by Catriona Mills

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Sixty

Posted 2946 days ago in by Catriona

Yet another Gmail chat conversation:

ME: Okay. Cool.
NICK: Awesome roarsome.
ME: No.
NICK: No?
ME: No.
NICK: Not a good catchphrase?
ME: No.
NICK: Okay then.

And with that, I have to announce a blogging hiatus. I’m flying interstate tomorrow for a job interview, and then spending a couple of days with my parents. In time-honoured fashion, I have, of course, caught a revolting cold two days out from the interview, so my plan of blogging in advance has been cancelled.

I will be back in time to live-blog this week’s Torchwood episode, but unless something outstandingly unprecedented occurs between now and then, I won’t be blogging in the interim.

Au revoir!

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Fifty-Nine

Posted 2947 days ago in by Catriona

In which Nick becomes confused by the complexities of women’s fashion (in this case, my adorable striped house socks with the crocheted T-strap):

NICK: Oh, look: the little rubber bit has fallen off the bottom of your shoe.
ME: They’re socks.
NICK: Well, you don’t wear anything over them.
ME: That’s not the definition of a sock. They’re house socks.
NICK: I don’t even know what that means.
ME: It’s quite straightforward.
NICK: You mean they’re socks that you wear in the house?
ME: Yep.
NICK: Well, I suppose that’s . . . I mean, they’re . . . Well, they . . . They don’t even look like socks!
ME: They looks exactly like socks.
NICK: They look like shoes that are a bit sludgy!

I think Bonds should adopt that as their new advertising slogan, myself.

Live-blogging Torchwood Season One: "Day One"

Posted 2948 days ago in by Catriona

I’m being threatened with the return of the headache that plagued me all morning, and I’ve always found this episode to have a little too much of a “lesbianism is for voyeurs” angle, so if I’m a little tart with the live-blogging, that’ll be why.

Not that I’m planning on being tart, but it’s a fair warning, just in case.

It strikes me, in the retrospect of thirty seconds, that I could probably have selected a better word than “tart” for those past two sentences, but it’s a little too late for that.

Hey, is that Tim McInerney? He’s looking better than he did in Doctor Who, that’s for sure. Maybe it wasn’t him. [Edit: I will maintain until the day I die that Mark Gatiss looks just like Tim McInerney.] I’ve never been good at identifying actors. Or song lyrics out of context, for that matter.

Oooh, ad. for Being Human. Is everyone watching this? If not, start now.

And here’s this week’s Torchwood—which contains sex scenes and violence.

And Captain Jack’s monologue. Which I’m not transcribing—I can’t type that fast. And slow-motion walking! I’m a sucker for slow-motion walking.

Now Gwen and her boyfriend are bowling, before going to what looks like a wine bar, where Gwen tells her boyfriend (Rhys) that her job in “special ops” is mostly filing. “So, special admin?” he asks.

They’re about to go home for an early night when they see a blazing fireball in the sky, flying low over the city. Rhys has no idea what’s happening, and even Gwen, on her first day, is a little surprised when her phone rings. But, of course, it’s Torchwood.

Jack says it’s a simple “locate and clean up” operation.

Gwen is clearly not entirely comfortable with being part of Torchwood just yet.

Owen says “the amateurs” got her first: he means the army.

NICK: Don’t be in a greenhouse throwing stones there, Owen. Torchwood can be pretty amateur when it wants to be.

Jack calls for “usual formation,” and when Gwen asks what the “usual formation” is, Owen says, “it varies.”

GWEN: How can the usual formation vary?

Gwen bustles her way into a tent claiming to be Torchwood, but an army man tells her she can’t be Torchwood, and calls her “little girl.” I’m skipping over the fact that Jack tells them Gwen’s not a “little girl”—“from where I’m standing, all the right curves in all the right places”—but I do like the way Gwen rolls her eyes.

Of course, her attempts to stand up to Owen’s sexist patter while they’re at the meteorite crash site results in her releasing an alien life form from the meteorite. But, of course.

The alien life force settles on a very cute girl who is standing in the alley outside a club ranting at her boyfriend’s answering machine: “I wish I were dead. No, I wish you were dead. Call me back!”

