Saturday, August 30, 2014

Football Counter-Programming #1

As promised on Tumblr this morning I am attempting to provide some type of entertaining diversion during the Fall Saturdays that doesn't involve football. History shows us that this is a fool's errand--both because football has been popular for over a century in this country and because I never fulfill my blog-related promises.

But hey . . . Tide's gotta Roll, Buckeye's gotta Script, and David's gotta blog.

Now, don't assume that I hate football. I don't. I'm just not committed to it. I've never successfully scheduled my weekends around it. And while I keep up just to be conversational, I don't understand it or consider myself to be equipped to converse in it. But, I keep up appearances and do my best, much like an American travelling abroad. I try to exchange meaningless pleasantries in the local language to acknowledge the prevailing culture.


So. . . what to talk about instead? How about books?

I try to keep up with some interesting reading now and then. I usually have a stack of books in various degrees of completion near my bed. And last weekend I finally sat down long enough to finish two of them: a Barnes & Noble combo publication of Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Anansi Boys stories and David Foster Wallace's posthumous The Pale King.

Both of these books had been sitting on my bedside table for faaaarrr too long. I'd picked up the Gaiman book on a whim during a trip to B&N (probably when I was buying a Christmas present sketch pad for Sarah last season or even the year before that). Previously, I've always meant to read some stuff by Gaiman--especially his Sandman comics. But I've never gotten around to it. And someone suggested that I try American Gods. When I first tried to read it, it just didn't click. So my attempts faltered. But this next time around I pushed into the story and found that it was pretty interesting.

Probably because I get Gaiman mixed up with Michael Chabon (who wrote The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay) I thought American Gods was something about real-life superheroes in America. Rather, AG is literally true to its title. It's about gods in America and how they deal with modernity and technology and increasing secularism. But it's more dramatic and Percy Jackson-esque than that. I enjoyed it, even if it wasn't what I originally thought it might be.

The other half of that book, Anansi Boys, is something like a companion piece to AG. (Sort of how The Jeffersons was related to All in the Family, if you know what I mean. The roots of similar ideas are shared, but Anansi Boys is more down-to-earth and personalized, less grand in scope than the story American Gods tried to tell.) In many ways, I liked Anansi Boys even more.

David Foster Wallace's The Pale King is something else entirely. (I've written about DFW several different times on this blog. Use the search feature to find more random thoughts.) The Pale King was in progress when Wallace committed suicide several years ago. His publisher cobbled together the unfinished manuscripts and notes and scraps and tried to organize the story into something that might be what Wallace intended. All that was certain was that The Pale King was intended to be a story crafted around boredom and the possibility of achieving some sort of enlightenment through tedium.

Reading the book is certainly an exercise in tedium, to be sure. Wallace is always a challenge, even when reading a book he fully wrote, edited, and approved. I admit that I cling to reading Wallace because I want to be smarter. And I think that grappling with his stuff might make me smarter--or at least feel that I am smarter. (It's very hipster of me, for sure.) I've read through Infinite Jest more than twice, trying to piece it all together. I'm still trying to finish The Girl With Curious Hair. I've happily read his essay collections. And I've finally made it through TPK.

Does the finished book achieve some sort of examination of boredom? Maybe? It's just hard to read and some of it is hard to piece together. As usual Wallace ignores linear storytelling and throws multiple threads at you simultaneously. Are they supposed to all link? Maybe they do . . . but I might have missed it because I was only skimming those pages. Or maybe the linkage was in that footnote I chose not to read? I do know that focusing much of the book on the inner workings and bureaucratic struggles of an IRS office in Indiana was a good choice for a meditation on tedium. And Wallace's authorial choice to indulge in many digressions on the legality of tax code changes certainly fit the bill. The most obvious storyline that hit the boredom as enlightenment theme was near the end when two IRS agents were unwinding at an after work bar. One female agent began a very long and rambling discussion of how she met and married her husband when she was a teenager. Her story was told to a socially awkward colleague that presented as a borderline Asbergers candidate. As she force fed her story to him, pausing only to underline parts of her life story that she was sure he would not be able to understand, the Asbergers fellow began to slowly and imperceptibly levitate an inch or so above his bar stool.

Boredom as enlightenment, get it?

As you can see. . . I only got it because it was the most obvious part of the whole book. There's probably a lot more there, if I ever get up the gumption to open it up and try again.

So, now that those two books are off my table, I'm picking up the last in my trio of ignored novels--Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It is not an exaggeration that I have been trying to finish this novel for five years. And I'm only slightly more than halfway done. It turns out that a novel about the resurrection of English magic, written as if it was being transcribed by the 19th centurians themselves is NOT Harry Potter 2.0.

There are parts of it that grab your attention and I do intend to finish reading all 782 pages. But it may get sidelined again for the foreseeable future. You see, Sarah's language arts teacher has assigned a parent/pupil project where she has to share the reading of a book of my choosing and then write a report on it.

My choice? It was easy really. Richard Adams Watership Down. Another favorite book of my youth--and one that she hasn't read yet. It has all the best elements of a fiction book--set in England, tells a journey story, provides a mystery, centers around a mysterious population, AND it has a glossary of unfamiliar terms in the back. (Tolkien and Herbert would certainly approve.)

I'll save thoughts on how that reading is going for another Saturday in the future.
Until then, here's hoping that none of your field goals are Wide Right.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Playing "What's In My Mouth"

The video is fairly self explanatory.

Some fun post-dinner fun to break up the endless stream of ice-bucket challenge videos.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

A Suburban Afternoon in the WVL

Sometimes my friends give me static because of my staid suburban life. I don't live in the hip areas of OTE or in the neoUrban areas around the Short North and [insert your favorite ethnic] Village. Nope, I live faaaaar away from the heart of it all in the northern suburb of Westerville. And what is exciting about that?

Well, HERE'S what is exciting about that . . .

