Thoughts, ramblings and other stuff

My brain is slow and my eyes are tired
I made myself some pancakes today. Pancakes in British sense of the world (more like crepes than what Americans call pancakes) so I could wrap them on some cheese (pancakes with cheese - curd creamy and sweet like cheesecake filling - are the best). I needed some comfort food for my TV hangover. I'm still a little dizzy from finishing both The Man in the High Castle and Jessica Jones in one weekend but it's hard to stop when it just starts playing the next episode automatically.

I'm still a little too overwhelmed (I also watched Doctor Who, Good Wife and The Librarians' rehash of The Doctor's Wife) to put my thoughts in a coherent format but I'll get to it soon. For now here is Guy Guvriel Kay receiving the title of a Member of the Order of Canada.

And David Bowie's new fantasy video

I can't get that version of Edelweiss from my head
I just finished The Man in the High Castle. They dropped it early yesterday and once I started watching I couldn't stop (I mean I could - I slept and went to work - but I spent rest of the time watching).

The series is incredibly beautiful and done with an amazing attention to detail. The way it shows the alternative 60s in US that are both familiar and alien. The slow measured shots and muted colouring that make only one colour stand out - red. Like on the occupiers flags - the background to swastikas and the Imperial Rising Sun. And blood.

The slowly unfurling plot shows the truths about living under totalitarian rule. Many believe they would fight to do end and someone do but most people just keep their head down and try to survive. Live their lives. In art (literature/movies) it’s almost always shown from the perspective of a dissident. It sells to have a hero be someone fighting against the system. But that’s not the lives of most people.

People under those regimes mostly live pretty ordinary and boring lives - they do shopping, send kids to school and watch sports - while ignoring the bad things that happen. Sure you know but as long as it doesn’t affect you or your family you can stop thinking about it and convince yourself it isn't really that bad. This becomes your new normal and you get used to it. If you keep your head down and don’t draw attention to yourself you can have a pretty good life. You just need to stop thinking about what happens to those people who said something. They deserve it anyway.

So people in the Nazi part say Seig Heil to SS officer next door and sell the remnants of their culture to please the new rulers. They ignore disappearing neighbours. Agree with whatever brand of racism government spouts as long as they are not one of the persecuted. And even then most just try to keep their heads down and hope they'll be missed until there is no there choice. Until it's them or their loved ones and they have to choose.

Polish history of last 200 years is one occupation after another so I have plenty of references there. During the prison torture all I could think of were scenes from Stalinist prisons (although other regimes do plenty of that too) and Nazis considered us subhuman and planned to kill us all (after they were done with the non-humans like Jews and Roma they were to finish of enslaved Slavic populations - they just run out of time here).

[Spoiler (click to open)]
I loved how those choices are not easy here. Frank can either lose Juliana or his family. Keep his integrity and a little hope of freedom or break. He chooses the former and pays horrifying price. Would he change his decision if he had to do it all over again? I think he hoped to the end they were just trying to scare him. That they wouldn't actually do it. And then the guilt and grief is too much. It's like Trudy's father - he believed the Kempeitai would keep the promise and let her live - because it was easier to believe this lie than to face the truth. Easier than facing consequences.

John Smith - our most evil of main characters who kills and tortures and blackmails people with the lives of their children is also a loving family man (also many seem shocked despite many, even very prominent, Nazi war criminal being described so) but when he is confronted with a horrible choices he can't do it. Torturing Semite scum is easy but he get squeamish about old friends. And he just can't even allow to consider the fate of his son. This is a genetic disease his brother also died from and now he should do the right thing. As we learn in first episode they kill and burn disabled in the Großdeutsche Reich so he can't even make himself acknowledge the diagnosis because than he would have to kill him. His wife says it's better this way - not letting them suffer but would she still think that if she knew?

I also loved how they shown the differences between the two occupations. In Nazi Reich white Americans of the right background get integrated into the master race. The seeds were already there and people switch sides with "I always felt that way anyway" and become the good Nazis. the purge leaves more to us, right?

On the other end we have the result of the conquerors being different race. So instead of integrating into master race you have to find a way to live with one. The dominant culture takes liking to the one conquered creating a whole market when mass produced cheep art fulfils the need for authentic Americana for every Japanese. Look some even get themselves American names and rooms full of trophies. And even an authentic American who they discard as soon as he is not the walking stereotype they were looking for. It such a nice cometary on both the treatment of Native Americans (I don't think that was accidental choice for forgery) and black people (the way that couple treats that merchant and the way he tries and fails to rebel against it) in US.

We get those little humanising touches to even the biggest monsters (and then we meet people even worse than them). Both Obergruppenführer John Smith and Inspector Kido have reasons that in their minds justify what they did and even get their heroic moments. You end up rooting for them a little and then you remember what kind of monsters they are and feel ashamed. But in a way they are right - if you believe Jack Bauer was right and torturing enemies of the state is justified to preserve safety then they have the right to do it. What is the a life of one person compared to what would happen if the war starts?

