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Doctor Who Series 7A Reactions

The Internet isn’t safe!! The Angels Take Manhattan has aired in the UK, and will air on BBC America shortly. Not even etsy appears to be safe in the meantime, but I did want to post my reactions to the first four episodes of Doctor Who season 7A before I watch. I had intended to post reviews episode by episode, but that didn’t happen. So below are brief reactions, thoughts, and of course, spoilers!

Asylum of the Daleks
This was an interesting way to lead in the season. I have gotten used to spending the first 10 minutes at least with my brow furrowed trying to figure out what in the world was going on. I felt that the Parliament of the Daleks didn’t really make sense for them. In the new series, there have been far more levels of power and rebel/humanized Daleks. But a parliament implies a sort of democracy, and that’s definitely NOT Dalek. The Dalek-ized humans also seemed a bit out of character – yes, they’ve been known to use humans, but when they were through with them, they’d discard them.
Anyways, the asylum itself was pretty cool. Again, not sure that I really think the Daleks would keep around any Daleks that were no longer surviving a purpose, but it was a good idea, and very creepy. As always, poor Rory.
I think the most interesting thing about this episode came to me in retrospect. I have been doing a pretty good job of avoiding spoilers for this season, and I think that actually made me miss out on a good bit of the impact of the episode. Firstly, the only things I knew about the new companion were that she was brunette, called Clara, and not appearing until Christmas. So, although I knew very early into the episode that something was up with Oswin, I didn’t really connect her to anything further until I listening to the Staggering Stories podcast review of the episode! Also, I hadn’t watched any of the Pond Life clips, so Amy & Rory’s breakup came out of left field for me. As far as I can remember, none of the other extra clips or prequels have really affected the viewers’ understanding of the proper episodes, but having now seen Pond Life, I think I would have viewed this episode differently!
Lastly, I really enjoyed seeing Amy & Rory’s relationship and attempts at real life. Although we got some of this last season, I think it was very real and human in this episode. I don’t think it was at all fair that Rory tells Amy he loves her more, and it was only kind of sort of him that waited 2,000 years for her (also interesting that he still remembers all of that!) and I also don’t think it was fair for Amy to make the decision for him and kick him out “for his own good” without talking to him about it, and yet, I think both of their reactions were very human. We’re often unfair to each other and not very good about talking things out!


Dinosaurs on a Spaceship
This seemed a bit of fluff to me. I’m sure small children (and big men) enjoyed seeing dinosaurs. On a spaceship. I felt that there were too many companions squeezed in and it was all a bit too contrived. Although I knew Nefertiti & Lestat (see, not enough development – I can’t even remember what the character was called and thought of him as Lestat the whole episode) would end up together, there really wasn’t a whole lot of development there. And how does she get back to her time to be put in her tomb so we could know who she was? That’s not very like the Doctor.
I loved loved LOVED Mark Williams as Rory’s dad. That was like the best casting ever. Watching this episode, I really wished he had had his own episode in which he and Rory saved the day together, that could have carried its own episode easily. I loved his reactions to the Doctor and could definitely a lot of Rory in his performance. The final scene of him sitting in the doorway of the TARDIS was possibly my favorite scene in all of new Who (not sure if it beats Wilf or not, but it’s very, very close).


A Town called Mercy
Not really sure I like angsty Eleventh Doctor. I feel like we are backpedalling towards angsty Ten, which I got rather tired of. Amy yelling at the Doctor that he needs companions is true, but since every time we have seen him lately, he has been with them, it’s kind of hard to really grasp how long he has been on his own. They are clearly building towards something big in the Ponds’ last episode. Really though, I think what the Doctor really needed pointing out to him was his hipocracy, and I can’t even remember how much of that the Ponds even know. This was true in the ending of Dinosaurs on a Spaceship too.
The ending of this was a bit too neat, but to be honest, I couldn’t come up with a different ending that I would have been ok with. I did like how they did the town, the music and the stetson. I was definitely getting a Firefly (and Red Dwarf!) vibe.


