Archive for the 'Television' Category

doctor who: the untold story

20131123_083127Actually, I have told this story, but I haven’t blogged about it before, so that hardly counts, does it?

The last time I wore the T-shirt in this photo (given to me by my friend Dan, who I have to thank for introducing me to Doctor Who back before most people in the U.S. had even heard of it!) I stopped in at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Harlem. I ordered a couple of donuts and a bottle of Vanilla Coke, my poison of choice at the time, and had this exchange with the clerk, a Desi man, as he rang up my purchase.

Clerk: You should know better than that.
Me: Huh?
Clerk: Eating this. It isn’t good for you.
Me: Okay… Why do you think I should know better?
Clerk: Aren’t you a doctor?
Me: No. I was going to be. Do I look like a doctor?
Clerk: I thought you were with the World Health Organization.
Me: …
(I suddenly remember the shirt I’m wearing and consider trying to explain it.)
Me: It’s just a shirt!

And that’s why this T-shirt went into a drawer and I haven’t worn it until now. Today, many more people know Doctor Who, even if they don’t recognize the Tom Baker-era logo. Or Tom Baker, for that matter.

Happy anniversary, Doctor Who! To celebrate, I’m disappearing into my writing TARDIS to get some work done and avoid spoilers this afternoon. Thanks to Fandango, I have to wait for the special to drop on iTunes, and I’m planning to watch it tomorrow with friends and family.

vworp… vworp… vworp…

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heading to princeton

Part of Quantum Coin is set in Princeton, N.J., so I’m looking forward to bringing the book there this Friday for an event called Buzz Pop: Connecting Teens with Books, Pop Culture, and Young Adult Authors.

liblogo2This program series at the West Windsor Branch of the Mercer County Library System is described as an informal discussion with teens and YA authors about books, music, movies, and TV shows — with snacks! I approve of all of these.

I’ll be joined by several other authors: Kit Grindstaff (The Flame in the Mist), Alissa Grosso (Shallow PondFerocity SummerPopular), and Evan Roskos (Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets). Books will be for sale! We will happily sign our names on things! Fun will be had!

I hope many teens in the area will be there. The event is free, but you should register here now to make sure there are enough snacks.

West Windsor Branch of the Mercer County Library
333 North Post Road
Princeton Junction, NJ 08550

Friday, July 19, 2013
3–4:30 p.m.

Many thanks to YA librarian Carolyn Aversano and the Friends of the West Windsor Library for inviting us! And thanks to K.M. Walton for connecting us. I’m looking forward to it!

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links to the past

Apologies for the lack of my Alternate Wednesday posts of late; oddly enough, it’s a matter of not having enough time for them. I thought the biweekly schedule would be manageable, but with a novel to revise and multiple deadlines for various projects (including several other blogs I contribute to–see below), it has been the easiest thing to put aside. But I enjoy writing them, and I hope some of you enjoy reading them, so they will continue–but perhaps on a sporadic basis for the moment.

"Yesterday's Enterprise"That said, I’m double-dipping this week. It’s no surprise that many of my favorite episodes of Star Trek (in all its incarnations) involve time travel and/or alternate realities. So last week I was happy to cover one of the very best of these in the ongoing Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch at The Viewscreen: “Yesterday’s Enterprise“. Here’s an excerpt:

But I tell you, this episode is exciting, not least because it fills in some of the time between Kirk’s era and the TNG years, with the introduction of the Enterprise-C. (It hits some of the same buttons for me that “Babylon Squared” on Babylon 5 does, my favorite episode of the first season in which the Babylon 4 station reappears due to a temporal anomaly…) And I love this vessel, a beautiful melding of the best features of the Constitution-class and Galaxy-class designs. “Yesterday’s Enterprise” also has high stakes, gruesome deaths, and it looks and sounds more cinematic than anything on the show previously. I’m also a sucker for stories in which one ship or one person makes a huge impact for others–even in failure; we always root for the Enterprise to survive, but the idea that one crew’s sacrifice could still be a victory of sorts is gratifying.

Pop over there to see my episode recap and read reviews by me, Torie Atkinson, and our fine commenters.

I also had two other guest blog posts this week, if you haven’t had enough of me:

And finally, here’s a link to download a free PDF of Sybil’s Garage No. 7, which among many fantastic pieces includes one of my favorite short stories that I’ve written, “My Father’s Eyes”. It’s even kind of YA-ish, though with a slightly older main character, a photographer named Ambrose. And here’s the editor talking about the issue, Anne Frank, Justin Bieber, and the band Neutral Milk Hotel.

