Democracy.

Democracy means having the right to have a say in what matters.

It means taking responsibility for your choices.

It is having the right to not be silent, to not give up when things go badly.

When poor choices are made – you should never give in. You should keep going and protect others as best you can until better choices are made.

Brexit or Trump – Never fall silent.

When someone trys to take your voice – that is when democracy dies.

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Dr Strange – “We’re not savages!”

I finally got to see Dr Strange at the cinema. It’s a very different beast to all the other Marvel movies, but there were still a lot of casual references to other MCU movie events and characters.

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The epic back-lighted poster on display at the cinema.

Dr Strange is one of those unique Marvel movies that can be watched with almost no previous exposure to the MCU. Sure, the Avengers are referenced, but then everyone has probably heard of that team of heroes by now – even folks who haven’t seen the movies or read the comics. (Sort of like the way that there are isolated communities in far flung locations who have heard of Manchester United or Liverpool FC – but have never watched a game!)

Dr Strange is thus an excellent starting point for anyone who just doesn’t want to wade through a massive stack of DVD’s or Blu-ray to catch up. This movie is kind of like a comic jump-off issue equivalent. For those who DO watch every Marvel movie, there’s plenty here to enjoy in this Dr Strange origin movie. The action and special effects are bloody brilliant, the storyline is a bit basic – but then it is an origin story, so the focus is on setting up the character for subsequent movie appearances*.

Now there has been quite a bit of controversy/debate about the casting choices of this movie. (A bit of an understatement) Now, I haven’t actually read any of the Dr Strange comics before watching this movie, my only previous exposure to Dr Strange was through his appearances in the Original Sin storyline of comics, some 90’s cartoons – and various Internet fan art I saw online. So I’m not really clued up on who should have been what gender/race in the movie.

That being said, most of the main characters are of western origin. Almost all are male and white. There could have been a LOT more done to address and champion diversity in this movie – after all, the main vehicle of the plot is an emphasis on eastern spiritualism and philosophy within the MCU. There are lot of English speaking Asian actors and actresses out there who could have been brilliant in this movie. As it is, we only get Benedict Wong and Topo Wresniwiro (and the latter doesn’t really have any lines) to represent Asians. I’m not even going to try to explain the casting of The Ancient One.

Getting away from the casting, lets talk about the locations and the special effects. YES! We get to see New York, London, Nepal and a few other places. The special effects are mind bendingly awesome. I’m sure if you like 3d movies this would be epic – but I watch them in 2d as 3d just doesn’t work well for me, so I can’t say for sure. The costumes the characters wear are also quite awesome. (Speaking of which, check out this epic Dr Strange cosplay from twitter…)

Dr Strange is well worth watching, Casting controversy and all. It’s no Guardians of the Galaxy – this is a very different type of movie, but still excellent and enjoyable in its own right. After watching Dr Strange, why not take a short survey to help a PHD student out with some research?

 

Random Thoughts whilst watching Dr Strange: One movie that the special effects reminded me about and has me itching to rewatch. Dark City. The effects have a very similar vibe. Dark City is a lot darker – think Dr Strange meets the Adjustment Bureau meets Fringe.

*Talking of subsequent appearances – there are two post credit scenes to hold out for after the movie. The last sets up a possible teaser for a sequel to Dr Strange. The first is rather short, but extremely awesome and features someone MCU fans will be familiar with! Make sure you don’t leave until the very last credits have rolled. – Why am I even bothering, any MCY fan will be doing this out of habit anyway! 😉

Pure Genius? What a load of Bull – MacGyver would just need a paperclip!

There are three new US TV shows I’m watching at the moment. It’s still early days yet as to if I’ll stick with these shows. But I already have some thoughts.

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The cast of Pure Genius.

 

Pure Genius:

So I’ve been watching the first two episodes of this new US drama called Pure Genius, that feels to me as if it has a bit of a SF edge.

The premise is that a billionaire philanthropist has set up a state of the art medical treatment and research facility (Bunker Hill) that uses cutting edge technology not available to most medical professionals. This combined with seemingly unlimited financial resources and the best of the best of medical, technological and engineering geniuses – has the protagonists battling seemingly impossible to beat medical scenarios.

