Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Vincent and the Doctor

Sometimes you watch things and they're sad for all the wrong reasons. They're sad because the things that happen in them are completely unnecessary and come across as emotional ploys. You're left more angry than upset.

Other times you watch something and the emotional aspect is genuine and the reasons for the emotions are honest. The show is sad in the best possible way, and you feel like you've grown. Taken a step closer to understanding the world and people in it.

What happened to Rory in Cold Blood was the first kind of sad, but Vincent and the Doctor is the second.

Like Amy Vincent Van Gogh is my favorite painter. (That's not a unique trait, I know.) Starry Night was the first painting I ever saw (in a sixth grade art textbook) that made me feet something. Who doesn't love this crazy genius? Then add in 11, who is another kind of brilliant madman, and you get what's probably the best episode of the season.

Yes. The best. Better than angels, because there is no need for a giant crack in time and space. Tony Curran was amazing as Van Gogh and Bill Nighy played an understated but wonderful part. I am almost convinced bowties are cool. Almost.

So bravo, Richard Curtis. Bravo.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cold Blood

Hey remember in The Eleventh Hour when Rory drove that sweet mini cooper to the hospital and he did a burn out when got there? Wasn't that awesome?

Or when he fought a Space Fish Vampire with a broom? Wasn't also awesome?

You know what wasn't awesome? KILLING RORY WITH A HEAT RAY.

You know what was even less awesome than that? NEGATING HIS EXISTENCE BY FEEDING HIM TO THE GIANT CRACK IN TIME & SPACE.

When I was younger, I saw a TV adaptation of Ray Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder." It's the short story where the guy goes back in time to hunt a T-Rex but he steps off the path and kills a butterfly. When the guy returns to the future, he doesn't exist. My entire reaction to the show was "...but if he doesn't exist, who stepped on the butterfly?" (And if that's not what happened in the episode, pretend it is so you can see where I'm going with this.)

So here's my question... if Rory doesn't exist, who saved the Doctor? Who fought Space Fish Vampires? Who noticed all the coma patients walking around? Is the solution to shoot Chris Chibnall for causing this paradox? (No.)

As for parts of this episode that didn't give me a massive headache... what I really liked was when the woman wasn't the best of humanity and the Doctor told her that she was going to raise her son to be better than her. You think, oh look at how merciful he's being after she really screwed up. Except, he isn't being merciful. He's being horrid by making her live the rest of her life with the knowledge of how badly she screwed up. And he's done it with a smile.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Canadian Teen Read Awards

I'm going to break one of my rules today and blog about something happening at work*. I'm doing this because I believe 250% that what we're taking part in is something fan-freaking-tastic.

Today the Teen Read Awards (presented by Indigo) site launched**. This a teen-voted-for-awards thing for books. It it is the coolest thing I have seen Indigo/Chapters do. (And I've had the pleasure of seeing them do some really cool stuff.)

And there's daily prizes! I can't win them, but you can if you're 11–17 and a resident of Canada—excluding Quebec. Under 15 you need parental consent to vote. I heard rumors of movie passes from Cineplex and even a Kobo eReader? (I <3 mine!) Read all the rules here.

Four books in each category have been chosen, but there's a fifth spot open for your choice. You can vote once a day in each category, after you've registered. (Voting in nominations closes July 25th.) I think this page—despite my involuntarily muscle spasm at the use of the word "deets"—sums it up nicely.

So, a favor, Canadian teens. There's this book, you see, and I love it with all my heart; it's called Beautiful Creatures. Maybe you've heard of it? Well, Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl are nominated for Best New Writer—and they have some tough competition from Lauren Oliver & Lauren Kate.

Please, if you LOVED Beautiful Creatures and you can vote, will you help Kami & Margie win? If it was up to me, I'd also give Beautiful Creatures Best Hottie, Best Lip Lock, Best All Time Fave, Best Read, and Best Hero! (Sorry, but it's City of Glass for Best Villain.) Thank you for any assistance you feel comfortable providing.

While you're at it, maybe you could nominate Melissa Marr for Radiant Shadows, Lisa Mantchev for Perchance to Dream, Jackson Pearce for Sisters Red, Kimberly Derting for The Body Finder, Catherine Fisher for Incarceron or maybe even Matthew Quick for Sorta Like a Rock Star... the list just goes on and on.

