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Posts Tagged ‘Doctor Who’

Just so you know, in case you do not know me, I am absolutely respectful and involved in celebrating the true meaning of Easter.  Everything you are about to read has tongue firmly in cheek. Oh, if it takes off as an idea for whatever reason, copyright owned by me, Nigel Vanstone. A man with a love of chocolate and young cousins who take what he says quite literally.

Happily discussing Easter with my cousin Jake, aged seven.  “Have you got me my Easter Eggs?” I ask. “No”, says he; “You’re too old for easter eggs.”

“So how am I going to stave off the Easter Dinosaur?”, I ask, eyes wide. “What’s the Easter Dinosaur?” he foolishly asks.

Funny you should ask. (And bear in mind, this all comes off the top of my head.)

The Easter Dinosaur is a Tyrannosaurus Rex who walks the Streets of Britain, sniffing out for Easter Eggs.   The Easter Dinosaur loves Easter Eggs and spend his Easter Sunday looking for eggs. As he doesn’t have anyone to give him eggs and the Easter Bunny is scared of him, he has to roam the streets searching for other children’s eggs.   Any child who does not have enough Easter Eggs at the bottom of his bed on Easter morning is sniffed out and eaten by the Easter Dinosaur.  The Easter Dinosaur is tough and grumpy when he doesn’t get his eggs.  You can tell the Easter Dinosaur (as opposed from the other dinosaurs roaming the street) as he has a tail that is coloured purple with pink spots, much like an Easter Egg.

Hence, I explained, I needed an egg for Easter.

“But you’re not a child.” Jake states, matter of factly.

Mental age should be taken into account, I think.  Anyway in the process of staving off the Easter Dinosaur I went completely mental at the incredibly cheap prices for all the eggs. I mean, seriously, they were soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cheap. This lot cost me 35 quid (46 Au dollars!)

Oh, and Doctor Who starts on Easter Saturday. It’s like they magnified Easter greatness by a million.

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Remember this?

This was one of the highlights of the previous trip. And it closed, or else I would have visited it again. Instead the Doctor Who Experience opened in April in London. I was in London in April. Do the math.

(Apologies for the next blog. Unless you watch Doctor Who and, in particular, the last season most of what I am going to reference will have no meaning. Pardon, my geek is showing.)

The Doctor Who Experience is different to the Cardiff Doctor Who Exhibition. In addition to the museum exhibition displays there is an interactive element where you walk through six different Doctor Who sets/ stories. The problem is you’re not allowed to take pictures OF ANY OF IT!!!

You sit in a room where you watch highlights of the last, Matt Smith, season and impressively the crack (the main problem from last season) appears  and grows on the screen splitting open the wall, revealing the Library room inside.

The room has the telescope from ‘Tooth and Claw’, the Van Gogh Tardis painting from ‘The Pandorica Opens’ and the Smilers from ‘The Beast Below’. In addition to these props there was a life buoy from the SS Bernice from ‘Carnival of Monsters’, the control spheres from ‘The Abominable Snowman’ and other stuff I have forgotten.  I remember being impressed there were props from all 11 Doctors. Matt Smith’s Doctor comes on the screen and guides you through the series of adventures/rooms.

The Tardis appears in the library room with you, which was alternatively incredibly simple and incredibly clever at the same time, and you are ushered into the next room, the Tardis control console.

Again this is frustrating cos I really wanted to take pictures. Also having other people in the room means you are stuck  on one side of the console, you don’t get to explore properly as people are in the way.  However it is a very impressive set and you ‘travel through time’ complete with the floor shaking hydraulically.

You leave the Tardis and enter a spaceship which you realise is piloted by the Daleks.  Sadly not the decent Daleks but the crap tellytubby Daleks they’ve got now. Three appear and rabbit on, then a very nice Dalek fleet video appears on the viewscreens which redeems the crap tellytubbies somewhat.