The Power of Three
It was quite an amusing idea to see the Doctor trying to live with the Ponds, but I felt that they made it a bit too forced. He did, after all, live in a flat with Craig and play football for a while. And even if all the humans were accepting the cubes and incorporating them into their everyday lives, I don’t think the Doctor would have accepted them that easily, and I don’t think he would have run off after only 4 days – I think they were much too intriguing of a puzzle for that. He might have gone back 4 days and tried to figure out where they had come from or gone and researched them, but I don’t think he’d have just wandered off.
After my disappointment that there wasn’t enough Brian Williams in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, I was so glad to see him back again. His cube status reports were hilarious. Have I mentioned how perfect this casting was??
One thing that I don’t like about Amy & Rory’s attempts at real life is that it’s all seeming too easy for them. If I had a friend who was always disappearing or backing out of commitments, I certainly wouldn’t ask her to be a bridesmaid, and if I had an employ who didn’t show up to work for a month at a time, I wouldn’t be offering him a full time position, no matter how good he was with the patients. Once, I went on a three day (pre-planned) vacation, and didn’t have a job when I got back!
I loved UNIT’s appearance, this is definitely a threat UNIT had to be involved in. The base beneath the Tower of London looked great, and I was happy to see Kate Stewart. Ok, I admit, I got a bit teary-eyed even. Once again, I felt that the ending of this episode was a bit too sudden and contrived. The idea and the buildup were great, but the last 5 minutes were a waste. This is why the sonic screwdriver and K-9 got destroyed several times throughout classic Who!
Knowing that the next episode will be Rory and Amy’s last, I had nearly come to accept that they might be able to step away from life with the Doctor, like Martha did. But there have been too many sad glances from the Doctor, too much foreboding. After the end of this episode, it’s clear that something drastic is going to have to happen in the next episode.



So, in summary, this season so far has been pretty good. The ideas behind each of the episodes have been fantastic in my opinion, although I’ve felt let down by the resolutions. After all of the weird weirdness in the arc(s) from last season, it’s honestly been a bit of a relief that I don’t have to keep track of so many plot points across episodes (I have a horrible memory).

Although I was a bit reluctant about Eleven, Amy and Rory in the beginning, they have become one of my favorite TARDIS teams of all time. I’d have to agree with the conclusion to the Power of Three in that I really love them as a whole, but on their own not so much. Amy really annoys me on her own, or with just her and Eleven. I think what I’ve really loved about the development of Amy’s story is that the Doctor is intertwined in her life going SO far back, and that’s really only something that’s previously been explored in books or audios, but not to my recollection in the tv series. We haven’t seen a whole lot of Eleven on his own. I thought the episodes with Craig were good, but didn’t much care for either of the Christmas specials. I’ve been saying since Captain Jack left Eight and Rose that the Doctor needed a male companion. I didn’t much care for Rory in the first couple of episodes (honestly after their first episode I think my comment was that they should have left him in Leadworth and taken the computer geek friend instead) but he has really developed. I like that they’ve let him use his medical skills moreso than I remember Martha getting to use hers, and I love that he’s grown a backbone and insisted to the Doctor that his own work was important and that there was more to life than running around after the Doctor, but I think even Rory on his own would start to grate on me. These three are best together in a team.

What that means after the next episode, I don’t know, but I had faith in Moffat going into the fifth season, and I still have faith in him going into this year’s Christmas special. First though, I have to survive tonight’s episode. Guess I’d better go get my tissues and prepare myself!!