Even if you didn't like Beautiful Creatures, please participate—if you're eligible—and vote for the books you do LOVE. Tell your friends! Get on Facebook or Twitter to champion your favorites. Happy voting, Canada!

* I point you to the disclaimer about this being all my personal opinion, legal department, thank you kindly.
**Be a little patient with the site today, too, because earlier we overwhelmed it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Hungry Earth

The pressing question on my mind is what are those rusted metal wing-weapon things that they keep in the chapel? (See above right corner.) Potential rusted metal weapons in the same room that you're keeping a hostile Lizard Girl? Sounds like a bad plan, guys.

This episode was written by Chris Chibnall. He wrote "42" from the Doctor Who series with Martha, an episode for each series of Life on Mars and Torchwood's second opener "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" AKA When Jack Snogged Spike. (It also had a blowfish driving a sports car in it.)

• A delicious twist of not actual aliens, but just a civilization of homo reptilians who predate humanity. (Awesome, except every time someone said "homo reptilian" I giggled like a 14 year old.)

• The episode also featured a kick ass graveyard—not like the kind that Nobody Owens lives in, but still a great little one and some of our heroes ran around this graveyard in the dark and were chased by scary shadowy lizard people.

• There was also some Doctor and Rory bromance, and I suspect there are a lot of slash fanfics that explore the deeper meaning of this.

• I want those wireless glowing headphones that kid had.

• Hey, kid, you're not dyslexic. Your brain's just hard-wired for Ancient Greek.

The Gruffalo is badass. If The Gruffalo also turns out to have some greater thematic relevance to this two-parter, I will be very impressed.

Now the stuff that leaves me wondering:

• Would the Doctor really let Ethan—I mean Elliot wander off on his own? This seems highly irresponsible considering that the Doctor had just finished wigging out over losing Amy to the ground.

• Also, the Doctor has a sling shot—which means that soon we shall see him fight zombies with a cricket bat because the no weapons thing is totally just a rule he enforces on other people.

• Future-time-line Rory & Amy seemed to be dressed...um....identical to current-time-line Rory & Amy.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Necessity of Cages

I haven't been blogging much, which is because I've been telling myself that I'm ever-so-busy. Partly true. Mostly, I've been cycling between discontentment and a vicious kind of unrelenting hope that refuses to die. The discontentment is largely based on inability to speed along events that said unrelenting hope won't allow me to abandon.

Dreams are devils, I think. If we let them, they'll master us. Aspirations run amuck if left on their own. They blind us, they steal away our time, and ultimately they take their toll on our lives and relationships.

We don't talk about this, because we're worried about being discouraging. Well, honestly, if you're so easily discouraged then you've likely never had a true aspiration. Devil-dreams don't let you go—never without a fight.

Thus, the necessity of cages. The more I write, the more I come to value outlines. They are a place to capture all those ideas that would run around and break things while I was doing paying work.

I used to believe an outline would take away the joy of discovery. It doesn't. What it takes away is the amount of clean-up I have to do in revision and the time I spend staring into space trying to answer "and then what?" during the first draft.

It's part of the wonder of ideas: Even when you put them in a cage, they can still find a way to escape. They're not such fragile things that a little structure is going to destroy them. If anything, it only makes them stronger.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Amy's Choice

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a sci fi show, must be in want of an episode questioning its in-show reality. Few do it better than the Buffy the Vampire Slayer one, but Simon Fye wanted to at least nod to the troupe while dressing a wee funny man in various Doctor ensembles.

My favorite: the Ten blue suit and glasses during the "your brain is completely see through!" scene.

Because the mechanics of a concept like this are fairly well understood, the episode holds water. It even accomplishes some fun bits and some truly great emotional bits. The Doctor and Amy holding hands while they drive the van is brilliant.

While the episode may across as a bit of a filler, it deals with the whole unnecessary Doctor-Companion Potential More Kissy Face angle. The episode also shows why Amy makes the choice she does, and because it's Doctor Who and not Gossip Girl we can trust this issue is now resolved. (Or as resolved as anything can be for our impulsive Amy.)

I did, briefly, question if the Doctor knew what was going on from the get-go and why he allowed it to continue—or if he was all "Whoa, wait. I saw this fake Valeyard plotline in a Dr Who comic. But we didn't bring any time-sucking crustacean-bug things on board... How is Donna, btw? She was like training me to deal with Amy. OMG, old people zombies!" I'm sure when the Doctor worked it out, he allowed things to play through because he knew Amy needed to make the choice. (I could, however, be projecting Ethanael's characterization on 11. I get them confused sometimes because they're both purposely insane.)

