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Sunday, 24 November 2013

The best amongst the worst.

I've mentioned a few times about how this year has been quite difficult for me. But today has made me realise how much, amidst all of that, that I have to be thankful for.

I've grown and developed as a person.
I've grown closer to God.
I've been doing a job that has challenged me and been fun.
God has always helped me get through - there's always been friends, or family, or something that lifts me up and gets me through that little bit further.
I've had ideas about new projects that I do, things to keep me occupied.
God has helped me start to overcome challenges that I thought I never would.

And so many more things.

And the difficulties and challenges haven't ended; not by a long shot. But this is a time to be thankful, and remember.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

On Doctor Who: Past, Present and Future...

Just in case you weren't aware, today (depending on where you are in the world) is the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Celebration! Which is pretty awesome.

I'm a bit of a Doctor Who fan. Got a few Doctor Who shirts, the bow tie, the screwdriver, the DVDs, and my birthday party is going to be partly Doctor Who-themed (the other partly is Harry Potter).
So I thought I'd reflect a bit on my Doctor Who experiences.

I started watching Doctor Who when Martha Jones entered the scene. I was hooked from the first episode, and since then I've seen all the episodes since, as well as most of those from the Ninth and Tenth Doctors. (Perhaps all; I've never gone through and checked.) We've also got the Five Doctors anniversary special that I've seen, but insofar, I haven't been able to get into Classic Who. Planning to watch the Doctor Who movie to see if I can ease my way in a bit.

And Doctor Who has changed, over the years. Gotten more current; gotten bigger; seen a fair few different people. There have been a lot of companions, all very different, all appealing to various sides of the Doctor. Some had the brains; others the heart; some, just that little bit of spark.

And to me, the most exciting season so far has been this most recent, with the Eleventh Doctor and Clara. The previous section with Amy and Rory just seemed to me to go a fraction too long, and almost started to get a bit self-indulgent. Characters seemed to be spouting the words "Doctor Who?" every second episode, and writers seemed to be just indulging the fanboy inside (Dinosaurs on a Spaceship was pretty much the perfect example of that).

But, since this new season, they seem to have grown a bit, matured. The Snowmen was a fantastic way to introduce the season, with an episode showing the Doctor very differently; quite a broken man. It also brought in a new TARDIS, which was much less curiosity-shop like and more just stunning. And it introduced Clara, a companion to match the Doctor's wit and character.

Since then, that relationship has blossomed amazingly, and has easily been the favourite that I've seen. And I'm quite disappointed that the Eleventh Doctor is finishing up, and that much of that context will be lost, or have a very different dynamic; but I'm hoping that these last two shows with the Eleventh will resolve much of that partnership, paving the way for the new Doctor to arrive.

I'm curiously eager to see how this new Doctor handles things; and very eager to watch the Day of the Doctor!

Will you #SaveTheDay?

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Allusion to an illusion of elusion.

Heh. OK, that was partly just for fun.

But it's not just that. Been doing NaNoWriMo again (look it up if one of your friends hasn't been posting about it), and my story for this time round is called The Illusionist (working title, but currently doubt I'll think of something better).

I knew that when I started, the character was going to be based pretty heavily on me. The Illusionist was a character I came up with a while ago, as a sort of superhero-type person. He's not that in the story, though. No powers as such. But I almost made him up as something that I could dress up as for something or other. A kind of alter ego, I guess.

And it's somewhat ironic, I think. Because I am often known for playing my cards close to my chest; for being somewhat elusive when it comes to giving answers. Or not being straight about the answers given.

And then, more often than not, I burrow myself away in my own little world; some sort of urban hermit, a recluse amidst modern society. I seemingly run away from interaction and connection.

But I would call that an illusion.

More the case is a combination of things. Firstly, I'm not good at interaction and connection. Not the way I seem to be wired, if you want to put it that way. It tires me out and burns me up. Secondly, alone is safe. I've been that way for long enough. I know it pretty well. And though I wouldn't call myself either 'comfortable' or 'happy' with it, it's not risky, dangerous or unsafe. Sometimes, some interactions can seem that they might be like that. Thirdly, and probably more to the point - because those two are more like excuses - it reminds me of the people I want to be with, but all too often aren't. And it gets me down quite a bit. Also, if I'm honest with myself, another big reason I've found this year so hard. You're kind of around a lot of people a lot of the time.

But yeah. I'm not being alone all the time because I like it. It's just currently preferable.

And now, I believe that I have, in fact, alluded to my illusion of generally eluding the social sphere.

Thor-sty for more?

Yes, that's a terrible pun/wordplay. Get over it.

This last Friday, I went to see Thor: The Dark World. I'm a bit of a Marvel fan (as may have come across in my previous Marvel movie reviews), so I was slightly biased. I was also wondering how they would have it continue on from both Thor and The Avengers.

The result was quite refreshing, because they didn't focus unduly on events from The Avengers. They weren't ignored, and there were a couple of quick nods to it here and there (with a humourous - it might even be called a cameo, not sure - appearance from Capitan America [intentional misspell, reference to another movie, bonus points if you know which]), but the main force of the movie was very much on Thor and that backstory and history.

The story is quite different from the original Thor; this time, instead of him being a stranger in Earth, his girl (Jane Foster) is a stranger in his home. And all this is in relation to the Ether, a sort of energy from near the beginning of time relating to an almost mystical-type race called the Dark Elves. And now, the Ether has turned up, inhabiting Jane Foster's body.
Of course, then they discover that the Dark Elves are all too real, and their leader - who was the same one from eons back, now awoken from stasis - plans to use the Ether again to destroy the universe.

It's a very nice shift of focus from Earth to Asgard, and Asgardian history, as well as a look at the Nine Realms and how they interact. The Dark Elves are also a good new introduction, as is the Ether.

Parts of the film - to me at least - seem very reminiscent of Star Wars. I don't know whether it was Natalie Portman, or the phaser-like guns shooting red lasers, or the lightning swords seeming to remind me of lightsabers, or the sound effects from the guns and Dark Elves' ships that sounded very familiar to the corresponding Star Wars SFX. Or maybe it was just the long, flowy robes that the Asgardians seem to like wearing, and their large, columned buildings. Anyone else?

I must make a mention in this one also of a couple of other things that I found interesting. Firstly, one of the scenes near the beginning with the "gravitational anomaly" and the kids throwing things down the stair shaft to reappear at the top, then keep going through, getting a little faster each time - quite reminiscent of Portal.

Secondly, Loki was pretty awesome. May just be saying that because I appreciate a good, smart, somewhat humourous villain, but it was quite good seeing a bit of a change in that dynamic. Seeing him break down a little - or is it just another of his illusions? We see those develop a bit as well, which is also nice to see.

The visuals were also very good. I particularly appreciated the very clever design of the Dark Elves ships, and the physics of the portals was quite interesting.

Overall, I think this was a very good film. To be fair, I did see a couple of the twists coming; and if you've got a decent head on your shoulders, you probably will too. But it's forgivable for the general great story elements and visuals presented by this piece.

As a last note; if you do see the movie, don't forget to stay until after the first credits for the extra bit. I wonder which one this will be leading up to...