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I’m not really here today…

… instead I’m guest blogging over at Fluttering Butterflies as part of Clover’s excellent Love Month. There have already been some brilliant guest posts and loads of great reviews, and today I got to play. I’m talking about my many tv boyfriends, you can see who made my list here.

Geek Stuff · TV Stuff

A Tale of Two Conventions.

In the last few weeks I’ve been to two very different conventions, and had a brilliant time at them both.

Thought Bubble, Leeds.
The Cardiff International Comic Expo back in February was my first ever comic convention. I had such a good day that I knew I wanted to go to more comic conventions and had heard lots of good stuff about Thought Bubble so decided that I would go and see what it was like for myself. Over the months between booking my ticket and it finally being time to make the journey up to Leeds I found out that a few online friends were also going to be there and it would be an opportunity to meet in person some of the people I have known online for some time. I spent much of Saturday with Liz and Mark from My Favourite Books, met up with Budgie for a coffee, and briefly met Bevis and bought the only comics of his that I didn’t already own so that now I have a full set.

It’s been a few weeks now, so I’m not going to be going into much detail about what I did and saw walking around the two halls, instead I shall just say that the vast array of comics on offer was pretty amazing. There were so many talented creators there selling comics that would have covered pretty much anybody’s tastes. I could have spent my money five or six times over, so settled for collecting lots of business cards that pointed towards online shops for future splurges. My comics TBR pile is now looking very healthy again and I’m looking forward to some great reading time once I’ve finished my semester 1 assignments and exam. The atmosphere at Thought Bubble was warm and friendly, and I had a really enjoyable weekend. I shall definitely be going back in future years.

Con-1, Birmingham.
Me and my friend Emma are both huge fans of the tv show Leverage so when she discovered that Starfury were going to be doing a Leverage convention we eagerly booked our tickets. The line up got better and better as we got closer to the weekend, with four out of the five main cast members (Gina Bellman, Beth Riesgraf, Aldis Hodge and Christian Kane) able to attend. In addition we had one of the co-creators and writers of the show, Chris Downey, and arrived to find Mark Sheppard appearing as an unannounced surprise guest. An added bonus for me was that Christian Kane was going to be bringing along bandmates and buddies including Steve Carlson and Riley Smith, and they were going to be playing a gig on the Saturday night. Kane’s The House Rules is one of my most played CDs of 2011, and I’m a fan of Steve Carlson’s solo music too so this all sounded like a wonderful early Christmas present to myself.

Both Saturday and Sunday started with panels (there were photoshoots going on at the same time but we’ve never gone in for them), these always tend to be entertaining though when there is no moderation of the questions being asked there is always the risk that things can get a little silly or even out of hand. By and large the questions asked were good, interesting ones (I’m thinking of taking a couple and putting them together for a recurring blog feature in 2012) and every person on the stage answered what was asked of them really well. At every convention I’ve been to before there has been one guest who has been a little disappointing, or just not so comfortable with being on the stage answering questions but every single person at Con-1 was utterly brilliant. As Sunday progressed I started to feel increasingly sad with each passing panel that we were getting closer to the end of things – I could have listened to each and every one of them for so much longer.

Something that was a little unexpected but that just made the weekend even better for me was how much discussion there was of writing, both from Chris Downey talking about writing Leverage – his Sunday panel began with him walking the audience through how they write Leverage episodes, and from Christian, Steve and Riley talking about writing music. I came away feeling inspired by them all, and buoyed by the realisation that in general terms writing is writing no matter what the desired end product is.

Saturday’s musical evening was every bit as good as I’d hoped, and probably a bit more. We knew that Life of Riley were going to be playing first but another surprise was that Brian Nutter followed them. He is one of Keith Urban’s guitarists, and a really talented musician – I hope there will be more opportunities in the future to hear him perform. The final act was Christian and Steve along with Brian, and the members of Life of Riley, it was so good to hear so many Kane songs that I love performed live.

Con-2 has already been announced for next November, after having such a good weekend at Con-1 we’re definitely going to be there.

