on game of thrones season 2 episode 6

I had hoped to write a mid-second season review of Game of Thrones last week, but the world outside the one-meter radius of my laptop somehow managed to get in the way, and now I find myself left with only the sixth episode to blog about and a sadness that might rival Tywin Lannister’s disappointment upon the birth of his son Tyrion the Imp.

But then again the Lord of Casterly Rock had no idea the Halfman would “grow up” to become such a fascinating creature and my regrets are nothing really more than just a lame attempt at an introduction. In other words, here’s a rundown of some of the most interesting stuff in Episode 6, listed by chronological order:

1. Joffrey Baratheon may have been a character designed primarily to elicit pure contempt. Theon Greyjoy, on the other hand, seems destined to be someone you couldn’t thoroughly hate only because he’s such a sad little person. In this scene where the turncloak tearfully beheads one of the Dwarflords of Middle-Earth Ser Rodrik Cassel, one can’t help but feel sorry for this poor boy who had to suffer so much from so many personal issues.

“Darn it. I was held hostage by a nice family for years and then my own squid of a father calls me a ‘doll’ in front of my little sis. If there were any shrinks in Westeros, I wouldn’t have to let this all out on you, you know.”
“Darn it. I was held hostage by a nice family for years and then my own squid of a father calls me a ‘doll’ in front of my little sis. If there were any shrinks in Westeros, I wouldn’t have to let this all out on you, you know.”

2. Many people have said it already and I will say it again with utter disregard for redundancy: this Arya Stark girl actress is beyond awesome. Where in the Seven Kingdoms did they get her? In this scene where Petyr Baelish arrives suddenly to Harrenhal to see Tywin Lannister, Arya does her best to make sure Littlefinger does not recognize her as the the other wolf pup who got away.

“Oh my gods. Petyr Baelish. Shit shit shit shit shit.”
“Oh my gods. Petyr Baelish. Shit shit shit shit shit.”

3. And then someone threw a lump of cow feces at Joffrey’s face. And Tyrion “kingslaps” him. I never knew I was capable of such gleeful laughter.

“OH NO YOU DIDN’T.”
“OH NO YOU DIDN’T.”

4. In the book series, Robb Stark falls in love with some girl he knocked up after some battle in the south—the Lady Jeyne Westerling, with her “chest-nut curls” and “heart-shaped face.” But the TV show’s writers apparently had a better idea and invented this mysterious Talisa of Volantis who works for the Red Cross. HBO thinks it’s a superior match for the King in the North, but Lady Catelyn Stark doesn’t seem to agree.

“Robb, my dear? I will hit your head if you do not stop ogling the young Mother Teresa.”
“Robb, my dear? I will hit your head if you do not stop ogling the young Mother Teresa.”

5. As for Ygritte the Wildling woman’s first appearance in the show, Jon Snow did look positively enchanted, which is just as well. I mean, who wouldn’t?

“You know nothing, Jon Snow. As for me, I know how to move my hips and I have this sort of sexy, breathy voice.”
“You know nothing, Jon Snow. As for me, I know how to move my hips and I have this sort of sexy, breathy voice.”

6. Now the only disappointment from the episode, I guess, comes toward the end, when the show’s writers made Osha buy her escape from besieged Winterfell by sleeping with Theon Greyjoy. That was a terrible, terrible thing to do, because in the books, Osha freed herself and the two Stark boys through sheer cunning and courage.

“They made Margaery Tyrell appear as if her feminine qualities were her only means for success. Why should I be any different?”
“They made Margaery Tyrell appear as if her feminine qualities were her only means for success. Why should I be any different?”

7. And then finally—and this isn’t part of the sixth episode—but listen to this little something and tell me that these kids are simply adorable. I will kill anyone who would say otherwise.

PS.  Don’t have a torrent of Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 6 yet? Download it here.

on game of thrones season 2 episode 1

When I was a kid, we did not have cable and our television was an old machine with two rusty metal sticks for an antenna; we were lucky if the useless junk worked miraculously after a few friendly thumps. As a result, I had never grown fond of television shows as a child and I harboured the pretentious claim that nothing can be better than reading novels.

Of course, I wasn’t entirely right. I know now, because I have since discovered a combination of three things: the Internet, torrents, and the trusty VLC player. This week, I have done almost nothing but replay my pirated copy of the pilot episode of the second season of the Game of Thrones series (courtesy of MSF who gave me a link for the torrent), and I realize once more how, with today’s technology, you could replay the scenes in a story, in a way you could never do with books.

