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Sep. 27th, 2013

Real life is pretty shit sometimes

September why have you brought so much angst to my life? August was pretty great, welcomed my new godson in to the world, little Thomas who is the image of his big sister as a new born. Big sister started school this time and is loving it.

In no particular order the main highlights of this month so far has been;

  • A man collapsed and died at work *
  • A colleague at work has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and his going in for his op on Saturday
  • Another colleague has admitted that she’s being checking out suicide website as she’s feeling overwhelmed with all the anxiety in her life, both real and imaginary.

* the chap was a member of the public who’d just returned his library books and keeled over, literally just a grunt and straight to the ground. Heart attack, but it’s the first time I’ve ever been at a first aid incident that severe, and I’ve been with the Red Cross as a first aider for about years. Thankfully there were three of us who came to help, and one of us knew that he needed CPR, I did compressions while she did the breaths. The whole checking if he’s breathing is a whole lot more complicated than I thought, sounds simple; not breathing = CPR, but what I underestimated was the freakiness of ‘agonal’ breathing. Basically the body tries to carry on breathing regardless of the heart attack, but its not proper lungs filling with oxygen breathing. But being knowledgeable and confident enough to crack on with CPR while the casualty seems to be alive and making noises is something else.

In summary, he got to hospital alive but sadly passed away a week later, he was about 65. Weird thing is he lived in my building, the flat next to mine. We were on nodding terms only, I think I said hello a few times when we passed coming or going. He lived alone, quiet, but I’ve only now realised was that he was the person who used to put my mail under my door every day. Such a simple gesture and I never got to tell him thank you.

Looking at the positive, my building at work will be getting a defibulator and everyone who wants to can get trained. We’ve been wanting one for ages given the number of people who come in the building and our prime city location.

To cheer myself up I’ve finally got myself a TV Freeview box. I need some escapism, and there’s new shows starting; Downton Abbey is back (its soo bad I love it), plus Agents of SHIELD, and Atlantis which seems to have a stellar cast including the lovely Alexander Siddig.

Sep. 8th, 2013

Farewell Fringe

I am now the proud owner of a Dalek cake stand and K9 ice-cube maker, thank you Lakeland for your geeky Doctor Who range of bakery items!

I was in Cardiff at the weekend. Went to see a brilliant show called ‘Stalking John Barrowman’, great performances, great singing and lots of references to Torchwood and fandom. Also went to Cardiff Comic-con, saw David Hasselhoff! I did note with amusement that his table and chair was raised ever so slightly compared to the actors beside… hmm ego much?

I have finished Fringe! Season 5 improved towards the end. Very impressed that they killed Etta midway though the season – didn’t see that one coming! Of course it did signify that the finale would end on some kind of reboot, which I didn’t mind because it was done rather well.

Favourite bits of the final series;

  • The threat of Walter regaining the aspects of himself that would make him the manipulative bastard with the god complex was really palpable. He even asked Nina to take out bit of his brain again!
  • Nina! From holding on to the memory that William Bell loved her to facing death with dignity – she was awesome.
  • September! Love how he ‘went native’ as a result of his study of humans. Finally a hook into making the Observers an interesting enemy. Having them battle with human emotions made them more compelling.

Apart from the whole paradox of the Observers from the future completely messing up their past (and thereby their own existence surely) I felt the series ended when it should. I didn’t cry at Walters sacrifice, and I’m usually a terrible blubber at series finales. I did cry buckets though watching one of the extras on the DVD box set – the 2012 San Diego comic-con Fringe panel. The actors cried, I cried!

I was also moved that the actors have respect for fanfiction. That fans writing about Fringe celebrated it and kept it alive. They also have read, ahem, slash fiction, and joked about filming some of it involving Olivia and Astrid. How can you not love a cast and show this awesome?!

Aug. 18th, 2013

But is it Art?

Having worked in museums & art galleries for going on four years now I feel able to present my personal view on the delicate subject that is Modern Art. It’s not to everyone’s taste I admit, I’m certain some people can’t accept any art that isn’t presented in a gold frame. But some is good and should be held in the same regard as more traditional work. Other stuff isn’t so good and I can’t defend it, I’ve tried! But when the public walk in a gallery and I can stir up even the slightest enthusiasm to ‘sell’ what they’re seeing then I don’t see it as me failing, but the artist.

