Wednesday, 30 March 2011

"Eee By By Gum"

Let's skip the whole "I'm sorry I haven't blogged in a while" thing and skip to the important stuff. Namely Doctor Who.

Now, anyone who has read my blogs and is at least vaguely observant will have noticed that I love Doctor Who. It has this wonderful way of brining together a story that uses intellect and amazingly clever plots without a huge shooting fest to defeat the monsters because those monsters are made up of fears much greater, deeper set in our instincts than a big monster with fangs that can be defeated with a couple of blows or bullets to the head. As one man said (well sung) it's "the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism." You have vashta nerada encompassing our fear of the dark, clockwork monsters hiding under our bed, stone angels making us even more afraid of those things that might be moving about behind our backs and episodes that make you realise just how terrible we can be as a human race.

Of course, all this means that I am terribly excited for the new series at Easter and I think the full length trailer is one of the best trailers I've seen. (Not that trailers are generally particularly memorable once you've seen the actual thing but my watching of it three times in a row must say something about it.) They've got an amazing balance between avoiding major spoilers and giving out just enough information to make us want more, to make us speculate on what the series will hold, what the characters will do, and makes us want to watch the series now! (I mean, do they really expect us to wait another... meh, do they expect us to wait at all?!)

One of the best bits of TV series is always the disscussions about it with your equally obsessed friends afterwards. Arguing with your friends whether they prefer 9,10 or 11, whether they like Martha or not, who is their favourite character, whether Love and Monsters should be allowed to call itself an episode, is the brown suit better than the blue suit, you name it, my friends and I have most likely discussed it. The thing is, there are only so many times you can agree to disagree about whether Stephen Moffat has created too many confusing time loops, only so many ways you can present your disdain of "Love and Monsters" and only so many times you can establish that you all undoubtedly love Doctor Who. This is why trailers are so awesome. They give you that extra fuel and excitement for the new series to start discussing the possible outcomes all over again. To give you new topics, new areas of agreement and disagreement and, of course, new reasons to fangirl over the series. (Or fanboy I guess.)

So, here's the trailer in it's full 60 seconds of glory. Inhale it, absorb it, close your eyes and listen to the audio only, turn off the audio and take in all the frames one by one, re-watch it so many times you have the trailer seeping out of every orifice in your body, and then look at the things that I'm picking out.

As convention dictates, let us start at the beginning....

A beard.... and chains. Has the Doctor been captured? What's happened to Amy and Rory? Is this something to do with River killing "the greatest man I ever knew"? How has the Doctor become so helpless? Although, my guess it's something some idiot human has caused, Torchwood style. See that soldier in the background? He looks pretty human....

Scary eyes... There is something so sinister about eyes that hold so much emotion in one glance. Is that hatred? Revenge? Helplessness? Is this a monster the Doctor will be fighting or is it not actually a monster? Is it a creature that the Doctor will help? Either way, scary eyes...

This.... thing.... keeps popping up throughout the trailer. Does this mean that it's important? It looks like it will either be really really scary - there's something of the witch-like creatures in "The Shakespeare Code" about them - or they could be an absolute disaster. There's something quite risky about creating a monster that looks like something made from Papier-mâché with some ginger hair added ontop. Oooh, that's a point... is the ginger something to do with Amy? Again, the eyes scare me. In some ways, hollow eyes are even scarier that the knowing look of intelligent eyes.

The over-used astronaut. Is s/he important or is this just the over-used figure that they think is OK to leak more because it's in the first episode. Is this River, like the first introduction in the library? Or is it another, just as important character that hasn't be revealed to even the most diligent of fans? Or maybe, it is the Doctor? So many possibilities, so much mystery.

I don't know what bugs me most about this: The fact that it has audio of River saying "The day he finds out who I am" playing over the top, feeding into that much too obvious idea that maybe they are (however unconventionally) married; or the fact that just at the end you see the Doctor's hand running up her arm in a way that sort of suggests affection, also feeding into this idea which I so hope isn't true. I really hope Moffat isn't double bluffing us.... Am I reading (or watching) too much into this??

