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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» Monday, May 29, 2017
Quiet Monday

So it was a quiet Memorial Day. We got eight hours sleep, then had breakfast and went to Walmart, where we finally returned James' pants. They didn't have his size in the George pants, so we tried another brand and they didn't fit. I got some shorts for wearing in the house, and we bought some sugar-free candy, and James picked up some cole slaw and bean sprouts for a different kind of burrito (szuchuan style), and I bought wild bird seed. As we drove home, we noticed the clouds were building up from the west.

So once we got the groceries put up and I refilled the bird feeders, Tucker and I went down to the dog wash at Petco and he got all nice and shiny and soft again. There were no other customers and Tucker was very good while I soaped and rinsed and brushed (I got two currycombs of hair off him). The clouds were thicker when we left, and it had already rained a little when we got home although it wasn't raining at that time.

SundanceTV was having a M*A*S*H marathon and we basically watched that for the rest of the afternoon and evening. We had chicken and wild rice for supper and a slice of chocolate loaf cake for dessert.

Major trouble getting Tucker to go out tonight, because people are popping fireworks outside since dusk started to fall. He stood pathetically at the top of the stairs with his ears back, his left forepaw up, and his eyes big, dark and liquid, and I had to coax him outside. He stopped and looked every time he heard a pop, and tried to turn back a couple of times, but I praised him when he went on and coaxed when he didn't, and we got around, and he even "helped" me take out the trash. Must get those calming pills at Petco before the Fourth. The cashier says they do work; the poor woman lives near the Monstrosity and they do fireworks after the ball games and her dog goes crazy. They have chamomile and other soothing herbs in them.

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» Sunday, May 28, 2017
Another Point of View

We were going to a cookout tonight, but this morning we decided we would go out to Books-a-Million today for our frozen hot chocolate treat, as there was more of a chance of rain tomorrow. We still slept in (with a great rage of thunder booming out sometime during the night; I asked James blurrily about 8 o'clock: "Was I dreaming last night or was that real thunder?"), and had breakfast, and headed out before noon.

Between his fall down the stairs (twice) and the degenerative arthritis in his feet, knees, and hips, James has several nerve problems, and one is a bad case of sciatica, which affects his right leg. However, in the last couple months, he's been having problems with his right foot going numb when he drives. Now, the truck is twelve years old and the seats have gotten saggy in the years since February 2005. He was complaining about feeling like he was sinking down, so during the winter I bought him a seat cushion for the car with the sciatic gap at the rear, and I think it helped for a while. Still, this foot thing was happening. Just recently he got out of the truck and he couldn't feet the foot and was practically walking on his ankle. I was horrified because he looked like he was going to break it.

Today that started up after we got on the road for Acworth. It was so bad that he pulled over to the cutout for the entrance to a housing development to let me drive. I used the seat cushion as a backrest, and my driving pillow, sat down firmly in the seat and...what the hell?

Apparently the 12-year-old springs on the left side of the seat have given out. When you sit driving you are higher on the right than on the left, and I noticed immediately that when I drove that my right leg started aching trying to keep myself level in the seat. And think of him with the sciatica compensating for that. No wonder his right leg is cramping up and the foot going numb! He said the moment he sat in the passenger seat, the cramp eased, and while the sciatic pain didn't go away completely, he had no problem with a cramp or any more numbness.

(Before we drove home, I took one of the old towels that we keep in the middle of the front seat for Tucker to ride on, and folded it up several times and put it on that left side. With the cushion on top, James said it was much better and thanked me for figuring it out. Sometimes you just need someone to look at something in a new way.)

Anyway, we looked around Books-a-Million, enjoyed the frozen hot chocolate; James bought a "Cooks Country" magazine and I got a book about the slow food movement and eating better by eating locally. We got home around three, I walked Tucker and put up the flag, and relaxed until it was time to leave for the cookout at the Spiveys.

Had a great time. Everyone brought something to grill and Ken cooked; there were three pies and various veggies and fruit trays. The Butlers brought vegetarian baked beans, we brought cookies and nuts (well, besides ourselves), there were short, a perfect cookout, and we sat and yakked for a couple of hours. The one fly in the ointment was that my tooth was hurting again and even though my steak was cut into small pieces I had to eat them one by one a few shreds at a time.

Came home to watch a couple of eps of Make Room for Daddy and then the different military programs they showed on our local PBS station today, including a couple documentaries on "Easy Company" of Band of Brothers fame. Someone was popping fireworks outside and Tucker unhappily attached himself to the sofa as if its bulk would protect him. When it eased off around 10:30 I took him out. It looks like they sold the house down the street; the sign is gone, there's a car in the driveway, and I could see some things in the windows.

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» Saturday, May 27, 2017
Hunting the Elusive Timer

I so much love not being a slave to the alarm clock. It was exquisite being able to sleep until we woke up this morning, and then have leisure to eat breakfast and not hurry.

