by Catriona Mills

Hipstamatic Clouds

Posted 4907 days ago in by Catriona

Live-blogging Doctor Who Season Five: "The Lodger"

Posted 4909 days ago in by Catriona

You’ll all be pleased to hear that the peanut gallery is back for this week’s episode—but currently Heather is playing with my camera and Michelle is playing with Nick’s iPad. So we won’t know yet whether they’re going to stop in order to comment.

The third last episode of the season! Let’s see how well this one goes. I worry sometimes that my live-blogging has run away with me. I fear it controls me, instead of vice versa.

Of course, I also fear that I’m completely mad, so you probably shouldn’t listen to me.

Except when it comes to Doctor Who. You should definitely listen to me on Doctor Who.

The TARDIS materialises in a park, and the Doctor steps out the door—just before he’s thrown away from the TARDIS by an explosion, leaving Amy alone in the TARDIS.

Amy freaks out in the TARDIS and the Doctor freaks out in the park.

One day later, a young boy walks past a house, as a voice, coming from the intercom, asks if he can help.

HEATHER: Are you my mummy?

The boy walks in, and a shadowy man at the top of the stairs says something terrible has happened, and asks if the boy can help.

The door closes behind the boy.

In the downstairs flat, a woman asks what’s wrong with the ceiling, just before the spreading stain spreads even further. The man with her says that the man upstairs is “just some bloke.”

The man has put an ad in the paper for a new flat mate.

MAN: Otherwise you’ll have to settle for me.
WOMAN: You’d have to settle for me first.

They settle in for pizza-booze-telly night, before the woman gets a phone call and has to leave. She leans back against the door for a minute, and we all say, “Aww.”

Craig looks at the fridge—which shows he’s visited the Van Gogh exhibition—before realising the woman has left her keys behind. When the doorbell rings, he wanders down the hallways with her keys, rehearsing, “I love you. I love you.”

When he opens the door with “I love you!”, the Doctor says, “That’s good. Because I’m your new lodger.”


Craig isn’t thrilled about the Doctor as a lodger—he’s more pleased when the Doctor hands him a paper bag full of money but less thrilled when the Doctor kisses him on both cheeks, saying, “That’s how you greet each other these days, isn’t it?”

Second intra-textual moment of the episode.

The Doctor uses the psychic paper to flash his credentials. (No euphemisms.)

CRAIG: Is that a reference from the Archbishop of Canterbury?
DOCTOR: I’m his special favourite.

Amy materialises in the TARDIS, but only briefly.

The Doctor asks about the photo of Sophie on the fridge, asking if she’s Craig’s girlfriend.

CRAIG: Friend who’s a girl. There’s nothing going on.
DOCTOR: That’s perfectly normal. Works for me.

Then the Doctor cooks an omelette, and when Craig asks where he learned to cook, says, “Paris. Eighteenth century. No, that’s not recent, is it? Seventeenth century. No. I’m not used to doing things in the right order.”

But the Doctor’s weird and he cooks, so Craig lets him stay. The Doctor settles in his new room, and contacts “Pond” on his fancy, vaguely Cyborg earpiece.

On the phone to Craig, Sophie wonders whether “the Doctor” is a dealer, since he has three grand in a paper bag.

The mysterious voice drags another person into the house, this time a woman who looks as though she’s already had a pretty bad night.

The Doctor’s already aware of the mysterious man upstairs, and keeping an eye on the damp stain. He needs to stay anonymous.

DOCTOR: So, no sonicing.
MICHELLE: No what?!

The clock in the Doctor’s bedroom starts going tonto, and the Doctor says it’s a “localised time distortion”. The TARDIS is responding badly, but the Doctor can talk her down. Lucky, since he needs to leave to “pick up a few items”—including a bicycle wheel.

The next morning, the Doctor’s in the shower, singing away, while Craig shouts through the door that he’s just going upstairs.

This finally gets through to the Doctor, who throws himself out of the shower and hares upstairs in a towel, wielding an electronic toothbrush.

There were all sorts of rumours online about whether he was thoroughly covered in these scenes.

As he’s halfway up the stairs in the towel, Sophie comes in. The Doctor kisses her on both cheeks, and it’s delightfully awkward. Then Craig invites the Doctor to come and play football with the pub team. Apparently, Matt Smith was national-level when he was a schoolboy, then hurt his back. So here’s a chance for him to show his skills.

Sophie and Craig flirt awkwardly but sweetly.

The Doctor wanders down to the park in his football kit and tweed jacket, and kisses all his teammates on the cheek.

Are you any good, though? asks Sean.

The Doctor says they’ll find out.

He’s definitely good, but taking Craig’s free kick (or is that a penalty? Hard to see in a pub match) is not the nicest thing to do.

