Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Weekend Assignment #315: My Mafia, the Doctor and Other Thieves of Time

Right after I posted Weekend Assignment #315: The Thief of Time over on our new Weekend Assignment blog, I got very busy with work and the Round Robin and the Weekend Assignment and some other things I'm less inclined to talk about, and also the stuff I'll be talking about in this entry. Appropriately, my WA entry about not having enough time to do stuff because other things get in the way was delayed because other things got in the way!

Weekend Assignment #315: It seems that we're all too busy these days to get around to everything we'd like to do, even if we had the money and means to do them. Is there a particular activity that takes up far too much of your time, and thus prevents you from getting around to other things?

Extra Credit: What is the #1 activity you wish you had more time for?

When I wrote the question above, I kind of had it in mind that I would be ranting about how much time I spend playing games on Facebook. It's a bit of a problem, because most of the games are designed to suck up as much of your time as possible. Look, for example, at the Mafia Wars screen that is open at this very moment on another tab of my Firefox browser. "PARIS: START TODAY BEFORE SOMEONE ELSE GETS THERE FIRST," it's screaming. Meanwhile the Weapons Depot wants to make sure I'm aware that it's time to manufacture a weapon. And while I'm doing that, wouldn't I like to like to alert all the Facebook friends in my mafia that I need them to send me more forges, buzzsaws, etc. so I can upgrade to manufacturing the next type of weapon? Of course I would. After all, I only have "PARTS OWNED: 3 of 50." I could also rob or fight other players until my 26 stamina points run out, check the other cities to see if the properties are ready to be collected from, bank my $250 in New York and other amounts in the other cities, send "mystery gift bags" or other gifts, send "respectful" gifts to others via the Safe House page, ask for or receive gifts via wish list, accept any Mafia Wars-related requests on my FB request page, help people with missions and send car parts on the main Facebook wall, exact "revenge" for one of my properties being robbed, as suggested in an email, and eventually do a mission of my own when my energy builds up again.

And that's just one game. Vampire Wars is every bit as demanding, if you allow it to be, and there are lots more games available. I'm far from the worst offender on this: I currently play six games and have stopped playing three others, whereas I sometimes see lists of 15 to 20 or more games for which some other gamer is soliciting allies. Judging from what I see, there must be people who spend all day every day attacking other characters and racking up kill counts, which to me is the least interesting and most annoying part of all of these games. I've almost completely given up the fighting part of each game, because I don't enjoy it and it wastes my time. I just wish a particular woman on School of Magic 2 would stop attacking my character 20 times a day.

But that isn't what I wanted to write about when I started this post.

The other thing that takes up a lot of my time, aside from blog-related stuff, church-related stuff etc., is Doctor Who, particularly when it's in season. Let me explain this. British television is different from American tv in that historically, American tv shows were on network tv more or less year-round, including reruns and minus the occasional preemption or hiatus. In the UK, they don't produce 22 episodes of the average drama or comedy. There might be six or seven this year, and the same number again next year. Doctor Who, which is the flagship family show of BBC One these days, gets 13 episodes and a Christmas special, except for 2009 which was a "gap year" of four specials (well, counting New Year's Day, that is). Doctor Who typically premieres right around Easter, airs weekly with perhaps one preemption for the Eurovision song contest, and after 13 episodes disappears again until Christmas. In the UK you can now watch the first run episode in regular or high definition, catch a rerun during the week and watch it online. Meanwhile, two weeks after each UK premiere of the episode, it airs on BBC America here. The first run of BBCA this year appears to be uncut, but for reruns a week later they squeeze in an extra commercial.

I typically acquire a copy of the new episode the day it airs in the UK, through Means That Must Not Be Mentioned, which I deliberately leave to someone else to accomplish rather than learning just how it's done. Each new episode is precious to me, and full of details that reward repeated viewing. So I watch the episode twice or more on that first day, and then I watch its companion "making of" show, Doctor Who Confidential, and then I watch the two-week-old one on BBC America, and then I go online.

