freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
sherlock irene

The new season of Sherlock starts on 1st January, and the BBC has just released a new, longer, interactive trailer that's pretty spanky and all. Tumblr is having hysterics, predictably enough. I must confess to a certain excitement. (Although, warning, that trailer made me exclaim "Sherlock, you bastard!" at least twice. They're interpreting the two years dead in the way the bulk of the fanfic does, which is to focus on how brutally the deception affects Watson and how emotionally detached Sherlock is from it; he's not going to be likeable this season). But I watched the trailer, and in particular the bit with the Stephen Moffat interview, and something crystallised for me, possibly because Moffat in interviews comes off as slightly smug.

See, my love for the narrative elegance of his early Doctor Who episodes notwithstanding, I still can't forgive Stephen Moffat for what he does to women across Doctor Who and Sherlock alike. He's not an enlightened thinker, certainly not a feminist one; his female characters tend to slide back into reactionary gender roles to a somewhat worrying extent. They wait. And have babies. Or unrequited crushes. Or are royally screwed around by circumstances. They're quite often passive in one or another way. They're almost always reacting to men, rather than having their own goals and agency, which means that ultimately any power that they have tends to reside in their sexuality.

And what he did to Irene Adler is the single thing that most annoys me about Sherlock. I've always vaguely assumed that it was because he insists on bloody well sexualising Sherlock, which I think is flat against both the letter and the spirit of Doyle's character. But today I realised it's not that, or at least not just that. It's also about the way he sexualises Irene herself. In the Doyle story she's "The Woman" because she's an intellectual equal to Sherlock: she doesn't seduce him, she out-thinks him. She's a sexualised figure in that she's beautiful and adored by men, but in fact she's characterised as a spurned woman more than an adventuress, and she doesn't randomly focus her sexuality against Sherlock himself: she triumphs over him in the story because of her intelligence, not her looks. The story takes for granted that Holmes himself wouldn't be susceptible to seduction anyway, it has to be a intellectual tussle. (In the original story Sherlock is actually fooled into not recognising Irene while she's disguised as a man, which I think is an important index both to how little her power is about her sexuality, and to how much Doyle equates her with Holmes himself - disguise is his own skill, after all). Moffat's Irene Adler is a complete reversal of this: the assumption in the episode is that she only prevails over Sherlock because her sexuality attracts, confuses and distracts him, which rewrites both of them.

That would be annoying even if Moffat hadn't gone the whole hog and made her into a dominatrix, which I find to be quite one of the most unpleasant symbolic sexual roles for women. A dominatrix, in the sense of a woman for hire as Irene is (I don't mean women in consensual BDSM relationships), is not about female power. The encounter is not about her desire to dominate: it's about the customer's desire (and that's usually male desire) to be dominated. She's a commodity, very much a sexual object whose apparent power is entirely illusionary. Irene Adler in Sherlock is thus neatly undercut in the same way that Molly's technical skill is by her infatuation with Sherlock, or that Donovan's strength of personality is by her affair with Anderson. Moffat can't think of women separately from men, and very often he can't think of them separately from their sexual identity. Even Mrs Hudson, apart from revolving around Sherlock, is tied to him through his past interference in the case against her husband. Irene Adler is the most extreme example of a worrying trend. (She's characterised as a lesbian who's helplessly attracted to Sherlock, for fuck's sake. Good grief. Sexist clichés much, Moffat?)

I love what Sherlock does to the canon, its creative re-interpretation of the characters, its updating of the narrative arcs. It's an amazing piece of adaptation. But it's also flawed, and a lot of what flaws it is Moffat's ideological ineptitude. It's doubly saddening, because I adore the elegance of structure of "Blink" and "The Girl in the Fireplace", but now I re-watch them with a critical eye for their women, and ultimately their women are sad.

(And it's only tangentially related, but while we're on the subject of women trapped in and punished by their sexual identities, you have to read this on the Susan/Narnia problem. It made me cry, and not so much forgive CS Lewis, as realise he's actually irrelevant.)

Subject line from "A Scandal in Bohemia", naturally: Watson talking about how alien the concept of romantic love is to Sherlock. I want to rub Moffat's nose in that paragraph.


