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.

 Contact me at theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net

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» Friday, September 30, 2011
Cool, Cool  Water  Air
I realized this is the first time since 1987 that I wasn't required to work on September 30. I had somehow managed to finish that tangle of orders, although as in other years, I'm still not certain how I managed it. Every year the logjam just breaks up abruptly and although there's work to follow, it's not the struggle it was initially.

In the meantime my body took advantage of the opportunity. I slept until 9:30! Wow.

Ran some errands this morning: stopped at the bank to finally deposit a rebate check I got when I bought Paint Shop Pro X3, and, since I was at Publix anyway, gathered up some twofers: Uncle Ben's rice and some SnackWell 130 calorie packs to put away for vacation. Then I went to Sam's Club for gasoline (3.149!) and went inside, where I found just the three original Star Wars films on BluRay, rather than having to buy the entire set. This only has commentary on it; no extra features, but I decided I didn't care...we end up not watching the extras as often as not. Also picked up some lovely Thanksgiving cards at Dollar Tree—my gosh, they already have Christmas cards out!

Then came home, answered some e-mail, and dubbed off the rest of season 3 of Castle. They re-ran episode 57 out of order, so I am stuck with an episode with storm warnings on a crawl overlaying the video. Oh, well, it wasn't one of the arc episodes. In between commercials I was vacuuming again; I am appalled at the dirt coming out of this carpet, along with more dog hair...apparently the Kirby was picking up almost nothing, even after I changed the bag. Yuck.

We had Chinese buffet for supper, then came home. Yes, we were home before seven on a Friday night. With no Borders left and not wanting to go to Barnes & Noble every week, there's really nowhere else to go. I mean, where is there to go? Movies? ::snore:: Hobby Lobby? We were there last week. A bar? Don't drink. The mall? What, look at clothes and, even more disgusting, shoes? Forget it. Must pick up the slack engendered by end-of-fiscal-year exhaustion, get the house in order, and plan a nice fun game night!

Anyway, it has been splendid all day: a gorgeous, bright blue sky and no warmer than 74°F this afternoon. I threw all the windows open this morning and when we got home even opened one of the windows downstairs in the library and aired the room out. It got downright chilly around 11 p.m. On the news they mentioned snow flurries in the mountains in North Carolina. Yesssss!

So we watched Star Wars on BluRay; stunning picture and sound. They apparently now have worked it that Han and Greedo shoot at the same time. O-kay.

I did shut my computer down before the movie started. The last time we watched a new version of Star Wars, Windows died on my computer. I wasn't taking any chances. :-)

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» Thursday, September 29, 2011
The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window...'s still a bit dark, as the sun isn't over the trees yet, but the birds are already at the feeder. James and I filled the can last night and they are availing themselves of the fruits of our labor. :-)

I am thinking... nice it is to have my orders finished. Of course next week the FY2012 orders will start! But I won't have to rush to do them.

I am thankful for...
...finishing my orders. :-) The last few were rather tricky.

From the learning rooms...
...just finished a fascinating chapter in Stephen Puleo's A City So Grand, about Boston from 1850 to 1900, about how they filled in the Back Bay. Especially amazing is how they managed to put in all those pilings (all the buildings in the Back Bay are on pilings) with mid-19th century technology. All they had were steam shovels! Incredible.

From the kitchen...
...I lit a Yankee Candle first thing when I got up, so now as I sit here there's a nice scent wafting about the room: this is "maple pancakes."

I am wearing...
...a green men's T-shirt and my green "Mutts" pajama bottoms since both of my tank tops and shorts are in the hamper. I can change after the laundry is done; I'm already much too warm.

I am creating...
...birthday gifts! No other words so as not to spoil the surprise!

I am going... try to clean off the coffee table at lunch. It is really getting unmanageable! I have decided there is no earthly reason to keep old "PC Worlds" or "Shop Smarts." What I need to do is tear out or take note of any useful website and then get rid of the paper copy. I should reinstall my pen scanner on the laptop and scan all the pertinent things. Then I can take the magazines to work and leave them in the lunch room for others to enjoy.

I am reading...
...still working on The Wilderness Warrior (the text is quite dense!) and Stephen Puleo's A City So Grand about Boston from 1850 to 1900. This is a fine follow-on to the fictional The Technologists, which takes place in the same era, and which I finished last week.

I am hoping... start doing some decluttering again. As I may have mentioned before, we have a closet full of old software on floppy disk. We moved them into the house five years ago and haven't touched them since. I think it's time for them to go.

I am hearing...
...pretty quiet right now, just the sound of the computer humming. The A/C has shut off for the morning, Willow's asleep next to the archway to the hallway and Schuyler is sitting sleepily since I haven't turned on the television (and I won't—I'm listening to podcasts today).

Around the house...'s still a bit dark. The candle is making the second floor smell lovely.

One of my favorite things... new vacuum cleaner! I know that's mundane, but this little Dyson is so easy to maneuver, and it picks up nicely as well.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
We may go to Ragamuffin on Saturday, as they are having a "Keltic Kudzu" concert.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing...

This is my tile cow-themed seasonal signboard. It says it all so succintly!

If you'd like to participate, check out The Simple Woman's Daybook



» Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Well, That Diagnoses It!
This is my problem in the morning:



» Sunday, September 25, 2011
One Bizippy, Two Bizippy

That's for sleeping in.

James made something different for breakfast this morning. Friday night he picked up a box of pumpkin spice quickbread mix at Costco. The box said it could be used to make pancakes, and that's what he did. And they were okay.

They say your taste buds deteriorate as you get older. In which case, they are definitely making these mixes too sweet! Even James noticed how sweet the mix was as a pancake. I didn't even try to use syrup; instead, I did scrapings from the orange honey artisan butter we bought yesterday at the Farmer's Market. This worked well together, as the butter has a nice orange taste, with bits of orange zest in it. But tastewise I prefer the buckwheat pancakes.

This afternoon we went to the fall Home Show and spent a couple of hours wandering about the exhibits. Not as many jacuzzi dealers these days; lots of kitchen remodeling and porch remodels. One cookware dealer and one grill dealer doing food stuff and that was about it. Both the satellite television providers were there, plus odd things like Costco.

We did look at memory foam mattresses. One dealer had a mattress that was soy-based instead of petroleum-based, which I did like. We laid down on the most expensive one and we could almost hear our backs sigh in relief. Wow! the show price was $2,600; ordinarily they are more. But we really need something that baffles movement, as we are both such restless sleepers, and it is much lighter than our present mattress. So it's something to think about.

We also bought an interesting little cooking tool: its a little ceramic dish that has a built-in grating surface. This way if you grate something that is moist, like ginger or garlic, you can retain the juice. I like that idea as I would like to use fresh garlic once in a while.

And then...

...I bought a new vacuum cleaner.

I feel intensely guilty about this. When we moved in the last house, Mom put the down payment on a Kirby for us, and I paid the rest. Together we invested $1,000 in the darn thing. It vacuums well, but I have always hated the wretched beast: it weighs a ton, is bulky and ugly, and is hard to maneuver. Something like three stores in town sell Kirby bags, they're open about three hours a day on Saturday, and three bags cost $$. I was prepared to order them online just to save money.

But we stopped at the Dyson booth and they were demo-ing two units, one smaller than the other. The larger one was a tiny bit easier to use, and with the smaller one I will have to empty the bin more often and it has the shorter cord. But it was so damn light and could get into smaller places. I can probably even use it on the stairs. The attachment nozzles are a dream to use. So I did get the smaller one, with the special animal hair head.

