Planetary Explorers Confounded By Giant Enigma

Don’t mess with the Giant.

We learned that fundamental rule very early in our stay here. The natives take their god seriously.

“Do Not Touch” is a simpler way to put it.

Our lesson came the hard way. Six of our best people were killed on the first expedition to the Giant – felled by the otherwise most congenial people we have ever encountered on our planetary explorations.

0025sign Signs of Trouble

We don’t know whether the Giant is animal, vegetable or mineral. It was visible from orbit upon our arrival, which was the primary reason we set down here. The giant rules the horizon, driving us crazy with its nearby unknowability.

The giant appears to be worshiped by the planet’s primitive humanoids. We’ve been close enough to see the structures erected at its feet. Temples?

We’ve observed that some of those who march, single-file to the temples every four planetary rotations don’t always come back. Sacrifices?

Theories about the nature of the Giant abound, as one might expect in a scientific community denied access to the focal point of its curiosity and further hampered by an immensely hostile environment.

A few of us speculate that the Giant is a natural landscape feature, mindlessly forged by the same forces that shaped the planet as whole.


The least discerning eye cannot escape the detail of the Giant’s sagging face and posture.

More likely. The Giant is a mountain, painstakingly transformed, Mount Rushmore-style, as a tribute to some fallen hero from the planetary past. Yet, the inhabitants to not appear to have the technological means to create such a monument.

That leads to my pet theory: The giant was a living being.

He was a member of a king-sized race which preceded the current dominant species.

Slumped in despair at the demise of the rest of his kind, he was the final victim of the ice age that suddenly engulfed his world.

Least likely?


Donald, the Teenage Toddler

Here’s a little ditty to help cheer you through the holidays. You all know the melody.


We’ve had Andrew and Millard and Chester and Theo
Richard and Gerald and Ronald and Geo
But will you recall
The worst President of them all?

Donald, the Teenage Toddler
Had some very tiny hands
And if you ever saw them
You would scoff at his demands

All of the Teenage Toddlers
Laughed at him and called him names
They never let poor Donald
Spout his many brainless claims

Then one rigged election day
Voters seemed to say
“Donald, though your hair’s a fright
Won’t you march us to the right?”

Now teenage toddlers love him
And they tweet it out with glee
“Donald, the Teenage Toddler,
You have set our hate so free.”

The Bad War

This is a special, unedited “guest blog” written and typed by my 7-year-old grandson, Matthew. His devotion to Doctor Who exceeds my own and has outlasted his previous fixation with Thomas the Tank Engine.

matthewandtardis5Chapter 1
Once upon a time there was a fire. They almost died but then someone came for them. He said “SUPERBOY WHAT EVER MY NAME IS TO THE DAY!” He said he doesn’t remember what he usually calls himself. The Mysterious Hero saved the people from that fire. The Mysterious Hero can fly, Run 100 miles per hour, and can even have laser vision! Then… what we all been waiting for. The Doctor & Clara lands the TARDIS (Time Relative Dimensional In Space) at London 2020 Time is 3:30 Clara was so amazed she couldn’t say a thing. “Impressing.” Says The Doctor. “What time is this?” asks Clara. “London 2020.” Says The Doctor.

Chapter 2
The Doctor sees a DALEK chasing a CYBERMEN. The Doctor whispers to himself “That can’t be good… That cant be good at all.” “What?” Clara asks The Doctor. “There’s going to be incoming trouble later.” Says The Doctor. The Mysterious Hero sees The Doctor “Hello. What brings you here? And why are you standing by a blue box??!” asks The Mysterious Hero. “Well. This isn’t just a plain old blue box. This is a time machine. I call it The TARDIS. T A R D I S stands for Time Relative Dimensional In Space.” Says The Doctor. “No Way! Your so silly it can’t be a time machine. Its not possible to have a box that is bigger in the inside.” Says The Mysterious Hero. “Your Wrong. It is possible. Take a look.” Says The Doctor. The Mysterious Hero opens the door & then he could not believe his eyes. “B-B-But.. Hhow?!” says The Mysterious Hero.

Chapter 3
Magic.” Says Clara. “Magic.” Says The Doctor. “Oh and one thing. What’s your name??” asks The Mysterious Hero. “My name… is The Doctor.” “Doctor what?” asks Mysterious Hero “Just The Doctor” Says The Doctor “But Doctor who?” asks The Mysterious Hero “I told you The Doctor” says The Doctor.

