Monday, July 31, 2017

Taxation plus representation: Our trip to Washington!

We took a family trip down to Washington D.C. over the weekend.  The original plan had been to visit the Century III ghost mall, but that’s out near Pittsburgh and it would have been a twelve-hour round trip to see something that very well could have be very boring after fifteen minutes. D.C. was closer, cheaper and had many more opportunities for interesting stuff, so that’s where we wound up going.

I haven’t been there since I was a kid.  In fact, my most recent and comprehensive knowledge of the place comes from a lot of time playing Fallout 3. I figured I could use my game knowledge to get around town.

Place has really gone to shit since Trump moved in

Spoiler, I totally could!

Our first stop after the hotel was at Arlington National Cemetery. (I wanted to get the Luck Bobblehead at Arlington House, but somebody snagged it before I did. Another of Junders Plunkett’s crimes, no doubt. )

It started raining during our visit, which I really enjoyed because it combined two of my favorite things.  The Women’s Memorial was a very nice building, but it had no visitors when we got there, which was a shame. According to this sign, they receive no government funding.  Lily saw the sign and donated five dollars to keep them going.

We saw Taft’s grave. Fun fact, he was buried in the same bathtub in which he became stuck when he was President.  We saw JFK’s grave as well. Lily asked if I thought she would ever be successful enough to merit that kind of memorial. On one hand, that’s pretty morbid. On the other hand, it’s probably my fault, seeing as how I keep dragging her to cemeteries.

We walked around a bit more, then took the metro to the Mall.


The lines for the Air in Space Museum were too long to justify waiting, but we went to the Hirshhorn sculpture garden.  I didn’t look as closely as Lily did, but she assured me that a sculpture of a naked baby boy riding a horse was anatomically correct. In every detail.

We went to the National Museum of the American Indian. The guy who checked my bag complimented my umbrella. It’s a Seventh Doctor umbrella, but I wasn’t trying to use it to be cutesy; it just happens to be the nicest umbrella I own, so it’s usually the one I take with me when it looks like rain.

We saw a friendly white squirrel, which we figured for an albino. Lily saw some crows harassing a different squirrel and trying to steal the piece of bread it was eating, so she ran over and waved her arms until they flew away.  If this had been the first episode of an anime series, the squirrel would have become her boon companion and would henceforth perch adorably on her shoulder.

We retired to the hotel after that. Jen and Lily had a nice time swimming, but I’d been fighting off a headache all day and I retreated to the room.

We went to the National Zoo the next day. Lily is now obsessed with Fennec foxes and Maned Wolves and we saw both of those. I was disappointed that the zoo had neither Deathclaws nor radscorpions, but at least it had naked mole rats. I tried using Moira Brown’s repellant stick on them to complete the quest, but security intervened after I got two.

Should I have gone for the Kim Possible joke instead?

We kept losing Jen. I blame Lily, who has inherited some of my bad habits of not paying attention.

Jen: I'll be at the (trumpet sounds of adult voice from Peanuts)
Lily: Uh huh.
Me: Have fun.
(Three seconds pass)
Lily: Where's mommy?
Me: Beats me.

We hit a lot of traffic on our way home, but on the whole, it was a pretty great trip.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Jodie Whittaker: Lucky 13

So, Jodie Whittaker will be playing the new incarnation of the Doctor. You may have heard this. It got some attention. Here I am to offer my thoughts, which are even more irrelevant now that it’s two weeks after the announcement.

Someone whose opinion I generally respect made the rather bold claim that very few people are genuinely sexist. Uh, no. Maybe a very tiny minority of people are genuinely Red-Pill, Get-in-the-kitchen-and-make-me-a-ham-sammich sexist out loud where people who might not share their viewpoints can hear them, but institutional sexism influences everyone (including me!) so we in large part accept the way society happens to be structured as the way things ought to be.

I’m sure most fans have considered, at least in passing, the possibility of a woman being cast as the next Doctor.  I was mostly neutral on the matter, with no strong opinions either way. I don’t know a lot of British performers, so I wasn’t in a position to offer an informed opinion on who should be next. I was hoping for Chiwetel Ejiofor (Mark my words, Chiwetel-mania will soon be sweeping the nation!) as the Thirteenth Doctor, but I also resolved to be open-minded. I’m on record somewhere saying that I thought it was unlikely Chinball would shake up things this much so early and predicting that he would go with the safe choice of a white male Brit. (Well, safER choice. No pick is going to please everyone, and fandom isn’t shy about making its displeasure known). He could hardly have been unaware that this decision would be controversial, but fearing a backlash from a vocal section of fandom would have not been a valid reason to avoid it.

I was involved in some discussions online in the run-up to this, including one that asked the question, “Does not wanting a female Doctor make me sexist?” My initial thought was, “Not necessarily. There could be other reasons.” But here’s the thing. As the conversation progressed, no one was able to give any reasons beyond “Loss of a male role model” and “I see the Doctor as a man.” So I am forced to the conclusion that opposition to a female Doctor probably has some roots in sexism.

