Ian Thomas Malone

A Connecticut Yogi in King Joffrey's Court

Monthly Archive: August 2015

Friday

28

August 2015

1

COMMENTS

Game of Clickbait: A Song of “Journalists” and Thieves

Written by , Posted in Blog, Game of Thrones, Pop Culture

I saw something unfortunate on Twitter this morning as I looked through my friends’ tweets. The Huffington Post’s Bill Bradley put out an article on Wednesday claiming to have a “new” Game of Thrones theory regarding the parentage of Jon Snow and Meera Reed. Given that A Clash of Kings, the first book to feature Meera, was released in 1998 and that this series can be called a worldwide phenomenon since at least 2005, when A Feast For Crows hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list (a rare feat for a fantasy novel), it is more than safe to say that this theory is anything but new.

If you google “Jon Meera twins,” tons of posts come up that are earlier than Wednesday. Without even clicking on a single link, I see one from asoiaf.westeros.org from 2012. I doubt that’s the oldest either.

It’s embarrassing that HuffPo calls this journalism. The site has been praised by many for ushering in the modern day era of the news. While there’s plenty of truth to that, things like this thievery aren’t just a disgrace, they’re sad.

It’s sad because there are countless ASOIAF/GOT fans who have put in thousands of hours of research and discussion who then go uncredited by major news websites. This goes even beyond that. You have a guy who pretends they don’t even exist and that he’s the first to make this groundbreaking revelation.

We know why. Game of Thrones has over a hundred million fans. Articles like these are cash cows, especially when the research only takes a three-word Google search. It’s free money.

Dishonest money. I’m lucky to consider many of the top ASOIAF commentators to be friends. I’ve featured many of them here in my “Interviews of Ice and Fire” feature. I haven’t featured Bill Bradley and don’t plan to. I wouldn’t want to go through the trouble of finding someone to answer his questions for him.

The people who work hard to produce new content whether it’s articles, podcasts, or even just posts on the subrebbit or other the forums play a crucial role in Game of Thrones’ worldwide popularity. They’re the reason why genuinely new theories are still being discovered years after the last book in the main series was released. Without them, Huffington Post and Buzzfeed would have no one to steal from.

Here’s the thing that really bugs me and the reason I decided to write this. The top commentators in the ASOIAF/GOT fandom are good people. Beyond that, they’re not difficult to get ahold of. If they answer my tweets and e-mails, I imagine they’d respond to requests for paid freelance work.

I imagine this article will be discovered by a crony of one of the clickbait websites at some point in time. If you feel ashamed reading this, good. You should be ashamed. There used to be a code that journalists abided by. Just because you’re behind a computer writing for an online publication rather than a print newspaper doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be integrity in your work.

For you, the reader, check out the work of this expansive fandom. It’s good stuff and you won’t have to wait years for mainstream media to find it.

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Tuesday

25

August 2015

1

COMMENTS

Interviews of Ice and Fire: Ashaya of History of Westeros Podcast

Written by , Posted in Blog, Game of Thrones, IOIAF, Pop Culture

It is a pleasure to welcome Ashaya of History of Westeros Podcast to the site. History of Westeros is one of the most in depth ASOIAF resources available; creating episodes that piece together the series’ confusing timeline along with commentary on the houses, theories, reviews of Game of Thrones, and just about anything else imaginable. HoW recently wrapped up an in-depth series on Summerhall. You can support HoW through their Patreon campaign.

HoW just wrapped up two podcasts on the Tragedy of Summerhall, one of the series’ strangest mysteries and certainly one that’s overlooked by casual fans. Given how little information there is on the topic, can you tell us a little bit about how you approached it? In terms of difficulty, how did it compare to some of your other series?

 The episodes in our Religion & Magic series are generally the hardest to put together, specifically the episodes on weirwoods. The possibilities of magic are just so wide open, and that tends to make it harder to decide how to frame the narrative of the episode, and how to organize and present everything. The Tragedy of Summerhall episodes weren’t part of that series, but they obviously deal with magic as well, and so they did have some extra difficulty. We speculated about the magical aspect of it a bit, but more so focused on the role of prophecy and on the impact Summerhall had on characters like Aerys, Rhaella, and Rhaegar (and the realm).