Tuesday, 29 November 2011 01:39 pm
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It's been a horribly busy week, full of stress and angst. (Exam results came out yesterday. Can you tell?). Saturday was another bloody migraine, fortunately prevented by Judicious Drugs from reaching the throwing-up stage, but rife with nausea and aura and the need to lie flat for several hours instead of attending bakercourt's wedding, an omission about which I am still gnashing my teeth. I'm still all pale and headachey and migraine-hungover, and even without that still tire incredibly easily, which means I'm boot-strapping my way through running today's multiple year-end progression checking training sessions via judicious application of chocolate, Earl Grey and energy drinks, and snarling at the last-minutenesses of students. (Couldn't find V, am desolated to report that Spike tastes worse than Red Bull, and has left a thin film of metallic ick over my teeth, as though I've been slugging mercury).

However! Let us die or be upbeat! By way of retaining such remnants of sanity and positive thought as are left to me, I record for posterity the various random validations which have been vouchsafed to me over the last couple of days.
  1. In the Department of Self-Indulgent Piano Noodling, spent a happy half hour on Sunday haxOring the correct chords to Paul McCartney's "No More Lonely Nights", which I don't think I've actually heard since the 8Os, but which is, once you've listened to it four times on YouTube and uttered little shrieks of enlightenment at the chord changes, actually a rather lovely tune. That man wrote ridiculously catchy music, which I generally can't hear without thinking about the Hitch-Hiker's Guide bit about happy, lilting, tuneful songs, and Paul McCartney, if he'd written them, wondering what to buy with the proceeds, and thinking probably Essex. Also, power ballads on piano are indecent amounts of florid, sumptuous fun to play.
  2. Skyrim, while absorbing and beautiful and addictive, is also ridiculously crashy. When I tried, this morning, to get in my designated half-hour of play before rushing off to work, it had developed, overnight, a perfectly new and spontaneous bug which crashed it instantly the moment I tried to load a saved game. Any saved game. Aargh. This caused much chewing of the furniture and a small, doomladen cloud of blue curse words, followed by ten minutes on Google. The gathered wisdom of the ancients (i.e. geeky types in the last two weeks) prompted me to updated my DirectX (was unnecessary, have the up-to-date version), update my graphics card drivers (needed new version, but didn't fix problem), and then reboot, whereupon the crash problem was no more. I love doing that. However minor a victory it is, it fills me with feelings of instrumentality and competence and geeky joy.
  3. After this morning's training jaunt, in which I was probably lucid and coherent until the last fifteen minutes, the Deputy Dean sent me a joyously unprompted little email congratulating me on an excellent session and my "gift for presenting complex material in a lucid and succinct fashion". He cced it to the Dean. I feel like a smug kitty who's just been scratched on precisely the right spot behind the ears. *purrs*. Also, if they only knew how much of my "gift for presenting complex material in a lucid and succinct fashion" is the direct result of DMing complicated rpg systems like Rolemaster and briefing DMs for tournament modules, they'd ... well, probably be very confused. And surprised. And oddly less approving.
Gosh, that was a good exercise, I have validated myself into a much better mood. To round it off, have a gratuitous and wonderful chunk of Middleman fanfic, written with absolute authenticity and deliriously Middlesque language by the unpronounceable Javier Grillo-Marxuach himself, and notable for its ability to solve one of the most perplexing issues of our day, namely how to phonetically render the noise made by the TARDIS taking off. Fudgety-Bow-Wow, Dubbie!
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Steak night tonight! We went to the Hussar, our local steak hang-out of choice, to top my mother up with steak before she heads back to the UK on Wednesday. Apparently British beef tends to the awful. I am very full of Madagascar green peppercorn steak, which will content my vague red meat cravings for the next six months or so. But I notice the Hussar now serves emu, as a result of the unlikely fact that a friend of the chef has an emu farm in the Cape Town environs.

Us, to waitress, with vague interest: "What's the difference between emu and ostrich?"
Waitress, deadpan: "I'm not sure, actually. Perhaps emu steak has an Australian accent?"

I have the feeling she'd been practising that line.

I am, of course, utterly unable to think of emu these days without thinking of Bradley Cooper, as a result of a perfectly evil-minded Pajiba running joke:

I am also quite ridiculously tired at the moment, to the point of incoherence; I spent twenty minutes in the restaurant trying to remember the Doctor Who quote about "timey wimey stuff" - now that all use for it has passed, I am of course know perfectly well that he talks about "wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff". It's important because of the "Latin" motto on the new Wil Wheaton-designed T-shirt for the Fighting Timelords of Gallifrey University, which of course reads "Wibblus Wabblum Tempus Wempus". For some reason this cracked me up completely, although, as I said, I'm very tired. Possibly the rare steak will help, if only to top up the iron levels in my Warfarinerated blood.
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As a by-product of the ongoing attempt by [ profile] tngr_spacecadet and cohorts to inculcate me into Lotro, I watched the Doctor Who Christmas special the other night. (It was in the Briefcase of Doom, the which contains the two portable hard drives [for a slightly Heath Robinson value of "portable"] which contain the Lotro install, that it may not cripple my bandwidth allowance. For which relief, much thanks. Also, nested parentheses.)