She tries to get back into the club: when the bouncer tells her “there’s no readmission,” she snogs him, and he lets her in.

NICK: I don’t reckon that would work on a Brisbane bouncer.

In the club, the cute bar-hopper ends up frantically snogging some guy in the toilets. Well, “snogging” is a euphemism. This is the scene that made me warn my mother not to watch this show—or at least not to watch it with me.

The scene doesn’t last long (hee! I crack myself up) and the guy explodes in a spray of gold confetti, which the cute bar-hopper enthusiastically inhales.

Torchwood are bitching at each other—well, Owen is bitching at everyone. Jack says they can round the alien up, and Ianto comes across with a clipboard containing information about an “unusual” night-club death.

And there’s P.C. Andy! Gwen’s old stomping buddy. He’s not entirely comfortable with Gwen’s new role.

All that’s left of the body is a little trace of ash on the ground.

Jack asks how they knew that used to be a body, and we’re treated to a scene that I’m, frankly, not recapping. But Torchwood watch the death on CCTV, which leads to yet more bantering from Owen.

I swear, early episodes of Torchwood make me want to punch Owen in the face.

Jack says they have everything they need, and Jack asks Tosh and Owen to find a body that looks like the dead guy, disfigure his face, and dump it somewhere remote, so it looks like a suicide attempt.

Gwen is not thrilled by this, but is distracted by the CCTV footage of the alien adopting its host body.

The host body is called Carys, and it seems as though she can’t entirely remember what happened. It looks as though she’s sharing her body with the alien, so that she can chat—albeit a little oddly—with her father, but can’t remember what she did last night.

Or, perhaps she can and she’s repressing it.

Ah, since—after a brief scene that makes me want to punch Owen—we cut to Carys broiling herself in a hot shower and weeping hysterically, I think the second option is the more likely one. If we replace “repressing” with “desperately attempting to repress.”

Meanwhile, at Torchwood, they’re trying to identify the girl, now that they know what she looks like. They don’t have her face on file (insert “scary, pseudo-futuristic technobabble” here) so they plan to trace her journey back from the club to her home via the street-level cameras.

Carys, meanwhile, is freaking out in front of her mirrors—writhing in pain and screaming—and when a delivery boy knocks on the door, she jumps him. But Torchwood jumps in in bio-suits, and, as Carys is trying to escape, Owen nabs her with (technobabble) that he’s illegally removed from Torchwood HQ.

They take Carys back to Torchwood HQ, where Jack asks Gwen to find out what she can from her. Carys, in one of those perspex cells we saw a weevil in last week, is, at first, bewildered, but then she starts writhing and screaming again, and the alien comes to the surface again.

GWEN: Who are you and where are you from? And what do you want with Earth, because you can forget about enslaving us.

The alien says she just likes the energy: there’s nothing like it in the universe.

GWEN: Sorry, just to recap. You’ve travelled here to feed off orgasmic energy?

The Carys starts writhing again, and Gwen goes in to help—whereupon, of course, they start snogging.

Owen sees this—and do you think he should have warned someone a little earlier?

GWEN: Okay, first contact with an alien, not quite what I expected.

Why is Gwen kissing the murderous alien, by the way? Is she possessed? I mean, Carys is quite adorable, but, you know, there’s a murderous alien.

I’m not even going into the length of time it takes Jack and Tosh to decide that they should come and help Gwen—Owen never does arrive, because he’s too busy recording from the security cameras.

Still, Gwen’s in no trouble, because apparently the murderous alien has a distinctly heteronormative attitude to life—she tells Gwen it has to be a man.

Owen taunts Gwen, and she throws him up against a wall. I wish she’d punched him, though.

JACK: Strictly speaking, throttling the staff is my job.
NICK: Oh, Jack. That’s just a euphemism.

Torchwood staff sit and eat Chinese around the conference table, but as soon as Jack heads off to the toilet, they all ask Gwen what he’s told her about himself. Apparently, he ‘s told them nothing—they don’t even know where he’s from. Owen thinks he’s gay, though Tosh and Gwen disagree—and Ianto says he doesn’t care.

I can’t believe they don’t know that he’s an alien, when he was ranting about how much he loves this planet last week. Isn’t that an odd phrasing for someone who isn’t an alien?