Music Monday: Clock Opera

Clock Opera appeared on “ones to watch” lists for 2010. And 2011. And 2012. They finally released their debut album this past April, and it looks like the Clock Opera machine is now rolling full steam ahead. Early in their career, they got labelled “chop pop” and although frontman Guy Connelly seems uncomfortable with the tag, it’s about the only short description for their unique blend of chopped, remixed, smoothed samples and rather epic lyrics. I’ve been listening since late 2009 when they added to the lineup Dan Armstrong, whom I previously knew from his days with indie band The Rushes. Clock Opera started as the solo project of Guy Connelly, who released both remixes and original tracks under the name. Remixes released from Clock Opera continue to be Guy’s handiwork, and it was his remix of Marina & the Diamonds’ “I am Not a Robot” combined with the release of “Belongings” that really made me sit up and listen.


Their debut album, Ways to Forget, was released in both standard and deluxe versions. I have been waiting expectantly for this album for a couple of years now, and I have to say, if I had only gotten the standard version, I would have been disappointed. 6 out of the 10 tracks had previously been released as singles, and I think the versions on the cd suffer from over-production. It’s like they took somewhat disparate songs like the driving, angry Lesson No. 7, the beautiful crescendo of Once and For All, and the pop staccato of Belongings, and decided that they needed to sound more alike. Although CO’s songs tend to be slightly repetitive and formulaic, they are dern catchy and powerful, and the album versions lose that somewhat. Even Move to the Mountains, which people have begging for since it appeared in an episode of Chuck, loses a bit of what was hinted at under those lines of Chuck dialogue.

That said, my love affair with this album starts with track 8, and I think the Lost Buoys, Move to the Mountains, and Fail Better, all previously unreleased, would work for me as a happy ending. Fortunately, however, they decided to also release a deluxe version (at least in the UK). New tracks Ways to Forget (yes, the title track got dropped from the initial album lineup), New Arrivals, Glass Eye and Seven Hours add some diversity to the album, and I am SO glad they added the “under the floorboards” version of Once and For All. This song is truly lovely and the video proves all musicians ought to know how to play the piano:



Be sure and watch the music video for the original version of Once and For All as well – if that doesn’t make you cry then you have a hard, hard heart. D & I were lucky enough to catch them in Manchester last year and in New York this spring. For a while I had a hard time imagining how they could bring their sound to the live stage, but they put on a really good show, especially once they start breaking out the metal trays & kettles! Sadly, Dan said they don’t often play my favorite newer song, Fail Better, live because it requires a special setup for bassist Andy. I’m very excited, I already have my tickets for their November London show, although it would help if I had plane tickets too…


You can find Clock Opera on:




Youtube (If you’re like me and are still a bit confused by the concept of “chop pop”, watch the “making of” videos where they put in context some of the everyday sounds they incorporate)


Music Monday: Bella Morte

By now, you should be able to tell that I actually cannot write or talk about music. I can tell you what I enjoy, it’s up to you to check it out and define/label/judge it for yourself. This is supposed to be a craft blog anyways! Hah. Last night, I finally caught Bella Morte in Richmond. I first encountered Bella & Brighter Fires this spring at Raven Con. At the time, I had only listened to one or two tracks and since I wasn’t staying at the con hotel, I didn’t hang around for their midnight show. Shame on me! The gang was very friendly, and I intended to give them another listen, but didn’t do so before Blood on the Beach, where I passed up the chance to see them again! It wasn’t until June that I gave Bella Morte, and co-founders Andy Deane & Gopal Metro’s new project Brighter Fires, a closer listen. Typically, this would be where I say that the band(s) then broke up and I failed to ever see them again. Fortunately, both acts seem to be going strong!

