Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Game of Thrones, Season 2, Ep 4 “Garden of Bones”

Sunday, 17 September, 2017

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

It looks like Joffrey’s guards weren’t taking Arya, Gendry and the others to King’s Landing… they end up in a new location called Harrenhal: The place looks like a half-melted castle. As they’re marched in, Arya’s fat friend asks what can melt stone, and Arya replies, “dragonfire”.

It turns out this is where Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane is, and each day he chooses a prisoner, apparently at random, to torture to death for information. Over the episode we see a couple get taken away. During the night, Arya recites a list of the people she wants to kill: Cersei, Joffrey, one or two others, and now she adds The Mountain. Finally, Gendry is chosen and strapped to the torture chair. But then Tywin Lannister arrives and tells everyone off for killing valuable prisoners. He asks Gendry if he has a trade and Gendry says he’s a smith. Tywin instantly recognises Arya is a girl, and says she can be his new cup maiden. So they are saved from a terrible fate, at least temporarily.

It seems everything I try to predict about what will happen to Arya next is wrong. So I’ll say she won’t cut Tywin’s throat in his sleep, find her sword, rescue Gendry, and escape from the Lannister camp – because that’s what I want her to do.


Game of Thrones, Season 2, Ep 3 “What is Dead May Never Die”

Sunday, 17 September, 2017

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Let’s pick up from last episode’s cliffhanger, North of The Wall: The recap highlights before the opening credits reveal enough that I can now see that it’s the wildling farmer guy carrying a baby into the woods. We don’t see exactly what happens to the baby, but when Jon comes around with a bloodied face he tells his commander that the wildling – whose name is Craster – appeared to be giving a newborn son to some creature/thing. One guess what it was… [cough]white walkers[cough]. Commander Mormont tells Jon to mind his own business, they need allies like Craster north of The Wall. Jon accuses Mormont of knowing all along and Mormont gives him a guilty silence.

Craster has had enough of Jon’s snooping and orders the Watch to leave at first light. Samwell tempts fate by talking to the pregnant daughter again, and then forces her to accept a small thing – I think it’s a thimble, because he tells a story about how his mother used to do sewing with it. She conceals it and goes about her farmwork. Prediction: No doubt this will come back to bite Samwell and the Watch in some way in the future. I imagine Craster will find it and banish his daughter to the forest or something. Or maybe he’ll use it as an excuse to betray the Watch.


A new bird field guide

Wednesday, 13 September, 2017

After donating blood today (my 58th donation), I went over to one of my favourite bookshops, Abbey’s on York Street in Sydney. I hadn’t planned to buy anything in particular; mostly I wanted to check up on the status of an order I put in for Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie (Publisher | Amazon). Good news: a new shipment of these arrived in Australia today, and I should have my copy within a week.

I also saw that Volume IV of Peter Ackroyd’s History of England: Revolution (Publisher | Amazon) was finally out in the smaller paperback size that I have been collecting, so I picked up a copy of that.

And then browsing the science section, my eyes fell on not a book, but one of those notes that bookshops have nowadays handwritten by a staff member, telling you how much they enjoyed a particular book. It was sitting under copies of a book titled The Australian Bird Guide (Publisher | Amazon). The note said that the writer was a keen birdwatcher and had all the other Australian bird field guides, and really wasn’t sure if yet another one would be capable of adding anything. But she was converted by the unprecedented depth and detail of this guide, saying it contained hundreds of facts and distinguishing features not mentioned by any of the others. This really is the one Australian bird guide to Rule Them All.

So on that recommendation, I bought it. And flipping through it now at home, I too am blown away by how detailed and lovingly produced it is, with lashings of amazing quality illustrations – often 4, 5, 6, or even more different images of each species, showing both sexes, juveniles, intermediate growth stages, moulting phases, breeding phases, perched, in flight, and regional plumage variants. Picking a bird at random – the ubiquitous and boring silver gull – it has eleven different illustrations showing different growth stages and regional variations in the black and white plumage of the wing tips.

