Saturday, November 29, 2008

Chicago TARDIS 2008 - Day Three

Alcohol to replenish the Magical Bucket of Booze...$37.86

Lis Sladen Autograph...$20.00

Clear Eyes Triple Action Eye Drops...$2.16

Having to buy the Clear Eyes because your mind was broken last night by some information that wouldn't have broken you so much if you weren't piss drunk and when later in the evening you were imagining a scenario involving said mind breaking information, with your glasses off and managing to nick your eye with the corner of the fucking program schedule....Priceless

You probably want me to fill in the blanks, don't you?

Day three would start with us standing in line to get our packets. Apparently I wasn't cool enough to rate a pre-printed name badge. I don't feel so bad though because Dan had gotten his stuff in July and hadn't gotten a pre-printed name badge either. Then it was on to the races trying to figure out how to work through the damn scheduling conflicts.

It turned out to be a Big Finish/Writers day as I traveled back and forth between rooms to either see a Big Finish related panel, get autographs from the Big Finish gang, or listen to some of the writers talk about their craft. Autographs came first and it was nice to once again thrill and provide chuckles for the guests as they saw their younger selves in the Big Finish Audio book. As always, the Benny gang of Lisa Bowerman, Paul Cornell, Simon Guerrier, and Rob Shearman were pleasure to chat as the autograph line moved. It was my first time meeting India Fisher and Jason Haigh-Ellery and both are kind and gracious. And as a bonus I got Lisa to do a personal inscription on an item for Tim.

During the Benny panel Paul talked about the fact that he's in discussion to come back and do some work on Benny in a couple of years along with mention of the tenth season. Before you ask, nothing was specifically mentioned about the tenth season, just that we can expect one.

India Fisher had me in stitches during the Big Finish panel. She is just a laugh riot and tons of fun. Most of that session involved talking about the upcoming Key 2 Time series.

The various writers panel were great for those aspiring writers/authors. Rob Shearman's session was basically him holding court discussing how ugly the World Fantasy Award is and the early days of the new series when they were trying to push the boundaries of what the BBC would let them do. Simon went into a bit of how he got to where he was as an author, his influences, and the basic process of getting commissioned and doing a BBC new series book. Later in another panel he would talk about working with the 25 new writers for the Short Trips anthology. Kate Orman and Jon Blum talked a tad about writing during the New Adventures era, a story that never saw the light of day, and how they work together as a writing team.

Later on I made another run to the liquor store since the Magical Bucket of Booze was running low. For those of you in Texas think of it as a smaller Spec's. I picked up a 12 pack of Sam Adams lager and Shiner Cheer. Yes, I managed to find Shiner in Chicago. The Christmas Cheer is their dunkel with a noticeable peach aftertaste and a hint of pecans. I'm digging it but I think it might've been a tad too wonky for Simon.

There were some parties that were hit because I'm all about the Tacos of Doom and you can't avoid going to an awesome celebration for the Third Doctor. He's not my favorite, but I respect the passion of his fans for throwing that party. Anyone interested in a Benny one at Gallifrey?

Eventually my way was made back down to the lobby with the Magical Bucket of Booze by my side. Simon stopped by to partake of The Bucket for a second night. Again, this is what I love about these conventions. You can sit down in the hotel lobby, have a few beers, and chat with guests like you're old mates. There's no pretentions or vibe that they're better than you. At the heart of the matter they're also fans, just fans who got lucky to work on show they love.

It was during this point of the evening that my mind was broken. I made it up to the room with the remains of The Bucket. I plopped into bed, took my glasses off, and was speaking of that which broke my mind while flipping the convention schedule which was printed separate from the convention program. My eye normally freaks out when anything comes within a twenty mile radius of it, but apparently the booze weakened the defenses because before I knew it the damn corner of a page I was flipping knicked my eye.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Chicago TARDIS 2008 - Day Two

Day two found me texting my roommate at 6:30am wondering what room he was in so I could finally crash. I was starting to drift asleep in the lobby and I didn't want to be that person, especially since I kind of looked like a bum. But before that I had some lovely eggs benedict and hash browns in one of the hotel restaurants. I kind of wandered in sad and pathetic asking if they were open. I was in luck as they had just opened. If someone can find me a more picture perfect eggs benedict than what I had here I'll be impressed.

I made it the room and ended up catching a couple hours of sleep. More would've been nice but at the same time I was afraid I'd screw up my sleep pattern. Very quickly I decide I'll just go the Gallifrey route of being up for an insanely long period of time. The showers at the hotel rock! Double shower head and a nice fluffy robe. Free in room Starbucks let me be the coffee whore/hypocrite that I am. Eventually I wandered back downstairs where people were finally showing up. Immediately I was invited to a party friday night celebrating the Third Doctor. There will be free booze.

Speaking of booze the hotel bars closed at 8pm since it was the holidays. This meant that there would be a bunch of Englishmen very sad and very sober at this state of affairs. Damn us and our celebrating the shipment of Puritans getting ready to steal land from the Indians. And I like beer as well if you hadn't noticed. After a lovely conversation with Paul Cornell that Dan and I had it was decided that the impending booze crisis had to averted. Someone else was also pointing out to the hotel staff that the lack of booze was sad while I was getting a hotel shuttle to drive me to a liquor store. We found probably the only one open in our neck of the woods and provisions were procured.

