Sunday, June 30, 2013

storm's coming

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Saturday, June 29, 2013

palm trees at night

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Friday, June 28, 2013

the real story – star trek

Get ready, Trekkies, the Smithsonian Channel debuts The Real Story: Star Trek on Sunday, June 30 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. An entertaining and informative look at the classic original science fiction series that spawned numerous television series and 12 feature films, The Real Story: Star Trek traces the beginnings of the show, and the life of its creator, Gene Roddenberry. The episode features interviews with Leonard Nimoy, who has played the iconic character Mr. Spock on both the small and big screen; Rod Roddenberry, Gene’s son; Herb Solow, the show’s producer; original members of the Star Trek fan club; and scientists and historians who also happen to be long-time fans of the series.

William Shatner as Captain Kirk and Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock

Many fans of the series may not know that Gene Roddenberry was a cop, as well as a huge television fan. When he was off-duty he wrote TV scripts that he eventually saw produced on shows like Highway Patrol and Have Gun – Will Travel. He soon was making so much money from his writing that he quit the police force and devoted himself to a career in television. When he got the idea for a science fiction series, he brought it to producer Herb Solow and the two were able to convince NBC to take a chance on the show. It was always a rocky relationship with the network, however, as NBC continually threatened cancellation. One of the network’s first concerns was that Spock’s pointy ears might alienate television viewers in the Bible Belt who might think that he appeared too “devilish.”

The Star Trek pilot featured actor Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Pike, who bowed out after filming, as he considered himself a movie, not a television star. The show was recast, with Nimoy the only actor continuing from the pilot. William Shatner came on as Captain Kirk; the show premiered in 1966, and the rest was history. Eventually. NBC always had the show on the chopping block, so Roddenberry worked non-stop on growing and mobilizing Star Trek’s fan base while cancellation loomed. Public pressure got NBC to renew the show for a third season, but the implication of many interviews in The Real Story: Star Trek is that Roddenberry was concentrating more on the show’s survival than its scripts. The show was finally cancelled in 1969, but it went into syndication soon after. Star Trek conventions started in 1972, and a cult was born.

Leonard Nimoy and Gene Roddenberry on the set of the Star Trek pilot

There are some interesting, if not flattering, insights into Roddenberry’s driven character, as Nimoy finds it amusing that he insisted on being called “creator” (as opposed to producer) of the show. But what viewers may find most interesting is the real science behind Star Trek. Roddenberry insisted on the show’s science fiction being believable, and our modern day lives show many examples of what ’60s audiences may have thought of as fantasy, becoming reality:

Warp speed and anti-matter – Space can be warped and anti-matter does exist
Communicators – Cell phones
Regeneration – 3D printers can make human organs and body parts
Transporter – Science is experimenting with teleportation
Androids – Computers with artificial intelligence

The Real Story: Star Trek may make even long-time fans of the most well-known science fiction franchise think differently about their favorite show. As Mr. Spock was fond of saying, “fascinating.”

Originally published as Television Review: ‘The Real Story – Star Trek’ on Blogcritics
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Thursday, June 27, 2013

summertime

I have been so distracted by family health concerns lately that I have forgotten that it is summertime.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

boogie shoes

Will we get mom up and walking? Only time will tell. Maybe if the kid and I play her one of our favorite tunes we can motivate her ...


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

ch-ch-ch-changes

Inspired by some kind words from family and friends on Facebook ...

Mom is (finally) being discharged from the hospital this afternoon to the nursing home, where she is set for rehab therapy. I'm not sure if they will be able to get her up and moving (and eating better) again, but I am sure it is a better environment than the noisy, busy hospital. She has a room with a view, of the intracoastal waterway, so we lucked out with that one. She is right across the bridge from us, so visiting her will also be more convenient.


I suddenly feel very tired, which is understandable, as the tension level involved with achieving this transition has been quite high. I know that we are not out of the woods, by any means. Just a step forward on the path. I want to pull the covers over my head and sleep and dream for a week, but it's not time yet.

Monday, June 24, 2013

it's been a week

It's been a week.

Mom went into the hospital last Monday after a fall. We heard first that she broke her hip. And then that she had a slight bleed on the brain. A CAT scan showed that the break was an old one. They were able to narrow the time of injury down — it could have happened any time from six weeks to six or more years ago. I guess only Star Trek or CSI gets more precise than that. Paging Grissom and McCoy, stat.


It's been a week.

