Sunday, September 30, 2012

Daleks, Dinosaurs, Cyborgs, Cubes and Angels: the brief beauty of Doctor Who s7.1

Dear lordy Moff, you really do like to put us through the wringer don't you?

There's gonna be spoilers here folks.

Don't say you haven't been warned.

There'll be tears before the end.

There'll be chuckles along the way.

And there WILL



Okay, so firstly you pull of that surprise with Oswin: companion to be, arriving early with a heartbreaking souffle.

We didn't see that coming.

The Pond-subplot for that one built nicely from a pre-series mini episode 'Pond Life' written by Chris Chibnall.  We've criticised CC in the past - and actually currently as well, sadly all to often with good reasons.  Here, in Asylum, his prequel was useful but not central to requirements.  What Moff did was make it proper emotional.

Yes, I said it: Moff can do emotional.  He doesn't do it like Rusty did, but he does pull the strings of heart.

"I didn't throw you out - I gave you up"

Sorry: I'm sobbing again.

We then went all Primeaval in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship with a dodgy sexist adventurer (what is it about Rupert Graves that gets him such roles?!) and Queen Nefertiti.  It was fun - mostly for the brilliant Mark Williams as Brian Pond (oh if ONLY Chibs had insisted on that character much earlier in the Pond life cycle...) who despite all insistence to the contrary was never going to be 'Brian Williams'.

However, it was also getting to be clear even if you hadn't been spoilered that the Ponds weren't going to be travellers forever.

The episode also had a great villainous turn from David Bradley who must have really lapped up this hyper-nonsense!  I could have done without the Silurian sub-plot (really Chibbers, we get that you like them!) but Bradley was monster enough to make up for the rather slight dinosaur threat --- the creatures were gorgeously realised on screen though!

The next move was into the West: with a vengeful cyborg being the 'good guy' as compared to his maker.  It was a small tale of morality and moral dilemmas and all the more enjoyable for that.

But most importantly, what had been spotted by then?

The changing title sequence.

I'd squeed anyway when I saw on 'Asylum of the Daleks' that the sequence had been tweaked.  Oooh it suddenly looked PROPER Doctor Who-ish with a retro/modern tone, dark and beautiful, ridding us of the Gavascon colouration of the earlier Moff series.

But then Frank Collins - one of my favourite reviewers - confirmed my suspicions.

Oh it was getting darker for sure.

Chibbers came back and amazingly didn't wreck the joint.  He bought back the brilliant Brian Pond and although it was an oddly balanced episode (lots of threads got left hanging), it had a typically Rusty momentum ---- moreover, how could I hate an episode that made Kate Stewart TV cannon?

And Jemma Redgrave was lovely as the daughter of our beloved and late Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.

And so we got to Manhattan.

It was hard to avoid that we would be losing the Ponds in an episode promised to be scary and heartbreaking.

Damn, damn, DAMN you Moff.  You are cruel in the beauty of your story-telling.

It was noirish (Telegraph), and there was no punchline to rescue Rory - or Amy - this time around (Independent).  For an early evening family entertainment, it was a breathtaking move to even consider presenting a suicide pact (Den of Geek), let alone that it may be 'the right thing to do'.

So when that wasn't the end of Rory and Amy, when that final Angel appeared and took him as he read the gravestone, and we realised Amy would join him and leave the Doctor - her raggedy-man - to be with her husband....

... well, it all tears, all the time.

It wasn't as if this was an episode that didn't tug at you all the way through: I particularly liked this passage from the review which included an exchange of lines I really choked at.
After River freed herself from an Angel by breaking her own wrist and then lying to the Doctor in an attempt to convince him that they'd changed the future foretold in the book, she clued us in to what marriage means in one of the most moving scenes of this series. Why did she lie about her wrist? "When one's in love with an ageless god who insists on the face of a 12-year-old, one does one's best to hide the damage." "It must hurt." "Yes, the wrist is pretty bad too."
Break my heart already Moff.

As the Guardian put it, 'love didn't save the day' --- but arguably, it DID save the days of Rory and Amy: they spent the days together, in love, happy.

And quite by chance, I went back in my mind to last Sunday, listening to 6Music when they had a Ben Folds focus to the Playlist show.  I requested "The Luckiest", and although the age is 'wrong' in the lyrics (but heck even that gravestone doesn't seem right!) the final verse strikes me as very much suited to the end of Rory and Amy.

Next door there's an old man
Who lived to his 90s
And one day passed away in his sleep
And his wife, she stayed for a couple of days
And passed away.
I'm sorry, I know that's a strange way
To tell you that I know we belong
That I know
That I am
I am
I am
The Luckiest 
Thank you Ponds.  We've loved having you around,

UPDATE: Stuart does the most gorgeous and appropriate review of Angels.  Just lovely,

And for those missing DW Confidential:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Doctor Who title sequences this season

Am SOOOO glad that the brilliant Frank Collins is back reviewing Doctor Who.

