John Gallacher's Columns
JohnG wrote a series of columns for the old site. With his permission I have posted them here.
I've combined them all into one page. If you don't like it, well you know who to contact.
Remember all opinions and views etc expressed here are personal opinions only.
"AND SO IT BEGINSÖ!"
"Hey, John. Could you write a column for us?"
Well, thatís how this got started. And the good news is that it doesnít have to always be about Stargate all the time, just Sci-Fi. The funny thing is that I joined SG-999 without actually watching a complete episode of the show. That got quickly changed and I must say that I have been impressed. For the record, I was one of the ones who helped establish the group although it was not me who came up with the initial idea. That honour goes to Nick who came up with a costume idea. I thought that this would be a waste of time; weíd do this once and never again, all that time and expense. But the others (Catherine and Paul) managed to persuade me otherwise. So we got our patches and uniforms from the Barras and various army surplus stores and then we were ready. At this point, I thought that it would still turn nasty, that is until we checked into our hotel (now called the Corus in Argyll Street.) We approached the receptionist and gave her the fright of her life. I suppose 3 people in army fatigues would surprise anyone. After her fright we were checked in. Nick arrived a while later but the receptionist didnít see him enter. So you can imagine her confusion when 3 people enter and 4 leave. On the way to the Central Hotel, the homeless people forgot to ask us for change if their amazed expressions were anything to go by. We had literally just put one foot past the door when we were accosted for photos. And this went on all day; from drunks on the station platform to the neds in Subway. It was at this con that we were asked by many if they could join us. And so SG-999 was born as a club. I have had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful people all through my interest of sci-fi. I also hope to meet and hear from many more through this site. So come on, I wonít have much of a column if I donít have much feedback. Iím not a journalist but I do want to hear your views. (Assuming you want to hear mine!)
THE FALL OF TREK
I never thought that I would here myself say it; Star Trek may be over. Thatís right, our favourite show may be up for the chop. Both Nemesis and Enterprise have not done as well as expected. Or at least thatís what the rumour mill says. But whatever anyone says, Trek has been on a downward curve since the days of the Next Generation. They were beating shows like Wheel Of Fortune, which is a giant in American TV. So WOF must have breathed a sigh of relief when TNG was cancelled for its journey to the big screen. In my opinion Generations tried to juggle too many eggs in the air and struggled to catch them all. Then came Deep Space Nine, a darker version of Trek. Which was followed by Voyager. I donít think that there was anything actually wrong with these shows; each of these was different in their own right. But it was the way in which they were shown that I have a problem. DS9 began at TNGís fifth season. As soon as TNG finished, Voyager began. We went from a slow steady trickle that kept the fans crying out for more but enough to appease them for the moment to a practical onslaught. Overlapping spin-offs like this have fans checking TV guides to make sure that they donít miss one or the other.
There has been the question of "Have we been to the well too often?" My opinion is yes. Itís best to rest a while and let the well replenish itself. The fact that the fans are still calling out for more while you rest is always a good sign. But it disturbs me now when I hear Rick Berman and Brannon Braga say that it might have been a good idea to rest the show for a couple of years. Donít get me wrong, I like Enterprise. Iím just upset when I hear fans berate shows since TNG. Maybe thatís the problem. Because it doesnít have Kirk or Spock any more, we are more likely to say we donít like it. I say if Berman & Co had done what had been allegedly reported and rested Trek for two years after Voyager then by golly what a show Enterprise would have been then. The stories are strong now, more vibrant. But I canít imagine what it could have been like if it had taken a holiday. Are the glory days of TNG really over? Will Trek ever reach those dizzy heights in the ratings chart? I can only hope so. After all, wasnít TNG in the same position as Enterprise in 1987?
Oh, my Gawd! Is it really 10 years since Babylon 5 burst onto our screens? Er.. well actually yes! Seems incredible now but I remember thinking that I wasnít going to like this show. But I stayed with it to the end. (Well, mostly.)
When Channel 4 started the show, they didnít play the pilot, so we didnít get to know who all these characters were. We literally were in the dark; all alone in the night. Maybe because of this fault was the reason I fell away from the show and thatís how it stayed until the end of Season 1 with the episode "Chrysalis". And then Channel 4 did an odd thing; they showed the pilot. Bit late in the day, wasnít it? But then I was horrified. The music was a bad rock track, the effects looked dodgy at best, make-up and costume were different and a couple of the sets didnít fit in with what had already been established. But I persevered.
It was during the summer of B5ís debut that I was told of a revelation by my pal Paul. He said that he had heard how the show was going to end if it finished its five-year run. "How?" I asked. "One word; boom!" In other words the station was going to go kablamow. The show had just started and already Paul knew what was going to happen by the time the final curtain fell. Naturally I didnít believe him, but I did keep one eye on the show, just in case.
