Monthly Archives: April 2015

Doctor Who: Series One- The Long Game

Eccleston and Piper take on the future.

Eccleston and Piper take on the future.

This is the last mediocre episode of the first series. Each episode after this is a classic or furthers the end game for this series. As such, this episode was kind of hard to get to because it wasn’t one of the ones I was super enthused about watching and reviewing for this blog series.

This one isn’t “bad” per se, it’s just not nearly as special as the stuff that comes after it.

Time to churn through this one and get to the good stuff!!

The Failed Companion

The point of the Companion in Doctor Who is to have an audience proxy. You’re supposed to be able to watch the show and imagine that you are the one traveling to distant times and spaces. They’re supposed to be relatable so that you can picture yourself as one.

Russell T. Davies trolled us a little with Adam. He established that not everyone is companion material. Some people are special and they get to be companions. People who are selfish Adam Eyeor thoughtless don’t get to keep their Golden Ticket, which is what happened with Adam.

Adam gets mentioned in an iO9 article about depressing Companion departures and for good reason. While his departure isn’t as depressing as Donna Noble’s, it still illustrates how one stupid decision can fuck you for the rest of your life.

I only saw this episode once and didn’t really grok why Adam was considered irredeemable. Going through it again, I am seeing small moments that foreshadow why he was kicked to the curb. We see the moment when he has the cell phone that can call the past that he knows he should give back to Rose, but you see him deliberate it and decide to keep it instead.

Things continue to get worse as the episode goes along. It’s rather disappointing to see someone give in to their base instincts. I realized as the episode went on that Adam is basically Biff from Back to the Future. If there was a sport’s record book available in Satellite Five we would live in an unfortunate reality. It’s too bad he can’t go back and invest in Apple when it was nineteen bucks a share.

Again, it’s really interesting to go back and see this episode and see all the stupid shit Adam does. I barely remembered this episode. Seeing the iO9 article I didn’t even remember Adam was a character. Going back and watching this I am puzzled why this didn’t leave a more visceral impact on me. The part where The Doctor is being given away because Adam opened up his mind to the High Intelligence to send a message to himself in the past to invent/invest in the right technology is really memorable and I honestly don’t know why it didn’t make a bigger impact.

Satellite Five

Wasting Simon Pegg is a sin against humanity.

Wasting Simon Pegg is a sin against humanity.

Yes, I am going to get crap from Chris Adamson, but this whole episode seems like a giant cautionary tale about Fox News and Rupert Murdoch. This is a prospective future where the human race lets itself be controlled by an infotainment industrial complex. There is a higher power using its influence to control the reality experienced by humanity to ensure that no one asks any questions about what is happening to society. People are allowing themselves to be blindly led and live in terror of amorphous threats with no solid or concrete parameters.

The plot device where people open their brains to the main computer is a decent allegory for our current social media experiment. People are voluntarily pumping their personal information out to people who capitalize on it and are using it to design ever more manipulative ways to contour our reality.

It’s kind of disappointing that they have Simon Pegg here and he isn’t using his real accent and he’s blond. All of his personality is kind of stripped. It makes me sad.

The Doctor and Rose

It’s fascinating to see how far Rose has come since the beginning of the series. This is only her seventh outing, but she is giving the grand tour to Adam like a pro. It’s kind of cute to see The Doctor watching her with a modicum of pride for her confidence in showing him the ropes. His little companion is growing up!! However, she hasn’t learned not to give away the TARDIS key yet. Bad Rose!

It’s interesting to see how proud The Doctor seems of Rose. In the first several episodes of this series he treated her as something of a pet. She was a curiosity. She was someone who was more remarkable than the people around her, but she was still an inferior human.

The bad CGI!!! It burns!!

The bad CGI!!! It burns!!

There are parts in the episode where The Doctor seems to delight in the growth that Rose has made over the course of the season. He chastises the woman who doesn’t think the heat is an issue by saying that Rose is asking all the right questions. It’s also fun to see Rose’s sort of smug, “Ha ha, I got praised by The Doctor!” look at this comment.