After church today, I gathered up some of the kids and we set out to do something that I've been dreaming about accomplishing for months and months and months. We crossed the brand new bike/pedestrian bridge that spans County Line Road. I've been watching the construction of this bridge for so long and once the actual span was set above the road in May, I've really been hopeful. But still the construction drug on, ensuring safety and beautification and all that sort of thing. But on Friday, the ribbon cutting was done. And while I didn't fulfill my dream of being the first civilian to bike across the road, I did manage to enjoy my time walking up the bike patch to it this afternoon with Sarah and Hannah and standing up above the road and cars drove underneath.

It was a nice day--as so many nice days have been this summer. And we enjoyed our walk down the bike path, from over near Emerson school, through and behind industrial buildings and residential houses. And as we got closer to the bridge; as the bike path began to rise upward, my excitement mounted. Surely this was JUST as much fun as riding the Ferris wheel at the Ohio State fair? Surely nothing else that I might choose to do today could match this level of excitement.

So, yeah . . . we made it to the top of the bridge and I stood right above the double yellow line of the road. And I exulted in my achievement. And I wasn't the only one to realize the impact of the moment. As we walked, more and more bikers approached the span. And I knew from their shining eyes that they were also feeling the glory of the moment. And even when we were up there, other families stopped to see the achievement that we had all accomplished.

The Official Hat of Summer achieved another milestone today, high atop County Line Road.
After Sarah and Hannah and I calmed down from that achievement, we went over to the library and Hannah played a bit on the playground there. Sarah and I chatted about high school and stuff. It was good. After we got home, I finished reading American Gods and maybe I'll start reading Anansi Boys later tonight.


While I was walking around, I thought that if I had skill, I should have taken the opportunity to make a Thoughts from Places video about walking along the bike path and what I saw there. But I don't (yet) have the video making skills to make that happen. So I just took some photos and promised myself that I would sit down and blog a bit about it instead.

Some of the better images I decided not to wait on and threw them up on my Facebook page this afternoon.

And so then I saw some other things that were interesting during the rest of the day. Like these tree stump remnants that were growing in and amongst parts of a chain link fence. It probably would have been cooler if the tree itself was still there, but even so seeing these bits of tree suspended in the fence still kind of neat.

And after all of that, I came home and then we decided to order some pizza for dinner. And the girls wanted to try out Dough Boys Pizza in Uptown, a place we haven't been to before. So I drove over there and waited outside while they made the order.

The view was nice and the day continued to be great. Even though the pizza itself wasn't the best one I've ever had, I enjoyed the opportunity to try something new, support local people, and stretch out just a bit in a new direction.

Maybe I left just a little bit of my boring routine on the top of that bridge this afternoon? We can only hope so.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What DOES Felix know?

credit: lberghol, from deviantart

I've been listening to the audiobook recording of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince again the last few weeks. And today I hit upon something I'd never thought of before . . . the role of the Felix Felicis potion in the Ron + Hermione and the Ginny + Harry relationships.

Now . . . I know what Rowling said about Ron and Hermione earlier this year. And I can't really disagree with the spirit (and much of the substance) of what she observed. Ron and Hermione definitely look at the world in very different ways and I can absolutely believe that they might have to struggle though some difficult moments in their married life together. But I do not subscribe to the suggestion that Hermione might have been better off with Harry rather than Ron. I fully support Harry and Ginny (no matter moments of disagreement on that relationship that I have discussed in the past).

So, what is my issue this time?

Well, as I was listening to the audio, it struck me how influential Harry (under the guidance of the Liquid Luck potion) was in providing one of the final links that helped cement the start of both relationships.

Let's break it down, shall we?

Harry has decided he needs to use the potion to persuade Prof. Slughorn to give up his unaltered memory of the Horcrux conversation he had with Tom Riddle back in Riddle's sixth year. So, up in his dorm room, alongside Ron and Hermione, Harry takes a swig of the Felix felicis and then decides to go visit Hagrid's hut (much to R & H's surprise). Harry dons his invisibility cloak, heads down the stairs, and crosses the Gryffindor common room unseen.

Because he is unseen--which was part of Felix's influence (as Harry had made no suggestion prior to taking the potion that he wished to be sneaking about and because going to Hagrid's required him to sneak out of the castle after hours), the crucial dominos begin to fall.

"What were you doing up there with her?" shrieked Lavender Brown, staring right through Harry at Ron and Hermione emerging together from the boys' dormitories. Harry heard Ron spluttering behind him as he darted across the room away from them. [Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic 1st American edition, p. 478]

Lavender sees right through Harry and jumps to the wrong conclusion about what Ron and Hermione were doing (alone?) in the boys dorms. And due to this assist from Felix . . . it is the final straw in the faltering relationship of Ron Weasley and Lavender Brown. The two kids get into an argument over Lavender's assumption and Ron finally finds a way to worm out of the relationship that he had wanted to end for weeks.

Ron had been struggling to find a way to stand up to Lavender's single-minded focus on their relationship, but his fundamental insecurity was making that very hard for him to accomplish. He couldn't find a way to break it off and might have limped along for the remainder of the school year in an unhappy pairing. And who knows? It might even have continued through the summer? He couldn't find a way to break up with Lavender during the Christmas holidays either, even though there were signs that he was having some second thoughts. (The "My Sweetheart" bracelet that I don't believe he ever wore and the beginnings of the Won Won nickname began at this point in the school year.)

Hermione, for her part, was not going to actively do anything to drive the final wedge between Ron and Lavender. She has too much pride and inner self-confidence to intervene. In her head* she surely was calculating how long it would take Ron to chuck it with Lavender and come to his senses. So Felix helped them confirm their relationship before things went completely nuts in Year Seven.

Now . . . what about the other couple that Felix affected as Harry departed Gryffindor Tower? It was none other than his own future wife, Ginny Weasley. A girl that Harry had known for six years and all throughout this year at school had been nursing a growing affection for. But he was always talking himself out of it because of his concern that Ron would disapprove (as Ron clearly had done with every other boyfriend that Ginny had dated). And so, Regular Harry was similarly stymied by indecision and hesitancy.

But Felixed Harry knew what to do. Just as Felix felicis told Harry to mysteriously visit Hagrid that evening rather than directly stroll down to Prof. Slughorn's office, the potion made him take a particular path out of the portrait hole just as Dean and Ginny entered.

