Sunday, March 10, 2013

Three Weeks Until Season Three of Game of Thrones

Nerd alert: This post will reveal substantial knowledge on my part of a fictional fantasy world.

So, we're three weeks away from the third season of HBO's fantasy drama, "Game of Thrones" based on the "A Song of Ice and Fire Series" by George R.R. Martin.

Even as we speak Martin is busy killing off your favorite character.

And I am filled with a sense of dread, not because I think the show stinks (I don't.  I think they've done some things incredibly well) but because the material in the third book is so strong that it's almost inconceivable to me that it will translate as well as, say, season one did.  Rather than get into details, I've decided to reflect on what have been the best and worst aspects of the translation from book to show to date IMHO.

Just to get them out of the way first, I'll start with the five biggest misfires.

5.  Where are my draaaaaaaaaagonssssss!

No one is at their most flattering with their mouth wide open.

In all fairness to the producers, Dany's story as written in "A Clash of Kings" doesn't translate to television.  At all.  They HAD to invent something for her to do.  There really wasn't any other choice.  And the decision to have someone attempt to steal her dragons seems on the surface to be a pretty good idea.  However, the execution of this story left something to be desired.

And by "something" I mean anything of interest.  Multiple episodes of anyone shouting at people ineffectually is unappealing, but put in the hands of an actor just a year out of drama school and you get instant internet meme.

The Internet, where snark happens.

4. Pardon me while I twirl my mustache in a villainous way. (The sad state of one Petyr Baelish)

In the books no one plays the game better than Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish.  He acts unpredictably, sometimes even making moves that appear to be against his own best interest to keep his political enemies off guard.  An argument can be made that he is the smartest player in the Game of Thrones in the book.  He comes from nothing and while the end game isn't here yet, to date no one has improved their position more.

And in the television show he is a cartoonish clod who seems to get off on revealing things he really shouldn't to people that he could never trust.

"Hello, prospective employees at my bordello.  Please allow me to reveal to you my life story and motivations whilst you fondle each other.  Something about you just says 'trustworthy.'"

"So, you're the Queen, and you're completely unscrupulous, not to mention accompanied by many armed guards, but I'm going to go ahead and insinuate that I know a secret about you, the knowledge of which has, to date, displayed a 100% mortality rate.  Yeah, I like living on the edge."
"A knife's edge isn't what I had in mind when I behaved in such an absurdly stupid manner.  Seriously, why haven't I been killed off already"

3. Asha becomes Yara

In retrospect this could easily be number five on the list.  It really isn't significant.  I know it.  I KNOW it.  Yet it really bites at my craw.

Okay, you have two characters.  One is a minor character introduced in season/book one named, Osha.

Played by Tonks after months of not bathing.
The other is a major character introduced in season/book Two.  In the books she is named, Asha.  A very similar name, for sure.

So, the producers changed her name in the show to Yara to avoid confusion.  You know what?  That doesn't really seem like a bad idea.  But questions keep on bursting in thought bubbles against my cranium.

? - If it's a problem that Asha sounds too much like Osha, how is it not a problem that Yara sounds too much like Arya?

? - Shouldn't the minor character's name be changed if such a thing needed to be done?  It's not like they didn't have a list of character names from the series prior to season one.

? - Did they even mention Osha's name in season one?

? - Do you think we won't be able to tell them apart?  I know many different people named Mike.  How do I tell them apart?  Well, they aren't TWINS.  And, you know, context.  It's not like they are ever in a scene together.

She looks like she's washed her hair in the past ten years.  She must be Asha.

2.  That would make me really, really sad.  Thankfully I know nothing about it. 

This is not going to be a "bash the Robb storyline in season two" complaint.  Yeah it wasn't great.  Maybe I prefer the Westerling story.  But the hot nurse thing doesn't bother me in and of itself.

What does bother me is that both Robb and Catelyn's decisions in season two are arguably the MOST significant decision that take place in terms of long-term impact and the major impetus for both of those decisions is completely removed.

You see, in book two both Robb and Catelyn are rocked to the core by the revelation that Bran and Rickon (their brothers and sons, respectively) have been murdered.

And their bodies displayed publicly in a gross and degrading manner.
This causes Robb to seek comfort in a woman's arms (which honor forces him to then marry, causing a serious breech with his Frey allies; this could just as easily still work even with hot nurse and not a Western noblewoman) and Catelyn to make a desperate gambit to save her daughters from the same fate.

In plot terms, this change means nothing.  Robb broke his alliance.  Catelyn set Jaime Lannister free.  But if you care at all about character and motivations, this is incredibly galling.

I can't think about this anymore.  It upsets me too much.  So I guess I have to change the subject to something that upsets me more...

1.  Everything that happens north of the Wall in season two.

No story was altered to lesser effect than Jon's story north of the Wall.  From the Lord Commander's needless, "Who am I? WHO AM I?" ramble...

The answer to which, I can only assume, is Hamish's Dad from Braveheart. the mystery of the disappearing horses...

Everyone got their horse?  Good.  Now keep your eye on them.  These damned things will disappear faster than Tyrion in a Dornish bordello if you aren't careful.
I warned you!  I WARNED you!!!
... to the incomprehensible series of events that separated Jon from Qhorin and the other rangers...

