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Review-ish Captain America: The Winter Soldier (spoiler-free …

I m not saying that Captain America: The Winter Solider is crap. But I don t really understand how anyone can claim that it is much better than a Very Special Episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I can t quite claim that this movie is the beginning of the end of the Marvel dominance of the last couple of years but for me, it was the first sign of the problem with Marvel trying to flex its muscles annually two or three times a year.

I can t think of a single original or memorable moment in this entire film with the possible exception of the appearance of one character in their old age. I have no idea at all what the actual budget for this film is, but it feels to me like the cheapest by a significant margin of all of the Marvel-produced movies. It s certainly has size.

But it s a lot of bullets, a bunch of car stunts, and a touch of big picture CG (the most expensive element of most Marvel films). It also felt to me like the most talk-y of all the Marvel movies, but with almost nothing to say. Speaking of which, the top special effect in the film aside from the ability of light to be seen between Ms.

Johansson s thighs (and don t blame me for noting a lingering shot in the film to highlight this only) is getting Robert Redford to make the film. It feels as though he felt he was slumming less by saying more, more slowly. But for me, it is the least convincing performance of Redford s career, as the words are so weak.

All i got was Robert Redford is talking. But the demand of the role, that this character somehow stand for all things truth, justice, and the American Way, is not Robert Redford to me and nothing here changes that for me. It s a role you can imagine Gregory Peck or Henry Fonda or Jimmy Stewart making interesting.

But Redford was always more complex than those men on screen (with the exception of a handful of roles played by those men). Does the movie add to the Marvel Universe idea? I suppose there are a few seeds planted for future films.

But there is also that weird, lingering because of what happened in New York thing that suggests that people who work at Marvel think that what happened to New York in Avengers is particularly memorable or not just Standard Comic Book Movie Procedure. Ironically, Man of Steel , with which I had big problems, had more impact with its destruction of a city because there was real emotion attached to the fight between Superman & Zod. In Avengers , which was infinitely better as an entertainment, the fight in New York was just a chance to blow stuff (and bad guys) up.

But I kept feeling, with almost every action sequence, that I had seen it before mostly in Marvel movies. The glory of comic books themselves is that our imaginations bring the details to life. Whether it is how the look and sound of fights or the details of escapes or how Captain America s shield bounces, hits villains, and returns to The Cap.

Also the threat in this film, not giving anything away, suggests no less than the end of freedom on earth . yet in a Marvel Universe in which Iron Man is not only nearby but built one of the mechanisms that might enslave earth s free will and Hulk is a good guy and Thor swings his mighty hammer all over the place, the end of the world as we know it comes down to non-supers Captain America, Black Widow, and the not-always-skillful Falcon. No one even reaches out to Tony Stark to ask for help to sabotage the machinery he contributed?

How does that make any sense at all? So here is what you get a B/B+ level shoot em, drive em, fight em flick with a guy in a suit and some massive hovercrafts. There is, literally, not a gag in the film that I haven t seen before in other films, better for having been fresh.

Like 30 machine guns put to a guy s head leading to everyone holding one being killed or knocked out by that guy? Got it. Repeatedly.

20 guys in an elevator getting their ass kicked by one guy? Obviously. Big twists that are either so movie familiar or so obvious they are inevitable?

Got it. The best sequence, the first, taking a boat, not only has been done before, but looks like they shot it on the same boat that closes Iron Man 3 in the extra week of location rental. I liked the cast.

All the cast, really. I thought Redford was trying real hard, but was left more afloat on his own than in All Is Lost . Chris Evans deserves better, but is game, his sphincter crushing everything in sight.

You don t quite believe that Scarlett Johansson really can move like that, but her comic timing is deft and she remains a great screen beauty. Sam Jackson IS Sam Jackson almost always better than the material. Anthony Mackie brings all the excitement to his role here that Falcon would have swooping through the air to grab a check that will pay him as much as he has earned in the last 5 years of acting (and I don t mean that in a bad way).

