It’s officially December so that means it ‘tis the season. As I was decorating a few days ago I was, naturally, rocking out to some Christmas carols. When “What Christmas Means To Me” came on I danced and sang along as loud as I could. I didn’t get much decorating done for those ten minutes (because who only listens to that tune one time??) but the break was festive and fun and totally worth it. It’s always been a favorite Christmas song of mine and every time Steve Wonder’s classic is covered it makes me happy because it means I have even more chances to hear it randomly playing in a store or on the radio. Anyway, as I was singing along it got me thinking about what Christmas means to me (my love!). I thought it would be interesting to reflect on that with a series of posts through December. And then I thought using Doctor Who’s Christmas specials as a frame for those reflections could be fun. So, What Does Christmas Mean To Me (Vol. 1)? Well, let’s turn to “Doctor Who: Voyage of the Damned” and talk about it!
One of my favorite things about Doctor Who is the first trip the Doctor makes with any new companion. Now I’m not talking about their first adventure, where they meet the Doctor and get pulled into a much larger world than they knew existed the day before. No, I’m talking about their first trip, the moment they decide they want to travel through time and space with the Doctor inside that little blue box. I love it, in part, because these episodes always make me think how would you even begin to choose?!!? If you had allllllllllll of time and space laid out before you, where would you even want to go first? How could you pick?!? Or, if you were in the Doctor’s place, how do you decide what first to show your new companion?
In this series, exploring the variety of romantic archetypes found in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life) using only Spider-Man comics, I’ve looked at some sweeping romantic experiences. Your first love! Your Soul Mate! Your “What if…” person! Love offers us great variety in experiences when we seek it. But SOMETIMES romantic exploits carry a far more significant risk. SOMETIMES we find ourselves looking at a friend – someone we’ve always clicked with, someone we enjoy being with, someone we fit with so naturally – and wondering if there could be something more to that relationship. Then SOMETIMES we try to claim the Siege Perilous and make that friend a significant other. This is not for the faint of heart. However, Spider-Man and Captain Marvel are courageous individuals so, like so many of us before them and since, they braved this harrowing quest fraught with great risk to see if they could find that something more with each other….or if they’d end up falling right back into the Friend Zone.
As I write this, it’s the eve of the 2020 presidential election. I’m anxious. I’m concerned. But most of all, I’m hopeful. I say that with absolute sincerity. I’m hopeful that tomorrow will yield a change of course after the last four years that have felt like fifteen. I’m hopeful. It’s a welcome feeling in an age when, for so many reasons, hope feels like a far rarer commodity than it did even just a few years ago. However, I wasn’t planning on writing tonight. I probably shouldn’t be, as I’m sure I’ll be up late watching election returns tomorrow. But I was rewatching “Orphan 55” tonight and it felt remarkably relevant. Seeing the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Yaz (Mandip Gill), Ryan (Tosin Cole), and Graham (Bradley Walsh) navigate this hostile planet, a post began to grow. So what the heck? I guess I’ll sleep Wednesday…hopefully soundly.
One of many things I love about Doctor Who is how no genre is off limits. The horror genre being a favorite, they visit it’s themes, traits, and tropes often and with great effect. Of allllllllllllllllll the creepy, freaky, unnerving, and haunting scenes I’ve seen play out in Doctor Who – episodes watched or novels read – one scares me more than any other. One disturbs me to the very core of my being. As far as I’m concerned, NOTHING in the history of this show is ANYWHERE NEAR as scary as “Heaven Sent” (S9E11). Recently I read a post Gemma wrote over on Books Beach Bunny titled, “Blogging Confessions: Fear” and it reminded me I had an idea for a post about this episode over the summer…an idea I presume I promptly forgot because it would take me places I’d rather not visit. But, inspired by the courage of her confessional piece, I decided to tackle it. And hey, what’s October for if not scaaaaaaaary things, right?