Plus if it doesn't pick up the birdseed I can take it back. :-)

It's not quite as loud, too, so hopefully that will keep Willow's barking at "the bizippy thing" down to a minimum.

Stopped at Publix on the way home for a few things, then came home to get cool and watch Clark Howard's show on Headline News.

(Later: lasagna and a cucumber salad for supper, watching HGTV, and tried out the Dyson. Willow still barks. Oh, well. Okay, I vacuumed Friday. Right now I vacuumed behind the computer, around the table in the dining room, in front of the television, and used the attachment to suck up some birdseed. The dirt container was already half full, and most of it was Willow's soft white undercoat. I can see I'll be emptying the little container a lot. But the head of the vacuum cleaner gets some under the chairs. And the sofa. And next to the television. Wow.)

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» Saturday, September 24, 2011
There's Good Shopping and There's Boring Shopping

Or some noise like that: it's what I usually say when the alarm clock rings early on the weekend. But we did get up and go to the Farmer's Market. Got lasagna for dinner tomorrow night. Yum! From there we went to Kroger for milk and the other necessities of life.

Done before eleven!

After we put the groceries away we headed out to Acworth to visit the Books-a-Million. It's a bit of a drive, so haven't been there for a while. Found a couple of books in the bargain bin, including Mockingbird, the story of Harper Lee. (I started it while at the hobby shop—very enjoyable!), two new cross-stitch magazines, and the new "Country Sampler." We also checked out Petco, where they were having dog adoptions. There was a very cute small dog there, part chihuahua and part terrier, looked like a fox in miniature without the white. His name was Wolfie. What a cutie. But we could never adopt any dog without Willow's approval.

Then we had a nice lunch at Longhorn: six-ounce Renegades with a side (I had a sweet potato and James some quite good macaroni and cheese). From there we made a stop at JoAnn, since there were more coupons in the Sunday paper that expired today. I stocked up on more tape, and also a nice storage box for my jewelry-making supplies.

Then we stopped for a bit at the hobby shop and finally came home for a nice relaxing evening. Had goat cheese on crackers for supper. Gave the dog a bath and refilled the bird feeders (the sparrows were glaring at me through the window—"This restaurant has the worst service!"). Later on watched last week's Doctor Who ("The God Complex") and then The Thin Man running on our local PBS station. Contains one of my favorite lines of all time: "Waiter, will you please serve the nuts?" [pause looking at the crazy conglomeration of suspects around the room] "I mean, please serve the guests the nuts!"

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» Friday, September 23, 2011
Now Who Would Need That?
Doctor #4! Your new scarf is ready!

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» Thursday, September 22, 2011
The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window...
...nothing, I'm afraid. It's pitch dark. I can't even see the lighted window of the mobile home in the trailer park behind us.

I am thinking...
...of all the grand plans I had for today! I wasn't going to hit the snooze alarm, I was going to get up, run the vacuum quickly, do this, and then start work. But I was up at 3 a.m. feeling sick; I did not get back to bed until 4:30 and then could not fall asleep because I was so cold, even thought I had my slippers on and a throw over me in the bathroom. I had to take sick leave this morning so I could get more than three hours sleep; I had such a headache when I got up!

I am thankful for...
...a modification I needed to do came through quickly, and with no fuss.

From the learning rooms...
...I guess I'll learn something tomorrow, as I got an unexpected e-mail message this morning that rather depressed me. I haven't had this happen before and will need some advice on what to do about it.

From the kitchen...
...James grilled chicken marinated in a tomato sauce on the grill, and we had mushroom rice on the side, and half a square of fudge for dessert.

I am wearing... tank top and aqua shorts, and pale blue scuffs. Can't wait till it gets cold and I can be cozy in my sweats.

I am creating...
...a few more birthday gifts. The first was given to Aubrey Spivey at her party last Saturday (her birthday, her 18th, was actually today).

I am going... bed in a few minutes. I'm still pretty tired. I do wish I'd been able to work on this this morning.

I am reading...
...Lessons from the Mountain by Mary McDonough and Mr. Monk on the Road by Lee Goldberg, plus Vintage Notions as a bedtime book. It's so quiet and soothing.

I am hoping...
...for cooler weather! We've had the A/C off, then had to turn it back on, then turned it off again, then had to turn it on again. The deciding factor is less the temperature in the daytime than the temperature at night, as neither of us can sleep when it's too warm. All the doctors' advice talks about cool temps being essential for good sleep.

I am hearing...
...the news. As always, depressing.

Around the house...
...Schuyler just had her cage cleaned and is looking grumpy. Willow is lying next to James, who is reading a few final things on his computer. The coffee table looks like a paper factory threw up on it! There are magazines, at least two books, my "commonplace book," coupons, and more...

One of my favorite things...
...had a shocker ending tonight: Law & Order: UK. Is Jamie Bamber leaving the series?

A few plans for the rest of the week:
When I cut out the coupons, I discovered a whole bunch more JoAnn coupons. Hmmn. Time for more tape? I do need some small beads for another birthday project.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing...

A favorite book at this time of year:

Don't you just love Susan Branch's lovely drawings?

If you'd like to participate, check out The Simple Woman's Daybook



» Sunday, September 18, 2011
A "Slower" Pace
Well, we were supposed to be relaxing this weekend, after all the hue and cry of the previous weekends, especially DragonCon. I don't think I'd ever caught up on sleep.

But bodies crave sleep and ours took the opportunity: I forgot to set my alarm Saturday morning and we didn't wake until 9:30. It was cool enough to go to the Farmer's Market late, but there was something going on downtown and I knew there wouldn't be any parking, so we blew it off. Today was even worse: we didn't wake until 10:30, but we were up fairly late, too.

Yesterday we went to the hobby shop to find everyone at a show, went to the Avenue at East Cobb to discover Borders had closed yesterday (but then I knew the last time we went there it was our final trip), picked up some groceries at Trader Joe's, stopped at Hallmark for a card. The big event of the day was Aubrey Spivey's 18th birthday party at Red Lobster. We had a great time and also afterwards at the house for cake.

Plus both Mike and Jen turned up for a little while on chat: they got married Saturday afternoon at Mike's church in Oklahoma, then today were heading up to Minnesota for their honeymoon: hiking and fishing in the woods! Now that's my idea of a cool honeymoon—being burnt to a crisp on some beach is just not a fun thought to me.

Today I was feeling a bit blue and we pretty much hung about until after noon when we dragged out to do the shopping. We went to Walmart for wild bird seed and bought a couple of other things, including a fall-themed king-sized bed cover (it says it's a "quilt," but only loosely) for only $20. The leaves on it have swirls on them; it will definitely brighten up the bedroom! Was able to pick up some nice beef for supper (James made an absolutely delicious meal of it, with onions and mushrooms, adding garlic powder, some soy and black sauce—yum!) at Kroger along with the regular purchases. Once we had all that put away, we went to the "Coupon Commotion" at JoAnn, where I got a few small seasonal items, but mostly bought tape strips for the Scotch tape hand dispenser, in prep for Christmas wrapping. It was so convenient using the dispenser last year.

I discovered tonight that I had somehow messed up the template of my holiday blog, so had to spend two hours fixing it. So much for a quiet Sunday night reading. Ah, well, I'd planned to re-do it at some point anyway and hadn't gotten to it; this forced the issue. The background image is too powerful and doesn't represent the full intent of the blog, but it's as close as I could get to it for now.

