Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Game of Thrones Characters

Here is my rankings of all the major (and some minor) characters in Game of Thrones. So long as you've watched season 2 or have read Clash of Kings there won't be any spoilers. 

1. Tyrion Lannister – This probably won’t come as much of a surprise. He’s funny, smart, and plays by his own moral code. I think Martin knew he had a winner when he created this character, and I look forward to seeing where his crazy journey takes him to next.
2. Jaime Lannister – If you only watch the show or haven’t read any books after the second one then you’re probably questioning why I put Jaime at #2. Without spoiling anything let me just say that despite his propensity towards incest, Jaime does have a moral code and is more keenly aware of the hypocrisy inherent to the power structures of Westeros than any other character. He’s a rebel who’s trying to simultaneously fight against and work within the system.
3. Daenerys Targaryen – Despite being a bit whinier in the HBO show, and trying too hard to be the good guy in later books, Daenerys is easily the most interesting woman in the series, but I wish she’d hurry up and get to Westeros already. 
4. Jon Snow – Jon Snow has to make a lot of very difficult decisions despite his young age, and although he may not always make the right call, he does his best to do what’s right which is a hell of a lot more than most others can say.
5. Arya Stark – Although Arya gets progressively angrier as the series goes on, she still retains her fighting spirit and a place as one of my personal favorites.
6. Brienne of Tarth – Stronger and more honourable than the vast majority of knights, Brienne is one of the most compelling women in the series and I hope she manages to find happiness one day.
7. Dolorous Edd Tollett – Everything this character says is genius.
8. Davos Seaworth – I have a thing for noble characters who everybody else treats like dirt, and that pretty much describes Davos in a nutshell.
9. Jorah Mormont – He may at first appear noble and upright, but when you get down to it, Jorah is one of the more morally ambiguous characters which is precisely why I like him.
10. Varys “The Spider” – In the war between Varys and Littlefinger that runs in the background throughout the series, I’ve thrown my lot behind Team Varys because despite his secretive ways I do believe he has the best interests of the realm at heart.
11. Stannis Baratheon – Some may consider Stannis too rigid and unwilling to compromise, but these qualities are what make him so fascinating to me. I’ll admit that he’d probably be a terrible king, but he’s a great character.
12. Tywin Lannister – What he lacks in fatherhood material, Tywin more than makes up for in being perhaps the most cunning man in all Westeros.
13. Ned Stark – Ned is noble to a fault and his death remains as one of the most emotional highpoints of the series.
14. Podrick Payne – I’m not entirely sure why, but I have a real soft spot for Pod. I think it’s because of his quiet dignity and unwavering loyalty.
15. Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully – The fact that they cut him from the show makes me sadder than all of the other changes combined.
16. Walder Frey – Though there are plenty of good reasons not to like this guy, I still find him hilariously entertaining.
17. Tormund Giantsbane – Har! Har! Har!
18. Meera Reed – Bran would be dead a thousand times over if it wasn’t for Meera and assuming both survive the series they’ll probably get together.
19. Robb Stark – Apart from one very stupid decision, Robb is one of the best characters who’s point of view we never see.
20. Bronn – For a sellsword, Bronn is pretty loyal guy and also pretty clever.
21. Osha – She’s probably cooler in the show than the books where she doesn’t play as major a role, but I like her nonetheless.
22. Greatjon Umber – It’s hard not to like this guy.
23. Asha Greyjoy – Easily the smartest and best of the Greyjoys.
24. Arianne Martell – This girl is one to watch.
25. Jeor Mormont – He’s like a more badass version of Santa Claus.
26. Ygritte – You should listen to Ygritte, Jon. She knows more than you.
27. Khal Drogo – One word: boss.