The game ends with Craig standing alone while, off-screen, everyone chants “Doc-tor! Doc-tor! Doc-tor!”

The house attracts another victim, this time a middle-aged woman.

At the park, the Doctor pontificates a bit about being the Oncoming Storm, before his team-mates get caught in a time loop, ad we cut to the middle-aged woman screaming.

Amy, in the TARDIS, is caught in the disturbance, but the Doctor manages to stabilise things.

DOCTOR: I thought for a moment the TARDIS had been flung off into the vortex with you inside it, lost forever.

This, it seems, is the first time the Doctor has mentioned this.

Back at the flat, Craig knocks on the Doctor’s door to ask if he could give them some “space” tonight, because Sophie’s coming round for “pizza-beer-telly.” The Doctor says that Craig won’t even know he’s here, before disappearing back into his room and smacking some things around.

That night, Craig is halfway through a confession of his love—which prompts Michelle to shout, “Just say it!”—when the Doctor pops up behind the sofa, claiming to be rewiring the flat. Sophie asks him to stay and have a drink, and the Doctor agrees.

The Doctor’s fiddling with things in his armchair and failing to drink red wine (okay, ew!), while Sophie talks about wanting to go and live with orangutans. The Doctor taunts her for a bit, until he tells her to work out what’s really keeping her here.

This leads to an awkward Craig-and-Sophie hug in the hallway, and we all give up hope that they’ll ever snog.

The Doctor, back in his room, has some weird device built of rakes and paddles and bicycle wheels, which he’s built on his bed.

In the living room, Craig, annoyed by both the Doctor and the growing stain on his ceiling, touches the stain, despite the Doctor telling him twenty minutes ago not to do that.

Nick points out that those are totally our sofas, and Michelle suggests that they’re also our ceilings.

We all look nervously for mould on the ceiling, but there’s just the same old plaster that’s been falling off in strips for nine years.

Craig is dying in bed the next morning, until the Doctor restores him by thumping his chest and then serving him tea from a Charles and Diana wedding teapot.

He wakes up late in the afternoon, hares into work, and finds that the Doctor has taken over his job and is alienating all his best customers and being served tea and custard creams by Sophie, who is about the start work as a volunteer at a orangutan sanctuary.

DOCTOR: Hello, Mr Jorgensen? Can you hold? I have to eat a biscuit.

Craig, at home, enters the Doctor’s bedroom and isn’t too pleased to see the whirling machine on the bed.

He’s less pleased to find the Doctor sitting on the steps communicating with the cat.

He kicks the Doctor out, saying that these have been the three weirdest days of his life. He thought it was good weird, but it’s bad weird, and he can’t cope.

So the Doctor says he’s going to do something, even though he’ll regret it—and he headbutts Craig, giving him first general information and then specific details about the weird stuff going on in the house.

Of course, this all coincides with Sophie letting herself into the house and being sidetracked on the stairs by a little girl.

Sophie heads up the stairs, though Michelle tells her “No.”

Amy still hasn’t found the plans to the house that the Doctor asked her to find, but the time distortions begin again, showing us that someone is dying upstairs.

The Doctor and Craig hare upstairs, but Amy says that she’s found the plans, and they can’t be upstairs.

They are, says the Doctor.

No, says Amy: there’s no upstairs. It’s a one-storey house.

There’s a lovely shot here where the camera zooms back down the stairs.

Of course, it’s our old friend the perception filter.

What’s happening—they find, as they save Sophie—that the crew has died in a crash, and the holographic emergency protocol has been trying one pilot after another, even though their brains just fry.

Should have gone with a holographic doctor. Those are totes safe.

But now they’ve found the Doctor. And the Doctor can’t fly without the entire Solar System exploding.

The Doctor tells Craig that he needs to touch the panel instead. He says that Craig is the man who doesn’t want to leave, so he needs to think about why he wants to stay.

The answer’s Sophie, of course. And Sophie loves him, too. As we knew she did.

They waffle about it for a bit, until the Doctor gets impatient.

DOCTOR: Not now, Craig. The planet’s about to burn. For God’s sake, kiss the girl!

Craig does, and it comes perilously close to “saving an android through the power of love.”

Then the spaceship implodes, and we’re left with a one-storey house.

CRAIG: I could see the point of Paris, if you were there with me.
SOPHIE: First, let’s destroy our friendship completely.
HEATHER: Okay, ew.

Craig insists that the Doctor takes the house keys, and then we see this week’s crack.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor insists that Amy leave a note for him, the note that directed him to the house in the first place. But in looking for a pen, she finds her engagement ring.

And the crack opens a little further.

Next week: the first of the two-part finale.