When we did go out, we at first made a brief stop at Hobby Lobby. I was thinking of buying another water reservoir for use with my watercolor pencils, since the one I bought has vanished, but bought eraser pencils instead. I'm managing with a plain old paintbrush. Looked thoughtfully at a collection of 50 watercolor pencils (my set is only 24), but didn't buy it.

Then we went to Lowes. I wanted some small nails (not brads; I'm up to my eyeballs in brads, I want nails with heads), a new banner flag (our formerly pretty spring flag with the birds and flowers is shredding from the Georgia sun), and an outdoor timer. The finding the last was a lot harder than it looked. We have floodlights on the side of the house at the back, but they're aimed at the side yard and at one obscure corner of the back yard. The remainder of the yard is as dark as pitch at night. My idea was to take a string of big bulb (C-9) clear Christmas lights (bought at Hobby Lobby after the holidays at a discount) and hang them between the uprights on the deck, so it will light the deck and the back yard as well. We tried this previously, back when James used to take Willow out in the yard at night, but I had gotten lazy and just hung the lights in swags on two sides of the deck using floral wire. It was surprisingly bright (175 watts for all 25 lights) and it made enough light for James to see quite well. We had, during Christmas, bought a switch to plug the lights in that operated on a remote. But the remote was tiny and we kept losing it, and finally the lights wouldn't come on. We thought it was the string, replaced it, and it worked for a while, and then it quit working again. Once the stupid squirrel chewed it in half, that was the end of it.

Last year I brought a new string of lights. Friday I stripped the old string down, and plugged the new one in directly to the plug. And it didn't work. Turns out the ground-fault interrupter had popped. Once I did, they lit fine. But the timer didn't seem to work, so I went online and found out that Lowes had one that operated either on/off, or for set hours, or dusk to dawn. I looked up what aisle it was in at our closest store.

And it wasn't there. We finally had to get an employee (who didn't seem to understand the concept of "outdoor timer" and "remote control") to track it down; it was located in a box at the very top of the shelves two aisles away from where the website said it was. Will have to hitch it up soon to see how it works. Anyway, got the nails, and two more 3-foot extension cords (we never seem to have enough), but the banner search was a bust. I'll have to look online. [I ordered one off Amazon with a lighthouse and a sailboat on it.]

We were going to come home by Sprouts and Publix, but I found chicken and dumplings in Sprouts and at that point it was after three and we were hungry. So we went home to eat the chicken and dumplings, then went out about five to visit both Publix and Kroger to finish up the shopping, including a steak to grill at the Spiveys tomorrow.

Finally supper at Uncle Maddio's and finally home, where I walked Tucker (the night, after the heat of the day, was actually quite pleasant, so I walked longer than usual, to Tucker's dismay, since someone is popping fireworks in the distance) and finally could sit down to relax. Put on Wild Britain With Ray Mears and saw lovely things: the Cairngorms in Scotland and the Flow north of them (bogland), and out in Norfolk and Suffolk, and also islands off the coast of Wales. Lots of birds—hen harriers, barn owls, gannets, swans and cygnets, plovers, ptarmigan, golden eagles, plus the adorable puffins who look like rubber ducks as they bob in the ocean—plus a water vole which looks like a beaver without the flat tail, a Chinese water deer that has fangs instead of antlers, a spider that lives on the water, and a rabbit just changing from his winter white coat. Oh, and hazelnuts buried in peat from thousands of years ago.

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» Friday, May 26, 2017
O Happy, Happy Weekend!

It's been a fat bitch of a week at work, with nothing much going right with any of my orders. I simply loathe writing price justifications. I'd rather clean out filthy toilets. At least when I got done they would be clean and not still hanging around like vultures.

So when the powers above gave us 59 minutes leave and then a further 59 minutes, I happily signed off (after getting at least one order done–but not, sadly, the price justification) at 2:02, and sat down and watched Sunday's "The Tech Guy," to Snowy's utter delight (he sang through the entire show) and did some book reviews. Then I took a nap until James got home (about an hour). Remember when you were three and never wanted a nap? How you would have gaped back then to know someday you would crave it!

I woke up with my stomach growling. We had supper at Fried Tomato Buffet because you can eat as many shrimp as you like. (Unfortunately they're fried; I'd prefer grilled, but you have to pay beaucoup bucks for that sort of meal.) Plus one hush puppy, a cup of black olive slices, and a cup of tomato and cucumber salad.

On the way home we made a brief stop at 2nd and Charles in the vain hope that they might have some of the Robert Ryan Dr. Watson thrillers. I'm reading the first one and love it, and now want the rest. No dice. I got a funny book called Humbug! about Christmas grumps for $2.

