I am occasionally a very sarcastic person, making random, unnecessary comments towards people with the ferocity of a particularly angry kitten. While this has its perks — it’s given me a bunch of wonderfully like-minded readers — it does have its downsides. For example, some people will read my sarcastic comments and think I’m being genuine. Or people will read my genuine statements and think I’m being sarcastic. You can see how this could be an issue, right?
For example, take something I said in a forum a few months ago: “Treating women as human beings? That’s crazy!”
Now imagine if someone had read that, without knowing much about me at all. “Wow,” they’d say. “Matt doesn’t think women should be treated like people? Well it looks like he’s just shown his true colors.” Then said person would unfollow me, and start an online petition demanding I delete my blog and jump off a bridge. Because this is the internet, millions of people would sign that petition without even bothering to fact check, and the next thing you know I’d be plummeting off the nearest bridge, wondering how it all went wrong.
So to avoid that situation, I’ve thought of a game designed to test and improve your sarcasm detectors, particularly when it comes to me. Below are a list of sentences from past blog posts taken completely out of context, and in the comments below you’ll have to decide whether it’s sarcastic or genuine. Winner gets a shoutout in the next post, along with a high-five and bragging rights. S/he also gets the title of “Head Engine.” (It’s like a head minion, but not quite as good for the environment.)
So just to make sure we’re clear, this is how you’d answer them in the comments. Each statement will be numbered:
“The best feeling ever is when you tell a joke to a group of people, and none of them laugh.”
Your comment would be something like, “1: sarcastic.” Perhaps you can include an explanation to why you think it’s sarcastic, but I wouldn’t take points off if you didn’t.
So: let’s begin.
“I felt really bad about it, too.”
“I love it when it rains outside.”
“Things would be so much happier there if they all just, like, chilled out, y’know?”
“But we also got a tiny tardis, so all its flaws are forgiven.”
“I was like Employee of the Month material, right then and there.”
“This is a tough one.”
“Everyone there was friendly and likeable.”
“Thanks for the pep talk, Dad.”
“I expect a birthday cake from each of you.”
“I don’t usually condone murder, but someone needs to kill that guy behind me who kept clapping every ten minutes.”
Good luck in the comments, although I must say, I doubt anyone will get all of them correct. There are some tricky ones in there.
Warning: There will be spoilers abound, for both this episode and any episode preceding it. In fact, there will be spoiler immediately after this warning.
However, nothing that hasn’t yet happen in the books will be spoiled, so that’s nice.
The end of season four left with a lot of questions. Where is Tyrion going to go? How will Jaime and Cercei react to their father’s death? Where oh where is Ser Pounce?
The Wars to Come answers roughly two thirds of these questions. The episode starts off with a flashback of Cersei Lannister, played by a girl who looks more like Lena Headey than Lena Headey did at that age. She and an unnamed friend visit a surprisingly attractive witch in a hut, who as it turns out can tell the future, and it is not pretty. A younger, more beautiful woman will take her place as queen, and all three of her children will die terribly. I think. I couldn’t make that last part out.
I like to think that Cersei went her whole life afterwards trying to convince herself that the prophecy was false. But after the events of last season, with Joffrey dead and Margaery continuing to gain power and influence, she’s now stubbornly trying to stop it from coming true. Is it a spoiler to say that there’ll be a bigger focus on Cersei’s storyline this season? Because it totally shouldn’t it be.
Meanwhile, Tyrion is stuck in what is probably the worst period of his entire life, and yet he manages to keep a somewhat good humor about it. Sort of. That whole scene with Tyrion drinking the wine, vomiting, and then pouring himself another glass is exactly the sort of black comedy you’d find on Breaking Bad. Suspiciously so, in fact.
*puts on detective hat*
Aha! The director of this episode also directed thirty episodes of Breaking Bad. Mystery solved.
*takes off detective hat*
Tyrion and Varys talk for a while, and I just need to say, every scene where these two are together is pure gold. I’m looking forward to what will hopefully be an entire season of them talking to each other on a tiny sailboat as they journey to Meereen, just the two of them.
