Joffrey Baratheon’s review of George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones

I, Joffrey Baratheon, first of his name, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, hereby state that this review of George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones is full of SPOILERS for the 1st book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.  If any readers of this review who haven’t read A Game of Thrones, hereby abbreviated AGOT for the duration of my royal review, proceed onwards I will personally see them put to death by having Ser Meryn gut you and strangle you with your own intestines.  You have been warned.  I am ever merciful.

This book would be very amusing if it weren’t written by a traitor.  I am the King, so why must I read so much shit about other people, especially that traitor Eddard Stark?  He tried to deny my throne!  There is chapter after chapter after chapter of Eddard’s POVs and even more POVs from his bastard boy!  It’s almost as if George R.R. Martin, hereby abbreviated GRRM because I say so, wanted to portray the treasonous Starks in a positive light.  I will have none of that, and I will have GRRM’s head for conspiring to further their cause.

One of the first instances that I knew that this book was utter dog shit was when GRRM wrote that Tyrion Lannister, my uncle, slapped me silly for not offering my condolences to the Starks when their pissy little boy Bran “fell” from the window.  That’s not how it happened at all!  First of all, I know that it’s a popular theory to think that Bran saw my mother and uncle Jaime fucking in the tower.  That’s could not be true because I am the rightful King and I say it isn’t true, and even if it were true that would be the only sex that Bran will ever see in this lifetime.  Why, not even a whore would wipe her disease-ridden ass for all of Bran Stark’s silver, so as far as I’m concerned if he did see my mother and uncle Jaime fucking away like two rabid rabbits in heat then they would be doing him a favor.

I do digress.  As I mentioned, the Imp did not slap me.  I slapped him for daring to suggest that I apologize!  Well, I ordered my dog to slap him.  With his dick.  Did you ever wonder why Tyrion looks like a dick?  Because he is one, and it’s only fitting that the King’s Justice is dispensed to that limp imp in kind.  That GRRM portrayed me as a weak piece of shit is scandalous,  and I will have non of it!  You are the little shit, GRRM!

But perhaps GRRM’s greatest crime of all is to make Sansa such a stupid little bitch.  “Prince Joffrey is the greatest.  I’m so in love with him.  I will be ever so great a queen and give him ever so many sons.”  I do not need a Stark wench to fawn on me to know that I am great.  Her father is a traitor, and she has traitor’s blood in her.  I detest her.  Still, she is pretty, and I suppose that I can have my fun with her in a way.  But she is so, so, so stupid.  To think that I would sully my line with her is, well, baffling.  She’s nothing to me, and I am remiss to note that GRRM has that point right.  But that does not excuse him from his other, more telling crimes.

And I did the world a great service by having Ser Ilyn cut off Eddard Stark’s balls, umm, I mean head.  He was too stupid a character to be left alive.  If we are to believe that I am nothing but the bastard spawn of my mother and uncle Jaime, why would Lord Eddard fucking tell my mother about it!  My mother takes no prisoners and that dullard should have known it!  If I had allowed Eddard to live, it would have brought about an even further degradation of literary standards for protagonists.  Of course, I SHOULD have been the main character of this travesty of a novel, seeing as how I’m the King.  I’m the King, I get what I want, and I didn’t want stupid characters sullying my story.  Could you imagine a world in which Eddard Stark chopped off my head?  That would have been the real horror.  If anything I provided GRRM a valuable literary service, even though I fear it is not enough to stop this wreck.

I, Joffrey Baratheon, hereby denounce George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones as being the vilest sort of shitty book imaginable, and worse yet, it’s a treasonous work because it not only has characters other than me, the King, but it doesn’t even have the King’s point of view.  I will have Martin’s balls, and I will put them on spikes on top of the battlements of the Red Keep for all of my royal subjects to see.  And then I will throw the ball-less Martin into a pit with that eunuch Varys, and I will have them fight to the death.  The winner shall have the honor of being put to death by my own Ser Meryn.

King Joffrey Baratheon.