It is always appropriate to reduce people to piles of sand, because that is an awesome visual. And bonus points for reinforcing the Hansel & Gretel knowledge that old people should not be trusted—unless they're the Doctor. Serious, tho, Old People Zombies was my favorite part.

My least favorite part was Rory's ponytail, because it was actually a mullet. Mullets are never ever cool. Ever. I am taking away the cool points Rory earned fighting space fish vampires with a broom because of the mullet-tail.

Final thoughts: Was this not an obvious casting opportunity for David Tennant with a goatee? Perhaps I am the only one who feels this way, so I'll keep holding out for that cracking all the universes to allow a 10.5 and 11 smackdown-then-team-up-Marvel-style.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Vampires of Venice

Best. Episode. Yet.

Because of vampires? Because of Venice? NO. Because Rory is the best secondary companion ever. Unimpressed by the TARDIS. Quick to understand that the Doctor is dangerous because he makes people want to impress him. But most importantly: Rory fought space fish vampires with a broom!

Oh, yeah, and the Doctor jumped out of a cake at Rory's bachelor party.

I love this episode, really. Because there was some thought put into it. More than just the lush scenery and the fabulous dynamic of Doctor & Amy & Rory, there was a logical explanation for why the "vampires" didn't have reflections but why we still saw their teeth.

I love silly and fun, don't get me wrong, and I love just plain creepy, too, but you can be silly & fun & creepy and still have monster/alien mechanics that make sense.

Which is why I'm confused over the Queen Space Fish Vampire having to undress before she jumped into the water, but I'm going to say that her perception filter got jammed on and overwhelmed her brain so that she got all confused and had to undress. Or she just wanted to be really DRAMATIC.

Did I mention Rory fought a Space Fish Vampire with a broom?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

We find out what happened to Dante

The garbage can didn’t attack on its own. It’s not like the former city of London abandoned pastries in favor of large metal objects. That would be sensible. Very little about this Thursday has been sensible.

No, the garbage can attacked because someone used it as a projectile. Didn’t realize this until after it happened. Thus the confusion over thinking even more inanimate objects had decided to threaten my well-being. Didn’t hear it coming because no one has had the decency to stop surprising me.

Maria pulls me out of the way. I hear a warning seconds before she grabs my arm. No time to move myself. She moves me. It jangles. She doesn’t notice. Too busy staring at the garbage can like it might right itself and come after us again. Shouldn’t happen. We’re in Vancouver. The guardians keep that kind of thing to a minimum.

“Are you ok?” she asks. “It was headed right for you.”

“Yeah.” I stare at her fingers.

She lets me go. Her face turns that funny pink color again.

“I’m ok,” I say. “Thanks.”

Just being polite. Just saying what is said in these situations. But the simple expression of gratitude makes her go all shocked-face. As if she didn’t realize I could be polite. I can. I choose not to be. My parents were always polite. All it got them was dead.

“It was—yeah.” Maria swallows. “You’re welcome.”


The music in my head silences. Doesn’t stop. That’d be impossible. My attention wrenches from listening to it. Full focus. That is not a name a stranger should be yelling. Especially not at me.

She is the silence overwhelming. A vaguely familiar one that coats the inside of my head and throat. She is also wearing the most awesomely bad-good scarf ever. I think it coordinates with the hoodie Maria found me. Definitely doesn’t match.

I make the frowny face. I know this girl in the scarf with the skinny jeans and the too many bracelets and the teal tank top that almost matches her yellow shoes. Given the exuberant use of color in her wardrobe we might even be related.

“Ethanael Luminos,” the girl in the scarf says. Her eyes are that blue the sky never is here. The color of a summer afternoon. Her hair is strawberry ice cream pink.

Maria stares. At me. At the girl with the candy-colored hair.

“Present,” I say. “S’up?”

Maria doesn't giggle. I think I hoped she would.

“Ethan,” Girl in the Scarf makes a grab for me.

She’s wearing gloves. So am I. Even through them, I can feel her touch. Nostalgic. Or something. It causes what I believe humans call a ‘flashback.’ Back flashing to when my parents weren’t so dead and I wasn’t so tall and this girl and I first met.

