Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday Confessions

I confess...Mondays are always even more rough when I've stayed up late Sunday night reviewing something for The this case, HBO's new show The Leftovers.

I confess...if this week is anything like last Friday was at work, I have a very slow, boring few days ahead of me. Ahhh holiday weeks...

I's an icky gray day, but I'm going to try to keep my mouth shut and not complain because I'd rather that the weather be crappy now than have it be that way this weekend when I have friends visiting ;)

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Book Review: On Basilisk Station by David Weber

Some time ago a friend suggested David Weber's Honor Harrington series to me, and was even kind enough to let me borrow the first book. If I say one thing about this series, over anything else, it's that I can't believe I waited this long to read it. I'm not even certain I've heard of it before, though I have a feeling it must have been in the same section as all of those Star Wars EU novels I devoured in high school...


And speaking of those Star Wars EU novels - if you liked them, you should really give Honor Harrington a try. I do have some gripes with On Basilisk Station, but they're all minor ones; I liked it a lot as a whole, and the few things that bothered me rarely took away from the reading experience, which is good.

First, it's far too common when writing about women to focus way too much on their physical appearance. Female authors do this as much as male authors, but that doesn't change the fact that Weber spent way more time reflecting on your appearance (both from her own perspective and that of other characters) than he would have if she'd been a male character.

On that note, the author comparing Honor's eyes to molten whatever and rich dark whatever blah blah blah etc. etc. was more than a little bit trying at times ;) Mostly it felt like he was simply trying too hard with the similes and metaphors...but it was more an annoyance than something that would make me dislike the novel or stop reading it.

While Weber was generally very good about spacing out his descriptions of the technology and science of his world, there were a couple of sections where these descriptions did go on for pages and pages. That type of information really does need to be given in small doses in order to keep the attention of [most] readers.

The buildup to the 'real action' in On Basilisk Station was perhaps a bit slow at times, but not unbearable; the problem is that once that 'real' action began, things were happening so fast that it was almost impossible to keep track of who was who and what was happening where - especially as Weber has a bit of a habit of throwing in new characters and then either never revisiting them, or not doing so for a hundred pages or more.

Once the Big Event is over, though, the novel pretty much ends immediately. There's a quick summary of everything that happened after said Big Event, and some minor details are left open so that Weber can continue the series, but I would have liked more than just that brief summary to close out this particular chapter of Honor's story.

All of that is really just me being a bit too picky - again, I really did enjoy On Basilisk Station - as science fiction novels go, it's one of the best I've read in a long time and I'm already itching to devour more of Honor Harrington's story. 4/5 stars.
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

THEY ARE THE KNIGHTS OF SUMMER...: Ice & Fire Con 2014 Recap, Part 11

I have to be honest - both last year and this year, when Sunday of Ice & Fire Con rolled around, at first I was relieved. Being an organizer for this convention is one of the best and most meaningful experiences I've had in my life so far, but it's also very, very hard work.

The thing is, though...that 'relief' never lasts long, and soon enough I'm wrapped up in plans for Ice & Fire Con's future. But hey, I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here, because although we don't plan any big activities for the 'last day' of the convention, that doesn't mean nothing happens! For instance, this year we awarded a "Biggest Bar Tab" certificate, and of course that had to wait until Sunday morning.

We also held our "Future of Ice & Fire Con" discussion, which mostly consisted of myself, Matt, and Brendan reminding people to fill out their attendee surveys and talk about the basics for next year. And right now, they are VERY basic basics, but hey, we do at least have the location and dates...

Yes, Ice & Fire Con 2015 will return to Ravenwood Castle next year from May 15th through the 17th! Let's hope that the person who asked us to 'schedule no rain' for next year's convention gets his or her wish, right? ;)

As I already noted in the brief convention recap that I wrote for The Geekiary, there's always room for improvement and this year gave us some more ideas and more information about things that we need to streamline and/or tweak...but as you hopefully noted in the rest of my 2014 recap posts, it was another amazing year for Ice & Fire Con, and we look forward to many more like it in the future!

P.S. Today is the birthday of one Matt Davis, a.k.a. King in the North in the South, our Master of Law & Coin, so I had to add a little shout out to this final recap installment. Happy birthday, Matt!

Oh, and for the sake of having all of these linked in one Ice & Fire Con post, don't forget to check out the rest of my recap posts!

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Monday Confessions

I confess...I'm struggling to not add another costume to my Dragon Con list. It's not overwhelming this year (yet, heh), but I really don't have time (or money) to add a new one to the mix...

I confess...only I could bump my head hard enough to make me sick...while mowing the lawn. (Okay, it was actually while trying to store the lawnmower, but still. Only me.)