Gwen tells Torchwood they’re too far removed from how humanity works, hidden down in their bunker, so Jack tells her to remind him of what it means to be human in the twenty-first century. So Gwen prepares a dossier of Carys’s life—she wants to bring in Carys’s father, but Jack is reluctant.

Tosh explains that the alien is releasing powerful pheromones—and Gwen says she did wonder why she snogged her. So that answers that query. In the interim, they all realise that Owen is missing—he’s naked, hand-cuffed, and protecting what’s left of his modesty in Carys’s cell, while Carys frantically searches for a way out.

Jack and Carys fight, but he’s left unwilling to fight back when she grabs the Doctor’s hand in a tube.

JACK: Put that down! That’s worthless to anyone but me!
NICK: Oh, Jack: that’s the worst thing to say.

Jack order Ianto to open the door and release Carys, but Carys, instead of putting down the jar as requested, throws it to the floor and smashes it—Jack is only interested in rescuing the hand. He has no interest in chasing Carys.

Gwen upbraids Jack, and he suggests she get her friends to chase Carys down.

GWEN: Fine, I’ll call them. Put out an APB: woman possessed by gas, knobbing fellers to death.

ACK! EXPLODING RAT!

Ahem. Sorry about that. Did I mention that a rat just exploded?

Following the exploding rat, we have a brief section of social commentary, questioning society’s exploitation of human nudity and the reproductive process in order to increase the movement of consumer goods.

In other words, Carys is walking round staring at half-naked people in advertisements.

Gwen asks her team-mates what they’d do if they were possessed by such an alien.

OWEN: I’d come round and shag you. What? It’s a joke! Can’t I have a joke with my team-mates?

Tosh suggests something—and, true enough, Carys has gone for her ex-boyfriend, who is, to be fair, a total jerk. Well, now he’s a dead total jerk, and they don’t know where to go next.

JACK: Good thing she’s fairly young. If we had to work through my back catalogue, we’d be here until the sun explodes.

Carys, though they don’t know it, has already worked through her entire back catalogue, but luckily she works in a fertility clinic, and has a never-ending supply of sperm donors. This is convenient, because she says that the energy isn’t lasting.

Cut to Carys trying to seduce a sperm donor who is reluctant because he bats for the other team.

Torchwood burst into the fertility clinic, where they see that Carys has worked her way through a fair number of sperm donors. They corner Carys, and we bounce straight back into social commentary about advertising.

OWEN: Any moment and she’s rat jam.

That’s . . . that’s just lovely, Owen. Right in front of the dying girl and all.

Carys says she needs “one more,” and Jack says that he has a “surplus of alive.” He thinks he can spare some for Carys. He snogs her, and her entire body glows golden. Wow: that’s never happened to me.

But Carys faints—she’s too weak for anything else. So Gwen begs the alien to adopt her as host and let Carys live. It agrees, and leaves Carys’s body—only to be trapped in the (technobabble) that Owen used to trap Carys in the beginning.

NICK: Oh my god, it’s a giant energy condom!
ME: Honey, please.
NICK: It is! I’ve just realised. It’s ribbed, and everything!

It does have horizontal striations running up it.

Meanwhile, Carys is fine, and Jack manages to make a comment about dying alone despite travelling halfway across the galaxy for the best sex.

NICK: Jack, I don’t think that’s as deep as you think it is.

Back at Torchwood, Gwen interrogates Jack about who he is. She, at least, seems to recognise that he’s probably an alien. But Jack tells her to go home and be normal “for him.”

She does, and we end the episode spanning over Cardiff.

And that’s it, until next week’s distinctly disturbing and terribly Sapphire and Steel episode.

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Fifty-Eight

Posted 2950 days ago in by Catriona

And again, with the Bones-related conversations, this time blended with Futurama:

ME: There’s no way an image search would bring up that photograph from their starting image.
NICK: That’s especially impossible!
ME: Yeah.
NICK (doing an unexpected about-face): Nothing is impossible if you can imagine it! . . . and you’re a forensic re-constructionist.

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Fifty-Seven

Posted 2950 days ago in by Catriona

While watching an episode of Bones:

ME: Hey, don’t call the Norwegians “Vikings”!
NICK: Yeah. It pisses them off and they turn up in longboats.