Anyway. The Doctor Who Christmas special was a happy discovery. I've been slightly disappointed in the Stephen Moffat incarnation this last season, it's been a bit whiffly and more than somewhat prone to the Russell Davies brand of giant galloping emotional excess in clumsy symbol form. Certainly nothing as good as "Blink" or "The Girl in the Fireplace". Clearly producing a series causes inherent disintegration of the plot-fibre.

But I loved "A Christmas Carol". It's vintage 11th Doctor - he really is quite endearingly off-the-wall, both in content and delivery, and manages to be madly quirky and individual while maintaining continuity with Tennant's version. (Thus, incidentally, making me realise that there really wasn't much continuity between Ecclestone's version of the Doctor and Tennant's). It also demonstrates the happy-making fact that Moffat fundamentally gets not only time travel, which we knew, but A Christmas Carol itself. I am a pervy Dickens-fondler at the best of times, and have also spent chunks of the last eight years or so teaching A Christmas Carol to second-year lit students on an annual basis, and I have considerable investment in the novel and more than the usual quotient of opinions.

Moffat nailed it. What the Dickens ghost trope is, first and foremost, is a time machine. The supernatural element in the novel is a plot device which allows him not only to access past and future with vivid immediacy, but to compress a lifetime's worth of experience, insight and emotional change into one night. It's not realistic for Scrooge to reform instantly unless something non-realistic is driving it, and the Tardis is a beautiful replacement for the Spirits, the more so because time-hopping is allowed literally to change history and memory, not just insight into them. The ice-stored people are a lovely embodiment of theme, both Dickens's and Moffat's: emotional stasis, cold-heartedness, refusal to change. And the fish, while a mite mundane for my taste, are beautifully weird and occasionally enchanting.

This episode made me giggle frequently and cry at least once, although that last void where prohibited by viewer not actually being a hopelessly over-emotional dingbat. I am inclined to be sanguine about the new season, which is providing cool and interesting trailer images, notably the Doctor playing up to a Stetson.

I will also be inclined to write about it frequently, for as long as LJ holds up, which isn't much, at the moment. The tendency of its servers to exist in a supine condition is beginning to get my goat. Please note that this blog is currently mirrored on WordPress, at, although with a fraction of its actual personality as I haven't been able to migrate the comments. If the urge to blog hits me while LJ is whups, fellover, I shall probably pop up over there instead, ultimately permanently if they don't bloody sort this out. Pshaw.
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Cape Town is ungodly hot today: honestly, those of you in sub-zero temperatures in the northern hemisphere, I'll swap, any time. 36o today. I had to go out to Fish Hoek, where the entire world and their favourite armadillo were seething around on the beach, shoulder to shoulder, sizzling gently. Heatwaves in bumper-to-bumper traffic are not fun. Also, we apparently have two more days of this, and I go back to work tomorrow. In addition to being a small limp melted puddle of thing, I tragically have to take my mother to the airport in an hour or so, after way too short a time of The Holiday That Virgin Atlantic Screwed Up. Fortunately I'm too heat-stressed to work up a good head of steam on railing bitterly at the cosmic wossnames.

Despite all this I'm actually in a ridiculously good mood, as a direct result of the fact that the Evil Landlord has finally managed to negotiate his post-Australia-return insane work schedule to actually see me for more than three and a half minutes in passing. He bought me a sonic screwdriver for Christmas. Apparently Australia has lots of sonic screwdrivers, who knew? It's the Eleventh Doctor's one, it has a blue light and an extendy claw bit and makes the proper sonic screwdriver noise and everything. It's regressed me approximately to a five-year-old in a state of unholy glee. I would be a sad geeky fangirl, except that I'm an extremely happy geeky fangirl. Next up, those USB memory sticks shaped like a Tardis. They go "vworp vworp". In not entirely unrelated news, which of you fellow happy geeks scored the Christmas Special? I need to wave my sonic screwdriver at it.

*wanders off to re-attach barbed wire and resonate concrete*
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Random Sunday is random! I still have no brain, and am unequal to the task of composing any of my planned blog posts on (a) the manifest seductions of verbiage, (b) Tron, or (c) ex-Zimbabwean rootlessness, although they're marinating quietly in my back-brain and I'll get round to them eventually. Instead, I shall round up various items of a Literary or Cinematic Nature which have recently affected me, just because.