Meanwhile, Jon is given the task to convince Mance Rayder to bend the knee to Stannis, in a scene I loved because it might just be the most meaningful scene Mance Rayder’s had in the entire show. Which isn’t saying much, because I feel like he’s barely been shown since his introduction.
Also, Melisandre not-so-subtly hints that she’d like to have wild, crazy fire sex with Jon on the elevator ride up to the wall. When this happened in the books I found myself thinking, “No Jon, don’t do it! She’s evil!” But here I just shrugged and thought, “Eh, go ahead. I wouldn’t blame you.” Melisandre is one hottie with a body, if I dare say so.
Then there’s the Daenerys storyline, which might actually be my favorite one of the episode. Which is weird because as I recall from the books, her storyline in ADWD feature about seven chapters of mostly dullness followed by three chapters of epic shit happening. It appears that the show is heading towards those last three chapters (and beyond! *ominous music*) as soon as possible.
It helps we got to see Daenerys’ actual emotions, instead of her simply acting queenly, which is all she did in season four. I think Emilia Clarke is a great actress when it comes to personal, vulnerable scenes (like when she’s talking to Daario or visiting her chained up dragons), but when she’s making grand, “badass” proclamations (I’m going to break the wheel, anyone?) I think she falls flat.
Also, her eyebrows do not match her hair, and that’s been bugging me since season one.
Other things of note:
—Margaery gives the most terrifying “perhaps” I’ve ever seen. I bet the moment she said that, Cersei suddenly felt a chill run through her body, though she did not know why.
—Speaking of Tyrells, I’d like to speak to whoever came up with the idea to have an exposition scene on the geography of Dorne via birthmark on Lora’s leg. Not sure I’d call it genius, but it was definitely inspired.
—Also, I find it hilarious how close Brienne and Sansa were to meeting. Poor Brienne. Oh,and poor Podrick.
—I have no idea what Sansa and Littlefinger are up to, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.
So all in all, I think this was a good premiere. It was slow, and nothing amazing happened, (Arya unfortunately never got to murder anyone this time.) but it carried a lot of promise for the season ahead.
Rating: 7/10. Points taken off for Daenerys’ eyebrows.
So, what did you think? Did you enjoy the episode? What’s your opinion on Stannis? What wacky hijinks do you think Sam will get up to next? Is the Hound really dead? Is Tywin really dead? Is Jon really alive? Have you ever tried the sweet teas at McDonald’s? Because they’re only a dollar and eight cents and they taste surprisingly good.
Feel free to answer any of these questions in the comments below. Or you could just comment on your thoughts of the episode. Or you could do neither of those things. No one’s forcing you to.
I am a hardcore fan of A Song of Ice and Fire, which may surprise some of you, considering how I never talk about it. Ever. Like, not even a little bit. So like many people across the globe, I am struggling with a bit of a dilemma. A conundrum, if you will.
Thanks to George R. R. Martin’s notoriously slow writing pace (which isn’t even that slow, when you consider the sheer length and complexity of his books), the show has now reached the point where the show is going to finish before the books do, and it’s probably going to happen in this season. And now I’m stuck with the decision: do I continue watching the show and having the books spoiled, or I do I try to ignore the show and wait God knows how long for the next book to come out?
I started off by watching the show. I watched the full first season and loved every moment. Then my HBO subscription canceled at the worst possible time, and instead of just enjoying watching gratuitous nudity and people dying horrible, I was forced to read about it instead. And I know this may annoy some of you hardcore show fans when I say this, but the books are just so much better.
Don’t get me wrong, the show is brilliant and for the most part did a great job, particularly with characters like Cersei, Arya and Sam. (Stannis? Not so much.) And even when the show went off course, I didn’t care because I understood the reasoning behind most of the changes and I liked how it turned out.
It’s understandable though, that with only ten episodes of time a season, the show’s not able to go into the depth that the books do, and certain characters pay the price. Such as Sansa, whose character development and storyline in the books is much more realistic and well done. (As in, she doesn’t suddenly turn into a master manipulator within the course of a single episode.) Then there’s Tyrion, who may be much nicer than his book counterpart, but comes not even close to his level of complexity. And then there’s Margaery, who— okay, I have nothing bad to say about TV Margaery. The show handled her perfectly.
