Game of Thrones (HBO)

Last night, the HBO adaptation of Game of Thrones finished. 

Overall, I thought it was good.  Some things were changed subtly, nothing changed drastically.    Everyone ended up dead or alive as they did, everyone ended up in the same place, etc.    Much of the dialog and scenes were lifted straight from the book, though different people had some of the line

Some things were made much more explicit, of course - in several readings of the series, I hadn't picked up on the Renly/Loras relationship, where it was quite explicit in the show, and there was a lot more of Theon Greyjoy.      For some reason, the breast-feeding sequence with Lyssa and her son made me very uncomfortable (her son is 6 or 7  - it felt like I was watching a form of child pornography - it didn't read that way, mind you) 

Some things seemed to be added - there was a scene in this final episode which seems to imply that Maester Pycelle has been faking his infirmity and scatterbrainedness, and I don't see anything in the series at all that indicates that.      And I don't remember much about whores up at Winterfell, though I'm sure they were there.    Certainly, the one that left Theon was an addition.

There wasn't enough of the dire wolves - apparently, they were difficult to work with, so they weren't used all that much.

I still have no idea why Rickon is in this series, at all.

One thing that struck me watching it was the parallel between Sansa and Danaerys - both of them trusted the wrong people and lost the most important man in their lives - Sansa lost her father and Danaerys lost Drogo.   btw - I know all that had to happen for the plot... but what the hell is Drogo doing?  The Dothraki clearly have their own healers - why did he let Danaerys talk him into using what's her name?"

I'm looking forward to next years.

Out for a walk today

Up in the Fells and on my way back, i saw something that made me a little sad.

There is this pair of women, twins, in their 60's or 70's or so, who walk the Fells.  They always get nicely dressed, always identically, and they walk arm in arm.    I don't know anything more about them than that - they seem nice.

Today, I saw one of them, but not the other.  The implication is, of course, that her sister is ill or has died.  Which is sad.

Deathly Hallows, pt1

I went to see it tonight.

I have to say, when I heard pt1 and pt2, I kinda rolled my eyes.  

And it's 2.5 hours!  Lot o' movie...

I have to say, I think it was a good choice, though.   I dunno how you could fit the whole book in AND keep all the scenes they kept without it going to 4 hours or so.  In this case, I think it worked.    It felt like a continuous narrative - one problem with Potter movies is that they all encompass 10 months of time, so they tend to do scene, jump a week, scene, jump a week, etc.    

This one was much better able to have a flow of time, as it didn't do the entire span of the book - which meant it was able to give minor scenes at least some time and include some that were only hinted at in the book.  Hermione's opening is kind of heartwrenching.  

The 7 Harry's scene is hilarious and... well, I won't get into the entire movie. 

You may have read somewhere that Harry and Hermione have a kissing scene - no, they don't change the book and if you think about it, you'll figure out where it must happen.     As it turns out, that scene was lifted very close to straight out of the book, as were many of the scenes.  I'm not sure why i didn't remember the kiss, though.

I thought the acting was a lot better in this book - in the first couple, they were little kids, so you didn't mind the over-acting, cause... they were kids.  In the middle books, though, some of the acting kind of grated.  

They are a lot better now, though.

The scenery was gorgeous, too, with Harry/Ron/Hermione taken to more wild places than you might guess exist in England.  

I very much enjoyed myself - i thought it a lot better than #6, which was probably my least favorite of the movies so far. 

Well, it's a movie about locusts

I am pretty sure I spend too much time watching TV.

Today, I was flipping through channels and, on sci-fi, there was a movie starring Julie Benz (Darla from Buffy) called Locusts: The 8th plague, about man-eating locusts.

I was confused, however, as the female lead didnt' look like who I thought Julie Benz was... she looked and sounded a lot more like Lucy Lawless.   The locusts also didn't seem to be eating people - more eating plants and causing planes to crash by destroying the engines.

As it turns out, the sci-fi channel couldn't tell the difference, either.  the movie they were playing was ACTUALLY a movie called Locusts!, starring Lucy Lawless.  

Interestingly, it's probably a better movie than most of the movies that the SyFy channel makes....

Towers of Midnight

So, I did it.  I bought it the day it came out and read it straight through.  840 pages in one evening.

For those who don't know what this is, it's the 13th book in the Wheel of Time series, a series which has continued past the death of the author.  It's epic fantasy, where epic is sometimes astonishing events and sometimes it's incredibly detailed descriptions, which the reader is supposed to use as clues to what the hell is going on and who the various bad guys are masquerading as.  

It's the penultimate book in the series (which, btw, is an odd word - why a special word for the NEXT to last thing in a series?), which started in 1990.  I remember buying the first book, though I don't know if it was in 1990 or a little later, and reading it and thinking - well, this is pretty good, though not great.  

I kept reading and they got better and better, until they stopped getting better, and then got a little worse and took longer to come out and had so many characters that important, central characters would get TOTALLY DROPPED FOR A BOOK, which isn't so bad if you re-read them, but when the books were taking 2 and 3 years to come out and major arcs were resolved over 3 and 4 books, it was kind of annoying.