Disclaimer:  Joffrey Baratheon is a fictional character and not actually a book reviewer.  I actually quite liked A Game of Thrones and am currently reading A Clash of Kings.  I don’t know why I haven’t read these books sooner, they are really cool!

Disclaimer #2:  I wrote this simply due to a bout of insomnia and wanted to do something to while away my time when I couldn’t sleep.  So if it doesn’t make sense, that’s why.

Great videos about education and motivation

When I was attending public school as a kid, I had always had the feeling that there was something amiss about the experience.  Sure, I had a number of passionate teachers, and I usually loved attending their classes, but more often than not, school was BORING.  Routine.  Bell schedules.  Bland architecture with little natural lighting.  Teachers who merely taught what was on their teaching guides.  Too many kids crammed into one building.

It’s almost as if school was like a production line in the business of forming similar, conforming minds.  On one hand we learned that the Founding Fathers were revolutionaries who bravely fought tyranny, but on the other hand, we were also taught to never, ever question the authority of the school administrators.

I’ve recently discovered videos hosted by the RSA organization on YouTube, and I’ve really been enjoying them.  The RSA Animate series covers big ideas in a visibly accessible style, and I really enjoyed this one based on a talk given by Ken Robinson.  In it, he posits that the public education system as it’s currently constructed actually hampers creativity.

 

 

Which brings me to the next video which is about motivation.  This video is based on a talk given by Dan Pink, and he reports that money is actually a poor motivation in regards to doing one’s job well.  He questions the hierarchy system that is ever present in corporate culture, and he concludes that deep down we care about maximizing our mastery of our skill sets more than merely making a lot of money.  A good job should make us better people rather than just being busy work.

 

 

I hope that anybody who stumbles upon this post enjoys these videos as much as I did.  These videos actually inspire me to evaluate how I am going to conduct myself in my job going forward into next year.

Teasing my next book review

Hello all and none!  My next book review shall go up sometime in the next week, and I just thought that I’d tease you a little bit.  I am currently reading the last of a very famous science-fiction trilogy that features an antagonist who could be said to be a cross between a female horse and a male donkey in some figurative since.  I think that was a really concrete example.

I’m not the world’s fastest reader, so my reviews might not go up every few days like on some blogs, but I think that it would be a great goal for me to review every book that I read on here from now on.

 

 

I’m so hungry I think that I’ll eat The Hunger Games trilogy.

Darth Vader likes The Hunger Games trilogy. "The Force is strong with these books."

 

Sometimes I lose track of time and forget to do little things around the apartment.  Such as stocking the place with food.

During my last bout of hunger due to my negligence of grocery shopping, I turned my apartment upside down looking for every last morsel that might be hiding somewhere.  I found some Goldfish crackers sitting around on the bottom of my pantry and promptly gobbled them up.  But there was still a problem.

I was still hungry.

And too lazy to get in my car and drive to the store.  Oh woe is me!

But even though food gets sparse in my apartment my sometimes, there is one thing that I’ll always be well stocked in.

Books.  Lots of them.

And so I went through my boxes of books that were still sitting around in my closet after the move, and wouldn’t you know it, I found just the book that I needed.

The Hunger Games.

This was just the book that I needed to eat.

And so I sat down at my dining table, said a prayer to Saint Vonnegut, and then began my meal.  But even though I was starving, I’m not one to rush a good meal, and so I actually read the book as I ate it.  I’d read a page front and back, tear it out, and chew it up and swallow it down.

Katniss hates Buttercup but loves Prim.

Chomp.

This Gale fellow seems as though he might have a thing for Katniss.

Gulp.

By the time the actual Hunger Games began in the book, I was already starting to get full from chewing on so many words, but gorge myself I did!

Ok, pardon the pun, but let’s get on with the real meat of my thoughts about this trilogy.