Cobie Smulders has more to do here than in the other films so far which is still not nearly enough. There was one performance that I really think is worth pointing out. Toby Jones has a great bit mid-movie.

It was really the only time where I felt the movie s rhetoric and its pleasure were close to equal. You can t really call the movie horrible. But get on with it already came to mind often while sitting through the bloated 2:16 running time.

Finally, I used the word I a lot in this review because it really is about how I felt. There is a lot of objective complaints to make about the film, but these movies are a subjective experience and 90something percent at Rotten Tomatoes, while a little shocking to me, is interesting. Do I think that some of the critics are grading on a curve, in that the film suggests that it has a political message worthy of serious consideration and has Robert Redford mouthing platitudes?

Yeah. Will any of them think about this film again ever? Not likely.

But so it goes. I just kept waited for it to become interesting. The first film was quite interesting until it threw away its ending to accommodate an unused connection to Avengers .

The last Iron Man was quite interesting until they made the last 20 minutes all about blowing stuff up.

This one everything about it was trying so hard to matter and in the end, it really means nothing except another box office success for Marvel.

That will be quite enough for quite a lot of people.

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Review-ish Captain America: The Winter Soldier (spoiler-free …

20 facts about Prince Edward

In honour of The Earl of Wessex s 50th birthday today, Royal Central has compiled a list of 20 facts about The Queen s youngest child. HRH The Earl of Wessex is 50 today!

1. Edward s full title is HRH The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, Viscount Severn .

The title of Earl of Wessex was given to him by his mother, The Queen, on his wedding day. The last person to hold the title Earl of Wessex was Harold II, who died at the Battle of Hastings, 1066!

2. Prince Edward met his future wife, Sophie Rhys-Jones at a tennis event in 1993.

Sophie had to stand in for sports personality, Sue Barker, and pose for promotional photos with Edward for the event, leading to the start of their relationship.

3. Edward shares his birthday with a number of celebrities, including: Emeli Sande, Sepp Blatter and Tudor aristocrat and uncle to Anne Boleyn, Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk. March 10th is also the day the Princess Lilian, Duchess of Halland (of the Swedish Royal Family) died in 2013.

4. Edward and Sophie s wedding was at St George s Chapel, Windsor Castle. The couple wanted an intimate affair, so chose a smaller venue.

Edward asked his brothers to be his Supporters (or Best Men ), and guests wore evening attire, without hats, as requested. Prince Edward wears his London Regiment uniform to Trooping the Colour in 2013 and travels with his wife, Sophie, and daughter, Lady Louise..

5. The Queen s youngest child spent time at Gordonstoun boarding school, Scotland, following in the footsteps of his father and two brothers.

Edward excelled at drama and completed his A-levels in History, English Literature and Economic and Political Studies.

6. The newly-turned 50-year-old completed his Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award in his last year of school, 1986. Duke of Edinburgh is the world s leading achievement award for those aged 14 to 24, and offers the chance to develop skills for life and work, fulfil their potential and have a brighter future.

Having taken part in the scheme and seeing the benefits of it, Edward has become an International Trustee and Chairman of the International Council for his father s youth award. Just last week, The Earl visited Jamaica with his wife to promote the Award, and the couple travelled to South Africa last year for the same purpose.

7. After the passing of both his parents, it is intended that Prince Edward will be granted the title of Duke of Edinburgh.

This will enable him to carry on the work for the eponymous award.

8. Edward proposed to Sophie after 6 years of dating. Wed in 1999, the couple have been married 15 years.

The 8th-in-line is the only child of The Queen to not have ever divorced.

9. In 1982, before attending Jesus College, Cambridge, Edward spent time in New Zealand on a gap year. He was a house tutor at the Collegiate School in Wanganui, and also assisted with the Duke of Edinburgh award and drama classes, before going on to read History at university.

