Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Goo of Headmeat Begins to Run

Hey, what's that smell?  You can't smell that?  That burnt plastic smell?  The kind of smell usually accompanied with sparks and smoke and the sad knowledge that the fan that kept you cool for two and a half years in college has finally given up on the hottest night in the existence of hot nights?

Oh, right, that's my brain.  Excuse me.  I'm typing this one handed with my head tilted to let my gray and wrinkly pour into a empty cup like sap from a spiked tree.

The day job has been keeping me incredibly busy, and my weekends, rather than ram away at a keyboard in my dark office while the Reaper makes his slow but inevitable approach to my doorstep, has been spent mowing the grass, visiting with friends, drinking beer, celebrating my wife's birthday (whoohoo!), and various other activities.

Just today I visited the Most Disappointing Indie Bookstore in America (which I have half a mind to turn into a post sometime in the near future).

I have been, on occasion, working on an illustrated post.  I have a few potential blog posts (read: blank documents) with gloriously inspired names like "Blog Post Idea" and "Maybe Write About This?"  Flash Fiction has been the only way I've been able to keep myself to the blog lately, and that's because I'm afraid if I can't crank out at least 1000 words a week, my writer brain will seize up like an old pick up left out in the cold and any attempt to access it will result in a lot of futile cranking before the thing splutters, shudders, and dies.

When will this clear up?  No idea.  I have been able to keep things posts up here by hastily squeezing in a little time between trips out the door on the weekends, but I have some really cool posts I'd like to write if I could just get the time.

That's the State of the Nerdish so far.  Once I get some breathing room, I will try to bring you some quality entertainment.  Until, HAN SOLO SHOOTING THAT GANGNAM HUMPING DUDE IN THE CROTCH!

Edited to add: To those that have commented on my Flash Fiction pieces and haven't seen me commenting on yours, please don't take that to mean that I'm some douche that doesn't care about what you write.  I've just been too busy to sit down and read a whole bunch of stories and then come up with decent comments that say something more than "good job!"  I hope I can come check out some of your work in the future.  I just have to reconfigure my down time a little first.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Happy Birthday, Stephen King!

Photo from: Wikimedia Commons

Stephen King turns 65 today, so I thought I would post a brief thing about my experiences and appreciation for the man.

When I was 11 or 12, I checked out my first Stephen King books from the local library.  The Talisman and It.  I didn't finish It at the time--not because it was too scary, but because it was too long for me at the time.  That's something you gotta build up to, you know?  Even still, that was my first Stephen King book.  I remember the first time I saw the word "fuck" in print.  Part of me felt like giggling, it got my heart racing.  I'd never read such a book before.  And yet, I realized that if I freaked out over this and made a big deal out of it, that would mean that I wasn't mature enough to read these books yet.

Photo by:  astrocoz of Flickr
And I loved those books.  The way King describes those characters as kids still resonates with me.  I could relate to each one of them in one way or another--especially Haystack. I myself was a pudgy kid.  I was a huge dork, and just like Ben, I read a shit ton.  This book pretty much opened the way.

The first Stephen King book I ever actually owned was The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.  It wasn't like the rest of his books, but it was awesome in its own way, and with that Stephen King touch.  The Wasp Creature in the woods was terrifying.  In a way, the book almost felt classical.  It wasn't as literal as his other books.  The way it was written, you could read the book as all a hallucination from the point of view of a starving, scared lost girl, or as something darker lurking in the woods.  Brilliantly written, and one of my first books that was one of my first books that was legitimately from a girl's point of view.

Photo by:  Ronald Eikelenboom
Throughout middle school, I devoured King's books.  I read Christine, then Misery.  I devoured Needful Things and then I discovered the Bachman books.  Roadwork was gloriously full of rage and anger and was a beautifully tragic underdog story.  The Long Walk was twisted and horrifying, and almost plausible.  That one may be one of my favorites. The supernatural stuff is spooky, but the sheer reality of that book, the first time a kid gets shotgunned for falling below the required speed...I got got chills.

I moved away from what you might call "the classics" in high school.  I read Black House when it came out, which led me to read The Dark Tower series--one of my favorites to this day.  Just last year I read Cell and Under the Dome, and I'm currently reading 11/22/63.