Chapter 4
Mysterious had to stop asking and had to see that if he is actually a timelord. So he made tests “Hmm.. Speak a different language.” Says The Mysterious Hero “őíň ıįåç Ţ ŹŲćă ŢŦ” says The Doctor. “Now. Prove me that it’s a time machine. Take me to the same place just in the date that is 100,20,33” says The Mysterious Hero. “Ooooh I cant do that. Earth doesn’t live forever. Neither will you.” Says The Doctor. “What about.. 1995 but same place.” “Sorry I cant. If I do then I will see myself from the past. I have different faces.” Says The Doctor. “Fine.” Says The Mysterious Hero “Doctor. Your forgetting about me again.” Says Clara in a stressed way. “Yeah sorry about that Clara. Everyone stay here, its safe nothing can get in. There’s some enemies I need find.”

Chapter 5
Said The Doctor. The Doctor leaves The TARDIS and locks the door. “Lets see where are you little monsters.” Says The Doctor when The Doctor gets far away from something comes to come steal it and destroy it. “THE TARDIS IS DETECTED! YOU. TELL THE BOSS THAT WE DETECTED THE TARDIS!!!” Says DALEK “YES SIR.” Says CYBERMEN (That got Dementedetated. (Pretending it’s the daleks upgrade) ).


Chapter 6
The Doctor heads back to The TARDIS. He sees that The TARDIS is gone. “Oh no you don’t.” says The Doctor as he pulls out his sonic screwdriver and turns it to Land Here mode. (Meanwhile in The TARDIS) “Well that’s good we landed and stopped shaking” said Mysterious Hero & Clara. The Doctor unlocks the doors and opens doors then he asks “Are you two alright?” “Yeah were fine.” Says Clara and again The Doctor save the day.

The End

Man Seeking Woman

No, that’s not the the heading on a Craig’s List personal ad. It’s show that fans of off-beat TV might want to check out.

This over-the-top comedy, three episodes into its second season on FXX, is absurdist humor at its finest. A few words of warning: this show is rated MA for reasons of language, sexual situations and/or nudity, although not the type of nudity you find on the likes of Game of Thrones

MSW focuses on the oftentimes surrealistic trials and tribulations of Josh Greenberg (Jay Baruchel), whose relationships with women are so disastrous they make the Hindenburg look like a transportation success story. Josh has been turned down by the Last Woman on Earth. He has discovered that 100 percent of women on the planet may be genetically incapable of being sexually attracted to him.


Josh has gone on a blind date with an actual troll. Josh and a girlfriend have taken the next logical step in couplehood by becoming surgically conjoined, which made their inevitable breakup more than psychologically painful. His mother (Robin Duke) has held him hostage and tortured him for information about his latest girlfriend.

The show frequently goes beyond the boundaries of good taste, depending on where you might personally draw the line. Last season, both Josh and his best bud, Mike (Eric André) leave a club with women, only to discover that they left their penises back at the club. This season, Josh attempts to find sexual fulfillment with a 1998 Saturn.

MSW is based on The Last Girlfriend on Earth, by Simon Rich, who is the top dog behind the TV version. Adding comedic chops to its pedigree, the show lists Lorne Michaels (Saturday Night Live) is an executive producer, teaming his Broadway Video with FX Productions to make the series.

For me, Man Seeking Woman has been a consistent source of laughs and admiration for the fertile creativity of its writers. Of course, I regularly stray from mainstream television fare. Your reaction might be as different as the show.

Expounding on The Expanse



Syfy has another contender for its winners column with The Expanse.

The new series made an impressive double debut Dec. 14 and 15. The show is Dark Matter done right — mixed with a little Killjoys to produce something that might even rival the gritty, dramatic appeal of Battlestar Galactica.

Blasphemy, I know. Also going out on a limb for an unproven series, but the first two episodes have been that good. Besides, I’ve been out on that limb before (Dark Matter, Zoo), and I know that the fall won’t kill me.

The Expanse encompasses a large swath of our solar system — from Earth to the asteroid belt. I was excited to see that the Human Race had colonized all the way out to Ceres. I was disappointed that greed and war had been taken along for the ride.

But, hey. What’s a plot without conflict?

We’ve got conflict aplenty, here. It’s Earth vs. Mars vs. The Belters. Earth, run by a sinister United Nations which has somehow grown very sharp teeth, is at the top of the pecking order. Coming in second are the rival Martians, a name requiring some mental adjustment knowing that they are humans who are neither green nor small. At the bottom are the rebellious Belters, who mine the asteroids and are heavily dependent on the kindness of the “Inners” for little things like water and air.

The war drums are pounding, and the Martians seem to have the biggest drumsticks.

In the premier episode, an asteroid mining ship, the Canterbury is taking a load of precious ice back to Ceres when it reluctantly responds to a distress call from another ship. The Canterbury is nuked for its trouble, vaporizing 50 crew members and leaving only the five who had been sent to investigate the disabled freighter alive. Things go downhill from there.

