Sunday, 11 November 2018

My predictions for Season 11 of Doctor Who

All photos in this post courtesy of the BBC

After what many people are saying is the strongest episode of the series so far, Demons of the Punjab, there are theories flying around concerning the rest of the series. You should know by now that I love to analyse writing, especially writing for television shows that I'm a fan of, so I wanted to get in on this and put out a few theories of my own:

1. We were told there wasn't going to be an arc for the season, and that there were going to be 10 stand-alone episodes. However, with talk of a "Timeless Child" arc coming into play, who could be the timeless child, and in what context? The timeless child could obviously be the Doctor, but with the family theme playing heavily in every episode so far, perhaps we'll see more of the Doctor's family at the end of the season, or hints of them for the next season. Maybe even Yasmin or Ryan could be the timeless child?

2. There are rumours that Ryan and Graham are not coming back for season 12, but there has been no news of Yasmin leaving the show. Yasmin has been the companion spending the most time with the Doctor so far, so it would make sense that their bond would be stronger and she would have a harder time letting go at the end of the series. Will Yasmin be the sole companion of season 12? I think there's a strong chance she will be.

3. If Yasmin stays on for season 12, and the timeless child arc doesn't get resolved in season 11, there is a chance for lots of ideas to be explored. If the timeless child is one of the Doctor's family, then Yasmin meeting the Doctor's family would make a really good comparison to when the Doctor met Yasmin's family in Arachnids in the UK. This would be a huge leap in character development for her, and it would further strengthen their bond. On the other hand, if the timeless child is Yasmin, it makes sense for the arc to be stretched out and for her to carry on travelling with the Doctor, as it would make for a brilliant surprise in season 12.



4. I have talked a lot about the Doctor and Yasmin's bond. If they were to leave Ryan and Graham behind at the end of season 11, and carry on travelling on their own in season 12, this would accelerate the strength of that bond. We have had hints that the Doctor is a little bit smitten with Yasmin (and vice versa) in season 11 already, so if their chemistry grows stronger, it could make for a really nice romantic storyline in season 12. Or, for angst if they decide to have a 'skinny love' situation. Skinny love, meaning that the two of them are in love with each other, but there isn't enough communication to ensure that they both know it, and they are both too embarrassed or scared to share those feelings. I think there's evidence of this already happening (Najia's questioning in Arachnids, the end scene in Demons) and those feelings could strengthen if they travelled alone.

5. We have not seen the end of Tim Shaw. Or Robertson. They both do not feel like throwaway characters. I do, however, think we've seen the last of the Pting... don't worry, you'll probably be able to buy the plushie version soon enough. I can't say the same for Tim Shaw.


What do you think is going to happen? Let me know!

It will be interesting to see if I get any of this right. If I do, brilliant. If I don't, then it goes to show that just when you think Doctor Who can't surprise you anymore, it goes and does it anyway. 

Saturday, 10 November 2018

The Rockefeller Review: SNL Season 44 Episode 3 (Host Seth Meyers)


Of all the hosts announced so far for season 44, I was most excited for Seth Meyers.

If you didn't know already, Seth Meyers is a previous cast member, but is known for being a part of Weekend Update and being a head writer for over 12 years. As someone who loves and appreciates great writing, I was really excited to see what SNL could do with Seth this week.

If I'm honest, I don't think they made him the focus of the sketches, but that doesn't mean he was any less brilliant. I want to focus on his monologue first:





I am going to assume that Seth's monologue was written by the current head writers with input from himself, seeing as he used to write the monologues for other hosts. I couldn't find any evidence that he wrote it, but I'm going to take a leap of faith and assume.

Some monologues don't tend to make much of an impact, but this was a perfect monologue and I miss him on the show SO MUCH. I loved the anecdote about Kanye and the little twist at the end of the story - also, I loved the Friends joke:

The Late Night studio is one hundred yards THAT WAY. I had an emotional breakdown and then basically moved from Rachel and Monica's apartment to Joey and Chandler's apartment. 

I find Seth quite a 'sweet' comedian - meaning that he delivers his jokes in such a way that you feel as if you're amongst friends, and even some of his 'shadier' lines don't come off as shady at all. Whoever you are, you want to listen to Seth Meyers. This sweetness worked really well for Weekend Update when he was a cast member and it carries him through his guest spots too.

Now lets move onto my favourite sketch of the night - Thirsty Cops:



It is sketches like this that remind me why this show is so iconic. THIRSTY COPS WAS SO GOOD. Ego and Leslie are a perfect team and I hope this sketch becomes a series. Ego has now made her mark on the show which I am so glad of, because with SNL you have to get in there early or you won't be there next season. 