10. Prince Edward pursued a career in theatrical production, stemming from his love of drama at school. He worked for Andrew Lloyd-Webber s Really Useful Theatre Company at one point, managing The Phantom of the Opera, amongst other plays.

11. The young Royal s passion saw him set up his own production company Argent in 1993. Here he wrote, and narrated, two films about The Duke of Edinburgh Award in 1987, and even produced a documentary on the restoration of Windsor Castle after the fire in 1992, and another on his great-uncle, Edward VIII.

Prince Edward wears the uniform for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in Gibraltar. Note the aguilette on his right shoulder 12. After dissolving his production company, Edward dedicated himself to Royal duties to support The Queen in her Golden Jubilee year, 2002, and The Earl and Countess of Wessex both became full-time Royals.

His work is little reported, often in favour of younger and more senior Royals, but don t be deceived: Edward is very hard-working and last year undertook 245 engagements. He ranked the third busiest, only after The Princess Royal and The Prince of Wales.

13. In 2003, The Earl welcomed his first child with wife Sophie.

The Lady Louise Alice Elizabeth Mary was born prematurely, and the birth made Sophie very ill. The couple s second child, James Alexander Philip Theo, Viscount Severn, arrived in 2007.

14. Prince Edward started training as an Officer Cadet in the Royal Marines in 1986.

He didn t take to military life and left the Marines in January 1987.

15. Despite not having a military career, the father-of-2 has numerous honorary military appointments in the UK and the Commonwealth. This includes: Colonel of the London Regiment; Royal Honorary Colonel of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry; Royal Colonel, 2nd Battalion The Rifles; Honorary Deputy Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; and Colonel-in-Chief, Prince Edward Island Regiment.

16. At university, His Royal Highness learnt to play Royal, or Real, Tennis. Henry VIII popularised the game in the 1530s, and remained popular until lawn tennis (the kind played at Wimbledon) emerged in the mid-19th century.

It is played indoors, over a larger area and with a heavier, less bouncy ball. The rules are similar, but with a few contrasts, such as players can use the walls for shots, and a double-bounce does not mean out . Edward continues to play today when he has the time.

17. In January, Prince Edward was appointed Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. This means he will sit in the General Scottish Assembly on behalf of The Queen.

For one week in May, Edward will rank just behind his parents, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, and will be styled as His Grace instead of His Royal Highness . Royal tennis is enjoyed by Prince Edward 18. Edward holds 4 degrees: his BA in History from Cambridge, and 2 honorary degrees.

The University of Victoria awarded The Earl of Wessex a degree in 1994 and the University of Prince Edward Island did the same in 2007. As Chancellor of the University of Bath, he holds an honorary doctorate in Law.

19. The Earl is the Chancellor of the University of Bath; this sees him hand out degrees at graduation ceremonies and represent the University.

Last year, he presented Paralympian swimmer, Ellie Simmonds with an honorary degree, the first duty he performed as Chancellor.

20. Edward lives with his family at the historic Bagshot Park in Surrey. It is only a few miles away from Windsor, where Her Majesty and Prince Philip spend most weekends; the Wessex children have often been seen riding with their grandmother, The Queen, in the grounds at Windsor.

photo credit: Satreix and photopin cc 1 2 References ^ Satreix (www.flickr.com) ^ photopin (photopin.com)

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20 facts about Prince Edward

Training Afghan Medics: The Language of Healing Pt2

Lisa s Diary 2014 Captain Lisa Irwin Captain Lisa Irwin is a REME Reserve Officer currently on a three-year Full Time Reserve Service commitment with the Defence Cultural Specialist Unit. She has spent 15 months learning Pashto and Dhari before deploying to Camp Bastion to be the 2 IC of a team of medical personnel set up to mentor Afghan medical personnel. This is her third tour of Afghanistan and her second blog, as she blogged during her last tour in 2010/2011, when she was deployed as a Female Engagement Team Commander.

