Posted in Comics n Stuff, TV Stuff

Champions of S.H.I.E.L.D. part 2: Season 2

Main Cast:

Agent Phil Coulson –  Clark Gregg

Agent Melinda May  –  Ming Na Wen

Agent Leopold Fitz    – Ian De Caestecker

Agent Gemma Simmons –  Elizabeth Henstridge

‘Skye’   –  Chloe Bennett

Alfonso ‘Mack’ MacKenzie – Henry Simmons

Lance Hunter – Nick Blood

Barbara ‘Bobbi’ Morse – Adrianne Palicki

Recurring Cast:

Glenn Talbot – Adrian Pasdar

Calvin Zabo – Kyle MacLaughlin

Grant Ward – Brett Dalton

Antoine ‘Trip’ Triplett – B.J. Britt

Robert Gonzales – Edward James Olmos

Gordon – Jamie Harris

Raina – Ruth Negga

Overview: First shown on 24 October 2014, season 2 opened capitalised on the strong finish of season 1 and pushed the story forward with an uneven, but highly entertaining 22 episodes. Rather than a huge global organisation, now S.H.I.E.L.D. is the small scrappy underdog against all sides, the US government, Hydra and other groups. Secrets, tension and uncertain loyalties abound.

Initial Status Quo: Several months after the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. and a newer organisation arises, led by Director Coulson, this small scrappy group is a shadow of it’s former self and bit by bit are rebuilding to take the fight to Hydra, who despite the popular view are still very much a threat. Coulson is having moments of compulsive carvings similar to what happened to John Garrett after receiving the GHC formula in the last season. Skye has changed supervising officers to Melinda May and has become a capable specialist. Simmons is undercover at Hydra, Fitz is struggling to recover after the brain damage he suffered, whilst working with new recruit Alfonso MacKenzie/Mack. The team is also joined by Lance Hunter, a friend to other S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and whilst sceptical of Coulson, trusts him enough to join. As well as Hydra, we have Dr Cal ‘Mr Hyde’ Zabo, Skye’s father who along with Grant Ward who escapes from S.H.I.E.L.D. pushes the plot forward as the secret of the alien writing, Skye’s origins and the strange artifact from the first episodes collide.

The Twist(s) First we find out that Skye is actually an inhuman and halfway through the season she goes through terrigenesis and emerges with vibrational powers. It’s then discovered that there are more inhumans out there, in hiding and terrified of the fearful human race. The second one comes when we learn that Bobbi and Mack are spies for another version of S.H.I.E.L.D. who are convinced that Coulson is the problem with the group and needs to be dealt with. Add into that several different revelations, changing allegiances and a few WTF moments, we get another fast paced finale which leads to more questions, more possibilities and more enjoyment for me.

Stand out episodes:

Love in the Time of Hydra: Bobbi and Mack play their hand and Grant Ward starts to help Agent 33 find closure over the damage done to her by Hydra.

Melinda: Where were learn how the ‘Cavalry’ became the Cavalry and why she spent 5 or 6 years in administration, set against the current Inhumans plot.

SOS: The seperate threads become one solid story and we get several cliff-hanger endings that leave you wanting a little more.

In Closing

Not suffering the finding their feet problems with the last season and having a little less to do with the Marvel Cinematics, allowed this season to breath a little. The cast are more comfortable in their roles and each are given more to do than last time. The expanded cast is a welcome breath of fresh air, with new recruits Mack, Bobbi and Hunter added some much needed flavour to the team. The antagonists are also more interesting and nuanced, from the more enlightened Ward, to his partner/girlfriend Agent 33 to the old school Nazi Daniel Whitehall. We get a look at the Inhumans and that continues Marvels attempts to make Inhumans interesting and relevant, but here it sort of works. (But seriously Marvel, stop trying to make Inhumans a thing, it’s still not working, but we all accept you tried your best.) We get more Asgardians, a Kree, a return of Deathlok and even some villains (we get Mr Hyde, Angar the Screamer and Crusher ‘The Absorbing Man’ Creel) and over all this was a much better season overall and I am glad I got it into my head to start watching these again.