1. Consider this scene with the newly crowned King Joffrey Baratheon celebrating his “name day” by staging a fight tournament. When a contestant gets hammered to a bloody pulp and falls down from the sentries, Joffrey shouts, “Well struck!” And that smirk—it just helps you decide that he is surely the most evil of brats on screen since Tom Felton’s Draco Malfoy, doesn’t it? I must have replayed the scene a thousand times, nursing my hatred for this blonde spawn of Satan. I mean, just look at that face.

“They said I can become anything, so I became a brat.”

2. And then comes the Imp, Tyrion Lannister, and his charming one-liners. He offers his condolences to Lady Sansa Stark, whose father’s head was chopped off by orders of his fiancé, the evil child Joffrey. When Joffrey retorts that Sansa has nothing to mourn for a traitor dad, Tyrion rebukes him and defends Sansa so tenderly. Aww. Let’s have that again, shall we.

“Hello there, pretty girl. I’ll save you from Draco Malfoy. Just be patient, okay?”

3. There are a lot of crazy women on television. But none as deliciously annoying as this seemingly mad Wildling woman who was taken hostage by the Starks and into the service of Winterfell. She smiles ever so darkly even when there is not much to be mysterious about, mutters, rolls her eyes, and cocks her head to the side all the time while talking to a major character. Her name is Osha and in terms of possible relatives, you could choose between Bellatrix Lestrange and Sisa. Here is she, giving a dissertation about comets.

“The comet means only one thing: the Dark Lord has returned.”

4. The important thing with medieval courts on television is the talking. There’s the sex, too, of course, and the fighting, and the vast amounts of clothes and drapery. But the talking is a big deal—the subtleties laced with poison, the inane pleasantries, the weird sentence structure. In this scene with Lord Petyr Baelish and the Queen Cersei Lannister exchanging some very meaningful words, the venomous smiles provide perfect backdrop to their charming conversation.

“And how did you two manage to get yourselves hoisted up there in that old watchtower, Your Grace?”

5. Last, who seriously didn’t enjoy that part where Jaime Lannister is tied to a post, scared to death with the prospect of being eaten alive by Robb Stark’s oversized dog. I replayed and replayed the scene until the screen dissolved in greenish pixels. Take that, you little pansy.

“Such big teeth you have, grandmother!”

2011, simplified

There are two familiar ways to write a personal year-end review. The first involves a simple chronology of all the good, the bad, and the ugly, followed promptly by an epiphany and a new year’s resolution. The second involves making fun of myself (and possibly everyone else), which is sometimes nothing really more than an attempt at humor. But either of the two would be easy, and convenient, and redundant, since I have already done both previously.

So I thought: Why not make it a lot easier and more convenient, without having to repeat myself? This year, I tried to condense twelve months into the following illustrations that would help me simplify things, without, of course, having to look forward to the Mayan Apocalypse.

Of course, these do not tell everything. For example, I’m too embarrassed to openly admit how often I listen to Adele and that  everything was self-rated. Also, these graphs are created only using estimates, which means it’s possible that I may have been, I don’t know, a little careless? 

A “Happy New Year” to everyone and may you guys never have to resort to graphs next year.

best consumer picks this month

Daily we are flooded with products designed to make our lives easier, art and literature that would raise our intelligence quotient, and novel ideas on how the world can be a better place.

Which one would be worth our time and money the most? Every month, I feature three things that might just push the boundaries of human existence.

1. The Royal Wedding: The Official Westminster Abbey Souvenir. Was there ever a more romantic event this century? Witness how history unfolded in the comfort of your home by getting a copy of this 40-page volume on the beautiful wedding of a handsome, balding prince and a former British Airways flight attendant with a hotter sister. Tag price: P495.

2. Pacman: Kwento ng Pag-asa Tiyaga, at Determinasyon, by Manny Pacquiao. If you thoroughly enjoyed the original English version, you would definitely want to read this translation as well. Forget about hundreds of other biographies on the world’s best pound-for-pound boxer. This one is in Filipino. And since Manny wrote it himself, it promises anecdotes about celebrity mom and socialite Dionisia Pacquiao. Plus, it’s only P295.

3. Miles to Go, by Miley Cyrus, co-written by Hilary Liftin. Critics say this is yet another strong testament to the fact that not all young girls in Hollywood are dumb. Though it is unclear how much Liftin is involved in the creative process, this autobiography breeds the suspicion that Hannah Montana might just have a promising career in writing. Tag Price: P469.

BEST PICK: Miles to Go, by Miley Cyrus, co-written by Hilary Liftin.