 One thing that’s stuck with me since listening is the potential involvement of the pyromancers and how Jaime had a particular hatred of them. Given that they had seemingly no friends in court during Robert’s reign and plenty of people who don’t seem like they would be particularly fond of their line of work (Robert, Jon Arryn, Stannis), why do you think they were kept around at all?

I don’t think Robert or Jon Arryn would have felt any particular motivation to outright end the Alchemists’ Guild, which is a rather drastic course of action. If we’d had Jaime in a position of power, he likely would have, though! That said, their power has waned and waxed over time, so they weren’t as prominent during Robert’s time as they are currently in the series or (obviously) during Aerys’ reign.

One thing you mentioned that I’ve never even thought about was Aerys II’s lack of known bastards. Do you think that is an oversight on GRRM’s part or could something larger be at play?

 Questions like these are difficult because well, I do often find myself debating whether something can be explained sufficiently in-universe or whether the Doylist method is more appropriate. I know that there are a lot of fans who are pretty firmly Watsonian, but I enjoy both types of explanation, though I favor the Watsonian view overall. So often obscure things in A Song of Ice and Fire make perfect sense, and you don’t have to look at things from an out-of-universe perspective. My answer, then, is that while I think it’s possible that it was an oversight, I think there are a number of in-universe explanations, namely a) Aerys had issues with fertility (my pick) or b) Varys dealt with his bastards.

One more Summerhall question as you mentioned Shiera Seastar and she’s one of my favorite tertiary characters. I’ve often viewed her as a parallel character to Bloodraven. As unanswerable as this is, does her being Quaithe preclude her from being somehow involved in Summerhall?

No, though I personally don’t subscribe to that theory myself.

My favorite HoW episodes are the ones you did on the Battle of Ice. Granted, the two are completely different but have any of your thoughts changed since season 5?

The landscape (hah get it) of the show is indeed entirely different from the books; for instance, we theorized about the ice lakes (now you get it) having a role in the battle, with Stannis laying a trap for the Freys (we also theorized that it might backfire and get the Manderlys, but let’s ignore that). I would say that it had an effect on me, but I strongly feel that if Stannis is going to be the one to burn Shireen in the books, it will be for something far direr, and so I still don’t think that the Battle of Ice is the end for Stannis in the books. In the podcast, I said I thought that Stannis would win, and I still feel that way (with a touch more doubt, admittedly).

Since Euron = Daario seems to be unanswerable, I shall ask, how do you feel about that theory in general? Do you think there are too many identity theories floating around?

There are definitely too many identity theories! Why, I’ve even seen theories that Amin of A Podcast of Ice and Fire is my very own Aziz of History of Westeros. I try to be diplomatic about most theories, but I can’t do it for theories about Euron being Daario, Rhaegar being Mance, Arthur being Mance, etc.

If you could pick the topic for the next The Princess and the Queen or The Rogue Prince style novella, what would you pick?

Fun question! My answer for this is different than what it would be if it were for a more traditional style rather than the masterly historical style of those novellas. I would love to read an account of the Rhoynar migration and find out more specifics about the people Nymeria traveled with and so on…that might be a bit large for a novella, though, even in the history style. Alternatively, the Conquest of Dorne.

What is the craziest theory you think might actually be true.

I’m not a big theorist, especially not crazy theories, but I’m fond of the Citadel Conspiracy theory, Jojenpaste, and, (our own idea), the theory (more of a hypothesis really) that weirwoods have some sort of connection to genetics, with family looks sticking for thousands of years due to their influence. In the case of the Citadel theory, I don’t think there’s a mass conspiracy, but I think their bias is clear and should always be considered in analysis. In the case of Jojenpaste, I just like it and think it’s (deliciously) dark. The third is pretty crazy for us, but given the length of time that the appearances of these families have remained in stasis, and that we know magic is involved in the genetics, I still find myself liking the idea.

I know HoW has been to many fan conventions over the years. Can you think of a highlight that you’d like to share?