I've been hopping up and down each week about the title sequence being better this season and darker.  And then Frank goes and nails it. (SPOILERS AHOY OBVIOUSLY!)

Each episode's title sequence is getting darker. Compare Asylum's opening titles with this episode's and you'll see the vortex is closing down, becoming sickly green and darker by the week. 

He's not wrong you know.

Walk and Talk the Vote - The West Wing is back --- kinda

Oh Medium Rob, thanks for alerting me to this walk and talk reunion of West Wing cast members in honour of talking about the importance of voting.

And if you REALLY want to indulge then you can go back and watch some of the classic walk and talk bits from the West Wing.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Summer Sundae 2012 - Sunday (excluding choir) - delayed horribly!

Of course Sunday for me was all about the Choir (see other post), but there were still some musical highlights to accompany live performing by a collection of people who had 4 hours to rehearse 6 songs (as opposed to 12 weeks to rehearse 10/11 songs as with BeVox!  Though obviously the BeVox standard is able to be MUCH higher).

Anyway: Sunday at Summer Sundae started with breakfast at the Lansdowne before we wandered in for a cuppa tea.  Sadly this meant we missed having spotted in the programme small print that there was a Barbershop a cappella band called the Simpletones singing in the tent.  Boo - would have liked to have seen them properly, especially as I later found them serenading Neil with a rendition of the 'Ghostbusters' song as Neil was wearing his 'Last Exit to Nowhere' t-shirt!

We saw The Staves - three sisters who sweltered under the hot lights of the tent.  They were fantastic and wonderfully harmonious, but there were some hilarious moments as whistling was revealed as a substitute for guitar-playing, and another confessed she had sweat running down her back.  "We usually laugh when we get offered towels for being on stage - not today" they said.

It was also possible to catch Team Me, another Scandi highlight of the weekend.  Great tunes and harmonies and quirky sounds and titles.  Liked it a lot.

One of the benefits of getting backstage to go onto the main stage for the choir performance was seeing John Lydon wheeling his suitcase from the tour-bus...

After the choir, Neil and I caught the end of Billy Bragg's tribute to Woody Guthrie (hurrah).  Always good, and the infinite flexibility of "Waiting for the great leap forward" came through again.  Always able to be updated: "Some people say that girls should be quiet; I wanna say 'Free Pussy Riot'!"

Anyway, apologies for anything missed: I'll aim to finish this post asap.  Apologies for the delay so far!

Nottingham arboretum 31 August 2012

Neil at Nottingham Arboretum

Sunny Nottingham Arboretum

Lisa at Nottingham Arboretum: place of my youth!

Lisa with bags and stripes

Flower displays at Nottingham Arboretum

When I was a child, we lived walking distance away from the Nottingham Arboretum (although for my little legs it was a bit too far to walk - hence daddy drove us there).  I used to love running about the flower displays, watching the action on the Band Stand and enjoying the birds and other creatures in the cages.

Yes: the cages.

They are still there and some birds are still kept there, but the 'mini-zoo' like qualities of the site deteriorated like the general ambiance of the place.  Until recently, the site was a less than pleasant place to visit - a bit too close to the haunts of drug dealers and sex workers and certainly not a place to visit on a dull day.

Some planting and judicious improvements have at least made it a more enjoyable place to re-visit on a sunny day and it was lovely to trace my steps again past the beautiful birds.

The Doctor will see you now

Tee hee.  Apt on so many levels!

Saturday, September 08, 2012

More on 'healthy eating'

So, yes, I am thinking about this a lot.  Plus my internet is working so I'm taking advantage!

More from the NHS site:

  • Now take the next snack you plan to have and swap it for something healthier. - I hardly do snacks at all. I'm known for not snacking that much!
  • Try to swap drinks that are high in calories for drinks that are lower in fat and sugars. - I don't drink sugary drinks.  I have alcohol - we share a bottle or two over the weekends, but not every weekend.  And I definitely don't drink regularly like some people I know.
  • Next, find a way to fit just one extra walk into your day. Fast walking is a way to burn calories, and you can often fit it into your daily routine. You might walk to the shops during your lunch break, or get off the bus one stop early on the way home and walk the rest of the way. Commit to this and you’ve adopted your second long-term habit. Ideally, you should aim to walk 10,000 steps a day: it’s not as many as it sounds. - I'm not known as a dawdler, but I SHOULD walk more and exercise more.  But I live on a hill, my osteo says I should avoid running on concrete/tarmac due to the back and muscle problems I have had, and my work schedule does not easily allow for either showering or exercise during the day.  Hmmm.  One to ponder.
  • Last, think about your breakfast tomorrow morning. Can you make it healthier, using the foods you already have at home? 

Could I have a healthier breakfast?  Possibly.  But I don't overeat until... yes... evening.  That's the problem area.  Too little exercise (probably) and eating too late (can't really avoid that with work schedule etc) and eating too much when I do (I like my food!  I get hungry at the end of the day!)