Getting through the portrait hole was simple; as he approached it, Ginny and Dean came through it, and Harry was able to slip between them. As he did so, he brushed accidentally against Ginny. "Don't push me, please, Dean," she said, sounding annoyed. "You're always doing that. I can get through perfectly well on my own . . ." The portrait swung closed behind Harry, but not before he had heard Dean make an angry retort. . . . [Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic 1st American edition, p. 478]

He didn't skirt around them (as I surely would have done if I was under the Invisibility cloak), but Felix felicis nudged Harry directly between them, ensuring that Ginny would mistake his slight touch as another push by Dean.

Why was Dean pushing her? And why had he done this many times before, according to Ginny? This strikes me as odd, since Ginny has long been described as an accomplished Quidditch player, which must mean that she has solid body control. And Rowling would surely have made it clear if Ginny was something of a spaz--which she always did when it came to Tonks' clumsiness.

So what was Dean up to? Maybe it was nothing?

I know that when I get into a argument with Lynda or the kids, I often over-exaggerate the situation to hammer home my point, no matter how ill-conceived it might be. So clearly Ginny was just taking this annoyance that she was already feeling toward Dean and magnifying it. And we know from previous books that Ginny had always harbored a crush on Harry. So, it is not as if Felix felicis was required to ensure their relationship began.

But I still find it curious that the potion went out of its way to move both relationships along when the principle actors in our story could not find a way to get it going themselves.

And if . . . IF they had NOT found a way to come together in the end, then most of these guys wouldn't have "existed."

* How interesting would it be to hear the Harry Potter story as narrated by Hermione? (Though I imagine there are several fan fictions doing that already?)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Party Month/Work Week

Credit: me; Our office good-luck totem gets some Major League-related snark during the stress of Texas review week.

Traditionally, the end of June through most of July is known as Party Month around the Martin house. We begin with Grace's birthday, slide through Lynda's birthday, our anniversary, and into Sarah's birthday. It's a busy time filled with plans, gifts, and all that stuff there.

This year's version was made more intriguing by the additional fun of a big family visit by the Thompsons in Georgia (both parents and brother-in-laws family). And when we have family visits, we go all out and do stuff that we never both to do for ourselves when we are alone.

So we went to Zoombezi Bay. We went to a Clippers baseball game. We went to COSI. We went swimming. We hardly ever stayed still except at night. And we ran our visitors ragged probably, driving them here and there and everywhich way to show of the city and find exciting ways to have a good time. (There is probably a reason why vacations only come around once a year, as they can certainly tire you out.) But everyone said that had a good time and politeness abounded--as it always must when the house gets more crowded with people. But it is good for us to stretch ourselves and shake off the routine and appreciate the many things we have and enjoy--even if we don't really stop to enjoy them as much as we might.

Oh, and did I mention that the run up to Party Month was also "enhanced" by a complete overhaul/remodel of our kitchen? Which we desperately wanted to get done before all the company arrived . . . and which is mostly did. (There are still some wall painting items that are needed to be finished and some other minor bits like that . . . but at least all the cabinets were hung and the floor was replaced and the backsplash and molding was fit and the water was turned on.)

So . . . after all of THAT the normal Party Month festivities got into gear. Grace's 11th birthday was centered around the movie How to Train Your Dragon 2, which we all enjoyed and agreed to be a much better movie-centering party than the LAST time (when Sarah wanted to see the terrible Avatar: The Last Airbender movie). Sadly, Grace did not get a letter to Hogwarts. But there is still hope that Hannah will get one in five more years.

Lynda and I combined the celebration of her birthday and our 19th anniversary into one nice date. And we really had a good time relaxing together and reminding ourselves of our abundant blessings.

Up next is Sarah's birthday . . . which is still a few weeks away. But interposed within the fun of Party Month, I've faced my own Work Week of Hell as my textbook project rubber hits the road of Texas review and evaluation. (In fact, I'm writing this post at the office at 11:30 pm while I want to button up the last few changes to my response document that goes back to the Texas Education Association review panel.)

This project has had its fits and starts, to be sure but if we can get past this major approval hurdle tonight and tomorrow, then a huge roadblock is removed and the possibility of success becomes that much more possible. I surely hope so, as the team has put up with a lot to get the program this far.

I hope it'll all be okay.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Winner of #OfficialHat2014

Unveiling this Summer’s Official Hat. Thanks to everyone who participated in the voting. Here’s hoping you like the choice, because it is the only hat you’ll see me in the rest of THIS summer.

Monday, June 09, 2014

#OfficialHat2014 Update #2

I really want you to vote. PLEASE!!!

This year's original video showing all of the acceptable candidates for the Official Hat of Summer 2014 can be seen here.

To cast a vote, comment on this post, send me an email, comment on my Twitter, shout at me while walking down the street, talk to me on Facebook, pull me aside during church, spell out your choice with condiments while eating a burrito, or interrupt me during a meet at work. Just make your  voice heard.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

#OfficialHat2014 Update

Here is an update on the Official Hat of Summer 2014.

The voting will remain open until the Summer Solstice, so you still have several weeks to cast your vote as many times as you are so inclined.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, here is this year's candidates video. And if you need further explanation, this Playlist might shed some light on the subject.

Here are the standings as of right now:

Reds hat--4 votes
South Georgia Seniors hat--3 votes
OSU visor--1 vote
OSU hat--1 vote
Braves hat--1 vote
Apple hat--zero votes

Make your voice heard. Make my head shaded! Vote.

Monday, May 12, 2014

2014 Official Hat of Summer Voting Now Open

It's your favorite time of year! The voting for the Official Hat of Summer is now open to you.

Your choices--

Ohio State baseball hat

Ohio State visor

Cincinnati Reds hat

South Georgia Seniors hat

Atlanta Braves 1974 hat

Apple hat

The voting is open until the Summer Solstice. Happy voting!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

. . . I can't tell ya, who to sock it to.

