Sunday, August 30, 2009

Companion Chronicles - The Drowned World

The end of the world is seriously nigh, and available for purchase, as I give you not one but two Audio Time Team sessions this weekend.

And watch as there be spoilers ahead.

It would only seem natural that if I did Home Truths yesterday I should do The Drowned World today. A direct sequel to Home Truths, The Drowned World brings the entire creative team responsible for one of Big Finish's most popular titles from last year back together for another go around. We pick up a time after the ending of Home Truths where Robert returns to the house and Sara Kingdom, giving us an info dump of the previous audio. Robert has returned to hear another story from Sara that will help him convince his superiors not to destroy her. Once again we're teased with stories involving a boy dying in Sara's arms and a man stuck in a clock but this time around we get a story involving her adventures on an asteroid in the Red-O Belt.

The TARDIS materializes in an odd angle in a lab area and it takes no time at all for Sara, Steven, and the First Doctor to be separated from the TARDIS as it falls into water. Having no where to go up they continue to climb, opening one hatch after another. The second set of doors open up, freeing a bunch of miners and the stock Big Finish "much rejoicing noise" who weren't expecting Red-O Base to send a rescue party in time.

Sara remembers that some of the miners were convinced they'd been attacked as opposed to being struck by an act of nature. The Doctor opts to work on the life support system with a warning about the water while Sara, Steven, and Miners Hutchinson, Cowell and Keefe go to retrieve the TARDIS. It doesn't take long for the body count to start as Miner Keefe ends up playing the role of red shirt ensign in manly screaming fashion, making the mistake of not heeding the Doctor's advice to not touch the water. Think of The Abyss gone horribly wrong.

At the risk of sounding blasphemous, the real star this time is Niall MacGregor as Robert. The first time around MacGregor's Robert was a placeholder character, serving to give the listener something else to listen to than just Jean Marsh along with serving as the device that gets Sara to tell her story. This go around he's a much more integral part of the story. Simon Guerrier fleshes out his character and turns Robert into someone we actually can care about just as much as we care about what happens to Sara. Robert also serves as another narrator, at times helping to tell Sara's story. This is not to say Jean Marsh was horribly, far from it. Just as before Jean took what she was given and ran with it, providing another stellar performance.

Guerrier once again writes a gripping outer story that helps frame the inner story that Sara's telling. Ultimately, just as you find yourself caring about Robert you find youself just as engrossed in what one would think is the inconsequential outer story of what's happening to Robert's world. As before Lisa Bowerman does not disappoint. I know I sound lke a broken record, but it bears repeating that she may be the one of the best directors Big Finish has on the payroll at the moment. Maybe, it's her acting background, but she's able to bring out performances that aren't one note, something that might be easy to fall in when you're working with only two actors. There's definite shifts between the inner story and the outer story that you'd be able to tell without the aid of the sound design and music.

Even before listening to the behind the scenes chat with the creative team it's very clear that the foundation is being laid for the story of Sara and Robert to be a trilogy. And while I could eventually see that coming, it does not disappoint me. After two audios I care enough about them to want to hear a third story. One can only hope that Big Finish will bring this group together for a third time.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Companion Chronicles - Home Truths

Looky looky, it's not an Archway cookie but another Audio Time Team installment.

Hell has turned quite frosty. Our schedules have not meshed and as you'll notice quite quickly still haven't meshed. But I felt like getting something out so I've opted for some Companion Chronicles. If the concept of one person narrating a whole story is good enough for Big Finish, then little ole' me going solo is good enough for me.

For my return to the world of solo ATT goodness I've opted for Home Truths by Simon Guerrier and starring Jean Marsh as Sara Kingdom. For you New Who kids Sara Kingdom traveled with the First Doctor for one story before she met her untimely demise. Naturally one might ask how the hell do you do a Companion Chronicle with a character that was only around for one story and ended up as dead as Michael Jackson. At least that's what I was thinking, without the Michael Jackson bit, when it was first announced that they were doing a story with Jean Marsh as Sara Kingdom.

To answer this question the audio opens up on a dark stormy night with a man begging to be let in to escape the weather. Quickly we learn the house is inhabited by an old woman who used to run a guesthouse. The man, asks her to tell a story about a house.

The woman turns out to be Sara Kingdom.

For those not familiar with Sara we get a quick info dump of the background of how Sara ends up with the Doctor and Steven. This works well, not only for new fans but old ones as it helps to flesh out Sara's character. It helps give reason as to why we'd get a Companion Chronicle with a companion who people debate as to whether or not she's a true companion. After this info dump and a taste of other adventures she'd had with the Doctor and Steven we get to the story that not only the man, but we want. The story about the house. (Between this and "Every Day" by Stephen Fewell it seems the First Doctor is attracted to fucked up houses.)

The audio flips back and forth from the main story of Sara meeting with the Magistrate, Robert, and the one she's telling. It's a nice way to break up the action, without feeling forced. It's easy to imagine the main scene of them talking and then the flashbacks associated with Sara's story. These switches along with creating the general atmosphere are capably handled by Richard Fox and Lauren Yason handling sound design and the music. It can tricky doing a mystery/horror piece on audio since you're lacking the visual component to foster fear and terror. This is one of those audios that benefits greatly from listening to it with a good pair of headphones. You're able to catch the little bits thrown in to help craft the overall audio along with the script and acting.

I've never been a fan of the First Doctor. The stories were normally too long and at times he was too crabby for my liking. I won't even get into my issue with his later stories where he'd just be absent for multiple episodes leaving us with just some crap companions. His stories during a monthly Nitro-9 meeting normally servies as nap and/or food time. Much as he worked his magic in the Bernice Summerfield range to get fans to re-examine the character of Jason Kane, Guerrier does an equally admirable job of rehabbing the First Doctor, for me at least. The story is tight and crisp and the characterisation of Hartnell's Doctor is detailed enough to allow Marsh impersonate him to a "t".

Hinging the success or failure of any story on one person is always a gamble. In the wrong hands, these Chronicles can be painful to work your way through. Obviously, in the hands of Jean Marsh this is not the case.  Though it's been over forty years since Jean played Sara she picks up where she left off. Jean takes the script and runs with it, making the part and story her own.

Rounding out the perfect creative group to bring this story to life is Lisa Bowerman as the director. She has yet to fail as a director and this continues the trend for her. Lisa may be one of the best directors Big Finish has employed as of late and it's a pleasure to see them using her as much as they can.

Overall, Home Truths is a quite a clever concept allowing the fans to re-experience a character from beyond the grave. There's something to be said for classic storytelling over the usual reliance on explosions and non-stop action to propel a story, especially in the audio format. And doubly so when you relying mainly on one person to keep the story moving and your audience engaged.

Keep your eyes posted here as I want to get things moving around these parts again. Possibly check back tomorrow even...

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Momentary Interruption

We break into this regularly scheduled blog about Big Finish audios to point out the massive levels of fail being experienced by the writers on Torchwood: Children of Earth at the hands of some seriously sad fans.

To quote the great William Shatner from Saturday Night Live "Get a life!"

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Hell Has Frozen Over...

...or I ended up in an alternate universe. Either way, the long awaited Bernice Summerfield: The Inside Story is being released.

Run, don't walk to your computers and your wallets to pre-order this tome the likes of which we'll probably never see again. And lookey at the bottom of the press release, you lucky people who pre-order will get your copies signed.

Check this space later this week for a possible update on the next Time Team installment.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Much Belated Pimping

I know, I know. I've been a bad bad girl. (Not that kind you freaks)

Not sure when we'll get together for another Time Team. I don't think we'll get one in for May but you'll definitely see us in June. But until then, enjoy this pimping I've been slacking on.

First up: New Animated Who on it's way sometime in the fall ala' The Infinite Quest. The reason for Time Team pimpage you ask? Besides starring Tennant this new Who will star Time Team favorite Lisa Bowerman. It's not Benny but we'll take what we can get.

