Category Archives: Geeking out

Reversing the polarity

As you might expect, I was thrilled with incoming Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall’s decision to cast Jodie Whittaker as the thirteenth incarnation of the time-traveling alien who has been saving the universe since 1963.

For those unfamiliar with Doctor Who: The premise of the show is that the Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, travels through time and space in a ship disguised as a 1960s police box, protecting the universe from various threats. When a Time Lord sustains a fatal injury, instead of dying, he or she regenerates into a new body.

Up to this point, much of the Doctor’s heroism has hinged on a combination of intelligence, audacity, and male privilege.

For 54 years, we’ve watched the Doctor infiltrate secure installations with little more than an imperious look and a mouthful of scientific-sounding nonsense designed to baffle people into deference. If the writers are honest, the Thirteenth Doctor will be in for a rude awakening the first time she tries that.

Consider: Twice on Facebook, I have put up Doctor Who-themed posts that included the phrase “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow,” which most Whovians will recognize as the Third Doctor’s catchphrase. Both times, men who ought to know better than to challenge me on anything — least of all a subject as dear to me as Doctor Who — have hastened to explain that actually, neutrons don’t have polarity.

No sh*t, guys. THAT’S THE JOKE. Seven years before Harrison Ford made the Kessel run in 12 parsecs, Jon Pertwee reversed the polarity of the neutron flow. Same humor; different fandom.

Pertwee’s Doctor could stand in a roomful of physicists, muttering about the polarity of particles with no charge, and nobody would question him. If a woman tried that, she’d be shouted down by the #WellActually brigade faster than you can say “Vortex manipulator.”

I hope the writers have the courage to address that head-on. The best sci-fi comes with a healthy dose of social criticism, and sexist microaggressions are ripe for it. Done right, this could yield some scathing humor while prompting much-needed conversations about the myriad ways women are marginalized on a daily basis.

Among the issues I’ve seen/heard raised in conversations this week:

* Pockets. Where is the Doctor supposed to keep her TARDIS key, sonic screwdriver, and Jelly Babies if all her clothes have inadequate pockets?

* Mansplaining. This is basically the Doctor’s superpower. Not only is she unlikely to get away with it in her new form, but she’ll probably be on the receiving end of it. How will she react upon discovering this regeneration has just reversed the polarity of the bullsh*t flow?

* Street harassment. We know how the Master would handle this, but how will the Doctor deal with being ogled, catcalled, or ordered to smile by some jackass she’s trying to rescue?

* Uptalking. The Doctor has spent decades speaking to strangers in an authoritative tone. If she sounds too confident now, they’ll ignore her or antagonize her. Will she have to frame all her orders as half-apologetic suggestions so she doesn’t threaten some pudding-brain’s fragile masculinity?

What other microaggressions might Thirteen encounter in her new body, and how would you like to see them addressed? Share your ideas in the comments!

Emily

P.S.: Comments are moderated, so if you say something misogynistic …

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Sunday Self-Care: The Doctor is in

I had a long list of stuff I planned to get done yesterday. I did some of it, but I ran out of steam by the end of the evening and decided it was time for a break, so I let a candy cane and three marshmallows melt into a cup of hot cocoa while I settled in for an appointment with the Third Doctor.

I can think of much worse ways to spend a cold evening than sipping cocoa and watching the Doctor’s most elegant incarnation protect the Earth from Silurians, Autons, and rogue Time Lords while my dogs sleep on the floor beside my chair.

Emily

Eco-Saturday: Take your workout outdoors

In light of recent political events, I suspect the environment is going to need all the help it can get, and I strongly urge all of my readers to take every action you can to shrink your ecological footprint. To that end, it might be worth your time to search my archives or visit my Eco-Saturday, Vegetarian Friday and Tiny-House Preparations Pinterest boards to find ideas you can incorporate into your lifestyle.

This week, my Eco-Saturday suggestion also falls into the category of self-care, and it’s a fairly simple one to implement: Take your workout outdoors.

In the winter, it’s easy to look out the window and decide to skip the workout or move it indoors. Sometimes this is wise: If I can’t squeeze in a workout before I leave for work, I’ll hit the treadmill when I get home, because I don’t want to go jogging alone in the dark. If the snow is too deep or the streets are too slippery for a trip out on my Schwinn, I might put in a few miles on the stationary bike in my basement. But those indoor workouts always carry a heavier ecological price than a ride or run on the trail. The bike’s electronic display and tension controls sip a little power as I ride; the treadmill’s motor gulps it. More often than not, I could shave a few cents off the power bill and spare the environment a little strain if I simply made time to exercise outdoors.

