Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Sam, Skagos and the Feastdance

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!
 
Rereading "A Feast for Crows", I came upon an interesting tidbid: when the ship with Sam, Gilly and Aemon passes Skagos, there's a lof of world-building going on:  

Friday, November 3, 2017

Stranger Things Season 2 Review

This post contains spoilers for season 1 and 2 of "Stranger Things". Duh.

Quick! What was the best thing about "Stranger Things"? Did you answer "The conspiracy plot about a shady government agency covering up a generic experiment"? No? Nobody else did, either. So it bears the question: who the fuck thought it was a good idea to expand the plot in that direction? Like this baffling one, season 2 of "Stranger Things" is a cascade of bad decisions from the first to the last episode, executed with all the competence only a multi-million dollar budget can buy, carried by the goodwill a genuinely compelling first season bought you.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Gardener's Coin

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!

Rereading "A Feast for Crows" currently, I was struck by the detail of the golden coin that Qyburn turns up in "Rugen's" cell. That coin, dating back to the Gardener kings and subsequently turning out to be used by the Queen of Thorns to cheat on local merchants, was just a detail in the great political plot until it got me wondering this reread around.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Telling yourselves, AFFC

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!
As PoorQuentyn noted, characters in "A Song of Ice and Fire" are often marked by Martin to be wrong when they're "telling themselves" things. So I decided to make a search through the text and record all instances where they're doing this to see if the theory holds up, continuing with "A Feast for Crows". 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

"Sons of the Dragon" review



It’s a well-known story that George R. R. Martin, when asked to provide some (comparatively small) segments to the epos of “The World of Ice and Fire”, went wildly over any word budget and wrote tens of thousands of words about the beginning of the Dance of the Dragons, of which only a few hundred made into the final text. The rest was published in form of two novellas, in wrong chronological order, and received pretty mixed reviews. While many liked more background for the shaping events of Westerosi history, others bemoaned the relative lack of the character-driven drama that fuels the series proper as well as the Dunk&Egg novellas. Whichever group you belong to, the next novella in that series (which Martin plans to compile into one giant volume called “Fire and Blood” later down the road) will not change your mind. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Telling yourself, ASOS

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!

As PoorQuentyn noted, characters in "A Song of Ice and Fire" are often marked by Martin to be wrong when they're "telling themselves" things. So I decided to make a search through the text and record all instances where they're doing this to see if the theory holds up, continuing with "A Storm of Swords".

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Confirming each other's suspicions

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!

One of the most interesting features in the relationship between the Lannister siblings is how they are each confirming and strengthening the suspicions they have about each other. This dynamic becomes notable for the first time in „A Clash of Kings“, when we can see from Tyrion’s POV how his actions are misperceived by Cersei, but how Tyrion at the same turn is absolutely blind to how his actions are perceived (while we as readers remain salient about this fact). Nowhere is this more evident as in Tyrion’s scheme to poison Cersei into suffering from diarrhea, where Cersei (as will later be confirmed in her POV) thinks he’s out to destroy her family and her. 
 
Tyrion, of course, has his own suspicions about Cersei, is mistrustful and prepares. Matters come to a head when Tyrion brings Tommen in his possession because he doesn’t trust Cersei’s security measures and mistakenly thinks it gives him an added layer of protection. Cersei retaliates with full force (moderation not being her thing and all), bringing Alalaya in her possession, which only leads to Tyrion ushering threats, which of course Cersei takes as a sweeping confirmation of all his guilt (and likely to the order to Mandon Moore to kill Tyrion). 
 
Tyrion likely only thought about hurting Cersei on a personal level, but the volonqar-prophecy hanging over her head leads her to assume that he’s on an omnicidial mission to destroy all of her and her children in one fell swoop. It’s only his impotence in „A Storm of Swords“ that prevents the escalation ladder to move forward on Tyrion’s part, but Cersei only suspects worse plots – which are of course reinforced by every uninhibited utterance from Tyrion, by every attempt of the imp to retaliate against Joffrey. Tyrion doesn’t understand why Cersei protects her vile son against all sense, and how can he? The volonqar doesn’t have a clue about the prophecy he takes center stage in. 
But the toxic relationship also swirls up Jaime when he returns to King’s Landing. After his rash confession to Tyrion after the rescue, Tyrion hurls poisonous insults at Cersei (and Jaime), which lead Jaime to weigh every word and action of Cersei’s in „A Feast for Crows“ on Tyrion’s scale, seeing confirmation of Cersei’s adultery in every action (and rightly so), getting further and further estranged from his sister until he finally throws her plea for help into the fires of a winterly hearth. 
Even Cercei’s governance in „A Feast for Crows“ is dominated by seeing Tyrion’s hand in everything that happens, any problem that comes up. How can he not be the driving factor, given that his hands are about to choke her perfect white neck? Of course, she finds proof for these assumptions all the time, which lead her to make Lord Bronn into an enemy, lose allies left and right and ultimately lose her position totally. 
 