The world-building gets off to a fast start. Viewers get looks at life on Ceres and the political structure on Earth. It seems that UN officials are not above “gravity torture” when it comes to extracting information from off-world terrorist suspects.


The characters develop nicely for an opening episode. On Ceres, we’ve got Josephus “Joe” Miller (played by Thomas Jane), a hard-nosed Star Helix Security detective with a heart. Lost in space is Canterbury second officer and reluctant acting ship’s executive officer Jim Holden (Steven Strait); and fellow Canterbury crew member Naomi Nagala (Dominique Tipper), the captain Holden will never be. Back on Earth, we get a taste for UN authority with Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), nasty deputy undersecretary.

The special effects are great — from tiny details like how birds might fly on a low-gravity dwarf planet to exterior scenes in deep space. The plot, with its world-building and political intrigue, has me anxiously looking forward to learning more in episodes to come.

Syfy has pulled out all the stops in its website supplements to The Expanse, including this very cool interactive page:

It’s almost as impressive as the premiere. Check it out, then check out the series.

Compression Confession Dial: Who Knew?


Holy dimensional dementia!

When I saw the entire prison castle comfortably sitting inside the Doctor’s Confession Dial, as “Heaven Sent” concluded last week, I dismissed it as part of his delusional state of mind.

Talk about being bigger on the inside! Or did the Time Lord teleportation device turn him into a teeny, tiny micro-Doctor?

It all really happened. The Doctor did spend 4.5 billion years taking “the long way ’round” to the outer edge of space, time and Gallifrey. But were those real years, or itty-bitty micro-years?

No matter. What a gala homecoming it is for the Doctor in the season finale, “Hell Bent,” presented Dec. 5

welcoming committee
Welcome to Gallifrey, Doctor

The Doctor returns to his ancestral home, a barn that doesn’t seem to be associated with any other traditional farm buildings. His people silently gather to gawk at him eating soup. The hero of the Time War has returned. Everything he does is gawkable.

With all the trash talk about the Doctor always running away, it seemed more like Gallifrey should be running from him. In the dial, he had confessed to being scared, but he was not scared for himself. He was scared about what he might do to Gallifrey. He is as angry as a Time Lord who has just spent billions of years beating his fists on a harder-than-diamond wall can be.

High Council efforts to rein the War Doctor in are almost comical. He goes unblinkingly nose-to-nose with a heavily armed Gallifreyan Sky Tank. He scrapes a line in the sand with the heel of a shoe and walks away. When an exasperated Time Lord High Council President Rassilon finally comes to take him out, he has a one-line greeting.

“Get off my planet.”

And Rassilon the Redeemer, Rassilon the Resurrected, Rassilon the Not Timothy Dalton, does. Well, after his firing squad mutinies, and he is surrounded by a squadron of Sky Tanks summoned by the Doctor, he does.

The Time Lords are still keen to find out what the Doctor knows about the fabled and dreaded Hybrid, which was their purpose for putting him in the Confession Dial Fun House. At the end of “Heaven Sent,” the Doctor had laid claim to the name himself.

Rassilon and the rest of the High Council did not buy that statement. Maybe what the Doctor really meant was why worry about The Hybrid when he was already on his way to personally deliver a thorough ass-kicking experience?

The Doctor fails to deliver on that threat. His real purpose is embarking on a desperate, reckless attempt to resurrect Clara. The Time Lord bag of tricks includes an Extraction Chamber, a device capable of pulling someone out of the space-time continuum at the precise moment of death. Clara has information about the Hybrid, he tells the council, so they arrange an extraction.

Presto! Clara steps through a door from her death scene into the chamber, dazed and confused.

Without a pulse, Clara is still not quite alive. She is talking, walking much more skillfully and looking much better than any other reanimated corpse I’ve seen on the weekend television screen.

The Gallifreyan general who has been aiding the Doctor in his quest for Clara makes the mistake of getting in the Doctor’s way, insisting that Clara be told of her status and fate. In a totally out-of-character move, the Doctor grabs a gun.

Wildly waving the weapon, he orders everyone to not to move.

“On pain of death, no one take a selfie,” he commands.

When the general refuses to allow them to leave, the Doctor blasts the poor guy. The general was only trying to do the right thing.

What? Who is this Doctor? As an anti-gun guy for what, 4,500,002,000 years, now, thanks to his stay in the Confession Dial, he is rather nonchalant about the deed. The general was on only his tenth regeneration, so he wasn’t going to stay dead.

“We’re on Gallifrey. ‘Death’ is Time Lord for ‘man flu,’ ” he tells a shocked and appalled Clara.