All was well until the final episode. And on January the first 1999 at 12:15 pm, Babylon 5 went out in a glorious fireball. I was dismayed and shocked. The station that had withstood all that the galaxy could throw at it and was a shining beacon as the last best hope for peace was casually demolished with her lights being extinguished by the creator of the show, J. Michael Stracznyski. He had always the notion of doing so since he said that he was there when the lights went on, it was fitting that he was the one to turn them off. In case anyone is wondering how I got the time of B5ís demise so precise, Channel 4ís The Big Breakfast was showing the last 5 shows. But they kept their clock in the corner, much to the annoyance of anyone who was taping the show. One episode that sticks in my mind is "Gropos". A group of marines stop at the station on their way to a battle. The crew make friends with some of the marines. But at the end we see that it has been a costly battle. All the marines that we have met are dead, including a new recruit. The last shot of Keffer standing alone in the corridor with the casualty list in his hand says it all; war isnít glorious. Itís a waste of life. But B5 wasnít all about doom and gloom. One thing itíll be remembered for is its humour. Donít ask me to remember my favourite moment, as there were so many. The show was particularly popular in Britain and Europe, more so than in America. Many Americans just didnít get the British sense of humour and so many of the gags went right over their heads.
But I remember Channel 4 getting the last episodes of the first 3 seasons before they were shown in the States. Allegedly, folks here were e-mailing their pals in the States with messages like, "I know something you donít know!" and "Sheridan sure likes parachuting!" I may be a Star Trek fan first but Babylon 5 proved that there is plenty of room for a second love.
Everyone hates it when their favourite show ends. We all do. But when it seems to be the end of an entire genre, then it starts to get a bit worrying. Buffy and Angel will finish at the end of their respective seasons. Birds of Prey only got a few episodes out before the plug was pulled. Stargate SG1 gets another season before the alleged Stargate; Atlantis show begins. Enterprise ratings have fallen sharply along with other shows, but it seems that other cable stations have started broadcasting. The story is that the numbers have stayed the same but the number is spread much more thinly. At least thatís what Rick Berman, Executive Producer of the Star Trek Empire says.
So does this mean the end of sci-fi as we know it? I donít think so. If you look at the output of the genre, it has always had dips and peaks throughout the years. Take a look at the start of the Nineties. There was an entire glut of sci-fi. Babylon 5, Deep Space Nine, seaQuest DSV, VR. There was an entire listing in the TV Zone magazine and what a listing. Almost an entire page. It is true that the latest batch of shows hasnít captured our imaginations like previous shows. But lets face it, you always get a bad batch throughout the years, it doesnít always mean that itís the end of the world,
as we know it. Manimal, Automan, Galactica 1980 (Sorry about dredging that last one up but itís a point that I have to make.
Right now remakes are in fashion. The latest is a proposed movie version of Knight Rider with David Hasselhoff in the Devon Miles role. (Altogether now, AAAARRRGGGHHHH!!! & NNOOOOO-OOOOO!!!!!) Comic books are also prime targets. Mutant X and Daredevil were all in print form before being born onto celluloid. If going to books is all producers are going to do then it seems that they are willing to take the lazy option and let someone else do the creativity bit and the copy that. Even Stargate was a movie before it came to syndication.
So what does the future hold for sci-fi?
That depends on the producers and writers on what the can come up with. It can either be a rosy one like the Starship Enterprise sailing into the distant depths of space of the blinding nuclear flash at the end of BBC Scotlandís effort Invasion: Earth.
We can only wait and see.
Dragon boat Race- The Defence
Well, for those of you who didnít know I took part in the Annual Dragon boat Race on Loch Lomond on Saturday 7th June as part of the team from Loch Lomond Shores as The Tartan Terrors. Our mission: at the very least donít come last!!
We arrived at Balloch Park just before 10 am and set up camp. It wasnít till later that one of our team borrowed a gazebo from a friend who lived near the park. We didnít race till about 11 am. Present was Ronnie. We got into costume and make up, which consisted of kilt (actually a strip of genuine Loch Lomond tartan) sash, armband and tartan hat. Let me tell you something: those dragon boats are not the most stable of craft. We launched and immediately started to rock side to side. There was an unusually strong wash that morning and we were in the middle of it. Our briefing said if the boat felt as if it was going to tip we should adopt the brace position which is lay your paddle flat on the water to act as a stabiliser. On our trip to the start line we braced quite a few times. Anyhow we made it (eventually). After we were lined up, the signal was given and we were off. Remember those waves I spoke of earlier? Yup they came back: four drum beats later. I was on the right hand side, when the left went downÖ and kept going down. Halfway between airborne launch and impact, I easily rationalised the fact that I was flying and about to get wet and could do nothing about it. 0.759 seconds later I confirmed a long known fact: the Loch is bitterly cold. We climbed into the rescue boat (which is no easy thing) and were cheered by the crowd. I think that was something to do with the fact that everyone was worried about being the first team going in the drink and that we had obviously allayed their fears. Round One had our time as "Oops, Got wet". To make matters worse the organisers were playing the theme from Hawaii-5-0 for each race and we hadnít even cleared the opening drum intro. Even worse than that, Nick and Catherine had arrived in time to witness our demise. They tell me that the commentary went like this: "3Ö2Ö1Öand theyíre offÖ and we have a capsize." It was literally that quick.
