Monday, May 18, 2015

Game of Thrones and your modern thinking...

Ramblings Post #291
I've read science fiction/fantasy for years, sometimes seeing the story it originated from and other times missing the point entirely. What I have a problem with now, is that people who don't read it are discovering it because Hollywood finally ran out of other ideas. And they're having a horrible time trying to apply their current outlook on life and modern society to something that would regard them just as much fantasy in return. It's like hearing people discuss why the physics don't work in your favorite comic book. Ugh. That's not why we're here people!

by Fernando Mendonça
For the people upset at the ending of Game of Thrones episode “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” I’m fairly certain that Disney will welcome you back with open arms.

Killing and beheading because a character is a little miffed? Oh sure. Onscreen disemboweling when a quick allusion to the death would suffice?  Yes please. A completely in context story point and character appropriate action that results in an assault on a woman? Oh my god what am I watching, you horrid horrid people! 

Sansa was in a room with Ramsey Bolton. Locked in a room. On her wedding night.  If nothing else, the cultural assumption for the setting, in just the basic the context of the story, was that something had to happen. No ifs, no ands, no buts. I really hope no one thought Sansa would somehow seduce Ramsey and masterfully maintain the fragile bit of agency she’d gained in the past few episodes. And the idea that she’d get the same deal from Ramsey that Tyrion gave her was a fanciful notion at best. By the Seven, her new ‘husband’ neutered the other person in the room, something which received no outcry at all if I remember correctly.  The idea that this ‘event’ wasn’t going to be pleasant shouldn’t have been shocking or even unexpected.

Get a grip people.

I get irked when people who don’t know the genre or the style of story get upset trying to apply modern values or cultural norms. This is a despicable character doing a very despicable thing in a time and place where despicable things were all too commonplace. No, this wasn’t in the book, what was in the book was much, much worse – although it happened to a character Ramsey just thought was a Stark, but it still happened. But this television, or a serial drama, or however you want to characterize it, and things are  condensed. So this happened. Again, Disney is like four channels over. Bye.

By Fernando Mendonça
But since we’re off the books anyway and Brienne is around the corner, might we get a light at the highest window  of the tower? Brienne kidnaps Sansa and the daughter becomes Lady Stoneheart instead of her resurrected mother, due to this trauma? Maybe we’ll get to see Ramsay get his comeuppance, something I now hope to happen like I wanted Joffrey to die. All things are possible.

Seriously people, in an episode all about lies, with Arya learning to to lie, Loras and Margery lying with imperial pomposity, and Tyrion and Jorah lying to save their skins and other parts, the simply idea that Ramsey Bolton wasn’t lying when he gave his word to Littlefinger that he “wouldn’t hurt her” shouldn’t have been a shock at all.

Barkeep, some wine. I don't know, what ever the vintage they drink at King's Landing will do. 

By Fernando Mendonça

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Thrill is Gone

BB King.

I lived a long walk away from Chastain Park for five years when I first moved to Atlanta. There they have one of the best venues in town to watch a concert. I saw a couple of shows there, good times, but the one I always wanted to see was the annual concert BB King would have near the end of the season. Just for the chance to see him play live. But I could never afford the tickets...

I had read that he'd been doing poorly as of late, but I figured he'd pull through. That he might still play or show or two from time to time and one night, say a Wednesday in Memphis, I'd be having dinner with friends and get to see him a one-off performance.

Dreams die hard.

Play on big daddy. Play on.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I just wanted to win...

Ramblings Post #290
It is what it's gonna be. I've been gone for a minute, if it wasn't one thing it was another. But I'm back and after liking the Cowboys draft I'm back on football for a minute. I got a few other things I'm gonna comment on, a few other ideas rolling around my head but right now I'm on this. So don't let the smooth taste fool ya!

The Jets fans move quick - via Manish Mehta's twitter  

First, let’s get one thing straight.

The NFL is punishing Tom Brady and the Pats for cheating on the field during a game. I’ve seen a number of memes about how the league is treating this “trifle” as a similar infraction to domestic violence or alleged child abuse, and it’s not a fair comparison. Those issues people like to point out are issues from outside of football, societal issues, and we’ve only recently, for other reasons, taken to punishing those individuals extra-judicially in this forum for those infractions. But that shouldn’t minimize or mitigate any discussion about “on the field” infractions and their penalties. 

So there’s that.

Now, after reading an article on Slate, by what must have been a Patriots fan, I seriously think that Brady and the Pats got off easy. Playing in the NFL, as we get reminded often isn’t a right but a privilege. That the golden boy is still playing at all is a miracle after he stood up and blatantly lied to the press that he knew nothing about it, refused to cooperate with the investigation and we found out there was a guy on the Patriots’ staff who called himself “the deflator”. It’s not like he was deflating them for the backup QBs.

Again, the person who intercepted the ball had it for less than 30 seconds and knew something was off with it. For Brady to have handled it 50 times in the same game and not noticed the difference borders on the surreal. Brady has played football man and boy for more than 20 years. He should intuitively know how the ball feels. Imagine your keyboard at work is missing a single key. You might not notice at first, but as the day goes on it would become an issue, wouldn’t it? Unless of course, you were "used" to it being that way. (Note: this is not implying that this happens all the time and this is one time they got caught. I would not do that. )    

The reality is a top tier team getting caught cheating for the second time (see Spygate) is shortly going to start having detrimental effects upon the integrity of the game – if not angering the 31 other owners who are getting cheated. Are they really a top tier team? Were all those wins really wins? Because letting some people cheat begets why this set of rules questions, a performance enhancing drug conversation, a salary cap discussion, then even a bigger money roundtable and before you know it we have the two richest teams playing each in the SuperBowl every year because no one else can afford to compete.* Slipperly slopes are slippery for a reason.

