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» Sunday, May 24, 2015Traveling in Time(gate)
Wow, what a weekend!
It began inauspiciously on Friday, with James at the doctor and me at Kroger doing the weekly shopping. He was already home when I got back. The doctor says there was no use taking another X-ray because his lungs won't be well for ages yet. He needs to go back in a couple of weeks for it. So I made some sandwiches for lunch for Saturday and Sunday and pulled out snacks to put into our backpacks, let Tucker have his fill of the deck, talked to Snowy, and did some other chores. We left the house at three and still got caught in traffic heading down to "the House of Mouse" on I-75 south (but all the other routes were even longer; Fridays of a holiday are deadly anywhere). Happily, we got an excellent parking space, and ended up being first in line for check-in.
Had supper at the hotel restaurant. I wish it wasn't so expensive! But I have to admit the food is good. Had a steak dip sandwich and James had chicken and waffle (sounds odd but apparently is a traditional Marriott dish from their Hot Shoppe days). Saw Anne and Clay in the registration line and they came over and talked and had some key lime pie.
Then it was time for Opening Ceremonies, and we got our first look at Katy Manning. Katy played Jo Grant, companion to the Third Doctor, a pint-sized waif who made up with gumption what she didn't have otherwise. According to Katy's bio, she's 68. You couldn't tell it by the way she moves! She came flying in, all smiles, fun, and hugs and proceeded to enchant the entire audience. I couldn't wait for her panels!
My first panel was a retrospective of the first season of the new series of Doctor Who. I think we all had the same reaction: when we saw the opening scenes and heard the theme song, it was as if we had gone home. Oh, there were some oddities, like the farting Slitheen, but the consensus was that Christopher Eccleston nailed it, and some of his episodes, like "Dalek" and "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances" are some of the best.
Next was "A Sense of Wonder," a panel asking if British writers did "a sense of wonder" in the science fiction field more than Americans, and which Americans still had "the touch" and did British writers are still continuing to have it. It was decided that there were not as many modern authors with the "sense of wonder," British or American. All I know is I am flat sick of dystopia!
Our final panel on Friday was a tribute to the 50th anniversary of Lost in Space, which did turn into complaints about "The Great Vegetable Rebellion," as all Lost in Space panels eventually do. But despite that coloring everyone's opinion, we have to admit there were some fine episodes from first season, including the pilot and first few episodes, and later in the season "The Keeper" and my personal favorite, "My Friend, Mr. Nobody," which was about Penny, and that after a rather uneven second season, more good episodes appeared in third season: "Antimatter Man," "Hunter's Moon" (a takeoff of The Most Dangerous Game), "Condemned in Space," and "The Haunted Lightship." We also talked briefly about Bill Mumy's graphic novel, Voyage to the Bottom of the Soul, which brought a conclusion to the story.
We headed home to walk Tucker, and I was chagrined to find that, although I had had success hitching the digital converter to the DVD recorder, I'd forgotten to shut off the recorder for timer recording, so I missed the next two episodes of Doctor Simon Locke after having no success at recording the first one in the spare room because the signal had become so pissy after three days of perfect signals.
The hotel does a killer breakfast buffet, but to save money we had breakfast from Chick-Fil-A on Saturday morning: nice wholemeal oatmeal and a fruit cup and some milk for me. We were at the hotel in plenty of time for our first panels, which for me was "Mr. Selfridge Calls the Midwife from Paradise," otherwise the British track panel for costume dramas. Some were recommended, like the original Upstairs, Downstairs, and the period murder mysteries count, too! However, my heart belongs forever to Flambards. ♥ ☺
And then it was time for Michele Gomez' first panel. This was quite a coup for Timegate, since Michele has never been to a convention anywhere before, and "Missy" (the newest incarnation of Doctor Who's "Moriarty" to the Doctor's Holmes) and she's just here for Saturday. She's Glaswegian by birth and apparently of Mexican heritage, and has a lovely rolling "R" Scots accent. However, she has lived in the United States for the past eight years, four in Los Angeles and now in Brooklyn. She was charming and friendly and occasionally devilish as she talked about being the newest incarnation of the Master and working with Peter Capaldi, sitting cross-legged on her chair for most of the questions. She also talked about wanting to play some of the classic roles, like Medea.
