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text 2018-11-25 01:20
24 Festive Tasks: Door 8 - Penance Day, Task 2 (Favorite Sports Teams and Pennants)
QUIDDITCH

 

First things first (though I'm not the first here to post about this) -- as a proud Gryffindor, I obviously support my house team ... and I salute my fellow Gryffindors Darth Pony and XOX

 

I've been able to verify that the house's last victory of the Hogwarts Inter-House Cup took place in the 1996-1997 season.  They also had a solid winning run in the seasons prior to that one, winning the cup both in 1993-1994 and 1995-1996 (in 1994-1995, the Inter-House Cup tournament was replaced by the Triwizard Tournament).


 

That said, outside the wizarding world and in no particular order:

 

FOOTBALL / SOCCER

 

Borussia Dortmund

Most recent successes:

German national cup (DFB-Pokal) winners: 2017

German national league (Bundesliga) champions: 2012
-- also national cup (DFB-Pokal) winners that same year

German supercup winners: 2014

UEFA Champions League winners: 1997
(finalists last time in 2013)

 

German National Team - Men

Gosh, am I glad this task is asking about the team's successes ... let's just forget about 2018, shall we?!  So:

 

Most recent successes:

World champions: 2014
(4th time total)

European champions: 1996
(semi-finalists 2012 and 2016)

Confederation Cup winners: 2017

 

German National Team - Women

Most recent successes:

World Champions: 2007 and 2003

Olympic Champions: 2016
-- also 3 Olympic bronze medals (2000, 2004, and 2008)

European Champions: 2013
(8th time total)

 

 

... and a few competitions where team and individual events are equally important, and where the individual competitors are drawn from the ranks of the team:

 

HORSEBACK RIDING

German National Equestrian Team

Most recent successes:

Olympic Games:

* GOLD MEDALS: 2016 team dressage; 2012 team eventing***; 2016 and 2012 eventing individual - Michael Jung / Sam

* SILVER MEDALS: 2016 team eventing; 2012 team dressage; 2016 dressage individual - Isabell Werth / Weihegold

* BRONZE MEDALS: 2016 team show jumping; 2016 dressage individual - Kristina Bröring-Sprehe / Desperados; 2012 eventing individual - Sandra Auffarth / Opgun Louvo

Overall, in 104 years (1912 - 2016), with 41 gold, 23 silver and 27 bronze medals the most successful equestrian team in the history of the Olympic games.

 

 

World Equestrian Games:

* GOLD MEDALS: 2018 and 2014 team dressage; 2014 team eventing
-- Plus individual team members:
2018 dressage, Grand Prix Special (no dressage freestyle competition in 2018) - Isabell Werth / Bella Rose; 2018 show jumping - Simone Blum / Alice; 2014 eventing - Sandra Auffarth / Opgun Louvo

* SILVER MEDALS: 2014 dressage, Grand Prix Special and 2014 dressage, freestyle - Helen Langehanenberg / Damon Hill (both); 2014 eventing - Michael Jung / Rocana 

* BRONZE MEDALS: 2018 team show jumping
-- Plus individual team members:
2018 eventing - Ingrid Klimke / Hale Bob; 2014 dressage, Grand Prix Special - Kristina Sprehe / Desperados

 

 

European Championships:

* GOLD MEDALS: 2017 and 2013 team dressage; 2015 and 2013 team eventing
-- Plus individual team members:
2017 dressage, Grand Prix Special and 2017 dressage, freestyle - Isabell Werth / Weihegold (both); 2017 eventing - Ingrid Klimke / Hale Bob; 2015 eventing - Michael Jung / Takinou; 2013 eventing - Michael Jung / Halunke

* SILVER MEDALS: 2015 and 2013 team show jumping
-- Plus individual team members:
2017 dressage, Grand Prix Special and 2017 dressage, freestyle - Sönke Rothenberger / Cosmo (both); 2017 eventing - Michael Jung / Rocana; 2015 dressage, Grand Prix Special and 2015 dressage, freestyle - Kristina Bröring-Sprehe / Desperados (both); 2015 eventing - Sandra Auffarth / Opgun Louvo; 2013 dressage, Grand Prix Special and 2013 dressage, freestyle - Helen Langehanenberg / Damon Hill (both); 2013 eventing - Ingrid Klimke / Escada

* BRONZE MEDAL: 2015 team dressage

 

(Can ya' tell I'm kinda vicariously proud of the German equestrian team?)

 

*** Eventing is a three-day competition formerly known as "military," which combines a cross country parcours on day 1 with a dressage and a show jumping competition on days 2 and 3.

