Probably copyrighted, and if so, definitely not by me.
I have launched an online petition asking HBO to case Grumpy Cat in the role of Lady Whiskers in the next season of Game of Thrones. This is probably not the original intended use of Change.org, but what the hey.
Without any spoilers, Tommen Baratheon (younger brother of King Joffrey) is likely to have a more prominent role in the next season of Game of Thrones. He has three cats, Lady Whiskers, Ser Pounce, and Boots. Lady Whiskers quickly establishes herself as the dominant cat of the group, stealing a mouse that Ser Pounce caught. This prompts Queen Cersei to tell Tommen: “Ser Pounce must learn to defend his right. In this world the weak are always the victims of the strong.” (A Feast for Crows, Chapter 39)
Tardar Sauce, commonly known as Grumpy Cat, is an internet phenomenon, and draws huge crowds at appearances at major events like South by Southwest. She is already the subject of a small merchandising empire, so a jump into cat acting seems like the nest step. In her Grumpy Cat persona, she has the right look for a Lannister cat, and seems like the sort of pet that would attract Cersei’s respect.
Of course, I did not mention this to any of Grumpy Cat’s human companions. Maybe if we get the ball rolling first…
There is no creature on earth half so terrifying as a truly just man.
If we have learned anything from Game of Thrones (the books or the TV series), it is this: the seemingly noble qualities of justice and mercy can have dire, even deadly consequences. (Spoilers ahead.)
I knew the Red Wedding scene was coming from the moment the show started its run in 2011, but I can still say I was surprised that the show presented it in such a brutal manner. The addition of Talisa, a character who does not appear in the books, as well as the news of her pregnancy, added an element of brutality absent even from the books. Much of the reaction I have seen (from people who did not know that the Red Wedding was coming) has focused on bemusement, or even rage, that the show would kill off its main character, Robb Stark.
I have two thoughts in response to that sentiment: (1) Have you learned nothing from the death of Ned Stark? That was not a narrative outlier. (2) Why assume Robb Stark is the central character, or hero? Continue reading →
Game of Thrones offers something for a wide range of tastes, from intricate and interconnect plots, palace intrigue, and uncomfortable romance; to swordfights and zombie battles; to, let’s face it, boobs.
Someone went an edited together all of the nude scenes from the first two seasons (NSFW and with spoilers, of course). It does a good job of demonstrating that not all on-screen nudity is good nudity. Daenerys’ early scenes with Khal Drogo come to mind. Also, it’s almost entirely female nudity, and while that might be more my thing, it’s pretty darn unfair. As I recall, towards the end of season 1 there was a brief scene in Winterfell’s godswood with Osha admiring Hodor’s, um, hodor, and I think maybe some almost full-frontal of Theon Greyjoy, but considering that Roz almost never wore clothes in any of her scenes, it ends up pretty lopsided. There’s a pun in there somewhere.
This is also reflected in George R.R. Martin’s writing, which delves into the creepy-sexy quite a bit. The guy talks a lot about nipples.
I’m not sure if the video will embed in WordPress, so if you can’t see it below, click here.
I vowed last year that I would stop comparing the HBO series Game of Thrones to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, in part because it becomes more and more difficult to hold a story told in the television format to the story found in a (so-far) five-volume, 3,000+ page series of novels. Also, the TV series deserves to be judged on its own merits, not just for its fealty to its source material. That said, the first few episodes gave depth to two characters that, to the best of my recollection, was missing in the books.
SPOILER ALERT: I’m going to talk about things that have happened so far on season 3 of Game of Thrones, some of which also happened in the book A Storm of Swords (book 3 in the ongoing series). This will, of course, draw on things in the first two seasons and first two books. I am still only halfway through book 5, A Dance With Dragons, so if something I say here contradicts something I haven’t read yet, shut up. I’ll finish the book, really.
Margaery Tyrell: The books are told in third-person, but each chapter is from the point of view of a specific character. You therefore see certain events from a specific character’s perspective. The death of Ned Stark, for example, was seen through Arya Stark’s eyes in the book, and we learn about Sansa Stark’s experience later. At no point so far have we seen anything from the point of view of any of the Tyrells. Most of what we have seen of Margaery Tyrell is through the eyes of Sansa and Cersei. Cersei is obviously a less-than-reliable judge of Margaery’s character, but the fact that Cersei hates her is a mark in Margaery’s favor. It is therefore fascinating to see how the show develops her.
