Sunday, January 25, 2015

#SonsOfLiberty Night 1 - off to an explosive start

History's "Sons of Liberty" premiered tonight and started off running. Literally! The first few minutes were jam packed with action as Sam Adams is chased through the streets of Boston by the British. He's evading capture - there's a warrant out for his arrest for being a tax collector unwilling to collect taxes. There are riots happening in the streets at the same time, punches are thrown... and then it's off to the governor's mansion to do some real damage. Which all in turn gets the soldiers off Adams' back - for the night.

Make no mistake - this miniseries is NOT HISTORICALLY ACCURATE by any stretch of the imagination. History's big wigs came out with that warning several weeks ago. They do not count this among their documentaries, but as a way to show the excitement of the period and hopefully interest viewers in to reading up on what really happened and who these men truly were.

Still, if you aren't looking for a straight up history lesson, you will not be disappointed! I typically cannot get over blatant historical fallacies, but the way this story is told it's not a bother in the slightest. The cast is spot on in their roles. The action is fast paced and intriguing (edge of your seat) and the dialogue - while not accurate for the 1760s - keeps your interest. Each member brings another flavor to the show, and it melds into a very yummy and rich story.

Ben Barnes plays the most important role of Sam Adams, a disheartened tax collector. Adams refuses to force the kings taxes on his friends and fellow Bostonians, allowing them to pay only what they can so they can provide for their family members. This does not sit well with the governor, and he sends his goons after him. This just bolsters Adams and his followers to press against the crown even harder.

Barnes was definitely hired not just for his acting - which is spot on - but also to be the heartthrob. He's one of the better looking drunks, that's for sure. Sam Adams never looked so good, that's for sure. Barnes brings the right amount of rebel to the role, while being very much your classic Robin Hood. While most are pushing Sons of Liberty as a Colonial Ocean's 11, it definitely also is a Colonial Hood and Merry Men.

Adams is likeable, if a little bit annoying. We get to see why the others have joined the fight - but we really haven't seen what sent Adams to the edge. It most likely stems from watching his father go bankrupt and die from the stress, but that's only mentioned briefly and just doesn't seem like much of a catalyst.

Adams' closest friend, at least in the beginning, is Dr. Joseph Warren played by Ryan Eggold (The Blacklist). Warren is one of the more respected physicians in Boston, and is the moral compass of Sam Adams. He also sticks up for his friend, and helps him out of every jam with the British soldiers (warning Adams before hand that they're coming, and lying to them when they get there).

It's good to see Eggold in a role other than the one I know him as on The Blacklist, though I have to admit I'm waiting for him to turn into Mr. Hyde after his Dr. Jeckel routine tonight. It was nice to see a more tender, emotional role for Eggold, and he didn't disappoint. In one of the more dramatic scenes where a young boy is killed after Warren warns Adams that innocents would be hurt, Warren gives Adams a knowing look. An "I told you so" which then sets Adams on edge.

Warren did join up with the Sons of Liberty in the history books, and will eventually embrace the idea in this series. Especially once a certain Mrs. Margaret Gage comes into the picture. It'll be very interesting to see how his character goes from friend helping a friend to a patriot who would die for his country (not looking forward to THAT part of the story).

Quite possibly the most entertaining character in the series is Rafe Spall's John Hancock. I'm not sure what he's trying to portray in his character, but he's rather... flamboyant. He kinda comes off as a colonial Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory) with the way his social norms as an upper class businessman and property owner get in the way of bonding with his compatriots. Hancock is thrust into the rebellion after the Governor goes back on his word to allow Hancock special liberties. The final straw is the Governer suggesting Hancock is no better than the rioters. He's not a British citizen - he's a Colonist. He's second class.

Hancock immediately seeks Adams out to tell him of a plan to boycott the Brits, and still make money. Adams, being against rich society, agrees only because it will fund his larger cause. The men create a smuggling ring and underground market for normal goods that the every man needed, but were being taxed out of affording (you know, things like food).

I was not prepared to like Spall as much as I do. I'm not familiar with his work, but I'm very interested in searching out his other roles. He's definitely a stand out in the series.

One role that, so far, sticks close enough to how history portrays him is John Adams played by Henry Thomas. The cousin of Sam Adams, John is more of a controlling older brother who has had it with his cousin than he is a friend and ally. While John Adams gets most of the credit for being a thorn in everyone's side during the rise of American revolution, Sam Adams did much of the groundwork. John followed the law to the letter, Sam was more free to pick and choose.