I confess...I've been going through my desk and trying to purge old crap, but in the meantime also finding a lot of old stories and love letters. Only Doge can explain how I felt, skimming all these things...

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Friday, June 20, 2014

AFTER THE SHOW IT'S THE AFTER PARTY: Ice & Fire Con 2014 Recap, Part 10

Like the dance party, there's really no good way to describe the Ice & Fire Con after party...other than with pictures, that is!

First things first, champagne! Because even though Areo Brotah bought out Ravenwood's [one bottle] stock, no surprises that we happened to have some hidden away in Ice & Fire Con headquarters!

Seriously though, this direwolf needed all the champagne.

KK and I - or as Dom calls us, Tar-KK - used this opportunity to snap our "Ice & Fire Con OTP" picture, too...

And then some people showed up with the "Burn Book of Ice & Fire". Don't worry, nothing too terrible was said, and nothing at all about actual people - we're not like that! It was good, hilarious fun, that's all :)

After the Burn Book situation, though, things were a bit of a blur. I know that I had a long conversation with a couple of the Ravenwood employees, who stopped by to drink beers with us and toast to a successful convention - they have a lot of great ideas for next year, so it was hard to not talk about the future of Ice & Fire Con before it had even officially ended.

Steve even lugged his DJ equipment back to the cottage, where speeches were made and songs were sung...

...and I'm not even sure what happened in this picture, but it looks like a blast, no?

Eventually the night wore down, though in the end it was hard to go to bed, especially knowing that doing so meant that our weekend was basically over :( But go to bed we did, because there were a few things going on the next day...and I'll talk about those in my next (and final!) recap of Ice & Fire Con 2014! Pin It

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A SONG OF PARTY AND ROCK: Ice & Fire Con 2014 Recap, Part 9

Last year our Saturday night activity was "Westerosi Karaoke", and though it was a total blast, this year we decided to go for something that even more of our attendees would participate in...a dance party! We kept the name "Flea Bottom Fete" from Ice & Fire Con 2013's Friday night fun...but this time around we cleared out Ravenwood's Great Hall for dancing and even had a DJ!

Of course, a group of us couldn't let the opportunity for 'party' versions of ASOIAF characters to pass us by, and so the "Party of Ice & Fire Peeps" crew was born. We danced the night away to a long list of songs (most of which were suggested by our attendees via a document in the convention Facebook group), and honestly the best way to 'describe' how awesome it was is with pictures, of course :)

First, Asha and Cersei had to rock those shutter shades...

And Petyr "Brolish" came creeping on Cersei...

Then the whole crew got together (well, most of us anyway): Party Illyrio, Flower Child Margaery, Areo Brotah, Petyr Brolish, Party Rock Cersei, Daenerys Partyborn (Khalee$i of Great Whiskey, Mother of Glitter, Breaker of Dance, The Unsober, The Drinking Queen...), and Punk Rock Val from North of Pink Floyd's Wall...

Cersei doesn't think these Flower Child Tyrells are so fly...but she hung with them anyway!

Until a flaming Renly came to call, that is ;)
(I'm talking about his coat, I swear!)

As you can see, us Lannisters had to sport our douchey fedoras...

And Areo Brotah kindly shared his champagne with the Queen Bitch!
(Yes, there was champagne, because what's a party without it?)

Finally, of course Cersei had to one-up Brienne before the night was over...

...not that we ended the party when we ended the dance, of course. I'll be back with some after-party goodness in my next Ice & Fire Con recap! Pin It

Monday, June 16, 2014

Monday Confessions

I confess...I really need to get cracking on my Dragon Con costumes.

I confess...last night's Game of Thrones was pretty much the best episode of the season. And thank God for that, because after last week's let-down, I needed a good season finale.

I confess...I may have had a few beers and made an unnecessary purchase last night. Bad Tara. Bad.

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Series Review: The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

Somehow, some way, I always fall into the YA fiction trap.

Meaning, despite the fact that I've generally hated every uber-popular YA series that I've read (Twilight, anyone?), I keep hoping that I'll find another exception (i.e. the Hunger Games series, which I enjoyed, for the most part).

The thing is, if I'd known that the Mortal Instruments series began as Harry Potter fan fiction, I wouldn't have bothered with it at all. Not because I have anything against fan fiction; generally, I don't. I think it's a good outlet, a way for people to express their creativity and love for a book or series and its characters. But there's a lot of really terrible fan fiction out there, and after the whole 50 Shades of Grey explosion (pardon the pun?) it saddened me how easy it was for a [popular] fan fiction writer to change a few things and then get some truly terrible writing published.