Photo location:
I have many things, little quirks that might seem charming, I guess . . . but probably drive you nuts if you have to put up with them all the time. I'm sure if she has the time and the inclination, Lynda can fill you in on many of them and provide lots of insight into how these traits drive her crazy.

Just now I was confronted with another one. Getting an apple from the refrigerator, I fought off the impulse to dump all of the red and green apples out of their mesh bags as they sat within the plastic drawer. Why? What does it harm anything to have the apples remain in their mesh bags? But, I say internally, Why should they say in the bags while simultaneously sitting in a plastic drawer of a refrigerator?

Does the fact that the drawer is clear plastic have something to do with it? Is there a visual conflict that I see the bags through the plastic drawer and that bothers me more than if the drawer were opaque? Or is it far more likely that somewhere in my life, I saw a refrigerator in a photograph or an advertisement or on a television show and liked the way that one looked. And so I've been spending part of my life trying to recapture that Platonic idea of REFRIGERATOR to my own twisted satisfaction?

Really it simply doesn't matter.

What does matter is that I am now convinced that I hear water dripping behind me and when I turn around and wait very patiently, I see and hear nothing?

See . . . I just did it again . . .


(Is the basement gaslighting me? Or is my computer chair trying to drive me insane?)

WHAT the HELL is that NOISE?!!!


I didn't take the apples out of the bags. I wanted to (and sometimes in the past, I have.) But I didn't do it this time. I talked myself out of it because I thought it might offend someone else in the family. How and for what reason, I can't begin to articulate to you right now. But that is why I stopped.

Figure the rest out for yourself, because I clearly have no good idea why I do most things.


As I was preparing to come downstairs to write this, I had a half-mug of microwaved coffee and a plate of apple slices. But then I was confronted with the basement stairs.

What to do?

Proceeding down the stairs with the plate of food in one hand and the coffee mug in the other was clearly not going to be possible. Most downward staircases give me a slight psychological pause these days anyway, and negotiating one with both hands full was not going to be a good choice.

So, I tried shifting the plate of apples from my left hand and combined that with my coffee mug. But it wasn't working very well and besides, the handrail is on the right side. Okay then. put the plate down on the table, transfer the mug to the left hand. Only hold the mug with a strong index finger curled in the handle.Balance the plate on the stacked curls of the middle, ring, and pinkie fingers. Place the thumb on the plate rim as counterbalance. Does it work? Pause, shift?

Nope. The strength of the index finger isn't holding the mug stiffly enough and it might begin to lean. And if that happens, then your hand muscles will begin to compensate and what might that do to the plate full of apple slices? What if this begins when you're halfway down the stairs? Even holding onto the hand railing, you just aren't sure what your body might try to do to hold it all together.

So . . . you sigh. You admit defeat.

Put the plate of apples down.
Go down the stairs and set the coffee mug on the desk.
Come back upstairs.
Grab the plate.
Return down the stairs.
Sit, type, eat, accept.

Try to forget so that next time, you can just go downstairs like any old body.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Shouting into the Void

Man, today was a . . . DAY.

But, looking back on it, I'm proud of how I eventually found ways to work my way through the problems and (hopefully) set a course that will navigate me through the next few days of issues and come out happily on the other side with satisfaction.

Soon, today will just be another grey area in the spotted mosaic of this project. From 50,000 feet, who will be able to identify one crisis from another? Who will care to remember WHAT was causing WHOM to be upset about WHY? Just finish and move on.

I'm like a cubicle shark . . .  always moving . . .

But it's still frustrating because all of that crisis work today prevented me from doing OTHER work. And I just don't have the mental energy to do more work tonight.

But I think fate has provided a (sort of) answer. Sarah is leaving for her school trip to WDC tomorrow and I will need to drop her and her luggage off at the school by 6:15. So why not justify the lack of work tonight (when I'm mentally fed up) by pushing it off until tomorrow morning when I can get into the office even earlier than usual and then only be physically exhausted?


This is how we do it.


Honestly, I want to be talking about THIS . . .

Click for past playlist videos
. . . but I can't because the friggin' cord that connects my video camera to my laptop's USB port is no where to be found and I can't find the right sort of replacement on the internet and it is delaying me from getting ideas executed and I just don't want to wait and I'm trying to be creating and it is making me unhappy and grrrr.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

LOST Rewatch: The Whole Truth

It's been a while, hasn't it my friends? How have you been over the last few months?

As I mentioned a little while ago on the blog, the LOST Rewatch experience ground to a halt unexpectedly one Friday night. I was watching "Two for the Road"--a critical season 2 episode that I haven't yet summarized here yet. And I was watching it with Grace. And some unexpected things happened--which I won't describe here as that is to come when the episode recap is written.

But Grace didn't react well to these events. And so Lynda strongly suggested that we stop. And so we did. I didn't want Grace having nightmares. But I didn't want to rewatch these episodes by myself either. So, things hit PAUSE for an undetermined amount of time. And . . . well, just in the last few weeks, Grace said that she wanted to start up the Rewatch again. I was quite happy with this idea, but my blog was busy with some other stuff that some television watchers might have been interested in.

So, I had to wait until Dean was finished with his guest blogging duties. And Grace and Sarah and I committed to a once-a-week, Friday night schedule of episode watching. And, here we are.

Now . . . as last left things, the Lostaways were mixed up with all sorts of turmoil because of the arrival of Henry Gale. Our mystery balloonist was being held captive in the Hatch's armory by Jack, John, Sayid, Eko, Kate, and Sawyer. The inner cadre hadn't made it widely known to the rest of their "friends" that this Man from Minnesota was being interrogated, detained, and under suspicion by their Leaders. In the most recent recap episode, however, the show has shifted to other topics--specifically Claire's concern over Aaron's fever.


But in "The Whole Truth" we shift to Sun and Jin with another glimpse into their tumultuous marriage pre-Flight 815. And on the Island Sun is trying to determine whether to tell Jin that she fears she is pregnant . . . which is odd, since the Flashback tells us that Jin was sterile.