Next: Hurricane Who is developing quite the nice guest list for a first time con with latest additions of Gareth David Lloyd, Tony Lee, and India Fisher.

Later on in the convention Winter season is Chicago TARDIS which is finally making it look like their 10th anniversary will be one to remember. McGann will be joined by his first companion, Daphne Ashbrook, along with possible his most beloved by fans, India Fisher. Can we hope for all his women with additions of Lisa Bowerman and Sheridan Smith? (I got the backs of the fanboys and their dreams. Someone should have theirs come true.)

And as always, early next year is the uber party known as Gallifrey. Peter Davison is the only guest announced so far, but we all know it'll be a party to remember.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Apocalpyse Element and The Fires of Vulcan

Happy belated velociraptor awareness day!

No new beer today. Just some Shiner Bock because I didn't make it to the store in time to buy Mighty Arrow from the folks that make Fat Tire. After a meal of homemade turkey wraps we start up The Apocalpyse Element.

It opens with two glorified air traffic controllers talking. Monitor wants to be called Trinkett when it's just her and some other bloke.

Me: They call me MR. Tibbs!

We learn that there's a conference about to begin and then we hear the dulcet tones of the Doctor's TARDIS.

Tim: Well, everyone's going to die. The Doctor has arrived.

The Doctor has apparently stumbled in the wrong place at the wrong time for the Timelords liking as they come across a member of the Celestial Intervention Agency. It doesn't take long for the Doctor and Evelyn to separate. The Doctor advises that something is up and that they need to be subtle.

Me: Like that's going to happen with a coat like that.

We get backstory as the Timelord President explains that Romana's been missing for twenty years when a planet she was visiting, Etra Prime, (oh clever, clever prime...) disappeared. The Timelords are attending the conference in hopes of discovering which race had the ability to make a whole planet disappaer.

Evelyn is having way too much fun with a bracelet and then all the sensors start going crazy. It seems that the planet that disappeared with Romana on it has reappeared.

Me: Is that like Unicron?

Ensac gets hypnotized.

Tim: You mean nutsack?

Insert short sequence of Dalek's screaming at one another.

Me: We have Daleks!

Monitor Trinkett thinks the planet, Etra Prime, might have reappeared.

Angelie: Optimus Prime?

Evelyn is skulking about and trying to make sure no one notices her.

Me: I'm not liking Evelyn in this compared to her previous appearances. She's almost too snarky and glib.

Ensac tries to complete his mission but is stopped by Trinkett and the Doctor.

Tim: You mean Ex-lax?

Daleks show up and start blowing shit up, including Evelyn. Chancellery guards start blowing up Daleks and rescue Evelyn.

Tim: I can deal with Evelyn being a little more terrified by the Daleks since this is the first time she's met them. I don't really buy her being crushed by debris or in real danger. It's easy to go over the top in both cases but she almost underplays it.

The Daleks steal some technology that the Gallifreyans wanted to steal themselves. Meanwhile Trinkett and the Doctor are visiting the gravity wells until things go all Alien and they get attacked by Dalek mutant things.

Tim: Was it just me or was that the longest first episode ever? It's horrifying but funny trying to imagine those things just floating around and attacking people.

Insert soliloquay by Romana II about being a prisoner of the Daleks for twenty years.

Me: Just like your marriage to Tom.

Tim: Ouch!

Romana continues on about remembering when her body was young and full.

Me: Just like your marriage to Tom.

Tim: Ouch!

The slave robot finally names himself, Vrint

Tim: It's better than Nutsack.

We hear that the leader Dalek is black and thus begins the slew of Shaft jokes. It begins to gloat about how they're responsible for making Etra Prime disappear and has replaced the leadership with Dalek clones.

The Doctor and Evelyn get reunited and Evelyn wonders what that slime is on the Doctor.

Angelie: It's pizza grease.

The Black Dalek has to announce his color and explain to the slaves on Etra Prime what's going on.

Angelie: Evil knows no color. I hear Black Dalek and I just think "Yo, Yo!" and record scratching. They're the lost rappers.

The Doctor decides to go back through the Dalek mutants alone to shut down some shields. He asks for a new suit.

Me: (as The Doctor) I got jizz on this one.

Angelie: It's pizza grease.

Tim just chokes.

Evelyn declares something is huge.

Tim: That's what Romana said.

More shit blows up somewhere. The Doctor gets a clean suit and the Daleks talk about activating the apocalpyse element.

Me: We have title!

Evelyn complains about being too big for whatever tube they're traversing to get to the Birthing Bay.

Me: Should've thought about that before you stuffed your frame into the tube.

The Doctor talks about Mexican standoffs and asks the Daleks if they've killed any Mexicans.

Tim: What the hell? Where is that coming from? (as the Dalek) No, but that's a great idea. We'll go down, sit on the beach, and kill some Mexicans. He's right. Why didn't we think of this before.

Me: On a very racist Doctor Who....

Angelie: Are they going to say anything about the Filipinos next?

The Black Dalek does a drive by and attacks Gallifrey via a Trojan horse. Yet more shit gets blown up. Romana gets the TARDIS through the barrier with some mental jiggery pokery. Eveyln and Romana vow not to let the Doctor face the Daleks alone.

Me: It's like Eveyln is trying to be like Ace in "Battlefield" in terms of asserting her place as the Doctor's new companion to an old one. And it doesn't work so well in this case. Evelyn really serves no purpose in this audio except for the odd one liner and means for the Doctor to explain what's going on.

More shit blows up. More people die. More exposition spouted. More moments of Evelyn annoying the hell out of us.

Me: (as Maggie Stables) Bland. I think I'll be bland in this entire audio. Especially compared to Colin's bit of Shatnerian acting towards the end.

The President says that if the other daleks self destruct he'll let the Black Dalek send an unarmed scientific bunch of daleks to help figure out why shit could blow up that people don't want blown up.

Me: Unarmed daleks?

Angelie: Is there such a thing?

Me: (more stuff with Evelyn) Why don't they just kill her and pluck her eye out?

Evelyn does a shitty Dalek impersonation.

Me: Kill her!

The Black Dalek orders a hit on the President and he dies.

Tim: (dripping sarcasm) Didn't see that one coming at all.

More stuff happens but to be honest none of us could be cared to follow in rapt attention. The end comes mercifully.

Me: Well, that was crap. This audio sorely needed a drinking game.

Tim: It was a great idea in theory but not executed really well.

One trip for ice cream later we turn to the first time the Doctor goes to Pompeii, this time with Mel, in The Fires of Vulcan. We open with a crap Italian accented professor talking about a discovery at Pompeii that's put his dig on hold. The discovery is apparently a British police telephone box that's being possessed by UNIT.

The Doctor and Mel show up in Pompeii the day before the volcano is to explode. They manage to evade the questions of a slave who sees the TARDIS materialize and make their way to downtown Pompeii. Mel asks the Doctor if he notices a young man standing off in the distance.

Tim: It's David Tennant!

After wandering around a tad the Doctor begins to offer Mel up for wagers with Stephen Wickham channeling a cross between Brian Blessed and Colin Baker. Mel doesn't care that her milkshake brings all the boys to the yard as she runs from a bloke eyeing her and ends up in a whore house.

Tim: That would never happen to Evelyn.

Volcano day lives up to its name as Vesuvius starts rumbling, allowing the Doctor to escape an ass whupping.

Tim: I was expecting that to happen in Episode Four.

Things go all pear shaped as the Doctor and Mel discover the TARDIS has been buried under a pile of rubble. The Doctor begins to natter on about Time being against them in his usual New Adventures style. Mel gets him to admit that the TARDIS is found in 1980, meaning he and Mel won't see it again. Mel can't quite grasp what's happening.

Me: He's saying you're fucked.

Tim: It couldn't have happened to a better companion.

The locals talk about the messengers from Isis. The Doctor goes back to the bar and gets some wine. Mel asks if it's a good idea to be drinking.