(Side note: I really feel bad for the fans who started reading the series back in 1996. Imagine waiting almost twenty years for an ending only to have it spoiled by the TV adaptation. Just to put in perspective as to how much of a wait that is: Hell, I wasn’t even alive back in 1996. This may seem weird, considering I’ve been told I give off the impression of an ageless, all-knowing god, but alas it is true. There are poor unfortunate fans out there who’ve waited longer than my entire lifetime for the end of this series, and there’s still at least two more installments to go.)
What I’m trying to say is, I’d rather experience the ending by the books than the TV show. But because the series probably won’t be ending for at least another four years. I know that won’t be possible, because there will be spoilers. Spoilers everywhere. And because there’s no chance in hell The Winds of Winter will come before the end of season 5, I’m just going to watch this season and hope TWoW comes out before season 6.
So for anyone reading for the sole purpose of finding out whether I’m going to be reviewing this season’s episodes or not, the answer is yes, I will.
Better brace yourselves, readers, because my reviewing skills have improved tenfold since last summer. I’m like a reviewing wizard at this point. Zap! Zap!
That was the sound of my wizard curses, by the way.
So, I discovered this prompt from Engie, who found it on The Broke and the Bookish, which appears to be a pretty great blog. So I’m going to try out the tag, for what I’m pretty sure is the first time. You can join the tag too, right here.
Now, to get straight to it:
Hot Pie from A Song of Ice and Fire
An orphaned baker boy originally headed towards the wall, I’ve loved Hot Pie from the start. Well, maybe not immediately, when he was pretending to be all tough and hardcore to Arya. But through the course of the series you see this angry bully facade of his quickly disappear, replaced with a scared and innocent child who has to survive the giant clusterfuck that is the war-torn Riverlands of Westeros. Seriously, this kid goes through just as much hell as Arya, and yet his attitude towards life actually seems to improve because of it, so, um, good for him.
I’d also like to have a small book dedicated towards Gendry, The Hound, Yoren, or pretty much anyone that has interacted with Arya from seasons 2-4 of Game of Thrones.
Isaac, from The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
Recently I’ve really wanted to reread this book, and not because of all the phrases that aren’t das deep as people seem to think they are (“That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.”), but because of Isaac, and his whole storyline.
Isaac was diagnosed with a type of cancer that required him to have one of his eyes surgically removed when he was a child. “No biggie,” you may say. “He still has the other eye, right?”
Nope. He later had to get his other eye surgically removed, making him permanently blind. As someone who likes to read, write, and juggle, I would be a complete wreck if this happened to me. And so is Isaac. He is a complete wreck. Very pissed off at the world for a while, and yet he still manages to keep going, and even have a good sense of humor about it. “Come over here so I can examine your face with my hands and see deeper into your soul than a sighted person ever could,” he says to Hazel, shortly after getting his final eye taken out.
Isaac is easily the most interesting character in this whole book, and yet he gets sidelined by Hazel and Gus’s “okays,” even more so in the second half. *tears up*
Speaking of which, does Isaac have a stated last name? Because if so, I am drawing a huge blank on it.
Sam Black Crow, from American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.
“I can believe things that are true and things that aren’t true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they’re true or not.
I can believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and the Beatles and Marilyn Monroe and Elvis and Mister Ed. Listen – I believe that people are perfectable, that knowledge is infinite, that the world is run by secret banking cartels and is visited by aliens on a regular basis, nice ones that look like wrinkled lemurs and bad ones who mutilate cattle and want our water and our women.
I believe that the future sucks and I believe that the future rocks and I believe that one day White Buffalo Woman is going to come back and kick everyone’s ass. I believe that all men are just overgrown boys with deep problems communicating and that the decline in good sex in America is coincident with the decline in drive-in movie theaters from state to state.
I believe that all politicians are unprincipled crooks and I still believe that they are better than the alternative. I believe that California is going to sink into the sea when the big one comes, while Florida is going to dissolve into madness and alligators and toxic waste.