Brady is 37, way past his prime, and if he isn’t already, should be thinking hard about retirement.  Let’s be honest, the only reason he didn’t get a year off is because his name is Brady he puts buts in the seats. But we have to do something now, some sort of punishment, as this will all be forgotten by the time the Hall of Fame question arises. What’s sad is that this means the NFL doesn’t have the integrity of International Bike Racing.  

Barkeep. Another Lime Rickey.

*Yeah, like baseball. Keep in mind this might take twenty years to happen. But since the now DBs are just about having to defend with their hands behind their backs this isn’t as crazy as it sounds.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Baltimore 2015

This is a political post. 

Apparently we've learned nothing. And are learning nothing.

First let me state that I don't agree with the rioting and the property destruction. It's pointless and senseless, self inflicted wounds if you will. But the rioting and looting isn't the most heinous of acts happening, for that's like saying the injuries are worse than the crash. No one seems to be asking how could we have avoided the crash, and then how can avoid the next one.

The news media doesn't surprise me.

Images of riots draw eyeballs. And news outlets need eyeballs.

The news media has a vested interest in excitement. And answers don't come in sound bites, 3D graphics and talking head discussions in two minute segments that lead to commercial. It comes from hard serious and sober conversations about the underlying root issues that got us here and what can be done to address them that exhaust the participants. But if you'll notice, the seeds of those conversations are being reduced to blurbs the announcers can breeze through while they show this video of something on fire. High unemployment and this burning building. Horrible education and these images of police in riot gear. Injustice and look at the smoke in this panoramic shot. These potshots of news and information allow the guilty souls of vampire news to sleep at night. 

That the people of Baltimore are experiencing the pains that come from shrugging your shoulders in the face of injustice is...tragic. People marched fifty years ago for these same ideas. And yet here we still are, wondering why? But there is no need to wonder.

It's been 60 years and ain't a damned thing changed.

Image from Tumblr ( and I know they don't know where they got it)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Odd Quotes

"I find the best way to love someone is not to change them, but instead, to help them reveal the greatest version of themselves."
~ Steve Maraboli (tweaked just a hair)  

Saturday, April 18, 2015

About this Superhero thing...

Ramblings Post #289
Peter Parker is Spiderman. Period. I know the kids really like Miles Morales, but let’s just keep our heads here people. For a less iconic superhero I might be okay with a change – see all them damn Green Lanterns – but Spiderman is more than a suit and powers. He’s the original hard luck hero.  The hero with bills. With great power comes great responsibility. And there are just some stories that should not change. Omigod, I cannot believe I just wrote that.

I love comic books.

I started reading comic books back when they cost fifty cents and every plot didn’t involve tearing the universe asunder or a galaxy spanning conspiracy. Back when Spiderman was referred to as “your friendly neighborhood Spiderman” and good and evil were a bit more cut and dried. And I was more of a Marvel guy than a DC guy as well, as I thought them more grounded. Even so, I moved on from the big titles to smaller ones as I grew older, the smaller titles usually less grandiose in their ideas of what villainy might be, where every scheme didn’t involve global domination. I’d still pick the stalwarts though from time to time to stay current – Spiderman, Batman, Wolverine, the occasional mini-series or trade paperback. I dabbled more than anything.
But as of today I think a little movie success has caused them folks at Marvel to lose their minds.

In setting up their new Once a year super crossover “hey, let’s get you interested in a another character so you’ll buy that book too!” you got to be kidding me jeez not again with this crap again Spectacular, they’re going to so far as to stop printing thirty three regular titles. Sigh. I’ve never really been one for the retcon – the comic book writer habit of rewriting years of established history to fit the story they came up with last week – but this is one for the books. (that pun was not on purpose.) Reading through the promo I’m not even sure how it all fits together, and I'm not even sure I want to find out.

I bought the first Secret Wars series, which made sense to some degree, taking all the top end superheroes and facing them off against the high end super villains away from the billions in destruction they would have surely cause on Earth. Okay, it made comic book sense. It gave us Venom and Carnage and new character arcs. The second Secret Wars kinda made sense as well, the impetus behind the first Secret Wars coming to Earth, although it might be better executed with the broader scope writers of today are afforded. But this monstrosity of crossover, I'm like really? This is a complete and total exodus of the idea of subtle and nuanced for the grandiose demonstration... which if you're paying attention will be undone three years from now in another grandiose demonstration. I understand crossover pollination, but damn. I'm scared to go the Comic Book store and get caught up in this mess.

It's like the Hollywood mentality is taking over comic books and not the other way around. Comics are a hard medium to write for, as the characters are so firmly established. And the nature of the medium means the world can't be at stake every month, you have to build up to things. Film by comparison is short, picks and chooses from the canon what it wants to use and seemingly necessitates the spectacular with every outing. This is both tiring and messy for the fan to watch even as we're excited to see our favorites come to life. And now it seems like those film directors who didn't understand the characters they've been handed are infecting the writers and editors who were passed down the characters they were supposed to care for that we've come to love.

I want comics to get back to stories that developed character and involved small things, or at least didn't involve extra dimensions and six different clones every issue. A little skirmish. Every battle need not be World War Three in fifteen pages to be interesting. Maybe I got spoiled. Or maybe I just need to stick with the independents and the small stories.

Just one more Spidey though. I can quit anytime.

Barkeep. A mixing bowl, a spoon, a big box of Rice Krispies, some sugar and milk. Seriously.