Yet Another Journal

Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.


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» Sunday, August 31, 2008
Dragoncon, Day 3
I was up a lot earlier than I expected, like at three. Let's say lots of PeptoBismol was involved, and when I dragged awake this morning after less than six hours sleep, I had James make me a grilled cheese sandwich which I had with yogurt to try to balance out the bacteria in my digestive tract. Phooey. Right now it's zombie time.

We drove downtown to very little traffic and again parted in front of the Hilton. This time I was headed for the Hilton itself, for a panel on telecommuting. This was very much the same as last year, although this time I was feeling a bit left out, as most of the people attending the panel seem to be system administrators or have something to do with IT.

From there I walked back to the Sheraton for what was billed as the final Torchwood panel. This one did not include James Marsters, who was actually a guest of the Buffy track rather than the Brit Track. Once again, it was a real corker despite all the hijinks of the previous two. And thankfully, there were no snogging requests.

Someone actually asked the question I was curious about: yes, the set is that large. (No real teradactyls, however!) The Hub set is actually right next to the TARDIS set, so they walk through the latter on the way to the former. And, yes, in answer to the usual question, they both want to direct, and to another inevitable question, Gareth David-Lloyd (which was, by the way, miswritten on his banner in the Hall of Fame; it says "David Gareth-Lloyd"—good work, DragonCon!; of course posters are misspelled and miswritten all over the convention) started out wanting to act by watching Christopher Lee Dracula movies when he was a boy. His dream is to work with Gary Oldman. ::cough:: This was stated in a lot ruder fashion, though! ::cough::

They relieved our fears a bit about the new season of Torchwood. Sadly, it is only five episodes, although they will be longer in length than the previous ones, and in England will be shown all in one week, but on BBC1. However, the rumors that we heard about the series being made more suitable for young children appears to be still a rumor. [Whew!] The entire five-part sequence will be called "Children of the Earth."

Someone asked, "Is there something about Torchwood that no one has told us about before that you can tell us?" Gareth got wide eyed and breathless, and exclaimed, "Yes, John Barrowman is gay!" This got quite a laugh, but not as much as when a gentleman introduced himself as a recent Torchwood convert who had never seen Doctor Who, but who was a big Star Trek fan. He asked, "What's unique about Torchwood to keep me watching?" After the flip answer "It's not Star Trek," Gareth intoned, "For the sex," and did a spot-on imitation of William Shatner as Kirk uttering standard Trek phrases "sexed up" to Mr. Spock. By this time everyone was laughing uncontrollably.

A gaggle of Indiana Joneses
"And now for something completely different," I left the Sheraton for the upper level in the Marriott (and I had to hunt around for the rooms as the map was rather unhelpful). These meeting rooms were toward the Hyatt side of the Marriott on the opposite side of a little atrium area with a clear ceiling, and I had not been in them before (they may be rooms that were part of the remodeling last year). This panel was "The Man With the Hat," about Indiana Jones, which put me at a little bit of a disadvantage because, of course, they were discussing the new film, which we never saw (but it's coming out on October 14; should look quite nice on our television).

There were dissenting opinions on the new film, which seemed to boil down that people appeared to like many aspects of the movie, but not the movie as a whole. Most of them did complain about a scene which I have heard about previously, in which Indy takes refuge in a refrigerator and therefore survives an atomic blast. According to one of the panelists, this was originally a sequence from the original script for Back to the Future, in which Marty had to go to a nuclear test site to be sent back to the future and he takes refuge in a refrigerator. Steven Spielberg just recycled it for Crystal Skull. Some folks thought it stayed close to the spirit of the original three films, others said it failed. Most said they liked Shia LaBoeuf (sp?) as the young man who turns out to be Indy's son, but they didn't want him inheriting "the Hat" as the lead.

It was a fun panel, and one of the attendees had a great item he showed everyone at the end of the panel: it was a reproduction of Henry Jones Sr's grail diary. It was reproduced from the prop in Last Crusade and in addition contains little inserts like tickets to his lectures, family photos, Indy's and his dad's diplomas, telegrams, and all sorts of clever little things. Too cool.

Joker and Harley QuinnI took a bathroom break, then joined James in the room next door to where the Indy panel had been held. I had been really conflicted during this hour, since there were three panels I was really interested in, but I ended up here. The panel was quite crowded, all attendees with the same question: "What Happened to the Sci-Fi Channel?" The answer seemed to boil down to "They sold out to make money." First we got wrestling and now we have goofy horror movies and—ye gods! more freakin' reality series! One of the panelists read a list of upcoming and approved projects for the fall, which included reality series and some other things, all of which I have mercifully forgotten because they sound so insanely stupid as if they were created by Paris Hilton or Britney Spears.

Of course, we both remember before the Sci-Fi Channel began and some representatives came to one of the conventions hoping to get input from fans. They were really clueless about science fiction and SF fans. At one point, we asked them if they might air Quark and they told us they understood science-fiction fans didn't like humor! Uh...duh. Their idea of SF was monster movies.

Every day DragonCon publishes a little one-sheet, different-color-each-day update called "The Daily Dragon." It has short interviews with program participants on one side and program changes on the other. On Friday I had spied something scheduled for Sunday at 4 called "Why We Love (and Hate) Disney" on the Animation track. This sounded intriguing, so I went, not certain if it was just going to be a general bitch/praise session or something a little more structured. I can't say I was happy with it. The moderators were a young woman and a young man. The latter was nice and seemed to know a bit more, but the young woman was, frankly, dense and supercilious. The first thing she said was something to the effect of I know you probably all have opinions about what is good or bad about Disney, like we do, but nobody's really interested in hearing from you about that. She then said they were going to trace the history of Disney milestones from the past to the present, and looked like she had printed a couple of pages from the internet as her research and that was about it. She was talking about the milestones and didn't even know the correct dates of them, like the opening year of Disneyland, or what network Disney programming was first on, stated the name of films incorrectly, etc. Why say you are going to discuss these things and not know your material, or at least do your research?

Needless to say, I'm sorry I attended.

After that bad taste in my mouth, I decided I needed a laugh and joined the line of folks upstairs waiting for Dean Haglund's improv show. Haglund always puts on a hysterically funny show, and tonight was no exception. He was improvising an episode of The X-Files. A gentleman from the audience who worked as a bartender at the Macaroni Grill provided sound effects as Dean began his episode with the tale of a bartender at the Macaroni Grill who is attacked by a mysterious entity. The next scene took place in an autopsy room where two members of the audience provided words while Dean dissected the body of the bartender, which still had its heart, kidneys, and liver, but was missing its kitten, and then mutated into a cat with the appearance of Abraham Lincoln who spits earwax that kills. Next came the news conference, where Dean, as a Danish doctor of childcare (profession provided by an audience member) answered questions from the audience with the audience member providing his arms. Finally a couple from the audience played Mulder and Scully interrogating Dean as his X-Files/Lone Gunmen character, Langly. People in the audience had provided statements written on slips of paper, and every so often Dean, "Mulder" or "Scully" would have to stop and pick one of these slips of paper and read whatever was written on them.

Finally Dean said, "Scully, wait! There is something Mulder has to ask you," and "Mulder" got down on one knee and proposed to "Scully"! He had purposely picked these two out of the audience having been alerted that the gentleman wanted to do this, so it led to a big "awwwww" factor at the end.

Oh, yeah, she said "Yes"! :-)

We left, or at least I left, with a headache from laughing so hard. It was truly as crazy as it sounded.

ARTC--Rory RammerI had only to walk to the room next door for the convention's second ARTC performance, these being five short, funny SF-oriented skits including a new installment of "Rory Rammer, Space Marshal"! "YAYYYYYYYYYY!" as we are instructed to yell before and after "Rory." This time Rory and his cadet sidekick Skip Sagan investigated a mystery involving an atomic graveyard. Also performed were "The National Endowment for Space Art" (a very snarky poke at our modern lack of space exploration), "The Time Board," "Haunter Hunters" (which sounds a whole lot like a Sci-Fi Channel reality program ::cough::), and Daniel Taylor as Chaplain Oldsan adaptation of a John Ringo short story set in David Weber's "Honor Harrington" universe, "A Ship Named Francis," with Daniel Taylor giving a marvelous performance as a gloomy chaplain on a spacecraft full of sad sacks. (As the line from 1776 goes: "That man would depress a hyena.")

This was the end of our day, but as we threaded our way upstairs we saw some delightful costumes which I snapped a couple of photos of, including Future Fana darling little toddler in a Batman outfit. And then it was off home, where we decided to have some "real food" (soup in my case) while we watched a little television before bed.

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Flourish

» Saturday, August 30, 2008
Dragoncon, Day 2
We've almost just arrived in at 10:40 after a late panel called "The Changing Face of Fandom," which was moderated by two friends of ours, Bill Ritch and Sue Phillips. It's been a very long day!

