Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dragon's Wrath and The Fearmonger

Hello my little loyal 15 chickadees

In order to let Angelie get her Benny fix before she has to leave we start the afternoon off with Dragon's Wrath. Justin Richards adapts the novel that he wrote for this audio. Nothing really entertaining foodwise, but today's booze is brought to us by Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen.

We start talking again about the torch and twang theme song as we get the audio going.

Me: If I ever get rich I want to get kd Lang to do a version of this.

Tim: We should take the covers and animate them Maurice Bender style. Get some models and do it up real Bond like.

After some bloke gets shot Benny stumbles out of the bar and can't remember where her home is. She sobers up real quick when she finds her colleague bleeding in the alleyway. Then we get some bit with Benny announcing what she's gonna do next.

Me: Is this supposed to be a diary entry?

Tim: It's exposition. It has to go somewhere.

Benny shows up late for a meeting and for the beginning bit it sounds like they're meeting in a airplane hangar where someone put up some sound proofing in mid meeting. Jane Burke returns, previously heard as Tameka in Beyond the Sun. I hope we don't wish she was dead like we did the last time.

Tim: It's like they took the leftover music from Tears for Fears and the Sneaker Pimps and mixed them up.

Me: Seriously, it's like they couldn't stand to hear silence so they just let their kid go to town on the casio keyboard and dropped it in at odd moments.

Benny and Clyde end up accepting the offer they can't refuse and after another crappy bit of blatant exposition are having dinner with Nusek. They toast to a successful expedition.

Me: They're crukked.

After wine and food they get a tour of Nusek's goodies which apparently is nestled inside a volcano.

Tim: Diarrhea is a storm raging inside all of us.

Me: Is Clyde in a totally different room having this conversation with Benny? Honestly, the sound design for this audio is horrible. I think we did a better job with SFT: 2.

Tim: We did.

Angelie and I begin to get our groove on to the music as Benny and Clyde try not to get eaten by a dog thing.

Tim: That sounded more like a feral cat. That's supposed to be a dog? Couldn't they at least program it to sound like a dog?

Apparently the cryloks have their own theme music as the same disco song returns as the next crylok arrives. Once again we all get our doggie groove on.

Tim: Ace! Turn your boombox off!

Me: I think I heard a dog bark this time.

Tim: Yeah, I heard it too. Maybe they reached the end of the sound clip. Oh wait, now it's a cat again. It sounds like a cougar. Shasta's back there trying to kill them.

They escape the cryloks and find a doorway. They wonder where it leads to.

Me: Maybe a better script and better sound design.

Tim: They would've been better off leaving Just War as the season finale.

Angelie: The chimes remind me of the beginning of Cirque de Soliel's Allegria.

Me: God, I'd rather listen to Birthright.

There's some random snapping in the background.

Tim: What the hell is that?

Angelie: (acting like she's tapping a mic) Is this thing on?

Tim: Okay, there's something about a dragon, a cat and someone playing raquetball.

I do some research and find that it's a new guy doing the sound.

Tim: Let's hope he gets better. Does the Secure channel sounds better? And like Ghostlight I think the music is way too loud.

Judging by the sound design Benny is like twenty feet away when she wakes Clyde up. Stuff happens and Benny returns home.

Tim: Did Wolsey just shoot her?

Angelie: She fell.

Me: I think she got attacked.

Kamadrich finds Benny in the bar and says someone's trying to kill her.

Me: Why couldn't they try to kill you during Beyond the Sun?

Angelie: Don't drink the coffee!

Benny gets all pissy when she gets called a second rate archaelogist and kicks Kamadrich's ass.

Me: Now we get the riveting Star Trek style court room scene.

This audio just makes me sad. Justin Richards did an excellent job with The Whispers of Terror. This is a huge step backwards not only for the Benny range but for Richards as well. Especially since he was adapting his own novel. I won't even get into him leaving Braxiatel out of this audio adaptation.

The final few minutes blow huge chunks. Melodramatic factor nine. We end up so disinterested with this that we start to talk about the new Speedracer movie coming out later this year. I wonder if they'll get the monkey from Friends to play Chim-Chim. There's much rejoicing as the audio ends until we find there's like a bossa nova version of the theme song.

Tim: Wow! As good as the last one was, this one wasn't.

Angelie: Yep.

Tim: I don't know why bongos equal anime, but all I can see is the end sequence of Voltron.

We decide to take a break to wash the taste of the Dragon's Wrath out of our system.

Me: I think I'll be listening to Crystal of Cantus later, because you know, that didn't suck.