But it would be too much to attribute this wholly to the three Lannister children alone. It was the loving nurturing of Tywin, who perceived the whole existence of Tyrion as a slight, no matter what his son did, and to assume his daughter was only a glorified brood mare no matter what she did. No wonder the kids turned out as damaged as they are, confirming each other’s suspicions as they go.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Tommen and Myrcella are dead meat (series on changes from HBO series)

This text is an exclusive sneak preview to an upcoming essay of mine for the series on the "Tower of the Hand" for characters that are dead in the show but still alive in the books. Read it here before it goes live on the Tower of the Hand! 


Prophecies do not lie. Humans may misunderstand them, but some of them are much clearer than others, and all of them come true, at least in a fashion. If a prophecy tells you that your children will die in infancy, with golden shrouds, as a consequence of the “younger, more beautiful queen” taking your place, there really isn’t that much wiggling room. Cersei is justified in being paranoid about the impending doom of her children, and in books and series alike, she’s responsible with her actions for what’s happening, bringing about the prophecy she works so hard to unravel.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Telling yourself, ACOK

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!

As PoorQuentyn noted, characters in "A Song of Ice and Fire" are often marked by Martin to be wrong when they're "telling themselves" things. So I decided to make a search through the text and record all instances where they're doing this to see if the theory holds up, continuing with "A Clash of Kings". 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Telling yourselves, AGOT

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!

As PoorQuentyn noted, characters in "A Song of Ice and Fire" are often marked by Martin to be wrong when they're "telling themselves" things. So I decided to make a search through the text and record all instances where they're doing this to see if the theory holds up, starting with "A Game of Thrones".

Boiled Leather Audio Hour #66

 
The ‘Game of Thrones’ Season Seven Post-Game ShowYou wanted it, you got it. Sean & Stefan vs. Game of Thrones Season 7. ’Nuff said! NOTE: Since a lengthy illness on Sean’s part prevented us from getting this episode out in a timely fashion, we’re rushing it to you with minimal editing. Ooh baby we like it raw!
DOWNLOAD EPISODE 66
Additional links:
Sean’s Game of Thrones tag at seantcollins.com, featuring links to all his work on this season for Rolling Stone, Vulture, In These Times, and more.
Our Patreon page at patreon.com/boiledleatheraudiohour.
Our PayPal donation page (also accessible via boiledleather.com).
Our iTunes page.
Mirror.
Previous episodes.
Podcast RSS feed.
Sean’s blog.
Stefan’s blog.
The ‘Game of Thrones’ Season Seven Post-Game ShowYou wanted it, you got it. Sean & Stefan vs. Game of Thrones Season 7. ’Nuff said! NOTE: Since a lengthy illness on Sean’s part prevented us from getting this episode out in a timely fashion, we’re rushing it to you with minimal editing. Ooh baby we like it raw!
 
DOWNLOAD EPISODE 66

Additional links:
Sean’s Game of Thrones tag at seantcollins.com, featuring links to all his work on this season for Rolling Stone, Vulture, In These Times, and more.
Our Patreon page at patreon.com/boiledleatheraudiohour.
Our PayPal donation page (also accessible via boiledleather.com).
Our iTunes page.
Mirror.
Previous episodes.
Podcast RSS feed.
Sean’s blog.
Stefan’s blog.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

"What Happened" Review

If you're not interested in politics, you might want to skip this one.