Days Out · Geek Stuff

Out and About : Doctor Who Experience.

What? Doctor Who Experience.
Where? Olympia, London.
How much? Adult – £15 off peak prebooked, £18 peak prebooked, £20 on the door. Child £12.50 off peak prebooked, £14 peak prebooked, £15.50 on the door. Family tickets are also available.
When? Until 4th September 2011.

When you’re in London celebrating a 31st birthday as a group of geeks what more appropriate way could there be to spend an afternoon than at the new Doctor Who Experience at Olympia?

From the time we got off the tube at Olympia the anticipation began building steeply, the route to the experience entrance is marked out by posters bearing cybermen. As the event has timed entry slots there was no queuing to get in, we simply went into the building and after taking the lift to the correct floor entered the first room.

The first room acts essentially as a holding room where you wait for the next entry to the walk-through experience. There’s plenty to see and look at, exhibits included Liz 10’s costume, a Silurian display and artefacts from the House of Calvierri. Whilst we were having a look we were aware of the number of children also milling about, and found ourselves wondering whether they would impact on how we were able to enjoy the walk-through – at the Doctor Who Exhibition housed at nearby Earls Court we had all had similarly unfortunate experiences.

Wide eyed wonderment.
The walk-through took about 20 minutes, you begin by watching a wonderfully edited together montage of clips from series 5 (we won’t get into an episode numbering argument here thank you very much) before walking through the crack from Amy’s bedroom into a museum. As you’re looking around the security system is taken over by the Doctor who is stuck in the spare Pandorica and needs help. These clips with Matt Smith guide you through the walk-through, I don’t want to reveal the path it takes, but be assured it will make even the casual fan’s heart sing.

All of our fears about having children with our party were completely unfounded, if anything having young fans getting completely swept up in the experience (one got scared to the point of having to leave the walkthrough) added to the buzz. There was a real sense of camaraderie between our group, everyone had such a great time.

Time to add a little detail.
After leaving the walk-through we found ourselves in a more traditional exhibition that did bear some resemblance to the previous exhibition at Earls Court. There were some exhibits that we had seen before but these were accompanied by many new items. The first section dealt with the Doctor himself, each of his incarnations was represented by his most iconic costume. We also visited a room devoted to his companions, and one dealing with enemies through the ages (in this area there was a lovely mix of classic Who and nu-Who). There were special areas offering screenings, workshops on how to walk like various monsters and a mock up of the art department.

My favourite part of the exhibition was the interior of the TARDIS that had belonged to the Ninth and Tenth Doctors. You could get up close and personal with part of the central console, and all the supporting struts were in place. Playing on a screen at the side of the exhibition was the regeneration of the Tenth Doctor into the Eleventh Doctor. We did spent a few minutes watching the Tenth Doctor say goodbye and all felt that tell tale lump returning to our throats.

“You’ve got a little shop. I like a little shop.”
When we’d finally had enough of the exhibition we made our way out into the shop. Whereas the shop for the Earls Court exhibition always felt a little like an after thought this one was filled with things I found myself being tempted by. There was enough space to walk round without the fear you were going to knock something off a shelf or step on a playing child – another improvement from previous exhibitions.

We all had a thoroughly good afternoon and based on all the smiling faces we were seeing so did everyone else who was there. If you’re even vaguely interested in Doctor Who I would recommend it as a worthwhile visit.

Days Out · Geek Stuff

Out and About : Cardiff International Comic Expo.

Over the last couple of years I’ve been trying to find my way into the somewhat confusing world of comics, I’ve been reading things that have been made into movies, found a few webcomics I love (though sadly I discovered two of them mere months before they finished for good) and followed recommendations lovely people on Twitter have been giving me. When I heard there was going to be a new comic expo in Cardiff it sounded like a great opportunity for me to go and pick up some new titles and explore a bit more.