Stephen King isn't just a horror writer.  He's written fantasy, science fiction, dramas, romances.  He writes complex characters, and his ear for dialog, for bringing characters to life through their words and actions, is absolutely incredible.  Every time I read a book by him, I get goosebumps and bleed envious green blood.

(Envious Green Blood is the name of my next screamo band.)

Happy birthday, Mr. King.  Thank you very much for all these years of entertainment.  You are truly my favorite writer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge: The Transport

Chuck Wendig, of Terribleminds, has yet another Flash Fiction Challenge at his blog: A Game of Aspects 2: Aspect Harder.  Electric Boogaloo.  The Aspecting.  ...yeah...

Anyway, I used a random number generator to choose a genre, a setting, and an element to include.  My results:

Genre: Space Opera

Setting: In a vehicle travelling down the highway.

An element to include: Weapons of Mass Destruction.

This is the result, at 998 words.

The Transport

Photo via Terry Whalebone

The hovertruck rocketed along Interstellar Highway Y, careening wildly around slower moving traffic.  Veronica Quillian closed her eyes and took several calming breaths, trying desperately to get her heart rate down.  Her physician said that her blood pressure was too high and that she should consider cutting stress from her life where possible.  As the truck darted wildly again, Veronica glanced back at the Class V Atom Destabilizer Torpedo.  Not exactly what the doctor meant.

Her travelling companion wasn’t helping either.  Nate Grather, a new recruit, was apparently a bit of a nervous talker.  For the past hour, he had been going on about politicians controversial positions on tax rates in the outer Earthling Territories.

“And some say that because they’re only territories, they should be forced to pay an even higher tax rate for the privilege of voting on policies.  And don’t get me started on what the Secretary of Affairs said about the Counselor.  Mocking the man’s religion seems foolish.  He can choke people with his mind!!”

Veronica rolled her eyes and peeked out the window, scanning the skies.

“No sign of any government vehicles so far,” she said, cutting Nate off.  "I’m a little worried, though. Stealing this warhead seemed entirely too easy. I think they might be following us back to base or something.”

Nate shook his head and gave her a big smile.  “You worry too much.  No way the government would have just let us slip away--not with something as dangerous as this thing,” he said.

Veronica sighed and tried to relax.  “You may be right.”  She stuck her finger out, stopping Nate as he opened his mouth to speak.  “Uh-uh!  Not another word about the Secretary or the Counselor or any of their little spats, okay?  Seriously.  I’m pretty much over politics after this.”

Nate’s mouth set into a firm line as he flopped back against the wall, mumbling to himself.

The truck swerved again, practically sending Veronica tumbling out of her seat.  She pounded on the trailer wall with her fist.

“Nice driving, fuckwad.  You wanna watch it before you blow us all to moon?”

The truck swerved again this time jerking to a stop.  Veronica started to get to her feet when the back of the truck flew open, revealing four men in black uniforms.  Massive plasma rifles fixed on her and Nate.

No, not Nate.  Just her.


“Disappointing, right?” he said as he joined the group.  “You gotta pick a team.  I picked the winners.

Just then, the group parted to reveal the Counselor, who smirked as he said, “This has been a long time coming.  Catching the daughter of the rebellion’s leader is going to help us bring the rebellion to its knees.”

Veronica glared at him, then asked, “If all of this was just to kidnap me, why did you let us capture such a dangerous weapon.”

The Counselor laughed, the sound of boulders crashing down a mountainside.

“An Atom Destabilizer?  Really?  You do realize that activating such a device would result in a chain reaction that would pull the entire universe apart, right?”

He kicked the crate for emphasis, sending the contents inside rattling and clattering around.  One of the troops came forward, grabbed her, cuffed her wrists together, and shoved her out of the truck.

They were stopped at an abandoned engine core recharge station.  Trash from recent drug deals lay scattered around the station.  Veronica felt her skin crawl and imagined the diseases this place must carry as Nate drove her to her knees and produced a small recorder from inside his uniform.

“Smile nice for the camera.  We’re gonna make a movie for your dad.”

She noticed an old, rusty laser pistol behind a discarded engine core.  She wondered if it had any charges left, if it had been left behind because the previous owner was deceased.

