Down the Classic Who Rabbit Hole: The Mind Robber

I’ve gone through all of the Classic Who DVDs owned by my public library.  And I caved and purchased a subscription to Brit Box so I can continue watching other episode of Classic Who.    I’m going to try to keep informal notes about my viewing experiences of Classic Who.  This is partially just to get me writing more on the Oslicken site again but also as a way for me to engage with a show that I love so much.

The Mind Robber

This is the second story in season 6 of Doctor Who.  It features Troughton‘s Doctor with Jamie McCrimmon and Zoe Heriot as the companions.  The story takes place in the Land of Fiction, a place of fantasy outside of regular time and space.

Part 1
Troughton goodness all around.  The cliffhanger – the Tardis exploding – was a really well done dramatic end to this segment.  The ear piercing scream from Zoe combined with music adds an added element of suspense to the cliffhanger.

Part 2
We have arrived in the land of fiction, “a place where nothing is impossible.” Immediately all of the Tardis crew are separated and put into physical danger. This episode introduces an array of people popping out of the woods in the Land of Fiction to engage with the Doctor. These brief interactions are filled with riddles, quirky characters, and puzzles for the Doctor to investigate. I found the part where the Doctor had to put together Jamie’s face both amusing and so very strange.  This segment makes more sense once you realize that during this story Frazer Hines was ill and was then replaced for part of the serial by Hamish Wilson. It’s a bit clunky but the face puzzle works to explain why Jamie looks different for a couple of episodes. This episode also introduces the ‘Master’ as the figure plotting against the Doctor.

Part 3
Rapunzel, Gulliver’s Travels, and Medusa oh my! The Tardis crew keep bumping into storybook characters and begin to learn more about the strange storybook land. This episode fell a little flat for me and felt like a whole lot of filler. This fits with the fact that they had to add an additional episode to this story in production, resulting the story being overstretched.

Part 4
One of my favourite parts of this episode is seeing Zoe be all badass and kicking the butt of Karkus, a comic strip character.  Zoe defends the Doctor and generally rocks in this part of the episode.  The nature of the Master is finally revealed and we begin to understand that he wants the Doctor to replace him as the author being the Land of Fiction. I love that this world is entirely driven by imagination and potential of the human mind, it shows both the whimsical potential of the mind but also the darker possibilities of imagination.

Part 5
All the storybook characters reappear in this episode as the Doctor and the Master continue to battle for control and escape within the Land of Fiction. I love some of the costuming and props in this episode.  The classic robots and the glowing plastic ball type computer are my favourite. The destructor beam that comes out of the robot’s chest is complete with lights and sound effects that bring me a whole lot of joy.

Overall – 4/5.

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Diseased

I don’t know about you but right now I’m feeling underwhelmed and overwhelmed at the same time. It’s not really a good feeling. There are so many things to think about – to be worried about – in our world today. And there don’t seem to be a lot of answers or solutions. I work in an organization focused on wildlife preservation and the outdoors and we do lots of great work. At the same time I wonder (doubt?) if it’s enough. Things are changing at a rapid rate and we are still doing destructive things to our environment – our world and even beyond. To be honest it’s way too much for me to think about most of the time and I’m one of the ones who often buries my head in the sand and just tries to forget about it all. That adds to my feeling of uneasiness though and there’s the guilt that comes along with it.

But there are so many things to try to tackle and ignoring the issues is so much easier. There’s mental health/addictions, political termoil, nuclear threat, hunger/poverty, technology and its part in the destruction of real social networks, economic uncertainty, lack of connection to nature, food security/mass farming, water shortages, drug resistant disease, increased weather related disasters and more.