Me: You're gonna die at Pompeii. I can't think of a better day to drink.

Mel has issues with accepting the defeatist attitude of the Doctor.

Me: You're kind of screwed. You pretty much have to lay down and take it without any lube. Mel's got balls man. I've always liked this version of her compared to the TV version.

The bloke that's been stalking Mel makes himself known as the local councilman. He offers to give her a tour inside the temple.

Me: And show you some etchings...

The Doctor finally decides to try and change history in terms of retrieving the TARDIS. The music swells as he tries to get Mel to leave.

Me: Sail away, sail away, sail away.

Tim: I was thinking Orinoko Flow as well. (Mel gets carted away at the end of Episode Two) Wow, she had more lines in that one episode than during her entire run on the show. It's nice to hear her talk about things not centered around carrot juice or exercise.

The Doctor uses the Jedi mind trick to get the keys to Mel's cell. As Mel's would be stalker falls asleep the Doctor tells him he'll take good care of the prisoner.

Me: Of love.

Mel escapes and then gets recaptured. Meanwhile the Doctor gets drugged by the Brian Blessed/Colin Baker hybrid.

Towards the end of Episode Three Vesuvius starts to erupt. Mel tries to get her stalker to admit there's something brewing.

Tim: See, over there a dark haired man in a suit with a woman are loading people into the TARDIS. What the hell?

The Doctor is begging for his life in his best "Survival" voice.

Me: If we fight like animals we die like animals!

Mel goes off in search of the TARDIS only to realize she doesn't have a key.

Tim: She wasn't cool enough. She's not Sarah Jane. Or Rose after three episodes.

Me: And Martha. Didn't he give Donna one too?

Tim: Yeah, I think all the new companions get one.

Angelie: He's a whore now.

Me: A Player.

The Doctor explains to the inn keeper that if they can get into safety and survive the next 12 hours they've got a chance to escape Pompeii. Mel continues to be all badass and makes a run for the TARDIS. They reunite as they work their way to the tombs where the TARDIS was hidden. Then we get an awesome resolution to the original problem of why/how the TARDIS was discovered in 1980.

Tim: Nice. The pretty much redeem Bonnie's character in this one audio.

Me: Sweet. Well, as much as the last one sucked, this one didn't. Following up on their work in rehabbing Colin's Doctor they do similar work for Bonnie Langford's Mel. This story manages to be a nice mix of action and drama with a twist in terms of the Doctor being the one that for a time is willing to succumb to Time and Fate.

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Another Benny Double Feature: The Poison Seas and Death and the Daleks

For the first time since before Thanksgiving we're all able to get together. Due to time constraints today's session turns into another Benny double feature. I promise, next month we'll get back to main Who line.

Beer is courtesy of the Shiner Family Reunion pack. One beer each from their main releases then one Kosmo's Reserve which Shiner hasn't brewed in nearly ten years. Named for their founder, Kosmo's Reserve is a hoppy affair that provides different tastes as it finishes. I'm enjoying it way more than the Commerator.

After a meal of sweet and sour pork with wonton soup for me we start up The Poison Seas.

Tim: I'm picturing Sea Devils. The music seems to indicate Sea devils.

Angelie: Too much reverb. I can't understand what they're saying. I've had two cups of coffee. My goal is not to fall asleep.

Insert the first of many The Little Mermaid jokes as we listen to a Sea Devil soliluquay. Then we get to hear Benny trying to evade Carvers' questions and getting yelled at for not staying in her quarters.

Me: Yeah, Benny is really good at staying put and listening to orders.

Benny calls and bitches out Brax couched around a tender moment of asking him how Jason is doing. Then we go back to talking Sea Devils. The sound design is great, but of course you have to strain to really understand what they are saying due in part to the reverb. This ultimately is one that's probably best served listening by yourself with a pair of really good head phones. I find myself alternating between Little Mermaid songs and PJ Harvey.

Benny gets dropped off and we listen to Carver and her assistant wonder if Benny's going to be trouble. Carver notes that Benny will just be an innocent victim.

Me: Um yeah...Benny is not innocent and "trouble" really should be her middle name.

Benny starts talking with a Sea Devil.

Tim: Ok. I really can't hear anything at this point. There's too much going on in the background.

Angelie: I heard a corridor.

Tim: I don't know what this chamber is or where it's supposed to be, but whenever they're in it I can't hear a damn thing. (Sea Devil dialogue)

Carver kills a sea devil and then we go back to more hard to hear sea devil dialogue. Other stuff happens and Benny hooks up with her friend to investigate the killing of the sea devil. She explains to the lead sea devil that she's been sent to really determine who within the group is helping a terrorist group that Carver is leading. In another batch of hard to follow sea devil dialogue there's something in the water, and it's not just the sharks.

They go back to see the Principal and Benny utters a 'goddess'.

Me: Drink.

Benny gets found out by Carver and we end up back with Principal talking to Nedda. Nedda at one point says "how can this be?"

Me and Tim: (ala' Dune) For he is the Qwissatz Hadderach!

Principal reveals that he is the poison sea and he starts to strangle sea devils ala' Darth Vader. Carver reaveals the reason for all her barely post teen angst before she leaves Benny to die. She eventually gets rescued by Nedda who catches her up to speed on how Principal's gone all crazy. Meanwhile Principal is giving Carver some of his strangling treatment.

Benny gets all maudlin and starts talking about home and it's significance. She also mentions how some times she's tempted to take the time rings and just run away from it all. I point out that unless she's got mad skills she needs someone to work the other ring.

After a bad set of puns with Principal Benny runs into a not quite dead Carver. The bomb Carver set can be controlled by remote so Benny ups the time of destruction. Principal is getting all orgasmic about getting the planet back before he gets blown up by Carver's bomb.

Benny radios The Collection and something's going on as Brax replies in vague answers and keeps talking about her coming home soon.

I bring out my copy of Life During Wartime to show Tim and Angelie was Benny is coming home to and explain briefly what's going on. Then Death and the Daleks gets put into the player.

We get through the recap and Benny finds her dad is commanding the armies of the Fifth Axis. Benny says "cruk".

Me: Drink.

After evading the Fifth Axis and then evading Jason's enquiries as to the nature of their relationship Benny goes to see Brax. He talks about how his life has been distilled down to torture and interior decorating.

Me: Maybe that could be next year's edition of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. One way to get Ty to shut up.

Benny gets approval to visit Heaven and says goodbye to both Adrian and Peter. Peter cries as Benny talks about leaving.

Tim: (as Benny) It's not like I'm ever here anyway.

She talks about getting Isaac back.

Tim: (as Benny) We're bringing him back from the dark side.

Bev gets rescued and Benny and Jason make it to Heaven. The planet. Last seen in Love and War Benny starts going down memory lane. Angelie is able to guess Jason's dialogue when he tells Benny that he still loves her. Benny and Jason sneak out in the evening to go to the Heavenite arch.

Angelie: I'm sorry, but if I didn't know they were in a tent and I heard that zipper sound...

They get to the arch and Jason notes that it's huge.

Angelie: That's what she (Benny) said.

They stumble upon the Daleks and we get a history of the word "cruk" before Jason goes on a "cruk" tirade.

Me: That's like a chug right since someone other than Benny is saying it?

I tell Tim when this was released and then he tries to figure out which version of the Daleks he should be envisioning.

Bev starts the food riot and then we go back to Benny and Jason being revived by the Daleks.

Tim: That looked cool in my head. That was a really nice sound effect.

Me: You know, they could just grab some kid that plays World of Warcraft all day and probably get a better level of tactical knowledge.

Benny wonders if the Daleks have other military minds hidden behind the doors.

Tim: Cause the Rani already did that.

As usual Benny turns the interrogation around and antagonizes the Daleks. Jason mentions that no one would normally think to do that to the Daleks and they can never go to the zoo together.

