Saturday, 28 December 2013

The post of British Christmas specials

This year I had three British Christmas specials waiting for me when I got home: Downton Abbey, Doctor Who and Call the Midwife.

Downton Abbey. I love this series, which is interesting cause it's not like something else I really like. It could be because it's a costume drama or because it's British, or just because all the characters are easy to relate to. I had hoped that we'd get to see some of Edith on her trip, but the special starts off with her having just returned home from Switzerland. I don't like at all where Edith's story is going, but I suppose I understand her predicament and the actions she's forced to take to remain accepted by her part of society. I love the battle raging between Tony Gillingham and Charles Blake for Mary's affection. And although I at first disliked Lady Grantham's brother Harold I found myself liking him quite a bit towards the end. I like that Tom is beginning to fit into his new clothes. I understand his predicament of wanting to let Sibby grow up wanting for nothing, and at the same time wanting to keep his old values and raising Sibby to be Irish and Catholic. But he's starting to view the rest of the Crawleys as his family. And I loved that Mary referred to Rose as a Flapper! :D And her being presented was very pretty. I'm really looking forward to the next season and what the 20s will bring for the Crawleys. We all know of Black Thursday...


Doctor Who. After the absolutely brilliant 50th Anniversary special last month I had my hopes up high for this episode. But I though it started out sort of slow and the Siege of Trenzalore wasn't at all what I had imagined. And the Doctor doesn't remember saving Gallifrey? What?! Wasn't he supposed to be the one remembering? O_o I actually didn't start to really really enjoy the special until the moment when Clara returns to the Doctor when he has grown really really old and the Daleks break through the Siege and into Trenzalore. I did enjoy seeing all the hints to Matt Smith's tenure. The crack in the wall, the mention of River, little Amelia Pond, and the boy waiting outside his TARDIS for him to return that obviously was a reference to her. But towards the end I started to really like the episode. How Clara begged the Time Lords on the other side of the crack to help the Doctor, and in the same breath telling them off for pestering him about his real name. I loved how the crack in the wall disappeared and instead opened up in the sky providing the Doctor with a completely new set of Regenerations. When the Doctor started regenerating Toni and I were waving at the TV screen saying "Bye-bye, Matt Smith". Then Capaldi showed up and I have such huge expectation on his Doctor. I can't wait to autumn 2014 when the next season premieres! It's such a long time! One final thing that bothers me: WHY THE HELL DOESN'T CAPALDI'S DOCTOR KNOW HOW TO DRIVE THE FRIGGIN' TARDIS?!


Call the Midwife. This is another series that's a little bit off from what I usually like. I like it partly because it's a costume drama, partly because it's British and partly because I've had a weird fascination for pregnancies since I was about 10. It also makes history feels less like a story I read in a book and more like something that actually happened and not too long ago. In the last season they had TBC screenings and one of the mothers said "I'm so excited to see my baby" and I felt dumb-founded as I realised they didn't have ultra-sound. So when a girl showed up in this Christmas special who was a whole week overdue I was wondering if she'd make it and what they'd do. If they didn't have ultra-sounds could they induce labour? Then there was polio in the special, and to me growing up polio was always something they had in poor developing countries like India and Pakistan. But after finding out that my grandmother had a small bout of polio as a small child it felt much more real. Someone close to me, someone I knew, had had polio. And when one of the children ended up inside an iron lung due to polio all I could think was that that was a very weird machine to help someone breathe. It makes me appreciate how much has happened the last 60 years.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Christmas 2013

Sunday 22nd: Toni and I got on the train and it was a completely pain-free trip south. My dad met us at the train and drove us home :) It was nice meeting my parents again and after some talking we went all went to bed. (We arrived pretty late).

Monday 23rd: The day before Christmas Eve is typically spent decorating the tree in my family. My sister and her boyfriend arrived around noon and not long thereafter we got the tree up and started decorating it, while listening to Christmas songs from the CD that we have listened to every year for as long as I can remember. After the tree was done we started decorating the house and putting presents under the tree. When everything was done and ready we had a few hours to go before dinner so my sister suggested we'd play some games. We ended up playing two quiz games. One of them being Trivial Pursuit. In some weird way I managed to win both! :D Then it was time for dinner. My family always has a sort of big Christmas buffet on the 23rd. Dad fixed everything on the kitchen counter and then we could all eat to our hearts' content! I love Christmas food. After dinner we decided to play some Mah Jong. Mah Jong is also a Christmas tradition in my family :)