  • The nice thing about randomly lending people books is that they randomly lend you books. [ profile] tngr_spacecadet brought my Sookie Stackhouse collection back this morning, and incidentally dumped off a couple of supernatural Victorian novels, including Gail Carriger's Soulless, which I unrepentantly devoured this afternoon in default of marking the pile of Frankenstein class tests I should have been marking. (I currently do not love my job, so the weekends, are mine, goddammit, and work can bloody well wait). Soulless features some rather acutely-observed Victorian social comedy, a pleasingly strong-minded and matter-of-fact heroine, interesting world-building, unexpected Queen Victorias to the social situation, and rather enjoyable interludes of sweaty groping with werewolves in carriages and corsets and what have you. It's well written rather than being brilliantly written, but is often very funny and was bloody good fun to read. Recommended. Shall acquire my own copy forthwith, and any sequels.

  • Justice has been done! China Miéville's The City and the City won the Hugo for Best Novel, unusually a tie (with Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl, which didn't grab me as hard but which will make [ profile] pumeza happy).

  • Finally finished Season 5 of Doctor Who. I really, really like this Doctor. He doesn't inspire me with the girly heart-throbbings that the Tenth did, but he's becoming very interesting very fast. I am, however, faintly disappointed in Steven Moffat, who appears to have sacrificed his Blink-style elegance in favour of the kind of overblown grandiosity of concept favoured by Russell Davies. "The Lodger" was a lovely episode full of lovely people who almost but not quite distracted one from the gaping plot holes. The two-part finale made me very happy for its cunning Pandorica occupant, its Rory-redemption (and dammit, now I want a spinoff series covering his adventures over the last 2000 years) and for some actually intelligent use of time-travel, but the gathering of the Doctor's enemies was a generally pointless and self-indulgent concept which didn't give enough narrative pay-off to justify it. And the wedding scene was cute, but predictable and a bit flabby. I'm ... slightly miffed, actually. It's still all much better, plot-wise, than the previous Davies-seasons, but I had very high expectations of Steven Moffat, and he's turned out more of a Davies-disciple than I'm strictly happy with in my role as a pervy plot-fondler.

  • The latest Microfiction bits are up. This month's theme: "Spanner". Mine here. I think in this one a week of academicating (or, possibly, reading Miéville) has unduly predisposed me to a dense and convoluted writing style, but it felt necessary. Also, the word limit killed me this time round. Will post the longer version as well, sometime, just for comparison, because I actually think it's better.

  • The STNG episode which finally attacks homosexuality head-on, if somewhat laterally (and, yes, both together) made me very happy. (The one with poor Riker's doomed love affair with the androgyne). The Star Trek universe is so generally liberal, the lack of awareness of anything other than heterosexuality was beginning to be a serious gap and was narking my Proudly South African sensibilities. (Although it's also subtly annoying me that, while there are clearly women in leadership roles all over the show, since the departure of Tasha they're all very traditional nurturing female roles - doctor and counsellor. This is possibly why I'm really enjoying Ensign Ro's kick-butt spikiness).
As of tomorrow I'm taking notes in a two-day workshop, so will be generally un-available on Teh Internets unless I use Winona and manage to pirate a wireless connection to Seekritly Browse while I should be minute-taking. Wish me luck...


Tuesday, 18 May 2010 01:05 pm
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The combination of this iteration of Sid (second day of headache, laughs at Advil) and the urgent need to interview 60 potential orientation leaders before Friday, has robbed me of the little brain I possess at the best of times. I feel as though someone's been feeding me lubberwort, which was today's Worthless Word, and which basically means junk food that induces idleness and stupidity. Thus, another wayward puppy post! Narrative thread, who needs it. Also, bullet points are my friend.

  • This Periodic Table of Superhero Powers is wildly entertaining. I am conscious of a wish that I was enough of a comic book geek to know the background story to Gt and Af.

  • I promised this to various people the other day: Tom Cruise is kicked in sternum by small cute blonde, goes backwards over craft table. I am far more amused by this than I really should be.

  • Doctor Hoo: the Doctor as owls. No, really. Wolsplosion! Ridiculously cute, and some of them are bizarrely accurate. Also, bonus points for neatly encapsulating two of my fixations.

  • This image brought to you courtesy of my headache, which needs consolation. I finished Season 1 of Vampire Diaries, which delivered some relatively satisfying television for its cheesy teen format. I thank my lucky stars that I am now old and cynical enough to read "I am tortured and betrayed" as "I am a total dick", otherwise there'd be a serious level of Damon obsession. Plus, psychopath, so done. But he's still ridiculously pretty.