Me: I *so* want that line on a t-shirt. Really. If someone put that on a t-shirt I'd be a happy girl.

Benny tells Jason to take his fat suit off.

Tim: (as Benny) I don't want to die without having another go with you.

Benny and Jason make another stab at rescuing Isaac. Jason kills a bunch of Daleks and then remarks at how strange it is for Isaac to have been placed in the storage room.

Me: Not as strange as you blasting Daleks while being naked? Speaking of which, I don't see Captain Jack killing Daleks naked.

Tim: No, thankfully he put his clothes back on before he took out those two What Not To Wear robots.

Me: See, another reason why he's just a poor man's Jason Kane.

Isaac offers to comfort Benny as she feels bad for getting a bunch of Axis officers killed.

Me: No, that didn't sound creepy at all. This just makes me all the more sad that Ian Collier is dead.

Disc one ends with Brax unveiling his TARDIS and Benny, Jason, and Isaac preparing to defend themselves to the death if need be against the Daleks.

Tim: I was able to follow that better than the one with the Sea Devils. I like them and I think it's cool they were in a story, but it was hard to understand some of them.

Isaac would rather fight in a battle than watch Peter.

Me: God, no one wants to spend anytime with the kid.

Angelie: Poor kid.

The Killoran Liberation Army arrives and Jason leads the revolutionary army through the door to the armory.

Tim: Is that a music cue lifted straight from Aliens?

Jason assumes that Adrian means him when Adrian says the best man won in the battle for Benny's heart.

Tim: (laughing) What a dumb ass.

The battle continues and eventually the Collection gang get all together inside Brax's TARDIS. Insert awkward moment number 378 as Isaac tries to get Benny and Jason to return home with him. Isaac is still really under control of the Daleks so things go all pear shaped as the Daleks try to capture Brax's TARDIS. They're able to turn things around and eventually get the Axis officers to kill off most of the Daleks. Jason and Benny go after the last one while Brax comes up with a plan to take care of the Dalek fleet.

In typical Benny/Jason fashion they decide the perfect time to rekindle their relationship is in the middle of looking for the last Dalek. Their makeout session is interrupted by the Dalek who Jason eventually gets around to killing.

Using Isaac to give out new orders Brax and Benny do what The Doctor couldn't do in Genesis of the Daleks and destroy the Fifth Axis.

Tim: I didn't fall asleep once.

Angelie: I didn't either. It was just hard to understand what they were saying in the first one we listened to.

Tim: It was good to hear the Daleks. And I liked hearing Brax finally acting like a Time Lord.

Me: This has always been one of my favorites and is in frequent rotation along with The Crystal of Cantus and Just War. On the whole the series is finally finding its footing and properly incorporating all the various characters. I understand from an economic side why they probably don't do more double disc Benny's, but it's fun to get an expansive story that features everyone on the Collection. It's an excellent core group of actors who should be allowed to interact with each other more often.

Check back next month when we'll do The Apocalypse Element and The Fires of Vulcan. Also keep an eye out as I might start doing the Companion Chronicles as a solo effort.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Gallifrey 2009 - Day Four

The clock on the bed reads 8am when I awake. This means I've had less than three hours of sleep from when I stumbled back to the room. This means I'm going on my fourth day on something around nine to ten hours of sleep. This means I of course feel like death on a triscuit.

Or maybe more appropriately in some truncated version of Withnail and I with any number of Squeeze songs about drinking for the soundtrack. I feel like a pig shat in my head even though I have not gone on holiday by mistake. I decide that I might as well ride the drunk/comfortably mellow state of affairs until Monday so I start the day by finishing off the apricot ale I had earlier in the morning. All I can do is sit in the chair and just kind of stare into the distance and try to comprehend my current state.

Since I can't go back to sleep and I've got nothing I want to see until Colin and Nicola go on stage at noon I wander back to the dealer's room. I figure I can go back and speak with Cindy Pickett. She's not there, but Greg Berger is. He notes that I'm now wearing my Houston Aeros hoodie, finally indicating where I'm from. In talking I mention I'm not a native Texan and he immediately states that he could tell from my accent and mannerisms. I probably spent about twenty minutes talking to him. Very nice conversation and a great guy.

Noon rolls around and I haul myself down to the ballroom for Colin and Nicola. My friend Bob sees me and asks if I've got a hangover on top of the hangover. I state that I'm still in the boozed up portion and that he better be ready to drive tomorrow morning because I already know I won't be able to. Colin and Nicola were a joy to watch together. It's always fun to see past Doctors with their companions. It was easy to see the great affection they have for one another. Colin explained his reasoning for biting Nicola on the ass during the first day of rehearsal. In my opinion, the same douchebag who asked Colin about his weight being a reason his Doctor was eating on screen all the time asked the same question. But this time he lacked the tact and just outright called Colin fat. This lead to Colin teeing off on him asking if anyone had ever told the dude he has no tact. Colin explained that he'd rather be healthy and enjoy life instead of some emaciated stick figure. We all applauded and then Colin would use any opportunity to just take another whack at the douchebag.

I don't know how and maybe it was something as simple as someone checking Facebook, but it was apparently getting around that it was my birthday. Which it was. Guests and friends alike were coming up to me going "I hear it's your birthday" or "Is it your birthday?" or just plain old "Happy Birthday". Dan did offer to get a group together to go to the strip club down the block as part of a birthday celebration. While I'm down with the strip club scene this one looked like the type of club that would have a pregnant one armed stripper as the main attraction. And as appealing as that sounds I realized photos would be taken and I'd hate to have to explain to work why there's a shot of me getting a lap dance from a pregnant one armed stripper while my friends pay to make it rain on us.

It had come to my attention the previous night that among the items donated to the charity auction where five Bernice Summerfield CD's donated by David Darlington. All were signed, I just didn't know by whom. If I had criticism about the auction it would be that I wished a complete and up to date list had been available to see beforehand. The only thing that I could find was one sheet posted by the door to the room that housed all the items and it was clearly not up to date. As such I had missed the first part of the auction watching Colin and Nicola which lead me to miss three out of the five cd's. Vanessa had me scared for awhile as she mentioned one of them was a copy of "The End of The World". Later I found out it was only signed by Simon and I already had his signature of the copy I owned. If David Darlington had signed it I would have had to find the person who got it and beat them down for it. The two cd's left were copies of "The Final Amendment" signed by Simon, David, and Joe Lidster and "The Diet of Worms" signed by David. I already had a copy of "The Final Amendment" signed by a whole host of people, but not David so I resolved to get that along with "The Diet of Worms".

When I show up at an auction I come to play. I know what I want and I have a set price in my head. None of this flim flam bullshit of upping the bid by a dollar. I had to wait a bit for them to get to the Benny cd and the first of the two was "The Final Amendment". They barely got the description out when I opened with five dollars for my bid. Someone bid six and I immediately went to ten. She countered with fifteen and I went straight for twenty. Twenty going once. Twenty going twice. Sold twenty dollars.

I had to wait longer for the other cd to go up and then I felt like I was in Groundhog Day. The bidding literally went the same way, note for note. I opened with five, the same person countered with six. I went straight for ten, she went fifteen and I bid twenty. Twenty going once. Twenty going twice. Sold twenty dollars. The only difference is that you could hear in her voice that she was pissed. If you read this blog and you're the person I beat down for those two cd's, what can I say? Mama was going home with those, that's what I'm saying. And I'd have gone after the other three if they had still been around. But really, you know I paid twenty on the first one. You might as well have cut to the chase and bid twenty.

With my new cd's in hand I went back to the dealer's room where I ran into the Big Finish crew. Simon reminded me that Gary had directed "The Final Amendment" and Gary was nice enough to sign the cd for me.

