The Restaurants This Critic Returned to on Her Own Time and Dime in 2014
Oh, good. I was getting a little worried there. Three episodes in, and Game of Thrones was doing a whole lot of setup and not a lot of head-whacking. Last night, though, that changed.
This episode knocked down all the dominoes that the first three set up, and the result was wonderful. Blood, death, torture, and incineration abounded. Intrigue was, well, intrigued, barbs were exchanged, and, just like they say in the show, some people won and some people died.
Yeah, we'll get to the ending.
Game of Thrones was pretty genre-bendy last night, with elements of comedy, horror, and horror comedy. Skin was bared. Bread products were given. A very important body part was removed. Then, out of nowhere THAT SONG. Oh god, that song.
Spoilers after the jump.
Last night's Game of Thrones was a road movie. Robb set out for Riverrun, Breanne and Jaime stomped through the wilderness, Arya and Gendry met some forest guys, Jon and Sam walked through snow to somewhere, and Bran is having weird dreams while being wagon-ed about by Hodor. Road movies, though, aren't about the destination (you know that already, though) they're about the journey, man. Last night it looked like everyone learned a thing or two. About the world around them, about their traveling companions, and about themselves. Yeah.
Spoilers after the jump.
Before any board game, you have to set up the pieces. Maybe you’re arranging army tokens all over a Risk board or distributing resources all over a Settlers of Catan map, but inherent in that setup phase is suspense and conjecture. You’re trying to guess, from the setup, what the players are going to do and where the pieces are going to move. You’re looking for points of potential conflict and areas of difficulty. Maybe in this game of Risk everyone will be fighting over Africa. Perhaps in this go of Catan the players will all be squabbling over sheep. You don’t know yet- but you’re squinting at the board and trying to make a guess.
That was last night’s episode of Game of Thrones- chessmen were lined up, points of conflict were defined, and all the players were staring at the board, wondering where this was all going to go. It wasn’t exactly filled with blood and battles, but as setups go, it did the job.
Spoilers after the jump.
The third season of Game of Thrones starts on Sunday night, which means you've got just enough time to burn through season two once more—or, fine, for the first time, if, for whatever stupid reason, you haven't yet done so. The best way to do that? The impressive Blu-ray set, which, like the first season's, is a remarkable package. Few shows are as well-suited for in-depth obsessing-over as Game of Thrones, and these Blu-rays not only help you do that, they pretty much demand it.
I'll try to remain spoiler free below, but if you're nervous all the same, here's the short version: Unlike about 99 percent of Blu-rays, these are an excellent investment. If you like the show, you should get them; if you haven't started watching it yet, well, these are the way to start.
I would watch this.
I mean, don't get me wrong: I'd rather have an ad that shows actual footage, possibly with the tagline "SEASON THREE IS GONNA BE INSAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNE UP IN WESTEROS," but apparently HBO feels otherwise. Fine, whatever, HBO. This will suffice, I guess. FOR NOW.
Eh. It's a shorter wait than it is until the next book, at least. Via io9.
Holy christ Game of Thrones STILL ISN'T BACK ON because they're apparently taking as long to make the TV show as George R.R. Martin takes to write each book, which is to say 24 billion years. But here's something you can buy me in order to keep me from being miserable company until 2047, when season three starts! Inside HBO's Game of Thrones comes out next month and will feature "Hundreds of set photos, production and costume designs, storyboards, and insider stories" and is "bound in a lavishly debossed padded cover"—meaning I can use it as a pillow so that I'll dream about Ygritte every night! Haha, just kidding, that'd be weird. I already dream about Ygritte every night.
Via Not a Blog, also known as "That LiveJournal Where George R.R. Martin Posts Animated .gifs of Little Aliens In Order to Describe His Moods."
1) I'd hoped to do a full, thorough review of the Game of Thrones videogame that came out a few weeks ago; the game's release was timed perfectly with the ending of the show's second season, and since the Great Bearded Glacier's next book is probably a couple of decades away—
—I'd assumed a lengthy, sleep-depriving visit to Westeros via my Xbox would be a foregone conclusion. However:
2) The Game of Thrones videogame is remarkably mediocre; after having it for several weeks, I still haven't managed to force myself to play much of it. It's a chore, and while I might be a Thrones junkie, I'd like to think even junkies have their limits.
3) Okay, maybe that's a bit harsh. The game isn't terrible, and once you get past its dated graphics, bland quests, clunky combat, and bare-bones presentation—the game frequently looks like it's from the last console generation, not this one, and there's a severe lack of polish to the interface and menus, where you have to spend a lot of time—there are some good ideas here. For example: When you pick your abilities, you also have to pick a set of weaknesses. (I picked a collapsed lung! Because I had one of those once! IT'S LIKE I'M LIVING THE GAME) Or: George R.R. Martin helped out on story. Or: You can tell that the developers at Cyanide dig the books' universe; the graphics might not be much, but the style and the color palette do a solid job of matching what Westeros should feel like.