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» Friday, September 16, 2011
Carry on Life
Still coping with the last few orders at work, the more complicated ones and some later ones as well. However, on Thursday afternoon I actually had time at lunch to go out, unlike the last few weeks when I just pounded my keyboard during mouthfuls of lunch. But I had a prescription to pick up, and I took a minute to stop at Hobby Lobby to pick up a cool book I had seen last week: Vintage Notions: An Inspirational Guide to Needlework, Cooking, Sewing, Fashion and Fun.

So why do I want a book that concerns cooking, sewing and fashion when I have no interest in any of them? Because it contains articles and illustrations from the 1920s, and for the same reason I bought Jane Brocket's Gentle Art of Domesticity, full of similar associations—the sort of thing you read on a chill day cuddled in a throw.

I also stopped at Dollar Tree to pick up some autumn leaf doilies I'd read about on my Christmas mailing list and found two likely books for $1 each, one about a mother who attempts to wean her son away from television and another about writing.

Back at home within the hour and back to work.

Today I had a nice lie-in until eight o'clock and then after breakfast I had to get cracking on a project. I'd procrastinated on it and now really needed to finish it. It involved a craft I learned long ago from my mom and hadn't done in a very long time (and I wasn't anywhere near as good at it as she was). So I took it slow and though the result didn't come out perfectly, the finished project came out quite well.

In the meantime I was finishing another project, something I had worked up as a gift for Mike and Jen. When it was completed, I packed it up in a box, but realized I didn't have the wedding card to go with it. So I zipped out and found an absolutely perfect one in the first card I saw; it said everything a card should. I put it into the box, sealed it up, and took it to the post office, and it's off. It won't get there tomorrow, sadly, but it will be there when they return from their honeymoon.

I was headed for Michael's by way of Barnes & Noble, then realized that I wanted to go to the Town Center B&N, which has the best selection of cross-stitch magazines. None of the other bookstores has more than two or three at the time. So I headed north instead of south.

Well, I've done it. I feel like a traitor, but with Borders closing there was nothing else to do. I got a Barnes & Noble discount card. Also found a nice crop of magazines: the September British "Country Living," the fall issue of "Victorian Homes," "Christmas Ideas" from "Better Homes & Gardens," and the fall issue of "Vermont Life," which, autumn-leaf wise, is a bummer: only about three photos...and a totally out-of-place eight-page "summer" article about baseball. If this is their "new format," I don't like it at all.

I also picked up the new paperback versions of Susan Wittig Albert's The Tale of Oat Cake Crag and Rhys Bowen's Royal Blood.

(Ironically, I didn't find any cross-stitch magazines. <g> Or rather ones I did see had only one pattern each in them I liked, and I won't buy a cross-stitch magazine for one pattern, especially since most of them are British and are $9-$11 each! Althought I did love the one that came with the Christmas robin/mouse card kit...)

By now it was after noon and my hunger was on edge; it was hours since my oatmeal, yogurt, and milk. So I stopped by Publix to look at the twofers and grab a loaf of French bread. A thin list today; just got Triscuit and our favorite trail mix. Also found some luscious-looking lamb steaks and a bag of grapes.

On the way home I detoured through Kennesaw National Battlefield Park. The Kiwanis had put up flags in the big field outside the park building to represent each person killed on September 11; the display was supposed to be up through today, but when I arrived they were almost done taking down the flags. :-(

So I drove home through downtown Marietta and discovered my favorite of the antique shops, Willow Too Antiques, the one that always had the best prims at Christmastime, has closed. Aw.

Incidentally, it was a wonderful day to be doing errands! It was overcast all day, but not oppressively so, delightfully cool (it never got over 70°F), and with a marvelous breeze that kept the flags snapping out and the car cool. For one bad moment it looked as if the sun was going to come out, but the clouds overcame it. Happily, autumn appears on the way. The dogwood trees are already starting to turn color, as well as the smaller maple trees.

James got home early and we ended up eating supper at Ken's before five o'clock (which suited me fine because I never did eat lunch except for a cup of soup) and then realizing there was nowhere we wanted to go. We've always been used to going to Borders on Friday night!

Eventually went by Michaels to get something to finish off the project I had worked on this morning and picked up some birdseed for Schuyler next door at Petsmart. Then we had dessert at Baskin-Robbins before coming home and ending up watching some of the famous British "Carry On" films, including the very first, Carry on Sergeant, which features William Hartnell, later cast as the first Doctor, as the crusty sergeant. I've heard about these films for years and always thought they were more slapstick and kind of silly, more like the Three Stooges or Jerry Lewis. Sergeant was actually quite low-key, with amusing chuckles and a rather touching ending.

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Talk About Time Capsules!
How cool is this?

Victorian Kitchen That Has Remained Untouched for 60 Years

Tip o' the hat to Rob Levy!



» Thursday, September 15, 2011
I'm With Linus on This One

This was the classic strip they posted yesterday. I always feel a deep kinship with Linus, but especially on this matter. I always loved drawing maps and always wondered what it would be like to be a cartographer.



» Tuesday, September 13, 2011
To Quote Louis in The Last Starfighter...

Microsoft Unveils a Radically Redesigned Windows 8

I've complained that Windows 7 makes me feel like I'm about four years old with the BIG COLORED ICONS.

Apparently Windows 8 assumes you're about two.

Is this an operating system or Sesame Street? Geez, Microslop, get a clue.



» Sunday, September 11, 2011
A Weekend
Getting older is a pain.

And I mean that literally. The arthritis in my right shoulder has flared up, and this is a damn inconvenient time for it to happen, just as we're sprinting to the home stretch on purchase orders. I typed for eight solid hours on Friday, and by the time I got home I was in a great deal of discomfort. The only way to fight it is to sit and do nothing, as if I have time for that.

So I was rather feeling out of it when we went to Giovanni's for supper, then stopped at Hobby Lobby. Finally we went home to sit and watch the season (series) finale of Torchwood: Miracle Day. On a whole I was disappointed. I never felt as if it was really Torchwood, and the new characters pushed the old in the background much of the time. Masses of padding and several plotlines that went nowhere. Still, I stuck with the story, so I suppose it was successful. And Rhys ended up okay, so I was satisfied. :-)

The pain had subsided slightly by next morning, when we headed for the Farmer's Market and then to Hair Day, but I was still uncomfortable and very glad to send James off to his monthly IPMS meeting for a few hours while I read Thunder Dog, the story of Michael Hingson and his guide dog Roselle, who survived the terrorist attack at the World Trade Center. Later we went to Sam's Club for omeprazole, and, because we were going to the Yellow Daisy Festival tomorrow, finished up the shopping at Kroger, where we discovered a rotisserie pork roast for supper.

As soon as it got dark, I went out on the porch and put up the flag, then had a nice chat with Rodney, Jen, Emma, and Mike.

Not using a computer constantly for eight hours did my shoulder some good, so we made it to the Yellow Daisy Festival today. It was cool enough when we started out but it was still pretty warm when we finally finished our circuits of the booths. We bought a few things, and I got a CD of Christmas music, and a gift.

We were looking for lunch on the way home and stopped at the Ryan's at Northeast Plaza on Buford Highway. This used to be Old Country Buffet and they had a yummy menu, including the best roast chicken, flavorful and juicy. Several years ago, Ryan's, the steakhouse chain, bought out Old Country. We used to eat at Ryan's, where they either cooked you a steak to order or you ate off the buffet (or both), but they closed near us. The food remained okay for a while, although the first thing they did was get rid of the wonderful brownies on the dessert bar.