The spaceship is exploding so you have to hurriedly vacate it where you then walk through the forest of the Weeping Angels.  Now this was really frustrating as everyone bar me RAN through this. I was trying to look at things but the usher insisted I catch up with the rest of the decidedly scaredy cat audience.  The area is dark, with forest noises.  There are some of the half formed statues from ‘The Time of Angels’, a hologram of a weeping angel and some hidden angels.  As I say, this is the place I had the least time to observe.

Then you are taken to a screening room which allegedly is the Pandorica but is in actual fact a cinema to watch a 3D film. Again I slowed down proceedings as the stone Dalek from “the Big Bang” was there and it looked awesome. And still no pictures….aaarrgghh.

The 3D film was an excuse to have Doctor Who baddies parade in front of you. Some of the effects were very impressive. The eye stalk of the Dalek came right out. The best bit of it was with the weeping angels where there was a jump in the film and suddenly the angels had moved and were reaching out to grab you. People literally jumped back at that point. It was very effective.

This was the end of the ‘experience’ as such. The rest of the exhibition was a nice collection of monsters, old series and new (the Giant Robot…. sigh).

Also fun was life-size displays of the Tardis console from the 80s old series, and the Eccleston/ Tennant coral console room. Both were delightful.

Highly recommended. Very expensive to get in. I borrowed my dad’s camera and it had the date stamp on all the pictures which, personally, I find really annoying. Still any excuse to  go again.

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I can never predict anything on this blog.

As you know I monitor the stats on this blog like a man possessed. I will write something that I spend hours on, think it’s hysterical and no-one comments nor bothers to read it. The stats hardly make a blip. Then I will write something about something I find inconsequential or matter of fact and the stats skyrocket, literally fivefold, for reasons I cannot fathom.

The following will guarantee me huge spikes in readership (in order of popularity from least to best):

Disneyland

Doctor Who

Kangaroo recipes (that got twittered about! I was so proud.)

Circumcision and/ or Wesley circumcising me

(the ultimate hysterical irony is that by my mentioning circumcision I have guaranteed an extra forty readers for the day…. every time. I’ve tested it.)

So this to me indicates that my readership is  keen on cooking, enjoys fantasy things and has a keen interest in penile hygiene and/ or sadomasochism. Welcome, one and all.

With that in mind I have devised the following plan to maximise my readership:

Circumcision Week (with an exciting twist!)*

Basically the week will be an extravaganza of preparation and events for the circumcision (no idea, really??? have a bath? write a love sonnet to my foreskin?) building up to the inevitable conclusion with resultant growth in readership as a result. On the day of the alleged circumcision Wesley will wear his Mickey Mouse ears while he circs me (which will inspire the utmost confidence) and afterwards we will watch Doctor Who while eating a kangaroo curry I had prepared earlier.

I think the idea is genius. I am fully expecting the blog to go viral.

I mean, seriously. How can that miss!!!!

* (I’m not sure when this is occurring. Perhaps it should be a bet type deal. Every time NATAP (National AIDS Treatment Advocacy Project who send regular emails to us about various health related issues involving HIV) sends an email about the joys of circumcision to Wesley he sends it to me with gleeful encouragement. Perhaps after the tenth pro circumcision email I agree to let him do it. LOL)

 

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Concluding the positives of 2010 then, from yesterday.

Dead Eye Dick

I have been chatting to Ray online for a good ten years now. Excellent lad and we get on well unless you discuss two issues which we have agreed to disagree on. George W Bush and Gun control in America. So it amused me greatly that I thought I should put my money where my mouth is and see what all this gun fuss is about. So off we went to a shooting range and it amused me even more that I was a good shot. Really good. Especially good when you consider I’ve never shot anything more than a pop gun before. I smelt of gun powder for days. We still disagree about gun control though.

A Completely Magic Weekend in Cardiff.

Ok so going out on the gay scene was like playing spot the person not dressed like it’s still the 80’s however,  other than that, the weekend in Cardiff was epic. Firstly Cardiff is beautiful and one of the places in the world I could see myself living. Secondly it houses (sadly now defunct) an amazing Doctor Who Exhibition which was completely and utterly brilliant, he said, his geek flag flying.