I find it personally fascinating to see how their relationship evolves over the course of this series. I don’t really feel that many other companions go through this process. The only other companion I can think of who really profoundly changes over the course of the series is Donna. This first series had to do a lot to introduce Doctor Who to a new generation of people while staying true to the old series. The decision to make The Doctor rather grizzled and militant and to have him slowly recover his lost whimsey was a really interesting and successful choice by RTD.

It speaks to the strength of their relationship that The Doctor didn’t kick Rose to the curb as well after this incident. She wanted to bring Adam with them. She gave him the key. She made a mistake. He could have decided he was done with her after this, but he needs her and he knows it. There wasn’t a moment when he even considers that course of action. It speaks to the strength of their relationship even this early in the season that it feels natural that he wouldn’t take it out on her. Also, that would have disrupted the season and that would have been an unwise choice.

One of the complaints that I have about the Moffatt era Doctors is how little they seem to grow and evolve. Yes, you can argue with me that this past series with Clara and Danny Pink was somehow different, but it really didn’t capture me in the same way this series did. I don’t know if it’s the chemistry between Eccleston and Piper or if he was just such a good actor that no one else has been able to approach what he did. I truly believe he shows the greatest range of realistic emotions of all the modern Doctors. Peter Capaldi never really captured the extreme goofiness and the extreme menace that Eccleston oscillated between throughout each episode of this series.

For now I am delighting in watching his relationship with Rose. When they break onto Floor 500, The Doctor comments that everyone seems to have dropped out besides Rose and himself. And he likes it that way. So does she.

Don't fuck with us.

Don’t fuck with us.

The Future is Fragile

One of the biggest aspects of most science fiction from the twentieth century is this pervading idea that humans will conquer the galaxy. Except we don’t mean militarily. We will colonize space and explore strange new worlds. If you look at Star Trek, humanity is at the epicenter of galactic civilization. In Doctor Who, thousands of races interbred and descended from humanity. In Doctor Who, humanity has a destiny that The Doctor spends so much time to shepherd to fruition.

One aspect of this episode that is interesting and terrifying is just how tenuous that future is. The future we view in this episode isn’t the future we expect from humanity, but one that is terrifyingly similar to the one we live in now. A future where all of humanity’s information about the world is manufactured and filtered through a mechanism to warp our basic potential.

One of the reasons I hate the current Star Trek movie reboot is that J. J. Abrams clearly didn’t understand what made Star Trek appealing to begin with. Star Trek came out at the height of the Cold War and it was created to give hope to humanity that one day we would overcome our differences and move forward into the future united rather than divided. I feel like this episode is kind of like what would have happened if at various critical points in our history our better natures didn’t prevail and we never progress past where we are now. It really drives home this idea that the future is fragile. We have the potential to do great things but it takes very little to derail our bright future.

However, it’s nice that in our evil media future that we no longer just have the male/female genders, we have male/female/multisex/undecided/robot. Tolerance is always a good lesson.

Conclusion

I am glad I went back and rewatched this episode. It didn’t leave a huge impact on me initially, but there is a lot of good stuff in here that I missed the first time through.

Now that we are through the slow part of the season, we get to go and visit one of the strongest episodes of New Who: Father’s Day. Stay tuned!

The Demonization of Food

I had two incidents happen in the last 24 hours that have affected me on a deep, profound level that I would really like to talk about.

Last night I went to a friend’s house. We are beta testing a board game. Each of us is is going through some extreme life changes and we’re all trying to find ways of actually interacting with other human beings.

When I walked into his house, the heavenly aroma of fresh brownies hung in the air. His wife, who is also a friend, offered me a warm brownie and a glass of cold milk.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I was offered a warm brownie. I have had warm brownies at home, but there is always this cloud of shame attached to them. They get made because someone is really in the mood for chocolate and they are furtively consumed alone.

Having another person offer me a brownie with no associated guilt or feeling of failure associated with it was an incredibly moving experience.

The second incident was on the dead, forgotten social networking platform App.net. I commented about trying to figure out how to cook. I am living on my own for the first time in my life and I never really learned how to cook. I wish I had a cooking tutorial book for people like me starting off with some simple stuff that you then build into more complex stuff like you do when you learn programming.