[Spoiler (click to open)]
But I do feel a little dirty now that I cheered when Smith outsmarted that asshole Reinhard Heydrich (the butcher of Africa) and was on the edge of my seat hoping Kido want commit seppuku (he turned out to be the better devil - one keeping the cruelty to necessary levels)

And now let me freak out about the revelations at the end.

OMG! OMG! OMG The end! So many questions.

Does that mean Hitler is the Man in the High Castle? He collects all of those films in his castle in the mountains. He obviously has a better grasp on reality than anyone thinks (better than ours did and also a lot more experience surviving assassination attempts) so he might be the one using Resistance to fulfil his alternate history fetish. It diverts their resources and gives him some entertainment. It probably doesn't matter if he loses few operatives along the way.

Does this mean Trade Minister Tagomi is the man behind the movies? Does he bring them from alternate reality (ours)? Multiple alternate realities I think- as Frank and Joe alive in 60s so that post A-bomb city couldn't be in our timeline. And I think his assistant knows - that's why he insisted he should meditate. Did he met Juliana there and that's why he insist on keeping her? Was that Trudy Juliana saw from another world? Does Kido know of this too?

I know it's expensive series but it's awesome so I hope it becomes popular and gets some hype so they'll make a second season. I don't want it to end like this.

What sports would've been popular in the Thousand Year Reich?
The official premier date for Amazon's The Man in The High Castle is tomorrow but the episodes are already available. At least the episode 3 started playing for me when I clicked it. So if you have Amazon Prime, live in the right countries and have a free evening you can start binge watching today. After all this weekend will also premier Jessica Jones and the last Hunger Games film and there's only so many hours in a day (or weekend).

Not what I was expecting - way better than that
Over the past few weeks I have fallen for Limitless. I didn’t expect to. I haven’t seen the movie and the whole idea seemed boring and rehash of that horrible we only use 10% of the brain idea. When I heard they were making a TV series based on that I found the idea ridiculous and planned to ignore it but the reviews were good so I decided to try. And it was a good choice because this series is awesome.

It so much fun. There is a lot of humour and fun and it's mostly Brian but also Brian's interactions with the rest of the team. The rule right now with crime shows with supersmart guys solving something is to make them assholes. The snark is funny but after a while it's all the same. Brian is nice and he cares about people. He loves his family (that's how he gets into this mess) and empathises with his friends and co-workers (when too smart Brian turns into too much of a selfish jerk real Brian comes out to fix it and do the right thing - like with telling Rebecca). He solves the crime using his brain on NZT but he often closes the leads by being able to connect with people (and believe in them). His like a Labrador puppy - lovable, enthusiastic and hyperactive - that solve crimes. But he needs someone to hold grab him by the collar when he gets to carried out.

That someone is Rebecca - his main FBI handler - who is the rational one and Brian's knight in shining armour who is always there to get him out of the messes he puts himself in and stops his more wild ideas before he gets into too much trouble or break too many laws. She puts him in place and fights for him when he needs saving.

There are Mike and Ike (not their real names) who administer NZT and keep an eye on Brian. He keeps escaping at first but they become friends in the end (the dog comparison idea came to me when I watched Ike throw treats for Brian to catch). Only now that their friends it starts to look little bad when Brian ignore their real names.

Then there is Boyle that starts rightfully annoyed by the whole set up and Brian gets on his nerves (his a little much sometimes) but he is the guy with most prominent sense of right and wrong. And Naz - the boss that starts really hard on Brian and seems very shady at the beginning but actually does all she can to save him from a lab rat existence and working with the FBI instead of being worked on.

I love the way they show Brian's world on NZT - from the yellow filter that makes everything warmer and brighter to all the text bubbles and multiple Brians.

I love the homages and references to different pop culture items - including different movie genres.

[Spoiler (click to open)]
The Ferris Bueller’s Day Off episode was wonderful.

Saving Naz was pure greatness - especially the 8-bit game.

But yesterday was perfection. I thought Naz “No” song was best thing ever but then we got The Bruntouchables with montage of all the sequels getting more and more ridiculously clichéd and I lost it. I was LOLign. Like literally laughing out loud. I mean how you stay serious with Mike in drag and Rebecca crying at The Muntachables? Or the geriatric version? And then there was that The Abyss CPR scene.

I never though anything could make Tuesdays as good as when they included Person of Interest but Limitless make them at least as much fun. It is for sure the day I wait for (The Flash and The Muppets and Agents of SHIELD and iZombie and Limitless).
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That was not completely unexpected
skye daisy johnson
I can't stop fangirling about Agents of SHIELD. Things are happening. Mysteries are bing revealed. All the plots today lead to the same result - learning about HYDRA.

