How is it October?!

Kent’s Beach at sunset on my birthday, picture Kate Dryden Dunn

Kent’s Beach at sunset on my birthday, picture Kate Dryden Dunn

Just over a month ago I sat down and wrote almost a full blog post that I intended to publish before my birthday (which is late September). And then the next thing I knew it was October 11th! September seemed to be one of those vanishing months this year. I think its disappearance was aided by two weekends away, my mum visiting for a week, three Bard on the Beach shows, and one visit to Broadway Across Canada. I’m sure there WAS a month that happened in amongst all that, but I hardly remember it!

Autumn is here, with shockingly clear skies in Vancouver and some perfectly cool temperatures. My sweater collection and I are currently living our best lives. Autumn is also birthday time for me, which in my world also gives me an opportunity to figure out a few things I’d like to accomplish in my 36th year.

I’m knocking a big travel/bucket list/epic adventure thing off those lists in November when I go to Africa, which I’m beyond excited for, and hope I have the presence of mind to post about afterwards (we all know my track record here)

I’d like to learn/re-learn a few non-essential skills as well. I learned to juggle in elementary school (and was even cast as a lead in a play based on my abilities) but I’ve fallen WAAAY off. It’s a weird, silly thing that I liked being able to do, so I’m going to try and commit to practicing for a couple of minutes every day. Maybe post the practice videos? We’ll see, Sam and Sandra are inspiring me to try and motivate myself via IG these days. The other thing I’d like to get better at is ukulele. I have this GORGEOUS uke that I can play about three chords confidently on. I have the instrument, I want to be able to play it, dang it! So, similar to juggling, I’m going to try and put in some practice minutes every day (maybe week)

Finally, that dang novel. Normally, at this time of year, I’d be gearing up for NaNoWriMo, but with the trip to Africa happening right smack dab in the middle of November, I know far better than to try and attempt that. I know myself far too well. However, I’ve had some epiphanies about my novel over the past couple of months, so the re-write is on….slowly. I might try and use November to be NaNo adjacent, and work on it a bit (maybe on the 30 hours plane rides?)

So, that’s it. Juggle, ukulele, novel. A few things to spice up 36, and make that trip around the sun a little more interesting.

Be proud of the journey

A few weeks ago I was referred to as “the most fit person” in a group of people. And this unbelievable feeling of pride welled up within me, because not only did I know that they meant it in all seriousness, but I also knew that I’d earned it. It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with my weight for a long time, but I think what might kind of be a secret is that I’m more and more comfortable with the journey I’m on to be healthier.

My lovely friend Alicen is doing something for the next year called ‘The Happiness Project’, and this month’s theme is ‘pride’. It’s a tough challenge for sure, but after that comment and going back and seeing all the post-workout selfies that I’ve taken since February I was inspired by her to show my pride in my journey.

I’ve tried a lot of different ‘programs’ over the years, but in the past 3 or 4 I’ve done the ones that have made the biggest impact, not so much on my weight (although it IS better) but on my mindset when it comes to it. The Strongest You Coaching with Girls Gone Strong is where is started, a huge component is mindset, especially growth mindset to seeing things as challenges, and if I don’t succeed that they’re not failures, but opportunities to learn, grow and try again. It also taught me to love lifting. Learning that I can lift heavy weights and they’ll make me feel good? There’s nothing quite like the feeling of empowerment of knowing that I can carry most things people warn me are heavy.

I’ve been doing the My Peak Challenge for the past two years, and while I haven’t had some of the weight loss success that my fellow Peakers have, I’ve certainly gained conditioning, and that still feels like a win. The other big thing that I’ve learned is that I can do this. It may take me a long time, but I can still do it, slow and steady will win this race in the long run, and if I have to take the scenic route, then so be it. I’ll get there eventually, and I’ll be proud of the journey I took to get there.

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Week 6 update: Back to the Drawing Board

You know that feeling when you’re supposed to be halfway through re-writing your novel and you realize you’ve been writing the book from the wrong character’s point of view? Actually no, not just point of view, but the wrong character’s story completely. Yeeeaaaah. Needless to say I think there’s going to be a bit of a readjustment to my 12-week schedule.

I think one of the reasons that I’ve struggled with this story for so long is that I, for reasons completely unknown to me, have pushed back at telling the story from this character’s side of things. I have no idea why, everyone who I’ve talked to about the story has always told me how they find her more interesting than my current protagonist.

I should be on ‘re-writing Act II’ of my NaNo novel according to the plan I put together, however, I’ve been stuck on ‘re-write outline’ since June…probably because I’ve been trying to write the wrong character’s story this whole time. Don’t get me wrong, I like his story, I think it’s interesting (obviously, or else why would I have tried so hard to write it?!) but this book isn’t his story.

So, back to the drawing board, and writing the outline from the correct character’s point of view and getting back to writing this story.

Week 1: An update

Well, I slacked a bit in my first week of my 12-week plan of working on my novel. However, I figure since I’m trying to keep myself accountable, I should share the things I’ve learned in the first week.

I’m re-reading the novel I wrote during NaNo for the first time since November. It’s….not as bad as I thought it would be? I mean, it’s not good, but I remember it being much worse when I was writing it. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to rework my protagonist and the whole opening…and the first act. But there’s definitely the bare bones of a story in there.

I also found a free course on Reedsy to help me with my ‘bad with 3-act structure’ situation, yay Internet!

That’s about all I have to update for now. Accountability post done!

Queen of Procrastination Would Like to Relinquish Her Crown

One of the main reasons I try to blog is because I keep hearing about how regular writing makes you a better writer. Well, maybe not better, but at least more habitual. More accustomed to sitting down and getting the words out and onto paper (well, screen).

If you’ve been following me here at all, then you’re probably well aware that I’m sporadic at best when it comes to writing blog posts. I did semi-regularly post that Game of Thrones blog series for a while, but well, I think my ambition far outweighed my current ability on that one.

However, I’ve been listening to a podcast called Before Breakfast for the past couple of months, and host Laura Vanderkam recently did a 5-part series on procrastination that really hit home. As you can see from the title of this post, I live in the kingdom of Procrastination, I’m comfortable here, I usually get things done eventually…

However, that being said, I’m secretly ambitious. I’d actually really like people to read the novel I wrote during NaNo. And get projects done around my house so I don’t always have projects on the go around my house.

So, to combine a tip I heard from Laura, who also wrote a book during NaNo, and a great panel I saw at the Creative Ink Festival in March, I’m posting my 12-week plan for my novel for all to see. I’m hoping that any of the few who read this blog will attempt to keep me accountable for this.

12-Week Plan

Weeks 1 & 2 (June 9-22): re-read NaNo novel and finish updating new outline for novel

Weeks 3-5 (June 23-July 13) re-write Act 1

Weeks 6-8 (July 14-August 3) re-write Act II

Weeks 9-11 (August 4-24) re-write Act III

Week 12 (August 25-31): final revisions on new draft

Sept 4 (after Labour Day long weekend): draft out to beta readers

Maybe I should be more specific? I don’t know. I’m admittedly not great at the ‘act structure’ in my own writing. I’m hoping have a concrete outline will help with that. I’m also going to add that on top of this plan, I’ll update here on the blog how I’m doing with the various steps week by week. Hopefully, that will keep me accountable to myself? (Probably not, I know the person laying down those ‘rules’ and she’s a bit of a pushover when it comes to deadlines - which is where you, dear reader, come in)

The Wolf and the Lion

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Sigh. I know I’m a broken record, but Ned. Oh Ned.