Now, is this a crack that the TARDIS is flying out of? Are they extending the "cracks all across the universe" thing or is this something else entirely? It's certainly not the time vortex or is it? Is that the effect of the silence on the time vortex?

Also, just noticed that this clip, in the YouTube version, is not filling up the whole wide-screen in the same way the other clips do. Is this editing or something deeper?

As we know from the previous trailer, "I wear a Stetson now, Stetsons are cool." Is this clip in here to just remind us of that quote or is this episode more than just a "wow, we filmed in America!" sort of episode? Also, what's with the big backpacks?

Are these more astronauts? Are these futuristic astronauts? They look pretty human. Are they anything to do with that astronaut that popped up earlier?

A spinning River Song. I'm not quite sure what she's doing (besides spinning with some sort of sonic-like device) but I get the feeling that I'm not going to like whatever it is. It feels too much like she's the one in control, the one solving things instead of the Doctor as is her tendency.

When I saw this I almost simultaneously thought 'Waters of Mars' and 'Vampires of Venice'. Is this the monster to go with those scary eyes earlier? In the full shot it looks like there are lots of them (well, at least 3) and they look scary..

I'm not sure if this guy will be important but I get the feeling that he could be some important historical figure in a boat. Is it Ferdinand Magellan? The guy who would have been remembered as the first guy to sail around the world if he hadn't died part way round (some of his crew made it). Is the Doctor the reason he died? Maybe he is in fact totally insignificant...

Those funny... things pop up again!!!

A scared boy just after a bright blue light... Is this surprise at the Doctor turning up in his bedroom or is it something much deeper and darker than that?

And then below, the darkest bit of the whole trailer, pretty much slap bang in the middle. Is this the voice of  'the silence'? Does 'the silence' even have a voice? Is it some form of the Daleks? (Talking of which, don't actually feature in this trailer. I really hope they've given them a break this series but then again, they can't break a habit.) What is this sinister, deep voice? And is this a darker side of the 11th Doctor that we haven't seen much of yet?

Scary scary puppet head. It's those eyes again. Is it something controlled from outside or something more like the clockwork men in "The girl in the fireplace"?

(Also, a second or so after this, that funny ginger, Papier-mâché creatures pop up again. Top left hand corner.)

Is this a regeneration? Is this something happening to the Doctor or something that has got inside the TARDIS? It has the glow of a regeneration but it's not the right form plus would they reveal something like that in the trailer? Also, if Matt Smith were going, wouldn't we have heard something about it in the press by now? Also, note Rory and Amy in the bottom right corner. Are they the cause or innocent bystanders?

Now don't tell me that you don't think that clown is scary. Ever since possibly the scariest Sarah Jane episode which contained clowns, I haven't looked at clowns in quite the same way and to add a red balloon not dissimilar to the one held by 'sister of mine' from the family of blood is just not doing anything for my nerves. The episode better live up to my expectations of fear!

This reminds me of the gelf. Ghost-like and it looks like she's in a ship. Is this another poor creature trapped and troubled by the cracks and silence like the gelf were affected by the time war or something else?

I'm slightly worried about this creature. Is this going to be another "love and monsters" style monster or is it actually going to be some epic episode with a Minotaur-like creature, running the halls of some hotel... Ok, that also sounds a bit cheesy... I guess with this one we'll just have to wait and see. (And hope...)

 Is this Amy with a gun? The way it's cut suggests she shoots the Doctor but surely that can't be right? Also, has she learnt nothing from the Doctor's "no weapons" policy? What is so serious that it warrants a gun and I so hope it's not the Doctor or Rory she is shooting. (Unless it's their clone that has gone haywire or something... I hope not.)

And then, before we've even had enough time to absorb all that's happened in the last 50 seconds or so, the end-screen pops up, brandishing the oh so frustrating two words that are "coming soon". We're left with questions, confusion, bewilderment, hope, longing, and so many other words describing strong feelings.