(Not the the Korean fertility doctor admits to Jin publicly that he is the one with the problem. Because Jin works for Mr. Paik and the doctor is seriously worried about getting his practice destroyed by the vengeful industrialist. Oddly, however, it doesn't seem to be a problem to publicly state that Mr. Paik's daughter is infertile, even if that is not true. I guess Mr. Paik won't be emasculated by the fact that he has an infertile daughter? Which won't drive him into some sort of doctor-destroying rage? Patriarchy . . . amirite?)

ANYWAY . . .strike four or strike five for Sun and Jin's marriage, I guess.

Sun is already getting involved with Jae, the smooth-talking (and smooth-headed) son of a hotel magnate. He is teaching her English and hoping to teach her some other things as well. But for now, they are developing a deep friendship. Maybe they don't know the English word for infidelity yet?

ANDBUTSO . . . if these two kids can't have a baby, then why is Island Sun fighting morning sickness and keeping her suspected condition from her husband? Might the baby actually belong to Jae after all?

In the end, the answer to that is no . . . because, as we viewers know, the Island has some magical healing properties. It has already reanimated Locke's legs and eliminated Rose's cancer. So, it should be no problem at all to bring Jin's moribund sperm back to life, or widen his vans deferens or whatever. The Widmore-brand pregnancy test that Kate acquired from Sawyer's stash indicates that Sun is definitely pregnant. Hurray! (Because Claire and Aaron need to get taken down a peg or two.)

What else is happening?

Well, Locke has decided to get Ana Lucia involved in the Henry Gale party. He asks her to use her police interrogation skills to see if the prisoner's balloon story is full of hot air. So, she arrives and gets the same story about Gale and his wife crashing on the island and he even helpfully provides a map to the location of where his balloon is (and where he buried his wife). Sayid and Ana and Charlie follow the map to Henry's indicated spot and begin to search. What will they find, I wonder?

The episode ends with one of my favorite moments . . . Henry is having a morning bowl of Dharma Flakes with Jack and Locke. When Henry learns that Sayid and Ana have used his map to go searching, Henry muses that it sure is a good thing he's not a bad guy. Because if he was, then sending some people off to a mysterious location might be the best place to set an ambush, right?

Bemused smile, munching of cereal. Hey, can you pass the milk?

Sunday, April 06, 2014

The Final Part (!!) of Dean's Ridiculously Long GoT Overview

Mance Rayder, King-Beyond-the-Wall
Status: Alive! Beyond the Wall
Why he matters: He is a former member of the Night’s Watch who has united the Wildlings and is leading them on an attack on the Wall.

Craster, Wildling, ally of the Night’s Watch
Status: Dead! Killed by Karl
Why he matters: He was an ally of the Night’s Watch. After the attack by the White Walkers at the Fist of First Men the Night’s Watch flee to his Keep. His overall awful demeanor leads to the Mutiny at Craster’s Keep and the death of Jeor Mormont.

Gilly, Wildling
Status: Alive! At Castle Black
Why she matters: She’s definitely going to get Sam to break his vows. Sam the Coward manages to be brave for her and kills a White Walker and saves her from rape at Craster’s keep.

Gilly’s Son, Wildling
Status: Alive! At Castle Black
Why he matters: If Sam didn’t take her from Craster’s he would have been sacrificed to the White Walkers.

Orell, Wildling, warg
Status: Dead, killed by Jon Snow/Alive, an eagle
Why he matters: He exposes the fact that Jon Snow had not truly turned against the Night’s Watch. He’s a warg able to put his consciousness into animals. Now that his body is dead, he is stuck as an eagle.

Ygritte, wildling
Status: Alive! South of the Wall
Why she matters: She leads Jon Snow into an ambush after he fails to execute her. She gets Jon to fully break his vows. She shoots Jon when he flees back to the Wall. Everything she does is trouble for Jon.

Lord of Bones, Rattleshirt
Status: Alive. Beyond the Wall
Why he matters: His raiding party captured Jon Snow and Qhorin Halfhand. He has an awesome skull mask.

Tormund Giantsbane, Wildling
Status: Alive! South of the Wall
Why he matters: He is leading the attack on Castle Black.

Stiv, Wildling
Status: Dead. Killed by Theon Greyjoy near Winterfell
Why he matters: He fled south with Osha to escape the White Walkers and attempt to kidnap Bran.

Wallen, Wildling
Status: Dead. Killed by Robb Stark near Winterfell
Why he matters: He fled South with Osha to escape the White Walkers and attempt to kidnap Bran.

White Walkers
Status: Walking
Why they matter: Normal weapons don’t hurt them. Bring some fire and dragonglass.

Status: Undead
Why they matter: The dead are rising again. Better burn them.


Sandor Clegane, the Hound
Status: Alive! In the Riverlands with Arya Stark
Why he matters: He’s protecting our beloved Arya as the newest odd couple on Game of Thrones (now that the Brienne and Jaime traveling roadshow is done). He killed Micah. He killed Berric Dondarrion but he got better. He tried to take Sansa from King’s Landing but she (probably wisely) refused.

Petyr Baelish, Lord of Harrenhall
Status: Alive, on his way to the Eyrie to try to marry Lysa Arryn
Why he matters: His scheming led to the death of Eddard Stark and Ros. He brokers an alliance between the Tyrells and the Lannisters. He is a scheming bastard.

Mhaegen, mother of Barra
Status: Alive, in King’s Landing
Why she matters: She helps confirms Eddard Stark’s suspicions that Joffrey is not Robert’s heir.

Barra, bastard of Robert Baratheon
Status: Dead, killed by the Janos Slynt.
Why he matters: His hair is brown. All of Robert Baratheon’s bastards have brown hair. Joffrey is not his heir. Also Joffrey is a monster for ordering the deaths of babies. But we knew that already. Janos Slynt is a monster for killing babies.

Ros, prostitute
Status: Dead, murdered by Joffrey Baratheon
Why she matters: She was the star of numerous sexposition scenes for many of the notables around Westeros. She used that to her advantage to raise her rank in the world until she betrayed the trust of Petyr Baelish who gave her to Joffrey for target practice. Poor Ros.