You see, Miley was born and raised in a farm in Tennessee. Now she is a famous actress, musician, and fashion designer, who earns about $25 million dollars a year. This lends hope to all the farm girls around the world by showing them how stardom is one sure ticket to a better and happier life.

* Quoted Prices are from National Bookstore

lit picks: fun reads for under the sun

There are many ways to enjoy a trip to the beach. The most thrilling The most exciting The most obvious of which is to give in to the consensus that it is perfectly fine to (1) be half-naked in broad daylight and (2) bathe communally in saltwater. Among other things, of course.

Barring that, there is always … there is always the comfort of a good book, read under the solitary shade, far from the madding crowd. In which case I recommend these lightweight tomes:

1. Kiss Kiss, Roald Dahl

In these stories, desires are thwarted, revenge is exacted, and the deceitful are punished severely. If you thoroughly delight in stories of epic failures, read this. My personal favourites are Parson’s Pleasure and Mrs Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat.

2. Shakespeare Wrote for Money, Nick Hornby

I almost decided to recommend How To Be Good, but this one is a slim volume of just 131 pages and can be wolfed down in an hour. A collection of Hornby’s essays in his column for the British magazine Believer, this book is another proof that it is impossible to read too much. As Hornby himself notes, “Once you pop, you cannot stop” “Reading begets reading.”

3. Cyrano de Bergerac, Edmond Rostand

For those who are so inclined, I recommend this classic play involving this witty guy with a monstrous nose, a cute but dumb soldier, and a very beautiful girl. Unfortunately this was written in 1897.

4. Going Rouge–The Sarah Palin Rogue Colouring and Activity Book, Julie Sigwart and Michael Stinson

Thanks largely to Tina Fey, Sarah Palin is now a legend. This very same legend can now be handed down to kids as our legacy–in the form of this riot of a parody book, which claims to feature puzzles, word games, and mazes like, “Help Sarah find her way to the White House.”

This book is published right after Sarah Palin’s own memoir, Going Rogue: An American Life. Yep, Palin can write just fine. And she can see Russia from her house.

5. When You Are Engulfed in Flames, David Sedaris

Sedaris’s essays often make me ask myself how he never runs out of bizarre experiences that he could so easily polish into endlessly funny anecdotes.

In this latest collection of his essays, he starts by recounting this story about a lozenge which fell from his mouth into the lap of his fellow passenger on a plane, and he ends by telling about how he quit smoking… in Tokyo, Japan.

There is however a mental note to be made if one is to ever bring a book to the beach: also bring a book cover. Speaking by experience, it is always a danger to read in public. People are bound to notice the title on the naked cover and one of them is bound to ask you a question about the book–or worse, offer his own unsolicited review. We do not want that to happen. Or do we?

*photo is from the acclaimed Julian Schnabel film “The Diving Bell and The Butterfly” (Le scaphandre et le papillon)

my new year un-resolution

This is my first post for this year and I was thinking about starting it off with a meaningful pledge—something like “From now on, I will no longer swear and use the name of God in vain” or “Today, I will become a vegetarian.” Unfortunately, such decisions are beyond my abilities, and the most I can do is to talk about old things that I will probably continue doing this year—such as smoking.

While many of my friends have heroically chose to effectively quit nicotine come 2010, unleashing a flood of Facebook status and Twitter updates on how splendidly they are getting along, I realized that I cannot “jump in the bandwagon.” I simply do not have any urgent reasons to shun cigarettes, at least not yet.

I remember this time I went to the hospital for a checkup and I had to wait in the lobby where there was a huge poster of what a smoker’s dead body would look like. The corpse, which must have been a human being once, was split open to display tar-blackened lungs and red, swollen innards which suspiciously resembled cuts of processed meat. Think rotten CDO or Pampanga’s Best. The main point of the poster of course was to scare and warn smokers that their internal organs would look disgusting, but other than mild surprise, it failed to elicit any sense of alarm in me. I know that by the time some doctor would cut me open like that, I would be too dead to care about how horrible my pancreas looks.

While on the topic of being dead, I cannot understand how some well-meaning people can believe that smokers will quit if they brought home the point that “smoking is dangerous for your health.” Sure, smoking is dangerous. But people do things that are equally dangerous and they do it all the time—like crossing a busy street without looking sideways, eating at fast-food restaurants, joining progressive groups, exercising the right to vote, and, excuse me, falling in love. Tell a regular person to stop eating at Jollibee and he will tell you to get a life.