Well, I was sorry I suggested it. They had roast chicken, but it was an artificial orange color to signify it was barbecue and tasted insipid. The popcorn shrimp wasn't only bad, it was cheap, mealy and nasty. The steak was rubbery, and had fennel flavoring. The chocolate cake was both dense and stale.

Plus the ladies room was nasty, and the place reeked of cleaning fluid (even in the dining room).

We were happy to be home to rest and watch some 9/11 commemorative programs and news on CNN.

Later we watched the last disk of Season 2 of The Sarah Jane Adventures and a couple of Christopher Eccleston Doctor Who episodes.

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Verbatim: September 11, 2001
(Anything changed or expanded on is in brackets.)
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, …”
Amazing how that poem still applies...

I had talked to James. I was coding Richard’s mod[ification]s, having looked up a purchase order.

Susan [Kiddoo] came by asking if I had a small TV. I told her no, that Tamera [Murphy] did, and Susan said Tamera wasn’t in. I asked her why she needed one (I thought she had one), and she said her batteries were dead and they were reporting on the radio that a plane had hit one of the buildings on the World Trade Center.

I zipped over to CNN’s site and there was a photo of smoke coming out of the building and flames to be seen. They didn’t know what was going on. It looked to be a commercial airliner. Maybe the pilot had a heart attack or something dreadful?

Susan came back by with batteries for her own television.

I called James, who said he was watching it.

Then Susan came back by. She said as they were watching, another plane came out of nowhere and struck the second tower.

My blood ran cold. One plane is an accident. Two planes is not.

I kept trying to find web stories, but the web slowed and slowed, evidently as the news spread. Then I screwed up. I rebooted, hoping to get my connection speed up. I never got back on.

Susan Varga-Sinka came by and said that “a bomb” had gone off in the Pentagon.

I called James but he had already left [for work].

I turned on the radio and found the WGST feed.

“The bomb” in the Pentagon turned out to be another jet, crashing into the building. Later a fourth jet was reported crashed near Pittsburgh.

President Bush was in Florida, speaking at a school. Within ten minutes he was on Air Force One, heading for God knows where.

It all got jumbled after that. By then I was scared. I called James at work and scared the hell out of him asking him how much ammunition we had [in the house]. [By this time I was thinking Red Dawn.]

I wandered around the halls. Lorenzo [Falgiano] had a television. They showed one tower smoking, and the film of the second plane going through the building. The second tower collapsed, then the first. I couldn’t watch anymore. I could only think of Pearl Harbor.

The reports came in. These weren’t private planes. They were commercial jets, two of them from Boston, that had been hijacked. The other two planes had left from Dulles, also hijacked.

Those bastards not only killed innocent people, but they used innocent people to do so. I kept thinking of those people on the planes…

Betty [Bouler, my supervisor] and Debby [Fallick] came around and said people could leave or not as they wanted. The building was being locked down and if you left you couldn’t come back in. I couldn’t do anything, so I left.

Now I know how Mother felt in 1941.

I walked in the door and Bandit said, “Where’s Daddy?”

“Where’s Daddy?” indeed.

Thank God for the internet. I got online. Biz had already sent out a message [on the Remember WENN mailing list] asking about NYC WENNers. Also had messages from Pat Brimer [in Boston]...

( said CDC was “closed down.” I called Betty. They were just leaving.)

Logged on every half hour to see messages while watching the appalling replays of the attacks. What must all those poor people on the planes have gone through? (All four planes were headed to California, with the maximum amount of fuel. Not just four planes picked off a field. Four specific planes, planned for.) The building collapsing, dusty people emerging from the wreckage, hurt people, dead people, emergency people doing their best. I talked to Mother. [She had not yet turned the television on that morning and didn't know what was going on.] James came home for lunch and we watched. I can’t believe this is happening. I want to wake up. I want to wake up.

Kerri [Berney] reported in. Two miles from the site, she was still inundated with ash. Alan [Sherman] was out of town (in DC, ironically).

Cruised channels. Lingered awhile on Angel One where they were saying the rosary. Put WSBK [Boston] on—they were carrying the feed from WBZ [Boston], which was talking to the brother of one of the Boston-based pilots. Listened to Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, the local Atlanta news. Right after a woman reported watching the planes from another World Trade Center building, that building collapsed from damage.

[Sometime during the afternoon or evening several of the cable channels went off the air. HGTV had a sign up that they had stopped broadcasting out of respect for what had happened.]

Hilary Clinton and the other Senator, Schuman, spoke. The president will be on later.

At 5:30 I took the flag outside and, using string, set it up at half staff. I wanted to do something.

We had a WENN chat tonight, just because we needed each other. Everyone seems to be accounted for.

Wish it was the same for everyone else.
Funny thing about that flag. James had just mounted a holder for those big seasonal flags you put out on your porch. I wanted an American flag for Independence Day, Flag Day, etc. Michael's had a beautiful flag, with sewn seams and embroidered stars rather than one that was all printed, but it was rather expensive. On Labor Day, though, they had a 50 percent off coupon and I was able to get the flag.

It was Labor Day 2001, so that the first time I ever put that flag up, it was September 11. It's outside now, using the same string to hang it at half staff.

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» Thursday, September 08, 2011
Dragoncon Redux, Part 2
Day 2 and Day 3 rewritten: impossible missions, time travel times two, music vs. noise, meeting a legend, and many, many lines...



» Wednesday, September 07, 2011
Dragoncon Redux, Part 1
Experience rewritten. Sylvester plays the spoons, James plays an astronaut, Grimpen Meyer plays to win, and more.



» Tuesday, September 06, 2011
Atlanta Business Chronicle...
...chronicles Dragoncon in photos: Dragon*Con: Jedis, Trekkers and Steampunks... oh my!

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Well, The Rocketeer will be out on Blu-Ray two days after my birthday.

Warner "on demand" is releasing the series Search sometime within the next year (alas, not in time for my birthday).

Oh, and real coolness: I don't think it went over 65°F today. I saw more like 62-63. And it was cloudy. With a breeze. It was lovely. Serendipitously, James thought he took pork chops out of the freezer for supper tonight. They turned out to be lamb shanks, just right for the weather.

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» Monday, September 05, 2011
Dragoncon 2011, Day 4
The last day of a convention is always bittersweet. For a final time we drove downtown, parked in the garage, and had breakfast at Cafe Momo. If I worked downtown, I would definitely keep this place in mind.

We separated at Peachtree Center: James went off to a panel about rockets; I went to get memberships for next year at the Sheraton, getting the big walk out of the way first. Some folks were still coming in for the day, but most people there (not more than twenty) were signing up for next year. I was in and out in less than fifteen minutes.

I wandered upstairs and discovered that Wil Wheaton's panel was in progress and slipped into the room; this was the ballroom in which Sylvester McCoy had appeared, and it was only half full. I remained for the entire panel and had a great time laughing. The highlight was Wil reading his story "William F***ing Shatner," about the day he, age 14, met Shatner for the first time and was rebuffed. Two guys, Pete and Storm, sang appropriate little songs in accompaniment to this tale: for example, as Wil approaches William, nervously trying to decide what to say, Pete and Storm start singing "Wind Beneath My Wings." Then there were questions from the audience, including the woman who asked him to sign her boobs. (He did, too: Garrett Wang has the photos!) Several questions later there was also a guy who asked him to sign his boobs. (Yes, Garrett Wang has photos of that, too...LOL.)

He did say something nice: One person asked if he had enjoyed himself at DragonCon and how did it compare to Comic Con, and he said yes, and that he preferred it to Comic Con because they have gone totally commercial, that it's all about marketing now, and DragonCon has a different feeling, more about people.