Jaqen H’ghar, Faceless Man
Status: Dead! Now a new person.
Why he matters: As a reward for saving his life, he takes three lives for Arya Stark (although Arya manages to work a few more lives from him). He helps her escape from Harrenhall. He can change his face.

Varys, Master of Whisperers, the Spider
Status: Alive, in King’s Landing
Why he matters: He has a network of spies in Westeros and across the Narrow Sea. He often works at cross purposes with Petyr Baelish. He seems to be working to get Joffrey Lannister off the throne. Littlefinger wants to rise in the world, Varys cares about the kingdom (or so he claims, he is a spymaster after all, his motives may be more opaque).

Maester Pycelle, Maester of King’s Landing
Status: Alive
Why he matters: He’s not really independent. I should have put in under Lannisters. Even though he is a member of the Small Council he works closely with Cersei Lannister and is jailed by Tyrion for spying for her. He is released by Tywin Lannister and restored to his post.

Polliver, definitely should be under Lannisters
Status: Alive, last seen at Harrenhal
Why he matters: He kills Lommy Greenhands. He is a nasty piece of work who beats old women.

Locke, should be under House Stark, soldier for Roose Bolton
Status: Alive, last seen at Harrenhal
Why he matters: He chops off Jaime Lannister’s hand and throws Brienne in a bear pit.

Qyburn, former Maester
Status: Alive, in King’s Landing
Why he matters: He treats Jaime’s infected stump. He was kicked out of the Order of Maesters for his experiments. I’m sure that’s not going to ever come up again. You should forget about it.

Steelshanks, should be under House Stark, soldier for Roose Bolton
Status: Alive, at King’s Landing
Why he matters: He escorts Jaime Lannister back to King’s Landing.

I may have missed others, but honestly this is 24 pages long and I no longer care. This is the end. Thanks to Game of Thrones Wiki for making this possible.

[ed. note: You're a champion Dean. Thanks for all of the free content this week and congratulations on getting it done in time for tonight's HBO premiere of Season 4 of Game of Thrones. If this series of posts won't get you ready for it, nothing will. And I've had fun looking up House sigils all week--especially today when I had to find some "nonstandard" ones to fit these categories. I recommend you enjoy some of them as well by Googling "Game of Thrones sigils".]

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Part 7 of Dean's Ridiculously Long GoT Overview

[Ed. note: No. Not everyone listed below is strictly a Targaryen. I get it. You may send your disappointed hate emails to But all of these people are in the orbit of Daenarys, who is a Targaryen and, as I've said before, consistency of theme is important!]


Daenarys Targaryen, last surviving child of Aerys Targaryen, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons
Status, Alive! Ruling Yunkai
Why she matters: She is eventually going to join the War of increasingly fewer kings. But first she must go through many trials to learn how to be a wise and just ruler. She has awesome dragons.

Drogon, dragon
Status: Alive, in Yunkai
Why he matters: He is a black dragon in a world with no other dragons.

Rhaegal, dragon
Status: Alive, in Yunkai
Why he matters: He is a green dragon in a world with no other dragons.

Viserion, dragon
Status: Alive, in Yunkai
Why he matters: He is a white dragon in a world with no other dragons.

Viserys Targaryen, son of Aerys Targaryen
Status: Dead! Given a “crown of gold” by Khal Drogo
Why he matters: He paid a huge army of Dothraki to invade Westeros. Unfortunately for him, he angered what is essentially a Mongol horde, and they took exception to it. (Mongols are the exception.) [Ed. note: I take it all back Dean. You are doing these posts right.]

Jorah Mormont, knight
Status: Alive! in Yunkai with Daenerys Targaryen
Why he matters: Originally a spy for Varys, he fell in love with Daenerys Targaryen and now serves as one of her protectors and also creeps on her a lot. Stop being creepy Jorah. She doesn’t love you and never will.

Barristan Selmy, former knight of the Kingsguard
Status: Alive! In Yunkai with Daenerys Targaryen
Why he matters: Once a member of the Kingsguard who served Aerys Targaryen, Robert Baratheon, and Joffrey Baratheon he was fired by Joffrey for being old even though knights of the Kingsguard serve for life. Now he has sworn loyalty to Daenerys.

Drogo, Khal, husband of Daenerys Targaryen
Status: Dead, Miri Maz Duur cured an infected wound but left him comatose. Daenerys burnt him on a pier.
Why he matters: His marriage to Daenerys Targaryen led her to become Khaleesi of a group of Dothraki. He killed Viserys Targaryen, clearing the way for a much better Targaryen to rule.

Rhaego, son of Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo
Status: Dead, born stillborn and horribly deformed.
Why he matters: Rhaego’s life was the price Daenerys paid for Khal Drogo’s life. Is it was not a good trade.

Doreah, handmaiden and bedslave to Daenerys Targaryen
Status: Dead, locked in a vault with Xaro Xhoan Daxos
Why she matters: Sexposition! Also she betrays Daenerys to Xaro Xhoan Daxos leading to the death of much of her khalasar.

Xaro Xhoan Daxos, member of the Thirteen of Qarth
Status: Dead, locked in an empty vault with Doreah
Why he matters: He attempted to wed Daenerys to obtain her dragons. When that fails he and Pyat Pree stage a coup and steal the dragons. This ends poorly for both of them.

Mirri Maz Duur, sorceress
Status: Dead, burned on Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre
Why she matters: Her magic killed Rhaego and left Khal Drogo comatose in revenge for the Dothraki sacking her city.

Irri, handmaiden to Daenerys Targaryen
Status: Dead, killed by Xaro Xhoan Daxos
Why she matters: She translates for Daenerys before Daenerys learns the Dothraki tongue. She loved Rakharo.

Pyat Pree, Warlock, member of the Thirteen
Status: Dead, burnt by dragons
Why he matters: He steals Daenerys’s dragons because they make his magic stronger. He confirms that magic did not work until the dragons were reborn.

Quaithe, shadowbinder
Status: Alive, somewhere
Why she matters: She appears to want to help Daenerys keep her dragons for some reason. She has a cool mask.