I get it, CSI: King’s Landing was more appealing to you than the tournament being thrown in your name, but maybe if you weren’t so outwardly hostile to everyone and more suspicious of Littlefinger, then things wouldn’t go so badly in the end. I mean, probably not, but hey, a girl can hope
At least he convinces Robert not to compete in the tournament, not just because his armour is too small for him now, but because surely someone in the Queen’s pocket would figure out how to kill him. I mean, his outward hostility to Lancel Lannister is probably what gets him killed a few episodes later, and might be why Lancel becomes one of the sparrows later on (if I remember all of this correctly, which I may not, as previously mentioned, I haven’t watched these episodes in an age)

Instead of Robert making a fool of himself, we get the introduction of Ser Loras, and oh man, I can’t believe how much I forgot about this show. All I can see now when I see the Knight of the Flowers is the fact that he’s Iron Fist, it’s very distracting. I’m sure I’ll get over it shortly, but man, that hair, that smug face. Littlefinger goads Renly about his relationship with Loras, which seems awfully hypocritical coming from the guy who’s lusting after a CHILD in Sansa, but this is GoT, so I guess we can’t be that surprised.
Anyways, Loras proves that he’s not just a pretty face by beating the Mountain, who then decapitates his horse (yes, I mixed this up and thought it was in the last episode, I watched them back to back, lesson learned) and tries to go after Loras. The Hound stops him and we get the first round of the Cleganebowl, something I’m SO looking forward to in season 8.
I enjoy later on when Loras and Renly are together and get a little glimpse that plotting for the throne comes from all areas. It’s shocking to think how many people want to sit on that uncomfortable throne made of melted weapons. However, it’s interesting to see Loras’ argument to have Renly on the throne, when he says, ”Where is it written that power is only made for the worst?” Renly is good and would, ostensibly a far more frugal king than Robert, who thought being king meant being able to do what he wanted, and leaves the running of the kingdom the small council as opposed to getting involved directly.
EXCEPT! When it comes to the Targaryens. News arrives that Daenerys is pregnant and Robert’s complete and utter hatred for the house that took away the one thing that he truly wanted, Lyanna Stark, brings him to a meeting to demand Ned have her killed. Assassinating a pregnant young woman a world away is a step too far for the honourable man from the North. It’s the excuse he’s been waiting for to throw in the towel and head back to the far less intriguing North. He gives up his position as Hand. We all know it’s a big mistake, especially considering what his wife is up to, but alas.

Catelyn heads to see her sister, and finds her changed. Apparently, spending time in the capital is bad for everyone. The image of her sitting up on that high seat, breast-feeding an eight-year-old Robin is QUITE the introduction for Lysa. Between that and the cadence of speech that both Lysa and Robin have just makes them so damn creepy. It makes you feel extra sympathy for Tyrion. Catelyn was unwise enough to bring him there, something that she starts to see for herself very quickly, but being thrown in that cell with no back wall? YIKES. It’s no WONDER the Eyrie is such a valuable piece of real estate in the Game of Thrones board game.

Up in Winterfell you also get another glimpse Theon’s increasing frustration with his lot in life. Oh Theon, be careful what you wish for. Things are going to get SO much worse for you. Bran also demonstrates some of the frustration that I have in Catelyn. She’s so convinced that she’s doing the right thing that she seemingly forgets that she has two young children that need her attention back in Winterfell, not just Bran, who’s recovering from an injury, but Rickon as well.

Back in King’s Landing, we get Arya training, trying to catch a cat. And if that’s one of the requirements for becoming a sword fighter, then I’m well on my way, ‘cause I’m an excellent cat catcher. However, her efforts due lead her to several interesting discoveries. Firstly, that the skulls of the dragons weren’t destroyed like Viserys thought they were, they’ve just been moved underground. The second thing is far more important, that Jon Arryn was killed because he started asking questions, just like his father has been. She gets the kind of direct proof of all the overt plotting that’s going on against the throne. However, she’s unable to identify the men, and stumbles over her words, and is ultimately interrupted by Yoren’s arrival with the news that Catelyn’s taken Tyrion prisoner.

In between this and Ned’s discovery of another one of Robert’s bastards right before the slaughter of his men, we get a surprisingly touching scene between Cersei and Robert, laughing about their marriage and how it’s kind of a mess. It’s two people who stay married for appearances but seemed to know from the beginning it would never be a happy one. Considering all her actions later on in the show, it’s so hard to tell if Cersei is sincere here, but I’d like to think she was. She didn’t seem to become quite so power hungry until after Robert dies.

Finally we get the end of the episode, the first true indication that everything isn’t going to work out for the family we so want to cheer for (even though they make so many bad decisions). Ned’s honour yet again is the thing that gets him into the most trouble, when he claims that he was the one that ordered Tyrion’s capture, not letting Catelyn take the blame. While Jamie may not be able to act out against Robert directly over all the small slights he takes against the Lannister family, he certainly feels like he has the right to defend his family honour when Robert’s friend captures his brother without just cause. Obviously, I think he takes it a step too far by killing the Stark bannermen, but then again, this is Game of Thrones and that’s how the game is played, by taking as many players off the board as you can at once.

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The Mountain’s horse, decapitated by the Mountain
Kurleket, killed by Hill Tribesmen
Willis Wode, killed by Hill Tribesmen
Wyl, killed by Lannister guardsmen
Heward, killed by Lannister guardsmen
Jory Cassel, killed by Jamie Lannister
Four unnamed Hill Tribesmen, killed by Bronn
One unnamed Hill Tribesman, killed by Tyrion
Two unnamed Hill Tribesmen, killed by Rodrick Cassel
One Lannister guardsman, killed by Ned Stark
Three Lannister guardsmen, killed by Jory Cassel

image created by Robert Ball for HBO’s Beautiful Death series

image created by Robert Ball for HBO’s Beautiful Death series

Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things

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Okay, if I’m going to even get anywhere close to finishing this on time, I think I’m going to have to start just giving thoughts and perhaps try a little less hard to tie the paragraphs together, sooo, sorry?

Going with the title of the episode, we start with one of the cripples/broken things, Bran Stark. He dreams of the Stark crypt and the three-eyed raven, something that makes SO much more sense now, seven seasons in. I definitely remember being very confused the first time through (something that’s clearly a theme with me and the early seasons of this show). It’s essentially his first warging, a sign of all the things to come for the youngest (at the end of season seven) surviving Stark. This is also when we first meet the sweetest, gentlest character in all of Westeros, Hodor. When Robb called him in, my reaction was definitely, “HODOR!” He’s the best.