It reminded me a lot of Dyke and Fats but more modern-day, because you're not watching the sketch for the story... you're watching for the characters. Leslie Jones and Ego Nwodem made a great team, and there was a nice little cameo from Kate McKinnon. 

Overall, this episode didn't use the entire cast to their full potential, but it boosted some of the profiles that needed (and deserved) to be boosted. There were a good range of sketches that would appeal to different target groups, and they are the episodes that do the best out of each season.

Did you like Seth's episode? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Review: The Sealwoman's Gift by Sally Magnusson

Photo from the Waterstones website
Title: The Sealwoman's Gift
Author: Sally Magnusson
Cover Artist: Joe Wilson 
Publisher: Two Roads
Release Date: 8th February 2018
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Page Count: 364 pages
Original Language: English
Format Read: Paperback
Other books in series: N/A
Movie Adaptation: N/A 

BUY HERE: Waterstones, Amazon, The Book Depository

Add to Goodreads

*Warning: this review contains limited spoilers concerning the plot*

I tend to trust the Zoe Ball Book Club when choosing my books. I don't make every purchase decision based on her book club, but she usually chooses really interesting books that suit my taste. 

As soon as I saw that this book contained 17th century pirates, I knew I had to have it.

I'll admit, I picked this book up for the pirates. But the pirates were only a tiny part, and I am so glad they were. Instead, we focus on an Icelandic woman called Asta, and her family as they are all captured by pirates and taken to a new land, which we discover is the Algiers. Asta's husband, pastor Olafur, is sent on a ship to the king in order to get a ransom for the Icelandic people who have now become slaves, whilst Asta and the children are taken in by the upper class Cilleby, who takes her on as a seamstress.

In a twist that is very reminiscent of 1001 Arabian Nights, Asta is sent up to Cilleby's chambers one night to sleep with him. Being a woman of God, she refuses, and instead offers to tell him some sagas. Cilleby ends up liking these stories, and whilst Asta is too feisty for a slave and always talks back to him, he ends up falling in love with her. She doesn't know it, but she falls for him too.

I absolutely adored this book. I don't read many adult novels, and certainly not historical novels - I often find them too difficult to fully immerse myself into. However, Sally Magnusson writes effortlessly about a period of time that is not taught in British schools, and most importantly, she makes Icelandic history accessible to readers. This is the first historical adult novel that I have been able to complete, and Sally has got me hooked.

This wasn't a tale of epic romance - another thing I liked about it. In fact, our main character Asta has so much going on that we find it impossible to think about how she could ever be happy again. I won't spoil everything, but her children all have difficult fates, and Cilleby is the cause of those fates.

As she is falling in love with him, she is torn between her feelings for the man she knows when she shares her stories during their private meetings, and the version of him who is keeping her as a slave and tearing her children away from her. This, combined with her internal struggle to keep her religion when she is trapped in a place where Islam is the majority, makes for a story that has everyone's heart racing. 

I knew nothing about Icelandic history, yet Sally has managed to make me understand and care about these characters who have to deal with the physical and mental struggles of being taken from everything they know.  I will have a hard time leaving this book, but I will carry Asta and her family in my heart for quite some time, and that is the mark of a good book.

Overall, I would say that because its an adult novel it requires more work than a young adult historical novel, but it is very accessible to teens. Sally has provided imagery with a clarity that I have never encountered with the historical genre before, and it is definitely one of my favourite books I have read in 2018.

Obviously, I had to give this book 5 stars on Goodreads!

About the Author:

Sally is usually a non-fiction writer, having written 10 books previously, one of her most famous being Where Memories Go about her mother's dementia. She is half-Icelandic and half-Scottish, so she has inherited a rich talent for storytelling. The Sealwoman's Gift is her first work of fiction.

Monday, 5 November 2018

In Defence of the Tsuranga Conundrum

With the new series currently happening, Sunday nights are reserved for Doctor Who. New Doctor, new companions, new writers, new formats across the board. This is a scary prospect for any television show, but for such an iconic show, there is even more pressure to be perfect. 

Last night's episode was called The Tsuranga Conundrum - and there have been mixed reviews. I have seen a lot of people say that this was the worst episode of Doctor Who so far, but I am here to defend it.

Personally, I think that it hit every target it aimed for, and more besides. In terms of storyline, and achieving the goal it set out for itself, it is definitely second to Rosa out of this series so far. Let me tell you a few reasons why:

1. At the beginning, the Doctor is in danger of losing her TARDIS (again), and she says that this simply can't happen because its her home... and then she calls it "our home". She's devastated about losing the TARDIS again because it is not just important to her, but important to her family, who are now Graham, Ryan, and Yasmin. Doctor Who are pushing a family theme this series instead of a best friends theme for the companions, and I think it is much-needed. A dysfunctional family unit is very relatable to a lot of the audience, and the Doctor is the head of the family.