    The only thing preventing me from a desperate plea for Season 2 is the fact that I have to watch a metric buttload of Helsing this weekend in order to mark a student essay. My life is frequently surreal.

Now there shall be several gallons of tea, because I just interviewed 11 undergrads in a row, and my head hurts.
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The writers of headlines for the Daily Voice billboards cause me much innocent, or occasionally scurrilous, joy. I have realised, after several seconds of mature reflection, that it's not just their propensity for linguistic games, it's also the fact that they clearly have a severely warped sense of humour and absolutely no social inhibitions whatsoever, and are thus far more My Tribe than I would expect to find attached to a low-class tabloid rag. Today's little gem:


I have no idea why it's an onion murder - someone was bashed to death with a bag of onions? in a field of onions? while reading The Onion? maybe an innocent onion was ruthlessly slaughtered? either way, I laughed all the way home.

I am, of course, at home today, which is just as well, since I'm feeling like hell again - sinus trying to resurge into full-blown 'flu, glands all up and stuff. Phooey. However, am fortified against the pile of credit transfers which face me by two evenings of new Castle behind me, and tonight's planned two new episodes of Fringe ahead.

I also watched "The Beast Below", which is the latest Doctor Who episode, but the jury is still out on the current series. I am inclining very quickly towards thinking that the new Doctor is bloody well cast, he's producing a very nice blend of quirk, authority and charm, and taking in his stride the difficult task of providing a Tennant replacement when the Tennant bar was set so high. The episodes themselves, thought, while they're not causing Davies-style continuity rage, are also not producing the requisite degree of fangirly contentment on the narrative level. They're ... OK. "The Beast Below" was vaguely interesting, vaguely logical, vaguely worked. Vaguely. It just didn't cause me the deep narrative satisfaction of "Blink" or "The Girl in the Fireplace", and I am forced to face the possibility that Moffat may have his off days, or may be diluting himself too far. I am not yet losing hope, but I can't quite commit to this relationship for fear of being hurt.

On the other hand, the one-liners are still good.
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I seem to have a Seekrit Network of agents who supply me with the new TV I want to watch, in some cases unasked, as in [ profile] mac1235 arriving randomly on Friday night with the first of the Matt Smith Doctor Who episodes. This is a slightly odd situation for me to find myself in, given my ongoing ethical problems with the idea of watching ripped copies: I still have to subdue the raging guilt with the knowledge that I will acquire the DVDs of these things when they come out - the rule is, if I watch more than an episode or so of something, I have to buy it, and I do. My giant DVD collection and shattered credit card will, of course, be an absolutely ineffective plea when the jack-booted fascists of the New World Order kick my door down on a piracy charge, but at least I'll be dragged off while still in possession of the moral high ground.

So, the new Doctor. Hmmm.
  • I absolutely do not like the new logo or Tardis tunnels, or the new arrangement of the theme music.
  • On the other hand, the simple words "By Stephen Moffat" on the screen fill me with security and peaceful expectation. "By Russell T. Davies" used to make me tense up and cower slightly in anticipation of the hurtling plot holes.
  • Cute little girl. I do like strong-minded small children. And the Doctor's interactions with her over the whole Tigger-like food-testing were rather endearing.
  • The unfolding of the plot gave me what I can only describe as the Anti-Davies experience, in that I kept recognising tiny throw-away bits of dialogue which tied the whole thing together and made events make sense. It wasn't a vintage Moffat plot, but it was a solid one, with the hallmarks of logic, coherence, a reasonable degree of underlying elegance, and the actual weaving-in of time travel as intrinsic to events.
  • I'm impressed by how quickly the new Doctor establishes himself as a presence and a personality in his own right. There's a lovely balance of continuity with the Tennant quirks and novelty in the whole new bunch of his own. I have a dark suspicion that this is a clever actor, although I think he's also well supported by a clever script. Clever scripting causes me fangirly swooning. I also like the way he's being set up as having a forceful, slightly threatening edge, which was there in the last Doctor but slightly obscured by the Tennant Well-Bred Field-Mouse Effect.
  • I am not grovelling in instant fangirl adoration at the Eleventh Doctor's feet, my heart still belongs to the Tenth, but he isn't annoying me as much as I was afraid he would. I still feel the actor is a bit young, but actually the way he's playing it, possibly in tandem with the slightly odd shape of his face, makes him come across as rather ageless. (Is it just me, or is his head shaped like a peanut?).
All in all I'm open to allowing him to grow on me. As did, in fact, David Tennant, in the teeth of my fondness for the Ecclestone version. Possibly I should just trust to Stephen Moffat, or to the ineffable charms of the Doctor archetype. Or to my own propensities, which encourage me to invest utterly in these things if they give me half a chance. Sigh.
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How much do I loathe Russell T. Davies? Well, actually, I don't, he's always come across as a rather sweet and inoffensive man in interviews, and we of the fangirly persuasion owe him oodles for his resuscitation of the Doctor Who franchise. But, ye gods and little poodles, he does the most horrible things to narrative. I finally dug up the gumption to watch the Tenth Doctor's exit last night, and I'm still picking bits of it out of my teeth. I adore the Tenth Doctor. He's a doll. He's also a damned fine actor, and deserves infinitely better than the illogical pap served up to him in the name of plot. Further fulminations cut in the interests of spoilerage. )

