Sunday, August 31, 2014

Because Holodecks Don't Exist: Resistance Is Futile

So, remember how last week I wasn't feeling all that well? Part of that was because I had quite a remarkable toothache. I mean, really astoundingly awful. After a few days of grumbling and groaning and popping ibuprofen like smarties, I finally went to the dentist. (I love my current dentist but I've had a lifetime of bad nightmare dental work so this whole adventure was disquieting) She mashed on my face and poked my teeth with various implements and then said something like, "Well, all the pain you're feeling in your top teeth is most likely sinuses but it looks like you might need a root canal on the bottom."

She then sent me to an endodontist who performed similar poking techniques and then said something like, "Yeah. This looks pretty root-canal-y but maybe it's referred pain from the sinuses." 

So basically my inside face parts are waging war on the rest of my mouth/throat/chest. I went to the doctor yesterday who also performed various poking maneuvers and then said something like, "Yeah. These inside face parts are pretty bad off. I'm going to go ahead and put you on all the antibiotics ever." 

And that's what I'm doing now. Just kind of... waiting for the throbbing to cease and desist. While that's going on, I'm also doing my best to carry on with the sequel to Awesome Jones, heal up my arm, ease my way back into the gym, and mourn the fact that I'm finished with the LOTR books. And I'm also still watching TV and reading new/old stuff. Here's a bit of that:

1- Broca's Brain, by Carl Sagan
I love Sagan's literary jaunts and I first read this one about ten years ago via my now-husband's already well-worn paperback copy. Over the years, it always seemed to somehow meander into the living room and one of us would skim it or carry it to an appointment or wherever. Last week, I just decided to go ahead and re-read the whole thing again. It was really nice. Like an old blanket. Does that make sense to you? Do people who aren't me also appreciate old blankets? I can never tell. Anyway, in spite of some out-dated information (this is a science book from 1979) the real joy in reading Sagan's work is his sense of wonder and his enthusiasm for science, logic, and skeptical inquiry.
Oh, and his future memorial station on Mars. That's pretty cool too.

2- Cars of the People, presented by James May
Guys, I freaking love James May. His cranky-old-man-ness is something I can really identify with and his penchant for rambling on about history through the lens of pop culture is really something I can get behind because, I kind of did a year of that and it was awesome (for me.) Anyway, this mini-series is all about the history of the spread of cars from the elites to the everyday guy and gal. It's a bit of a spin-off from Top Gear and has the same production values and clever editing mixed with May's quirky sensibility.

3- Doctor Who: SSN 8, ep 2, "Into The Dalek"
Alright, folks, I'm a bit sick of Daleks at this point and felt we could use about a two-year-long-break from them wasn't super looking forward to this but, I actually really enjoyed it. It presented the Doctor/Dalek dynamic in a kind of new light and Peter Capaldi shone as a darker, grumpier, old-manier version of The Doctor which, of course, I really enjoyed (see item 2) alongside Clara's intuitive, spunky companion. Additionally, I really loved Mr. Pink (aka- the crying soldier/teacher) and both the actor and character feel super promising to me and it seems like this ex-soldier and our ex-soldier Doctor would be rather good for each other.
Bonus Points For:
#1- Bringing back Coal Hill School.
#2- "Resistance is Futile."

I feel like there are more things but my teeth hurt and I have a pile of pills to take so I'm going to go do that. Let me know how your watching/reading week is going? Are you watching the new Who?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Because Holodecks Don't Exist: Sushi with Tolkien and The Doctor

Well, once again it's Wednesday and I'm just now getting around to this post about last week's reading/watching. Honestly, this time it's mostly not my fault. We woke up Sunday to find our internet completely out. People, this was a harrowing experience for us. Anyway, it was back by Monday but then I started having some really awful sinus/tooth pain. I pretty much just laid on the couch all day and watched the ceiling fan spin. Today I trekked down to LA and visited my lovely dentist who said that my top teeth are probably hurting because of sinus pressure but that my bottom molar probably needs a root canal. Nice, right?