 

 

NORDIC SPORTS

My mom first took me skiing before I'd even started school, so winter sports are a big, lifelong favorite of mine ... even though my own skiing days are unfortunately over, as a result of a completely messed-up bone structure in my feet, which has made skiing boots the equivalent of Spanish torture boots to me ever since I was in my early 30s.

 

Downhill skiing races are events dominated by individual, not team competitions, of course, so I won't include those here and only note that they're still one of my all-time favorite competitions to watch, ever.  That said, in recent years I've also become a big fan of the Nordic competitions, where team events have always played an important role ... and where, go figure, it turns out the German national teams are actually doing pretty well.

 

All German Nordic sports teams are united (together with the downhill skiers) in the German Skiing Association (Deutscher Skiverband).

BIATHLON

Biathlon evolved from Nordic ski hunting; it combines cross country ski racing and target shooting (and is, incidentally, the only context in which I can countenance the use of guns, because here the focus is entirely on a civilian competition hinging on the athletes' fine motor skills -- with bodily control made decidedly more difficult by the fact that they've got several kms of cross country ski racing in their bones by the time they get to the shooting arena -- and gun safety is taken extremely seriously).  I find it spellbinding, not only because it requires proficiency in two vastly different skill sets, but also because even after a race lasting anywhere from 7.5 to 20 km (4.7 to 12 miles),  the outcome frequently turns on a single failed shot -- or mere fractions of seconds of running time.

 

Most recent successes:

Olympic Games

* GOLD MEDALS: 2018 sprint, women and 2018 pursuit, women - Laura Dahlmeier; 2018 sprint, men - Arnd Peiffer

* SILVER MEDALS: 2014 team relay, men; 2018 mass start, men - Simon Schemp; 2014 individual race, men - Erik Lesser

* BRONZE MEDALS: 2018 team relay, men; 2018 individual race, women - Laura Dahlmeier; 2018 pursuit, men - Benedikt Doll

 

 

World Championships

* GOLD MEDALS: 2017 mixed (= 2 men, 2 women) team relay; 2017 and 2015 team relay, women; 2015 team relay, men
* SILVER MEDALS: 2016 mixed team relay; 2016 team relay, men
* BRONZE MEDAL: 2016 team relay, women

 

 

Biathlon World Cup

(= one entire season's worth of events)

- 2017-18 SEASON: best team women (all events, aggregate); best relay team, women; third best team men (all events, aggregate)

- 2016-17 SEASON: best team women (all events, aggregate); best relay team, women; best team men (all events, aggregate), best mixed relay team

- 2015-16 SEASON: best team women (all events, aggregate); best relay team, women; second best team, men (all events, aggregate); second best mixed relay team

- 2014-15 SEASON: best team women (all events, aggregate); second best relay team, women; second best team, men (all events, aggregate)

- 2013-14 SEASON: best relay team, women; third best team men (all events, aggregate); best relay team, men

 

... plus a host of world championship medals as well as world cup race and seasonal victories won by the individual team members in their solo races.

 

With 23 Olympic gold, 27 silver and 18 bronze medals since 1960, when biathlon first became an Olympic sport, as of 2018 the German national team is the most successful Olympic biathlon team (surprisingly even more successful than Norway, where the sport originated).  Ditto in the world championship rankings since the first biathlon world championships in 1958 (82 gold, 57 silver and 47 bronze medals).

 

 

SKI JUMPING

I admire the sheer chutzpah of these guys ... and ladies (!); even more so, after having myself stood at the tops of the Oberstdorf and Calgary jumps and looked down.  It's a truly awe-inspiring view: in and of itself, but even more so if you consider that by the time you reach the bottom of the jump -- by which time my heart would have dropped to somewhere in the vicinity of my feet -- you're not actually done but you're propelled into free flight for another 100 - 230+ meters (330 - 755+ ft), depending on the hill size,*** during which you're sustained in the air by nothing other than your own skill, technique and body (and a bit of headwind if you're lucky), and you're supposed to land gracefully when gravitation ultimately gets the better of you after all.