Still in Winterfell, we see the return of Tyrion, and of course, the outward hostility of Robb towards him. It’s interesting, because I feel like Catelyn keeps her plans very much to herself, but she must have expressed some kind of displeasure at the Lannisters in general, and Tyrion specifically, ‘cause that’s the only reason I could imagine Robb would be THAT rude to Tyrion when he arrives back Winterfell. Luckily, Tyrion, being raised in his back-stabbing family and the courtly intrigue of King’s Landing, has excellent manners, and knows better than to poke the wolf too hard in its domain. Then again, he has no problem baiting Theon…which I wish everyone would stop doing, ‘cause even though he’s awful right now, I already feel bad for everything he’s going to go through when Ramsay shows up.

Up at the Wall, we learn how completely Jon’s already earned the respect (and fear) of his peers when Samwell Tarly shows up. He gets everyone to leave Sam alone, much to Thorne’s disapproval. I forgot how completely useless Sam was at the beginning of the show. Granted, he’ll never become the warrior that Jon will be, but does learn his way around a blade, is far from being the coward he claims to be. As Jon and Sam grow closer in this episode, we get a chat regarding their status with the ladies, and despite his good looks Jon’s a virgin because he didn’t want another kid growing up with the last name Snow. That surname’s sure done a number on him.
However, right after this conversation we get a glimpse from Thorne at how awful winter is in Westeros, where seasons last years instead of months. I mean, I’m from the more northern (really the centre) of BC, so I’m familiar with temperatures in the -20 to -30 zones…but then again, I lived in a home with central heating, and what Ser Alliser describes sounds AWFUL. No wonder those Starks are always reminding everyone that Winter is Coming.

Over in Essos we get sexposition (GoT does a lot of exposition during sex, it’s so strange) about the history of dragons and Westeros from Viserys. Also, it turns out I was wrong (not the first time, nor the last around here), Jorah DOES explain that he was selling slave, ‘cause he had ‘an expensive wife’. We also get Viserys being his continually horrible self, Dany invites him for dinner, but he incorrectly assumes it’s an order (‘cause that’s presumably the only way he can get people to dine with him - to order them) and storms into her tent and attacks her, telling her not to anger the dragon…Well, Dany’s had enough of this and smacks him (like we all want to). Later on when talking with Jorah, he asks her if she really wants him on the throne, ‘cause the people in Westeros wouldn’t welcome someone like him (someone who reminds them of the Mad King) on the throne. Dany’s no dope, she knows he wouldn’t conquer the Seven Kingdoms, even with the Dothraki at his back. Ah Viserys, everyone’s agreed you’re useless, the end is nigh.

Then we get all the activity down in King’s Landing (geesh, I don’t know why I thought these would be short posts, SO. MUCH. HAPPENS.) Sooo, let’s sum up King’s Landing in bullet points:

  • Sansa already knows that Joffrey hates her, which sounds like a great start to a relationship.

  • Ned’s starts up CSI: Winterfell and finds Gendry (I hope you’re ready for some rowing Gendry ;) and figures out the connection much faster than Jon Arryn did.

  • Jamie and Jory bond over the battle of Pyke (that’ll be short-lived) and they mention Thoros of Myr and his flaming sword. Chalk another one in the ‘missed that one the first time through’ column.

  • We meet the Mountain (well, Mountain #1) aaaaand he kills Ser Hugh in the most brutal hit during ‘Ned’s’ tournament (that he’s not attending)

  • Sansa meets Littlefinger for the first time…and learns the Hound’s origin story - which is a nice reminder that Cleganebowl is still coming in this final season, I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to that one.

  • Arya trains and Ned talks about the gendered future she has in store, and Arya tells him plainly that it won’t be the life she leads ‘No, that’s not me’. Sure isn’t Arya.

  • Littlefinger plainly tells Ned that “Distrusting me was the wisest thing you’ve done since climbing off your horse.” COME ON NED! Like, when he TELLS YOU you shouldn’t trust him, you do? Ugh. Starks.

  • Oh yeah! Ned also has a chat with Cersei about ‘killing enemies’ and I all can think is WHY ARE YOU HERE?! EVERYONE WANTS TO KILL YOU. Sigh. The inevitability is so blatant it almost hurts to watch him futilely try to be a good person in the capital.

Finally we get Catelyn taking the one good Lannister into custody ‘cause she trusted Littlefinger. WHY DO THESE STARKS TRUST HIM?! Sigh, so frustrating.

Aaaaanyways, on to the next one.

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Ser Hugh of the Vale, killed by the Mountain

image created by Robert Ball for HBO’s Beautiful Death series

image created by Robert Ball for HBO’s Beautiful Death series

Lord Snow

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We’re three episodes in, so it feels like it’s time to add a bunch more characters to the roster! Granted, I’ll forever be grateful that Benioff and Weiss restrained themselves far more than George R.R. Martin ever did, but still, we’ve just gotten used to the pantheon of characters we’ve already met and they stack on another baker’s dozen in this episode. Yes, I know, most of them die…actually, I think all save one are dead now…Jeor Mormont, Maester Aemon, Ser Alliser Thorne, Ser Barristan Selmy, Grand Maester Pycelle, Renly Baratheon, Littlefinger, Pyp, Grenn, Syrio Forel, Rakharo, Lancel Lannister, yup, all dead except for Varys.

In all honesty if you told me that the Spider would be the last man standing of that group when I first watched this episode, I would’ve had a hard time believing you. He doesn’t make a great first impression, and comes off just as slimy as Littlefinger. Speaking of whom, seeing Ned almost strangle him in this episode is kind of awesome, even though it’s clearly one of the many nails Ned hammers into his own coffin. Truly, Ned is too good for King’s Landing. While he may be the strong, sensible Hand that Robert needs, he’s far too honest and honour-bound to really be effective in any way, shape, or form in the Capital. I have to admit, watching him make all these mistakes over again is such a bummer. It’s one of those ‘if he’s only played the game better’ kind of situations. However, for Ned, the problem was that he didn’t realize that there was even a game happening until he’d lost it.

Speaking of Starks, Catelyn is kind of the worst. I think I remember liking her the first time ‘round, but this time, well, she’s far more reckless than her husband, and Ned may not have a lot to help him in King’s Landing, but at least he doubts he can trust Littlefinger (LEAN INTO THAT NED). Cat on the other hand seems to think that just because he’s in love with her, she can trust him. Ummm, you married someone else, your first fiancés’ brother even…how does that breed trust Cat? She ‘feels it in her bones’ that the Lannisters did it, and sure, they did, but just believing that Tyrion would be dumb enough to send an assassin with his own knife? COME ON. Use some sense woman! Sigh. I feel like I’m going to be yelling that at her a lot this watch through.

At the other end of Westeros, we’ve got Jon, who’s been cruelly dubbed Lord Snow by Ser Alliser Thorne due to his highborn bastard status. He’s also clearly the best recruit the Night’s Watch has had in a while. Here’s where trusting a Lannister can be helpful. It’s so easy to like Tyrion when you see him being sneakily helpful. Showing Jon that little things, like learning people’s names can go a long way in a place like the Wall. And even though Jon is admittedly better than all the rest, it’s good to have someone like Tyrion remind him, that all his highborn status means nothing here, he’s just like everyone else. It’s amazing how far these little lessons take Jon over the course of the show. Don’t get me wrong, he makes some huge mistakes too (thank to some of that pesky honour he learned from Ned) but these lessons from Tyrion are super valuable.