My previous guide was The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds (Publisher | Amazon), which I chose over the slightly more popular The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia by Pizzey and Knight (Publisher | Amazon) after browsing through both in a bookshop some years ago. I preferred Slater because it was lighter, I preferred the illustrations, and it had more description of bird behaviour and less of things that I wouldn’t normally see like nests and egg colouration. But this new book definitely wins on all fronts, except the lightness and portability.

I guess this is a recommendation, then! If you’re in the market for a field guide for Australian birds, look no further than the new Australian Bird Guide.

Game of Thrones, Season 2, Ep 2 “The Night Lands”

Monday, 11 September, 2017

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

I forgot to mention last time that Tyrion had reached King’s Landing and assumed the role of acting Hand of the King, after showing the written order from Tywin (whom Joffrey had earlier appointed Hand of the King in absentia, probably thinking he’d never show up and so wouldn’t actively meddle – ha!).

And again we get treated to another new location in the opening credits map: a small group of islands with the name “Pyke”. I assume this is the Iron Islands and Pyke is the capital. But let’s begin at…

Dothraki-land: I still don’t have a better name for this land, across the Narrow Sea. Daenerys and company are dying of starvation and thirst, when one of the scouts she sent out returns. Or at least his head does, in a saddlebag on his horse. Jorah says it could have been any of a number of other Khals. Khal is the Dothraki word for “king”, and Khaleesi, Daenerys’s title, means “queen”. (I figured this out some time ago, but never mentioned it before.) A distraught relative/wife of the scout says the other Khal has denied the man his passage to the afterlife by not burning his body. Daenerys orders a pyre built and promises the man will ride with his ancestors this night.


Game of Thrones, Season 2, Ep 1 “The North Remembers”

Saturday, 9 September, 2017

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

So I opened my media viewer and looked for season 1, episode 11… and there was none. It was only after a few panicked minutes when I searched online and found that season 1 only has 10 episodes in it, that I breathed a sigh of relief and turned to the first episode of season 2.

The opening credits show a new place on the map: an island called Dragonstone. I immediately thought this must have something to do with Daenerys. Maybe she takes her group of followers on a small ship to an island in the middle of the Narrow Sea and sets up a colony where she starts raising dragons. It turns out this didn’t happen at all.

Winterfell: Bran is still having weird dreams. The recap at the start of the episode reminds me of a bit from the previous episode which I think I forgot to mention last time. He dreamt that he heard Ned’s voice in the crypts where past Starks are buried, and then went down there later to investigate, and ran into his younger brother, who said he was also down there looking for their father! So something weird is going on with Ned Stark and some sort of influence from beyond the grave. I guess we might see his ghost or something at some point.


Game of Thrones, Season 1, Ep 10 “Fire and Blood”

Monday, 4 September, 2017

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

This is very exciting, because two of the predictions I made came true in this episode! We’ll see those near the end…

King’s Landing: Well, Ned’s definitely dead. The episode opens with his blood dripping off the executioner’s sword. As his head is hoisted high for all to see, Sansa faints and a guy in the crowd has grabbed Arya and shielded her eyes from the sight. This is obviously someone who knows who she is, but I’m not sure who this man is. He drags Arya off, cuts her hair, and tells her to act like a boy, then throws her into a bunch of captives and slaves apparently about to set out north for The Wall to bring recruits for the Night’s Watch. I don’t quite understand what’s going on here, except that whoever this is, he thinks he’s doing Arya a favour by hiding her and smuggling her out of the city – which is probably at least half true, since no doubt she’d be in worse trouble if Joffrey caught her.


Game of Thrones, Season 1, Ep 9 “Baelor”

Monday, 28 August, 2017

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Joffrey, Joffrey, Joffrey…

Well, we’ll get to that.

Across the Narrow Sea: Bacteria. Minute, invisible, bacteria! A dude with an exotic curved sword can’t fell Drogo, but the bacteria in his wound do – he falls off his horse while riding. Immediately some of his followers declare him unfit to be Khal, if he can’t stay on his horse. Daenerys shoos them away. Jorah warns her that the Dothraki don’t respect bloodlines – as soon as Drogo is too weak, or dead, someone else will claim the leadership through strength.