I took the opportunity after that panel to have a stroll around the Dealer's Room for a few minutes. Thought about buying a TARDIS key from the Pertwee era, but didn't. Did see a gentleman outside the Room with some Supermarionation videos and a book that looked a treat for James. He had a Parker (Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward's chauffeur) marionette on the table; I wondered if it was an original! Anyway, it was lovely; Parker was always my favorite Thunderbirds character. Then I ducked into the panel about the evolution of female characters in science fiction and fantasy. Apparently even some of the new superhero movies aren't doing justice to their female characters. Much chat about The Bechdel Test (applied against a movie, it must contain just one thing—a scene in which two or more named female characters have a conversation—that is, back and forth dialogue—about anything at all besides men) and the Smurfette Principle.
James was doing three panels at this convention, including one at Saturday at one o'clock, but I went to the Retro TV panel instead. This was all about Doctor Who, so I wasn't expecting any Police Surgeon chatter, but I wish I'd had the guts to ask! Apparently Who has helped Retro expand its stations, and it sounded as if they are planning to move it to ten o'clock. Well, rats...what will happen when Locke rolls around again?
And then it was time for Katy Manning. Once again she came bursting on stage full of energy. This woman is the most difficult person ever to photograph; she just moves every single minute! With a bright scarf, lots of jewelry, and perpetual motion, she's like some brilliant bird come down from the sky to make friends. She bounced from subject to subject at joyful will: how sad it was to leave the series but how it was the right time, taking "the pointing picture" with Peter Capaldi, who asked to see her when he found out she was filming on the very next set, her terrible short-sightedness, her philosophy on aging, which is basically to enjoy every day and stop looking back. Near the end of the Q&A, a little girl got up to ask a question, and Katy had her come close and share her mike and answer her question about if she liked working on Doctor Who. Gosh, I wish I could bleed off some of this wonderful woman's energy.
At three o'clock I went to a panel reviewing the latest season of Doctor Who. I think the consensus appears to be that "Flatline" was the best episode. I agree! it was the closest new Who to a classic episodes that I've seen in the past ten years. Also discussion pro- and anti-Clara (Lee Martindale was definitely on the anti- side) and whether the Brigadier "rising again" was a good tribute or a travesty.
I went back to Michele Gomez' second panel because—well, who knows if I'll ever see her again? Besides, she was just as enjoyable the second time around. Someone asked how she would decorate the inside of her TARDIS if she had a choice. She held up a fancy leather purse and purred "Prada!" She also told the story of how she took her nearly six-year-old son on the Doctor Who set with her. She was afraid he'd be a bother, but she discovered the makeup artists covering him in tiger stripes and his only comment about her filming was "Mummy, there was a really big BANG!" Someone also asked her to deliver a Roger Delgado (the original Master) line, which she did with fine ruefulness.
At five I met James at the restaurant. I remembered having the chicken soup at Anachrocon, and when that was still the Saturday soup, we both got that, and an order of potstickers. It's a wonderful soup, thick with spaetzle-like noodles, carrots, celery, and onions. Much yum. And then, because Alan had talked about it so much at opening ceremonies, we shared the secret desert, fried pound cake. It comes with strawberry compote, real strawberries, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I had to admit, with the strawberries it was good (James can keep the vanilla ice cream; I despise vanilla), but I would have been just as happy with the nice light pound cake with the strawberries, and you can leave off the batter.