There’s quite a diverse looking cast, which is excellent. The patients the characters treat are from a variety of different socio-economic backgrounds

The technologies and treatments they use in this show have so far varied from the tantalisingly close to what is already possible to the seemingly sci-fi. Mind to Mind electronic communication, Augmented reality – combined with medical scanning and imaging techniques and other futuristic feeling approaches.

Pure Genius is straddling a fence between serious medical drama and sci-fi drama. It will be interesting to see how this show develops.

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Michael Weatherly plays Dr Bull.

 

Bull:

Bull is the new Michael Weatherly show. I have no idea if he left NCIS because he had this show all signed and sealed – or if he left the show and was THEN cast as the titular Bull. But it’s nice to see the guy breaking out from his DiNozzo role.

Bull is a straight up legal procedural show – but instead of focusing upon the investigation leading up to the court cases, or even the lawyers fighting those cases. Bull is set mostly behind the scenes. Dr Bull is a Jury/trial consultant who leads a team of experts to figure out how their client can win their case.

This show feels very polished and I’m already loving it. It’s got a witty and subtle sub-layer, whilst tackling tricky social/legal issues. The casting is great and this show is probably one that I’m going to stick with.

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The new MacGyver when compared to the old. At least the mullet remains.

 

MacGyver:

… and then we come to the new MacGyver. I’m still on the fence with this show. Ok, the women in this show all kick ass. There’s a paperclip in every episode – with the traditional voice over/hand close-up as the main character defuses a bomb with a swiss army knife and a battery. (A made up example – I think)

The casting seems ok, but for some reason something feels off. There’s George Eads as Jack Dalton, MacGyver’s right hand man. (Which in itself feels weird as I don’t remember Richard Dean Anderson needing a partner.) Although there is a fun(?) reference to a famous storyline his CSi character had back in the day. But otherwise, I think my main discomfort with MacGyver’s casting is that everyone on this show is just too damned good looking!

Despite the leather jacket, like I said – I’m still on the fence about this show.

Are there any other US TV shows I should be on the lookout for? Let me know.

Gotta Catch ‘Em All! (Pokémon Go)

Today I’m going to talk about my current Pokémon obsession, Pokémon Go.

How badly have I become obsessed by this game? Well… I’ll just say that as of today I now have three active accounts.

That’s right. I have a problem. My problem Is that I have yet to catch them all!

The observant amongst you will notice that one of my accounts is not like the others. Yup, I have a Team Instinct account too! 😉 The two Valor accounts are my main accounts. (I have two phones OK!) HishamElfar is my original account – linked to my Pokémon Trainer account. That’s the account where I learned to play the game properly (and thus made all sorts of mistakes). The HishamWade account is one I started to try again – this time I hoarded all of my stardust and candies until I could really make them count. 😀

The YellowPeriPeri account is for Gym pruning. Quite often I see a friendly level 10 gym at maximum capacity, but get annoyed when I see a level 10 Weedle or similar occupying one or more of the slots. Until recently I had to wait for another player from a different team to attack a gym before I could work to put one of my own higher level monsters in its place. But today I created a third account for Gym pruning. I may have been hungry and had thoughts about Nando’s running through my mind when I created that account… 😉

I’m really loving this game. Yes, there’s a LOT that needs improving and adding (Pokémon Radar, Trading, More Pokémon, Missing Pokémon, PokeCentres etc). But it will all come together eventually. In the meantime Niantic and Nintendo have just had their first of what I hope will become the first of many, special events. A Halloween themed weekend. It was kinda cool.

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I’ve also been blessed by the fact that there is a spawn point for rare pokemon relatively nearby to where I live. Until recently I could catch at least one Electabuzz a day from this location – more If I kept an eye on it all day. Sadly when Niantic did one of their semi-regular spawn shuffles, my days of easy Electabuzz farming ended. But the good news the same spot now spawns Magmars. So, I’m still happy! 😀

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If anyone else has thought about giving the game a try, I would caution you to learn from my early mistakes.