Keeping to a budget is hard.
My first walk around the expo left me feeling a bit overwhelmed, there were tables full of colourful books waiting to be bought and I hadn’t heard of most of them. Behind each table sat someone who had a role in creating the books, the idea of speaking to one of them and revealing I knew nothing was more than a little scary. Knowing I had money saved specifically to spend in this room encouraged me to take another walk, and eventually I stopped at the Corvus Press table. They were selling issues #0 and #1 of The Baker Street Irregulars and sat behind the table was inker Patrick O’Connor. He was wonderfully friendly and I ended up walking away with both issues. Buoyed by the fact I’d managed to navigate a conversation I carried on and managed to spend the rest of my budget with relative ease.

In addition to the Baker Street Irregular issues, I bought Hero 9 – 5, Breathe and The Young Sherlock Holmes Adventures from Markosia, Arthur The Legend from Dalen and 10thology a collection of work by all Welsh creators. Expect to see reviews for all of these popping up over the next couple of months.

Whilst wandering around and trying to stretch my budget to its fullest I managed to nearly get run over by a Dalek on three separate occasions. Luckily for me they were in a good mood and didn’t appear keen to exterminate anybody.

Talks, talks and more talks.
In addition to the sales side of the Expo there was a full schedule of talks and panels. This was much more familiar ground to me, they tend to make up half of each day at the sci fi conventions I attend. I got organised before getting to the expo and had a list of the talks I wanted to go to, every one sounded good but I picked the ones I wanted to see the most.

Sidekickcast’s Secrets and Lies Live was the first panel I attended, a news quiz pitting a team of writers against a team of artists and both of them against the audience. It was a great start to the day, I laughed most of the way through it and Paul Cornell lead the writers’ team to a resounding win.

Matt Savage took the stage next, he’s a concept artist who has worked on films including The Dark Knight and X-Men: First Class, and Doctor Who – he was responsible for the redesign of the Daleks for the relaunch in 2005. He was a really interesting person to listen to, having pictures of his art to accompany what he was saying made for a really interesting panel.

Paul Cornell and Jimmy Broxton’s panel was excellent, fielding questions from the floor for the majority of the time they both proved to be really interesting to listen to. The discussion on how the comics industry is struggling to attract new young readers was of particular interest to me, the points they made have kept me thinking long past the event.

Mike Tucker and Mat Irvine took to the stage to talk about their time working for the BBC Special Effects unit. They have recently released a book chronicling the work the unit did over its lifetime, they talked through some of the photos that made it into the book and some that they’d had to leave out. The allotted 45 minutes flew by on this panel, I would have happily sat through another 45 minutes at least.

Creating Who? was the final panel and the one I’d been looking forward to the most. My ultimate dream would be to write tv tie in novels, particularly for one of the family of Doctor Who programmes. This panel was all about writing for Doctor Who outside of the tv programme and included comics’ writers and artists and Big Finish audio adventures’ authors. Sadly for me the person I was most looking forward to hearing from, Justin Richards who is Creative Director of the BBC Books range, was unable to attend. The panel was interesting, but ultimately a disappointment for me.

Looking forward to 2012.
I had a brilliant time at Cardiff International Comic Expo and I was thrilled to see them already advertising next year’s expo. I’ll definitely be booking my ticket.

Geek Stuff · Photography · The Gallery

The Gallery: Love

I haven’t been taking part in The Gallery for the last few weeks, but I thought I’d take part in the final one of the year. Tara has set the wonderful theme of Love.

I’ve already seen some lovely photos being posted, pictures of children, partners, friends and so many more. I had a few photos in mind to share for this prompt but as I was looking through my photo folders I spotted this one and knew it was the right one for me.

I have a lot of loves in my life (though some people around me might prefer to use the word obsessions) and this photo combines two of the biggest – tea and Doctor Who. This mug was a lovely present from Emma, and it’s become the mug I use for tea. Most days I manage to drink about half my bodyweight in tea so this certainly gets plenty of use!

Geek Stuff · TV Stuff

Resonance Update.

Just a quick post to mention a few updates that I’ve seen in the world of new tv show Resonance. First up their Twitter feed has changed to @willyouhelp so any links I’ve previously posted for their Twitter won’t work any more.