Henry Thomas - who most know as the child actor who played Elliot in Steven Spielberg's E.T. - was quite convincing. Next to the more animated Ben Barnes, it gave the elder Adams the maturity and coldness that was needed as he continually lectured his cousin on the finer points of right and wrong. The two clash and at one point John tells his wife to deny Sam access to their home (he charms her anyway so she relents).

The first night ended with the Boston Massacre, so the two will clash in the second episode as John Adams will be hired to defend the British officers who fired on the Colonials.

I would be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to Paul Revere (Michael Raymond-James). Though just in a few scenes, he's the original reason I was excited for the mini series. We meet Revere as a businessman willing to rent out some space to Adams and his crew as they built "lobster pots". It's obvious in the scene that they've not let Revere in on the secret, but he's not an idiot. He knows they're up to something, and he supports their overall cause telling Adams that they next time they go to trash the governor's house to let him know.

Raymond-James gives his normal swagger to the role (hello typecasting), as well as a strong Bostonian accent. Remember, this is a fictitious take on the history of the 1760s-70s. Revere is a selfmade man and is rough around the edges. He's a little less refined than the rest, so his more "Bostonian sound" seems appropriate.

Revere is scene in many of the scenes in the background backing up Sam Adams. He stops Adams from getting too close as the riot begins setting in motion the Boston Massacre, but runs off as the shooting starts. He turns back to watch in horror as Adams beats down one of the British soldiers who is wounded when the rioters return fire. No doubt as the series continues Revere's role will grow - to peak with his "Midnight Right" (which was really early morning). The preview of what's to come again shows Raymond-James giving off his typical smart ass persona when questioned by British troops. He'll also get in on the fighting, which I'm looking forward to.

More Mikey Ray is always a good thing.

Overall, this series got off to a very exciting start and I'm loving it. That they're playing with accents (Colonials all have American accents, the King's Men all have British accents) and with history doesn't bother me half as much as I worried it would. If you're looking at it strictly as an action adventure movie and not as a history lesson you shouldn't be disappointed. There were quite a few surprises as the characters were introduced (seriously was not expecting to love John Hancock... and I had NO idea that Paul was going to have a Boston accent ha ha) but I have to say I'm impressed. And what's even more impressive is it's not Ryan or Michael that I'm most impressed with (granted they had small roles tonight). Ben Barnes is just wonderful, and Rafe Spall... yeah... I gotta find more of their work.

So now the countdown begins to night two. It promises to be even MORE exciting, if that's possible.


And, no I'm not excited... I AM FREAKING EXCITED!

If you aren't planning to watch this, then we can't be friends. Sorry, not sorry.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

30 Days of Fangirl-ism - Day 11: I'm cheating and using a freebie

The prompt for today was supposed to be: fan art, fan fiction, cover song, cosplay, etc. that you’ve made that you’re most proud of, however I don't do any of those... so I'm declaring this a freebie day for myself.

Today we lost a legend in one of my fandoms. The world of Figure Skating lost one of its brightest stars today when news spread that Canadian Figure Skater Toller Cranston was found dead in his home in Mexico from an apparent heart attack. Cranston was 65 years old. 

During the height of his competitive career, Toller made a name for himself as a flamboyant skater who didn't keep with the status quo. He thought outside of the box and often pushed the boundaries of what was deemed "appropriate" for competitive skating. A lot of the more exciting competitive programs of the 80s and 90s and even today are the result of his influence on the sport.

He was an interesting fellow, he and his outspoken opinions will be missed.

Friday, January 23, 2015

30 Days of Fangirl-ism - Day 10: Favorite scene/moment from a favorite fandom

Again, I won't choose a Neal centric scene from Once Upon A Time as I did that in a previous blog post. (Also amusing is I whined about Michael Raymond-James not giving details quick enough for his "new project" in that blog post - and this weekend said project is premiering on The History Channel. I am so excited, and I really truly hope that he is right that this project IS special and his career is blessed by it! He deserves it, great guy and actor.)

So I will choose to feature MRJ's Sons of Liberty costar to feature. Ryan Eggold as Tom Keen has been such an interesting persona in The Blacklist, and the scene that is one of my favorites from the series was the one where Lizzie confronts Tom and he goads her into making a crucial mistake. NBC is stupid and won't let people post clips on youtube, I wish they did because I'd love to just rewatch the fight sequence again. It was quick and fast and I remember being on the edge of my seat during the entire back and forth they had.

The relationship of Tom and Lizzie Keen is what keeps my interest in the show. Just who hired Tom when to do what where she's concerned. And, was it just a job? To me it seems Tom does love Lizzie and is torn by his "mission" (whatever it is) and how he's grown to care for her. Is it a healthy/safe relationship, heck no, so I don't see the show having them end up together, but I want to know who Tom Keen really is and what his whole story is.