And then we had ice cream at Baskin-Robbins and came home and watched Star Wars. We still have the old DVD set that came out for the first time in widescreen, that had the films after George Lucas went in and meddled with them (adding Jabba and Biggs, and appending A New Hope onto the first film), but the set also came with the films as originally seen in the theatres (letterboxed rather than anamorphic). We watched that to celebrate the 40th anniversary yesterday. Quality is rather bad after watching the remastered and then Blu-Ray versions, but nice to see Han shoot first!

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» Sunday, May 21, 2017
The Teeth of the Matter (and a Green Gables Digression)

If I've been absent, it's because I've kind of been in an emotional abyss.

We had Hair Day last Saturday and when I bit into the sandwich I made (mixed cold-cut sandwiches were the meal du jour), my left upper first molar felt uncomfortable. I'd been chewing on that side of my mouth all along, and the discomfort was unsettling. So when we got home and James set off to his club meeting, I took some ibuprofin and lay down—and after forty minutes not only did my upper jaw still hurt, but so did my lower jaw. It felt like the whole thing was on fire. I smeared Ambesol liberally on it, but the last time I used it was Christmas of 2014 and the tincture was weak.

At this point this is where most people roll their eyes and go "oh, crap, dentist visit—probably have a cavity; there's more money out the wazoo." Maybe a little "God, I hate novocaine" or "another morning of work missed." My dental phobia goes wayyyyyyy beyond this. And what might be the strange part about it is that it's not the dentist rummaging around in my mouth that bothers me (I ended up with two dentists rummaging around in my mouth on Wednesday, both of them with sharp tools, and I just lay there and commented). It's the fact that I have to have some sort of anesthesia to get the work done, and I don't like having it because I am terrified of not being in control.

I'm not sure where this fear goes back to, but I think it's when I had my tonsils out. I look at the sweet little commercial they have for one of the hospitals where a little girl is taken by her dad to the hospital and she's greeted by a smiling woman who gently takes handover and think it's ridiculous that the kid isn't wailing and thrashing. I pretty much remember every bit of my tonsil and adenoid extraction: I was put in a playroom with a bunch of other kids. Every so many minutes a nurse would come along and take one of the kids away and they'd never come back. It was like a horror movie. Finally there was just a little boy and me, and we hid under a gurney in the corner that had a sheet over it before the nurse came back in. I'm not sure if the nurse dragged me out or what, but the next thing I remember was lying flat on the operating table with the black, smothering ether mask coming down on my face and the nauseatingly sweet smell of the either and rubber.

(Even the post-surgical reward was a bummer. Back in those days the standard parent/doctor sweetener for getting your tonsils out was "you can eat all the ice cream you want." And then they brought me vanilla. Gross. They had to keep encouraging me to eat the ice cream to soothe my sore throat and I kept asking for chocolate or coffee, but all they had was disgusting vanilla.)

In any case, now masks bring out my lizard brain, or indeed anything that goes over my face (even those innocuous clear nasal canulas), or anything that actually "puts me to sleep." I've had friends that have had cataracts out, this surgery done, that surgery done, and they said "no problem; they gave me the good drugs." I don't want the good drugs; I'm always afraid I'll never wake up. Paranoia runs deep.

Anyway, over last weekend I went out and dumped 25 bucks on Sensodyne and two kinds of Ambesol (Orajel doesn't do the trick). The bathroom became littered with orangy-tipped Q-tips as I kept swabbing between the first and second molar with Ambesol after brushing my teeth. Monday at work I managed by carrying the gel and the Sensodyne with me, but it was a hard slog because the pain was quite intense, centered between the two molars. (The place next to it, where my second biscupid broke off years ago, was minimally affected, but that wasn't where the intense pain was coming from.) While I have years of experience with intense pain due to cramps that were so bad they made me vomit, teeth are another matter. The pain just doesn't go away, and it's a sign of something bad. And I know dental infections often get into your bloodstream.

So Tuesday I girded up my loins, logged on to Delta Dental (my insurance from work, which is very basic) and found something called Gentle Care Dentistry. I had a long talk with them over the phone, told them I'm a flake (it's the only word for it; other people do this every day—maybe they don't like it, but they don't have panic attacks over it), and they made an appointment for me on Wednesday. Tuesday night James said he thought his dental insurance might cover more than basics (a cleaning and a set of x-rays is all mine covers) and we looked up that info.

So went there, James' insurance was indeed better, talked their ears off while they got me comfortable, nice folks, and went through fifteen minutes and 4 plates to get a decent x-ray of the affected area (my previous dentist told me I have a very small jaw). Surprise: no cavity shows up! With the amount of pain I've been having, they expected to see a big whopper, but nary a sign. You would think this was a relief. One of the causes of my apprehension in going to the dentist is that I've never had a cavity, so never had to have a filling. I have no experience with novocaine or drills. I've had my wisdom teeth out, and that was a pretty bad experience, and I've had my teeth checked and cleaned which was no sweat. I liked both Dr. Sepe in Rhode Island and Dr. Holcomb in Georgia.