The light on the front of the camera blinked twice and then held steady.

“We’re rolling,” the Counselor said.  Nate giggled.

Veronica leaped to her feet and began sobbing.  She rushed at the Counselor.

“Please!  Please let me go!  My dad will give you anything!”

The Counselor shoved her away from him, in the direction of the pistol.  When she landed, she snatched up the blaster and, firing blindly behind her back, took out three of the armed men.  She was rather impressed with herself, but her self satisfaction didn't last long as the gun choked and ceased firing.

“You have made a grave mistake, you stupid girl,” the Counselor growled.

Nate drew his gun and fired at Veronica, but she was already up and moving.  She dodged the blast and threw herself at Nate, slamming her head into his stomach.  He let out a rush of air with a cartoonish “Ooof!”  Then he collapsed, letting his gun drop.  Veronica flopped onto Nate’s stomach again, grabbed a knife from his belt, and cut her wrists free.  Then she grabbed Nate’s gun.

The Counselor put his hands in the air and gestured for his remaining soldier to do the same.

“You’re not going to shoot me, are you?  That’s treason.  Your DNA is all over this place.  They’ll have checkpoints set up every kilometer from here to the end of the universe.”

“Meh.  What’s one more act of treason, right?”  Then she fired.  The Counselor and soldier collapsed, smoking holes gaped from their foreheads.

She turned and headed back to the truck, but stopped and knelt beside Nate first.

“I’m not going to kill you.  I want you to take a message back to the Secretary of Affairs.  You tell him that neither my father nor I are ones to be trifled with.”

She grabbed his knife again and raked it across his cheek.  Nate let out a screech and whirled away clutching his face.

“That’s so you don’t forget.  Spread the word.”

With that, she climbed into the hovertruck and drove off, leaving Nate a blubbering, sobbing mess on the side of the road.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge: Cut It Out

It's time for yet another Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge.  This weeks challenge is called "Game of Aspects."  We were provided with 30 choices in three categories. We had to choose one from each category and write a story incorporating the aspects we chose.  We were encouraged to use a d10 for added fun.  (I used an online random number picker because my d10 wasn't nearby.)

Subgenre: Dystopian
Element to include:  Surgery
Theme/conflict/motif:  Love Triangle

At 989 words, this is my attempt.

Cut It Out

Photo by:  Ben Tesch

It’s funny to me that funerals are so rarely like we see them on TV--everyone wearing black veils and starched suits.  Everything is pressed, smooth, wrinkleless.  Black umbrellas pop up like mushrooms in an unkempt lawn to block the rain that so nicely puts the cherry on top of the shit sundae of a situation.  Life isn’t like that at all.

But it is raining today.

We all stand around the shining black box that holds our friend.  Blank faces paying their rote final respects to their coworker,  father, son.   No one cries.  Only two sets of eyes shine and threaten to spill those hateful things over.  My set meets the other--blue, surrounded by long lashes.  Red lines lace the whites supported by bags underneath.  Haley blinks and a single tear falls.

She quickly wipes it away with a gloved hand, her cheeks growing red.  I would feel embarrassed for her, but I can feel my own weakness raging against my resolve, and that seeing that tear didn’t help.  I take a deep breath and glance up toward the sky, blinking to hold back the evidence of my weakness.

I must have made a noise.  One of my coworkers glances over at me with an arched eyebrow.

“Is everything okay, Josh?”

“Uh...yeah...everything’s fine.”

I guess he realizes I’m sad.  His face shifts.  He looks uncertain, like he doesn’t know what to say.  I see his eyes rake from left to right, as if the right words will be floating in the air just over my shoulder.

“Oh, uh...I’m sure Danny is in a better place.  He’ in pain anymore.”

That calls up images of Danny, lying in bed, body rail thin.  By the end, the cancer had eaten him almost entirely, and the chemo had taken the rest.  All the same, he laughed so hard when I brought him that knitted cap with a neon mohawk attached.

A tear rolls down my cheek.  Damn.

“Oh...dear...”  My coworker coughs into his hand and scoots away from me.  He doesn’t want to be seen with the crying guy.