Once the taint of Dragon's Wrath has been removed we pop The Fearmonger into the player. I'm all giddy because we hit our first Seventh Doctor adventure since Sirens of Time.

Ace hooks up with an old mate from Perivale who has basically created on his own a phone tracer.

Me: And he ran? He ran so far away?

Ace shows she's no Doctor Phil as she fails to keep Walter from freakin out. Walter escapes and The Doctor and Ace go for some tea. Later on The Doctor fails at his attempt to be Doctor Phil when Keyser goes all nutty. Ace gives it another go as they try to keep Walter from blowing the place up.

As the first episode ends and the second one begins Tim and I begin to debate whether this is a parallel universe or not.

Me: It's ashame that Big Finish won't use Jon Blum anymore for audios or that Jon won't write for them again. This is the best one so far.

Towards the end Ace tries to play the Doctor as she attempts to convince Alexander to not kill her. She's not so successful as the second episode ends with her being shot.

Me: Oops! Guess that wasn't such a good idea.

Tim: Remind me not to try that next time I'm held at gunpoint. Sadly the argument of 'look me in the eye, pull the trigger' only works with sane people.

Me: The kind and cuddly Ace didn't work this time.

Tim: Sadness and pain.

Me: For Ace.

The Doctor shows his soft and cuddly side as he tells the Fear Creature that the worst thing that could ever happen to him with Ace being shot. We get another tender moment between Ace and The Doctor as he get all nine kinds of remorseful for her getting shot. I eventually realize that Mick Thompson's theme sounds a lot like Depeche Mode's I Just Can't Get Enough.

Not the most riveting of cliffhangers as the third episode ends. I finally make the connection that the Vince Henderson playing Mick is indeed the same Vince Henderson that's married to Sophie. The Fearmonger ends in typical New Adventures fashion with the Doctor having to talk Ace down from the ledge as the Fear Creature ends up in her.

Tim: That was a hell of a lot better than the Benny play today. Maybe they were freaking out because they only had one disk to work with.

Me: Still no excuse for shitty sound editing.

Tim: That's true.

I don't know when we'll get back together, but next time we should be doing The Marian Conspiracy in the main Who range and The Secrets of Cassandra and The Stones Lament in the Benny range. For you Sapphire and Steel fans tune back next week when the S&S team gets together for Daisy Chain.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sapphire and Steel - The Passenger

Wonders of wonders I'm doing stuff that's not Benny or Doctor Who this session. When I started this project I wanted to do the entire Big Finish back catalog. Today we move on to Sapphire and Steel, and I'm bringing some new friends along: Jamie and Monica. And let's be honest, if I'm pretentious enough to call myself the Unofficial Benny Pimp I'm pretentious enough to call myself the Unofficial Sapphire and Steel Pimp.

Before we get on to the audio though here's your regularly scheduled pimping that's not Benny or Sapphire and Steel in nature.

For the Bond lover among my loyal 15 check out Simon's latest blog entry, a lovely critique of the Bond literary catalog.

Have you ever hung out with Rob Shearman? Have you ever ridden Splash Mountain? Have you ever ridden Splash Mountain with Rob Shearman and gotten horribly wet while he stayed dry? No? Well, neither have I but somebody did and they made a t-shirt commemorating said wetness.

Speaking of t-shirts how many of you, my loyal 15, would be down with Audio Time Team apparel? Not only am I pretentious enough to gloss myself various nicknames, but I have a big enough ego to think that people might actually buy stuff with our logo on it when I get one. Is my ego right or is it alone?

Now, on to the audios. Today we'll be doing The Passenger. We're hanging out at The Coffee Shoppe getting hopped up on caffeine. After teaching Jamie where the play button is we get things rolling.

Scott: (on the opening theme) Sounds like King Friday is about to show up.

The man speaking finds he can't get a signal and I note he must not have Verizon. Then he gets a signal and starts bitching out some poor bastard on the other line. Which leads to him sporting a chubby when he sees the train is steam powered. Boys and their toys.

Jamie: It's the original intro to the tv series.

Monica: So they (Sapphire and Steel) just appeared on this train?

Sapphire stutters her way through asking Burgess to see his book.

Me: Is she channeling Shatner?

Burgess' chubby gets bigger as he starts going all anorak about trains. Maybe he needs to spend some time with The Station Agent.

Monica: When is this set?

Jamie: That's what they're trying to figure out.

Monica: I know, but I'm assuming he's talking about a cell phone.

Jamie: It's set in 2004.

Things get all creepy when Steel encounters a girl asking about her father.