I believe that antibacterial soap is destroying our resistance to dirt and disease so that one day we’ll all be wiped out by the common cold like martians in War of the Worlds.
I believe that the greatest poets of the last century were Edith Sitwell and Don Marquis, that jade is dried dragon sperm, and that thousands of years ago in a former life I was a one-armed Siberian shaman.
I believe that mankind’s destiny lies in the stars. I believe that candy really did taste better when I was a kid, that it’s aerodynamically impossible for a bumble bee to fly, that light is a wave and a particle, that there’s a cat in a box somewhere who’s alive and dead at the same time (although if they don’t ever open the box to feed it it’ll eventually just be two different kinds of dead), and that there are stars in the universe billions of years older than the universe itself.
I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn’t even know that I’m alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of causal chaos, background noise, and sheer blind luck.
I believe that anyone who says sex is overrated just hasn’t done it properly. I believe that anyone who claims to know what’s going on will lie about the little things too.
I believe in absolute honesty and sensible social lies. I believe in a woman’s right to choose, a baby’s right to live, that while all human life is sacred there’s nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no one but a moron would ever trust the legal system.
I believe that life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you’re alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”
Yeah, Sam is awesome. I can’t wait to see her in the TV adaptation. (Yep, that’s happening.)
I know this is only three characters, but I’m very, very tired, and besides, I’m setting myself up for a possible sequel to this post. Keep your eyes on the horizon, readers. The blogging horizon, that is.
Hey, y’all. It’s time for the monthly TCWT blog chain post, and unlike the last one, this entry will be on time. This month’s prompt is:
“What are your favorite book beginnings and/or endings?”
Oh, well this is gonna be easy. I’ve read a decent amount of books, many of which have some pretty spectacular beginnings and even better endings. First, I shall start off with the beginnings:
A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin
When I first started this giant mammoth of a novel I was surprised by how readable it was. The only other epic fantasy series I’d read at the time was Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, so I came into this expecting purple prose and a bunch of names I couldn’t quite pronounce. I was wrong on both accounts. Mostly. The prologue perfectly eases the reader into this harsh, cold world, without the boring pages of info-dumping so many fantasy novels resort to. Excuse me while I list a few of the things this prologue introduces you to:
A giant 700 foot wall made of ice.
Three characters who are surprisingly well rounded, considering how little page time they get.
Oh, and EVIL ICE ZOMBIES.
Honestly, as intriguing openings go, you can’t get any better than that. The only possible exception I could think of would be evil ice unicorns, but that’s a bit of a stretch. In fact, the only beginning better than this would have to be:
Stephen King’s IT:(Spoilers, but only for the first 30 pages of this 1,008 page book.)
The ending to this giant novel was, well, a bit of a mess, if I dare say so. But the first section introduced you to the town of Derry, and made it clear that despite it’s cheery outlook, it is a dark and deadly place.
It opens up with a nice five year old kid named George losing his paper boat down a sewer drain. He’s all upset, until he sees a friendly clown in the gutter, holding his paper boat. This is the innocent little conversation the two of them had, with most of the descriptions cut out for brevity’s sake:
“Want your boat, Georgie?” The clown smiled.
“I sure do,” he said.
“‘I sure do.’ That’s good! That’s very good! And how about a balloon?”
“Well, sure!” He reached forward . . . and then drew his hand reluctantly back. “I’m not supposed to take stuff from strangers. My dad said so.”
“Very wise of your dad,” the clown in the storm-drain said, smiling. “Very wise indeed. Therefore I will introduce myself. I, Georgie, am Mr. Bob Gray, also known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Pennywise, meet George Denbrough. George, meet Pennywise. And now we know each other. I’m not a stranger to you, and you’re not a stranger to me. Kee-rect?”
George giggled. “I guess so.”
Shortly after this, Pennywise finally convinces George to put his hand through the drain, and then rips the poor kid’s arm off. The kid dies from a mix of shock and blood loss. Don’t feel too bad, though. The kid was an idiot. If any halfway intelligent person saw a clown hanging about in a sewage drain, they wouldn’t dare touch him, not even with a thirty-nine and a half foot pole. Besides, we all know that kid was going to end up dying later anyway, probably from forgetting to stop the car before stepping out, or maybe by starving to death after getting his hand stuck in a vending machine. By not killing him, Pennywise would’ve simply prolonged the inevitable.