Who are these ginger haired creatures? Who really is River? What happens to the Doctor? Who or what is the silence? And least importantly, does Amy wear anything else apart from that red checked shirt?


Friday, 18 March 2011

"Yours forever, less than three"

I have these friends. You may know them, but most likely you don't. They're called Terrie and Sam. Terrie is "the loud one who gesticulates a lot" and also gets mentioned on here quite a bit and Sam is "the awkward one who stares a lot" and also is the cause of the 'nom' debate. Now, why am telling you about these two? It's not like they've found the question for the answer 42* or solved world peace** or found out that the cake is in fact not a lie***. They're just two Nerdfighters made of awesome.

Well, these two specimens of Nerdfightaria have made a YouTube video. Technically they've filmed a whole ton of stuff but I edited it all together for them to give you 4mins and 44secs of Terrie-and-Sam-ness.

So now I introduce to you: "lessthanthreenerds"

So the beginning of the beginning has begun. Hopefully more videos will come sooner rather than later and I have a good lot of footage to make a blooper reel! So I hope you enjoy it and I'm sure they'll appreciate any constructive criticism.


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The Alex Pettyfer 'nom' debate

Alex Pettyfer: the young actor who first appeared as Alex Rider in the film adaptation of Stormbreaker. Back then, I was obsessed with Anthony Horowitz's series of books and dragged my Dad to come see the film. Since then, Alex Pettyfer has returned in "I am Number Four" (or I am four and I keep missaying) and that brought him up in a common room discussion over whether he is 'nom' or not.

So, what is 'nom'. To be honest, the definition of 'nom' is a bit hazy but in the words of my friend Sam, 'nom' is "phwar. Nom is, erm, I don't know, how does one define nom? Nom is 'I would...' *winky face* Nom is like nom. That is what nom is." So, hopefully that clears things up.

According to Sam, Alex Pettyfer is 'nom'. Very 'nom'. And while I and a few others may not disagree with Sam, our oppinion is not quite so set in stone. However, my friend Maryam dared to go against Sam leading to a long debate over whether Alex Pettyfer really is 'nom' or not. A debate that involved his initial role in Stormbreaker (Sam: obsessed with the film, Maryam: thought the film was a bit rubbish), his role is Wild Child (Maryam doesn't seem to understand the attraction of the male English accent against an American accent) and of course his role in 'I am number four'.

Now, while Alex Pettyfer isn't unattractive. (He wouldn't be cast as the 'fit' male lead in these films otherwise) but I wouldn't neccisarily call him nom. Well, I might call some of the characters he plays 'nom' but not him. Let me qualify. In calling someone 'nom' I think (well, I at least think) that personailty plays at least a slight role and if you google 'Alex Pettyfer', around half the results involve some 'bad boy' thing he's done.

So, while Sam says when asked why Alex Pettyfer is 'nom': "How, how does one put it into words.... It's not one of those things you can say. Because, I mean, have you seen him?! That is my only comment." I'd say, I'm not sure 'nom' is the right word. 'Fit' maybe if your objectifying him but I'm not sure. And also, Alex Pettyfer as Peeta from the Hunger Games?* Please tell me this isn't true.


*I'll try remember to do a blog on The Hunger Games asap as the series is just awesome.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Esther 9-10

This is the very last in the studies of Esther I've been doing with the CU. Due to their short attention span and the length of these chapters, I've decided to stick to picking out particular verses (the highlighted ones) rather than getting them to read the whole thing out loud however feel free to read the whole passage yourself. =)