Day 14: 26 Jan Work has been gathering pace as I completed hand over and was handed my issue mobile. Friday is the Muslim religious day so we don t go over to Shorabak for routine training and utilise the time to do team admin and training. However, this Friday our plans went awry as an ANSF casualty was brought in that we felt was suitable for transfer to Shorabak- he had a gunshot wound to an arm and a resultant fracture.

I then had to kick in to action and phone all the relevant cogs in the wheel to ensure transfer of the casualty from our ambulance, to an ANSF ambulance and then to Shorabak; at the same time I had to notify the team members that were required and ensure we were ready to go. By the time we got over to Shorabak the casualty was already in the operating theatre and the Afghan team were ready to go, so the guys from my team went in to mentor them through the surgery. The surgery turned out to be slightly more complex than first thought and took several hours but we managed to assist the ANSF surgeons in stabilising the casualty.

Unfortunately he had suffered major damage to a blood vessel and so had to be returned to Bastion for more complex surgery, but the ANA surgical team did their part very well and it was felt that it was a useful mentoring opportunity. Whilst that operation was ongoing another casualty was brought in by their evacuation chain and went in for surgery immediately after the other came out. On that occasion the ANA surgical team were seen to be more than capable of coping so we left them to it and returned to Bastion.

Whilst the ANA may not have the resources that we have I am most impressed with their ability to overcome such issues and work hard to save their fellow warriors. Due to my role in theatre, and the fact that I am female and a reservist, the combat camera team came to talk to me yesterday with a view to me being involved in some kind of documentary/media piece. I was more than happy to take part but had to have several photos taken and wasn t particularly comfortable with that- I hope they got my best side!

Day 25: 6 Feb What is going on with the weather out here? The days were getting sunnier, the nights starting to get shorter and the temperature was getting warmer so I was looking forward to not so cold nights and warm sunny days. How wrong could I have been?

Helmand has had its first snow in 12 years and it is absolutely freezing! I must admit Camp Bastion covered in snow is a sight I never thought I would see. I wish it would go now though as getting out of a lukewarm shower into a cold ablutions tent is not a pleasant experience!

I went back to Shorabak for the first time in a few days today (security meant it wasn t possible for a few days) and it was good to get back. The staff in the Treatment Centre all remembered me and many came up to me saying Leila (my Afghan name) you are back! and some were hugging me in greeting.

I was very pleased by their reaction as it shows how accepting they have become of me. A hug in greeting from an Afghan is not at all unusual once they know you and count you as a friend or good acquaintance. However, they are often a little more reserved about giving a woman a hug which is understandable given their culture.

I am really pleased that they are happy to see me and like to talk to me as developing relationships is a key aspect of my job and doing so will give me more ability to recognise if something is wrong. If they regard us as friends then they are more likely to want to protect my team and I from the risk of harm. Working with the ANSF in their camp does bring risks but good relationships with our Afghan counterparts is the best way to mitigate that risk I was also able to chat to several of the patients today, as many of them spoke Pashto, which at the moment is easier for me than Dari.

After the small talk about family, weather, where they lived/were from etc we then spoke about their injuries (one had been shot, another injured by an IED) and their continued struggle to secure their country against the Taliban. I find their resilience amazing and in some way inspiring. Afghans are incredibly resilient people who as they are quick to tell you are used to decades of war and fighting, and they are pragmatic too and just get on with things.

Those I spoke to emphasised that they are very proud of their country and want to do all they can to protect it for their friends and family. They do not agree with the Taliban s methods and motives and want, as do all Afghans that I have spoken to, to be able to live in a secure country and support their family. They aren t asking for much.

Day 26: 7 Feb I wasn t detailed to go to Shorabak today but I had some reports to catch up on and some general admin to do so I managed to stay busy enough. I also had a telephone interview to do with Army media back in UK to talk about my experiences as a reservist and my role out in theatre at the moment. It is going to be published in a newspaper supplement as part of International Women s Day (March 8th).