And finally it was the site of the most surreal day of exploration, all to see the shrine for a dead character in an average television series. Most people visiting whom were Ianto’s Shrine were like me, bemused and intrigued. You could tell the true fan though as they were already crying as they approached. People were crying as they put up poems etc on the shrine. Kissing the poems.  Weeping more. It was most delightful and amusing to my blacker than soot  sense of humour. Evidently the shrine still continues, so if you want the most delightful day out, to witness what people with too much time on their hands get up to, this is the place for you.

The Best Morning Ever

This

Burned into my memory, those mornings.

Home

There is this weird sensation when you go somewhere and you know you’re meant to be there. Never knew that until this year. And it’s like everything falls into place.  Nothing is easy though.  Welcome to my life.

Best Till Last

I was hesitant to put a person as the best thing of last year, largely as its rather personal and hopefully not too embarrassing. However there was no denying the reality. All in all, if you asked me to define one event that was continuously delightful in 2010; whether it was from daily tie pictures or 6 am videochat soul-searching or email tag or constantly nattering throughout each day or blubbing over the tele  or being taught so, so many things, it was the growing and amazing friendship with Wesley. When I did a list of the best things that happened to me last year, he was at the centre of most of them. In the spirit of the best of companions, I have learnt so much from him already and have so much more to learn. Hopefully this is a two-way street.

So GM, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your friendship and love this year. I look forward to years of our new, really old bond, wherever that may be. As ever, I got your back.

And it’s pronounced Mah Crah May.

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This came in the mail today. As I ordered it a week ago, I was not surprised to see it though pleasantly surprised at the speed with which it came.

In case you can’t read it, the book, Blue Box Boy, is a memoir of Matthew Waterhouse who played the companion Adric in the television series Doctor Who from 1980 to 1982.  Tragically I did not need to look that up.

When he became a companion in the show I was 15 and 16. A very young 15 and 16. I was completely smitten with Doctor Who and still am, to a degree. When Waterhouse was a companion, I was obsessively keen. Joined the fan club. Bought the merchandise. Watched the show religiously.

Some of these things are still true.

Whats interesting about reading this book though is its capacity to be a time capsule of my life at the time of watching. I look back on my teens with amazement now.

Instead of posters of big busty woman (still in denial at 16 and soooooo much later) I had posters of the Doctor Who companions. Instead of dates with big busty women ( denial, denial, denial) I was meeting anoraks at Doctor Who conventions.  Instead of shagging like rabbits like all of my friends, I was home collecting Doctor Who figures.

You have a LOT to answer for, show.

The book itself is very good. It would appear that joining the show was not the superbness Waterhouse was hoping for. Which is ironic really as the show itself, at that time, wasn’t the superbness I remember either.

Certainly with the benefit of hindsight.

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Just Say No To Plastic

I have been a hoarder of collectibles for much of my life. This came to an end when I moved into my new house and there was simply no room for such things. They sit in boxes, unloved and unobserved and seem completely pointless.

In many of my wistful daydreams of being able to go back to Past Nigel and warn myself of future dangers, the tragedy is that instead of exciting pitfalls like “Dont go having  a relationship with that serial killer” or “That building is about to blow up, jet setting Nigel. Don’t go in there.”, Future Nigel would go back to the past and tell himself “Stop buying collectibles, your house is going to be too small” and “Stop eating, you fat bastard.”  Hardly a gripping life.

So perhaps Future Nigel may visit Today Nigel and say “What did I tell you about the collectibles???” however, for the moment, I do not care. This came in the post today.

And when you open it, it looks like this.

Which is simply stunning and makes my heart skip at its awesomeness.

And while I have been extremely good and not bought plastic for years now, this I could not resist. And if a similar set of all the Doctors Companions came out….. It may mean another visit from Future Nigel.

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You know how you hear a song or a piece of music and you’re transformed back to the time when you first heard the song.  When I was 19, and the first time I returned to England, I heard Feargal Sharkey’s A Good Heart is Hard To Find. Good Lord it’s awful.  However, whenever I hear it now I remember the first time I was discovering London, the 19 year old falling in love with England.  

