Sunday, 31 May 2015

"The White Man, Disguised As A Falcon, Swoops In And Yet Again Steals A Salmon From Crow's Talons"

With a name like "The Gift", it was never going to be too hard to find a unifying theme for Game of Throne's forty-seventh episode. One of the characters is even kind enough to reference the title as the episode approached its end. "I brought you a gift."

As the circumstances there show, though, sometimes the gift's what is less important than its why, and the how. How did these gifts come into the giver's possession in the first place? Were they bought, or found? Most often it's neither: most often they are stolen. Which of course makes them no gift at all. "Nemo dat quod non habet", people. You cannot give what you do not own.

So who is giving what to whom, and why, and from where did they get their gifts in the first place? There are several packages to unwrap as we work out way through this week's instalment. First, though, we need to return to the ugliest scene the show has yet generated, and talk about how it's all gotten so much worse.

(The material below the fold carries both a spoiler warning and a trigger warning regarding sexual assault).

Friday, 29 May 2015

Friday Paintbench

I was asked last weekend how my painting is going (it might not have been a genuine question; I'm bad at sarcasm. Also cartwheels) which made me realise how long it's been since I put some photos up. Mainly that's because it's been a while since I actually finished anything, which in turn is because I keep starting things. The classic trap.

Still, last time I showed everyone just how much I was working on it embarrassed me into actually finishing something off, so let's see if that can work again. Up first is my termagant assembly line.

Then the Land Speeder Vengeance Fliss bought me for my birthday and which I should really be getting on with.

An under-coated Tavern Maid from Talisman. This one is lying fallow mainly because I'm afraid to start it. I can make women look tough or creepy; alluring is a whole new one. And yes, there's no actual reason the tavern maid needs to be sexy. I just feel the weight of tradition on me.

A Space Hulk Terminator I seem to keep forgetting to finish off.

And finally, a pair of Dreadfleet ships I never get around to spraying black because I only remember I need to do it when it's raining.

And there we go. That's everything.

(Except the four Eldar Guardians I'm halfway through under-coating. I have a problem. Send help. Or Ceramite Paint, actually. Send that.)

Monday, 25 May 2015

"Great Dancers Are Not Great Because Of Their Technique, They Are Great Because Of Their Passion"

With my feelings on that scene at least partially exorcised with my post earlier this week, I can move on to discussing the rest of "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken".  That's still no easy task, however, partially because the final scene still casts a long, ugly shadow over the rest of the episode, but mainly because said instalment just wasn't really any good.

(TV spoilers follow)

Thursday, 21 May 2015

This Title Contains Two Klues Xactly

This picture might have more to it than it seems.
Don't try her Sunday name.

Always better without ice, isn't it?

 Go green before you see red. Green can be a mixed up colour sometimes. Red is more orderly.

Fkgo wmmhmqa Jfvgg kqa V wmqo wvon geim jsvmqag oe Mgpkbm Qmwpkgofm, wnvpn oysqg eyo oe xm k bfkpm skonms onkq k gyuumgoveq.  Onvg vg eqm ej onegm bfkpmg wnmsm onmt feph tey vq k seei wvon geim byccfmg, kqa tey pkq’o mgpkbm yqovf mvonms tey wesh eyo wnmsm onm hmt vg, es k jyff neys mfkbgmg.

This show's so old I don't think the vehicles even matter any more
Kqa vo’g usmko. Onm byccfmg ksm jkvsft gvibfm, xyo onmsm’g k nksams seei krkvfkxfm kjoms tey’rm bserma teys imoofm vq wnko wm pkq jkvsft omsi “mkgt ieam”. Mrmq wvon onm avjjvpyfoft xks ge few, oneyun, jmw useybg (fmgg onkq 1%) ikqkum oe umo eyo wvoneyo kqt pfymg ko kff (onmsm’g k xvu OR gpsmmq vq onmsm wnmsm pfymg jfkgn yb vj tey’sm okhvqu oee fequ oe jvuysm geimonvqu eyo) ge onmsm’g onko oe kvi jes.

The pun made Bipolar Bear my favourite Tick character,
 but the condition itself, in brief, is awful.
Ava wm ikqkum oe umo eyo wvoneyo pfymg? Wmff, geso ej.  Apoykfft wm qmmama onsmm, xyo mrmst gvqufm eqm ej onmi wkg kxeyo new oe ebmq onm rksveyg jesig ej feph wm pkim kpsegg, kjoms wm’a kfsmkat jeyqa onm kpoykf peixvqkoveqg xyo peyfaq’o gmmi oe umo onmi oe wesh.  Ko k xksm ivqviyi V’a gkt k jvjon ej eys ovim (kxeyo jesot jvrm ivqyomg) vq onm seei vqrefrma ostvqu oe umo wmvsa otbmg ej bkafeph oe kpoykfft gbsvqu. Qmlo ovim wm’ff xm xsvquvqu geimeqm wnegm jvqumsg kpoykfft wesh.