The combat camera team are planning to come over to Shorabak in the next week to take some photographs of me at work to accompany the article. That leaves me with the dilemma of which head scarf to wear .only joking- though I do have a selection as I have some from my last tour and I bought a new one when I got here. It is still bitterly cold here- so much so that we have had a few personnel injured by slipping on ice.

That is not an injury pattern that we normally associate with a deployment to Helmand. Perhaps in Kabul yes, as it frequently snows there in winter, but not down here (we are quite a long way South of Kabul). Most days are cloudy too so the sun isn t managing to get through and lift the temperature.

Having done two previous winter tours though, I do know that once the sun does start to come out it usually warms up pretty quickly and in a few weeks we will be starting to complain about the heat! I have never done a summer tour though so I am not sure how I will cope with the intense heat in July/August. Ah well, I will have no choice but to get on with it!

Day 30: 11 Feb The past few days have been frustrating for me and my team. Unfortunately the threat state was raised so mentoring was put on hold. That meant we had a couple of days free; although in reality few of us were stood idle as the nurses and doctors in the team offered themselves to the hospital as extra hands/advisors, and myself and my OC caught up on essential admin.

I too offered my nursing skills to the ward as two children are being treated there at present. They were happy for my help, especially as I could speak to the children in their own language. Seeing the injuries that some children sustain out here is very difficult- those particular children had been seriously injured by an IED whilst out playing and I find the indiscriminate nature of IEDs really hard.

There has been so much suffering caused to innocent people who just want to be able to live a secure life. I have also managed to organise some extra language training for me at the Education Centre here in Bastion with an Afghan tutor. It is an asset I need to make the most of as there will be no such facility in a few months time when the draw down properly kicks in.

I have started my fitness campaign proper too, I am determined to regain a good level of fitness and in the back of my mind is that I will be wearing a wedding dress in October ( my fianc and I have finally arranged the date!) and I want to look as good as I can! Today the restriction on us going over was lifted and so we were able to send three quarters of the team over. I remained behind as it was felt prudent not to send too many people until we had assessed the atmospherics over there.

I ended up being quite busy as we had several ANSF casualties brought in to the hospital by helicopter this morning, not long after my team had left for Shorabak. Before they arrived the reports indicated that some were seriously injured and one not as badly (most due to an IED, one had been shot). I gave the Liaison officer who organises the transportation of the casualties from Bastion to Shorabak a call to give him a heads up and called my team who were over there working to let them know.

I then remained in the Emergency Department as the casualties were all brought in and assessed, in order to determine if they were potential cases for transfer to Shorabak. Not being experienced in trauma care (thankfully it is pretty rare in paediatric nursing in UK and blast injuries are pretty rare in the UK full stop) I found it fascinating and also a real eye opener. There were lots of people involved in caring for each casualty and their knowledge and experience was evident as each team dealt with their allocated casualty.

I have been told that the Role 3 Hospital in Camp Bastion is the best trauma centre in the world and watching the guys at work I could see why. As it turned out the hospital director assessed them as requiring the specialist care that the Role 3 hospital in Bastion can give them due to the severity of their injuries, so everyone in the ANSF Med Dev team was stood down. I had a lovely, and interesting, evening tonight as I have been invited several times to take tea (chai- green tea) with the hospital interpreters and I managed to make the time tonight.

They were really pleased to see me and we sat down and talked about family, jobs, poetry (considered very important in Afghan culture) and life in general. Nearly all the conversation was in Pashto, with the occasional help for me when I couldn t remember how to say something or understand what someone had said to me. I was really pleased that I was able to talk with them for over an hour on a number of subjects.

All that work at the language school is finally paying off! They have invited me any time and I intend to join them as often as I can- but I shall try to get my family to send some Scottish food that I can take with me to thank them for their hospitality. Day 39: 20 Feb The past week (well just over a week) has been pretty busy so I haven t had much time to myself.

