Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Life is not a song


This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!
 
„Life is not a song, sweetling. Some day you may learn that, to your sorrow.” – Peter Baelish
Littlefinger is right, of course. Life is definitely not a song. However, that statement comes in the Song of Ice and Fire, which makes this into an almost philosophical riddle. Life is not a song, but if you are a character in one and know that, can you use it to your advantage? Fourth-Wall breaking has a long tradition in literature, and Martin is no stranger to the concept. So, if life is a song after all – or, to quote Shakespeare, the world a stage and we all players – then who exactly is cognizant of this fact? 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The posthumous gendering of Frozen

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!
 
I don't know if this is a "Germany only" phenomenon, but I highly doubt it: in the last months, a ton of branded stuff of all stripes - shower gels, chocolate bars, caps, bed sheets, EVERYTHING - has hit all the stores. It always comes in two varieties: Star Wars for boys, Frozen for girls. So you get a black shower gel bottle with Yoda on it, and a pink one with Elza. You get the same damn toothpaste with Anna and with Kylo Ren. And so on and so forth. This isn't restricted to the usual merchandise shops, which is the weird thing about it, it's just about EVERYWHERE, and it's clearly gender-marketed. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The problem with biopics

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!

I recently watched "Darkest Hour", the biopic about Winston Churchill in May 1940. I'm usually not a fan of biopics, which are oscar-bait at best and boring distortions at worst. "Darkest Hour" begins really strong, but it falters in the last third, falling victim to the problems it shares with many other biopics. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Things to learn from Last Jedi deleted scenes

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!
 
I watched the deleted scenes on the Last Jedi DVD recently, and there's some interesting stuff to learn from those. I'm not talking plot here, I'm talking structure, so strap in. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Gunpowder review

I recently watched the BBC miniseries "Gunpowder", starring "Game of Thrones" star Kit Harrington in the lead role. The 3-part-series follows the misfortunes of the gunpowder plot ("Remember, remember, the 5th of November" and all of that). Episode 1 is the introduction, episode 2 everything starts to unravel, and episode 3 sees the conclusion. It's not like you wouldn't know the plot ultimately fails, right? Oops, spoiler alert. 
Now, knowing beforehand how the story ends is not a major stumbling block. "Titanic" and "Rogue One" did just fine with a perfectly obvious conlusion of its story. Nor does anyone seriously doubt whether or not the Rebels will blow up the Death Star. No, "not knowing how it ends" is not where suspense comes from. Not knowing how our characters will do it, or if they will manage to pull through or survive with their principals intact, now, that's where suspense is coming from.


Unfortunately, for this to work, you need characters or a plot I'm interested in. "Titanic" had melodrama to spare, and innocent wide-eyed kids to drown. "Rogue One" had the substance of the Rebellion on the line, and at least mildly interesting characters. "Gundpowder" has neither. There are Very Serious People walking about, spouting Very Serious Dialogue, but there's little the viewer can connect to, and thar unravels the whole enterprise. There's no scene where this is more evident than in the finale of the first episode, where a mole is murdered by a man dramatically anouncing "My name is...Guy Fawkes!" This calls home Benedict Cumberbatch's ill-fated attempt at playing Khan, and it fails for the same reasons.


Plus, while it's only three episodes long, it's still way too long. This could have easily been a feature-length film and be done with it, and yet, it insists on being three hours long. God, this thing is boring!

Matters aren't helped by the fact that the worst clichees are mobilized. The king is not only stupid, degenerate and decadent, but also gay. His gay lover is a fool. The evil councelor Cecil has a hunchback. The good guys are looking, well, like Kit Harington (who, we're told several times, is the best swordsmen in England, as if that was relevant for the story). The king's soldiers even smash a load of apple's out of a random woman's arms just to make the point they're evil.

The show also dabbles in what seems to be the standard set by "The Tudors" for pieces set in that period. There's torture porn. A LOT of torture porn. People are put on the rack (check), burned alive (check), pressed to death, waterboarded (seriously), and so on.


The series has quite the line-up, with Liv Tyler, John-Bradely West and Mark Gatiss among the most prominent other cast members. The actors do the best with the stilted lines they're given (Liv Tyler has some of the worst, where she has to talk about how weak her woman's heart is).

So, you can easily give this one a pass. That makes two duds now for Kit Harrington trying to follow up Game of Thrones (after "Pompeii"). He's running out of options fast, and given that he co-produced and conceived this one will not help matters.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Learning bad dating lessons from popculture

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!
 
The always brillant and insightful Pop Culture Detective published a video on YouTube recently (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZ1MPc5HG_I) talking about how Hollywood continues to perpetrate the harmful clichee that stalking is a generally romantic thing that men do. I wholeheartedly agree with the video, but it got me thinking. I wanted to talk about this for quite some time, but I've never found a good angle for it, and maybe this is it. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

X-Men Apocalypse

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!
 
I never watched X-Men Apocalypse until recently. I really liked what "First Class" did back in the day, yet I was disappointed with "Days of Future Past", and the trailers for "Apocalypse" didn't look promising at all, so I only now got my hands on the DVD and watched it in lieu of something better to do. And boy, this movie is a mess. It's bad. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

A "Dark"-Guide to Germany

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!
 
