Vincent and The Doctor

One of my all time favorite episodes of Doctor Who is “Vincent and the Doctor”. I believe that it hits homes more than most of the other episodes because the Doctor and Van Gogh meet at a very dark time of Van Gogh’s life. It is a little bit before Van Gogh commits suicide and also the peak of his career.

In this episode, it expresses how tortured and depressed Van Gogh was. At one point in the episode, the Doctor told Van Gogh that they would be out of his hair at that time the next day. Van Gogh did not take it so well because when the Doctor and Amy went to go get him to go to the church, Van Gogh was in his bed, crying hysterically. When they asked him what was wrong, he told them that everyone that has ever entered his life just leaves him. He screams at them to leave, so they obey his wishes. A little later, Van Gogh comes to the Doctor and Amy to let them know that he is ready to go. He reveals that they were lucky  because when he gets into those depressive states, it could last from days to months.

As tortured as Van Gogh was, he really did produce some of the best art I have ever seen. Seeing the legacy that Van Gogh has left despite the pain he had felt inspires me. Even though he was not appreciated while he was alive, he still left many great things. When the Doctor and Amy take Van Gogh to the museum to show him his art, I cry every time. I cannot express the look on his face in words that do it justice. Van Gogh starts crying happy tears and he sees that he actually makes a difference in the world. He is not the monster that the rest of the world thinks he is; he is one of the greatest men to have ever lived.

This episode really just tugs at my heartstrings. There is not much science fiction in it, but that is okay because the plot is so well written. I think that’s why so many people like this particular episode so much. You don’t have to know much about the show to relate to this. Everyone hurts sometimes. The episode doesn’t romanticize depression unlike many other media portrayals of the mental illness. It shows that he obviously still commits suicide and that he was still hurting on the inside. But it showed that Van Gogh could be happy yet again, even if it was just for a little bit.

Throwback Thursday

Last year, I decided to take this class because I was already a Doctor Who fan, but it was way back in middle school and early high school. I had not watched it in a very long time, and this class has really made me realize how much I missed the show.

Even though watching the episodes takes a lot more work this time around (looking specifically for diversity and taking notes), I feel like I appreciate the show much more now. Being able to take a deep look into the episodes makes me feel like I truly understood the plot more than I would have when I just mindlessly binge watched all the episodes in very few sittings. However, it also made me question the show much more than I used to. I was just soaking in the show and letting everything be. Now, I see all the plot holes throughout Moffat’s writing, and to be honest, it kind of frustrated me. I did not see why it had to be made so complicated for the audience. It made it so if you missed one episode, you were completely screwed over. The whole Riversong story in general is hard to follow and confusing for a general audience. It is great for those who are wanting to deeply think about what they’re watching, but it is definitely harder for the younger audience. But I did happen to find a hilarious picture of the Doctor and Riversong’s timelines that I have attached at the bottom. It is accurate in my opinion.

In a lot of my episode notes, I have a lot of sarcastic little comments, favorite quotes, my reactions to different things in the plot, etc. Although some of my notes are all over the place, they make sense in my mind. I put little song references to make my own life a little more entertaining.

Overall, I am super happy that I decided to take Diversity and the Doctor as my IS 201 class because I feel so nostalgic watching all of these episodes, along with excited because I hadn’t watched much of the Capaldi episodes. I think this has just confirmed that I am forever stuck in this fandom, but that’s okay. They will probably still be making Doctor Who episodes past the day I die. My kids, grandkids, great grandkids, and I will just all be singing OOOOH WEE OOOOO together, and it will be a wonderful bonding activity for us all.

Looking Back

Since this is my last post, I just wanted to give a short “review” of my experience with the show. I have never watched Doctor Who before this class. In fact, my only knowledge of it was the fact that it is my ex boyfriend’s favorite TV show, so you can only imagine the opinion I created before I started watching it. I would say I like some science fiction, but I am more interested in the dystopian side than just aliens and extremely advanced technology like time travel.

I found the show to be interesting. I think it had a little bit of a slow start for me, nothing had really hooked me. The first thing I really held onto was the episode with the Dalek. For me, this was the first time that there was substance to the show, rather than just landing in the time that needs the Doctor and Rose to help rid the city of aliens. I did enjoy that Rose and the Doctor started as a juxtaposition. I think it added some good levels to the show.