28. Doran Martell – The best part about Doran is that nobody realizes just how scared of him they should be.
29. Barristan Selmy – One of the few knights who actually lives up to the job.
30. Shagga and the Mountain Men – These guys always make me laugh.
31. Grenn/Pyp – These two have a good comedy routine going on.
32. Quorin Halfhand – All around a pretty cool guy.
33. Jaqen H’Gar – For a cold-blooded professional murderer, this guy is alright.
34. Donal Noye – I don’t want to spoil anything, but this guy may just do the most badass thing out of anybody in the series.
35. Val – Wilding women are so much cooler than Wildling men.
36. Gendry – Some people seem to have this fantasy of Gendry and Arya getting together, and although I like him, I don’t really see that happening.
37. Mya Stone – I like Mya and I hope she plays a larger role in later books.
38. Oberyn “The Red Viper” Martell – Best nickname in the series.
39. The Sand Snakes – Each more deadly than the last. The Martells are pretty badass.
40. Olenna “The Queen of Thorns” Redwyne – She definitely has a fitting nickname and is pretty much the grandma who says whatever she feels like because she’s old goddammit!
41. Garlan Tyrell – He may not do much, but Garlan the Gallant lives up to his name and is one of the most decent men in the books.
42. Margery Tyrell – A triple threat of beautiful, charming, and clever.
43. Bran Stark – Despite being crippled, Bran may just become one of the most powerful beings in Westeros if he can ever get over his insecurities.
44. Sandor “The Hound” Clegane – He’s one of the best killers in Westeros and also has more honour than most knights, though he doesn’t like to let people know that.
45. Roose Bolton – Roose is not a very nice man and will do whatever it takes to ensure the most efficient and beneficial outcome even if that means murder. I may not approve of his methods, but can appreciate his desire for some peace and quiet.
46. Theon Greyjoy – I know a lot of people really don’t like Theon, but I can see where he’s coming from and sympathize with his conflicting loyalties.
47. Daenerys’ Entourage – They’re all pretty boss in their own way, but you can’t really say much about them individually.
48. Sansa Stark – She starts off really stupid and annoying, but gets better as the series progresses.
49. Mance Rayder – He’s a clever man to say the least, and that’s something I can appreciate.
50. Maester Luwin – Luwin is the ultimate mentor figure in the series and has one of the most touching death scenes.
51. Yoren – He’s smelly and crass, but he has his own brand of nobility.
52. Maester Aemon – Aemon has one of the coolest backstories out of any character.
53. Rodrick Cassel – A loyal man with boss facial hair.
54. Sam Tarly – He’s smart and has a good heart, but his prissiness does get tiresome at times.
55. Griff – I’m not sure what to make of him yet, but he seems cool.
56. Kevan Lannister – He’s pretty much the Lannister equivalent to Victarion Greyjoy, but earns bonus points for telling off Cersei.
57. Renly Baratheon – His death pretty much comes out of nowhere, and you never really get to know him, but I guess he’s alright.
58. Patchface – He may seem like a mental patient, but it has been suggested that Patchface holds dark secrets. For starters there’s the matter of how he drowned before washing up on shore. Then there are his little rhymes which seem to predict the future. Finally, there’s the fact that Melisandre is scared of him which does not bode well.
59. Shireen Baratheon – She may not seem all that important, but there are hints that due to her grayscale as a baby, she may play a major role down then line.
60. Melisandre – I’m still not entirely sure if I should trust her or not, but either way she’s an enigmatic character.
61. Jojen Reed – Jojen is kinda weird, but I suppose that’s forgivable when you know how/when you’ll die.
62. Benjen Stark – I have theories regarding what happened to Benjen, but shall refrain from voicing them for spoiler reasons.
63. Ilyn Payne – This guy knows a lot of secrets and may know things that even Varys doesn’t, but he ain’t talking anytime soon.
64. The Three-Eyed Crow – Overall, a creepy…thing, but he seems to be looking out for the good guys.
