Monday, September 15, 2014

Photos from Loncon3 - and Beyond - Part 2

So, my last post was a little misleading because while I put up a bunch of pictures from Worldcon, I failed to include the promised "and beyond" images. An oversight, as I had fully intended to put up a few more pix from our trip around England and Scotland, but started to get tired last night while blogging, and started to think the post was long enough, so I closed it off and left the title as-is when I probably should have removed the "beyond" reference. Oh well.

Anyhow, for those who are interested, here are a few photos from the rest of the trip. Not a comprehensive album by any means, just a couple of images that might be somewhat interesting from a geeky perspective.

You know how much I love dragons, so you can imagine how giddy I became when we were in William the Conqueror's White Tower in Tower of London and we climbed up to another level and saw this big fellow dominating a hall. Note how he's made entirely of bits of weaponry - from the pistol claws to the helmet shoulder bones to the rifle and spear wing bones - perfect for a historic building devoted to war and full of displays of implements of destruction.

Facing the dragon head-on, and catching a glimpse of his treasure hoard, hidden in his belly.

Gargoyles guarding the some of the buildings at the Tower of London.

St. Paul's Cathedral looking far less ominous than it did in Disney's Mary Poppins.

"Knight Rider, a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist,..."

Well, you can't find AI-enhanced sports cars in the shadow of St. Paul's, but you can apparently get a plate of fish'n'chips.

From the British Museum: an ancient carving of a man fighting a dragon hand-to-hand (or hand-to-claw, as the case may be).

The Rosetta Stone.

Anyone else remember the opening from Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange Powers?
Or maybe that shitty final Indiana Jones movie?
Here's one of the crystal skulls, on display at the British Museum.

One of the Moai of Easter Island, on display at the British Museum.

Wasn't there an episode of the old G.I. Joe cartoon where Cobra Commander animates some of the Easter Island statues to fight the Joes?

For some reason, I also kept thinking of John Lithgow as Dick in 3rd Rock from the Sun bleating about an incoming transmission from The Big Giant Head.

Didn't have time to stop in Woking, but I had to get a shot of the sign as the train went through the station. I would have liked to have gone into town for a couple of minutes to see the statue of the Martian war machine that's supposed to be there. Oh well, maybe next time.

One of the legion of barrow mounds on the plains near Stonehenge. It put me in mind of Frodo and Tom Bombadil and their barrow wight, and Conan's encounter with the tomb of the Atlantean king.

Stonehenge, in all its ancient magnificent ruin.

The great megaliths of Stonehenge had some unknown purpose for humans in the deep past, but now they're a perch for crows...

...and a backdrop for nerdy tourists.

One of the gargoyles guarding Canterbury Cathedral.

A cool carving of a dragon and a dog on the gatehouse in front of Canterbury Cathedral. Not sure if they represent something, being as close to the royal standard as they are, or if they're purely decorative.

The wreckage of Canterbury's old Norman castle.

Inside the walls of Canterbury's Norman castle, I found this view of two windows and the ruin of the central staircase really quite creepy. Like the face of Castle Grey Skull from the old Master of the Universe toys, except more time-worn, heavy, and somewhat unsettling.

A witch-dunking chair over the river running through Canterbury (also for poorly-behaving wives and bad businessmen).
As our boat went under it, I kept thinking of that scene from Monty Python's The Holy Grail with Cleese going on about "she turned me into a newt!"
Of course, being a redhead with green-blue eyes, I'd have been afraid of being put in that chair myself back in the old days.

How do you know you're in Scotland? When the stormtroopers wear kilts, of course!
I met this guy at the end of the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh on the Royal Mile. I was impressed with his local accents to his uniform. He was impressed that I was familiar with the 501st Legion. Saw another stormtrooper on the 'Mile a day later, but she wasn't wearing a kilt or flag.

The Sir Walter Scott monument in Edinburgh.
No offense to any Scottish readers, but when I saw this thing, my first thought was of the cathedral of the Church of Final Atonement (the Shrike Cult) on Lusus in Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos.
It's a jagged, frightening kind of structure.

The Writers' Museum in Edinburgh, devoted to the Scottish holy trinity of Robbie Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson.
A cool-looking old mansion, with quite an interesting collection inside.
The courtyard in front of it is also the staging area to take the Edinburgh Book Lovers' Tour (guided by writer Allan Foster), which was definitely worth while.

A flying lion gargoyle on one of the buildings within Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Castle at sunset, in all its sprawling majesty.

Standing stones at the ancient cairn complex near Inverness.

See the round indentations carved into this stone in one of the cairns near Inverness? Our guide (and if you're in the area, you should go with Around Loch Ness and George Polwarth) said the consensus is that they were made on purpose, but no-one's sure what they represent. Maybe a constellation?

No tour of the Highlands is complete without a visit to Loch Ness. Aside from this fake plesiosaur beside a hotel on the banks, there was no sign of Nessie in the lake, just water the colour of stout.

Some of my plunder from the trip: a big stack of science fiction and fantasy books bought at the Loncon3 dealers' room and a couple of bookstores around London, a nearly 200-year-old illustrated collection of Robbie Burns poetry (purchased from antiquarian dealer The Chaucer Bookshop in Canterbury - very nice ladies to help you find what you're looking for among their shelves of interesting finds), and a few whiskies that are hard or impossible to find in my neck of the woods.

Another treasure brought back from the con: one of the t-shirts I bought from Ubertorso in the dealers' room. These guys make awesome t-shirts for companies from science fiction and other movies. I picked up this one for Quint's fishing charters from Jaws, along with an Encom t-shirt and Flynn's Arcade shirt from Tron - and a Hadley's Hope LV426 shirt (Aliens) for my brother.
The best part: just a couple of days ago, I was wearing the Quint's shirt while shopping at Costco, and I was approached by 2 guys with vastly different reactions:
The first guy came up to me in the parking lot on my way in and was interested to know where I'd gone fishing and what the charter had been like. I tried not to laugh as I told him it was a fake, and the charter company was from Jaws. He had to think about it for a minute before he got it, smiled, and walked away.
The second guy was a Costco employee who came up to me after I was leaving the checkout stand. His eyes were wide and locked onto the shirt as he walked over saying "Ohhhhhhhhh, that is so awesome! That. Is. Awesome! Only we would expect that!" He gave me a high-five and moseyed on his way. Well played, fellow geek. Well played.
I may have to buy some other shirts from these guys. I certainly regretted not having the money to buy more at the con.

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