There’s this interesting thread through this episode with people giving Jamie a hard time for ‘stabbing Aerys Targaryen in the back’. I appreciate the face that this is ‘bad form’ and all that, but they called him the Mad King for a reason. He literally burned Ned’s family alive, in the throne room, where apparently 500 men stood by and did nothing. And while I may agree with Ned’s cynicism that Jamie actually thought about those burning Starks when he finally killed Aerys, I’m not sure the outward contempt is quite warranted. Then Robert brings it up as well, Robert who literally started a war with the Targaryens over a girl and wants to destroy an entire bloodline because that girl died. Where’s the justice there. Jamie stops a mad man from being in charge of the whole realm, and he’s a bad guy, but because the crown’s on Robert’s head, the injustices he committed to get that crown are moot? Man alive, the hypocrisy abounds.

Finally, if people didn’t see Viserys’ death coming a mile away, then I don’t know what to do for them. Literally every single time he says or does something I immediately think to myself “well at least he’s only around for X many more episodes.” He was certainly the first character where I was like, he’s going to die soon right? (there were many more after this) No one can be this horrible and live, ESPECIALLY when Khal Drogo’s involved. He’s such a narcissist that he believes every single thing that Daenerys does is a direct slight against him. Even though I’m sure she rarely even thinks about him anymore, especially now that she’s carrying Drogo’s child.

Ummm, there were no deaths this episode. So, I guess we can commemorate that fact: First no death episode, well done Game of Thrones.

image created by Robert Ball for HBO’s Beautiful Death series

image created by Robert Ball for HBO’s Beautiful Death series

The Kingsroad

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Everybody’s on the road! I mean, by the end of the episode a lot of people are on the road, and the episode’s called ‘The Kingsroad’…am I reaching? Maybe. Anyways, let’s dive in.

We start in Essos with Dany and Ser Jorah, and I have to admit, with how lovesick he gets in the latter seasons I kind of forgot some of who Jorah was before that. It’s also nice to get a reminder that he’s a Northerner, he flees Westeros because his liege lord, Ned Stark, had condemned his to death for selling poachers to a slaver (to fund his wife’s lavish lifestyle, but that’s left out of the show) , not only that but he’s the only son of Jeor Mormont, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. He’s got some seriously strong ties to the North, and I’m curious to see how that will play out in the final season when Dany and Sansa inevitably start butting heads.
As mentioned in my last post, Dany and Drogo were my main focus in the first season, so for her to learn how to be a better lover, and therefore more in control of what happened in the tent made me really happy to see. It also kind of proves to me that even though she spent so long living with Viserys and his instance that he’s a king, etc, she recognizes the true power that Drogo has, and how through him she can gain independence from her brother’s awfulness. That kind of smarts makes it really easy to root for Dany especially in this first season.

In the first season, while I liked the Starks more than any other of the Westerosi houses, I also found them a bit frustrating. Overly noble, too bound to duty, etc. Now, I just want those poor remaining Starks to make it through the winter. Catelyn is the most frustrating for me, I can see that she loves her children, and now she’s been left alone in the North with her sick child, but it literally takes an assassin to remind her that life is happening outside the room where Bran’s recovering. She’s also SO terrible to Jon. Who, while sometimes frustrated with his ‘bastard’ title, is never anything but courteous to his ‘father’s’. wife. Even after she’s so awful to him while Jon’s saying goodbye to the comatose Bran, Robb asks about his mother’s conduct, and Jon lies and says ‘she was very kind’. UM. NO SHE WASN’T. She was outwardly hostile to you.

We also get the promise from Ned to Jon, that Ned will tell Jon about his mother when he sees him next. Poor Jon. I know that L+R=J was one of the biggest theories (now proven correct) in GoT, but I sometimes wonder why it had to be such a huge secret. I mean, I know it’s a lot of what forms Jon’s character, but still. Considering how much Ned trusts and loves his wife, would it have really been so much to tell her that Jon wasn’t the walking embodiment of his shame, but his nephew? I can appreciate that perhaps Cat not being outwardly hostile to Jon might have been a give away for some, but how often does anyone of consequence visit them? Robert’s been on the throne for seven years, and this is the first time. Another thought, all Targaryens are known for how crazy blonde they are, so that Northern blood must be VERY strong for Jon to be so very dark, without a hint of the telltale Targaryen blonde.

A few thoughts about Lannisters. Tyrion disabusing Jon of his belief in what the Night’s Watch is, but also expressing his doubts about all the things that lurk beyond the wall. Thinking about when Jon proves him wrong by bringing a White Walker to King’s Landing is a nice ‘I told you so’.
Cersei can occasionally be genuinely sympathetic. When she tells you about her first son, Robert (and her only child by her husband) and how he died, you feel for her. I think this is due, in great part, to Lena Headey’s great skill as an actor. However, that being said, she is also the worst (like her son), using Sansa to get back at Arya is such a horrible hint at all the things that are to come, both for Sansa and Cersei.
Finally Joffrey. I know I said that Cersei was the worst, but it’s actually Joffrey. From the top of the episode when Tyrion slaps (Slap Counter: 3) him for being petulant about showing deference to the Starks, his hosts, in their time of grief. If you wanted an indication of character...Then when he and Arya get into it, you can see in his crazy eyes that he really and truly wanted to kill the girl, for so little a slight as her defending her friend.

Finally Sansa. Like most, I found her really annoying the first time through, but in this episode my heart breaks for her when her actions condemn Lady. Sadly, it’s the first of many horrible lessons she has to learn before becoming the badass Lady Stark she is today. Speaking of direwolves, I wonder if we’ll ever see Nymeria again? I think other than Ghost, she’s the only Stark direwolf that, as far as we know, is still alive.

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Assassin killed by Summer (Bran’s direwolf)
Lady (Sansa’s direwolf), killed by Ned Stark, but only because Cersei’s terrible
Mycah, killed by the Hound (as depicted in this post’s Beautiful Death)

image created by Robert Ball for HBO’s Beautiful Death series

image created by Robert Ball for HBO’s Beautiful Death series

Winter is Coming

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Welcome to my insane little project. .
After making the effort to watch all the Oscar nominated films over the last month, I seemed to think that re-watching and blogging about Game of Thrones would be a good idea. And it might be, I mean, I haven’t watched any of the series since they first aired, so reliving the show could be fun. I also already review a show weekly for my podcast, so I’m definitely used to picking shows apart, albeit normally with my co-host and in audio form as opposed to the written…However, I may have slightly miscalculated the amount of time that this ‘little’ project will take, so I’m going to go ahead and say up front, that while I intend to blog my entire rewatch, it’s quite possible that I may fall a little short, not an apology, just forewarning you, dear audience (whomever you may be) that it might happen.

And with that, on to the episode!