[AoS - Many Heads, One Tale - SPOILERS]
I was right - Roz didn’t know Mallick was Hydra. He was on World Council and advises president. He used to give orders to SHIELD. It’s not surprising he knew how to get himself embedded in ATCU. This is what HYDRA does.

Coulson office has that axe on the wall. And we get a better look at his love of historical gadgets (I also wonder if the watch thing was a jab at Clark Gregg's commercials). I wonder if some of them are the ones that used to belong to Tripp.

It was nice see Daisy Johnson the hacker - telling Hunter what to say to sound smart. Too bad she couldn’t type for him. And Lincoln was really impressed by her skills.

After today’s episode I really warmed up to that Bobbi and Hunter spin-off. Between Bobbi using her degree and her new flying batons and Hunter turning up the stereotypical Britishness (Damn the Yanks - Red Coats fan, God Save the Queen, asking for tea) until Americans give up and leave. Also he did basically the same thing to Banks he did to Ward. Only without shooting anyone. And they are so cute when they fight people together.

May apologising to Lincoln killed me. He thought she was mad at him (so did I) but, despite the unfeeling exterior she projects, she deeply empathises with people. She gets Lincoln point of view and she apologised. She feels guilty for missing what happened to him. And Lincoln thanked her for saving him.

Fitz and Simmons are stuck. Now that they know how bad Will’s fate was supposed to be. Fitz said what we all were thinking about the curse but Will still has it worse.

I really enjoy Ward as evil Hydra head - recruiting the guy he just tortured, announcing destroying the plane, plotting with Mallick. I mean I hate him and find him despicable and have no problem with someone taking him out. But I enjoy watching him being evil. Well except the parts where he hurts people I care about (like what he did to Andrew while gloating about hurting Melinda - not cool) - I mostly want him to die then.

And we also learn that he really didn’t have much to do with HYDRA and it’s true goals.Garret really didn’t care (or at least didn’t care about Ward knowing it). I suppose it’s fitting for Ward to be once again committed to a cause he doesn’t even know. He us truly the most clueless of extremely skilled evil killers.

And now we know why the large stone had all those holes.

My prediction for the rest of the season:

Lash’s power will be used to stop that Inhuman on the alien world when he (inevitably) comes back. It will cost Andrew his humanity.

I think this is about this time of the year. I referenced one of my old photos for this. Pretty close to how it should look like right now back home. Not that different from here either.

Autumn by elluranee on DeviantArt
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Friday the 13th
All attackers dead, police say, after shootings and explosions kill at least 150 in Paris

On World Kindness Day.

The exciting news
The creator of Mystery Science Theater 3000 has taken it to kickstarter to bring the show back for one more season. Now that the legal problems have been solved all they need is 5.5 million dollars to make it happen (not a lot for 12 episodes). If they don't get there they have shorter season in mind depending on how much they can get. The minimum is 2 million and they are already over 1.3 with 30 days to go so I think that it should at least reach funding.

There is only a little over a week left and here's Jessica facing her biggest nemesis

The Expanse premiere is only a month away and I'm getting more and more excited with every trailer. Look a real proper science fiction in space.

Monster within
skye daisy johnson
Finally, sunshine is back and so is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

[This is the series of the week for me now]
I suspected Andrew to be Lash since the episode 3 weeks ago when we learned Lash can turn back into human. That episode had a lot of clues that separately meant nothing but together made him seem very suspicious. It started to add up.

It looked like Lash had insider knowledge but from SHIELD not ATCU as Lash attacked Inhumans only SHIELD knew about - Alisha’s friends and Lincoln (the virus guy only found their addresses - not the list of names). He also knew about them finding his IT guy and killed him but he didn't kill Daisy. So it clearly suggested someone close to the SHIELD team.

Andrew never let any Inhumans on Daisy’s team and his reasons seemed like stalling. He mysteriously disappeared on May during their getaway so when May said that my first thought was “he probably disappeared because he was going through the Inhuman transformation and couldn’t show you”. He only came back once he learnt how to change back into human. So I was pretty sure he survived that Hydra attack by turning into Lash and scaring the shit out of little Werner von Strucker (we never see him dead just some legs and scared little Nazi).

The other popular suspects were on ATCU team. But both Rosalind and Banks were on the train with Coulson when Lash attacked Lincoln and Daisy.

Then we skipped two weeks later and the clues kept piling up. His miraculous survival seemed very fishy (especially since he basically recovers in no time). Then little Werner says monster (I know he might be talking about Ward but with other clues I was pretty sure that was about why he run away from that store). So by the time Andrew and Daisy talked I was sure. He was all so interested how much she saw of Lash and even more in Lincoln’s whereabouts all I could think was “no, please don’t tell him anything - he’s going to kill you or Lincoln or both”. By the time May learns about it I just felt relief I won't have to go through that horror screaming at your screen for the heroes to stop doing something stupid.

