Knitting – Back in the Game!

scarf LS 2016-05-04

I started this blog waaaaay back in 2011. My goal at the time was to watch geeky TV and work on knitting the season 18 Doctor Who scarf. If you read my posts regularly, you’ll know that plan didn’t exactly continue with any strength or regularity. In fact, until recently, I hadn’t even picked up the scarf since well before I moved to Canada. And I moved just over two years ago.

I just looked, and my most recent knitting post was in December of 2012. Yikes. I didn’t realize it had been that long. And that post wasn’t even about the scarf! You have to time travel all the way back to January of 2012 to find any record of that project. Bad Erika! Continue reading

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The Girl Who Waited to Listen to the Commentary for the Girl Who Waited

Let me start off by saying that when “The Girl Who Waited” came out, I really hated all the “clever” plays on words that occurred using the episode title.  But did I let that stop me from doing the same obnoxious thing here?  No I did not.  Not for one second.  So yeah, I hate myself a little bit, but it was totally worth it.  You can hate me too.  It’s okay.

I suppose I should talk about the episode now huh?  Wait.  No.  I can talk about knitting!  As you may have guessed, I’ve done like, none, in a really long time.  What can I say?  I’ve had more important things to do.  Life is like that sometimes.  And by “like that,” I mean pretty awesome.  Anyway, tonight something possessed me to finally pick up my needles again and get back to it.  I completed the big ol’ purple stripe I was working on, and got exactly one row into the next red mini-stripe.  So it wasn’t a hugely productive evening, but every little bit yada yada yada.  Full disclosure here–I’m actually thinking of cheating on the scarf briefly to make myself a pair of fingerless gloves.  It’s frakking cold at work, and typing gets difficult when your fingers are cold and stiff.  As it seems I’ll be lucky to get the scarf done by even next winter, I might as well set my sights a bit lower and work on something I have a chance of finishing this year.

Ok, now I suppose I really should talk about this episode, even though I don’t really want to.  This was the most difficult episode of the season for me.  I guess it was my “Amy’s Choice” of this year.  Why do I always have such trouble with the best episodes?  Maybe that’s an indicator of just how good they are.  Or perhaps it’s an indicator of some deep-seated psychological issue on my part.  It’s both, probably.

“The Girl Who Waited” is kind of a masterpiece.  But on the other hand, I kind of hate it.  This is quite possibly the strongest ambivalence I’ve ever felt about an episode of Doctor Who.  It’s gorgeous.  It’s brilliantly directed.  It’s cleverly and cleanly written.  It’s a story that’s simple, but light-years away from being easy.  And it makes me mad.  I hate the choice that Rory has to make at the end.  It makes me uncomfortable to watch it, and it rips me up inside.  I realize this is exactly what they’re going for, and in my case, they succeeded in epic fashion.  I’ve thought about it a lot, and I’ve realized that I am actually mad at Tom MacRae (and Steven Moffat) for making me feel this way.

One reason I think this episode had such an impact on me is because of how I watched it.  I was watching online, and my computer just happened to freeze up at the worst (or best?) possible moment.  It was during that gut-wrenching scene at the end when Rory has carried unconscious young Amy into the TARDIS.  The Doctor steps to the door where his eyes meet those of old Amy.  She sees him and starts to run towards him, and—Zap!  No more show.  I couldn’t get it back right away, so I figured I’d go for a walk.

I knew what was going to happen.  Of course I knew.  But I spent 45 minutes walking through a beautiful park thinking “what if?”  What if he didn’t slam the door in her face?  Could they make that work?  And by the time I got back home, I’d decided that it could.  Furthermore, I’d decided that that’s what I wanted to happen.  But I knew it wasn’t going to.  And I also knew that if it did happen, if both Amys somehow miraculously coexisted, there’d be a part of me that would be pissed at the show for taking the easy way out.  So I suppose they really couldn’t win with me.

I guess the bottom line is that I think “The Girl Who Waited” is fantastic.  I liked so much about it.  But I didn’t like it as an episode of Doctor Who.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always need Doctor Who to make me happy.  Not at all.  Doomsday left me sobbing both times I watched it (consecutively), and it’s one of my favorite episodes of the new series.  But I don’t like when Doctor Who leaves me feeling icky.  And that’s what this story did.  I wish this was a short story.  Or an episode of something else.  Or even a new/missing adventure book so I could tell myself it “isn’t canon.”  Because then I think I would love the shit out of it.  As it is, I just can’t.

And jeez, I haven’t even said anything about the Radio Free Skaro commentary.  (That in itself should give you an idea of how deeply this episode affected me.)  Honestly, I think the delightful commentary is what got me through watching this episode again.  If Warren wasn’t ranting in my ear about landlines, and if Steven and Chris weren’t gushing over how beautiful everything was (including Martin Freeman), I’m not sure I would have made it through this tonight.  So, not for the first time, RFS has turned what might otherwise have been a lousy evening into something both charming and amusing.  Whew!