Tuesday 24th: In Sweden Christmas Eve is the big day. This is the day we celebrate the holiday. Christmas Day and Boxing Day are just nice days off from work that comes along after the celebrations. It always works out the exact same way, and although I could just redirect you to an old post of mine I'll take you through the day. It begins with my sister and the orchestra playing Christmas songs in the Municipality Hall at noon.
When that's over we all return home and start preparing ourselves, the house and the dinner for the grandparents who usually arrives around 2.30pm. Ten minutes before 3pm we're all seated in the sofa in front of the TV. All of us drinking hot mulled wine and having ginger bread cookies. At 3pm the Donald Duck Christmas show starts. It's been on since the 50's and watching it every year is something generally all Swedish families do. It's on for an hour and afterwards we prepare the dinner.
Around 5pm we start to eat. First a small dish with a piece of everything that's usually on the Christmas buffet table. Second, stockfish with mustard sauce and potatoes. I hate stockfish, but everyone else loves it so I have to deal with it every year. Thirdly, the Santa porridge ^^ The best part. This year when dinner was done my dad dressed up as Father Christmas and went next door. Our neighbour had asked him to be Father Christmas for his grandchildren ^^ When he came back my sister put on the outfit instead and started handing out our presents from underneath the tree. She's the youngest and adamant there should be a Father Christmas handing out the presents. So she gets the job done xD
This year the best presents indubiably came from my parents (Nintendo 3DS + Pokémon X) and Toni (the Alice Cooper biographies and two new games). When the presents were all handed out and opened the sweets arrived. We ate and talked until about 11pm when both grandparents had gone home and the rest of us went to sleep.

Wednesday 25th: When I got up and downstairs I found my parents and my sister seated in front of the TV wartching Ronja xD It's a kids' movie based on the novel by Astrid Lindgren and it was one of my favourites growing up. When the movie ended we went to my sister's boyfriend's parents for a second Christmas dinner. After lots of more delicious food we ended up staying there until about 5.30pm. My sister and her boyfriend stayed there and after we arrived back home we started playing some games: Retro and Ticket to Ride. We also gave my parents brand new hot tub outdoors a try! It was amazing but terribly cold when one got out of the water!
Thursday 26th: When we got up today we packed our bags and cleaned up our room before going downstairs. We played some Mah Jong before lunch and then some Svea Rike before my parents gave us a ride to the Central Station. Our train was on time and after a completely pain-free trip we arrived back home in Södertälje. We both unpacked and after a quick going-through of our pages on the internet we both fell into bed.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Last two days: best friend and board gaming night

This Thursday I went to Stockholm to meet up with Kajsa. She's my best friend and since she moved to Umeå (way up north) the times we meet have become very few. She's in Stockholm with her family over Christmas so before I went south (way down south) to be with my family over Christmas , we decided to meet up. It's always fun to meet with her. We've known each other for about 13 years now and although we've grown up in completely different ways we still always find a lot to talk about. Mostly about books, education, friends we have in common, potential/actual boyfriends (depending on the situation), and our families and dogs. Since we were in Stockholm a visit to our favourite book store was a given. So after meeting up we walked to the Sci-Fi book store and spent over an hour in there. I hadn't planned on buying anything, but after a quick head count I decided I could afford to buy three books I had been considering for ages but never actually bought. Those were The Guin Saga - Book One: The Leopard Mask by Kaoru Kurimoto, Ancient Blades - Book 1: Den of Thieves by David Chandler and The Wizard of Oz and Other Wonderful Books of Oz: The Emerald City of Oz and Glinda of Oz by L. Frank Baum. We're both very much into fantasy novels, however I'm more into epic sword & sorcery fantasy and she's more into urban fantasy. We both have some common authors, though, that we both like.

After our trip to the Sci-Fi book store we went to our favourite café and had a chai latte each and had a long talk. A very well needed talk since we hadn't seen each other since spring and both of us had news. During our talk Kajsa asked if I wanted to come with her and have dinner with her and her mum, and since it had been forever since I last met her mum and her adorable little dog I decided to go with her. Dinner was nice and I had a lot of fun talking to everybody again. We rounded up the evening by watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which I hadn't seen in ages, but was better than I remembered it. When the movie ended it was getting kind of late and they combined following me back to the tube stop and taking the dog out for night stroll. I had never been on the underground in Stockholm by myself so that ended up being a little adventure, but everything went perfectly. The tube and the train had only 15 minutes between them (not that bad) and since it wasn't raining I decided to walk home from the train station. Arriving home I got to watch Toni play Need For Speed: Rivals on the new PS4. A game which I find a lot of fun to watch, but I'm crap at driving and playing it myself :P All in all a good day.