The bleed on the brain isn't being called a stroke, but it seems to have some stroke symptoms — her right arm and right leg (and the right hip again) are the most affected. She started declining hospital food and demanding to go home pretty much from the start. When I come in to visit she'll eat for me (but very little). Sometimes she'll eat for certain nurses. When she feels like it.

It's been a week.

We don't plan on force-feeding her, and vetoed a feeding tube. We are hoping that the new environment of the nursing home and different food may stimulate her appetite. The intention is fr her to have rehab. Hopefully they can get her up and walking again, as she's been in a bed since she came to the hospital. For a week.


Discharge is planned for tomorrow. As much as I am making decisions, I feel helpless. Numb. Mom is really in charge. Everyone here at the hospital has been very helpful and friendly, but I'm ready for the next step.

It's been a week.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

grab the fun when you can

More moments of fun in the middle of our hospital-visiting routine.

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

respite

Last night we took a much-needed break from the home-hospital-home routine.

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Friday, June 21, 2013

day 5

Mom is still resisting eating at the hospital — mostly because the soft food they are offering her tastes horrible — she's fine with chocolate Ensure, or just about chocolate anything. She doesn't seem to have broken anything, so if we are lucky and she holds steady tonight, we may be able to get her out of there tomorrow. Of course, "out of there" means that she will then be moved on to a rehab facility, where they can get her moving and eating. For how long there remains to be seen. It's still day-by-day mode around here for the present.

Chocolate can apparently solve some ills

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

time stands still

Why does everything at a hospital take so long? At least when the patient has insurance, it sure seems to. But as the hours and days drag on, I at least feel that my mom is getting good quality of care. It's just hard to see her light up when we enter the room and then get pissed off when she realizes that I'm not there to spring her, just to visit. She's on the mend, but it looks like its going to be a long, slow road.

I had this poster on my wall for years, until it finally fell apart. Time Stands Still (Megáll az idő) is a great, little-seen Hungarian film. I'm going to have to hunt it down. It's been years since I've seen it.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

i hate doctor shows

I have never understood the attraction for doctor or hospital dramas. Or comedies. For me, being in a hospital is not a fun experience, whether you are there for yourself or for a loved one. You are not only exposed to germs, but the ongoing dramas and foibles of fellow patients and their families.



While being parked in the ER on Monday night with my mom as we waited for a bed in ICU to open up, we were treated to one after another triage episode. A man who had fallen down drunk outside his apartment building whose neighbors had called 911. A woman on dialysis who was screaming for pain medication, and the debate after she had moved on by two ER male nurses over whether she had needed the dilaudid and their hesitation in calling the on-call doctor to approve it. Another woman, apparently from a local psychiatric facility, was visting her third ER of the day (this part of Florida has quite a few hospitals) and we were treated to the derogatory banter about her between the EMS techs who dropped her off and the RNs receiving her.

The nurses were quite professional with each patient, but we got to hear more of their behind-the-scenes chatter than we wanted to. We were there during a shift-change, so we also got to hear maybe more than if it had been early in the morning.

Television shows like House or Grey's Anatomy or ER have always held absolutely no appeal for me.* I really don't want to experience vicariously either the patient's rare disease of the week or their family member's fears or end-of-life decision making. Soap operas seem too hospital-centric, too. Not for me. If I have to view blood and guts, keep it in the realm of fantasy, like Game of Thrones or Lost or Buffy or Angel. If I want to watch a doctor on a show, let it be Dr. Watson or Dr. McCoy. I get enough real-life health drama as it is these days. I want to escape.


*The only exception to this rule that I can think of is Quincy M.E., which I used to love watching with my dad. But that was probably due more to Jack Klugman (Oscar, Oscar, Oscar!) than whatever health-related puzzle he was trying to unravel or topical injustice he was battling.
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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

bed 17

My mom took a fall yesterday. The kid heard it happen, 911 was called, and she was whisked to a hospital in record time. And then the big wait. First one ER, then another, at what was deemed a more appropriate hospital. As the seconds, minutes, and hours ticked away into a seemingly never-ending blob of incoming trauma patients that we could only hear through a curtained partition, I realized, that with all of her ongoing issues (dementia), we have really been lucky with mom. This was the first time we have had to go to a hospital with her in a very long time.