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alternate wednesday: the time traveler’s watch

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We always pay a lot of attention to the mechanisms of time travel–a DeLorean, the Millenium Shortcut, slingshotting around the sun at warp speed–but every time traveler has another important tool: a watch.  Sometimes it’s just there for symbolism, like the paradoxical pocket watch in Somewhere in Time, but often it serves a more practical purpose, what it was made for–to keep track of time.

martyClocks are everywhere in Back to the Future, and Marty McFly’s digital watch is more than just a gag; there’s a reason that the poster shows him checking his watch: being in the right place at exactly the right time is a major plot point. Recently, another timepiece caught my eye in one of my favorite science fiction shows, Fringe.

Without spoiling the surprising twists the series takes, in its final season, there’s a certain amount of time travel involved. In episode seven of season five, “Five-Twenty-Ten”, Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) needs to pay very careful attention to the time at which specific events take place… and I really liked the watch he used. (I have no idea how you keep that synced while jumping around in time, but whatever.)

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I figured it would be tricky finding it since the brand name was blacked out for the episode, but naturally, someone else on the internet had already identified it. Thanks, internet! (It turns out that identifying watches worn by celebrities is a hobby for some people.) Ultimately, I learned it’s a Fossil Relic watch, model ZR15552… which is no longer in production. Darn! But hey, there’s eBay. Thanks again, internet! In short, I now own a little piece of Fringe history and I’m prepared for my next temporal displacement.

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I’m really gonna miss that show.

Watches almost seem like anachronisms today, with many people just using their cell phones to tell the time. Do you still wear one? Have you ever bought something because you saw it in a TV show or film?

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alternate wednesday: my favorite time machine

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“Might solve a mystery / Or rewrite history…”

Most people would probably guess that my favorite time machine in fiction is the DeLorean from the Back to the Future films. That’s a pretty good guess, and I would definitely like to own one someday! Preferably one that runs on a garbage-fueled fusion reactor and can fly. But the time machine I like the most is the Millennium Shortcut.

vlcsnap-2013-02-26-19h07m56s104Never heard of it? The Millennium Shortcut, likely a riff on Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon, was the time machine used in the five-part DuckTales miniseries, “Time is Money.” I loved the simple yet elegant design, clearly inspired by old-style alarm clocks—a giant leap forward from the first time machine Gyro Gearloose invented, the time-tub.

If you never saw it or no longer remember the premise of the story, which first aired as a TV movie in 1988, Scrooge McDuck tries to claim prior ownership of a cave of diamonds—before Flintheart Glomgold can steal it from him—by traveling back in time and scrawling his symbol, $, all over its walls with a laser. Through a series of mishaps (after all, Launchpad McQuack is piloting the Shortcut), they accidentally go much farther back, to prehistoric times, where they pick up two stowaways: cave duck Bubba and his pet triceratops, Tootsie. Hijinks ensue, and in the end, Bubba Duck joins the main cast for a season, and Duck Tales jumps the megalodon.

Okay, so the plot doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, even for a time travel story. But it’s so unabashedly nonsensical, with plenty of sappy moments, I couldn’t help loving it. And I always enjoyed multi-part episodes of my childhood cartoons because stories spread out over two, four, or five episodes were so much bigger in scope than your usual 22-minute episode.

vlcsnap-2013-02-26-19h11m59s33But my favorite thing about the Millenium Shortcut (other than its name) was the unique power source that enabled it to travel in time: bombastium. It was a rainbowy element that took the form of a popsicle, and it had to remain frozen in order to work. You didn’t even need a time machine to use it, but without a computer to control it, licking it would take you to a random time period, with no reliable way home. I had thought Gyro somehow invented bombastium, but when I just researched it, I learned it isn’t even original to DuckTales.

Like many stories and plot elements in the series, bombastium was borrowed from a Carl Barks comic. (I really need to read all of those.) According to Wikipedia:

Source: http://www.cbarks.dk/

Source: http://www.cbarks.dk/

Bombastium is stated to be the rarest element in the world. Even though it is very coveted, its usage potential is not entirely known. One characteristic is that it tastes different every time you try it, and scientists eventually discovered that one atom of bombastium dropped into a barrel of water becomes one barrel of ice cream: a different flavor of ice cream each time. To avoid evaporation, bombastium must be kept frozen.

vlcsnap-2013-02-26-12h59m03s242On Duck Tales, bombastium just melts, which adds a kind of ticking clock (ha ha) to the climax of the story where Bubba is running out of time (sorry!) to get back to Duckburg. Fortunately, the computer is smart enough to locate the correct time just by fixing on his crudely drawn sketch of Uncle Scrooge and the directive, “Find Scooge!” Nonsense maybe, but the Shortcut was designed specifically for Launchpad to operate, after all.

There were some other great time machines to come out of the Disney Afternoon, which I will probably mention in later posts. But now it’s your turn: In the comments below, tell me about your favorite method of time travel in fiction.

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