 

*** "Normal hill" => results in the 100 m (330 ft) range

"Large hill" (men only) => results in the 125 - 140 m (410 - 460 ft) range

"Ski flying" (men only) => results in the 200+ m (650+ ft) range

 

Most recent successes:

Olympic Games

* GOLD MEDALS: 2014 large hill, team (men); 2014 normal hill, women / individual - Carina Vogt; 2018 normal hill, men / indiviual - Andreas Wellinger

* SILVER MEDALS: 2018 large hill, team (men); 2018 normal hill, women / individual - Katharina Althaus; 2018 large hill / individual - Andreas Wellinger

 

 

Ski Jumping World Championships:

* GOLD MEDALS: 2017 and 2015 normal hill, mixed team; 2015 large hill, men / individual - Severin Freund; 2017 and 2015 normal hill, women / individual - Carina Vogt

* SILVER MEDALS: 2013 large hill, team (men); 2017 large hill, men / individual and 2017 normal hill, men / individual - Andreas Wellinger; 2015 normal hill, men / individual - Severin Freund

* BRONZE MEDALS: 2013 normal hill, mixed team; 2017 normal hill, men / individual - Markus Eisenbichler

 

 

Ski Flying World Championships

* GOLD MEDAL: 2014 team

* SILVER MEDAL: 2016 team

* BRONZE MEDAL: 2018 individual - Richard Freitag

 

 

Ski Jumping World Cup

(= one entire season's worth of events)

- 2017-18 SEASON: second best, individual (all events, aggregate) - Richard Freitag

- 2016-17 SEASON: second best, ski flying / individual - Andreas Wellinger; 3d place, Raw Air 2017 - Andreas Wellinger

- 2015-16 SEASON: second best, individual (all events, aggregate) - Severin Freund

- 2014-15 SEASON: best team (all events, aggregate); best individual (all events, aggregate) - Severin Freund

 

 

NORDIC COMBINED

The so-called "royal" or "crowning" Nordic event, consisting of the two most traditional of all Nordic sports, ski jumping and cross country skiing.  I'm not a major fan of cross country skiing as such, but the jump at the beginning of the competition -- and the combination of the two things -- adds a considerable amount of spice, as this event, too, requires proficiency in two different kinds of skill sets ... and although the results of the jumping competition are "translated" into time handicaps (the shorter your jump, the more your start into the cross country race will lag behind the start of the winner of the jumping competition), it's by no means certain that the ski jumping winner will also win the competition overall: in fact, a top Nordic combined athlete may well win despite going into the cross country race with a time lag / handicap of a minute or more.

 

The members of the German team managed "clean sweeps" (securing all 3 medals) in the 2018 Olympic large hill / 10 km individual and the 2017 World Championship normal hill / 10 km individual races.

 

Overall, with 11 gold, 6 silver and 9 bronze medals, they're the second most successful Nordic combined team (after Norway) in Olympic history; ditto in World Championship history (21 gold, 17 silver and 13 bronze medals).  In addition, 3 German athletes (Johannes Rydzek, Eric Frenzel and Ronny Ackermann) rank as nos. 1, 3 and 5 in the list of the all-time most successful Nordic Combined athletes.

 

However, as women have only recently (and much belatedly) been admitted to ski jumping competitions, it may be a while yet until we'll be seeing the first major Nordic Combined women's events; for the time being, this is unfortunately one of the last remaining "men only" sports events.

 

Most recent successes:

Olympic Games

* GOLD MEDALS: 2018 large hill / 4x5 km, team; 2018 large hill / 10 km individual - Johannes Rydzek; 2018 and 2014 normal hill / 10 km individual - Eric Frenzel

* SILVER MEDALS: 2014 large hill / 4x5 km, team; 2018 large hill / 10 km individual - Fabian Rießle

* BRONZE MEDALS: 2018 large hill / 10 km individual - Eric Frenzel; 2014 large hill / 10 km individual - Fabian Rießle

 

World Championships

* GOLD MEDALS: 2017 large hill / 2x7.5 km team sprint; 2017 and 2015 normal hill / 4x5 km, team; 2017 large hill / 10 km individual - Johannes Rydzek; 2017 and 2015 normal hill / 10 km individual - Johannes Rydzek; 2013 large hill / 10 km individual - Eric Frenzel

* SILVER MEDALS: 2015 large hill / 2x7.5 km team sprint; 2017 normal hill / 10 km individual - Eric Frenzel

* BRONZE MEDALS: 2013 large hill / 2x7.5 km team sprint; 2017 and 2013 normal hill / 10 km individual - Björn Kircheisen; 2015 large hill / 10 km individual - Johannes Rydzek

 

Nordic Combined World Cup

(= one entire season's worth of events)

- 2017-18 SEASON: third best individual (all events, aggregate) - Fabian Rießle

- 2016-17 SEASON: best team (all events, aggregate); best individual (all events, aggregate) - Eric Frenzel; second best individual (all events, aggregate) - Johannes Rydzek