Doctor Who: In The (Rebel) Flesh (w/Commentary)

“The Rebel Flesh”–how appropriate.  My flesh tonight is certainly in rebellion, considering that it’s midnight & I should have been asleep hours ago. Apparently, that’s what happens when you sleep in until 1:45pm.  That, in turn, is apparently what happens when you stay up until 4 in the morning. Cause and effect: it’s neat!

“In the flesh” is appropriate because I’m in the midst of preparations for Chicago TARDIS! That’s where I’ll get to meet some of my Doctor Who twitter friends in the flesh for the first time.  That’s always a bit nerve-wracking because as nice as folks seem to be online, in real life they could turn out to be total creeps.  Or more likely, they’ll discover that I am.

So.  I suppose I should talk about the episode itself.  Sigh.  Not that it’s bad.  It’s just…not…special.  This two-parter was, for me, sort of a lull.  I enjoyed myself while I watched this and “The Almost People” (of course I did–it’s Doctor Who!) but once they were done, I was kinda like “So.  Those were episodes.  Okay.  Now on to something else.”

When I’m having a bad day, I tend to make myself list things that are good and things I should be happy about.  So here I’ll list the things I liked about this episode.  I loved the location.  It was a nifty old creepy castle.  That’s right up my alley, and the direction was well done and used it to lovely effect.

I liked the small cast.  I do appreciate “insulated” episodes of Doctor Who–where all the action takes place in a nice, confined area, and you don’t really have to worry about the rest of the world.  Speaking of the rest of the world, I love that in this episode, we’re only worrying about the fates of the inhabitants of this base.  It’s not a huge, dire, “ohmigod the whole world/universe/time itself is screwed if we don’t fix this” dealie.  I was getting sick and tired of that.  You can only up the ante so far before it just gets tiresome.

Umm…what else?  I liked the Muse song at the beginning of the episode.

I liked that I wasn’t distracted too much from my knitting or listening to the commentary.  That’s right, I listened to the chatter of those delightfully ridiculous Radio Free Skaro boys while watching this episode.  And in this case, I think it really improved the experience.  Perhaps because Warren kept taking them off track with lots of Star Wars talk.  This pleased me.  Not that I prefer Star Wars to Doctor Who by any means.  It just seemed more interesting than quite a lot of this episode.  Also, the guys may have convinced me to try revisiting the Lord of the Rings trilogy of films.  I really ought to give them another shot.  Then again, maybe I’ll wait until I have some way to watch them on Blu-ray.

Well, seeing as how this blog post has followed RFS’s suit and veered from the topic of Doctor Who completely, I think I should bring it to a close.  I’ll just briefly mention that I did crack out a few more rows of the big purple stripe I’m working on.  And then I’ll think about trying to get some shut-eye.  I don’t have a heck of a lot of hope.  Thank goodness for the internet–a boon for insomniacs everywhere, it is.

Doctor Who: The Doctor’s Wife (Commentated)

So my weeks of utter slackage have apparently come to an end.  After more days off than I’d like to admit, I got back on that horse called knitting.  I only got about 10 rows done in the space of this episode, but hell, that’s 10 more rows than I’ve done in…  Whoops.  I almost admitted it!  I told you I don’t like to do that.  Anyway, it felt good to get back at it.  Let’s hope this trend continues.  Does it count as a trend if I’ve only done it once?  No?  Drat.

Ok, so The Doctor’s Wife.  I love this episode.  It’s no secret that Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, so when I heard he was writing a script for Doctor Who (years ago when he first mentioned it on his blog), I was thrilled!  I was also pretty apprehensive.  I mean, I love his work, but this is Doctor Who.  It’s practically sacred.  But I decided I could probably trust Neil to do it justice.  I’ve known for ages what a huge Who fanboy he is; I know what he’s capable of writing-wise; and I knew Steven Moffat was at the helm and would likely not steer us wrong, so…let’s just say I remained hopeful.  My cheerful optimism proved well-founded.  This story was positively lovely.

I hadn’t seen The Doctor’s Wife since it aired, and I’m rather wishing I’d watched it again recently before trying to watch it with commentary.  It was occasionally difficult to avoid ignoring the voices in my head(phones) while I fixated on the screen.  Luckily, Steven, Warren, and Chris from Radio Free Skaro are pretty damn amusing, so that didn’t happen as often as it could have.  I definitely recommend checking out their series 6 commentaries.  This one in particular held several laugh-out-loud moments for me.  The best of all being Steven’s Ribos Operation quotation (ooh! a rhyme!): “What’s a hole doing in my TARDIS?”  Thank god I wasn’t drinking anything or that would have been a legitimate spit take and my laptop would have paid the price.  Other commentary highlights include more agendas than you can shake a stick at, fun with Nazi fashion, glowing cleavage, and many of the usuals like Matt Smith-adoration and the obligatory trips into the gutter with tour-guide Chris.