But enough with the horribly-insensitive jokes on poor Georgie’s behalf: now I’m going to talk about the chapter after that, which is still technically the beginning.
This chapter takes place before, during and after a hate crime against an innocent gay couple in Derry, the town in which the novel takes place. To sum it up, a group of homophobic jerks saw an openly gay person named Adrian wearing a hat saying “I [heart] Derry!” So they felt that their “civic pride” had been wounded by seeing him wear that hat. One thing led to another, and they beat him up and threw him off a bridge, where Adrian was then finished off by Pennywise the Clown.
Here, King makes it clear that 1: What happened to the kid was horrible, and 2: The town of Derry is extremely homophobic, much more so than the towns surrounding it. This is partially shown in a flashback to when Don (Adrian’s boyfriend) takes him to see underneath the town’s bridge, where it’s littered with hundreds of writings like “STICK NAILS IN THE EYES OF ALL FAGGOTS (FOR GOD)!” and other even worse quotes I’m not going to include, because then my blog will probably get flagged or something.
Then you get this particular piece:
“Whoever writes these little homilies has got a case of the deep down crazies. I’d feel better if I thought it was just one person, one isolated sickie, but . . .” Don swept his arm vaguely down the length of the Kissing Bridge. “There’s a lot of this stuff . . . and I don’t think just one person did it. That’s why I want to leave Derry, Ade. Too many places and too many people seem to have the deep-down crazies.”
And that’s why Derry is so terrifying. Not just because of the crazy clown demon-thingy running amok and killing children and whatnot, but because that evil presence seems to be influencing the rest of the population. There’s racism and homophobia everywhere in the world, but there’s a much larger concentration of said hatred in this small, seemingly ideal town.
(As you may have been able to tell, It is the only book on this list I have with me at the moment, which is why I went into so much more detail.)
Some other great beginnings:
The Dark Knight. I know it’s not a book, but that opening scene was fantastic.
I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak. It starts off with the funniest bank robbery I’ve ever read, which admittedly isn’t saying much.
The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. It opens with the brutal murder of an infant’s family, yet it’s described in a surprisingly child-friendly way.
Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson. I’ve only read the prologue, but it was amazing. Whoever this Kelsier guy is, I want to high-five him.
Carrie, by Stephen King. (Spoilers for the beginning.) It starts off with the main character getting her period in the school locker room, which is embarrassing enough, but what makes it even worse is the fact that her crazy religious mother never bothered to tell her anything about the menstrual cycle, so she was freaking out, thinking she was dying, while all the other girls made fun of her. This gives her what I like to call INSTANT SYMPATHY POINTS from the reader, and that’s something only well written characters can get.
Now, what are my favorite endings, you ask?
Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.
While I didn’t like the first three chapters, I was hooked by the end of chapter four and I loved everything about it, especially the final lines:
“I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss. I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy. I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence. It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
These words are so moving and powerful (even more so when you know the circumstances surrounding them) that they’ve been quoted a billion times since, almost as often as the book’s opening lines.* Commissioner Gordon even quoted them at the end of The Dark Knight Rises.
The Dark Knight Rises
Just because of the A Tale of Two Cities quote, mentioned above.
Then I’d pick The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. Anyone who’s read that book should know why.
And finally, I’d pickA Game of Thrones. Again.(Caution: Spoilers.)
This book started with ice, and ended with fire. Daenerys Targaryen started out as basically a sex slave, sold to a guy who was thrice her age and didn’t even speak the same language. I have yet to be put in such a predicament, but I assume my thoughts about it would be something along the lines of, “Well this isn’t very fun.” Yet Dany, over the course of the novel, grows from a shy, unambitious thirteen (yes, thirteen) year old girl, to a strong and confident ruler, and this makes her storyline the most satisfying one in the first book.