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We are now in the wait-and-see mode, while the appropriate teams check her from stem to stern and make sure there was no damage to her head, spine, or hip (we got conflicting reports on the latter, but hopefully just an initial false alarm.) It sucks that she has to spend some time in the hospital, but she is in the best place for her at the moment. It puts us in "the zone," that emotional and physical place that seems like your regular day-to-day life, but just isn't. Not fun at all. But we're hanging in there.
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Monday, June 17, 2013

free fallin'

One of my favorite tunes also perfectly suits my mood today.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

happy dad's day

Joseph Francis Periale

Joseph at the beach, c. 1935

JFP & Bunny, 8th Street, Belmar

Saturday, June 15, 2013

grandma's (and the kid's) favorite restaurant

Sometimes you just have to treat the kids to lunch ...

Luckily, I get a treat, too.

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And after lunch we can check out the koi pond.

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Friday, June 14, 2013

i draw the line at led zeppelin (and billy joel and ... and ...)

We listen to the radio a lot in the car when we're out and about. I get sick of all the Kelly Clarkson/Taylor Swift/Katy Perry stuff on the pop station that my daughter likes, so we frequently switch to the oldies station — my mom, who has dementia, actually perks up and recognizes all of her favorite artists from times past, like the Bee Gees, Bruce Springsteen, Beach Boys, and the Eagles.

My mom had a mega-crush on Barry Gibb — probably still does
My mom was always a big fan of rock music, so our spins on the dial can land on either a pop or rock station. I don't mind hearing the Eagles and even the Bee Gees (although they rarely play the great, early songs), but I have to admit that lately I have been drawing the line at Led Zeppelin and changing the station when they come up. I'm not sure why their music sounds to me not just nostalgic, like the others, but out of date. Maybe it's Robert Plant's voice? I know for rock 'n roll aficionados, to criticize Zeppelin is probably as unpopular or unbelievable a statement to make as, "I hate chocolate," but there it is. I just don't have the patience while driving to sit through "Stairway to Heaven" for the umpteenth time. Ditto "The Wall" by Pink Floyd.

Yes, they are one of rock's great bands. No, I don't want to listen to them.

My mom never seems to mind if I skip Zeppelin or Pink Floyd. She's always been more of a Beatles/Rolling Stones fan anyway. I have found that I actually enjoy hearing the Stones more these days than when my mom played their music when I was a kid. Other no-gos: I don't want to hear Eric Clapton either. Or Elton John or Billy Joel if I can help it. So sue me.  I'm not always so successful with the latter two artists, as my mom really likes Elton John. "Crocodile Rock." Ouch.

We saw Elton at Madison Square Garden together many years ago. He was great. I just wish our local station would play some different songs by him. They seem caught in a "Crocodile Rock" and "Levon" programming loop.
Of course these days I'm as likely to hear music from my youth on an oldies station as from my mom's era. Time flies. Sigh. Music of the '80s and '90s are in as heavy rotation as "Moving Out" and “How Deep Is Your Love.” To be fair, there are artists from my oldies era that I will also skip if I can. Cyndi Lauper. Her songs are well-written, and I'd like to see Kinky Boots. It's just her voice that grates me. The Eurythmics. I know. Annie Lennox is great, but I don't want to hear "Here Comes the Rain Again." Ever.

Are there any songs or artists from bygone days that I am surprised that I am happy to hear? Michael Jackson comes to mind. Maybe it's because our station plays songs like "Man in the Mirror" and "Off the Wall" versus "Bad." But his music is always upbeat. K.C. and the Sunshine Band is also guilty pleasure fun. I have to admit that sometimes it feels a bit like I'm driving around in a time capsule. Will I ever get to hear contemporary music again — that isn't the kid's bubblegum pop? Suggestions welcome.
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Thursday, June 13, 2013

brad pitt, comedian

Like many actors, Brad Pitt wants to mix it up in the roles he selects. Blessed and cursed with All-American good looks, Pitt has both utilized (Thelma & Louise, Troy) as well as tried to mess with (Snatch.) or underplay (Twelve Monkeys) his handsome visage and physique in roles through the years.

Pitt is undeniably a movie star, and can get films made, whether by his star power or involvement as a producer. He has been quite active as a producer for many years, on critically and financially successful films (some in which he has also appeared): World War Z, Killing Them Softly, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, Eat Pray Love, Kick-Ass, The Time Traveler's Wife, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, A Mighty Heart, Running with Scissors, The Departed. Moneyball would never have been made if not for Pitt's dedication and involvement in all phases of production.

As serious as Pitt must be about both the business and the art of making movies, and as good as he has been in some of his more serious roles — Moneyball, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Kalifornia — I think he is most enjoyable to watch on screen when he utilizes his sense of humor.