Anyway. Thanks, Russell T. Davies. On balance we were probably lucky to have you and I hope you go on to even better things, but I do not grok your personal narrative beliefs, nor wish them well. Above all, stay away from time travel. You don't get it.
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I should be processing credit transfers. And checking board schedules. And catching up on plaintive curriculum advice emails. So I'm going to make another cup of Earl Grey, assault the packet of TimTams I raided from the Evil Landlord's cupboard this morning, and talk about Torchwood instead. I'd witter on about District 9, but it's still percolating. Memo to self: get new job. Preferably reviewing science fiction. This one isn't leaving enough brain space.
Torchwood. Spoilery. You Have Been Warned. )

That was all a bit heavy, so have some Friday Hee: a Lemony Snicket Advice Column. "Dear Mr. Snicket: I recently discovered that a family of rabid ermines has taken up residence within the belly of my eighteenth-century Rococo chaise lounge. What would you, sir, suggest to be the best way to envelop them with the spirit of the holiday season?"
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The Evil Sinus Infection thingy has taken on a new twist, namely a roaring temperature with a truly crippling headache - this latest one woke me up at 4am on Monday morning and caused me to take Advil on an empty stomach in sheer desperation, thus adding nausea to the list of symptoms. I dozed off from 6am until about until 8.30, staggered to the phone to tell work I wouldn't be in, fell back into bed and slept until half past two. This is weird, I never sleep in the day. And the wretched headache is only marginally dulled by painkillers, too - when not actually passed out I had it full force until yesterday evening, upon which it started tapering off, possibly because of the soothing application of hot rum toddies.

Still very shaky today and with a sort of a vague headache in the middle distance, ambled around the house doing nothing much apart from, yet again, dismally failing to sort out the bloody Windows install on my Dad's computer. (Got further this time. Now the screen blues out instead of blacking out while it's refusing to log me into Windows until I'm activated. Also, have conceived passionate loathing for the very Zen process of flashing through five different shades of black while it's rebooting. It's been rebooting a lot, entirely futilely).

And, speaking of shades of black, my copy of the new Torchwood series, Children of Earth, arrived, and I watched it over the last two evenings. It was mostly very good, intense and chilling in parts, but I'm incubating a fresh new Russell Davies rant. Watch this space.
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The Cosmic Wossnames were bizarrely favourable in placing me randomly in Britain over Easter, as I was able to watch the Doctor Who Easter special right, so to speak, at the horse's mouth... or almost, given that I had to wait for a couple of days until the living room had cleared of various random relatives before I could monopolise the TV. Fortunately the BBC seems to follow a saturation procedure with airing these specials, at daily intervals until everyone in Britain and their porcupine have seen the damned thing at least 2.4 times.

So: Planet of the Dead. This was fun, visually spectacular (Dubai sand dunes ftw), not particularly rife with plot holes, and refreshingly free of the usual Russell Davies overblown set piece quotient. I really liked the aliens (either clicky, metallic or both) and the classically Doctor-Whoish piece of pseudo-scientific hokum which holds it all together. One of the strengths of the series, to me (although I'm happy to accept that it may drive more rigorously-minded sf fans cordially demented) is the way that it cheerfully subordinates scientific logic to the emotional demands of the story.

The bit that didn't quite work for me was the Doctor's relationship with the Temp Companion, TM. She's chirpy, kick-butt, attractive, sassy and basically a spoiled brat, and I felt as though his final capitulation to her essentially amoral nature was a cop-out that badly flawed the operation of the Doctor as a moral centre. It's as if the writers got all confused and allowed the Doctor's grief at losing a whole string of companions to ultimately flaw the Doctor's need to temper his incredible, time-spanning powers with a rigorous sense of justice. Feel-good is important, but it has to be earned, and this wasn't.