Speaking of Big Finish it was back into the ballroom at 4pm to see their final panel. Again, nothing new for the most part. The only two new items would be that the Bernice Summerfield Inside Story book is closer to getting released. There's only one person to get permission from and then Simon can go ahead and write a chapter about season number nine. It was explained that since Big Finish has the rights to Doctor Who and a chunk of the Benny book is what's happening to the show in the years that it's off the air they couldn't have their cake and eat it too by releasing something that hadn't gone through the proper clearance channels. The other news was that Sapphire and Steel is in a bit of trouble. Jason has to put pen to paper in regards to renegotiating the license and whether they can make it work financially. Sapphire and Steel may be the first audio line to become a casualty of illegal downloading. They want to make more though so it might be revamped into a Companion Chronicles style line of audios for future seasons. So you kids out there who want Sapphire and Steel and want it in full audio cast style might want to either buy copies of the existing catalog or buy more if you've already done so.

After the Big Finish panel the convention proper portion was pretty much done for me. Just as Opening Ceremonies do nothing for me neither do Closing Ceremonies. Instead I went back to Carl's Jr with John for dinner. This turned into unintended comedy as John was so out of it he didn't realize he ordered two combo meals and I got the shock of my life when I realized their idea of a western bacon cheeseburger is a cheeseburger with bacon, bbq sauce and two nasty onion rings. Seriously, onion rings. I had to go back and look at the picture on the menu to make sure it was my fuck up for ordering and not theirs in making it. It was also by this time that I learned that when I'm going on four days of drinking nothing but booze I start to stutter. Badly. As in from time to time I was sounding like a definitely tipsy Porky Pig.

The last night in the lobby started after dinner. People joined us as the Closing Ceremonies finished and I asked Bob to get my lasat tasty treat to share with all my British friends. Beaver Nuggets. Beaver nuggets are a tasty confectionary treat made by the good people at Buc-ee's, a gas station chain in Texas with a beaver for its mascot. I wish I had a camera to get the reactions of every time I said "would you like to try some beaver nuggets?" My beaver nuggets were a hit overall and I need to fulfill a promise to send a care package of those and some Booze Leprechaun t-shirts overseas.

Since it was my birthday people bought me beer instead of it being the other way around. Which was nice because it was my birthday and to be honest I was all out of beer and really didn't want to try and buy more so one way or the other the Booze Leprechaun was taking a night off. As it was many birthday rounds were procured and I ended up having a very nice and lengthy conversation with ElyssaDC who knew of me from the Audio Time Team's Liverjournal mirror blog.

Elyssa is another major lover of all things Benny having come by Benny in a roundabout fashion via the New Series. Luckily she was able to explain it to me without the use of graphs and charts because let's face it, I was too damn drunk to have comprehended anything that complicated. It was fun to talk to her and it's clear that her passion for Benny puts mine to shame. I also learned from her that apparently I'm not the only person who likes the character of Jason Kane so this made me feel like I had emerged from the wilderness to find Xanadu. The one that Kublai Khan did decree, not the one inhabited my Olivia Newton-John on roller skates. We talked for awhile and tried to call Lizbee, another LJ'er, because in my drunken state my ego increased to think that while the lobby lacked any guests I'd be good enough for her to talk overseas with.

While talking to Elyssa some of my friends asked if I'd like a piece of chocolate cake from the restaurant. I am not one to turn down free chocolate cake. Eventually I looked up to see Keefe with the cake in hand but not coming anywhere near me. This lead me to suspect that something was afoot and to move my beer glass. Next thing I know my friends are coming en masse, singing Happy Birthday and managed to rope Kai Owen into the festivities. Later on Elyssa saw Frazier and got him to come over and wish me happy birthday as well. Vanessa has us on tape posing as if she was going to take a photo.

Later on it was time for the annual Scrabble game. This year it was myself, Jarrod, Rob Shearman, and Vanessa. I was convinced Rob would totally destroy us since Jarrod and I were admittedly drunk. We managed to hold our own though and not get completely trounced by Rob even though he did win. It became a spectator event again, which I'm down with. I did find though in my state of inebriation I wasn't down with the spectators putting their two cents on what word should be played. But I did learn a new word for drunk from Rob and got a very nice compliment later on in regards to my overall play so I can't complain too much.

The evening then further descended into more drinking and talking. I had had every intention of going to bed after Scrabble but the siren's cry of gin and tonics called to me. That and I just didn't want the night to end. I knew that the next day would mean the end of summer camp and we'd all be going home.

Besides, it had turned into the BEST...BIRTHDAY...EVER! How could I got to sleep? This had topped the one where my dad sent me a stripper who ended up being from Australia and did his routine to Will Smith's "Men in Black" among other tunes. And may I mention that all my other friends chickened out and I got to enjoy the stripper all by myself? I believe I shall.

All good things must come to an end though and I finally dragged my ass to bed sometime after four.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gallifrey 2009 - Day Three

I awake to find myself drowning in a pool of my own drool, still laying sideways on the bed fully clothed and the clock reads 7:30am. This of course means I've only had about three hours of sleep and I'm definitely displeased by that state of affairs. What displeases me further is that I can't manage to fall back to asleep so I'm stuck still slightly drunk on three hours of sleep. Joy.

I can't remember what I had for breakfast. I want to say maybe some leftover beer and some chips from the con suite. I could be wrong about the chips.

The convention day proper for me starts with the Big Finish panel. Still much talk about the Key 2 Time series and very limited discussion of the "Lost Season" of Colin Baker's they're doing. As usual with a Big Finish panel the highlight is just watching them all interact with each other. You never know what's going to be said. Fun bit at the end as they played previews of some of the audios coming out this year including McGann's "Company of Friends" and his reunion with Susan.

Then it was time to start using our Golden Tickets as the first autograph session of the day was forming. I wanted to get a couple of other items signed by Paul Cornell, including a couple issues of Captain Britain and the Short Trip Christmas anthology he edited. The Golden Tickets let us roll up on the line after it was starting the form only to get to head of it. John, Cathy, Keefe, and I had fun posing for photos with our Golden Tickets. The chick who's place at the head of the line we usurped didn't look as thrilled as us oddly enough. But we didn't care as we sang the Golden Ticket song from Willy Wonka and queued up according to the number on the ticket. When we got to go in the fun increased as it took a few minutes for the non Golden Ticket holders to be allowed into the room. Much jokes about peasants were made. Yes, we are evil like that. We have the Golden Tickets to prove it.

I think I got lunch. I don't remember.

Next up for me was the Wendy Padbury interview. Wendy was awesome and pure delight to watch. The best part of this was her explaining how she discovered Matt Smith when she was a talent agent a few years ago. She sang his praises and did her best to dispel any fears we have of him being the next Doctor. In the middle I slipped out in hopes of using my second Golden Ticket to get Pia Guerra to sign my copies of "The Forgotten". It took a little longer than I thought it should've, but I finally got confirmation that in fact Pia wasn't going to be able to make it out to the convention. I grumbled a bit and then went back to see the end of Wendy's session.

I was so still drunk that I had trouble telling time. I thought it was 4pm and next up was Colin Baker talking about Big Finish. I was so pleased to see so many people coming in to hear him speak as Big Finish has done a wonderful job rehabbing his Doctor. Imagine my shock/surprise when instead it was Gareth David Lloyd coming on stage. I rechecked my watch, cursed, and then probably pissed a bunch of people off as I stood up to leave.

I think this is when I decided to kill time in the dealer's room. Hidden in the back were Greg Berger and Cindy Pickett. They were having a conversation with someone so I didn't want to interrupt but the guy noticed me and asked who I was. I just mentioned I was an attendee to both which Greg and Cindy said I wasn't "just" an attendee. I took that as a chance to mention to Cindy that I was from Houston, had gone to the University of Houston, and one of my best friend's had gone to Bellaire High in the nineties. A quick lesson: Cindy is a native of Houston whose dad for a long time taught acting at both Bellaire and U of H. Among his students besides Cindy are Brent Spiner, the Quaid brothers, Robert Wuhl and the late Trey Wilson to name a few. Once I assured her I wasn't full of shit she smiled and shook my hand. I backed off and let them continue their conversation with the guy. A few minutes later I hear Cindy yell "Houston". I turn back around and pointed at myself in confusion. She said she wanted to talk and I explained that I didn't want to interrupt the current conversation. She and Greg appreciated that and she implored me to come back later to talk. While I appreciated the gesture I also think it might have partly been because she and Greg were lonely.