And I doubt highly Lizzie or Tom is done with each other.

I'm dreaming of a white Iditarod

Dan Seavey with grandson Conway
at the Ceremonial Start of Iditarod 38.
...just like the ones I used to know. Where rivers are frozen, sleds aren't always broken, and the trail is covered with fresh snow!

I'm dreaming of a white Iditarod... with every day that passes by!

Okay, just be thankful that you didn't have to hear me sing that. Today South Central woke up to some rather happy snow accumulation - and it's still coming down!

This is exciting, but a little snow is just the start of what is needed to see some positive changes for the races of South Central. The Knik 200 posted on their website Wednesday that they would be moving the start of the race off of the lake and onto the Deshka airstrip. No doubt the snow is a welcome bonus as now trails will be covered for next week's start - as long as weather holds.

Things are still bleak down on the Kenai where the Tustumena 200 anxiously awaits the freezing temps that will hopefully solidify the trails over the waterways and they can use the snow to put in a decent trail. Until the snow accumulation started yesterday there was next to no snow on any part of the trail that starts in Kasilof and makes its way down to Homer and back. The race is set to kick off on Feb 21 - after rescheduling from the original date of Feb 7 - but without a firmly set trail there's no way that they will safely pull it off. Race officials will not make the decision to cancel until closer to race time - but they are keeping teams on the roster well informed of how things are going and what they are planning.

With 43 days until the Iditarod, the restart is still the biggest question - where will they host it? Tradition has always been South Central/MatSu - with one exception in 2003 when Chinook winds made a restart in Wasilla or Willow impossible and the race was run from Fairbanks. Officials are still talking of that being the posibility for Iditarod this year as well, but won't make that decision for at least another month.

There are also rumors that there isn't enough snow in the area to truck in for a Ceremonial Start in Anchorage - but if this weekend's snow sticks around those rumors should be easily laid to rest. It's 11 miles through Anchorage, I'm sure they can manage with little to no snow in spots.

So keep up the snow dances, prayers, sacrifices, whatever else you're doing folks. We've got a lot of winter left before race day!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

30 Days of Fangirl-ism: Day 9 – One Favorite Character

So I have to pick ONE favorite from ONE fandom. Oh geez. I'm torn... I do know I won't just rehash my overly fangirly posts from last year about Neal Cassidy. I gush about him (and his actor) far too much.

However, after rewatching the latest episode of Arrow today ("Left Behind") I think I'd hate myself if I didn't feature John Diggle. I've loved David Ramsey's character from the first moment he stepped on screen. He called Oliver on his crap, has a master hand on sarcasm, and he's freaking hot. Watching him develop into the Arrow's right hand man and Oliver's best friend has been one of my favorite parts about this show.

I love how Diggle is the moral center of the group. Sure, Felicity can also take credit for keeping Oliver on the straight and narrow, but Diggle understands exactly what Oliver is going through. Being a soldier during the war in Afghanistan has given Dig a perspective that can help decipher the grey areas of Oliver Queen's mission to save his city. While Diggle may not always agree with Oliver's course of action, he understands the overall goal... and so he sticks by him. Not just because he was hired to be the playboy billionaire's bodyguard, but because he believes in the former frat boy.

Watching Diggle come to grips with the loss of his friend this week in "Left Behind" broke my heart. I expected the mid-season finale to grip my heart - with Felicity finding out Oliver is dead... and the rest of the team as well. But I held it together. It wasn't as bad as I thought, until Diggle's scene with Laurel towards the end of the show. He was the rock for the team throughout the episode until Laurel asks him if he'll be back [without Oliver], and he said he didn't know. His life was so hyper focused on Oliver's goals and mission that he didn't know what to do with that gone. I couldn't handle it. Ramsey pulled that scene off to perfection. He is the master. Thanks a lot David - now I'm a mess all over again. (I really did used to be sane!)

gif by queensarrow on tumblr.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

30 Days of Fangirl-ism - Day 8 - Fandom you thought you wouldn’t get into but did

I have three of these, most of the shows that I get into they're because I've seen the promos and decided to check them out. These three were shows that I had no desire to watch the first go around even though a lot of my friends were.