As for this episode itself, I don’t think I’m alone in ranking it as one of the best of series 6.  Part of what I like most is the fact that it really doesn’t fit into the overall arc of the series.  This one really stands alone.  Now I’m usually a sucker for a story arc, but in this case, I was pretty pleased to just get away from that for a while.  I think any addition of arc-related nonsense would have only muddied things here.  Better to keep the love story between the Doctor and Idris pure and unsullied.  And that’s really what this was–a love story.  The most beautiful love story in the history of the show in my semi-humble opinion.  And as Steven said in the commentary, “it’s the only one I can ever believe.”  Nothing before or since can come close.

Period.

Commentacular (Or Spreadsheetopia)

Ok!  I have been promising this for a very long time indeed.  Better late than never, right?

As you’ve probably noticed if you’ve been reading this blog for long, one of my favorite things to do (like, ever) is watch Doctor Who episodes with podcast commentary.  Sadly, I’ve been slacking at that lately.  I simply haven’t had the time.  (Ironically, I’ve spent a good deal of that time talking to Doctor Who podcasters on twitter–so guys, you really only have yourselves to blame.)

So what I’ve been doing is listening to the commentary episodes, right up until the time the commentary itself starts.  Then I note the time and switch it off.  That way I can come back later when I have the Who story (and my knitting) at hand.  The waiting is actually helpful in some cases–for example when a podcast does commentaries on an entire season.  You see, I listen to podcast back-catalogs in reverse order.  I like to start at the present and work my way back.  It’s fun!  But watching a season of Doctor Who in reverse order is less fun.

To avoid getting terribly confused when it does come time to catch up on commentaries, I’ve done one of my other favorite things: created a spreadsheet!  This way I can keep track of the Doctor Who stories, the podcast episode numbers, and the time in the podcast when the commentary gets rolling*.

Several people asked if I’d be willing to share this spreadsheet, and (of course) I am!  It’s sorted by podcast, then organized in the (rough) order in which I plan to watch them, so I apologise if it seems a bit confusing.  Also, the last column has notes that mean nothing to anyone but me.  Feel free to download it and change it around as you like (assuming you’re as big a nerd as I and would actually want to do such a thing).  I’m constantly adding to it, so I’ll probably post updates occasionally if it seems like anyone would be interested.  Frankly I’m shocked that anyone was interested in the first place.

Incidentally, if you’d like a bit more information about the podcasts that are referred to in the spreadsheet, I encourage you to check out my previous entry here, Podcastastic.  I do a quick rundown of what I’ve been listening to lately.

So anyway, here is the spreadsheet: use it in good health (click to download the excel file): Podcast Commentaries

*Note that the time listed is the moment at which Steven from Radio Free Skaro says the words “legally purchased DVD” (or whatever the analog of that is on the other podcasts–Josh sometimes remembers to do that on DW:MHC as well).

The Time of Couch-Surfers (Or Houseguests and Stone)

So I’ve been saddled/blessed with a houseguest again.  Good ol’ C has been with me for a week, and I’ve done my best to expose him to some excellent British television (ok, and some Glee, but he’d seen that already).  We watched all three episodes of Sherlock, and he really enjoyed them.  Then last night I had some time to knit, so I wanted to watch Doctor Who.  Now if I was a quality friend, I might have stopped and thought about what would be a good introduction to new Who and started there, but no; I was feeling selfish.  And he’s getting to sleep on my COUCH, so really, I feel I’ve given him enough.  Anyway, my next episodes of series 5 (to watch with Radio Free Skaro commentary) were “The Time of Angels” and “Flesh and Stone.”

As it turned out, those aren’t a terrible place to jump in.  There was plenty C didn’t understand (he didn’t even know what the sonic screwdriver was), but they’re damn good episodes, and very exciting, so it was a definite win.  The moment “The Time of Angels” ended, he bounced on the couch, looked over at me, and said “Let’s watch the next one!  That was pretty badass!”  How could I say no?  Sadly, his comment after “Flesh and Stone” was “River’s hot.”  Sigh.  To each his own I guess.

Then when I got home today he confided that while he was at work he found himself thinking about “those stone angels” and how creepy they were.  He also mentioned to his wife that we were watching Doctor Who.  I think if I remind them about it later, they might watch on their own one of these days.  I’ll have to remember to do that.