4) Well, what the books' version of Westeros should feel like, anyway; while there are some elements here from the HBO show—the theme song, a few of the actors, but not any of the ones you care about—most of them feel like they were tacked on at the last-minute. Cyanide reportedly worked on this game for seven years, which maybe explains why it feels so dated; it also might explain why the newer, HBO-approved elements stand out like Varys at a whorehouse.
It can be sent directly to me at the Mercury, and I shall place it in the center of the office, on a raised dais, and every word I write henceforth shall bear the authority of the King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm. I thank you in advance.
Game of Thrones' second season ended last night. I'm happy, because it was a good ending to a good season, but I'm also sad because Game of Thrones is over now. The whole thing was kind of a comedown after last week's immense Battle of the Blackwater, but the finale wrapped up several hanging plot threads and set things up nicely for season three.
Spoilers after the jump.
I was a little worried about Blackwater, last night’s episode of Game of Thrones. The Siege of King’s Landing is no small thing, and I was wondering if HBO was going to be up to the task portraying a gigantic battle filled to the brim with boats and fire and dudes with swords. As much violence and fighting as Game of Thrones has had so far, none of it has been on any kind of grand scale. Battles have been talked about and edited around, but never has the camera really gone into the thick of it. This was new territory for the show. Was Game of Thrones up to the task?
Yes. Yes it was.
Spoilers (and way too much excitement) after the jump.
Last night's Game of Thrones episode was another hour of setup. There wasn't much in the way big, important events—it was a lot of anticipation for next week. Stannis' fleet is on the way to King's Landing, and this was the calm before the storm. Things are going to go boom, but first all the pieces need to be set up.
Spoilers, after the jump.
The Game of Thrones RPG came out yesterday (we've got a review copy en route, and I'll blog some impressions once it shows up), but hey, look at this: A digital version of
author George R.R. Martin "Maester Martin" from the game, where the bespectacled fellow awkwardly talks about how he's writing a history of Westeros and—oh ho ho!—he still hasn't finished writing it! But he will soon! He swears!
So I'm guessing the point of this in-game encounter is that sometimes maesters will just straight up lie to your face. Lesson learned, Game of Thrones RPG. That said, hopefully your character will be able to smash the shit out of whatever wooden barrels Maester Martin has in his little hovel, in which you will no doubt find crudely scratched outlines for The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring and then BLOOP! ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: LEARNED JON SNOW'S PARENTAGE and SAD VALYRIAN TROMBONE NOISE! LEVEL FAILED: YOU CANNOT KILL THE SANSA AND/OR BRIENNE NPCS NO MATTER HOW ANNOYING THEY ARE OR HOW MUCH THEY KEEP DISTRACTING YOU FROM EVERYTHING ELSE GOING ON IN WESTEROS THAT IS ACTUALLY OF INTEREST.
Via Topless Robot.
Change is necessary in adaptations. What works well in print isn't going to necessarily work well on screen, and any successful adaptation has to make the source material its own. Last night's episode of Game of Thrones was probably the biggest departure from the books so far, and probably caused not a few fans of A Song of Ice and Fire to explode in fiery bouts of nerd rage. I enjoyed, it, though. HBO has altered a lot of the substance of the series, but in doing so they've left the spirit of the source material unaltered. If anything, the changes have largely made the TV series feel even more Game of Thrones-y, if that makes any sense.
Spoilers aplenty after the jump.
HOLY SEVERED LIMBS, BATMAN! Things happened! Lots and lots of things! The most recent episode of Game of Thrones made up for last week’s snoozer. This week- things happened, events transpired, and shit went down. It was easily the best installment so far of season two.
After the jump, I use way too many exclamation points. Also, there are spoilers.
Last night’s episode of Game of Thrones was very front-loaded. The most exciting thing to happen in the whole hour transpired in the first ten minutes. Not too much else in the way of action or excitement ended up transpiring. We didn’t even get any nudity. I'm so disappointed in you, Game of Thrones. You're the place that I go to for heaving bosoms, swinging dicks, torrents of arterial spray, and sundry severed limbs. Last night was all fall-outs and wind-ups, with very little sex or death- there was nothing that couldn't have been in a PG-13 film. However, the episode made pretty clear that later this season a substantial amount of things will be going "BOOM."
After the jump, there be spoilers.
• Westeros is a monarchy, not a democracy. Guess why Varys is a eunuch? HE ONCE SAID THE WORD "ELECTION."
• Endorsing Charlie Hales as Hand of the King? Putting aside the goddamn fact that the Hand of the King position is not equivalent to mayor (for, as motherfucking everyone knows, "The king eats, and the Hand takes the shit"), there's a more pressing issue here: DOES THIS COVER CONSTITUTE A DEATH THREAT TO CHARLIE HALES?!