All righty, then... :-)

Then, after four days, finally hit the official dealer's room. After all these years, it's no longer unique: almost all the same dealers as last year...and the year before, and the year before that. The guy who used to sell Pocket Dragons no longer does. Just not interested in anything offered any more, or, sometimes, what I saw was just too expensive.

Next I went upstairs to one of the two "exhibitors' halls" (::cough:: dealers room by any other name) and bumped into James, considering a purchase in a corner. He seriously wants a Utilikilt, but they had already sold everything he liked in his size, either a beautiful brown kilt or a natty grey one. We walked through that room together—he found a couple of cool books from the bookseller in the center of the room including a neat volume about "selling the space age" (vintage aerospace advertisements from magazines of the late 1950s-early 1960s)—and I bought a Christmas-themed book (Santa Claus: Last of the Wild Men) at McFarland. Also bumped into James Corley from the hobby shop and ogled a tricked-out Enterprise model: it had a fully detailed shuttlecraft deck, little figures in the observation deck, and other spiffy details.

Finally I peeled off from the exhibitors and headed upstairs for what I thought was one of the more unusual panels of the convention. Anthony Taylor was chairing a panel on the 1972 television series Search. They had already begun when I walked into the room ten minutes before the panel started, showing clips from a film called The Chairman, in which the hero has miniaturized spy gadgets similar to Search.

If you weren't around in 1972, Search was an action-adventure series with three revolving stars: Hugh O'Brian as the suave and daring Hugh Lockwood, Tony Franciosa as bull-headed, adversarial Nick Bianco, and Doug McClure as wisecracking C.R. Grover. The gimmick in the show was that the agents wore a miniaturized scanner which had a television camera in it which beamed a picture of what the agent was seeing back to the operatives at "Probe Control" (the series was originally called Probe until a local series with that name protested). The operatives could also hear what was going on through the scanner and give advice to the agent via an audio implant the agent had behind one ear (translate different languages, identify something, etc). The operatives were directed by Burgess Meredith, in a very memorable—well, for Search viewers, anyway—role as V.C. Cameron ("Cam").

I loved this series and had been looking forward to the panel. There were only about ten attendees, but we discussed everything Search, including commentary on the hideous new "white control room" (apparently the result of a conflict between Warners and Leslie Stevens, the creator of the series; the original control room, which was designed to resemble those used by air traffic controllers, was wayyyyy cooler), discussion of some Search memorabilia including two paperback novelizations and a set of Viewmaster reels*, and saw some clips from the pilot film, which is available from Warner Archives. Anthony has a replica scanner he purchased on e-Bay, which is pretty cool.

The best news: Warner Archives will be releasing the entire series some time in the next year! Yippee!

At last it was time to head back to the Sheraton for the penultimate panel: "Everything Doctor Who." Here it was, 2:30 on Labor Day afternoon, and the room was crammed full, ever chair filled, people lining the back wall (like me), people kneeling in the aisle, people sitting up front on the floor...arrrgh! BritTrack needs a larger panel room!

This is always a highly attended panel anyway, as it's the last chance to talk strictly Who. Plus if the panel has any spoilers, they are usually spilled herein. However, Rob Bowen held them until the final five minutes of the panel. In the meantime we fanned ourselves and laughed and asked questions and had them answered, and it was fun despite the aching feet.

Poor James had to wait outside during much of the proceedings and finally got to come inside during our last traditional panel, BritTrack's "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish," the wrapup panel. Basically we just chill down and talk about what we enjoyed this year, and what people would like to see next year, and everyone decompresses and finally we all wander off home.

(This year "decompression" was especially exciting as the weather had gone spare, it was ominously cloudy outside, and there was news that the airport was shut down due to a tornado warning.)

Did take a peek in the TARDIS in the back of the room, constructed of cardboard and tape and paint—apparently before I arrived Sylvester McCoy had wandered in and drew a little "Kilroy"-type graphic inside: it said "Sylvester Wuz Here," complete with question mark.

Then it was off to supper at Longhorn, a stop for milk and bananas at Publix, and home again.

I hate leaving a convention. It's like being thrown out of Narnia...

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Photos from Dragoncon 2011
You can tell the difference in the lighting in the rooms!

Gareth David Lloyd

Gareth David Lloyd


James Marsters

James Marsters


Howard Hesseman

Howard Hesseman


Loni Anderson

Loni Anderson


Tom Felton

Tom Felton


Ernest Borgnine

Ernest Borgnine


Sylvester McCoy

Sylvester McCoy


James Darren

James Darren


Martin Landau

Martin Landau


Christopher Lloyd

Christopher Lloyd


Wil Wheaton

Wil Wheaton



» Sunday, September 04, 2011
Dragoncon 2011, Day 3
First things first! Happy birthday, James!

We began the day with another breakfast at Cafe Momo, and then it was on to the panels. The difference in the crowds from yesterday (the big day at the convention anyway) was startling. I had no trouble getting a good seat near the front at James Darren's panel, which was held in the same room that Ernest Borgnine had been in.

I have to admit, I did not watch The Time Tunnel (it was actually on after my bedtime) and only saw the film Gidget (one of his other iconic roles) until a few years ago. Nevertheless, I loved his panel, especially hearing stories about the musical talent he worked with, from standards singers to rock'n'roll pioneers. Once he was in Las Vegas when Ella Fitzgerald was about to perform. He found her in her dressing room afraid to go on stage because she didn't know if they would like her! He said even Frank Sinatra got a case of nerves before he went on.

Apparently he had a semi-recurring role on Deep Space 9 after we stopped watching it, as a lounge singer on the holodeck. The shoes he wore in that part were made for Dean Martin, but Martin didn't like them.

Anyway, Time Tunnel. He actually had planned to turn down the role, but Irwin Allen personally asked him to take it. I asked him what historical events he would have liked to have seen if the series had gone for a second season and he mentioned the crossing of the Delaware, Jesse James, and the Crucifixion, if the latter was written well.

Oh, his part in Gidget, the infamous "Moondoggie"? It was originally written for Elvis Presley.

But his fame sometimes escapes him. He performed at the DragonCon banquet last night and a kid asked him if he was dressed up like Christopher Walken. LOL.

So I emerged from the International North ballroom to...immediately get in line for the International North Ballroom. As I said, you could tell it was Sunday, as here it was 1/2 hour until Martin Landau's panel and only about 40 people were in line. (The room was pretty much filled, however, by the time the panel was five minutes in.)

One of the first questions to Martin Landau, who sports a beard and hair that touches his shirt collar, and who looks a lot like an erudite college professor, was if the cast of the television Mission: Impossible were asked to be in the film. Yes. They were going to kill them all off. He said Peter Graves was horribly disturbed that they made his old character of Jim Phelps evil in the film. He always tried to protect the character. The series itself had "a very friendly set," and he enjoyed playing Rollin Hand, especially Rollin playing someone else. He always tried to make the performance not quite perfect, since he didn't think anyone could play another person exactly perfect.

Space: 1999. Well, he liked the first season better. :-) The second? Two words: Fred Freiberger ... "dot dot dot" LOL.

Let's see: North by Northwest. Well, he went to see Alfred Hitchcock for what he thought was an audition, and Hitchcock had already cast him. He decided that he would play the character very subtly as gay, and afterwards people would ask James Mason, who played his superior, if he was bisexual. He would reply dryly that no, he wasn't, "but Landau played it that way, so my hands were tied." I can see I'm going to have to watch North by Northwest again, as he played it so subtly I did not notice it.