Hmm.

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Fifty-Six

Posted 2950 days ago in by Catriona

Nick is cooking pasta sauce entirely from fresh ingredients he bought from the farmer’s market in the city this afternoon.

ME (calling from the study): How’s it going, honey?
NICK: I am reaching a crescendo of awesome!

Alas, things rarely stay so sunny for long, as evidenced by this brief monologue some five minutes later:

NICK: Garlic! Garlic! Ah, garlic—all is vanity!

No, I don’t know what it means. And I don’t believe Nick does, either.

Strong Girls for Girl Readers: Part Three

Posted 2952 days ago in by Catriona

(Part one of this series is here and part two is here.)

For part three in this intermittent series, I’m looking at one of my favourite princesses: Princess Irene in George Macdonald’s The Princess and the Goblin (1872).

This is one that I read many, many years ago and keep coming back to—this and, to a much lesser extent, its sequel, The Princess and Curdie (1883). Like Lewis Carroll, Macdonald is one of my formative literary influences.

(On a slightly unrelated note, have I mentioned how much George Macdonald looks like Grigori Rasputin? Because it’s more than a little disturbing, that similarity. Every time I look at the page, I wonder whether someone’s uploaded a picture of Rasputin to Macdonald’s page for a laugh.)

None of that, of course, is relevant to a discussion of Princess Irene.

Part of what’s intriguing about Princess Irene is the fact that she’s the type of sheltered princess we so often deplore in fairy tales and mainstream fantasy: provided with all the good things in life, but locked in the castle away from the dangers of the world, under strict and severe supervision.

But she’s not simply locked away because she’s a princess. Her world actually is dangerous.

When the humans dispossess the goblins and drive the latter underground, we’re left with a world in a state of seething never-quite-actual civil war, and the princess—vulnerable in her age, in her gender, in her privileged position within her family—is the target of those tensions.

She’s at risk in three ways.

She’s at risk because she’s young, and therefore more vulnerable to attack than a grown woman would be—especially since the goblins are themselves of diminutive stature.

She’s at risk because she’s female: without the fact of her gender, the goblins would be unable to plot to marry her to their own prince (assuming that this fantasy kingdom doesn’t have unusually progressive marriage laws, which I think is a fair assumption, given the publication date).

And she’s at risk because she’s a princess: if she weren’t of the royal family, the goblins would have little if anything to gain from forcing her to marry their prince.

For these reasons, she is locked away—for her own safety. But her incarceration simply puts her at greater risk, because now she doesn’t know why the world is dangerous and she doesn’t know why she’s under threat.

So she wanders away at the first opportunity.

As any girl of spirit would do.

The reason Princess Irene is here—when she’s younger and certainly less bold than the other girls I have looked at, and the ones I will look at in future installments—is that she never uses her ignorance or her youth as an excuse for failure to act. (And she is both young and ignorant, neither of which she can help.) When she is in peril, she’s as brave (if less stroppy) than any of the other girls I admired as a girl reader.

Add that to Macdonald’s peculiar brand of whimsy, and I’ll always love this book more than At The Back of the North Wind (1871), no matter how sweet and lovable Diamond is.

Live-blogging Torchwood Season One: "Everything Changes"

Posted 2955 days ago in by Catriona

Do you know, I completely forgot this was on tonight. And then Nick didn’t fancy watching it—and there’s still some avoidance behaviour going on with that, frankly—and then I had an incredibly complicated conversation with my mother about this show that basically ran around in these circles:

MAM: Well, we thought we’d watch it anyone.
ME: Oh, sure. I don’t think it will be your cup of tea, though.
MAM: Anyway, we thought we’d watch it.
ME: I’m not saying you shouldn’t. I just didn’t think it was your cup of tea.
MAM: Anyway, we thought we’d watch it.
ME: I’m not saying you shouldn’t . . .

And so on.

Anyway (as my mother would say), here we are, after all.

I’ll be honest, while Rob Brydon is talking on this show I’ve never heard of: I had some serious concerns with the tone of Torchwood the first time I saw these episodes. I’m wondering whether I’ll have the same reaction this time around—and, if I do, if I’ll have time to talk about them while live-blogging.

