Goodbye, Sarah Jane…

With the recent passing of Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith to you Whovians reading this), I’ve had Doctor Who on my mind.
Growing up, my first exposure to Doctor Who was late Saturday nights on PBS. Even on Saturday nights I had a bed-time, but unlike weeknights and Sundays which were regulated by the clock (in bed by 9pm), Saturday’s bed-time was based on when my parents went to bed. This could be as early as 10pm, (which was still a whole hour saved from the wasting disease of sleep) or as late as (glory-be to hallelujah) midnight.
It was during one of these late-night Saturdays that I stumbled upon a very odd show on PBS. Up to that point in my young life I tended to avoid PBS, because I strongly suspected they were trying to make me learn something. And I didn’t know much, but I knew that learning things was by-god not what television was for! Bad enough I had to go to a building five times a week and have knowledge crammed into me. But to have it thrust on me in my home? And by the same wonderful device that brought me Airwolf and Super Gran? No sir, this would not stand!
But flipping past it this particular night something caught my eye, so I flipped back. Yep, that looked like a blankety-blank alien. And wow, that guy has a long scarf. But this was definitely science fiction, and on PBS of all places. Man, were they going to be pissed when someone found out about this… And thus began my on-again/off-again love of Doctor Who. Any Saturday night I wasn’t playing D&D (and some when I was) would find me watching the adventures of the Doctor and his companions, as he, they and that magnificent scarf traveled through time and space. When the Tom Baker episodes went away and the next Doctor appeared, I started to lose interest. I would still watch, but it wasn’t as fun anymore, and slowly I slipped away from the good Doctor.
Over the years I still kept Doctor Who in my life. I read the sporadically good books written about his exploits, I tried the various attempts at Doctor Who RPGs. And whenever I found an episode on PBS I would settle in to watch it for a while.
When it was announced that Doctor Who was coming back, I admit to being interested but not particularly excited. At that point, too many things I loved from my childhood had been brutalized by “re-imagining”, and so my response was tepid…until I saw the first episode. Yes, things were different, how could they not be? But everything I loved from the original episodes seemed to have carried through to the new series. While still an entirely new Doctor, Christopher Eccleston reminded me very strongly of the Tom Baker Doctor I first fell in love with. Couple that with Billie Piper (and in fanfic I’m sure that happened) and there was no way I wasn’t watching this show! When Eccleston gave way to Tennant, I didn’t suffer the same ennui I had during my first Doctor switch; Tennant was different, and didn’t bring the same pathos as Eccleston, but was still entertaining to watch. And it prepped my quite well for the Tennant to Smith change-over.
I loved and love Doctor Who for many reasons. It is an amazingly positive and optimistic show, without being saccharine. Every week, for 45 minutes, it encourages us to be our best, sometimes by showing us at our worst. It is the show I point to when I want an example of good story trumping special effects. It is at least partially responsible for my love of history and mythology (and space, astronomy, zoology…)  And while it may not be a bastion of scientific accuracy, it has never promised it would be, and so I have no problem with the rather flexible nature of science and engineering in the Whoniverse (sonic screwdriver + microwave= deep space radar? Allons-y!) Yes, I could delve into a critical analysis of the show, based on its place in history, the writing, the acting, a Fruedian interpretation of that scarf…but why should I?
Simply put, I love Doctor Who because when I watch it my heart races a little and my default expression is a smile. You can’t ask for much more than that from any show you like.
(And if I ever find a blue police box in my backyard, I am gone-baby-gone!)
That someone who was a part of that is gone makes me a little sad. Farewell Elisabeth Sladen, and farewell Sarah Jane Smith. I wish you well on your next great adventure.

Easing Back Into It

I’m still easing back to this, so this is going to be a link-heavy update.  Luckily, I think you’ll find the quality of these links more than makes up for my lack of verbosity.