Books I Didn't Buy At Kmart

Posted 4911 days ago in by Catriona

And the strange thing? I’m not sure I was even tempted.

Of course, I’m always a little tempted by books in general, but this trend hasn’t really appealed to me. (And I’m as surprised about that as you are: after all, I’m still buying vampire boarding-school stories.)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was fun enough, I suppose, though the random chipmunk thoroughly annoyed me. (So lazy.) But it doesn’t feel as though there’s enough inventiveness in the idea to spawn an entire genre of books like this.

And yet here they are.

So I didn’t buy them. Maybe, just maybe, if I had unlimited shelf space and weren’t already forgetting about half of what I own, then I might have bought them.

Or maybe just Little Vampire Women—I do find the idea of Laurie being desperate to join the undead March family slightly intriguing.


Strange Conversations: Part Three Hundred and Ten

Posted 4915 days ago in by Catriona

Last night:

ME: It’s cold. Richard the Third and I think it’s cold.
NICK: I don’t get that. Oh! “Now is the winter of our discontent”?
ME: I was talking about my bookmark, but that’s quite clever.

Live-blogging Doctor Who Season Five: "Vincent and the Doctor"

Posted 4916 days ago in by Catriona

Let’s see if I can do justice to this episode, shall we? I admit, I was highly uncertain about a Richard Curtis episode, despite being ambivalent about Notting Hill, fond of the funeral scene in Four Weddings and a Funeral, and devoted to Blackadder (from season two onwards). But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt here.

Of course, for now I’m just shouting at the weather bulletin, which makes me inexplicably angry.

We open on cornfields, waving in the breeze. No, not waving: thrashing.

They’re being painted by Vincent Van Gogh—and that’s not a spoiler, because we cut to Bill Nighy, commenting on the astonishing output of Van Gogh in the last year of his life. Amy and the Doctor are looking at the exhibition. Amy says he’s being so nice to her, and she finds it suspicious.

DOCTOR: It’s not suspicious. There’s nothing to be suspicious about.
AMY: Okay, I was joking. Why aren’t you?

I can’t explain how intensely charming Bill Nighy is in this scene. Amy’s thrilled to see Vincent’s painting of the church, but the Doctor is distracted by an evil face in the window.

DOCTOR: I know evil when I see it, and I see it in that window.

He interrupts Bill, claiming to be from the Ministry of Art and Artiness, and wants to know when the church was painted—preferably without a long explanation.

Bill says less than a year before Vincent killed himself. They compliment each other on their bowties, and then the Doctor literally shoves Amy out of the room, telling her this is a matter of life and death.


They materialise in a small alley, and head off to look for Vincent in the local cafe, which looks exactly like one of Vincent’s paintings, with a little less impasto.

Oh, this is a beautiful episode.

The barmaids laugh uproariously at the idea that Vincent is a good painter, while Vincent himself comes out offering the owner a painting for one last drink. The Doctor offers to buy either a drink or the painting.

VINCENT: One, I pay for my own drinks, thank you. Two, no one ever buys any of my paintings or they’d be laughed out of town. So I suggest if you want to stay in town, you keep your cash to yourself. Three, your friend’s cute, but you should keep your big nose out of other people’s business.

Amy jumps in, and says she’ll buy a bottle of wine, which she’ll share with whomever she wants to.

Vincent’s happy with that.

They sit and chat, with Vincent asking if Amy’s from Holland, like him. (Hee!) The Doctor introduces himself, and Vincent bristles, thinking that his brother Theo has sent yet another doctor after him. He flirts a bit with Amy, in a rather rusty fashion, until the Doctor manages to introduce the idea of the church.

But then they’re interrupted by screams, as a young girl is found torn to strips in the street. The townspeople turn on Vincent, pelting him with rubbish. He and the Doctor and Amy flee.

VINCENT: Where are you staying tonight?
DOCTOR: Oh! You’re very kind.

Amy’s in fangirl heaven, staying over-night with Vincent Van Gogh, and him telling her to keep clear of “Bedroom in Arles” because it’s “still wet.” She boggles at it, but his kitchen/sitting room is cluttered with his paintings.

He pops a coffee pot down on one of his paintings as the Doctor tells him to be careful with them, because they’re “precious.”

Only precious to him, says Vincent, but Amy says they’re precious to her, too.

Some time later, Vincent is ranting about colour, until the Doctor, looking uncomfortable, suggests he’s had enough coffee, and should perhaps have a nice cup of camomile tea. He calls for Amy to make it, but Amy’s outside, screaming, because she’s been attacked by something she didn’t see while she was outside looking at the paintings.

Vincent grabs a forked stick, and the Doctor tries to calm him down on the grounds that there’s nothing there, until he’s twice thrown through the air by some invisible adversary.

