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tempestsarekind
15 September 2014 @ 03:25 am
god why am I up?

--no, I know why I'm up, it's because I watched "Listen" and I can't get it out of my head, and spoilers for Robot of Sherwood and ListenCollapse )
 
 
tempestsarekind
11 September 2014 @ 08:25 am
http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/mission-launched-to-identify-thousands-of-bodies-buried-at-bedlam-burial-ground-9581126.html

A team of volunteers is calling on Londoners to help them identify thousands of people laid to rest at the Bedlam burial ground during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Fifteen “Buried at Bedlam” volunteers are searching historical records across the capital to build the first list of names of those buried at the cemetery, which was located near the site of the notorious Bethlem Hospital...
 
 
tempestsarekind
09 September 2014 @ 01:58 pm
(I wrote this a little while ago, but then school happened.)

31 August 2014

I’ve been having a lot of tag-team feelings about both Amy Pond and Eleven over the last couple of days, which are only sort of tangentially related to the season 8 premiere (they started before that, but are probably related to the fact that I’ve been thinking about “The Eleventh Hour” and how quickly I fell for these two characters).

So…Amy. I guess the thing that’s breaking my heart about her at the moment is actually a realization that I had about “The Big Bang.” In “The Eleventh Hour,” Amy comments that she went through four psychiatrists, because she “kept biting them” for saying the Doctor wasn’t real. And that’s always absolutely informed the way I’ve thought about her character – both the stubbornness of her belief, which is a theme that runs right through her character arc (remembering Rory and the Doctor back into the world, being hunted by the Minotaur for her belief in the Doctor in “The God Complex,” believing in him in “The Wedding of River Song” and making all those drawings and notes so she won’t forget her memories, setting a place for him at the table every Christmas because she believes that one day he’ll come to the door), but also the sense that Amy is the odd girl in the village, that she’s thought of as a bit mad, a bit weird, a bit unstable. And so believing in the Doctor isn’t just about him; it’s also about the fact that she has to believe in what’s going on inside her own head, that all of those things are true, that she can trust her own mind. Which is actually an issue for Amy from almost her first words on the show: “There’s a crack in my wall. Aunt Sharon says it’s just an ordinary crack, but I know it’s not…” Already we see her fears being dismissed, and Amy having to hold on to her belief in what she knows to be true.

(This adds subtext to S6’s “Night Terrors”: Amy reacts to that message from scared little George by being determined to find him, while Rory brushes it off – there’s probably nothing wrong, kids just have overactive imaginations. Even knowing that Amy’s imaginary Raggedy Doctor and the crack in her wall were always real, Rory didn’t live that ridicule and rejection like she did – twelve years, and four psychiatrists – and his first instinct is to dismiss the child’s fears, not investigate them.) [I still wish they hadn’t switched around the episode order, because “Night Terrors” sits so uncomfortably after “A Good Man Goes to War,” in which Amy and Rory have had their daughter taken from them – and yet Rory has no reaction to a scared and hurting child. The Rory of that episode is pre-Melody Rory (it was supposed to be the third episode of the season), and his attitude would make perfect sense if the episode had fallen where it was supposed to. In his childhood, nightmares were just nightmares; they were never real.]

So, in “The Big Bang,” the Doctor never crash-lands in Amelia’s back garden, but she still believes stubbornly in the existence, the realness, of stars, even though they’re not visible in the sky. What struck me, when I was thinking of this episode, was how young Amelia is when she’s talking to that therapist – how quickly her aunt has decided that Amelia needs “help,” needs to be fixed. For the best of reasons, I’m sure – she says she’s worried that Amelia will grow up and fall in with “one of those star cults” – but Amelia is nevertheless a small child who hasn’t really done more than paint some stars in a painting from school, at an age when lots of kids still kind of think they can fly. And there’s so much disappointment in Aunt Sharon’s voice – “Oh, Amelia…” – when she sees that childish painting… This suggests that Amelia was put into therapy at the same age in the original-flavor, star-filled universe, after her meeting with the Doctor – when plenty of parents would still humor their child about an imaginary friend, not jump straight to professional help. I’d always sort of vaguely known that she must have seen those psychiatrists at some point during the twelve years that the Doctor was gone from her life, but I never stopped to pinpoint when that might have been. But it looks like Aunt Sharon didn’t waste any time. And even Amy’s parents, in the rebooted universe, did the same thing to her: on her wedding day, when Amy stands up and says that when she was a little girl she had an imaginary friend, only he wasn’t imaginary, her mother sighs – as if ashamed – “All those psychiatrists we took her to…” They didn’t know what to do with this little girl, so fiercely armed with her belief in something they couldn’t see or believe in, and it feels like – probably with all the love in the world – they just tried to shove all that away and make her “normal” as quickly as possible.