If you watched Netflix' "Dark", and you're not from Germany, you might stumble over certain cultural things and historical references that you don't get, with this movie being set in Germany and all. Fear not, noble Patreons, I'm here to deliver you from ignorance. *pompous fanfare* 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

What Sansa Stark and Poe Dameron have in common

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!
 
One of the main complaints many people had at "The Last Jedi" was Poe's plot in the movie. To recap (spoilers, duh), Poe disobeyed Leia's order in the evacuation battle to take out a giant First Order battleship, in which he succeeded with horrendous losses and achieved basically nothing. Later, he yet again disregards order and conducts are harebrained scheme in order to obtain the services of a master-hacker, use him to infiltrate Surpreme Leader Snoke's flagship, and take out their [McGuffin-Engine]. That plan derails when Finn and Rose get detained for illegally parking their space-ship on the beach (seriously) and gets even worse when they hire some random guy they meet in prison who sells out their secret plan to the First Order. 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

How Starship Troopers jumpstarted my interest in popculture

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look! 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Halt and Catch Fire Season 3

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!


It's always weird when a series that's "ok" suddenly finds a switch, turns it on and immediately becomes really good. The same thing happened to "The Americans" in season 2, after season 1 was entertaining yet not really all that special. It also happens with Halt and Catch Fire. The show exuberates a new-found confidence, using it in interesting ways and taking the story and the characters to places it didn't dare before. The result is a resounding success. 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Halt and Catch Fire Season 2

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!
 
 I now finished season 2 as well. Without Sean's explicit endorsement, I think I would've aborted my watching of it. In some ways, season 2 corrects some of season one's problems, but in other ways, it exacerbates them.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Halt and Catch Fire Season 1

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!
Based on Sean's recommendation in the BLAH about 2017 in review, I started watching "Halt and Catch Fire". Everywhere you look, people say it's an ok show until it becomes great in season 3. I'm usually not hot for wasting two seasons worth of time until something becomes worthwhile, but Sean isn't someone to say this lightly, so I started on it. This is my review of season 1, spoilers and all. Short version: an ok show. 

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Civil Wars, past and a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!
 
I only just noticed a weird line by Padmé Amidala in Revenge of the Sith (yeah, weird lines in that movie, shocking). She says to Anakin that the whole civil war between the Seperatists and the Republic only came to pass because "no one listens to each other anymore". This reminded me instantly of the god-awful debate a few months ago, when Chief of Staff John Kelly attributed the much more real American Civil War to a "lack of compromise", which is basically the same thing. It makes about the same amoung of sense in both universes. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Cowboys and Aliens

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!

I know, I know, this movie has been around a while, but it hit Netflix now, so I finally watched it. And boy doesn't it work. I think it's interesting to look at why, because it shows some things. So, for one, of course the premise is ridiculous. There are not many genres that don't lend themselves to mixing them up with Aliens quite as the Wild West. Ask Will Smith for further proofif you need it. That's no guarantee it can't work, of course, but in this movie, it utterly fails. The reason to me seems to be that they're playing it way too straight.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi - A response

A guest post by Marcus A. Roberts
Barely a day goes by when I don’t rant about TLJ so in the public safety interest of my friends and family over the holidays, Stefan has kindly allowed me to put down an (edited) version of my take on this. 

*Spoilers*

Friday, December 29, 2017

Kingsguard in the concentration camps

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!
 The shades dismounted from  their ghostly horses. When they drew their longswords, it made not a  sound. "He was going to burn the city," Jaime said. "To leave Robert  only ashes."
 "He was your king," said Darry.  
"You swore to keep him safe," said Whent.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Warning: There be spoilers (duh).
 
Since watching "The Last Jedi", I have been absolutely dumbfounded by the criticisms this movie receives. It's not that I don't get some people not liking it - I actually have a pretty spirited discussion with Sean, since he disliked the movie and I didn't -, yet, so much of what I hear and read on the Internet is showing a lack of understanding what the movie is actually about. Finn's mission to the Casino doesn't change or achieve anything? No really? This is a) false and b) kind of the point, but more on that in a minute.
 
I don't even want to go in the gross misreadings that abound in the right-wing sphere, where Star Wars was "ruined" by the fact that an Asian-American actor has a major speaking role and women aren't told by men what to do (seriously, there's a host of criticism in that vein from the #Gamergate-scum around). 
 
So let me take the opportunity to lay out some of the plots and themes for you. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Space Lions

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!

I watched Shut Up And Sit Down's documentary "Space Lions" about Twilight Imperium Fourth Edition the other day. For those of you uninitiated to any of these terms: Shut Up and Sit Down are a great YouTube review channel about boardgames and "Twilight Imperium" is the definitive game of epic space operas, about which I wrote before

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Telling yourself, ADWD

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!

As PoorQuentyn noted, characters in "A Song of Ice and Fire" are often  marked by Martin to be wrong when they're "telling themselves" things.  So I decided to make a search through the text and record all instances  where they're doing this to see if the theory holds up, continuing with  "A Storm of Swords".