Not as many as I’d like! Though we have plans to go to Mysticon and Balticon next year, so soon there will be more under our belt. It was a huge honor to meet George, talk to him, give him our card, etc., but I think hearing him read the History of the Westerlands from The World of Ice and Fire was the highlight for me. This was prior to the release of the book, and so we were particularly hoping for material from TWOIAF. When we met GRRM the day before and told him that our podcast was titled ‘History of Westeros’, he told us that we should be excited for the reading the next day, then, so we knew in advance that we would for sure be getting new material. Let me just say…it was so hard to sleep! But then at least it was very easy to get up early due to my excitement. We frantically took notes at the reading, and were able to publish it on our website, which brought us some good publicity, which was a nice bonus. But! The day got even better, because during the Q&A after the reading, GRRM picked me to ask him a question….I was able to ask a long-burning question (what is the Unnamed Princess of Dorne’s name?), which was a dream, even if he didn’t have an answer (boo). One day I’ll have a name for her!

What shocked you the most about season 5?

That Tyene used the phrase “bad pussy”, which is, by the way, a non-canon piece of slang that has never been used in A Song of Ice and Fire, save for once in the term “pussy willows” in The Mystery Knight.

How many times a day do you get asked if Jon Snow is still alive?

Me, personally? Hardly ever. How many times a day do I have to read other people speculating based on things like his hair? Often. As an aside – it’s always the wrong question, anyway, he’s obviously dead, the question is whether Jon Snow will be brought back to life.

Will HoW do book to show episodes next season?

Definitely! They were a lot of fun, and it was great to have more opportunities to have guests like Radio Westeros on. I myself will likely be in the first few and then drop out for the rest of the season, as I did this past season. I like talking about the characters when they are first introduced, and speculating on where the season will take us, but, at least last season, I quickly got burnt out and frustrated. We’ll see, though, for all I know, I’m going to love every episode of next season! (I crack myself up)

Generic question, but who is your favorite character? Is the same true for the show?

I’ve actually done this great ASOIAF character sorter, which takes hours and hours, and I found that my number one is Sansa Stark for both A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones (the GoT sorter…yes I did both). It’s difficult to compare POV characters with minor characters, but some of my other favorites are Arianne Martell, Samwell Tarly, Maester Aemon, Varys, Wylla Manderly, Alys Karstark, and of course the usual suspects like Arya, Tyrion, and Jaime. I need a historical character sorter still, but I am particularly fond of Rohanne Webber, Egg/Aegon V, Nymeria of Ny Sar, and of course our patron saint, Septon Barth.

What’s next for HoW?

We are continuing our series on the Blackfyre Rebellions as well as preparing episodes on a few different houses like House Dayne and House Royce, and preparing an episode on Nymeria of the Rhoynar. We will also have live Q&A episodes more often as we are close to hitting that milestone on Patreon.

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Saturday

22

August 2015

0

COMMENTS

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Is Difficult To Eulogize When It Doesn’t Feel Like The End

Written by , Posted in Blog, Pop Culture

Aqua Teen Hunger Force is supposed to end tomorrow. I should say, Aqua Teen Hunger Force is ending tomorrow since it is actually ending, but I can’t really bring myself to accept it. This is after all, a show that’s changed its own name four times.

I shouldn’t say ending. It’s being cancelled, which is baffling. It even feels weird to type that blasphemy.

Maybe it’s because it’s the last Adult Swim original to call it day, with a run that was longer than the other three combined (Sealab 2021, The Brak Show, and Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law). ATHF is practically synonymous with the network itself, which ushered in a new era of animated excellence and for better or for worse, gave us more Family Guy (and Futurama, though that was mostly a good thing).

It could be because popular, long running animated comedies don’t really end. The Simpsons, Family Guy, and South Park are older and still going strong in certain ways. The ones that did end, King of the Hill and Futurama, were cancelled. While it would be silly to suggest that ATHF ever reached the worldwide popularity of the first three mentioned, it is the flagship program of its own network, which certainly should mean that cancellation shouldn’t be an issue.

Its fifth and final title, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Forever might seem ironic since it’s the last one, but it is rather appropriate. With co-creator Dave Willis remaining at Adult Swim, it seems plausible that the show could, and probably will, resurface at a later date, considering Adult Swim’s antics (Perfect Hair Forever anyone?) and the current trend in TV to bring old stuff back, which I doubt is going away anytime soon.

Patti Smith has recorded a somber elegy for ATHF. I’m not sure what else should be said since I refuse to believe this is actually the end. Call it denial, but it’s more than that.

