Some Thoughts and Observations That Won’t Appear in My Next Blog Post

Sometimes, I don’t want to dedicate a full blog post to an idea, but I still want to share the idea.

Is 2016 the Year of the Feral Child?

First, a fun and simple Jungle Book, which served as both a new adaptation of Kipling and a remake of the classic Disney cartoon. Then, a new Tarzan film. Soon, a remake of Pete’s Dragon, in which apparently Pete is a feral child raised by a dragon. Oh, also, Stranger Things and Eleven, its take on the feral ’80s child.

petes-dragon-movie-disney-2016

Why all these narratives suddenly? And does it mean that we will get even more in the coming years? Perhaps a reboot of George of the Jungle? Perhaps a biopic of Victor of Aveyron? Or will we see feral children shoehorned into other narratives, like the Justice League or the Marvel films?

It was hard to tell the difference between the RNC and The Purge: Election Year

The Purge movies aren’t perfect, but they’re a sloppy and disturbing look at what America could become. Violence across the country, burning effigies, mask-wearing killers. Continue reading “Some Thoughts and Observations That Won’t Appear in My Next Blog Post”

Advertisements

Is There a Connection Between Bran Stark and “Uncle John’s Band”?

In a previous blog post, I investigated the possibility that George R.R. Martin took inspiration for Arya Stark’s storyline from the song “Dire Wolf,” by the Grateful Dead. I’m far from the first person to make connections between Martin’s words and the Dead’s lyrics, as this has been a topic of speculation and deduction for years.

But there is one song that I have never seen discussed, despite it having some very Westerosi imagery: “Uncle John’s Band,” the first track on the 1970 album Workingman’s Dead. 

workingman

Now, unlike my theory that Arya’s story is directly lifted from the song “Dire Wolf,” this theory is slightly more half-baked, but not for lack of trying. “Uncle John’s Band” is a beautiful, lyrical song, simple in sound but complex with metaphor and references. As described by David Dodd in the “Greatest Stories Ever Told” series on dead.net, the song “carries within it enough room to consider the universe and our lives in the universe — it seems to be a universe itself.” Continue reading “Is There a Connection Between Bran Stark and “Uncle John’s Band”?”

Did a Grateful Dead Song Inspire Arya Stark and Her Story?

It’s no secret that the Grateful Dead’s music has influenced George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books. He first acknowledged it during a 2014 interview with 927 Plus, including directly admitting that the spiritual Weirwoods in the world of Westeros are named after Bobby Weir.

A number of listicles, various reddit threads, and blog posts have been written about connections between Martin’s books and the Dead’s songs, including the Weirwoods, The Mountains of the Moon, and Gerold “Darkstar” Dayne.

martin
It’s not hard to believe this guy is a Grateful Dead fan.

And of course, the wolf. Yes, the Grateful Dead has a song called “Dire Wolf,” the same beast that serves as the Stark sigil. We know that connection. But is this where the connection ends? Or is there something more linking the Grateful Dead song and the Starks of Winterfell?

“Please Don’t Murder Me”

Listening to the song “Dire Wolf” while contemplating the Stark family, the lyrics initially don’t seem very relevant to Ned Stark and his offspring. While the setting seems Winterfell-esque—the winter was so hard and cold, froze ten feet neath the ground—it’s hard to view the Starks as resembling the wolves of the song, as the song consists of the narrator repeatedly pleading “don’t murder me” to the dire wolf.

dead
“Dire Wolf” is the third song on this album. 

Murder is not a crime committed by the honorable Starks. They execute. They kill in war. But they do not murder. Ned, Robb, and Jon Snow each execute criminals and kill enemies in battle.  Rickon, Bran, and Sansa never kill at all (at least, not yet).

And then there is Arya.

arya-stark
Arya Stark, as portrayed by Maisie Williams in HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Continue reading “Did a Grateful Dead Song Inspire Arya Stark and Her Story?”

Is Bernie Sanders the Ned Stark of the 2016 Election?

In a post published on this blog earlier today, I discussed why I “stopped feeling the Bern,” i.e. why Bernie Sanders is a troubling, disappointed candidate, in my opinion. This is a follow-up, companion to that article.

As I pondered Senator Bernard “Bernie” Sanders, he began to remind me of another disappointing character: Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark of Game of Thrones. Let’s look at how these two resemble one another.

This guy
This guy

Idealism

It’s what draws you to Sanders. This idea that he is speaking for noble truths that others will not. The idea that he’s above the politicking, the games, the money. That he cannot be bought. That he has honor.

Ned and his sword, Ice.
Ned and his sword, Ice.

Ned Stark has that same sense of honor. But what one has to ask is, is this honor or is this delusion? Is he a good example, or is he an example of misplaced self-importance, of smug piety?