I did enjoy the mysterious, seemingly tough Christopher Eccleston, however, David Tennant definitely won me over. He is so flamboyant and says everything with a purpose. It seems as though he does not want to waste any words. I was also pleased with the extra dimension of the Doctor that was revealed. I think Tennant is the one that subtly shows his loneliness just enough to keep the audience thinking about the fact that he not only is the last of his kind, but he has been living by himself for hundreds of years, and that anyone he has ever gotten close to is no longer by his side.

I will say, when Rose left, I was heartbroken. The hopeless romantic in me was dreading the moment as I knew it would happen eventually. I think Rose brought out so much in the Doctor, especially when Tennant was in the role, so seeing her say goodbye was tough.

I liked the contrast of Martha and Donna, especially since Donna was actually introduced first. I think Martha just thought she was living in Rose’s shadow and that’s all she would worry about. On the other hand, Donna was stubborn and knew that she was important and made sure that she never felt inferior to anyone. Both characters were the same in the way that they were both incredibly smart and made sure to bring the Doctor back to reality.

Once the eleventh Doctor was introduced, I sadly lost quite a bit of interest. I think I was such a big fan of Tennant’s character, that whatever followed just would not quite do it for me. I enjoyed Amy and I thought her accent was always fun to listen to . The main thing that kept my focus was wondering who the mysterious River Song was. I feel like I figured it out rather early, so when it was finally revealed, I felt a little disconnected again.

I guess that there are only so many different aliens to fight and there are only so many broken hearts the Doctor can handle before the show gets a little redundant and tired. I enjoyed my experience with the show, but I don’t know that I am sitting here waiting for more.

 

Lutheran? Catholic?

I’ve come to notice lately, especially with Easter just passing, that there is a lot of diversity in religion. Now, this is an obvious statement. Of course religion is diverse, the Jewish do this, Buddhists do this, and Christians do this. Is that what you were thinking? I am not just talking about the obvious differences. Instead, I am talking about diversity within certain religions.

There are different branches within one religion. While these religions have the same main beliefs, there are differences within the religion. The difference that really hit me was those who participate in Lent. It is a common misconception that only Catholic people participate in this activity. I have noticed that people are surprised when they find those who are non-Catholic giving an item up for Lent.

I have also noticed conversation between people of different religions about what they do on a daily or weekly basis. One example is confession. I have heard some comments about how they do not think it is necessary to confess or how they think it is weird. There are people on the other side of the argument that find it necessary to confess in order for God to forgive them.

There are a lot of different ways to practice religion. Being nondenominational, we are more of a “laid back” religion and we are not a super involved branch of Christianity. On the other hand, there are private Catholic schools that students attend to not only get an education, but to deepen their learning of their religion simultaneously.

I found it interesting that there is so much variation within one religion.

I also have heard people describing themselves and others as a “good” or “bad” Christian. My question here is who gets to decide? What makes one person more qualified to judge another person’s actions and then continue to classify them as either good or bad at a religion? In reality, there could be a “bad” Christian calling a “good” Christian bad just because they behave differently from one another. Then again, why does it matter to anyone else who is or is not a “good” Christian? Isn’t that between the person and God? Isn’t that something they need to work on?

I also find it interesting how many people that attend Wartburg, a Lutheran college, are not Lutheran. I almost attended a Catholic high school, but I admit, it was a little bit intimidating since I did not quite fit in. I have not gotten that intimidation factor here at Wartburg at all, and I think it is because there is not just one religion across the entire campus. Obviously some are more common than others, but I know that there is a wider variety than the high school I almost attended.

I think it is fascinating, as I stated previously, that we all believe in the same overarching ideas, but there are still so many difference in what we do, not only in church or for holidays, but in our everyday lives as well. It makes me wonder if some parts of other religions mimic the same one as mine.

 

River Song is Melody Pond??? Whaaaaaat?

Through the course of watching episodes of Doctor Who, there have been many surprises that caught me totally off guard, such as Rory’s first “death”, Rose’s “Bad Wolf” powers, or Donna’s character development in “Turn Left”; however, nothing prepared me for the reveal that River Song was actually Amy and Rory’s daughter. I actually screamed at my television as the realization and the implications of this realization hit me. I was deeply impressed with the writing, although it was a little bit deus ex machina style of conflict resolution. Overall, it was one of the most surprising things that was revealed in the show in my opinion.