Although I'm the smartest ranger we have (as demonstrated by the fact that I'm the only one of us smart enough to wear a hat in this miserably cold landscape) and an expert tracker, there's no way I'm going to be able to find you if you wander off in the snow, so don't do it.  Of course, I'll understand if you don't want to hang with me since all the wisdom I impart to you in the books has been replaced by contradictory gibberish that was apparently written for me by some idiot who thinks "Opposite Day" is the height of intellectualism.  God, I hate how they castrated my character." the hackneyed "will they or won't they" story line they replaced the source material with...

"What?" Ygritte asked incredulously but erotically.  "They don't let you have sexual innuendo at the wall?  Then you've come to the right person." almost everything else....

Yeah, I see you.  And, yeah, you see me.  And, sure, me and my zombie army buddies have come to kill every last one of you fellas.  But I'm not going to kill you.  Why?  Well, I've always had a secret soft spot for fatties.
... what was one of favorite story lines in the book was done almost no justice at all.  Almost.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Calender Purchasing Anxiety

A lot has been made about this year's Winter Solstice.

That annual visitation by the Winter Solstice Oak King.  Yes, that's a thing.
And it's not just because it's the longest night of the year.

Well, second longest if you're a Mets fan who sat through this snooze-fest.

But because it's the night that marks the END OF THE WORLD.

Because a giant space snake is going to swallow the Earth whole! Maybe, possibly, probably not.

Okay, probably that won't happen.

But you never know.  Very few people believed Adam Sandler could star in a worse movie than Jack and Jill and he pulled it off, so maybe the space snake is a go.

But can you really blame the Mayan people for panicking?  Their calender spans over 5,000 years.  Getting a new one is a huge deal.

To put it in perspective the last time your calender was coming to an end, Gangnam Style wasn't a thing. 

Now it is.
 The last time the Mayan calender came to a close, the alphabet wasn't a thing.

And neither was Ben Franklin.

Think about how anxious you are when you have to replace something you've had for a while.  Now pretend you come from a civilization in which the notion of human sacrifice wasn't off the table.  The anxiety would be off the charts.

On the Nigel Tufnel scale, their anxiety was an eleven.

So, let us do the world a favor. Grab the closest Mayan to you, give them a hug.  And in a calm, soothing voice, direct them to their nearest on-line calendar store.

Perhaps the Angry Birds calendar would appeal to them.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Election Day Eve Activities

Two days from now those of us who don't get to vote early...

My brother voted early.  He's shown here in his spiffy jean-jacket.
...get to choose who will be President of the United States for the next four years.
Also many Senators, but I don't like talking about them since they tried to break Mr. Smith's spirit.  Long story.
Which leaves us one day to do something nice and calming before (potentially... according to many pundits on both sides of the political spectrum) Armageddon is upon us.

Surely these images can't BOTH be wrong...
So I've taken it upon myself to come up with a list of three things a person can do in the time they have left before the End of Days.

1.  Drink a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label Scotch

Because we all deserve liquor that comes with its own coffin before the end of the world.  Sure it's $200 a bottle, but what are you saving your money for at this point? 

2. Hit the Gym.

There are going to be an awful lot of people in the line to meet St. Peter, not to mention hundreds of angels.  And let's just say that Pete won't be the only one judging you, so work off some of that flab.
3.  Eat Something Delicious

Even a condemned prisoner gets a last meal

Have a happy election, everybody!*

*It is impossible for more than 52% of people to actually have a happy election, but it's the thought that counts.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Helping Out My Indecisive Friends

You probably know an election is taking place next week.

I'm a big fan of the Starks, but can't agree with Robb's policy of marrying foreigners.

Alas, we must choose between Romney and Obama instead.

For now.  I'm preparing bumper stickers for Dinklage's run for office in 2016.
Now, I've made my decision and don't really understand why people are having problems.  It seems pretty clear cut, whichever side of the coin you're on.  But people are still picking through the options.  Perhaps they are hoping one of the toads will turn into a prince.

Perhaps even a fresh prince.
But that's not going to happen.  So, I'm here to help you make a choice.  Obviously policy issues haven't done it for you, so I'm going to take you down an unconventional path.

Where you can go BOTH ways (wink, wink.)
So, stare at the following picture for thirty seconds.  Not one second more.  Not one second less.  Are you ready?

Okay, The timer starts...


All right.  Now, this image will haunt your dreams tonight.  So leave a pen and piece of paper by your bed.  When you wake up in a cold sweat jot down what happened and take the following actions:

1.  If this guy killed you, vote Republican because you are afraid we are weak in defense.
2.  If you kill this guy, vote Democrat because you support progressive policies.
3.  If you and he end up making sweet, sweaty love, go to Canada, because you are deviant.

There you are!  A simple, foolproof way to make a decision.  You're welcome.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Everyone has an opinion, here's mine

So, this is my first post in this blog, a new blog to Blogger (though I had a blog of the same-ish name) over at WordPress.

The obvious question is: why the move?

The answer: why not?

In truth I find it easier to change formats, styles, everything in a new place.  And it's not as though I'm leaving a huge following behind.  

This blog will have humor, opinion, writing samples, confessions, basically anything that might strike me as interesting.  To wit:

Not interesting at all.
So, welcome. I hope someone out there likes it.