Having been warned incessantly about the traffic situation downtown, we made sure we were up early (7:45) for a reasonably healthy breakfast before we got on the road. James drove Northside Drive some of the way down, but when we started to cross over the freeway we noticed there was hardly any backup at all, so we got downtown with no incident. From the parking garage James went right and I went left, back to the Sheraton for the Gerry Anderson panel at 10 a.m. I was so early I made a "pit stop" first, and discovered James in the room when I got there. He'd decided not to truck all the way to the Hyatt for the panel he'd first considered.

This was a small panel, but rather fun, as there was an Irish gentleman in the audience and he had watched Gerry Anderson programs from when he was small. He'd actually seen the first "Supermarionation" show, Four Feather Falls. It looks like most people's favorite was Thunderbirds, although there were a smattering of votes for Captain Scarlet. We also found out something interesting: there are fans who are working on an updated version of Space: 1999. Not new episodes, but the original ones enhanced the way the Star Trek episodes were enhanced a year or so ago. They've updated the SFX, tightened up some of the scenes, added more ambiance, that sort of thing. We'll have to check it out, since, after my first few Star Trek conventions, I cut my teeth on the old Space: 1999 conventions.

Anyway, this is online at Space: 2099.

James was mostly on his own course today, but we walked to the Hilton together where he was off to another panel. I went upstairs to take a stroll around the Walk of Fame. There was a long line for the young lady who plays the cheerleader in Heroes, but I could bypass that just to look around. Mickey Dolenz has a booth right out in front. He's not looking at all bad. Cirroc Lofton was at his seat near the Star Trek "section." He has grown into a very handsome young man! I tried to get a glimpse of Jake Lloyd, who was little Anakin Skywalker many years back, but he was not in his seat. Jerry Doyle was also absent; I wanted to tell him I missed his radio show!

Then I hurried into the Marriott to make a quick stop at Andy Runton's table. He'd been ill yesterday and never did get down to his table after setting it up. I bought the new Owly book and picked up the free comic left over from Free Comic Book Day. I'd told him about Schuyler last year, so I showed him a photo of her that I had on my camera's memory card and was telling him about her funny little habits.

Having nothing else I wanted to do, I wandered up to the Marriott Grand Ballroom, where the "big" Torchwood panel was taking place (this was the "big" one because James Marsters was in it, too). The room was full, but I just stood against the wall with all the other latecomers and snapped photos. I am quite aggravated at this convention because it is obvious that the arthritis in my elbows is making my hands too unsteady for taking photos from a distance. (This is one of the reasons I bought a tripod, but I'm not going to haul that around here, too!) I finally put the "burst" feature on, which just keeps taking pictures as long as I keep my finger on the shutter. This way out of ten pictures I would usually get one or two good ones.

Anyway, this was one hilarious panel. I arrived at the door just to hear James Marsters comment that he had learned one important thing by kissing John Barrowman: Men need to shave properly! O that razor burn! From there it only went downhill. Gareth did a rap song about coffee. James said his favorite character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer was Giles (and that he had learned quite a lot from Anthony Head). The "life o' the set" is Barrowman, who is even cheerful first thing in the morning. They were asked what would be their ideal role, and Gareth wanted to play Macbeth and Anthony Lewis James Bond. James Marsters said he would like to play "a disillusioned Starfleet captain," back when exploration first began and no one quite knew what they were doing.

Someone asked for a funny story from the set. Anthony's story was when they were filming his episode and he was in bed with Tosh. They filmed two episodes at the time, and they had just finished the scene where Tommy is in bed with Tosh. Next to be filmed was the scene where Adam is in bed with Tosh. So he finished and ran up the stairs, meeting the guy who played Adam, and they gave each other a high five! Incidentally, Naoko Mori, who played Tosh, is now living in the United States.

::cough:: They also discussed what is the best swear word, but perhaps that's best not discussed her, but needless to say Gareth's response to James' answer was, "There's nothing like a good ****!" ::cough::

I had two possible panels to go to, one about the new Trek movie and one about young adult writing, but instead I went to the "What If" panel, which had to do with alternative history writing. The panel members were Eric Flint (1632 and sequels), Bill Fawcett, Harry Turtledove (several series), and Jana Oliver (the "Time Rovers" series; Jana was also at Timegate). James was at this panel and we sat together.

It was quite interesting, as they discussed some of the things they had learned in researching for their novels (and learned not to include 90 percent of it in their final product). They also talked about which eras are not represented as much in alternative history books, which included the Napoleonic era (especially from a French POV) and World War I. (One of the questions was about misconceptions people held about history, and one response was that World War II was not the pivotal event of the 20th century, but that World War I was—which is true, since WWI caused WWII.)

James went off on his schedule again when this panel was concluded, and I headed to the Marriott to see Dean Haglund (once "Ringo" Langly on The X-Files and The Lone Gunmen), stopping by "The Missing Volume" in the Exhibition Hall to get the first book in Oliver's series. She gave out samplers of Sojourn at Timegate and I'd been meaning to look for it.

Dean HaglundDean Haglund is always good for a fun hour. He has cut his long blond hair in the past few years and looks very much like someone's goofy cousin and always has goofy stories. One was about the filming of the Las Vegas-set episode of The X-Files, which was filmed on location. Dean went to a bar called The Beach and got totally wasted. He suddenly became stone cold sober when he found himself standing naked outside his hotel room and no idea how he got there. He had various "adventures" trying to hide himself from hotel guests until security could rescue him. Once back in his hotel room, he found all his clothing on the floor of his room. Apparently he had reached the room, undressed, and then stepped out the door, perhaps thinking he was going into the bathroom.

One very funny response was to the question "When you began playing the role of a conspiracy theorist, did you do research into real-life conspiracy theorists?" He said not only did he, but he still keeps abreast of different theories. Some of them, he stated, are pretty wild, even stranger than the Kennedy conspiracists, the fake moon landing folks, etc. The strangest one was that the war in Iraq is just a cover-up with a war with aliens going on in a multi-dimensional portal, and that President Bush knows about it because in a news conference he said he answered to a power from beyond the stars.

O...kay...

Oh, Dean is also the inventor of the ChillPak for laptop computers.

I was able to stay in the Marriott for the next panel, which was labeled as "the DS9 Reunion," with Avery Brooks (Benjamin Sisko), Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko), and Michael Dorn (Worf). There was quite a tremendous line for this, but I just waited with a bunch of other folks until it passed by going into the Grand Ballroom, and found a seat about halfway down.

Avery Brooks and Michael Dorn

This was a good panel, but with not many silly stories. There were many comments about the positive role models the men provided for African-Americans, but also about their acting chops. One of the usual questions for these panels is how the participants started out in acting and Avery Brooks responded that it was all those church programs that he was involved in as a boy which his mother insisted he participate in!

Brooks also talked about his audition for the role of Sisko. He was working at an event in Atlanta when they asked him to audition and he flew in to Hollywood specifically to do so. He said they did not have a specific idea of what they were looking for in the role, since he met another man auditioning for the role who was from Belgium! But when the decision came down to hire him, they asked if he would change his appearance from his usual shaven head and facial hair; they wanted him to grow his hair back and shave his beard. He asked why.

They told him they did not want anyone confusing him with Patrick Stewart. [eyes roll]

I nipped out of this panel a few minutes early in order to run to the art show. Caran Wilbanks and Jake Skidmore were tending the ARTC table and let me stash my stuff there so that I could run into the art show to buy the three prints I mentioned in yesterday's entry. This way the guard at the exit door didn't have to search my lunch bag and my camera bag when I exited, and I could show off my purchases briefly and then dash to the Katherine Kurtz panel in "the dungeon," the small meeting rooms downstairs in the Hyatt which don't get any Verizon cell phone service.

Katherine Kurtz
As I expected, she did the most talking about her "Deryni" series, which I have been never able to get into. I'm not much into quasi-medieval societies. (Possible good news for Deryni fans: her Deryni Rising has been optioned for a movie and will be written by someone who has been reading the books since he was about twelve.) But I was hoping she would mention if she and Deborah Turner Harris were doing another "Adept" book. Well, Harris has done a treatment for one, but it's not official yet, and it would be taking place in 19th century England, tentatively called Hunting by Gaslight. We did actually discuss, a bit, Kurtz's Lammas Night, which is a World War II fantasy which is very grounded in reality. Several people beside myself praised the realistic characters and military situations balanced with the fantasy elements.

Kurtz and her husband Scott McMillan were very famous for having lived in Ireland for the past 20 years, but they have moved back to the United States (Virginia near the intersection of I-66 and I-81, which we know well!). They bought another historic home in the country and have various kinds of wildlife on their property. They are fixing up the house to include a paneled library. McMillan is a Mason and they were very surprised upon learning how informal the Masonic lodges here in the US are after the formal and beautiful lodge he belonged to in Ireland.

By now my energy was beginning to flag; it was time to have my supper. So I tramped over to the Marriott to meet James, who was attending a demo of a game. I went upstairs to attend a young adult novel panel called "From Page to Screen." We didn't end up trashing The Seeker as much as I had hoped. LOL. Seriously, it was a good panel, with questions about what novels succeeded as movies (Harry Potter for the most part for most people), what movies didn't (Eragon, A Wrinkle in Time, The Seeker, The Golden Compass), what fears were for the Twilight film, what books you are afraid they will ruin making a movie of, etc.