As they lower the casket, Danny’s daughter tosses in a handful of dirt.  Her face is as blank as the rest of them, and I notice the scar that peeks up just above the front of her dress.  So she got the surgery before he died.  Good for her.

After the service, Haley gives me a weak smile and places a hand on my shoulder.

“I miss him, too,” she says.

"Some coworkers saw you crying.  How embarrassing.”

“Fuck you.  I wasn’t the only one crying.”

I shrug. “True. That’s why I scheduled an appointment for this afternoon.”

She hesitates as the news hits her.  I hadn’t wanted her to know I’d made the appointment, but I don’t care anymore.  Between Danny’s death and everything that happened before, I don’t feel like walking on eggshells anymore.

“You’re going to let them turn you into one of those emotionless robots?  Did you see Danny’s daughter?  It’s like she didn’t care at all!”

“She didn’t.  That’s the point.  And soon, I won’t either.  It’ll be so nice not to care anymore.”

I feel her fumble for my hand, try to take it, so I jerk it away.  She won’t get the comfort of comforting me.

“Josh, I still care about you.”


“I didn’t expect it, either!  It just happened.  I’m so sorry you got hurt.”

“Hey, being left at the alter is no big.  I’m just glad everything worked out so well for you two.”

SMACK!  I feel my head pop back as she decks me straight in the nose.  She stomps away, and I watch her go.

A few hours later, I’m in the doctor’s office, staring at black marker dots on my chest.  He stares at me with cold blue eyes as he explains the procedure in a frank, flat voice.

“First, we’ll saw into your breast bone and break you open.  Next, we’ll sever the ventricles and cap them off--this should prevent the majority of any blood loss.  Next, we’ll install the synthetic organ with the blocking chip--” he stopped when he saw my face.  “Are...are you frightened?”

I blush as I admit it.  “Yes, I’m afraid I am.”

“’ll be okay.  I’m licensed and everything.  And if you die, it’s not like you’ll notice.”


Before I know it, I’m in the surgery room, looking out at a thousand glowing monitors.  Then, I’m waking up in my hospital bed.  The thick, white gauze pads on my chest say much, but the silence in my head tells me more.  No worries.  No feelings.  It’s blank.  Objective.  As sterile and white in there as the hospital room I’m staying in.

A knock at the door.

“Come in.”

Haley comes in with a bouquet of flowers with a balloon attached.  When was the last time I saw anyone bring flowers for someone in the hospital?  It’s an odd, antiquated practice from back when people needed to console each other.  Something about the brightly colored sex organs of plants made people feel better.  I feel like I might have understood it even a few hours ago, but that part of me is long gone.

Haley takes a look at me and blushes, whirling away.  I glance down and realize that I’ve kicked the covers down and my gown has fallen open, revealing my genitals.

“Oh.  Does this bother you?  I can cover up.”

She turns back and eyes me strangely.  “No.  Yes. doesn’t matter.”  She hesitates before holding the flowers out to me and adding, “I brought you these.”

“Yes. I see that.”

The flowers remain extended for a moment before her arm lowers them.  Tears brim up and begin pouring down her cheeks in big, fat drops.  How embarrassing for her.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Pixar's Movie Rankings As I See Them

John Scalzi did it first, and I am nothing but a pale imitation of him.  All the same, I felt like ranking the Disney/Pixar movies in order of my favorite to my least favorite.  Partially because I was curious to see how my list would compare to his, and partially because I disagreed with his list in a few areas, and I wanted to post how the rankings should be.

Without further ado, my favorite Disney/Pixar films in order from best to worst.

1. WALL-E (2008)
Without a doubt, one of my all-time favorite films.  It accomplishes so much with so little dialog, and it does it beautifully.  The characters are developed, interesting, engaging, and endearing.  Seriously, if your heart didn’t break a little when Wall-E opened an umbrella for Eve during the rainstorm, you are a soulless monster!

2. Toy Story 3 (2010)
If we’re comparing it as a stand alone, it may not stack up as well as the other movies since it relies so heavily on prior knowledge.  And I was the perfect age to see this movie.  I was 7 when Toy Story came out, and I was a junior in college when Toy Story 3 came out--right around the age Andy is in the movie.  But! With that said, I’ve never seen a movie take something you loved so much and really put it through the ringer.  I mean, they take your childhood and rip the heart out of it.  It gets surprisingly, beautifully dark, and I loved every second of it.