We know from an exchange with Littlefinger in season 2 that Margaery is ambitious (“You want to be a queen.” “No, I want to be the Queen.”) Now we get to see her schemes firsthand. Natalie Dormer plays the role with both hypnotic beauty and a very subtle cunning (which might be redundant.) She is genuinely kind to the orphan children, even if we know she has an agenda. That scene was a brilliant foil to Joffrey’s character, who refused to get out of his litter lest the common people try to hurt him. Joffrey expects the people to follow and obey him because they have to, because he is their king, end of story. Margaery knows that she must earn their trust and their love, and that this will bring their obedience. The books only show this through Cersei’s horrified eyes. Continue reading →
I’m going to be honest here: I’m not really feeling it this year. I suspect that is approximately 100% due to the fact that I moved into a new house at the beginning of this week, and am experiencing the associated anxiety and odd depression that always seems to come with that. Don’t get me wrong, I love our new house. It’s just that I also sort of hate it at the moment.
It was in the midst of this chaos that I embarked on my second year as a badge holder at SXSW Interactive. Once again, I don’t really have a clear notion of my goals, other than to meet people, learn more about tech, blogging, and social media, and just be around talented, interesting, and occasionally self-important people. I’m sucking at the “meeting people” part so far, but being at the Austin Convention Center in a relatively festive atmosphere is a welcome reprieve from a week spent mediating between furniture deliveries, movers, and contactors. (Also, the purchase of a house with enough repair needs to quickly burn through most of our money, but let’s not go there just now.)
I took the Capital Metro rail for the first time, parking where I’m probably not supposed to park and riding the train to the final stop just outside the Convention Center. I don’t know if the train is usually that crowded, or if that is a SXSW effect, but it was a decent ride. It certainly beats trying to find parking downtown.
Since I don’t do much late-night partying anymore, I was able to arrive downtown at about 9:30, give or take, and it took a mere 5 minutes to get my badge. I remember last year needing about 20 minutes, but then seeing that the line had circumscribed the Convention Center later in the day. This would be an example of the hipness of being square – less time waiting in lines, or something.
I spent much of the morning catching up on work, and found the environment to be oddly conducive for work. Maybe there was some osmosis of creative power, or maybe I was just determined to finish so I could move on to fun things.
By the time I broke away from the siren call of legal-blogging-for-hire, I was not sure where I wanted to go. I considered catching a shuttle to a different venue for a panel on the business potential of animated GIFs, but ran into a friend who was going to a panel on disaster relief.
Disaster: The Future of Crisis Communications addressed how the Coast Guard has made use of social media and other technologies in disasters like Hurricanes Sandy and Irene. Very interesting stuff. Much of what they said seems obvious at first, but when you consider conditions after a disaster, you understand their importance, and how easy it might be to overlook them. In sufficiently serious crises, the very network we rely upon for information might be out of commission. How would we get information without our smartphones? Yes, many people still use things like radio or newspapers, but social media allows responders to get information out in, to use a cliché, real time.
Teaching Cheetahs: Disruptive Education in Africa was the only other panel I went to this day, partly because it sounded interesting, and partly because I didn’t have to change rooms. A group of panelists included two executives from a nonprofit that funds scholarships for top students from African to study at American universities, the founder of a Kenyan startup that provides tablets to students loaded with school curricula, and the director of an organziation that produces documentary videos highlighting educational needs. There was far more than I can justifiably summarize here, but the overall theme was “African solutions to African problems.” I just read an article the other day about well-intentioned but catastrophic efforts at aid to Africa, most of which amounted to dumping America’s leftovers in rural Africa rather than supporting infrastructure and education. It is also generally annoying that people in the U.S. often refer to “Africa” in a unitary sense, when in reality it is a continent with 54 countries (I think that’s the right number), about 1 billion people, and a wide diversity of culture, history, and language. It’s also more than twice the size of the U.S., so it’s big. Here are the organizations and companies represented, and I’d say they are worth checking out:
African Leadership Academy in South Africa
African Leadership Bridge in Austin, Texas
The Nobelity Project, also in Austin
eLimu, a startup based in Nairobi, Kenya
After that, I went home to assemble IKEA furniture.