I also felt, the first time I watched this, that it didn’t really hit its stride until episode five, “Small Worlds.” So we’ll see how I feel about these early episodes on a re-watching.

On a slightly hysterical note, why didn’t I know that Being Human was on tonight?! Why am I so out of the loop?

Ah, here we go.

Pan over lovely Cardiff—lots and lots of pans over Cardiff, and down onto a body, lying in the street in the rain, surrounded by SOCOs and some uniformed policemen, including Gwen. (We don’t know she’s Gwen yet, but she is.)

Now SOCO is leaving the scene, and the police have to ask what’s happening. SOCO says Torchwood are coming in: special access.

And so they are: four of them, with Captain Jack (spoiler!) in the lead, in his World War II trenchcoat, coming up in their enormous black car, and walking straight over to the body, while Gwen and a SOCO chat about the lack of proper procedure these days.

But Gwen is annoyed: she runs up into the multi-story carpark that overlooks the alley in which the body lies, and peers down.

Jack is ranting about oestrogen in the rain: saying he loves this planet, because there’s contraceptives right in the water—he’s never going to get pregnant again, Jack says.

Meanwhile, Suzie (Indira Varma) is telling Owen that her mysterious gauntlet “grants her access” rather than allowing her control: Owen says that if he gets punched again, he’s punching it right back—just before the gauntlet starts moving on its own, and Suzie brings the dead man (John) back to life for three minutes.

They’re asking John who killed him, but they’ve already told him he’s dead, and of course he’s just freaking out the entire time they’re talking to him. When he eventually reveals that he was stabbed in the back (and therefore can’t help them catch the killer), Jack jumps in and asks him what it’s like to be dead.

What did he see? Jack asks. And John says he saw nothing. “Oh my god, there’s nothing!” And he dies again, freaking out about the nothingness beyond.

Well, that was cruel.

Jack knows Gwen’s watching and when he challenges her, she—freaking out, as you would after seeing a man brought back to life—runs. She goes home to her boyfriend, for a scene that seems designed to show the relative ordinariness of her life.

The next day, Gwen, in uniform, is serving mugs of tea to CID (after asking a colleague to look up Jack for her)—though the next scene is her helping to break up a bar fight, in which she’s slammed into what looks like a hardwood bar, which had got to hurt. So she’s not just a secretary!

This means she ends up in the hospital—where she sees Jack going past. Chasing him up the stairs, she comes to a section that’s sealed off. She asks a janitor why it’s sealed, but he says it was that way this morning when he arrived at work: he thought the police had done it.

Gwen steps through the plastic seal—and she sees someone standing at the end of a corridor, and approaches him, looking for Jack. But it quickly becomes apparent that it’s not a man, and that he’s not actually human. Gwen assumes he’s a man wearing a mask, but he’s clearly not. And when the janitor comes in and walks up cheerily to Gwen, chatting away, the creature grabs him and rips his jugular out.

Wow. That is as grotesque as I remember the first time around. Gwen looks a little freaked—well, more than a little. But she’s not vomiting. I’d be vomiting.

And as she’s standing in the street looking freaked, the Torchwood car comes screaming past, nearly running her down. She leaps in the panda to follow, leaving her colleague behind at the hospital.

While she’s in the panda, Gwen’s colleague comes through on the radio, and tells her about the only Captain Jack Harkness on record: an American, who disappeared in 1941 at the height of the Blitz and was never seen again.

Gwen, chasing Torchwood, is told off by a security guard for parking her car in the middle of a plaza: by the time she glances at him and back, the Torchwood personnel have vanished, even though there’s nowhere to go.

Yes, sorry: the man who was killed was a porter, not a janitor.

Gwen’s colleague, who has followed her despite her nicking the panda, tells her that all the hospital personnel are accounted for. He tells her she’s not well, and that he’ll take her home. At home, Gwen tells her boyfriend that she has to work (“Do you forgive me?” she asks. “Say you forgive me.” It’s presumably a refrain in their relationship, but Nick wonders how often she’s been lying to her boyfriend) and she’s straight back to where she saw Torchwood disappear.

She heads to a pizza place, where she asks about “Jack Harkness,” “J. Harkness,” or just “Harkness”—but no such deliveries. On her way out the door, she asks, “I don’t suppose you’ve got a Torchwood?”