I remember being intrigued, but also confused the first time I watched this cold open. I didn’t know that was the Wall, nor that they were venturing beyond it. I know idea who or what Wildlings, White Walkers, or the Night’s Watch were. There were just three guys tramping around in the snow, and spooky things happening. The show was also very sparing with their 'fantasy’ elements in this first season. (if I remember correctly, I may prove myself wrong in a couple eps) Maybe partly due to budget constraints (the production value, while good, looks ‘worse’ than subsequent seasons) and maybe to not lose the people who were in for courtly intrigue but not so much into magic and dragons, etc.

After the (impressive) opening credits, we get our first introduction to the heroes of the show, the Starks. People, I cannot stress enough how young everyone is. So young, so carefree, so unaware of all the terrible things that are about to befall their family. Robb and Jon teaching Bran archery, Sansa being proud her needlework, and Arya showing up her brother with her own archery skills, and Ned and Cat looking out proudly at it all. JUST STOP THE SHOW HERE WHILE EVERYONE’S ALIVE AND HAPPY. But alas, this is a drama, and drama requires conflict. So. Much. Conflict. Like seven more seasons worth…

We get our first glimpse of Valyrian steel when Ned uses Ice to behead the sole survivor of the White Walker, you know and brought his 10-year-old along to watch. After giving us the first glimpse of how Ned might be a little too dutiful and honourable for his own good, by following the old ways of dispensing the justice himself, we learn the next most important thing: Theon’s the worst. He smirks when Will loses his head and was completely okay with killing a puppy. Yeah, I hated this guy. Like, a lot. And he gets worse before he gets better, but apparently being tortured by a sociopath is the way to redemption if your name is Theon.

It’s interesting to note that Ned respects Jon enough to listen to him when he suggests that they bring the direwolves back to Winterfell. It’s hard to say why exactly, maybe because he reminds Ned of his sister, or he gives Ned a good reason to NOT MURDER PUPPIES, but either way. Also, I forgot how formal Jon was with Ned. He respects his place as the lowest man on the totem pole, but also deeply respects his ‘father’. Always calling him ‘Lord Stark’ and ‘my lord’. I think this bastard upbringing is a big part of what makes Jon a good leader in the end. He learned from a distance, but was respected when he had good ideas. (like not killing puppies, the best idea) I mean, he obviously has a huge chip on his shoulder about it too, mainly ‘cause Catelyn is absolutely horrible to him.

I have so many thoughts when the Lannisters come to Winterfell, the main one being “don’t smile at Joffrey Sansa!” The other is that I kind of forgot how cocky Jamie was. I know most of the characters who’ve survived to the end of the last season have had some impressive character arcs, but I think Jamie’s might be one of the most dramatic. He gets up in Ned’s face, he’s mean to Jon, he is kind to his brother, you know, and then the whole twincest and pushing a ten-year-old out a window ‘for love’.

The final storyline of the episode takes us across the Narrows sea to Pentos, where I completely forgot that Roger Allam was in this show, I mean, I shouldn’t be surprised, because it seems like if you’re British and available you were probably cast in GoT at some point. And while I remembered about Viserys, I kind of blocked out how gross he is. In his FIRST SCENE he’s undressing and touching his sister as he essentially sells her for an army. I’m already looking forward to episode six. I must admit when I was first watching the show, I would fast forward the episodes to see what was happening with Dany and Khal Drogo. While their relationship starts off HORRIBLY, theirs is the only ‘happy’ storyline of the season (yes, until the end, OBVIOUSLY) while everyone else is lying, cheating, backstabbing, and being being generally awful, they’re falling in love, and Daenerys is learning that she’s more powerful that she expected.

I think that was enough words for this post, it’s already far too long. A few parting thoughts at the end of the first episode, with the retrospective eye, it’s easy to see how much they were setting up the ‘final three’ (Jon, Daenerys, and Cersei) right from the start. At the beginning we thought the show was starring Sean Bean and Mark Addy, not knowing that neither man would make it out of the first season alive. Speaking of Sean Bean, I miss Ned Stark.

Finally, I’m going to do an In Memoriam for each episode, ‘cause why not. I’m also going to feature the lovely art created by HBO by artist Robert Ball for each episode, depicting the ‘most iconic deaths in the realm’. On top of depicting one of the most important deaths in the episode, they’re also full of Easter eggs, like in this one the blood makes the map of Westeros.

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Waymar Royce - killed by a White Walker - the distinction of being the first of MANY deaths in Game of Thrones
Gared - killed by a White Walker
Will - executed by Ned Stark
Jon Arryn - poisoned by Lysa Arryn
Two Dothraki - killed at the wedding, ‘cause it’s not a good Dothraki wedding unless at least three people are killed (so I have to assume at least one more person died at this wedding)

image created by Robert Ball for HBO’s Beautiful Death series

image created by Robert Ball for HBO’s Beautiful Death series

(Lunar) New Year Resolutions!

Gong hei fat choy or gong xi fa cai , which ever you prefer, either way Happy New Year! It’s the Year of the Pig! That’s me! I’m a pig!

Considering I haven’t posted on ye olde blog since June last year, I suppose it shouldn’t be terribly surprising that I’ve waited until the day after the beginning of the Lunar New Year (which if you live in Vancouver, like I do, is a pretty big deal) to finally share my goals for 2019. ‘Cause they aren’t really resolutions, it just looked better in the title of the blog post.

My overall theme for 2019 is “Finish What I Start”. I very much take after my father in this regard. I’m extremely good at starting projects, less good at finishing them. When I was kid there were half-finished projects all over our house, much to my mother’s consternation. My own home is much like that, one closet’s been KonMari’d, my gallery wall is almost done, and I wrote my NaNo novel, but I haven’t even looked at it since I finished it on November 29.

To try and finish these things and move forward with some other things, I’ve separated my goals for 2019 into six ‘categories’

Writing
First and foremost my NaNo novel. Finishing NaNo for the first time after trying for five years was a MASSIVE accomplishment for me. I literally cried as I watched the little ‘You did it!’ video they send you after you verify your word count. I think after all that went into finally getting the story out my brain really needed a break from it. But the break is over now, I need to re-outline and then attack it with an editor’s vengeance.

Writing more consistently here. Clearly, that’s been an issue in the past, but I often have things to say, I just end up keeping them to myself. Sorry world. But don’t worry, if I can get my act together you’ll hear more from me this year. Aren’t you looking forward to random musings?! I KNOW YOU ARE!

Podcasting
I love podcasting with Taylor, and Tiny Fences isn’t going anywhere, but there are a lot of things I could be doing better in regards to the podcast. Trying to set up our TeePublic site, looking into other options either with Patreon or instead of it.

I also would love to work on a narrative type podcast, or maybe do one about movies? Talking is something that anyone who knows me probably knows that I’m pretty dang good at,(or maybe wishes I was less good at it...) podcasting combines that talent with other things I love, like pop culture and storytelling.

Health
With my family history of heart disease and high blood pressure, one of my big goals for this year is to really get my health in order. There are a lot of things that I’d like to do, and getting into better shape to make sure that I’m around to do all of them is another one of my goals. I’m taking part in my second round of My Peak Challenge, with challenging workouts and a nutrition plan are a big part of that.