Doctor Who fans are a social, opinionated, over-analytical bunch, so they tend to congregate on Doctor Who-related blogs, on sf tv websites and, most of all, on a forum called Galaxy Base, which replaced the Doctor Who Forum, previously called Outpost Gallifrey. (And now you know the inspiration for the name of this very blog.) The "Poll: Rate / Review "The Time of Angels" thread on Gallifrey Base, in which fans offer their opinions and then argue with each other about the episode that premiered just a few days ago, currently has 1209 replies and has been viewed 37,430 times. I've personally scanned (and in some cases actually read) nearly all of those replies, a few of which I wrote myself. I also frequent a select handful of the thousands of other discussion threads on GB, including the one about favorite quotes from the episode,  one for speculating about how many times to date the Doctor has met a character called River Song, and several photoshopped humor threads, which inspired me to make this:


This won't mean anything to you if you're not a Doctor Who fan, but it's a key scene from the most highly-regarded Doctor Who story ever (The Caves of Androzani, 1984). In this final scene of the story, the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) succumbs to spectrox poisoning after giving the last of the antidote to his new companion Peri, and regenerates to become the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker). Here I've strategically marred the image with a parody of a promo banner that ruined the cliffhanger at the end of this week's episode ("The Time of Angels," April 24, 2010). The incident featured a cartoon of flamboyant comedian Graham Norton, whose reality show about casting Dorothy for a new musical version of The Wizard of Oz appeared immediately after Doctor Who on Saturday. The cartoon Graham and his banner obscured part of Doctor Who star Matt Smith's face and distracted viewers as the Doctor gave an impassioned, angry speech to his enemy:
"There's one thing you never put in a trap if you're smart, if you value your continued existence, if you have any plans of seeing tomorrow, there's one thing you never, ever put in a trap...me."
So many people complained about the Graham Norton Over the Rainbow banner over the Doctor's face that the BBC was forced to issue an apology the next day.

My parody of this outrage is kind of a "what if" in which the next version of the Doctor appears in an inappropriate banner over his predecessor's head, obscuring his companion's, erm, torso. I'm sure it's all completely meaningless, obscure and not at all funny to most of you, and I've just wasted a lot of time over-explaining it. But this is just the sort of thing Doctor Who fans sometimes do for the amusement of themselves and their peers.

So yeah. Between watching Doctor Who, reading and writing stuff about Doctor Who online, reading Doctor Who magazine and making silly photoshopped pictures about Doctor Who, I was pretty busy this weekend, in addition to the Round Robin Photo Challenge (for which I owe comments to most of the Robins still), my EMPS entry, church, Coffee Hour and lunch with friends and a mini-crisis involving the friend whose financial affairs I manage.

I also had a discussion with John about taking on a "housewife" role at home now that my unemployment benefit is about to run out with no possible renewal, in exchange for John working a lot of overtime to make up for the loss of income. So I will need to cut back on the Who obsession, most likely, to get in more housekeeping stuff. After all, it's only fair!

And that's my extra credit, the thing I need more time for. Oh, and sleep. I need more sleep. Nothing new there, except that the sleep schedule is as skewed as it's ever been, and insomnia gets in the way or fixing it. But I'm working on it.



Carly said...

Hi Karen

Dr. Who?... LOL... Um, have you considered going to a Dr. Who Rehab? LOL. Nah, just having some fun with ya! I wish I understood, but hey, everybody has their thing. With me, it's my love of Turner Classic Movies. I LOVE to climb into those wonderful old movies! And you do have a lot on your plate, so I can see relaxing with your favoite escape! :) I can completely understand that!


Sandrine said...

Yep, the Doctor is a drain on my time too, not because I watch it, but my daughter is a fan, and, not being in the UK, we also have to find means (cough) of acquiring (cough) the episodes. Until recently that meant lots of time consuming downloading. But now my clever daughter's found a streaming site I don't have to do anything! SO now the only the time lord takes up my time is having to listen to my daughter recap and comment on each episode again and again, and compare the latest doctor to each one of his predecessors!