Some kind of party. A birthnight party. Maybe. My Then Alive mother brought over a girl not much older than me, all in frills and ruffles and ribbons of various startling shades of green.

Ethan, my mother said. This is Felicity Chant.

How do you do, said Felicity and held out a hand in a little white lace glove.

I listen, mostly, said I. The music tells me what to do. Sometimes I tell it to do something else. But that doesn’t make Dad happy.

Me too, she said. Listen. I mean. And it doesn’t make my mother happy when I change things, either.

I stared, like Maria stares at me, because I’d never met anyone who could change the music. Sure, a few people could hear it. But change it? That was secret and special and just mine. Didn’t know how I felt about sharing it with someone else.

I took her hand. She was silent. Like Niall. Who was my reference for all things Over There. My little kid symbol match. Silence = Niall. But Felicity did not equal Niall. Logic fail. Smash. Very traumatizing for a little kid on his birthnight.

What’s wrong, Ethan? My mother asked.

She doesn’t have any music, I said.

I do, Felicity told me. It’s just very quiet. Like yours.

When you’re older, my mother said, you and Felicity will be married.

I thought about it. Mom and Dad were married and they seemed happy enough. But they were grown-ups and obviously this Felicity and I wouldn’t be grown-ups for a long time. Whatev. I’d worry about it then.

Ok, I guess, I said. Is she staying for cake?

Don’t you know? My mother asked.

I don’t know what he’ll do, either, Felicity said. This must be what others mean when they talk about being surprised.

I don’t like it, I said.

No, she agreed. We should promise never to surprise each other unless it’s very important.

And we did. It’s one of the few promises I’ve kept.

“Felicity.” I adjust my headphones. Straighten my hood. “Color me surprised.”

“Yes. Sorry.” She gives Maria an inspecting glance. “I had to get your attention. There’s a cluster of guardians coming this way. Your being here hasn’t gone unnoticed. You have to leave the city.”

Uh oh.

“We’re waiting for people,” Maria tells Felicity.

“Then you’ll be waiting a long time. They’ve been incarcerated on the grounds of aiding the Prometheus in abandoning his duties.”

“Who is she talking about?” Maria whispers.

“Avalon had to take a leave of absence,” I say. “But he didn’t actually tell anyone he was going.”

“Ethan.” Felicity points at Maria. “Who is this?”

“Maria. Andy and I are finding her a place to live.”

“Trafficking in stolen humans is not going to help your cause.”

I shrug. “She was stolen when we found her.”

“She’s also standing right here,” Maria adds.

“You both need to leave Vancouver.” Felicity ignores her. “Now.”

Dante and Niall can take care of themselves. Blame me. Beg forgiveness for being mislead by a Luminos. We’re all wicked, y’know. Like a family of supervillains.

No way I am I leaving without Avalon. Your world needs him. More importantly, Oliver and Runa need him. Can’t hear Felicity, but her face says she knows I won’t go.

“Ethan.” I like the way she says my name. Kindly. All full of concern for my well-being. Already practicing for the future. “They’re in guardian custody awaiting transit to the Far Reaches. It’s the only way the Prometheus is leaving this city.”

“Unless we break Avalon out of jail,” I counter-offer.

Felicity nods.

“Let’s go,” Maria says.

Felicity and I are perfectly synced as we turn to stare at Maria.

“We can’t leave them there,” she tells us. “Not when they were arrested for such a stupid reason.”

Felicity starts to protest. “You don’t—”

“She doesn’t need to,” I say. “She’s right. You know. I know it. That potted palm tree over there knows it. Thanks for the warning, Lili, but a Luminos doesn’t leave family behind.”

“Yes. Family is the only loyalty a Luminos has.” She sighs. “We’ll use another exit. There’s no point wasting our energy fighting this lot of guardians. We’ll need all we have for the escape.”

“Cool.” I stuff my hands in the hoodie’s pockets. “Lead on.”

Felicity sighs again. It’s the same kind of sigh my mother used to give my father.

“Ethan.” Maria doesn’t grab my arm. “Who is she?”

“Felicity. She and I are going to get married,” I reply. “But not today. Today doesn’t work for me. Little bit busy.”

“It doesn’t work for me, either,” Felicity says. “And thank you very much for asking.”

“Great,” Maria says. “Now there’s two of you.”