As good as some of his more dramatics parts may have been, I'd much prefer to watch him as the unintelligible fighter Mickey O'Neil in Snatch., Guy Ritchie's goofy crime caper.


Mickey (Pitt): Ah, save your breath for cooling your porridge. Now, look ... She wants the Hector-2 roof lights, uh ... the stylish ash-framed furniture and the scatter cushions with the matching shag pile covering. Right. And she's terrible partial to the periwinkle blue, boys. Have I made myself clear, boys?

Turkish (Jason Statham): Yeah, that's perfectly clear, Mickey. Yeah ... just give me one minute to confer with my colleague. ... Did you understand a single word of what he just said?

He's also a blast as hen-pecked assassin John Smith in Doug Liman's Mr. And Mrs. Smith, trading quips and punches with costar Angelina Jolie.


John Smith: Your aim's as bad as your cooking sweetheart ... and that's saying something!

The Mexican, directed by Gore Verbinski, is a far-from-great movie, but Pitt is fun and funny with costars Julia Roberts and James Gandolfini.


Jerry (Pitt): Look, I'm not going to kill you. But I am going to have to shoot you.
Car Thief: But why, sir? Why? 
Jerry: Why? Why? Because you stole from me and you know about the pistol and you're just gonna steal again and I can't have you coming back in the situation like a fly in the ointment. 
Car Thief: No, I won't be a fly! You'll never see me again. 
Jerry: Look, you're getting shot and that's it. It will take you time to get to the next town especially if you're limping. 
Car Thief: Wait! Wait! What? Limping? Can't you just tie me up some more? I mean, fuck, you shoot me? Tie me! 
Jerry: Yeah. I don't have a rope. 
Car Thief: So you shoot me? 
Jerry: It's the American way.

David Fincher's Fight Club is serious, violent, but also wickedly funny. Pitt, as Tyler Durden, gets some of the best action and lines.


Tyler Durden (Pitt): Would you like to say a few words to mark the occasion? 
Narrator (Edward Norton): mumbles ... 
Tyler Durden: I'm sorry ... 
Narrator: I still can't think of anything. 
Tyler Durden: Ah ... flashback humor.
Forget all the Ocean's movies, they're fun, but there's too much plot and other A-list cast for Pitt to really shine. Whether he is poking fun at himself or those around him in the movies he makes, Pitt, when he relaxes and lets loose, can be a hoot.
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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

bring up the bodies

Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall was an amazing read. Winner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize and the first book in a trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, advisor to Henry VIII, Mantel took an oft-told history in an entertaining manner — how Cromwell helped Henry discard his first wife Katherine of Aragon, marry Anne Boleyn, and break away from the Emperor and Catholicism to create the Church of England. Along the way we witnessed Cromwell's personal tragedies — his loss of his wife Liz and two daughters Anne and Grace, to the "sweating sickness," his idolization of his mentor Cardinal Wolsey and his surviving Wolsey's fall from the king's graces, and his hand in the end of Thomas More. One might wonder if there was really that much more to tell, but Mantel's second book in the series (the 2012 Man Booker Prize winner), Bring Up the Bodies, starts off with a bang and doesn't let up, as it chronicles Henry's growing impatience with second wife Anne, who has only been able to produce a female child (who will one day become Elizabeth I) as his attentions turn to the young and pliable Jane Seymour.
“She is very plain. What does Henry see in her?'"
"He thinks she's stupid. He finds it restful.”
Henry VII and his Family, by an unknown artist. L-R: Princess Mary, Prince Edward, Henry VIII, Jane Seymour, Elizabeth
Cromwell's charge is his King's desire, and more than political power or religious reform, Henry's main goal is to produce a male heir and continue the Tudor royal line. Cromwell, as intelligent as ever, looks at every situation from several angles, always trying to serve England. His knowledge of many languages and cultures creates a truly diverse household — in fact his home seems more sophisticated in many ways than the King's many residences. Mantel sketches Cromwell's life at home and at court in fascinating detail. If there is anything to criticize in Bring Up the Bodies, it is the author's continued insistence of using a device she used in Wolf Hall, writing from Cromwell's perspective with clunky sentences that start, "He, Cromwell ..." But the rest of the book is so spot-on, so involving, that stylistic quibbles soon seem just that — quibbles.
“How many men can say, as I must, 'I am a man whose only friend is the King of England'? I have everything, you would think. And yet take Henry away, and I have nothing.”
Mantel tells her story from Cromwell's perspective, and at times we are privy to his dreams and memories. But our "hero" is not above using his station to exact revenge. He sees how the inevitable fall of the new queen Anne (of which he shows not much remorse nor pity) can be used to punish men who had insulted his revered Wolsey — the Queen's brother George Boleyn, Henry Norris, William Brereton, and Francis Weston.
"Look, he says: once you have exhausted the process of negotiation and compromise, one you have fixed on the destruction of an enemy, that destruction must be swift and it must be perfect. Before you even glance in his direction, you should have his name on a warrant, the ports blocked, his wife and friends bought, his heir under your protection, his money in your strong room and his dog running to your whistle. Before he wakes in the morning, you should have the axe in your hand."
Thomas Cromwell, by Hans Holbein
Cromwell may be on top at the end of Bring Up the Bodies, but the reader doesn't have to know all the details of his life to know that he is poised for a fall. Medieval politics were rough and frequently brutal, and a rough man like Cromwell, from the wrong side of London was, for a time, the perfect man to get things done.