Unfortunately, I didn't know that Cassandra Clare's novels began as fan fiction until after I'd started reading them, and at that point I was already so aghast at how terrible they were that I had to keep reading if only for the laughs. I mean come on...the opening line of one of the chapters in City of Bones is, "The weapons room looked exactly the way something called 'the weapons room' sounded like it would look." I mean, that is possibly the worst sentence I've ever read in a published book. It's repetitive, it's insipid, and honestly it sets the tone for the series as a whole.

From here on in, please note that this review will likely contain spoilers for all six books in the series.

Because yes, that's what these books are - repetitive and insipid. In the first installment alone, readers witness the "endearingly perfect" heroine, Clary, realizing that she's not just a normal girl and falling for the SUPER RIDICULOUSLY HOT Jace who of course becomes enamored with her as well, for no explicable reason. Couple that with ridiculous scenes involving Clary 'turning traitor against her gender' over Jace and Jace 'not being like other guys' because he knows what bergamot is and that it's in Earl Grey tea, and I think I almost rolled my eyes right out of my head before I was even halfway through City of Bones. Not to mention the time Clary smacked Jace across the face simply because she was annoyed with him or something.

HOW IS THAT OKAY? Hint: It's not.

Any logical author would have wrapped this series up as the trilogy it was originally supposed to be, but no, Clare (whose name is 'conveniently' similar to that of her protagonist) had to keep going...and going...and going. First Jace and Clary were told that they were siblings - forbidden love, check. Then Jace was possessed by Clary's brother, who also happened to be her mortal enemy - forbidden love, double check. Finally, Jace was 'filled with heavenly fire' or some such nonsense, and he and Clary couldn't physically touch each other. Which I suppose is forbidden lust more than forbidden love, but whatever - triple check.

Of course, just like when I read Twilight, I knew that I had to finish reading this series...but after suffering through the first five books I kind of forgot about the fact that there was a sixth book coming out until it was actually released. I waffled over bothering with it at all, but I'd already made notes for this series review and then set it aside, and I mean hey, what's more fun than reading a terrible book [series] and writing a scathing blog post about it?

(A lot of things, actually, but I'm honestly so shocked at how popular these books are that I couldn't bring myself to not write this.)

I will say that despite the constant back and forth with Clary and Jace, Clare's storytelling seemed to improve between City of Bones and the fifth installment, City of Lost Souls. So I'm not sure what happened between that book and this last one in the series, City of Heavenly Fire, but my first thought is that she was bored to death of her own creation(s) and just wanted to get it over with. Why else spend a good portion of the novel following the characters who will populate her next series? Why else wrap up the stories of Clary and Jace, Alec and Magnus, Luke and Jocelyn, Izzy and Simon, and even Jem and Tessa from the Infernal Devices series, so perfectly that it was literally sickly sweet? Honestly it feels like Clare just published bad fan fiction of her own writing, and to repeat a fellow reviewer: For shame. For Shame.

Because I can't even remember enough about the first five books to rate each one individually, I'm not going to bother. Suffice it to say that I wouldn't have given any of them more than 2, maybe 2.5, stars. As for the series as a whole? I'll rate it a whopping 1.5/5 stars if only because I actually liked some characters (Simon and Magnus, mainly). Seriously, if it weren't for them I would have given it something akin to the Billy Madison speech. "Ms. Clare, what you've just written is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever read. At no point in your rambling, incoherent series were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone that has read your novels is now dumber for having done so. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

IRON STAN OF SWORDS: Ice & Fire Con 2014 Recap, Part 8

As soon as our trivia games wrapped up, I rushed back to my cottage with the Mock Election ballot box. I knew that last year's infamous Hodor landslide would be difficult to beat, as this year we made doubly certain that everyone understood the 'rules' (or rather, lack of them) for the Mock Election. Unfortunately, while last year people didn't really listen when I told them they could essentially stuff the ballot box, THIS year they didn't really listen when I reminded them of that but also pointed out the fact that all ballots must be signed with an ASOIAF character name. Still, even when I tossed out all the votes that weren't signed (as well as ones that were signed by a character who'd already voted for the same candidate), it was a close race...but in the end...

Iron Stan, a.k.a. Stannis the Mannis, won! And of course, because last year Hodor was the winner, the prize for Carly - who stanned for Stan - was a Pop! Hodor and a Hodor t-shirt. Gosh, I hope they come out with a Pop! Stannis before Ice & Fire Con 2015...

