Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Game of Thrones Series in Review

I'm a little late to this party, mainly because I've been doing so much non-blogging lately. But since I anticipated this show for two years and posted many photos of my boyfriend Tyrion Lannister/Peter Dinklage, I think it would be good to let you all know whether or not I even liked the damned thing.

Just a warning - this post WILL ABSOLUTELY contain spoilers.

At the start, I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this series. The first episode was pretty slow and I wasn't sure if it was because it was actually moving incredibly slow or if it was because I spent most of the time anticipating the next move from the book. Catelyn was OLD - much older than I'd pictured her in my head. Jon was incredibly moody. And we hardly saw the direwolves at all, even though they are a major part of all the books. I mean, the kids found six direwolf pups, 3 males, 2 females and a little albino runt one for the bastard Jon Snow. That doesn't just happen everyday! It's fate and a connection that the show hardly played up at all.

Of the scenes they cut or changed or added: From the beginning, I was upset with the way they handled Dany and Drogo's first sexual act. In the book, she's terrified and Drogo, a mostly silent and brooding figure up until then, shows her a more gentle side, using the only word he knows in her language - No - as a way to ask her permission and calm her. In the series, it was rape. And it isn't until later that Dany sees the man behind Khal Drogo. I LOVE the Drogo and Dany relationship and was pretty much waiting eagerly for the wedding night scene. I hated it right up until I read this: Emilia Clarke defends the decision to change the scene and I buy the explanation. AND I think I agree - the relationship's progression and end result is much stronger and much more believable for it. The two characters were able to believably shape and change each other.

The only scene that I'm still pissed wasn't there was the scene in the book between Mormont and Jon, when everyone except Sam (who, btw - was wonderfully cast!) is ready to take their vows. Up until this "graduation," Jon and friends have been protecting Sam from much of Thorne's cruel ways. If the boys graduate without Sam - Jon knows Sam won't make it. So he goes to Mormont and explains that every man has his worth and just because Sam can't fight and will never be able to, doesn't mean he isn't valuable to the Night's Watch. This scene is extremely pivotal in the book because it's basically the reason Mormont later appoints Jon as his steward. He sees the leadership quality in Jon.

Everything else matched up pretty well. I cried like a baby when Ned died and I liked the way the show handled it. I love that he and Arya saw each other and that the show changed it so that it was Ned who sends Yoren to take Arya and protect her, just by mouthing her location to him. It was also a little more drawn out than in the book, which was good. I didn't feel Ned's death in the book because - it happened so gd fast! And I was so shocked that I spent the next however many pages are left denying that it ever happened. I mean - who kills off their MAIN CHARACTER in the first book??? Now, as a wizened old fan, I get it. Ned's death is necessary to understanding their world and in triggering other events.

And the final episode. Thank god I watched it alone. I sobbed through the ENTIRE episode and CLAPPED at the end. And I hate clappers! I couldn't help it. I just thought it was so beautifully executed. Robb is named King of the North and he and Catelyn vow to kill all the Lannisters. Jaime Lannister is captured by Robb and Catelyn has that pivotal conversation with him that is SUPPOSED to happen in the dungeons of Riverrun in Clash of Kings, but I'll forgive them that. I thought it was well placed. Arya heads north with a band of thieves destined for the Nights Watch, not as Arya of Winterfell, but Arry, the boy. Sansa gets all not annoying and completely BADASS in a matter of mere seconds as her expression changes from one of grief and terror to strength and stoicism as she realizes that her life has basically turned to shit. Tyrion heads South to Kings Landing to act as Hand of the King in his father's stead. Jon rides North of the wall to fight off whatever strange thing is terrorizing the wildlings. And Dany. Dany! After losing Drogo, she sacrifices herself to her beliefs to either die by them or rise again. And when the burning pyre dies and cools, her men find her alive and surrounded by DRAGONS. Sir Jorah (hottie) bends at the knee - my queen.

Oh god. Shivers. I mean - wouldn't YOU clap??

Oh! I hardly mentioned Tyrion at all! My boyfriend, my love. Peter Dinklage was AMAZING. He stole every scene he was in. He's just such a perfect Tyrion. I couldn't have been happier. While we're on the subject of actors being perfect - while there are a lot of others who fit their roles well (Jaime, Tywin, Robb, Theon, Cersei, Varys, Littlefinger, Dany, Drogo, Jorah, etc), I was REALLY impressed by Jack Gleeson who plays Joffrey Baratheon. He is very, very good. I want to punch his smug little face all over the goddamned place. Well done, Jack, well done!