Let’s look more closely at those two reasons.

Role Model: I’m torn between admiration and annoyance for Colin Baker, who said that “You don’t have to be the same gender as your role model.” I admire him because that’s a full-throated and articulate repudiation of a facile complaint. I’m annoyed by him because I had that thought before I heard it from him, and now it looks like I’m copying him. But it’s hard to argue with that.

(However, is the Doctor really the best role model?)

Speaking of former Doctors, I was glad to discover that Peter Davison’s comments that seemed to be critical of Whittaker had been taken out of context to such an extent that I have to assume it was deliberate and malicious.  Also, I saw one of his tweets where he said something like, "It might be more helpful to be encouraging, and not simply scornful, of fans who are uncertain about change."

That is absolutely right. I saw Davison’s comment as acknowledging that people sometimes don’t know what the appropriate response is to something outside their usual realm of experience and they take a little while to suss it out. That’s perfectly reasonable. We only know what we’ve experienced.  Older people sometimes have difficulty adapting to changes in language and society.  I’m not that old, but I’m old enough that phrases that were considered acceptable in my youth are no longer acceptable and I do my best to adjust my speech as I become more informed. (I don’t want a gold star for doing the bare minimum to qualify as a human being, but I’ll take one if you’ve got it in case I need to defend myself from Cybermen.)

Too soon?

“I see the Doctor as a man”: This isn’t even a reason. It’s an expression of a preference. (And the inability to imagine the character as a woman is a product of institutional sexism.) And, hey, you know what? You’ve got fifty years and thirteen men to choose from, and if you wait a couple years, I’m sure you’ll have another.  I don’t see the woman as the Doctor is fine as a preference, as long as we recognize that’s all it is. There are actors I didn’t particularly like in the role, but I never suggested that those actors were illegitimate or “Not really the Doctor.”

There are some complaints about the casting, but fewer than the coverage would lead us to believe. Largely, it’s the usual “I can’t believe the SJWs at the BBC are shoving their identity politics down my throat” collection of entitled Broflakes, so I feel fine in ignoring them. It’s not like there’s a shortage of white male protagonists in popular entertainment. These are the guys who say things like, “I can’t believe they cast a female as the Doctor.” It makes “female” sound like a pejorative. I try to address people by the terminology they prefer, but having no other information, I would use “woman” in place of “female” in that sentence. I mentioned this gripe to a friend and she asked if the poster was Ferengi.

I wish I had thought of that joke.

My final thoughts on the Thirteenth Doctor at this time? I think she’ll be a creation of Chris Chinball* in the same way the Eleventh was a creation of Steven Moffat, a way of signaling “This is what I want the show to be about.” I don’t know much about Jodie Whittaker’s earlier work, other than that she’s very well-regarded. Since they’ve worked together in the past, I’m confident that they’ll be aligned in their thinking and that they’ll be able to bring that vision to life and tell the stories they want to tell. Will it be good? Will it be bad? I don’t know yet. But I’m more than willing to give them the chance to tell that story.

My friend Jen said it very well in a post of her own, so I’m going to end this post with a link to and a quote the relevant portion of her post: In science fiction, there aren't many female heroes. Aside from Princess Leia and Wonder Woman, who did I have? When I wanted to see myself in the stories that I loved, most of the time I just wasn't there. In Doctor Who, I always liked Romana. She was the closest I could get to seeing myself in the Doctor. She was a Time Lord. She was smart and strong and could save the day, too. But I could never be the Doctor in those stories. Now I can.

*I do actually know it’s Chibnall. I just think Chinball is funny to say.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Den of Geek reports Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light optioned as a television series

Den of Geek reports that Lord of Light has been optioned as a television series.  I'm skeptical that it will go anywhere. I don't think Lord of Light will work as a TV series in 2017. If you include the mythical elements, it's going to look an awful lot like cultural appropriation from today's perspective, and I don't think it's unreasonable that a lot of people will be offended.

Immortal Beloved went the opposite route for their adaptation. They reskinned the story using Greek Mythology, but the plot wasn't a very good fit, as reincarnation isn't a component of  Greek mythology, so that aspect of the story played a bit awkwardly.  (I still love that there is a Doctor Who adaptation of a Roger Zelazny story, though.)

My guess is that it never gets made, or if it does get made, we don't see much beyond a pilot.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Upcoming story in Time Shadows 2, a Doctor Who charity anthology

I've been sitting on this news for a while, but since they've announced it, I guess I'm free to talk about it. I have a story in the upcoming Doctor Who anthology for charity, Time Shadows 2. Check it out if you like Doctor Who or charity!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Castlevania series is not progressing as quickly as I had hoped

Even the closed captioning agrees. 

Two episodes in.

Flying Medusa heads: 0
Protracted jokes about intercourse with a goat: 1