When you catch pokemon in the early levels, Keep at least one of each species (Keep the highest CP) but don’t waste the stardust or candies on powering up or evolving them until you get to a much higher level. (The exception being Pidgies, Weedles, Rattata and other extremely common monsters – evolve them in large batches in conjunction with a lucky egg for fast track levelling up!) Don’t waste the limited use Incubators on 2km eggs. Save them for 5km or preferably 10km eggs. Trust me, future you will thank me – after cursing at me about the game addiction. Use the infinite incubator for 2km eggs.

Are you playing along? Why not tell me about your favourite catch or hatch so far? Go on, make me jealous. 😉

 

November Already?

Today is November 1st.

Which means that I’m probably not going to see much of some of my friends as they dive head first into the gaping maw that is NaNoWriMo. 😦 I won’t be doing it myself this year – I’m just not able to dedicate the time to it in 2016. Instead I’ll try to write a blog post a day. That way I might feel like less of a failure. (An unlikely result!) Some days the post will might only be a brief and short update on something – others might be a full on review of a book or TV show/movie… who knows. But to everyone taking part in NaNo this year, best of luck!

So, yes. I’m finally back. But what have I been up to for the last… however many months?

Well when I last made any meaningful posts worth mentioning, I was looking forward to my first EdgeLit in Derby, Fantasy Con in Scarborough, Various book signing events I wanted to attend in various locales around the UK. I wanted to keep up with my reading challenge. (I set myself a goal on Goodreads to read 104 books this year) and I was taking part in a few Read Alongs  with the SF/F Read Along group on Goodreads.

But health is a fickle beast. I suffered a crippling bout of Migraines in the run up to EdgeLit. and in the end couldn’t go as I was suffering too much. Those health problems continued for quite a while, preventing me from blogging, traveling, working or even reading. Thankfully my health improved enough that I managed to attend Fantasy Con in Scarborough… although through a combination of food poisoning and head-pain I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as I wanted to.

But the worst of everything was my lack of ability for the longest time to enjoy reading anything or blog/write anything. For about a month I had a special app installed on my phone that could change the colour balance on my phone screen AND dim the brightness down even further than the default brightness range allowed. My head hurt so bad and I suffered severe light sensitivity – making it worse still.

I’m also now being treated for a back problem I’ve been suffering from for a while now through anti-inflamatories and physiotherapy – So yay, hopefully I’ll become more mobile again soon.

Several months later  after the migraines I’m still effected in little ways. I’m still avoiding drinking caffeinated drinks (as much out of habit as anything now) because too much caffeine was one of my migraine triggers – Which has made some of the early shifts I work INCREDIBLY FUN! I’m also still not reading as much as I would like – something I’m trying to improve upon. Goodreads seems to take great delight in taunting me with the fact that I am now 9 books behind on my target!

Otherwise there are little things that keep me sane (A minor miracle considering I’m not drinking Tea at the moment) and have captured my attention. I have become addicted to Pokémon Go – which thanks to the new phone I got in September (Oh hey, did I mention my new phone?) means I can enjoy the crazy madness of wandering the streets, oblivious to danger and peril as I attempt to “Catch ‘Em All!”.

Oh and hey, even though I would have missed it when it was at the Cinema, I still managed to see Ghostbusters on a big screen because one of the local cinemas had a one off late showing well after everywhere else! So yay – It was AWESOME!

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More recently I went with friends to the now annual Hallowscream at York Maze. It was a lot of fun. 😀

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Other visual media treats I have enjoyed include Luke Cage (Seriously awesome!), The Girl With All The Gifts (So Good!), Gilmore Girls (Don’t judge me, it’s really good – Rory’s choices in boys not withstanding!), The Good Place is off to a really promising start and I’ve just started watching The Walking Dead. I’m also enjoying Bull, but have conflicted feelings about the new MacGyver series.

Books I’m reading right now: Vicious by V. E. Schwab and Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn. Books next up after those: After Atlas by Emma Newman, Conspiracy Of Ravens by Lila Bowen, The Forever Endeavor by Chuck Wendig and a major re-read of the Merchant Princes series by Charles Stross.

So, what else have I missed that you would recommend? Tell me about the TV, Movies, Books and whatever that have stirred up your feelings in a good way.