Brian, Paul Muir and Mandy and daughter Lara also arrived at that point.
Soon our gazebo looked like a Chinese laundry with clothes hanging from every point.
Round Two and I was appointed drummer. It wasnít till we got to the beach that I was told that it was my responsibility to note if the boat was about to capsize and alert the crew. Oh great, no pressure, I thought, if we go over then its my fault. I was also told that as drummer I would feel the boat rocking more than anyone else. Boy, they werenít kidding. Iíve already seen the photos and they look as if I am having carnal relations with a terrified look on my face. Anyhow, we came second and stayed in the boat. Yahoo! Things are looking up at last. I think our time was 1 min 42 sec.
Round Three and once again we had a swell and I was still the drummer. (Oh God, we are soo-oo going in again!!) Listen you try drumming when you are hanging to the side of a boat that is tilting up in an effort to stabilise it and look confident. Oh and did I mention try not to fall in as well? Well we came third with a time of 1 min 51 sec. Anyway we didnít make it to the final 10 for the play-offs but we did come 17th out of a field of 21. Considering that we only finished 2 out of 3 races and still beat 4 other teams, I think that we did well. We had all agreed that after the last race we would all jump into the loch as a final yahoo. Unfortunately we all got yellow stripes down our backs at the same time. It didnít stop everyone else from grabbing me and hurling me into the water. As a result my legs hit the rocks below and now I have two cuts on my legs although I was laughing so much I didnít notice the pain until much later on. But I do offer hearty congratulations to the winners, The Allsorts, runner-ups X-Men III and third place winners Gael Force who were last yearís winners. The National Park had a team in as well, The Arabian Nights who came seventh. Are we going to do it again next year? Well, I said yes before my head got dried out. One slight side effect with being the drummer; until I went to bed I was convinced that my armchair was going to capsize in my living room.
If you want to know about the results in detail go to www.dragonboatevents.com
THE WRITERS SUCCESS
Following on from the "success" of my story Aftermath I have decided to talk about my writing. Ever since I was at school, I have enjoyed creative writing. Once in Primary Six, I wrote a story about an elderly prisoner called Charles Domingo. I couldnít think of a name for him so I used a character in a Val Doonican song. I also remember the opening lines. It went thus;
The sorrowful Charles Domingo looked at the rats playing on the prison floor.
"You are my only friends." he said sorrowfully.
I got 9 out of 10 for that and I only lost a point because in the end the prisoner dies. Nothing wrong with that but I also included his gravestone that had his birth and death dates. Unfortunately I had him listed as 88 years old. The years I chose had him at 176 years old. Hey, as far as I was concerned this was English, not Arithmetic. I didnít know someone would check the dates. Nitpickers!
Iím not saying that Iím the best storywriter in the world. (God, thatíd be cool if it were true.) But anyhow I thought that I would dispense some nuggets of info that Iíd learned over the years for those wanting to dip their toes into the world of literature.
So, what is the secret of good writing? Well, if Hollywood knew that, there wouldnít be any bad movies at all. Firstly, you must have a good imagination, or in my mumís opinion of me, an overactive imagination. Secondly, plan. Where does the story start? Who are the characters and what do they do? How will the story end?
Quite often Iíd help out my sister with her creative writing homework because she didnít enjoy it like me. But often her teacher would suss that she hadnít written the story. Not by herself entirely; that sheíd gotten help from somewhere.
The first story that I got published was a ST; TNG story called Dangerous Diplomacy in a fanzine called Make It So. (Issue 12). The reviewer said, "Dangerous Diplomacy is an interesting tale of treachery and deceit. I cant tell you too much about it or Iíll ruin the story for you." Cue jackhammer to widen doorframes to allow head to get through. Incidentally, Iíd love to hear from other writers to hear of your success.
"Where do you get your ideas from?" is a question Iím often asked. Usually I get ideas from anywhere. Reading a book, watching the TV, from nowhere; they sort of pop in there. When Iím on the toilet. (I kid you not. It gets boring just sitting there so my imagination sort of wandersÖ!)
People have been asking when the sequel to Aftermath is coming. Well, to be truthful, I hadnít really thought that far ahead. But I donít doubt that there will be a sequel. I had thought that Aftermath would be liked. I hadnít counted on anyone raving about it!