Vonbee’s rules of modern art ;

  1. If you can reproduce it within 24hrs to a comparable standard then its not really art.
  2. just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
  3. if your art installation malfunctions, DVD freezes etc. and no-one notices or can tell, then its not really art.
  4. a little explanation helps, don’t make the audience try and work it all out (it’s often impossible), they’ll give up, not give it the time of day and perpetuated the myth that modern art is rubbish – most of it is but that’s not the point.

On an unrelated note, finally started watching Fringe Season 5. Rather unenthused so far, actually bored which makes me sad. Watched the first three so far and I accept that the format has changed dramatically from what is was, but I just don't buy the bad guys. Its a bit like what happened to Stargate with the Ori, I just don't find them involving in the slightest. Lets see how it goes.

Aug. 6th, 2013

Star Wars, dreaming, sunset

I survived Celebration Europe (and have the crew t’shirt to prove it!)

Got back from Germany last Thursday after an eventful weekend full of Jawas, Jedi and Jabba! Yes I was at the Star Wars Celebration Europe II convention in Essen, Germany.

Compared to Destination Star Trek London last year it was a breeze. The crew leader was so relaxed it was almost scary. I turned up on the Thursday night and discovered that I was indeed crewing but hadn’t been receiving emails telling me when and where. I ended up doing three morning shifts from 8.30 to 2. Most of that time was manning the crew lounge, for that read doing extremely little, marshalling queues occasionally and going to watch the talks in the main hall. Got to see Warwick Davies rehearsing a lot, boy he worked ridiculously hard over the weekend. He hosted all the main talks on the Celebration stage. Special praise must be made for his interview with Carrie Fisher, started off rather awkward when she came on stage with a dog…which promptly started trying to eat one of the toy ewoks on stage. Warwick managed to get a great chemistry going and it turned into a rather funny set, especially when they recreated a scene from ROTJ.

Even crewing I still got to see most of what I wanted. Got to sneak off to see the chaps who did the ‘Save the Lars Homestead’ project in Tunisia give a presentation. Saw the Clone Wars exclusive Darth Maul 4 parter directors cut. Rather disappointed by the Rebels preview, the new animated series to ‘replace’ the Clone Wars. Expected a trailer at least but all we got was concept art and a new logo, oh and a free badge! And I may or may not have inferred from Dave Filoni that Ahsoka was going to be in it.

There was a series of lectures on collecting which I wasn’t that interested in going to until I realised they were giving away freebies, ‘Star Tots’, which my cynical geek side thought – ‘hello ebay’. Got three, didn’t have the time or inclination to sit through a lecture on ‘Collecting; Nordic Vintage Collectables’. Did see the guy who created Rancho Obi-Wan talk about its origins and how it turned into a non-profit museum.

Met some nice folks, crew members and random people in queues and train stations!

Some highlights; the behind the scenes talk about the Clone Wars was interesting. Dave Filoni was literally straight of the plane and joked that if ever he was to say something he shouldn’t, now was most likely the time! Lots of pictures and tales about roads not travelled basically. Most exciting was a Duchess Satine arc that was lost in the return of Maul plot. We were shown a drawing of Satine in a ceremonial version of Mandalorian armour, the reason being she had to wear it for some traditional ceremony and quite understandably was non to pleased about it. Image inspired by Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth, long flowing hair over battle armour, gorgeous.

Ended the event by meeting Ashley ‘Ahsoka’ Eckstein, who was lovely and again had spent the entire weekend mostly on the convention floor meeting and greeting and signing autographs for free.

Had a few days sightseeing in Essen and Cologne afterwards. Rather exhausted by the time I got back to work on Friday!

Next Celebration is going to be in Anaheim, USA in 2015…maybe, just maybe…

Finally – new Doctor – Peter Capaldi – awesome!

Jul. 23rd, 2013

Nearly there

Three days to Star Wars Celebration Europe II!

Quite alarmed that the weather in Germany is rather hot – mid to high thirties which is a little out of my comfort zone. I’m a little worried that all those cosplayers in the storm trooper costumes will be keeling over, or worse smelling a little to ripe of sweat!

I had hoped to finish my second fanfic before I went but it has been far too sunny to write an angsty fic. Been in the high twenties for over a week, blue sky every day – absolutely gorgeous! So I’m going to post the first part that I have written and promise to finish it before the end of August…when I go to Cardiff for another convention. I’m having a very geeky year! Also at the CEII there’s going to be a special feature length showing of the Darth Maul trilogy which should stunning on a big screen (rather than youtube!). Hopefully seeing the whole Obi/Satine tragedy properly will fire up my muse. Plus the Maul fight sequences will look awesome!

