Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I'm dreading the eclipse but I'm still going to try and watch it.

I've decided that I'm heading to the zone of totality for the eclipse that's scheduled to pass over the United States on Monday, August 21st. So I'll be pausing my blog until Wednesday of next week. You may wonder why this wasn't a "set" thing, and it's because I've been dreading the eclipse the more and more I hear about it. Driving there is going to be a real conundrum.

My hometown is in the zone of totality, but it's a town of only 50,000 people. And they are expecting half a million to try and drive from Salt Lake City to Idaho Falls this weekend. The local news has been saying that porta potties are going to be available on interstate 15 for the first time in history. Why? Because apparently the traffic jam is going to make Los Angeles traffic look heavenly in comparison. Reports are saying that people may run out of gas on the interstate (idling) as it were and that you should take food and extra gas tanks just in case. The trip to I.F. normally takes about three and a half hours. They are saying on the news to prepare (just in case) for something that takes twice as long.

Additionally, in my home town, the grocery stores sold out of food. Milk, groceries, bananas, you name it... Crowds hit the grocery store hard on Monday in a panic. Lines went around the block at every food outlet and gas station. All because of a solar eclipse and people questioning whether or not they will be able to get supplies.

This may be one of the worst decisions I've ever made. But I'd like to see the eclipse, and I already have glasses for it. I want to see the sun's corona live. I think it will leave me with a sense of awe. I hope it doesn't cloud out. If the weatherman says it will be obscured by cloud cover, I'm going to stay home. I bet there's a lot of pressure on the local weather people here to get the forecast for Monday just right.

Anyway, to anyone else out there that's trying to make the trip, I wish you good luck. See you on the far side of the shadow.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Five assorted musings regarding the Eastwatch episode of Game of Thrones

"Eastwatch" as envisioned by Ted Nasmith. It actually looked a lot like this in the episode last night.
This week's episode of Game of Thrones seems to have set up a pretty strong White Walker episode. And for what it's worth, it was a good episode in its own right. Here are my assorted musings that I took away from the episode (and feel like pointing out):

1) I thought for sure that Jaime Lannister had his goose cooked and drowned last week when he fell into that lake. How Bron saved him other than it being "plot armor" is beyond me. But I suppose that Bron has proven himself time and time again to be an incredibly valuable resource to the Lannisters. For what it's worth, I think that the showrunner of Game of Thrones understands George R.R. Martin very well. George typically cliffhangs something in the books, making you think that something important has happened (Arya being blind for instance). And then when the tale resumes, it's just a minor thing and resolved within a couple of minutes.

2) I was pleased to see that Drogon didn't die from a poisoned harpoon. I'm also not really sure why Tyrion and Varys are making such a big deal of Daenerys burning her enemies when they clearly chose that fate as opposed to bending the knee. I would have bent the knee immediately, but then again, I would find little honor in allowing myself to be burned alive by dragonfire. There's bravery and then there's just plain stupidity. I did like how Dickon stood with his father though. They held hands at the end. That was a nice touch.

3) I'm not sure what Jon Snow hopes to accomplish with his little band that are headed north of the wall to capture a wight and bring it down to a meeting between the queens. They may find that the magic that animates the wights doesn't work over a great distance from the Night King. I think that someone should have at least mentioned that possibility...that it might have some kind of range they don't know about. Also, it's strange that the maesters at the Citadel still have such a hard time swallowing Samwell's tale about the Night King and the army of the dead. Are learned men really that skeptical in a world where dragons are real?

4) Cersei has nothing to win by helping out Jon Snow to take on the Night King. I'm not sure why even trying to convince her that an invasion of walking dead men is real is even a strategy. If she admits that it's real, then she loses any support of locals in Westeros who will march north to fight the army of the dead with Daenerys. How does that at all solidify her position? It doesn't. It only weakens it, which means that even having a meeting with her is at best a waste of time and at worst, incredibly dangerous.

5) Littlefinger knows Arya is following him and manipulated her into finding that raven message. My guess is that it's from season one, when Sansa was forced to write to Robb to try and get him to bend the knee to King Joffrey. Splitting up Sansa and Arya (sowing doubt between them) is in Littlefinger's best interest as together, they are too strong for him.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Do you have any assorted musings you'd like to share in the comments below?