With the little hand on the four I made my way back to the main ballroom to see Jason Haigh-Ellery interview Colin about his Big Finish stuff. Awesome interview that was only marred by two things. One, some douchebag who has a weight fetish not so tactfully inquired if jokes about the Doctor eating were put in the scripts because of Colin's weight. Before anyone cries 'hypocrite', I may make the odd Colin Baker fat joke when we do one of his audios but I would never dare to bring it up to his face. Cute little jokes that I live in fear of him mentioning one autograph session is one thing. Making a weight comment right to his face in such a manner that can be construed in no other manner than nasty is another. The second was that I forget how the conversation led to it but Colin had to drop his two cents on waterboarding. If you know me it shouldn't take you long to figure out which way I lean on the subject. The lack of applause tells me that either the majority of the audience feels the same way I do or they just thought it wasn't the appropriate place to make such a comment. Either way I know I could've gone without politics creeping into my Who.

After Colin there really wasn't much going on until the Masquerade later in the evening. My friend Vanessa entered as the Haute Couture Dalek. I wanted to see her, but I also knew I needed to eat and not another meal at Carl's Jr. The Magical Bucket of Booze also needed to be replenished. So I headed back to Ralph's to buy Reese's Peanut Butter cups, another 12 pack of Sam's and a 12 pack of Coors Light per request by Keefe while he, John, and Dan trekked to Carl's Jr. Apparently there was something involving a homeless guy in a diaper possibly obsconding with a cheeseburger they bought for some random guy at the convention who asked them when he heard they were going to forage for food. I managed to run into the same cashier who once again noted I had to be planning for another party.

There was nothing that tickled my fancy in the way of dinner so once I got the latest additions to the bucket chilling I made my way to Denny's. Nothing finer than placing a layer of grease thanks to a Moons Over My Hammy on top of still full belly of beer. Note for future reference: the Denny's by the Marriott has a bar.

By the time I felt slightly human I decided just not to go to the Masquerade. I knew I'd get to see Vanessa's costume later and overall cosplay just ain't my bottle of beer. Instead I settled down on one of the couches in the lobby to start reading "Tiny Deaths". Part of me wanted to try and get a nap but the other knew once I slept I probably wouldn't wake for days. As it was I ended up not getting much reading done as hotel staff was dealing an unruly guest/visitor. I don't know what started it but next thing I know I see a guy sitting among the other set of couches talking to one member of hotel security. I can't hear what the hotel security guy is saying but I can clearly hear the guest/visitor and it's not good. Soon one hotel security member multiplies to about four which then escalates to one cop and then to three with sirens in the distance. They got the guy to leave the hotel without incident but I cannot report what happened once they got him outside.

While I didn't sleep, I did retire to my room for a bit to fiddle about on the computer. I had also decided against going to see the American premiere of Moths. It's not that I don't want to see it, but I knew the place would be jam packed and that I would have had to line up long before the masquerade even started to get a decent seat. Knowing that he'll be back in October at Hurricane Who to perform didn't hurt in the decision making process.

Apparently Moths got started late due to the masquerade running over so I was a bit surprised when I wandered out into the lobby around when I thought Moths was ending to see the place relatively empty. I did spot Tim and Llamastrangler so I hung out with them until the play let out and people started making their way up to the lobby. Then it was time to bring out the Magical Bucket of Booze and its cousin along with my pub sign with 'Park Your TARDIS Here' written on it. I started the evening with 24+ bottles of Sam Adams, 3 Shiner Blacks, 8 Shiner Blondes, and a few Sam Adams Light. By 2am I was completely out of beer. The party was still rocking though and thankfully Handsome Timmy D produced another 12 pack of Apricot Ale. We descended on it like starving dogs to meat and that bad boy was gone in about an hour.

5am rolled around and the party was still in full swing, much to the consternation of the hotel staff who had to keep cleaning up our debris. The Starbucks opened along with Lattitude getting the overpriced breakfast buffett ready. Though things were still going on I made the decision to stumble to bed. At that point in the evening/morning the rest of the hotel occupants would slowly make their way downstairs along with airline pilots checking in. It was kind of hitting that point where things were gonna have to end soon or something ugly would happen and I wanted to hear the story being told, not be part of it. After creating a little bed on the floor using the huge non-fluffy pillows I finally went to sleep/passed out.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gallifrey 2009 - Day Two

My apologies in taking so long to get these out. To be honest I stopped drinking early Monday morning but my hangover didn't hit until Wednesday. You can imagine how much fun that made work.

Also, as you'll note in these convention travelogues one of the guys I stay with, John, is a bit of an autograph whore. (His words, not mine) Anyway, it has come to his attention that in the course of things he lost a Tomorrow People cover signed by Jason Haigh-Ellery. We think it happened during Saturday's autograph session. You might remember him as the guy with tons of covers in ziplock bags trying to figure out which ones to get signed. Obviously, if you go through your stuff and find you're now the owner of a Tomorrow People cover signed by Jason made out to John and you're not named John it's a safe bet it's not yours. If you happen to be in possession of this please drop me a line privately and arrangements can be made to get it back to him.

We now return you to your regular convention travelogue.

Breakfast is again the culinary mecca that is Carl's Jr. There was discussion of partaking of the hotel's breakfasat buffett but at $19.50 a pop that thought was quickly nixed. The general consensus was that at those prices the food should be cut up and pre chewed for you. I also thought everything should be made from scratch at the table per your specifications.

After food the task of organizing items for signature began. Friday was deemed autograph day as in theory I could spend all day getting the majority of what I needed signed taken care of. The announcement that Alien Entertainment was going to charge $20 for Colin Baker's autograph helped lighten my autograph load. The initial announcement that Pia hadn't made it for Friday's activities did screw the plan of attack I had worked out the week before for the entire convention.

The first session included Phil Collinson and as such the line started forming well over an hour before it was supposed to start. John and I ended up taking turns holding our spot in line while the other went to check out the dealer's room. By the time we made it though it was clear that the line was not getting much longer. After another quick run through the dealer's room we went back to the autograph session to find the line was still holding steady in size. We asked and were allowed to go back in, greedy bastards that we are. Along with Phil this session included Frazier Hines, Wendy Padbury, and Nicola Bryant and if we had made it through a second time at least I would've gotten everything I wanted signed without messing with Saturday's session. As it was the line had started out rather long and try as they could there was no way they'd get everyone through without running terribly late. As such the line had to be cut but as a special parting gift everyone on the wrong side of the cut got fast track passes for all three sessions on Saturday. Some days it pays to be a greedy bastard.

Once we got our golden tickets we basically queued back up for the second session involving Paul Cornell and Tony Lee among others. I got Paul to sign my copy of "A Life Worth Living" as to date it's the last Benny thing he's written. I gave Tony the first two issues of "The Forgotten" to sign and gushed about it and Pia's artwork to him.

Session number three had the boys from Torchwood and the Big Finish gang. John, Dan, and I had a lovely surprise for Laura Doddington from our time in Chicago but I got separated from Dan and John. This didn't prove to be such a problem since I had no plan to pay for Kai Owen's autograph and I only got Gareth David-Lloyd to sign items for other people. As I was the complete opposite of most people in that line this allowed me plenty of time to talk to Laura and Ciara Jansen as most people completely ignored the Big Finish bunch once they got their Torchwood autographs. Once Dan and John joined up with me we gave Laura the lovely photo we had made for her as a memento of the final night of Chicago TARDIS. Much laughter ensued with Jason and Simon Guerrier leaving their table to see what all the fuss was about. The photo proved to be a big hit with each of us having a copy for Laura to sign and one for her to keep.