A brand new website has been launched for the Resonance world. This includes tonnes of information about the show and the mythology behind it – the more I read the more excited I continue to get. There’s a page devoted to all of the people and organisations who are already helping with Resonance and a page linking to all the ways anyone else can get involved and keep up to date with news. For me the most exciting bit was seeing the trailer, most of the shots in the car park were filmed on the day I was there so it’s brilliant to see a first finished product with them.

Finally both the Resonance Twitter feed and Facebook page have posted the first code to be cracked:


I haven’t yet been able to make head nor tail of it, apparently there answer is on the website but I’m yet to find it. There is apparently a second code once you’ve cracked the first one, I’ve seen a few comments that it is fiendish in comparison so I’m not holding out a lot of hope that I’ll be solving it any time soon!

Days Out · Geek Stuff · Theatre Stuff

Trip Out : Romeo and Juliet

A couple of weeks ago I went to Stratford to see the RSC Ensemble’s current production of Romeo and Juliet. Like most people my first experience of Shakespeare was Romeo and Juliet, as well as covering it in school 3 or 4 times I’ve seen the film versions by Franco Zeffirelli (didn’t enjoy it much) and Baz Luhrmann (loved it) and an AmDram youth production of it (absolutely dreadful). I was really excited to go to Stratford and see it done by the experts, and the reviews I’d been reading only added to the anticipation.

Directed by Rupert Goold, the leads were played by Sam Troughton (Much in Robin Hood) and Mariah Gale (Ophelia in the RSC’s Hamlet). Reading through the programme it seemed that many of the actors in the ensemble had a wealth of experience, including Noma Dumezweni (Captain Magambo in Doctor Who) as the Nurse. With the exception of one actor who appeared to be bored every time he was on stage the ensemble were as good as I had been hoping. It would be hard to single out individuals as they all excelled, but I did find myself thinking that it just showed how poor a lot of the Robin Hood material had been – Sam Troughton is a far better actor than I’d ever imagined.

The staging was also excellent, the use of pyrotechnics and smoke jets (I’m sure there’s a technical term but I don’t know it) made me jump on more than one occasion and helped to create the uneasy backdrop for the play. The costuming was very interesting, Romeo and Juliet themselves were dressed in contemporary clothing whilst everyone else wore period dress. The Stage’s review suggests that this “exposes the vulnerability of the pair and the timelessness of their situation” which makes sense to me, but I also felt it separated their world from the world in which the play is set.

I imagine one topic that most people discussed on their way home was the direction, particularly of Mercutio. Whilst the character always pushes boundaries Goold’s direction took it to a whole different level, something I’m sure some of the more traditional, conservative Shakespeare fans may not have appreciated entirely. I absolutely loved it, but must look back at the original text to see if I can work out what Goold’s thought process might have been.

This was the third play I had seen by the RSC at The Courtyard. The quality of all three has been incredible, my next trip is in a couple of weeks to see Gregory Doran’s version of Malory’s Morte D’Arthur. My expectations couldn’t be higher!

Geek Stuff · TV Stuff

TV Times.

I’m tired today after staying up watching the election results not come in, apparently my constituency declared about half an hour after I called it a night which is utterly typical. I saw this tv based meme on someone else’s blog a little while back and have been saving it for a day just like this.

A show that should never have been cancelled:
I imagine a lot of people answering this are going to be saying Firefly and I’m adding my voice to theirs. I came to the series late, but really wish there had been more.

A show that you wish more people were watching:
Ooh good question. Most shows that I watch have fairly healthy viewerships, I’ll always wish more people were watching Doctor Who though because that would mean there were always yet more people to have geeky conversations with about it.

Your favourite new show (aired this TV season):
It would have to be between Leverage and Castle. I’m not sure I could pick one of them as being a favourite though, and I get the feeling that if I was filling this in a few weeks later I’d be adding Justified to the mix too.

Your favourite show ever:
I always think this is a difficult question because there are so many varied programmes that I love, but it always comes back to Doctor Who.