Other highlights of the day included getting my picture taken in the Iron Throne…
…and also with Clifford the Big Red Dog…
There was also this odd display by 3M, which I call 3M’s 2D Hottie.
Any discussion of the women of Game of Thrones that fails to mention Septa Mordane is wrong. Just plain old wrong.
I’m about to geek out on Game of Thrones again, fair warning. I will limit my discussion, as best I can, to the television show up to this point, but beware of spoilers.
Over on Huffington Post, Ann Marie Rasmussen decided to blow her nose on her keyboard and call it commentary on female archetypes in the Game of Thrones series. It is the sort of reasoned analysis that makes you suspect that she had never heard of the show, let alone the books, until a couple of hours before her deadline, and that she spent at least an hour of that time eating a sandwich.
She does an appreciable job of shoehorning some of the show’s female characters into some prefabricated fiction archetypes, although none of them quite seem like traditional “fantasy” archetypes: the Tomboy, the Princess, the Seductress, the Self-Made Woman, and the Good Wife. Wha?
Let’s start with the “Tomboy,” Arya Stark, or as Rasmussen calls her, “the little daughter with a boy’s haircut.” It is actually entirely incidental to Arya’s persona that she has a boy’s haircut. Yoren cut her hair so that the Lannisters wouldn’t find and decapitate her. Not very archetypal, I dare say. Arya’s tomboyishness is not so much an important part of the story as the trials she has to endure to survive. At any rate, Arya is not the bone I have to pick with Rasmussen. Let’s move on to Sansa Stark.
Sansa, of course, is the “Princess” archetype, but it is Rasmussen’s description of her that wakes my dragon: “Sansa Stark, sister to the Tomboy, is not too bright and is often punished for her vapid and romantic delusions.” No, just no. Yes, Sansa begins the series as the spoiled, petulant mean girl of the Stark family, but that just makes her struggle more tragic. She grew up believing in the tales of gallant knights and beautiful princesses, and the prospect of becoming queen was dangled right in front of her. Not only must she now endure beatings from the very knights she thought would protect her, but she had to watch as her prince ordered the execution of her father right in front of her. She is not being punished for being vapid. She is being punished by a psychopath with no checks on his power. She is not stupid. She is a survivor. She may be annoying to watch, but it is that veneer of helplessness that is keeping her alive. Do not mess with Sansa.
To all who lament television’s sharp descent into unscripted hell, “Blackwater” reminded us of what the television medium can do. This was epic storytelling at its finest. Any deficiencies in settings or backdrop, such as the facts that the magnificent city of Qarth appears to be little more than a series of rooms, and Jon Snow’s trek in beyond the Wall seems to involve walking back and forth across a single span of glacier, have led to the spectacle of the Battle of the Blackwater.
Who is the “good guy” in this battle? The lack of an easy answer to that question is at the heart of the story’s genius. We like Tyrion and want him to succeed, but his success most likely means the Lannisters’ success. We don’t much care for Stannis Baratheon, but we like Davos Seaworth. Same problem. The closest thing to a “protagonist” army that we have are those of Robb Stark and Daenerys Targaryen, and we’re beginning to see that they aren’t much better than anyone else.
This episode focused exclusively on the events of a single night in King’s Landing, so we got to see much more development of individual characters than usual. Tyrion got one of the best Braveheart speeches in television history, and finally served as a heroic character rather than a comic one (see last season’s battle fought while Tyrion was unconscious, the only time the show has ever overtly resorted to “dwarf humor.”)
Sansa demonstrated her own strength and leadership when Cersei fled their hiding place with Tommen. Unfortunately, she may have lost the only two people who ever truly protected her in King’s Landing: Tyrion, who is now wounded, and the Hound, who is running away. Cersei at least understands the importance of keeping Sansa alive, but we know that she will not step up to protect Sansa if Joffrey threatens her. Continue reading →
This episode was really nothing but battle prep. The theme seemed to be “doing what must be done.”
Qhorin Halfhand, captive of the wildlings along with Jon Snow, told Jon explicitly that he must do what needs to be done. We don’t know exactly what that is yet (well, I think I do, but I’m not telling.)
Daenerys must go to the House of the Undying to save her dragons. This scene in the book was a twenty-page acid trip. I can’t wait.