I hadn’t planned on writing about this. As the school year began, I found myself reading lots of Spider-Man comics just for fun. With all the pressures of pandemic teaching plus all the anxieties always weighing on our hearts and minds living during a pandemic plus the toxic exhaustion of our political age all adding up to make everything in life constantly harder, I turned to something familiar and fun. I’ve loved Spider-Man since I was three-years-old. I’ve read his comics, watched his cartoons, and enjoyed his movies my entire life. For thirty-five years the web-head has entertained me. So I sought comfort, security, and escape in the character I’ve loved the longest and most consistently in my life. Getting caught-up on Nick Spencer’s run on The Amazing Spider-Man with Marvel Unlimited (I cut the title from my pull list with the “Hunted” storyline as it a) felt derivative of what I read in the ‘80s and ‘90s and b) overtly ignored alllllllllll the character development done with Kraven in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl), I came to the “Absolute Carnage” tie-in issues. Loving symbiotes and getting nostalgia flashback feels from the “Maximum Carnage” crossover of my youth, I decided to read the whole event.
I was not ready for what I’d find. And I ended up having to write about the experience.
Back when the first trailer for Avengers: Infinity War was released, a conversation with Kiri (of Star Wars Anonymous) about whether Black Widow was ever blonde in the comics led me to realize how few of her comics I’d actually read. Because I had no idea if she was! This was unacceptable. Since I’m me, I then waaaay overcommitted. I’ve spent two and a half years now refining my reading list, finding the titles, and reading my way through decades of Black Widow stories. Four months ago I wrote the second piece in this series, looking at Natasha’s most important appearances in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Now it’s time to turn my attention to 2000–2010 as I continue my
little expansive journey through her comic book history, from Natasha’s first appearance in Tales of Suspense #52 (1964) up to The Web of Black Widow (2019-20). My hope is to finish before Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow is released!
Amidst the sea of emotions pandemic teaching brings, I find myself often thinking of Tony Stark’s character arc through Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. So the other day, to explore these thoughts (and avoid thinking only of school once I was home), I decided to rewatch both films back to back. I realized two things. First, I was very critical of Avengers: Infinity War when it first came out and, while I stand by my critiques of the glaring plot holes throughout, I grant the film works much better when watched with Avengers: Endgame. On its own, it’s disappointing. But as the first half of a six hour movie, it’s far more enjoyable. Second, Tony Stark’s journey is a surprisingly solid metaphorical stand-in for what teaching feels like right now. Or, so as to not universalize my feelings for every teacher everywhere, Tony Stark’s journey serves as a surprisingly solid metaphorical stand-in for what teaching feels like right now for me. Would you like to know what pandemic teaching is like? Well, if you’ve seen Infinity War and Endgame it turns out you already kinda know. Continue reading
It’s time for the fifth installment in my li’l series using only Spider-Man comics and characters to examine the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life). Cindy Moon attended the same scientific demonstration Peter Parker did when he was bitten by the radioactive spider that gave him his powers. Before it died, the spider would bite Cindy, too. She gained the same basic powers as Peter – albeit with a more attuned spider-sense, faster speed, and the ability to spin organic webbing from her fingertips – and would eventually take on the name “Silk” and become a superhero in her own right. She and Peter also have an overwhelming physical/sexual attraction to each other. Their relationship, such as it was, represents those “purely physical” attractions we have in our lives. It’s fun and it’s so hot but it was never really going to last nor was there any way they could’ve ever been “the one” as it was only ever just a physical thing. Continue reading
This piece is my eulogy for Grandma, delivered at her funeral on 8 August 2020. The pictures throughout are family photos and the featured image, as with many of the pictures within, came from one of our many Friday night dinners at Grandma’s.
Grandma first asked me to write her eulogy ten or fifteen years ago. Every year or two she’d circle back around to the request, double checking I remembered I said I’d do this and making sure I was still planning on it. I always assured her I did and I would. But even for me, someone who writes a lot for fun and is kinda paid to talk for a living, this is intimidating. How do I begin to pay tribute to Grandma? How do I begin to capture all she means to me? Continue reading