River Song was a character that I didn’t really like very much when the Doctor first meets her. She’s kind of a know it all, I know something you don’t know type of person, which was narratively off putting for me. As she began to appear more and more frequently, I began to like her a little bit more (but I still didn’t really like her). She represented a sort of narrative “screw you” to the audience, as she already knew everything that lay ahead of the Doctor. However, once “The Impossible Astronaut” and “Day of the Moon” came around, I began to suspect that this teasing was finally going to come to a head soon. When it was revealed that she was Amy and Rory’s daughter later on, it all finally made sense. Because of the paradoxical nature of River Song, she had to withhold all of this information. When I realized the implications, I was even more caught off guard. She was the girl in the space suit that killed the Doctor, she was stolen by a cult, the Doctor was Rory and Amy’s son in law!

Ultimately, this was one of my favorite reveals in a show famous for them. I was originally off put by the build up (it did feel like it took forever!) but it only made the payoff that much better. River Song is narratively one of the most interesting characters; it seems as if she is somehow woven into almost every major storyline, from David Tennant all the way to Peter Capaldi. I still don’t love her as a character, but what the writers have done with her character demonstrates a true display of how interesting narrative arcs should be done.

ScoobyNatural

Scooby-Doo is a classic kids cartoon, that has been loved for many years. The Scooby gang, Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby are investigators of the supernatural. They drive around town in the Mystery Machine and look for any incidents that may lead to an investigation. When they go to investigate, the gang usually splits up and look around. Shaggy and Scooby’s reactions are almost always comical because they’re always so scared and the supernatural seems to always target the duo. Usually when they finally capture the creature, the culprit is a person in a costume that has been terrorizing the town.

Now, if you’ve seen Supernatural, you’d know that Sam and Dean Winchester also investigate the supernatural. They drive around in a ’67 Chevy Impala and investigate the supernatural cases. Sometimes, their angel friend, Castiel also tags along. However, their supernatural cases involve creatures that are real and people get killed by these supernatural creatures. The culprits are not simply people in costumes. The show can get pretty gory at some points, but does have its own humor. You can easily find Supernatural memes online about things that happen in certain episodes.

Recently, an episode of Supernatural was a crossover between Scooby-Doo and Supernatural. The title of the episode was called “ScoobyNatural”. Now I wasn’t sure what to expect from this episode because Scooby-Doo is a cartoon, but Supernatural isn’t. I wondered if it would all be a cartoon or if it would be something different. It turns out that the episode starts in the Supernatural universe, where Sam and Dean fight a possessed plush dinosaur. Once they defeat the dinosaur, they leave with a brand new TV and go back to the Bunker. Dean shows Sam the man-cave that he built and goes to turn on the TV, which transports them to the Scooby-Doo universe.

Once the two are in the universe, they quickly realize that something is wrong and that they are in a cartoon. They meet the Scooby gang and Dean tries to flirt with Daphne, but fails to woo her. They join the Scooby gang on a case, but they soon realize that this is not like normal Scooby-Doo episodes. Castiel eventually joins because he is also transported into the cartoon. It is not like normal episodes because people are actually killed and not just fake bodies and the ghost is able to hurt the characters and do other things that the culprits wouldn’t be able to do. It takes a while for the Scooby gang to believe Sam, Dean, and Castiel, but they find the culprit, who is in the Supernatural universe. It was interesting to watch this episode because there wasn’t any swearing or gore in Scooby-Doo because it’s a kid show, but it was allowed in this episode for Supernatural.

Overall it was interesting to watch and I would suggest watching it because it’s different from what you would expect from either show. The characters remain pretty true to their normal selves in their universes. It was cool to watch a crossover for Supernatural because it’s not something that normally happens. There is a lot of humor in the episode too and the reactions of all of the characters make it even better.