So it was back to the panel whirl for Saturday night. I attended the Sherlock panel with Louis Robinson, Kim Holec, Kathryn Sullivan, and a lady whose name I have completely forgotten. Well, it was tagged as a Sherlock panel, and we did discuss the BBC show, but we also talked about Jeremy Brett, and Benedict Cumberbatch's other projects, and why no one ever talks about Elementary, and the gentleman who was at 221B dressed as Jeremy Brett, and all sorts of other Holmes-related matters.
I had to go to the Good Reads panel: Alice, her daughter Aubrey, and Sue were all on it. So we talked about...what else? Good books to read, and how to find them (like Book Bub) and if bookstores are dying (not yet, but...they're running scared if all those Barnes & Noble coupons are any indication), and the one question we really couldn't answer: how do we turn children on to reading something besides their hated textbooks? (Oh, Aubrey, who's in college, had a surprising revelation: the classmates she knows do not read e-books. School textbooks as e-books, yes, but real books, ones to read for pleasure? They want them in traditional format. I wonder if the booksellers know that!)
Following this panel, it was time for the cabaret. Okay, I have to admit, I was a tiny bit disappointed by the cabaret this year because it didn't have the variety of performers that they usually have. Oh, it was good, but I missed Louis doing a piece and Professor Satyre. The show was opened by "Lt. Moxie Ann Magnus, chief cosmetologist on the USS Enterprise under James T. Kirk," a fixture at Timegate. In her tall blonde beehive hairdo and her tall, tall high heels, dressed in brilliant blue, Moxie had had an aborted visit to the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones and arrived on stage with her toaster gift, which she planned to recycle. She then introduced Courtland Lewis, who wrote Doctor Who and Philosophy, who did two rock Doctor Who-themed songs. Next, Moxie interviewed Katy Manning, who had a hilarious time on stage telling an it's-funny-now story about her nearsightedness, which involved lip gloss, no mirrors in a bathroom, a perplexed woman coming face-to-face with Katy while trying to eat her dinner, and finally a prawn up Katy's nose. Finally, Moxie had Jevocas Green, who plays "the Forgotten Doctor" in a series of online videos, play her straight man (he said with a serious face, "well, that will be a first," bringing down the house) for a vaudeville act involving every single science pun known to man (or woman, for that part). A raffle finished out the festivities, and, although Gallifrey Game Night sounded like fun, letting Tucker out of durance vile and giving him a walk sounded more humane. So endeth our Saturday night.
Sunday morning was hard. I did have a moment walking Tucker; we were passing Dave and Linda's grey-and-white house (with some black highlights) when I heard a "chip-chip-chip" and looked up. There, against the relative monochrome of the grey/white/black and flat pale blue of a summer sky, was a cardinal, flame red as he perched above. Lovely!
We ate at the restaurant this morning and my wallet merely screamed. Anne and Clay had breakfast with us, and I have to admit there's a good choice and there's even a omelet station. But the Marriott at Perimeter has just as good a breakfast without the omelet station and it's only $9 at 221B Con. Wishing for better prices...
First panel for Sunday was "Books We Would Like to See As Films." I'm starting to be cynical about this subject. Oh, every once in a while you get a film like To Kill a Mockingbird, and Gone With the Wind came out well, too, but mainly you get crap like the adaptation of A Ring of Endless Light. There are more bad movies made out of good books than good movies made from the same. But several books were mentioned as possibilities for either movies or television miniseries. Aubrey made a point for Cinder, a new book with a female cyborg protagonist. Some others mentioned were the Belgariad, the Retief books by Keith Laumer, Bester's The Stars My Destination, and the Harper Hall books. (The Dragonrider books were mentioned, but as Anne commented, the dragons would just be burning each other.) I'd like to see a nice retro version of Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, myself, but with my luck they'd give Kip a six-pack and a love interest. Yeeech.