"Breath now. Scream later." This is what Hillary Clinton told herself during Trump's inauguration, according to her new book, "What Happened". It's one of the things that I always wondered about: how do you feel when you lost something like that? If you're Mitt Romney, how do you go to Obama smiling and congratulate him? If you're Al Gore, how do you step before the microphones and tell your followers to accept a ruling you abhor and to support a president you think will be a disaster? I have to say, I didn't expect much insight in this regard. I'm not a regular reader of political memoirs; I didn't even read Obama's wildly praised books. "What Happened" is my third political memoir ever, since these tend to be just expanded stump speeches. You'd have to lock me in a cell with "Hard Choices" to actually read that one. So why did I read "What Happened"? I didn't plan to initially. But the reviews it got were quite interesting. After a wave of "oh no, who wants to hear about Hillary's blame game?", there were many reviews by people I trust and respect who said it was actually, you know, good. I had to see for myself.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Friday, September 8, 2017

Great war movies, part I

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!

The Telegraph has a list of the "30 best war movies". It might surprise you that I don't agree with a lot of it. To show you why, I'll list the Telegraph's list and comment on it. This is the first half. If you think I missed any movie or disagree with my list, please share in the comments! 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Game of Thrones Season 7 Reviews: Episode 7 - The Wolf and the Dragon (Grudges)

Old grudges can carry you a long way. Sometimes, they fuel an inner fire that keeps you going, without which you would have long stopped caring and simply laid to rest or, you know, do something useful with your life. Other times, they’re roadblocks, things you have to carefully navigate around else you break your foot and stumble over them. Ask the Brackens and the Blackwoods if you don’t believe me. There’s the kind of grudges that take you down like millstones around your necks, yet you can’t let go. And finally, triumphantly, there’s the kind of grudges you overcome, to actually do something useful, like rescuing the world. This episode showcases something of everything.

Monday, August 21, 2017

A happy, sedated alternative

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!

Rereading "A Storm of Swords" in preparation for our reread podcast, I couldn't help but ruminate on the alternate history if Sansa hadn't told Dontos about the Tyrell conspiracy of marrying her off to Willas. Imagine this had happened for a moment.

Game of Thrones Season 7 Reviews: Episode 6 - Beyond the Wall (Death)

It doesn’t matter whether we understand the fight, Beric informs Jon while their walking through the desolate hellscape beyond the Wall that gives the episode its title, but rather if you’re ready to go into it like a good soldier. What would have sounded like a second-class villain dialogue had it come from any adherent to the Game of Thrones, Beric is way past that point. The enemy, “the first and the last”, is death. You can never win in the end, but you need to fight and help everyone along the way, because else, there’s no life. Jon finds common ground with the firesword-wielding maniac there, being reminded of his Night’s Watch vows seven seasons back. Somewhere, in a forgotten corner of the writer’s room, Areo Hotah recites “simple vows for simple men”. But it works, and the conflict between life and death is the narrative glue holding the episode together, at least in the not-Winterfell parts.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Game of Thrones Season 7 Reviews: Episode 5 – Eastwatch (Information)

A ruler needs to have information, that much is plain. Getting it can sometimes be difficult and involve a lot of nifty spywork. Sometimes, it can simply fall into your lap. Sometimes, information is a pure plus in your ledger, sometimes a double-edged sword, and sometimes it can stand in the way. There are a lot of examples for all of this in this episode.

For the first time since his arrival at Castle Black, Bran is using the superior means of information he has at hand. With a swarm of ravens, he scouts the army of the White Walkers that seems to be within striking distance of the Wall. He immediately tells the maester to share this information with the whole of the realm. It will need to be seen, however, what will be done with this information.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Game of Thrones Season 7 Reviews: Episode 4 - The Spoils of War (Payoffs)

Episodes in which Daenerys can say “Dracarys” and a few hundred thousands dollars go off in CGI smoke are kind of low hanging fruit for the show. Payoffs are always more exciting than buildups. But of course, it takes a lot to get a payoff right, so this should be viewed against the backdrop that we’re talking about one of the best-made series on TV right now. And boy, does this episode shine! I already hinted last week that the clumsy setup would be eclipsed by the payoff built on it, and it’s true. This episode is a rollercoaster of payoffs, and of withheld payoffs.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Game of Thrones Season 7 Reviews: Episode 3 - The Queen's Justice (Consequences)


I have to say, I’m dismayed. The episode was a stellar piece of television, full of big moments and masterfully crafted. The dialogue was strong throughout, at times even stellar. The actors delivered them with accustomed skill, and Lena Heady owned this episode with some of the best acting on the whole show. The technical aspects, as always, were superb. Individually, there was not one segment that didn’t provide a nice climax, that didn’t have a clear high. If only they’d combined into a coherent whole.