Friday, August 11, 2017

I shouldn't have to pay to see the new Star Trek series airing this fall and yes this is a rant.

I just want to say once and for all that cord cutters, greed, and the twisted idea that monopolies are somehow inherently bad are (in the very near future) going to nickel and dime the middle class to death. A man (or a woman) should be able to subscribe to cable and get all the channels. It should be easy. That's it. Done. One bill. Yes, all monopolies are not bad people. Sometimes monopolies can get things done efficiently and with government regulation, can make it so that they aren't too powerful.

But in this country of "greed is good" where everyone is punching each other's lights out to fleece the middle class, I am now faced with the following dilemma:

1) I need to subscribe to cable so that I can watch episodes of The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Legion, Better Call Saul, Shameless, and American Gods live (as they air).

2) I need to maintain an Amazon subscription so that I can watch shows like "The Man in the High Castle."

3) I need to maintain a Hulu subscription so that I can watch shows like "The Handmaid's Tale."

4) I need to maintain a Netflix subscription so that I can watch shows like "Luke Cage" and "Jessica Jones" and "The Defenders."

5) I will need to maintain a CBS All Access subscription in order to watch "Star Trek: Discovery" this fall. This is complete bullshit by the way. I should be able to get this from CBS for free.

6) I will need to maintain a Disney subscription because they just announced that they are going to have their own streaming service and are pulling all of their stuff off Netflix. Why the hell not? Everyone else is making money with their streaming service, I'm surprised it took Disney this long. So I guess for any new Star Wars series or Indiana Jones thing or Pixar or just plain old Disney movies, I'll need to have a streaming service for it.

Sigh.

Everything (AND I MEAN EVERYTHING) is going to this model of pay as you go. The problem is, this will keep you on a treadmill forever. You will never get ahead with pay as you go. Ever.

/End Rant

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Here are two burning questions I have about the Spoils of War episode of Game of Thrones

This last Sunday, the fourth episode of Game of Thrones' penultimate season aired called "The Spoils of War." As episodes go, it was a really good one with (spoiler alert) a battle that "set the Guinness Book of World Records" for most people set on fire at once. The last twenty minutes or so of the episode are thoroughly entertaining. But having watched those last twenty minutes over again, I have some questions (or maybe it would be better to say "observations" that are certainly open-ended and just waiting for some answers). So, I'll share them with you:

1) Why is the harpoon chucker that got Drogon in the shoulder called a "scorpion?" A scorpion has a poisoned tail as most people know. Was the ballista harpoon poisoned with one of Qyburn's deadly cocktails? He's already demonstrated quite the skill at manipulating and recreating poisons. I can't believe that the whole parade in front of the Dornish queen in the dungeons of King's Landing was simply to showboat how Cersei intended to kill one of the Sand snakes. So, are we about to see Drogon sicken and then die? I would hate that, but she does have two more dragons, and I suppose there's an irony to being wounded in the shoulder and then dying the same as his namesake, Khal Drogo.

2) Why did Arya end up with the Valyrian steel dagger? If she was going to kill more people, she hardly needs a Valyrian steel dagger to do that. Just about any dagger will do. The thing about Valyrian steel is that it's useful against White Walkers. Guys...I think this detail in the show is important. I think we've just seem some foreshadowing that Arya is going to kill the Night King and most likely take his place as the leader of the White Walkers--a "Night Queen" as it were. What do you think?

Anyway, those are my two questions/observations I had regarding the episode. I'll be interested to see what those of you (who watched it and care to respond) have to say. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Comic artist George Rottkamp gives us a snarky look at how the characters in Game of Thrones have changed in seven seasons.

Game of Thrones season 7 is on the downhill slide to its finale now. My friend, Meg Dolan, sent me a group of comics drawn for Dorkly by artist George Rottkamp. They feature everybody from Jaime Lannister and Jon Snow to Daenerys Targaryen, and if you're a fan of the show, then you'll probably smile. It's odd to see just how the characters have changed in seven seasons, especially when taken in this kind of context.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Dark Tower was an excellent popcorn flick. Just keep your expectations in check when you watch it.