Diversity in My Life

Throughout the year I have talked about diversity in the United States, in gender, as well as in Doctor Who, and in this blog, I am going to bring the span of diversity down a little bit. I will be writing about how diversity. Honestly, I am not sure if my life has been that diverse, but I think that through school and sports I have experienced the most diversity.
I think the first time I ever experience diversity was through sports. I have been involved in sports for as long as I can remember and through all the games and events I have met a countless amount of people. All these people come much different back round than me and some of them could be poor or rich. As well as maybe being African American or women that were at the events helping run them. The thing is though that even though that everyone at these events were different and had different back rounds everyone always had one goal. The goal was to win and become best at what they do and very few ever achieved both of those but we all tried our hardest anyways.
I also had some diverse experiences with school, and from kindergarten to 7th grade I went to a private catholic school and from 8th grade all through high school I went to a public school. I think those two schools where completely different experiences because of more how they are structured as well as taught. I think it was structed differently because we did not have exactly eight periods a day and it wasn’t fifty-minute periods or however long each period was. I thought they were taught differently too because everyone had the same class period at the same time. Since the class size was small we had two grades for two class rooms and the teacher would have to teach two levels of the course in one class period. The more cultural diversity I experienced was that at the private school there were around twenty-five girls and two guys including me. Which is very unique growing up and only having one guy in your classes to talk to. On the cultural side I had never had an African American classmate till I was in high school, but I did have Latino classmates in grade school. Overall though I think me experience in diversity growing up has shaped me to be who I am today.

Diversity of RE 101

As a religion major, I take many courses that focus on questions. Living with Death asks the question: What does our life look like despite the fact that we all, in the end, will die someday? New Testament Studies of Paul asks: Who is Paul and what does his identity mean in terms of Christianity and the Bible. While all classes start off with a question, religion classes have a knack for asking questions that make people uncomfortable.

RE 101 Literature of the Old and New Testament do this in a way that I think needs to be done in our society more often. I often explain that RE 101 is one of the most important classes for Wartburg students to take here. The Bible is everywhere. Throughout ones life they will encounter at least one person that has an intense relationship with the Bible or at least the God of the Bible (who is also the God of the Quran). Because of this I think it is so important that students learn about this ancient text and what it actually says.

Since everyone has to take this class here there are students from all backgrounds in the class. There are Christians of all sort, Jewish people, atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Hindus, etc, in this class. This makes for an interesting class period. Some come into it thinking they know everything about the Bible because they grew up heavily involved with their church back home. Others come into the class afraid to say a word because they know absolutely nothing about this book and the religion that created it.

This class makes one treat their belief system like a machine. RE 101 makes one take apart their machine, part by part, and examine the parts that comprise it. It makes them ask the question: Why do I believe this and what does that mean exactly? After the class is over the goal is that hopefully one has started from where they were and broken everything down to the bottom and then started to rebuild what it is they believe. Sometimes it is exactly the same machine, part for part. Sometimes it is a completely new machine, none of the same parts, Sometimes it is a machine that looks similar but has some new parts added and some old parts subtracted.

Everyone has to deal with religion in some way during their lifetime. I think it is important to try an understand where people are coming from since religion can be such a huge part of their lives a well as the whole society. Even though it is a Bible class, it allows for so much interfaith conversation to happen as well as shines light on a religion that many claim are ruining society while others claim will save the society.

Diversity: Plants’ Interest and Interaction

The World is a diverse place comprising of different people, places, animals, plants, things, events or ideas. The diversity of the world and it occupants stimulates a variance in every individuals interest and interaction. In other words, diverse people, plants or animals may have partially or totally dissimilar interest in how or what they interact with.

As for the plants, we see diversity in them and their species in many ways. The ecologists say that the species diversity of plants vary from one biome to another depending on their exposure to certain climatic conditions such as insolation, precipitation and so on and so forth. These amounts of sunlight or rainfall that reaches a habitat or an ecosystem are some of the factors that affect the soil content and other physical conditions necessary for plants to survive.

Notwithstanding, as plants survive, there are some other unnoticeable diverse interactions with both the biotic and abiotic features within the environment. With the biotic, plants interact with animals such as humans through the mutual exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the breathing process. Plants interact with other plants within the same species or ecological niche by competing for food and other limited resources. The interaction between plants and the abiotic factors can be seen through their growth. For instance, plants respond to the stimuli of light with the incentive of adding to the green pigment called chlorophyll — the energy necessary for plants to absorb light and make their own food through a process called photosynthesis. This phototropism in plants allows them to move towards the presence or source of light, making it of great interest to the plant.

