May 21, 2014

Doctor Who: The Reign of Terror

The Whoathon has slowed to a crawl, but it soldiers on. We come to the end of the first season of Doctor Who with “The Reign of Terror.” This serial has six parts, but episodes four and five are two of the episodes that aren’t in the BBC archives. I watched animated versions. I was surprised that they weren’t that great since I was watching a BBC dvd. I’ve seen fan-animated episodes that were better done. I like this episode, but I’m going to tear it apart a little in this post.

The Doctor is trying to get Ian and Barbara back home, but he misses and the TARDIS ends up in France during the French Revolution. Of course they’re separated from the Doctor, almost immediately captured, and thrown in jail. (An aside- during this time, prisoners were kept in the Conciergerie before they were sent to the guillotine. It was an old castle that was repurposed as a jail. It’s now a museum. I’ve been there! It’s pretty cool, if gruesome.)

Anyway, Barbara is planning her and Susan’s escape as soon as they’re thrown into the cell. They start digging, and when they run into rats, Susan freaks out. Barbara has to promise that they won’t dig anymore. That’s right- Susan prefers certain death by beheading rather than seeing some rats in their escape tunnel. Susan is incredibly whiny in this episode. She is far worse than usual. I’m not going to miss her when she leaves soon. Susan does the same thing when they’re on the cart heading to the guillotine. Barbara has a plan for them to escape, but Susan starts whining about how she can’t do it, so Barbara stays with her instead of running. Really, Susan? You choose death again over not being whiny?

This is a pretty horrifying period in history, and the Doctor enjoys himself way too much. He wanders through the French countryside; he dresses up; he has fun- all while massive amounts of people are being murdered in cold blood. It struck me as incredibly odd when Susan said that this was the Doctor’s favorite period in Earth’s history. Barbara is the only one of the TARDIS crew in the episode that seems to take this time period seriously. She and Ian have a pretty intense fight about it after he is callous about someone being killed. To be honest, it surprised me that he was so cold about someone deserving to die. That seemed out of character.

Barbara is great in this episode, and not just because she has the advantage of being a history teacher. Oh, and one of the French dudes has the hots for her, but dudes always have the hots for Barbara, wherever she goes. Take note, Ian. You aren’t the only one. Barbara and the Doctor have an interesting exchange about changing history. Barbara says that she learned her lesson with the Aztecs, and the Doctor replies that history will happen as it was written.

So long, season one. Bring on season two!


Doctor: First
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Susan
Episode: #8, “The Reign of Terror,” six parts- ‘A Land of Fear,’ ‘Guests of Madame Guillotine,’ ‘A Change of Identity,’ ‘The Tyrant of France,’ ‘A Bargain of Necessity,’ ‘Prisoners of Conciergerie’
Adversary: French revolutionaries
Classic Lines: Barbara, to Ian: “You check your history books, Ian, before you decide what people deserve.”
Tuck This Away to Impress Your Friends: Susan claims that The Reign of Terror is the Doctor’s favorite time period in Earth’s history.
Next Up: “Planet of Giants”

May 15, 2014

Grandmom is awesome

I wrote a blog post last year on how awesome my grandfather is, so it’s about time I wrote about how awesome my grandmother is. I’m not sure where to begin. My maternal grandparents have been a huge part of my life. I mentioned some of these things in the post about my grandfather, but they bear repeating. I think this post might turn into a disjointed series of stories, so here we go.

When I was younger, my grandparents often hosted extended family dinners on Sundays in the fall (and other random times during the year). My grandmother is a fantastic cook and baker. Her meals were delicious, as were her homemade desserts. I say that I inherited my culinary skills from my grandmom. Here’s something that exemplifies the kind of awesome that my grandmother embodies. We always had dessert after these meals. Sometimes it would be tapioca or rice pudding. I don’t like tapioca or rice pudding. Did I go without dessert? Nope. Grandmom made vanilla pudding especially for me so that I could have dessert, too. My grandmother’s meals and desserts have become the stuff of legend in my family. 1-2-3-4 cake, chocolate cake, crescent cookies, mini cheesecakes…lasagna, cavatellis, vegetable soup, escarole soup (that’s Italian wedding soup to non-Italian families), eggplant parmigiana, scalloped potatoes…anything she ever made was the best ever of that dish. My grandparents hosted holiday dinners, too. My parents, aunts, uncle, cousins, and I gathered at their house for Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving. My grandmom cooked everything. When the holiday dinner was turkey, my grandmother cooked an extra turkey breast just so everyone would have leftovers to take home. This is how thoughtful and awesome she is.

I was a good student. From when I was small through high school, there were very few times when I didn’t get straight As. I’m not bragging- I’m just stating a fact. My grandparents took me out to dinner after each marking period/semester to celebrate my good grades. I loved those dinners with just the three of us together. They were great. Anyone who knows my grandfather knows that he is a TERRIBLE tipper. He hates to tip. I think his barber gets a quarter for cutting his hair. I’m actually serious about that. Grandmom was always in charge of tipping when we went out to eat. Pop-Pop says that the waiters and waitresses love when they see Grandmom coming into the restaurant because she tips them so well.

When I was in college in Rhode Island, my grandparents drove up once every year to spend a weekend with me. They met my friends. We went out to eat. It was fun, and it meant a lot to me. My grandparents used to visit my cousin in Florida every year, too. They drove all over the place! My grandmother kept a diary of each trip that she and my grandfather took together. I always thought that was a great idea.

My grandmother goes everywhere with dog treats in her handbag. All the family dogs go running to Grandmom because they know what she has for them. It’s pretty funny. The same goes for when the dogs go to my grandparents’ house. Kenobi runs to Grandmom like a nut and ignores everyone else until he gets his treats. That’s treats with an “s.” More than one.

Many Saturday mornings, Kenobi and I go with my mom to spend time with my grandparents. Kenobi sits on Grandmom’s lap, and they both love it. We chat and watch The Golden Girls. It’s fun.

I don’t usually put photos of others on my blog, but I don’t think my grandparents would mind me sharing these. I took them over ten years ago at my cousin’s wedding in Florida. The DJ invited all the married couples to dance and gradually asked couples to stop according to how long they had been married. My grandparents were the last ones on the dance floor.

I could say that my grandmother is kind and good and wonderful, but then I’m just listing adjectives. She has had a series of health problems in recent years, yet she never complains about it. She still loves to laugh. She is still the nicest person in the world. She and my grandfather still kid each other like always. I’m so very lucky, not only because my grandmother is so wonderful, but also because she and my grandfather have been there for me my whole life. I’m grateful for that.
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