Irrelevance

When one looks closely at Bernie Sanders, some of his arguments that seem so persuasive out of his mouth begin to weaken. He’s an isolationist, and has some bizarre history with guns, including odd, questionable statements very recently. Bernie believes that violent television is to blame for mass shootings; Ned believes that children should watch beheadings, and that all beheadings should be performed by the lord who passed the sentence.

He won’t win.

Cersei Lannister is one of the many people who try to get real with Ned Stark, telling him “when you play the Game of Thrones, you either win or you die.” In Ned’s case, he dies.

"I've made a huge mistake."
“I’ve made a huge mistake.”

This isn’t to say that Bernie’s run will have a fatal end. But he certainly won’t win. It’s a winless war, being waged by a naive man living to his own sense of honor, fighting for ideals from ages past.

He’s a hero…

It’s worth noting that Ned Stark is a man worth admiring. Bernie Sanders is too. But neither belongs on the throne.

This guy.
This guy.

The question is whether Bernie can inspire a generation of politicians and citizens and leaders with more honor, through his gestures and efforts. In his failure, Ned inspired people to do better. Perhaps Bernie will do the same.

Is Jeb Bush Becoming the Stannis Baratheon of the 2016 Election?

You should avoid reading this unless you’ve seen seasons one through five of Game of Thrones

It’s obvious. I know. It’s cheap and easy. It’s the cheapest joke this blog has ever made. It’s so obvious that when you google “Jeb Bush Stannis Baratheon,” the first thing you see are articles like this and this and this and each of them even apologize for how cheap and obvious this joke is.

Jeb definitely has a better hair line.
Jeb definitely has a better hair line.

But here’s the thing: Jeb Bush is becoming Stannis Baratheon, and it’s looking to be painfully accurate. In two distinct ways.

Continue reading “Is Jeb Bush Becoming the Stannis Baratheon of the 2016 Election?”

Can the Sand Snakes be Saved?

In a previous post, I published a dialogue between a relative and me, regarding Dorne and the wild Sand Snakes.  We asked a number of questions, the main one being whether there is anyway that the Sand Snakes can be compelling on the show, or if they are doomed to begin with.

After last night’s episode, I’m afraid the answer is no.  No, the Sand Snakes cannot and will not be a compelling storyline.

Saddest of all, I was very excited about the idea of Jaime and Bronn going on a trip to Dorne.  I thought it made for better story than the plodding tedium that made up the Dorne storyline in the novels.

Disappointing use of this great character in the last episode.
Disappointing use of this great character in the last episode.

Is there still hope?  Perhaps.  I think the way that this story can be corrected is via Prince Doran and his tough enforcer.

But it’s hard to say how disappointed I am by the scene.  If you don’t get why I didn’t like it, my reason is basically that a) apparently Jaime had no plan other than “let’s wear disguises and tell her to leave, and b) the Sand Snakes coincidentally attempted their cheesy assassination at the exact moment that Bronn and Jaime snuck in, in their disguises?

Let’s see if Prince Doran can get things back on track.  But for now, I’m not too thrilled with this storyline.  Just like in the books.  At least we haven’t had hours dedicated to one character (who isn’t in the show… yet?) just so his story can end with “and then a dragon ate him.”

Brief Interviews of Ice and Fire: The Sand Snake Seven

The following is a conversation regarding both the A Song of Ice and Fire books and the Game of Thrones television show.  It contains spoilers for the five ASOIAF books and the show through Season Five, Episode Four.

DF: Did you watch last night?

TEB:  I did.  It felt like it was just a murder montage.

DF: Bronn and Jaime were fun

TEB: They were.  And I’m totally fine with the book and show being different.  They are separate in my mind.  And maybe there is no way to make the Sand Snakes not suck, but do they have to suck that much?

DF: I’ve always considered the sand snakes to be the worst plotline in the novels.

TEB: It was just: “Here we are.   In our desert tent.  With, uh, a carpet.  And no shovels.  But we buried this guy up to his head.  And apparently we don’t need food or anything?  Do we live here?  How did our step-mother find us?”

Welcome to our torture interrogation tent.
Welcome to our torture interrogation tent.

DF: In the books, they’re nonsense.  They watered them down for the show, but they’re still nonsense. Continue reading “Brief Interviews of Ice and Fire: The Sand Snake Seven”

Slouching Towards Westeros: Why I Hope Daenerys Dies in Season Five (And Who Should Kill Her)

Note: this blog post is written assuming that you have seen Seasons One through Four of Game of Thrones.  If you have not read the books, I avoid any significant spoilers.