Esther 9-10
9 1 On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them.
   2 The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those seeking their destruction. No-one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them.
    3 And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king's administrators helped the Jews, because fear of Mordecai had seized them.
    4 Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful.
    5 The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them.
    6 In the citadel of Susa, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men.
    7 They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha,
    8 Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha,
    9 Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha,
    10 the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not lay their hands on the plunder.
    11 The number of those slain in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king that same day.
    12 The king said to Queen Esther, The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman in the citadel of Susa. What have they done in the rest of the king's provinces? Now what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? It will also be granted.
    13 If it pleases the king, Esther answered, give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day's edict tomorrow also, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged on gallows.
    14 So the king commanded that this be done. An edict was issued in Susa, and they hanged the ten sons of Haman.
    15 The Jews in Susa came together on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar, and they put to death in Susa three hundred men, but they did not lay their hands on the plunder.
    16 Meanwhile, the remainder of the Jews who were in the king's provinces also assembled to protect themselves and get relief from their enemies. They killed seventy-five thousand of them but did not lay their hands on the plunder.
    17 This happened on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.
 18 The Jews in Susa, however, had assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth, and then on the fifteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.
    19 That is why rural Jews— those living in villages— observe the fourteenth of the month of Adar as a day of joy and feasting, a day for giving presents to each other.
    20 Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far,
    21 to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar
    22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote to them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.
    23 So the Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them.
    24 For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the pur (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction.
    25 But when the plot came to the king's attention, he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back on to his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows.
    26 (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur.) Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them,
    27 the Jews took it upon themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed.
    28 These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never cease to be celebrated by the Jews, nor should the memory of them die out among their descendants.
    29 So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim.
    30 And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Xerxes— words of goodwill and assurance—
    31 to establish these days of Purim at their designated times, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had decreed for them, and as they had established for themselves and their descendants in regard to their times of fasting and lamentation.
    32 Esther's decree confirmed these regulations about Purim, and it was written down in the records.
101 King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores.
    2 And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai to which the king had raised him, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia?
    3 Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, pre-eminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.

Esther 9-10
This is the last part of Esther and it would be easy to sum it up saying there was a big battle, lots of people died but at the end of the day, the Jews won. However, as you can see from the length of these chapters, the Jews’ victory was not overlooked as quickly as that.
If we beginning with the first 17 verses we see that we are not told if there were any Jewish fatalities. Instead, the most important thing is clearly that the Jews most definitely triumphed. Look at the second half of 9v2. How come others were so scared to stand up against them? How did they win so convincingly?
It was because God was undoubtedly on their side. Without Him, it would have been a completely different and most likely a very tragic story.
Now, if you only look quickly at chapter 9, it may look like the Jews had gone about killing as many people as possible however, if we look closer, we can see that the Jews only killed those who came to attack them. Look at verses 1 and 2. It was all in self-defence and there is no mention of women or children being put to death. The Jews obviously had compassion and only killed the men who were actually attacking them.
Look at verses 10 and 15: Despite being given permission in the order sent by Mordecai, no plunder was taken. That is, no possessions or goods were taken by force from those attacking them. This emphasises again that the killing was purely in self-defence, no other motive such as money.
Although the numbers of men killed seems like a large amount, we have to remember that it could have been a lot worse. Think about how many more would have been killed if the Jews had not been allowed to defend themselves at all or had gone ahead and killed anyone they pleased, not just those attacking them.
Of course, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. If we look at the last verses of Esther, we see a celebration! If we look at 10v3, we see that Mordecai was promoted and after the trouble was over, he wrote letters to all the Jews all over the province to recommend that they make remembering these events a yearly celebration. It may seem morbid of them to celebrate after so many lives were lost however they were celebrating their rescue from certain death.
It’s like us celebrating at Easter. It may seem odd that we celebrate the horrible crucifixion of Jesus however we’re celebrating what His death led to. Jesus dying on the cross meant that He took the punishment for sin that we deserve. His death means that instead of facing a certain death because of our sin, we can face eternity in heaven. If we trust in Jesus, we can celebrate being free from the certain death of sin, just as the Jews celebrated being free from the order of certain death.


End note: For the last weeks before Easter I'm going to get them to come up with some questions for me to find answers too however, just in case they don't come up with any sensible ones, it would be nice to have a few suggestions. Thank you =)