After much discussion and Janice the dental hygienist poking at my teeth with sharp tools, it was decided I just might have something going on under the gum line that wasn't a cavity. But because they couldn't see up to the roots of the teeth because my stupid sinuses are so low (they block the view) and couldn't see any trouble there,  they were worried about doing a deep clean of my teeth because I might need to have a "flap." This means I would have to see a periodontist to have it done and my insurance wouldn't cover it twice. So they suggested I see their periodontist (also covered by James' insurance) and I was able to get in right after my appointment. Dr. Rudd noted on my referral that I was very anxious, so they treated me very gently, but, even after Dr. Tomaselli poked around in my mouth with one of those big long dental tools with a wicked wire hook on the end, he couldn't identify a cavity, either. He did find, however, a part of my first molar that caught the end of the hook portion of the tool, and I could feel it pull on the tooth, but no real severe pain like I'd been having.

The periodontist said the level of cleaning my teeth needed was not something he needed to do, but he gave me some special super flouride toothpaste that I'm supposed to use twice a day without rinsing afterwards, in the hope it may "build up" my teeth in the interim. Then I went back to the dentist and they gave me a herbal rinse that is supposed to get rid of germs, and I take that until they do the deep cleaning on the left side and then I have to come back for the right side. Yeah, what fun. This is what happens when you don't have dental insurance for years.

So in the meantime the pain has been off and on. It definitely centers on the left side of that first molar. It's very distinct. The gum where the tooth broke (next to it) is irritated, but doesn't hurt. And if I'm careful how I eat (let's say chewing hard is not an option now), I can keep the Ambesol off it. Thursday afternoon (after the dentist closed, of course, and they're not open on Friday) the pain got really bad with a combination of a bad headache. When I finished work I had to retreat to the bedroom with two extra strength Tylenol. It worked well enough that I could sort of eat: James made me a turkey patty and he also made me a frappe (milkshake, whatever).

Friday was my compressed day, and I slept in, and then spent early afternoon watching the documentary I found about Rocky Point amusement park. (I wasn't intending to go out at all, but I needed to get prescriptions refilled and since I had to go out anyway, I figured I might as well do something I liked, too, and stopped at Barnes & Noble.) I didn't use Ambesol all day, and we could go to Shane's barbecue for supper, since pulled pork is like something partially chewed anyway, and we even got to Publix without any screaming pain kicking in. Saturday morning I had a setback: despite eating only on the right side the oatmeal and yogurt zapped me and I had to resort to chemical means. But we got to Costco for milk and all the trimmings, and later on we supped at Fried Tomato Buffet where I could manage the rib meat and the chicken and dumplings.

Today I've had no Ambesol, but it's sore. I'm in a blue funk because I watched three episodes of the new Anne of Green Gables adaptation on Netflix last night, Anne With an E. The writer said that Anne's dismal childhood must have made more impact on her than has been acknowledged and promised a "grittier" Anne. I was of two minds about this as I began to watch: Amybeth McNulty, Geraldine James, and R.H. Thomson look as if they could have come out of the book, and even the actors who play Rachel Lynde, Gilbert, Diana, and even Mr. Phillips have a certain authenticity. This looks VERY good; Green Gables is a little less idealized, and while the vistas are splendid it's a National Geographic splendor, not a Conde Nast Traveler splendor—it isn't an advertisement for PEI tourism as the Sullivan version is. And the idea of making it a little grittier? Well, Montgomery wrote the book back when plucky orphan tales were popular and she would not have dwelt upon the more sordid portions of Anne's life because it just wasn't done then. But it makes sense that the physical and emotional abuse Anne underwent would affect her much more deeply than is ever touched on by the book or the 1985 story. So when the story line from the book is made a bit grittier, that Anne might have nightmares about her past, that her first days in the community might not have been very sunny, I would be in favor of that.

But creating situations out of whole cloth to make it more traumatic? To embroider new situations just to add to the drama and to make a statement about today's society? Could that not be done within the confines of the story? But we get Anne sent back to the orphanage and Matthew racing headlong after her and being injured, an absurd bit of drama that appeared nowhere in the novel? To have Anne talk about sex (inadvertently) at school? To have Prissy Andrews' brother try to beat Anne up on her walk to school and have her schoolmates bark like a dog at her at the church picnic? To have the Barrys (and the rest of the church picnic) either act snobby to her or call her names? To have Anne get her period? To have her ignore Gilbert (who in this version saves her from Prissy's brother before she does the slate bit) just to fit in with the girls, or have her treat Jerry [the chore boy] in a shabby way? To have robbers invade Green Gables? To have Anne take the Cuthberts' name in a totally ridiculous scene that Marilla Cuthbert of the book would not have endured? To have Gilbert's father die?