2. The Pting is so cute. Good thinking Chibs; bringing out a super adorable monster in November so you can make it into an action figure and sell it just in time for Christmas. That might work on other people but its not... okay, it totally worked on me. I'll take 5. It was a new original alien, and after we've been bombarded with Daleks and Emojis, I think the Pting is a pretty cool new alien. 

3. I've seen people say that the pregnant man, Yoss, was meaningless and did nothing for the resolution of the episode. True, he did nothing for the practical resolution of the single episode, but he was there for the emotional resolution of the entire series for Graham and Ryan. I think it worked really well and they bonded over bringing life into the world, gaining some perspective in space, and Ryan actually helped Yoss by opening up about his own experiences with a mostly absent father. 

4. Ryan opening up to people with his emotions is SO GOOD. To have a male character being emotionally vulnerable and sharing his story of his parents will help so many people.



5. Graham is just amazing, all the time. He is a father figure but is allowing himself to be looked after by the Doctor. Plus, he has all the best lines. 

6. Not many people are mentioning the fact that the Doctor is totally smitten by Yaz? She wants to constantly be beside her, she worked together with her to create the practical resolution of the episode, she hesitates when saying "these are my friends: Graham, Ryan... and Yaz" (once again)... and let's not forget when she basically made herself a shield for her. She has something special with Yaz and they work so well together, and this is why the boys weren't a part of the practical resolution.

7. This is the first time we saw the Doctor REALLY rattled. She has serious decisions to make, and it all became much more heart-racing to watch. Its also interesting to see how the others react to her being distressed - Yaz just constantly looks like she wants to protect her and hold her hand.





8. You've got to remember, this series is intentionally lighter so that kids can watch it with their parents, and no one in the family is left out. There will be more jokes, or a slightly simpler script, and that is OKAY as long as there is still enough for older fans as well. Let the fun carry on and let people access Doctor Who, because it hasn't been accessible for quite some time. The message "hope prevails' is a classic Who moral, and everyone, old or young, can take from this message.

9. These characters are, for lack of a better phrase, 'down to earth'. Their normality and lack of "omg she's so amazing and impossible" is what makes this series so great. I'm SO GLAD we're over this phase. I always want a person who just wants more from life, and can't get enough of the Doctor.

10. I only have one negative comment, and you all pretty much know what I'm going to say because I've been shouting it since the series began. DEVELOP YAZ PLEASE. We need it. We still don't know anything else about her, apart from what I've identified about her and the fact that now everyone ships her with the Doctor. But, we still don't know why the Doctor always wants to be around her. I still feel like we're missing out on Yaz's development and why the Doctor is so damn smitten with her. Ten episodes perhaps isn't enough to develop four separate character arcs... its not Chibnall's fault, but we need more, because the characters deserve proper development, and I still feel like Yaz is being left out of this personal growth journey that Graham and Ryan are currently on.

Apart from this small thing, I think the series is great so far. The plot was interesting and clear enough that everyone was able to follow it, and there was a broad range of emotions going from fear, to determination, to vulnerability, to happiness. Themes were explored and resolutions were found. 

In my opinion, this was a classic episode of Doctor Who that is there to remind us why we love the show so much.

Are you enjoying the new series? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, 3 November 2018

BOOK TOUR: Emily Sadovna’s Guide on How to be a Modern Witch


Hey everyone! Today is a special blog post written by author Emily Sadova, and I am part of The Haunting of Violet Gray blog tour! I received a gorgeous package the other day, containing her new book and some extra goodies. Here is a summary of the book:

Cat is inexplicably drawn to a beautiful mansion where she is seduced into the world of modern witchcraft. Upon discovering a witch’s journal, Cat anchors her mind to the summer of 1940 where she witnesses events that lead to a secret occultist ritual. Plagued by the paranormal happenenings of the house and the desperate whispers of a long-dead girl, can Cat piece together a series clues to prevent a repeat of the disastrous ritual? What terrible price must be paid to stop it happening again? This time, on a devastating scale, engineered for the twenty- first century... 

Luckily for you, I am doing a GIVEAWAY! CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO GO TO MY TWITTER AND ENTER.



Now, I'm going to hand you over to the wonderful words of Emily, who has written a special guest blog post about her Wiccan journey.

