gemfyre: (Red Eye Platinum)
As usual, it started how the previous year ended, with a mini-series called Band of Brothers. Sometime in January I read Stephen Ambrose's book which was the main basis for the series, then straight after read Don Malarkey's book. And then proceeded to devour many other Easy Company related books. I now have only a couple left to read.



The other big thing in January was the debut of Agent Carter.  Seriously, can you get any more awesome than Peggy?  The dancing!  The music!  The clothes!  Peggy just being an immense, awesome badass.  I am so so excited that it got a season 2.



After becoming firmly entrenched (heh heh "entrenched") in HBO War fandom, I watched The Pacific and found it was even more harrowing and brutal than Band of Brothers.  Part of it was set in Australia (Melbourne specifically) and all of it was filmed here.



It must have been not long after that that I was convinced to watch Homeland which features Damian Lewis, again playing a serviceman, but GySgt Nicholas Brody is nowhere near as noble as Dick Winters.



Homeland was riveting and I devoured the first 3 seasons in short order.  I figured now I knew a bit more about modern Marines I was ready to watch the third HBO War series - Generation Kill.



G-Kill certainly had its moments of utter shock and frustration, but overall it was kinda hilarious.

I read the book of Generation Kill and began reading Bob Leckie's book about his experiences in the Pacific theatre of WWII.  By this time I had gone from being pretty much ignorant of how most of the military works to understanding ranks and structures and tactics and strategy and firearms like it was a breeze.  Amazing what access to the internet and other nerds and reading some books can do.

Among the books I read was Larry Alexander and Forrest Guth's "In The Footsteps of the Band of Brothers".  From this book I was able to map out (sometimes even pinpoint buildings) significant areas in Easy Company's European campaign.  The fandom seemed quite impressed with my efforts.  Hey, I was mighty impressed.  I had originally made the map so I could get my head around places and distances.

Swancon was in April and I discovered that the nearby Goodearth Hotel had rooms twice the size and half the price of those where the con was actually being held.  I managed to sell a few of the decorated combs I started making in February and to show off my ever growing collection of swing/vintage dresses.

A couple months later was Supanova, where I got to briefly meet Elizabeth Henstridge, who complemented me on my costume even though I was not wearing a costume - admittedly it WAS a paratrooper/Steve Rogers/Peggy Carter mashup look so I can see where she got confused. :D

At the end of the financial year, as I was intending to maybe move out soon, the company I was working for went down the gurgler.  It wasn't a big deal for me, I hated the job and had plenty of savings and was still living rent free at my parent's house.  It was an inconvenience, not a disaster.

I gave up completely on Game of Thrones, season 5 skewed too far from the books and intention of the story for me to care anymore.  Watching it only makes me sad and angry for what could have been.

I also abandoned the third season of Hannibal about a third of the way through, it was getting a bit pretentious for me, but really should finish that up because apparently the ending was fantastic.

I did however go to Queensland, which I had planned while I still had a job.  Brisbane, Cairns, Julatten and the surrounding areas were fabulous.  I got plenty of new birds, including Albert's Lyrebird and Southern Cassowary and over 300 species of fish photographed on the Great Barrier Reef.




My visit to Queensland was also an opportunity to visit areas where some of The Pacific was filmed.  I also passed through Canungra, an old training site near Atherton, a bomb site near Mosman and the Artillery museum in Cairns.  Stuff I never dreamed I'd be interested in.  Now I have a photo of an 88 gun and it means something to me.



Oh gosh and how could I forget - I also visited Dreamworld while I was over there and went on all the roller coasters, of course, plus a bunch of other rides and it was fab.



Watching Generation Kill introduced me to the very handsome, talented and TALL Alexander Skarsgard so I watched some more of his work.  Among it, all 7 seasons of True Blood in the span of 3 weeks (the last season all in one day).  This series reminded me of a vampire story I had written in high school and was just like eating candy.  In retrospect it's a ridculous show, but extremely entertaining and visually appealing.



Flash kept being loads of fun and at time Arrow was only still watchable due to Felicity and Neal McDonough hamming it up as the seasonal Big Bad.



Gotham continues to be awesome and is currently in a mid-season break.

(could this be The Joker??)