Seriously though, it took me a while to count up those votes and figure out which ones couldn't be counted at all. And it was cold out. Which meant that I hiked back to the castle in sweats to run the Season 4 vs. ASOS panel at 9 PM ;) Let's just say that I wasn't quite ready to don my Saturday night costume, and you'll see why in the next update.

But for now, I want to brag just a bit - again - about our awesome attendees. Why? Well, as most people probably know, the current season of Game of Thrones has caused quite a bit of uproar, mainly due to unnecessary addition of several sexually violent scenes that either don't exist or at least aren't featured that way in the novels. While this led to our season four panel not being *quite* as lighthearted as last year, everyone was still extremely respectful and well-spoken.

I suppose it's a bit sad that that comes as such a surprise, but we all know how people are when they 'discuss' volatile things on the internet - and ASOIAF/GoT are nothing if not volatile ;) Additionally, I've been a panelist on several ASOIAF/GoT panels, and attended them as an audience member as well, at a few different conventions...and while thankfully the debates at those never got so heated as some I've seen online, they were certainly never as pleasant as our discussion groups at Ice & Fire Con. As the person who usually moderates these discussion groups, I'd love to take credit for that (half kidding, I swear!) - but the fact of the matter is that I really don't have to do much other than keep the conversation going at times, because again, our attendees are really just that amazing :)

And speaking of amazing, Saturday night was just that...but that's an entirely different story for an entirely different time, and I'll be updating my recaps with it soon! Pin It

Monday, June 9, 2014

The [Underwhelming] Watchers on the [Underwhelming] Wall

BEWARE: The Game of Thrones reviews on this blog are likely to contain spoilers through A Dance with Dragons. Read at your own risk!

Look at my luscious, luscious hair...perhaps it will distract you from what was by far the worst 9th episode of a season of Game of Thrones so far...

What in the world is with Game of Thrones and awkward conversations/scenes lately, hmm? Because this episode was certainly full of them. While I've always been torn about the Jon/Sam dynamic, I actually appreciate the way their friendship has evolved in the show more than I ever appreciated its depiction in the books; however, Sam questioning Jon about having sex with Ygritte and then pointing out that technically the Night's Watch vows don't actually forbid sex was a bit much. No, Game of Thrones can't really show the internal struggles that Jon and Sam have over betraying their vows as well as their POV chapters in the novels do, but to have Sam insist that the vows don't forbid physical relations at all seems like a pretty big step in a very different direction.

I did enjoy that we finally got to hear about Tormund fucking a bear, but then to have Gilly (yes, it was obviously Gilly) skirting the ridge right above the wildling camp without any of them noticing her was silly to say the least. The cut to Sam and Maester Aemon makes me wonder if they are knowingly setting up the future travels for them, Gilly, and "her" baby ::cough cough:: ...but other than that I found their conversation a bit strange. Aemon calling out Sam about Gilly was amusing, sure, but the bit about him having been in love - and the significance the scene seemed to put on that - was a bit off-putting.

Gilly arriving at Castle Black and Sam having to swear at Pyp to get the gate open was an amusing little aside, though I was a bit confused at first when the horn blew because I thought it meant that the wildlings were right on her heels...and then how did they not catch her? However it was the other wildlings, those still north of the Wall, although the Thenns, Tormund, Ygritte, et. al. weren't far behind them in attacking Castle Black. I do want to know what's up with Styr suddenly being a warg, though, because I'm fairly certain he wasn't one in the books. I would ask if they were just making all the wildlings wargs, but then Mance, Tormund, and Ygritte don't seem to why make Styr that different?

(Yes, I realize I'm probably focusing on that way too much. Moving on...)

EDIT: Apparently that warg wasn't Styr, but rather some other Thenn who looks just like the guy who plays Styr? I don't know, I still think it's pointless, but thanks to the commenter who pointed this out :)

And then we finally got to see that fire that Mance bragged about last year! But can we talk about how awful an idea it was to burn down the trees that they could have used for cover, firewood, and for building shelter, during their siege on the Wall? Because yup, bad, bad idea. However, it got the message across to the Night's Watch - so much so that Alliser Thorne even admitted to Jon that he'd been wrong and should have listened to Jon's warnings. Of course, being Ser Alliser, he had to make a rude jibe or two after admitting that he was wrong, but the conversation itself still came as a bit of a shock.

Speaking of shocks...whoaaa Sam and Gilly! I'm torn between how sweet they are and being annoyed that the show is taking their relationship this far, this fast. It's likely that they're doing so because there's a serious dearth of even somewhat healthy relationships in this show right now, but does this mean that the fat pink mast will raise its jib a lot sooner than it does in the books? (Or is it the other way around, the jib raising the mast? Or does that not make sense at all? I'm trying to make a clever comparison but I don't know sailing terms very well so at this point I think it's just funny for how wrong it may be. And if it's not, then I'm way smarter than I give myself credit for, I suppose? haha)

But I digress, and anyway, more important things were on the horizon...those being...