Last night, best friend Brad Habegger and myself decided to take a portal to mid-land in search of The Dark Tower. We both had low expectations. While at dinner, we talked over how Stephen King's movies (with a few rare exceptions) are pretty terrible. We also knew that The Dark Tower was getting panned by critics because (for the most part) people were expecting a direct adaptation of the books, and the director chose to tell the story from the point of view of Jake Chambers (which isn't how it is in the books). In adapting the story to film, they chose Jake because they felt he would be more relatable to an audience (having come from Earth). And inevitably, this decision ended up angering a bunch of die-hard fans. Both Brad and I were fans of the books (he's more of a die-hard one, and I merely think they are "good" reads), but we were both pleasantly surprised. Brad even said it was "excellent," which I definitely agree with. Maybe the key here was that we went in with such low expectations there was only one way to go (and that was up). Anyway, in my viewing of the movie, it may help you to appreciate it more if I point out some obvious "Easter Eggs" which end up serving as connections to Stephen King's other works:

1) There are the remains of Pennywise's Carnival in mid-world. Pennywise is the clown from IT, which has a movie adaptation coming out in September.

2) There is a framed photo of the "Overlook Hotel" that can be glimpsed inside Jake's psychiatrist's office. The Overlook Hotel was featured prominently in Stanley Kubrik's adaptation of The Shining, which Stephen King apparently hated. Honestly, I don't think Stephen King knows what he's talking about when it comes to film adaptations of his stories. He should just stick to writing.

3) Walter O'Dim/Walter Paddick/Randall Flagg (the man in black) has a group of psychic-powered kids working on his behalf. If you remember from The Shining, the kid, Danny, had "The Shine." This term is used explicitly in this manner to draw a connection to Stanley Kubrik's film.

4) There's a shot of Roland approaching a doorway covered with a poster that was also seen in The Shawshank Redemption, which is a good film by the way. Andy Dufresne used it to cover his escape route out of the prison.

5) There's a non-rabid Cujo in the film (a huge Saint Bernard) in a shot of a street in New York City.

6) There's a tiny model car that gets pushed around that's a dead ringer for the car in Christine.

And here's an additional fact that may help you to understand what's going on in the film if you choose to go and see it:

1) Who is the Crimson King? Though you never see him, the Crimson King is the guy for whom Walter works. He is the primary antagonist of King's eight-volume Dark Tower series and the archetypical embodiment of evil. His father was King Arthur, which essentially makes him a half uncle of Roland (the Gunslinger).

Overall, I'd advise you to lower your expectations for the film, and then it will be enjoyable for you. It's a fantasy that has a lot of fun with itself, borrowing heavily from all the books except for Wizard and Glass. In particular, The Wastelands plays prominently in this adaptation. So having enjoyed the film, I guess I'm now in "wait and see" mode, wondering just own on earth they are going to make a television series for it this fall (based on the movie). I mean, the movie did have a pretty complete story arc. I guess we'll all see when it happens.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The IWSG post for August 2017 is all about the pet peeves.

It's Insecure Writer's Support Group time again. If you want to know more about this blog fest started by sci-fi author, Alex Cavanaugh, go HERE.

Here is the August 2nd Question: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

1) In reading, it's just having to read something that isn't interesting to me. And I'm not even sure if I can tell you what is interesting and what isn't. There's more (or less) a feeling that comes over me that "this is going to be good." If I don't get that feeling, I usually read to about page 75 or 100 to try and see if it develops. When it doesn't, I feel like I've wasted my time. So yeah, that's my pet peeve with reading.

2) In writing, my pet peeve is forgetting details about characters and plot. I should have a better memory. But then again, I forget how to spell words that I swore to myself (when I was in high school) that I'd never get wrong. Growing older is like having micro insults sneak up and pepper your ego by taking away small things that you used to take for granted. Over time, I'm sure they all add up to one big thing (but thankfully that's still a few decades down the road).

3) In editing, my pet peeve is getting bored with my own writing. At this stage, I've probably gone over the same words a dozen times, but I know that there's still more I can do. The tedium sets in and then I start looking for distractions. Eventually, I get the job done, but not without thorough procrastination. It's definitely a pet peeve. I applaud you writers who have the discipline of a Shao Lin monk. You are amazing, and you definitely deserve all the buckets of money that you make at your career.

Thanks for coming by, and I hope you liked my list of pet peeves :).