65. Beric Dondarrion/Thoros of Myr – The Brotherhood Without Banners is an interesting organization to say the least, mostly thanks to these two.
66. Vargo Hoat – He may be cruel, but he’s also pretty funny due to his lisp.
67. Tommen Baratheon – A nice boy, but not the ideal for royalty.
68. Wyman Manderly – He may be fat, but it turns out he’s actually pretty smart.
69. Euron “Crows Eye” Greyjoy – I don’t know what his endgame is, but I know it’s not going to be good.
70. Myrcella Baratheon – She hasn’t really done much yet, but shows greater promise than her mother.
71. Qyburn – He’s pretty much the mad scientist of the series.
72. Quaithe – She’s pretty mysterious, but seems to know what she’s talking about.
73. Ramsay BoltonIf you think Joffrey is bad then you haven’t seen anything yet. Ramsay is pretty much an officially sanctioned serial killer, and even his own dad (Roose) finds his cruelties excessive, yet for some reason I like him better.
74. Robert Baratheon – Pretty much a Westerosi fratboy. He may be a great warrior, but he is a less than ideal king and father.
75. Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish – I can’t think of a character that I trust less.
76. Shae – The worst mistake Tyrion ever made.
77. Aeron Greyjoy – All this guy has going for him is a head full of crazy.
78. Cersei Lannister – She may be a horrible person, but reading her chapters are a joy just to watch her fail harder than your mind will allow you to comprehend.
79. Edmure Tully – He means well, but is still pretty foolish.
80. Loras Tyrell – He means well, but is still pretty foolish.
81. Rattleshirt – Beyond looking badass he doesn’t really do much.
82. Gilly – In book 4 she does something very disgusting.
83. Hot Pie – You know you suck when you’re nickname is “Hot Pie”.
84. Victarion Greyjoy – A more boring version of his older brother.
85. Daario Naharis ­­– Quite possibly the worst decision Daenerys ever made
86. Illyrio Mopatis –.The portrait of gluttony and greed.
87. Young Griff – I don’t think this guy is who he thinks he is.
88. Hizdhar zo Loraq – Does anybody trust this guy?
89. Dontos Hollard – A cowardly, drunken fool who borders on pedophilia.
90. Boros Blount – A fat, useless turd.
91. The Kettleblacks – It turns out being a lackey runs in the family.
92. Xaro Xhoan Daxos – This guy is a pompous phony.
93. Mace Tyrell – He’s pretty much just a big windbag.
94. Areo Hotah – Hello, I have no personality and part of my job is not to think. Would like to read about my view on the world?
95. Quentyn Martell – He comes from my favorite family in Westeros yet has the lamest, most disappointing story.
96. Arys Oakheart – I have no idea why Martin thought this guy deserved his own chapter.
97. Randyll Tarly - One of the top three contenders for Worst Father in Westeros.
98. Lancel Lannister – Lancel can’t do anything right.
99. Alliser Thorne – Little more than a big, mean jerk.
100. Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane – Dumb muscle 1
101. Amory Lorch – Dumb muscle 2
102. The Tickler/Weese/Dunsen/Polliver – The dumb muscles of the dumb muscles.
103. Grandmaester Pycelle – The toadiest toady of them all.
104. Janos Slynt – It’s hard to see the good side of a man who murders babies without a second thought.
105. Balon Greyjoy – Part of the reason why I dislike Balon is because he’s a terrible father who has trapped his sonly son in a Catch-22. The main reason, however, is because of his completely idiotic plan to invade the North. It’s a bad idea in so many ways, but I won’t get into it here.
106. Viserys Targaryen – A right royal prick like Joffrey, but without a crown to back it up.
107. Lysa/Robert Arryn – These two are really, really, really creepy.
108. Craster – It’s hard to sympathize with a man who has sex with all his daughters.
109. Joffrey Baratheon – A right royal prick.
110. Catelyn Stark – The story of Catelyn’s life is an endless parade of bad decisions. She has a tendency to trust the wrong people (Littlefinger) while vehemently disliking goodhearted people (Jon and Tyrion). She does a lot of silly things which cost a lot of people very dearly, and she only gets bitchier/more psycho as the series progresses.
Honourable Mention: Hodor – Hodor!