My Wiccan journey
I have been interested in witchcraft and Wiccan ever since I was a child. As a teenager, I bought my first deck of Tarot cards and have made many major decisions using my amber pendulum to focus my mind and energy. I didn’t delve further into I reached my thirties when I struggled to have my first child and turned to nature to help. 
The idea of witchcraft just makes sense to me. I have just read Wiccanby Harmony Nice. She signs off her introduction with ‘Love and Light,’ a mantra of Wiccan. Those three words sum up a really good way to lead your life, which I try to follow. Show love to the world around you including nature, people and animals. Send love and positivity into the universe and accept that when bad things happen, they happen for a reason and you will learn from it and become stronger and wiser. The light, I believe is the pursuit of knowledge. 
Wiccan and witchcraft is a feminine lead religion, our holy trinity is not the father, the son and the holy ghost but the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone. I have grown up in a female dominated environment, for several years after my dad died when I was a child, my mum brought myself, my brother and sister up by herself whilst she was working. She worked incredibly hard and achieved and enormous amount. She could have been a victim but she was a warrior. I have engrained into me that you are in charge of your destiny. I have never been told you can’t do that because you are a girl, In fact I have learnt that I can do anything because I am a girl. This idea fits with the mantra of Witchcraft. Many women’s political groups and organisation are beginning to adopt the symbol of witch as a symbol of strength, unity and sister hood. See the work of Kirstin Sollee for a greater insight. 
How do I use Witchcraft in everyday life? 
   I am aware of energies all around me. I do at times sink in to negativity but I know those negative vibes head straight in the universe and if you think bad thoughts, the universe can answer with them. I try to keep positive. 
   I am primarily a kitchen witch. I am a feeder. To show my love, I cook. If someone in my family is sick, the first think I will do is knock up a batch of garlic soup. Take homemade chicken stock made from happy free range chicken’s carcass - always chuck the carcass in the freezer after a roast! Add a whole bulb of garlic, in the spring I like to throw in some wild garlic. Garlic is a natural antiseptic and hasantibacterialproperties.  A good chunk of ginger will soothe the gut and lots of veggies. 
   I am really into golden milk, I discovered the recipe in The Handmade Apothecary by Kim Walker and Vicky Chown. I am a bad sleeper, my brain just seems to wake up at bedtime so this helps me.  The recipe demands an infusion of turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, poppy seeds in almond milk. The poppy seeds are a natural sedative, and it is also anti-inflammatory.
   As a family, we love a good forage, Sunday is the perfect time for us to head to the woods. There are still rosehips and elderberries which can be made into immune boosting syrups. My children love taking a basket, gathering goodies and turning them into potions. My go to books are The Green Witch by Arin Murphy-Hiscock and The Real Witch’s Kitchen by Kate West.


Thanks Emily!

You can now buy The Haunting of Violet Gray by visiting www.emilysadovna.com, or by going to Emily's Facebook page to learn more. You can also follow her on Twitter to get all the latest updates!

Thursday, 1 November 2018

The Doctor and Yasmin's Bond



All gifs in this post are made by http://claratwelve.tumblr.com

This may go off in different directions, so I apologise if I jump a bit from one thought to the next. I just thought it would be a really interesting topic to write about!

As I said in my last post, about Yasmin Khan, we don't know an awful lot about her. There is a lot more focus on the characters of Graham and Ryan - Graham and Ryan are related, and the series is focusing on how much they bond after Ryan's grandmother (and Graham's wife) Grace's death, since Ryan was not a fan of Graham before the Doctor came along. They have their own bond. Therefore, this leaves the Doctor open to forming the strongest bond with Yaz and vice versa, because they are both not a part of the Ryan/Graham storyline.

If I had to guess, I would say that nothing explicit will happen in this series between Yaz and Thirteen, whether that be romantic or platonic. You have to remember, they are establishing a new series, with a new Doctor and new companions and new writers. We can take this as an introduction to who the Doctor is going to be - specially as she keeps on saying "I don't know who I am yet". 

If anything was going to happen that changed the foundation of their relationship, it would carry on through to the next series, and it would be quite a slow-burn relationship. What might happen however, as Jodie has teased that LGBT+ issues will be tackled in this series, is that Yasmin may discover her bisexuality through her potential attraction to the Doctor. Alternatively, perhaps the Doctor will mention the fact that she *technically* has a wife in passing, and this sparks a conversation? Maybe their bond will be stronger because of a talk such as this, or maybe their bond will grow stronger simply because they have more time alone together, when Ryan and Graham are doing some bonding of their own.

That is Yasmin's side of the story. However, we need to consider the Doctor's feelings in all of this. There is a slight possibility that she is already developing feelings for Yaz, or she finds their bond so natural that she just assumes they are more than friends. Take the chat with Yaz's mum for example, in episode 4:

YAZ'S MUM:

Are you two seeing each other?

[Yaz and the Doctor look physically taken aback. There is a pause in dialogue and a glance between them.]

DOCTOR:

I don't think so... Are we?

YAZ:

[A pause] ... We're friends.

DOCTOR:

[Exasperated and busy, she looks at Yaz's mum and shakes her head, raising her shoulders and carrying on with the task at hand]

Hmm.