So the question remained why he would kill all these people and that's what we saw today. Despite having his abilities much longer than Joey Gutierrez it's Joey who got hold of his powers. He was running around scared and causing destruction all around him and now he makes sculptures.
The look of envy (and disbelief) on Andrew's face when Joey shows him how he learned to control his powers was very telling. And so was the way he wanted to find a hole with Joey's ability and control to not let him be on the team.

And we see Andrew flash to killing Joey. So he kills other Inhumans because he needs to - as a part of his power. And this is how he explains it to May after she confronts him and he ices her and chains her in an abandoned building. His explanations are weak - I feel the need and they deserve it - so it's no wonder she doesn't want to listen but then she appeals to their love and you see her break. After all he isn't at fault this happened to him but when the lives of people are at stake she is still the Melinda May who killed that little girl to save her team. And she uses the same love to make him turn back and then shoots him. Not knowing if he would survive.

This is why Melinda May is the most badass character.

I was a little mad at Lincoln for triggering this rampage but on the other hand Lash murdered a lot of his friends and he doesn’t know Andrew. He is not invested in his well being like the rest of the team. And he saved May because he figured out it was someone inside the SHIELD and wasn't scared to ask Mack for help and they figured out it was Andrew together. I wasn't fond of his story this season. I liked him last season but the whole thing with suddenly hating being Inhuman and not wanting to have anything to do with any of them, including refusal to help the new ones seemed out of character and wrong. And the fugitive, addicted boy on the run that Daisy will tame with her love is just made of so many bad cliches I started to back away from the ship I fully supported last spring. However, I see a potential in his character, especially paired with Mack (or preferably Deathlock - they were great together last season) and I like Like Mitchell so lets see the new Secret Warriors with Daisy, Joey and Lincoln.

Fitz and Simmons continue to be heartbreaking and perfect friends. So she did love him even before. And she made all those recordings for him so he would know if she didn't survive (will commented about how she said his name) but there is Will now stranded on an alien planet and no matter who sent him there it's not OK to leave him. This is where Hunter was wrong last week. Alone on alien planet isn't like Phoenix. There is one reason to save Will - he is human stranded alone on an alien planet. This is reason enough for any half-decent person to want to do all they can to bring him back. This is The Martian scenario and we know the right way to go about it. So does Fitz. But now it looks like it will also allow Jemma to chose without feeling guilty.

Bobbi is right Hunter. If you both keep risking your lives to stop Ward from hurting you you may end up dead and that would defeat the purpose. But, of course, Ward isn't just going to go away so they will need to do something about him anyway. He's coming to try to kill one of you again.

Now the big question is does Rosalind know Gideon Malick is Hydra or does she just report to him because he is part of the World Council?

Full on November
So the sunshine is still not here. The best we got was few days of just clouds instead of clouds and non-stop rain. And it switched from hot and raining to cold and raining. Three days ago I had to switch the AC back on because it was getting 25C inside my apartment (same as outside) and with the humidity it was just too sticky. It at least got the humidity down (92% outside but only 72% inside). Then Sunday came with cold wind and no rain for a moment so I enjoy a moment of getting a little drier. And then I woke up today to the sound of falling rain. It was barely above 10C and rained the whole day. Of course as a Polish person (and generally European from North side of Alps) this is what I consider true November weather. This is why it is the worst month - rain, mud, cold and very short days made even shorter by the clouds and rain. The trees are bare, the skies are grey and the days are getting shorter. November in Europe is what depression looks like.

Here usually is not that bad. US is generally much much sunnier - way more sunny days in a year (except Pacific Northwest which has similar weather to Western Europe). I started to get used to autumn and November being sunny and pretty warm. This is usually when the best fall colours happen around here - the yellow, red and orange against blue skies looks amazing. But this year all the rain has already taken all the leaves out. They were still getting not fully changed last weekend and this one they were all gone. I blame the El Niño - I'm told it makes this part of the continent very rainy when it happens.

So this is the best autumn pic I got - a week ago (if you look closely you can see the rain)

So here is something to take the mind off the weather - new Star Wars trailers with new footage
[Click to see]

British and World Fantasy
I haven't done one of these in a while and now I have 2 of them - the fantasy awards.

Couple of weeks ago the 2015 British Fantasy Awards winners were announced at the awards banquet at FantasyCon 2015 in Nottingham:

Best anthology: Lightspeed: Women Destroy Science Fiction Special Issue, ed. Christie Yant (Lightspeed Magazine)

Best artist: Karla Ortiz

Best collection: Nick Nightmare Investigates, Adrian Cole (The Alchemy Press and Airgedlámh Publications)

Best comic/graphic novel: Through the Woods, Emily Carroll (Margaret K. McElderry Books)

Best fantasy novel (the Robert Holdstock Award): Cuckoo Song, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Children’s Books)

Best film/television episode: Guardians of the Galaxy, James Gunn and Nicole Perlman (Marvel Studios)

[Click for the rest]
Best horror novel (the August Derleth Award): No One Gets Out Alive, Adam Nevill (Macmillan)