So I hope that helped you all in someway in either trying to write or get an insight to my own thought processes. The main thing is to enjoy what you write in every way possible in subject and how it turns out.
THE SCI-FI COLLECTIVE
Now in my years as a sci-fi fan, Iíve been laughed at, jeered, and made a mockery of in an effort to hurt me. But I donít care. You see I am going to prove my point for the defence. Weíve already heard the case for the prosecution. Many, many times, over and over again repeatedly.
For this, I am going to equal sci-fi "weirdoes" with "normal" football fans. Let me state that I personally have nothing against footie fans what so ever. This is merely for illustration purposes.
Football- Wear team strips/ colours, even though there are those who never take part in the game actively.
Sci-fi- Wear fancy dress for fun, in effect their "team colours", even though all never have been in space itself.
Football- Watch the games on TV, even meet up at convention to talk about their love of the beautiful game.
Sci-fi- Watch the shows on TV, and go to conventions to discuss their love of the genre.
And yet we are treated as the scum of the universe. It was pointed out in the book, "A Vision Of The Future" by Stephen Edward Poe which went behind the scenes of Star Trek Voyager that with all the baseball and basketball games in the States, there are a number of fans who go dressed up as the teams animal mascots. You name it, bears, eagles, beavers, moose; theyíre all there. No one bats an eyelid simply because itís a fancy dress costume. Change it to a Star Trek costume and you are looked on as strange. Why? My costume is a fancy dress costume like those mascot suits. There is no difference and yet there are people who would prefer that there is one just so that it is justified to heckle those who are doing no harm to others.
Perhaps the problem is a long-standing one. Back in the Fifties when TV was being introduced as a means of entertainment, sci-fi was added in addition to the cop and western shows that were popular at the time. Those shows took on the comic book mantle. In other words, kiddies TV, with shows like Captain Video and the like. (Yes there was a show of that name. I cringed like hell when I found that one out.) And so it seems that kiddie TV name stuck. The strange thing is that most non sci-fi fans will stick their nose up at TV sci-fi, but will happily go to the cinema and watch The Terminator, Alien, The Matrix or Independence Day to name a few. Whatís the difference, guys? Thatís sci-fi no matter how you dress it up. The excuse that "The cinemaís a lot better." doesnít wash either. Sci-fi again.
When was the last time you heard of a riot at a convention? Hmm? Iím waiting.
When was the last time you heard of trouble at a football match? Yeah, thought so.
The reason we are heckled is because we donít appear to fight back. We are supposed to take the licking and like it. I know of one fan that scared a bunch of hecklers because he challenged them to a fight after a nasty heckling bout.
We are seen as different. But thatís because we are different. We donít cause trouble, we have fun and we raise a shed load of money for charity. On an edition of Kilroy, there was a discussion of sci-fi fans. One ignoramus said that all sci-fi fans were weird and thick. A very well dressed gentleman stood up and challenged him.
"Iím not thick." he said. "What do you think I do for a living? "
"A professional of some sort?"
"I am a High Court judge and my whole family are fans and I resent you implying that we are stupid. I can assure you that I am anything but!"
So what does the future hold? Will we still be pestered by Neds? Sadly, yes. But there is one thing that we can still take with us. We are better than them. So much better.
And there are more of us than them.
EPILEPSY- NO CASE FOR IGNORANCE
A Special Report by John Gallacher
In light of recent events, I have a statement to make.
I AM A CONTROLLED EPILEPTIC!
Iím making this statement due to the fact that it is no secret that there are a great number of people who donít know what epilepsy is (or even want to know). It is because of this kind of ignorance that the Scottish Executive began the "See Me!" campaign to bring so-called "taboo" conditions screaming and shouting into the light. My own experience of epilepsy began when I was diagnosed at Yorkhill Childrenís Hospital when I was seven. I was identified as being photosensitive; strobes, television and the like could trigger a fit.
By the way, those recent events I spoke of was a fit I took at the 2004 Leuchars Airshow. However, in this case, it was my own fault; I forgot to take my medication. (And yes, I did have a large queue of family and friends to properly chastise me; they arenít going to let me forget this one.)
But afterwards, my friends began to ask about epilepsy and so I have decided to spread what I know in an effort to educate those who want to know. So here goes.
The most common question Iím asked is "What does it feel like to have a fit?" A fair question. Imagine your day from the moment you awoke to about lunchtime. Now play that moment in your head. It kind of plays like videotape, doesnít it? Now, remove a section of that memory, say, from when you started your breakfast to the moment you arrived at work or school. Now play that "tape" again. Suddenly, the whole thing seems disjointed and has a massive discontinuity. This is why epileptics are confused after a fit. One moment they are doing something, the next they are elsewhere on their backs and donít know how they got there or where they are.