We know at some point in time, Master Shake, Frylock, Meatwad, and Carl will show up. Whether it’s another season, movie, or an April Fool’s Day gag, we haven’t seen the last of anyone’s favorite cartoon “detectives.” I’m not even fully convinced we won’t see them next year with another season.

I could point out that TV hasn’t always been kind to the surreal and the unconventional. Shows that dare to be different often get cancelled, though normally not after fifteen years. That’s what I can’t seem to wrap my head around.

ATHF has never been an easy one to assess from a critical standpoint, making it hard to say whether or not it’s gone downhill in recent years. Adult Swim President Mike Lazzo said he was ready to move on. Was that for good reason?

I’m going to go ahead and say no. Recent years have probably had more hit or miss episodes and the same is true for nearly every long running series. Aqua TV Show Show’s ninth episode “Piranha Germs” remains one of my favorite of the whole series. With humor like that and a will to continue, I think it’s safe to say ATHF had plenty left in the tank.

So it ends. For now, or maybe not. Perhaps I’m wrong and we’ll never see those guys again. I hope not.

I’ll end this “eulogy” with this, Aqua Teen Hunger Force is one of the greatest animated comedies of all time. I suppose some will disagree and I hope Master Shake throws those people on the ground before going back to his reclining chair. Why didn’t he have a bedroom?

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Monday

17

August 2015

0

COMMENTS

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp Succeeds Where Arrested Development Failed

Written by , Posted in Blog, Pop Culture

As someone who enjoyed Wet Hot American Summer, but not to the same degree as much of its cult fanbase, I was skeptical of how the Netflix prequel series was going to turn out. It’s highly doubtful that this would’ve been made had cast members like Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, and Paul Rudd not become huge stars fourteen years down the road, but that also presents a problem. Huge stars typically don’t have much time for projects like these.

This was the problem with Arrested Development’s fourth season. Its cast was busy, so the show filmed around them which didn’t really work that well. It’s hard to recapture the magic when half the people who helped make it in the first pace are only in it for two seconds and rarely at the same time.

WHAS: FDOC had a couple things going for it right from the start. Creators David Wain and Michael Showalter were obviously locks for every episode, but the series benefitted from the fact that a good chunk of the cast hadn’t necessarily gone on to “bigger better things.” In actors like Michael Ian Black and Ken Marino’s case, they were pretty much doing the same sort of stuff of Comedy Central and Adult Swim.

Which isn’t to say that WHAS: FDOC solely relied on cast members that weren’t appearing in blockbuster films. Rudd, Poehler and Elizabeth Banks have ample amounts of screen time. Mad Men’s John Slattery was brought on to aid Poehler’s scenes in cases where Cooper wasn’t available and you don’t necessarily feel like anyone’s missing.

The series also added numerous big stars to its cast. In addition to Slattery, Jon Hamm, Jason Scharztman, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Josh Charles, Jordan Peele, and Michael Cera aid the show tremendously, giving the viewer the idea that this isn’t merely a harebrained scheme that Wain and Showalter managed to trick Netflix into funding. WHAS isn’t strictly back for nostalgic value, it also has something new to bring to the table.

It’s hard to write this sentence about WHAS, but much of the humor in the series is actually pretty subtle. It’s filled with quotable moments, but the metahumor is what really sucked me in. Most of the cast looks phenomenal, but this is a prequel starring a cast that’s now a decade and a half older than when the first was made. Some of them do look pretty old, which definitely plays into the wackiness of the series as a whole. A lot has changed and yet much of it looks the same.

Is it accessible for people who weren’t fans of the original film? Probably not, but it earns points for not trying to be. The show managed to have a pretty A list cast for a Netflix mini-series based off a box office bomb. I think it’s doing just fine.

This could have been really terrible, which isn’t to say that it hits its mark 100% of the time. The show does fall flat a little bit in the middle episodes, but it’s never awful, unless you hated the show to begin with.

We’re going to see a lot of revivals in the coming months. Even Coach is coming back. Many of these will suck, like Arrested Development’s fourth season and for many, that will tarnish the legacy of the source material.

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp chose not to rest on its laurels. It’s a worthy successor that enhances one’s enjoyment of the original in many ways. I never went to summer camp, but I hope most of them are exactly like Camp Firewood, talking cans of vegetables and all.

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