Grapefruits Need Pruning and Blogs Need Naming

Now here is a book I’m sure you’ll really enjoy. It is called Seven Ways to Prune a GrapefruitIt’s a collection of poetry by one of (if not the) most delightful minds I have had the pleasure of knowing. Dr. Johnny Wink is a professor of English and Latin, a perpetual student of his wife’s Advanced Grammar class, and a real nice guy, to boot. He has been writing poems “for the sheer fun of it” many a year, now, and it’s high time his words were put back into print.

I encourage you to read this article to get an even stronger idea of the whimsical nature of Johnny Wink and the affection he inspires in all who come across him.

Then I encourage you to pre-order his book here, at the publisher’s website. They will only print as many books as they have orders for, and will be taking orders until August 19th. Unsettling Wonder is a British publisher, so it will ship from overseas if you are from North America. The total comes to £17.99, or approximately $28USD, and I have every confidence that it will be well worth it.

I was lucky enough to have Johnny Wink as a professor, mentor, and friend during my time at university. It makes my heart swell with gladness to know that now virtually anyone can be moved to giggles by his wit.

Johnny Wink was, in a way, the inspiration for the title of this very blog. Erin had asked me what we should name our joint endeavor, and I was at the time enrolled in the Charles Dickens course taught by Dr. Wink. It was a very small class, with only seven students—and all of us female. Being a small group, we were able to spend quite a bit of time bringing up our favorite quotations from our reading and having a good laugh (Dickens really is quite the chap for humor, in case you had gotten the impression he was all stuffy and didactic). One such session brought up this very quote from The Pickwick Papers (or its full title, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club), which turned out to be my favorite Dickens novel.

“Rum creeters is women” was such an unusual phrase; we had to know what it meant. When it was explained that the dirty-faced man was declaring women to be strange creatures, our class knew we had to take ownership of that phrase immediately. Johnny Wink, who for the purposes of that class was nicknamed “Miss Peecher” after one of Dickens’ characters, took it even a step further and suggested we start an all-girl punk rock band called The Rum Creeters. Well, we never did start that punk rock band, but I wasn’t willing to let that phrase be closed in a book and put back on a shelf. So now here we are, the Rum Creeters (for we are all a bit rum, aren’t we?), thanks to one Johnny Wink.

Signing off for today,

Puella Fontanarum Calidarum
(my Latin nickname, bestowed by Miss Peecher himself)

This Just In…

I have to write a short story by Halloween. My friend Kris and I are writing buddies, and we’ve set ourselves the deadline of October 31 for exchanging short stories. The only guideline (besides a minimum of five pages) is to take something mundane and turn it into literary genius. So no pressure.

Almost everything I write is about the mundane, so I have no trouble there. My “epic” tends to turn into “implausible” and “unfinished” so I generally stick to the small stuff. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. My favorite authors are J.D. Salinger and Virginia Woolf, the masters of the anti-plot. They certainly set the bar extremely high. So no pressure.

-R

“I Can’t Stop Thinking / Always in the Past”

-Tears for Fears

You’ve probably heard of Joss Whedon. I mean, c’mon. Buffy, Firefly, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Dollhouse (only half of which I’ve seen, by the by, but all of which I’ve heard good things). The guy’s done some creative shows in his time. And he’s done a lot of it with the help of his family. It’s only right he should be the one to interview his brother Jed Whedon upon the release of Jed’s new album, History of Forgotten Things.

So I direct you to the interview, which is both incredibly entertaining and surprisingly insightful.

Even with all of the witty banter between the brothers, my favorite part of the interview is one of the few serious moments. Jed was asked about the title of the album, and this part of his answer served as a kind of epiphany for me:

The title comes from a few things — the terrifying feeling that we are forgetting our life as it rolls along. My obsession with all the history that was never documented (though in the digital age, that may be over). As well as the sensation that history can give you. A feeling that is indescribable. That feeling of connection through the ages. It is related to nostalgia. Sometimes, when I pass through a town I have never seen before, I long to not only live there, but to have lived there my whole life; to be nostalgic for it. I get the same feeling from history. I yearn to have lived during all those times. And, of course, in the future.

This so accurately pinpoints why I have a fascination with history, with traveling, and with pop culture (and especially why much of my favorite pop culture is from an era other than my own).

I am a very nostalgic person. Even the mere suggestion of a connection with history brings a thrill of happiness and comfort to me. I often think about what life would have been like — more personally, how I would have thought and felt — if I grew up in a different place, different time. I like to consider primary sources as though I were there when they were recorded.

Jed Whedon’s answer also reminded me of an interview answer Sufjan Stevens gave, concerning the subject of his song “They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! Ahhhh!” (Illinois, 2005). He described the song as a “litany of ghost towns” in Illinois:

I’m interested in the cycle of civilizations, because where we live, it’s city upon city, and civilization upon civilization. Even the apartment you live in, there were residents there before you, and they had maybe their own language, their own habits and culture, and before them, the previous generation. I feel like we’re constantly compounding culture upon culture and society upon society; sometimes societies don’t last, or they move on or get wiped out.