Anyway.  They are, quite literally, the only books I ever buy in hardcover and I have 'em all. 

So, this is what I thought of Towers of Midnight.  

I liked it.  A lot.  Much goodness, many laugh-out-loud moments, several "wow" moments, plotlines wrapped up, everything moving towards the final battle...    I am very comfortable with how the series is set up to end, without feeling like I know exactly what is going to happen (other than the good guys winning... for some definition of "win")

More details:

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ToM is mainly about Mat and Perrin doing their final thing in preparation for the Last Battle - Mat confronting the snakes/foxes, the prophecy about him losing half the light of the world to save the world coming through, the gholam plotline being resolved, finding out what the ashanderii is for and, of course, the return of Moiraine.  Oh, and cannons.  And Verin's letter, but in a way that makes you wonder what the hell Verin was thinking - she could have just asked Mat to read the damn thing, and not try to force him into doing what it said.

For Perrin, it's about coming to grips with his wolfishness, resolving the whitecloaks, Berelain, being a leader, becoming a recognized lord and how to be a blacksmith.  he also figures out how to deal with slayer and has a moment of total awesomeness in the world of dreams with egwene.  

TGS was mainly about Rand and Egwene coming into their own and so they take a bit of a back seat here... but I have to say, Sanderson did a great job with both of them in their limited roles.  Rand coming into his own as the Lord of the Morning is an awesome sight and, finally, spent an entire book NOT wanting the reader to tear his hair out in frustration - everything about him was literally awe-inspiring, from the apples to casually walking into Tar Valon and walking out again, to his reunion with his father, to being able to literally see a darkfriend by looking them in the eye to forcing another darkfriend to rip out his own eyes from his light to.. well, everything.  he was exactly what you would want a leader to be, especially one who screwed up as often as he did and nearly brought the world to it's knees.

And Egwene - I think some people found her annoying... but she bagged a forsaken, who doesnt' look to be coming back. 

Structurally, it's a little odd, since Perrin starts the novel some time in the past (ie, the events at the end of TGS take place near the middle of ToM for Perrin - if you don't realize what's going on, it's kind of disorienting)

And there are some things that are annoying.  Verin pretty badly mis-read Mat, I'm not honestly sure that Elayne has really grown very much - I mean, becoming a queen is one thing, but she's kind of stupid about her personal safety... again., and the whole "Elayne takes over Cairhien" thing seemed very contrived.  

Very awesome moments:

Rand showing up at Tar Valon and Byrne describing him as "looking like an Aes Sedai" to Suain.  Then, later, he tells Cadsuane "You can call me Rand Sedai, since I'm the only properly raised male Aes Sedai not turned to the shadow"  

Mat going to meet with Elayne.

Mat meeting up with Perrin.

The wolves dancing on Dragonmount in the wolf dream because the last hunt is coming - as opposed to the nothingness....

Nynaeve basically telling the Aes Sedai to stick it after her testing.

Lan's slowly building army. 

Rand's reunion with his Dad and introduction of Min. 

Rand telling various people that he's going to meet with all the leaders, then go break the remaining seals to the dark one's prison.

Rand pulling Bandar Eban back together, with just the force of good ta'vereness

Galad and Berelain.  Just funny.

Graendal being confirmed as Asmodean's killer, once and for all.  In the GLOSSARY.

Perrin schooling Egwene on Tel'aran'rhiod.  Priceless.  

The entire perrin/slayer battle taking place along side the BA attack along side Egwene taking on Mesaana along side Gawyn killing 3 unkillable assassins.

Worst moment (not in terms of writing, but in terms of emotional impact)

Aviendha's journery in Rhuidean.  Terrifying stuff.

Badly done things:

Verin's letter to Mat.  Anti-climactic and, really, not terribly believable.  Unless it had to be that way for an unknown reason, i suppose.  But in a series which has 3 characters bend chance to make things work out well (which is a great way to reduce the need for deus ex machina... since they do it all the time), it seems poorly done.

Much of Elayne's stuff. 

Really, though, a fine book.  Don't wanna wait a year for the last one...

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The Gathering Storm

Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series ran into a serious problem with the death of it's author two years ago.  Fortunately, someone was found to carry on the last book (which will actually be 3, making it a 14 book series), the first of which came out a few weeks ago.

I just finished it.

My reaction was that Brandon Sanderson did a good job of imitating Jordan's writing style, which is good.  More happened than in a lot of the books, which is good.

I thought it was well-written, the fate of an important minor character is shown (and her actions explained), Rand deals with a couple more Forsaken, more visions come to light, Egwene's battles in the White Tower come to a conclusion and, in general, people get ready for Tarmon Gai'don.   My big problem is that a major theme of the story comes to a kind of a fast resolution - it seemed a little forced, to me.   And, to be honest, I get a little sick of the Aes Sedai being unable to stop manipulating people.  Its kind of annoying.

Web Comics

Younger brother got me into webcomics and older brother has helped me along.