I did feel a little bad watching the episodes with commentary though.  And no, before you jump to the wrong conclusion, I didn’t make C watch with commentary.  That would have been foolish.  I had headphones on.  But that meant that every so often (and usually at totally inappropriate times) I’d burst out laughing at something C couldn’t hear.  Eventually I stopped apologising.  Didn’t stop elling-oh-ell though.

Despite having watched both episodes just a few weeks ago, I found myself mesmerized by Matt Smith (and company), which almost made it difficult to listen to the commentary.  Luckily, the RFS boys had the same problem, so it was rarely an issue.  Every few minutes they’d fall silent until someone piped up with “We’re transfixed again.”  I can’t say I blame them.  Matt Smith just knocks it out of the park in these episodes, and that’s extra-impressive considering they were the first ones he shot.  Well done Smith; well done indeed.

Knitting-wise, I spent the time weaving in ends.  I’ve officially made my peace with that heretofore-odious task, and I’m making it a point to catch up with that before I knit too much farther.  This means the actual physical progress has stalled, but I know I’ll thank myself later.  The things I do for future-Erika!  She’s a lucky girl.

Speaking of future-me, the few-minutes-from-now version will be attempting to watch the classic Who story “Underworld.”  I say “attempting” because I’ve got it on VHS (which was taped off of PBS >20 years ago), and I’m not certain it will be watchable.  (More about my recent acquisition of Who-on-VHS later.)  It’s worth a try though because the next episode of TARDIS Tavern will be covering it (I can’t wait!), and I’d like to have it fresh in my mind.  Really, when I think of the crazy amount of video snow I watched most Doctor Who through for most of my life, I realize I can handle some pretty poor picture quality, thus I anticipate success in my upcoming endeavor.

So for future-Erika and myself, I’ll bid you all adieu for the night.

 

Doctor Who: The Invasion (Half, the Second, Commentary-Style)

Huzzah!  Doctor Who!  Knitting!  Why does it feel like it’s been so long?  Maybe because Chicago ComicCon seemed like it lasted forever (not in a bad way, but it was tiring).  I’ve gotta say, it feels pretty good to be back on my beloved couch, chillin’ with the Doctor, the fellas from Radio Free Skaro, and some yarn.  Speaking of yarn, I’m within spitting distance of finishing off this red stripe.  But no, I’ll not be spitting on the scarf, even to prove that claim.

So I did watch episodes 5-8 of The Invasion sans commentary late last week.  (I was cooking at the time, not knitting, so I didn’t bother with the blogging.)  Overall, I quite enjoyed this story.  It’s not the most gripping ever, but much of it is quite entertaining.  As Steven explained in the commentary (twice, actually), this story wasn’t originally supposed to be an eight-parter.  They padded it quite a bit so that it would fill more time, and that does show.  That didn’t bother me overly much though.  I’m always so happy to be watching Doctor Who that I very nearly don’t care what the characters are doing.  I’m sure I’ll eat those words eventually, but for the moment, I stand by them.

I’m pretty sure that the neighbors that lived on the other side of my paper-thin living room wall have moved out.  That’s probably a good thing, because if they were over there tonight, they’d have had to assume I was being tickle-tortured to death.  Those Radio Free Skaro scamps had me laughing out loud over and over (and over and over) again.  Word of advice: it’s unwise to listen to an uproariously funny commentary just after doing a bunch of crunches.  My stomach muscles are SO SORE now.  At one point, Steven was doing a bit about talking into the microphone, and I couldn’t stop laughing for at least a solid minute, despite the pain.  Damn.  I’m laughing again just thinking about it.  Ow!

So anyway, I recommend The Invasion, particularly if you’re not in the mood for anything too action-packed.  And I highly recommend the commentary (episode 6, especially).  Here are a few more items to look forward to, should you decide to check it out:

  • Seagulls!  I don’t care what anyone says; I like the seagulls, and I shall miss them when Warren moves.
  • “Sewertonomy:”  The philosophical study of sewers.
  • The naming of the fondue robot: “Tubulon.”
  • A justified bleep.
  • Cyber-trivia: Crazy Cybermen settle right down when changing elevation.
  • Near-upskirts.
  • Everyone checking out Zoe’s ass.  Wow, that was blatant!  But can you blame them, really?
  • An eye that’s as lazy as they come.
  • The most iconic television moment of the 60s.  (Er, on Doctor Who.  [See the picture above.])
  • More innuendo and dirty jokes than you can shake a riding crop at.  (And no, they weren’t all Chris–just the basest ones, and thus some of the funniest.)
  • An amount of pedanting at which you could quite successfully shake a riding crop.  (Again, not all Chris, believe it or not.)

I am a wee bit disappointed that this is the last classic commentary from RFS for a while, but I’m desultorily working my way through their back catalog.  There are plenty more commentaries behind them that are ahead of me.  That’ll do.  That’ll do.