Best independent press: Fox Spirit Books (Adele Wearing)

Best magazine/periodical: Holdfast Magazine, ed. Laurel Sills and Lucy Smee (Laurel Sills and Lucy Smee)

Best newcomer (the Sydney J. Bounds Award): Sarah Lotz, for The Three (Hodder & Stoughton)

Best non-fiction: Letters to Arkham: The Letters of Ramsey Campbell and August Derleth, 1961–1971, ed. S.T. Joshi (PS Publishing)

Best novella: Newspaper Heart, Stephen Volk (The Spectral Book of Horror Stories)

Best short story: A Woman’s Place, Emma Newman (Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets)

The Special Award (the Karl Edward Wagner Award): Juliet E. McKenna

I'm happy about Lightspeed: Women Destroy Science Fiction Special Issue winning as I was one of the people crowdsourcing it. I also find it amusing that Guardians of Galaxy got the fantasy award. It plays well into that space fantasy label people argue about with films like Star Wars.

And today the winners of World Fantasy Award were announced

Winner: The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (Random House; Sceptre)
The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)
City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett (Broadway; Jo Fletcher)
Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy, Jeff VanderMeer (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
My Real Children, Jo Walton (Tor; Corsair)

Winner: We Are All Completely Fine, Daryl Gregory (Tachyon)
Where the Trains Turn, Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen, Translated by Liisa Rantalaiho (Tor.com 11/19/14)
Hollywood North, Michael Libling (F&SF 11-12/14)
The Mothers of Voorhisville, Mary Rickert (Tor.com 4/30/14)
Grand Jeté (The Great Leap), Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer ’14)
The Devil in America, Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com, 4/2/14)

Short Fiction
Winner: Do You Like to Look at Monsters?, Scott Nicolay (Fedogan & Bremer)
I Can See Right Through You, Kelly Link, (McSweeney’s 48)
Death’s Door Café, Kaaron Warren (Shadows & Tall Trees 2014)
The Fisher Queen, Alyssa Wong (F&SF 5-6/14)

[Click for the rest]
Winner: Monstrous Affections, Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant, ed. (Candlewick)
Fearful Symmetries, Ellen Datlow, ed. (ChiZine)
Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, Rose Fox & Daniel José Older, eds. (Crossed Genres)
Shadows & Tall Trees 2014, Michael Kelly, ed. (Undertow)
Rogues, George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, eds. (Bantam; Titan)

Winner: Gifts for the One Who Comes After, Helen Marshall (ChiZine)
Winner: The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, Angela Slatter (Tartarus)
Mercy and Other Stories, Rebecca Lloyd (Tartarus)
They Do the Same Things Different There, Robert Shearman (ChiZine)
Death at the Blue Elephant, Janeen Webb (Ticonderoga)

Winner: Samuel Araya
Galen Dara
Jeffrey Alan Love
Erik Mohr
John Picacio

Special Award – Professional
Winner: Sandra Kasturi & Brett Alexander Savory, for ChiZine Publications
John Joseph Adams, for editing anthologies and Nightmare and Fantasy magazines
Jeanne Cavelos, for Odyssey writing workshops
Gordon Van Gelder, for F&SF
Jerad Walters, for Centipede Press

Special Award – Nonprofessional
Winner: Ray B. Russell & Rosalie Parker, for Tartarus Press
Scott H. Andrews, for Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Matt Cardin, for Born to Fear: Interviews with Thomas Ligotti (Subterranean)
Stefan Fergus, for Civilian Reader (civilianreader.wordpress.com)
Patrick Swenson, for Fairwood Press

This time it could be fun
anomander rake
I walked a lot on Halloween and then it rained for the first 3 days of November (oscillating between rain and drizzle) and finally was mostly cloudy today with only late night drizzle. In other words exactly how I imagine November only warmer. But all of this combined with the time change made me want to sleep all day long (which I would if I didn't have to go to work . But today I saw sunshine for few moments today and it looks like we get summer for couple of days (tomorrow 26 oC) so I'm trying to at least write down the important things.

Because I am kind of excited. Underneath that sleepy thing. This is because of some films coming in 2017.

Luc Besson is making a Valerian and Laureline movie - Valérian and the City of a Thousand Planets. It's based on the French science fiction comics series by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres about temporal agent Valerian and Laureline (name they made up but now it's pretty popular in France) who originally was peasant from middle ages but became an agent tooafter being rescued by Valerian. They travel through time and space and have a lot of adventures - the movie is to be based on two of them Bad Dreams and The Empire of a Thousand Planets. The series has really nice graphics and a lot of cool ideas. Some of them can be easily recognised by any Star Wars fans as the movies have some striking resemblances to the comics.