Bonus points to whoever can tell me what is most wrong with this list.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Lumberjack Show

Yesterday was Canada Day, and in celebration a group of us headed to Vancouver in search of fun and entertaining events to instill in us a sense of patriotism. After a few hours of wandering around finding nothing but activities and shows aimed at 7-year-olds and promotions for local businesses, we eventually came across a lumberjack show outside of Canada Place. Granted, the show also appears to have been directed at 7-year-olds, this does not excuse it from how truly awful it was. I can safely say that I have never seen a worse live performance in all my life and I once saw a high school production of Treasure Island where one of the actors was reading directly off of a script that he was holding the entire time. Much like that play, the lumberjack show was embarrassing and cringe-inducing for everyone involved with the added negative of being fundamentally retarded.

The show begins with the host attempting to pump up the crowd which is mostly comprised of Canadians so it fails dismally. Next he introduces four men in overalls and plaid shirts all of which have their arms ripped off. Two of them have beards and are a bit flabby while the other two are more strapping and may have formerly been male strippers. Within five minutes it becomes apparent that none of the men on stage can act, and that spending all that time in the forest has robbed all of them of any sense of comedy. To be fair to the lumberjacks, they were pretty good at handling a saw, throwing axes, climbing poles, and other such feats, but for every one minute of feats of strength and lumberjacking skill there are at least ten minutes of them making horrible non-jokes and awkward silence from the audience. Their humour came in two forms: misinterpreting what the host was saying, and attempting to cheat. An example of the first type would involve the host saying something like “we have a red team and a green team so let’s split the audience in half,” and then one of the lumberjacks would charge forward with a chainsaw. The host would ask him what he was doing and he’d reply “you said to split the audience in half!” The second type of “joke” would typically involve the red team trying to get a head start on one of the challenges while the host wasn’t looking (like sawing part way through a log before the timer starts) and then acting like nothing had happened. Essentially, they repeated these two jokes over and over again at least once each between each challenge in the vain hope that it might eventually become funny. I’m assuming they were operating under the logic that if nobody laughs the first time it must be because they didn’t get it, so you have to say it again every five minutes until they do. If this is the case then I’d like to inform them that we did in fact get it, but their jokes just suck. All they succeed in doing is making young children cry and ask their parents where all the joy in the world went.

I think the highlight (or anti-highlight if you will) of the show came when they invited two young girls from the audience up on stage to participate. One was a local, but the other was from Mexico. Upon announcing this, a sense of shame rippled through all Canadians in the audience at the knowledge that somebody from outside the country was not only a witness, but actually a part of this terrible display. A few more awful jokes were made, the girls sawed through a log with help from two of the lumberjacks, and the Mexican girl won and was given a souvenir mini wooden chair as a prize. This could have been the end of it, but the host had other, creepier plans in mind. The 50-year-old host pulled the runner-up aside and told that as a consolation prize she would get him. He then proceeded to put his arm around her shoulder and make comments such as “I wish you were older,” and “I like a woman who does what she’s told,” while the audience laughed nervously. I’m pretty sure the girl would have run screaming if he wasn’t holding her hand so tight. This was the only time they attempted a joke that wasn’t a repetition of the two mentioned above, and I never thought I’d say this, but I wish they hadn’t tried branching out.

After they finally let her flee with another miniature chair, I really just wanted to leave, but we stuck around to see the log rolling competition which we thought would be the last part of the show. It turns out we were wrong and that they had devised even more ways to rob the world of all mirth and goodwill. We left anyways because if we stayed any longer I’m pretty sure we would have lost all sense of national pride and identity. As we were walking away a friend who is almost always in a good mood turned to me with a sorrowful look and said, “I tried so hard to enjoy that. So hard. But I just couldn’t.” I cannot think of more fitting words to end this post.