It’s clear only Vincent can see the creature, because the Doctor’s thrashing around in an entirely other direction while Vincent drives it off.

He asks Vincent what the creature looks like, and Vincent says he’ll shown them, painting over a rather lovely painting to scratch a charcoal picture of something that looks like a cockatoo.

The Doctor legs it with the picture, telling Amy to keep an eye on Vincent.

DOCTOR: I’ll be back before you can say, “Where’s he got to?”
DOCTOR: Not that fast!
DOCTOR: But pretty fast. See you round.

Back at the TARDIS, the Doctor’s mucking around with an embarrassing present from a two-headed godmother, which scans images and spits out an identification. It works on the Doctor, spitting out a picture of William Hartnell, but not on Vincent’s painting.

DOCTOR: Not accurate enough! This would never happen with Gainsborough, or one of those proper painters.

He steps out of the TARDIS into broad daylight, and the invisible creature pops up behind him. The Doctor mistakes its reflected image for a delayed response from the machine, but it’s not—he gallops through the town, throwing things behind him. But the creature leaves, and Amy pops up, terrifying the Doctor.

At Vincent’s house, the Doctor throws the doors open onto Vincent asleep in the bedroom at Arles—and that is a magnificent set. Just glorious. The Doctor calls Vincent out to breakfast, telling him that Amy has a surprise for him: she’s surrounded by sunflowers, which Vincent says aren’t his favourite—but, he admits, they might be a challenge.

He tells Vincent he needs to paint the church, to attract the Krafayis, the cockatoo-creature.

DOCTOR: Take my word for it. If you paint it, he will come.

He tells Vincent they’ll be out of his hair as soon as this is done, and Vincent leaves to get ready. The Doctor’s uncertain about putting Vincent in danger, but he feels he has no choice.

He heads up to alert Vincent, but Vincent has spiralled down into one of his blackest periods of despair at the idea that Amy and the Doctor, like everyone else, will leave. The Doctor tries ineptly to jolly him out of it, but Vincent screams at the Doctor to get out.

The Doctor tells Amy that they’re leaving, that Vincent is a fragile man. But Vincent comes striding in to the kitchen in his straw hat and a long duster, like a cowboy, and says he’s ready.

As they walk along the dusty road, Vincent tells Amy that he’s shaken off this depressive episode.

AMY: I’m not sad.
VINCENT: Then why are you crying?

And she is: she wipes the tears away and looks at them with astonishment.

VINCENT: It’s all right—I understand.
AMY: I’m not sure I do.

They pass the funeral of the girl from the village, her coffin crowned with sunflowers. At the church, the Doctor tries to talk to Vincent gently about depression, but Vincent tells him to be quiet while he’s painting, and the Doctor rapidly becomes bored with the linear progression of time.

DOCTOR: I remember watching Michaelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. Wow! What a whinger. I said to him, “If you were scared of heights, you shouldn’t have taken the job.”

The Krafayis does appear, in the window, as expected, and the Doctor heads in. Vincent wants to accompany the Doctor, and when the Doctor says no to that, at least suggests that the Doctor should be armed.

VINCENT: What with?
DOCTOR: This, over-confidence, and a small screwdriver. I’m absolutely sorted.

He makes Amy promise she won’t follow him, but when Vincent asks if she’ll follow, Amy says, “Of course.”

“I love you,” says Vincent.

The Doctor wanders slowly through the church, using his mirror to check where the creature should be. But outside, Vincent says that it’s moved, the Doctor screams, and Amy goes running into the church after him.

They end up in the confessional, while Vincent holds the creature off with a wicker-bound chair. The Doctor wonders if the sonic screwdriver is having any effect.

DOCTOR: Anything?
VINCENT: Nothing. In fact, he seems to rather enjoy it.

They manage to lock themselves in a side room, while Vincent legs it to grab something and the Doctor says he doesn’t have a plan.

DOCTOR: My only definite plan is that in the future, I’m only definitely using this screwdriver for screwing in screws.

In the absence of a plan, he tries to talk to the Krafayis, who does seem to grow quiet—until it leaps in through a window. But once in the room, as Vincent reappears with his easel, he tells them that it’s feeling its way slowly around the walls of the room.

The Doctor realises that it’s blind: that’s why it doesn’t eat its victims, why its pack left it behind, and why it has such excellent hearing.

Unfortunately, he shouts the last bit, and the Krafayis leaps towards them—only to be stabbed to death by Vincent with his easel. Vincent’s horrified at what he’s done and the Krafayis is terrified of dying—but it dies, nonetheless.

Vincent realises that the Krafayis was only lashing out from fear, like the villagers who stone him, and the Doctor says, “You know, sometimes winning—winning is no fun at all.”