- 2015-16 SEASON: best team (all events, aggregate); best individual (all events, aggregate) - Eric Frenzel; third best individual (all events, aggregate) - Fabian Rießle

- 2014-15 SEASON: best team (all events, aggregate); best individual (all events, aggregate) - Eric Frenzel; third best individual (all events, aggregate) - Johannes Rydzek

- 2013-14 SEASON: best team (all events, aggregate); best individual (all events, aggregate) - Eric Frenzel; second best individual (all events, aggregate) - Johannes Rydzek

- 2012-13 SEASON: best team (all events, aggregate); best individual (all events, aggregate) - Eric Frenzel

 

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review 2018-11-11 15:16
Sometimes the simplest of messages can mean so much...to me this story is all about its message...
Sky in the Deep - Adrienne Young

๏ ๏ ๏  Book Blurb ๏ ๏ ๏ 

 
Part Wonder Woman, part Vikings—and all heart.
 
Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.
 
Faced with her brother's betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.
 
She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.
 
 
 
 

๏ ๏ ๏  My Review ๏ ๏ ๏ 

 
While this story's message is a well-known one but, it's still an important one.  The reviews for this are all over the place, some loved and some did not even like.  I obviously really liked it, maybe possibly loved it, even.  Some said it was cliché, and not true to the Viking heritage...I didn't feel that way at all (not that I'm super knowledgeable about Viking heritage).  I believe if you go into this thinking that is Viking-inspired and not true Viking, you won't set yourself up for disappointment. 

Maybe, it was the narration that made me so invested in this story...the narration is excellently done, after all.  Maybe it's the fact that it is a stand-alone...I do love stand-alone's.  I think it's both of these things actually...plus the vivid writing and I seriously loved Fiske, and truly loved Eelyn and Fiske together.   éé

 

 

๏ ๏ ๏  MY RATING ๏ ๏ ๏

 

4.8STARS - GRADE=A

 
 
 

๏ Breakdown of Ratings ๏ 

Plot⇝ 4.7/5 
Main Characters⇝ 5/5
Secondary Characters⇝ 5/5
The Feels⇝ 5/5
Pacing⇝ 4.5/5
Addictiveness⇝ 5/5
Theme or Tone⇝ 5/5
Flow (Writing Style)⇝ 4.7/5
Backdrop (World Building)⇝ 4.5/5
Originality⇝ 4.2/5
Ending⇝ 4.5/5 Cliffhanger⇝ Nope.  It's a stand-alone!
๏ ๏ ๏
Book Cover⇝  Amazing
Narration⇝ ☆5☆ for Khristine Hvam...I've always liked her.  She always does a powerful female character justice.
Setting⇝ Between the Aska and Riki Villages...The Mountains and the Fjord.
Source⇝ Audiobook (Library)
Goodreads
Amazon
Booklikes
๏ ๏ ๏
 

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text 2018-09-26 12:27
Reading progress update: I've listened to 90 out of 390 minutes.
Norse Mythology - Neil Gaiman

Gaiman says in the introduction that he didn't revisit his own childhood favorites -- Kevin Crossley-Holland's and Roger Lancelyn Green's renditions of the Norse myths -- but this comes across decidedly more like an update of those books, i.e., The Norse Myths for Young Readers, than an adaptation of the actual Edda texts.  I'm enjoying it, though ... author's own narration and all.  I also appreciate that Gaiman is taking great pains to get the pronunciation of the Icelandic / Norse words right.

 

This would probably count for the "Supernatural" square anyway, but since Gaiman is my wild card author, I haven't used my wild card for anything else yet, and I also know I won't be needing it for any of the remaining squares on my card ... what the heck.

 

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review 2018-07-20 20:34
Shades of Nordic Noir
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson

The books comprising the ‘Millennium Trilogy’ have achieved, albeit posthumously, almost legendary status for Stieg Larsson. Having previously delivered the manuscripts to his Swedish publisher, tragically the author died of a heart attack in 2004, aged just 50 and consequently he never witnessed the international plaudits, which were eventually to greet this exceptional work. I read the series a number of years ago, but I wanted to revisit them before reviewing and I was curious to see if my original impressions remained. Clearly, international sales of the books, reported to be of the order of 80 million copies worldwide, is quite a phenomenon. But what is it that continues to strike such a chord with the readers of popular crime fiction?


