Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Update

Ice Storm Chronicles, day four...

It’s Christmas day and the electricity is still out.  Additionally, the phone has gone out, so nobody can call.  My mother-in-law was due to phone in as the kids opened their presents, but can’t.  Nor can the few others who generally call to say hello on this special day.  So much for that.

Still, we are much better off than a lot of folks this Christmas.  Without power, a lot of people run into real trouble.  So many houses have been switched over to automated heating systems that require electricity to operate.  No power, no heat, and it’s about fifteen degrees Fahrenheit for the high today.  How many have had to flee their homes, and will return to broken water pipes at best when the power is restored?  It is a sad thing that so many people have become helpless in the face of a minor disaster.  While I’m not shaking the value of modern conveniences, it is best that everyone possible be prepared, and have a backup in place to provide the essentials in case of such an outage.

I suppose I’m fortunate to be in a position where loss of power is merely an annoyance, rather than life and death.  A generator gives power for a few hours here and there (no sense wasting fuel or burning the thing out), and heat is all still wood supplied by hand.  Everyone here is warm and well-fed, while we wait for the crews to get the lines cleared.

Now for updates.

With the generator running, I finally got the chance to watch Enemy of the World on Christmas eve.  I was so hyped to see it that I was worried that it might not live up to my expectations.  Many other fans seem to have had the opposite reaction, as the story was held in low regard in general.  The surviving audio and telesnaps hadn’t done it justice, or so goes the consensus amongst fandom.  I, on the other hand, have always liked the story, and after seeing the actual episodes I must say it lived up to my expectations for the most part.  Still, I don’t know if my father will ever appreciate it.  He’s never liked Patrick Troughton’s portrayal of the Doctor for whatever reason.  Oh, well, you can’t please everybody.

This morning (Christmas morning) I went outside and took a few pictures of the ice.  I’ll be sharing those in the next few days when I get around to uploading them to my computer and formatting them for the blog.

With the amount of ice damage, there’s no telling when they’ll have power restored to my house.  It’s slowly coming on here and there, though it will take some time for them to get down every side road.  On that note, I’d like to take a moment to thank all of the crews who are braving the elements to fix the lines and remove the trees.  I’m sorry that many of them will be missing out on Christmas for the sake of our electrical infrastructure.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Enemy and the Ice Storm

Merry Christmas, and Humbug too!

It has been far too long since I posted to this blog, and in the new year I will endeavor to do so with more regularity.  Perhaps once a week, I will seek to share something, though it may be longer depending on family commitments and the various jobs I have to handle.  The work of an editor is never done.

Anyway, as the ice subsides and clear skies reign again—though for how long, no one can tell—I would like to impart a quaint little tale, regarding the storm, myself, and Doctor Who.

This all started back in October, with the exciting announcement that nine previously-missing episodes of Doctor Who had been recovered.  For those of you who may  be scratching your head right about now, back in the sixties and seventies, the BBC had this short-sighted habit of “junking” their old programs, in many cases destroying the only known copies of broadcast material.  All episodes of Doctor Who from the 1960’s were lost in this manner, though thankfully many still exist today thanks to copies that returned from foreign broadcasters and private collectors.  Following the latest 9-episode discovery (in Nigeria of all places), there are currently 97 episodes of Doctor Who still missing.

The recovered episodes recovered were the 6-episodes of Enemy of the World (1 of which had previously existed prior to the recovery) and 5 of the six episodes of Web of Fear (1 of which had previously existed, 1 part still missing).  Being a big fan of the old Black and White Doctor Who stories, I was really thrilled by this news, and eager to see the material for myself.  There is where this story truly begins.

After the announcement of the recovery, the episodes were put on itunes, but I can’t use their player because of the nature of my 7-year old computer system (trying to load the itunes player nearly blew my CPU).  So, I had to patiently wait for the DVD release.  The UK (Region 2) and Australian (R4) versions of Enemy of the World came in November, but as of this writing there is still no word on a US release.  This was very frustrating, as I have been waiting many years to see this lost story!  An alternative could have been to buy a Region-2 compatible disc player and to then import the British version, but that would have been costly and I’m pretty strapped for cash right now.  It seemed I would have to suffer for untold months.

Then, a curious development arose.  It seems there was a limited release of Enemy of the World Region-1 discs in several Canadian stores.  This presented a possible opportunity!  There had to be a way to acquire one of those Canuck DVD’s!  Hanging out on Gallifrey Base (the web’s pan-ultimate hang-out for “Whovians”), I was fortunate enough to encounter someone offering to pick up copies of the DVD for fellow US fans for a very reasonable price.  I jumped at the chance, and all went well.  Friday afternoon, he had the DVD in the mail to me.  I hardly expected it to arrive by Monday, yet there it was, delivered so quickly!

Here is where the story gets “interesting.”  On Sunday, and into Monday, Maine experienced a major ice storm, knocking out electricity and making it slick and dangerous on Monday afternoon as I headed out.  A thick coating of ice covered everything.  Trees were bent over and breaking.  My half-mile driveway was blocked by obstructions and more slippery than a skating rink, yet I braved the elements on foot, to examine the disaster and to discover what may await at the post office.  During my journey, I encountered electric company workers cutting trees off of the power lines, yet it was only the beginning for them.

Reaching the post-office, I had no idea what to expect, and after checking my box I saw the little yellow slip.  Retrieving my package from the window, a jolt of joy flowed over me, as I knew what I was holding.  The Enemy of the World, at last!

I made my way home with the loot, eager to finally see this story.  Yet, coming home, I found the power to still be out.  With all the devastation of the storm, it was doubtful it would be back soon, but Enemy had been missing for forty-five years, so it could wait a little longer for my eyes and ears.  Then, as the hours ticked by, the cosmic joke sank in.  After the lengths I’d gone to in order to retrieve the DVD, I now had no power to watch it!  Some might say, I could have used The Power of the Daleks.  A generator would suffice, though would have to be set up in the morning.

This DVD was a Christmas present to myself, and there I sat, waiting, writing these words by the light of a kerosene lamp.  By the time I transcribe this onto my computer and then onto the blog, I expect I will have finally seen the episodes.  I cannot wait!