All of my Disney friends seemed to be into this show when it started. I thought it looked completely hokey (and honestly it pretty much is), that the acting seemed more geared towards soap stars, and they were going to mess with my fairytales. Didn't care to watch. Then I was stuck in Montana while my dog was being put to sleep thousands of miles away in Alaska and I just needed something to get my mind off of it - so I put on Once Upon A Time. Besides the second season was in full swing and people were talking about how attractive Captain Hook was - and after seeing a few pictures I had to agree. But I wasn't going to jump into the story at the end of a second season. So I had to catch up.

Seriously Captain Guyliner is everything right with this
show. Even if I am a Nealfire fangirl, I can appreciate
the beauty that is Colin O'Donoghue.
And darn it - the pretty people won me over. The dialogue was horrible, incredibly cheesy (and I'm still not sure if the actors are just committed to the lines/story or if it's more of a Star Wars idea of "we know this is lame so let's just over do it to make it entertaining"). But I loved the twists to the classic tales - especially how Rumpelstiltskin was tied into every single one of them! The fact that they were in the modern world was also intriguing... and I LOVED the story of Rumple and Baelfire... especially when we figured out that Rumple was searching for him still. I wanted to know who Bae was in the "World Without Magic."

I didn't like season 2 as much though I DID love Captain Hook (aka Captain Guyliner). Who know that villain was so sexy?! We also got adult Baelfire in our lives, and all I could think was "why did Emma go for such an average looking guy?!" Ha ha. Boy have I changed my tune! Season 3 would find me falling more in love with Neal Cassidy (aka Adult Baelfire... aka Michael Raymond-James!) only to watch him die three episodes into the return from the winter hiatus. Still not over it, as well all know... and my interest had dropped significantly (one hot pirate is not enough).

I guess I'm kinda like Rumple's actor Robert Carlyle. The story of Rumple and Bae is why I got interested in the show, and without that storyline it's just not as much fun to watch. I wanted to stick with the show, but as the 4th season got closer the less desire I had. I didn't want to watch the nods to MRJ or the Neal character as it would make me sad all over again, and I couldn't get into the corny lines in the promos. I just wasn't feeling it.

And the more I read people getting excited the less I was interested. I'm somewhat more interested in the second half of the season - but even that with some of the "spoilers" we've been given as to who the guest stars are... I'm worried it'll just tick me off. So I'm content to not follow the show - for now - and hope for better things.

And no if they just brought Neal Cassidy back I don't think it'd make it better. As much as I selfishly want MRJ on my screen each week in that role that I love, I'm pretty sure it'd be a bad choice from a writing perspective.

Arrow was another show I just had no desire to watch. I didn't know what it was, honestly, so even though a lot of my friends were talking about it I didn't care to learn about it. Then my friend Aimee kept badgering me to give it a try. That I'd like it. That it was fun. That she wasn't expecting to like it but she loves it. All that good stuff.

So after getting over my OUAT craze and looking for something new I gave in. And I'm SO GLAD I did. Arrow is in no way like OUAT (other than it's fantasy) it's a superhero show - based on The Green Arrow comic series. It has better writing for the most part, the story is completely compelling and all characters are fleshed out and used well. They aren't forgotten when the new storyline comes along - they are all integrated. The creators have a clear vision for the show and how to get there. The cast is strong, and most episodes leave me an emotional wreck (I still blame OUAT/Michael Raymond-James for that. I was sane until "Quiet Minds").

Arrow is quite possibly my favorite series on TV right now (Blacklist comes close but I'm annoyed with their overly long hiatus at the moment).

When promos for Arrow's spin off series "The Flash" started, I was less than eager to watch. I just wasn't expecting it to be as good. Then the casting list emerged and I decided to give it a try just because of who plays Joe West (Jesse Martin - who was one of my favorite actors on Law & Order). The show started off a little rocky - it wasn't as good as Arrow's pilot - but I stuck with it and I'm so glad I did. It's a lot of fun. I really love Grant Gustin in the role of Barry Allen. He is the boy next door, perfect unsuspected hero.

And no one can cry like Grant can.

So there are my three shows that I was NEVER going to watch that I ended up getting hooked on.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

30 Days of Fangirl-ism - Day 7: OTP(s)

Oh dear, I should've read this meme more thoroughly before deciding to participate. I am not someone who ships a whole lot. I mean when it's something like "Snowing" on Once Upon A Time that's one thing - we all know that there's no way Disney'd let Adam and Eddie screw up THAT love story - but I normally don't ship characters until it's well established...

...or I get caught up in a past relationship that they tell that's over by the time the present day of the show happens (Oliver and Laurel in Season 1 of Arrow.... Emma and Neal, though I didn't like them originally)

But I do get on board with a few (and this probably means they're doomed).