Wasn't it bad enough when Kevin Sullivan had to make up horrible stories after his initial excellent effort and then well-made sequel that nevertheless contained imaginary Anne events although they were culled from later books? The writer claims that this adaptation will make Anne's resilience shine all the more; it seems more like she is some gross bullying tormentor who wishes to make Anne's already miserable life continue on and on without the loving support that the Anne gained in the novel: of good friends (except for Josie Pye) and good acquaintances like the minister's wife and Diana. Anne of Green Gables is a hopeful book: the story of an abused child finally blossoming in loving circumstances. Anne With an E continues to abuse the poor child once she believes she's arrived at her new home. If you told me writer Moira Walley-Beckett secretly liked to pull the wings off butterflies and trip small children in parks to make them cry I would not be a bit surprised based on the torture she heaps upon Anne in what should be her new life and more happy future. If she wanted to show the horror of child institutional and orphan abuse in the late 19th century why not write her own Dickensian original and leave poor Anne alone? What's next, 13 Reasons Why: The Anne Shirley Edition? In this version do we see Anne try to slash her wrists or use the strychnine Rachel Lynde was always blathering about on herself? That sure would be "grittier."

In the end, a waste of a brilliant cast and the parts that were true to the novel which were very effective. The first three parts were dark enough that I had nightmares all night about Anne being accused of a crime (stealing a big book that was meant as a gift) and I woke up wanting to watch something more cheerful. Like Rogue One, Silence of the Lambs, or a documentary about the Scott polar expedition.

Even the dentist is better than Anne With an E.

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» Sunday, May 07, 2017
Farewell to WHOlanta

The dog did not bark last night. I guess I slept better. But I still need a nice sleep in, which I won't be getting until next Sunday. ::groan:: That's the worst thing about WHOlanta not being on Memorial Day weekend: we don't get tomorrow to sleep in.

So this morning was the same as yesterday: get ready, get set, drive, and then have breakfast at the hotel buffet. No French toast and no breakfast company this morning, and we didn't have to rush because neither of us had a ten o'clock panel we had to go to. I decided to skip Disney live-action because it was probably all about the new stuff. I'm still not interested in Beauty and the Beast and would prefer to talk about the classic stuff that no one remembers anymore.

Instead after breakfast we registered for next year, then took another turn around the dealer's room, and checked out all the vendors and writer's tables outside. Still not seeing anything that's floating my boat. James bought books and I didn't! All I was doing was seeing cute Who themed charms and thinking "Where can I get those so I can make my own stuff?"

Our first panel was "Ask a British Person." This was a hilarious panel! I asked about Marmite; not what it is, but why they would eat it! We talked a lot about what the British think about Americans (and other members of the EU) and the most annoying thing they are asked as a British person, and of course about Brexit. Oddly, not a lot of Britishisms were mentioned, even when the biscuits (in the British sense) were passed around. The digestives with dark chocolate coating were quite yummy.

James went off to the Star Trek panel and I attended "The Women of Doctor Who" with Nicola Bryant and Camille Couduri, who spent a lot of time egging each other on. (Caran came to sit next to me; goodness it was cold in that room!) They talked about their first experience watching the series, and Nicola recounted a long story about how she got the part of Peri, by basically auditioning with an American accent because they were only looking for an American for the part. Her agent said "We will tell them if you get the part." Then he said, "Well, you got the part, but we'll tell them after you sign the contract." And then she was set to be interviewed on a BBC breakfast show about being chosen. "Now we tell them?" They never did. She said she married two Americans and has lived in America, so she hoped it counted. Camille seems really sweet. I think she has a picture in her closet! Anyway, as the panel was ending, Nicola was recounting all the terrible things that had happened to Peri—with Camille commiserating—and then declared boldly "But I survived!" in a super-loud voice just as Colin Baker walked in the door, whereupon he turned on his heel and fled!

Colin's "Greatest Hits" panel was next. Alan was supposed to show some clips of his different roles and ask Colin about them, but he'd forgotten to load them on his laptop. So they just talked about the roles instead: his first role with Helen Mirren, in which they were supposed to be making love; he asked for a flesh colored undie, but she walked in stark naked and began talking to the crew unconcernedly, while they all studiously stared at her eyes and nothing else. He also talked about his role in The Brothers, which got him voted "The Most Hated Man in England." They got off the topic a bit, talking about Big Finish, so when they asked for questions, my hand shot up and I asked about his role on Blake's 7. Colin said that was a fun role because he was so bombastic and he thought Paul Darrow got his nose out of joint because Bayban was badder than he was. 😁

Next to warm up a bit in the Gallifrey room with a panel that's been promoted all weekend with funny posters (Peter Davison, dressed as the Doctor, with the legend "Wanted for impersonation of a veterinarian"; Peter Capaldi for having "attack eyebrows," the Valeyard for practicing law without a license, etc.), a discussion about the Time Lords and what was it about them that spawned so many nonconformists (and evil ones at that, except for the Doctor and Susan, like the Valeyard and the Master and the Rani and the Meddling Monk). Basically it boiled down to hubris and restrictiveness.