3. Toy Story (1995)
Obviously, this doesn’t reach the darkness of the third movie.  It’s the first light hearted romp.  However, it’s a great buddy movie all on its own.  It’s fun, smart, and well written.  It takes an interesting premise and continues to build layers.

4. The Incredibles (2004)
A kids movie that deals with not only what it means to be different, while tackling a Watchmen-esque premise with a kid-movie lens, but it also deals with getting older and what it means for people.  It’s a truly interesting movie with a great soundtrack.

5. Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Let me just say that I love John Goodman and Billy Crystal.  So, they’re HUGE pluses in my opinion.  That said, this movie is another kids movie that tackles interesting themes--political corruption and alternate energy crises in a kids movie?  WTF?  And yet it works, and brilliantly so.

6. Toy Story 2 (1999)
This movie certainly upped the ante from the first one.  While the first movie deals with what’s like to possibly become obsolete when the newer, better model comes along, this movie deals with what it feels like to be abandoned and outgrown.  Powerful stuff.  However, it’s handled even better in the third movie, when they have to actually deal with that, instead of just theorizing about how they’ll deal with it.  Plus, I found Jesse to be kind of loud and annoying as a kid.

7. Finding Nemo (2003)
I really enjoyed this movie.  The story of a father’s need to protect the only family he has left from the dangers of the world, and the repercussions when he fails to do so.  It’s a powerful, cool movie.  However, this movie doesn’t really seem to have the grand, epic scale that some of the other movies on this list has, and so, while I enjoy it, it hasn’t really been my favorite on the list.  It’s possible that high school girl squeeliness also lowered my enjoyment of this movie over the years.

8. Brave (2012)
I actually really liked this movie, and subsequent viewings might raise this movie higher on my list.  My initial viewing, however, left me wanting more.  The commercials promised so much epic, and the movie I saw was just not what I was expecting.  I really enjoyed it, but I actually felt it was a little too short.  It takes its time setting up conflicts that it then has to quickly resolve.  That said, it’s still a powerful mother/daughter story with the first female protagonist from Pixar.  More of this, please.

9. Up (2009)
While the first 10-15 minutes of Up may be my favorite thing that’s ever been put to film ever (seriously, I cry every goddamned time I watch the beginning of this film), the rest of the film is just too light hearted.  I understand that they set up the beginning of the film that way to help balance out the light hearted tone later, but I just don’t find the theme or the story as compelling.  Still a fun watch, but things get a little zanier than I prefer, especially when compared to the beginning of the film.

10. A Bug’s Life (1998)
In a way, this is sort of just a retelling of Aladdin.  A poor, misunderstood guy meets a princess he has no shot with and reinvents himself to get into her good graces.  Eventually, his secret is exposed and they must make the choice of whether that really matters.  There’s a little more to A Bug’s Life--grasshoppers and extortion and such--but I’ve never really looked back on this one as anything more than just a fun little western-esque movie.  It has it’s good moments, but it doesn't really stand out in my mind.

11. Ratatouille (2007)
Another film that I enjoyed, but that doesn’t really stand out.  Maybe it’s that the main characters are rats, maybe it’s that it’s about cooking--which I’m not that into, or maybe it’s that it takes place in Paris, which provides it with one of the less interesting, more docile soundtracks.  Regardless, I enjoy this one--I LOVE Patton Oswalt--but I found the main human to be sort of annoying, and overall the story is fun but inconsequential.  No deep themes or interesting questions really being asked here.

12. Cars (2006)
On the one hand, I can appreciate this film as a love letter to a different era in American history.  The details are painstaking and beautiful, with gorgeous mountains, a nice country-western driving soundtrack, and several clever characters.  However, the story itself is somewhat over done--I’ve seen this same storyline done in kids movies in one way or another over and over again--and I hate, hate, HATE Mater.  I hate Larry the Cable Guy’s stand up--I find him patronizing and insulting to Southern Americans, so having an entire character based on him is like scraping nails on a chalkboard from me.  (This movie, all things considered, is kind of boring. Pretty to look at at times, but boring.)