I'll be brief again. I'm not saying Crashdown didn't deserve the rank,
 I'm just saying there seemed to be nothing going on inside.
Govff, rmst iypn smpeiimqama. Ko kseyqa £17 k bmsgeq, vo’g dyvom bsvpmt jes wnko vg ko iego kq neys’g mqomsokvqimqo, xyo vo’g onm geso ej onvqu onko bsmoot iypn uykskqommg tey’ff wkqo oe smfvrm vo ko fmquon, ge vq onko gmqgm onm bsvpm aemgq’o jmmf mqovsmft mloesoveqkom.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Benioff And Weiss Are All That Is Wrong With This World

There is simply no point trying to put together a post on this week's Game of Thrones without dealing first with that scene. It would be nice to think that doing so would allow me to excise it from the text, like a tumour from an otherwise healthy body. I know that's not going to work, of course. If it is a tumour, it's a malignant one, one that will grow back, shooting out tendrils of corruption that ultimately will forever suffuse this episode, and this season, and this show. Treatment is now impossible; the show has an irreversible chronic condition and the best we can say is that it might not kill it. If, indeed, it's still reasonable to hope the show survives at all.

So this post isn't intended to draw a line under what just happened. It's simply necessary for me to write it so my thoughts on any other aspect of "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken" can feel like there is any need for them to exist.

Huge TV spoilers below, obviously. And a trigger warning for sexual assault and sexual violence. Much of what follows has been influenced by my conversation with @la_jellybean and @GeekPlanetDave, though if any of what's written here bothers you, I am entirely to blame.

Left/Right Consent Chart

A brief explanation as to the difficulty of arguing with those on the other side of the aisle about what it means for one person to consent to another person's request.

Monday, 18 May 2015

"We Had An Enormous Feast, And Then I Killed Them And Took Their Land."

Well, that was an oddly paced episode, and not in a good way.  We're halfway through the season, and yet in almost every respect this felt like a season opener concerned with pointing out how things were going to develop.   Which isn't necessarily a bad thing when you're setting up the back half of a year, but when your first half still hasn't blossomed, the end result is rather frustrating.

(TV spoilers follow)

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Androids Do Not See As We See

I've finally had the chance to take in Age of Ultron. As a pre-emptive TL;DR, I thought it worked pretty well.  I wasn't quite as impressed as I was with its predecessor, though in part this might just be that it's inevitably less impressive to see Whedon pull off the same exceptionally difficult trick a second time.  But in general it struck me as strong. Nevertheless, I'm going to do exactly what I always do, and focus on the elements I didn't like and slap them mercilessly around.

Join me after the jump for spoilers and complaining.

Monday, 11 May 2015

"They Say Dragons Never Truly Die, No Matter How Many Times You Kill Them"

"Two rulers, both alike in dignity
In cruel Worlderos, where their people seethe"

Like so much of season five to date, "Sons of the Harpy" is above all a study in the nature of rebellion. We may have finally reached the point where in places the peace stops looking fragile and starts looking actually broken. There are at least five strands unravelling here, but our principle concerns here are the stories of two queens.

(TV spoilers follow)

Sunday, 10 May 2015

A Tale Of Cocktails #53

Puppet On A String


1 oz vodka
1/4 oz hazelnut liqueur
5oz pear juice
1/4 lemon juice
Peeled pear

Taste: 7
Look: 5
Cost: 8
Name: 7
Prep: 6
Alcohol: 2
Overall: 6.2

Preparation:  Peel pear, then peel strips from the flesh and cover them with the lemon juice. Shake the alcohol with ice and strain into glass. Add pear juice and lemon-soaked pears and serve.

General Comments: It occurs to me that that score might be a little harsh. This isn't actually a bad drink. But it doesn't come by its quality honestly. It piggy-backs on memories, conjuring up the feeling of eating hot spiced pears at the end of a winter meal. That's clearly cheating,  On top of which, it takes some effort to make, it's pretty weak, and whilst I appreciate the name's Eurovision reference as much as the next man, it doesn't make much sense beyond the pear peelings being a bit string-ish in a way maybe.

So harsh, yes, but fair. Like the Tories. Except for the fair bit, obviously. Also, this review isn't an array of guffawing murderous shit-bags.