Me: (sounding like The Empty Child) Are you my daddy?

More creepy stuff involving the girl. Steel wants to see her again and asks Sapphire to find her.

Me: Why don't you find her yourself?

Jamie: He doesn't have the same powers.

Yet more creepy stuff with the little girl. And then we get more people on the train. Mrs. Warburton sounds a bit like Maggie Stables. We cut back and forth between Steel grilling Mrs. Warburton and Sapphire dealing with Creepy Girl and Burgess. Burgess mutters in his sleep about not meaning to kill anyone.

Monica: Is he talking about his daughter?

Jamie: That's part of the mystery.

They've broken these up like they've done the Doctor Who audios as we get to the end of the first audio, learning that everyone on the train is a ghost. The second part opens with Andrews popping a cap in someone's ass. Mrs. Warburton talks about feeling all tingly.

Me: Did Tom Baker look at her?

And Mark Gatiss comes to save the day as Gold. Is he required to sound creepy in all his roles? Or does Big Finish just go to him when they've got a character that's supposed to be evil/creepy sounding? Either way Gold stalks off all pissy when he discovers his services are not currently needed.

Me: Meow!

Andrews starts to tell his tale and blubbering about how he screwed up. Jamie and I both start making pouty faces. We go from one whiny male to another as Burgess talks about his dream involving the little girl.

Gold makes a horrible pun involving Time when he sees the conductor.

Jamie: For the "time" being.

The train stops again and Sapphire notes she can't read any potential new passengers.

Me: Because Mrs. Warburton won't shut up.

Jamie: Shut your big yapper!

The lightbulb goes on as Mrs. Warburton finally realizes they're trapped in a Sartre play.

Me: God I wish that car had destroyed her vocal cords.

Gold and Steel fight over whether to destroy the train or not.

Me: It would take care of Mrs. Warburton.

Jamie: Maybe not. The car didn't.

All three elements decide they need to protect Burgess. Which of course means they can't blow the train up. They also realize that they're acting out the book and Sapphire notes that Burgess is playing the role of the victim, the one that apparently all the passengers in the book kill. And then we get to the end of disk one.

Jamie: What do you think so far?

Me: I'm liking it.

Monica: He couldn't have killed everyone, but he must've had a hand in some of the deaths, like Mrs. Warburton.

Jamie: That's the thing with these audios. There's no exposition, you just get thrown into the middle of the action like Sapphire and Steel, having to figure things out as they do. You never know exactly who they are or who they work for. All you know is that they need to keep time on track, no pun intended. It's more creepy than the tv show because you can't see what's going on. And that's all I'm saying.

We send Jamie on a pizza run to Little Ceasar's. He returns and we pop the second disk in. Speaking of which, my understanding has always been that Benny is only a single disk because it costs too much and the audios don't sell enough. You can't tell me that Sapphire and Steel sell better than Benny to warrant to double disks. Yes, the stories are detailed, but Benny could be just as detailed if they let it go to two disks. I can't be the only one a twitter with the range of possibilities, say if they ever did a double disk Dave Stone audio for the Benny range.

Gold gets a whiff of whatever everyone else is smoking as he experiences the various dreams Burgess has been suffering from. He and Sapphire realize Time is all bent out of shape and causing the other passengers to blame Burgess for their various deaths.

Then we get treated to more warbling from Mrs. Warburton. She tries to rally the others to form a lynch mob to go after Burgess. Honestly, her voice is working on my last good nerve. Sapphire shuts her up briefly as she forces her to try and remember the real surname of her employer.

Burgess decides that he thinks he's been put on the train as a punishment.

Me: Stuck on a train with Mrs. Warburton?

The wheels on the train go round and round faster as we move from the third episode to the fourth one. Steel starts asking for Gold which leads us to do our best Goldmember impersonations.

Me: God, just let them kill Burgess if it means Mrs. Warburton will shut up.

Gold talks Burgess into sitting at the train controls.

Me: He said throbbing...

Steel continues to talk to the passenger, trying to keep Time from getting back with Morris Day in between Gold being a rather lousy motivational speaker.

Me: He said friction...

Jamie: He said pull the lever...

Burgess talks about going to jail and I wonder if he went to Federal pound me in the ass prison.

The passengers slowly start disappearing until we're left with Mrs. Warburton.

Jamie: (subdued) Ya.

Me: Boo frickin' who. Shut the hell up and disappear already.

Jamie: Even when she's wrong she won't shut up.

She finally does and we all cheer for joy.

Sapphire bitches about Gold's tactics even though she and Steel admit Gold saved the day.