The most ridiculous question that Iíve been asked about epilepsy is "Are you not embarrassed about being epileptic?" Embarrassed? Only when Iím asked such a stupid question. This makes it sound as if my epilepsy is something I could take off like a fashion disaster. If only I was so fortunate. Iíve found that many people take the attitude of "Itíll never happen to me." However, let me make a point; anyone can get epilepsy at any point in his or her life. Case in point; Mike from the pop group Bucks Fizz. Youíll remember that the group bus was involved in a horrendous crash and Mike was in a coma for an extended period. He came out of the coma and seemed OK. However, some time later, during rehearsals for a concert that they were about to give, he took an epileptic fit. You can well imagine that everyone panicked. On that point I must concede, it is frightening if you arenít used to seeing it. It can be caused by injury to the head, blunt trauma, disease or even genetic. So as you can see, no one is immune.
After a fit (in my case anyway) I feel lethargic as if Iím trying to get over a really bad dose of flu. That feeling when your brain says, "Letís go do something." And the body replies "Canít. No energy." Also, expect tears. It can be disheartening when you find out that youíve taken a fit. All that time clear and then suddenly it seems to go down the toilet. I remember one time, after a fit, I was apologising for taking a fit to my mum. She told me that it wasnít my fault and to stop apologising. Then I began to apologise for apologising. It kind of became a vicious circle after that.
My epilepsy isnít all that bad compared to others. The doctor told me initially that on a scale from "0" (being clear) to "10" (being worst case scenario), my epilepsy barely registered a "1". During that initial diagnosis, my mum thought that the doctors were dismissing her as if she was wasting their time. She was told that it wasnít intentional to dismiss her, but to bear in mind that by the time some people walk out of the doctorís office, the patient would have had up to seven fits in a small space of time.
I get angry with some people who think that epilepsy is some kind of a joke. ("Heh, he had a pure eppy, man." (laughs out loud.)) My wish would be to let them see for one day just what it is like to live with epilepsy and then see if their attitudes would change. My life is forever changed. I canít do a lot of things that I would have done otherwise. One good point is that they canít draft me into the armed forces. (Ironic, since I sometimes wear a Stargate uniform at conventionsÖ!) My mum once told the doctors that she was glad of this point as she "didnít raise my son to be cannon fodder" to which the doctor turned to me and replied "At least weíve done something right for you."
There are several types of fit. The first is tonic-clonic seizures (or grand mal, as it was known.) This is the stereotypical fit; falling to the ground unconscious with the twitching and movement of arms and legs. The second is absence seizures (or petit mal). This one looks as if the subject is daydreaming and will react as if they havenít had a fit. There are other kinds of fit, but for the sake of explanation, Iíll stick to these two. At the end of this article, Iíll provide some contacts if you wish to find out more.
So what do you do when you come across someone whoís having a fit? First of all, get them into the recovery position. Donít restrict their movement or hold them down, but do remove anything that might injure them. Talk to them and reassure them, even when they are still fitting. A familiar voice has been known to help bring some subjects. When they come to, comfort them and reassure them that they are OK. If the fit goes on for about 15 minutes, get an ambulance- this will obviously depend on how long the subject takes fits and how often. General rule; try to get them out ASAP. Donít try to put anything in the subjectís mouth, not unless you really want them to chomp your fingers off. Someone in a fit always clench his or her jaw.
In the case of a petit mal (I still use the old terminology, probably because that was what was used to explain it all to me at the time), donít shout or startle the subject; just merely repeat what they may have missed and reassure them that everything is OK.
What makes me mad is the fact that many people seem to think that if they ignore epilepsy, itíll simply go away. That is a blinkered and selfish view, especially in the light that it affects 1 in 200 people and is the most common serious neurological condition. (Many people believe that epilepsy is a disease. If that were the case, weíd all be vaccinated against it, wouldnít we?) That means it affects 30,000 people in Scotland. Those people arenít just going to go away.
Epilepsy has no cure, but it can be controlled by an array of medication. This only reduces the risk of a fit; it can never guarantee that youíd never have another fit in your life. By simply changing your lifestyle can also help. Sitting a good distance from the TV is a start, not taking part in high-risk sports such as scuba diving and rock climbing; all these are examples. Not being able to try scuba diving in my case broke my heart as Iíd always wanted to try it out, but thatís the curse that I have to live with.
Epileptics just want to be treated like everyone else; with care, understanding and not like weíre carrying the plague. Weíre not lepers, but unless society changes its view on these so-called taboo subjects (will someone tell me why itís been listed as taboo anyway, please?), weíll always be made to feel as if weíve something to be ashamed of. If anything, society has something to be ashamed of and weíd appreciate it if it would apologise and bring us back into the light.
If you have any more concerns or questions about epilepsy, Epilepsy Scotland has a helpline.