Why would she pause and look to Yaz for the answer?

This is what I find interesting. She knows how feelings and relationships work - she has not lost her memory after her regeneration, and she has had plenty of companions before. She KNOWS which companions she has loved (Rose) and which companions she was best friends with (Donna, Bill for example). So why is she suddenly questioning her relationship with Yaz?

There may be a couple of reasons:

  1. It was a subtle way of the writers helping us understand that the Doctor and Yaz are both attracted to women, without actually having to say the words "lesbian", "gay", or "bisexual".
  2. There is a lot more going on in that TARDIS that the audience don't know about.

Personally, I definitely think there is an element of 1, but we do not see every second of these character's lives. Both the Doctor and Yaz looked to each other for the answer to Yaz's mum's question, and the "I don't think so... are we?" implies that the Doctor genuinely isn't sure. 

Also, her "Hmm" at the end is quite flippant, but if you watch the clip, she looks to Yaz's mum as if to say "she says we're just friends... I'll take her word for it but I'm not sure". This is something I have NEVER seen with the doctor's character, in any incarnation. The others have always been so sure of their relationships, and have always wanted to keep a safe distance between them and their companions, because they don't want it to become complicated. Thirteen, however, is very unsure and doesn't seem like she minds whether they are seeing each other or not. She does this very interesting thing where she leaves it up to Yaz, and gives her the power.

Also, we see the way she reacts to Yaz specifically wanting to stay on board the TARDIS, compared to her reaction to Ryan and Graham wanting to stay. She is happy that all of them are going to stay, but she wants to know Yasmin's reasoning specifically. Yaz says this in response:




And the Doctor seems to be very happy with that. When they all go to pull the TARDIS lever down, the Doctor shoots Yasmin a look, and only her:



I just assumed the series was aiming for a relationship between Yasmin and Ryan, but there seems to be something happening with Yaz and Thirteen. This is complicated, because like I said in my last post the Doctor/Companion bond always walks along the line of friendship and not-so-friendship.

I don't mind either way. If they want to make the bond romantic, that would be super cute. If they want to keep the bond platonic, that is also perfectly fine. But there is so much room for exploration on this topic of sexuality and Yasmin's possible bisexuality. It would also be really nice if they explicitly showed the Doctor being physically attracted to a female character, whether that be Yasmin, River, Missy, or a minor character in one episode. I think its important, because some of the previous series' were heavily driven by a romantic goal, and it would be really interesting to explore a female Doctor/female companion attraction at some point, if not in this series then in the next.

Who wouldn't fall in love with the Doctor, either as a friend or something more? She changes people, gives them experiences that are once in a lifetime, teaches them so much... I wouldn't blame Yaz for falling for her.

I know, realistically, they're going to set up Yasmin and Ryan. And honestly I think they would be SO CUTE. I'm not against any outcome here, because I love Yasmin regardless of her future. However, I'll be really interested to see which direction they take the Doctor and Yasmin in, because I feel like we have a lot to learn about them both... and a lot they are not showing us just yet.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Who is Yasmin Khan?


gif from http://claratwelve.tumblr.com

I adore the new season of Doctor Who. As a long-time fan, I am very protective over each new season, but Chris Chibnall has been writing fantastic episodes. 

I had many feelings about last night's episode. I really loved it, but I feel like it wasn't without its plot holes. First of all, I wasn't a fan of the ending. I still feel as though I don't know what the big deal was about Robertson and the giant spiders, as neither of them were 'dealt with'. Robertson walked away from the mess, and I'm pretty sure there's still a giant spider in the flat next door but one to Yasmin. 

It was the focus on Yasmin's family that I was interested in this episode, and this is where I want to begin to break down some of the writing. It may have just been the fact that I really like a well-developed character, but I feel as though that Yasmin was still in the background, despite the episode being focused on her family. This is absolutely not Mandip Gill's fault - the actress who plays Yaz - because she is brilliant. There is simply an imbalance of focus on each character, which is easily done when Ryan and Graham are sharing a storyline with their family ties, and then have their own separate storylines. 

We feel like we know a lot about Graham and Ryan respectively. However, when we come to describe Yasmin to someone who hasn't watched Doctor Who, we struggle to make her character three-dimensional.

Her name is Yasmin Khan. She went to school with Ryan. She is a police officer. She wants more from her job and more from life.

Apart from the basics, we don't actually know anything about Yasmin - how she feels, what she dreams about, her goals apart from going up in the police ranks, and so on. Every single companion (and pretty much everyone in the world) is always striving for more in life, and this is why they want to travel with the Doctor. We can't say we know Yasmin because we know she wants more... who doesn't want more from life?

The prospect of getting to know Yasmin more was a huge reason for my anticipation of this episode, but what we got instead was an insight to her mother's wishes for her, and even more questions that the series is now compelled to answer. For example, why was there such an exaggeration made on her mother's feelings towards who she dates?