Art by Susie Campbell

Recently our city of Sault Ste. Marie was featured in a W5 documentary about the opiod crisis which has grasped many cities around the country. So many people are dealing with addiction issues and the availability of these extremely potent, often fatal, drugs are putting a massive strain on addicts, their families and the underfunded system that is supposed to try to protect people from themselves. The statistics are staggering and the stories about people who live right here in our city, who are dealing with this on a daily basis, made it real for many in our community who didn’t know, or didn’t want to believe that there’s a problem. I think many people’s eyes have been opened. Unfortunately it will likely be just another issue to turn a blind eye to after the initial shock wears off. Even worse, there are many around who think that it’s the addict’s fault – that they don’t change their ways because they don’t want to. Or that addiction isn’t a “disease” because the person made a choice to start doing drugs. This black and white way of looking at things isn’t the addict’s reality though. There are many issues including poverty, mental health issues, social issues etc. that feed into it. Sure it may have been a bad decision to start doing drugs but that doesn’t mean that addiction isn’t a true disease, any more than cancer, diabetes or schizophrenia are real diseases. And there’s still this perception that if it’s “in your head” it’s not a disease. I know first hand that people experiencing any sort of mental health issue can have very real symptoms that are just as debilitating as diabetes, a broken leg or even the flu. The reality is that all pain is “in your head” since without the brain you wouldn’t feel pain – whether that pain is being triggered by you leg, your lungs or your mind. It is an extreme over-simplification to only attribute illness to some organs and not others.

We all have stories of people who are close to us dealing with difficult things in their lives. Just this week a family member was suicidal and in need of police and medical intervention. Another friend is having to go through yet another round of chemotherapy to try to keep the cancer that is spreading through her body at bay. All difficult and overwhelming situations.

But I guess in a few days I might have buried my head in the sand and things may look rosy again.

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This Parenting Thing

Being a parent is hard – any parent will tell you this, and it is true some of the time of course.  Most people know that being a parent will be difficult before they become one, I was no exception.  But for me the parts that are hardest aren’t what I expected them to be.  Sure, there are the sleep deprived nights, the endless diaper changes and sometimes crying that goes on longer than you think you can bear.  But there are other aspects of having a little one around that affect a person – maybe on a deeper level – that I for one hadn’t really taken much time to consider and caught me off guard a bit.  Having a child will likely change your perspective on a lot of things.

You will want to spend time doing things that you didn’t like doing before, just because you will enjoy those things with your child and see the excitement in their little face. The time that we spend together playing with playdough, colouring, stacking blocks is a lot of fun.

You also might find that you approach the world differently in general.  I’ve realized that overall my approach to life has been to try to convince myself that I don’t really care about results – and if successful in that approach then I really have nothing to lose – within reason of course.  In the end it meant that I didn’t have to worry as much about the potential results of what I did or my actions, allowing me to focus on experiencing life and less worrying about potential failures.  For someone like me, who is generally fairly motivated to take action and complete things I set out to do, this works.   In many ways it’s an easier and calmer way to live for me, and it turns out, much more difficult to live by when you have someone who looks up to you, relies on you for everything.  Taking a risk becomes more difficult with the knowledge that another life is completely reliant on you.  It was an eye opening experience to discover some of these things that were going on in my head that I didn’t even really realize were there at the time.

Now I will try to take the important parts – the parts that allow a calmer way of living – and integrate them into the greater reality of parenting and life in this day and age.   Perhaps the need for peace and the need for security can co-exist in a more natural way.  And of course I’ll continue to enjoy playing with toys and an energetic and imaginative toddler.

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B is for Biking

Photograph of bike

New bike!

Until this year I hadn’t rode a bike since I was a teenager.  Even as a kid my bike exposure what some what limited, I grew up on a hilly country road so going for a bike ride wasn’t something we didn’t do on an every day basis. There was one summer where I biked to the next concession every day for a couple of weeks to cat sit.  That was my first experience biking beside a highway and really turned me off biking on unpaved shoulders.  I also biked occasionally in town when visiting my Grandma.

