My Love Affair with The Doctor

I’ve mentioned in My life: Built by Masonry I am a huge Doctor Who fan or a Whovian. It may seem that there aren’t very many, but there are legions of us the world over. It’s not just for Brits anymore. Doctor Who and comic conventions featuring current Doctor Who stars and alumns are notoriously well-attended in the US.

Me with David Tennant at Philly Comic Con
Me with David Tennant at Philly Comic Con

Doctor Who’s appeal transcends oceans, international borders, and even time itself. Fans in the UK always see new episodes before fans in the US, however due to the show’s tremendous popularity on our side of the Pond the 50th Anniversary special was aired in a simulcast so that fans from all over the world could enjoy it together.

Doctor Who is the longest-running sci-fi show on TV. It premiered on the BBC in November of 1963 with the starring role of The Doctor played by William Hartnell. There was a TV movie made in 1996 and a re-boot of the series in 2005 spearheaded by Russel T. Davies and Steven Moffatt. Thirteen men have played the iconic role of The Doctor. After Hartnell, The Doctor regenerated into Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, John Hurt, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, and Peter Capaldi. If you’re ever unable to get to sleep, try counting Doctors instead of sheep. To the un-initiated, Doctor Who can seem like a strange thing to be into, maybe even off-putting. I won’t try to change your mind, but I will tell you why I love it.

It all started with a Saturday afternoon lying sick on the couch and my boyfriend’s Netflix account. I am a fan of all things different and as I watched in my cold medicine-induced stupor, I quickly realized that Doctor Who is very different from most other shows on TV today. Every episode of Doctor Who has a beginning, a middle, and an end; just not in that order. One of the main premises of the show is time travel and time travel is complicated. Ask a physicist all about it if you have a few hours to kill. The lack of strict progression from cause to effect is unlike anything I’ve seen and I love how unique that is. It forces you to pay attention. Don’t miss the first five minutes or you may end up watching an episode of Doctor Wait, Rewind That instead of Doctor Who. It doesn’t treat people like idiots. The writers take literary devices like dramatic irony and foreshadowing and put them on TV. You can call me a nerd if you want to, but I think that’s cool.

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The Doctor that made me fall in love with the show was the 10th Doctor played by David Tennant. It was casual at first, but when he took Donna Noble as his companion, their interactions drew me all the way in and I never looked back. My favorite classic Doctor is Sylvester McCoy because of his relationship with his companion, Ace. He was her teacher, a father figure, and partner in mischief all at once. Ace is my homegirl. River Song made a Dalek, a supposedly indestructible villain from the planet Skaro, beg for mercy, but Ace paved the way by beating a Dalek senseless with a baseball bat.

There’s a lot about The Doctor, regardless of his incarnation that resonates with me. He may be an alien, but he’s more human than any of us. He’s over 1,000 years old, but still has the curiosity and exuberant spirit of a child. He’s got two hearts and I think that gives him empathy beyond what humans are capable of. He’s a superhero who wears a snazzy outfit instead of a cape, carries a sonic screwdriver to fix things instead of a destructive weapon, and even flies around in a blue box that people can use to call for help. Eat your heart out, Batman.

I have K-9 socks. K-9 socks are cool.
I have K-9 socks. K-9 socks are cool.

Then there are the Companions. Having a machine that can travel anywhere in space and time means having a lot of power and that could go to your head, so The Doctor takes along a human companion to keep him grounded. Being over 1,000 years old and able to feel the turn of the universe makes for an interesting dynamic. My favorite companion is Donna Noble. She’s everything a companion should be. She’s a proper friend to The Doctor: always there for him, but with enough sass to put him in his place when necessary. I’m big enough to admit that I cried when she left the Tardis. River Song is a very close runner up. Her story is brilliantly done. She seems like The Doctor’s foil at first, but she loves him fiercely and she’s down for him in a way that nobody else has ever been. That’s probably why he married her. She’s a total badass who made a practically indestructible cyborg full of hate beg for mercy before blowing it sky-high. Recognize.

Let’s not forget the villains. The Whoniverse is full of scary things and The Doctor’s fought nearly all that time and space has to offer. If you watch for long enough, you’re bound to come across at least one villain you love to hate. Because of Doctor Who, I’m now afraid of statues, snowmen, and Wi-Fi networks named with strange characters. Upon hearing of the discovery of water on Mars, I immediately shouted “Don’t drink it!!” You know a writing staff is good when they can make you afraid of a metal trashcan armed with a whisk and a plunger.

One of the greatest things that we can do as humans is share our love of things with each other. Doctor Who literally has something for everybody. That’s probably the reason why Whovians are like the evangelists of sci-fi fandoms.

Even Bubba wants to join The Doctor aboard his Tardis
Even Bubba wants to join The Doctor aboard his Tardis

10/9 2015 Take 5 Gourmet Robbinsville, NJ

We didn’t let last night’s thunderstorm stop us from bringing the funny. The show started in a heartwarming way, with Umesh, the owner presenting a check to a family whose little girl is fighting cancer. She even took the mic and told a few jokes. She was so funny I may have to re-evaluate some life choices, but I didn’t have time to do that last night. I had a show to host.

Chris Kiley led us off followed by Nick Grinups, Buddy Schoen, and John Koppel. My very own comedy Mr. Miyagi, Kurt Zimmerman headlined. There were lots of laughs. I put up a solid 10 minute set and got some great feedback. One of the things I like the most about stand-up is the community. So far, everybody’s been really friendly. I said it before in a previous entry (Why Comedy?): Laughter brings people together. I think that’s a beautiful thing.