Bill Ritch and Sue Phillips
And then we went to the Fandom panel mentioned above. This was a lively discussion and great fun. We "began at the beginning," back to the "sci-fi fans" of the 1930s who were mainly geeky guys who arranged something then jokingly called "the Worldcon." They got their SF mostly from magazines and the occasional film like King Kong and Metropolis. Female fans made their big breakthrough with Star Trek and then later Star Wars. Fanzines became fiction, media conventions blossomed to the horror of the old-guard literary fans, and suddenly there was so much material fandom became fragmented. Now fandom is on the internet and, in a way, that proverbial new ball game, yet still the same.

Now extremely tired, we trudged out of the hotel and headed across the pedestrian bridge to the garage, to the truck, and then home.

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Flourish

» Friday, August 29, 2008
Dragoncon, Day 1
After a brief stop at Michaels to spend a couple of coupons (of course I bought more fall things, themed papers) and at the bank to get James some cash, we headed downtown. They are starting a weekend road construction project after rush hour ends today and have been warning people about it for weeks. You could see what they were setting up, though; dozens upon dozens of backhoes and Bobcats out there.

We parked at our usual venue, the Courtland Street garage, trouped over the "Luke Skywalk," as we jokingly call it, and through the Peachtree Center food court to the Hyatt. I grabbed a Daily Dragon (all updates are posted here) before we went to registration, for which we had to go back outside and walk around to the Baker Street side of the hotel. The lines snake in a serpentine pattern like at Disney World and you get quite a workout just making your way through them. We call it "the DragonCon exercise program."

I had this crazy idea that if we went to today's Torchwood panel, there might be fewer people there because some folks do still have to work today. James decided to go with me, and we decided that the best way to get to the Sheraton without exposing ourselves to too much sun would be to backtrack. So we went back through Peachtree Center, across the pedestrian bridge, back into the garage momentarily so we wouldn't have to carry around the program books all day, then took the elevator down the seven storeys to the street and walked the one block into the Sheraton.

We hadn't been here before and I had to laugh: the way to all the meeting rooms for the programming was through the gift shop! (I guess it's a State Law!) The Torchwood panel was in the Sheraton's ballroom at one o'clock; here it was noon and there was already a line.

So we got in line and ate our lunch. We got up early enough to eat a good breakfast and then I had made the rest of the Trader Joe's chicken salad into two sandwiches. James got some cold water from the snack bar part of the restaurant around the corner and we just stood there eating. Kim Holec joined us and finally about 12:40 they let us troop into the room and take seats. The Brit Track participants have been insisting for years that they need more room; well, we have it now.

Gareth David Lloyd
And they needed it, because this was the first year Brit Track has had guests and they went big: Gareth David-Lloyd from Torchwood and Anthony Lewis, who guest-starred as the British "tommy" Tommy in one episode. Let's say with these two attractive guys on the panel the estrogen was high as an elephant's eye. :-) Both were in comfortable scruffy clothes—a big change for Lloyd, as on the series he wears mostly suits—and the panel was just plain fun, if tooooo many of the people standing in line for questions—almost all women, wonder why!—were asking for an opportunity to snog one of the guys! One young woman had a teddy bear dressed up like Tommy; it was quite cute.

There were the usual questions about episodes and about what the actors do on their off time; we seemed to have a long discussion about vodka. British actors do seem to like to drink; I remember when I used to go to the Space: 1999 cons you could always find the guests at the bar! No one ever got roaring drunk, though.

Anthony Lewis
Oh, and I hadn't realized that Anthony Lewis is the older brother of Matthew Lewis (who is also a guest), who plays Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter films. Anthony was complaining that his younger brother is now taller than he is! :-)

James and I decided to do the dealer's room next. It was very crowded since it had just opened only an hour earlier, so we moved through as best we could. There's not much I want in the dealer's room or the exhibition halls (which are still dealer's rooms) these days, especially since the fanzine sellers and McFarland booksellers don't come any longer. The vendor that sells the fantasy statues does have a nice selection of Pocket Dragons this year, including Christmas ones. Temptation.

I was dying to get to the dealer's room because it is next door to Artists Alley and I wanted to find Andy Runton and get the next Owly book. But he wasn't there! His table was there, and the books all covered up, but no Andy. ::sob::

Upstairs in the exhibition halls, I did see a game or two I might like, and there's a new Korgi book out.

Rather sore-footed by now, James and I headed back to the Hyatt for the Babylon 5 panel. This consisted of Jerry Doyle, who is still doing his radio talk show, and Walter Koenig. Walter was a little late, and Jerry, irreverent as always, was commenting about the political situation, and then was telling us about a telephone message he received from an astronaut buddy of his from the International Space Station. He was trying ineffectually to play the message on his cell phone when Walter walked in, and the two of them did a humorous bit with cell phones before they got down to answering audience questions, most about Babylon 5.

Jerry Doyle and Walter Koenig

James was headed for a "Politics and SF" panel downstairs when this finished, but I ran across the street to the Marriott for another chance on catching Andy Runton. Nuts. Still not here. I strolled back upstairs into the larger of the two exhibition halls to pick up the Korgi book. These are sold in a booth that also sells handmade animal puppets, stuffed dragons, and stuffed wild animals. They had a stuffed corgi that was quite cute, then I was looking among the wild critters and came out with what is a stuffed Arctic fox. However, except for the fact that the real animal is more cream-colored than white, this little guy looks like a stuffed version of "Kuma," the dog who plays "Jesse" in the McBride movies. How could I pass him up? :-)

On the way back I stopped at the art show, and I have the possibility of being rather bad: there are three animal prints that I really want. One is of a jeweled white wolf who breathes snowflakes against a snowfield, another is a totem pole of sorts of an arctic fox, white wolf, polar bear, caribou, and a snow goose called "Treasures of the Arctic," and the third is a grey wolf clad in a blue jay's "coat" against a vivid background of fall leaves called "Autumn's Jester." Lovely.

But it was getting close to opening ceremonies, so I snagged a front seat and held one for James, who arrived upstairs after his panel ended. Opening ceremonies, sadly, are usually pretty lame. This one was a little more interesting than usual in that they had a To Tell the Truth style panel with three young woman who claimed they were "Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter," the creation of Laurell K. Hamilton in a series of fantasy novels. Hamilton herself and two other men had to guess which was the "real" Anita. Of course, when the reveal came, it was Hamilton herself.

Following opening ceremonies was the first of two performances by the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company. This was their horror presentation, The Doom of the Mummy, about an Egyptologist who had discovered the secret of eternal life and of the sacrifice he was going to make of a colleague and his fiance, not to mention that of a lonely young freshman, to enable his life, and that of the woman he loved, to continue.

We left after the performance to return to hearth, home, and happy fids, but first we had to negotiate the construction maze. We got caught; they had the HOV lane to I-75 North completely blocked, and we were on the wrong side of the road, since the freeway is set up so that to get to I-85 going northeast you have to bear left and to I-75 going northwest you have to bear right, exactly backwards of what you would think it would be. So we jumped off I-85 first chance in Buckhead and had to cut through Piedmont Road, Lindbergh, Peachtree Road, West Westley, and finally Northside Drive, otherwise US41 going north and becoming Cobb Parkway closer to our house.

While driving down West Westley we came upon the most bizarre site: there were three police cars, blue lights flashing and high beams blazing—I do mean blazing; their lights looked like magnesium flares!—and sirens on, escorting three full buses (not city buses, but chartered buses). Have no idea what it was all about, but there were police everywhere, even close to our house, it being a holiday weekend. Out in force indeed!

I set "Kuma" next to Schuyler's cage and her eyes got very big and she proceeded to come forward and nibble on his nose. This is a bird who is afraid of my finger, but who is fascinated by cell phones and who loves stuffed animals! Such a funny little girl!

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Flourish

We're Off...
...but you knew that.

On to DragonCon!

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Flourish

» Thursday, August 28, 2008
The Dam is Broken
The logjam of orders is finally beginning to move. There are always emergency orders that come down, but as of now I am down to six: four still being advertised (three expire at close of business tomorrow), one is waiting on a change order adding funds, and one is waiting on the vendor to tell me if the quote I have is still good. The expiring three are for studies...not sure how many responses we are even going to get, besides one gentleman who has contacted me. I asked that people who might be interested contact me last Friday and I only received one response on one study.

In the meantime we have been resting up for DragonCon; after our deluge of rain it has gone back to summery temperatures again, of course, just in time for trucking between four hotels. James was off today and did all the shopping we usually do on weekends. I spent any spare minutes changing the bed and doing three loads of laundry. We also had to go out later so I could fill up on gasoline as we are suspending telecommuting for the next two weeks due to end of fiscal year, and I also needed to pick up a book I'd put on reserve at the library months ago (it's a brand-new biography of Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle). We stopped at Publix to get something easy for supper as well, since James spent much of the late evening making roll-ups for our DragonCon lunches.

