Sunday, July 28, 2013

The real game of thrones

The Goat and I are about six episodes into season one of Game of Thrones.

When did watching television become so hard? I can barely follow along. I'm constantly asking the Goat things like, "They're talking about the blond chick, right?"


The Goat is pretty good, but even he can get confused with the names. Snows and Drogos and bastards; bevies of Targaryens and Lannisters. Who can keep it all straight? We've nailed Ned Stark and his wife, and I like the dwarf. But it ain't easy, particularly considering the guys with the best secrets whisper them in thick brogues and wrap them in riddles.

"What'd he just say?"

"Dunno. Turn it up."

The fat guy is my favorite because he says exactly what's going on, talks really loud and he's always drunk. Why not? He's the king of the whole damn place. I told the Goat there should be a Game of Thrones fat-guy app that gives his narration whenever you lose the story line.

Touch fingertip to iPad and the fat guy would bellow, "The Hand does everything for me while I'm chasing wenches and swilling wine," or, "He tried to kill the kid by pushing him out the window because the kid saw him humping my wife!"

Enough of that.

Here is the rub: every blood-dripping fight scene, every swoop of the sword, every severed head has me gagging, covering my eyes, cringing and groaning. Surely I'm not alone, but I do maintain one thing: You can't really process the violence in Game of Thrones until you've been to a place like Armor Court in the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Think about it: take an outstanding fictional depiction and juxtapose it against the bold reality of hand-forged steel. The result is not subtle. After you've stood in front of a seven-flanged mace that may have actually splattered a man's brain, the fight scenes in GOT take on a whole new meaning.

Real suits of armor, tapestries worthy of castle walls woven by ladies and the terrifying weapons that defended it all are something to behold. You think about how much that lance and armor weigh when you're standing in front of them. After all, a flesh and blood man actually donned that breastplate and helmet.

A place like Armor Court lends a certain credibility to the television props used on GOT. And while pictures do the experience absolutely no justice, here you go just the same:

Goat inspecting armor at the Cleveland Museum of Art

So goes it my friends, bring on the winter, I can handle it.

*  *  *


Anonymous said...

How bizarre. We just started watching GOT and are also on season 1, episode 6. Hmm.

dean said...

Game of Thrones is more comprehensible if you've read the books.

They did a damn good job casting, I must say, other than Cersei and Jaime. Tywin is perfect, Jon Snow about as I imagined him, Ygritte has become Rose Leslie in my head...

Erin O'Brien said...


So the guy the king's wife was screwing right before he pushed the kid out of the window was her brother as well?

See? If I had the fat guy app, I would have already known that.

twinklysparkles said...

Your commentary is so subtle that I can't figure out if I should or shouldn't watch this series. I do, however, get that I should visit the Cleve Muse of Art...

I am without a show right now, waiting for the final 8 of Breaking Bad and the next how-many-ever of Walking Dead and Shameless (Americano version). I have never seen Mad Men. Nurse Jackie either. What recommendations have you got?

Erin O'Brien said...

I guess when you watch fictional violence, there's a certain disconnect: it's only actors and props.

The violence on GOT is of the medieval sort, with jousts and swords and armor. It's very graphic.

Having made countless visits to Armor Court and seeing actual medieval weaponry makes the fictional GOT scenes that much more realistic.

Guns distance combatants. Drones turn them into video game targets. Hand to hand combat with swords were true fights. As for the weaponry they used, hand-forging steel with a hammer and anvil is something few people understand or appreciate.

Armor court plucks all this from history and fiction and puts it right in front of your face. It is truly a remarkable place.

Hope that makes sense.

As for recommendations, I'm in the same boat with BB. I'm also looking forward to the second season of Homeland.

Anonymous said...

@ Erin-
I've only seen clips of GOT and I have a hard time taking it seriously. I keep waiting for a Capitol One* commercial to break out.

Peter Dinklage did the Daily Show in March and it was pretty damn funny. It's worth looking up. Also worth looking up is his part in 'Elf.' I nearly aspirated a lung...


*American Express has an opportunity to take advantage of all the ad dollars Cap One is spending: "Don't burn Rome without it."

Anonymous said...

That mace was not intended for use in actual battle. It had an altogether different and far more savage propose.
Usually that instrument had a wrist strap looped when in use.
First off a Bal Butcher stood on a platform over a race which ran a cow or steer. Once it go to the end it's head protruded beyond the platform, then, the butcher brought down a hammer(mace is the same)onto its scull between it's eyes, splitting it.
That thing was used by a horseman on defenseless villagers in exactly the same way, by bringing it down on top of the scull. The flange penetrated into the brain, but the other flanges left and right stopped it going so far in that it became hard to remove thereby either slowing down the extermination. It is of no use at all against armoured troops.
Hanging, drawing and quartering are the next bit in the process of dressing beef as with judicial execution.
Oh, this is carried by the Sarjent Farrier in Blues&Royals of the Household Division for dispatching horses same idea, just the spike nees to go past more bone.

Bill said...

I highly recommend, Amores Verdaderos.

B.E. Earl said...

A recommendation from several friends who also had difficulty following along. Watch it with subtitles. If you don't mind that, it might be a big help in figuring out and remembering the names.

I've read all the books, so I didn't need them. And my girlfriend had me to answer all of her questions, so...

The Expatresse said...

I watch it with subtitles . . . and I had read the first book. We watched season one on DVD and it came with a lot of extras that help you sort out the various families, but the back part of the first book has all that, too. That said, I still get a bit confused sometimes. But I just LOVE it!

dean said...

Uh, R40, you're completely wrong. The mace was developed as a response to the development of plate armour, which is pretty resistant to a sword. They were carried in battle, and were very effective.

When I was a young man, a friend and I who were in the SCA took a replica mace and tested it on an SCA-grade pot helm - replica from about the 11th century, and I assure you that a mace is a terrifyingly effective weapon.

Anonymous said...

It's basically a show about politics and the scenario is fairly complex, with shifting alliances and characters. It is only natural that it takes time to understand and know even the main character list, let alone the secondary characters - and even working out who is which is not always easy at first! You're probably not really struggling so much as demanding more of your understanding than is reasonable.

Most people who haven't read the books seem to watch each season twice (once when it airs, then again just before the next season releases) so that made things easier for them. You're crashing through at a faster pace, but rest assured that things become more clear as the show progresses. If you don't feel like you have a handle on the main storyline and characters by the end of season one, there may be a problem; up until then, you are getting a lot of information on a densely-packed world.

Ask someone to sum up a character in most TV shows and they will tell you what that character is like: "he's a drunk," or "she loves shoes." Ask them about this show and they tend to get lost in telling you what they did: "oh he's awesome except that time that he was a jerk and this one time? Oh man he totally did this thing? Holy moley man. Remember that?" It is difficult to set that kind of depth up quickly.

Erin O'Brien said...

My word you people are serious.

When do I get to see Drogo naked?

dean said...

A warning, O'Brien. Don't get too attached to any of the characters. The list of those it is safe to become attached to (to the end of book 5, anyway) is very short.

Anonymous said...

Read up on the Harrying of the North, Dean. Wiki has a loose essay on the matter, but gives the core.
And what are you on about plate and a sword. That only matters if horse met horse. And that wasn't the purpose of light or heavy cavalry. You haven't much notion of the medieval battlefield do you.

philbilly said...

The thing about that armor in the Armor Court that gets me is, it was all made without electricity. They did have steam hammers, wherein a bigass weight was shot up a big pipe with steam, and then allowed to freefall and beat out the chest plates across a hardwood form. Not OSHA approved.

I don't have cable, but did recently catch a new show on about jousting. Crazy badass.

If there was a channel with only jousting and Supermodified Racing, I'd have cable.

There is no better racing for spectators than Supermodifieds, and that includes F1.

Lorain County Speedway, August 10, 2013:
Pit Gate 2PM,
Tech 2:30PM,
Practice & Front Gate 3PM, Qualifying 5:00PM,
Racing 7PM

Erin O'Brien said...

Re: Armor Court, Phil: the mesh body suits boggle my mind. Every one of those tiny links was forged with fire and brawn.

Also: dig on the weight of some of the weapons when you walk through next time. There is a giant two-handed sword that you think is going to weight 25 or 30 lbs, but when you read the plaque, it's only eight pounds!


Those smiths were staggering craftsmen.

And an update: the Goat and I have finished the first four episodes of season two.

I am totally addicted. Great TV!

philbilly said...

I read somewhere once that the most common fatal injury from those swords was fractured bones and the resulting infections. Or you became known as Beowulf the Limper. No antibiotics, no Oxy, just a "poultice" of bladderwrack or some such shit and a flagon of mead. Suck it up, Sigfreid.

I find it darkly amusing to hear the twits today go on about how "bad" they are with their gats.

Bad is walking up to some big lunkhead like yourself who's also clad in armor, and pounding each other senseless till only one walks away.

Drive-by shootings? Not so much. More like chicken shit.

Erin O'Brien said...

Speaking of chicken shit, in order to see it on full display, all you need to do is take a stroll on the right side of the aisle.

In the comment section of this thread, I am threatened with some vague "rolling back" and "something extra special," while being called filth and fatuous cow among other things.

My favorite part is wherein I'm accused of harboring an undying desire for the host's member, which is apparently publicly known as (ahem) Velocigirth.

I wonder if ol' Mr. V-girth can measure up to this baby.

Anonymous said...

@ Erin. The point isn't really weight but how the were wielded. 8 llb's isn't much if what you do with it is bring down horses and so in the hand for a relatively short bit of time. Also, much of the time you need to think of a square with the point extending when you think of a sword. Same as when the Romans were extending the gladius beyond a range of shields.
When you view these things just remember very little of Hollywood is valid. And that two swordsmen fighting or two heavy cavalrymen (maybe knights, but more likely not) running against each other is a frame-able setting. The truth is far more vicious. If you fell before a line of infantrymen there was no quarter. But mostly there was nothing nice about any of it.