In the Marvel universe Age of Ultron was fun, but a little disappoinitng.  Antman was surprisingly great.  And Agents of SHIELD continued to set up future events in the Marvel universe.  But of course the big thing was the release of a certain trailer and now everyone is taking sides.


(no prizes for guessing which side I'm on)

There was also Daredevil, which showed that when Marvel isn't teathered by mainstream channels it can really get dark and violent.  I was impressed.



I was about halfway through Hanks and Spielberg's first colaboration - From The Earth To The Moon - when water was discovered on Mars.  Watching FTETTM just blew my mind that it was actually a thing that occured.  In the late 50s some people asked "Can we get a man on the moon?" and a decade later it was DONE.  And now it's a very real possibility that a human being may set foot on Mars in my lifetime.  It gives me chills just to think of it.

I finally got around to watching Unsere Mutter Unsere Vater, a mini-series about 5 friends on the eastern front in Germany and Russia during WWII.  It was heartbreaking as expected, and a good opportunity to practice German, which I have been learning on Duolingo.



Then one day I was just toddling around Facebook when I saw an article for a series called The Man In The High Castle.  A quick look at the opening sequence had me watching it immediately.  This series will sure give you trust issues.  And give you lots of food for thought.  It also spawned one of the cleverest and at the same time, stupidest advertising campaigns I've ever seen.



In other parts of life, I am still swing dancing and loving it.  My fitness is improving.  I try to do at least 2 nights of lessons per week and social dancing on most weekends.  I also went to my first weekend workshops - Shagabout - which focussed on Shag and Balboa, Stomp Off - which focussed on solo Jazz and Summer Swingfest which was all about Lindy Hop.



I've pretty much immersed myself in the 1940s.  I listen to the music, I dress up in vintage style, I'm fascinated by the war, I'm even cooking ration food.

Mum and dad went to Canada for about a month just before I headed to Queensland and this heralded the beginning of my ration cooking journey.  I learned that Duke Ellington and ration pancakes at breakfast is a beautiful thing (the pancake recipe discovered at 1940s Experiment).  The colouring book craze infected me and I learned that it provided a perfect opportunity to listen to podcasts and it wasn't long before I discovered The Ration Project - which REALLY inspired me to try some interesting things and taught me a lot about WWII.



I am currently reading Masters of the Air about the Eighth Air Force during WWII - the book that Speilberg and Hanks next war series will be based on.

Which brings us to the end of the year 2015.  On New Year's Eve I finished watching Marvel's Jessica Jones.  Another Netflix series that didn't pull its punches and gave me an appaling villain to digest.



And possibly the biggest news.  It's happening - in July next year Desiree and I will head to Europe and the U.S. to see many amazing places, among them a lot the sites from Easy Company's WWII campaigns.  Some which I have mapped out in detail.  I am still in a state of disbelief over the whole thing and we are already busy organising everything.

So... if 2015 was the year OF anything that thing would be WWII, that period in history between about 1935 and 1947.  I seem to be half living then at the moment.
gemfyre: (doe a deer)
So the new year started like the old one ended. Playing loads of Lego Marvel and getting really into figure skating in the lead up to the Sochi Olympics.

I managed to find a few dodgy livestreams of the skating and stayed up late to watch as much as possible. I was watching the livestream when Russian legend Evgeni Plushenko did a triple axel during warmup and came down wobbly and didn't stop holding his lower back after that. A few minutes later he'd withdrawn, to everyone's shock and surprise. No doubt that rattled all the other competitors because the men's skating was a bit of a farce. I came to adore Misha Ge, who went out with the intention of entertaining rather than medalling and succeeded with flying colours, and Michael Christian Martinez, a kid from the Philippines with fascinating moves and the first Olympic figure skater to hail from a tropical country.


Misha Ge during his rocking long program performance.

As my New Year's resolution was to learn how to make-up, I researched nail-polish again and discovered that formulas had generally changed and the nastiest chemicals are now omitted from many brands of polish. I bought a few bottles (8, because piCture pOlish has a deal when you buy 8 or more bottles), and my skin didn't protest at their use. So I bought more. And more. And discovered hundreds of nail art tutorials on YouTube, and that nail art supplies were cheap as chips on eBay, and let's just say I haven't had a week without nailpolish on since.


Nail art, inspired by Stephane Lambiel's "Magical Zebra" long program from the 2006 Olympics. See? More figure skating!