Previous to that we had watched the last segment on our latest Netflix acquisition, the second disk of the first season of Waking the Dead. Unfortunately this was the first part of a two-part story, and the next part is on the next disk, so we won't know what happens until sometime in the middle of next week. I also dubbed off the McBride film, Requiem, that we had missed earlier in the summer. This one wasn't quite as good as some of the previous ones, but still quite enjoyable.

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Flourish

» Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Water, Water Everywhere
How it rains! I think it's still backlash from Fay. This morning we had a Shelter-in-Place drill; Nancy had heard that it was due to a tornado being spotted only a few miles south at Atlantic Station.

Once the rain's over...ugh. Hot weather again. Just what I wanted when tramping from one hotel to the other. To make it worse, I seem to be spoiling for an ear infection. Wonderful. After weekends with nothing going on but the usual trip to WalMart, my ear starts bothering me just before three weekends of fun things to do.

Quite typical of life, as Feb would say...

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» Monday, August 25, 2008
Presidential "Dirt" is Nothing New
And in the Some Things Never Change Department:

Founding Fathers' Dirty Campaign

Do follow the links!

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Tortoise
Worrrrrk commmmmmpuuuuuuuuuterrrrrrrrrrrr loggggggggggging on soooooooooo sloooowwwwwwwwwly...fifffffffffffteeeeeen minnnnnnnnnutessssssss jusssssssssssst to ggggggggettttttttt to desssssssktopppppppppp....

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» Sunday, August 24, 2008
The End
A colorful closing ceremony, though not as emotional as Sydney's. The double decker bus was pretty cool.

And now it's over with till the Winter Olympics. We missed quite a bit of the last because of moving. Hope this time will be better. Mmmn...snow!

So, did they ever show any of the equestrian events? We had on MSNBC or CNBC or whomever was scheduled to show equestrian one night and they kept promising equestrian events were coming up, and all they ever showed was volleyball. When did they show it, at 3 a.m. for a half hour on one Wednesday?

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Rumblings in the Hills
My dubbing project came to an abrupt end when one of those edge storms from the remnants of Fay came tumbling into the area. It knocked off the power just as I was in the middle of "Day of Infamy" from The Waltons, and, for good measure, killed my DVR of the McBride movie, Dogged. Thankfully I already had a copy; I was just hoping for a better one.

James picked up supper at Fresh2Order and we originally sat watching a Wild Kingdom about prairie dogs and bison, until another of those Fay-spawned storms barged in and killed the signal. We put on RTN and lo and behold they are running The Hardy Boys (the one from the 1970s with Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy). It was funny because 7 p.m. Sunday was the show's original timeslot. Plus this was followed by Voyagers!, also originally in a Sunday night timeslot, but an hour later since two programs could hardly exist in the same hour. This was "Cleo and the Babe," but I kept switching back and forth between RTN and NBC and abandoned the former when Closing Ceremonies began.

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Out of the Closet and Off the Disk
James trudged off to work this morning. I'd gone to bed at three last night after being sick to my stomach earlier in the evening, so I tried to get at least seven hours of sleep. I did some tidying up and then went to Publix for a newspaper and to see what they had for "twofers." I got some baked beans, but the rest seemed to be sugary cereals or juice drinks. I also turned in the plastic bags for recycling.

When I got home I tackled a very long-neglected project: cleaning out the downstairs closet. We have a coat closet near the door to the garage which doesn't do much duty as a coat closet except in the summer, when the coats are stored there; otherwise we have a row of hooks in the foyer. It's under the stairs and fairly small, and was full of old but still useful computer parts and a rough set of shelves we had in the old house in the downstairs bathroom to hold books. This was the closet in which we mounted a set of wire shelves on the back of the door to hold extra staples. The wire rack was full.

Cattycorner from the closet, the opposite wall has the corner trimmed off to make the hallway look roomier. We had an old, rather battered CD/DVD tower against this small wall with various things in it; James' and my dad's old binoculars, garden gloves, an old lock, water bottles—just junk. I cleaned this out, placed the useful things elsewhere, then emptied the closet of everything except for the coats and the things (old bank statements and other papers) on top of the shelf.

I vacuumed inside and whisked a few dust bunnies away, then began to restock. I took the DVD tower and put it against the right wall, right next to the door. Then I took the rough shelves and positioned them next to the tower. I put the box of computer parts right in the back corner, opposite the coats. Then I redistributed most of the things from the wire shelves to the tower, with a few things going on the old shelves, which was mainly used to store two car vacuum cleaners we had gotten for Christmas. The vacuum cleaner tools went against the bottom shelf of this rude unit.

On the left wall I was even able to fit the collapsible dog crate, which has been out in the hallway since we went to Owensboro. And there's still room for the vacuum cleaner!

Now I'm in the middle of a different project. I have dribs and drabs on the ends of self-recorded DVDs that now have no home because I have the episodes or movies on professional sets, so I'm trying to copy them off on new DVDs or, in the case of a couple of them, on the end of some uncompleted DVDs. I had a Christmas-oriented DVD that still had 45 minutes left on it, so I put Rankin-Bass' 'Twas the Night Before Christmas at the end of it. There was a slight bobble when the original DVD stuttered to a stop in the middle of the recording, but luckily there was enough room to start again and get it through to completion.

I'm now trying to dub off a copy of an episode of the revival of Burke's Law. I always had a weak spot in my heart for Gene Barry, and this episode also included Dean Stockwell as a guest star.

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» Saturday, August 23, 2008
Make Someone Happy
Up early this morning to go to the farmer's market. We had to stock up on just about everything "vegetably," get a baguette for ourselves, and then one to take to Hair Day along with some tomato and basil cibatta and a tomato pesto flat loaf. Alex and Pat were making the main dish, a baked ziti and some meatballs, and Phyllis was bringing a tossed salad with vinagrette dressing, so we figured the Italian-themed breads would go well.

We made someone very happy today. Our friend Nancy has been wanting a laptop for such a long time and has been asking around if anyone had an old one they weren't using anymore. We warned her ours was rather slow and clunky and she said she didn't care, so we delivered it to her today, cleaned off, defragged, and with certain useful things on it. She was so happy! She opened it up immediately and started investigating what was on it and was still saying thank you when we left two hours later. Well, I hope she uses it in good health.

James went off to his meeting, I went back to my project, and also addressed some problems with the covers that I make for my self-recorded DVDs. Dull stuff but necessary. When James got in we went to Costco for milk and a few other things, then took the 30 percent off coupons we unexpectedly received (James answered a survey) and went to Borders. I was so excited last night when I found the first of the fall magazines, but Midwest Living was a really disappointment. Maybe Blue Ridge Country will be better. I've already received the autumn issue of Country, now I just have to wait for Country Extra. And Yankee, of course. I didn't find a book I wanted (don't faint <g>), but I did get something called "Scrabble Express."

We came home to spend some time with the fids. I was so busy most of the afternoon that poor Schuyler was just chirping forlornly, so tonight I set her cage next to me. She is fascinated by gadgets! I was working the remote, playing a couple of What's My Lines and The Name's the Same--one near-Christmas show had Mr. Gimbel and Mr. Straus (the actual owner of Macy's; Mr. Macy sold out his ownership in the mid 1800s). She was staring at the remote as if she were examining it through a microscope! Later on I played a YouTube video on the laptop and she was agog: "teevee" in two places!

Found something cute on television tonight—perfect thing to have on when you're not going to pay much attention to it. Animal Planet always has a "Puppy Bowl" the same day as the Super Bowl, with puppies romping around an area decorated like a football field. Well, tonight they were having "Puppy Games," puppies romping around different areas meant to emulate the Olympics. There was a small splashing pool, a "gymnastics" court, a soccer field, and a wrestling/boxing ring. Closing ceremonies, which I missed due to "unavoidable delay," was performed by kittens.

Oh, and speaking of making someone happy, DragonCon finally posted their darn schedule online. It wasn't linked on the main page, though; Ron knew where it was and sent us the link. Thanks, Ron!

(Not to mention the weather was wonderful today—well, for a summer day, anyway. We are getting the edge of the clouds from tropical storm Fay and it was overcast all day and never got over 80, with a nice stiff breeze coming in from the east. You could almost imagine you were at the beach.)

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» Friday, August 22, 2008
Sleep, Shop and Spell
The body tells you when to sleep. Usually on my day off I get up about 9:30, but this morning I gaped at the clock to discover it was almost eleven. Of course, considering I didn't get more than five hours sleep any night last week, I expect it was inevitable, plus we need to be up early tomorrow for Hair Day anyway, so I had better get in my Zs while I could.

This morning was the inevitable monthly trip to WalMart. They were rooting up the store again and I couldn't find a few things, but I did find some whole wheat pasta and mint pudding on clearance as well as the rest of the things I needed for DragonCon. Also stopped for gas (woot! $3.479!) and briefly at Hobby Lobby for something to finish a craft project. Then I came home for the rest of the afternoon to continue work on another project.

