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Cooking, and Doctor Who audio - Which is not unduly obvious, as I am about to explain
Cooking, and Doctor Who audio
An unexpected gift that my parents brought back from Mexico for me was a glass jar of mole sauce, which orleans had introduced me to. After translating the cooking instructions, I understood that its uncooked storage life would be very short after opening the container, so I'd have to use it all in one go. So I mixed up a large casserole/stew with it. Chicken, chicken broth, Spanish rice (store-bought), red peppers, jalapeno peppers, carrots, zucchini, garlic, kidney beans, black beans, refried pinto bean paste, and a generous dose of chili powder. Result: dense, mole-ish, quite nice, and certainly enough for dinner over the next week and a bit. Interestingly, the mole sauce container (after you remove the lid and label) is a basic drinking glass.

In using so much chili powder, I emptied out the container and went to re-fill it from my back-stock of spices. It's now filled with something called "achiote chili" - according to the spice store I bought it from in Toronto - although when I look it up, there's nothing chili-ish about achiote. It smells sweet, a bit like paprika. I'm wondering if the spice store mixed in other things with it. Hopefully chili, because otherwise it might only be a powdery red food colouring, more than I know what to do with.

Meanwhile - For five months of the year when it's too cold to bicycle, or when it's raining, I take the bus to work. Last winter I escaped the mind-numbing drudgery of having to look at the WalMart shoppers by starting to listen to audiobooks on my mp3 player. Unfortunately I go through these rather fast. I started with Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels - 30 of them. (I know there are more than that, but I never liked the character of Rincewind, so I skipped those.) As a new winter looms ahead, I'm wondering what the heck to tackle next? Answer: the Big Finish Doctor who audio plays! Most of them being in m4b format, so I had to replace my mp3's OS with Rockbox in order to play them.

Alas, the plays last much shorter than audiobooks. And due to rainy days, I've already worked my way through the first six. I thought I'd start using Livejournal as a way to post short impressions. As a general note, the plays were not designed to be listened to on a bus. The soundscapes include very subtle noises, and occasionally soft-spoken speech - it's definitely more for home listening with a good set of headphones.

1. The Sirens of Time.
Big Finish obviously wanted to make a big splash with the fans, so their first play (in 1999) had the 5th, 6th and 7th doctors together, without any of the companions. Gallifrey ends up almost being conquered - Seriously? That easily? I would've saved that for a special occasion, but like I said, it was about making a big splash. Also throw in a monster or two from the dawn of time. Overall enjoyable; 6th Doctor quite likeble.

2. Phantasmagoria. (5th Doctor with Turlough)
Felt sadly short. Turlough and the Doctor largely separated for most of it. Bad guy alien didn't feel especially noteworthy. Neither bad nor fantastic story overall; bit of a let-down after the scope of the previous play.

3. Whispers of Terror. (6th Doctor with Peri)
The 6th Doctor and Peri are back to their annoying TV selves; not what I wanted to listen to. Sad, because the antagonist is one of those abstract, less corporeal forms that are more challenging to deal with.

4. The Land of the Dead. (5th Doctor with Nyssa)
Mildly dark, tense atmosphere throughout. Much of it spent on the run, hiding or barricading from the monster. Only one interesting secondary caracter, the rest were pretty one-dimensional and difficult to sympathize with. Possible explanation for the Permian extinction thrown in.

5. The Fearmonger. (7th Doctor with Ace)
Awkwardly drops the listener into the adventure mid-way; it feels like an opening episode or two were left out, so it takes some concentration to work out exactly what's happening. Wonderful chemistry between the Doctor and Ace. Ace felt more likeable than in the TV episodes. Another abstract monster.

6. The Marian Conspiracy. (6th Doctor with Evelyn)
Evelyn is introduced as a new companion, a 50-year old British historian and teacher, prim and with a stubborn streak. Very little science-fiction in this adventure, it's mainly the two of them caught up in history. Actually I think whoever wrote this wanted an excuse to educate the audience about Tudor England. The 6th Doctor is back to being sympathetic again, including some very personal dialogue. As I'm watching the first TV season with Peter Capaldi, there's a recurring question of the Doctor wondering if he's a good man. This audio play with Colin Baker does the same thing, but in a much more heartfelt, succinct manner, in my opinion.
6 comments or Leave a comment
From: cjthomas Date: September 22nd, 2014 11:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Regarding bus-listening, it's possible to process the audio files for reduced dynamic range/automatic gain control. This makes the quiet parts louder, so that vehicle noise is less of a problem.

Contact me by email if you want me to take a look at the files you bought.
dronon From: dronon Date: September 23rd, 2014 04:10 am (UTC) (Link)
It's ok, I either figure it out from the conversational context, or skip back and check it when I get home later that day. Still, thanks for the offer! :)

porsupah From: porsupah Date: September 30th, 2014 01:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hm! Interesting to realise achiote's synonymous with annatto, which I've seen around mainly as a cheese coloring.

I'd guess that the concoction was probably nothing to prompt one to rush to take photos of, but likely tasted divine. ^_^ I should have a go at hacking something like that - last time I had mole sauce was probably 10+ years ago, back in Sunnyvale (or Santa Clara, or San Jose.. all of the South Bay just blurs together into one massive conurbation of strip malls, business parks, and housing, all weirdly distinctly separate from each other).

I really ought to try some of the Big Finish yarns - from all I've heard, they're very well worth the time. (And they cover some other series as well, including Sapphire & Steel, and some of 2000AD's, including Strontium Dog, played there rather well by Simon Pegg)

Edited at 2014-09-30 01:05 pm (UTC)
pyat From: pyat Date: October 2nd, 2014 03:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Not Big Finish, but what did you think of the "Paradise of Death" radio play?
dronon From: dronon Date: October 2nd, 2014 03:52 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not familiar with that! I'll have to look it up! Thank you!! :-)
pyat From: pyat Date: October 2nd, 2014 04:12 am (UTC) (Link)
It was the last time Pertwee played the Doctor, I think, in 1993. It's very convoluted, but a decent serial.
6 comments or Leave a comment