I never really want to spoil much of anything in my reviews, so I tend not to talk about plot specific events in favor of writing a little about the themes or ideas that the novel addresses.  And nearly everyone has seen the movie or read the books, so I’ll make this quick.  Katniss is a girl.  She hunts.  She’s good with the bow.  And she lives in District 12.  District 12 is one of twelve districts of the nation of Panem, and it is controlled by the Capitol.  There was a war in the past in which the districts tried to rebel from the Capitol, but they lost the war and they were subsequently punished.  The Hunger Games is a result of this punishment, and each of the twelve districts is required to send two tributes, a boy and a girl, to the Games, which constitute a fight to the death on live TV.  Everyone dies in the Games except for one: the victor.

Predictably, Katniss winds up as a volunteer as a tribute for the Games.  A boy named Peeta accompanies her from District 12, and they head to the Capitol in order to prepare for the Games.  Then the Hunger Games begin, and much violence ensues.

Now on to the ideas that were presented to me in this book.

First and foremost, I see very strong parallels to the nature of the Games and our own society.  Apparently Suzanne Collins got the idea to write this series after flipping channels on TV and seeing war coverage of Iraq.  I am really interested in thinking about how we perceive the information that the media presents to us, and as a society, we are constantly bombarded with violent images and soundbites.  The TV is a type of lens, and the reality that is viewed through this lens is of a different nature than the actual reality that we experience around us.  Much like words, objects can also carry connotations, and one connotation that I think of when I think of TV is entertainment.  So even though war is awful, when presented through the lens of the television and interrupted by commercial breaks every seven minutes or so, the televised war itself picks up associations of entertainment.

Bored with the newscaster’s reporting of war?  Just change the channel and watch sports.  Or HBO.  Or whatever you want.  It’s really easy to change your focus as the viewer.  And because war coverage is all-pervasive and yet at the same time sanitary and kept at a safe distance through that TV lens, we ourselves can be distant from it.  We can watch the latest updates on Afghanistan while munching on M&Ms.

The Hunger Games is a grand entertainment in the society of Collins’ novel.  The citizens of the Capitol are depicted as decadent airheads that laud and worship the Games and those who participated in them.  Because they are kept at a safe distance from the Games through the medium of TV, they view the tributes as two-dimensional characters participating in a grand plot line rather than actual, physical human beings who themselves have thoughts and emotions.

Ironically, many of Collins’ characters in the Games ARE cardboard cut-outs in a literary sense, but I have no problem with it.  This is a Young Adult adventure novel, so I’m not really looking for really in-depth characters when I read this.  I do wish that we could have seen more of Cato, who is made out to be the nastiest, most vicious of the tributes.  But I also believe that it was a conscious decision by Collins to only provide us with information that Katniss knows (this story is told in the first-person view point), and it’s natural that she doesn’t spend time with him.  She’s usually running away from him!  But Cato isn’t really the true enemy of the 74th Hunger Games, and more of that theme is elaborated on in Catching Fire and Mockingjay.

Situations begin to change during the course of the trilogy, and one of the things that I most enjoyed about this series is that both the Capitol and District sides had sympathetic AND villainous characters.  This wasn’t a good-versus-evil story per say, and if there is an evil force in this series (and by extension, in reality), we only have to look at ourselves.  Look at the Roman gladiatorial games.  We as a species have killed each other for sport.

All in all, I really enjoyed reading this series, and the pages really flew by.  Mockingjay took me by surprise a few times, and while a lot of fans didn’t enjoy where that book went, I thought that it ended just the way that it should.

Unlike Harry Potter.

Ok, don’t kill me for my Harry Potter comment.  I haven’t read those books in quite sometime!  But I’m one of those evil people who could have done without the Epilogue in the last book of that series.  I’m tempted to read the series through all the way again and then just not read the Epilogue and see what my feelings are.

Where has this decade gone? Recalling September 11th, 2001.

I’ve been a very bad boy.  Neglectful.  Forgetful of my blog!  This must be rectified.

Well, as we all know, 9/11 occurred on this date ten years ago.  This is not meant to be a profound post about the attacks or their meaning; one can find a lot of that this week from other sources.