Most people were very encouraging and enthusiastic about this goal. Except one person, who said: “Like you eat out every day prior to this? Unhealthy.”

That sound you hear in the background is the land mine this guy just stepped on blowing him to smithereens.

You have no fucking clue how pissed off I am about this comment.

I do not know why people in the country feel like they have the right to judge other people about what they eat.

My ex-husband and my father were both on extreme diets, but their diets were in direct opposition to one another. My father followed a mostly vegetarian diet with a lot of beans, rice, and bread. My ex husband followed a low-carb Paleo-style diet. Trying to coordinate a meal between the two of them was like the most bloody Holy War imaginable. Both were incredibly passionate that their way of eating was the right one, that the other person was an irresponsible fool, and that the other one would drop dead of a heart attack at a young age due to extreme obesity.

I don’t want to live like that. I have been living like this for the last thirty-three god damned years and I am fucking tired of it.

I like potatoes. I like pie. I like cheeseburgers. I like beans.

When I was a kid one of the highlights of my year was when my mom would bring home a French Silk pie from Baker’s Square. I told myself as a child that when I was an adult I would keep one of those suckers in my refrigerator and eat it directly out of the pie plate and share it with no one. Last month after my husband moved out of the house I brought a pie home and ate it directly from the plate. It was one of the most glorious, liberating moments I have had in my life of being able to eat like a savage and absolutely giving no shits about it.

I am incredibly disturbed by the amount of judgement we have about what other people eat. I am angry that we are making overweight people feel bad for being moral failures for being fat.

My Life as a Fat Girl

I have been on both sides of the coin. I have been fat and I have been painfully thin. I am a recovering anorexic. I starved myself in high school because I hated myself and I wanted to disappear but I was too afraid to actually follow through with taking my own life. I have hated my body for being fat even though I was incredibly thin, to the point of being unhealthy and unable to retain any body heat.

I was placed on a bunch of creepy medications when I was 16 that made me gain over sixty pounds in less than two years. As I watched myself going from a skinny to a chubby to borderline obese teenaged girl, I cried from despair and self loathing. I hated all of my skinny classmates and I was pissed at myself for not realizing I was skinny when I was anorexic.

I didn’t have a boyfriend for ten years and my parents and my doctors thought I was a lesbian. I tried to talk to my doctors about what was happening, but I got a sanctimonious “Eat less and exercise more” rather than an honest disclosure that weight gain was a common side effect of the drugs they were forcing me on. Right now there is a class action lawsuit against one of the drug manufacturers for causing Type-2 diabetes in people who were on the same medication I was because it caused so much weight gain.

The second I went off of these medications I lost most of the weight. I didn’t exercise more or eat less. I just stopped taking medicine I didn’t need to begin with.

One of the worst parts about being fat was basically being invisible. I have always spent way more time with men than women and I developed crushes on a lot of my classmates. I didn’t really like any of them, I just kind of thought I was supposed to have a boyfriend and I was sad that no one was attracted to me.

I would sit next to my crushes and listen to them bitch about how the hot girls in their classes didn’t notice they existed while they were completely oblivious to the fact that I had a crush on them. I think if they had known I liked them it wouldn’t have made any difference. They would have been dismayed that the only girl who liked them was the socially awkward chubby girl with the bad personality. I don’t think they liked any of the girls they crushed on any more than I actually liked them, we all just wanted some external validation that we were okay.

When I lost all of the weight and went back down to my anorexic high school weight in 2008, I thought it would be this life changing experience. It wasn’t. I still felt bad about myself, except now I couldn’t go longer than two hours without having to take a nap, half of my hair fell out, and my face broke out and wouldn’t heal. What did make a difference to me was finally finding something I was good at and learning not to worry about the other stuff. When I started focusing inward on what I thought and felt rather than what I looked like I found peace.

We’re Not Being Effective

In spite of the billions of dollars we have sunk into research about weight, we seem no closer to understanding how weight works. Don’t give me any of that crap about “calories in, calories out.” Yes, on some level it is calories in, calories out, but there are a lot of factors that affect how the calories out gets determined. Women retain more fat than men do because we need to to grow and make babies.

