carrie fisher, erlend loe, game of thrones and the end of the world

For awhile now I’ve held the belief that the human race is on the decline. This belief has been reinforced by many small clues that we, as a species, are ceasing to grow in intelligence and physical strength and are, in fact, becoming weaker as we dumb down. This decline may prove to be our downfall, because while many will believe that our physical strength is actually improving it is but a trick to fool us into thinking we are safe. After all, the American bison is a big, strong animal but its physical strength could not save it from being rendered almost extinct by self-serving humans with neither insight nor foresight, and was saved only by the most intelligent members of our species.

One example of our decline was made clear when I first heard a line spoken by Carrie Fisher in a 1980s film whose name I’ve forgotten (it could have been ‘Hannah and Her Sisters’) but it was a gem:

“Instant gratification takes too long.”

That line illustrates the extremes of self-indulgent behaviour and the death of the human quality of patience. The attitude has been reinforced by the electronic culture we are living in, with the invention of distracting electronic devices such as cellphones, tablets, smartphones, etc. This attitude cannot be a good thing and for me does not bode well for the future of the human race.

How many people today still have the gift of patience? How many are willing to wait for something they want? Not many, when the world is full of easy credit, legal money lenders and online streaming of hit TV shows that are not yet scheduled to be shown but have been stolen and released to a slavering public whose only human quality is impatience?

Yes, I am referring to the leaked episodes of Game of Thrones that were streamed publicly at the beginning of Season Five. Since I still retain a touch of patience I am not going to watch these episodes ahead of time. I’d rather wait and see them along with the general public when I can watch them on a large high definition TV screen. See, even I am not without my treasured electronic devices. I am part of the human race too and I know I am in decline.

While I enjoy visiting the websites related to Game of Thrones and reading all the fans’ comments I am shocked by how many actually prefer the TV series to the books. Most of the reasons given seem to be that George R.R. Martin writes “too much detail” in his descriptions and storytelling. Personally, I love the detail, especially because I know I am going to have to wait a very long time until he finishes writing the series of books the TV show is based on, so I might as well have a lot to read, again and again and again. And these books stand up to many a re-read because there is so much information contained within them that a lot of stuff is missed no matter how many times one reads each book.

In contrast to the patient book reader, the TV show viewers who are not interested in reading the books want what they want when they want it (or even before that) and have no patience for long exposition and lots of detail. I think the TV show and its producers have done a pretty good job but for me the thrills come more from the show’s great visuals and actors, but not so much the storytelling. By leaving out a great many parts of the plots they have messed with characters’ motivations as well as leaving a ton of loose ends. Characters just tend to fall off the map, i.e. Edmure Tully, his new wife, the Blackfish, Thoros of Myr, Beric Dondarrion, Osha and Rickon, to name just a few. Other characters who could help the exposition have been left out entirely. What happened to the Freys? Where are the Ironborn? Quentyn Martell? I could get into this more deeply, except that this post wasn’t supposed to be a critique of Game of Thrones.

Another indication that human beings are on their way out came from a book I read a few years ago called ‘Naive Super’ written by Norwegian novelist Erlend Loe. This book is about a university dropout who left school because he didn’t see a point in it anymore. Instead, he’d rather study the people around him, make lists of random things, and write letters to a scientist named Paul Davies whose book he is currently reading has fascinated and scared him into thinking the universe is coming to an end. The letter contains a list of pertinent questions such as:

#3. Do you sometimes feel that everything you do is futile because the sun will be burnt out in 5 billion years?

#6. How is it possible that the past, the present and the future all exist at the same time?

#10. Do you think that the human brain is capable of thinking an infinite number of thoughts?

In Paul Davies’ book is also an interesting exercise which could determine how far along human beings are in their term of existence. Two urns contain names written on pieces of paper. In the first urn are 10 pieces of paper, in the other 1,000. You are to write your own name on a piece of paper and place it in the urn with the most pieces. Next, the papers are removed. Depending on where your name is drawn, and calculating that if this is to count for everyone who will ever live, then there should be a 2 in 3 chance that the total number is limited and that we are approaching the end. (Erlend’s name came up 3rd out of 1,000 when he conducted this experiment.)