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Friday we had some friends over for a board gaming night. We started out with Mansions of Madness. I had decided that I wanted to try out to be Keeper for once and it was the final story in the original game: Green-Eyed Boy. The largest map. Toni warned me that I'd have a lot to keep track of and a lot on my mind acting as Keeper, but I didn't find it that hard tbh. I assume that playing chess growing up and enjoying startegy games like Total War and Heroes of Might and Magic may have been to my advantage. Anyway I managed to complete my objective before the Investigators and I won :) They all agreed later that I had played Keeper really well and I thought it was a lot of fun, so I think I'll want to continue doing it ^^
After Mansions of Madness we started playing Spank the Monkey. The game is hilarious, but after the third round three of our friends had gotten really tired (it was about 2.30 am by that time) and they decided that it was time to go home and get some sleep. One of our friends stayed though, and we played two rounds of Small World (I won both rounds!) before we decided it was time to sleep (it was now about 5.30). We went to bed with a feeling of a very successful gaming night.

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Today (technically yesterday) I've mostly spent time with Steam Holiday Sale. I ended up buying six games: World of Goo, Spore, Violett, Trine 2, Small World 2, and Ticket to Ride. Then I spent the day playing first some Spore, then some Small World, and finally some Violett. Although Violett is frustratingly difficult at times, I find it very entertaining. It's a point-and-click adventure game with the cutest graphics :3

Tomorrow (well, technically later today) I'll be on the train south (4 hours on a train, woo! -.-). Going home to my parents to spend Christmas there (and taking Toni with me). I'm not sure if I'll be blogging during this time, but if not I'll be back with an update on the 27th.

Merry Christmas, everyone! :D

Monday, 16 December 2013

Board games and card games ftw! :)

Last time I wrote about Mansions of Madness, Bona Dea asked about other games, which gave me the idea to blog about the ones we have. And it has become quite the collection! :P


Top shelf: I have never card game, Truth or Dare card game, Quidditch card game, "Hur fan visste du det?" card game, "Vuxenpoäng" card game, Spin the bottle quiz, 2 cups of Zombie Dice, 3 decks of common playing cards, Alias board game, spillikin, "Svarte-Petter", Cthulhu Dice, 2 expansions to Munchkin, Trivial Pursuit Nightmare Before Christmas edition, Munchkin Zombies, Spank the Monkey, Shot Roulette, Aye Dark Overlord!, Cthulhu Gloom, Gloom, Chez Geek, Chez Goth, Burn in Hell, Doctor Who card game, Once Upon a Time

Bottom shelf: Gamma world + expansion, Scrabble, Upwords, Monopoly Here and Now edition, Monopoly Nightmare Before Christmas edition, Labyrinth, Smallworld, Mansions of Madness, Lord of the Rings card game, Munchkin board game

I don't think that I need to talk about all of them. Everyone has played or heard of "I have never" and "Truth or Dare". "Hur fan visste du det?" and "Vuxenpoäng" are quiz games relating to knowing weird little things and points for adult behaviour respectively. Everyone knows "Spin the Bottle" and "Shot Roulette", and I assume that everyone knows how a common deck of cards works! "Svarte-Petter" and "spillinkin" (plockepinn) along with "Scrabble", "Quidditch" and "Labyrinth" are just games I've kept for nostalgic purposes, and we don't really play them. Then there are the games that we haven't gotten around to playing yet. Those are "Aye, Dark Overlord!", "Chez Geek", "Doctor Who card game", "Burn in Hell", "Lord of the Rings card game" and "Gamma world" (though I think the last one is in the making). "Upwords" is like "Scrabble" but in 3D so you can build words on top of each other. Everyone has heard of "Monopoly". The Nightmare Before Christmas edition is self-explanatory and the Here and Now edition uses credit cards instead of cash and has updated streets and markers. "Trivial Pursuit" is a quiz game and in this case all the questions are related to The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Alias is both a card game and a board game. It's incredibly fun if you're savvy with words. You need to be at least four playes and you need even numbers as you pair up into teams. The turn goes around clockwise and each team decides who's going to explain the word on the card and who's going to guess. You explain the word without saying the word or any part of the word. Translating the word into another language isn't allowed either. The explaining and guessing is done with an hourglass taking the time. The team does as many words as possible during that time. This game is very loud and a lot of fun. The best teams are two people who know each other and think in a similar way.