I should be crewing at least two of the days but am a little concerned that I haven’t had a follow up email telling me where and when to report. Did get my ticket refunded in a dazzling display of German efficiency.

I have no plans to cosplay. There are going to be some fantastic costumes at a standard I could never come anywhere near to. Although I have a gold dress I might wear for the Saturday night pub-crawl which I could accessorise and pass off as a glam Threepio!

I have achieved my aim though of being much fitter and lighter. Thanks to the 5:2 diet I’ve gone from 12st 8lb back in February to hovering around 11st 3lb, that’s 18lb lost! I haven’t even been following the ‘rules’ as religiously as I could have been, but I am eating considerably less crap, and I’m ashamed to admit it, I’ve become one of those people who drinks Diet Coke. I love my fizzy pop but really shouldn’t because of the ridiculous amount of sugar and a likely genetic disposition to diabetes, so Diet Coke it is. 

I completed by beginners fencing course last Monday, I might not be very good but I am keen! I have to say it’s helped with loosing the pounds and has done wonders for toning my thighs! Hasn’t been so much fun putting on the heavy padded jacket in this heat though.

Had a good weekend at the parents, took my Mum to the cinema to see the live performance of Macbeth featuring Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston. Mum though River was rather good! On Sunday my brother and I went to see Simon Pegg’s latest ‘The World End’, I really enjoyed it, found Simon Pegg’s character equally annoying and sympathetic. I think we can all empathise with trying to hold on to the good times in your life before all the grown up crap takes over.

Jul. 13th, 2013

McGann, hug!, Doctor Who

Doctor Who at the Proms 2013

As I couldn’t be there in person I had a pleasant evening with Radio 3 listening to the live prom dedicated to Doctor Who. Although you miss the visual of all the video montages that accompany the music and the occasional monster that roam around the stage it was still a great experience. I was at the first ever Who prom in 2010 or there about, which was awesome – Davros himself appeared in the centre of the groundlings, awesome!

This year’s prom had some lovely surprises, my favourite of which was the Classic series medley. Some I could recognise easily – the sounds of early series dalek and cybermen episodes are so distinctive. They got up the 4th Doctor and they played the closing moments of Logopolis! I genuinely cheered when I heard Nyssa, Tegan & co. being broadcast in the Albert Hall! I have a soft spot for the 5th doctor era so hearing them and knowing that clips were being shown was a bit of thrill.

Not sure how I feel about the special ‘Song for 50’ composed by Murray Gold, made me cringe a little, might just be me. Great to have the classic series featured so prominently though tonight – Peter Davison & the eternally youthful Carol Ann Ford were there and seemed quite moved by the reception they got.

Wish they’d played ‘This is Gallifrey: Our childhood, our home’ though, it is simply gorgeous.

I am going to the 50th Anniversary convention in London in November though, hurrah! Just managed to get some tickets for the Friday before they all sold out, so myself and my three mates I call my Cardiff posse shall be there.

Jul. 5th, 2013

Fringe Season 4

Almost up to speed with Fringe, just one season to watch and I’ll be able to explore the Fringe fandom without fear of spoilers!

My thoughts on the fourth season;

Lincoln Lee! My crush grew with each episode. As much as I buy the Peter/Olivia relationship, I did enjoy how the writers played with the potential of a Lincoln/Olivia thing. Seth Gabel was rather splendid at gently showing his character falling in unrequited love. I watched the episode where he goes to the other side and teams up with Captain Lincoln Lee with trepidation as half way through I realised that one of them would be dead by the end. I was right! I like how ‘our’ Lincoln found some place to belong on the other side, hopefully with Faux’livia.

On a side note I re-watched the Da Vinci Code recently as I’d visited Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh a few weekends ago. To my surprise Seth Gabel briefly appears at the beginning as a reporter interviewing a priest!

The end of season plot line with William Bells plan to create a brave new world was a little bonkers, but hey it worked and gave the cast some great moments.

I loved the even more blatant product placement this season! Nissan and Sprint, neither of which I use or will ever buy, but I appreciate that the show may not have been made if it hadn’t got a chunk of finance from them. But the were to moments that jarred quite badly –one episode were Olivia and Peter had been to question someone on a university campus then gone out to their car – and we watched Olivia unplug the car from an electricity recharge point, then a long lingering shot on the rear of the car as it pulled away – a Nissan Leaf! The Sprint logo is on all the phones used in the show but in the next to last episode a man is seen buying a cup of coffee and paying for it contact-less with his Sprint phone. It’s even worked into the dialogue between Peter and Walter, so awkward!