We all know that people die unexpectedly in Game of Thrones, and we all know that no one is safe.  Not protagonists, not women, not children.  Especially not Starks or their friends.

And it is also no secret that, in Season Five, we are going to see people start to die who have not died in the books.  I previously wrote about this, and how excited I am about it, in Why All the Bad News About Game of Thrones is Actually Good News.  The storylines in GOT have become crowded, muddled, confusing.  Too many aspiring royals with too many backstabbing sycophants in too many locations.

But there is one character that I hope dies this season, and that character is Daenerys Targaryen, aka Khaleesi, aka Mother of Dragons, aka Mrs. Khal Drogo, aka etc.

Her.
Her.

Why?  First of all, I think her story has been pretty boring since Season One, during which her story was the best part of the show.  The relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Drogo is one for the ages, especially the part where she eats a horse heart.  Plus there’s the phenomenal ending scene with the fire, the screaming witch and the dragon babies. Continue reading “Slouching Towards Westeros: Why I Hope Daenerys Dies in Season Five (And Who Should Kill Her)”

Why All the Bad News About Game of Thrones is Actually Good News

Before you read: I assume you have seen the first four seasons of Game of Thrones, but have not necessarily read the books.  I have carefully written this to not give anything major away about upcoming plotlines that may or may not be in the show.  (But note: book readers, this is written for you as well.  I just tried to keep it vague enough for the non-readers.)

There has been a lot of negative hype recently about this upcoming fifth season of Game of Thrones.  The main theme of the hype is that the show and the books are diverging dramatically, that the show will “spoil” the books, that a major character who does not die in the books will die in the show, etc.

But here’s the thing: all of this is actually good news.

And here are the reasons why:

1. The fourth and fifth books of A Song of Ice and Fire are not as good as the first three books.  If you aren’t aware, the show has thus been adapted with Book One (A Game of Thrones) inspiring Season One, Book Two (A Clash of Kings) inspiring Season Two, and Book Three (A Storm of Swords) inspiring Seasons Three and Four.  The confusing thing is that Books Four and Five are actually parallel storylines, because Martin’s story and characters got so bloated, epic, and unfocused that he had to say “I’m not even including Jon Snow, Tyrion, or Daenerys in Book Four.”

Sure, I couldn't put this book down, but it's definitely my fifth favorite of the five books.
Sure, I couldn’t put this book down, but it’s definitely my fifth favorite of the five books.

Everyone agrees that A Feast for Crows is, without a doubt, the worst book in the series.  He introduces many new storylines, settings, and characters, while ignoring established ones, but, more importantly, these new storylines are not as compelling as the established ones. In A Dance with Dragons, he returns to many of those characters, but it basically feels like he is not very focused and that no one helped him edit any of it. Yes, some amazing things happen, and a lot of it is beautiful, poetic writing, but there are also other parts that are basically just kinda boring, and lots of other parts where you just aren’t sure what is going on.

2. There is a 150-page section of A Feast for Crows dedicated to pirates electing a new Pirate King, and it will not be in Season Five.  The worst portion of the ASOIAF storyline is, almost indisputably in my opinion, the half dozen chapters in which the Greyjoys (Theon’s sister and four uncles) all decide to have something called a “kingsmoot,” during which they figure out who will be the new King of the Iron Islands, i.e. the new Pirate King.  It’s long, boring, confusing, and becomes predictable about halfway through.  How we know that we won’t have to suffer through this endless kingsmooting in Season Five?  Because not a single new Greyjoy has been cast, and we should all be very thankful for that. Continue reading “Why All the Bad News About Game of Thrones is Actually Good News”

Made Fun Of, For Liking Superheroes…

Yes, this blog post has an unusual title.

That’s because this blog post has unusual content, especially for this blog.

Captain America.  Not a real person, but not someone you should get mocked for admiring.
Captain America. Not a real person, but not someone you should get mocked for admiring.

I often use this blog in critical or cynical ways.  Mocking things like Ocean’s Eleven, Fast and/or Furious films, House of Cards, etc.  I call things dumb or bad.  The specific article that I previously wrote about this was “Guys, Let’s Take it Easy on the Superhero Shaming Concept.”  And I still do agree with my concept in that, which is we should be careful about creating buzzphrases like “superhero shaming” and that the director of Guardians of the Galaxy probably isn’t really getting “shamed,” whether he wins an Oscar or not.

But I recently saw, when reading through the search terms that have lead people to this blog, that someone stumbled across it as the result of searching “made fun of for liking superheroes.”   Because of the possibility that someone might end up on this site as a result of searching for help after getting made fun of for liking superheroes, I felt obligated to write a blog post to assist the next person who might end up here for that reason. Continue reading “Made Fun Of, For Liking Superheroes…”