wasn't!) and 2) I had to be up at 6 AM.

I really wished I could've stuck around, as I wanted to pick a few brains and maybe, you know, socialize. Something I've done almost none of since moving back to Illinois in 2011. Yeah, three years ago.

At least, when I lived in Tucson, every week I'd at least go to one trivia night and see some friends. If I didn't see anyone at all for the rest of the week, I'd at least seem them at trivia. And it helped a lot. It also helped that I had super social friends that had amazingly large social circles that I could just attach myself to like a barnacle.

Maybe I can get that way with Open Mics. Maybe I can drive myself to commit my free nights to going to shows. Or, at least, one night a week. And maybe something earlier than a 9 pm show (or, at least, crowded enough that I won't feel bad if I leave before the show's over). Part of me wants to force myself to go to a show tomorrow night and maybe even Saturday night. 

The other part of me knows that I need to do laundry and get my weekly one night of 8 hours of sleep at some point.

C-Words

I'm terrible at conforming sometimes. Or, rather, I'm unconsciously subversive about conforming. I can drink the kool-aid wit the best of them and toe any line if you're paying me enough to keep me happy. I'm rather pathetic that way. Hell, I'll smile and tell people about the benefits of boiling puppies alive if it means my medical bills being paid in full.

But then there are certain things that my brain just refuses to adapt to, especially if my first introduction to it involves pointing out the rule not being followed by the rule-maker to begin with.

And I'm going to call a couch a couch. I can't say "sofa" without having to pause and remember it like I'm trying to conjugate verbs properly before speaking in another language. And "settee"? Really?

I'll say "chaise" before I say "settee", thankyouverymuch.

And you (yeah, you) say "curtains" on your own damn website AND in your merchandise locator, so don't try to tell me that we shouldn't be saying it. I'll say "window panels" as well, but let's not freak out at the sound of the word. Despite how I say it much like how Brittany Murphy pronounced the name "Elton" in Clueless.

The Elton Couch



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

We'll Miss You, Shirley Temple Black

The news of Shirley Temple's death was everywhere this morning. And half the people I've seen talking about it on social media have also felt the need to mention that they thought she was already dead.

I'm guessing a large part of that is because, despite her political career in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, most people think of her as the eternal tot. The little lisping girl with cubby cheeks, a head full of curls, and a lot of moxie. The epitome of adorable in the 20th century. The girl that every other little girl actor would be compared to for the rest of time.



I also grew up watching Shirley Temple films. Because my mother grew up watching them in the 50s and 60s, when Miss Temple was already retired from film but still a big deal on television with Shirley Temple's Storybook.

Most people think of her younger work- Little Miss Marker-ear. But we tended to watch her later work, especially if it was based on a book, like Heidi and The Little Princess. She was actually acting in those, rather than just being the adorable little girl. They're dramatic as hell (for Shirley Temple) and Heidi especially would make me cry every time.

I remember watching The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer in my tweens and being so excited to see a teenaged Shirley Temple movie. And then being really disturbed by the plot of a 17-year-old girl falls in love with random adult, played by Cary Grant, and her family convinced him to LEAD HER ON. Even though he doesn't want anything to do with her! Crazy, I swear. Old movies have some bonkers plots, folks. Especially if Cary Grant was involved. It doesn't help that the film was written by the man that would go on to create I Dream of Jeannie.

It was weird to see her looking so much older, yet still so much like that tiny little girl. She resembled Debbie Reynolds at the time, actually. Reynolds wouldn't even make her first movie until the year after The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, and wouldn't even become known until Temple was out of the game in the 50s. Almost makes you wonder if there was only room for Reynolds once Temple had stepped down.

Anyway, what I really remember Shirley Temple for is the Shirley Temple doll my mother had. My mother was not the type to hang onto childhood toys. Mostly due to the fact that she had six younger siblings, four of them girls, and her old toys would make their way through the family until they, presumably, just turned to dust in the youngest sister's hands.

But the Shirley Temple doll survived.

She did not, however, survive unscathed. I remember my mother showing me the doll when I was about five and I was mystified by the thought that it was supposed to resemble the cute little girl from the black and white movies. The face and arms were marred with dark streaks and the hair looked like something between a pointy anime hair style and an afro. Too long and too snarled in odd shapes.

There was also the fact that she had no clothing. That didn't help my imagination with trying to see Shirley Temple in the doll. I was convinced my mother had been duped and no one had the heart to tell her that she just had some old doll.

Many years later, she found someone to restore the doll. She found a dress to fit the doll and shoes and socks that fit it as well. And when the doll was returned to our house, it was clear of black marks and the hair had been painstakingly restored to shiny sausage curls, somehow. It is now lovingly displayed on the piano in my parents' house. In a tiny doll chair, next to pictures of family members. Another family keepsake.

It still does not, however, look like Shirley Temple to me.

Rest in peace, Shirley Temple Black. You've been a legend for 60 years and will continue to be so.