Giants! And mammoths! And giants riding mammoths! Seriously though, the CGI was amazing. I'd heard that the show blew most of season four's CGI budget on this episode, and let me tell you, they didn't disappoint. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that they were the best thing about this episode, though admittedly the idea of the wildlings attacking the Wall from both sides at the same time was practically perfect in every way. No, that's not the way it happened in A Storm of Swords, but it's been pretty clear for a while now that the show would go this route, and in and of itself this was a good decision.

In terms of numbers, though, things seemed more than a little bit off. Brothers of the Watch were being slain left and right at Castle Black, yet the fight still kept going. I didn't have the patience to try to count, but I highly doubt the Night's Watch could have won that side of the fight with the twenty or thirty men they supposedly had - not at the rate they were getting cut down, anyway. For a show that so often pays great attention to detail, this was just poorly done - though at least they continued to do a great job showcasing the wildlings (and giants and mammoths!) north of the Wall.

The problem with The Watchers on the Wall is that it seemed almost nonsensical at times. For instance, the show brought Alliser Thorne back in a big - and not good - way, after ignoring him for a couple of seasons. That's all fine and dandy, except that they've spent all of season four showing him be a total jerk to Jon Snow, and then last night he gets to give an awesome, badass speech about fighting for the Night's Watch? I wanted to like this sort of redeeming scene, yet I couldn't help but think that the speech would have been even better if it was given by, say, Dolorous Edd (or even Pyp or Grenn, considering their fates - more on that later).

Of course, just as they apparently tried to redeem Ser Alliser, they did their best to make Janos Slynt look even worse than before. At first it was amusing, but then I wonder if they maybe took it a bit too far. That said, it certainly put new focus on true cowardice versus, say, Sam's supposed cowardice ;)

Poor Sam, too - after worrying about Gilly and then happily being reunited with her, he had to hold Pyp while he died. I actually exclaimed out loud when Ygritte's arrow caught Pyp in the neck, because of course I wasn't expecting it...though in hindsight it's not all that surprising. They needed to kill off characters who we knew but who weren't necessarily important in the long haul, and this came back to haunt viewers several times throughout The Watchers on the Wall...poor Pyp was just the first casualty :( Once he was dealt that fatal blow, the moment Grenn was sent to defend the inner gate against the giants I knew that he was Donal Nye's replacement. Which really sucked, because while I liked Pyp just fine, I preferred Grenn, and sure enough the giants broke through the main gate. Though they didn't show anything after Grenn got the other brothers to recite the Night's Watch vows, I wasn't surprised, just sad, when Jon and Sam later discovered him dead in the tunnel. Yeah, he took the giant down with him, and yes, I understand why they killed him off, but it still sucks, dammit!

Meanwhile there were constant mammoths and giants (again, there goes that CGI budget), including the giant who was also an archer, which I suppose was an interesting way to show us that the Wall's height can't stop everything.

Now, if you'd asked me a couple of weeks ago how I'd feel seeing Tormund injure Alliser Thorne, I would have been all about it, but after Ser Alliser's speech I was actually kind of sad to see him go down. Apparently he's still alive, but I wonder if he will take the place of Bowan Marsh and that storyline (injured Night's Watch man who later comes back to cause problems for Lord Commander Jon Snow, I mean). Honestly, sometimes I think trying to discern these things is the only thing that keeps me watching this show ;)

Probably my favorite part of The Watchers on the Wall was when Jon gave Dolorous Edd control of the Wall. With Pyp dying/dead and Grenn on his way there, I was definitely more than a little frightened that Edd would be taken out as well, but thankfully that wasn't the case and of course I can't wait to see more of him. We also finally got some Ghost action (more CGI money, haha), and when Jon had to fight the Magnar of Thenn I really expected that Ghost would have to save him again...interestingly enough, though, Jon prevailed of his own accord - and I actually really enjoyed the fight as a whole, despite the fact that ::gasp:: I don't really care that much about the characters up at the Wall, and therefore wasn't all that into this episode as a whole, unlike the big Battle of the Blackwater episode two years ago (Sandor! Sansa! Cersei!).

And just as Jon took care of Styr, a wild Ygritte appears, bow and arrow nocked and drawn. Whereas Jon catches sight of her during the book version of the battle, it wasn't surprising that they actually shared a moment in the show, as she hesitated shooting him just long enough for her to be shot. The fact that Jon saw who it was - and that it was the little boy he'd been talking to a few episodes ago - was certainly an interesting twist. Thinking about it now, I wonder if it would have been more or less heart-wrenching for Jon to see one of his friends kill Ygritte, though of course the use of the little boy was probably an intelligent decision on the part of the writers.