Another form of interaction between plants and the environment is the sense of gravity. On the other hand with phototropism, gravitropism in plants allow them to move or grow away from gravity until they reach a certain height. This happens in parts of the plants like the stem, trunk, leaves, branches etc. However, there is one part of a plant that is barely able to move or grow away from gravity. It’s the root. Most roots stay beneath or spread about the soil surface. This results in a diverse physical growth in another group of plants called tuber crops. These types of crops (or plants) tend to grow a little bit towards gravity.  Some of these tuber crops are: cassava (yuca), sweet potato, yam etc.

However, some of these plants referred to as tuber crops do grow in both ways. For instance, the cassava plant, which is mostly found around the tropics, can grow in both ways: towards gravity and towards light. Plants like cassava are normally well diverse and versatile in terms of purpose and use. For example, in some African countries like Sierra Leone, the tuber crop is normally peeled off, cooked and eaten to provide carbohydrates. The leaves are cooked as a green sauce, providing vitamins and other needy nutrients. The stem and other parts are used to provide medicinal herbs. The peeled skin is also used by farmers to feed their animals like pigs.

In short, the diversity existing in plants species and interaction is affected by some natural conditions and point of interest. As every individual plant/species response to diversity in different ways, so the values and purpose vary. Individuals or plants who have multiple interests or willing to interact in multiple ways normally grow in diverse manner that can benefit themselves and others species.

Yuca-Cassava-tuber
Cassava plants showing leaves, stems and it roots (tubers).

Photo credit: David the Good — The Survival Garden   http://survivalgardener.com/yuca/

Women in Conducting

A huge topic of discussion today is the disparity between men and women in careers and the workplace. Women on average make around 77¢ for every dollar a man makes in the same career and position. Not only that, but men are often favored when seeking executive positions. Unfortunately, music is no different. There is a huge gap between the amount of male and female conductors and how they are treated in the profession.

When looking at raw numbers, one can see the difference. The following graphs show the difference in the number of conductors of each gender in orchestras across the U.S. The more prestigious the level it seems, the more disparity there is.

HLConductorCharts-01HLHighBudgetConductorChart-02HLConductors22HighestBudgetChart-03

It seems that, overall, the treatment of men and women careers is beginning to be more equitable, albeit a slow process. However, in the field of professional conducting, at least in recent years, there is not much improvement. The following graph shows just how little growth there has been in the number of women conducting orchestras.

HLConductingSchoolsChart-04

Further evidence of the patriarchal structure of professional music can be shown in the words and actions of many of the men in the field. Vasily Petrenko, principal conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic orchestras, put his blatant misogyny on display in public comments, “[O]rchestras react better when they have a man in front of them,” going on to say, “a cute girl on the podium means the musicians think of other things.” The examples are not limited to Petrenko’s comments either. It is not unusual for some male concertmasters to refuse to perform under a female conductor.

In addition to this, there has been a wave of sexual assault, harassment, and abuse allegations made against some of the field’s most prominent male conductors. Most prominently is the accusations against former principal conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, James Levine. The allegations made against Levine led to his resignation from one of the most prestigious positions in music. Levine allegedly used his power as maestro to abuse and harass young musicians. Because Levine was so influential in their careers, the victims felt trapped and hesitated to come forward. As we observe the #metoo movement unfold across the nation and the world, stories like these are far too common. Levine is not the only prominent conductor to be accused of these atrocities; he is joined by Charles Dutoit and fellow Met conductor Joseph Colaneri.

As a music educator, it am disturbed by the behavior of men in the professional realm of music and by the treatment of women in the field. I constantly strive to make music an inclusive and safe environment for my students and it breaks my heart that these things are happening in the musical field. Just like every other field, I and the other men in music must use our privilege in the field to strike down the the misogynistic tendencies of our colleagues and make constant effort to strike down those same tendencies within ourselves.

Sources:

https://www.motherjones.com/media/2013/09/women-conductors-gap-charts-marin-alsop-proms/

https://nypost.com/2017/12/16/another-met-opera-conductor-accused-of-sexual-misconduct/

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/12/21/572607073/another-famous-conductor-charles-dutoit-accused-of-sexual-assault