Friday, October 03, 2008

I'm feeling particularly sad and lonely at the moment, so I'm going to console myself by writing a virtually useless review.

1) The Doctor Who Annual 1966. The text is written by David Whitaker, Doctor Who's first script editor (credited as story editor) and a writer of the series from the beginning up until Jon Pertwee's first season. Whitaker really is the one of the founding fathers of Doctor Who and probably was the first to give it any sort of coherent vision. He was also very, very far out there in some of his writing: the best path to putting it in any sort of context is the virtually ingenious article about him in About Time 2.

The artist was Walter Howarth. I'm not a comics person, but even I understand he's something of a legend in British comics. Certainly his work in this book deserves the highest praise, if for nothing else the colour effect he manages with four colour ink.

This counts as one of the first print versions of the Doctor's adventures. One of the few earlier ones was also written by Whitaker: his version of the events of The Daleks. If you haven't read then... well, you've missed out on one hell of a trip.

At this point, continuity isn't even a consideration. If anything, it's a hindrance. As it probably should be. This volume has (what might be) the Doctor's first encounter with the folk of Vortis and the Sensorites and return brushes with the folk on Vortis and with the Voord from The Keys of Marinus.

But the Doctor here keeps a great deal of his secrets. He might be from Earth (sometimes it's his home, sometimes it's not). Sometimes the TARDIS (err, the Tardis) works perfectly; sometimes it's quite untrustable after a run-in with the Daleks (ho ho -- I'm not even touching the dating od that!).

What we have then is a collection that reflects some of the earliest ideas of the Doctor: always a scientist and traveller. And -- just as Syndney Newman always wanted -- the Doctor survives on a dependence on basic scientific ideas. Although knowledge of more advanced ideas might just be a hindrance...

All in all, the stories are simple (though longer than they ever will be again in the Annuals) but not simply written. They're engaging, and clearly written by someone who not only cares about how the Doctor is presented and developed but by someone who cares that his readers develop something themselves.

But he's not quite the same Doctor we recognize -- or is he? He's happy to drop people off deep in their own past ("Peril in Mechanistria") and to hell with the web of time, and he's happy to maim one of the Voord and let them die at the hands of an angry mob ("Fishmen of Kandalinga"). Be it come to that, he' s happy to let the Menopt(e)ra kill off the last of the Atlanteans ("The Lost Ones").

In the end, as someone viewing these stories from 42 years later, it's hard to say these stories are of /the/ Doctor as much as they are stories of /a/ Doctor. And that makes it all the more fascinating. I love the sort of fluidity it implies, and as long as it's based on a sort of respect for the character, I can go with it. I mean, I didn't throw fits over Richard E. Grant's 9th Doctor, either, even though I loved Chris Ecclestone.

Too bad the next annual wasn't a Whitaker creation!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

One Fish, Two Fish; Red Fish, Blue Fish

Again, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia was amusing in just the right ways. I mean, Glenn Howerton at a glory hole is no bad thing, right?

But they had to have Charlie losing teeth. That'll haunt me tonight. I mean, I've gotten to the point now I'm know I'm dreaming when I dream all my teeth fall out of my mouth, but I can't make myself wake up, so it's still gross.

In completely different news, I got a new cell phone yesterday, a Sanyo Katana XL. It's the cheapest one in the store, but I like it. It has a camera, which is all I really wanted. Not that I know what I'm going to take pictures of, but I can.

I almost -- almost -- went out of my mind and got the Samsung UpStage. Actually, this one. Not because it was sleek (though it was). Not because it had an mp3 player (but it did). But because it was red*. Thankfully, before I blew the extra money, I came to my senses and realized I would never use any of its features and if I did, I would run up stupidly large charges at least once.

So now I have my little blue phone with the neat translucent OLED display to amuse me. But when it's folded up, it is rectangular, and it has a little light on top when you take pictures. And it is /dark/ blue. More than anything, I want it to make TARDIS dematerialization sounds when it rings. But I'm not clever enough to do that. :(

*I like red things. My dream kitchen -- and yes, I have fantasized about exactly what it would be like -- would have all read appliances. The closest I ever came to this was a neat red trashcan with a dome lid and a super-duper toaster/oven with red trim.

Needless to say, I retain neither. But I will have a red kitchen.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

So I was reading this article about Michael Cera, and agreeing, thinking, "Yeah, I'd go down on that," when it occurred to me this article is actually about my friend Ross. (Well, except the bit about baby fat. Ross is such that I can't imagine even an ounce of that on him.)

Ross Bryant is everything that they say about Cera, but funnier. More acidly wittier funnier, to be precise. /And/ he was doing it first. So there.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Two Things...

...which are, so far as I can tell, unrelated.

1) I've been listening to Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66 a lot recently. He's fab. I grew up listening to him, you know. When other people were poisoning themselves with New Kids on the Block, Paula Abdul or Snow (ahh, the early '90s, when pop music rolled over and died), I was listening to LPs swiped from my mother's music collection. Sergio featured heavily: she had (and now I have) Ye-Me-Li, Crystal Illusions, and Fool on a Hill. It's bedrock cool: original yet influenced, hot but cool, mellow but intense. Of its time, as it were, but for all ages. Go get you some. I hear he cut a track not long ago, a re-mix of Mas Que Nada with the Black Eyed Peas.

[It's odd, but my mother's music collection for a period is pretty damn cool: Sergio, Fifth Dimension, Jim Croce. It soon sort of fades into mid 70s Streisand and Neil Diamond, and from there into really awful early 80s country and from there into Jesus music. I cannot imagine my mother as someone Into Music, like an Indie kid, for whom music is important, talking about music to other people and really being affected by it, and loyal to a sound, but I had to get it from somewhere. And there was always music in out house. Good music, be it Bach or Bacharach, so maybe she was.]

2) So did you know Tennessee Williams' first published work was in Weird Tales? Yeah, it was: "The Vengeance of Nitocris", (1928). Very clearly of the sub-Lovecraft genre, it's exactly as bad as you'd think. But it's also the lodestone of everything he ever wrote: brother/sister weirdness, revenge, canny women, pretty boys, untrustworthy narrators, death...