I've always been a bit torn about Ygritte and Jon's relationship. I like Ygritte as a character, but I'm not exactly partial to Jon, and perhaps that's the biggest issue in terms of how anticlimactic her death felt. I was more interested in Tormund's fate - stuck full of arrows like a pincushion, as he was, and still trying to fight as he was being taken captive. At this point the Night's Watch had 'won' their battle (but not the war, blah blah blah). Janos was discovered hiding in the storerooms with a woman and a baby (what a loser), and Stannis never showed up, which surprised me. I'm assuming/hoping that they're just saving his arrival for next week, but I think that this episode encompassing the entirety of the battle of the Wall - including his arrival - would have made it much more exciting. Yes, they combined two book battles into one, but as the title of this recap/review says, despite its few high points, I found it underwhelming as a whole. Generally it just feels as if the writers are continuing to draw things out rather than streamline them, which is what the show does best when it does it right.

I will say this much - there's a lot of ground still to be covered from Storm of Swords alone, and that makes me wonder if we'll still be seeing some of these book three story lines in season five... Pin It

Friday, June 6, 2014


One thing that we added this year that I'm excited to expand upon next year was our awards ceremony. I'm not certain yet if we'll have Saturday only tickets next year, in which case we'll be able to hold the awards ceremony later in the evening, which will be nice. But this time around we had to wrap it up before eating, which meant that some contests - namely trivia and the mock election - weren't even over yet. Still, it was a fun little addition and next year it will be, as we at Ice & Fire Con say, bigger and better! (ha, ha, ha)

Because we had about double the number of people who can fit in Ravenwood's Great Hall, this year the Saturday evening Feast was split into two seatings. It was actually really nice because it meant more space, shorter lines for the buffet, and the chance to squeeze in an activity that would give those waiting for dinner (or having just finished) something to do while the other seating was scheduled.

But I digress (and apparently I also forget my convention timeline; I blame it on the running around like crazy thing that I did all weekend). I'd scheduled a photoshoot for myself with our official photographer, Kimberly of Kinder Images, but the weather had been a bit iffy and she wanted to squeeze it in before I ate. It was a quick shoot, and my new gown wasn't even finished (I need help with the shoulder embroidery), but she took some amazing shots...

She also gave me the idea of using the little garden area for another Cersei shoot...but with my friend Cavalyn, sporting her season one Cersei costume, and James, dressed as Ned Stark, of course!

Poor Ned...too honorable for his own good ;)

The food at the feast was a big hit this year - there were a few appetizer-type foods, two main courses to choose from (beef or chicken), and several sides. Personally I do think the quality of the food was a bit better last year, but I *may* only be saying that because I missed these little chicken salad lettuce wrap things they served...

And in between dinner seatings...Trivia of Ice & Fire! I had some really difficult questions lined up, along with a point system that I sadly abandoned last minute because I didn't have enough help to deal with that. I'll definitely fix that for next year, but the two trivia games were still highly entertaining. No real surprise, the winners of Game 1 were House Manwoody, consisting of Amin and Ashley from Podcast of Ice & Fire and Alex from Tower of the Hand. (Honestly it's not even fair that they were all on a team and I really should have caught that sooner and said no! haha) And then in Game 2, The Brotherhood Without Boners were victorious!

As the evening wound down with the second dinner seating, my day was far from over. I had mock election votes to count and a costume change to make, after all. More to come about all that, as I finally get to my last couple recap posts for Ice & Fire Con 2014! Pin It

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

KINGS AND QUEENS AND COSTUMES, OH MY!: Ice & Fire Con 2014 Recap, Part 6

We'd set aside a full two hours for the tournament, but it ran so efficiently that we were able to end about fifteen or twenty minutes early...which thankfully gave me a short break before the next event that I was scheduled to run, that being a cosplay/costuming discussion. And yet, story of the weekend, I ran into a snag or two with other things and was still a good ten minutes late. In my defense, I did get held up a bit for pictures after the tournament...because of course we couldn't leave Ice & Fire Con without getting some good shots of us organizers!

King in the North South and the Queen Regent with our respective Kingsguards

Queen Regent, Master of Law & Coin, and Lord Commander of Ice & Fire Con

There were some very knowledgeable people helping me out with the cosplay/costuming discussion group - my friends Cavalyn and Asch - as well as several attendees who chimed in with some great information. I'm hoping that next year, with a couple more volunteers, we can finally respond to the feedback that we should do some sort of cosplay/costuming workshop...but we'll see :) As it was, I know that I took away some great tips from this discussion, and I hope that others did as well.