Next Time: Inhumans, robot arms, alien worlds and Secret Warriors.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Slimming World Saturday 26: Best laid plans

Ok internet people, kinda fucked this up. Last week I was 1lb away from 4 stone and …… well. Our son was at my mother’s, so all our attention was with that and his surprise, so we didn’t really focus on tea, so we had a takeaway. This morning, 2lb on.

Feeling pretty stupid and a bit demoralised right now. It’s not however going to ruin this weekend.

Better decisions on a Friday, that’s what I am going to do differently this week.

Aiming for that 4 stone.

Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Thinking Thoughts on a Thursday

Thinking Thoughts on a Thursday 11: Raw

Hello internet people.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks and I have in no uncertain terms been struggling. Work was an unmitigated nightmare and I found it all very stressful. It has all felt so very overwhelming. I wasn’t coping and it was getting in the way of everything. I was feeling the weight of everything and wondering what had changed.

Worked it out, I was feeling the weight of it. About 6 weeks ago, I went to my doctor’s and informed him that I wanted to reduce my anti-depressants, with the overall goal of not actually taking them anymore. Since my breakdown I have been taking them daily and am getting the idea that they are no longer doing me any good and for me it’s a concrete sign that I am getting better. I hemmed and hawed about it. worrying that my negative and obsessive thoughts would make a fast return and I’d go back to the terrifying earliest days of my recovery. I’d wish that on no-one, not even me. So anyway, went back to the doctors and we agreed between us that I should go onto one every two days, rather than one a day. And apart from missing the odd one at the weekend, have been doing the one every other day since. So, when do I notice the difference I wonder?

Now, now is when I notice the difference. Anti-depressants, don’t as a rule fix depression, no single thing can do that. They don’t make you happy, nor stop you feeling sad, the idea is that they give you the head-space to deal with shit. But one of the ways they do that is by blunting the effects of the feelings. So they stop you feeling so sad, but essentially stopping you feeling that much of anything. So I went from repressing my feelings, to battling my feelings through to suppressing my feelings to finally now experiencing them. For the first time in a few years, I am feeling everything  that I am feeling. Or at least I am beginning to. I didn’t notice it at first because, it’s takes about 4 weeks for changes in medication to have any real effect. For the first time in a long time, am feeling what I am feeling more. This has been an uncomfortable fortnight as a result and am sure the road will get rockier, long before it will get smoother. But I feel, maybe that I am becoming more present. I miss my son (away for a couple of days with his grandparents) and I mean really missing him, but that’s a pain I am happy to feel, for it reminds me how much I love him. I love my wife the MIGHTY Rosie and being close to her is where I know what hope, love and home mean. I never really worked out how to do feelings, but I am right now in the best company to start learning.

I spent much of the last two weeks, thinking something was wrong, but really, my heart is beginning to wake up. I have a lot of learning to do still.

I am loved, it’s time to show that I love in return.

I fear, it’s time to face that fear.

I am not falling back, this is just a more difficult climb than I expected it to be. But I honestly think I am up to this challenge.

We are mightier than we believe, stronger than we know and more valued than we often feel.

Even me.

 

 

Posted in Podcasts

5 Podcasts that I am enjoying

It is a fair thing to say that the internet has been to comics (and general geek) fandom a heavily mixed blessing. Whilst it has given many a voice and a collective that they would not have ordinarily have, it’s sometimes a bit sad what we do with that voice.

For me, it’s been universally positive. The main reason for this is that I can treat the vitriol and offensive stuff for what it is, the impotent whining of people who should no better. Apart from the spoilers it’s all been positive. Firstly I’ve been able to do this.

For those who have followed me on this blog, you know that I have struggled this past four years or so. Truth is, I have been battling depression and anxiety for a long time and the past four years have seen me trying to recover from this, with vastly different degrees of success. One of the first rounds of therapeutic  measures led me to writing. This has been an outlet and a connection to the world that I would not have ordinarily have and that’s been a positive as has my experiences here on wordpress, you have all been so good to me here so thanks for that. Secondly has been podcasts. These lovely little audio programs have been a god send when I’ve been alone during times when that was the most frightening time. Now they’re just a form of entertainment that helps me get from A to B when I am out and about. I share individual episodes on here, but I wanted to highlight some of the ones that I am enjoying because it’s nice to share nice things, instead of our outrage and confusion.