And then questions about Ed Wood. He thought the idea of doing a film about Bela Lugosi odd until he watched some of Lugosi's films. They began making the film in color, and then both Landau and Tim Burton realized at the same time that it needed to be in black and white to "look right."

Next, I managed to make it into the Christopher Lloyd panel by the skin of my teeth. Centennial I was now standing room only, and outside the room wasn't making it any better. Two lines were being formed, one for Lloyd and one for William Shatner in Centennial II-III, and the staff was trying to direct them. Unfortunately, a very LOUD rock band was playing in the foyer area and the lines could not hear the instructions the staff was giving them. Very, very bad planning. If they must have music in that area, it needs to be quieter.

Christopher Lloyd has done many things, and understandably his panel hopscotched from Dennis the Menace to Clue to Who Framed Roger Rabbit to, of course, Taxi, Back to the Future, and Star Trek, not to mention Buckaroo Banzai. In fact, he said the latter featured the worst makeup he ever had. He felt he could not express himself with his face because it was so stiff.

As earlier in James Darren's panel, he was asked where he would go if the DeLorean worked: he chose the Battle of Hastings, the Age of Pericles, and Neanderthal times.

Other tidbits:
• Many years after Dennis the Menace, a young man approached him at a restaurant. It was "Dennis," now in medical school.
• One of his favorite roles was doing Death of a Salesman in Vermont.
• Two of his favorite roles: Dr. Doom and Captain Kruge. He was impressed that Roger Rabbit was all animated by hand.
• His classic "yellow light" speal in Taxi was improvised right before filming.
• His favorite "exotic" makeup was Captain Kruge.
• He once rode the Back to the Future ride with his ex and they were making out on the ride. He didn't realize they filmed all the cars for security reasons. He was embarrassed to discover that the security people got quite a chuckle about what was going on between "Doc Brown" and his ladyfriend.
• The famous "clock scene" at the end of Back to the Future was very intense because he was actually up that high. Later they filmed some scenes in a lower set, but those looks of terror on his face were real.

Once again the Centennial level was so crowded that I just went out the doors and down the damn stairs again. It was warm and smothery out, but I still walked down the hill to avoid having to go through the Marriott. I was headed for the Sheraton and an "Everything Doctor Who" panel. This was held in the larger room that they had, which is really where the BritTrack needs to be meeting, or at least something a bit larger than that tiny "Macon" room. Indeed it was conversation about everything, including a restored "Day of the Daleks" with new special effects, pros and cons about standard and Blu-Ray, and the fact that Steven Moffat has four unfilmed Robert Holmes Doctor Who scripts in his possession. Ooooooooooh!

The Macon room showed off its shortcomings immediately as I bolted upstairs for the Ken Spivey Band's "Time Lord Fest": Ken's and Donald's repertoire of Doctor Who themed songs along with prizes and a small costume contest. It was a barrel of fun, especially as most of the crowd had not been at Timegate and had not heard the songs, but it was hideously crowded and there were rude people up front who kept talking while Ken and his dad were performing. Are you listening, DragonCon? BritTrack needs a larger room! Trek Trak has one!

James had turned up, perspiring and miserable, for Time Lord Fest, then we made our way back to the bowels of the Hyatt where we went to a fun Jonny Quest panel. The older ones of us remembered the original series, the younger ones The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest. Much badinage about Dr. Quest's pessimism, Race's tendency to kill everything, Hadji being comic relief—nonsense! Hadji was the typical 1960s "wisecracking sidekick." Bandit was comic relief. Oh, yeah, and debates on whether "Questworld" was exciting or boring. My vote: boring!

It was time for the second ARTC performance of the convention, so we headed upstairs to the now familiar Regency VI-VII. The Sunday show is usually a more dramatic presentation, but this started off with a more whimsical presentation, "You've Got Mail Demons," about a scientist, his niece and nephew, and an e-mail spam killer that gets too effective for its own good. This was followed by the somber one-man "The Music of Erich Zann," an H.P. Lovecraft tale about a tormented musician, and finally "Sarabande for a Condemned Man," a tale about a man thirsting for vengeance, the thief who must bear the brunt of his rage, and a very charming clockwork songstress. A super show, with Kelley Ceccato's "Sarabande" a standout.

James went off to one final panel, and so did I: "Steampunk Themes in Doctor Who." The verdict: they've always been there, starting with William Hartnell's frock coat and the Edwardian coatrack in the TARDIS control room. As someone pointed out, "steampunk" is more than brass and goggles, it's an attitude. And there will be more in the future. We finally decided that the perfect story would be the Doctor teaming up with Nicola Tesla fighting an alien Thomas Edison. :-)

Then it was back to the truck and back home to prep for the final day and to sleep perchance to dream...

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» Saturday, September 03, 2011
Dragoncon 2011, Day 2
::grumble:: Eight hours of sleep. Just once. Someday. But not last night.

Traffic was much nicer this morning. :-) We had breakfast at "Cafe Momo," which has a breakfast bar. Lots of fruit, two slices of French toast, one of regular toast, two slices of bacon, oatmeal, and milk. Yes, the food choices at Peachtree Center have definitely improved.

As yesterday, James and I separated fairly quickly. I had a panel in mind for ten, but wanted to make the Tom Felton panel at 11:30. Alice said she really enjoyed him yesterday. So did a quick turnaround at the art show, bought a gift, and stopped at Andy Runton's ("Owly") table at Comics Alley, but he was at the DragonCon parade. His girlfriend was dressed as River Song and he wanted to see her march. But I met his mom! His mom made the original Owly hat that he sells.

Thankfully there was no line at Tom Felton panel room (this was not something that would continue during the day, so i was grateful for it), and I found a good seat with some congenial seatmates and read The Magicians until panel time. As you might suspect, he is nothing like Draco Malfoy, but instead is friendly and gregarious. He called all the ladies who asked him a question—and indeed the room appeared to be full of gushing young ladies!—"lovely," which was no end flattering! Some facts about Tom Felton:

• He loves all outdoor sports, especially fishing.
• He did not know that one of the cheetah cubs at the National Zoo had been named "Draco."
• He only has one prop from all the Potter movies, Draco Malfoy's ring.
• His favorite books as a kid were the Goosebumps series, and those by Beatrix Potter and later Roald Dahl.
• He's devoted and thankful to his mom, who accompanied him to auditions and rehearsals.
• The strangest question ever asked him: "Would you show me your wand? I'll show you my Golden Snitch!" From a fiftish Australian woman, of all things!

He was asked what the difference between a US and a UK convention was, and answered that, well, after five a UK convention is over. :-) He also says they are "less judgmental" here.

The funniest moment was when someone impersonating Narcissa Malfoy asked him rather imperiously "Why didn't things work out with that Parkinson girl?"

Excellent panel indeed. And before we left, there were little cards and things taped under assorted chairs. I had one and won a shirt from Felton's band. It won't fit me, but maybe Aubrey or Alice will want it.

(BTW, this particular panel room, Regency VI-VII, is actually looking spiffy this year. They always have curtained areas on either side of the stage to serve as a backstage area—ARTC performs here, for one—and usually the curtains are askew and rather sloppy-looking. This year everything is taut and neat.)

Next I'd thought of going to a panel about "The Hero's Journey of Neville Longbottom," but I thought I'd scope out the panel room where Ernest Borgnine would be. There were already two people in line, so I stayed—this panel I wasn't going to miss! I've watched Ernest Borgnine since I was a tiny child laughing over McHale's Navy. More congenial folk in line, and in the panel room. The lady next to me had flown to France to see the filming of the series Merlin and had a nifty camera with an 18X optical lens.