Since our move into town in January Andrew and I have been talking about biking and this Spring I got a bike! The Soo has some surprisingly bike friendly areas – the bike lane on Queen Streets makes a bike ride to my work not so hazardous and the hub trail is a great way to explore the city on a bike friendly path.  As a family we’ve been using our bikes to visit local parks and playgrounds.  It’s been a joy to explore our neighbourhood via bikes and to find new places for us to play as a family.  I’ve also loved looking at the gardens on the numerous side streets we’ve been biking down.

Next week, while Little Miss is staying with her grandparents, I’m hoping to bike to work a few times.  I love the idea of an active commute and seeing the city from a different perspective.

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Podcast Goodness: Archives As Activism

Cross-posted from Krista’s history focused site.

I’m on a podcast! Given my obsession with listening to podcasts it might not be surprising that I’m very excited to have been part of a podcast recording.

Recently Scott Neigh of Talking Radical Radio interviewed Skylee-Storm Hogan and I about the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre, activism and archives, and more broadly about documenting social movements.  Our conversation was partially inspired by my recent Active History post on “Archives As Activism” which discusses some of the current trends around archiving and documenting social movements in Canada.

You can listen to the full episode online via the Rabble Podcast Network.

Kinda related: I would love to be part of an archives or Canadian history podcast — anyone want to team up to create some awesomeness? 

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Chicken Soup: Spirit of Canada

With all the Canada 150 celebrations it might not be surprising that the Chicken Soup for the Soul publication jumped on this opportunity to publish a book dedicated to stories about Canada.  Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of Canada includes 101 stories of what it’s like to be Canadian.  What does that mean? Think snow storms, cottages, hockey, kindness, small town living, exploring nature, and all the other feel good moments that are associated with living in Canada.

My story “Temporary Town” about my experience moving to Northern Ontario, discovering Thessalon, and falling in love with a surprisingly vibrant rural community is featured in the book.

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Doctor Who: Smile…or else?

Smile – there is new Doctor Who on a weekly basis right now.  Episode two of series ten was an off world, first trip to the future for Bill and the Doctor.  It included emoji speaking robots, snark, and Peter Capaldi smiling awkwardly.

Things I enjoyed about “Smile”:

  • Bill! (Okay, I think this might be a weekly thing that I’m happy about). But I specifically enjoyed her questioning nature in the early part of this episode – questions about the locations of the chairs in the TARDIS and question mundane things that as fans we probably have asked about at some point or another.
  • I like the equip about the English language having devolved into emojis and a number of the emoji jokes made me giggle.
  • The location of this episode and the scenery was gorgeous! *inset heart eyes emoji*
  • That  Frank Cottrell Boyce named the Vardy after Canadian scientist Andrew Vardy from Memorial University in Newfoundland who specializes in swam robotics.


Things I wasn’t so keen on:

  • The human reactions to the robots – the immediate desire to kill everything felt a bit off.
  • The ending of the episode and the giant reset button which fixed everything seemed like an easy way out.
  • This episode felt a bit unoriginal – it reminded me a lot of the vardy reminded me a lot of the vashta nerada and the plot reminded me of the nanogenes from “Doctor Dances” that simply misunderstand how the human race.  There were also a number of similarities between this episode and New Earth in terms of early Doctor/companion adventures.
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New Doctor Who: The Pilot and a Whole Lot of Squee

So anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I’m a Doctor Who fan.  And anyone who has spent any time with me in the last month probably knows I was mildly very excited about the fact that Doctor Who was coming back to television after a year long hiatus.  Andrew witnessed me jumping up and down in excitement over this fact more than once in the past week.

Last night “The Pilot”, the first episode of series ten aired.  I’m still on a bit of high from watching it – so much squee. So my initial reactions are definitely coloured by that, which I think is fine – it’s okay just to love something and not analyze it to death.