There was a number of songs that gained personal meaning for one reason or the other during the holiday. As pure self-indulgence I am listing them here and giving some insight into what or why they gained notoriety.

As I can imagine that would be boring for anyone reading this, instead of listing the song title, I’ve listed a song lyric. Guess the song before you click on the link.  See.  A game out of my indulgences.  Doesn’t get better than that.

“I want your love I don’t wanna be friends.”

I started off easy.  You should know this.

This song was EVERYWHERE! All the countries I visited I heard it played.  If there was an anthem to the trip, this is it. I could not stop hearing this song and it is so annoyingly infectious. This is the song that i will hear when I am 60 and be transported back to a lake house in North Carolina, a bus station in France, a pub in Exeter, an airport in Toronto…. too many excellent memories for this one song.

“And now whatever way our stories end I know you have rewritten mine By being my friend”

This song! Drove me insane. I could not stop singing it in the weeks prior to visiting America.  First song played in the car in Charlotte was this soundtrack.  Someone telling me something. 

And some notes about this particular YouTube clip. There are better clips of For Good but this is the last performance ever of the artist (Kristen Chenoweth) in the role of Glinda, the white witch in Wicked.  And for those who don’t know, this song is all about the character saying goodbye to each other.  Watch the whole clip. It’s doubly heartbreaking.

 “We’re surfing in the air We’re swimming in the frozen sky”

I’ve taken you here before and you know the reason why. I’m nothing if not a completist.

“And darkness still inside you Make you feel so small”

On the plane play list returning to England from the US.  Some of the lines of the song were especially pertinent. Listen to the lyrics more than the singing.   I included the Glee version, even though I appreciate it is wuss rock and there are better versions, as this was the one on the plane and I seriously love Glee. Glee is just so much fluff and  an excellently fun tele show. If you haven’t watched it I would recommend it. Highly. 

“There are no lyrics”

 Only one person will get the significance of this, which I include to make that person  giggle. Everyone else, move on. Nothing to see here.
 

“I don’t mind spending everyday Out on your corner in the pouring rain”

Ray and I had driven through Washington and seen so many famous sights my mind had been blown. We had just finished a mountain of fries at Z-burgers and were heading back in the car to Baltimore Airport to send me on my way to Charlotte. This song came on while we were driving. It was just one of those gooey moments of being really happy that I will remember.  And I like this song.

“As he came into the window It was the sound of a Crescendo”

I missed this. I’m not sure how. But when I saw it, for the first time at my friend’s place at 3 in the am after a really long night, I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. It’s a great song. But good God, were MJ’s video clips self-indulgent or what??!!! I included this 9 minutes epic not expecting you to watch all of it, unless you are super bored.  He patented the shoes that made him be able to bend over like that tho. And the reason the song gets included here. The second time I heard it was with the same friends. Odd. Clearly the song hangs around them.
 

“These streets will make you feel brand new, the lights will inspire you”

Just in case you don’t know, hover the cursor over a link or a photo and text will appear. And the text for this is particularly true.  This song drove me nuts as I kept hearing it in Brighton at the start of the holiday and never heard who sang it/ rapped it.  I’m not a fan of rap but the chorus by Alicia Keys is enjoyable and why it gets here. It sticks out (like those things that stick out) amongst all the other songs though.

“There’s not a word yet for old friends who’ve just met”

You wont get this one. Even I didn’t know what the song was except that I spent days humming it to myself at the end of the holiday. You know that annoying tune you can’t get out of your head. I explored the song on the internet when I got back wondering why it was playing on my brain.  I was pleasantly surprised by the lyrics and its pertinence to my current situation. And yeah, muppets. Ah well. I’ve clearly proven I have zero taste in music.

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Ianto’s Shrine, Cardiff Bay

Oh I loved this day. It was one of the highlights of my holiday.

For those who missed it, the picture below is the shrine dedication of a group of fans to a character who died in a television show; said television show being filmed at Cardiff Bay. It was simultaneously touching and sad. Touching because people clearly were affected by the fictional death of this character; sad because people clearly were affected by the fictional death of this character.

