They Have Been Victorious

One of the most unique pairs teams of our decade, one that has pushed the envelope technically and led the way there, also defied the odds and the naysayers, expressed with their own voice, and even kept their wits about them when all the pairs skaters about them were losing theirs last summer.  Including one lady who has never bothered with the demands that she be a lady, been ambitious and willing to know and understand the scores, and said what she wanted to say to those who dismissed her as not a proper pairs skater.  Including a man who survived bullying by those who thought he wasn’t what a man should be, but found his way as one of the most creative souls in pairs skating and even became the first skater to come out at a time when he had everything to lose.  WORLD. CHAMPIONS.

The way the ladies and dance shorts went was pretty distressing, but if this is the consolation of this year’s Worlds, it’s a good one.

Dancing With the Stars, Season 20, Week 2, “My Jam Monday”

It’s a week two with no results show, which means the most crowded night of the season: all the season’s couples dancing plus an elimination to cram into two hours.  So there’s no opening number, though it seems we’re getting different opening sequences each week: this one has the celebrities wearing high-tech headphones, since they’re dancing to their favorites jams this week.  But after that we speed right into the dances:

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Worlds!

It seems Junior Worlds wasn’t long enough ago for it to be time for Worlds already, but nonetheless we’re only a weekend away now, and Icenetwork did their predictions, so the rest of us should too:

Men: Denis Ten, Yuzuru Hanyu, Javier Fernandez.  More certain about the first two than the last; Fernandez may yet have a bad competition and hand bronze to one of the Russians.  But Hanyu’s struggles sound like the kind that will allow Ten, who delivers at important competitions nowadays, to slip past him, even though we’ve seen this season just how difficult it is for him to be beaten even when he falls down five times, so…Also predicting: both of said Russian men will finish higher than they probably should.

Ladies: Elizaveta Tuktamisheva, Elena Radionova, Ashley Wagner.  Yep, I’m being optimistic about Ashley yet again, but it’s not like all the other contenders for bronze have had plenty of struggles this season, and most of them had them more recently than she has.  Besides, her PCS are high enough she’ll probably only be beaten by the Russians because of jumps getting dinged, at least unless Liza T pulls off the 3A. Also predicting: Hongo will beat both her countrywomen, and everyone’s heads will implode!

Pairs: Duhamel & Radford, Kavaguti & Smirnov, Peng & Zhang.  Although again, I’m more uncertain as to who will win the bronze, except that they’ll probably be Chinese.  Also predicting: Lubov I & Dylan M getting a high finish.  That would be nice, anyway.

Dance: Weaver & Pojé, Papadakis & Cizeron, Chock & Bates.  Though I’m sure it’ll be extremely close, especially between the top two, and this will probably be W&P’s only world title.  Really would like Chock & Bates to not medal, but that’s probably too much to hope for. Also predicting: The ShibSibs placing much lower than they ought to.  Really, that whole situation is just sad.

THE REAL SHIELD?!

I gotta hand it to the writers.  One of the things that have simply been a fact of life for them is that most of the plot twists and turns and new elements are things that, because they’re adapting the world and stories of comics for the screen, half the fans immediately see coming the moment the first hint gets dropped, and the other half finds out shortly after from reading the blog posts of the first half.  Even the big twist last season was given away the weekend beforehand by the movie that came out then.  But when Lance finally asked the question we’ve all been awaiting the answer for, did anyone expect Mack’s response to be *that*?  And from what I can tell from reading reactions last night and this morning, there’s no obvious explanation for his words either.  Maybe it’ll eventually connect to something in the comics-people have been suggesting the organization might rename itself and thus prove another one from the comics, or that this may somehow lead into the Civil War, but right now, we genuinely have no clue what the hell’s going on, and shouldn’t until at least next week.

It’ll also have to be a little nerve-wracking for Coulson, having a rival S.H.I.E.L.D. show up when he’s starting to slip into the mistakes of the one that went down, keeping the Index and too many secrets and who knows what he’ll ultimately try to do with Skye.  They successfully carried the dynamic between her and the rest of the team through the next episode, having Simmons refind some of her compassion(and I really like the idea she’ll be a major contributer towards the gauntlets from the comics-maybe she and Fitz can get more reconciliation working on those) while still compromising her old principles by keeping Coulson’s secrets and agreeing to prioritize “putting down” more dangerous people, May being determined to help but not yet knowing how, and Coulson making aforementioned mistakes while still genuinely wanting to do what’s best for Skye.  Andrew Garner was really a terrific foil for them, as a man who keeps very strictly to his ethics, and whose words about their new S.H.I.E.L.D. they could do well to heed.  It would be great to see him again, though he’s made a powerful impact  on both the general story and May’s character even if we don’t.

Then again, will the rival S.H.I.E.L.D. be any better?  Mack did not give us a very good first impression of them, and nor, for that matter, did next week’s preview.  Although lately it seems his character is merely that of a fanatical follower, but that his bosses make use of him the way they did this week still doesn’t reflect that well on them.  Poor Fitz, will all the guys he bromances in life turn out to be working for rival organizations and break his heart(and occasionally his brain)?  Or is this all a darker statement, that there can be so many S.H.I.E.L.D.s, and they all get corrupted out of their original better intentions?

Dancing With the Stars, Season 20, Week 1

The tenth anniversary season starts out with a sequence with flashes of clips from the previous seasons, then we get the most spectacular opening sequence ever, which dissolves into the tail end of the opening number.  The stars are introduced, and we’re off into the dances, and the judges are more demanding this season, Len noting early on they’re marking lower than they have in the seasons just before this.

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AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.

Two weeks after losing one great sci-fi/fantasy icon of our times, we lose another.

I first ran into Terry Pratchett in, of all places, Paris, when my family stopped in a bookstore and I found a copy of Soul Music in their small English-language section.  I was immediately stunned by the brilliance and depth and humour and intelligence of the world the author had created.  That was good enough, but one thing about Pratchett that has impressed me even more since was how even when he was already good enough a writer, he visibly got even more brilliant as the Discworld series went alone, and after relying on the reset button in his early books, even let his world develop and change, and reflect on our own even when it was absurdly funny.  He also created a version of Death that perhaps has transcended the series in how we view the Grim Reaper as a fictional character, especially once he brought him to his and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens, the masterpiece where two authors of fantasy humour combined their talents to create a true classic.

And even in departing, we got a final taste of his most famous character via Twitter.  He was brave in the end too, keeping the struggle up against Alzheimer’s and even still writing while in the grips of the disease.  Even so, he is gone far too soon, and that we have spent years braced for this makes it no easier to face today.  RIP.