For Arrow:

gif by sfelicitysmoak on tumblr
"Olicity" - I fought this hard. But this season I'm starting to really love Felicity and Oliver - I think because it's going at a natural pace... and because Oliver is less of a manwhore this season. It makes him much more likeable and deserving of someone as awesome as Felicity Smoak!

I also love Tommy and Laurel... too bad that didn't end happily. RIP Tommy Merlyn.

For The Flash:
gif by weslehgibbons on tumblr
"WestAllen" - Because I love the idea of the best friends being more than that. Because Iris and Barry are adorable. Because, because, because...

gif by greerdanvilles on tumblr
BROTP would be Barry and Joe - I ADORE their relationship. The episode that aired tonight gave me a lot of "feels" for this Father-Son like relationship. So I think it counts as a brotp.

For The Blacklist:

gif by fuckyeahtheblacklistedits on tumblr.
"The Keens" - as I said before I know they aren't going to end up together (latest interviews have the creators saying that they don't want to push a dangerous/unhealthy relationship, and I get that but...) but I love Lizzie and Tom together. Even though he was sent to ruin her life (and kill her!) I think he does love her and she does love him. It's a twist on "Mr. & Mrs. Smith"... and if THOSE assassins can make it, why can't the Keens?!

For Reign:
gif by sfelicitysmoak on tumblr
"Frary" is my favorite. I know I'm supposed to like Bash and Mary more, according to the fandom at least, but I like the royal duo. And I hate how the show is writing them into a split. It's lame! DON'T DO IT!

Bash & Kenna - they were thrown into a marriage neither one wanted by a demented king, but they are working through it. I love how Bash made an effort to court his wife and do right by her. Giving up his pining after his brother's wife. I know, it's complicated though.

For Once Upon A Time:

gif by shadownightfall on tumblr.
"CaptainFloor" - probably my favorite ship of all time. It was created as a fandom joke, and the show has embraced it. Colin falls better than anyone else on the show (except maybe Michael Raymond-James, who falls just standing still waiting to say his lines!)

BROTP definitely goes to "CaptainFire" aka MRJ and Colin - their characters may have been rivals, and their fans may go for blood when dealing with each other, but the two seem to genuinely care about each other. I love their friendship. Cracks me up! Wish MRJ was still on the show just so we get more BTS photos and vids of the two of them!

So there, I guess I do have a few ships! WHO KNEW?! ;)

Monday, January 19, 2015

30 Days of Fangirl-ism - Day 6: Song that brings fangirl tears to your eyes

This is hard as I don't really do the whole fanvids or anything, but for the longest time I've wanted to see someone use Miranda Lambert's song "Over You" for a Nealfire vid (which it would really be a Swanfire vid, but still). Because really I am sooooooo not over the Character Death... not sure I ever will be.

Once I realized it would work for a Neal Cassidy tribute I can't not think of him when I hear it. I used to be normal, I used to not care about character deaths. Once Upon a Time and Michael Raymond-James ruined my sanity!

This picture breaks my heart every single time.
He should not be off the show. :'(

Alaska's winter weather causing problems farther North

The "other thousand mile sled dog race" known as The Yukon Quest issued a press release today giving a trail update and possible alternate route for part of the race next month. With three weeks until the start, Quest trail officials have reported that the river is unfrozen near Whitehorse.

This winter has seen unseasonably warm temperatures in most of Alaska - causing problems for many of the sport's big races. The Tustumena 200 has postponed their race to Feb 21 in hopes that the Kenai Peninsula would see freezing temps and snow. So far all the Kenai's seen in a dusting of snow and lots of freezing rain. Trails are non existent at this point with many Peninsula mushers heading north for training when not running along the beaches with their four wheelers as a sled.

The Copper Basin 300 ran without a hitch, and no big changes to the route were reportedly made. The Kusko 300 ran mainly on river ice and asked spectators not to park on the river as they'd done in years past. Again, no problems were had by the teams, and Pete Kaiser brought the win back home to Bethel. The Northern Lights 300 is planning to kick off this weekend - with reports of overflow and open water.

With three weeks till show time the Quest is not making any plans to change course at this time. Stating in their press release: "There are still three weeks until the start of the race, and a lot can change. Trail crews are out on both sides of the border and we will have a more comprehensive trail report available next week." Crews are working on alternate routes should conditions worsen.

There are 26 teams ready and waiting for the race, four of which are champions.

And while I'm on the subject of sled dog races and the Northern Lights 300 - GOOD LUCK JODI BAILEY and Dew Claw Kennel! She's an amazing musher and person. I just love her!
Jodi Bailey at the finish of the 2012 Tustumena 200.