Guess what? No one wants to be fat. No one chooses to be fat.

Being fat is one of the last acceptable things for people to be discriminatory about. You can’t say racist things in public anymore, but it’s perfectly okay to shame someone for being fat. People are being cut open and having perfectly good organs butchered by doctors to avoid being fat. We have created a narrative in our culture where anyone who is fat is fat because they lack the willpower to stop shoveling donuts into their gaping maws. We can feel superior to them because we have enough restraint to be thin even if we aren’t actively doing anything about it. This Calvinistic belief is preventing any meaningful research from being done into how to effectively fight the obesity epidemic.

This isn’t helped by the mass media messages that we receive telling both men and women that we are not “enough” to con us into buying gym memberships to “fix” ourselves to some Photoshopped ideal.

If you are a “stereotypical” fat person who spends all day eating, you are probably depressed or have some other issue that is the actual root of your issues. The weight is just a symptom. We aren’t treating weight like a symptom. We’re treating it like a moral failing making it more difficult for people who are struggling to actually get help. That really sucks.

I am sick and tired of everyone I know feeling shame about food. I am sick of everyone I know judging other people for what they choose to eat.

I want to see more people like my friend offering warm brownies to people with no underlying shame. I like to feed people. I used to bake a lot and it gave me a lot of pleasure giving people food I made and seeing them enjoy it. Something I used to love is now a source of tremendous angst for most of the people I know. I want everyone to feel loved and accepted for who they are rather than wasting their lives feeling ashamed because they keep gaining and losing the same twenty pounds over and over again.

When I got married back in 2009 I was skinny and sick and miserable. I have gained back more of the weight than I would really have liked to. I don’t really care. I feel better than I did then. I know now that I will never look the way I think I am supposed to. I am curvy. I hate skinny jeans. They are an abomination. I can’t force my body to fit into a mold it doesn’t fit into, so fuck it.

I am going to wear shorts that show my thigh fat. I find them comfortable and I would rather be comfortable than worry about showing people that I am chubby. My mom tells me not to wear things that make me look chubby. Hey! Guess what? I AM chubby. I don’t give a fuck. I feel okay in my own skin and I am fine with who I am. I am trying to go running more because I enjoy it and it makes me feel better. If I lose weight cool. If not, then whatever.

I am drawing a line in the sand here. I am going to eat whatever I feel like eating. I will eat my food mindfully. I will think about each thing I put in my body and if I want to eat pie, I am going to eat pie. Life is too short to feel hungry all the time and to eat unsatisfying salads and to feel empty inside.

If you have enough leisure time to make your food from scratch every day, great for you. I don’t. I am out of my house close to twelve hours a day. I spend that time bashing my head against a lot of really difficult stuff that drains all of my energy. I come home and find anything I shove into my mouth before taking a bottle of wine with me to the bathtub to try and drink myself to sleep, which usually doesn’t work and I wind up waking up at 4:30 in the morning.

I want to learn how to cook. I find it rather intimidating. I lived with a guy who spent thousands of dollars on various kitchen gadgets and wanted to work his way through the Julia Child cookbook. I just want to make meatloaf and curry. I want to have a few things that I can throw together when I am brain dead and I need to feed myself. Eventually I would like to make food for other people who will enjoy eating it rather than giving me a lame excuse about how they’re on a diet and they can’t eat my food because it has butter and sugar in it.

I had tutorials to learn how to program, I don’t know why they don’t have a similar thing for adults to learn how to cook. Start simple and build various skills that can be used together to make increasingly complex foods. I don’t want some asshole online implying that I am a slovenly person because I lived off of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup after my ex moved out of the house because I was trying to keep my head above water.

I hope that this post inspires people who feel ashamed about food to go out and eat something they want to eat without feeling guilty about it. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t feel like you are immoral because you ate a brownie. Life is meant to be lived. Eat the brownie. Enjoy the brownie.

A friend of mine said something that I thought was great. He said, “I don’t know when I will die, but I do know that when I die I won’t die hungry. I will die knowing the last thing I ate was tasty and delicious.”

Words to live by.