Sunday, 4 January 2009 07:37 am
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Tra la la, it's January, and Seasonal Depression, as usual, has gripped me, since I'm clearly deeply contrary and insist on getting this in the depths of summer rather than winter. Work starts tomorrow and will be hell for two months, the weather's horribly hot, my neck's still itching, Avatar is being mean to Appa, and Roswell has just handed me Liz and Max breaking up and that stupid slut Tess seducing Max. Terry Pratchett is now Sir Terry, which is equally amusing and wonderful and doesn't at all make up for the Alzheimer's. And the BBC have cast a complete unknown as the next Doctor. I was very sold on the Patterson Joseph rumour, I'm narked. The new guy looks way too young, and rather dweebish.

Phooey. It's bad when even my fangirling distractions fail me. I shall go and punish myself for an hour and a half at the gym instead. Possibly medieval monks had something in the mortification-of-the-flesh department.

with gasoline!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008 07:16 am
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Devastated though I am by the news that David Tennant is leaving Doctor Who, I contemplate with joy and satisfaction his purported replacement: the Marquis of Carabas. I loved that actor in Neverwhere, he seriously rocked that coat and he has the perfect manic energy, without which I don't think it's actually possible to follow in the Ecclestone/Tennant footsteps.

This public service announcement brought to you as a faint, pre-emptive strike against a day characterised by Extreme Administration and quantities of putting-out-crisis-fires, all in insufficient time and with the added help of yesterday's pounding headache, still clutching my cerebellum in a vice-like grip.

*vanishes with despairing squeak into huge piles of paper, brandishing painkillers*

bloody mafflards

Thursday, 30 October 2008 09:24 am
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Clearly the bloggery is all about the postmodern fragmentation at the moment. Sigh.

  1. Woe! David Tennant to leave Doctor Who!. Apparently he buggers off after the four 2009 specials, callously refusing to stay and see what Steven Moffat does with the series. If this is loyalty to Russell T. Davies, I think it's a tad misguided. Also, woe. Deep, fangirly woe.

  2. Also on the woe front, the traffic this morning was ostentatiously unpleasant. What the hell's with these sudden days when every dweeb and his pomeranian suddenly has to be between me and campus, expanding a ten-minute trip into 35? It seems to follow no logic, pattern or external stimulus that I can discern. I am extremely grumpy as a result. Bloody mafflards. (Today's worthless word, meaning "blundering fool". Essential vocabulary in our day and age).

  3. Superhero Munchkin! I spent most of yesterday evening with the Cleavage Stun superpower, at an additional +2 because of my Spray-On Costume. At intervals I also burst into flame. The Hero set is, perhaps appropriately, overpowered: we were all ridiculously rife with abilities and items by the final few rounds, and the nemesisisises didn't really get a look-in. Also, possibly Watchmen had something: super-heroing apparently brings out the nasty in most of us. Alternatively, it was just jo taking on [ profile] khoi_boi's patented shit-stirring role, causing us to all rapidly descend to her level. Sorry about all the theatrical recrimination, jo. It was righteous pwnage.

  4. Current second favourite Eurythmics song from Peace. Another lovely tune. (Again without the video, they seem to routinely disable embedding. Phooey.)
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It's been raining off and on all weekend, which makes me and my garden happy, and it's still gently drizzling today. This is going some way towards reconciling me towards the headache and general disinclination I am suffering as a result of allowing Mike to ply me with altogether too much wine yesterday afternoon at his farewell braai. (He's buggering off to Oxford for a few years to do a PhD. Yay, more docs!). The bastard kept taking away my sensible glass of water and replacing it with a glass of wine, and I'm consequently a little fragile this morning. On the upside I drank enough to allow me to hold actual conversations with a notable array of complete strangers, which is a Great Leap Forward. Normally I curl up and die in a corner. Social butterfly, not.

So, Doctor Who. On mature reflection, I still don't have a lot of time for Russell Davies. )

Last Night I Dreamed: I was travelling across a rather attractive country, or countries, with rolling farmlands and ranges of mountains and a sandy coastline; unfortunately the whole thing was being threatened by some kind of hazy thing in the air, which was rolling in from the sea and gradually overtaking the country with unspecified ill effects. In the course of travelling with a refugee train I discovered that the country had recently abandoned the practice of growing a special kind of tree outside their homes; the tree had the power to suck in the nasty haze in a sort of mini vortex. At some stage I also realised the incredible significance of a glowing mother and daughter on horseback, who we passed in a field next to the road, and whose cart full of supplies we subsequently appropriated.
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This is a public service announcement. Gratuitous fangirling will follow. May cause dizziness, disorientation, disbelief and retching in extreme cases. Void where prohibited by notional academic dignity.

