Let Them Eat Freedom Fries, and Ten Other Headlines to Anticipate in 2017

It’s early December, which means two things: time to start recapping 2016 and predicting 2017.

While not as exhaustive as The Economist’s The World in 2017 or as doomsday-esque as some other lists that I won’t link to, this is my list of the headlines and stories I expect in the coming year.

Netflix Starts Original News Programming

I don’t watch Netflix original programming much. I think it is the most lowbrow of available television services, churning out binge-friendly quantity over quality that peddles in nostalgia as Buzzfeed peddles in cuteness. There are exceptions, of course, but the majority of their content is just good enough to keep you watching and just bad enough to end every episode with a cliffhanger.

stranger-things
Obviously, there are exceptions. I loved this show.

That said, there is something I do like about Netflix: it’s a great equalizer. Republicans watch Fox News and Democrats watch MSNBC; young people watch Vice and old people watch 60 Minutes; everyone watches Netflix. You don’t need cable, money, or a confirmation bias. You just need a couple dollars a month and a desire for something to watch.

Which is why it’s time for them to start serving as a news source, and I think 2017 is the year we will see it. It’s not like it would be considered an untrustworthy news source: people are currently getting their news from spam websites shared by strangers on social media. If anything, Netflix becoming a news network could actually bring some reality back to the post-truth America.

Glenn Beck and Jon Stewart to Collaborate

This one was once unthinkable, but now I think it’s months away from happening. Both Stewart and Beck seem to be on introspective vision quests, two of the only American public figures seeking truths beyond the party line.  Continue reading “Let Them Eat Freedom Fries, and Ten Other Headlines to Anticipate in 2017”

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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”

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?”

Six Months of Search Terms: Wolverine, His Beard, and The Strange Searches That Lead People Here

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post called The Maramduke Fart Paradox, in which I discussed the strange search engine terms that lead people to this website. Among them was “keanu reeves girlfriend 2011,” “mob bosses with sunglasses,” and a wide variety of questions about the ’90s film Blank Check.

Well, the search terms have never stopped being strange. Here are some of the more interesting ones that have lead people to this site.  Presumably some of them left satisfied, some left immediately, and others left far more confused than they were before they visited.

I’ve also decided to do this in the form of a top ten list, because everyone likes top ten lists. But with 14 because I couldn’t narrow it down to 10.

14. skyfall proof that james bond isnt a codename

Whoever ended up here was certainly disappointed, as I consider Skyfall to be proof that James is definitely a codename. Other 007-specific search terms include james bond is a codename, james bond fight, james bond theory, and is james bonds codename 007? (The answer to the last one is undebatebly yes.)

13. matthew mcconaughey as jake in the sun also rises

Wow.  That’s a really cool idea. Not sure if it would work, but yeah, cool idea.

The lone star also rises.
The lone star also rises.

Continue reading “Six Months of Search Terms: Wolverine, His Beard, and The Strange Searches That Lead People Here”

Dead Men of Westeros and The Stringer Bell Paradox

Note: The following contains aggressive spoilers for both the first three seasons of The Wire, and for the five existing seasons of Game of Thrones.

You remember when Omar Little and Brother Mouzone teamed up to take down Stringer Bell.  For each of them, it was an act of retribution.  Stringer had first murdered Omar’s boyfriend Brandon in Season One, and had, in Season Two, manipulated Omar into attempting to murder Brother Mouzone.  They eventually teamed up and killed him, quickly but violently, during the penultimate episode of the third season.

Just as important as their quest to kill him was Stringer’s quest to become a new man.  This included community college courses, reading Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, buying property, bribing congressmen, and ultimately informing on his best friend and business partner, Avon Barksdale.  He was on a path toward redemption, or at least toward his own vision of it.  And just as he found himself on the cusp of success, his past caught up with him, in the form of a shotgun and a bowtie.

Stringer is, without a doubt, one of the greatest characters on The Wire.  He’s arguably one of the greatest characters in television’s history.  The only solace that one could take seeing him gunned down was “at least it was Omar who killed him.”  Which has lead me to create what I refer to as The Stinger Bell Paradox (SBP), which is when one of your favorite characters kills another of your favorites. Continue reading “Dead Men of Westeros and The Stringer Bell Paradox”

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”