The above makes perfect sense to me and serves to reinforce the idea that the human race will cease to exist fairly soon, relatively speaking, and it is all because of our own stupidity, mixed with impatience and greed.

ASOIAF vs GOT

As I long-time fan of the book series written by George R.R. Martin and one-time huge fan of the TV series (mostly) written by David Benioff & David Weiss  I have become gradually disappointed by the TV series throughout its current run of four seasons. In order to get some of the angst off my chest I’ve decided to start blogging about what bothers me.

I wish I’d started this blog long before now, but because I haven’t these posts will not necessarily be in any order, following the two different storylines followed by books and TV show, but will just be about stuff that bothers me as it comes up.

First, I’m going to introduce myself. I sometimes comment on the various GOT websites like Watchers on the Wall, Winter is Coming and Tower of the Hand as Jenny of Oldstones. My real name is Jenny as well, or Jenni. On Facebook I use my real name and surname, Jennifer Lennox. On Twitter I am just_jenni, as well as on Livejournal. I keep Livejournal as mostly a venue in which to post real life stuff as well as about my favourite sport, soccer (or as it is called in Europe, football).

I am Canadian, born in Vancouver, living in Toronto now, of British parents. My mother was English, born in the Tottenham area of London, and my father’s background is Scottish (his father) and American (his mother). My personal life will probably never be discussed here. I’ll use this blog to discuss not only ASOIAF and GOT but other books, book series and TV shows or movies that I enjoy.

The new season got underway last Sunday and while I thought Episode One wasn’t too bad there were some things that disappointed the hell out of me.  First, I was looking forward to the scene in the sept where Tywin’s body lay, only to have Cersei begin to flip out about so many things, including the fact that Tywin’s corpse was giving off the most offensive foul odor ever to have come off a rotting dead body.  I wanted to see her grab Tommen by the ear and haul him outside because he had vomited at the stench of Tywin.  I wouldn’t even have minded if they didn’t show Cersei burning down the Tower of the Hand with wildfire because that could be left until another episode (and I do hope the show gives us this gem).  But no, there was nothing about how bad Tywin stunk.  Cersei even bent down to kiss his forehead!  That’s terrible, in my opinion.  Here was a fantastic opportunity to provide more depth to the proceedings and show the fans more of Cersei’s character.  It would have given her something to do!  If you think about it, what does Cersei do in the way of actual action?  NOTHING, usually.  I know she is a fantastic character.  She is the most evil woman who ever lived, then or now, in fantasy or reality.  Please, please, please let us have more of her moving around!  The best scene for me of Cersei last season was when she walked over the bloody guts that The Mountain had strewn all over the ground, holding her skirts and gaining his promise to be her representative in the trial by combat against Oberyn Martell and Tyrion.  But I digress.

Why do so many of the main female characters travel to different places and get to do active things?  Arya, Brienne, Cat, Dany and even Sansa are examples of those. But Cersei is so sedentary!  Even if she must stay in the Red Keep because of the plot, could she at least do something that requires some physical effort, like yanking Tommen outside the sept by his ear?  We have not seen Cersei go anywhere since the first season when Robert made her go to Winterfell with him, or do much of anything else except drink wine.

The other major thing that bothered me in that scene was that Jaime didn’t do anything either.  He acted as numb as a female White Walker’s tit.  It would have been great if he and his sis had had a physical fight or something over the top of Tywin’s corpse.  This wasn’t the main thing that bugged me, though.  That was what Grey Worm said to Missandei in answer to her question about why an Unsullied would want to visit a brothel.  What he replied in the show was, “I don’t know.”

“I don’t know”????  What kind of dull answer is that???

In the book, what he said was,  “Even those who lack a man’s parts may still have a man’s heart.”

What an awesome answer.  WHY COULD BENIOFF & WEISS (OR B&W AS I LIKE TO CALL THEM) HAVE HIM SAY THAT???????  Those words are a thousand times better than “I don’t know”!!!