The Silk King, seller of silk
Status: Dead, assassinated by Pyat Pree
Why he matters: He refused to let Daenerys into Qarth.  He does business with the Lannisters.

The Copper King, seller of copper
Status: Dead, assassinated by Pyat Pree
Why he matters: He refused to let Daenerys into Qarth. He offers her a ship for sex, but Daenerys is not for sale.

The Spice King, seller of spices
Status: Dead, assassinated by Pyat Pree
Why he matters: He refused to let Daenerys into Qarth. He refuses to give Daenerys ships because he believes she will fail.

Rakharo, Dothraki bloodrider
Status: Dead, killed by another Dothraki warrior in the Red Waste
Why he matters: He was sent off to find a safe passage out of the Red Waste. He did not.

Mero, Braavos sellsword, “The Titan’s Bastard”
Status: Dead! Killed by Daario Naharis
Why he matters: He was a captain of the Second Sons, protecting Yunkai. He refuses to break their contract with the city. His lieutenant Daario cuts his head off and agrees to break the contract.

Prendahi na Ghezn, Ghiscari sellsword
Status: Dead! Killed by Daario Naharis
Why he matters: He was a captain of the Second Sons, protecting Yunkai. He refuses to break their contract with the city. He proposes assassinatingDaenarys. His lieutenant Daario cuts his head off and agrees to break the contract.

Daario Naharis, Tyroshi sellsword
Status: Alive, in Yunkai
Why he matters: He kills Mero and Prendahi na Ghezn and pledges the Second Sons to Daenerys. Also confusingly he was recast between seasons so he’ll look completely different which isn’t confusing at all when there are so many characters to keep track of.

Kraznys mo Nakloz, slaver
Status: Dead! Burnt by dragons
Why he matters: Now Daenerys has an army of freed slaves who are the fiercest warriors in the land. Also, because she betrayed Kraznys no one will do business with her any more, which is fine because Daenerys has dragons and an army. She’ll burn the crap out of you. Oh, and Daenerys can speak Valyrian. She is good with languages.

Qotho, bloodrider to Khal Drogo
Status: Dead! Killed by Jorah Mormont
Why he matters: He fights Daenerys to stop Mirri Maz Duur from practicing her blood magic causing Daenerys to go into premature labor and leading to a good stabbing by Jorah.

Missandei, translator, former slave
Status: Alive, translating for Daenerys in Yunkai
Why she matters: She translates Kraznys for Daenerys in Astapor. She helps Daenerys with the Unsullied officers.

Mago, Dothraki
Status: Dead, killed by Khal Drogo
Why he matters: The wound Drogo takes in the fight with Mago becomes infected leading to his death.

Razdal mo Eraz, Wise Master of Yunkai
Status: Alive, in Yunkai. I wouldn’t place bets on him surviving much longer.
Why he matters: He negotiates with Daenarys, offering her gold and ships to leave. Daenarys’s counter-offer is for them to free their slaves, so it went poorly. He should have accepted the counter-offer.

Cohollo, bloodrider to Khal Drogo
Status: presumably alive in the Dothraki Sea somewhere
Why he matters: He was a close ally and of Khal Drogo

Haggo, bloodrider to Khal Drogo
Status: presumably Alive in the Dothraki Sea somewhere
Why he matters: He was a close ally and confidant to Khal Drogo

Jhiqui, handmaiden to Daenerys Targaryen
Status: presumably dead in the Red Wastes
Why she matters: She says “It is known.” which is about as fun to repeat as “You know nothing Jon Snow.”

Aggo, bloodrider to Daenarys
Status: Alive, in Yunkai
Why he matters: He is a bloodrider loyal to Daenarys. He was sent out in the Red Waste to find a safe passage.

Kovarro, Dothraki bloodrider
Status: Alive! With Daenerys in Yunkai
Why he matters: He is one of Daenerys’s bloodriders and remained loyal to her when the rest of the khalasar abandoned her.

Malakho, Dothraki bloodrider
Status: Alive! With Daenerys in Yunkai
Why he matters: : He is one of Daenerys’s bloodriders and remained loyal to her when the rest of the khalasar abandoned her.

Pono, Ko and later Khal
Status: Alive, in the Dothraki Sea
Why he matters: He was the first to abandon Daenerys and declare himself a Khal when Drogo falls ill. He may have beheaded Rakharo.

Illyrio Mopatis, Magister of Pentos
Status: Alive! In Pentos
Why he matters: He gives Daenerys the dragon eggs and helps sell Daenerys to Khal Drogo for Viserys’s army of Dothraki.

Grey Worm, Unsullied
Status: Alive, in Yunkai
Why he matters: He is the leader of the Unsullied, which means he is likely one of the fiercest warriors around. I wouldn’t mess with him.

Friday, April 04, 2014

A far more concise GoT overview

This video manages (in less than 2 minutes!) to do what poor Dean has been struggling to do for weeks now.

Take note Dean!
Perhaps . . . you know nothing?

I suppose, however, that this is meaningful ONLY if you have read all of Dean's laborious work to this point?

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Part 6 of Dean's Ridiculously Long GoT Overview

Have you been following along as Dean slogs through every character of Game of Thrones that has appeared on the HBO series?
Did you know that Season 4 begins this Sunday?
Will Dean make it in time? And will he keep his sanity? I doubt it . . . on both questions. Click back through the last few days of posts to catch up on parts 1 through 5.

[A note on the Night's Watch sigil image below. I don't think the Night's Watch actually has an official sigil, as they renounce all such ties south of the Wall when they say the words. But some sort of thematic consistency is needed. I liked this piece of art that captures the style well and hits the right iconic notes. I mean, I could have chosen this instead, alright?]


Jeor Mormont, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch
Status: Dead, killed by Rast at Craster’s Keep
Why he matters: He headed up the Night’s Watch. He groomed Jon Snow as his eventual replacement. He is hard to kill.