Said goodbye to Maggi and Clay here, as they were going to lunch and then heading back home to Warner Robins, and then it was a quick skip to the "British Pub" room for "British Myths and Legends," mostly talking about King Arthur, with a quick skim at Robin Hood. A lot of the conversation revolved about how the myths change to reflect what we want them to say (the French throwing all the courtly love in with Lancelot and Guinevere, for instance, when the "real" Arthur would have lived in AD 500, not AD 1500 as portrayed in the films) and how even real people become mythological (Kennedy and the "Camelot" legend, the adoration of Princess Diana, etc.). Lee Martindale talked a little about the background of the Arthur legend, but I missed that because I stepped in late; it was mostly Welsh. We talked briefly about our favorite Arthur book and movie and also a little about our favorite Robin Hood.

I had a choice here: Doctor Who or Sherlock. Since I went to 221B, I chose the former. This was a discussion about who might play the next Doctor. The usual suspects were discussed, the bookies' favorite Kris Marshall, of course, and a few other suggestions (I'd still love Sean Pertwee, or since they've proven the Doctor can pick his face, can't we have McGann back?), and then if they would cast a woman at this time, and who you would want. Olivia Coleman seemed to lead the pack here, but definitely not a pop tart type woman, someone older. And would she get a male companion? We also discussed some good companion ideas. They were running a slide show above the panelists' heads the whole weekend with Who/Sarah Jane Adventure photos, and when Rani and Clyde popped up, I thought, well, how about Rani? She's old enough now. And someone did suggest that at the end of the panel.

And then it was time for the very last proper panel, "The Great Big Doctor Who panel," with Colin, Nicola, Camille, Jamie Mathieson (Who scriptwriter and author of one of my favorite Capaldi episodes, "Flatline"), and Louis Robinson. Alan asked them all sorts of funny things, like to sing the song of their favorite television series when they were a kid (Colin sang the Robin Hood song, and at the end all five sang the jingle to Muffin the Mule with Louis). The actors were asked about their first acting role, so we got to hear the naked Helen Mirren story again, and Nicola said hers was appearing on the BBC breakfast show as an American! Camille's first role was at 21, and she played a prostitute in a movie (A Prayer for the Dying) that had quite a stellar cast, including Mickey Rourke, Bob Hoskins, and Alan Bates. At the end they thanked us and gave the con committee a standing ovation. Colin said he would love to come back again.

It was a good thing we had such a good laugh, because the closing ceremonies were a welter of sadness and congratulations for jobs well done. Everyone was thanked, from guests to staff, and prizes were given out (Moxie drew the numbers, of course, and also did the last of her "Moxie Minutes" from the con on Facebook Live) and then the tech support was motioning to Alan and it was time for a last bathroom break and on to home. I used my Tin Drum app to order dinner for us (James was not impressed with the orange chicken, sorry to say) and we came home, changed, and watched Call the Midwife and Thursday's MasterChef, which we'd forgotten about in con preparations. We still have to watch Big Bang Theory, though.

Oh, and Fox5 Atlanta had a 30-second report from the convention. Looks like they filmed around the time Ken and Audrey Spivey were performing.

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» Saturday, May 06, 2017
Just Knock on That Panel!

Hark, hark, the dog must bark! After the lights go out. At three a.m. For God's sake, shut up!

Needless to say, not a lot of sleep last night, and had to get up at 7:30. But we did look after the fids and get packed up and on the road in time to make breakfast at nine, so we could make a panel at ten.

James went to the RetroTV panel just to ask when the heck they were going to be back in Atlanta. They're in Gainesville now, which definitely cannot be said to be in the Atlanta area (nor can it be viewed here). It's like saying Westerly, RI, is in Providence. I went to the Disney/Pixar panel where we talked about the animated features: which were good, which were bad enough to go straight to DVD (Mulan II got a lot of hate, and for heaven's sake why was the sequel to Hunchback geared at small children), as well as if they have to do sequels, what would you like to see (other characters in an already established world, like Moana's). Also the merits of 2D animation versus CGI. Of course I had to mention Piper before it was over, because Piper is brilliant. 😊

Next went to "Chicks Write Time Lords," about women writers on Doctor Who. This included writers for Big Finish and for the books that kept the show alive during "the wilderness years," like Kate Orman. We even had time for a little fanfiction.

After that, a sit-down at "American Young Adult Literature," where we discussed...well, you know. Talked about age-appropriateness being determined by how an individual child reads, not just by the ratings put upon them by the booksellers (except for 13 Reasons Why, which should not be given to teens struggling with depression, per someone who's read it). Parents should read questionable books first (me: not protest them). Dystopian fiction seems to be waning, but sadly also the short spate of science fiction. Since all the panel was older adults except for Aubrey Spivey, they talked about how to get themselves back in a teen mindset (they ask people that age to vet their writing.)