Things I loved about the episode:

  • Bill Potts! I am thoroughly enjoying her character so far and I love that they didn’t skirt around her sexuality but also that her queerness was presented as normal, as part of her, and in a conversational way.  It was obvious in the second line of her dialogue that she liked women however it was done tastefully.
  • The episode also reminded me a lot of Douglas Adam’s work — both in the never completed Doctor Who script “Shada” and in framing of his novel Dirk Gently.   Basically – both of those works open with a professor who has been teaching at a university for over fifty years, and no one quite knows what his actual job is – just like this episode opened. I’m all for more Adam’s references.
  • Bill reaction to the idea that the Doctor was going to wipe her mind was so spot on.  It linked back to Clara’s reaction and vocal discussion of her own free will.  It also reminded me a lot of Donna and the tenth Doctor’s decision to wipe her mind without her consent.  Bill has spark and she challenged the Doctor, stood her ground, and outright ignored him at times.  I hope the intensity, curiosity, and personality of her character continues.
  • I also loved that Bill made numerous sci-fi references early on the episode, she made her interest apparent even before she knew about the Tardis.
  • Nardole was given a back seat in this episode which I think was a really smart decision allowing for this episode to focus more on the relationship between Bill and the Doctor.

Things that fell a bit flat for me:

  • The “puddle monster” was a very typical of Moffat’s monster.  It’s an ordinary thing made scary.  And it was scary initially but by end of the episode the dripping girl chasing Bill around felt a bit like a bad horror movie.
  • I’m not a huge fan of the tutor/student relationship setup that was used to frame the episode.  The idea that Bill was bright enough to attend class but stuck in a job shoveling chips seems like a lazy plot device. I feel like this has the potential to bring in a very unbalanced power relationship into the mix.
  • The River Song and Susan photographs on the Doctor’s desk felt a bit forced/fan service to me – especially since they were referenced multiple times.

Overall I really liked enjoyed this episode and I’m super excited to see how Bill’s character develops over the season.  I also think that this episode would serve as a good introduction to anyone looking to watch Doctor Who for the first time.  The basics of how the TARDIS work are explained, it’s not tied directly to previous plot lines, and you get a fresh entry point to the series with Bill.

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StoneHammer Brewing: Pilsner

I recently tried the Stone Hammer Pilsner brewed by Stone Hammer Brewing, which is a small craft brewery located in Guelph, Ontario.  I’ve previously sampled the Red Maple Ale and the Queen’s English Mild Ale as part of the beer of the month subscription Andrew and I were receiving. Based on my blogs from the other two beers I liked them both, with my preference being for the Red Maple Ale.

Disappointingly their Pilsner wasn’t nearly as tasty.  It poured a clear straw yellow with a full bodied head. There was a mild fruity and straw smell but both were fairly mild.

Taste wise it was smooth drinking. It wasn’t bad but it definitely didn’t fall into the “I would buy this again” category – it was more of your standard generic tasting beer that didn’t really stand apart in any way. It was smooth drinking and I could see it being refreshing on a warm day, however I doubt it will become one of my stables.

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Stack Brewing: Belgian Quad

Instead of doing another year of the ‘beer of the month’ mail order beer selections Andrew and I decided we would take turns in 2017 buying random beers to explore together.  This idea has been helped greatly by our move and being closer to an LCBO with better craft beer selections, a nearby grocery store which has a surprisingly awesome beer section, and the fact that you can now order online via the LCBO.

Andrew recently picked up a handful of beers for us to try.  This batch of beers included “4×4 Belgian Quad” by Stack Brewing.  Stack Brewing is a Sudbury based brewing company, with its name relating to the well known mining stack landmark that towers over the city.  This beer is also essentially named after an ATV (quad is another name for ATVS, something I had no idea of until moving to Northern Ontario).

At 10.5% this is definitely a strong beer. It poured a hazy dark auburn brown colour with minimal head that quickly dissipated.  The smell was faintly sweet with a bit of a malt note.  Considering the alcohol content I was surprised by the smoothness of this particular beer.  There was a lingering fruit and spice note that hung on with this beer.  It was definitely a bit darker than my usual preference but it wasn’t bad tasting and I was surprised by how much I liked it.

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