A show you hate:
I think hate is a very strong word… there are a lot of American comedies that I’m not a fan of, things like Two And A Half Men.

Favourite episode of favourite TV show:
This seems to change on an almost daily basis, today I would have to answer Girl In The Fireplace.

Least favourite episode of your favourite TV show:
After much thinking I can’t answer this one. For each of the weaker episodes that I start to consider I start to remember all of the bits I love about it. Maybe I’ll come back and answer this another time.

A show everyone should watch:
Being Human, the more people are watching it the better the chances are of them continuing to make it, and I love it.

Best scene ever:
Again, so many contenders! I love the poison scene in Doctor Who’s “The Unicorn and The Wasp” and I love the scene from Buffy’s “Hush” in the lecture theatre with the drawings.

A show you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving:
Supernatural. I expected it to be a bit silly and light on plot, but it’s been a wonderful viewing experience that has got better and better with each season. I’ve caught up with the first 4 seasons now and am soon going to move on to season 5.

A show that disappointed you:
True Blood season 1. I had such high hopes for it and by the end of the first episode was feeling completely let down. I’m really glad though that I kept watching because season 2 so far has been excellent.

An episode you’ve watched more than five times:
Oh there are far too many so I’ll go for “In The Dark” from Angel, the first appearance of Spike in LA.

Favourite show from childhood:
Children’s Ward which then became The Ward. From an early age I wanted to be a doctor so a tv show set in a hospital aimed at children was my perfect viewing. Interesting to see Russell T Davies on its list of writers.

Saddest character death:
Without a moment’s thought, Mark Greene in ER. Just the thought of it has been known to move me to tears all these years later.

Geek Stuff

Slowly the conversion continues.

I’m sure I’ve said on here before that I’m a massive Doctor Who fan. When it first came back in 2005 my parents were both adamant that it wasn’t their kind of program and at times seemed to go out of their way to avoid it. This went on until Utopia aired, for seem reason I now can’t remember my mom watched it with me. She was a little confused about what was going on but she saw enough to make her think that she would like to watch more. From then on she has watched as many episodes as she can, and bit by bit we’re catching up with the Tenth Doctor episodes that she missed (we’re going to move on to Nine next). She still gets confused from time to time but she always enjoys what she sees.

Today we watched “The Time Of Angels” and “Flesh and Stone” as she’d been out both weeks and missed the episodes. During the time we watched two things made me think that she’s really getting there now. The first was when we reached the end of “The Time Of Angels” and Graham Norton danced across the bottom of the screen. She knew it was coming (she’d heard all about the furore that had been caused) but still she shouted at him to get out of the way and called him names. The only time I’ve ever seen her react like this before has been when she’s watching the soaps, something she gets very involved in. The second was when I left her alone for a minute (she shouted at me when I considered pausing it) and I came back in the room to find her trying to both hide from the Weeping Angels and look at them at the same time.

One of these days I’ll convert my dad too. Not sure if blogs will still exist by then though.

Geek Stuff · Scouting

Little Gems.

The first few things I thought of to post about today were negative, and would have involved me moaning about something or someone (it has been one of those days). I’ve decided instead to be positive and share two things that have made me smile instead.

Tonight at Beavers the boys were all decorating door hangers. Most of them wrote messages along the lines of “No Girls Allowed” or “My Room My Rules”, sadly I can’t remember some of the more interesting spellings that they used. One Beaver went on a different tack though, and wrote out the ring inscription from Lord of the Rings. He then decorated the rest of the hanger with pictures of Lord of the Rings characters and told me all about his favourite bits from the first two movies (he’s watching Return of the King this weekend with his dad). My favourite moment was when he said “And… and then Treebeard and the Ents flooded Iceland!” Priceless!

Then there’s this story. It’s been circulating on Twitter for a few days, but I’m sure there are some people who might not have seen it yet. It’s the wonderful story of how the Make-A-Wish Foundation made the superhero dreams of a young boy with cancer come true. Stories like this are what the phrase heart-warming was made for, every tweet I’ve seen refers to the need for tissues and I’d have to agree.