Then there’s this argument by one officemate that we will call Helga. I am not sure how popular this case is among quitters and would-be quitters, but according to Helga, and to some health experts, cigarettes are bad for the skin and hair and that nicotine makes you look old and smell awful. I think I told her that if I had been a girl or if I had terrific looks to worry about, I would be concerned. But luckily, I was spared in both counts.

And so at the end of the day, the dawn of the decade, I am here in front of the computer, opening a fresh pack of menthol cigarettes. I light a stick and reach for my disposable lighter. I take a deep drag from the cigarette and let the smoke escape my mouth slowly in thin wisps and thick blobs. A sudden thought occurs to me. Nothing tastes and feels as good as one’s own stubbornness.

Happy New Year, you people.

PS. Due to boredom and the lack of better things to do, I have picked up my literary pen again and wrote my first story in many months. It’s ambitious and I was hoping someone would confirm my suspicions. Click here to read the thing or click on the link there on the sidebar.

quotes of 2009: the witty, the funny, and the downright stupid (2)

I’d wanted to include soundbites from local figures, but that would mean I would have to scour vast quantities of magazines and web articles to come up with decently witty and/or ridiculous quotes. (Manny Pacquiao would have been my ultimate favorite.)

So I stuck with the global celebrities. Silvio Berlusconi of course was this year’s obvious runaway winner, but very close behind is Hillary No-Surname and the very charmingly disarming Paris Hilton.

JULY

“There are tons of good-looking girls out there. I am not a saint. But you all know that. I hope those at La Repubblica newspaper also understand it.” — Italian premier SILVIO BERLUSCONI on latest allegations in La Repubblica that he paid call girls for sex.

 

AUGUST

“My hairdos have been the subject of PhD theses, so I want everybody to know that I got a good one in Nairobi.” — HILLARY CLINTON.

Honorable mention:

“You want me to tell you what my husband thinks? My husband is not Secretary of State. I am.” — Hillary Clinton, to CONGOLESE STUDENT who asked her “What does Mr Clinton think, through the mouth of Mrs Clinton?” The student had meant to say “Mr Obama”.

“The trouble with Twitter, the instantness of it, too many twits might make a twat.” — DAVID CAMERON, British Conservative Party leader.

“It’s not for the chicken to speak of his own soup.” — QUENTIN TARANTINO, asked if his latest movie Inglourious Basterds was his masterpiece.

 

SEPTEMBER

“I will take questions from the guys but from the girls I want telephone numbers.” — SILVIO BERLUSCONI, Italian prime minister, addresses youth rally in Rome.

Honorable mention:

“Barbie has evolved from a toy into an intellectual property.” — SPOKESMAN FOR MATTEL explains why Barbie is now ready to do her first movie.

“I read in The New York Times this week that I’m an ice queen, I’m the Sun King, I’m an alien fleeing from District 9 and I’m a dominatrix. So I reckon that makes me a lukewarm royalty with a whip from outer space.” — ANNA WINTOUR, editor of US Vogue, tells chat-show host David Letterman why she has such a frosty reputation.

 

OCTOBER

“I would do the baby voice and it’s kind of like this character I made up. But in real life, I’m completely different. I’m very smart.” — PARIS HILTON.

Honorable mention:

“Nobody wants to see a round woman.” — KARL LAGERFELD, clothing designer, after Brigitte, one of Germany’s top-selling women’s magazines, barred professional models from its pages in favor of “real women”.

“The Nobel Peace Prize is the rest of the world saying, ‘Don’t blow it’.” — BONO on Barack Obama’s award of the Nobel Prize.

“I kind of like being a President.” — HILLARY CLINTON, presiding over UN Security Council hearing on sexual violence against women.

“I’ve been in relationships where I’ve felt terribly alone. Just because you’re with someone, it doesn’t mean you’re happy.” — GEORGE CLOONEY.

 

NOVEMBER

“I went to sleep as Rihanna and woke up as Britney Spears.” — Rihanna, pop singer, on the unprecedented levels of media attention she endured after she was assaulted by former boyfriend Chris Brown in February.

 

DECEMBER

“Gender is between your ears, not between your legs.” — CHAZ BONO, born a female to singers Cher and Sonny Bono, during a recent appearance on Good Morning America, discussing the process of becoming a man.

Honorable mention:

“Don’t hold your breath.” VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russian Prime Minister, when asked if he had any plans to retire soon. Putin said he is considering another bid for the presidency in 2012.

“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” — Mode KATE MOSS, asked if she had a personal motto. Her statement drew fire from eating-disorder experts.