Daenerys realises she has to save Drogo and summons the witch woman again. Her diagnosis is not good. But she can perform a magic ritual, which requires the sacrifice of Drogo’s horse to transfer life into him. Daenerys orders it, and ends up covered with blood (again). As she leaves the tent the men outside are angry, and she collapses, declaring the baby is coming! Jorah carries her back into the tent in the hope the witch woman is also a midwife.


Game of Thrones, Season 1, Ep 8 “The Pointy End”

Friday, 25 August, 2017

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

The pointy end indeed. Things are really stirring across the land.

The Wall: The Rangers have retrieved two frozen bodies, one missing the hand that Jon’s wolf, Ghost, recovered. They are part of Benjen’s patrol, but Benjen is not found. A raven arrives from King’s Landing, bearing the news that King Robert is dead, and Joffrey has claimed the throne. Jon wants to head south to aid his family, but the commander warns him against doing anything foolish. We know the penalty for desertion is death – as meted out by Ned himself in the very first episode. Jon seems torn between heading south to assist one half of his family, and north to look for Uncle Benjen. Since south would be desertion, it looks like he’ll settle for north.

During the night, Ghost goes wild and leads Jon to the commander’s quarters, where one of the “dead” bodies is lurching around. It attacks Jon and he kills it with fire after a few fruitless stabs of his sword right through its chest. Later, the watchmen burn both bodies, and Samwell says they must have been killed by White Walkers, thus ensuring they rose from the grave to threaten the living. It seems Jon will have his hands full without being able to help further south. If I were to make a prediction here, I’d guess the White Walkers will eventually overrun the Wall and Jon will be among a scant few survivors who are then forced to head south to warn/protect the lands further away.


Game of Thrones, Season 1, Ep 7 “You Win or You Die”

Thursday, 24 August, 2017

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Whoa. Okay, a lot of stuff happened in this episode. Oh, a thing I remembered from last time: Sansa always refers to Syrio as Arya’s “dance teacher” and to Arya taking “dancing lessons”. I’m not sure if this is a euphemism, or if Sansa is really under the impression that Arya is taking dancing lessons, rather than fighting lessons. Anyway:

The Wall: We catch up with Jon Snow and Samwise Samwell. It’s time for them to take their oaths as members of the Night’s Watch, and to be assigned to specific duties. Jon assumes he will be appointed a ranger, ready to patrol north of the Wall. Sam assumes he’ll be a steward, doing menial duties in the guardhouse. Jon worships the Old Gods, and so is given the chance to take his oath at some special tree that exists a bit north of the Wall; Samwell decides to forsake the New Gods because they never treated him well and join Jon. Before the oath, they are given their assignments, and Jon is shocked to also be named a steward. He protests that he is the best fighter there, but Sam points out that he’s probably being groomed to take over from the old commander. This appears to appease Jon a bit. I fear that Sam may be being a bit optimistic, and Jon is being set up for an even bigger disappointment. We shall see.


Game of Thrones, Season 1, Ep 6 “A Golden Crown”

Sunday, 20 August, 2017

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Nothing at The Wall this time, so from the top:

Winterfell: Bran has another dream of the three-eyed raven which we saw in the previous episode. Obviously this means something, but it’s not at all clear what yet. Awake, his special saddle is ready and he can ride a horse again, with his crippled legs strapped in. He goes riding with his brother, whose name I finally catch, Robb Stark, and a squire who isn’t related to them. (I’d thought before that this squire was the other Stark brother whose name I don’t know yet, but apparently not, because there is a specific conversation here where Robb says the other guy is from a different family.) Bran rides off while Robb and the squire have a petty argument about Robb taking charge and getting justice against the Lannisters for trying to kill Bran.

A group of four scruffy itinerants surrounds Bran and demands his silver pin and the horse, cutting his leg (which Bran doesn’t feel because of his paralysis). Robb appears and kills two with his sword, but enters a standoff with one remaining one holding Bran with a dagger to his throat. Robb drops his sword, and the squire shoots an arrow into the ruffian’s back, triggering another argument with Robb saying he could have killed Bran. The remaining female ruffian begs for mercy and says she will be in Robb’s service; he lets her live.