48 Govan Road,
Telephone- 0141 427 4911
Fax- 0141 419 1709
Helpline 0808 800 2 200
INFINITY? I HOPE NO
The hope of every show is spin-offs. That chance to expand on what has gone before but a little differently. After all Star Trek has done it several times already. So Stargate was no different. So to reduce the budget and get a younger audience lets do it as a cartoon. So Stargate; Infinity was commissioned.
I wish they hadnít bothered.
Set some time in the future, it tells the story of an SG team going through the Stargate network to avoid being captured by the Tílakíkhan. It starts out at Major Gus Bonnerís court martial after a disastrous mission. It turns out that a shape shifter set him up, who in turn let the Tílakíkhan invade the SGC when the SGC has a crystal, which may be one of the Ancients who built the Stargates. The team try to head off the invaders to protect the crystal but have to flee with the crystal to prevent it being taken by the invaders. So the story begins. The crystal hatches to reveal an alien who has the power to heal and telekinetic abilities. She doesnít even know if she is an Ancient or not.
The main problem is the changes in continuity. All the gates have ramps. Convenient, as the team has several wheeled vehicles. And we have getting into the kind of scenarios their training would have told them to avoid. But since this is a kidís show we have to have the obligatory moral tale involved. Pass the sick bag. Quick!
The show was animated by Dic, the company who brought us Inspector Gadget and was commissioned by MGM, parent company of Stargate; SG-1. Which doesnít explain how we got so much discontinuity. The show is set in the future but doesnít say exactly when. The closest we get is that Bonner was a lieutenant when the SGC was initially set up. Big help! And the show has a sung theme tune. Well, all cartoons have one. But at least they rhyme properly.
Hereís a taster. The first verse. (Iím not kidding. Itís this bad!!)
Long ago in the days of old
The Stargate lay till we broke the code
Now we travel through the universe
On our mission to get back to Earth.
As you can see, it doesnít get any better. I did try and give it a chance, but it didnít help. Dismay and despair were there. To be fair, everyone gets a credit on this series, even the coffee boy. (Believe me, I checked because I thought I had imagined it the first time round.) They even have a green alien called Ecíco who in one story is said to be half human. Yeah, like it was obvious. Green, no eyes and a weird pattern on his back. All the signs were there. (Iím a Sci-Fi fan; Get me out of here!)
Stargate Infinity is being shown on weekday mornings on Sky One.
Heres hoping that Season Two falls into infinity.
Soundtracks. I love Ďem!
In fact at the time of writing I have approximately 82 soundtrack albums and that doesnít count those my pals have allowed me to copy from. Iíve always been a sucker for orchestral music even when I was seven. In fact my first soundtracks were 45 r.p.m singles from Disney that had selected tracks from their various movies. I also had The Black Hole and loved John Barryís main theme, particularly the church organ segment. I always had an impression of a bishop walking along the Cygnus to bless the awesome chasm (on the outside, I should add.)
But thatís the thing about movie music. It should be able to carry you on your imagination. Not dull as dishwater. I've had several conversations about which soundtracks are good and which ones just plain suck. One album which I was disappointed in was Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Brad Fiedelís theme for the film is classic and the music works well for the film. But on its own itís just plain repetitive. Dull, dull, dull.
But there is one thing that just annoys me that gets me really steamed about and that is the increasing number of "music from and inspired by" albums or FAIís as I call them. You can hardly call an album a soundtrack or otherwise if the music featured has never come anywhere near the film not even if it was recorded and then dropped for whatever reason. To me FAIís are a rip-off. I recently bought Tomb Raider The Cradle Of Life and then discovered that it was an FAI. Several weeks later, I found the OST of the film. For those of you in Edinburgh who heard a strange scream from nowhere, my apologies. That was me screaming in Glasgowís Virgin Megastore in Argyll Street when I made the discovery.
How do I judge a good soundtrack? Well, if I can visualise the action of the film in my head without too much effort of recall, then itís a good track. One film OST that I am reviewing my opinion is my copy of Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring by Howard Shore. I had initially said that it was a very dry album; music that works well in the movie and is well written but doesnít evoke or move me at all. However I have found that you have to listen to it several times and now it is in the category of "quite good". Does this make a little sad? Having all those albums?
I donít think so. Since I know for a fact that there are people that have 10 times more albums than me. That doesnít make them sad.
Simply connoisseurs of fine music.
P.S For those of you wondering which album is my favourite. I have 5 and they are (in no particular order);
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life- Alan Silvestri
The Mask Of Zorro- James Horner
Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl- Klaus Badelt
The Mummy Returns- Alan Silvestri
Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Once More With Feeling- Joss Whedon
SG-999 MISION REPORT: SG~6 BRIEFING
Well Iíd better write this while all the details are still fresh in my mind. I was in two minds to go to this as our departure was on my mumís anniversary. Or at the very least leave later to arrive on Saturday. But anyway hereís my side of what went on.