Zombie Dice is a fast game consisting of a bunch of dices with different colours and signs. There are three coulours: red, yellow and green depicting the difficulty of the dices. On the dices are three different sorts of signs: a brain, footsteps, and a shotgun. You play as a zombie and you want to get as many brains as possible (the game ends when the first person reaches 13). You scramble the dices in the cup, reach in and grab three without looking and roll all of them at the same time. The brains you save and the shotguns. The footsteps you re-roll along with a new dice to always make the number of dices rolled three. If you get three shotguns then you're shot and you're back down to zero brains. That's why you need to contemplate when to stop rolling and pass the dice cup. Then you need to remember how many brains you have. Red dices have more shotguns and green dices have more brains. Though there are all the signs on all the different dices.
Cthulhu Dice is similar but it consists of only one big dice (D20) and several markers to represent sanity. The game works like a duel. One player attacks you, then you get to retaliate, then the next player (clockwise) gets to attack someone else. The signs on the dice decide whether you lose sanity to Cthulhu, regain sanity, lose sanity to another player etc. The game ends when there's only one sane person left.

Munchkin is a card game usually (but a board game if you have that edition which we do as well). You're supposed to fight the monster, steal the treasure and stab your friends. It's really easy and a lot of fun once you've learned the rules properly.

Spank the Monkey is a crazy game to say the least. You're trying to build a tower of garbage of reach to spank the monkey. The other players are working hard to destroy your tower and be the first one to reach the monkey. The first to spank the monkey wins.
Both Gloom and Once Upon a Time are storytelling games. In Gloom you tell the story of a family and your goal is to kill off your own family in as a grisly way as possible before the other players kill their families. To prevent that you play happy cards on their family members and sad cards on your own. In Once Upon a Time you tell a story. Every player has a goal card and storytelling gards. Your job is to reach your goal before someone else reaches his/hers. You're allowed to interrupt the ongoing story if you have a card that you think fits, and thus take over the storytelling until someone else takes over or you play your goal.

Smallworld is fantastic. You choose your race and attribute and then you start conquering land. Either by taking over empty land or invading someone else's. Every area you own gives you money tokens by the end of your turn. The one with the most money wins.
Smallworld exists as a tablet game as well:
Finally, Mansions of Madness. You play as a group of investigators trying to figure out what's behind the mysterious happenings at the house. One player is the Keeper who basically plays as the house and all the monsters. The Keeper's job is to kill all the investigators or make them insane before the investigators figure out what causes the disturbances and defeat the monsters. And you build a new board each time and there's a new story each time so the game is never quite the same twice :)
There's a game similar to Mansions of Madness available for tablets:

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Thoughts on Elder Scrolls

The more I play Skyrim, the more I want another Elder Scrolls game. And I know TESO will be released in April, but I would like an Elder Scrolls place that takes place in the 1st Era. I want a game with Dragons and a living Dragon Cult and living Dragon Priests. I want non-disappeared Dwemer and I want non-twisted not-enslaved Snow Elves (Falmer). I want Dwemer ruins and Blackreach to not be ruins, but be in their originally majestic state. Imagine how cool it would be to be able to play as a Snow Elf from before they were enslaved by the Dwemer! Imagine how cool it would be to play as a Dwemer and have one of their Dwemer cities as your home :o And since it's Dwemer the game area would reach across Skyrim and Solstheim and Morrowind and High Rock and Hammerfell...

As much as I would love a game that takes place in Black Marsh or Elsweyr or Valenwood or Summerset Isles, I would really really want a 1st Era game or a Merethic Era game. It would be cool to see if such a game could include other versions of elves like Maormer or Chimer.

It would also be cool if you could play as an Ayleid in Cyrodiil. People who say Skyrim hasn't have a good story and isn't as detailed as Morrowind and Oblivion haven't been paying attention. There's so much story in Skyrim, so much history. And it's living history. There's so much living interest in the Dwemer. And in the Dragon Cult and Dragon worshippings of the past. In Dawnguard DLC you get to know the Falmer from before they were twisted. In Oblivion all you get to know about the Ayleids is that they used to be there and now they're not. There's only one single mission where you have to go into an Ayleid ruin because the quest giver is interested in them. All other quests that involve Ayleid ruins are for completely different reasons. In Skyrim there's Calcelmo and Arniel, and Mjoll and Katria, all of whom asks the player to go into a Dwemer ruin because of the Dwemer.