Powerful yet shocking, violent yet touching, this novel is at its heart a thriller, which contrasts the most depraved, base examples of humanity with the most outwardly unassuming characters. Yet, in investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist and security analyst Lisbeth Salander, Larsson has created main characters who are clearly flawed, but retain a complexity and depth, which is truly absorbing, thrown together as they are, to combat low points in their respective lives and the situational challenges that follow.


At the opening of the book, Blomkvist has just been found guilty of libel against financier, Hans-Erik Wennerstrȍm and is faced with three months in prison as well as a sizeable fine. Salander, a very different kind of investigator, is commissioned by her sometime employer to generate a report on Blomkvist and is intrigued that for such a careful reporter, he appears not to have contested the case. The author cleverly uses the report to inform the reader about Blomkvist and the thoughts of Salander’s boss at Milton Security (CEO, Dragan Armansky) to sketch out an early impression of her. Both are mavericks, with quite contrasting personalities, but as the plot unfolds they are bound inextricably together. Salander has experienced a troubled young life and might be considered a victim, but for her capacity for violent retribution. Brilliant, but emotionally cold, Salander lacks the capacity for empathy, but is drawn towards Blomkvist’s open warmth, humour and laid back attitude. What they share is an insatiable appetite for answers and the need for justice to be served, though Salander is quite bemused by Blomkvist’s attachment to the rule of law.


The ‘Millennium’ of the title is a magazine and Blomkvist’s enforced sabbatical enables him to take up a freelance assignment, for ex-industrialist Henrik Vanger. Ostensibly tasked with writing a biography of the Vanger family, Henrik though is obsessed with identifying the murderer of his great niece and favourite (Harriet Vanger) and persuades Blomkvist to mount an investigation for which he is prepared to pay handsomely and on completion, the prospect of some useful information about Blomkvist’s nemesis - Wennerstrȍm. The investigation centre’s on events which took place forty years earlier on the island of Hedestad, owned by the Vanger family and where generations continue to live in splendid isolation. In that sense there are echoes of an Agatha Christie whodunit, with a limited cast of suspects, but getting to the ‘how’ and ‘why’ is deliciously convoluted. Moreover, the nature of the comeuppance doled out to a series of villains is supremely satisfying.


Curiously this first book in the trilogy introduces the key protagonists and can stand alone as a novel, with a discrete storyline. Books 2 and 3 feels like a further, longer story, dissected into two just to make the volumes manageable, but developing the characters in all their dysfunctional glory. In any event, ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ remains a ground-breaking book, which helped herald the contemporary genre of Nordic noir and propel it into the spotlight of popular literary culture. For me, it is understandably vaunted as a ‘modern classic’, not to everyone’s taste, but quite a ride.

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review 2018-04-08 05:49
Red Sonja by Amy Chu
Red Sonja Vol. 4 #0 - Amy Chu,Carlos Gomez

The barbarian She-Devil with a Sword faces a whole different world and challenges in this new adventure written by Amy Chu and drawn by Carlos Gomez. Somewhere deep underground, strange and powerful demons clad in metal armor attack and roust Red Sonja from a deep magical sleep. Confused and weaponless, she must find a way to defeat these mysterious creatures, escape from her solitary prison, and make her way to the surface to discover where she is, and why she was put there...

Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illustrations by Carlos Gomez

Coloring by Mohan

Cover Art by Nick Bradshaw

 

 

Once again, I'm sampling another version of the Red Sonja story. In this one, author Amy Chu places our heroine in more modern times, facing a world full of technology she struggles to understand. 

 

Can't say I enjoyed this one quite as much as Michael Oeming's work. All the classic traits of the character are still honored here, but in Chu's version it feels like overkill. Nearly every panel here seems to put the perspective emphasis on Sonja's lady bits more than the storyline at hand. I'm not necessarily bothered by Sonja being scantily clad, but do we need SO many panels of her derriere photobombing the scenes? I do like to have SOME villain backstory.

 

Coming off of Oeming's lush version, the artwork in this sampling also struck me as more cartoonish in style, the dialogue a bit more cringe inducing. I appreciate wanting to have humor worked into the character, but here it veered a little too far into cheeze-fest for me, sometimes bringing to mind old TMNT (the original one) episodes.. only not as good with the laugh-facepalm blend. As a whole, the story here had its fun elements... I just find myself not really in a rush to continue with this line in Sonja's story. 

 

The kindle edition features "exclusive digital content", which pretty much amounts to a collection of un-colored versions of some of the panels you see earlier in the book, as well as a few examples of illustrator Carlos Gomez's sketches laying out ideas for the Sonja character -- costume details, different versions of facial characteristics, that kind of thing. 

 

 

 

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