Friday, July 26, 2013

Jewellery Jackpot

So it was my birthday last month, but I've been so busy and disorganised and headless chicken-like lately that it's taken me until now to get around to posting about the AMAZING presents that the super deadly Bear gave me. He surprised me with a Father Ted themed weekend away, where we had tea in Father Ted's house, followed by a scamper around the Ailwee Caves and generally had loads of fun.

However, this post is about the lovely shiny things that I was lucky enough to be given. First of all, there's this SUPER COOL silver walnut locket, made by our ridiculously talented metalsmith friend Mirjam (who created my incredible bear ring).

It's so amazingly lovely! Mirjam is just incredibly good at what she does and has actually opened a shop in Sligo. It's called Wildheart and I highly suggest you check it out or at least snoop around her website and Facebook page for a look at the glorious pieces just bursting with character that she has worked her unique brand of pirate magic on. The shop in Sligo also has a vintage section, which is where that crafty Bear of mine picked up the next amazing present.

This totally beautiful bird necklace! Just look at that bad boy. 

And finally, he got me a kickass watch from an Irish company called Push. It's got a mirror-type surface (super handy) and when you press one of the buttons on the side, the time flashes up in a lovely LED shade of blue. It's so goddamn cool! I also love it because it sort of reminds me of a square Rice Krispies digital watch I had as a young wan, where you'd press a button on the side and the time would pop up out of the top. It was one of those ones you collected tokens and sent away for and I bloody loved it. And now I have this awesome grown-up version of it! Yay!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hate The Freys, Not The Game

Since the emotional goddamn ROLLERCOASTER that was the latter half of series three of Game of Thrones, also known as the time George R.R. Martin trampled all over our feelings and punched us in the kidneys on his way out, I've been frantically horsing my way through A Storm of Swords, A Feast For Crows and now A Dance With Dragons in order to find out what the HELL happens next and it's all just so GODDAMN EXCITING.

As such, I've been wanting to write a post about it all, but there's no real point I want to make, so these are really just a bunch of my thoughts on the books, TV show and characters. Mostly because I just wanted the opportunity to call Joffrey a malevolent little fucker.

(Just so you know, I'm not going to give anything away past the point where the TV show finished up, so there'll be no book spoilers from me. Book spoiler people are the worst and I REFUSE TO BE THOSE PEOPLE.)

The Books

I have to say, I am absolutely loving the books so far. At first I thought I might end up being slightly bored or impatient with them when I knew what would happen next up to a point, having been so familiar with the TV series at that stage, but I found myself eating up all the extra details and back stories and characters that there just wasn't room for in the telly version.

I also learned that tourneys are sort of like the Westerosi version of a festival, as they mostly consist of lots of brightly coloured tents and people getting hammered in a field. Like Electric Picnic, but more murdery. The Oxegen of Westeros.

Before I started reading the series, I had heard a few people mention how overly descriptive the books are, how there's endless paragraphs about food and what everyone's wearing (boiled leather, mostly), and yeah, there is quite a bit of that but I'm actually really into it, especially the food stuff.

It's weird, because cookery shows bore the living fuck out of me, but for some reason I love knowing exactly what everyone's eating, whether there's grease dripping down their fingers or not and what EXACTLY the wild boar or lark or trout was roasted with. It's like one big medieval Marks & Spencer food porn ad.

And anyway, it's not nearly as bad as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which could spend anything up to two solid pages at a time listing furniture that Lisbeth Salander bought in Ikea. Now THAT shit was boring.

The TV Show

Here's the thing about the TV show. If you've only watched it once and haven't read the books, go back and watch it again RIGHT NOW. It gets even better the second (and third!) time you watch it, as this time around you're not wondering who the hell this person is and why these people don't seem to get along and just what the flip a maester is when he's at home. This time you can actually just enjoy it and end up noticing a heap of things that passed you by the first time.

It took a second viewing for me to realise that I didn't have a fucking clue what was going on the first time I watched it. I was so busy getting my head around the eleventy million houses of Westeros that I didn't even register Theon Greyjoy and what his deal was until the second series, when he dropped the hand on his sister. I was genuinely surprised to see that he'd been knocking around Winterfell all through the first series while re-watching.

Also, you're a dick.
The fact that there's so many Irish actors in it and so much of it is filmed in Belfast means that spotting certain characters out and about in Dublin can happen surprisingly often. You just don't get that with Mad Men or Breaking Bad or True Blood. So far I've seen Joffrey, Ser Jorah and Bronn out and about in the city.

It's a weird feeling seeing Joffrey in real life. I know that Jack Gleeson is meant to be a totally lovely guy in real life and I'm sure he is (I mean, look at him messing with this pug puppy for God's sake! A pug puppy!) but Joffrey is just such an unrelentingly malevolent little fucker (yay!) in the show, that when he's walking past you minding his own non-sociopathic business the urge to kick him in the shins or at least glower at him is disconcertingly strong. The poor guy. I'm suddenly beginning to understand those old ladies you hear about who accost soap opera villains in the street, shouting at them for being such terrible people.

