FenCon XII

FenCon weekend is over once again, unless a blue box and time lord pop in. I found this one:

And this portal!
And this portal!
It's bigger on the inside!
It’s bigger on the inside!

But the weekend is still over until next year. I had a blast, though. The panels I attended were interesting, and some downright hilarious, like Yard Dog’s Road Show. I enjoyed Triskelion in concert. Linda, Juli and Julia belly danced.

Yard Dog Road Show
Yard Dog Road Show
Belly Dance at the FenCon Cabaret
Belly Dance at the FenCon Cabaret

And for the first time, I really attended the room parties. Visiting, mingling, not just standing on the wall for a little before retreating to my room. It really helps to have a social friend who knows everyone to go with and break the ice. I’m a little sad and exhausted to have to head back to work tomorrow, but as always, I feel inspired and artistically renewed after  hanging out with other writers and artists and true fans of the genre. Ready to dive back into my own writing and finish up some of the projects that have been neglected due to real life.

A big thanks to all the FenCon staff and volunteers who worked so hard to make this another great convention. Already can’t wait for next year.

And now for something completely different!

When I was about twelve or thirteen, my dad came back from the local Video Express* with a movie he said we would enjoy. My sisters and I rushed forward and snatched the case from his hand, expecting the latest Disney or Three Ninjas movie. Instead there was a faded-looking and somewhat ugly image of a cartoonish hand brandishing a yellow cup filled with these weird looking old guys and something about a Python.

Utterly disappointed, we looked to our dad for an explanation.

“Trust me, you’ll like this.”

With typical childishness, we whined and moaned about stupid old movies and how bad it was going to be. And with a typical parent’s patience, he declared it movie night and forced us all to sit and watch it. I settled in, determined to do what he’d ordered, hate it and then try erase the wasted hour and a half from my memory.

It opened with a dull, misty landscape and the sound of horses approaching at a steady canter. I rolled my eyes and sighed at the crappy old special effects and wished my dad had picked a newer movie or just let me go play in my room. The men’s heads appeared at the top of the hill, bouncing slightly. And then the men came fully into view.

I discovered a favorite movie that day, and learned a life-long lesson: never discount something just because it’s “old” and to always give a recommendation a chance. I feel fortunate that my dad made me sit and watch with him. If he’d given in to my complaints, I might have missed out the comedic gem that is Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

My own kids have seen the film and like it almost as much as I do. We quote it, make jokes and even act out scenes when we’re out hiking and come across a “bridge of death” along the trail. And every time I’m faced with something new I really don’t want to try, I remember my initial reaction to this movie and decide to go for it. Who knows what other gem I might discover?

Holy Grail celebrated its 4oth anniversary this year, and though I won’t be able to make the one-night theatrical release this October in the UK, there is going to be special edition blu-ray gift set released on October 27. Here’s a promo video Michael Palin made in honor of the release.

If I have the extra funds, I’ll probably get it.

*For you youngsters, this refers to an ancient form of temporary video acquisition that involved driving to the store where, for a nominal fee between $1-$3, we selected these things called “VHS tapes” that we played in machines called “VCRs” that had to be returned after a couple days. These stores were operated by actual human beings and often sold snacks as well. 😉

That Castle Looks Familiar!

Season 8 of Dr. Who just became available on Netflix, so naturally I started watching (I have to catch up with my daughter who had been watching at her Grandma’s on cable). Episode three played, and suddenly I saw a very familiar castle depicting the sheriff’s headquarters on my TV.

Now, I’m used to seeing Big Ben, the Tower and other iconic London architecture that I was privileged to visit in real life while taking a course on Arthurian Legend in 2005. (Yes, that was the year of the infamous Tube bombings. I flew out that day hours after it happened.) However, I hadn’t seen the picturesque Bodiam castle until “Robot of Sherwood” aired.

Bodiam Castle

Now, I could be wrong, but the resemblance of my trip photo to what appears in the episode is pretty spot on.

Image found in Google search

According to this website, my guess is correct. During my tour, we learned much about Bodiam, including the fact that it is one of few remaining castles with a moat. If memory serves me correctly, its preservation is owed to the owner’s stripping of the castle’s defenses well before the invaders arrived. As you can see from the episode, it is a beautiful, fairly well-preserved structure nestled in the lush English countryside.

If you’d like to see more images of it taken during my visit, see my Photos page and follow the London Trip 2005 link. You’ll also notice some other recognizable locales, and a few more obscure (such as Tolkien’s favorite tree in Oxford), connected to other fandoms. If you’d like the story behind some of the images, comment with your request and I’d be happy to share.