So, Eleven. Eleven lands in her back garden, hears about the crack in her wall, and the first thing he asks, intuitively, is, “Does it scare you?” That’s all he needs to know. Later he reiterates this; when Amelia protests that she’s not scared to be left at home all alone (oh, my girl: already so quick to put up that armor), he says, “Of course you’re not! Box falls out of sky, man falls out of box, man eats fish custard – and look at you, just sitting there! So you know what I think?...I think that must be one hell of a scary crack in your wall.” He hasn’t seen it, doesn’t know anything about it – but after a few minutes in her company, this stranger trusts her perceptions, trusts her, and doesn’t dismiss what she has to say. What a gift that is, for that little girl who’s been left alone with this terrifying secret. And I think this is one of the things that made me fall in love with Eleven so quickly, so that by the time he said, “Trust me, I’m the Doctor” a few minutes later, I was already on board. Yes, I warmed to his childish exuberance, his delight and mad energy in discovering the limits of his new personality (“Can I have an apple? All I can think about, apples…Maybe I’m having a craving! That’s new”), but the heart of that scene for me is the way he absolutely believes in a little girl. Small wonder that she grows up believing so absolutely in him.

I wrote way back during season 5 that children, and especially the Doctor’s interaction with children, had already taken on a more prominent role than in the RTD era. The reason I mention this is that Eleven is repeatedly on a child’s wavelength – and sometimes this means that he thinks bunk beds are the coolest (“A bed – with a ladder!”), and dances with all the kids at a wedding, and plays with toys in a department store. But it also means that he comforts a little boy who’s embarrassed about his dyslexia by saying, “That’s all right, I can’t make a decent meringue” – like it’s exactly that inessential to who he really is – and tells a frightened little girl that she is unique in all the universe; and when another little girl on a swing set, with red barrettes in her hair, gives him good advice, he takes it seriously, because of course good advice can come from children, why wouldn’t it? One of the things I have really loved about Eleven is that Amelia Pond is only the first child we see him believe in.
 
 
 
tempestsarekind
25 August 2014 @ 01:09 pm
(I haven't seen the new Doctor Who episode yet, so there are no spoilers in this - just a few goodbyes.)

I was away for the weekend, so I haven't gotten to see the new episode of Doctor Who. Instead, when I got home yesterday, I went back and watched “The Time of the Doctor” again – and realized that yes, I have been digging my heels in about Eleven’s departure, just sort of pretending that it hadn’t happened even though I’d seen his last episode months ago with my very own eyes. Part of that – probably the greater part – is that Eleven is my beloved space idiot, and Matt Smith brought such wonderful shadings to the role; I’ve written so much about both Eleven and Matt that it would be superfluous to repeat that here. But some of it is that in my mind, the Eleventh Doctor is so closely associated with Moffat Who, and particularly the things I’ve loved and valued so much about Moffat Who: the way that the show has leaned back toward joy and hope and redemption and possibility – regeneration, recreation – instead of trying so hard to turn the Doctor into yet another Tragic Hero. It means so much to me that despite the fact that Eleven is a trickster who will dodge death when he can, he also, nevertheless, faces his death at various points with acceptance, with gratitude for what he’s experienced in his long life, with tenderness toward the people he’s cared about – from cleaning up Craig’s house so he won’t get in trouble at the end of “Closing Time” to wanting to protect Clara one last time in “The Time of the Doctor.” It matters so much to me to have been given a Doctor who can call life a pile of good things as well as bad things and try to offer hope to Vincent van Gogh; who can comfort a grieving widow by telling her that her children’s happiness still matters even if – especially if – they’re going to be sad later; who believes that time can mend us instead of just destroying us; who promises in his last moments to remember who he’s been before embarking upon a new self, instead of comparing change to death and whimpering that he doesn’t want to go. It’s so important to me that the strongest thing the Doctor’s companions and friends often bring with them is love: love strong enough to face down Weeping Angels, to remember lost people back into the universe, to scatter themselves throughout time and call an entire unseen planet of Time Lords to account. They don’t need to take on some other power outside of themselves; they only need their own fierce and willing hearts. (“I won’t let them take him. That’s what we’ve got.”)

Faith, hope, and love, right? Those are the big three, and Moffat Who, for me, has had them in spades. An abandoned little girl who’s always afraid that everyone will leave her learns to stop running and believe that people will come back. A plastic Roman keeps a centuries-long vigil outside of a box, with all the steadfastness of his plastic human heart. And a lonely old man finds a place set at the table every Christmas in expectation of his coming, a village of children to dance the “drunk giraffe” with, a young woman who will pull open the Christmas cracker for him when his hands are too weak to do it on their own. (Did you ever notice how RTD’s Christmas specials were disaster movies, and Moffat’s are It’s a Wonderful Life?)

Anyway. What I realized is that somewhere in my subconscious, I think I’m worried that the end of Eleven-era Who will somehow be the end of all the things I’ve valued about Moffat Who - that changing the Doctor will mean changing the show in ways that I don’t want to happen: that it will become flintier, and colder, and less full of joy.