So basically I would like a game that takes place all over Tamriel (as Arena did and as TESO will), but that takes place in the 1st Era. I know the 1st Era is huge, about 3000 years. But early 1st Era then, when the Dwemer were at war with the Falmer, Alessian Empire and all of that. It would be so cool. Any time in the 1st Era would be cool tbh. Merethic Era would be interesting too. The time before the people arrived to Tamriel. I want the first people. The time of elves and beastfolk. A game in the 1st Era would take place before all other games, but since that's what TESO will do, then it might not be entirely impossible? Arena, Daggerfall, Morrowind and Oblivion takes place in the 3rd Era. Skyrim takes place in the 4th Era. TESO will take place in the 2nd Era. I would love a game in the 1st Era.

I admit I may have been nerding a bit too much Elder Scrolls lore. But I love that world.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Yesterday Toni and I went to Stockholm to see the second Hobbit movie. We had to see it on the premiere date, especially since a movie premieres earlier in Sweden for once. Premiere date in the US is the 13th I think... I feel special now :P

I really liked it, but I don't think it was as amazing as the first one.
I'm not sure about Beorn. I thought he was kind of cool, but I didn't get to see him enough to form an opinion. I'm told he features more in the next movie so I might form an opinion of him then. Then there's also the fact that the actor playing Beorn, Mikael Persbrandt, sounded so terribly Swedish in his spoken English. I did, however, love Beorn's house :)
Then the elves. I've never liked Legolas (but it may be because I've never liked Orlando Bloom) and I thought Thranduil was an ass, but I guess he's supposed to be that way. For a really long time I thought Tauriel was Arwen, but they never called her that. And finally I realised that Tauriel was a new character xD Then it bothered me for ages that I recognised the actress playing Tauriel but I didn't know from where until the credits (Evangeline Lilly from Lost!). I think the love story between Tauriel and Kili is incredibly sweet and I want it to evolve more in the next movie. If one of them dies I'll be so sad :(
Other than Kili I think Balin and Bombur are my favourite dwarves. Sure Thorin has a certain powerful aura, but he's so narrow-minded. Balin is great and Bombur is so funny! I loved Bombur's fighting scene among the orcs! And then the mention of Gimli! :D
I thought Gandalf did wrong to leave the group, but since he's in LotR it's obvious he'll survive his imprisonment. While he was snooping around Dol Guldur I just sat on the edge waiting for Sauron to appear. Cause I knew way before they said so in the movie that this growing enemy was Sauron. How wasn't it obvious?
I also like Bilbo a lot. And he's a much better main character than Frodo ever was. Bilbo grows into his role and finds his place among the dwarves and in his adventure. Frodo is just a big pouting clumsy baby throughout all of LotR.
Then of course there's Smaug. Pretty dragon :D And the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch gave me chills. I'm sure they enhanced it someway to make it grand enough for the dragon, but his voice is so amazing :3 And in the next movie he'll be both Smaug and the Necromancer! Gotta look forward to that :D
Stephen Fry was a pleasant surprise. The Master of Laketown. I had no idea Stephen Fry was going to be in this movie and seeing him was a lot of fun :) Although his moustache looked like whiskers :P
And then there's Bard. I'm totally convinced that either he or his son will be the one to defeat Smaug and regain the honour to their family lost by Girion.

The fact that Radagast is played by the 7th Doctor makes me smile every time I see him :)

I wanted to add some clips from the movie, but since it hasn't premiered in the US yet there are none on Youtube :/ Except for the trailer.

日本人の知らない日本語

おととい新しい友達とストックホルムに会った。最初カフェに行って、ハッリポッターと他の趣味と興味について話した。とても優しい人と思う。その後、好きな本屋に行った。二人ともはファンタジ本が好きで、長い間好きな本と作家について話した。あの本屋で「日本人の知らない日本語」と言う本を見つけた。あの本について大学で一人の教師が話したと思う。そして、買った。昨日、少し読んで、すごく面白い!「はじめての人の言語学」と一緒同じように面白い。

その他、クリスマスプレゼントは今全部買った。クリスマスはもうすぐ来る!待てない! ^_^  けど、雪が降ったクリスマスがあったら、うれしい。

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Throwback: Summer memory: Studio Tour

So today I met a girl from Mugglarportalen (Swedish Harry Potter community) called Anna. We are both huge Harry Potter nerds and we realised we had both been at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. So that calls for a picture bomb :D

Going there:

Outside:

Reception & shop:

The Great Hall:

The big room:

Quidditch:

The Ministry:

The backlot:

The creatures:

Diagon Alley:

Concept art:

The model room:

Hogwarts:

The end:

I want to go again. I want to have another Butterbeer. But I think my next project is getting to Wizarding World in Orlando, FL. And going to The Exhibition when it comes to Sweden next year :) European launch in Norrköping! Yeah xD

But for now I'm off to Hogwarts for a while! Ciao!