Cold-blooded, But Not Cold-hearted

Bubba the Conqueror of House Targaryen, First of His Name, Lord of the Apartment and Protector of the Realm
Bubba the Conqueror of House Targaryen, First of His Name, Lord of the Apartment and Protector of the Realm

I proudly own a pet reptile. He’s a Bearded Dragon named Bubba. He also answers to Bubba the Conqueror of House Targaryen, Wonder Dragon, and Your Highness. His species hails from the deserts of Australia. His eats greens, vegetables, live gut-loaded crickets, and occasionally fruit. Crickets aside, his diet is better than mine. His tank is climate controlled to fit his needs and managed easily using heat lamps, an under tank heater, and a power strip with a timer. He also has a UVB bulb to bask under, a hide to go into, and sand to dig in. He gets weekly baths and when the weather permits, I take him outside to get natural sunlight. To quote Dr. Kelleher of Dr. K’s Exotic Animal ER, “We can’t live without fresh air and sunshine, so why should we make our pets?”

Bubba in his aforementioned man cave
Bubba in his aforementioned man cave

When I tell people about Bubba, the responses I get range from “Awww,” to “Oh that’s different,” to “You’re a weirdo!” I have a problem with the You’re a weirdos. Since when does having a pet reptile make you some kind of freak? In the US, there’s been a 68% increase in the sale of reptiles as pets from 1994 to 2008 according to the American Pet Products Association. A survey of US pet owners showed that over 5.6 million homes in the US are shared with at least one reptile. Individual reptiles number over 11.5 million in the US alone. 4-H has even begun including reptiles as part of their ongoing efforts to educate and engage young people through interaction with animals. So if reptiles are so popular, why is there such a stigma?

“Yeah, why the stigma?” – Bubba while gangsta-leaning

I think the stigma exists because people associate things that are cold-blooded with things that are cold-hearted. There are also a lot of myths out there about reptiles and their care that make people think they don’t make very good pets when nothing could be further from the truth. With Bubba’s help, I’m going to prove that reptiles are great pets.

Myth #1: They’re difficult to care for.

If you do your homework and talk to your local exotic animal vet to get the right advice before you rescue or buy, you should have no problem getting everything you need on your first trip to the pet supply store and dialing in your heating devices to give the proper temperature and humidity that’ll allow your new scaly family member to thrive. A lot of people make the mistake of listening to the guy at the pet store instead of the one who went to four years of college and another 4 years of veterinary college.

Bubba as a little conqueror
Bubba as a little conqueror

Myth #2: They’re expensive to feed and care for.

The most expensive item a reptile needs will be the tank it’s housed in. I actually got Bubba’s tank from a friend who was no longer using it. There are also things like craigslist or message boards for reptile owners where people are routinely giving away tanks their reptiles have outgrown or selling them cheap. However if you choose to go that route rather than buy a tank at a pet supply store, I recommend meeting the individual in a neutral location. Seriously be safe out there. In either case, clean the crap out of it with a 3% bleach solution and give plenty of time to air out. The tank isn’t safe until there is absolutely no bleach smell. Do the same with any tank furnishings you acquire as well. When I got Bubba, despite using heat lamps, UVB bulbs, etc. I didn’t experience an astronomical increase in my electric bill. On average, I spend about $35 a month total on Bubba’s food. His calcium supplement is about $3.00 for a jar of it and lasts quite a while now that he’s an adult and therefore doesn’t need as much. Overall, what I spend on caring for Bubba I more than get back in affection and entertainment value. Seriously, sometimes he’s funnier than me.

Myth #3: They die easily.

Bubba, the adult conqueror
Bubba, the adult conqueror

Not if you do your homework before you buy or rescue and consult your exotic animal vet about proper husbandry. Before you bring up astronomical vet bills, you should know that in the 5 years I’ve had Bubba he’s been to the vet exactly twice and both times the bill was below $40. Regular well visits aren’t really required with most reptiles due to their heartiness; after all they survive pretty well in nature. Regular vet visits are also not often recommended because the process of getting them there can be stressful to the animal and too much stress can make reptiles sick, not unlike humans. Bubba still gets regular vet care in the form of fecal exams and he doesn’t need to be present for those. I said it before in a previous entry (Link to Why Cecil Matters): if you can’t vet them, don’t get them.

Myth #4: They can’t be tamed and don’t want anything to do with humans.

Can't be tamed? Don't want to be around humans? Bwahahahahahahaha!
Can’t be tamed? Don’t want to be around humans? Bwahahahahahahaha!

This is ridiculous. Any reptile can be tamed if they’re handled correctly and properly acclimated to being handled from a young age. Bubba is a huge fan of lap and shoulder time. Even a rescued adult reptile from an abusive background will eventually allow you to handle him/her once he/she learns to trust you. Most reptiles are interested in their humans. Lest we forget, we’re where their food comes from. Bubba isn’t happy unless he can see what we’re doing and even uses his excellent hearing to listen to what the upstairs neighbors are up to.

Right, the bearded dragon napping in my lap is wild and can't be tamed. Suuuure...
Right, the bearded dragon napping in my lap is wild and can’t be tamed. Suuuure…

Reptiles are excellent pets. They’re welcome in apartments and have never been subject to any Breed Specific Legislation (don’t even get me started on THAT nonsense). If you do right by your reptile, you will never be bitten. If you trim their nails, you’ll never be scratched. Allergy sufferers rejoice! They have no hair or dander. They all have unique personalities. Cold blood does not mean a cold heart.