“Oh, aye,” he says. “We deliver to them all the time. Good customers they are.”

NICK: It’s like UNIT. With their big sign out front saying “Secret UNIT Headquarters.”

So Gwen grabs a couple of pizzas and is buzzed into Torchwood’s secret underground base by Ianto. (We don’t know it’s Ianto yet, but trust me on this.)

I’ve always found the secret underground base—ack! Hand in a jar!—to be rather amazing. Very steampunky, though it looks as though it would be cold in winter.

And there’s Jack, in his suspenders and leather wrist cuffs—and as Gwen’s walking towards him with the pizzas, Tosh (spoiler!) suddenly bursts out laughing, and sets Owen off. And Suzie says that that didn’t last long. Of course, they’ve been watching her on the monitors, so they knew she was coming.

(In the meantime, Jack has been asking which idiot has been ordering pizzas under the name “Torchwood.” It’s Owen, for the sake of completeness.)

There’s some banter about what happened to the porter, and to John Tucker in the alley—Jack pushes Gwen to admit that she saw John brought back to life—and she’s clearly terrified (even before she sees the pterodactyl, and we’ll talk about the pterodactyl later). She keeps mentioning that she’s a police officer, as though it keeps her safe.

Jack asks if she wants to see the porter’s murderer? She’s does, sort of—and Suzie pushes her to go with Jack. They have the creature who killed the porter—they call him a weevil—sedated in a cell.

Gwen sits in front of the cell and stares into the weevil’s eyes while Jack tells her that it’s an alien, and provides some details about weevils’ lives in Cardiff.

Back upstairs, Jack introduces Owen, Tosh, Suzie, and Ianto—Gwen’s still uncertain about what will happen to her, and Jack tells her to come with him.

GWEN: I’m getting a bit tired of following you.
JACK: No, you’re not. And you never will.

They take the “scenic route” out of Torchwood. It’s a paving stone that rises up like an elevator right into the street. But no one can see or hear them: Jack says it’s a perception filter. People can see them, but don’t really pay attention to them.

There’s some techno-babble here that plays back into the TARDIS’s arrival in Cardiff in “Boomtown,” but Gwen’s distracted: “But there’s a bloody big hole in the ground! Don’t people fall in?”

JACK: That is so Welsh.
GWEN: What is?
JACK: I show you something wonderful, and you find fault.

Sitting in a restaurant, they talk about the other alien encounters the Earth has had recently—you know, the ones in Doctor Who. And they have this piece of dialogue, which I love:

GWEN: You catch aliens?
JACK: Yep.
GWEN: You catch aliens for a living?
JACK: Sure do.
GWEN: You’re an alien catcher?

During the discussion about what Torchwood does, Jack explains that no one is allowed to take alien artefacts off the base—and, of course, we cut to the other members of staff pulling various items out of their bags. Suzie, for example, has taken the gauntlet home with her.

Back in the restaurant, Jack is explaining that their only purpose in bringing John back to life is to test the glove. Gwen thinks they could help find the serial killer, but Jack says they’re busy. Gwen asks if their work is more important, and Jack says yes, it is.

GWEN: Well, that’s tough shit.

Of course, around about this point, Jack tells her that he’s fed her an amnesia pill (with a sedative mixed in) and she’ll have forgotten all about this by tomorrow morning.

JACK: Most tragic of all, you’ll have forgotten all about me.

Jack, is there anyone you won’t flirt with?

Gwen sprints home, and starts trying to write down the information about Torchwood.

Cut to Owen, trying to pick a pretty blonde woman up in a bar. She’s not interested, not least because he says he can’t be bothered with all the chat because he has to be up early. So he sprays something from the bottle he brought home in his mouth—like breath freshener—and she’s all over him.

I have problems with that scenario, but I’ll come back to that later if I have a chance.

Tosh, meanwhile, is using her device to scan books (by touching it on the spine) and download them to the computer. Suzie is bringing flies to life.

Owen is challenged outside the club by the woman’s boyfriend, and uses the alien mojo again—which results in the boyfriend deciding to join in rather than, as had been his original plan, punching Owen in the face.