I’d have been content if the series had ended at this point. I’ve coped with worse, Farscape *sob*, Firefly *sniff*, Flash Forward *I was the only person who loved that show!* . I’m going to leave it a while then see what season 5 has in store.

Jun. 28th, 2013

Fringe watching

I am on season 4! Found a copy in a charity shop for £4, how could I resist. Random thoughts so far;

  • Some of the ‘monster of the week’ stories are sometimes a little clunky, but the shows strength is its characters.
  • If you’ve never seen the show and start with this season, good luck, I’ve no idea how it makes any sense to the uninitiated.
  • I’m continually impressed by the actors ability to portray two versions of the same character. Faux’livia is so different from ‘our’ Olivia I sometime forget it’s the same actress.
  • The episode where the other sides Astrid comes over to deal with the grief of loosing her father is absolutely heartbreaking. ‘Our’ Astrid copes rather well with not only seeing her other self but also one who has, though its never directly stated, some form of Aspergers syndrome.
  • I’m developing a little crush on Lincoln Lee, our slightly awkward and overwhelmed version.

I’ve got season 5 in anticipation, but am rather disappointed that there’s only 13 episodes in it – I feel short changed half a season!

Jun. 18th, 2013

TARDIS

Work avoidance

Day off! A chance to do all the little things and big things that I always plan to do when I’m not at work.

Main thing I’d hope to do was go to the cinema and see the new Joss Whedon film, ‘Much ado about nothing’, but turns out none of my local cinemas are showing it, pah. Wasn’t planning on a trip to the big city of Manchester to see if was on at the Cornerhouse so gave up on that idea.

Could do some German learning…well I’ve made up all the flash cards and sentences to memories…nah lets try and finish that second fanfic that’s been in the works for months. Actually made some head way on that, kind of in three parts, first done, second and third have a logical frame now just needs fleshing out. Found I can focus and be distracted by choice of background music simultaneously.

I started with the score for Earth: Final conflict – the first series was brilliant! After that it destroyed by committee. Then itunes showed me Torchwood: Children of Earth. Well… I have great love for that show; it reminds me of friends and happy times. Such as the time Gareth David Lloyd aka Ianto Jones stalked me and my friends in Preston…

Okay that’s not quite what happened but near enough! Four of us went up to Preston to see him in panto ( yes Ianto in Panto!) and few years ago, 4? None of us lived local and a few had come up from Cardiff so we’d booked a night in a nearby hotel. The show was brilliant, we did the stage door thing, got his autograph and then let him go.

Next morning the four of us are sat having breakfast as you do, I had my back to the wall and full view of the dining room. I did a double take when a familiar chap walked in. Ianto! Ahem…Gareth! I played it cool, patted the friend closet to me on the leg and whisper ‘you’ll never guess who’s just over there…’. With in moments we were all rubbernecking at the poor chap as he greeted what I assume to me family members who like us had come up to see him the show. I don’t think we disturbed him, he may have glanced over as a group of four women he may or may not have remembered form the night laughing rather loudly at the bizarreness of the situation.

Ah Torchwood, Children of Earth – damm fine piece of television regardless of the genre. And the fall out from the fan community when Ianto was killed off in Day 4, well, I have visited the Ianto shrine a couple of times. First when it was new and fresh and quite sweet, later when it got formally recognised by the business of Mermaid Quay with a plaque, then last year when it just looks…odd, being still there after so long –five years now? Never underestimate the power of the geek side!

Jun. 15th, 2013

McGann, hug!, Doctor Who

80’s film nostalgia

I’m a child of the 80’s – actually a 79’er – so my formative years were spent watching wonderful films like; Flight of the Navigator, Labyrinth, Krull, The Dark Crystal, Goonies! Though for some reason I never saw, and have not wanted to see The Neverending Story, something about it weirds me out for some reason, might be the great big flying dog’s head!

Anyway, one film I remember watching was Teen Wolf, the original and the best, when I must have been 8 or 9. The part that stuck in my mind was the basketball game at the end and the music that accompanied it. I may have had that music running through my head when I was at school the next day plastic indoor hockey!

I recently copied the soundtrack off my brother and last night I was scrolling through my ipod as I was in bed last night looking for something relaxing to listen to. I hadn’t actually checked if the song was on the CD so pleased to see ‘Win in the end’ on the track listings. So I played it and the result as a glorious 80’s flashback! It’s amazing the power of an old song to send you mentally back in time. And immediately after that track came the one that follows it in the film, a lovely gentle song that plays over the closing titles. Warm and fuzzy feelings abound!
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