I dropped my bag off in the hotel room and then went back down to watch Paul host Just A Minute. This way if nothing else I could say I went to at least one panel a day. Just A Minute is a long running program on BBC radio, the gist of which is that each contestant has a minute to speak non-stop on a given topic. The kicker is that you can't repeat words except for what are considered little word such as "the" and "as" and there can be no pause or hesitation. If any those things happen another contestant can challenge and then give the topic a go in whatever time is left. This year's contentants were Phil Collinson, Toby Hadoke, Wendy Padbury, and Frazier Hines. It was a tough battle between Frazier and Toby with Toby barely pulling out the win. The highlight may have been Phil begininng to regale the crowd with a story involving a bloke named Sven but was cut short through a foul. This made myself and most of the others in the audience sad as we all wanted to hear the full story.

I'm not one for Opening Ceremonies so instead I took my part in the great dinner debate. Since I had no clue on what I wanted to eat, only that I was hungry, Bob #3 and I ended up going to Ralph's. The Magical Bucket of Booze needed to replenished anyway so I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone. Beer prices were still a bit much, but not as bad as the liquor store around the corner from the hotel. It didn't take the cashier long to figure out there I was planning for a party as I went through the line with two 12 packs of Sam Adams, a six pack of Shiner Bock, and ginormous sandwich for dinner, and a bag of guacamole chips. The cashier was right when she said the chips I picked were probably the best in the guacamole chip genre. We also learned the hard way that Ralph's is part of the Kroger family of grocery stores so I could've used my Kroger card if I hadn't left it at the hotel.

Friday night was also the night for the numerous Toga/Volcano parties going on so I was treated to way too many people running around in hotel bed sheets and not much else as I worked my way through my ginormous sandwich. My friend Vanessa was part of the winning team for a scavenger hunt. I didn't hit any of the parties but apparently Phil Collinson tended bar at the Volcano party. There was also karaoke and among the highlights was a singing Dalek and Kai Owen belting out some Welsh hits.

Eventually I made my way downstairs to see what was going on and ran into Kathi, Justin, and Etta. Topic of conversation turned from one thing to another and soon we were trying to figure out how one would collect bull semen. A few trips to google later and we learned that it involved a teaser cow and artificial vagina. We also learned that said semen can be frozen, mayonnaise jar not required, though you may want to properly label the jar to ensure no confusion between your frozen bull semen and your frozen alfredo sauce. As always I learn something new and useful at Gallifrey.

The Booze Leprechaun made her second appearance in the lobby later on in the evening. I was initially set up close to the doors by the front desk, but had to move when the kids waiting on the wrestlers to come in started crowding around my area. The last thing I need is for some kid to reach into the bucket thinking they're getting soda and pulling out a Shiner Black. The plethora of kids was a bit annoying but fun to watch their excitement as several wrestlers checked in for the night. A number of us are wrestling fans as well and the kids in wheelchairs were an excellent early warning system as they'd start zooming around when they spotted a wrestlet coming in. The Big Show may have to win the award for most gracious one of the night as he spent probably at least ten minutes talking to the kids and posing for photos when it was clear he'd rather settle in for the night.

The bucket got relocated to the set of tables in front of the Starbucks and currently occupied by Simon Guerrier, James Moran, and Phil Ford. I hadn't wanted to horn in on their conversations with others, but it was the safest place to set up operations and kept Simon from having to walk too far when he needed a refill. It did eventually give me the pleasure of handing a beer to Frazier Hines and hooking up his American website designer, Van, with one after I carded him. Yes, I card if you look young. Again, I dont' want to have to answer the question of "How did the convention go" with "Great! I spent it in jail after being busted for contributing to the deliquency of a minor. They needed to take up a collection to pay my bail".

Moving the bucket also let me meet and make new friends with attendees like Tim and Llamastrangler, which is an awesome name. It quickly came to my attention that Shiner brewery does something right because whether I handed out a Shiner Black, Shiner Blonde, or Shiner Bock the receipient was very pleased, particularly those of the British persuasion. The Shiner Black was especially a hit and the one I was more worried about going over. Yes, next year I will endeavour to bring more than just one 12 pack of each.

The eventual highlight may have been watching a guy completely piss drunk trying to figure out the escalators. For a moment we thought he might just take a header down which may have then ranked as the best part of the convention up to that point. Think of it as weebles wobble and that one was dangerously close to falling down.

In keeping in with my apparently "straight up G" ways I eventually fell onto bed sideways sometime after 4am.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gallifrey 2009 - Day One

There was no free wi-fi to be had in the hotel so sadly I couldn't do a running commentary of my adventures at Gallifrey 20. As such I missed a couple of messages pointing out to me at least two fellow Shooty Dog contributors that I could've met.

Thursday found us rolling in to the hotel right around noon. I had once again decided to drive, this time adding a second person so things wouldn't be too crazy. Or at least I had hoped so. We left Wednesday afternoon and here's a couple hightlights from that:

I lost my shit in Tuscon. It was about 3 or 4 in the morning and I had been driving most of the time since around 2 in the afternoon when we switched drivers at the Buc-ee's in Luling. Between the time of night, Monster Energy drink on a relatively empty stomach and construction I was done. It took me another 30 minutes to find a place to pull off. When I did I looked at my companion and told him he'd either have to drive or we'd be hanging out for awhile because I was done. As it was I spent about 5 minutes standing outside the car as I couldn't even stand to be in it. It's probably as close to crying as I've been in a long time.

Memo to a gas station in New Mexice: While I applaud having condoms readily available via vending machine in the women's bathroom you might not be targeting the correct audience with also having a vending option for a rubber studded cock ring. For the record this was not available in the men's room.

Memo to California: I know you guys are pretty much broke but would it kill you to stick a door on the main entrance to the restrooms at the rest stops? There's nothing I like more than at 9 in the morning sitting on a frozen toilet seat. And a sidenote, if I have to sit on a frozen toilet seat can the air blower send out hot air for my hands?

As I said, we got to the Marriott around noon and the reunions began. It's like the first day of school, seeing the friends you haven't seen since the end of the previous school year. Dan and I all but tackled John as he got off the shuttle.  Eventually all my junk was loaded out of the car and I got cleaned up.

We had talked about maybe doing the Kings game later that evening but that idea was nixed. I had no desire to sit in a moving vehicle again and we were having too much fun just hanging out. A bunch of us went on what was to become the first of many runs to Carl's Jr for cheap food.
The Magical Bucket of Booze was eventually unpacked and some of the beers that I brought from Texas was put on ice. But Sam Adams had to be procured so I walked to the nearby liquor store where I was anally raped for 3 six packs. Seriously, nearly 10 bucks for a six pack. I know I'm in California but for god sake that's ridiculous. I definitely did not go back there again.

The reunions continued as a group got back from Disneyland. I nearly tackled Cathy and Keefe to the ground when they walked in. I ended up not only bringing out the original Magical Bucket of Booze but I brought it's little friend to help chill all the beer I had. Apparently I had a reputation to maintain as The Booze Leprechaun as some of the guests that had been at Chicago found me, bringing other friends along and going "This is Nicole. She's the one I told you about at Chicago with all the beer." Much like Cosby's kids who sang his praise for giving them chocolate cake my praise was being sung for bringing the beer. I lost count of all the people Simon Guerrier alone brought to me to partake of the bucket.

Thursday might have been the earliest night for me as I think I was in bed by 3 in the morning.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Going Back to Gally

Plans have been made. Plans have been changed. Plans are being revised.

But at the end of the day I'll still be out in LA for Gallifrey 20 this upcoming week.

I have realized I've reached a new level of geekdom as I've already created a working plan of attack for the con based on the schedule as it currently is. Not as many conflicts as with Chicago TARDIS last November, but at least these conflicts are due to the excess of nougatty goodness and not just crap scheduling.