According to their official bio, “Bella Morte sings songs of love and loss, hope and despair.  By combining electronics, graveyard ballads, emotive storytelling and unique guitar riffs, Bella Morte have developed a style that is solely their own…. [T]hey remain eternally thankful to have been able to make a living doing what they love: singing songs about the dead and winning over the hearts of the living along the way.” Listen to a few of their tracks on reverbnation and if nothing else, you have to watch my favorite music video, for a ridiculous cover (read: AWESOME):


Since their discography is a bit overwhelming, here’s the tracklist for the mix I made which has become my early morning/late night driving mix of choice:

1. Flatlined
2. One Thousand Days (below – one of my faves)
3. Earth Angel
4. Falling Star (my favorite track so far)
5. As the Storm Unfolds
6. Can’t Let This Die
7. The Morning Sun
8. Living Dead
9. Lights in the Sky
10. Angels & Faith
11. Black Seas Collide
12 . On the Edge
13. Here with Me
14. Haunted
15. Find Forever Gone
16. Another Way
17. In the Dirt
18. My Heart Will Go On (yes, I said that)
19. Skin


You can find Bella Morte on:






Music Monday: Brighter Fires

Andy Deane & Gopal Metro founded the goth/industrial/punk mainstay Bella Morte in the mid-90’s. Gopal left the band in 2007 but he & Andy have decided that they missed writing & playing music together, so last year they started a side project called Brighter Fires. Some have likened Brighter Fires’ sound to the Bella Morte of old, which makes sense because when Andy & Gopal write together it does seem to result in a pretty distinctive style. However, they’ve also been exposed to a wider range of influences in the past 15 years, and for that matter, Andy’s voice has matured and has a wider range now too. Please note that I did not say that Andy had matured, just his voice 😉

My second job has been winding down since the middle of May, so I’ve been enjoying some relative freedom in my schedule. This allowed me to catch Brighter Fires three weekends in a row, at the Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar in Charlottesville (as mentioned in the Synthetic Division post & pictured below), at the Canal Club in Richmond, and at the Jewish Mother Backstage in Norfolk. For once, it’s nice to be appreciating a band that is currently active and located in the same country as I am! They also get huge bonus points for being friendly, passionate, talented guys! (By the way, if you use instagram, you should follow Rippingitdown for nearly live photos which I never remember to transfer to my computer so I can post here)

Although they appeal to goth clubs and refer to their music as “dark rock”, listen to closely to songs like “Glorious” and “Sever” and you’ll understand why their debut album is an “anthem about enjoying life and… stuff”.


You can find Brighter Fires on:







Music Monday: Synthetic Divison

Synthetic Division is the synth pop project of Shawn Decker and Josh d’Elia. Shawn was born with hemophilia and diagnosed with HIV in middle school, and after years of denial, he is an AIDS and sex ed spokesman and advocate. Courtesy of the Make a Wish Foundation, in high school he met Depeche Mode, who he credits with making a huge impact on his life.  All of this influences Synthetic Division’s sound and lyrics.

On July 5th I drove up to Charlottesville for the Synthetic Division Numb to the Numbers album release party. The relatively new venue, the Black Market Moto Saloon, was a very interesting space (but was shortly after blocked from hosting live music events due to zoning restrictions). Show openers Lauren Hoffman and Tony Lechmanski played a surprisingly mellow and melodic country set, and DC’s Lenorable picked things up a bit. You can check out my photos from the night on flickr.


Shawn & Josh did a great job, but unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to let them know as I had to speed home to take a friend to the airport early the next morning. Fortunately, the next time I went up to Charlottesville, a solo Synthetic Division performance from Shawn ended up being a last minute opener for Brighter Fires at the Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar (they had to change venues after the Black Market was cut off, and their original openers hERETICS iN tHE lAB drove all the way up from VA Beach only to discover that their instruments were too numerous for the new venue’s small stage – they had “too much rock”, trufax). It was lovely to meet Shawn and Gwenn , who were so friendly!

You can check out a lot of tracks from Synthetic Division on bandcamp. While it’s not the most lyrically sophisticated of his songs, this track always make me laugh (and is ridiculously catchy & geeky to boot):


I also have to throw in a recommendation for Shawn’s autobiography, My Pet Virus: The True Story of a Rebel Without a Cure . At the album release he described it as “the funniest book about AIDS that you’ll ever read”, and I can’t say I’ve read a funnier one. I started reading it while walking around the block. I was only planning on doing 3 laps (about 1 mile), but I definitely went at least 9 because I couldn’t put the book down!