But I have noticed that B&W don’t seem to like using the actual words from George’s books.  I don’t know why, but when the opportunity has arisen on other occasions for a character to say something awesome, they don’t do it.  One major example from last season was that Littlefinger didn’t say “Only Cat” before pushing Lysa through the moon door when she asked him if he loved her.  In the show they had him say, “I’ve only loved one woman.  Your sister.”

“Only Cat” would have been so much better, so much richer in meaning, so much more personal than the generic “Your sister”.  Just sayin’.

And that’s all for now.  You can be sure I’ll be back with more after tomorrow’s Episode Two.

 

TV and other stuff…

In the absence of writing (both blogging and catching up on my fantasy story) I have been watching a lot of TV shows.  Not reruns of quality comedies like ‘Big Bang Theory’ and ‘Modern Family’ as I did last year when taking frequent breaks from writing my novel in progress, but actually getting into all kinds of TV watching, from reality shows to the ultimate in miniseries, ‘Game of Thrones’.  Since I am interested only in quality shows I tend to scrap a lot of series after only one viewing if I suspect these shows cater to the lowest common denominator. 

 

I’ve made a list of my favourites.

 

Reality Series:

 

1) Survivor

This show still remains the best for edge-of-your seat dramatic interactions among fractious personality types placed in uncomfortable  conditions on a quest to win a million bucks.  I find this is a cannot-miss show.

 

2) The Voice

Terrific judges this year coupled with fantastic vocalists singing some really catchy songs makes this a must-see for me.  I really love Shakira and Usher.  Blake Shelton is adorable and Adam Levine is growing on me.  He’s my type of singer and I wish he would sing more songs on the show.  His voice is beautiful.

 

3) American Idol

See above.  The contestants are perhaps not as talented as the ones on The Voice but the top three or four could compete quite nicely with perhaps the top ten on The Voice.

 

4) Flipping Vegas

I have only one thing to say: Amy Yancey rules!  Seriously, if you’re fans of real estate shows you have to watch this one.  It’s far and away the best of the lot.

 

Comedy Series:

 

1) Big Bang Theory

Always so clever and still funny after all these years.

 

2) Modern Family

Wonderfully written, tight storylines, unravelling perfectly around some terrifically loveable characters, although some unfortunate stereotypes appear among them.  The stereotyping puzzles me because the show otherwise seems written by intelligent people, so I have to assume that it’s done on purpose.  Perhaps to prove how silly stereotyping is?  I don’t know.

 

3)  Hot in Cleveland

Betty White’s show is a marvelous hoot and so is she at age 90.  It’s about four 50-ish women living together with Betty and all the funny situations they get themselves into.  It’s also great to see natural-looking women instead of overly made up victims of plastic surgery in the leading roles.

 

4) Girls

I shouldn’t have left this one for last, but these favourites are not in any particular order anyway.  I’ve been watching ‘Girls’ since its inception and it keeps growing along with its characters, in fascinatingly messy style.  Sometimes it’s like watching a train wreck but mostly it’s like having the inside track on an intimate view of these women’s lives, warts and all, and they don’t pretend to try to conceal them.  It’s brilliant.

 

Dramas:

 

1) Game of Thrones

Still the best miniseries on TV.  It’s a fantasy but steeped in so much reality, blood, guts and perhaps some other bodily fluids.  And all men must die.  (But not women?)

 

2) The Bridge

I love this show!  I missed some of the episodes during the first season so I’ve preordered the DVD set.  It’s a harrowing story, along the lines of ‘Breaking Bad’ although perhaps not quite as violent and certainly not at all a copycat of that acclaimed series.  And I have a crush on Demian Bichir.

 

3) Elementary

I’ve always been a fan of Johnny Lee Miller and he does a wonderful job as Sherlock Holmes in this series.  Other friends of mine prefer the show with Benedict Cumberbatch but I am not here to compare the two and praise one while dissing the other.  I hate that.  If I watched the other show I’d probably love it too, but I can’t watch everything and for now this one will do just fine.

 

4) Intelligence

This new series with Josh Holloway was extremely interesting although I watched only a few episodes.  I’ll have to get the DVD set!

 

To be continued from time to time…

 

 

 

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