If we break down the particular scene (you can watch it here), her mother begins by questioning who the Doctor is. That's a pretty standard question, but the next question she jumps to is "Are you two seeing each other?" - and here is how the scene went down:

YAZ'S MUM:

Are you two seeing each other?

[Yaz and the Doctor look physically taken aback. There is a pause in dialogue and a glance between them.]

DOCTOR:

I don't think so... Are we?

YAZ:

[A pause] ... We're friends.

DOCTOR:

[Exasperated and busy, she looks at Yaz's mum and shakes her head, raising her shoulders and carrying on with the task at hand]

Hmm.

This is... interesting to say the least. Some people may interpret that as a joke, or a bit of fan-service. However, when her mother then asks the same question about Yaz and Ryan, they both quickly respond that they're not together. 

Yaz and the Doctor never said "no". In fact, they looked to each other for the answer. 

This took me a long time to try and unravel. Like, a stupidly long time. Up until now, I thought the writers were aiming for a Yasmin and Ryan relationship, but the story has seemed to steer off this path. I have a few different ideas about the unwritten context to this scene:

  1. Yaz's mum took one look at the stranger in her living room with the rainbow stripe shirt, suspenders and combat boots on and immediately interpreted the Doctor to be a lesbian. Since her daughter had not explained how she knew her, she may have thought they were together and trying to hide it from her.
  2. Yasmin may have already come out to her family as gay or bisexual (my feeling is bisexual, after previous conversations about ex-boyfriends), and now her mum is suspicious of any person she doesn't know who seems to have a close bond with her daughter.
  3. She hasn't got a clue who her daughter is attracted to, but she can feel something between Yasmin and the Doctor.
  4. All of this is just dialogue to fill a space and has no meaning whatsoever.
  5. There is more going on behind-the-scenes with Yaz and the Doctor, and we just haven't discovered it yet.

This is Doctor Who, so we know everything said or done has a meaning. My guess would be number 2, because her mum didn't seem all that surprised that it could be an option. In fact, she sounded more offended that she hadn't been told. 

I completely understand why Yasmin doesn't know what to say when her mum asks that question. Most companions in 'New Who', apart from Donna and Bill, have wondered what exactly they are to the Doctor. Let's face it; the Doctor/Companion relationship isn't 'normal'. A lot of the time, the lines are blurred between friends and more-than-friends, because of the close bond. They may as well change their Facebook status to "its complicated", because it is. If Yaz is bisexual, which I feel as though the series is trying to tell us without actually telling us, then of course she is going to question her relationship with the Doctor. Graham and Ryan already have a special bond, so Yasmin is then open to developing that bond with the Doctor. Its the classic internal conflict that many of the companions have.

I might have to write a whole other post on the Doctor's reaction to that question, however. 

As well as this complicated relationship, let's go back to what I was saying before. We don't know enough about Yaz to understand why she reacted that way, and we don't even have a clue as to what she might have been thinking at the time. Yasmin is being treated as an afterthought in many of these episodes (except for Rosa), so if we knew more about her and how she interacted with the Doctor when they are alone, then we would be able to unpick this scene a little bit more. 

To conclude what may be a long-winded and pointless post, I want to understand Yasmin Khan more. Her character is part of this ground-breaking new series - the fact that 50% of Team Tardis is not white is amazing, and Mandip Gill is a great actress who deserves every success she is getting from the role. She needs to be focused on more, and its a damn shame it feels as though she is being left behind. 

Whether she ends up with Ryan, develops feelings for the Doctor, or has no romantic storyline at all, she is a vital character who deserves to be explored as much as possible. 

Saturday, 20 October 2018

On Becoming a Waterstones Bookseller

*I am not taking credit for these gifs - other people made them, I am just using them to show my emotions!*

Yesterday, a childhood (and adulthood) dream of mine came true. And I'm going to tell you the story with Kate McKinnon gifs, because she is my favourite person, and Waterstones is my favourite shop.

I interviewed for Waterstones before a couple of years ago, without success, so I went into this interview thinking I would definitely choke up on at least one of the questions, or I would be hit with a question that I really didn't have an answer for. Either way, I went into this thinking that, just like every other job I had applied for in the past couple of months, I would not be successful.

I knew one of the employees that was working in this particular store, and he put me at ease whilst I waited for the main event. I was very grateful to him and felt like saluting my fellow book nerd:


The managers were absolutely lovely, thank goodness! The questions were as I expected - not as many book-related as I thought, but a lot about past experiences and skills that I've acquired. 

We laughed about one of my stories (which is a VERY different experience to any interview I've ever done) and I was was in my chair like:


I was hoping they were laughing with me and not at me! And I had never laughed in an interview so I was wondering when it was all going to go wrong, as it usually does for me.