But later, they lie on the ground in a star shape, all holding hands, as Vincent tries to explain how he sees things, and the night sky blossoms into a version of “Starry Night.”

VINCENT: I will miss you terribly.

The next morning, Vincent says he only wishes he had something of real value to give them, as he tries to convince the Doctor to accept a painting, but the Doctor says he couldn’t accept a gift of such value.

Vincent embraces Amy.

VINCENT: And if you tire of this Doctor of yours, return! And we shall have children by the dozen. Doctor, my friend, we have fought monsters together, and we have won. On my own, I fear I shall not do so well.

But before they leave, the Doctor has an idea. He heads back to grab Vincent, and then takes him to the TARDIS, which has been bill-posted in his absence. Vincent does the traditional “walking around the outside of the TARDIS,” which we know the Doctor loves.

Vincent asks what the various controls do, and the Doctor dematerialises the TARDIS under the guise of “making everything go absolutely tonto.”

They materialise outside the Musee D’Orsay—“home to many of the greatest paintings in history.”

They drag Vincent indoors and upstairs, and straight into the Vincent Van Gogh exhibition—he has his head turned towards Rodin’s “The Kiss,” so he doesn’t see the signs.

It bursts on him at once—all these people staring at his paintings, including ones he’s only thought of painting. His mouth drops open.

And the Doctor heads over to Bill Nighy, reminding him that they’ve met. He drags Bill over to Vincent, and asks Bill where Vincent stands in relation to other paintings.

Bill says that in his opinion, Vincent is the greatest painter of them all. As he goes on, Vincent scans the room, looking more at the people than the paintings, and he weeps, and I cry onto my keyboard.

Tony Curran kills this scene. Just kills it.

The Doctor sees Vincent weeping, and apologises, but Vincent says they’re tears of joy. He embraces Bill, apologising for the beard, and the Doctor hustles him out. Bill watches them leave, thinking about the similarity between Vincent and the self-portraits and then shaking his head in rejection of the impossibility.

They deposit Vincent back in France, but Amy’s impatient to get back to the gallery to see the “hundreds of new paintings” that resulted from the “long life of Vincent Van Gogh.”

But, of course, there aren’t any new ones. We come in where we first came in, with Bill showing Vincent’s last painting before his suicide.

Amy’s devastated, but the Doctor has seen Vincent in one of his dark moods, where Amy hadn’t—he’s not surprised, and he says they added to Vincent’s pile of good things.

And then Amy sees something new. She walks towards it slowly—it’s “Sunflowers,” with the vase now inscribed “To Amy.”

She says, “If we had got married, our kids would have had very very red hair.”

She’s crying as much as laughing, but the Doctor embraces her, and we fade out on “Sunflowers.”

Now that is what I mean when I say an episode should be compelling in its own right as well as advancing the main story arc.

Next week: “The Lodger.”

The Book I Didn't Buy At The Lifeline Bookfest

Posted 4919 days ago in by Catriona

Despite the obvious temptation:

Do you think there’s a Dalek under that skirt? (I can’t see its appeal otherwise.) External evidence would seem to support my reading, no?

Lifeline Bookfest 2010 (Part Two)

Posted 4919 days ago in by Catriona

This past weekend was the second Lifeline Bookfest for the year—cunningly coinciding with the last of my four major deadlines over the past month and the beginning of the World Cup, just to make my weekend the most relaxed I’ve had all semester.

I often find the June Lifeline Bookfest a bit disappointing: the January one is much bigger and brighter, and I generally find more wonderful things there (in both senses of the comparative—a higher quantity of wonderful things, and things that are just that much more wonderful).

Yep, I know I lost control of that sentence. Let’s move on, shall we?

I’ll get the classics out of the way, because the classics are far less likely to have sparkly holographic covers:

I see I’ve cut half the authors off here, but I’m too lazy to take another picture. Suffice to say that Hargrave is a Fanny Trollope, not an Anthony. (Though she’s Anthony Trollope’s mother.) You don’t often find Fanny Trollope novels lying around at Lifeline Bookfest, so I’m a bit thrilled by that one, especially since it’s a late novel.

(I notice from the Wikipedia page above that “Fanny Trollope” is actually the name used by her detractors, not only because the diminutive is a little insulting in itself, but also because it’s rather a vulgar diminutive. So should editors only be putting her full name on the spines of her novels?)

You also don’t often find Charlotte Yonge novels at Lifeline Bookfest, either, so The Clever Woman of the Family is another bonus.

You do find lots of copies of Doctor Zhivago, but I felt it was about time I had a copy on my shelf. Am I going to read it? Not right now. But who says the reason we buy books is to read them?