I may be wandering off the point a bit. Um, drinks. Drinks are good. I like drinks. They do some small good at numbing the pain.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Pessimus Prime Election Special

Well, that was awful.  Uniformly so.  It's hard to pick out even the slightest nuggets of good news from the torrential downpour of  blood and shit cascading from the ballot box like the elevator scene from The Shining as remade by Kevin Smith. Well, maybe for Scotland -  who I can't imagine will still be in the union come the next general - but for the rest of us, I've got nothing. The Tory majority is horrific in itself, of course, but it also means that public conversations on the need for proportional representation are likely to fade now we no longer look locked in to an era of minority governments.  The fact that there will be more female MPs this time around (just) is at least nice, but given the undercrackers of the BBC's election coverage were packed with more pale dick than a Herman Melville novel, it's not like the gender gap took much of a beating last night either. And whilst I can't claim to be totally free of schadenfreude regarding how dearly Clegg's party has paid for cosying up to The Enemy, when their replacements in third place are so viciously unbearable, it's far more schaden than it is freude

(It must be a bemusing time to be a Liberal Democrat, though. So hated for propping up an unpopular government they've been kicked out so that government can entrench itself? That's like deciding the food in your restaurant is so bad you'll fire the waiters so you have more money to pay the head chef.)

This, in fact, is the result I expected following any hypothetical election following on the heels of the last one. I was always convinced that should the Lib Dems trigger a new election, the result would be a heavy swing to the Conservatives simply so the damn thing would be over (I saw a similar effect when Scott Walker run his recall election as governor of Wisconsin; people seemed to want to not have to keep running back to the polls more than they wanted to vote for who they wanted in charge).  So you could say this partially vindicates Clegg, insofar as had he been less accommodating we'd just be in this mess five years earlier. Of course, what's ended up happening is that the Tories have spent five years gearing up for sweeping change and now have five years to roll the boulders down the mountains. But if Clegg hoped what he did could have avoided this result, well, that's understandable.

Understandable but still wrong, of course. And as much as Clegg is surely wearing a frown today creased deeper than the chasm his party's seat-count just got thrown into, it isn't him who's going to pay the price for his mistake. The right people never do.  Every person who grumbles that democracies get the governments they deserve seems to forget that the people who deserve what the Tories will do are not the people who the Tories will do it to. It's no good saying a man who buys a flamethrower deserves to have his house burn down if it's his neighbour who ends up homeless.

A lot of neighbours are going to end up homeless over the next five years. Homeless, or hungry, or cut off from society, or filled with such unbearable despair they conclude suicide is their only way out. Yesterday the country decided that our neighbours are no longer our problem. "Do as thou canst afford" shall be the whole of the law.

We have 1827 days to live through. That will be too many for some. Keep your people close to you. Keep them safe.

Fuck Russell Brand.

Monday, 4 May 2015

"He Realized That Crows Had Always Reminded Him Of Time"

History repeats itself. Or so we're told, at least; you could be forgiven for thinking that literally nothing could repeat itself more often than people smugly insisting upon the cyclic nature of time. Though I guess they've been pushing that line for long enough that they've entered history themselves, so eventually they've proved themselves right, like stopped clocks somehow invited to dinner parties to spout obvious bromides as an alternative to engaging with or caring about what is unfolding in the present.

I've strayed off the subject. I'll start again.

History repeats itself. So naturally fictional history has to as well, though of course given its nature it can do so with more precision and panache than reality can generally lay claim to. "High Sparrow" is packed with the past resurfacing in the present. But when the ghosts of history arise in the utterly changed landscape of now, the results can never play out in quite the same way they once did.  This episode is about how different the show's first steps look after we've spent four years learning about the world they happened in. Put another way, this is an opportunity for us to review the opening moves of the game, now we have a much better grasp of the rules.

(TV spoilers follow)

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Crucible Final Prediction 2015

Tough job this year; Murphy is on form and has had time to recuperate after his sold beating of Hawkins. Bingham is likely to be feeling the down-to-the-wire victory over Trump last night, but when you've taken out the favourite for the tournament and then the new favourite in successive matches, you're pretty clearly on fire.

Overall, I'm going to give it to Murphy, who I expect to dominate the first session and then hang on tenaciously. So, prediction time: Bingham 16 - 18 Murphy.

Friday, 1 May 2015


Thorin finds himself surrounded by his foes.
Can't somebody sit Peter Jackson down and have a frank conversation with him about how his behaviour is destructive?

Last weekend I finally sat down to watch Battle of the Five Armies. It is not a good film. Nor is it merely a bad film. It's full-on flat-out incompetent, a swollen, bleeding mass of childish impulse set against a an unconvincing snowstorm of faded pixels.

(Spoilers follow, though if you insist it's important you not know the precise ways in which Jackson has utterly butchered a beloved children's book, it's possible this isn't the blog for you anyway).