Wars are raging, people are starving and people are writing love letters to Captain Fiction.  So many outpourings of love for a television character. It really is a skewed world.

Having said that, the day was just hysterical! I haven’t laughed so much in forever. I mean, really. It’s a tele show, people.


Doctor Who Experience – Cardiff Bay

I fell in love with Doctor Who when I was 11. Loved it ever since, even when it was rubbish. Visiting an exhibition of props and costumes was a no brainer. I’ve written enough about it recently not to need to rehash. Suffice to say, if you have a vague interest you will love it and if you’re a fan you’re not going to need my recommendation.

Dawlish beachfront, Devon

Dawlish: home of the most magnificent ice creams and the neo-nazi ducks. Amusingly that ice cream has proven to be the most commented upon item of this blog which, given the breadth and scope of my travels, is no mean feat.  People found it completely fascinating for some reason and, to their great sense,all wanted to try one. I should really include the pic of me looking lovingly at the ice cream which is hysterical in its sadness. Instead Dawlish beach, and a pic of the sea front I really quite like.

Jasper, Exeter Quay

You know how some children, who are too young to know any better, think that you are the most amazing thing because you know about a television show or some cartoon character they love.  And you know that you’re not at all special however you cant help but enjoy the fact that, for a brief moment, the child thinks you are. That was Jasper, my cousin Deb’s little boy, who at the age of 6 thought I was the bees knees because I knew about Doctor Who and liked buying sweets. heh! Who was I to argue. He’ll work it out soon enough.

The Elfin Oak, Kensington Gardens, London

I discovered this purely by chance. I had gone to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground first thing in the morning. the morning was sunny but the park was covered in fog which had not burnt off yet.  The park was closed however the Elfin Oak was directly opposite the entrance.

for those who may not know, the Elfin Oak is a 900 year old hollow log that, in 1928, artist Ivor Innes was commissioned to carve little fairy figures and woodland creatures into its bark.  the level of detail is incredible and especially so when you realise it’s age.  Go here for some more, had-better-access-to-it pictures of the Oak. 

The Elfin  Oak itself is in a cage. presumably this is to stop vandals however the cage’s grid is so small it makes taking pictures of it incredibly impossible. This was the best shot I got and that was putting the lens through the tiny grid in the cage.

It is delightful however, particularly given its history and its age. Can you imagine children in the 1920’s seeing this? It’s impressive now in this day of video games and 3D television. Kids back then, best you get is a book or a play if you’re lucky, it must have been amazing.

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Continued from here. I refuse to let the fact that nobody commented on it get me down… sob…

 Mayan Exhibit, Cadbury World – Birmingham

This is just so wrong. Firstly it is the very first thing people see when they enter Cadbury World. Secondly whats up with his head? He looks like he has been decapitated. And can you imagine the artist  creating this and thinking, “Have I got enough expression in his face?”  Children were freaking out as they went through this part of Cadbury World. Willy Wonka had a wonderful forest full of candy cane trees, peppermint grass and chocolate rivers when you entered his chocolate factory. Cadbury World has stuffed boa constrictors, Halloween lighting, rain forest nightmare sound effects and mannikins so scary even the adults were rushing past them. Someone should send Mr Cadbury a copy of the book.

St Michael’s Church, Heavitree

This was part of the great find your dead relatives day. There were a few days like that to be honest.

St Michael’s church in Heavitree, a suburb of Exeter is the resting place of my Uncle Harry and the Christening place of my brother.  The church has seen a few marriages there in the family clan as well. I like that about this church; that it is steeped in history, not only of the Vanstone/ Hoyle/ Bakers family tree but of Exeter itself. That this is the place where you celebrate entering the world and this is the place where you celebrate your passing. It’s the thing that makes Europe so much fun, that history that invades every aspect of it. This church has been around since the 12th Century. Thats an incredible amount of life that its seen.

And this pic, chosen because it’s cool.