See, the same thing goes for Virginia Woolf here:

Am I going to read The Years right now? Probably not. But these are the sort of books I like to have on my shelves, for all that my classics shelves are already double stacked and I sometimes can’t remember what I have.

Case in point?

Great Expectations. I would have sworn I owned a copy of Great Expectations (and Our Mutual Friend), but I checked carefully on my mobile Delicious Library app—much to the irritation of the huffy old woman next to me—and I don’t. What a terrible nineteenth-century scholar I am.

Now, I do already own a copy of The Water Babies, but it’s only a ’70s paperback, and this is one of those lovely hardback facsimile reprints that I collect intermittently and casually—I have Mrs Moleworth’s The Cuckoo Clock, E. Nesbit’s The Magic City, The Romance of King Arthur, and Lewis Carroll’s Sylvie and Bruno in the same editions.

I’ll get rid of the paperback Kingsley. No, I promise.

But, as usual, I spent most of my time at the children’s fiction tables:

Four Chalet School novels. Four. Okay, The Chalet School and Rosalie isn’t really a novel, or at least not by my standards—it’s less than a hundred pages long. And A Rebel at the Chalet School is barely ten pages longer, although it’s a very early one (1934). But they’re four Chalet School stories that I don’t have already, and that’s sufficient for me.

I also already own a copy of High Wizardry (sadly, on one of the shelves I haven’t actually got around to adding to Delicious Library), but I talked Nick into letting me keep this one the basis of the awesome cover.

And my little pile of Margaret Mahy books expands apace, but can I find a copy of The Changeover? No: no, I can’t.

I did, though, find a copy of an L.M. Montgomery that I’ve never read:

It’s a collection of themed stories (fairly loosely themed, I imagine: I suspect they’re gathered together from newspapers and journals, rather than published originally as a single volume). I already have a full collection of L.M. Montgomery’s novels, so this really just satisfies the completionist in me.

I’m not sure that “completionist” is a real world, but you know what I mean.

Alice in Wonderland and The Patchwork Girl of Oz are also books that I already own—in fact, I may own at least three other copies of Alice in Wonderland. But this is Martin Gardner’s annotated edition: you can’t argue with a good annotated edition. And I talked Nick into letting me keep The Patchwork Girl of Oz on the grounds that it’s a facsimile reprint: I’m slowly collecting all the Oz novels in facsimile editions, though I prefer them in hardback. I was, however, terribly restrained and didn’t buy the little paperback facsimile editions of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Ozma of Oz.

(I already own those in facsimile reprint.)

(But it was tempting, anyway.)

And that edition of Birthday Letters on the bottom there is a key example of why you should always check inside the books too. I have no idea how someone managed to managed to scribble so much on the inside without damaging the outside. Still, no harm done: I can ignore pencil scribbles, and they went easy on the highlighter.


These are all speculative (not a pun), which is the big advantage of the Lifeline Bookfest: the books are priced so low (even now, when prices have been increasing) that you can always take a punt on something you wouldn’t necessarily pay twenty or thirty dollars for.

And sometimes you might pay twenty or thirty dollars for them—like Carole Wilkinson’s Dragonkeeper, which has won so many awards the medallions barely fit on the cover and which sounds absolutely fascinating. Maybe I would have paid full price for that one. but I’m equally happy to pay $3.50 and also buy facsimile reprints of L. Frank Baum and annotated editions of Lewis Carroll.

Strange Conversations: Part Three Hundred and Nine

Posted 4919 days ago in by Catriona

ME: Behold! Nicholas returns home, and the house is filled with light.
NICK: I am the King of Light! The Lord of Light?
ME: You leave a lot of lights on.
NICK: That’s … similar.

Strange Conversations: Part Three Hundred and Eight

Posted 4921 days ago in by Catriona

ME: I have read a book about killer unicorns. Now I should watch some football.
NICK: The Rampart or whatever one?
ME: Rampant, honey. Like the heraldry.
NICK: That’s the one. Ah, of course!
ME: Not ‘rampart’ like the architecture.
NICK: Heh. I was having a Heroes of Might and Magic moment.
ME: Really? You should see someone about that.
NICK: I think there’s a cream you can get for it.
ME: Okay, ew.

Funeral Statuary Part Four

Posted 4922 days ago in by Catriona

Funeral Statuary Part Three

Posted 4922 days ago in by Catriona

Funeral Statuary Part Two

Posted 4923 days ago in by Catriona

Funeral Statuary Part One

Posted 4923 days ago in by Catriona

Live-blogging Doctor Who Season Five: "Cold Blood"

Posted 4923 days ago in by Catriona

I’ve been forbidden to blog any of the comments that the peanut gallery have been making thus far, because apparently it’s all “pre-blogging.”