Oh, to be witness to all of these cultures! Part of why I find the television series Doctor Who so compelling is because of its deep connection with forever evolving history. Even without the time-travel aspect of the plot, the fact that it has been going since 1963 makes it a unique showcase of both the constant and the variable sensibilities of British culture over the past several decades.

One of the first things I would do if I had a TARDIS (the Doctor’s mode of travel through time and the universe) is visit Disneyland several times in each decade. I have lived across the street from Disneyland my whole life (my last three years of college excluded), and have grown up seeing the changes over the past 23 years firsthand. As a fan of the place, I have also seen a lot of footage from the Disneyland before my time. But I want to be able to go to each of them, at will, as I please. To not just look at a picture of the chickens in Frontierland, or just watch a home movie of the 1987 State Fair themed parade — to actually walk through the House of the Future, or once more ride the People Mover.

Sure, I could run from aliens and save planets, too. But how could I not experience every stage of something as historical and as close to my heart as Disneyland? It’s a perfect example of a forever-changing microcosm, a cultural progression in miniature.

And, who knows, maybe one time I’d run into Walt.

-Rachel

Edit: Because all of this talk about Doctor Who and history has got me all aflutter, I thought I’d do a little picspam (there’s a word I just discovered yesterday) of my favorite Doctor Who companions from throughout the series. So I’m a bit of a sci-fi fangirl, but BEAR WITH ME.

Jamie and Two

The Second Doctor (played by the magical Patrick Troughton…in a woolhat, no less!) with 18th-century Scottish companion Jamie McCrimmon (played by the forever charming Frazer Hines).

If I could travel with any combination of Team TARDIS, the Second Doctor and Jamie would be at the top of the list. They were so great together, because even though the Doctor was far more advanced than this bagpiper from the highlands, the two of them were best friends. And, thanks to Frazer Hines being extremely touchy-feely (seriously, the guy would cling to anyone he shared the screen with), some people say even more than that. I’m keeping Jamie for myself, though, thank you very much. Hahaha.

Jamie and Ben

Here’s Jamie again, this time with fellow companion Ben Jackson (Michael Craze). In wet suits! Meow! Ben was a fabulous companion, too, in that he had a great relationship with fellow companion Polly (a beautiful girl in go-go boots and a miniskirt). Ben and Polly were the first to witness the Doctor’s death and subsequent regeneration into a new man, so I’d say they went through a lot together.

Martha and Ten

The completely awesome and tragically underrated Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) with the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant, the most popular Doctor of the current series…and with red Converse and a suit, you can see why).

Martha

Martha was a very capable companion who deserved to travel with the Doctor a lot more than some other companions I could mention (take that, Rose shippers!), plus she always looked gorgeous while doing it.

Martha and Ten

My only regret is that the writers totally gave Martha‘s character the shaft by giving her the “unrequited love” storyline with the Doctor, and especially right after getting rid of Rose “I’m the only girl in the universe for the Doctor!” Tyler. Ugh. (In case you can’t tell, I’m not a fan of pairing the Doctor with Rose…or any of his companions, for that matter, except Romana II. Which brings me to my next set of pictures.)

Romana was a Time Lord, the same alien race as the Doctor. That makes her the only companion that was actually on even footing with him, who could match him intellectually, culturally, and — since she also had two hearts and could regenerate — biologically. Here she is in her second (my favorite) incarnation, played exquisitely by Lalla Ward, with the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker.

In Romana II‘s first outing with the Doctor, she decided to be cheeky and dress to match his trademark mile-long scarf and long coat. Friggin’. Adorable. There was so much chemistry between them, each of their episodes together are like tagging along on a date with two of the most witty people you’ve ever met. Most of this is because the actors actually fell in love and got married soon after working together (it was the trip to Paris that did it). Unfortunately the real-life couple had a short-lived romance that ended badly (and in the departure of Romana’s character from the series).

In my mind, though, Romana somehow comes back and she and the Doctor live happily ever after, making little Time Babies and starting their now almost-extinct race all over again. Hahaha. All while still repeatedly saving the universe, of course.

And one more picture of Romana and Four. Because they’re just too lovely not to:

So those are some pictures of my favorite companions with my favorite Doctors. See how they span from different eras? Two and Jamie from 1966-1969, Four and Romana II from 1979-1981, Ten and Martha from 2007-2008. I love me some comprehensive pop culture history.

In case anyone’s familiar with the show, I’d like to give a shoutout to runners-up Three and Liz, Seven and Ace. It breaks my heart to have to leave them out, but I promised myself I’d only do my top three.