I took Wil out for a walk very late (so late that James arrived home on our way back in the house). We are getting the tail end of the winds from tropical storm Fay and there was a lively breeze outside; it almost felt like spring or early fall! We were even able to drive to dinner and then home with the windows down. We had salad and soup at Sweet Tomatoes for supper, bought a few things at JoAnn, and stopped by Borders on the way home. Hurrah! The first of the fall magazines is out!—the autumn copy of Vermont Life. Wonderful autumn leafiness inside. :-)

Incidentally, I can't get over how many leaves are scattered around our yard (not to mention next door on either side). We have had brown and yellow leaves drifting down for days now, and the effect is like early fall. It isn't one particular tree; the large tree near the fence has a scattering of yellow leaves and one of the maples near the grass line also has changing leaves right at the top. Not sure where the brown leaves are coming from.

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» Thursday, August 21, 2008
Books vs. Television?
I've posted a question about reading and watching television in A Cozy Nook to Read In and would be interested in getting feedback to my question. So, please, if you have a minute, click on over.

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» Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Dreaming of Russet Trees
Fall Foliage Season is Longer Than You Think

And boy, do I wish I were in Alaska right now...

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Workus Interrupttus
I've just finished the one order I've been working on all morning. It was ready to go. I put all the information into the database, then "built" the order (you press a button and it fills in alà mail merge). There are then other things that you have to fill out, like the contact, etc., and also take out, like the second page, and finally it's done.

You press the little "feet" button to complete it. (The programmers, in their infinite wisdom, thought of the feet to match with a little neumonic, "beat feet." Get it? You "beat feet" to exit the document. A nice big red square "SAVE" would have been sensible, but no, we got cutesy.)

Except it doesn't save, gives me a message that it couldn't save because I wasn't attached to the server, and the recover feature pops up a blank page. I closed the application, reopened, built and annotated again. Same message. Hm. Let me try a third time, but doing it a little differently.

After the third time it lost it I said screw it and rebooted. I probably should have done this at first, but this computer is so freaking slow—yesterday it took me fifteen minutes just to get to the log-on prompt—that I hate rebooting. (I'm spoiled by the computer James built me, which, now with WindowsXP, boots in less than 30 seconds.) This time it built and saved flawlessly, but we were interrupted by a Shelter-in-Place drill (think of it as Duck and Cover for the 21st century and not much more secure) followed by a fire drill out to a parking lot buzzing with mosquitoes. I took my book and was relatively content—and had a lovely blue-lacewinged dragonfly land on my book page as a bit of lagniappe.

At least Windows isn't nagging me to do Updates like it was yesterday...

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» Sunday, August 17, 2008
Creepy and Not Kooky
Just finished watching the final (as I understand the series is cancelled) episode of the Inspector Lynley Mysteries. Very, very creepy story of an abductor/rapist and his abused wife who has been abused and forced into supporting his lifestyle. Because this is a Lynley story, you know there have to be more twists than that.

I started watching Lynley one of the times I had to stay with my mom after she had surgery. WSBE Channel 36 in Providence doesn't show the PBS Kids shows in the afternoon the way WPBA Atlanta does; instead they show British mysteries and dramas or Britcoms, with some cooking shows, and things like This Old House. All those programs were my respite in a house without cable television on long afternoons when my mom wasn't feeling well. I remember watching a Lynley drama about an Indian or Pakistani girl and The Lost Prince (not to mention endless reruns of CSI on WSBK-38).

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In and Out Sunday
Ah, a late sleep!

Of course it really wasn't, because we hadn't gone to bed until three—all the fault of the discussion I was having online with Mike and Jennifer about Remember WENN. :-)

We had three errands to run today and did the first two this morning: went to Trader Joe's for chicken salad and other things (we bought some quinoa to try this time) and Kroger for the weekly necessities (bananas, yogurt, my sandwich bread for work, and the newspaper). We found some chicken noodle and minestrone soup "kits" on clearance and bought them for our emergency stash. Then we brought the perishables home and did some housework: James cleaned out the kitchen while I started the towels and vacuumed and made the bed. I also painted a block of wood for use as part of a decoration for the kitchen. Michaels sells these various sizes of blocks for wood carving, but I like this particular size for stands—I painted one for my St. Joseph's altar and another one for displaying the gingerbread goodies in the kitchen—and for use in bookcases for propping a row of books up so you can put another row of books in front of it.

My old computer died eventually because of an increase in heat inside the case; when we bought all the "fixings" for a new unit, I bought an extra fan that used one of my empty slots. This fan has always been very noisy, but starting yesterday it became downright loud, sounding like it was grinding. So James opened up the case, cleaned it out using canned air, and tried to reseat the fan. But the fan was seated as tightly as it could possibly be; James figured the noise is from the bearings having worn out. After he finished in the kitchen, he was sitting at the computer playing a game and finally said, "You know, that noise is aggravating. I don't know how you're going to stand it Wednesday when you work."

So we left a little early on our second errand to go to MicroCenter. We bought a different type of fan this time. Then we went to Michaels, the real purpose of the trip along with getting gasoline and milk at Costco. There was a 25 percent off everything in the store, even sale and clearance, at Michael's tonight, which is a great chance to stock up on items in the dollar bin, which are useful for stocking stuffers, little extra gifts, etc. I even got a new "bill paying calendar" for next year (I keep a small one at the computer marked with whose paycheck it is and what bills are paid on that check). I even got a very nice wooden desk organizer that had been marked down to nine dollars, with 25 percent off.

At Costco we not only bought milk and 81mg aspirin, but began stocking up on the things we will need for DragonCon weekend. Since we take our own food rather than eating at fast food or expensive restaurants, we must buy supplies; plus next weekend we will have to buy extra of almost everything since we will spend pretty much four days total at the convention. Today we bought lean roast beef and some ham, as James is already stocked up on cheese. Next week I will buy an extra supply of low-carb tortillas, some juice boxes, and some of the small bags of baked chips (we already have some 100 calorie packs of crackers purchased). We will each have a lunch rollups and dinner rollups, as well as juice boxes to accompany.

At Kroger, we had found two delicious-looking turkey thighs. When we got home I peeled the skins off, seasoned them with onion powder, minced garlic, and a little Kosher salt and baked them in the convection oven until done. We had these with an ear of corn, and an all-natural pumpkin muffin for dessert. As it cooked, we watched one of the What's My Line episodes I recorded last week along with The Name's the Same (with Conrad Nagel as host instead of Robert Q. Lewis). During supper, we watched this week's Monk, where Monk and Natalie are trapped aboard a submarine on emergency maneuvers to find out who killed a ship's lieutenant, the friend of a Naval officer who was a friend of Natalie and her late husband Mitch (a Naval officer who also seemed rather fond of Natalie <g>). Since Monk is claustrophobic, he developed a coping mechanism by thinking that his psychiatrist was with him. James, of course, noted that the officer's sidearm was wrong and that ballast tanks don't work like that (I did figure there wouldn't be lights in the ballast tank <wry g>).

Surprisingly, we not only didn't have "stupid Randy," we had "immensely helpful Randy." (If you don't watch the show, Lt. Randy Disher is assistant to Detective Stottelmeyer. He is usually light comic relief, unfortunately sometimes much too comic, to the point of stupidity. We had hopes he would smarten up after a second season episode involving his mother, but Randy wavers between silliness and the outright idiocy that makes you wonder why he wasn't fired long ago.)

Oh, and James installed the fan, too. Wow. You can hardly tell the computer is on.

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» Saturday, August 16, 2008
Quiet Saturday
Our Saturday mornings at the Farmer's Market are about to come to a close. Several of the vendors were talking about the fact that the Market ends on the 30th. :-( One of the vendors was discussing with one of the customers that they were hoping to talk to the city about extending it. In the meantime, we're stuck.

So we bought the usual loaf of bread and a couple of other things for dessert during the week, plus some onions, then went to the butcher shop. We bought more fresh Italian sausage and James is trying some pork schnizel. It looks too highly seasoned, however, for me to try it.

Later we went up to the Borders at Town Center; the new British Country Living was out. I also found the sequel to Mrs. Mike on the bargain table. We stopped at JoAnn, then at Hobbytown, then worked our way down to the hobby shop. I was reading the sixth About Time book when Corley [owner of the store] asked if we had seen the season finale of Doctor Who yet. When we admitted we hadn't, he said, "Well, go home and watch it."

So we did. We stopped on the way home for Chinese and dropped off our plastic bag recycling at Publix while we waited. We were actually taking a chance on something, ordering from Dragon. We hadn't eaten there since I had the palpitations on the day before Independence Day last year, and I was afraid it had been the pork fried rice. But then I had been stressed out that day by software problems, and we still had the hordes of roaches from the contaminated bag of bird seed. So I was hoping it was just a combination of everything.

However, I did take steps to help it along (and be better for me). I divided the serving into half and sat both on some paper towels over a paper plate and put another paper towel over it, and let the paper towels soak up the oil for almost a half hour. I took my pill. I ate very, very slowly and had some French bread with it. I seem to be okay (cross fingers).

While we ate, we watched "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End," this year's Doctor Who finale. Well...wow. Russell Davies was supposed to pull out all the stops and he did. I enjoyed it, but I gotta say it...he wrote the biggest fargin' fanfic crossover ever.