Sidenote: The Westin is VERY nice. Not that I've stayed at tons of hotels, but this might be the first where by the end of the day I knew half the staff's names. Everyone went out of their way to wish us a Happy Thanksgiving, tell us their names, and let us know they were gonna spoils us rotten if we let them. It's amazing what a little bit of a personal touch and communication can do. Wish more companies realized that.

When our other roommate, John, got in we hung out in the lobby some more before going to get the traditional holiday meal of White Castle. Actually Dan has never had White Castle so we figured Thanksgiving was a good as time as any to remedy that situation. We piled back into the hotel shuttle to go to White Castle. We were not the only people with belly bombers on our minds as the place was packed. We quickly learned the reason for this as the place was only staff with four people: The manager, some kid named Dan, some senior citizen who was sporting a name badge with the words "Trainee", and a guy hidden in the back who didn't go anywhere near the grease. The manager was assembling burgers like there was no tomorrow all the while screaming at White Castle Dan to get the fries down in a high pitched voice that our Dan did to perfection. White Castle Dan was getting screamed at about the fries but he was too busy helping Grandma on the register who couldn't grok that you'd press the onion ring button when someone ordered onion rings. Literally every order involved her calling Shouty Manager or White Castle Dan to help with the register. Someone needs to explain to me why you would even put a trainee on a register for a holiday? We were howling as we were waiting for our food and Dan was doing a very loud impression of Shouty Manager. 50 years later we got our food. John apparently did something wrong as he didn't get an apology for waiting while Dan and I did.

Back in the lobby and we settled down to our Thanksgiving meal. The magical bucket of booze made its first appearance along with a rather jaunty Pilgrim hat I was sporting. Or leprachaun hat/Patrick Troughton hat as later declared by Paul Cornell and Simon Guerrier accordingly. I apparently missed the hat going on Simon's head as I had gone to refill the magicical bucket of booze. I hear there might be photos. The rest of the evening was spent chatting with Paul, Simon and Tara who I later learned shared an intense love of 80's American cartoons and might have a friend in common with me.

The magical bucket of booze is still full. Think of it as the TARDIS of booze.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Chicago Tardis 2008 - Day One

What would be an excursion to a Who convention if I didn't give you all a little travelogue of my adventures?

After much hemming and hawing I decided to drive up to Chicago from Houston. Gas prices have dropped significantly and it gave me some flexibility since The Westin is kind of in the suburbs of Chicago. I hit the road Wednesday morning around 6:30am after finding kind souls to watch the cats and last minute stuff to the car. Now, the directions I printed said it should take me a little over 18 hours to do the drive. I've no clue how fast they think I planned on going, but I call shenanigans. I went a tad insane and just drove straight through. I stopped only for gas and the occasional bathroom/foot warming break and arrived at the hotel at 4:30am Thursday. The longest break was probably 30 minutes or so.

Speaking of calling shenanigans I also do so in regards to the weather. I grew up in South Jersey so I know cold, but haven't had much practice in the 14 years I've been down in Houston. The weather reports all say the lows in Chicago would be in the upper 20's. My car thermometer says it's 19 degrees and I had the frozen legs to prove it. I choose to travel without the heat running. I had no clue how bad my legs were initially until I stepped out of the car and immediately had trouble walking. Clearly I need to rebuild my cold weather tolerance.

Overall the drive was nice. I'm kind of glad I plowed right through because I hit a couple of spots where the traffic was funky due to construction. Those got hit during off hours in terms of traffic so it allowed me to have my freak out moment in regards to where I needed to be without screwing up other people or causing accidents. Speaking of which, I saw a bunch, all going westbound so it just gave me something to look at besides trees. Which I saw a lot of and while I like fall foliage it kind of turns into white noise after the fourth hour.

One of the places I stopped for gas was at some deal called Boomland!. Honestly, that's what it's called. The place to get all your fireworks, kitschy evil rooster knick knacks, and Jesus paraphanelia. Think of it as a tacky Buc-ee's.

As I noted, I got into the hotel around 4:30am. I'm currently chillin' in the lobby all by my lonesome. I must admit to being a tad surprised. While I didn't think a lot of people would be coming in Wednesday I just figured that surely some had and they'd make their way to the lobby. The guys I'm staying with got in on Wednesday but the original plan was for me to arrive in the afternoon. I figure it's a bit of a party foul to send a text in the early AM wondering what room I should go to just because I got all crazy and drove straight through.

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Chicago, Chicago..

Yes, I shall be in the windy city for this year's Chicago TARDIS. Tickets are still available and there's a preliminary schedule full of nougatty goodness. We'll try to have a Time Team up before then, but no promises with the holidays fast approaching. As with Gallifrey if you read this blog and you're gonna be at TARDIS as well I'd love to meet you. Also since I've got a laptop with mighty fine speakers I'll be posting a recap of my adventures in booze and Who ala' Gallifrey.

Speaking of Gallifrey, tickets and hotel rooms are going like hot cakes. The guest list is absolutely awesome for this early in the game and there's the promise of more to come. Seriously, if you're even thinking of going to Gallifrey I'd book my hotel room now if I were you to get the con rate while you can.

I'm sure I'm late to the party, but in case you've been living under a rock Rob Shearman recently won a World Fantasy Award for his collection Tiny Deaths.

The final two plays in the 9th season of Bernice Summerfield, The Adventure of the Diogenes Damsel and The Diet of Worms, has been released. The cover design is now up for this year's novella collection, Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Vampire Curse.

Like I said hopefully we'll get another Time Team installment in before Chicago. If not hopefully I'll see you in Chicago.

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Listening to: The Bluetones - Vampire
via FoxyTunes