Cars 2 (2011)
If ever a film didn’t ask for a sequel, it was Cars.  And yet, they made one, apparently not only did they decide not to expand on the theme of the previous film, they decided to completely abandoning the theme entirely.  I admit, I haven’t seen this film.  The trailers were enough to turn me off, especially when I learned that Mater would have a more central role in this film.  I plan on seeing it...eventually...but I’m not exactly clamoring for it.  (Also, despite it not necessarily being associated with Pixar...Planes...really?  Screw you!)

Monsters University (2013?)
I’m wary of prequels.  Prequels, unless they’re dealing with something significantly in the past enough to warrant it’s own tale--like The Hobbit (although, yes I know he wrote The Hobbit first, blah blah blah), then prequels, especially those involving the original characters, involve any character development in the previous film disappearing--because they haven’t gone through those lessons yet.  And I can’t imagine what theme they could be tackling in this film.  What about college is deep?  This feels like a superfluous sequel--like Cars 2 looked, but I’ll try to reserve some judgement until I actually see it.  At least Billy Crystal and John Goodman are back.

Monday, September 3, 2012

My Problems With DOCTOR WHO Lately

Be warned: massive spoilers for basically the entire new series, as well as Saturday's episode abound below.

Let's talk about one of my favorite shows of all time: Doctor Who.  When I was introduced to Doctor Who 2 or 3 years ago, my mind was freakin' blown.  I'd never seen a show that was so cavalier about how little it took itself seriously, while also delivering some of the most heart-wrenching, beautiful episodes in television. Which is why it frustrates me to watch it lately.

Doctor Who still has the potential to do amazing things.  There are always some absolutely phenomenal episodes sprinkled throughout the seasons, and often some really bad ones as well.  It happens.  You groan, you shake your head, you move on, because the next one will probably be awesome.

So, why was I so upset at Saturday's episode?  Because it could have been really, really cool.

Doctor Who, starting around Season 6, kind of started to suck.  Not terrible, but not the awesomeness that was Season 5.  Season 6 started with a bang, with the Doctor dying.  But, unfortunately, it all went down hill from there.  The resolution to that plot was stupid and not at all satisfying.  The idea was that the Doctor had to die or time would rip itself apart--it was a fixed point in time.  So, the Doctor used a robot body, hid inside of it, and the robot body gets shot in the head and "dies."'s a robot.  This isn't just tricking some random enemies into thinking he'd dead, this is tricking...TIME.  So, it doesn't make sense.  Time is not a person. It doesn't think.  If a fixed point must happen, then how does faking his death fit the bill?  He's still alive.  His life force still exists.

And the prophecy at the end of the episode was horrifying: silence will fall when the question is asked.  What is "the question"? "Doctor who?"  Ugh!

We can't learn his name.  It's one of those mysteries that's been around for so long that answering it would be meaningless and add nothing to the story.  Learning his name would be the equivalent of explaining the Force in Star Wars, there was no point, and it ruined the fun. Besides, none of us speak Gallifreyan, so learning his name would be the equivalent of "Your name is Bill!"  There's not going to be any "dun dun DUN!" feelings.  We'll just go...", I guess?"

It seems that Moffat is falling to the same inability to resolve plots that Davies started suffering from (see: Tinkerbell Jesus Doctor).

Photo from Deviant Art user kotkata111
Seriously.  This seriously happened.  This is awful, and it makes me want to go weep in a corner.

The Christmas special was AWESOME.  It was sweet and dramatic and whimsical, and it represented everything Doctor Who can be.  The season 7 premier, unfortunately, fell flat.  Why?  A ton of inconsistencies.  A great break down of this can be found here--an opinion piece written by Alex Day.  I'll be mentioning a lot of his points, but I don't necessarily agree with all of them. ...most of them, though...yes...

1) Oswin is exactly the same as all of the other female characters currently in the show.

Here's an interesting fact: not every female in the world is a beautiful, smart, flirting, teasing, confident woman.  Amy Pond was cool because she was similar but different to Donna.  Both were strong redheads, but Donna was more brash, more loud and willing to call the Doctor on his shenanigans.  Amy was sexy, flirty, and more sassy.  But River started showing up more...and she was exactly the same as Amy--flirty, sassy, sexy.  And then they introduced Oswin, who  It's like Moffat can only write one type of female.  There are other personality types out there, y'know.