1: Stacey’s Pop Culture Parlour

https://popcultureparlour.podbean.com/

Brummie lass Stacey is joined on a mostly monthly (barring special episodes) basis with a rotating cast of guests. Varying topics based mostly on what people have been enjoying it covers a wide variety of pop culture topics, from music to TV to comics to movies and more besides. Warning, some choice language appears, but she is charming as are her guests and even if you don’t know what the episode is about ( much like those on the show) you’ll probably like something they talk about. It has for example made me a big Rick and Morty Fan. Also worth checking out on the same feed is her Community inspired Stace and Barry in the Mornin’.

2: Crisis on Infinite Midlives

http://www.crisisoninfinitemidlives.com/

Two Bostonian former stand up comedians love comics, tv and booze and it’s all on display here. Rob and Amanda are foul mouthed, often drunk and very ‘Get of my lawn!’ but they are also funny. A mixture of news, reviews, tangents and abuse, this pair are definitely NSFW, but there are very funny. Their episode titles are often quotes from the show and it’s often an interesting point about how they get to them and how Rob will slip in familiar sound clips whilst Amanda is expecting something else.

3: OHOTMU or Not

The fire and water podcast network is a loose affiliation of shows organised by the hosts of the Fire and Water Podcast ( Rob Kelly and the irreDEEMable Shag) who have gathered a load of podcasts by their friends and contributors. There are many shows by different people on different topics, including the Supermates show by the husband and wife team of Chris and Cindy Franklin, there’s PodDylan a look at Bob Dylan’s music, song by song, Film and Water Podcast, which obviously is about movies and a plethora of others. The one that I always look forward to is oHOTmu or NOT.

oHOTmu or NOT is a review of the Official Handbook Of the Marvel Universe by geeky bogger Siskoid. The difference between this and the other index shows of this kind is that he’s joined by 6 or 7 of his friends, all Canadians like himself, but with no great comics knowledge and often seeing these characters for the first time and giving a honest opinion on appearance, concept and brief history. What follows is also NSFW, but it’s usually funny as the drinks are flowing and there’s little held back. How hot or not the characters are is discussed and a good time is had by all, as a listener though, you skip the inevitable hangover.

http://fireandwaterpodcast.com/show/ohotmu-or-not/

4: Palace of Glittering Delights

There’s no way I could do this without looking at the Two True Freaks network of shows. Many of the podcasts I have mentioned already have either been guests of or hosted shows on this network of friends and fellow fans. This one is almost always a favourite listen. Andrew Leyland (from too many podcasts to mention) has his own little corner of the net to talk about whatever he likes, from films, TV and comics he enjoys and he does enjoy. Being a simliar generation to me, I remember a lot of the stuff he talks about and his also being and englishmen means there’s even more cultural crossover. His shows are well written, honest and funny and even if I am not a fan of what he talks about, he’s made me more curious about it. Have met Andy at comic marts here in Liverpool and he is as charming and personable in person, he’s also got me buying more back issues than I have room for, but that is the nature of the sickness that is comic fandom. His most recent episodes have been looking at Untold Tales of Spider-Man and it’s made me want to re-read them. Can’t ask for better than that from a Northern chancer talking idly about funny books.

http://twotruefreaks.com/shows.php?show=37

5: White Rocket Entertainment

https://whiterocket.podbean.com/

This is a relative new one, and there isn’t one particular show that has stood out for me as a result, but doing this 5 something posts, has got me in the habit of listing things in 5s. (Yes, am aware I need help)

This is a different set of shows with another vast array of hosts and topics. There’s the On her Majesty’s Secret Podcasts, Avengers Assemble, red-watches of Quantum Leap, Babylon 5 and Space 1999 as well as Comics with Normies, where a comic fan convinces his non-comics reading friends and neighbours to read a random issue he got from a car boot sale and they talk about it. This is a facinating idea, which is more or less entertaining each time.

 

Well now that’s out of my system, on to other things.

TTFN internet people.

