Tag Archives: Doctor Who

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. ūüôā

Emily

Dogs, dinosaurs and Doctor Who geocaching

My nephews came to visit us today. We took them to the Show-Me Center for Jurassic Quest, a traveling exhibit that includes life-sized, animatronic dinosaurs, including a few kids can ride for pictures, and all manner of other dinosaur-themed activities. Here are a few photos of their adventures:

Digging for fossils with their dad. Ollie, who is very proud of the crystals we dug out of a kit Ron and I got him for Christmas, was especially pleased with this part of the show.
Digging for fossils with their dad. Ollie, who is very proud of the crystals we dug out of a kit Ron and I got him for Christmas, was especially pleased with this part of the show.
Something about this dinosaur's fingers reminds me of a Skexis from "The Dark Crystal."
Something about this dinosaur’s fingers reminds me of a Skexis from “The Dark Crystal.”
Jamie told his mommy riding the dinosaur freaked him out a little bit.
Jamie told his mommy riding the dinosaur freaked him out a little bit.
Ollie, who tends to be a bit more gonzo than his brother, seemed to enjoy himself.
Ollie, who tends to be a bit more gonzo than his brother, seemed to enjoy himself.
Jamie took off his glasses and turned his hat backwards in preparation for the bungee run in the bounce house.
Jamie took off his glasses and turned his hat backwards in preparation for the bungee run in the bounce house.

After the dinosaur show, my brother-in-law took us all out to lunch at Beef O’Brady’s, a sort of Applebee’s-type place in Jackson, where I let Ollie decide what I should eat for lunch. He picked out a big appetizer plate with chicken strips and onion rings and quesadillas and mozzarella planks and four kinds of dipping sauce. He pointed to the picture on the menu and explained that we were going to split this meal: He would eat “this part” (gesturing to the row of actual food), and I could eat “all this” (gesturing to the little cups of sauce). Pretty slick, that one. He also saw Jamie playing the piano in my dining room and suggested they go sit in the ball chair, which is pretty much their favorite piece of furniture ever. They dashed into the living room, and half a minute later — with his brother suitably distracted — Ollie returned to the piano alone.

They also had fun finding the Doctor Who-themed geocache in my front yard, inspecting the quail and the frozen pond in the back, peering into the worm bin in the basement, befriending the dogs, trying unsuccessfully to coax the cat out from under the bed, and munching on cookies and ice-cream bars.

No, I didn't give them booze. DINK Aunt Emily doesn't have any age-appropriate glassware, so they just drank pineapple-infused water from stemware. We're all kinds of fancy around here.
No, I didn’t give them booze. DINK Aunt Emily doesn’t have any age-appropriate glassware, so they just drank pineapple-infused water from stemware. We’re all kinds of fancy around here.
Ollie's approach to stemware is not markedly different from his Uncle Ron's.
Ollie’s approach to stemware is not markedly different from his Uncle Ron’s.
Riggy has a new best friend. He loved Ollie -- probably because Ollie is the only person he knows who is close enough to the ground for Riggy to lick his face.
Riggy has a new best friend. He loved Ollie — probably because Ollie is the only person he knows who is close enough to the ground for Riggy to lick his face.

Jamie, who has been doing a lot of cooking lately, got to take home a dozen quail eggs to experiment with. Can’t wait to see what kind of tiny egg dishes he’ll come up with.

Oh, and lest you think we neglected Hazel: She was attending a birthday party today and missed the dinosaur show, so the boys took a dinosaur souvenir home for her. Next time she sees them, she’ll have her very own velociraptor to assemble and three fossils to dig out of a brick of plaster, including a Mosasaur tooth and some fossilized dinosaur poop.

Hope you had a dinosaurs-and-ice-cream-bars sort of weekend, wherever you are.

Emily

Merry Christmas. Blink and you’re dead.

We have a Christmas tree at our office.

Our office Christmas tree does not have a topper.

I do not have any act-right.

The dollar store near our office is selling treetop angels for $3.

So, obviously, this had to happen:

Fascinating race, the Weeping Angels. The only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely.
Fascinating race, the Weeping Angels. The only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely.
A weeping angel is the deadliest, most powerful, most malevolent life form evolution has ever produced, and right now one of them is about to be trapped inside my office.
A weeping angel is the deadliest, most powerful, most malevolent life form evolution has ever produced, and right now one of them is about to be trapped inside my office.

I couldn’t help myself. Really, I couldn’t. The reporter who sits behind me is a Whovian, as are two copy editors, all the IT guys and at least one person in advertising. And that empty spot at the top of the tree is just begging for a worthy decoration.

Besides, somebody already¬†brought in one of those Elf on a Shelf things, and they’re at least as terrifying as the Weeping Angels. If you don’t mind a voyeuristic elfin ratfink carrying out covert espionage operations all over the office from Thanksgiving until Christmas, you shouldn’t be fazed by a quantum-locked assassin masquerading as a divine emissary.

I suspect the Elf on a Shelf of being a Weeping Angel in disguise anyway. I mean, it does seem to be quantum-locked, and we are advised not to touch it.

Come to think of it, that’s a little unnerving. The prevailing theory among Whovians is that Santa is a Time Lord, because he doesn’t age, he doesn’t die, his bag is obviously bigger on the inside, and the only thing that could manipulate time and space efficiently enough to allow for several billion deliveries in a single night is a TARDIS. (Evidently his doesn’t have a functioning chameleon circuit, either, since it always looks like a flying sleigh, which¬†is almost as inconspicuous as a flying¬†British phone booth.)

I can think of only one Time Lord whose ethical standards would be¬†so dubious as to allow him to infiltrate children’s homes with poorly dressed Weeping Angels.

Don’t pull on Santa’s beard, kids. You’re liable to find John Simm hiding back there.

Emily