Ten years ago on this day, I was a nineteen year-old music student at the University of Houston.  Like many others who attended UH, I was a commuter.  I was driving a green 1998 Ford Escort at the time.  Each trip to and from UH was typically an hour commute due to the heavy traffic.  That morning started out like most other mornings.  I tuned into the radio that morning like I did most of the time to help alleviate the boredom of the drive, and just a few minutes into it the DJ started talking about something big going on in New York City.  I recall that the radio guy said that the World Trade Center was on fire and that an enormous amount of dark smoke was issuing forth from it and covering a lot of Lower Manhattan.

I remember being transfixed by this news.  It sounded pretty bad.  After the initial confusion about what happened, the news reported that an airplane had hit the building.

During the middle of my commute, the second plane hit.  It was apparent to me and the whole country that an attack was underway.

I begrudgingly turned off the radio and the car upon arrival at UH, and I attended a very weird sight-singing class.  (For non music majors, sight-singing entails that instrumentalists like myself sit around and sing random unrehearsed musical lines in solfege (i.e. do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do) in front of opera singers and embarrass ourselves in the process.  I really hated that class.)  Everyone was talking about what was happening in NYC, but someone we went on with our lives during that hour.  We had no news of what was going on while in the class.  This was before the days of iPhones, and as I recall, the cell phones of the time were pretty bulky and had next to no extra features.

When I left the class, word had spread like wildfire through the school that one of the World Trade Center towers had collapsed.  I couldn’t believe what I had heard.  How could one of those huge towers collapse from fire?  I skipped the next class and went over to a friend’s dorm to watch the news.  Right when I got over there, the news was reporting that the second tower had collapsed.  What the hell?  And that’s when I learned about the stuff that happened in DC and in Pennsylvania.

I was pretty nervous because it was obvious that there was a large-scale, coordinated attack taking place.  I elected to skip the rest of my classes that day and drive home.  UH is pretty close to downtown Houston, and I didn’t want to be in the vicinity of any skyscrapers on that day.  I drove home a longer route than I usually take to avoid going near tall buildings.  I didn’t want to take a chance that Houston might have been targeted too.  It was a really confusing and horrible day, as we all know.

I really can’t believe that it’s been a full decade since that day.  It still seems so close, and I imagine that it feels very near to those families who lost loved ones on 9/11.

There are all sorts of theories on what happened on that day, and I encourage everyone to make up their own minds.  I will posit this rhetorical question:  would such a large-scale terrorist attack have taken place without the existence of such a connected and fast way of disseminating information?  In other words, to what extent does the presence of the media encourage terrorist attacks?  I am not saying that the media actively encourages attacks, but terrorism is psychological warfare, and the purpose of terrorism is to spread fear into a populace.  What is the most efficient way of provoking that fear?  The terrorist act itself or the media that gives it such attention?  Perhaps they both work hand in hand in the pubic mind.

Perhaps this is the price we pay for living in such a connected society.  We would definitely be missing out on a lot of advances without means of quick communication, but I think that when you have such a system in place, there will always be those who try to exploit it to their own nefarious advantages.

Thoughts on The Taming of the Shrew at the Houston Shakespeare Festival

Ok, I am very behind with updating this blog–the performance that I’m writing about here occurred a week ago!  But write I shall, because if I don’t, I won’t be able to find the right words to describe this event, and then I’ll lose memory of it, and then a part of me will be lost.

I’m not going to provide a synopsis of this play.  There’s a lot of identity switching between the characters, and it’ll take me forever to get everything straight.  But you’ll be able to read a synopsis here if you so desire to have one.

The crux of the play concerns a noble gentleman from Verona named Petruchio, who vows to marry Baptista’s daughter Katherine due to the large dowry that he would receive.  But there’s a small problem.  Katherine is a real %$#*^.  Pardon my symbols.  Shakespeare calls her a “shrew,” which means that she is a cantankerous woman with a vile tongue who is not afraid of pulling any punches and scolding men at will.  But Petruchio claims that he can tame her, and eventually he does (of course–as the play’s title implies).  Meanwhile, some other suitors vie for the affection of Bianca, Baptista’s younger and more civil daughter.  Baptista has declared that none can marry Bianca until Katherine is married first, and that’s where our hero Petruchio comes in.  There’s a sub-story of how the suitors woo Bianca, but I’m not going to get into that here.  I will say that the wooing of Bianca is pretty funny, and much hilarity and identity reversals ensue.