Originally published on Blogcritics: Book Review: Bring Up the Bodies – by Hilary Mantel

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

of all the sherlocks i've loved before

Sherlock Holmes, the master detective, was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887. Conan Doyle featured this most famous of London's consulting detectives in four novels (A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of the Four, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Valley of Fear) and 56 short stories. Holmes was a decidedly quirky but engaging character. His incredible powers of observation, his enormous ego, his attention to the most minute details, his love of disguise, his pipe smoking and cocaine habit — all add to this most well-rounded of fictional characters.

Holmes is so well-known that even his address, 221B, Baker Street, London, seems familiar to most. But what really makes the reader connect with the detective is how they get to know him through his friend and colleague, Dr. John H. Watson, who assists him on his cases and keeps a record of them and a subsequent biography of Holmes and his methods.

Basil Rathbone made the deerstalker and pipe look good
The first filmed version of Sherlock Holmes was in 1900, but most people have probably first encountered the detective as played by Basil Rathbone, with Nigel Bruce as his sidekick Dr. Watson. The duo appeared in in fourteen Hollywood productions, from 1939-46:

The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror, Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, Sherlock Holmes in Washington, Sherlock Holmes Faces Death, The Spider Woman, The Scarlet Claw, The Pearl of Death, The House of Fear, The Woman in Green, Pursuit to Algiers, Terror by Night, Dressed to Kill


Jeremy Brett practices violin to hone his mental powers

Rathbone, with his eloquent delivery, made for a dashing, impressive Holmes. But his interpretation was supplanted by what many consider to be the definitive version as played by Jeremy Brett, for Granada Television (from 1984-94). Two actors, David Burke and Edward Hardwicke, played Watson opposite Brett in the series. Brett's Holmes is supercilious, brilliant, but also human. The stories were all kept in their original Victorian London setting, although Holmes and Watson go farther afield when the case calls for it. I've seen other actors try their hand at Holmes — Peter Cushing (The Hound of the Baskervilles), Christopher Lee (Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady), Christopher Plummer (Murder By Decree), Nicol Williamson (The Seven-Per-Cent Solution), but Brett, more than any of them, seems to have captured the essence of the character.

Robert Downey, Jr. considers his next move
But Sherlock Holmes need not stay rooted in the past. Recently there has been a sudden renewal of interest in portraying a character that most are either overly familiar with — a Victorian-era armchair detective. In director Guy Ritchie's version, Holmes is a kick-ass, take-charge master of deduction, with the wry humor of Robert Downey, Jr. Downey, Jr. is paired with a fractious but devoted friend in Jude Law's Watson. They have so far appeared in two very high-powered entertaining films together, Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and in all likelihood, considering the films' success at the box office, will team up again, if Downey, Jr.'s other alter-ego, Iron Man, doesn't get in the way. Ritchie keeps Holmes in the Victorian era, although with a modern sensibility.

Benedict Cumberbatch considers his latest clue
There have been two other recent interpretations of Holmes, both updating the detective and his cases to the 20th century, while always keeping a nod to the original source material. The most critically acclaimed has been Sherlock, from BBC One, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the famous detective, with Martin Freeman as John Watson. Created by Dr. Who veterans Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, the focus is on an extremely anti-social Holmes, who utilizes the internet and other modern technology to physically separate himself from the world, while enabling him to cerebrally engage from the safety of his rooms and solve difficult cases. Cumberbatch manages to make his Holmes a little creepy and off-putting, and yet a little sexy, too. It's a fine balance, but he really pulls it off. Brilliantly.