There is also a new The Witcher film coming. You probably don't know it but there was already a movie (and a TV series) based on the books in Poland (it's translated as The Hexer to make it more confusing*) but it wasn't very good. They tried to put together too many of short stories to make any coherent plot. This one is supposed to be based on only two of them - The Witcher and Lesser Evil which means no supporting characters from the books. The film will be produced by Sean Daniel Company (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, The Expanse TV series and the upcoming remake of Ben-Hur) and Platige (polish computer praphics and advertising company behind Ambition and Witcher games animations) and will be directed by Tomasz Bagiński (who is also behind the intros of to the game and you can see his short movies in the tag).

*Well, it was Sapkowski's preferred translation but everyone else liked Witcher better and here we are.

And for something closer - there is an all female Ocean's Eleven film coming next year staring Sandra Bullock.

And a new trailer for Alice Through the Looking Glass

The Fall of Light is Coming
anomander rake
The second book in Steven Erikson's Kharkanas trilogy - Fall of Light coming out in April. Here's the cover and the blurb:

It is a bitter winter and civil war is ravaging Kurald Galain. Urusander’s Legion prepares to march on the city of Kharkanas. The rebels’ only opposition lies scattered and weakened - bereft of a leader since Anomander’s departure in search of his estranged brother. The remaining brother, Silchas Ruin, rules in his stead. He seeks to gather the Houseblades of the Highborn families to him and resurrect the Hust Legion in the southlands, but he is fast running out of time.

The officers and leaders of Urusander’s Legion, led by the ruthless Hunn Raal, want the Consort, Draconus, cast aside and their commander to marry Mother Dark and take his place at the side of the Living Goddess. But this union will be far more than simply political. A sorcerous power has claimed those opposing Mother Dark: given form by the exiled High Priestess Syntara, the Cult of Light rises in answer to Mother Dark and her Children.

Far to the west, an unlikely army has gathered, seeking an enemy without form, in a place none can find, and commanded by a Jaghut driven mad with grief. It seems Hood’s call has been heard, and the long-abandoned city of Omtose Phellack is now home to a rabble of new arrivals: Dog-Runners from the south, and Jheck warriors. From the Western Sea strange ships have grounded upon the harsh shore bearing blue-skinned strangers to offer Hood their swords. And from mountain fastnesses and isolated valleys of the North, Toblakai arrive to pledge themselves to Hood’s seemingly impossible war. Soon, they will set forth – or not at all – under the banners of the living. Soon, weapons will be drawn, with Death itself the enemy.

Beneath the chaos of such events, and spanning the realm and those countless other realms hidden behind its veil, magic now bleeds into the world. Unconstrained, mysterious and savage, the power that is the lifeblood of the Azathanai, K’rul, runs loose and wild - and following its scent, seeking the places of wounding and hurt where the sorcery rushes forth, entities both new and ancient are gathering . . . and they are eager to feed. Understanding at last what his gift of blood has unleashed, a weakened K’rul sets out, in the company of a lone guardian, to bring order to this newborn sorcery and in the name of order seeks its greatest avowed enemy…

Feeling better
It's cold, dark and raining outside. The election results are even more depressing and I'm swamped by work. But at least there's TV.

Yesterday it was the time to meet Supergirl.

It was so much better than watching Gotham (which is now bordering on masochism). It was fun and it was enjoying being fun. But of course everyone already said that. It made me a little anxious about how cheesy it was going to be but it was mostly great. Some of the effects made Supergirl look like a ragdoll and some of the plot suffered from pilotitis (when they try to pack so much to pilot that the time only allows for tropes) but most of it was absolutely endearing.

[Spoiler (click to open)]
From Kara's optimism and joy at her accomplishments and powers to her reaction to meeting James Olsen. Her joy at trying flying again was infectious. I wanted to scream at her sister who just put it out. She could've at least say thank you. Of course it turned out she just wanted her out of the cross-hairs of the super secret, anti-alien organisation she works for. But at least we know that there are those in US government who consider Superman and Supergirl illegal aliens who should be deported or at least observed at all times.

But I liked how Alex turned around to chose Kara's side. It might be a shock to Kara to not to be invulnerable but the possibility of loosing her sister clearly shown Alex where her loyalties really lie. And the she talks her to keep being superhero and helps her figure out how to defeat the bad guy and it was awesome.

Also her crush on James Olsen, complete with stammering and not knowing were to look, was adorable. So was her general tendency to explain things in very excited way. In fact it reminded me of Jemma Simmons (just little less coherent) and we all know she does ramble in most lovable way.

The WB rules on separation of big and small screen action make some iffy choices - like Clark apparently hasn't spoken to his cousin in years (no calls, texts, internet? he could've at least like her on facebook) so he sends her messages second hand by other people and she has to ask them what he is like.

And the co-worker with crush veered a little into creepy territory (even though the costume part were funny the first try was "ugh") so I hope they'll fix that. And I hope Calista Flockhart's boss character will become less of a caricature as now she seems kind of on Miss Piggy level and that only works for felt characters.

Today on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. we learn what really happened to doctor Jemma Simmons.