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Before I get into the links, though, I wanted to say a special thank-you to my pals Leah, @Doctor_Teeth, @scottybomb and @nitabing.  I had a particularly bad day at work on Friday, the kind of bad that will linger if you let it.  But even so, I didn’t want to skip our scheduled Pathfinder game, because we had to really work to find time in everyone’s schedule this time around.  We made it work and I’m glad we did.  All four of them are great to role-play with, and I had a great time re-introducing them to the diabolical environs of Westcrown.  It was just what I needed to decompress from my day.  Thanks, gang!

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To the Links!

– I admit, I had a bit of a Data-crush when ST:TNG was on the air.  Brent Spiner is a great actor, and I enjoy watching him every chance I get.  I just started following him on Twitter, which is how I found out about his new web series, Fresh Hell.  The first two episodes are up, and I am amused!  Can’t wait to see what The Incident was..
– If you are an Edmonton otaku, good news:  Animethon 18 is a go!   Whether you have followed or were even aware of the drama surrounding the three-day event and its organizing committee, the fact they finally announced dates should make you smile.  Look for me there; I’ll be the guy cosplaying as myself.
– I discovered this site a while ago, and ever since I have been impressed with how thought-provokingly funny someone with a chalkboard and a camera can be.
– All I’m going to say is, my birthday is coming up
– Need some cool sound fx?  These are just a click away…
– Of the many podcasts I listen to, Fear the Boot has always maintained a consistently high level of quality.  This is a must-listen podcast for all you gamers out there.

That is all for today; be back soon!

Patrick, In Memorium

Sorry for the lack of updates last week, everyone. I couldn’t bring myself to write anything, and it seemed wrong somehow to post any of my filler updates.

You see, last week I lost a friend. And that threw me, not just because I won’t get to see him across a gaming table anymore. But also because his death was preventable, and it pointed up my own failings in looking after myself…I’ll get back to that.

Patrick was a gamer (and if the after-life is worth anything at all, he still is a gamer, somewhere). If you had to define what type of gamer he was at the table, I would say Thespian with a smidge of Rules Lawyer and a dash of Power Gamer. But he definitely focused on the “role” in role-playing, and a gaming session with him was never boring. Though I’m ashamed to say there were times I just wanted to play the game, and wished he would dial it back, I was always impressed by his imagination. And an almost encyclopedic knowledge of RPGs and RPG companies; I thought I was bad, but Patrick made my well of information look like a drying puddle in comparison. He could be a lot of fun to play with; often generous, always enthusiastic and he just really loved gaming.

This isn’t going to be one of those “He was Perfect” memorials. We didn’t always agree on things, we fought a couple of times (verbally, not physically) and argued more than never. There were times I just didn’t want to deal with Patrick, as I’m sure there were times he could take or leave me. But I can say that, right or wrong, even an argument with Patrick was interesting.

(And sorry Patrick, I think I was right that last time. I sure would have liked to hear your rebuttal, though.)

Mourning is almost never about the person’s death, but about their absence from our lives. That is certainly so in this case. I will miss gaming with Patrick, and miss almost as much the forum and internet discussions we had. He had an intelligence and imagination that was both impressive and rare, and he was what I would refer to as “a good guy”. I don’t think the world has ever really had a surplus of intelligent, imaginative good guys, so the passing of one more is a great loss for us all.

But all of that aside, I think it was the manner of Patrick’s passing that gave me greatest pause. One thing Patrick and I shared was an approximate waist size. We were both what could be generously described as “big boned”. And it was that waist size we shared that took him from this life way too early.

Now I’m not always the clever sort, but even I can’t ignore a wake-up call that loud. Honestly, if the passing of a friend a decade my junior from heart disease wasn’t a wake-up call for me, then I might as well just give up. Go all the way in the other direction, get Jabba the Hutt big, and start picking out a nice piano crate to be buried in. And I’m not interested in that, thank-you very much. I have too much I want to do, and almost all of it requires me to be able to fit through my front door.

So thank-you for the warning, my friend. I am going to miss you, but I will concede your last argument and try to make sure we don’t see each other again too soon.

Godspeed, Patrick.

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For those who knew Patrick, his funeral will take place on Monday, April 11, 2pm at Westlawn Funeral Home, 16310 Stony Plain Road in Edmonton.