Then, it was over. The whole process took about ten minutes. Pretty painless as far as interviews go but I was extra nervous for this one, because Waterstones is so important to me.

The manager said quietly that I had done really well as she was walking me out. I told her how nervous I had been, and she said "you didn't look it!" - I didn't know I was that good of an actress! I felt like I at least deserved an Emmy for my efforts, even if I didn't end up getting the job. I imagine this is how I looked from the outside:



And this is how I felt on the inside:



They said they would let me know of their decision by Monday, but that afternoon I got the call.

I'M IN!



For the first time in my life, I had walked out of an interview with a good feeling, and the good feeling had been correct. This feels right, and it feels like I have been waiting for this day for a hell of a long time.

I feel like I really have won an award.

Waterstones only hire people who are passionate about books, so I know that I'll have a lot in common with my colleagues. I am SO excited to start this journey, and it means that I'll be producing a lot more content for my blog since my life will consist of thinking and talking about books!

Now, after what was a stressful day (and a stressful week in general), I can finally relax. I got the job I wanted, and I am excited to feel more involved in the book community than ever before.


I'll keep you all updated, and watch out for a blog post coming next week about my first day on the job!

Thursday, 11 October 2018

The Rockefeller Review: SNL Season 44 Episode 2 (Host Awkwafina)



Welcome back to the Rockefeller Review! If you have not seen my first SNL review here, you may be a bit confused. Basically, the Rockefeller Centre is one of my favourite places in the world, and it also happens to be home to many NBC shows, which I am a huge fan of.

Saturday Night Live is my favourite in particular, and this week Awkwafina was the host. I loved her in Oceans 8, and I am yet to see Crazy Rich Asians, but I will get around to seeing it soon. Her hosting of the show is particularly important, because she is only the second Asian woman to host the show since it began in 1975, and since Lucy Liu hosted in 2000. This was a historic night for the show, and I was so happy for Awkwafina. 

Today I'm going to focus on the breakdown of a particular segment of the show - when Pete Davidson delivered his response to Kanye's Trump speech. Take a minute to watch it for yourself, and then we'll break it down:



PETE

... then Kanye said that Democrats broke up black families with welfare and that slavery's not real... do you know how wrong about politics you have to be for, like, me to notice?

...

Like Kanye is a genius but like a musical genius, you know, like Joey Chestnut is a hotdog-eating genius, you know but i don't wanna hear Joey Chestnut's opinion on things that AREN'T hotdog related.


Let's break this down!

What Pete is great at doing generally as a comedian is self-depreciation. He is known for being a really harsh roaster, but then he makes fun of himself and some balance is restored. This is what he's doing a lot in this video about Kanye - telling the whole world he's wrong, but then saying "look, I'm not the smartest cookie. If I know you're wrong, then you're definitely wrong." 

This is a great way, in writing, of dealing with a situation without creating more tension. It's like ripping a plaster off really quickly, but then soothing the pain with aloe vera. Again, its creating that balance so that he doesn't have to be censored in his comedy but he also doesn't end up coming across as a 'bad guy'. 

The way Saturday Night Live deals with politics in this way is really commendable. They have a clear political preference - they don't claim to be neutral, because their job is reliant on having a side and riding it out. They still have the capacity to poke fun at the Democrats or the more liberal side of life,  but most of their sketches revolve around making a point of a universal definition of right and wrong. They're not creating their own moral spectrum, but what they are doing is moulding that spectrum and creating comedy out of it. 

I'm not a comedy writer, but I can really appreciate comedy writing as an art form, especially when a show is using their writing for a good purpose. With Awkwafina hosting, and Pete Davidson calling Kanye out for his behaviour, Saturday Night Live continues to make history, and isn't afraid to be loud in doing so. 

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Not Fine, and that is Fine

Picture courtesy of Harper Collins Australia

Eleanor Oliphant lives a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled existence. Except, sometimes, everything... 

When I first started reading Eleanor Oliphant, something didn't sit right with me. Except that, it kind of did. It sat very right indeed.

I'm not talking about her terrible past and her vodka-filled weekends. It is what is beneath the memories, and bubbles up onto the surface when the vodka runs out.

Eleanor is lonely.

For World Mental Health Day 2018, I wanted to write about something book-related. I have not long read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and it seemed like the perfect book to talk about. Not many books discuss loneliness in younger people, but Gail Honeyman has started a conversation. Loneliness is often talked about in reference to elderly folks who don't have family near them or have lost their friends to old age, but what if you don't have any friends in the first place?