While I'm on the subject of Oswin, let me complain loudly about how we've been introduced to the new companion early.  The actress that played Oswin is also the new companion.  How exactly this works, since the companion's name is different, I don't know, but it's annoying.

Even though Oswin was really derivative of every female that has come before her, she was still a cool character.  I happen to like sexy, flirty, sassy girls, so I liked her, too.  However, if she had been a throwaway character, just a redshirt, the episode's conclusion would have been so much more tragic.  Her somehow being tied to the new companion just clouds the emotional impact of an innocent human being turned into a Dalek--which was a brilliant, tragic, awesome ending to the episode.  Too bad it didn't have the impact it should have because of everything else that happened.

2) Amy and Rory.  Just...everything about them.

"So...we're married now."
"This is great TV."

They were handled so sloppily in this episode.

Their introduction was great.  Everyone knows that Rory worships Amy, so to see them acting bitchy and bitter toward each other and getting divorced?  That's a great way to start the episode, and it's a character arc we haven't explored yet.  What led to their break up?  When last we saw them at Christmas, they were fine, so this must take place at least at year, if not more, later, right?  It takes people a long time to reach that point, especially in a relationship like theirs where at least one of them (Rory) would do everything he can to stay.  Shit, he waited for her for 2000 years.  He's not going to let this go so easily.

But then, when they explain why they were getting doesn't make any sense.  She can't have kids and Rory wants kids.  Ever since Demon's Run, in which she had a baby (River), she can't have kids because of something they did to her.  But the way this is delivered, she says almost what I wrote exactly--almost word for word--to Rory.  But...he should know that right?  As Alex Day says:
"This scene, which should have been great, was the most awful infodump I’ve ever seen. “I can’t have kids!”, said Amy. “I know”, said Rory. So Rory knows. So why is she explaining it? Amy just continues “ever since Demon’s Run they did something to me” … he should know that already! She is literally saying it for the AUDIENCE. Bad writing. Objectively."
And this is especially annoying because it reminds me of something else that was handled badly with the Ponds: the loss of River.  It might have been a clever reveal that Amy's daughter Melody Pond grows up to be River Song, but they still effectively lose their daughter.  It might be nice to see River all grown up and know she turned out okay, but you basically lost your daughter.  For all intents and purposes, she's dead.  And they never deal with that emotionally.  They have a baby, she's pregnant, Amy's all Momma-Bear about getting her daughter back, and when they reveal that the baby is River, Amy's reaction is basically "Oh well."  You're not...the the least bit upset that you don't get the raise the baby you carried and stressed over for long?  You're totally okay with how this turned out?  Yeah...okay...

And now she wants to have kids again?  This should be adding to the anguish of not getting to raise the child they already have.  This should be a huge deal.  But instead, it's resolved by the end of the episode.  They fight and fight and then they start making out and the episode ends with Rory coming home with a fist pump and a hissed "Yessssss!"  Really?

3) The Daleks...just...everything about them...

This could have easily been fixed with a single throw away line.  It's not, however, and we're left with a huge gaping question that is never bothered to be answered.

When talking about the Daleks at one point, Rory asks "What color?" which is a valid question.  When last we met the Daleks, their outer casing had been changed.  They were super colorful...they kinda looked like Power Rangers or something.  A lot of fans were really upset by this--it wasn't the intimidating, sleek, polished metal look of previous Daleks.  And there were only 5 of them. But when Rory asks his question, Amy and the Doctor just look at him like he's an idiot.  Why?  Aren't you curious, too?

Then, the crew gets taken before a massive Dalek council.  It's really intimidating to be presented before a shit-ton of Daleks, especially since any one of them could come unhinged and kill you with a zap instantly.  But...where did they all come from?
The Daleks have a complicated history.  They keep getting killed off and brought back.  But every time they're brought back, they've explained how it's possible.  The first time we meet the Daleks in the revived series, it's a single Dalek.  The Daleks were thought to have been killed off in the Time War, and this is the only one that remains.  When it dies, that's the end...or so we think.