FRIDAY, 31 OCTOBER 2003
Catherine and Nick are staying at my place ready for departure. Itís absolute bedlam!! Only so far that Iím not a morning person and we have to pack the car and fit Brianís staff weapon into the car. (Which it did.) We arrive at Glasgow Airport at about 8a.m and meet up with Brian, Xander and Ronnie at the departure lounge. We check-in, and the ticket desk staff member isnít impressed by Brianís staff weapon. (In fact, she kept referring to it as the "pole", despite telling her several times what it was.) After getting some camcorder tapes we start to head for the gate, (airport not star) I bump into my boss at work. The one day that I thought I had seen the last of my bosses and I run into them at the airport. I chew Lockets to calm me down, as I am not the best person for flying; just ask anyone who knows me. The take-off wasnít too bad and the flight took off at 10.50a.m. An hour and a half later and we land in Heathrow, but our plane slams the brakes on hard on the runway a couple of times, swerves err so slightly and hand brake turns at the end of the runway. Was this a candidate for stunt driver of the year? It didnít matter because we had to wait for a few minutes as our departure gate had a plane still there due burst tyres. We unload from baggage reclaim and get the bus to our hotel; the Holiday Inn Edwardian. For those of you who donít know of it, let me describe it; round like the BBC Television Centre. In fact thecorridors are like the corridors of the Starship Enterprise. I even imagined that it was the Enterprise. We then unpacked, rested a while then left for the Radisson Heathrow, a mere 500 metres away. We pick up our stewarding badges and are pleasantly surprised to find the SG-999 name on the badges as well. Our duties for the night are to furnish the main hall for the Halloween party and to do guard duty for the evening for the cocktail party beforehand. After a while our relief take over and we head for the party downstairs, as the upstairs is full. We meet Suanne Braun (Hathor), Don S. Davis (Hammond), Colin Cunningham (Maj. Davies), Frida Betrani (Lya) and Teryl Rothery (Dr. Fraiser). One happy chappie in our midst was Ronnie as he had his head kissed by Suanne, Teryl (who apparently had a fetish for men with bald heads and shot over to our table in a flash kissed his head much to Ronnieís delight) and Don!!! (Donít ask.) We left at after midnight ready for the first real day.
SATURDAY, 1 NOVEMBER 2003
Lets see; four bodies, two beds. Well just as well Xander and myself brought the sleeping bags. As nice as the Holiday Inn is, that floor was uncomfortable. (Note; must remember to invest in sleeping bag mattress) We got changed into our SG gear and headed to McDonalds for brekkie. Seems that we werenít the only one. We spotted a few "gaters" in there as well. It later turned out that there was a hullabaloo as the assistant manager forgot to order in extra food and the main manager went bonkers. Turns out he forgot to check to see if there were any conventions on in the area. Yes, thatís right, McDís ran out of grub.
We reported in for duty and were told that we werenít needed on stewarding duties. It turned out that we were just the "back-up" stewards, just in case things got hairy. A nice surprise indeed.
Then the guests came for their Q & Aís. Suanne, Frida and Musetta Vander (Shaíauc) came out. Suanne was funny and mad as a hatter, Frida was quiet and gentile much like her character and Musetta was as bad as Suanne. I decided to ask a question; if you could appear on any other sci-fi show, what would it be and as who? Unfortunately, despite me trying to tone my accent down so that it wasnít as broad, it came out sounding like Billy Connolly. (Yes, that broad.) Colinís character is a very by-the-book type of guy, very level headed who works for the Pentagon. So I can only imagine that we got Maj. Davisí evil twin; this guy was a riot and I almost didnít recognise him with the bandana and goatee beard. Teryl came on and I knew what to expect as I had already seen her on pervious SG videos. She runs to the toilet almost as much as I do. The video team were really nasty as they kept putting up captions behind her back. By the time she finished her talk, she was paranoid, ah bless her. "Uncle" Don (must remember to ask why Catherine calls him that) came across as a very level headed and calm individual, probably on of the first and only to do so. We missed Carmenís talk. Something to do with hunger and rumbling tummies. We did catch the end and from the little I saw he happily fielded any and all types of question. Iím pretty sure that there was a couple that not even I would ask a quest for fear of being branded perverted. Alexis spent a lot of time going over the fact that he has gone back to school and is going for a degree in psychology and philosophy. He also went over the things that opened his eyes to this world. A little dry for me but you could see that he clearly enjoyed this subject.