Posted in Slimming World Saturday

Slimming World Saturday 26: High Five

Hello again internet people, Saturday morning and another weigh in. My hopes were for any sort of loss, just wanted to maintain motivation.

Well I was pleasantly amazed when I saw it was 5lbs. That’s 55lb in total, 1lb off 4st and that feels pretty good. It’s been a hard week at work and I have been feeling down more than once, but this is a win.

Time to keep going, time to keep fighting.

Moving forward.

Ttfn internet people, will catch you all on the other side of 4 stone.

Posted in Miscellaneous

Nights Kingdom part 2 of 2

When she awoke, Maria found Steve nearby on the floor, using his torch read a map. “You alright?” he asked.

“What are you doing?”

“Picked up an ordonnance map, just looking at where we could head next.”
“Next?”
“Can’t stay here in this cellar indefinitely, you’re out of food and I’m not sure how safe we are here.”
“We.”

“Sorry.” He smiled, pausing as he couldn’t remember when he last smiled. “I was wondering if you wanted to come with me. If I found you and I am not the only thing out there, you might not be particularly safe.”
“I don’t know. I’m terrified, I don’t know if I can even go outside.”

“There’s a big sodding bump on the back of my head that says you’re braver than you think. I’m going to be outside for a while, if you don’t want to come, I understand. But if you do, I’ll be glad of the company.”

 

An hour or so later, she patted Steve on the shoulder. He smiled, she smiled and they started to walk towards the edge of town. She turned to him. “I swear though, if you start singing ‘we’re off to see the wizard’ I’m going to go back.”

 

It was a couple of hours of awkward and yet terrified silence later, Maria started talking again, about what she was calling the ‘fall of night’. She talked about the screams as the creatures she had taken to calling Darklings, started taking people, the fires that burned nearby fields and the howling sounds that came at random times. She talked about the fear that came from that and above all, the soul crushing loneliness until Steve arrived.

 

The road carried on into the eternal twilight, the trees here also seemed to reach towards the pair as they walked. The cold bit into them, Steve wondered if it was the actual cold, or sense of uneasy dread that permeated the landscape. After more awkward silence, Steve started to open up.

 

“I’ve not really ‘got’ people. Lost my parents quite early on, been on my own quite a lot since. Had friendships and such, the occasional girlfriend, but honestly they always ended up leaving. So I eventually stopped trying. The less I tried, the less I had to try, until eventually I was on my own.”
“That sounds very lonely.” Maria commented.

“Less painful, but I suppose it is.”

“So is that why I’m here? Am I your ‘people patch’? Some time with me and then you remember why you don’t like people?”

“Nothing like that, there’s just a point to it now.”
“What?”
“I kept going because I have no better idea, not much else left to do. But now this seems like what I should do. I can’t just keep going for myself indefinitely, but if I can get you to safety, it feels like I’m being useful. To be honest, was seriously considering ending it all.”
“Oh…” there didn’t seem to be anything you could say after that. As awkward as the silence was, no one wanted to continue that conversation.

 

Hours went by till Steve broke the silence. “There’s a big shopping centre over there.” He pointed to a sign.

“Fancy a shopping trip do we?”

“Was thinking supplies, could find all sort of stuff in there, might even be a place to stay if it’s more defensible than the pub. Worth a try if nothing else.”
Reluctantly, Maria agreed then followed the signs for the shopping complex.

 

The shopping centre itself was a sprawling mass of glass and metal, surrounded by a half-full car park of abandoned cars. The main building was a supermarket with a couple of other stores attached. Some of the cars looked torn into, like the bus and the pub, but only the cars further from the doors. “Ever been here before?” Maria asked.

“Few years ago, did some building work to pay some bills, was an electrician for a while and worked here. This place was originally a hospital before St Mary’s was built nearby. The main buildings were levelled, but someone of the outer buildings were kept to use for utilities.” He stopped, thinking for a second. “I think I know why the cars near the front were left alone.” He walked to a smaller car and using his elbow broke off a wing mirror, he then threw it towards the main entrance. Then something neither expect to happen occurred… The lights at the front of the sore came on.

 

A blinding flash, far beyond the wind up torch the most light he’d seen in three weeks, or she’d seen in six months. “Hospitals have generators, I think the company who built this place, kept the generators in. That way during blackouts, people could keep shopping, no matter what.”