I did want to say one thing about “The Time of the Doctor” itself, though, that occurred to me while I was watching. We’ve seen a lot of examples of the way the Doctor hops in and out of people’s lives in Moffat Who, while others are stuck on the “slow path”: “The Girl in the Fireplace,” of course, from whence that phrase comes; “The Eleventh Hour,” where the Doctor breaks little Amelia’s heart by leaving her for twelve years when he only means to be gone for five minutes; “A Christmas Carol,” in which the Doctor leapfrogs from Christmas to Christmas in Kazran’s life, playing an ageless Peter Pan to that young boy’s changing Wendy; and on the grandest scale, the way the Doctor casually moves from moment to moment of the earth’s decay, in “Hide,” like the pages of a flipbook. We even see this a bit in “Blink,” where it’s Sally Sparrow who has to remind the elderly Billy Shipton that the rain outside his hospital window is the same rain in which they met, so many years and also only a few minutes ago.

So one of the things I really love about Eleven’s final episode is that for once, the tables are turned – it’s not just that he takes the slow path this time, but that for Clara, those hundreds and hundreds of years are happening in the space of a single Christmas dinner. How long does the Doctor protect the villagers on Trenzalore? Depends on how you decide to frame your answer: several centuries, and also about as long as it takes to cook a turkey.
 
 
tempestsarekind
19 August 2014 @ 04:16 pm
In case someone else would enjoy this as much as I did, here are a bunch of phrases from an English-to-Latin textbook from the sixteenth century:

http://the-toast.net/2014/08/15/16th-century-english-to-latin-textbook/

Some of the phrases, in isolation, make me rather sad - or wildly intrigued. So many little stories...
 
 
tempestsarekind
05 August 2014 @ 02:50 pm
This one by Rebecca Mead in the New Yorker, inspired by Ira Glass' tweeting that Shakespeare wasn't relatable:

The Scourge of "Relatability"
http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/scourge-relatability

Key quotations:

"The concept of identification implies that the reader or viewer is, to some degree at least, actively engaged with the work in question: she is thinking herself into the experience of the characters on the page or screen or stage.

But to demand that a work be 'relatable' expresses a different expectation: that the work itself be somehow accommodating to, or reflective of, the experience of the reader or viewer. The reader or viewer remains passive in the face of the book or movie or play: she expects the work to be done for her."


"...to reject any work because we feel that it does not reflect us in a shape that we can easily recognize—because it does not exempt us from the active exercise of imagination or the effortful summoning of empathy—is our own failure. It’s a failure that has been dispiritingly sanctioned by the rise of 'relatable.' "
 
 
tempestsarekind
30 June 2014 @ 03:15 pm
Dispatch from the Department of Stuff No One Else Cares About, "Eight Actors in Britain" edition: In yesterday's episode of the most recent season of Endeavour (the prequel series to Inspector Morse), I did not spot any actors from Doctor Who, but there were four actors who had been in Globe productions. Two of these are series regulars: Jack Laskey (Orlando in the Thea Sharrock-directed AYLI), and Roger Allam (Falstaff in 1 and 2 Henry IV; also Prospero in last summer's production of The Tempest). The amusing thing was that the other two actors had also been in those same productions: I was of course thrilled to note Jamie Parker's name in the opening credits; he played Oliver opposite Jack Laskey's Orlando, and Hal to Roger Allam's Falstaff. And then Jessie Buckley was Roger Allam's Miranda! (They filmed this production of The Tempest, but who knows if they'll ever get their act together for US screenings; they never did for last year's, as far as I know - which was not a terrible hardship, I suppose, since I'd always planned to buy the DVDs for Jamie's Henry V and Sam Barnett's Twelfth Night anyway, but I still would have loved to see Jamie cry God for Harry, England, and Saint George on a big screen too.)

(Jamie played an utterly obnoxious Oxford tutor of medieval history, clipped upper-crust accent and all - but his voice was still so lovely that I kind of just wanted him to keep being obnoxious forever...)
 
 
tempestsarekind
07 June 2014 @ 11:56 am
I only discovered this website because I happened to check out a book written by someone who has contributed to the site, so in case you didn't know that Bess of Hardwick's letters were online, either:

http://www.bessofhardwick.org

There's also a lot of supplementary material on her life, and on early modern language and letter-writing, so I plan to spend a lot of time with it once my end-of-year grading is done...
 
 
tempestsarekind
03 June 2014 @ 10:59 am
Posting for later listening:

‘The two hours’ traffic of our stage’:
Time for Shakespeare

Professor Tiffany Stern

Wednesday 21 May 2014, 6pm-7.15pm
Venue: Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare's Globe, London


https://www.britac.ac.uk/events/2014/The_Two_Hours_Traffic_of_Our_Stage.cfm