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August 4th, 2010 - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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August 4th, 2010


12:11 am - Is This a Dagger I See Before Me? Or a Pizza? Mmm...
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MY THREAD HERE



Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O'Shea, is...well, it's kind of right there in the title. It has an awesome cover, which is part of the reason I wanted to read it. Well, that and I know Tara, and Seanan McGuire and Mary Robinette Kowal also had essays in the book, which contains two dozen essays, three interviews, and a very cute comic (from the creators of Torchwood Babiez, which I have never read). As one Amazon review astutely notes, the essays generally fall into one of three categories: the origin story ("How I became a Doctor Who fan"), the fandom story (costumes, 'zines, conventions), and the meta (what the show does right and wrong).

The origin stories do start to get rather repetitive after a while, and it was hard for me to really be interested in details of Old Who. They kept naming Doctors and Companions and episodes, and none of it meant anything to me, so I couldn't appreciate or relate to that experience very well. I don't recall any women who discovered New Who first; there may have been one or two, but I think their essays fell into the other categories. The standouts in this category are Amy Fritsch's "Two Generations of Fangirls in America," which sweetly describes how she brought up her daughter as a Doctor Who fan practically from the womb, and Seanan's "Mathematical Excellence: A Documentary," which is about how she honest-to-god thought Doctor Who was a documentary. That kind of absurdity works even when you don't know who the hell Adric is.

The essays about fannish exploits are a nice window into fannish history. Jennifer Adams Kelley details her years making Doctor Who fan films back in the days of videotape. Kathryn Sullivan takes us into the world of fanzines. Tara takes us behind the scenes of a Doctor Who fan convention as she mans the green room. Some essays deal with fandom in general and how it enriches your life, which was something I could relate to. A few do touch on the experience of being a female fan in a male-dominated fandom (and how the ratio may have changed from Old to New).

The meta essays were interesting, especially because they tended to focus much more on New Who (except for the essay about Nyssa), so I was familiar with the text and therefore could understand the arguments. As is my way, I preferred the ones with more positive things to say over those which were more critical, although the critical essays did make valid points I agreed with, and all criticism was couched in love for the show: this is a celebration, after all.

And then there's the final essay, "Regeneration X," by Catherynne M. Valente, which I think is in a category all its own. She is one of the few New Who girls in the book, so of course I connected with her essay more strongly. She fashions the Doctor and Companion into metaphors for our ever-changing selves as we grow, and the imagery and poetry is so wonderful I wanted to read it aloud.

So almost two hundred pages later, I am very well convinced that chicks do indeed dig Time Lords. And I'm also more interested in checking out Old Who to see what grabbed these women's imaginations back when they were girls. Also, fan-run conventions seem neat and less insane than Comic-Con. If you dig Time Lords, check this book out! You may find some kindred spirits.



CalShakes is currently hosting a limited engagement of MacHomer, a one-man show by Rick Miller. It's Macbeth as performed by Simpsons characters, and it's just as funny as it sounds. Miller uses over 50 characters—sometimes only in brief cameos—and the majority of his voices are uncannily spot-on (unfortunately, his Homer, while close, isn't as perfect as, say, his Marge, which had the audience clapping at how good it was). He plays the show in front of a screen that displays the scene and the cast of characters as they appear to help the audience place the voices. He uses the screen for other things as well.

Although he's updated and revamped it, Miller's been doing this show for years, so I can understand how he's so good, but, God, it's pretty fucking impressive to see him switch between so many characters, often mid-line or in a song. Plus, he has to sync with the visuals on the screen without looking at it for the most part, so timing is also important. In addition, his repertoire is not limited to Simpsons characters: other voices make appearances as well.

What's really fun about the show is that it is the Simpsons characters putting on Macbeth, so you get a meta-layer of humor as the characters complain about the script or are, say, recast. Some of the casting is bizarre—Grampa Simpson, Apu, and Otto as the murderers?—and some of the casting I probably will now be unable to get out of my head when I see Macbeth—Troy McClure as Ross and all the other Thanes ("You may remember me from such scenes as Act I, Scene II"). The whole play is condensed into an hour and fifteen minutes, but it still hits all the major plot points and famous lines (even weird shit like Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane).

Basically, if you are a fan of both Shakespeare and The Simpsons, you must see MacHomer. If you are a fan of The Simpsons but not Shakespeare, this may help you appreciate the latter. If you are a fan of Shakespeare but not The Simpsons, you're just weird.
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