Oh, and dragons. She becomes the Mother of Dragons. If, after reading or watching this scene, you didn’t immediately pump your fist in the air, there are only two possible explanations:
1) Both of your fists have been stolen by the notorious Fist Thief of 1987, or:
2) You are a bad person, and your family probably doesn’t even love you.
Check out the other blogs in the blog chain:
September 2014 blog chain prompt/schedule:
Prompt: “What are your favorite book beginnings and/or endings?”
The blog chain is back! And Miriam Joy couldn’t have picked a better prompt:
Which fictional world would you most like to be a part of, and what role do you think you would fulfill within it?
Excuse me while I think back to all my favorite fantasy/sci-fi novels and think of the ones with the best settings. There’s Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire (only just finished the first book), and The Dark Tower series.
If I could be in the completely real fictional world of Harry Potter, I’d probably be unemployed and living on the streets. It’s a sad truth: the wizard economy would never work in real life. Why would anyone hire a fellow witch/wizard when they could get a house elf to do the work for free? Or they could just flick their wand around and whatever they need doing will be done. Magic has unfortunately made 90% of the wizarding population useless.
And I know what you’re thinking: “Matt, why can’t you just wave your wand around and make food and money appear out of thin air?” Well first off, I can’t magically make those items, according to the Five Principal Exceptions to Gamp’s Law. And besides, I’m a forgetful person. I would have lost my wand within a week of buying it.
So it looks like I’ll have to pass on Harry Potter’s world.
Then there’s middle earth, which I’ll also have to pass on. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m secretly afraid of elves. (Although luckily they all seem to be leaving soon.) The same could be said of Alagaësia.
I’d be okay with living in Westeros (I’d be a stable boy, because stable boys are cool), if it weren’t for the fact that everyone in this world seems to be some sort of scheming psychopath. Anyone with a conscience ends up dead.
There’s also the problem of the uneven seasons. Not only is this annoying, but it causes a bunch of problems the books have (so far) failed to address. First of all, how exactly do plants grow without a proper seasonal cycle? Where is all this food coming from? And how do they even measure the years?
And don’t even get me started on Panem.
I guess if I had to choose a fictional world to live in, it would be Narnia. Sure, it’s not perfect, what with its lack of antibiotics and all, but at least there’s talking animals. And there’s always the chance of me escaping into my own world (which I prefer). Hopefully, I’d end up as either a farmer, or a professional high-fiver. Either one’s fine.
Writing this post made me realize how horrible most fictional worlds are. Out of all the worlds mentioned above, I think Harry Potter’s is the safest, and I haven’t even mentioned the whole “Dark Lord Trying to Kill Everyone” thing. Even though everyone wants to live in a nice, safe, Utopian society, writers have accepted the fact that Utopias are boring. Dark, gritty worlds with high mortality rates are much more interesting.
Because I know I won’t have much access to the internet in the next two days, I’m going to write a short post here, so I have time to get a better post published tomorrow (it may or may not be Thanksgiving related).
First off, I saw Catching Fire, for those of you who haven’t seen my last post. Watch this video to see my rating.
I asked the question Coke vs Pepsi? in a post three days ago. Seven people said Coke, and only one person said Pepsi. Looks like Coca-Cola won this round.
In addition, two people said Sprite, one person said Dr. Pepper, another said they don’t like either because the carbonation hurts their mouth, and one person claimed to prefer Coca-Cola mixed with vodka, which I can’t say I’ve tried.
I decided to give out a guest post every 500 comments. So in 217 comments, another one will be awarded.
I’m almost finished with A Game of Thrones (if it weren’t for The Scarlet Letter, I’d be done by now).
That being said, I found a formula for mixing long books and short books. After each long book, you read two or three short books. So after A Game of Thrones, I’m planning to read 1984 by George Orwell, then I’ll probably read The Catcher in the Rye, and then The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
I’ve heard that Catcher in the Rye is best if read as an angsty teenager. I am a teenager, but I can’t say I’m filled with angst. Maybe I should just read the comments on Yahoo articles, and it’ll put me in an angsty mood.
NaBloPomo is almost over! I can’t believe I made it this long.