The Magical Bucket of Booze will also be making its first appearance in LA along with some fun surprises.

As always I would love to meet some of the 10 or 15 of you that I know read this blog. I'll be the one sporting the jaunty Pilgrim hat late at night in the lobby.

And for those of you that can't make it check back next week as I'll once again be posting my travelogue.

See y'all in LA.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Prisoner's Dilemma - Spoilers Included

Time constraints got more tighter and no Angelie means we decide to just do a single audio. With Gallifrey coming up we decide to do something special and pop in "The Prisoner's Dilemma" which I just grabbed from the Big Finish website.

The Prisoner's Dilemma stars Laura Doddington and Sophie Aldred, written by Simon Guerrier and directed by Lisa Bowerman. While it's the latest intallment in the Companion Chronicles it's also part of the new Key 2 Time series being produced by Big Finish.

We open with Ace and Zara getting thrown into the same cell. Zara's freaking out because she knows mind wiping is waiting for them while Ace is her usual cocky self in regards to escaping. Zara then begins to narrate how she came into being and how she's a liar and a killer.

Tim: Holy shit! It's McCoy's music. And a teaser which you normally don't see in a Doctor Who. Ya for new things!

Zara begins to talk about the Key and Tim starts moving his hands around.

Tim: I just remember this segment in the original series with the key spinning around. That's probably what the shimmering sound is.

Ace finds a way to break out of the cell and she and Zara make a run for the border. Their escape attempt fails as the alarm is sounded and they get zapped.

Me: Guess it wasn't such a good idea.

We continue to get Zara's backstory as she relays her first few hours of life after being programmed with the mission to find three segments of the key. Zara is a pretty heavy sneezer as she finds herself allergic to the air within a geodesic dome populated by Stepford Wives and Husbands.

Me: (as Apu) In a geodesic dome.

In the nature vs. nuture debate her blank slate is being filled by some cynical bloke named Zinc who we're constantly told takes advantage of her. This story is broken up with what's happening in the here and now with Ace in the prison.

Zara is apparently a bloodhound as her nose tingles as she gets closer to a segment.

Me: Well, that's an interesting way to find them.

Tim: She'll probably sneeze real hard and impale herself on it.

She finds a way to get to the segment which is apparently under the water. As she continues her story she relates seeing a man who's the 7th Doctor watching her, looking on disapprovingly. Zara reaches into the water to get the segment and bad things happen.

Tim: It sounds like she's a tracer. That's great they kept the sound effect.

She's basically boiled the water which leaves a huge mud pit where the lake was and plenty of dead fish and people. Naturally the local authorities aren't down with that and Zara is arrested, bringing us back to how sends up in the cell with Ace. Zinc ditching Zara leads Zara to sell Ace down the river as Ace tries to pull a Doctor to get out of the situation. The episode ends with Ace screaming about how she's trying to save the world and if her memory is wiped everyone will die.

Me: Could just be me, but I'd actually explain what I'm trying to do if my memory is about to wiped instead of just saying we're all gonna die.

Episode two begins and this time Ace is the narrator. She begins recounting a tale where she, the Doctor, and a woman with earrings who knew a lot about dead things were trying to recover a time bracelet stolen by Zinc and his wife, Magda, from the Trib museum. I begin to grin and stamp my foot as Ace talks about the woman and how Ace's mom brought a man to a wedding that Ace had also managed to snog.

Tim: I don't get the reference.

Me: It's Benny!

Tim: Oh. Okay. I guess if I had focused on the mention of dead things I'd have gotten it. The earrings threw me. I knew what Florana was.

Ace manages to infiltrate Zinc and Magda's partnership and we eventually learn how Zinc gets to Zara and where he goes when he's left her. He and Magda develop a plan that will destroy Aratune and since Ace mentioned her skill at demolitions want her to do the dirty work. Instead Ace makes enough of a scene to get arrested in the hopes of being able to alert the authorities to Zinc and Magda's plans. But as we're reminded from the rehash of episode one that plan doesn't work out so well.

Ace continues to recount how her memories were getting sucked out, every last precious memory.

Me: They even took the last can of Who hash!

Zinc apparently saves the day, rescuing Zara and Ace. Zara returns to narrating the story and explains how she and Zinc retrieve the segment to the Key and leave Ace and Magda to take the fall. Ace escapes and ends up being rescued by the 7th Doctor. Magda gets her mind wiped while Zinc and Zara go off to be Bonnie and Clyde. Or at least Zara goes off to be Bonnie as the rocket gets launched. Ace starts to wonder what Zara has done to her, Zinc, and Magda.

Me: She's fucked you all.

Ace gets rescued by the Doctor again while Zara is heading off to go hunting for the segments with Zinc in tow. We get an explanation why all the Stepford Wives and Husbands were doing their tasks as it was part of the safety system the planet has in place. The Doctor takes Ace off to the TARDIS to hopefuly retrieve her memories and explains not to worry about Zara, that he knows how it all ends.

We get a big surprise as we stumble upon the interview Simon does with Laura, Sophie, and Lisa.

Tim: Apparently the Doctor takes all his women to the Eye of Orion. It's oddly different. Lisa's right in that it's a big audio book with an extra person so it's taking some getting used to. I was of the understanding that these chronicles were a way to have stories involving Doctors who are dead or in the case of Tom Baker unwilling to play ball. To have a McCoy era story is kind of odd to me, but with his character being so mysterious and manipulative being underplayed, as a silent character in the background sort of works.

Me: I'm not sure what I was expecting as this is even strange by Companion Chronicles standards with two narrators. It's almost Rashomon in nature.

Tim: It's hard to explain. Maybe if I had heard the other Key 2 Time first and got introduced to Zara that way it might've been a bit easier to see this as a multi-doctor story without the Doctor. As it is it just seems like Ace's story with Zara along for the ride, but that's because I'm more used to Ace. I'm Ace biased. It's nothing against the writing.

Me: I defnitely enjoyed it, especially all the little references like Cheldon Boniface and the unammed Benny bit. A very capable directing job by Lisa Bowerman who having also directed some of the other Key 2 Time stories does a great job in making sure Zara is not the same as we see her in the other audios. As always Sophie is able to seemingly go back in time to be the Ace we all know and love from twenty plus years ago without cojuring the image of an Ace in her forties, if that makes sense. Laura Doddington moves easily from crazy, evil Zara to the innocent newborn that we first see her as.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

We're Still Here

We'll be returning from the holiday season this Saturday. Check back later in the afternoon as due to time constraints we'll make our way only through The Poison Seas and Death and the Daleks from season 4 of Bernice Summerfield.

If I can work it out you'll be seeing a Tomorrow People segment starting in February. Keep your eyes out for that.

I have been horribly remiss, but in issue 7 of Shooty Dog Thing I contributed an essay on the upcoming ten year anniversary of Big Finish. Also starting with issue 9 I'll be part of the review team, naturally doing audios. Think of it as the same booze, but with less words, less snark and no turkey or steak. My first offering will be Seasons of Fear written by Paul Cornell and Caroline Symcox.

Also in the horrible remiss department our friends at Forest 4 the Trees, Cathy and Keefe, did a review of Gallifrey 19 for Doctor Who Podshock back in August. It's a great convention report from the eys of first timers and they also give us a little shout out.

Speaking of Gallifrey the countdown is on as we're now less than a month away from Gallifrey 20 in Los Angeles. As last time you'll be able to find us in the lobby with either a pint or an overpriced cup of coffee in our hands. Please stop by and say 'hi' at some point. We enjoy meeting you all.

On the Big Finish front plans are being made to relaunch the Big Finish classics line with The Phantom of the Opera. New podcasts and music downloads will be made available. Apparently all they need to do is sell another 750 copies/downloads and Barnaby Edwards will be given the greenlight to produce another classic. He's got three ready to go so go help a brother out and get yourself a copy.

See you all Saturday.

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