“It’s amazing that they’re still working.”

“It’s more than that, some of the stuff in there will still be working. We can get supplies, changes of clothes.”
“A shower?” she smiled. He looked at her. “Well I can dream.”

 

At the doors, Steve saw the shutters were down, but not locked, so he lifted one of the doors and the two of them slipped inside. It was bright, warm too, for the first time that either could easily remember, they felt some degree of normal.

 

As if struck by some need to be a child again even for one minute Maria ran down the aisles of the supermarket, then leant on a trolley, with her feet up. Steve wanted to tell her to pack it in and get to business, but realised that this girl had suffered more than him, so gave her a few more minutes of silly, this dark land of horrors seemed to have taken so much, and did he really need to add to it? Besides, he had shopping to do himself. A change of clothes, some knives, matches some more food and drink. Most display items didn’t work any better than anything outside of this place. If the generators had been working when everything else stopped, it’d be as dead as his mobile phone. He had just put a list together in his own head, when he heard the scream.

 

It didn’t take long for the trolley thing to stop making her giggle, she was in the cereal aisle and saw porridge, he dad loved porridge and just like that, the horror of everyone else being dead came rushing back. She was grateful to have met Steve, though she felt so uneasy about him, like he was a cat that had gone feral from being alone too long. He barely looked at her, she never thought she’d miss sexual harassment. She was moving along more slowly, when she saw it. It was a shadow, but not the shadow of a man, the shape was wrong. It moved towards her on all fours. It looked more solid as it grew closer, noisier too. Growling and snarling and then red eyes seemed to burn from inside it. It seemed to make the surrounding area gloomier as if it drained the light around it. She screamed. Later she would berate herself for being so ‘damsel in distress’. When it was ten feet from her, she heard the glass breaking, like a bottle being dropped. Then another and a third, this bottle hitting the creature. “Any others?”
Steve asked, walking towards them slowly. “I’m assuming you speak a bit there.”

“Only….me….no…..sharing.” A raspy voice, like something trying to sound like a person. “Well I’ll be honest, that is a relief.” Steve lit a match and dropped it into the puddles caused by the bottles. Maria knew the smell well, vodka, whiskey, she back aware further. The match fell and a ripple of flame raced towards and then engulfed the creature.

 

It screamed, a noise so horrific would stay with them for years to come. The fire consumed it completely, but it live for a few minutes within that alcohol fuelled inferno. When the fire died down, there were even ashes left from it. Steven walked over to Maria, who was pressing herself into the shelves, almost catatonic with hear. “It’s ok.” He whispered. “It’s ok.”

He held her for the second time and for the second time, she fell into a sobbing sleep in his arms.

 

They avoided each other the next day, as far as you can call it a day. That evening, they shared a meal of crackers and jam, drank some wine and for a brief moment, they weren’t last survivors, refugees or broken people trying to work out how to live in a broken world, they were just two friends, stuck somewhere, enjoy each other’s company. Maria was curious about what to do next, but what Steve said was to be frank, unexpected.

“We need people. The world as we know it, is gone, no national grid, no phones, no radio, no signs of life. But I’m alive, you’re alive, isn’t it possible that there’s more?”

“Ok, so what if there are?”

“We bring them here, this place has supplies, resources, fairly defensible.”
“Why us?”

“Because we can, because we need to. In the past, there was infrastructure, systems in place to help people, it’s unlikely any of that still exists. All we have is each other.”

“So where do we go?”

“We pick a direction, load up and go. There’s bikes next door, we could use them. It doesn’t have to be all Mad Max out there, does it?”
“Why do You want to?”
“If we hadn’t met, we might both be dead right now. Maybe there’s a reason for that, maybe there isn’t. We have though, been given a second chance.”
“A second chance to what?”

“To live. Not to survive, but to actually live. We can rebuild, we can go on. It’s dark outside, but we don’t have to be on the inside.”

“Let me sleep on it?”

 

They left the next morning, riding bikes up the motorway. She for the first time, was not afraid, and he for the first time wanted to find something rather than avoid something.

 

They wandered on.