This is Eleanor's problem. I won't spoil any of the plot, but it is obvious from the very beginning that she has had a traumatic past, and her mother is extremely verbally abusive to her over the phone. She develops a fixation on a band member called Johnnie Lomond, and whilst trying to win his affections, she realises what she has been missing in her life. 

I took one of my hands in the other, tried to imagine what it would feel like if it was another person's hand holding mine. There have been times where I felt that I might die of loneliness.” 

This eventually leads to a downward spiral of her mental health, and it is colleague Raymond that becomes her first real friend. 

However, before she creates this bond with Raymond slowly over time, her loneliness is always at the front of her mind. She recognises herself as an outcast from her other work colleagues, musing that “There was, it seemed, no Eleanor-shaped social hole for me to slot”. For a 30 year-old woman to realise that is a very sad thing, and the book really focuses on how young Eleanor is, but sadly how normal loneliness can be for anyone of any age. 

I really related to Eleanor's loneliness, because as a 21 year-old, I find life quite lonely. My university experience was not at all what I expected - in fact, I was left with a larger sense of loneliness. Seeing groups of friends walking to lectures and chatting to one another in the lecture theatre whilst I was sat alone, fellow students in bars having study sessions and catching up on gossip... I always felt like the odd one out. I was in the musical theatre society, and whilst I had some great times with them all, I felt like I could never catch up with their friendships. I had transferred to this university for my second year, so everyone already had their friends from first year, and I always felt like the new girl no matter how nice everyone was to me. It wasn't at all their fault, it was my own insecurity.

Your sense of loneliness can be exaggerated with mental health issues. My anxiety and depression really didn't help with the feelings I was having in university. I thought that university was supposed to be the best time of your life, and whilst it looked like everyone else was sharing that sentiment, I certainly didn't feel like I was having the best time ever. 

Like Eleanor, sometimes all it takes is that one person to be a friend and show that they care. In university, I met a girl called Becky, who has become one of my best friends. She is my Raymond! She has helped me so much over the past couple of years, and even though she's moving to Japan for work soon, I know I've found a friend for life.

So yes, even though Eleanor will tell you that she is Completely Fine, she is not. And that is okay. Loneliness is so common amongst younger people today, and a lot of it can be traced to your mental health, so if you are not feeling okay reach out to a doctor or someone who you know will care. 

There will always be a Raymond or a Becky who will listen. 

Read Eleanor Oliphant, get help when you need it, and know that it is completely fine to not be completely fine. 

The Rockefeller Review: SNL Season 44 Episode 1 (Host Adam Driver)



If you know me, then it is no secret that I LOVE Saturday Night Live. Even though I'm from England, so never actually get to watch it 'live', I absolutely adore the show and everyone involved in it.

When the new season kicked off last week, I decided to start cataloguing my thoughts on each episode. Either by reviewing as much as I can, featuring a cast member and telling you why I like them, or commenting on the political satire, this series will be mainly focused on breaking down the sketches and reviewing the writing.

Now, I am not claiming to be an expert on comedy. However, I take enjoyment in comedic writing, and am very interested in writing in general, so I feel as though I may be able to bring an outside voice to the show. I'm calling it The Rockefeller Review, because the Rockefeller Centre is where SNL is created, and also because it just happens to be one of my favourite spots in New York.

Last week was the season premiere, and was hosted by actor Adam Driver along with musical guest Kanye West. My personal favourite sketch of the night was 80's Frat Party - a deadpan approach to how what was considered 'normal' party behaviour can actually be really damaging. They managed to make a contribution to the #MeToo movement without actually referencing it, which I found quite powerful.




Another stand-out moment didn't involve Adam, but involved one of my favourite people: Kate McKinnon. Her Ruth Bader Ginsburg impression on Weekend Update is always a best-seller, and this time she had the opportunity to Ginsburn (a term SNL created when Kate's Ginsburg jokes about her target) Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual harassment and assault. Kate's energy and random dance moments she brings to the character isn't just a bit of fun, but also highlights the strong and passionate woman that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is, and she often brings up past achievements of Ginsburg's so a younger audience is educated on the triumphs of the Supreme Court Justice. 




These two pieces of writing were especially important, due to the fact that musical guest Kanye West, when the goodbyes were being said at the end of the show, decided to put on his MAGA hat and start making a speech in support of Donald Trump. This is not usual, as the end of the show is a political-free zone in order to acknowledge the cast and crew, but Kanye selfishly turned what should have been a celebration of talent into a display of his own ego. 

After so many pieces on America's current political climate, which had been executed so well, Kanye attempted to erase all of the writers' hard work. This, hopefully, will be the last time that Kanye is invited to be a musical guest.

Apart from that unfortunate ending, which is not the fault of anybody but Kanye himself, I am thoroughly looking forward to the rest of the season. America is scary right now, but Saturday Night Live continues to make us laugh through the pain.