Next it was take two for Katy Manning, and she was no less "up" than yesterday. Today she regaled us with stories of knowing Liza Minelli...except she had no idea who Judy Garland was. To her Liza was just her good friend and Judy was just Liza's nice mummy. She told a funny story of riding in the back seat of Judy and husband Sid Luft's car with Liza at fourteen and they were just giggling like mad and he asked crankily, "Why are they giggling?" and Judy snapped back, "Because they're 14 years old!" Years later, she was going somewhere with Liza, but this time they were traveling in a limo. Katy was wearing a skirt with an elastic waistband, and it got caught in the car seat as she slid to get out of the limo seat. So finally she ended up tripping into the street because the elastic let go and she and Liza sat there giggling madly and Liza said, "I can hear Momma now—"why are they laughing?" "because they're 45 years old!"
I went to the British history panel next. It was a little disorganized, but then it's a big subject! Maybe we should have discussed periods of history as they related to Doctor Who (although we did mention Blackadder Goes Forth and how it looked like it was making fun of the tragedy of World War I—until the last few minutes of the final episode). We chatted about Richard III, bad press, Shakespeare's play, and Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time, plus car parks of course, Henry VIII, the Reformation, the everlasting rivalry between England and France, Scottish independence, and even a slight trip back in time to the Celts.
Then there was a small but interested crowd at a tribute to Leonard Nimoy. Eric Watts had a very funny story about his inner reaction (all fanboy) vs. his outer reaction (calmly shaking hands) to meeting and introducing Leonard Nimoy to the audience some years ago at DragonCon. We also looked at a couple of clips from The Wrath of Khan.
It was back to Katy Manning one last time, and I was sitting with Caran Wilbanks again as I had during her earlier panel. This was Katy, Alan Siler, and Louis Robinson, who had done part of the film editing for the story, talking about the serial "The Daemons," which was infamous in Britain for talking about Satanism, and even worse Satanism happening in an Anglican parish, and a scene where the church is blown up—it was so real looking that some people protested them blowing up an actual church! They only showed the last part, which features the Brigadier uttering his most famous line, directing a rifleman toward a living gargoyle: "Chap with wings: five rounds rapid!" and Jo Grant defeating the Pan-like alien of the piece by offering to sacrifice her life for the Doctor's. Louis made everyone laugh when he told the story about the BBC calling him, saying they needed additional editors for that episode: would he like to do it? Oh, throw me in that briar patch, B'rer Fox!
Thought I'd bump into James at the history of geeks in pop culture panel, but sat with Matt and Kelley instead. Lots of dislike for Big Bang Theory here; we didn't like it at first, either, and, like Dawn commented, it's a sitcom: blondes are dumb, men are man-boys or stupid fathers, kids crack wise. And sorry to say, although I didn't say it in the panel, I have seen or read about a lot of fans who are like the guys on Big Bang. One panelist commented that her sister didn't want to be seen in public with her if she had fannish things on! What a sad, sad person.
And then it was time for the final panel, the future of science fiction in America. Thank you, so much—more people who are flat-out tired of dystopia. Let's get out of this rut and see more space opera and readable space epics.
That's it then, everything over but the shouting...and that was done at the Wrap-Up Panel, where kudos were passed around, thanks were given, and all were appreciated. People were quite complimentary about the restaurant, especially the servers. I guess next year we will have to conserve our pennies and just grin and bear it (but Saturday breakfast from Chick-Fil-A worked out just fine). We never did check out the con suite, either.
As we were walking out toward the car, I saw Lee Martindale sitting outside having a smoke. She has to use a power chair, and I wondered if she might give us some tips on air travel. I didn't even know how they did it. Did they seat you in your chair? Does it go as baggage? (Yes, to the latter.) She was quite nice and said if we were ever seriously considering a trip to e-mail her and she would send a checklist to help us. So maybe we can fly some time in the future after all.
Well, we were exhausted by the time we got home. I took Tucker for a walk and then barely had the energy to open up a can of soup. Bed felt very good tonight!