This seems unfair to me.

I’m also eating chocolate with “Happy B’Day Michelle” written on it in legible icing.

But previously, people were sucked into the earth, including Amy. Alaya also predicts that someone will kill her, while the Doctor also says that they need to keep her as a hostage, so that nobody dies today.

A narrator says that this is his planet—we miss the rest of the narration, because Heather’s telling me that I can’t put any of what she’s saying on the blog.

HEATHER: Okay, I just missed that whole thing.
MICHELLE: Yeah, just stop saying things.
NICK: If you listen to the voice-over, it ruins all the suspense of the episode.
HEATHER: Oh, good. Yay me!

The Doctor and Nasreen set off an alarm, as elsewhere Amy is about to be vivisected—and criticised for her tiny shorts, until the doctor hears the alarm. The doctor legs it

MICHELLE: Holy crap, that’s a short skirt.
ME: Shorts.
MICHELLE: Those are short shorts.
HEATHER: She dressed for Rio.
NICK: A bit over-dressed for Rio.
HEATHER: Her sexuality’s not ambiguous enough.

We’re not really compelled by the storyline here.

But Amy picks the lizard man’s pocket and unties Mo, and in legging it, they find Elliot, linked to some kind of equipment that monitors his vital signs.

And the Doctor is tied to an exam table, being ‘decontaminated,’ which doesn’t look pleasant.

Tony tries to get Alaya to help him overcome the poison in his system, but Alaya says that he’ll be the first ape casualty of the coming war.

The doctor who’s decontaminating the Doctor tells a militaristic woman (Restac) that they’re the same rank, so he’s not going to bow down to her desire to kill the Doctor.

Though the decontamination seems to be doing the same thing—the Doctor says that the human germs are half of what’s keeping him alive.

Restac wants the decontamination to continue, but the doctor stops her. Restac, though, says that she’s going to execute the Doctor and Nasreen, as a message to the rest of the coming invasion force.

Amy and Mo, wandering around the city, find two alien warriors in suspended animation.

HEATHER: ‘Their skirts are shorter than mine!’

Amy insists in checking out what’s happening with the sleeping warriors: she finds transport discs, and Mo finds guns. So they’re both happy. Then they find an army, and they’re not so happy.

In the church, Ambrose wants to know what’s wrong with Tony. He says he’s fine, and to leave him alone. But Ambrose insists on checking what’s wrong, and she sees the creepy green vein things.

HEATHER: I’ve got green!
NICK: They’re multiplying?

The Doctor, heading for his execution, tells Nasreen why the Silurians went into hibernation in the first place. (Moon fear, in short.) Rastec asks how he knows about that, and he explains his last meeting with the Silurians—and how badly that ended. Not the most diplomatic move, but typical Doctor.

Ambrose confronts Alaya, with a taser, which we determine—after a brief discussion—was one of the weapons she put in the truck, which the Doctor told her to get rid of.

Alaya taunts Ambrose about, firstly, being unable to take care of her own child and, secondly, about being the one who Alaya knew would kill her—and Ambrose tasers her.

Alaya screams, and Rory and Tony come running. Tony grabs the taser off Ambrose, and Rory tries to help Alaya, but she dies.

AMBROSE: I thought sooner or later she’d give in.
HEATHER: I was at Guantanamo!

Amy and Mo come in, fully armed, into the banquet hall where the Doctor’s going to be executed (where we have a brief spirited discussion about how many times Doctor Who has used this set), but Amy is swiftly disarmed and I get distracted by the question of what happened to Mo’s shiny reflective jacket.

AMY: What do you think they’re going to do to us?
HEATHER: They’re going to mini-skirt you to death.

Then Restac activates the computer, and asks to speak to the ‘ape leader.’ Rory steps forward, and they can all see the hostages.

RORY: Amy! I thought I’d lost you!
AMY: Why, because I was sucked into the ground? You’re so clingy.

Rory’s doing pretty well, but then Restac asks to speak to Alaya, and it goes a bit badly. Ambrose takes over, demands everyone be returned, and prompts Restac to try and execute Amy.

But then they’re interrupted by a valedictorian.

ELDANE: You want to start a war when the rest of us sleep, Restac?
HEATHER: I was in the middle of graduation ceremonies.
MICHELLE: Yeah, and that doctor was in the middle of being a butcher.

Eldane dismisses and belittles Restac, and sends her away. This is an opportunity for diplomacy—so the Doctor tells Rory to bring everyone, including Alaya, down to the factory, where they’ll find some transport pods.

Oh, dear. That’s not going to go well.

Elsewhere, Amy and Nasreen are acting as diplomats in discussions with Eldane about sharing the Earth. The Doctor’s terribly excited about this, saying this is not a fixed point in time. Here, they can change the future.