Me: (as Sapphire) Thank you Gold for saving our lives.

We finish the audio and Monica becomes our S&S version of Angelie as she falls asleep. We brief her on how the audio ended.

Not sure when we'll get together again for the next Sapphire and Steel installment but check back on the 30th for the next main Time Team installment.

Gallifrey - Day Five

Yes, I know, Day Five is coming to you like a month after it actually happened. Better late than never though, eh?

Anyway, let me mention a couple of things that I forgot in the previous travelogue posts.

1. Whovians know their Doc Martens. I have a pair over 13 years old that I had gotten shined at the airport while I was waiting to board the plane to go to LA. I got many comments on them as people couldn't believe that they were that old and that I had never gotten the soles redone. People were actually feeling the leather because it looked so new. And I wear my Docs daily.

2. The Saturday night Scrabble game. It is a spectator sport when Lisa and Simon play. I felt horribly inadequate in my vocabulary as I watched them seriously get into the game and bust out words I'd never heard of. (Though I can proudly say I knew what 'bier' was. And not just from work.) I'd have challenged them, but I was terribly afraid the game would end with me in the corner, sobbing, and in the fetal position after I got my ass handed to me. Much more entertaining than any Scrabble tournament aired in ESPN2.

On to Day Five...

Day Five had me waking up relatively refreshed as I got the most amount of sleep since I hit LA. This morning I refused to give Starbucks any of my money and just drank the coffee the hotel provides in the room. I survived and it was actually rather good. Had a bit of fun drinking that coffee sitting in front of the Starbucks working some more on the post that would become the Special Edition: Lost Museum post.

Started saying goodbye to the hordes of new friends as people slowly went back home. Talked a bit about the Chicago TARDIS and heard some more convention war stories from those in the trenches. (By the way, they just announced the addition of Paul Cornell to the guest list for this year's event. Road Trip anyone?)

I actually left the hotel for protracted periods of time on Monday as Tim, Angelie and I hung out with an old friend of hers. We ended up in Santa Monica having sushi at this little place right on the water. I probably could've pointed to a fish in the ocean, said "I want that one", and have it on my plate in twenty minutes. As it was I went with the fresh sashimi which I speared inelegantly with chopsticks because I have no skill and I wasn't going to ask for a fork.

Then we went to this open air mall and walked around for a bit. We spotted a Borders that had a Seattle's Best shop inside. I was reticent to drag the others inside just to satisfy my coffee fix, but Angelie mentioned that she'd been so impressed with meeting Simon saturday night that she wanted to buy The Pirate Loop. It seems like Borders was reading her mind because look at how easy it was to find it.For the record I didn't do anything to their display. Some enterprising stock boy did it all on his own.

All good things must come to an end and we made our way back to the hotel to retrieve luggage so we could come back to Houston.

I've said it before and I will say it again, if you can manage to make it out to Gallifrey next year do so. It was by far the best convention experience I've ever had.

Monday, March 3, 2008

On the Pimp Front...

There's an audio interview with Lisa Bowerman and Gary Russel at American Who. I haven't listened to it yet, but come on, it's Lisa and Gary. It won't suck.

The next full Time Team get together will be the 30th of March. For those of you keeping score at home we'll be doing The Fearmonger and Buried Treasures, the nifty keen special you got if you ordered the full Time Ring trilogy.

Also for those of you following my drunken adventures at Gallifrey I should have Day Five up either late tonight or tomorrow. And it will have pictures.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Gallifrey - Day Three

(Well, now that I've put up the Special Gallifreyan Edition of the Time Team I can actually post about Day Three of the convention without having to dance around getting the Time Team together.)

Day three began the way day two ended, with me on the floor passed out. I was awoken sometime after 7am when Angelie tripped over me. Apparently that caused a bit of a stir because she and Tim thought I had brought someone back to the room to sleep it off before they realized it was me sleeping it off. With others awake and the sun shining I was able to navigate the stuff on the my bed to find a patch for me to sleep on. Note I still didn't have it in me to actually clear anything off.

They went to breakfast with an old college friend and I slept a bit more. I finally dragged myself out of bed when the allure of food was too much to ignore. Due to the lateness of when I finally started to move I ended up missing the one on one with Sophie. I'm kind of sad, but then again I needed to have some solids pass through my lips for the first time in over 24 hours. A shower and a trip to Denny's for Moons over my Hammy later I was feeling slightly human again.

I caught a tad of the panel on whether there's too much Who. Sadly being in one of the side rooms meant that it was packed and very hard to hear what anyone was saying since no one was mic'ed. I stayed for a bit and then started in earnest to put a live Time Team together.