Remained in the same room for "Research: You Gotta Do It." I'm a research junkie; I could research forever. But the time comes where you have to end the research and write the story. So the authors on the panel talked about doing research while you're writing (pretty much a no-no because research is the world's worse timesink) or do you just put a note in your text to look something up and research later? Scrivener was recommended again. Hmmn. A fun question was "what was the worst mistake you ever made in a story because you didn't research enough?" For example, Jana Oliver said that in one of her time travel stories, taking place in 1888, she looked up everything, even tide tables for the Thames, then wrote that there was a crossword puzzle in a newspaper. (Crosswords are from the 1920s; there were word puzzles in newspapers then, but not crosswords.) Ooops. Lee Martindale was very funny talking about having to ask a question about male anatomy of a guy.

Then, of course, had to make a trip to main programming to see Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant do their panel. They are good friends and have been since they played the Doctor ("Sixie" as Colin calls him) and Peri so long ago, and it showed. They laughed and bantered together as they talked about their earliest Doctor Who memories (the original premiere for Colin and a Patrick Troughton episode for Nicola), and then Nicola talking about how she got the role of Peri and realized she was going to be in a regeneration episode (jackpot!), and how Peter Davison pranked her by telling he Colin Baker was difficult to work with. Also some memories from "The Two Doctors" as poor Nicola and Patrick Troughton were outdone by Fraser Hines and Colin corpsing around all the time. It was a great but very short hour!

I thought of staying for the "Things We Learned from Doctor Who" panel next, but opted to check out the dealer's room. There are a lot of cute little things, but not anything I really want, if you know what I mean. However, there's an artist outside the dealer's room with some smashing prints of Doctor Who subjects. I also did a pit stop and briefly went up to the con suite for a cracker with cheese spread, a handful of M&Ms, and five or six tortilla chips. I ate my perfectly healthy lunch during the research panel (chicken cacciatore in a cibatta roll, mandarin oranges, and a juice box) and still feel ravenous.

Back in Panel Mode, I attended the panel about science fiction/fantasy films at thirty: Princess Bride, Spaceballs, Predator, Robocop, and more. Bumped into James there; he'd talked with Lee Martindale for a while, went to a Next Gen and a Star Wars panel. On tap: memories, favorite lines, how in the hell did Mel Brooks get away with that, things these films predicted that came true (ravaged Detroit, anyone?), what else was hot that year (Three Men and a Baby, directed by Leonard Nimoy, and Dirty Dancing), etc.

And finally, the Victoria panel, because I've quite enjoyed the series and that's my period anyway. We chatted about how some historical accuracy was sacrificed for drama, other British royalty and their bearing on Queen Victoria, how she married her children to all the other (mostly Germanic) nations in Europe, how Prince Albert was underrated, and commiseration for Rufus Sewell, loser at love in British historical drama. And, of course, what we might expect in the next season.

Would have liked to have stayed for The Crown panel, but it was suppertime! We had the dinner buffet, which turned out to be roast chicken (made as a cacciatore, of all things) and meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, and baby greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and baby corn for salad. It was much cheaper than breakfast, which totaled at $41! Maggi and Clay turned up and we all had dinner together. Clay tried some whiskey that turned out to be $15 for about two or three ounces! It had a nice potent scent all the way where I was sitting. Interesting: Clay told us the hotel doesn't want to hold science fiction conventions anymore: they hate the people in costume, the registration in the lobby, and the con suite. So even WHOlanta will have to find a new home next year. (Please,  please, please pick a pet friendly hotel!)

Sadly, this companionable hour ended too quickly and we had to get seats for the cabaret, but it started late anyway. I noticed it was rather sparsely attended this year. Not sure if people were gearing up for the mass viewing of tonight's new Doctor Who or were getting dressed for the 30's themed dance tonight. (See why we want a pet-friendly hotel...) But it began just after James showed up after his "pit stop." Lieutenant Moxie Magnus was again the host(ess?) and did a ukelele duet with Angela Pritchett, who has done a Who cookbook, then Melinda Botterbusch sang a filksong about Martha Jones, Courtland Lewis dueted with Moxie on "I'm a Little Bit Country, You're a Little Bit Rock'n'Roll" and another piece, Florida musician Ken Spivey and his new wife Audrey (sorry Ken Spivey fanclub, he's taken now) did a short number, Louis Robinson sang a sweet love song about an older couple and then the theme song to Sharpe, and finally Moxie finished off on ukelele with 21 songs done in seven minutes. Half the time we were singing along: "Supercalifragilistic" and other Disney tunes blending into old rock and emerging as old folk tunes.

In the middle of the cabaret they took a break for a masquerade. Only four entries this year: a woman in Gallifreyan battle armor, a little boy as a white Dalek, a ninth Doctor wearing his TARDIS, and a woman in a gorgeous hand-made TARDIS kimono. They all won and we all applauded, especially for the little boy and the kimono lady (it was really lovely).