Jon Snow, bastard son of Eddard Stark
Status: Alive! At Castle Black
Why he matters: He is the only member of the Night’s Watch who knows of the eminent wildling attack. Although, according to Ygritte, he knows nothing. R+L=J

Maester Aemon, Maester of Castle Black
Status: Alive! At Castle Black
Why he matters: He had the opportunity to become king but refused. He convinces Jon Snow to keep his vows when Eddard Stark is imprisoned.

Benjen Stark, First Ranger
Status: Unknown, somewhere north of the Wall
Why he matters: He is Jon Snow’s uncle. It was his influence that led Jon Snow to join the Night’s Watch.

Yoren, wandering crow
Status: Dead, killed by Amory Lorch
Why he matters: He removed Arya Stark from King’s Landing preventing her from being taken hostage by the Lannisters

Samwell Tarly, steward to Maester Aemon
Status: Alive! At Castle Black
Why he matters: He saved Gilly from the mutiny at Craster’s Keep. He knows how to kill White Walkers (with Dragonglasss). Sam is awesome.

Alliser Thorne, Master-at-Arms at Castle Black
Status: Alive, on his way to Castle Black
Why he matters: Alliser tries to get the new recruits to hate Jon Snow. Jeor Mormont sends him to King’s Landing to warn them of the White Walkers. He is ignored.

Qhorin Halfhand, Ranger
Status: Dead, killed by Jon Snow
Why he matters: He sacrifices himself to Jon Snow so that Jon will be trusted by the Wildlings and can eventually warn the Night’s Watch of the massive army of Wildlings marching to the Wall.

Janos Slynt, recruit of the Night’s Watch, former commander of the King’s Landing City Watch
Status: Alive, on his way to King’s Landing
Why he matters: He carried out Joffrey’s orders to massacre Robert Bartheon’s bastards. Tyrion sent him to the Night’s Watch. Bronn becomes Commander of the Watch in his stead.

Lommy Greenhands, recruit
Status: Dead, killed by Polliver
Why he matters: Arya claims that Lommy is actually Gendry, sparing Gendry from the fate of the other Baratheon bastards.

Rast, ranger, rapist
Status: Unknown
Why he matters: He starts the mutiny by stabbing and killing Jeor Mormont. Is a huge jerk.

Gren, Ranger
Status: Unknown, last seen at the Mutiny at Craster’s Keep
Why he matters: Jon Snow breaks his nose. Appears to side against the mutineers at the Mutiny at Craster’s Keep by attacking Karl.

Matthar, Ranger
Status: Unknown
Why he matters: The Night’s Watch needs all the Rangers it can get.

Balian, Ranger
Status: Unknown
Why he matters: The Night’s Watch needs all the Rangers it can get.

Jafer Flowers, Ranger, wight, traveling hand
Status: Dead, killed beyond the wall and then at Castle Black
Why he matters: He was accompanying Benjen Stark who was not among the dead. He comes back to life after being killed. +Flowers’s hand was brought to King’s Landing to convince them about the return of the White Walkers.

Othor, Ranger, wight
Status: Dead, killed beyond the Wall and then rekilled by Jon Snow
Why he matters: He was accompanying Benjen Stark who was not among the dead. He comes back to life after being killed. The White Walkers are back.

Will, Ranger, deserter
Status: Dead, beheaded by Eddard Stark for desertion
Why he matters: His death show that Eddard Stark lives by an uncompromising code. He is the first person to bring back news of the White Walkers, but no one believes him.

Gared, Ranger
Status: Dead, killed by a White Walker
Why he matters: Along with Waymar Royce he was the first death on Game of Thrones.  There are zombie creatures beyond the Wall. That seems important too.

Waymar Royce, Ranger
Status: Dead, killed by a White Walker
Why he matters: Along with Gared he was the first death on Game of Thrones. Oh hey, and there are zombies. Creepy.

Jaremy Rykker, acting First Ranger
Status: Alive, at Castle Black
Why he matters: He led the new recruits to take their vows in the Godswood. He brings the Wights back to Castle Black.

Bowen Marsh, First Steward
Status: Alive, at Castle Black
Why he matters: He helps bring the bodies of Othor and Jafer Flowers back to Castle Black. Oh no, wights!

Pypar “Pyp”, Steward
Status: Alive! At Castle Black
Why he matters: He is one of the few Night’s Watch members who are definitively alive. He goes along with Jon Snow’s plans.

Hobb, Steward and Cook
Status: Alive! At Castle Black
Why he matters: He cooks the food. Every castle needs a cook.

Karl, Steward
Status: Unknown, last seen at Craster’s Keep
Why he matters: He insults Craster and helps kick off the Mutiny at Craster’s Keep. He kills Craster.

Eddison “Dolorous Edd” Tollett, Steward
Status: Unknown, last seen at Craster’s Keep
Why he matters: He is the Eeyore of the Night’s Watch.

Otthell Yarwyck, Chief Builder
Status: Unknown, last seen at Craster’s Keep
Why he matters: He’s in charge of maintaining the Wall and the castles. That seems important seeing as there are zombies and wildlings intent on attacking and killing everyone on the other side.

Halder, Builder
Status: Alive! Building things.
Why he matters: Builders maintain the Wall. There are hostile elements on the other side of the Wall. Builders are important.

Toad, Builder
Status: Alive! Building things.
Why he matters: Builders maintain the Wall. There are hostile elements on the other side of the Wall. Builders are important.

Harker, Ranger
Status: Dead, killed by wildlings
Why he matters: Jon Snow’s hesitance to kill Ygritte leads to the death of Qhorin’s scouting group.

Borba, Ranger
Status: Dead, killed by wildlings
Why he matters: Jon Snow’s hesitance to kill Ygritte leads to the death of Qhorin’s scouting group.

Stonesnake, Ranger
Status: Dead, killed by wildlings
Why he matters: Jon Snow’s hesitance to kill Ygritte leads to the death of Qhorin’s scouting group.

Bannen, ranger
Status: Dead, broke his foot
Why he matters: Dying of a broken foot sucks.

Dareon, steward
Status: Alive! At Eastwatch-by-the-Sea
Why he matters: According to Samwell he often sings at meal-time. That’s nice.