[Spoiler (click to open)]
I waited for this the whole week. After all the search for her and then that sudden rescue. After seeing what that world did to her we were to see what happened there.

And look at her start - it's all about the science. It's a way to deal and stave panic and keep hope. There is always an explanation and a way to figure out a way out. So Simmons. Look at how much hope she still has.

But we all know it’s not going to last. First, there was just dehydration and hunger and loneliness (a monster from the deep). Basically like The Martian only with an atmosphere. There is even stranded astronaut.

So now with more resources she figures a way back. She figures how the portal works and where it will open next. She sacrifices the rest of her battery and with it the memories of the life she left on Earth but it is to go back to Earth. And they fail. They fail to even send the message.

So she seeks comfort in Will. This is what happens when you lose hope and the two of you are the only humans on the planet. When your one hope of going back is lost and there is some benevolent force with you there that will do anything to stop you from going back and will try to kill you whenever it can.

I never expected Fitzsimmons to be the will they/ won’t they couple of this show though. You know - the one when they keep throwing obstacles at so they never get together. Until the series finale, of course. Or everyone getting tired and abandoning ship.

But I did expect Jemma and Will to become a thing since they met (the only two people in the world) and it was obvious she wanted to back for someone important to her) so I’m not surprised . But the sound of all the Fitzsimmons shippers hearts breaking was deafening. Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll be back together eventually.

But we know the Fitz never stopped looking for Jemma and that he would do anything to get her back. And when the flare comes she instantly knows who send it through.

And because Fitz is the best person (one she believed in for so long) - he is ready to do all he can to rescue Will. Will who just saw the sunshine for a brief moment first time in years before it disappeared. Just like Jemma Simmons and hope.

When I thing about it both of them are pretty similar. I'm sure they'd be great friends if not for living in Universes further apart than Earth and that dust planet (or Krypton).

And when all fails here's a cat burglar

This is about politics so you can skip it now
Today we had parliamentary elections in Poland. This isn't the first time I voted in US - that was the last parliamentary election but I was in Washington to get new passport anyway so I voted at the embassy. I also voted in the second turn of this presidential elections when I was back in Poland in May. But this is the first time I voted by mail. You can only do it abroad and you have to sign up early and it's a very short period when you can do it but I managed to do it on the very last day. I got my voting package week and a half ago and sent it back few days ago.

By now the results are out. They are not surprising - all the polls has predicted PiS win and the only question was how many of the lesser parties are going to get in and whether PiS will be able to form a new cabinet by itself. It looks like it will be and all the parties that have programs I agree most with are not even going to get in. This is a disappointment even from an ocean away because I despise PiS. They are the exact opposite of everything I believe in.

They are called conservatives and right but they are so only on social issues. All they are for is exactly what you would expect from religious, nationalistic right party. They are xenophobic, homophobic and against abortion (even in the very limited, only due to mother health issues or genetic diseases, one that is allowed in Poland right now). They are anti-European and so afraid about our neighbouring countries scheming against us that they are willing to sabotage all the international relations in the pursue of some messed up the vision of Great Poland that can stand by itself.

But they are much more dangerous on the economic issues. Because there is where their right wing definition falls apart. And this is really what made them win (being super xenophobic when there are refugees coming helped too, of course) because they went all populist and promised ridiculous thing (giving over a trillion złotys back to people for example). They plan to do this by upping the deficit and that means living on credit (they also previously mentioned nationalising some of the industries so Venezuela?). This is never a good idea but even more for a country like ours - small and easily abandoned by creditors (and Greece shows how badly it can end). It's also not a good idea when the other big part of your policy is being anti-EU and we've been renovating on their money for years now.

I get why people voted for them. We've been leaving economic recession since the beginning of the century and even though economy growth has been steady people never saw it in the raise of the salaries. Way too many are stuck in so called "garbage" jobs that don't come with any benefits and are temporary. They also mean less taxes so the country itself doesn't do well with the basic services - health, eduction, pensions, kids. This is why so many young people left for other countries in Europe (or like me even further away) and why so many feel like there is nothing to go back. The previously ruling party kept asking people for more and more sacrifices (like rising retirement age to 67 from 65 for men and 60 for women) without ever fulfilling any promises about making finding or creating jobs any easier. Everyone needed the change and they flocked to the largest party that offered something different. Just the thing they offer is false gold.

Like it has been 8 years ago when their previous try at ruling crashed and burned and resulted in early elections after just 2 years in power. Of course they blamed their tiny coalition parties for sabotaging their great ideas. They say that ruling alone (and with president from their party) they will make Poland great. But they had president back then too and all they managed to do is build a museum (a very nice museum but country had, and still has, much bigger needs) and it ended with people hating them so much they kept PO in power for 8 years just because everyone hated the thought of PiS in power so much. Now, after almost a decade, bad present became more important than the bad past. But I have too good memory to forget how they were and their - one true - leader speeches clearly indicate not much has changed (e.g. he said that the refugees will bring diseases and parasites so they have to be screened). So how can I believe this is going to be any better this time?