Later on it was time for the Fancy Dress Contest. Someone asked why we didnít go on as SG-999. The answer is simple; we had no routine and the standard was amazing. There was a Mini Hathor, a mini Nox, a remote controlled Replicator, Apothis and Ammonet with a working hand weapon. For one moment I thought that I was going to be "selected" for the judgement of a god. Fortunately I wasnít and the girl who was selected failed to live up to her godís expectations. It was at this point that my camcorder battery went flat and the replacement was a mile away in my bag. Fortunately I had plenty of film with me so I got loads of piccies. Let me make one observation for future generations to learn; kneeling in combat boots ainít the most comfortable thing to do as had cut off the circulation to my ankles and boy do you walk funny when youíve done that! Afterwards we retreated to the foyer to relax. Then we got word of several MAJOR medical emergencies. Brian, the guy who ran the event, stumped his toe big style and telling him to rest his foot was like telling the sun to turn the brightness down a bit. Then there was the guy who had a major head and neck trauma. All we got told was that the ambulance crew that came handled the situation poorly. By the time we left it was about 1.30am. Surprisingly, I fell asleep very quickly, much to my roommateís surprise. Only 3 sentences into a conversation about all the weird cartoons that weíd seen as kids.
SUNDAY 2ND NOVEMBER 2003
The weather had deteriorated from last night. Overcast, windy, and showery. Funny thing was that we walked to the convention and didnít find it cold. Mind the locals were in Artic survival gear. We Scots are obviously made of much sturdier stuff.
By this time, McDonalds had gotten used to all this Scottish money that was going into their tills; theyíd stopped checking it to see if it was fake and asking, "ErÖ what do I do with this? Can we accept this?" Musetta was leaving later on today and it was last chance for autographs. All the guests came on as before. Colin even "ringed" onto the stage. Obviously his medication had worn off; he was off his chump. (In a good way of course.) Teryl was still paranoid that something odd was going to appear on the screen behind her. Don and Carmen came on and Carmen sat back and let Don do most of the talking.
We were booked in for a group photo. All the guests (minus Musetta who by this time had left due to work commitments) were there. Now getting seven guests and six mad Scots and a skull and crossbones flag into a small area for photos is not an easy task. Roswell got the best place, being fought over by Teryl and Suanne. Mind you I had a good spot. I had Fridaís bum in my groin!! The guests even signed the photo. Cool!!
The autograph queue went on forever and all the stewards got a guests photo to get signed.
The disco started and there were REAL USAF there. It got to the point that it got hard for me to tell who were the real thing and who wasnít. We even got into a conversation with a USAF non-com (we suspect) who was slightly the worse for wear for drink. After getting our photo taken several times and many more conversations with various folk, I even filmed a small segment of us crossing one of the bridges, even though for some unexplained reason, Nick was temporarily taken over by the spirit of Eric Morecambe. Xander and myself were removed by force by Catherine because we had set up surveillance on a girl who was wearing barely a bikini and a chain mail skirt and high boots. (I kid you not!!!) We left the hotel and still found people in survival gear passing us. We got back to our hotel and prepared for the dawn.
MONDAY 3RD NOVEMBER 2003
Well, the dawn came and went and we didnít notice it. (Something about being asleep) Well, we got up and started packing. I learned how to surf when I slipped on Xanderís sleeping bag. Everyone in our room went to McDís for breakfast. We checked out, paid the bill (grudgingly) and waited for the rest of the team to arrive. We found that we had missed the first bus back to the airport so we waited for the second, which we almost missed as well. On arrival to the BMI queue Catherine pointed out that we were stood next to Robert Powell. I do remember thinking "Jesus, so it is!" The queue wasnít really moving and our departure was creeping forward. Iím thinking, "Weíll never make it." when the official moves us up to the desk for Glasgow. We check in and the operator is impressed with the staff weapon in its travelling bin bag and sack, unlike the one in Glasgow.
With all luggage handed in and tickets in hand, we headed for the gate only to be told that the flight would be delayed for 10 minutes due to high winds. While I was buying a Mars bar and Irn Bru (yes they do sell it at the airport.) apparently Robin Cook passed us all. I didnít see him as I was checking my watch at that point. Never mind plane spotting; Iím going celebrity spotting at Heathrow next time.
The take off was bumpy as was the ascent and I had the worst view of Ďem all; seeing both wings during extreme turbulence flap. (Did I mention somewhere that I am not a good flyer?) After about an hour we were back on Celtic soil. Weíd finally hit the anti-climax. The Adventure that weíd been planning for over a year was over at last.
I thought that Iíd be miserable as our departure coincided with my Mumís anniversary. But as I said to the team, they did cheer me up by making me laugh. In fact I laughed so much that I was convinced that Iíd ruptured something. Seriously.
I did really enjoy myself. Was it because I was at that low ebb or was it that it had been over two years that I had gone to a convention? Who knows why? But I am planning on going back at some point. When exactly, I donít know but I could see why Wolf Events are so respected by con goers. Lets hope that this wasnít my last SG con
TO BE CONTINUEDÖ..?