My podcast co-host Taylor has been taking selfies after they finish their workouts, so I’ve started doing the same. I’m really hoping that by the end of the year, I won’t look quite so done for at the end of a workout.

Home
As I mentioned at the top, even though I’ve lived in my apartment for over a year, it’s still a work in progress. My big goals for this year is to actually finish doing a full KonMari of my house. If you haven’t heard of KonMari, then please go to Netflix and watch Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. I’ve collected a lot of random things over the years, and I really don’t need to keep the museum of Andrea in boxes ‘just in case’. Either it sparks joy or it goes.

I also need to finish my gallery wall, as well as put up the rest of my art. I also feel like some of the rooms aren’t quite ‘set up’. I’ve lived in such small places for so many years that I just don’t know what to do with all my space. Yes, I’m aware this is a rare luxury, but it’s still a bit of an issue.

Hobbies
One of the big things I want to ‘finish’ this year, is my yarn stash. I’ve been knitting for so long, and have collected so much yarn over the years. Buying new stuff for new projects, but having so much leftover when I’m done.
I’ve already started by asking my friends on Facebook what I can make for them (since I work faster when I’m making something for someone) and only using stash yarn for the projects. Once I make a good dent in the stash, I’d like to finally make a sweater or two for myself this year.

I’d also like to branch out to sewing and try to sew myself a piece of clothing, maybe a skirt or dress.

I have a beautiful ukulele that I’ve also never quite around to learning out to play. This year I’m going to finally learn to play it, and several songs. I love to sing, so I may as well learn to accompany myself.

Finally, when I was in elementary school I learned to juggle. That talent cost me cast as the lead in a play when I was young. Since then I’ve kind of just let it die. When mum and I were in England this past summer, we went to Haddon Hall and they had a fool’s hat and some juggling balls in the main hall, and I couldn’t help myself, I put on the hat, and picked up the balls and juggled a little. It’s an odd hobby, but one I want to get better at.

So year, that’s it for me 2019. Finish more things that I’ve already started, and start things that I want to make sure I finish. #FinishWhatIStart

Creative Ink Festival 2018

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Kevin Hearne laughed when he read my words.

He laughed right out loud at something I wrote. I was sitting nervously next to him when it happened, quietly waiting as he read through my pages for our blue pencil session. I felt the tension ease out of me with that chuckle. When we then went over the pages, he was exceptionally kind and praised my 'voice.' As someone who struggles greatly with calling themselves a 'writer,' this short 15-minute interaction with helped boost my confidence in my writing by leaps and bounds. 

This is the type of experience you get when you attend the Creative Ink Festival. An encouraging and positive feeling flows through the whole event. Whether it's in a session like the one I did, in one of the many panels or presentations, or in just stopping someone to chat in the hall. Everyone is there to learn and help and encourage. It sure is something in a world like ours that can, on occasion, be terrible, to find an event that has such a warm, inviting atmosphere.

On top of blue pencil sessions, there were also kaffeeklatches, red pencil sessions, pitch sessions, panels and presentations galore, plus a Master Class with the other guest of honour, C.C. Humphreys

I'm someone who's trying to become a better and more confident fiction writer, so I wanted to make the most of my festival this year. So, on top of my session with Kevin Hearne, and many many panels, I also attended the Master Class with the other guest of honour C.C. Humphreys on the opening day of the festival. On top of being an excellent speaker, Humphreys had terrific words of wisdom for the writers in the room (who were both newbies and pros alike): "Writing is writing." 

Now, for many of you, writers or not, this may seem like the most obvious thing in the world. However, when you're like me and struggle to call yourself a writer because you can never seem to get the right words out, (or blog very sporadically), it was a lovely reminder that any words that get put down on the page (or screen) are worth it. Throughout the weekend this was reinforced over and over again. During the Masterclass with Humphreys it was emphasized that getting the words out, no matter what was always the end goal, they don't have to be pretty or perfect. During his opening speech, Kevin Hearne spoke about his first manuscript that sits in a bottom drawer and will never see the light of day, but it helped him know that he could finish writing a book. 

A 'slogan' popped up over the course of the weekend, coined by someone, but I'm not sure who, "no word is wasted," it came up in several panels.  Humphrey's "writing is writing" means the same thing, get those dang words out already! 

I was also fortunate enough to be on a panel on podcasting, the one thing that I feel very confident talking about because I know how to do it. Why is that? I've had practice. An episode almost every week for just over three years worth of practice. I've 'gotten the words out' so to speak, (pun sort of intended) and as such feel like I know what I'm talking about enough to pass on advice to a curious audience (an audience that included C.C. Humphreys!). That was a light bulb moment for me for sure. Three years ago I had no idea how to podcast, but I've learned by doing, and now have a pretty successful, super-niche little podcast. If I can transfer that over to writing - well,  who knows really, but I bet I can finally finish writing a book. 

The Creative Ink Festival will be happening again next year. I'll be there, and if you're looking for a low-key but super positive (and affordable!) and creatively energizing event to attend, you should be too. 

Perfectly Inconsistent

So, two weeks ago, I started working on this blog post...and then never finished it. Which pretty much sums up what I was trying to get across. 

If there's anything I'm good at, it's starting things and not finishing them. I 100% get this trait from my father. I loved him dearly, but he was amazing at starting things and less-than amazing at finishing those things. I'm the same way. 

I start tons of things; this blog, several novels, workout programs, nutrition programs, etc, etc. You get the point. The thing all of those have in common is that I've consistently not followed through completely on any of them.

In all honesty, I just took an hour out of writing this to try and figure out how I want to redesign this whole site...see what I mean. 

I'd love to say something like, 'I'm going to post something every week!' I mean, I have a pretty busy life, and there's bound to be something worth writing about once every seven days. I'm also working on getting into better shape, so I could tell you about that. I'm trying to write more, so I could easily try and write something short to a prompt and post it. I consume a hell of a lot of pop culture content, and could easily jot a few reasons why X was good or bad. But I think we all know that even with all of those opportunities, me promising once a week is overly ambitious. 

Which disappoints me, 'cause there are a lot of things I'd love to accomplish, and to do those things I just need to be consistent. So, perhaps for now, I'm going to say, I'll try and keep you up to date on my efforts to be more consistent in my efforts to get things done. 

Now. How am I going to re-design this site?

The Great Race to Watch the Oscar Nominated Films

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Wowzers. I haven't written anything since I stated my goals back on January 3rd...That doesn't bode well! However, in my defence, I've been pretty busy. I've been watching Oscar-nominated movies (and the Olympics for two weeks in February). 

It seems like no matter my intention almost every blog that I've ever started ends up being about movies (and the first two I started were for that specific reason). The reason for that is very easy to explain - I love movies, a lot. I watch as many as I can, sometimes with a critical eye, sometimes without. And every year, I do my damnedest to see them all, and more often than not, I fail miserably. In checking my spreadsheet from last year (everyone has Awards spreadsheets right? That's super normal...) I only managed to watch 16 out of the 62 nominated films. SIXTEEN! That's just shy of a quarter of the nominated films. This year I was DETERMINED to succeed where I'd failed so miserably last year. I'm happy to report that with just over 48 hours until the ceremony starts I only have four movies left to watch. 