Trying to eat healthier - losing weight

So here's the thing.  I'm now weighing just over 9 stone.  I've never weighed that much in my life.  And I don't like it.  Not least because I can't fit into some of my clothes.

NHS advice (because I won't touch any generic "lose weight by living on water" rubbish), suggests the following:


  • Swap from whole milk to semi-skimmed, 1% fat or even skimmed milk. - I drink only skimmed milk
  • Swap a sugar-coated breakfast cereal for a wholegrain breakfast cereal such as porridge or shredded wholegrain wheat cereal, with no added sugar. - um, I guess honey-nut cornflakes aren't the best right?
  • Swap a sprinkle of sugar on your breakfast cereal for a topping of fresh or dried fruit, which counts towards one of your five a day. - I don't sprinkle anything on my cereal, sugar or otherwise
  • Swap full-fat Greek yoghurt for fat-free Greek-style yoghurt or natural low-fat yoghurt. - yoghurt.  Yuk.  Tried to like it several years ago.  Realised it's vile stuff.  Full fat or not.


  • Swap white breads, bagels and muffins for wholegrain varieties. - most bread products we eat are wholegrain, granary etc
  • Swap butter and cheese in your jacket potato for reduced fat spread and reduced salt and sugar baked beans. - I hardly ever eat a jacket potato
  • Swap a tuna melt panini for a tuna salad sandwich on wholemeal bread, without mayo. - don't like tuna paninis
  • Swap a cheddar cheese filling in your sandwich for reduced-fat hard cheese. - sorry, I do like Cheddar, and Double Gloucester. Though I don't eat as much cheese as Neil.  And I don't do Stilton.


  • Swap creamy or cheesy sauces for tomato- or vegetable-based sauces on your pasta, meat or fish dishes. - hardly ever have cream sauces.  Mostly tomato and veg anyway
  • Swap mashed potato made with butter and whole milk for mash with low-fat spread and a lower-fat milk such as semi-skimmed, 1% fat or skimmed. - Don't do mash potatoes much.  If I do, it's marg and our milk.  Skimmed.
  • Choose leaner cuts of meat, for example, swap streaky bacon for back bacon. - if we have bacon it is always back bacon,
  • Swap the frying pan for the grill when cooking meat. - hardly ever cook meat.  If I do, it's grilled. Never fried.


  • Swap your usual coffee made with whole milk to a ’skinny’ coffee made with skimmed milk. - skinny coffee.  Fine by me.  Hardly drink coffee anyway.
  • Swap your cordial for a cordial with no added sugars. - only drink fruit juices if I do
  • Swap a few of your sugary drinks for a glass of water. - try to drink water but I'm a camel when it comes to drinking!
  • Swap hot chocolate made with whole milk and served with whipped cream for a hot chocolate made with skimmed milk and no cream. - never drink hot chocolate.


  • Swap a blueberry muffin for a currant bun on its own or with some reduced fat spread. - don't eat muffins more than once a year if that.
  • Swap yoghurt-coated raisins for plain raisins. - would sooner eat sultanas.  Definitely no yoghurt covering!
  • Swap salted nuts for unsalted nuts. - no nuts
  • Swap cheese straws for rice cakes with lower-fat cream cheese - cheese straws?!  Are you kidding me?! Yuk!
So what is it that we're doing 'wrong'?  I know what it is.  I just plain old eat TOO MUCH.  I have hollow legs and slow signals.  I take ages before I know I'm hungry (hence the "I get cranky when I'm hungry" jokes) and take ages before I know I am full.

I guess I just need to cut down.  Huh.  Dieting eh?  Let's face it, every time it ALL boils down to that.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Asylum of the Daleks - a belated spoilertastic review comment

So - here's the thing. My internet connection has been poop lately. So I've been wanting to write about how much I totally loved the first ep of the new Doctor Who series. But the net is up down up down.

Spoilers ahoy and hope this loads.









SO.....OSWIN! wasn't she great?! Totally wasn't expecting to be there yet - she's the next companion to come post-Ponds. The whole thing with the souffles was... so "oh... why didn't we think that?" It was great how despite everything I didn't see how "eggs..." would extend. And the brilliant mind of Oswin was glorious.

As evidence of how it connected with us Neil and I have spent the week debating what timey-wimey magic Moff will throw at the story to retrieve Oswin from being a Dalek. (And no I didn't see that coming).

We sat transfixed throughout the ep. To my mind it was a cracking opener. I'd watched Pond Life ahead of the ep - Neil didn't unless he wasn't telling me something - and despite Chibnall characteristics I thought they'd set up the ep really well. You didn't NEED the Pond Life mini-ep but it added to the poignancy. And you would hace to have been hard of heart indeed to not find your eye wet at the line "I didn't throw you out - I gave you up".


Ooh... I got proper weepy at that and again with the revelation of Oswin. Great too about the Daleks forgetting. Its all blank slate (until Oswin turns up?!)

And this week ...?


Chibs. Doing Primeval.

Oh well. It was goid while it lasted. Am sure I'll still love it.