So here I was in the front row listening to one of my childhood favorites, Ernest Borgnine. I mean, freakin' Ernest Borgnine, Academy Award winner! And he was so nice. Age 94 and still sharp as a whip—just slightly hard of hearing. He answered all sorts of questions about Marty, McHale's Navy, Poseidon Adventure, Emperor of the North, Dirty Dozen, etc.

Some highlights:
• Shelley Winters (and what a face he made! Winters always did have a reputation for being "difficult") and Jack Albertson used to play gin between takes on The Poseidon Adventure
• He did not watch Rod Steiger's performance in Marty before he took the role, but wanted to make the part his own. There is one scene where they were trying to devise a scene of joy after Marty has his date. Borgnine finally said, "Can I work this out myself?" and improvised the scene.
• He and Jan-Michael Vincent used to fly in a helicopter for Airwolf until the insurance company found out about it and grounded them. They used to appear with the helicopter at airshows and it was cordoned off with police tape. They found out later that the Soviets has been worried about the helicopter and wanted to take a look at it!
• During the filming of The Wild Bunch the extras were played by the Mexican army. When filming first started, they were using live ammunition!
• What did he remember most about Flight of the Phoenix? It was HOT! LOL.
• He really did run around on the tops of moving railroad cars while filming Emperor of the North. And the director forbade him to look down: "Your character's been doing this job for years. He wouldn't look down." !!!!

He also talked about some of the "tough guys" he knew, like Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Glenn Ford. On the film he did with Ford, Glenn asked him, "Do you smoke?" "No," he told Ford, "I quit." "Good! You can save any cigars you get for me!" All of them, he said, were pussycats. He told one story about Lee Marvin making a racist remark during the filming of the Dirty Dozen while drinking. The director asked to see him. Ten minutes Marvin came back, stone cold sober, and didn't drink for the rest of the movie!

I had no idea he was a voice on SpongeBob SquarePants! He plays Mermaid Man, and his old co-star Tim Conway plays his sidekick, Barnacle Boy. So a question was asked if he enjoyed doing the voice work. He said his favorite part is going up to little kids and uttering Mermaid Man's trademark "Eeeeeevil!" Their eyes get wide and their mouths drop open and they are just so happy!

At the end of the panel, standing ovation time, to which he bowed. (Every time we clapped earlier, he would tell us to cut it out so there would be more time for questions. LOL.)

Zowee. Ernest, wow, wow.

Everyone else loved the panel, too—chatting with one lady on the way out and another guessed it, another line.

You see I figured I might get in at the tail end of the "Dr. Who Experience" panel with Gareth David Lloyd and Mark Sheppard. Got in the line. Huuuuuuge ballroom downstairs in the Sheraton that they used for registration on Thursday night was full to the proverbial gills, with a good hundred or more people still in line. So I tried to get into the tail end of the Next Generation panel. My God, it looked like Noah loading the ark. I just walked up to where the Sylvester McCoy people were queuing up and waited there, still reading The Magicians, but eventually talking with more interesting people, a lady who was a CPA (also in the Borgnine panel), a young lady who was an anime student, and a guy who was in IT.

Anyway, Sylvester McCoy...bounces off walls. I swear. Bounces on stage, plays the spoons, doesn't talk about his role in That Movie That Can't Be Talked About (The Hobbit), natters on about his friendships with Jon Pertwee and Colin Baker, and, of course, Doctor Who. And wears an extraordinary white-patterned black jacket to boot! The audience didn't come up to answer questions, he took the microphone and went out to the audience, hurrying up and down the aisle, matching his gait quip by quip. I wish to bottle the energy of that one 68-year-old man!

Interesting items from Sylvester:
• He was appearing at a Doctor Who convention when news came of Patrick Troughton's death, and he was the one who announced it on stage.
• Anthony Ainley adored being the Master. Sometimes he would even answer the phone in that persona.
• Filming the very last classic Doctor Who episode was an ordeal because of the heat. The "cheetah girls" kept passing out from the heat.
• He loves appearing in the Doctor's audio adventures because he feels you can get into the character's head.
• He quipped about his regeneration scene: "They put me into Colin Baker's costume and lost me for three days."
• Probably his favorite appearance aside from Doctor Who was The Last Place on Earth (which I remember watching on Masterpiece Theatre), the story of the doomed Scott expedition to the Antarctic. It was filmed at the North Pole.

I didn't see any point in standing in line to not get into the early showing of tonight's Doctor Who, so I headed back to the Hyatt where James was after going to the art show. He bought a couple of prints, and we sat off in a corner eating our sandwiches, then went to the Westin for a panel on Scotland.

Line for that, too! LOL. Diana Gabaldon was one of the panelists, so the room was SRO. James was rather disappointed, as he hoped it would be more serious. Instead, it was a bit like an episode of Ask the Manager, with the members of the panel trying to top each other with jokes. We did learn about haggis, and watched a man demonstrate donning a great kilt.

Had to walk back past all the nightlife in downtown Atlanta (Hard Rock Cafe, etc.) back to Peachtree Center and the garage...who let all these mundanes out without a badge? :-) There was a guy sitting there promoting Atlanta Pit Bull Rescue, with five pit bulls in sunglasses, and a blue macaw who kept begging for a scritch on the head.

Very achy on the way home from all that waiting in line. I bet there are more lines tomorrow, but I am determined to see Martin Landau.

I finished up typing the initial entry for this blog at 11 p.m., playing the Murray Gold Doctor Who theme for Schuyler, who adores it.

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» Friday, September 02, 2011
Dragoncon 2011, Day 1
Marvelously not exhausted because of not standing in line last night, we were up rather early: I forgot to shut off my alarm clock, and we got up with that instead of my phone alarm. Ah, well, gave us time to interact with the fids and refill the bird feeders.

We left a bit early to swing back a mile or two to take our friend Alice and her daughter Aubrey downtown with us. Alice's husband Ken was working today and this way they wouldn't have to drive two cars home.

Eeek! The garage was up to $20 this year, but it's so convenient, and it's not even as high as the parking rate at the host hotels—most of them are over $25.

So Alice and Aubrey hied off to registration and we had breakfast in the Peachtree Center Food Court. Years ago they were open on Friday and Saturday and then closed on Sunday and Monday. These days they've gotten hip and do a roaring business all weekend (except for Chik-Fil-A, which always closes on Sunday). We ate at Chik-Fil-A, as we sampled some of their oatmeal earlier this summer and it was quite good. They have an oatmeal and fruit cup deal that can't be beat (and you can substitute milk for coffee).

Our first panel was small, devoted to the Gerry Anderson series UFO. It was quite enjoyable, and panel moderator Anthony Taylor even telephoned Matt Gratzner, who is planning to do a UFO movie in 2013.

Now James and I parted at the ways, not to see each other until evening. I trudged out of the Marriott and all the way to the Westin, hoping against hope to get into the Back to the Future panel which was taking place in some ballroom upstairs. The line snaked gamely through the main floor of the Westin, and, finally, began to move, winding in a serpentine through the floor and then across floors and up stairs. We weren't halfway through the route before they told us the room was full. Rats.