Fittingly, we'd scheduled the costume contest to take place immediately after our cosplay talk. I was surprised to see that this year we actually didn't have as many entries as last year, despite the fact that we had about 30% more attendees. The costume contest is another thing I'm excited to revamp a bit for 2015, but more info on that later, because this year we did have some great 'performances' (Dom as Tormund Giantsbane, and a new attendee 'Kyle' Drogo as the khal himself), as well as one impressive BROTP in our 'couples' category...

Dom won Best Performance for the second year in a row, while Areo Hotah and Arys Oakheart took the 'couples' category ;) Best book costume went to a Lady Stoneheart cosplayer, while an amazing Davos won best show costume. Even though we had fewer entries total, it was still a difficult decision for our judges, and at the very least I don't see that changing in the future, as so many of the attendees are extremely talented cosplayers/costumers.

Of course, we at Ice & Fire Con don't just focus on those who can fight or dress well...intelligence is key, too! Okay, I'm half kidding, really, but we did have a few activities that highlighted knowledge of ASOIAF and GoT, including what became one of the more popular events of the weekend...and you'll find out what that was in the next installment of this recap :)

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Monday, June 2, 2014

The Mountain and The Viper, but mostly The Little Bird!

BEWARE: The Game of Thrones reviews on this blog are likely to contain spoilers through A Dance with Dragons. Read at your own risk!


It was pretty clear to me from the somewhat awkward opening scene in last night's episode of Game of Thrones that the writers of this show had no intention of letting up on the shock value aspect of what was to come. This season they've put a lot of focus not just on things that didn't happen at all in the novels, but on events that Martin only mentioned in passing - in this case, the wildling attack on Mole's Town.

Of course in the show, Gilly was sent to Mole's Town because Sam thought that she would be safer there. But this is Game of Thrones, so of course that's not the case. Thankfully, despite her origins Gilly is no idiot. She stands up to the woman who confronts her about the baby crying, realizes that the wildlings are about to attack before anyone else does, and then hides herself as well.

Apparently showing the wildling point of view of the attack called for a ridiculous amount of shaky cam. Oh, and in case you didn't remember that Ygritte is super pissed off about Jon Snow, they made sure to remind us over and over and over again. But hey, don't worry - her anger apparently doesn't extend to women with babies, and as it's Ygritte who discovers Gilly's hiding place and then shushes her before moving on, we can safely assume that in the following Castle Black scene, when Dolorous Edd assures Sam that Gilly may be alive, he's probably correct.

Speaking of Dolorous Edd, he was quite a bit more serious in The Mountain and the Viper than he usually is (in the books and in previous episodes of the show). That sort of makes me sad, but at the same time I love his character and I'm pretty much just happy that he had a decent amount of screen time and several lines last night ;)

Over in Meereen, the Missandei/Grey Worm side story is certainly getting a lot of screen time. I'm still a bit confused as to where the show is going with it, and I'm not sure I like how they're dragging out the mystery of whether the masters take 'all of it - the pillar and the stones' (har har har) when they castrate the Unsullied, but other than that this was a really sweet aside to an otherwise very dark episode. I especially loved Dany and Missandei's 'girl time' and Grey Worm's apology to Missandei definitely tugged on the old heartstrings.

Not that Game of Thrones can give viewers those warm fuzzies for too long, though. Yes, I still cringe when Theon and/or Ramsay come on screen, so I'm going to give a brief synopsis of the two scenes featuring them: first of all, ugh, but second of all, I was excited to see Moat Cailin. It didn't look anything like I pictured (too out in the open, too intact, too big), but it was still a dreary place, and the bit between Theon and the Ironborn certainly followed the books closely enough, complete with a *great* (<--sarcasm) view of a completely flayed man! Later Ramsay meets up with dear old dad, at which point he is officially deemed Ramsay Bolton and they ride off to hang out in Winterfell. This storyline is certainly moving along quickly, and maybe, just maybe, I'll hate it less once they're settled down and they begin to experience the fact that the North remembers.

I was very excited that we got some more Sansa action this week - and wow was it awesome. At least, I think it was. I'm still a bit torn about certain things. But the council scene was great, and I loved that viewers were finally introduced to the lords (and lady) of the Vale. And there wasn't even a moment for that excitement to wear off before the rest of the events at the Eyrie set me - and kept me - on the edge of my seat. I suppose that suicide was really the only excuse Littlefinger could use for Lysa's death, as he and Sansa were the only ones present, but at first I couldn't see how he would convince Lord Royce and the others that it was the truth.