Jonny Lee Miller utilizes varying techniques to aid his powers of deduction
On American television, on CBS, there is also now Elementary, featuring Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes. Watson, played by Lucy Liu, has been assigned to Holmes to help him overcome his drug addiction. They are invariably called in to solve some of modern day New York's most puzzling cases. Miller and Liu have a nice chemistry, and while it is not as over-the-top as Sherlock, it is also an entertaining interpretation.

Whatever your poison, Cumberbatch or Downey, Jr. or Brett or Miller or Rathbone, what all of these interpretations of Conan Doyle's master detective prove is that maybe there is always room for a new Sherlock Holmes.
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Monday, June 10, 2013

game of thrones finale: well, that was a little… anticlimactic

After last week's brutal red wedding, I guess the creators of Game of Thrones wanted to breathe a sigh of relief and let the audience do that as well. But sometimes you can go a little too far in the other direction. There were definitely some great scenes in Sunday night's third season finale episode, "Mhysa," but the overall feeling that viewers were left with at the end of the program was, "Is that it?" Ending the season with Daenerys and her dragons may have seemed smart from a special effects and "We're spending all this money" point of view, but it was a little dull and anticlimactic. No white walkers? No Mance Rader?

"Mhysa" means "mother," so Dany is now not just the mother of dragons, but a whole lot more
Without being a spoiler-sport, as a reader of the books I was hoping to maybe see a few of the more memorable events that I know are yet to come. I think it might have been wiser if the action in "Mhysa" had stayed in King's Landing. Instead we got to touch base with all the major (and minor) players of the season, as the roundelay script tried to tie up everyone's loose ends. The scene with the perpetually tortured Theon and the corresponding scene in the Iron Islands with his father and sister were very good ones, but were they crucial to this episode, to wrapping up this season? They could have been better placed at the beginning of next season. Alternating between the Lannisters in the south and what was happening with what was left of the Starks in the north would have been the way to go. And ending with the scene with Arya and The Hound would have been a much more slam-bang finish. The CGI dragons must be costing them a fortune to create, but ... yawn.

Tyrion and Sansa bond over their outcast status
What was good in the south:

Everything with Peter Dinklage. His portrayal of Tyrion Lannister just continues to deepen. And Charles Dance constantly amazes as paterfamilias Tywin Lannister. Tywin put the horrible king-in-name-only Joffrey yet again in his place. I was so hoping for a little bit more Joffrey ... Next season.  In another one of his gut-wrenching discussions with Tyrion, Tywin tried to reduce the red wedding massacre as just an efficient way to end the war, "Explain to me why it is more noble to kill 10,000 men in battle than a dozen at dinner." Tyrion keeps hoping for a different sort of response from his father. Did this last father-son talk cure him of that? The scene between Varys and Shae added dimension to both characters and their positions in the Lannister household, as that is what King's Landing is at the moment. Varys offered Shae diamonds and told her to skedaddle, "Tyrion Lannister is one of the few people who can make this country a better place... you are a complication ... your presence endangers him." But Shae wasn't biting. Jamie came home, but we didn't really get to see him reunite with Cersei or anyone else.

What was good in the north:

John telling Ygritte he loved her and getting shot full of arrows. A woman scorned ... Bran met Sam, and Sam and Gilly returned to the precarious safety of the Wall and the Nights Watch. Ser Davos helping Gendry escape Dragonstone and convinced Stannis to help the Nights Watch battle what's coming from beyond the Wall (and not execute him for his saving Gendry). The Red Woman Melisandre uncharacteristically agreed with Davos, "The true war lies to the North." But the most powerful scene of the episode featured Arya and The Hound on the road.

They are a team, for now (image from popjunk).
As much as this finale may have been a bit of a letdown, I of course can't wait until next season. There's still so much more to come. The acting on Game of Thrones is always stellar, and this season the show has looked better than ever. The lighting and the set design continues to blow me away — it's downright painterly, with many scenes seemingly lit with candlelight, creating chiaroscuro shadows. Game of Thrones just keeps getting better and better. I just wish they didn't feel they had to check in with everybody in town to tell a story to finish the season. To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, "Mhysa" ended not with a bang, but a whimper. Oh well, summer is coming.
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Sunday, June 09, 2013

medieval grimace

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I can't remember where I snapped this, but the expression on the figure on the left is priceless.