My Friends are SO COOL

I've mentioned, probably a million times before, that Marian Schembari is one of my favorite bloggers. So, while I was busy watching this video on my good friend's success and know-how in the comic book world - I was surprised to see Marian flash by on the screen. I was also equally surprised by how creepy and stalkerish I am that I immediately recognized this woman whom I've never met. But still, excitement.

So I e-mail the wonderful Illidge this: MARIAN SCHEMBARI WAS THERE??? (I mean, I followed that with praise...)

And he responded with the link to an interview he did with Schembari a couple months ago regarding his truly unique gossip blog, ExpoWeekly. Unique because all of the writers are fictional characters. It gives a fresh and exciting new twist to gossip blogging - and believe me. I follow my fair share of gossip blogs.

*** Update: Because I work in publishing and never have any clue what year it is - that interview with Schembari happened over a YEAR AGO. 4/29/10? Definitely only a couple of months ago.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

First, An Award

I don't usually do these blog awards, but I was awarded one today by one of my favorite people and favorite blogs - Little Mrs. Stranded over at Stranded in Cleveland.

If you've never visited her ever-more-popular blog, you seriously should. It's a mix (aka a "versatile" mix) of recipes, home decor ideas, hosting how-tos, book reviews and more! Basically, if you're a non-native trying to make a home in a strange land - you know, or not- this blog is for you. Or for anyone, really.

Okay, so - to accept this award I have to tell you 7 things you may not already know about me. Here she goes:

1. I danced for most of my life - ballet, tap, jazz, and kickline. From about pre-school to my senior year of high school. And even still, I'm fairly uncoordinated. But the costumes! Oh the costumes! And being on stage! My favorite was probably when we danced to The Addams Family and wore these black and white jumpers with red leotards underneath. We had jailhouse knee highs and striped fingerless gloves and an amazing pageboy cap. That was the shit. Here's me circa 1989. My brother added Richie Tenenbaum and the quotes you see from The Royal Tenenbaums.

2. My sister and I (and sometimes my brother too) can carry on conversations using only movie/television/musical quotes. Into the Woods, Arrested Development, Hook, Old King Cole's Wee Sing-Along and the 1980-something Alice in Wonderland are some of our favorites to use. Just some. What's unfortunate about this ability is that it often doesn't translate to other people. And then I get the - who is this girl, she's so awkward - stare. Our favorites from each:

Arrested Development: Yeah, Mom's great. Let's call her.
Hook: Oh, THERE you are, Peter! -or- Just give'im a chance! -or- Me, Me, Me, Mine, Mine, Mine
Old King Cole's Wee Sing Along: Puhhh-leeeeassseeee

I can't think of anything off the top of my head from Into the Woods and Alice. These things just HAPPEN sometimes. But! This past Christmas, unbeknownst to either of us - we each used a different quote from the movie Elf on our Christmas Cards. I did, "Smiling's my favorite!" and she did, "I love you, I love you, I loooooove youuuuuuuuuuuu!"

3. I own A LOT of movies. Matt and I counted this past weekend as we sorted them, and we have 208 movies. This doesn't count TV box sets. I actually thought we had more. Anyway - when I'm having a boring Saturday, I'll watch them by theme. So, I could have a Sandra Bullock movie marathon. Or a Cinderella themed marathon. Or, most recently I played a 6 degrees-ish type game where someone from the current movie had to be in the next movie I chose. It was an awesome game. I'm a loser.

4. Though my green thumb is black, I still dream of one day - when I own my own house - starting a very serious vegetable garden. I want fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh strawberries, fresh stringbeans. Maybe even pumpkins! Zucchini. Cucumbers. So many good things. Before my grandparents moved further east on the Island, basically to follow their children and grandchildren, my Grandpa has the BEST vegetable garden that took up a huge corner of their yard. I loved being in there with him and would love to have a Joe Buongiorno Vegetable Garden of my own someday. This is if I can stop killing all the plants.

5. I'm a pretty damn good cook but a truly awful baker. I really enjoy being inventive with what I have or changing recipes as I go. I dreamed up a salsa once that was to die for, though I'm not sure I could make it again. I think it had 3 different peppers, onions, tomatoes, lots of red pepper flakes, honey, lime juice, and fresh chopped mint. It came out really good, whatever it was that I did. Then I have these porkchops that I make that I personally LOVE and often crave. Here's the recipe that might make those of you who like to measure cringe. Except for the honey, each of these "measurements" is per side, per chop. So like, I do all of this for each chop and then I flip them around and do it again.