• WHY IS CHARLIE HALES' HEAD SO BIG? Theory! Before the cover went to press, a secret code was taken from the back of an old Electronic Gaming Monthly and entered into the production computer, thus activating NBA Jam's big-head mode. Except they had to enter the code twice because Aaron Mesh tripped on the controller cord and they had to restart everything :(
• I mean did they even think about using Joffrey or Robert Baratheon? Someone who would've made sense, as opposed to the goddamn Hand of the King? Maybe they would've used a Joffrey "photo collage" if they endorsed Jofferson Smith, am I right?
• Ugh, that Jofferson Smith thing was stupid, I'm sorry, I'M SO ANGRY I CAN'T THINK STRAIGHT
• Clearly there's a missed opportunity here in terms of house sigils and mottos but SIGH
• Wait. Am I forgetting the king in Game of Thrones who abdicated the Iron Throne and moved North of the Wall in order to duck out of paying taxes for five years?
• Look I know I said I was just going to talk about the cover, but on the inside they made Eileen Brady into a giant-headed Brienne of Tarth? I'm an idiot and even I know not to compare a woman to someone whose only traits are "has a vagina," "fights a lot," and "is hideously ugly." (BONUS TERRIBLE COMPARISON: Making Mayor Sam Adams into a tow-headed Renly Baratheon, a character whose only traits are "gay," "gay," and "gay.")
• For real, Eileen Brady-as-Cersei Lannister just seems super obvious.
• "The race pits former U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton against former Oregon Court of Appeals Judge Ellen Rosenblum, who is married to the publisher and co-owner of this newspaper, Richard Meeker. This creates an inherent conflict of interest for this newspaper. As a result, WW announced in January that it won't be writing about this race." Good call, guys.
• Okay I'm just going to admit I don't understand what the fuck is even happening
• I suspect the crow represents Steve Novick
Monarchies are stupid. Say what you will about democracies, at least they never invest power with juvenile little micro-sadists who command people to torture each other. Joffrey's monstrosity was on full display in last night's Game of Thrones episode, and it was kind of awkward to watch, to say the least.
Spoilers upon spoilers, after the jump.
Well, how about that. You know? THAT. I was kind of surprised by that thing near the end of Game of Thrones last night. As much as I love the book (LOTS), I've so far approved of the additions and re-jiggers that HBO has made. Last night, a certain non-character from the dead-tree version got transformed into someone who actually knows how the game is played.
Beneath the jump lurk spoilers!
Ned Stark was a good ruler, a good military leader, and a good man. He was not, however, good at politics. In Westeros, it’s abundantly clear that if you want to be good at the game of thrones, it helps to be kind of a prick. Season one was all about Ned losing the game by trying to do the right thing. In season two, it’s kind of a pleasure to see a bunch of conniving (but likable) jerks slither around each other in the dirty morass of fictional politics. Tyrion, Varys, Littlefinger, and Cersei all want to be effective, and they know that being nice isn't going to help them. One of the best things about the series is that it completely embraces the fact that being a good politician and doing what's morally satisfying are not at all the same thing.
Spoilers aplenty, after the jump.
Thanks for the heads up, I guess, to Blogtown commenter Graham—who, surprising no one, apparently spends his days trawling craigslist for super-creepy Game of Thrones crap. SOMEONE GET IT QUICK! And then burn it.
Local favorites Loch Lomond just wrapped up a European tour which was, by all accounts, a total blast and success, and they were toting a fine new five-song EP on the road with them. White Dresses was recorded relatively quickly for the band, and while it won't see a US release, it's available online—just like Viagra, or large sums of Nigerian money!—and they'll have a handful of physical copies at the merch table at their Sunday night show at Mississippi Studios. The songs from White Dresses are likely going to make up part of the next Loch Lomond full-length, but the European EP is a full statement in its own right.
We can't resist posting the EP's closing track, "Knuf Sirhc," which might seem like a mysterious song title until you read it backwards, revealing the name of a well-known Portland musician.
Loch Lomond - "Knuf Sirhc"
Loch Lomond plays Sunday at Mississippi Studios (3939 N Mississippi) along with Dinosaur Feathers—who are responsible for the best Game of Thrones song ever—and Lemolo.
Game of Thrones is a show about how betrayal is inevitable and honor is futile. It's a show about how life is hard, and brief, and devoid of meaning. It's a show about the foolishness of having ideals, the failures of optimism, and the entropy of society. It's about greed, murder, power, sex, family, and loss. To anyone paying attention, it's pretty obvious that Game of Thrones' sprawling, gripping story will not have a happy ending; like the George R.R. Martin books on which it's based, Game of Thrones is classified as fantasy, but when it comes to the people it follows and their desperate, hollow ways of trying to survive, it's brutally realistic.
It is, in other words, an incredible amount of fun to watch. And the best way to do so is on Blu-ray, which works out great, since the complete first season of Game of Thrones finally came out earlier this week.
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