Tyrion must mount a defense of King’s Landing, basically by himself. Everyone else is caught up in their own petty crap. Tyrion enjoys the “Game,” as does Tywin. Cersei and Jaime hate it. All three of Tywin’s children have relied on their family’s wealth all their lives, but Tyrion has had to develop the most skills in order to survive. Both Cersei and Jaime showed remarkable clumsiness–Jaime by haphazardly killing Stark men, and Cersei by threatening and hurting the wrong woman while trying to get at Tyrion. Tyrion’s only weakness is Shae. Continue reading →
NOTE: This is about the episode “A Man Without Honor,” which aired May 13. I’m just behind on my blogging.
I’m happy because Ygritte said her catchphrase.
As for spoilers, yes, there probably will be some.
I took my own advice from last week and put the books as far out of my mind as posible during this week’s episode. As I was watching the episode, I realized that, for the first time since the shpw premiered last year, I felt real dramatic tension. Previously, I felt tension from knowing what was going to happen but not knowing exactly how the producers would show it, or how the actors would convey it. Now, all bets are off, and it is awesome.
In that vein, I’m going to look at last night’s events in light of how they relate to other aspects of the show.
Arya/Tywin –> Arya/Ned
I am fascinated by the quasi father-daughter relationship building between Arya Stark and Tywin Lannister. Tywin is, in his own way, showing her a remarkable amount of warmth and kindness. I suspect he is playing his own game, as he clearly knows she is not who she claims to be. Perhaps he is keeping his enemies closer, but then again he is allowing her access to quite a bit of intel. Arya, of course, has no means to do anything with this intel (that she knows of.) Tywin, I think it is fair to say, values strength above all else. His own children, Cersei, Jaime, and Tyrion, have their own kinds of strength. Tyrion is by far the most like his father, but neither of them would ever admit that. Arya is very much like Tyrion, a person born with traits that greatly disadvantage them in their world, but that also hide great reserves of strength and cunning. I wonder if Tywin Lannister sees in Arya the traits he does not want to see in Tyrion. Continue reading →
This makes up for any shortcomings this show might ever have. Ever.
(At this point, I have no idea if this post will contain spoilers.)
I’ve been kind of a douche about this show, and for that I apologize. See, I have been watching this show with rapt attention, but also with my ass puckered up over its various divergences from the books, as if I could somehow control a scripted television show’s faithfulness to its source material through the sheer power of my sphincter.
Since last April, I have felt a compulsive need to compare the two media, in a very hipsteresque effort to prove my bona fides as an early-adopting Game of Thrones fan. I have little doubt that I have annoyed some people. When someone asks me where they are taking Arya and Gendry, all they really want to know is that it’s called Harrenhal, and it’s a big castle people think is haunted. They do not necessarily need to know why people think it is haunted, or that Harren completed it right before the invasion of Aegon the Conqueror, or any of the other random bits of trivia I could pull from my puckered behind.
The thing is, you shouldn’t have to do homework or required reading before seeing a movie in order to understand it. Movies are a story in a roughly two-hour package, and they have to use those two hours to let you know who’s who, what’s going on and why you should care. Even James Bond movies usually spend the first sequence showing you how good he is at killing people and how he always gets a free woman to sleep with afterward, for the two audience members unfamiliar with how James Bond works.
You’re supposed to relax and let the movie take you on a ride into its world. Movies are sold as an escape, not as another source of obligation. Can you imagine being asked to go see the latest Harry Potter movie and having to tell your friends, “Oh, I can’t. I’ve been trying really hard to cram for it, but I’ve still got 10 chapters to read. I’ve just been so busy this week …” and them shaking their heads in disappointment at you? Or watching Star Wars Episode II knowing you’ve not only wasted the two and a half hours watching the actual movie but the two weeks of studying the comics in preparation for it?
I can understand wanting to get further into the universe of some movie if you really enjoyed it, or being able to get more tidbits about your favorite character from additional stories, but it should be optional. You shouldn’t have to stare bewildered at some character exploding for no apparent reason as a penalty for not doing your homework.
Several people asked me, during the lead-up to “Game of Thrones” season 1, if I thought they should read the books before trying to watch the show. Of course, I think everyone should read the books because they are awesome, but consider this: a television show that requires you to read a 700+ page book in order to understand its first season would be a fucking terrible television show. Continue reading →