Unknown Lady – Exmouth, Devon

I adore this woman. Out reading her book on a sunny day in the  town of Exmouth. It is super warm and, God love her, she is dressed up for the rain that probably inevitably comes every day when I am not there, because I am cursed to be a sun magnet.  There is something so English about her look as well, which reminds me of my Gran, I’ve only just realised. It’s the look of the aged Brit and had been since the war.

Alliance Sculpture, Cardiff

Placed outside of Cardiff Library there was evidently a big kerfuffle when this was made as it was designed by a French, not Welsh, sculptor.

I think it is superb. It glows in the dark at night with Welsh phrases which is a bit naff to be honest. Here  though, in the light of day and against the colours of the windows of the library….. absolutely magic.

Private Shop, Cardiff

This is a shop to sell adult materials in Britain. I included it purely as an example of, I presume, the English reserve and not blatant censorship.  There is not a clue there as to its contents. Not even the name.

Cardiff Bay, Cardiff.

I am not sure why it is so dark in the picture. Truly the weather was lovely throughout the entire trip.  It rained maybe three days.  Cardiff Bay is spectacular and home of the genius Doctor Who exhibition and the Shrine to fiction.  Here we are walking miles and miles to get to the tourist bureau to find the shrine. I was a bit exhausted by this point and was thinking that Ianto’s shrine had better be worth it. It was fortunately and I’ll show you some more of that tomorrow.

 

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Exhibit Yourself

This one was hidden away well and truly in the files. A continuation of the spectacular and hysterical day at Cardiff Bay.

My apologies, because I am about to get geeky again.

Aside from being the home of location shooting for multiple Doctor Who and Torchwood episodes, Cardiff Bay is home to the current (and at the time of writing) only Doctor Who Exhibition.  It’s a small exhibition packed with lots of props and costumes from the current series.

For a fan, it’s gold.

After paying ( the most extremely bored looking shop assistant I have ever met in my life) for entry, the first thing you see is the Tardis. Ahhhhhh, sadly I had to have multiple pictures of this just in case they didn’t turn out, as you do. Ignoring digital technology that can erase a crap picture in a second. I needed multiple. 

(And at this point, I should again thank my cousin Rachel who was an extraordinarily good sport on the day, indeed weekend. And who took millions of pics of me.)

There was a video set up that placed your image on a scene from the series.  Rachel’s turned out extremely well (in fact, it looked fantastic) however mine was ruined by my-only-shirt-that-I-wore-on-holiday.  Blue screen projection. Doesn’t work so much when your shirt is blue.

After making Rachel take a picture of me in front to the Tardis interior (in fact, just a sheet of plastic with the roundels in it.)   She was appalled at how insistent I was that she did get the picture in frame so as not to see its plastic sheetedness. It still looks like a plastic sheet but I was too giddy to care.

You then enter a series of areas that feature the props and outfits from the show. Don’t worry, I am seriously resisting the temptation to list them all.  However I will mention the outstanding ones.

Most of the monsters were dummies, take a picture, move on. Some were interactive. The cybermen, Daleks and the weeping angels moved but, for the most part, they were static.  the best part of the exhibition was the cybermen. Not only did they move and were visually interesting I took a really good picture with them.

The Dalek display was impressive and featured 4 Daleks moving around and exterminating people. Unfortunately to make the extermination effect work the room was filled with smoke. It looked good but it made taking a picture reallllllly difficult.

I’ve mentioned the weeping angels before.  They were the ones in the scariest episode of Doctor Who ever, the idea being that the statues will kill you if you don’t look at them.  Perhaps its because they are so scary that the display was placed miles above your head.  In fact, I walked past it the first time.  Hence the angle of the shot.  The display moved around however it could have been so much more effective had it been face to face.

So if you’re a fan, this  is a must see. Rachel was not a fan however still enjoyed it (which was good as we were there a while.)  I was having the best time.  I’d have been happy had I gone after having my picture taken with the Tardis though.  Easily pleased and  a teensy bit über-geeky.

Gotta love me for something, right?!

And if you come round to my place, I can bore you for hours with pictures from the exhibition.  Hours.  You’ve been warned.

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