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”

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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”

Why All the Bad News About True Detective is Actually Good News

Like all television shows that appeal to the intellectual and the obsessive, True Detective has gathered itself a menagerie of obsessive fans, the sort that remind you that fan is derived from the word fanatic.  I’m not referring to the people who are excited for another season, or the ones who have watched the first season and liked it a lot, or even the ones who watched the first season two or three times already.  I’m referring to the wild ones, the ones who argue in internet forums, who watch for any hints at what the next season will be of their favorite thing, and then proceed to panic and criticize every piece of news they get.

These kinds of fans aren’t unique to True Detective.  They’re the same kinds of fans who lose their minds every time Game of Thrones deviates from its source material.  They’re the ones who are going crazy over Jared Leto’s Joker (based on one photograph), who went crazy over Heath Ledger’s Joker (before they had seen or heard anything), and who are still upset over the idea of Ben Affleck as Batman.

But, yes, the upcoming season of True Detective is at the receiving end of endless angst, concern, and advanced criticism from the same people who loved the first season.  And those obsessive fans are quite likely wrong about everything.   Continue reading “Why All the Bad News About True Detective is Actually Good News”

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”

Why I Hope Mance Rayder is Dead

Note: this assumes you have seen every episode of Game of Thrones, through Episode One of Season Five.  I do not assume that you have read the books, but this does contain spoilers for one plot point in Book Five, A Dance with Dragons. 

It is possible that we saw, in the season premiere, the first death of a major character in HBO’s Game of Thrones who is not yet dead in the books.  That man?  Mance Rayder, the King of the Wildlings, Wildest Man of them All, burned at the stake.

This guy.  The one who got burned up.  Remember?
This guy. The one who got burned up. Remember?

Continue reading “Why I Hope Mance Rayder is Dead”

Seven Good TV Shows I’m Happy I Quit Watching, and Why

This recent GQ article, “The Secret to Success is Saying ‘I Quit,'” made me feel better about the number of television shows that I have completely abandoned attempting to watch.  I decided to compile a list of these.  Now, I decided to only include television shows that are generally considered “good.”  I also chose to only include ones that have some kind of an overarching narrative, meaning that things like South Park and Family Guy don’t make the list.

1. The Office.  I loved this television show.  It might actually be the first show that I ever really liked.  But then it became the thing that you are holding onto some loyalty for and you don’t know why.   And then it just wouldn’t go away.  That person lingering at the party, telling the same jokes, hoping for the same laughs.

2. House of Cards.  I wrote an entire separate blog post about why I think this show is dumb, but I was still excited for Season Three.  Until I got two episodes into it and realized, you know what?  What’s the point of suffering through this?  I don’t care about these people.  I don’t like the storytelling techniques.  It’s not even that I want the characters in it to fail.  I just don’t care at all what happens.  Claire has a hearing to be an ambassador or something?  Don’t care.  Doug is in a hospital bed and might have amnesia?  Don’t care.  Frank is president and he killed a terrorist or something?  Don’t care.  Everyone is bisexual?  Well, that caught me off guard, but I still don’t care.

This quote is so far removed from the original line from the French novel it's quoting, that it has ceased to have any meaning.
This quote is so far removed from the original line from the French novel it’s quoting, that it has ceased to have any meaning.

Continue reading “Seven Good TV Shows I’m Happy I Quit Watching, and Why”

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”

The Snow Also Rises 2: Jon Snows of Kilimanjaro

Note: This is a follow-up to The Snow Also Rises, the previous post on this blog.  Read that before you read this.  

During a recent Q&A, one of the two producers of HBO’s Game of Thrones stated that they set out to make the television show with “no prophecies, dreams, or flashbacks.” It’s hard to believe they ever thought the first possible, considering that the books are ripe with prophecies.  Most amount to be false leads, red herrings, etc., but there are flashbacks throughout, most involving Daenarys and those she loves.

Most, if not all, of the prophecies in A Song of Ice and Fire are opaque, dishonest, or lead to dead ends.  But most readers still hold hope for things such as Jon Snow being either The Prince Who Was Promised or the reborn Azor Ahai.  Brian, a friend and reader of this blog, pointed out that, in addition to A Song of Ice and Fire losing literary merit if Jon Snow’s parentage is revealed, Jon’s own path to being a hero loses merit as well.  He should not have his lineage exposed, but, as Brian says, there should be “no known external source… that gave him his power.”

Jon’s path, his journey, his own path along the flat circle that is a monomyth, these things are only weakened if the story falls back into the classic (and cheap) narrative of what can only be properly called “magic hero king blood.”  Jon’s story is that of a bastard boy who rose to the top of the Night’s Watch, so far, and will achieve greater things in the future.  Only we as readers should know that he is achieving the fate he could have been born into.

Regardless of how things pan out, this is pretty cool.
Regardless of how things pan out, this is pretty cool.

Next, we have further musings on the analogue between Ned Stark and Jake Barnes. Continue reading “The Snow Also Rises 2: Jon Snows of Kilimanjaro”

The Snow Also Rises: Thoughts Regarding Ned Stark, Jon Snow, and Jake Barnes

 Note: The following contains “spoilers” for the novel A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.  Some of these spoilers are based on details that did not make it into the HBO television show (possible not yet, possibly not ever).  However, there are no spoilers for Martin’s subsequent novels in his A Song of Ice and Fire series.  There is also a lot of information about The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, but that book came out a long time ago.  

If you are not familiar with The Sun Also Rises, the narrator is Jake Barnes, an impotent American expatriate living in Paris in the 1920s.  Jake Barnes is, for our purposes, both the Ned Stark and Jon Snow of his story.  Like Ned Stark, he holds unfortunate secrets, and like Jon Snow, he is held back by forces beyond his power.

What Hemingway does in TSAR is something that Martin does in A Game of Thrones: he gives us unclear inner monologues, in which a truth is hinted but not revealed.  In TSAR, we get it was a rotten way to be wounded and a flashback scene in which a commanding officer assures Jake that he gave more than his life, but without ever specifying what exactly it was that he gave.  As the novel goes on, and if you read the Wikipedia page or discuss it in class (or, sometimes, if you just read the back cover), you realize that Jake suffered a wound that resulted in impotence.  The details are unclear.  Is he a eunuch?  Is he simply impotent?  What exactly happened?  This stuff is never explained, but there is one thing everyone can agree on: there is no other explanation for the novel, and a bunch of those scenes, other than Jake not being at 100% as far as his genitalia is concerned.  But that Hemingway decided to just allude to this as heavily as possible without every actually saying it.

One of many cover's for this important novel.
One of many covers for this important novel.

In AGOT, we watch Ned fever-dream about his sister dying in “a bed of blood and roses” while not explaining how she died, why, or, really, anything, other than that she repeatedly said promise me, Ned, on her way out. Continue reading “The Snow Also Rises: Thoughts Regarding Ned Stark, Jon Snow, and Jake Barnes”