And then, alas, it was over, and since this is not a pet-friendly hotel, we had to forego the pleasures of watching "Knock Knock" and then the dance (or going to Sacha's memorial service) in favor of going home and "relieving" Tucker (literally). He was so glad to see us and kept jumping up on me and staring.

I found my BBC-copy of this week's Doctor Who episode waiting in e-mail, downloaded it while perambulating the pooch, and we just finished watching it a little while ago.  Really creepy "haunted house" story with David Suchet (who plays Hercule Poirot so well) as the guest star. I do wish they hadn't removed the reference to the young guy Harry being Harry Sullivan's grandson. Apparently they were told "no one" would understand a 40-year old reference. Seriously. Do you suits really not understand fans at all? (Don't answer that!) And what's going on in that vault? Whomever's in it, the Doctor brought them Mexican food...

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» Friday, May 05, 2017
Stepping Through the Time Gate to WHOlanta

Our weekend started officially last night, when we both quit teleworking (it poured during both ends of James' commute) and went to Publix to pick up the groceries. (I just gave up and got milk there, too.) Then we drove across the road to Sprouts and I ran in for pork chops and beef bits. On the way home we got our phone call from H.H. Gregg saying they would be there to install the new range and take the old one away between 9:15 and 12:15. Perfect!

Crawled out of bed this morning very reluctantly, but a good thing as they were at our house by 9:30 and were gone before 10:30. It was very crumby under the old range after eleven years, but I swept it all out and then had to scrub the floor underneath on my knees and wipe it off before they put the new stove in. We thought we didn't get a manual and were looking on line for one, but there it was in the storage drawer. However, we didn't get the griddle that was supposed to go with it, just the wok ring. We figured out enough to set the clock. 😊

So here we have a new stove and no time to test it. I wanted to run to Wally World and buy some new slip-on shoes to walk the dog. James came in with me and they had no carts, so he had to limp slowly to the back. But I found shoes my size! Last time I had to get a men's 7, but I found a boy's 5. I also got new Dearfoams scuffs—they cost more than the canvas shoes!

We came home and put the backpacks together and supplied the critters with food and I gave Tucker as long as a walk as I could (it was raining), and then we loaded up the chair and went by Kaiser. James didn't take the chair in because it was raining and had to stand in line about 15 minutes. He was really in pain by the time he got out.

Of course now it's three o'clock on a Friday. Friday rush hour in Atlanta, as the joke goes, starts on Thursday. It was almost an hour to get to the hotel through the freeway, so we followed the GPS on the phone through surface streets. We went through streets near Chastain Park I didn't know existed. However, it at least didn't take an hour!

We arrived at the hotel just in time for registration and to meet Clay and Maggi. Then we had a relatively cheap bite to eat at the hotel, which in this hotel's parlance is $18. (That's for a cup of soup for me and a grilled chicken sandwich with French fries for James.) Then James and I went on to opening ceremonies, with all the guests lined up one row ahead of us. Camille Couduri looks just like she did when she played Jackie Tyler! Plus Alan muffed it at least three times still referring to the convention as "Timegate." 😀

Wandered around chatting to people: Mike Faber, Dawn, Mark Heffernan, Kim and Mike, and finally saw Louis Robinson, whose Facebook posts stopped back in November. I hadn't heard word one about him after that and hoped nothing was wrong. Nothing was. He just got tired of the sturm und drang. I've found it infinitely better since I blocked political posts.

My first panel was about women writers and women in books: is it better for women in books to be portrayed by women writers? Basically the answer was no, a good writer is a good writer, and a man who is a good writer can portray positive women. Also talked about what kind of women they want to see portrayed: Kelley said her ideal was a woman who was competent, humorous, and courageous. They shouldn't be empty vessels waiting to be filled by a man. Lee Martindale said she just strives to write good characters of whatever sex.

Then it was up to the "anti-Dalek room" as James calls it (to get up to it you have to climb stairs) for a review of the new season of Doctor Who so far. I think the consensus was the same as mine: what chemistry between #12 and Bill! They work so well together! And she won't fall in love with him! And she's filled with wonder and not teaching part time or a miracle girl, a proper companion. Why, why, why must Peter Capaldi be leaving now? 😭

The final panel was "British vs. American Television." Louis said he would speak for both because we really only see "the cream of the crop" and there's as bad British stuff as there is American stuff. So the panels basically tried to point out the differences between the styles; long leisurely scenes and different filming methods, character-drive scripts vs. plot-driven scripts; the Brits having panel shows like Q.I.; oh, and wasn't it fun trying to figure out those accents. Of course we had to mention Taggart, where the Scottish accents were as high as an elephant's eye and we so wished for closed captioning!

And then it was time to scoot for home, all traffic being clear and the Braves' game still going on so we had no trouble getting home, and that was the beginning and the ending of the first day.

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