Then I dubbed off the other two McBride movies from the DVR. Didn't look like much of Semper Fi was missing, thank God.

I am finishing off the evening by watching the recent Charlotte's Web film with Dakota Fanning. This movie looks beautiful and they used whole passages from the book. But I could have done without farting cows, fainting horses (Wilbur was the one who fainted, dummies), the henpecked gander, and those two awful, awful "crows from the 'hood" which were just as horrible as the crows in Dumbo for racial stereotypes. (I do have to admit I liked the sheep jokes, though. <g>) To make things worse, the crows were named after E.B. White (Elwyn and Brooks); he must have been turning in his grave.

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In, Really In
Yes, I am here. All I've really been doing is slogging my way through purchase orders. I only managed six in the past three days, which I find aggravating, but I have outdated quotations and I can't submit them that way. I did submit four advertisements, which are like essays and take a while to do. And lots and lots of e-mails explaining lots and lots of stuff I've already explained before.

At night we were either watching or recording McBride, but I have all of them now but the newest, Requiem, which I didn't know had been broadcast. Hope they repeat it soon. I'll use the Dish Pass to pick up any McBride movie and hope I'll get the right one eventually. Will need to dub off two, including the first one, which shows how he got Jesse (not to mention Phil as his partner).

Unfortunately we had a popup rain shower on Wednesday, so I'm probably missing a bit of Semper Fi. Drat.

Netflix has sent us about three e-mails apologizing about their e-mail processing system being down and if we hadn't received our next DVD. We actually have (it's the first disk of the first season of Waking the Dead), but we haven't had time to watch it.

Any other amusement has been provided by the bird feeder. This morning James was in the master bath, which overlooks the feeder, and saw a little nuthatch vainly searching each opening of the feeder for seeds. "I know there were seeds here yesterday!" Yes, and a small flotilla of birds, too: both types of nuthatches, the chickadees and sparrows and titmice, even the big red-headed woodpecker (I was on the phone with my supervisor at that point, looking through the Expedit across the dining room, and exclaimed, "Oh, there's the red-headed woodpecker!")

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» Friday, August 15, 2008
The Sincerest Form of Budgie Flattery
James was playing with Willow tonight with her "monkey," the generic name to which we refer to all her squeak toys, since the first one was a monkey, and to our delight, at one point when he squeaked the toy, Schuyler repeated the squeak exactly! It was so cute. She did a couple of other imitative squeaks, but none of them was quite as pitch perfect as that one.

It reminded me of when Merlin and Bandit used to imitate sounds: me clearing my throat, James sneezing, the dog barking...

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» Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Surprise!
I'm dubbing off the two McBride films I DVR'd over the weekend and discovered I've never seen "The Doctor is Out...Really Out." Cool.

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Wow
Something really strange has happened outside.

It's nearly noon and it's cool. Well, not cool the way I like it, but it's 76°F, cloudy, and there's a light breeze. Just got back from mandatory safety class and it was a shame to have to come in, especially after the hot, stuffy room we were in. The weather has a different feel today, like the almost pleasantly warm days we get after the equinox. Boy, that would be a real fantasy, to have weather like this for the rest of the summer—ain't gonna happen, though, but nice to daydream about.

I wish it would at least be like this for DragonCon; would make trudging between hotels much easier. (At some point—we hope—we will know how much trudging we will need to do, since here it is 16 days till the start of the convention and they still haven't posted the schedule online. Surely its finalized by now.)

Checking out the guest list: didn't know Jerry Doyle was on tap. Miss listening to his radio show. The creator of the comic "Sluggy Freelance," one of James' favorites, is scheduled to be there. Oh, and Andy Runton; I believe there's a new Owly book out and I can get it autographed.

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» Monday, August 11, 2008
A Lawyer Walks into a Flashback...
I lucked out after making this statement last week:
I've also got some things to finish to make a few other cases, too, like the three McBride movies I've managed to cobble together into a collection (I keep missing them when they're on; I need to program the DVR to search for them, since I'd like to have all of them).
Hallmark is having a McBride week, so I should be able to get at least five of the movies.

I didn't realize there had been a new McBride film at the end of May. Hope to catch it in the reruns. [NB...oh, good! They're repeating it August 27!]

(Incidentally, recording these films makes me acutely aware of how many commercials they stuff into two hour slots these days. I remember when a two-hour television movie gave you 98- to 100-minutes of content. Last night's Tune In For Murder clocked in at about 82 minutes—almost forty minutes of commercials and they still have to smear advertisements at the bottom of the screen and crush the credits for more ads.)

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A Man at Random
I probably found it downtown, most probably in Read-All, the little book/card shop on the narrow street connecting Weybosset Street and Westminster Street (it's been years; I think it might have been Union Street). Or it could have been at Woolworths or in the Outlet, perhaps not even in Providence. In any case, it was the first paperback book I owned that wasn't a Get Smart novel. It was called Laugh Day and a greying, avuncular man in glasses was on the cover, half-seated on a stool. I picked it up and said, "Look, Mom, it's full of jokes." It was sixty cents and she bought it for me.

And this was how I became a fan of Bennett Cerf in print. I already knew him from television, as a panelist on the Sunday night CBS network series What's My Line and later in the syndicated version until his death in 1971.

Laugh Day was a book I picked up when I needed a lift. It grew dog-eared, battered, and finally fell apart. By that time I had a couple of other Cerf anecdote collections and never did replace it. But it was a companion of my late elementary and later school days.

Ever since I found out Game Show Network is still showing a pair of black-and-white game shows in the very wee hours of the morning, I've been DVR'ing them and we've watched at odd hours. Mostly it's been a pairing of What's My Line and The Name's The Same.

Even forty years later and without the benefit of color, these shows are still very funny. Certainly I prefer these to anything on network presently. There was a corker of a What's My Line on this morning. It was filmed the day before Hallowe'en 1955, about six weeks before my birth, and John Charles Daly and the guest coordinator had a grand time "tricking" the panel with guests who included a Buckingham Palace Scots Guard in full dress regalia, for which the panel had to wear the masks usually reserved for the presentation of the celebrity guest.

In the last few years I've been able to learn a little more about my favorite Mr. Cerf, including reading his posthumous autobiography, At Random. I also found out that he was one of the early "St. Nicholas League" kids. But I'll always remember an elfin Bennett Cerf with a twinkle in his eyes asking mischievous questions of the guests...and sometimes being uncannily smart about who was in the chair.

A slightly lopsided crayoned Bennett Cerf Time cover and the accompanying article "A Cerfit of Riches."

Here's his bio on Wikipedia, some quotes (with puns, of course), a passage from his biography At Random, about his friendship with Ayn Rand, and Bennett acting as host on What's My Line with mystery guest Julie London.

And speaking of What's My Line, here's the very last episode of the original series (it returned not much later in a syndicated color version; the host was then Wally Bruner) where host John Charles Daly was also the mystery guest. ("Related Videos" on the side holds more WML moments and here's what happens when you search on What's My Line.)

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Informative Summary
Nice rundown of things to look out for: Watch Out for Car Dealer Sales Tricks

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» Sunday, August 10, 2008
Pretties
These are the two "glass with wire decoration" items I bought at Hobby Lobby (yeah, that's a light switch back there; I didn't have any other place right now to display them for photography):

turkey welcome sign

leaf welcome sign


Remember the acrylic acorns and the ivy bowl and mirror glass? There was a Michael's coupon today, so when I went to get gasoline I also stopped at Michael's and got the acrylic pumpkins. The contents of the bowl are alternating layers of acorns and pumpkins, with foil leaves (red, rust, and gold) scattered among them and about a dozen strands of the copper "tinsel" between each layer. I finished off the "confection" by dusting the top with gold, bronze and copper glitter and tying a thin strand of tinsel cord around the neck of the bowl.

Fall Fantasia


Here's a closeup, but the photo doesn't do it justice.

Fall Fantasia closeup

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BoobToob Surprises
Since we had to buy the digital antenna and I discovered RTN, I often pop it on for a minute or two to see what's on, which is how I discovered their change of schedule and Leave It to Beaver "marathon" a few weeks back.

This morning I was gobsmacked to find out they were showing the 1977 series Operation Petticoat with John Astin and Richard Gilliland (featuring Jamie Lyn Curtis). As the IMBb points out, her father Tony starred in the movie this series was based on.

Following was an episode of Wagon Train with Ward Bond.

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» Saturday, August 09, 2008
Plants and Purchases
Something absolutely astonishing happened this morning. We went to the Farmers Market with the A/C off and the truck windows down. We haven't been able to do that in months. It not only wasn't in the 90s already, but there was a breeze.

There was a sign on one of the booths that there were only three weeks of the market left. :-( I guess we're going to have to go directly to the bakery so I can get my baguette fix. I'm really going to miss this.

On the way back we stopped at Big Lots. I picked up a small pot and a small bag of some potting soil.