Of course I don't think this will destroy the country or any other disaster scenario like that. It will just be very annoying to live through to anyone not Polish Catholic enough. At worse we get something like Orban in Hungary. At best it will just rack the debt and be completely ineffective. Or I'm completely wrong and they actually make it work but looking at the program and their previous record I'm not very optimistic.

My only hope is that when it goes bad this time there will be no one to blame other than them and this will open the route for a real left party as an alternative. I also hope that the way left was eliminated from Parliament completely this time around means all the old guy clinging to power there will get kicked out finally. Am I too optimistic?

Let's hope the real thing is as good as the promise
This is the week when they tease us with the incoming attractions but we al know that not all that looks good in trailers fulfils the hype. We are grown ups well acquainted with disappointment. We can manage our expectations. We can... Oh, fuck it. So let's just allow ourselves enjoy it.

Jessica Jones full trailer is finally here and it's awesome (we don't even see much of him and I'm already revolted by the Purple Man)

And here's another thing that will premiere on 20 November - Amazon's The Man in High Castle. I loved the pilot (you can see the first 2 episodes here for free) and this makes it look even better than I hoped. I want it to succeed so badly it hurts.

All the Star Wars trailers put together in one - looks pretty epic, doesn't it?

Future is Now
Today is Back to the Future day. October 21, 2015 is the date that Doc and Marty arrived at in the Back to the Future II film. So everyone is comparing the future imagined in the 80s to the one we are actually living in. Cars don't fly, there is no fusion reactors and you cannot hydrate your pizza in seconds. We still, disappointingly, need glasses to watch 3D, hoverboards are barely functional (or are just tiny scooters) and Pepsi Perfect is just for people with too much money. But big flatscreens are everywhere and a lot of screens are touchscreens (if you count smartphones most even). We have fingerprint locks and pocket cameras in our smartphones and we can videochat whenever we feel like it (my main way of talking to my family). You can talk to your devices - from phones to TV to some house (and get super frustrated if it doesn't deal well with your accent or speech patterns). The movies had no idea of internet which became a big thing in the future and now we all carry powerful computers that keep us connected to it all the time. Payphones, maps and faxes are mostly forgotten. And Nike has just released (in very limited numbers) the self-lacing shoes. But a lot of companies hope to cash in on the nostalgia.

There is a new short coming in the new blue-ray edition with this extra message from Doc Brown himself

And a documentary about filming BttF

And for those disappointed with the future - CH feels you

The Back to the Future Trilogy in 90 Seconds

What everyone's been waiting for today
The Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer is out

In memoriam
Syfy announced the fate of the other two shows that just recently finished their seasons - Defiance and Dominion - and they are both dead. As I mentioned before Defiance had a great series ending. In fact it's hard to imagine how they would reset that if there was a next season so I'm OK with that. Dominion on the other hand left me angry and I kind of wish for a movie that would solve that but then I don't trust it to do it right. [Just my future headcanon]So I imagine it turned out Noma wasn't evil, Uriel is alive and was scheming with Rafael (her sister) and they took over Gabriel's army and they actually know what to do with Alex.

These two, of course are joining the other cancelled shows - the ones going through the soft death with one last season - Continuum, Haven, Lost Girl. It's nice that they have this ability to give the series an ending. It's a nice thing of Showcase and Syfy to do that for their shows. I would be sad but I have high hopes for the replacements - The Magicians, The Expanse, Hunters and The Childhood End mini are coming and the trailers look good.

In more happy news we now know that Under the Dome has been cancelled but now CBS announced it did the same thing for Extant. Luckily for us even Amazon money wasn't enough to save these two. Also cancelled - Rookie Blue (I used to like it a lot but it went downhill in the last season), Graceland (couldn't care enough to keep up with it) and Proof (nice characters, awful concept).

It also looks like Minority Report isn't long for our TV screens - the production has been halted. But it looks like Quantico and Blindspot are doing pretty well if you care. And proving once again that I know nothing about TV - Rosewood is getting full season pick-up.

Today's date is the same in both directions - 15-10-15 - day-month-year or year-month-day (it obviously only works for two digit year and it doesn't work for American dates but what sane person writes dates inside out). Of course that happened every month this year (and for past few years and will continue for few more years) and is going to be even cooler next month but none of these are on my birthday so this one is special for me. Next cool one like this comes on 15-10-51.

For past few years I go on a trip the weekened before. We call it birthday trip because we both have birthday around that time. This year we went to New Orleans. Photos below.

Streets of New Orleans - French Quarter

[Click to see more]

Sunrise over Mississippi

Second line - for wedding (I also saw a funeral but I don't think I should be posting it on internet - it was in the news anyway)

LaLaurie house if anyone's interested

St. Louis Cathedral outside and inside


Garden District with the mansions - including Anne Rice house


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