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How did I do this? Well, it started in December, when I had the most chill of Christmas holidays, staying in the Lower Mainland instead of heading up to Prince George to visit my family. I watched 12 movies, all of which save one are now nominated for a little gold man on Sunday, so that really helped. However, when we were still 40 days out from the ceremony I had 40 movies I still had to watch, so I went into movie-watching overdrive, trying track down every nominated film I possibly could. The four I now have left are two foreign language films and two 'mainstream' movies that have one acting nomination each. 

Despite only getting around to seeing 16 of the nominated films last year, I think this year's crop of nominees are more 'watchable'. I don't know if it's a sign that the Academy is finally getting with the times and nominating less snooty films, or that those films are becoming more 'mainstream', or what, but for the most part, my movie watching over the last 2 months has been a pleasure. Sure, there have been a few films that were a bit more intense than the fare I'd usually choose to watch, but overall, it's been a joy to really immerse myself in the nominees this year. Mostly, it reminds me of how much I enjoy film, be they big or small, epics or love stories, I love getting lost in the dark for a few hours, surrounded by strangers who are doing the same. 

There are a few categories where things seemed to be locked down (best director and actress) but apart from that I think this may be one of the tightest Oscar races in recent memory, all of the films are that good. My favourites of the nominated films are, in no particular order, The Shape of WaterCall Me By Your Name, Get Out, Faces Places, and Lady Bird. 

Check out the nominees here, and follow me on Twitter @awestaway on Sunday to see how I do with my picks! 

Here's to 2018!

Yes, I know, January 3rd is a little late to declare my intentions for 2018, but as always I say, better late than never! (Well, maybe I don't always say that, but I should)

I never really got around to setting out any goals for 2017, I mean, I'm sure I had some, but I didn't write them down, I didn't put them out there into the wide world to help keep me accountable. While 2017 was a pretty good year for me personally, I have a lot of things I'd like to do better in 2018, and I may as well start with making sure I have a record of those things so I can come back and check them next year to see how successful (or not) I have been. And since I have a record of being pretty terrible at this, I'm making these as broad as possible, you know, to help with succeeding (no one should set themselves up for failure!).

1. Write more

I always say I'm going to, I talk about the things I want to write with friends, I think about them. And that's it. Which, in all honesty, is a really terrible way to get anything written. Not actually writing it down. So this year I'm going to blog more, journal more, outline and re-write my novel, try my hand at short stories. More than anything I'm hoping to jumpstart a daily writing habit in any way possible. 

2. Make my house a home

In the autumn of 2017, I was lucky enough to buy my first home. While all my things are here, and I've purchased some important new pieces of furniture, it's still a place I live rather than my home. I have walls that still need to be painted, art that needs to be hung, a library that needs to be culled and organized, and a lot of stuff that still needs to have a home found for it. I think it might be time for yet another attempt at KonMari or maybe the Swedish Death Clean because even though I have more space than ever, I still feel that I have too much stuff. 

3. Take better care of myself

Even though I'm pretty healthy, and manage to care of myself pretty well, there are a lot of ways in which I could be doing this better. For a while there, my nutrition was pretty great (mostly 'cause I had a trainer helping me) and I was going to the gym regularly. And then, like many people, life got away from me, and the first things to suffer were eating well and working out. I'm going to re-embrace the habits my trainer had mostly instilled in me, and try and find the time (a three-hour daily commute makes this hard) to head to the gym again. One extra thing in here, I don't have a proper skincare regime, and I think I'd like one. I feel like it's something I probably should have locked down earlier in life, and just never did.

Only three things. That seems do-able. I mean, yes, there are more things rolled into each of those things, but let's pretend it's only three...

21 Damn Early Days

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Wake up at 4:30 am? For 21 days? Voluntarily?!

Does this sound like the type of thing that a self-avowed night owl like myself would do? Probably not, yet I did it nonetheless!

I received an email from a really neat group here in Vancouver, Chasing Sunrise, that’s best known for getting up pre-dawn to hike up a mountain and witness the sun come up from the summit. However, they ALSO have Damn Early Days (DED), which doesn’t require you to leave your house (unless you choose to) but you still need to get up at an ungodly hour. For 21 days. (non-consecutive, DED is weekdays only).

When I got the first email about DED, I was intrigued. Getting up in the mornings isn’t my forte, but then again, with my new extended commute and NaNoWriMo on the horizon, I thought it might be an interesting challenge. Get up extra early and be productive before leaving for work. After only a few weeks in my new place, I already knew that getting home at 6:30ish, and then making and eating dinner, certainly didn’t make for a terribly productive evening for me, sure a little TV and crafting, but that was about it. So, I decided to give it a go.

Guys. Getting up at 4:30 am is HARD.

I know that I need between 6 and 7hours of sleep, so reversing that and realizing I needed to be in bed and falling asleep for 9:30 pm AT THE LATEST was a whole new experience, that is very early for me. Prior to DED, I thought going to bed at 10 pm was early. I’d also read an article that said that setting an alarm for an odd time would help you get up, so I set that alarm for 4:32 am. On top of that, I knew the standard iPhone ringtones just weren’t going to cut it for this experiment, so I made the alarm ‘YOLO’ by The Lonely Island. Let me tell you, when those first two beats rang out, I was AWAKE.

Because I was working on my NaNo novel my early morning productivity was working on that. I’d get out of bed, make a cup of tea and then sit down to write. The first two weeks of DED were pretty good. I was fairly successful most days and was able to bang out 1,000+ words a day. The other thing I learned during DED is that I write WAY better with an outline. I’ve tried NaNo yearly and have never been a ‘winner’, including this year. When I got to the end of what I’d outlined, my writing productivity dried up.

Despite my writing faltering, I was still getting up early. Instead of staring at a blank page trying to force out words, I did some other chores: re-organizing my library, cleaning my kitchen, folding laundry, reading. I was still being productive, but not in the way I’d hoped.

After DED ended I went back to a more ‘regular’ waking schedule, mainly because I got sick and needed more sleep. It wasn’t just my brain, but my body that needed a bit of a break. However, DED really made me realize that I (and probably a lot of you as well) don’t make the most of my waking hours. All the time wasted getting stuck in YouTube loops (as entertaining as they may be), scrolling through social media, etc isn’t helping me do the kind of things I want to do with my life. With the new year fast approaching and the inevitable desire to map out what I want my 2018 to look like, I think it may be time to look back into early morning productivity.

But not at 4:30 am. That’s ridiculous. 5:30, that seems much saner to me now. Perspective folks, it comes from strange places sometimes.

Anyone else out there try DED? Or generally get up at ungodly hours just to get things done?