So it was tramp, tramp, tramp back to the Hyatt. The Sylvester McCoy panel still had room, so I slipped into the delicious coolness after the sticky heat outside, and joined Sylvester's bouncing off the walls in progress. I had seen him before years ago, but he seems more manic than ever, smothering himself every time he started to mention "The Movie That Shall Not Be Named" (he's in The Hobbit and not supposed to talk about it), talking about the beginnings of his career, where he played the spoons and shoved ferrets down his pants (one night someone brought a second ferret...), and then bounced down in the audience to take questions and play the spoons (he carries his in a nice wooden case). Later, while talking about Doctor Who, they had him read some lines from an upcoming script involving Stonehenge.

One of the big advantages in the last few years has been the new skywalk from the Hilton to the Marriott, and especially the shortened skywalk from the Hyatt to the Marriott where you avoid going through the Peachtree Center Mall. I was going to take the latter to the Marriott—but the escalator going up to the bar level and the skywalk was broken and foot traffic piling up. So, it was back to the old route, down the steep stairs of the Hyatt (we don't call this convention "the DragonCon exercise program" for nothing), into the back of the Marriott and into Friday cacaphony.

So I went to the Gareth David Lloyd panel and had a few laughs. Most of the material had been talked about in previous years, like Ianto's sad, sad death which involved John Barrowman dripping spit and tears onto him. There was a sweet moment where a woman asked if he would pass a message on to someone who was sick, and he took her phone and texted the person.

I slipped out early because I simply could not resist the thought of McFarland being downstairs in the exhibitor's hall. I found three books—one with essays about Back to the Future, another with Torchwood essays, and a third with Doctor Who commentary. Looked at a book about British sci-fi media, but needed to think about it.

My next panel was about Young Adult classics, a pleasant hour spent listening to panel members and members of the audience offering favorites, not just science fiction and fantasy, but others as well. We spoke about books that were special to people (Harriet the Spy was a favorite), others that were loved (but not by the panel), etc. It's nice talking about young adult books with other people who appreciate them.

Following was another panel I was particularly looking forward to: last year James Marsters, best known for his bad boy roles as Spike and Captain John Hart, played Buzz Aldrin in a movie about Apollo 13, Moonshot. The panel was, as the notation said, only for conversation about Moonshot. So, I had to search out the Crystal Boardroom in the Hilton, having never been there before.

This was fantastic panel. Marsters showed different clips from the film, and then told us something about them: how they were filmed, or the background of them. It was evident from the audience that many of them were younger people who had not experienced the moon landing and a lot of the info was new to them. I really enjoyed his enthusiasm about the entire project—he came all prepared with a rebuttal for any naysayers who didn't believe in the moon landing, but no one there fell into that camp! He also talked a little about the monkey that was used in the film; they shot the movie in Lithuania and the monkey appeared to be frightened of his Lithuanian trainer.

And then it was off at a trot to get back to the Hyatt in time for the "WKRP in Atlanta" panel, featuring Howard Hesseman and Loni Anderson. I just made it into this one; in fact, I had to station myself against the wall for about half the panel, until a seat freed up. In a way, this was a homecoming, because WKRP in Cincinnati was based on a real Atlanta radio station, WQXI ("Quicksy," as James always calls it) which did convert from being very conservative to hard rock music. Many of the characters were based on the WQXI personnel, including the sales manager, who, like Herb Tarlek, wore loud suits. (The disastrous turkey drop was a real event, too.) It sounded as if, of the cast, Richard Sanders was the oddest one. They told a story about the cast being on Dinah! where there was a strange gentleman in a full tux in the green room with them. When they were introduced, it turned out to be Sanders. In fact, the one cast member that was 180 degrees away from his character was Hesseman himself, who was painted as much more conservative than Dr. Johnny Fever!

Also tales of three-camera filming, once with and once without an audience (no laugh track used ever), and, of course, someone asked Hesseman to say "Boooooger!" which he did with relish. :-)

James and I reconnected at tonight's Atlanta Radio Theatre Company performance. Friday night was for comedy, and we got it "in spades." The production led with another installment of Ron Butler's Rory Rammer, Space Marshal, a sendup of 1950s space opera, about a murder at a Soviet Union re-enactment get-together. This was followed by an encore presentation of the chuckle-and-cringe sketch "The Most-Pierced Man in America," and finally Sketch McQuinor's hilarious Sherlock Holmes spoof, "Game the Third: The Tick Tock Dick," with "Grimpen Meyer" and his friend and chronicler Dr. Basil Parsley Sage Rosemarythyme. This was the first of two ARTC plays with a steampunk twist: a clockwork woman detective. All delightful.

Our final panel was in the Sheraton, where the BritTrack was presenting "British TV You Should Be Watching," with suggestions from both the panel and the audience. There are so many riches this needs to be two hours or be in two parts! They presented by category (comedy, drama, etc.) and there still wasn't time for every suggestion.

By now it was 9:30 and I had the beginnings of a filthy migrane, but did manage to drive home safely. After prepping for tomorrow morning, pecked a bit at the computer, cooed at Schuyler, and then wandered gratefully off to bed. Had fun though!

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» Thursday, September 01, 2011
"...And Then a Miracle Occurred..."
No time, no time, no time...not even time to do "Simple Woman's Daybook" this week. Even with orders given to others I'm struggling with what's left.

Today was frustrating. I got up with James and started work a few minutes before 6:30, and I worked straight through until after 4:15, except for thirty minutes where I just had to lie down before I fell down (only four hours sleep—too busy worrying about what I had to do today). I can't say I finished anything, but I did accomplish several things, so I suppose that counts for something. Of course today James got out on time instead of early as he had the rest of the week. By the time he arrived home I had made all my sandwiches for the weekend and was monitoring both Facebook for DragonCon registration reports—some very discouraging early reports of two hours in the sun because the new system broke down—and the traffic situation. James took Willow out, then started on his sandwiches while I collected the trash and cleaned Schuyler's cage. By the time we left, traffic had turned from yellow and orange into red and burgundy: there were three, count 'em, three sports events going on downtown (Falcons and GA Tech football and Braves baseball). Whose bright idea was this? However, while very slow, we never did come to a dead stop, and we reached the Courtland Street garage without incident.

Remembering last year's 3 and a half hour wait outside and inside for registration, we came prepared: broad-brimmed hats, nooks to read, a water bottle each, and our "Kerchillers," which I started getting ready while James was assembling sandwiches. These are neck wraps that are filled with crystals. When you soak them in water the crystals swell up and hold the cold. You put them around your neck and they keep you cool. We bought a pair at the Yellow Daisy Festival two years ago and had never used them. Mine has a fall pattern and James' has jets on it. So we strode toward the Sheraton, looking for the line...

...and there was none. We walked right in the door, and, although they had the switchback lines set up, all we had to do was hustle through them to get up front. They scanned the barcodes on the back of our cards, slapped the name sticker on our badges, handed out program books and pocket programs and a 25th anniversary luggage tag, and we were done! Ten minutes from going in the door of the Sheraton to coming out of the door of the Sheraton, and most of that was going through the line, with the con volunteers calling, "Remember when you were waiting for registration? Well, now registration is waiting for you! Hustle, hustle!"

Absolutely brilliant!

So, since we'd already paid the $15 flat fee for the parking garage, we trudged over to the Hyatt where they were having a Celtic band festival. The opening act was the Pandorica Keltica (name?), a funny and tuneful mixed band, followed by the perennial DragonCon favorites, Emerald Rose. Between them, we had some rollicking, hand-clapping, toe-tapping, rousing musical numbers—at once point a spontaneous dance circle broke out at the foot of the stage, with people running from the audience to take part.

It certainly was a dandy way to start a convention, versus standing in the heat and a glacial queue last year. A wizard opening, DragonCon!

Meanwhile, time to roost...

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