You see, a few weeks ago I rescued a plant outside Kroger. Actually, it was a coleus branch. Kroger was selling coleus and it looked like a perfectly good stem had fallen off a plant and was left in the middle of the sidewalk. So I brought it home and put it in water with a little MiracleGro in it to try and root it. Unfortunately I noticed late last Sunday that it had roots, and I usually don't shop anywhere during the week since I'm usually too bushed after work. I did stop at Dollar General on the way home Monday, but all they had were huge pots and huge bags of potting soil.

Unfortunately as I repotted it I noticed the stem has started to rot from being in water so long. Don't know if it will survive.

After having lunch we detoured to Goodwill to turn in all those DVD cases I emptied this week before going to the hobby shop. Everyone was talking about opening ceremonies last night. We stayed there quite a while. By the time we went to Hobby Lobby it was going on suppertime.

I'm afraid I was a bit bad at HL. I walked in and was struck by the fall decorations everywhere and nearly broke into "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year"! (LOL...yeah, I know that's a Christmas song, but it's the way I feel about autumn.) I was lucky, however, that most of the things I bought were half price or 40 percent off. I got some small foil leaves to add to the "acorn" bowl I described yesterday, two resin Indian corn, a pumpkin with autumn leaves sketched on its surface, another pumpkin with a peculiar brushed gold/crackled surface, some blue C7 light bulbs for the candoliers, and a Christmas ornament as a gift.

We were going through one of the autumn decor aisles, and I was oohing-and-aahing, when I found a beautiful decoration consisting of "Welcome" worked in thick copper wire and hanging below and wrapped with wire, a turkey whose body was made of weathered copper shaped as a turkey body and tail feathers that were autumn-colored glass shaped as feathers. Wow, I said, I can get that with the 40 percent off coupon. Then James directed me to what was behind the turkey: the same copper wire "Welcome," but with a big maple leaf made of wire wrapped around orangy-red glass pieces suspended below! It is gorgeous. I put the turkey back and got that instead. A few minutes later I was passing by some of the sale signs. One said "50 percent off all glass with wire decoration." Wait. Glass maple leaf. Wire decoration. OMG! I saw James and called, "Go get me a turkey! They're on sale!" :-)

We had supper at Oriental Cafe, then went to BJ's for milk and the other necessities of life. While checking out I noticed that my Costco card seems to be missing. Bother.

Tonight we watched last week's Monk episode, the one about Natalie losing her head about being the lottery girl. I see we got stupid Randy again, and a rather simple whodunit. Following I put on the final episode of the first series of The Last Detective. As James commented, "A very melancholy show." Yes. Tis. Some familiar faces though: when the social worker spoke up, I thought she sounded familiar. She certainly was. It was Josette Simon, who played Dayna Mellanby on Blake's 7. In addition, the guest star was the famous British comedian Norman Wisdom, and two supporting characters were Flambards veterans: Sebastian Abineri (Dick Wright) as a disgruntled neighbor and Frank Mills (Fowler) as a World War II veteran.

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Torched
Whoa! Bon spectacle! There were eight torch bearers within the stadium to tie in with the 08-08-08 date, and the last gentleman was hoisted on wires and "ran" around the edge of the stadium, to touch his torch to the end of the pipe that lit the Olympic torch. And then even more fireworks. Woohoo!

The NBC broadcast was dedicated to Jim McKay.

And God, this looked good in widescreen HD! I can hardly wait for the winter Olympics, which are my favorite.

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» Friday, August 08, 2008
Opening Ceremonies
Wow. Every year they do something to top the last. The color and spectacle was marvelous, and the use of the LCD screen was inspired. The synchronized drumming and dancing was letter-perfect and awesome. I was especially impressed with the "type" and of course the beautiful fireworks—but then this being China, anything less than spectacular fireworks would have been disappointing. Brilliant costuming as well.

It will be interesting to see how they light the torch.

The parade of nations is unique. The Greeks were first, as always, and the host country will be last, but the other nations are not in what we would call "alphabetical order," instead they are in order by the number of strokes in the Chinese symbol that represents that country.

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Friday Off and On
So I have Emma's package off. I had less luck at Barnes & Noble (August British Country Living not out yet), but did find a used copy of the 1995 Get Smart series in CD Warehouse.

Hit Michaels and found a couple of bargains. One is a small beach-motif stool painted blue (supposed to be a plant stand) that I found on clearance. I bought this to repurpose in the hall bath as a small surface to keep magazines on. Also, I keep a seasonal banner on the front porch. This is bad news for the banner since the house faces west; due to the continued exposure to the Georgia sun, I have to retire the banners every two years. I reluctantly retired the spring banner, one with birds and birdhouses, this year, and, with a coupon, bought a banner with pansies on it for next spring, although to me it looked more like a summer banner. At Michael's today I found another birdhouse banner—and it was also on clearance!—so I can use that for spring and save the pansies for next summer, since the ladybug and sunflower banner will be toast by September (and I've never liked the darn thing anyway).

Since the ladies on Christmas to the Max are always talking about Garden Ridge, I made the mistake of stopping there today. :-) Actually, I was good, a hard thing among aisles of Christmas ornaments and autumn and Hallowe'en decorations. I bought a birch tree for the village, a couple of white trees for a vignette, two gingerbread ornaments for the kitchen display, a circular piece of beveled mirror glass with an oval-shape ivy vase—and a $5 copy of Gosford Park. (I'll watch it when James isn't home. <g>) The beveled mirror will go under the ivy vase, which will be filled with the acrylic acorns (the size of real acorns) that I purchased from Michael's. These come in three colors, a pale corn color, orange, and the dark amber brown color of maple syrup. This will be worked into an autumn display when I get a couple of more items.

Picked up a few things at JoAnn, too, including two $1 circular whiteboards which will be used to identify what is in which cabinet in my craft room. I love those dollar bins; I find a lot of organizing items in them. Plus I bought new sheets for our bed with the Linens'n'Things coupons. Our present sheets are getting worn and faded, and also the fitted bottoms have never fit our 14 inch thick mattress properly. This is the first time in years I have not purchased blue sheets; since the coverlet is now mostly autumn-colored, I bought a set in sage green and a set in maple-leaf gold to match. The set comes with two extra pillowcases, so finally all the pillows will match.

On the way home I stopped at Food Depot. We had decided we were going to stay home tonight and watch opening ceremonies at the Olympics, so we had originally planned on ordering a pizza. But remembering the yummy meal we had a couple of weeks ago at the Lawsons, I bought a jar of spaghetti sauce and some pork bits. I browned the pork bits, and they have been simmering for the last two hours in the spaghetti sauce while I watched all of the "new" Get Smart (there were only seven episodes made).

You know, when this premiered I thought it was the biggest bunch of crap I'd ever seen. I watched it solely for Don Adams and Barbara Feldon and absolutely loathed Andy Dick. I still loathe Andy Dick—but actually the show has improved a bit with age, especially compared with the breathless idiocy of Under One Roof. I found myself chuckling several times. If only this show had been castrated (in other words, Dickless), it would have been much improved (better scripts would have helped, too, but the "star" was the main fault). The episode where Siegfried returns is undoubtedly the best (one has to laugh when his daughter complains to Zach that her father had always hidden the fact that he was a spy: "He told us he was a doctor on a cruise ship" LOL). I had completely forgotten about the series' supporting characters: Agent 0, the master of disguises, who can be anyone from a burly construction worker to an old lady to an African-American woman; Agent 9, a nine-year-old redheaded child; and Trudy, the inept secretary of the Chief of CONTROL—that would be Maxwell Smart—who makes Larrabee from the old series look like Albert Einstein, and I had always been fond of Agent 66, played by Elaine Hendrix.

The DVD also contains two "minisodes," which are shortened episodes of old television series. One was an ep of TJ Hooker with William Shatner's ex-wife as a guest star. The other was an episode of Newsradio, in which Andy Dick also starred. I think I watched one episode of Newsradio, partially because I never liked Dick, and also—sorry, guys—I was never a Phil Hartman fan, although it was terrible what happened to him. Swelp me, I never realized Dave Foley was even on this series, nor that Stephen Root played his boss. Foley, of course, played Alan Bean in From the Earth to the Moon, and Root played Chris Kraft.

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» Thursday, August 07, 2008
Finished (?) At Last
Through dint of lunch yesterday and lunch today, plus all last night up to 11:30, I have finally finished the re-housing of my self-recorded DVDs, which have gone from taking up three shelves to two with a tiny bit of room left on that second shelf. They are all now either in slimline 2-DVD cases or 3-DVD cases, with two things using the 6-DVD cases I bought at Fry's last weekend. I can take the standard-size 2-DVD cases and donate them for someone else's use.

Some of the DVDs just went from one standard case to one slim-line case; this was easy: I just trimmed the covers down with my paper cutter. But the others that were incorporated into threes, or shifted about I had to retype new covers, sometimes changing spine designations. Plus every single change had to be entered into the Paradox database I have listing what's on each DVD and in which case, since it's not always evident from the spine (I have several cases labeled "Christmas Films," for example, so which one is Mercy Mission in?)

I've also got some things to finish to make a few other cases, too, like the three McBride movies I've managed to cobble together into a collection (I keep missing them when they're on; I need to program the DVR to search for them, since I'd like to have all of them).