The weather is warming up and that historically has tended to mean more operations on the ground being carried out. It certainly seems to be the case now as there have been numerous ANSF casualties coming in to Camp Bastion and direct to Camp Shorabak and as a result my services have been required several times to co-ordinate patient transfer. Sometimes I have been involved in sending casualties from Bastion to Shorabak and at other times casualties have come in to Bastion whilst I have been with the team working at Shorabak, and I have co-ordinated them being received in to Shorabak Emergency Department.

Not all casualties that have been sent to Shorabak have required mentor input as some had injuries that the Afghan doctors are more than capable of dealing with on their own; whilst others required a little guidance from us initially and we were then able to let the Afghans deal with the situation themselves. For 4 days in the past week I was in charge of the mentor team as my OC had taken a small number of the team up to Kabul to recce the Kabul Military Hospital. We need to fully understand the capability of such a hospital so that we can understand the likely capability of the hospital currently under construction in Shorabak and therefore tailor our expectations and mentoring accordingly.

I was quite happy to be left in charge (and so I should be really!) as I am really gaining an understanding of the role, how we operate, and the numerous personalities I need to liaise with and work with. Plus I now have a good understanding of the numerous bits of paperwork and reports that go with the role. I find that I am working quite long hours (as is common for many people out here), with little or no time off, but as it is interesting and often challenging work I don t mind at all.

If casualties come in late and I am called in to the hospital I find I am rarely tired as the adrenalin kicks in and I become focussed. A casualty coming into the Emergency Department certainly sharpens the mind. I am involved in the whole process; from the initial report of an incoming ANSF casualty, to the helicopter coming in, and then the casualty being transferred by ambulance to, and assessed in, the Emergency Department, right through to the decision about treatment and onward care.

There have been times when we have faced particularly difficult challenges; in particular there have been cases where the Shorabak team have wanted to send casualties to us as they have felt the casualties required the level of care that Bastion can give. Unfortunately for a variety of reasons we have not been able to accept them. The Afghans have surprised us by then coming up with their own solution to the problem and saved the patient.

We have been very impressed by that and they have seemed very proud of themselves- justifiably so. I continue to be surprised by the resourcefulness of the Afghans and they in turn continue to be surprised by my knowledge of their language and culture, so it is an interesting relationship. I am glad that I will be working as part of the mentoring team until the new hospital opens so that I am able to see our (and their) hard work come to fruition.

Pt1: Lisa s Diary Week 1-2 1 2014 Read Lisa s previous blogs from 2010/2011: L isa s Diary 1: October-December 2010 2 Lisa s Diary 2: January-March 2011 3 This entry was posted in 102 Bn REME (V) 4 , Army 5 , REME 6 , TFH HQ 7 and tagged Bastion 8 , captain 9 , Cultural Specialist 10 , DCSU 11 , female 12 , H19/20 13 , HelmandProvince 14 , helmend 15 , Hospital 16 , linguist 17 , lisa irwin 18 , Medical 19 , medical development 20 , nurses 21 , nursing 22 , REME 23 , reservist 24 , surgeon 25 , surgery 26 , surgical 27 .

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References ^ Training Afghan Medics: The Language of Healing (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Lisa s Diary 1: October-December 2010 (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Lisa s Diary 2: January-March 2011 (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ View all posts in 102 Bn REME (V) (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ View all posts in Army (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ View all posts in REME (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ View all posts in TFH HQ (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Bastion (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ captain (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Cultural Specialist (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ DCSU (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ female (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ H19/20 (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ HelmandProvince (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ helmend (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Hospital (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ linguist (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ lisa irwin (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Medical (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ medical development (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ nurses (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ nursing (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ REME (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ reservist (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ surgeon (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ surgery (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ surgical (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Permalink to Training Afghan Medics: The Language of Healing Pt2 (britisharmy.wordpress.com)

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