And then Sansa, beautiful wonderful amazing Sansa, convinces them for him. It certainly doesn't seem the smartest idea for her to have told these people exactly who she is, but I understand that it's certainly the easiest route for the show - especially if they plan on eventually linking her with Harry the Heir. She certainly pulled off her story, and I foresee many Sansa detractors having their eyes opened by this scene, but as someone who has loved her character for quite some time I do have some concerns about them making such huge changes with her, and so quickly.

Speaking of changes, I was actually a bit surprised that we saw Jorah dismissed in this episode. I thought they would drag that out a bit more, possibly until the very end of the season; additionally, for it to basically happen all at once made it seem more than a little bit rushed. I do think it helped that all of the actors involved did an incredible job - they added emotion and gravity where those things would have been sadly lacking due to the aforementioned rushing of this scenario.

As a Sansa and Sandor fan, the next chunk of this episode was nothing short of amazing. Though the little aside with Sansa and Littlefinger seemed oddly placed and in my opinion really didn't bring anything new to their story, of course I loved that right after that it switched to Sandor and Arya, who apparently were able to walk all the way to the Vale since we last saw them (despite the fact that Sandor's bite wound is obviously festering and causing him problems). I enjoyed the fact that Sandor referred to Arya as his 'traveling companion, and their reaction to the news that Lysa is dead was interesting to say the least - first Arya's crazy laughing, which was a somewhat appropriate reaction but also a bit over the top in terms of portrayal, and then the fact that they apparently turned around and left.

Now, it's likely that the guards aren't privy to the knowledge that Sansa is there, and we didn't see Sandor and Arya appear anywhere else after this, but in order for her to follow her book storyline in any way she would need to leave. Hopefully we'll get more clarification about this before the season ends, but it seems that this was simply a way to stretch out the Sandor and Arya plot, and possibly showcase yet again that none of the Starks are going to be together anytime soon. As the writers have spent quite a bit of time stretching certain plots this season, I'm guessing it's more the former :-/

The fact that they then cut back to the Eyrie was certainly welcome. Robin seems to be taking his mother's death a lot better than one would think, Littlefinger is as creepy as ever (although the 'some people die over their chamber pots' was amusing whether they meant it to be or not), and Sansa has truly become Alayne now. Plus she finally gets a flattering gown!

I've already seen plenty of comments from Sansa detractors who are apparently relieved that she's 'way more interesting' now. Of course I knew some of that was coming, but as I already mentioned, the show is making bigger, bolder changes with her character, and doing it a lot faster than what we've seen in the books so far. Basically I just wasn't expecting to see all of the eye roll-inducing comments quite this soon ;)

While I've generally enjoyed the interactions between Jaime and Tyrion this season, and understand how important they are to set up Tyrion's escape, which will likely happen before the end of this season , their conversation in The Mountain and the Viper didn't serve any purpose. Not only that, the whole story about their special needs cousin was nothing short of awkward. Honestly, as much as I cringe every time Theon and/or Ramsay show up on screen, this Jaime and Tyrion scene was probably the worst one in the episode.

Although hey, they did make it a point to say there is no term for killing your cousin. I'm not certain if this was merely supposed to be amusing, or if they were harkening back to Jaime's actions in season two and trying to cover their tracks, but I suppose I hope that it was the latter, because that means they made one tiny point with this scene.

The bells certainly couldn't ring soon enough, and when they did we finally got to see the men who gave this episode its name. While at times Oberyn showing off with his spear was a bit much for my tastes, in general both the writers and the actors did an amazing job with the fight.

And as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, they continued to go for shock value when Gregor finally got the better of Oberyn. I guess at this point I shouldn't be surprised that they continue to go to such lengths, though ;) (But let's not lie, that death scene was super disgusting.)

There are now just two episodes left in season four, and several characters we haven't seen in a while - Brienne and Pod, also on their way to the Vale; Stannis and Davos, who are likely, as book readers know, on their way to The Wall; Bran and Co., who may actually run into the children of the forest before the season ends; and even a few King's Landing characters (namely the Tyrells and Tommen). With the big battle for The Wall coming up next week, there is a lot of ground that still needs to be covered.

And speaking of characters we haven't seen in a while, I'm still wondering when we're going to be introduced to Lady Stoneheart. Will it be in the season finale, or will they save her for season five? Or will the show perhaps avoid her altogether? It seems that no matter how much it frustrates me sometimes, and despite the fact that I've read the books, Game of Thrones is still keeping me on the edge of my seat. Pin It