I actually saw Jorah and Bronn within minutes of each other while a few of us were standing outside The Stag's Head last year, which led to excited speculation about the potential of a secret cast party happening somewhere in the city centre and a brief temptation to follow them. Gotta catch 'em all. (We didn't follow them. That would be creepy.)

The Excellent Female Characters

As well as making for addictive viewing and reading, Game of Thrones features some brilliant female characters and unlike certain other shows *cough*THEWALKINGDEAD*cough*, there's loads of room for more than one strong woman at a time. (I'm still raging with that show for making Andrea into a headwrecking gowlbag as soon as Michonne came on the scene. Dicks.)

Dammit George, get over here so I can give you a big feminist hug.
Anyway, in the Seven Kingdoms and across the Narrow Sea we've got:

Daenerys Targaryen - Stormborn, the Unburnt, Mother of Dragons and GODDAMN KHALEESI OF THE GREAT GRASS SEA.

Asha Greyjoy (or Yara Greyjoy on telly) - fearsome pirate queen and badass maritime motherfucker.

Cersei Lannister - okay she's riding her brother and an AWFUL wagon but you have to admit that she's one bad bitch who gets shit done. Nobody can wield a backhanded compliment like the Lioness of Casterly Rock.

Brienne of Tarth - kickass knight, excellent with a sword and won the fuck out of a tourney melee against a bunch of dudes. (Who, by the way, is an utter knockout in real life.)

Arya Stark - ferocious she-wolf hellbent on revenge, destined for utter greatness and takes absolutely no shit.

That's before we even get near Catelyn Stark's steely resolve, Shae's wily resourcefulness or Margaery eye-fucking and power-dressing her way to queendom. Not to mention the awesomely acid-tongued Lady Olenna aka the Dowager Countess of Highgarden and Sansa Stark, who (to drag out the Downton Abbey comparison) is sort of the Lady Edith of the show - the ginger girl you don't really like all that much to begin with, but before you know it you're 100% rooting for her and digging her quiet strength. Oh AND wildling Ygritte not giving a single fuck, being handy with with a spear and the absolutely magical way she says Jon Snow.

The Ridebags

So, yes, the characters in the series, both male and female, are great and complex and flawed and in some cases just trying to get along as best they can in the fucked up realm of Westeros. But allow me to lower the tone somewhat by saying DAMN there are some total foxes in this series. And in fairness, the show is pretty much an equal opportunites deal in terms of whose ass you get to see, which makes a nice change from the usual naked lady/fully dressed dude trope, like the skeezy Blurred Lines video or the People of the Year series of GQ covers from last year.

As well as typically gorgeous people, (i.e. Jaime Lannister and the big Disney prince head on him and Daenerys being ridiculously beautiful) it also provides an array of weird and slightly guilty crushes, like Sandor Clegane and Roose Bolton, and those are always fun. I'd also just like to point out what a difference a few years and change of hair colour makes in the case of Iain Glen. Villain in Tomb Raider? Move along, unappealing oily-haired man. Ser Jorah? BACK THAT FINE ASS UP, MORMONT. No friendzone for you. A touch of face cragginess did him the world of good.

So what I'm really wondering now is what the hell I'm going to do when I run out of books to read. Oh, who am I kiddding, it'll probably be a fourth go at series one and onwards.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

World War Z, Or Something Not Quite Like It

I finally got around to seeing World War Z. After loving the utter bejaysus out of the book and being quite concerned about the trailer and the fast hooring zombies (© Dawn) back in December, I pretty much expected to hate it.

However, it was actually grand. Well, when I say that, I mean that it's a reasonably good zombie film with some enjoyable jumpy bits, but it's not World War Z. Not even a little bit. Although I did enjoy the collective "oh!" of recognition in the cinema when Ruth Negga popped up.

Anyway, I'm not sure why Brad Pitt bothered buying the rights to it really, because they essentially took all the things that made World War Z such a compelling and scary and fascinating read in the first place and just fucked it all in the bin, so Brad could run around saying "my family!", all of whom I hated within seconds.

Those discarded things included elderly Japanese blind monk Tomonaga, who takes on zombies with nothing more than a shovel and the patience to listen to everything very fucking carefully, and Tatsumi, his nerdy apprentice who becomes an awesome zombie killing warrior in his own right. I would have happily watched Gerry's family being eaten in the opening credits, even if it only meant a few minutes of those guys, or mercenary anti-hero T. Sean Collins or Colonel Christina Eliopolis, who crash lands in the middle of zombie-infested territory and manages to single-handedly fight her way to safety, while being guided by a mysterious sky watcher like a badass motherfucker.

Oh, just get eaten already.
It was always going to be difficult, if not downright impossible to make World War Z, a book that's made up of survivor interviews from all over the world, into a film. Which is why it never should have been squished and mangled into a two hour summer blockbuster in the first place.

If you're going to do any justice to a book as deadly and special as World War Z, it needs to be a documentary-style affair, or a dramatic mini series with interviews scattered along the way, like Band of Brothers, but with less making the viewer bawl crying and more zombie decapitation.

What really annoys me though, is this quote from Brad:

“I was never a huge horror fan to be honest,” insists Brad, 49, who says the £250million flick is more about the plot anyway.

“As for why zombies are so popular, I really have no idea."


Oh I see. Thanks for nothing, Brad.