Then we meet the Dalek Emperor, who has created a new race of Dalek's from dead humans.

Then a few rag tag survivors have to try to free the Daleks from the time-locked Time War.

Then the Daleks are recreated from Davros, who has survived and been floating around somewhere.

The plot of trying to rebuild the Dalek race has been used over and over again.  They're like Voldemort, they keep trying to rebuild, but they always get foiled in the end.  So the introduction of these new Daleks should be a big deal.  The Doctor should be shocked, taken aback, horrified by their sudden growth in numbers.  But he never even questions it.  The asylum is a fine plot point--that one I can accept.  But the sudden growth of new Daleks?  Where did they come from?

For some reason, the Daleks refer to the Doctor as "The Predator" in this episode.  This is bizarre because it's never been mentioned before.  Since these are new Daleks, they might have a new word for the Doctor, but why?  Why not just call him the Doctor?  Why would the Mighty Morphing Dalek Rangers invent a new word, and one so spooky.

"The Predator" implies that the Daleks fear the Doctor--after all, that makes the Daleks "The Prey."  But the Multi-Colored Rainbow Force didn't act scared.  They acted superior, above it all.  Fear of the Doctor, if these are real Daleks, doesn't make sense because true Daleks have no emotions other than rage.  If these were created from humans, that would be one thing.  That's what made the Daleks in "The Parting of the Ways" so interesting.  It's what made Oswin so interesting, and Dalek Sec.  They've proven time and time again that Dalek/Human hybrids don't work because they destroy that emotionless bloodlust that makes the Daleks who they are.

Cyberman: “Daleks, be warned. You have declared war upon the Cybermen.”
Dalek Sec: “This is not war, this is pest control!”
Cyberman: “We have five million Cybermen. How many are you?”
Dalek Sec: “Four.”
Cyberman: “You would destroy the Cybermen with four Daleks?”
Dalek Sec: “We would destroy the Cybermen with one Dalek! You are superior in only one respect!”
Cyberman: “What is that?”
Dalek Sec: “You are better at dying!”

Oswin helps the Doctor out by hacking into the Daleks hive mind and erasing all mention of "The Predator."  What's confusing about this is that, while that might work on the new Daleks who only know the Doctor by "The Predator," it wouldn't work on the older Daleks--the Shiny Happy Rainbow Fun Time Force.  They still know the Doctor by "The Doctor."  So, why is this presented as such a big deal.  It basically provides them with a very brief window to escape.  The Technicolor Dream Team is still going to reinform the other Daleks, so the Doctor dancing around at the end, echoing the Daleks' confused question "Doctor who?" is a little bit stupid.  It leaves a big ol' plot hole.  Two...really.

4) Oswin and the Doctor

"I am unique in my sexy flirtiness because I'm not a blonde or a redhead."
This brings me back full circle.  One of the things that makes Doctor Who such an awesome show is because the Doctor cares about people--all people.  He's often put himself and everyone else in danger to try to bring one person over to the good side, to try to help them redeem themselves.  Whenever someone dies, he is deeply, profoundly hurt by the failure.

This episode could have been that.  Oswin is a spunky, awesome girl.  She has spirit.  She's a genius that can tap into complex networks.  To learn, after spending so much time with her, that she's already been turned into a Dalek and she's developed a delusion to help her cope...this should be an event that does a number on the Doctor's emotions.  And he is first.  But then he runs away, gets back to the ship, and apparently forgets all about it.  In an episode by Davies, this would have ended with the Doctor staring out the window, thinking of the lost girl, saddened by how fucked up the universe can be.  Instead, it ends with the Doctor spinning around gleefully, muttering "Doctor who!"--and I've already explained why that is complete bullshit.

All in all, it's frustrating because there is the base of a really cool episode here.  If the Doctor had only had one of the companions along with him--probably Amy--we could have learned about the deep issues that have caused Rory and Amy to split.  Then, the Amy being infected with Dalek nanobots can still work well, and the Oswin story wouldn't get messed up with a whole bunch of extra crap.  It could've been a one-off, really emotionally shattering episode about a human that rejects her situation. The revelation had so much power behind it.  Too bad they immediately clouded that effect with everything else.