Rory and the others are preparing to travel down with Alaya’s corpse.

HEATHER: They’re going to start a war based on the [redacted] thing you’ve wrapped her in. That is a fashion atrocity.

Ambrose is begging Tony to do something,but she doesn’t say what—just that this is something she needs to do for her son. Or, what? Like the time you electrocuted that woman to death? ‘Cause that was some great role-modeling, right there.

HEATHER: Ambrose needs to die. Blog that.

Tony turns on the drill. Oooh-er.

The Doctor and the doctor (or butcher) bond, basically, as Nick says, sweeping under the table all the vivisecting that he’s been doing (though I’ve argued that the valley has so few people living in it that they can really only have been vivisecting the disappearing corpses). Elliot is released, and the Doctor apologises for letting him run off and be kidnapped by lizard people.

ELDANE: You give us space, we will give you technology beyond your dreams.
HEATHER: And host all of your graduation ceremonies.
MICHELLE: What colour are Amy’s eyes?
NICK: Let me find one of the many pervy sites on the Internet devoted to her.

So things are going terribly well, until Restac turns up with an army and Tony turns up with a corpse.

Ambrose quite openly admits to killing Alaya, and I’m really not the slightest bit sympathetic to Ambrose’s perspective.

DOCTOR: In future, when you talk about this, you tell people that there was a chance, but you are so much less than the best of humanity.
NICK: On the other hand, that is just rubbing it in at this point, Doctor.

The Doctor still thinks he can save this, even though Restac is keening over her sister’s body, but Ambrose tells them that she’s set the drill to start burrowing again, unless the lizard people let then all go.

RESTAC: Execute her!
HEATHER: Yes! Yes! No, Doctor! It’s okay to let some people die!

The Doctor’s sonic screwdriver apparently blows up Silurian weapons, which is handy. He tells Restac to go back into hibernation, and she refuses, so he blows up more guns and they retreat into the lab.

They have three things to do: hold off the Silurians, do something for Tony, and blow up Nasreen’s life work, to stop the drill destroying the city.

Eldane can help with the first thing: he says there’s a toxic gas that serves some function that I couldn’t type fast enough to catch. The Doctor amends this plan, telling Eldane to set his alarm clock for one thousand years, and telling Elliot to make sure that the humans are ready for the Silurians to return at that point.

The problem is Tony, who hasn’t actually run through the decontamination process yet.

Nick and Michelle are still looking up Amy Pond websites.

Tony decides to stay behind, though Ambrose objects. Tony tells Elliot not to blame his mother, which makes Heather apoplectic.

The Silurians start heading back to their hibernation chambers, despite the cries of Restac.

And Nasreen decides to stay with Tony—he can be decontaminated when they wake in one thousand years.

Everyone else legs it to the TARDIS.

And at the TARDIS, Ambrose, Elliot, and Mo dash inside, while Rory, Amy, and the Doctor see the crack return—wider this time. The Doctor’s fascinated, but Amy tells him they have to leave.

Not the Doctor—he’s sticking his hand in, to see if he can find some shrapnel. He grabs something, and then Restac drags herself out of the corridor.

She shoots the Doctor—but Rory shoves him out of the way and he hits Rory.

Oh, Rory. What were you saying in Venice about the Doctor being dangerous because he makes people want to impress him?

RORY: I don’t understand. We were on the hill. I can’t die here.
AMY: Don’t say that.
RORY: You’re so beautiful. I’m sorry.

Those are terrible, terrible last words. No one’s last words should be “I’m sorry.”

But there’s worse to come, because the light from the crack is covering Rory’s body, and once it absorbs him, he’ll never have existed.

The Doctor tells Amy to concentrate.

DOCTOR: Tell me about Rory. Fantastic Rory. Funny Rory. Gorgeous Rory.

Amy thinks. And she remembers Rory dying, and Rory in Venice, and Rory tripping over as they walk—and there’s an enormous explosion, Amy and the Doctor are thrown to the floor, and Amy pops up saying, “What were you saying?”

Oh, poor Rory.

But the engagement ring bounces across the floor, so that’s interesting.

They leap out of the TARDIS just in time to see the big mining thing explode.

Then the Doctor administers a stern speech to Ambrose, telling her to make Elliot the best of humanity, as she couldn’t be.

Heather still thinks Ambrose should die.

At the TARDIS, Amy sees herself on the hill, but Rory is not there.

The narration returns, this time from the future—saying that as his race prepares to waken, he thinks back to the Doctor, the losses he suffered then and the losses still to come.

And we see that the shrapnel he pulled from the explosion is a piece of the TARDIS.



Antiquing: Part Two

Posted 4924 days ago in by Catriona



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