Outdoor workouts come with an extra health benefit, too: This is the time of year when the days grow shorter, and your exposure to sunlight — which helps regulate moods — decreases, so any time you can spend outdoors will help offset that and reduce your chances of slipping into seasonal depression.

She is SO sick of my crap.
She is SO sick of my crap.

Today, Lillian and I incorporated an errand into our 45-minute walk with Ron and the rest of the pack. In her stylish new sweater, which reminds me of a certain Time Lord’s scarf, she helped me deliver a little Whovian-themed care package to the gentlemen responsible for installing the TARDIS in front of U.N.I.T. — er, Cape Girardeau Police Department — headquarters.

Emily

Look what materialized in Cape!

A TARDIS full of books. I hope this isn't a harbinger of an impending Vashta Nerada attack.
A TARDIS full of books. I hope this isn’t a harbinger of an impending Vashta Nerada attack.

You want weapons? We’re in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world! This room’s the greatest arsenal we could have. Arm yourselves!

— The Doctor

There is a TARDIS parked in front of the Cape Girardeau Police Department. It’s actually a Little Free Library, meant to encourage literacy while promoting positive interaction between officers and the people they serve.

One of the lieutenants came up with the idea and decided the library should look like the TARDIS, which — as Whovians know — is permanently disguised as a British police phone box because its chameleon circuit stopped working in 1963.

I suggested said lieutenant should be promoted to Brigadier immediately. 🙂

Emily

Eco-Saturday: Walk more; drive less

I spotted the chalk message pictured above — an adaptation of Philippians 4:13 — this week on Themis Street while taking literal steps to reduce my environmental footprint.

I knew walking instead of driving was good for the environment, but it’s something I didn’t start doing much until this spring, when the Subaru broke down and I refused to shell out $8,000 to repair it. We still have two other cars, but mine is nearly 9 years old, and I’d like to pay off some other bills before I replace it, so I’m trying to make it last as long as possible.

We don’t walk everywhere, of course. There are days when it’s too hot, our schedule is too tight, or for whatever reason, we just don’t feel up to it. But we’ve started walking to work several times a week, and on our day off, we often wander around town on foot, running errands or just checking out places we haven’t seen.

To maximize safety and comfort on my walks, I’ve found the following helpful:

Athletic shoes. Buy good ones designed for running or walking; they’ll last longer and prevent injuries.

If applicable, a good sports bra. Opt for medium-impact or better; it’ll save you a fortune in Tiger Balm and massage therapy.

A golf umbrella. Keeps off the rain without turning you into a lightning rod.

A backpack. If you’re carrying anything, a backpack will keep your hands free and distribute the load comfortably.

I could write a whole post on nighttime risk management (and would be happy to do that if anybody would find it helpful), but for most people, if you’re planning to walk after dark, I’d recommend the following:

Use the buddy system. One person is a much easier target than two.

Plan ahead. Walk your intended route at least once in the daytime, and drive it at least once at night to make sure you’re aware of trip hazards, poorly lit areas, potential hiding places for ne’er-do-wells, or other issues.

Wear light-colored or reflective clothing.

Carry a light. I like Mini-Maglites because they’re bright, sturdy and double as makeshift Kubotans.

Trust your instincts. If you get a bad vibe, get the hell out of there. NOW.

Speaking of bad vibes: Whovians, you cannot believe the number of weird little statues in this town. I spotted this particular flight of suspected Lonely Assassins on my way to work the other day.
Speaking of bad vibes: Whovians, you cannot believe the number of weird little statues in this town. I spotted this particular flight of suspected Lonely Assassins on my way to work the other day.

I’ve really enjoyed walking more the past few months. It’s good for the planet, good for your body, and good for your mental health. Kind of fun, too. You never know what you’re going to see when you slow down and take a closer look at the places you pass every day.

Emily

Look as good you will not

“When [59] years old you reach, look as good you will not.”
— Yoda

In case you’ve been under a rock: Fanboy trollgeek jackasses have been inundating Carrie Fisher with unsolicited critiques of her appearance ever since The Force Awakens was released.