Ianto, meanwhile, has shut Gwen’s computer down remotely, and she’s so groggy by this point that she hasn’t the faintest idea what’s happening.

And Jack’s standing on top of a building! Jack has some curious fondness for standing on the tops of buildings. Maybe he’s Batman?

The next morning, Gwen wakes up still on her keyboard—only she’s not in her study, she’s in the kitchen now. She can’t really remember what’s happened, and believes her boyfriend’s suggestion that she was out with her friend Diane. Similarly, she blows off the colleague whom she asked to look up Jack, because she can’t remember who Jack is.

Gwen wanders into CID, and sees an artist’s rendition of the murder weapon, an odd pronged implement that clearly resonates with Gwen somehow, though she can’t put her finger on it. But throughout the day, she keeps flashing back to the sketch. Two o’clock in the morning, she still can’t sleep, but now she’s thinking of a physical object. Has she seen it somewhere? Or is she projecting from the sketch?

Well, the answer to that becomes more apparent when she’s sees a brochure for Wales Millennium Centre (Torchwood is under the Millennium Centre) with “remember” written on it.

And when she heads back there, she does start remembering—especially as Suzie comes walking slowly towards her. She’s so beautiful, Indira Varma.

Suzie thinks that Gwen knows what’s going on—that the image of the knife has tripped the amnesia—but Gwen has no idea why Suzie has suddenly drawn a gun on her.

Suzie is freaking out: she says Gwen is the only one who can “make the link.” Well, the only one apart from Torchwood. She’s planning on running, but she doesn’t know how she can do anything else apart from working for Torchwood.

There are strong shades here of various speeches in Doctor Who—except there’s no Doctor here, just the monsters that the Doctor is, apparently, worth.

Suzie’s explaining what she’s doing—trying to get the glove to actually resurrect people—while Jack comes up behind her on the lift. But Suzie says the perception filter doesn’t work on her, and shoots Jack in the head. She draws the gun on Gwen, and Gwen’s freaking out, because she has no idea why she’s going to be shot.

But just as the perception filter doesn’t work on Suzie, guns don’t work on Jack. He rises up behind Suzie again, telling her its over and to give him the gun. And Suzie knows it’s over, and she shoots herself in the head.

That’s enough to counteract the amnesia pill.

And Tosh and Owen give Jack the alien devices they’ve stolen from the lab, before Jack locks Suzie’s body away in Torchwood’s very own vault.

And he and Gwen stand outside (on top of a building, from the looks of it), and Jack explains that he can’t die—not until he finds a doctor, the “right kind of Doctor.”

Gwen’s worried that she’s going to be fed another amnesia pill, but Jack offers her a job instead.

And, of course she accepts.

We pan back from the two of them—yep, they’re standing on a roof—past a pterodactyl (yes, a pterodactyl) and into a trailer for next episode. Until next week!

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Fifty-Five

Posted 2955 days ago in by Catriona

Nick trots out about half-past six to pick up some fish and chips for tea.

Half an hour later, we have the following conversation over Gmail chat:

NICK: Hello! I am outside!
ME: Where are your keys?
NICK: Who knows! Halp!
ME: Why did you lock the front door if you didn’t take your keys?
NICK: Food is cooling down!

Thank goodness for iPhones, eh?

Clouds

Posted 2955 days ago in by Catriona

(I’m marking. You know the drill!)

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Fifty-Four

Posted 2958 days ago in by Catriona

Gmail chat has been generating some fabulous conversations lately:

NICK: I don’t know, but it’s too important to ostridge about.
ME: Ostridge?
NICK: You know, head in sand kind of thing.
ME: Ostrich. You daft boy.
NICK: Damn, I bloody checked the spelling and everything.
ME: You can’t have!
NICK: Link.
ME: Here I was, thinking this was some, like, geek thing. Maybe Dennis Ostridge, best known for running with the wrong squad on WoW for six months and never noticing. Hence “Ostridging about.”
NICK: All the bloody dictionaries silently redirect to the correct article now, which makes Google think it’s going to the correct spelling.
ME: And? What about my compelling explanation?
NICK: Well, it’s good, I’ll grant you that. But I was too annoyed with Google for failing me to really notice. Actually, your reasoning is excellent.
ME: I thought so. And who has to check Google to find out how to spell “ostrich”?
NICK: Me, apparently. I couldn’t even get close enough for the Mac’s spell-checker to come up with an alternative.
ME: Hee! You daft boy.