You can find Synthetic Division on:



Youtube (Shawn)


Con Review: FantaSci X

On the 7th I vended at FantaSci, a science fiction convention at the Chesapeake Central Library. I had never attended the event before, and didn’t know what to expect from a free one day con at a library, but I was pretty impressed. The library is HUGE and the con had a pretty wide range of guests, vendors, and programming. The only thing that was slightly disappointing was that our booth was in kind of an auxiliary room that was also holding panels and demonstrations. Did I mention that there was a lot going on? The booth had a mixture of vintage sci fi books and collectibles along with my usual stock of handmade jewelry and recycled pop culture accessories, plus Thirteen O’Clock’s bowties and iPad cases!




Someone posted some great pics of the con, including a very awesome Ten and Eleven (who made her own bowtie, which impressed me since I leave all the sewing to Thirteen O’Clock!), Nick Fury playing the only arcade game I was ever any good at (which I totally missed!!) and a very friendly customer sorting through my newest product line, luggage tags, which I debuted at this event. They’ll be making it to etsy eventually!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Unfortunately, FantaSci’s website isn’t the greatest, and I didn’t have a whole lot of time to study the programming list since I was flying solo for this event so stayed pretty glued to my table. I did appreciate that there was a blood drive, as well as Klingon jailing fundraiser, presumably run by the IKV Devestator fan group (someone please correct me if I’m wrong). I really like this element of the cons I’ve attended recently. All in all, I had a fun day, and I’ve signed up to vend at MonsterFest, a free one day horror convention at the same library in October. I’d encourage you to stop by and check it out if you’re in the area! (Actually, I’d encourage you to stop by and check out the library regardless, and it seemed pretty nice to me!)

Music Monday: Carbon Leaf

Barry Privett, Carbon Leaf

My story with Carbon Leaf is a bit paradoxical. I always have a favorite band of the moment, and that has never been Carbon Leaf. That said, I’ve seen them more often, driven more miles for them, and own more of their CDs than any other band. So as far as my use of the phrase “favorite band”, well, I do not think it means what I think it means… Carbon Leaf are a Richmond-based band, and yet I didn’t start listening to them until I lived in England, and it wasn’t until last year that I’d actually seen them play in Richmond. They formed in 1996 and started off with a pretty heavily celtic-influenced sound. The Boxer is a great example of one of their early hits which they still play today, at least in Virginia, where they seem to include more of the celtic and folk style songs in their setlists than they may do elsewhere.

I’d say their more recent songs are a bit more mainstream sounding, but Barry’s voice remains pretty distinctive. One of the things that always strikes me when they’re setting up for a live show is the sheer number of instruments that the five of them bring onstage with them.

Carter - Carbon Leaf

I caught a great show from them in May as part of the Groovin’ in the Garden concert series at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, VA. They were in top form, playing for what seemed like forever and covering the highlights of their career. I also saw a shorter set earlier this month down in Newport News at Victory Landing Park’s Independence Day celebration. That probably makes about a dozen times that I’ve seen them now, but the Lewis Ginter show may always stand out for several reasons, but most particularly one special moment that a fan caught on video. Too sweet! (although that’s always an idea that could backfire badly!)



Below is one of my favorite photos from the Newport News show. You can see more pics of various CL concerts I’ve attended in my Carbon Leaf flickr set. I’d encourage you to give them a listen – if you’re interested in more of the celtic-influenced sound, Echo Echo is a must, or if you want to hear their more recent alternative/mainstream sound, I’d start with Indian Summer. They’re touring all over the US this summer, and I’m hoping to catch them next at the American Music Festival in Virginia Beach, VA, on 9/1. Do try to catch them if they’re coming your way. I’ve never left a show disappointed!




Carbon Leaf – The Boxer


Carbon Leaf – Miss Hollywood


You can find Carbon Leaf on: