Category: Articles

TuacaCon 2011 \\“ Nicole Gugliucci

Nicole Gugliucci pictureNicole Gugliucci is a graduate student at the University of Virginia, working also at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. She has wanted to be an astronomer since seeing \\Contact\\ in theatres as a kid, and tries to find ways to bring the wonders of astronomy to everyone.

She engages in hands-on outreach with elementary school children through a program called \\Dark Skies, Bright Kids,\\ has taught a class at UVa called \\Life Beyond Earth,\\ and blogs for Discovery Space News.

Inspired also by Carl Sagan\\™s \\Demon-Haunted World,\\ Nicole considers herself a critical thinking advocate, getting involved in local skeptics groups and blogging at NoisyAstronomer.com and SheThought.com.

Nicole will be featured in a video interview during TuacaCon.

Delays…

With Balticon this past weekend (and some personal stuff), you might have noticed some delays with content on the site. My apologies.

Episode 6 of Beyond The Wall will be released as soon as I can finish it (hopefully tonight). Episode 6 of the “Eye of Newb” will definitely be released today. Episode 7 of Beyond The Wall will be released before the end of the weekend, along with a special “Hodor” episode of Beyond The Wall… it may be 100 degrees in North Carolina today, but rest assured… Winter is still Coming.

Feature – The Eye of Newb – HBO’s GoT Eps. 2-3

Editor’s Note: This will be a weekly report posted after each episode of Game of Thrones (except that this is obviously two weeks’ worth of fun). “The Eye of Newb” contains spoilers from the episode, obviously, but from the perspective of someone that has not read the books. Enjoy!

The Eye of Newb: Game of Thrones (HBO) Double Live Bonus Album!
Ep. 2 and 3

By: Matt Lynch

First and foremost, Good People, and my dear Landlord, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee and Thyself, respectively. The Newb knows his tardiness, and its accompanying guilt weighs upon him like a metaphorical millstone.

I was unavoidably called away on family business this past week. While the endeavor was hardly an enjoyable one, rife with the detritus of a loved one passed, it has left me with a wealth of new knowledge. My counsels to all of you, garnered through hard experience, are as follows:

  • Don\\™t drive through West Virginia in the springtime. It is a bug-pocalypse, Friends. And while the pangs of regret pass after the 37th butterfly ends its existence pulped on your windshield, the cleanup remains an epic chore.
  • Wisconsin staples, while yummy as all get out, do not reside in the healthy zone of any nutritional shape you choose, least of all a food pyramid.
  • Deciding which memory and item that still doesn\\™t truly feel as if it belongs to you will make the return trip in your vehicle, and which will stay in its attic, basement or closet of origin is not\\¦ how you say\\¦ fun. Not fun at all.

But, lessons aside, atone I must! And so, I offer a special Double Live release, featuring reviews of episodes 2 and 3, complete with The Newb\\™s very own stream-of-consciousness viewer commentary. Enter, if you dare\\¦

Epsiode 2: The King\\™s Road

\\I wish to stand on the wall and piss off the edge of the world.\\ – Tyrion Lannister

First off, may I say that I like The Imp immensely? Any man, regardless of stature, who uses dogs as pillows and bitch-slaps uppity royal brats, is a fella I\\™d hang with for a while. His taste for blackened bacon does concern me. Porkbelly breakfast products should be a harmonious mixture of crispy and chewy when properly cooked. Always. It\\™s a simple universal truth. Nonetheless, talk about your fascinating, rakish characters. I may be in for the long haul just to see where his story arc leads

Secondly, Cersei Lannister is a cold, manipulative, seemingly heartless bitch, and her end must involve some small and insatiable creatures bursting forth from her smooth and milky stomach, still chewing viscera as she expires. In short, while her, er, smaller brother is endearing an appealing, Cersei must go. Again, I\\™m in till the end if I can only see her meet a brutal, humiliating and exceedingly painful finale.

Oh, and one key cliffhanger resolved. Bran is still with us, albeit pale and largely motionless.
Jon Snow. Zzzzzzz\\¦ what? Oh, sorry. This storyline is just dull. Dull in that special brooding and sulky way that thankfully only the English have mastered. Going to the Wall, mumble, mumble. Sword, not a toy, hulk, sulk, mumble, pointy end. Blech. Just when I\\™m invested in these other characters, this plotline has to shuffle up from its stodgy but delightfully-appointed crypt and glaze my eyes over. While the possibilities embodied in your coming of age story are immense indeed, Mr. Snow, for now I dub thee Bubba Ho-Tep, the venerable zombie thread of this tangled tale.

The war stories and banter between Robert and Eddard as they wander the Kings Road, thankfully, are delightful. Perhaps it betrays my Y chromosome, but the conversation at table leaves me very curious to see Betsy the wench, and her lovingly described tits. The only drawback to the entire scene is one more utterance of the dirge-like drumbeat that something\\™s comin\\™. If it ain\\™t winter, it\\™s war, or the long dark winter, or battle, or winter or war, or possibly a really lovely autumn, or\\¦ oh, never mind. Could we get back to the blonde sadist and his poor, tortured sister amid the horde, or possibly the Imp? Please?

Aha, as if on cue\\¦ from behind? Again?! I mean, I\\™m not here to judge anyone\\™s preferred sexual position, but the repeated consummation of this Dothraki marriage has about as much romance as a below-average prison rape. The cutaway to the dragon eggs piques some interest, but otherwise that whole scene was completely unnecessary.

Woo-hoo! His Impness returns! And manages to make even Bubba Ho-Tep interesting for three solid minutes! Plus, he provides needed insight into his makeup. Brains before steel, and beholden only to his house. Not, interestingly, to his family, but to his house alone. Therein lies not only piqued interest but true hope for greatness.

Yikes. Catelyn Stark is a devoted and selfless mother, and the irony lies thick in her detesting the wolves, only to have one finish the protection she began. The \\loyal dog\\ tie-in from scene one is also nice, given the identity of Bran\\™s failed assassin.

Again, a largely unnecessary scene involving poor, sweet Daenerys in various flavors of disrobed and pampered. You\\™d think that HBO was just pimping her for the sex appeal or something. Was that out loud? Sorry. I am hopeful that with the former concubine\\™s promised counsel she\\™ll spend less time in \\˜downward dog\\™ in coming episodes.

Okay, finally some members of the House of Stark suspect what we already know, and methinks that distinctive dagger will eventually give someone away. Yay! A solid cliffhanger arises, perhaps two, as who knows if Catelyn will reach Eddard to tell him of her theories?

Erm, in truth I\\™m slightly uncomfortable watching the concubine\\™s \\lessons in love\\ while in the same room with my lovely wife. That\\™s not to say I\\™m not enjoying the lessons, mind, but I thought girl-on-girl was more the trade of Cinemax than HBO. The outcome, however, is priceless. Yes, Good People, the cowgirl position soothes the wild beast and brings the warlike horde into line. How we laughed!

Are all the Lannisters but Tyrion merely sadists separated only by gradients of spine? Seems so, and I revise my prior opinion on Cersei\\™s end \\“ it should involve a wolf. A big, nasty, ravenous, utterly unforgiving lupine.

Well, good morning, Bran! I suppose our next little twist will involve some sort of amnesia caused by head trauma. Doesn\\™t matter. I\\™m still in for the next show, and remain hopeful that Jon Snow isn\\™t. Oh, and that there are several more violent deaths.

 

 

Episode 3: Lord Snow

\\Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah\\¦ you walk.\\ \\“ Jhogo

Alright, so we\\™ve learned that Eddard is a well-rounded no-nonsense man. Simple and direct, even when it comes to wardrobe choices for a big meeting. Further, we now know that the advisors have more pull than King Robert, except when he proceeds irrationally to squander a fortune on bread and circuses. I mean, six million is a big number even for the modern age, much less one lost in the mists of time and legend such as Westeros. And to owe half that sum to as twisted a crew as the Lannisters? Yeek.

Whoa, by the way. What the hell is Tommy Carcetti doing at the Renaissance Faire?! If you don\\™t get the reference, go watch The Wire. If you do get the reference, go watch The Wire again. Best damn drama series on television. Ever. Yes, I\\™m comfortable living in the past. The upholstery\\™s nice and the chairs are comfy. Sorry, what was I saying? Despite my moment of weakness and reverie, Petyr Baelish, much like The Imp, is the kind of character I could enjoy watching operate.

Ah, Cersei and Joffrey. This is sure to turn my stomach. First and foremost, however, how come my mother never said it would be okay for me to sleep with painted whores, if that\\™s what I wanted? Oh, right… scruples. Apparently, as proven in prior episodes, Cersei Lannister is still bereft of those pesky scruple things. And Joffrey is a whiny little puke with more raw aggression than sense. Another name on the painful death list.

Kudos to Mr. Martin and the writers, says I, as the combined efforts of the Imp and the new setting of the Wall and the Watch have even breathed life into Bubba Ho-Tep/Jon Snow. I now care a bit about him, and see a possible noble path to a leader\\™s course for him. A path to redemption and greatness, lain amongst the rabble, that holds the Northlands against the unseen horrors beyond the Wall. More points scored and debts owed to Tyrion as well. Love that Imp.

The harsh contrast between the intimate and real love clearly felt by Ned and Catelyn Stark (who has reached her husband, by way of Lord Baelish, in safety and discovered that The Imp, of all people, is the likely owner of the offending dagger \\“ sweet!), and the ambitious, incestuous horror show that is Cersei and Jaime Lannister is enjoyable, as well. Hopefully this chiaroscuro will continue in future airings. It demands no eyeball turn away, especially mine.

Robert Baratheon is a really lousy king, in case no one has noticed, and I am now convinced that the wine-bearer he scorns today may well cause his downfall soon. The conversation about first kills presents some vital new information, as well. Baratheon was obviously a great warrior in his day, which will likely make his imminent downfall in combat that much more shocking\\¦I\\™m guessing. And what of the mad king\\™s parting words: \\Burn them all!\\ Curious. There\\™s some beautiful backstory hiding there, just beyond the empty wine jar.

Oh, finally! A scene involving sweet Dany that doesn\\™t involve either nudity or forceful entry. It appears she is becoming more confident in her queenly authority since the Cowgirl Incident. Good for her. Okay, momentary side note. Am I the only one who sees Viserys Targaryen in a field of Dothraki grass and immediately thinks of Men Without Hats? I hope not, for that means that all of you, Good People, are too young to get the joke. I know I\\™m not the only one immensely gratified by his slow strangulation and emasculation, forced to walk amongst a tribe of horsemen. Beautiful. More please!

BenJen Stark is one serious dude, People. Like, thousand-yard stare serious. As much as I love The Imp, seeing BenJen take him to task over disdain shown the Night\\™s Watch and his sheltered life warmed my innards a bit. Sometimes it\\™s gratifying to see a rake brought back in line by serious people, but the snarky comments upon the serious person\\™s exit offer double the pleasure.

Ooh\\¦ Dany\\™s got herself a bun in the oven. This changes things markedly, for all the Targaryens, for Drogo and Dany, and for the future course of this storyline. Plus, it appears that downward dog is actually effective for insemination. Who knew? I\\™m in for the ride on this plotline now, as well. Damn you, George R. R. Martin! You\\™ll make me a fantasy geek yet, you clever, ink-stained bastard.

Oh, jeebus! Another darkened room and another old man muttering about winter\\™s infernal approach. Just when I thought I was in, my annoyance pulls me back out. Enough with the grumbling over seasonal change already!

This episode leaves me with greater esteem held for The Imp, his fulfilled desire to piss off the edge of the world and his wise counsel regarding the best starting financial position for the crippled. As well, I am truly intrigued by the new swordswoman that Arya Stark is becoming. This development bodes well for both vengeance and death in the future. Thus… curse The Landlord\\¦I\\™m still in!

Cheers, Good People, and many thanks for both patience and forgiveness.

BTW Article – Game of Thrones – How to be a Fangirl/boy

Hi, Nuchtchas here. On the Beyond The Wall podcast I claimed to be the resident Fangirl, so I thought I would help out other aspiring fangirls and fanboys.  How do you become as obsessed as me? Simple, read each of the books a few times, listen to all the podcasts, even the podfaded ones, talk incessantly about the series with anyone who will listen to you for at least six years, scour the net for every bit of information you can find and start naming your pets after your favorite GoT characters.

Is that too much? Probably too much to do before next week’s episode, so let’s start small.

TWITTER

On Twitter you can follow @GameOfThrones the official HBO twitter account for the show. They do a great job of promoting the show, of course, and will keep you informed about cool items such as the food trucks, iron throne sightings and rickshaws, fan art (and more!).

Next there is @Westerosorg, run by the same people that run the site mentioned above and sanctioned by George R. R. Martin himself.  They are going to be good about not giving spoilers but will also help with fun facts, links and information.  As a matter of fact as I was getting ready to watch the premiere I tweeted a question about the swords used in the show to them and they answered me right back.  That was pretty awesome, I’m sure they get many tweets a day.

VIEWERS GUIDE (no spoilers)

GUIDE Here you just have the map and the basic houses with the characters you will see in the series.  It’s good for those of you just getting started.

GRRM’s “Not a Blog” and Author website

GRRM stands for George R.R. Martin. It’s how we fans refer to him, mostly because of his “Not a Blog” where he writes about football, the series, writing and whatever else suits his fancy. He vowed over a year ago that his Not a Blog would be spoiler free for the new fans and he expects his fans to respect this wish and keep the comments free of spoilers.  He even has his assistant Ty check for those.

He also has his main website HERE. Yes, it looks like it was coded in the 90’s and for a very good reason: it was. You may encounter some spoilers there, so tread lightly.

WESTEROS (SPOILERS AT SITE, not in the description below)

http://www.westeros.org – This site has more information on the heraldry of the houses then anywhere on the internet. It also hosts the Wiki of Ice and Fire and one of my favorite features, “So Spoke Martin,” where they have collected quotes from interviews from Martin or through direct correspondence with the author.  There are forums and a host of other features, including a MUSH (yeah, they still have that) and the site runners have claim to be the source that George R. R. Martin uses for fact checking his own world.

WINTER IS COMING

http://winter-is-coming.net – This site was created after talk of a HBO series first started.  Focuses on news and rumors around the television series. Read enough and you’ll find some indirect spoilers.

TOWER OF THE HAND

http://www.towerofthehand.com – Tower of the hand is an extensive source for information on the books.  You can click on each book you’ve read and customize your experience to where you are in the series.  They have chapter by chapter descriptions and will help you gain an encyclopedic knowlege of the series, or at least give you a place to look up the facts you need.  If you register there are more features available, more customization too. (While you can find spoilers, this site is geared to protect you from them).

HBO FORUMS

http://www.hboforum.com – Of course HBO would want to have a forum right there on their own site.  Here you can chat with other fans and get involved in some of the ARG produced by HBO. (I would hope this is to be kept somewhat spoiler free).

 

Yeah some of those sites can get intense.  But when you consider how long some of the fans have been following the series, it’s not much of a surprise.

Enjoy!

 

 

Feature – The Eye of Newb – HBO’s GoT Ep.1

Editor’s Note: Matt Lynch is one of my closest friends and I’ve been trying to get him to write more since we’ve met. I think you’ll see why after you read this. This will be a weekly report posted after each episode of Game of Thrones. It will contain spoilers from the episode, obviously, but from the perspective of someone that has not read the books.

 

Episode 1 Review of Game of Thrones – by Matt Lynch

BenJen Stark to his brother, Lord Stark: \\You at a feast; it\\™s like a bear in a trap.\\

So, Good People, P.G. (hereinafter lovingly referred to as \\˜The Landlord\\™) and I were having a chat of late. Both being lovers of speculative fiction, we determined that I should consider contributing to the general upkeep and pleasantness of the site by setting some words to paper on a topic or two related to such. Finding myself at a loss for subject matter, I cast about blindly in the pitch for a bit. Then, lo it came to pass that HBO released upon the world the new series, Game of Thrones, based upon the much-beloved Song of Fire and Ice novels, authored by George R.R. Martin. Having never considered reading these books, their re-imagining and broadcast seemed a natural place to kick a running feature into existence: the whimsical notion that a newb such as myself (with regards to Martin’s epic series) might offer a unique and worthwhile perspective to the mix.

Now, a word or two about myself before we begin. I\\™m Irish and fatalistic, which in small doses can be terminal, but in large ones, exceptionally liberating. My people were the wards, the serfs and the fisherfolk of history. They mended the nets, hauled the cod and hacked the sod of destiny, never casting more than a scornful eye castle-ward. Thus, it seems, I am fated to care not one whit about political intrigue, fantastical or otherwise. I am much more drawn to blood, sex, earth and wave – with a wistful, nay Quixotic, passion for those who are destined to simply go down swingin\\™. Much more David Drake than Frank Herbert. Thus it was with more than a wee spot of trepidation, upon the urgings and exhortations of The Landlord, I affixed my eyes to the titular episode of this column.

Fortunately, my fears were quickly assuaged and interest piqued. Who, or what, are the White Walkers, fer\\™instance? I need an answer to this question, and the pursuit of such will likely force me to tune in again next week. That and the intense desire to see Viserys Targaryen disemboweled by honey badgers or other some such fitting punishment for his inhuman cruelty towards his doe-eyed sister.

Other wonderful table-setters, sure to drag me, the shotgun-and-cudgel type, enamored with combat and tortured souls in pursuit of holy vengeance, back to the intrigues of Westeros, include:

  • Exactly how twisted an incestuous pair are twins Jaime and Cersei Lannister, that half of them considers the menstrual cycle of a thirteen-year old dinner conversation?
  • What of Jon Snow?  I smell a coming of age story in the making.
  • Did the Dothraki wedding have at least three deaths or was it a \\˜dull affair\\™?
  • Will poor, sweet Daenerys find love or death with her savage new husband?
  • Is Bran Stark alive or dead?
  • Where\\™s Robert Carlyle?
  • And most importantly, why can\\™t more annoying, prissy schemers meet horrific and brutal ends, and why can\\™t this happen more quickly?

Yep, I\\™m going back \\“ despite my past inclinations.  The Landlord prevails, yet again.  And you, Good People, get to ride along with me.  Root for my conversion or wish my damnation.  Be amused or appalled.  Either way, I offer you the spectacle of a newb abroad in strange realms.  Cheers!