I am noticing, looking at the DVDs, that at least two pair of 3-DVDs can be incorporated into 2 6-DVD cases, and possibly three more pairs. The 6-DVD cases are narrower than two 3-DVD cases by the width of a slimline, so this will save a bit more room. And several of the existing covers need retyping. But...that's for the future.

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» Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Don't Faint...
...I posted a meme in my LiveJournal. Feel free to read and respond...or not.

http://lassiegal.livejournal.com/2008/08/05/

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Surfeits of Video
The second half of the first series of Last Detective is on its way, and in the meantime we have a surfeit of things to watch (talk about going from a vast wasteland to overkill): last night's "Headlines," the three-part finale for Doctor Who, Friday's Monk, the John Adams and Centennial sets, the rest of "Talons of Weng-Chiang," and at least two wee hours of Game Show Network, since I found out via someone's blog (Ivan, was that you again?) that they are still showing the black-and-white game shows then.

Plus last night's History Detectives, a Rick Sebak special (the Unusual Buildings one, and Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies, the latter two which I hope to transfer to DVD.

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16 Tons
I had my mid-year evaluation today and was astonished at the accolades given to me by my supervisor. From my end it feels like I am drowning in a sea of overdue orders, ever-increasing details, and difficulties that have popped up this year out of nowhere. I'm having trouble swimming against the tide [since we've started this metaphor I'm gonna keep it] and finding it very difficult to concentrate. I managed to finish two orders today, which these days seems a major victory, and got a bunch of supporting documents printed out and labeled to put together with their individual orders. Tomorrow I hope I can make some headway in the current.

And, as Betty Roberts would say, that's as deep into a metaphor as I go.

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» Monday, August 04, 2008
Snurgly Sunday
I was hoping once we got through errands today that we could find ourselves in a nice cool mall doing some walking. Cumberland would have been perfect for serious walking since Waldenbooks is now closed and the only thing of interest to distract us is Hallmark and American Greetings. Town Center would have been a longer walk, but with more distractions.

Instead we went to Kroger for necessities like yogurt and bananas and a newspaper, along with a couple of other things, and BJs for milk and mushrooms, plus stopped at Food Depot for sugar-free ice cream bars in one 16-minute excursion (this includes the driving time), and just stayed at home. I had a killer sinus headache, apparently from my allergy since my eyes were doing an imitation of a faucet with a loose washer, and it felt as if someone were whapping the right side of my head with a tack hammer. I finally tossed down three Advil and lay down for an hour.

When I got up the headache was down to a dull roar and James had gone downstairs to his hobby room, so I put the first part of Centennial on. It's a nice print, complete with the Michener introduction, although it really hadn't been restored; one shot of Michael Ansara was quite dusty and the scene with young Lame Beaver and his uncle silhouetted against the sky had a noticable shimmy for several frames.

James came upstairs near the end and grilled dinner: two pork chops we found on sale at Kroger along with a nice ear of corn each, then we watched the second episode of Peter Davison's The Last Detective. The mysteries in this keep you guessing till the last, but "Dangerous" himself is a melancholy character, and one wants to swat his idiot of a soon-to-be ex-wife, who apparently just gets squidgy for guys in uniform (she's presently dating an airline pilot), although it does appear he is a bit of a workaholic (but is that just Davies or because of her disapproving stance?).

The original plan had been to watch Last Detective and then Masterpiece's showing of The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, which was advertised last week. Except it wasn't on because it's #$!%%!$!#$! fundraising again. With GPB and WPBA both viewable in Atlanta, and since they often alternate fundraising, it makes it seem like PBS is shilling for money every month. It wouldn't be all that bad if they would show us something new, but sheesh, how many times can we watch Anne of Green Gables (1, 2 or [shudder] 3), Suze Ormond, Celtic Woman, nostalgia movie star specials, and fifty salutes to country-Western performers and Elvis? Remember when PBS only shilled for money twice a year?

So we watched episode two of Centennial instead. You know, Robert Conrad had been working in the business for years. He had three (that I remember) regular series, including the one that got him the most notice, The Wild Wild West, plus Hawaiian Eye and the Black Sheep series, plus guest star appearances and some really fun times on Battle of the Network Stars (ah, yes, the infamous brohaha between Conrad and Gabe Kaplan...). But Centennial is Conrad at his finest. This miniseries had great casting, but Conrad's was superb. He didn't just play Pasquinel, he was Pasquinel, the tough little coureur de Bois who earned the trust of the native people but who was still flawed and often dishonorable.

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» Sunday, August 03, 2008
Man the Boats!
Incidentally, we did something very dangerous last night: we went in a bookstore.

I have to explain that we ate somewhere different last night, the Longhorn near Books-a-Million. Just so tired of eating at all the same places. We both came out with two lunches. There was a bloodmobile at Books-a-Million in conjunction with the release of Stephanie Meyer's last book in the "Twilight" series. I haven't read the books, but I gather they are something to do with a teenage girl and the boy she loves, who is a vampire. Our friends' daughters love the books. (Vampire romances in general seem popular of late; I see them scattered liberally through the romance books along with books about werewolves and shape-shifters in general.) There was a knot of young women waiting for the "book party" to begin.

On the way back I suggested we might stop at the Barnes & Noble on Dallas Highway since it was on our route. Well, their "book debut" party started at ten and the moment we approached the store we were surrounded by mostly teenage girls (some teenage boys, which James observed, had expressions on their faces like "I'm only here because she wanted to come," although there were a couple dressed up). Many of the girls were in evening gowns. It was a little like being at a convention, except the store was awash in teenage estrogen. :-)

I won't complain, though. It's nice to have kids excited about reading books, instead of about Paris Hilton, Wiis or makeup.

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» Saturday, August 02, 2008
Seduction of the Scanner and the Salad and Other Saturday Stories
Up early again for veggies. We had just missed a train as we parked and just as we reached the track another came along, so we stood and watched as a line of coal hoppers went by. I think it's sad that there are no "real" trains around here anymore (ones that carry passengers instead of gang-scribbled transports). It was just after nine and already hot and steamy. We collected some fresh sweet corn, some bread, and some all-natural wholegrain pumpkin muffins for dessert, then returned home to use the rest of the Trader Joe's chicken salad for breakfast sandwiches.

We were on a mission to Fry's today—I needed some more tape cases to finish my "rehousing" project of my self-recorded DVDs. I needed more thinline 2-DVD cases as well as another box of 3s. This was more of a project than we expected because it was Saturday rather than the usual Sunday when we go out to the wilds of Alpharetta; traffic was additionally heavy because it's tax-free weekend in preparation for the approaching first day of school (we didn't know it, but they had also had a parade in salute of military veterans earlier in the day). We expected Fry's to be crowded, but although there were a lot of cars, we didn't actually see a lot of people. Apparently they were all next door in WalMart. I bought the DVD 2- and 3-disc cases and also a set of cases that hold six DVDs. This will be good for series like The War and perhaps some of my Christmas things.

Unfortunately, I was seduced at the last moment. I have always wanted a pen scanner so I could go into the library and get information from the books in the reference area that you can't withdraw. I would have preferred a wireless one, but all the wireless units I have seen have received terrible reviews. The Iris I bought seems to have a better reputation, and it will work with the laptop. Plus it was tax free, as was my entire purchase.

We stopped for a short time at Borders with our coupons and Borders Bucks; James got the first release of Tiny Toons Adventures and I bought Laurien Berenson's newest in paperback as well as a bargain book about spelling, and then we made our biweekly stop at Trader Joe's for chicken salad. We had a sample of their Asian salad kit: you got mixed greens, slivered almonds, some crunchy noodles, mandarin oranges, and orange sesame dressing. It was quite delicious, so I grabbed a bag of the kit as well as some precooked precut teriyaki chicken breast. After we visited the hobby shop, we came home and had the salad with chicken for supper, with a pumpkin muffin for dessert, while watching the first four episodes of Tiny Toons, interrupted briefly by a storm that caused a couple of brownouts, but no actual power loss. Other neighborhoods weren't so lucky. There are trees down and many people sleeping without air conditioning tonight, the poor sods. (The television reporter actually said "a lot of people sleeping in the dark tonight." Um...huh?)

When those were finished, I put on the pilot episode of The Last Detective. This is really a rather melancholy series. Peter Davison plays "Dangerous" Davies (we never learn his first name), who is still a detective while all those his own age have been promoted to management positions. Davies prefers to stay a detective (I don't blame him one bit; who wants to be management—it sounds like one of the stops on the rings of Hell), although it has done nothing to make him happy: he irritates his co-workers, his wife has asked for a divorce (presumably due to his lack of ambition as she sees it), and he lives in a miserable "bed sit." The only time he seems to be happy is when he is walking the family dog (when you hear Davies talking about the animal on the phone early in the series, you assume it's the couple's child until you see the dog) or with his friend Mod, who holds various jobs and provides Davies with a drinking companion.

The mystery portion of the story, however, was quite good. I'm not sure if I actually like the series yet, but Davison is quite good as beaten-down Davies (quite a change from his first major role as devil-may-care Tristan Farnon!).

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