Anyway, here's some of what I watched and read last week:

#1- LOTR: The Return of the King
I finished the LOTR series. Man, what a whirlwind. This series ends about fifteen times and I still felt like that wasn't enough. All I wanted was more. I can see myself re-reading all of these books every couple of years. Just, absolutely beautiful and inspiring storytelling. It's the kind of work that makes me glad it exists and challenges me to raise my own work to another level. I'm so glad I was prevailed upon to read them.
Next, I'm considering starting the Chronicles of Narnia. I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when I was about eight years old but but I feel like I should give these books another shot.

#2- Avatar: The Legend of Korra (finale)
Seriously, this is one of the best scripted shows on TV. It's a perfect show. And, this season? Guys, it's amazing. I could write at least five lectures on lessons learned from Korra/Avatar. This show is basically a clinic in how to write action, how to write a sequel, how to write dynamic female characters, how to write an extensive mythos, how to create a world and how to write the rules of said world...

#3- Jiro Dreams of Sushi (Available on Netflix)
Ok so this is a documentary (it's all in Japanese so prepare yourself for 2 hours of subtitles) about this octogenarian sushi master in a tiny, unassuming sushi restaurant in Japan--and his sixty-year-old son who is still serving as an apprentice under his father. It's a quiet, contemplative look at, not only a complex father/son relationship, but also the dedication and obsession it takes to become a true master of one's craft.

#4- Doctor Who: SSN 8, Premier
Have I gone into my Doctor Who fandom before? I can't remember and my head is full of sinus medicine and I can feel this blog post getting away from me so I'll try to make this quick. Basically, I watched DW with my parents when I was a kid. Mostly Tom Baker. Scott and I started watching the reboot when it was in its second season but went back immediately to get caught up. I loved Nine. I loved Ten. I loved Eleven. I even loved The War Doctor. And, so far, I think I love Peter Capaldi. Actually, I'm pretty sure I do. And, I have zero problems with Jenna Louise Coleman. And, I do love the way Moffat plays with fan expectation while still delivering new and surprising elements of the Doctor's personality. I also love the score and I love how beautiful and cinematic everything is. But... I also kind of feel like it's gone off the rails. When Moffat first came aboard, I worried that full seasons of his work would be like eating cake icing. A spoonful is the best thing you've ever had but once you're halfway into the bowl, you can't take anymore. It's too rich to stomach and your teeth hurt. I loved the first Moffat season and would put it up against anything but, after a while, I think I just got fatigued with everything being epic. Everything probably shouldn't be epic.

At a certain point, when The Doctor, his companion, a lizard woman, her bad ass wife, and their thumb-headed butler are all standing on the bank of the Thames in Victorian London while a T-Rex stomps by and everything is dark and lovely and the score rises and the T-Rex screams and The Doctor is blabbering almost incoherently and everyone's questioning what's going on... All of this stuff, individually or in many combinations, is brilliant and perfect for Doctor Who. All together, it had me rewinding my DVR about five times just so I could attempt to decipher what The Doctor was saying. And, the Doctor just regenerated. Seems like whatever he and Clara say here is probably pretty important. It just seems like too much. Sometimes, you don't need a million things. Maybe most times.

On Monday, while we were waiting on the cable guy, we happened to catch "The End of the World" which was the first, regular season episode of the Nine era. Here we are at the literal end of the world and you'd think, "Oh, this shall be very epic, indeed!" but it's a quiet, intensely personal episode about a girl who's being introduced to her own (and her planet's own) mortality. It's paralleled by a look at The Doctor's remorse at the loss of his own planet and people. Every moment isn't played for epic crazyness. The score is there but it's just enough to help the script and acting shine without overpowering it. The world blows up and no one even sees it. We don't have to see it. That's the
 point. This isn't a show about the world blowing up. It's about people.

Anyway, I still love this show but didn't realize until this week how much I missed the earlier episodes.

Alright, that's it. I watched and read other things but I feel like this post is plenty long (especially with that whole DW rant) already. I'm going to make some hot chocolate and watch Penn & Teller and then go to bed and hope that I wake up tomorrow with clear sinuses and a can-do attitude. 
But how likely is that, really?

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