The Abject Horror of Doctor Who’s Confession Dial

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?

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Nightmares of Absolute Carnage

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.

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Black Widow: A Comic Book Retrospective – ‘00 through ‘10

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!

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Iron Man, Endgame, and the Thanos of Pandemic Teaching

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

Spider-Man and Silk: You Gotta Love a Physical Attraction

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

A Life in Love – My Tribute to Grandma

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

Jane Foster: Valkyrie – Glimpsing Transcendence in Death

The centerpiece of Jason Aaron’s epic seven year run writing Thor: God of Thunder/The Mighty Thor/Thor was Jane Foster lifting Mjölnir when the Odinson found himself unworthy to do so.  She became Thor, the Goddess of Thunder, and the stories that followed were the best Thor comics I’ve ever read.  It may be the best executed single story arc I’ve ever ready in any comic ever.  When the Odinson eventually reclaimed his title as the God of Thunder, Jane returned her focus to her civilian life, medical career, and – most importantly – fighting the cancer raging inside her.  However, her superhero career was far from over and the stories Jane Foster now finds herself in (written first by Jason Aaron and Al Ewing and now by Jason Aaron and Torunn Grønbekk) dance along the mysterious, wonderous, frightening, sacred threshold that is the dividing line between life and death. Continue reading

Spider-Man and the Avengers: Considering the Web-Head’s Place Amongst Earth’s Mightiest Heroes

I feel I write about Spider-Man and his being a member of the Avengers tangentially in a lot of posts.  It’s often an aside, here or there.  Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of Spidey being an Avenger (or part of the Fantastic Four’s Future Foundation or anything).  I’ve always seen Spider-Man as a solo act, Peter Parker’s character not readily lining up with the whole “super team” thing.  Plus, is swinging around and sticking to things really the type of small-time power set you want when battling Thanos, Kang the Conqueror, Annihilus, or Ultron?  Still, that’s my bias and it’s anchored in my preconceived notions.  So I decided I wanted to sincerely look at the idea of “Spider-Man, Avenger” with an open mind.  The time to make an informed decision had come! Continue reading

Rose and the Doctor – Bonding at the End of the World

One of the things I love contemplating about Doctor Who is each companion’s first trip in the TARDIS.  Not their first meeting with the Doctor, when they get caught up in the wake of adventure, danger, and world-saving.  But the first willing trip they take after the Doctor invites them to travel along with them for a while.  While it’s not my favorite “first trip” episode, “The End of the World” (S1,E2) is the most fascinating to me.  Just having helped the Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) save London from the Nestene Consciousness, a sort of living plastic that was controlling store mannequins, Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) bounds into the TARDIS in search of adventure.  Where the Doctor decides to take her says so much about where he’s at on his own emotional journey.  How she responds to this says so much about who she is and why the Doctor needs her. Continue reading

The Memories We Bury – Won’t Be Forgotten (or, you know, repressed) Anytime Soon

Well folks, I’m the next stop on the blog tour for H.A. Leuschel’s new psychological suspense novel The Memories We Bury.  I normally like to write something bantery here and give a bit of a build-up but, honestly, I REALLY loved this novel so I’m just going to jump into it so I can get to gushing about how great this is.  Coolio?  Coolio!
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