Apparently they’re mad because the last time they saw her in a Star Wars flick, she was kicking ass in a metal bikini, and it made them feel funny inside, like when they climbed the rope in gym class. Three decades later, she looks like a grownup, and the fanboys are apoplectic, because this means either A.) they have to quit lusting after Bikini Slave Girl Leia, or B.) they have to admit they’ve spent years cherishing vivid fantasies about a woman who’s old enough to be their mother.

Rather than spend a little more time listening to Fountains of Wayne songs and embracing their inner Benjamin Braddock, they’ve taken to Twitter to vent their discomfort on Fisher herself.

She responded pretty much as you’d expect:

“Please stop debating about whether or not I aged well. Unfortunately it hurts all three of my feelings. My BODY hasn’t aged as well as I have. Blow us.”
— Tweet from Carrie Fisher

The Force is strong with this one.

Not surprisingly, I’ve heard exactly zero complaints about Harrison Ford’s appearance. By any objective measure, he looks neither better nor worse than his costar — yet while people are attacking Fisher for aging, the general consensus among Ford’s fans is still something along the lines of “Don’t come a-knockin’ if the Falcon’s a-rockin’.”

Why? Because men are allowed to age, but women are expected to conform to the demands of the (cis, white, hetero) male gaze indefinitely. Age a few years beyond the narrow and wholly unimaginative standards of that gaze, and you’re liable to disappear entirely.

People aren’t mad Carrie Fisher aged. They’re mad she refused to disappear so they could cling to their Return of the Jedi-inspired fantasies forever. They’re mad she had the nerve to show up, 32 years later, and force them to acknowledge they’ll never get to touch the girl in the gold bikini.

Face it, young Padawan: If all you saw in her was uncomfortable lingerie and a bondage kink, you were never going to be good enough for the fictional Leia — and you damn sure aren’t worthy of the accomplished, intelligent woman who portrays her.

“Aging gracefully” does not mean “trying like hell to look 25 forever.” God bless Carrie Fisher for using her considerable reach to advocate for all of us who understand that. Blowing up the Death Star was pretty cool, but starting an international conversation about women’s right to age on our own terms? That’s the sort of rebellion that can overthrow an Empire.

Emily

I don’t even know.

When my sister bought me a set of KISS Lego figures for Christmas last year, I assumed that was as weird as it got. Clearly, I was mistaken, as evidenced by the Lego Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega figures you see pictured above. My friend Jeffrey found them at Hastings on Monday and promptly bought them for me to glue on my dashboard. I have no idea who thought the world needed Pulp Fiction Lego figurines — or why — but that person is obviously a genius and deserves a Royale with cheese and whatever is in the suitcase for coming up with something this brilliant.

I had yesterday off in exchange for working New Year’s Day, so I seized the opportunity to install Jules, Vincent and some other characters I’ve acquired in the past few months:

The Silent, Cyberman and second Roman-soldier Auton have been sitting on my piano for months, waiting to join their brethren on the dashboard.
The Silent, Cyberman and second Roman-soldier Auton have been sitting on my piano for months, waiting to join their brethren on the dashboard.
Doctor Who Titan figures are sold in blind boxes. Someone had opened this one and then -- inexplicably -- left it on the shelf at Hastings, where I happily snapped it up.
Doctor Who Titan figures are sold in blind boxes. Someone opened this one and then inexplicably left it on the shelf at Hastings, where I happily snapped it up. I thought David Tennant would look good next to Ryne Sandberg, whose hand is visible to the right of the TARDIS.
We found St. Francis of Assissi in a little Catholic bookstore in Las Vegas, N.M., on our vacation this summer. I had to have him, of course.
We found St. Francis of Assissi in a little Catholic bookstore in Las Vegas, N.M., on our vacation this summer. I had to have him, of course.
I found Jesus in Las Vegas, N.M. And glued him on my dashboard, of course.
I found Jesus at the same bookstore. And glued him on my dashboard, of course.
I think I got this dragon at a bead shop in Flagstaff.
I think I got this dragon at a bead shop in Flagstaff.
No idea who this kachina is, but that side-eye was too epic to pass up. I think I found him at the Continental Divide Trading Post.
No idea who this kachina is, but that side-eye was too epic to pass up. IIRC, I found him at the Continental Divide Trading Post. Apparently he’s not a KISS fan.

Hope your day was filled with fun stuff worthy of gluing onto your dashboard.

Emily