The shooting is a measure of how passionate the Doctor is about regaining his companion. He is breaking all the rules, including his own. He is ready and willing to fracture time itself to accomplish his objective.

Following the tradition established by the first Doctor, the12th Doctor steals a TARDIS. He and Clara make their escape. The sense of deja vu is intensified by the TARDIS interior decor, which matches that of the TARDIS stolen by the first Doctor.

When it comes to TARDIS color schemes, white on white is apparently the Ferrari red of the Time Lords. It does make one wonder. Have the Doctors spent a lot of their weekends customizing the original TARDIS?


The Doctor and Clara sort things out. She’s more than a little miffed that he dedicated 4.5 billion years to bringing her back. He’s concentrating on getting her a new pulse. Their discussion is interrupted by four knocks — the tell-tale, Time Lord, double heartbeat pattern — on the TARDIS door. That’s never a good thing.

The Doctor, ever the protective father figure and mindful of his “duty to care,” is the one to investigate. Outside, as he already knows, is Ashildr/Me, the eternal persona non grata Stark from Hell, waiting to chat.

They are still on Gallifrey, in the dark and dank cloister subterranean level which serves as housing for “Sliders” and the central location for the deceased Time Lord Matrix. The Universal End of Everything is only five minutes away.

Items of discussion include the real identity of The Hybrid. It’s not Me, as she’s less than half Mire and mostly Human. It’s not me, the Doctor claims, although he has a suspicious look on his face when he makes the denial and asks if it really matters. It’s not Team Doctor and Clara, which would be really stretching the definition of a single hybrid creature. Will the real Hybrid please stand up?

They also talk about the Doctor’s plans to take Clara in a safe place on Earth and to wipe her mind of all Doctor-related memories because they could use them to find her. Huh? I don’t know who “they” are, (the Time Lords?) or why they would want to find her.

Unknown to the Doctor and Me, Clara has been eavesdropping on their conversation through the TARDIS. She is not cool with the memory wipe plans.

“These have been the best years of my life, and they are mine,” she says. “Tomorrow is promised to no one, Doctor, but I insist upon my past. I am entitled to that.”

They compromise. Both will put a finger on the neural block memory zapper at the same time. Only one will walk away with memories intact. They do, and the Doctor begins to black out; but not before tearful good-byes and final words of wisdom for Clara.

“Never eat pears,” he advises. “They’re too squishy, and they always make your chin wet. That one’s quite important. Write it down.”

The Doctor hits the floor. His eyelids flutter, and his eyes close. Is he unconscious, or has he died?

He’s alive, we quickly learn. He awakens lying in the desert, attended by a guy Clara has posted to aid his recovery.

At this point, I need to apologetically backtrack.


In the opening scene of the episode, the Doctor is piloting a pickup down a Nevada highway and comes to a diner just west of nowhere. He walks in, wearing his sonic shades and carrying his guitar, the very personification of the 1950s icons adorning the diner walls. Inside is a lone waitress, who, much not to my surprise, is Clara. The entire narrative of his return to Gallifrey are flashbacks, as he tells his story to Clara, a story about going back to his hometown, “Space Glasgow,” and the gang who wanted to kill him.

“You’ve been traveling,” Clara says, shortly after he appears.

“Yeah,” the Doctor replies, “from time to time.”

Like everyone else who watched the show (and isn’t lying), I believed, throughout the episode, that Clara was the one who had her memory wiped. I was flabbergasted to learn the Doctor had no idea that he was talking to Clara. I thought that the Doctor was just trying to determine if the memory wipe had been successful.

Very nicely done, Steven Moffat.

While the Doctor’s back is turned, and he is strumming the “Clara Theme” on his guitar, Clara slips though the diner back door and into the stolen TARDIS control room to join Me. The diner dissolves around the Doctor as the TARDIS dematerializes, leaving him alone the desert, but also leaving him with his missing TARDIS.

The memorial to Clara painted on the TARDIS exterior includes her likeness, the likeness of the waitress in the diner, the Impossible Girl. Inside, on a chalk board, are the words “Run, you clever boy, and be a doctor.”

This was an exponentially more satisfying way to say farewell to a dear companion than her quick death on Trap Street in “Face the Raven.” I got a little misty-eyed whenever the “Clara” theme was played.

Oh, yeah!

All of that, and the Doctor gets a totally cool new sonic screwdriver. I want one.

Oh, I forgot to mention … aboard the vintage TARDIS, Me and Clara discuss plans. Time is not healing — what with Clara missing from her “fixed point in the Universe” moment of death and all. She is still without a heartbeat and knows she must go back to Gallifrey to be reinserted into her time stream.

Clara notes that they have some “wiggle room.” They opt to take the “long way around” to her destiny.

That would be another story. Not part of this one.