So, Doctor Who. The fourth season has been enjoyable, but my socks have remained firmly un-knocked-off until the other night, when I and the houseguests, nicely buzzed on too much food and the EL's wine stash, sat down to watch "The Unicorn and the Wasp", followed in quick succession by "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead".

The Agatha Christie episode was brilliant: jo and I sat there going "It's a LARP!" with unholy glee at frequent intervals. It was beautifully constructed, magnificently and playfully self-conscious, and completely immersed in its period. I loved the tongue-in-cheek games with dissolves, and the deliberate artificiality of the setting and of the traditional detective-holding-forth approach to the problem-solving. Also, bonus subtextual homoeroticism and vaguely Cthulhoid elements! And the actress who played Agatha Christie was superbly cast.

However, that was no more than the tasty starter to the main course, which was the delirious joy of a two-parter constructed by my favourite scriptwriter, Steven Moffat (fangirlfangirlfangirl). This may be spoilery, so I've cut it. )

Now, of course, we do the usual sudden, dizzy descent into the season finale à la Russell Davies. Phooey.
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This week has been completely mad, mostly because I'm trying to combine the ravages of Sid with three solid days of interviews with students for purposes of choosing orientation leaders. This has led to the following:
1. The uneasy realisation that probably everyone in the universe but me was a prefect at school. Also, contrary to expectation, the upshot of piling CVs from approximately 53 prefects and 22 head students onto one corner of my desk is not, in fact, a black hole created from critical worthiness mass. Colour me surprised.
2. These are bloody nice kids, and are tending to positively reinforce my tendency to rather like students.
3. After the twenty-sixth interview I have to forcibly prevent myself from leaning back in my chair and steepling my fingers while formulating searching personal questions. Memo to self: am not auditioning minions.

After hitting [ profile] mac1235 for same, I devoured the first five episodes in the new season of Doctor Who in a marvellous gulp over the weekend. I was all braced to be narked to the max by Donna, who was truly irritating in the Christmas special, but in fact they've toned her down, or perhaps she's toned herself down, enough that I actually rather like her. She's being very nicely built up as having genuine reasons for self-esteem issues, above which she tends to rise pleasingly when the chips are down. She's also down-to-earth in a way which provides wonderful ballast to the Doctor's flightiness, and she offers the complete antithesis to Martha's slightly-droopy-schoolgirl-crushiness. Also, the first episode's Alien Du Jour succeeded in being both cute and fundamentally disgusting in a way I have to respect.

On a not unrelated note, those of you who don't read Neil Gaiman regularly (and I have to add, why the hell not??) may have missed his rather gorgeous piece of Doctor/Shakespeare crossover (scroll down a bit). It's note-perfect. He's a clever man.

Now I have to go and mark twenty-three third-year essays on Vampires and The Sex, which are lurking rather entertainingly under a photocopied reading entitled "Welcome to bisexuality, Captain Kirk!" A quick survey of essay text-choice reveals, on the upside, Buffy, David Gemmel, The Hunger, (fangirlfangirlfangirl) and Tim Powers (wow!). On the downside, umpteen discourses on Interview with a Vampire and two on Queen of the Damned (throws self out of window on reflex). Wish me luck.

p.s. OMG! The fourth student in the pile entitles himself Firstname "The Dragon" Surname. Am wishing I had the courage to sign myself under his awarded mark as Extemp "Docinatrix" -oranea.
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This has to be done, mostly because it made me giggle until I choked on my chocolate biscuit, causing an advice-seeking student to back away from me looking slightly wild-eyed. Ursula Vernon has more Kama Sutra hamsters.

Annoying day. I may have to give up this 6.30am gym thing, the gym is simply too crowded, and there's a clear and present danger I'll snap and bite some inoffensive circuit-user. Also, power cuts over lunch, resulting in frustration and internet withdrawal. Phooey. On the upside: Friday! I begin to appreciate this day in a way I never really did while bumming around as a part-time lecturer.

Read the second Mark Gatiss Lucifer Box story, btw. Entertaining. Madly satanic. Dodgy as all get-out. Also, "Blink", from Season 3 of Doctor Who is just as terrifying third time around, even with knitting to focus on in the creepy bits.


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