I've gotten to the point where I read a bunch of them regularly:

 

Something Positive
Order of the Stick
Girls with Slingshots
Punch & Pie
Questionable Content
xkcd

and some on occasion

Sluggy Freelance
Dork Tower
Penny and Aggie
GPF


I would be reading Queen of Wands, but it finished some years ago.

I'm wondering:  what percentage of webcomics have a non-human but quite anthromoporphized character who is generally played for laughs, often at his pretty much sociopathic tendencies?  S*P has a boneless cat, GWS has a talking Scottish/Mexican cactus, QC has a robot, OOTS has a halfling ranger, Sluggy Freelance has a socipathic bunny.  



 


Movie Reviews

I just took a trip to the west coast and, on said trip, saw 3 movies, 2 on the plane.

First was The Proposal, which was a Sandra Bullock romantic comedy where she plays a horrible editor who takes her assistant for granted and has to propose to him to stay in the country cause she's canadian and her visa is running out.  The INS guy is suspicious (wonder why) and so they fly off to the middle of nowhere Alaska where the assistant lives for his grandmother's 90th to announce his engagement.  You get the "city girl in the country" hilarity, you get the "trying to keep everyone from catching their lie" hilarity, a bit of wildlife stealing cellphones, the obligatory "accidental running into each other naked" scene, and of course, grandma is a bit of a whack-job (betty white keeps getting roles like this and she's good with them - in lake placid, she was absolutely demented), and then the serious stuff - assistant doesnt' get along with dad, who, btw, is rich - most of the businesses in town are their's and they live in a mansion, sandra and assisstant start sharing with each other, the family wants them to marry in the traditional family gown and jewelry.  it's all a lesson in lies and love and being a good person. 

It was a competant enough movie, I suppose.   I wish she'd start taking more serious roles - I think she could be a fabulous actress in really good movies, but she's in stuff like this.

The second plane movie was Last Chance Harvey, which is more of a dramatic comedy with romance - Dustin Hoffman is an aging jingle writer who thinks he's still relevant... his company is less convinced.  He's off to London to attend the wedding of his daughter.   I dunno - maybe he was an incredible jerk to her or something - she seems to love him and be happy to see him, but the crap she pulls on him (he's in a hotel and her mother and step-father and the entire wedding party is at a really nice hotel, he gets told the rehearsal dinner is white coat and it's not and, incredibly, she asks her STEP FATHER to give her away - she's kind of a bitch, to be honest).    The other part of this is Emma Thompson, a woman who works at Heathrow gathering statistics of some sort from passengers.  He blows her off when he gets off the plane, but runs into her on his way back, after blowing off the reception to get back to NY for a big sale, only to miss his plane and get fired when he calls in to rearrange things.  They spend the afternoon together and then go to the rest of the reception, getting there just in time for him to give the father toast (I'm not sure how this is possible, since he was at heathrow at 1 pm and he got there at 7 pm, but maybe wedding receptions last longer than I think)   

The acting was excellent - Hoffman and Thompson are tremendous and nearly pull it off, but the movie premise is just not well done. 

I guess that;s what they do with airplane movies -they find ones that aren't horrible (well, I saw one of the mighty ducks movies on a plane once, without sound, and I'm 90% sure I missed nothing), but also aren't anything great, just to make sure no one dislikes them.

The 3rd movie I saw was Inglourious Basterds, and THAT was a good movie.
Like most Tarantino movies, it defies easy description.  I will say that the trailers do not really describe the movie, only a part of it.   For one thing, they don't even show Christopher Waltz, who is the immoral centerpiece of the movie as the chilling SS Colonel Hans Landa.   It's one of the most over-the-top characters I've seen, up there with Captain Jack Sparrow, though not in a funny way.     It's a Tarantino movie, so lots of people die and there is a lot of blood.  And, like a lot of Tarantino movies, there isn't a particular plot, but rather multiple storylines that come together.    I won't try to describe it, but it is funny and violent and tense and you feel bad for characters and sad, and sorry for some of the bad guys.  And you never do quite get used to Brad Pitt's accent by the time you get to hear him trying to pass as Italian with it and it all gets ridiculous. 

I highly recommend it.    It's not Pulp Fiction and I'm not sure it's Reservoir Dogs.  It's not Kill Bill, but it may be better than the Kill Bill;s.  In any case, it's another fine movie by Quentin.  









Cyteen

I just read Cyteen, a Hugo winning sci-fi novel by C.J.Cherryh.  I've only read one other book by Cherryh, Downbelow Station (which I believe won a hugo, as well), and my reaction to Cyteen is much the same as what I remember my reaction to the other book was... i can't figure out if I like it or not. 

It's supposed to be one of the classics of sci fi, and I guess it is.    It's one of those books where you aren't really sure what's going on, partly because the character's generally don't know what's going on.    There's a long part of it about a child genius trying to make sense of the way that people react to her.   There's a lot about trying to figure who is doing what and who is lying. 

I guess it was good - I think part of the purpose was to make the reader uncomfortable, and it did that. 

I did read it through, though...