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Fifty-Three

Posted 2959 days ago in by Catriona

NICK: Look at the picture!
ME: I don’t think that’s street legal.
NICK: It can do the Kessel run in about 2000 parsecs.
ME: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Did you think up and reject an original joke?
NICK: Hmm. The joke part was the 2000 parsecs.
ME: Remember what we said about how if you have to explain a joke, it’s not technically a joke? Because it’s not funny any more?
NICK: Some subscribe to that theory, yes.
ME: Not you?
NICK: In the context of this conversation? No.

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Fifty-Two

Posted 2959 days ago in by Catriona

When boyfriends make unreasonable requests (not like that! Why do you have such a filthy mind?) via G-mail chat:

ME: Freaking out! Freaking out now! Freaking out has commenced!
NICK: Why?
ME: Do you even need to ask?
NICK: Why can’t you ever freak out in a ninja or a funkadelic way?

Dodgy Detective Fiction From The Lifeline Bookfest

Posted 2959 days ago in by Catriona

First up, John Dickson Carr’s The Curse of the Bronze Lamp:

Hmm. Am I alone in thinking that this looks less like “John Dickson Carr writing as Carter Dickson” and more like “John Dickson Carr writing as Barbara Cartland”?

It’s not usually a sign that you’ve bought high-quality detective fiction when the heroine/victim (I haven’t read it yet, so she could be either, or both) is in soft focus on the front cover.

Also? That’s not a lamp. At least, I’m fairly sure that’s not a lamp—and I own a lamp shaped like a swan (as well as three-quarters of a lamp shaped like a panther). So I suppose it could be a TV lamp, like, say, some of these.

But the book was first published in 1945, which I believe is a decade or so before the big “TV lamp boom,” so I’m just going to go out on a limb and say, “That’s not a lamp. That’s a mask. You can tell the difference, because masks only light up under special circumstances. Like this. And I’m fairly sure that didn’t happen in 1945, either.”

Still, it’s one better than Earl Derr Biggers’s Charlie Chan: Keeper of the Keys:

My, but that’s an ugly cover!

What?

Oh, yes: it’s also bordering on the highly offensive. But, mostly, it’s just ugly.

Oh, and Earl Derr Biggers? If I have to go the trouble of looking you up on Wikipedia to make sure you’re just one man (and he is), then that suggests there’s something weird about how you’re formatting your name on the cover, here.

I’m also highly bewildered by the great detective’s speech patterns, as showcased in the blurb in the front of the book. (Nope, I haven’t read this one yet, either.)

For example:

Chan intercepted him and laid his hand on the host’s arm. Beyond Ward he saw frightened faces—Romano, Swan, Beaton, Dinsdale, Ireland, Cecile. “You are psychic, Mr. Ward,” Charlie said gravely. “Three days before the crime, you summon detective.”

Is it just me, or does this seem as though Charlie Chan, halfway through his speech, suddenly thought to himself, “Bugger, I forgot my ‘music-hall Oriental of the late nineteenth century’ patter. Best drop an article there, old chap”? Either that, or he’s comfortable with the definite article but has serious reservations about the indefinite article.

And, finally, the prize in my Lifeline Bookfest haul:

Enough said, really.

I Lied: We Can Always Become Geekier

Posted 2961 days ago in by Catriona

While listening to Cheap Trick’s re-recording of the Transformers theme song for the new movie.

(Yes, you read that correctly. Cheap Trick.)

NICK: Hmm.
ME: What’s up? You don’t like it?
NICK: Well, I don’t know. I think I preferred the other movie one.
ME: The movie where Optimus Prime dies?
NICK: Yeah.
ME: But was that done by Cheap Trick?
NICK: No, but it was another ‘80s’ hair band. Maybe it was Whitesnake?

(For the record, it was Lion), who are, and I quote, “a 1980s heavy metal band best known for their theme song from the 1986 animated movie The Transformers: The Movie.”)

For the curious, the Cheap Trick version is here.

And the Lion one is here.

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