 

War for the Planet of the Apes: A Review

If you're looking for a way to escape the haze and the heat this weekend, I have a few tips:

  • Tip #1 DO NOT go see Valerian. It's a trap. While it is visually lovely, and has some nice moments, overall it's a bit of a mess, with a completely unbelievable relationship and some awful dialogue thrown in on the side. (If you really want some Luc Besson in your life, stay at home and watch The Fifth Element instead),
  • Tip #2 DO NOT see The Emoji Movie. I haven't seen this one, but if this tweet is anything to go by, I'm definitely better off. If your kids try to do the same, maybe convince them to stay home and watch Moana and Zootopia on Netflix instead.
  • Tip #3 definitely go see War for the Planet of the Apes, it's a completely satisfying ending to the new Apes trilogy. (and manages to neatly tie itself to the 1968 original)

If you haven't seen Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) or Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) I would highly recommend that you see them, not just because you'll understand more of what's going on in War for the Planet of the Apes, but also because they're genuinely good films. I was a little reticent when Rise came out in 2011, I still had the bad taste of the 2001 Tim Burton/Mark Wahlberg version in my mouth, so much so that I didn't see it in theatres. After having several friends (with respectable movie taste) mentioned how good it was, I watched it when it came out on DVD (remember DVDs?) and was pleasantly surprised.

One of the best things that these new films has done is shift the focus from the humans to the apes. It lets the films hold up a mirror to human society, and what it shows isn't reflection we should ever be proud of. The apes, trying to build a peaceful society away from the humans, continue to be hunted and feared by the human population. After a devastating attack on their home, Caesar (the absolutely amazing Andy Serkis, who should win all the awards for his motion capture work) sends the apes off to find a new home, while he heads off to launch a one-ape assault on the Colonel (Woody Harrelson) and the soldiers who killed so many of his people. While there is actual conflict in the film, a lot of the 'war' is internal, as Caesar's animal and rational sides battle for dominance. Let me reiterate here how amazing Andy Serkis is as Caesar here. This is a completely CGI character, but the performance that Serkis gives through all that technology is nuanced and oftentimes heartbreaking. This is a character who came to prominence through conflict, and wanted nothing more than to live out the rest of his life in peace with his family - instead he's pulled into conflict all over again. All of that comes across perfectly in the performance, a better performance than you get in a LOT of films these days.

Do yourself a favour and see War for the Planet of the Apes, and then if you really feel like you 'have to' (you don't) go ahead and re-watch (or watch for the first time) Planet of the Apes starring Charlton Heston from 1968 and see just how far science fiction films have come from the late 1960s. It's a long way folks, a long LONG way.

Me & The Boy Who Lived

I'd kind of been struggling as to what to post as my first post on my new site. Should it be a statement of intention? Maybe, but every time I do that, I feel like I fail to live up to that statement. Then I was reminded ('cause, the Internet) that it was the 20th Anniversary of the first publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (that's right, PHILOSOPHER, not Sorcerer, silly Americans), and figured that it was the perfect thing to reflect on, 'cause I have a kind of odd but (hopefully) charming story about becoming a Harry Potter fan. 

When I first heard about Harry Potter, it was from my friend Reen. We were 15 and having a sleepover at my house. Now, it's important to note that, at the time, I considered her love of Jane Austen books to be odd (how foolish young Andrea was) and therefore believed her taste in books to be slightly questionable.

She began to tell me about this book that she was reading, about this kid and the wizard school he goes to. The thing I remember most vividly was her trying to explain Quidditch to me. I don't know why she thought that sport would be the way to convince me to read these books, but I remember becoming more and more skeptical as words like 'quaffle,' 'snitch' and 'bludger' escaped her mouth. Sure, wizards who play sports on brooms, right Reen... *cue fifteen-year-old eyeroll*. I thought it all sounded so dumb and therefore resolutely declared I would never read 'those wizard books'.

Cut to a year later. My aunt and my two cousins from Victoria were visiting us up in the frozen north for Spring Break. My cousins are 10 and 12 years younger than me, and they were reading Harry Potter. I remembered the books from when Reen tried to convince me, and the fact that these little kids were reading them (or possibly having it read to them) was clear proof that these were dumb kids books I don't know why they brought all three of the books that were published with them, but they did. 

Thank god they did.

A few days into their stay, out of the kind of curiousity that you can't help when you see other people so excited about something, I picked up the first book and read the inside flap. And then the first chapter. J.K. Rowling had hooked me, like so many others, with her story of the neglected boy from under the stairs who discovered he was part of a great big invisible world. Before they went back to Victoria I'd finished not only Philosopher's Stone, but Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban as well.

By the summer that The Order of the Phoenix was released I was completely hooked. I was working at a summer camp in the Shuswap. I had my pre-ordered copy sent to the office. I lived in fear that it wouldn't arrive on the day it was supposed to, seeing as we were in a tiny little town in the middle of BC. Thankfully my copy DID arrive in time, 'cause my friend Shannon bought a copy and we were (for reasons I can't rightfully explain) going to have a 'race' and see who could finish first. We both were working long days in the smokin' hot heat of a Shuswap summer, but would race back to our little common room and read whenever we had a chance. I honestly can't remember who 'won', but having someone reading that book at the same time was great for the 'can you believe that?' and 'how do you think this?' kind of questions that would inevitably come up.

I was lucky enough to work at a Coles bookstore when I was in university and got to work the midnight launch for The Half-Blood Prince. We all dressed up, I knit house scarves for the whole staff, we had owls from a local bird sanctuary, crafts, games, the whole nine yards. I got my copy of book 6 at midnight like everyone else, but was one of the lucky ones that didn't have to work the next day, which meant I could stay up and read the book when I got home.

And I did.

By the time I got to Snape killing Dumbledore I'd been awake for more hours than I could remember and had consumed a fair amount of coffee. I was sure I'd hallucinated it. That couldn't possibly have happened could it? There was NO way that could have happened. I put the book down. I paced. I went outside into the early morning air and paced a little more, contemplating all the ways I could've misread what I thought I'd just read. Then I came back and sat down and re-read the passage, and then the tears began. I don't cry a lot when I read. But Rowling got me, I was overtired and over-caffeinated, so that may have contributed to it, but she got me nonetheless. 

When Deathly Hallows was released in 2007, I was 23, I was supposedly an adult. I'd graduated from university with my fancy film studies degree, and instead of launching myself into the world, I'd moved back home. Just as I was finishing up my degree, far away from home, my father was diagnosed with cancer and passed away a few months later. That first year was HARD. Anyone who's lost not only a parent, but any loved one, will tell you that all those 'firsts', Father's Day, birthday, Christmas, etc, after you lose them are the worst.

So to say that when I opened up my copy of Deathly Hallows on July 21, 2007 the sting of my his death was still sharp, is a bit of an understatement. The first 'anniversary' of his passing was only days away, and I was looking forward to escaping into the world of Harry Potter one last time. Unsurprisingly, Rowling got me again.

Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.
— -Albus Dumbledore, The Deathly Hallows

This book, and it's themes of death, grief, power and strength hit right to the core of me, 'remedying' me in ways that I don't think I quite understood at the time. Harry fearing and confronting death, and his talk with Dumbledore at King's Cross are things that still resonate with me almost 10 years later. 

It's been a long, wonderful journey from refusing to read those 'dumb wizard books' to eagerly anticipating each release and proudly wearing my Gryffindor colours, and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Thank you J.K. Rowling, and happy anniversary Harry.