*Spoiler Warning!*

I have not read this play in over three years, and my memory of reading it is hazy, so much of what I’m writing is off the top of my head and I might not be correct about some things.  Katherine seems to be a woman who scorns the idea of depending on a man for her livelihood.  It is due to this hatred of patrimony that she treats scolds every man she encounters.  In short, she seems to be a proto-feminist.

It’s interesting to think of such a character in the context of Shakespeare’s time period–women weren’t even respected enough in that society to allow them to act in this very play!  Someone like Katherine represents a shakeup of the status quo–her ideas are dangerous, and it’s up to society (represented by Petruchio) to quench any desire to be independent.  (It’s interesting to note that Shakespeare’s patron was a woman–Queen Elizabeth.  It would be interesting to learn more about views from that time period on female monarchy).

In the world that this play is set in, female independence is not to be allowed, so it goes without question that her willpower shall ultimately fail.  She’s married off to Petruchio in a most humiliating manner, and then she is essentially whisked away by him to his estate where she is, for all intents and purposes, tortured.  Through the process of being starved and subjected to other mental cruelties,  her once vociferous tongue is rendered docile.  She knows that if she is to get what she wants–in this case comfort–she has to follow the orders of her husband.  She submits to the order of patriarchy.  At the end of the play, Petruchio demonstrates his utter domination of Katherine and proves that she’s more obedient than others’ wives.  Once this demonstration of her taming is over, the curtain drops and it’s assumed that we’ve seen a happy ending.

Is it a happy ending?  We’ve just witnessed a person lose her identify throughout the course of this play.  She moves from voicing her own opinions on matters to always agreeing with her husband.  This play is classified as a comedy, but I’ve always thought that there was something pretty tragic in that.  I wonder how modern women look at this play–perhaps its time for me to read some reviews from their perspectives.

I’m not sure what Shakespeare’s own feelings on the matter were–I imagine that he was a product of his time in many ways, but I do not profess to ultimately know that  much about him (which is why I should partake on a Shakespeare reading challenge!).  I’m glad that women’s rights have advanced so much in comparison to his age or even just a century ago.  I rather like to be around intelligent women, so I think that it’s a great thing that they have every bit as many educational opportunities as men do.

Other aspects of the performance of note:

It was held outdoors at the Miller Outdoor Theater at Hermann Park in the middle of Houston.  It was free.  And it was fun.

I seem to remember that Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew has a play-within-a-play element going for it.  I remember the play originally beginning in a tavern, and I believe that the actual plot of Shrew commences as a play in the fictional tavern.  Or something like that.  I should look that up!  The performance that I saw cut that element out and started out right in Padua.  It was a kind of post-modern performance involving 50’s rock music, boxing rings, and TV game shows.  Yeah, that’s right.  For example, the part where Petruchio initially trades verbal barbs with Katherine occurred with both of them in a boxing ring!  It was pretty amusing.  Because this play is a comedy and meant to be funny, I thought that it was a nifty touch.

All in all, I enjoyed the evening, even though I ultimately find this play kind of disturbing for the reasons that I mentioned.  And as always, I took some pictures of Hermann Park, so I’ll just throw them up here!  Unfortunately I don’t know much about photography, so some of the pics are a bit blurry.  I really need to learn more.  I just point and shoot!

Miller Outdoor Theater--Hermann Park

Museum District--Houston

Obelisk at Hermann Park--Houston's Tiny Phallus

*Note:  I will be posting pictures of Houston’s MUCH, MUCH larger phallus very soon.*

The Texas Medical Center's skyline as seen from Hermann Park

Yesterday, I had an adventure around town and took some pictures, and I’ll post them tomorrow!  While this blog doesn’t have any specific aim as far as content goes, I would like to take pictures more often, and this blog is as good a place as any to share them with people.