In the land of fandom, Game of Thrones started really veering off course from the books and annoyed many people, myself included.

But the really big event happened in April when I went to see Captain America : The Winter Soldier. It's now a new year and I still haven't stopped obsessing over these two super soldiers.



Suddenly my Tumblr dash was full of the terribly aesthetically pleasing Sebastian Stan and Chris Evans, so of course I had to investigate their catalogue of work.



Of Chris's other movies, the most affecting was the post-apocalyptic Snowpiercer and the most entertaining was the predictable but pretty What's Your Number?

The majority of Seb's movie career is rubbish, but I managed to watch the entire mini-series Political Animals in a day and be utterly heartbroken by TJ Hammond.

Then I turned to another of his old shows, called Kings.



Well. Like CATWS, I haven't stopped screaming about Kings since. This show aired in 2009 and got axed after one season when it desperately needed a 2nd to tie up its' loose ends. I've rewatched it all the way through about twice and keep rewatching random episodes and find new details every time. Religious overtones, political machinations, terrible people doing terrible things – it's an amazing show I recommend that everyone should watch it.

Other shows that I watched and enjoyed:
Hannibal – season 2 managed to have a few scenes that almost made me dry-retch. I am impressed.
Agents of SHIELD – This show just keeps getting better and better. It really found its feet during the CATWS crossover episodes, when everything went to hell with SHIELD. The mid-season cliffhanger has not left me screaming in anticipation as much as mourning some characters who deserved so much more.
Once Upon A Time – after watching episode 17 (the one where Sebastian Stan's character debuts) a few times I figured I should just watch it all. What a delightful little show. I still have to start on season 3 then catch up with season 4. I'll get around to it.
Arrow – I finally got around to watching all this. I went to Supanova when I was about 2 episodes away from finishing season 2 and got spoiled. But seeing as it was Manu Bennett (who plays Slade) doing the spoiling, I was okay with it. (I also got to see Ming Na-Wen from AoS at Supanova and discovered that she is a delightful bouncy fangirl like the rest of us).
Flash – Arrow's counterpart show. Less heavy and more predictable, but delightful. I just love all the little DC references in these shows.
Gotham – The other great DC universe show. Baby Bruce Wayne and rough-around-the-edges Alfred give me life. And finally an iteration of The Penguin that makes me interested in the character.

Guardians of the Galaxy was fantastic. Who imagined we'd all fall in love with a talking raccoon and a dancing tree (well okay, probably lots of people). But it was better than I even imagined it would be.

So my love of all things Steve and Bucky and my slowly growing collection of swing dresses had me starting to get into all things pre-WWII/1930s/1940s. Then a friend said I should come along to swing dance classes with them.



Since then 90% of the music I have been listening to dates from before 1945. I have become a huge fan of Glenn Miller and The Andrews Sisters. I have learned to Lindy Hop and Charleston and Shim-Sham and Balboa. I have met lots of cool people. I still haven't really made any friends – but that's always a challenge and a slow process for me. I intend to keep going to lessons and social dances. If nothing else it sneaks me a few hours of exercise without me realising too much.

I stopped getting my hair cut and growing my fringe out due to laziness, but that has evolved into a purposeful growing out so I can put pretty clips in it and do pompadours and victory rolls. My goal for 2015 is to learn how to do hair, because, like make-up, it's just one of those things I never really learned about previously.

Finally, the year has ended on a show from 2001 called Band of Brothers – which fits right into the whole 1940s/WWII thing I have going on. I finished it last week and have almost completed the re-watch already – it's definitely a show that requires a double watch through just to get all the people (I don't want to call them characters, because these were actual guys out there on the front-lines in Europe) straight. The show is visceral and immersive and amazing and harrowing. Don't watch it if you have a weak constitution (watch out for ep 9 especially, and a brief moment in ep 3 that I seriously cannot watch anymore), but DO watch it if you're interested in WWII stuff and want your heart shattered into tiny pieces.



At first, after the whole thing with Kings happened I figured we'd have another Year of the King like 2012.

But on further consideration I realised it was totally not a Year of the King. Three of the main characters in Kings were/are a General, a Major and a Private come Captain. Steve and Bucky are a Captain and a Sergeant with a unit of commandos. And Band of Brothers... well 'nuff said.

So I hereby dub 2014 – The Year of the Soldier.

April 2017

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