It all really started Thursday night when we introduced ourselves to Paul Cornell. If you read his blog on a regular basis you'd have seen that he said he would love to for anyone that read the blog and was going to the convention to say 'hi' and mention his blog. After helping to purchase a round of lagers for him, Steven Moffat and Simon Guerrier I did just that, saying I read his blog and thanked him for pimping this one. When he asked which one and I mentioned the blog's name that opened the door for some conversation. During the conversation Tim mentioned an email that I had sent a few months ago saying wouldn't it be fun if maybe on the last day we did a Time Team from the con, getting together anyone that actually read the blog if we found them to hang out with us. Somehow this turned into us asking Paul if he would like to take part in something if we could put it together. He was on board if we could make it work schedule wise and then we were off to the races. Then he mentions how we should ask Simon and Lisa as well.

I completed the Simon half of that later Thursday evening when I did the same conversation starting technique of mentioning his blog and thanking him for pimping this one. Conversation pretty much went the same as before, this time me being able to say that Paul was on board for a live Time Team, would he. At this point I decided we should do The Lost Museum so in theory all three would have something to talk about.

Friday had come and gone without being able to meet and talk with Lisa since I had to dash off to the hockey game. From talking with Paul I knew that Saturday night was probably gonna be the best bet for all parties involved. So I left the panel on Too Much Who? and went in search of Shaun Lyon, hoping for some help. This is basically how that conversation went:

Me: Hey, I don't know if you've heard of us or not, but I run a blog called the Audio Time Team where we're slowly going through the Big Finish catalog.

Shaun: Yeah, I've seen the posts on Outpost Gallifrey.

Me: Cool. I was wondering, what are the odds I could get a room to do a live one in? I've got Paul, Simon and possibly Lisa on board to join us.

Shaun: We're always looking for more fan panels. Drop me an email in 6 or 7 months when we start working on the programming.

Me: That's great. I'll do that. But I actually meant tonight.

Once I clarified that I didn't want to actively counter program against Ed and Jenny's wedding and that I wanted to do it during the 2 hour block in the evening where nothing besides the wedding was planned we were off the races.

I had the time frame and a place. Now I just needed to track all parties involved and see whether it worked for them or not. In between all this Tim and I managed to see Joel Hodgson and Josh Weinstein, formerly of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and now part of Cinematic Titanic. It had been rumored as early as Thursday that Joel and Trace Beaulieu might show up. On Friday Joel's appearance had been confirmed. As with the Too Much Who panel we found the same problem with this panel. Tiny room, tons of people, and the room next door showing some kind of video with the volume turned up to eleven. Add to this Joel being a soft spoken kind of person and it was a losing proposition for us being in the back to really hear anything. We stayed for about 15 minutes and then slipped out of the room.

I made my way to the main room for the panel on Benny. Much fun was had as we learned the real reason Stephen Fewell got casted without an audition and that Simon is a fan of Withnail and I. Or at least of Ralph Brown from the movie. We also got to watch the guy who had blown the ending to The End of the World the day before offer his mea culpas for doing so. Afterwards I waited for Simon to leave the stage and find a free moment to explain that I had a room adn a time and was he still free.

After determining that he was still on I made mention how I hadn't had a chance to talk to Lisa as of that point. He said he could fix that right away to which Lisa must've overheard that because she turned around. She explained that she hated to love me and leave but that she had to dash off to an autograph session. She made it a point to actually find my name badge, read the name on it, and then say that she'd try to talk later. I said I understood and as she started to turn around I mentioned "Time Team". This got a look of recognition and an "Oh, then we definitely need to talk" response. I did my best West Wing walk and talk as I quickly mentioned the plan for the evening and got her agreement to participate. I used the resulting autograph session to not only get my cd covers from The End of the World and The Final Amendment signed, but to also solidify her participation in the live Time Team.

Hopefully you've read the post on the Live Time Team so you know how those few hours went. And if you haven't read it, shame on you. Go! Read it now! I'll wait...

For me the rest of the evening was spent hanging out with more new friends, tickled pink that I had just spent serious quality time with Simon and Lisa, and then drinking with Paul and Rob Shearman. The highlight of that that portion being teaching Paul about QI fanfiction and hearing Rob exclaim, "It's apricotty" when taking a sip of a apricot hefeweizen.

I finally rolled into bed around 2am, the earliest I had seen my bed up to this point in the convention.

Now playing: American Bach Soloists - Kyrie eleison
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