Pork chops - I like the thin sliced best.
Honey - works best with the kind that's already infused with cloves.
Salt & Pepper to taste
Garlic to taste
2 shakes cayenne pepper
3 shakes cinnamon
2 shakes allspice
Thyme (I probably shake a little less than a tablespoon over each side)

Let sit in this concoction for, at the very least, 4-6 hours, or, at the most, a full day/overnight. You can bake, pan fry, or BBQ.

6. Uhhh. Holy Crap. This just keeps getting harder. Okay. I am a walking contradiction in a lot of things. I am probably the pickiest, non-picky eater around. I'm also probably the sloppiest control freak around as well. For the first, I will eat almost anything. Or, I'll try almost anything. I love all sorts of different regional dishes. But I don't like tomatoes. I love the flavor of peppers, but I can't eat them unless they are cut super thin because I don't like the meaty yet crispy consistency. I put watermelon in the freezer before I eat it because I don't like it to be room temperature. And other things. As for being controlling, it's things like - I'm a pretty big mess, but my clothes in my closet are arranged by color, in rainbow order. And then for the 'non' colors it's Brown, White, Gray, Black. Gray is in the middle because mixing black and white together makes gray. And all of the hangers HAVE to face the same way. And in the kitchen, I have patterned bowls, and solid bowls. They need to be stacked 3 to a stack and the stack should ALWAYS be pattern, solid, pattern.

7. I'm a rabid blog follower. According to my Google Reader Trends page, I follow 193 blogs. They range from comic strips, to book review blogs, to home decor blogs, to blogs about science, to celebrity gossip blogs, to blogs about boogers. Everything. I keep trying to cut it down, but for every one that I'm like - I don't read this - there are 2 that pop up that I just HAVE to add. Over the last 30 days, I've: read 1,346 items, clicked into 27 (this is where I find more blogs), starred 39, shared 2 and e-mailed 41. With that in mind - here are my five award winning bloggers:

(also - please do not feel obligated to participate. It was pretty fun though)

Hither and Thither
David Maybury
The Perpetual Page Turner
Walk While Reading
Etsy Item of the Day

That's just a fraction of the great blogs I follow. And of course, if she hadn't already done me, I would so totally award Mrs. Stranded. She's got everything and every post is fun to read.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Packing & Unpacking

Hey guys, remember me? I used to blog here?

I mean, I still do. And I'm hoping the posting will become more frequent as I settle in to the job, the apartment, the life. All I've been reading - or re-reading - is the Song of Ice and Fire series in preparation for Dances with Dragons due out next month! NEXT MONTH!!! And I've been reading it verrrrrrrrrrrry slowlllyyyyyyyyy....

Part of the reason for the career change was the fact that my new position allows for a decent amount of travel. That excites me - I've always wanted to travel. But - so far - I feel like all I've done is travel. Not that I'm really complaining. But since we moved into the apartment, I feel as though all I've really done there is pack (my new & fabulous pink Vera Bradley duffel!) and unpack.

In May/early June:

On top of having to go to Long Island two or three times and up to Canton once, I went to:

Pennsylvania: To visit two of my authors and some machining and welding programs in the area. It was my first trip by myself, but luckily the area sales rep offered to pick me up from the airport and show me around. It was also my first business dinner and I was nervous as all hell. But the rep said I did a good job and that it seemed like my authors really took to me. I hope so. I'm seeing one of them again soon ... tomorrow in fact!

Anaheim, CA: For the WINDPOWER conference. Again, I met up with two of my authors (different authors than the first time). This time I was completely on my own, but I had a great time. And I learned that connections can be made ANYWHERE around a conference. So, some simple rules I intend to follow when in a conference city from now on:

1) Always look professional and presentable. Not necessarily in a suit, but shouldn't look like a piece of junk.
2) Always behave as though the president of your company is in the room. So... professionally?
3) Always strike up a conversation. Ask - What do you do? & Are you here for the conference?

I made two really great connections this trip and BOTH were outside the conference hall. One was in the hotel bar (yes, but - they wouldn't let me check into my room and I had to go SOMEWHERE! I did work and ate food. For real.) The second was on the plane on the way home. That one became a reviewer for us and invited me climb a wind turbine in Oklahoma next spring. I'm SO going.

LA: This one was self-inflicted. But the boy's movie premiered in LA and I realized - I had to be there. Even if it meant flying to California twice in the matter of days.

Up next:

Kansas City, MO: For the Skills USA conference. I leave early tomorrow morning.
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