a99kitten's Musings

I blog about a WHOLE LOT of stuff :)

I finally watched the last 2 episodes of S4 of Game of Thrones last weekend. As usual with GoT, the 2nd to last ep of the season was WAY crazier. Like…amazing crazy. Jon Snow and Ghost continue to be my favorites of all time.

But since this finale was rounding out Book 3, I was hoping to see some things that we did not get :/ And I was very bummed about this. I really felt the story they left was a key one – Catelyn??? KEY. (we’ll ignore the Arya and Hound changes right now.) And would certainly create quite the stir. And I’m left thinking that the storyline is actually not at all important for the books, so all of the future possibilities I imagined with it are non-existent, since I imagine GRRM would have insisted it be kept in if it played a large part going forward. Very Big Bummer. Although I still hope it does. But I must say, I was looking so forward to that :(

Then today I read, for the 2nd time this week and from different sources, the “spoiler” about upcoming story lines. None of it was a surprise and makes perfect sense and I assumed half of it already. BUT…in 1 of the news stories, it said how the upcoming season 5 (which should be following the story lines of Book 4) would have important details from Book 5. Huh?

So now I’m starting to think we will fast forward Book 4, which is actually pretty much fine since it was my least favorite, and head to Book 5? And since we already got things not in the books so far (hints for Book 6?), will the show veer more off the books?

All I know is the end of Book 5 made me want to throw my Kindle across the room. So I really wish GRRM would finish Book 6! And is he delaying on purpose for the show? And if the long unkept secret spoiler of Jon Snow is true (the days before the internet were kind sorta better in a way), I think we need a LOT more story and fast!

Heading to SDCC this week (SQUEEEE!) and will be trying to get into Hall H for the GoT panel. And by trying to get in I mean waiting in line for a wristband on Thursday night and hoping to get a spot in a line on a lawn (if you are on the concrete, you could be in trouble) so we can eat pretzels and energy bars for hours on end and then run but not run for seats…but then once you are in – YOU ARE IN!

HBO is having a pop-up store dedicated to GoT and there is an interactive Survive the Realm at the Omni Hotel. Will definitely try and check out both of those as well. Oh! And don’t forget getting the flocked Ghost Funko POP!! I need 2 of those :) Ned Stark will also be at SDCC…in the form of Sean Bean for a different show starting in August. I just might need to check that panel out as well. I’m still bitter about Ned…

But they never, ever give away spoilers at their panels so not expecting much in that area. Although I am imagining that the In Memoriam they do every year, and which had people almost crying (and not just me!) last year for Robb and Greywind, will cause a break out in applause and cheers for Joffrey. Muahuahuahua!

Plus Jon Snow will be there :) Now if they could just bring Ghost!!!!

I really wanted to like this movie. This is one of my most favorite books. I’m not entirely sure why since Anna really is a selfish wretch. But I have always loved the drama of this book. Much more than War and Peace or The Brothers Karamazov. Ad I think even more than Wuthering Heights.

For some reason this movie tried for the theater production feel in some ways. Weird set changes caused more distraction and broke up the feel of the scene I think. And the whole feel of the movie was a grand production but not a film. And overly dramaaaaatic *said like Thurston Howell III* (if you don’t know who that is…..well….I can’t help you) without being serious enough considering the book it was drawn from.

Keira Knightley is absolutely gorgeous as usual. Actually more than usual since the costuming in this film was exquisite. But I think she is a bit too young for the role even though in reality she probably is the correct age.

Jude Law actually made Karenin far more likable than he is in the book. And that’s with a receding hairline ;)

But Count Vronsky was so horribly miscast, it was almost comical. He reminded me far too much of Jasper in Twilight. He was so not in any way the object of great desire. Or half of a tragically doomed romantic couple. Or the man a woman might leave her husband, position, child for? He was a goofy fop.

The movie IS very pretty. But it felt like it was desperately wanting to break out in the Baz Luhrmann thing of song/nifty soundtrack riffs at any moment like in Romeo & Juliet or Moulin Rouge. And I liked both of those very much – but I was expecting what I got in them when I sat down to watch them. This film seemed like it wanted to be taken seriously but just quite couldn’t get there. The book is very serious. Very. So it’s unfortunate the movie couldn’t reflect that.

The 1935 Greta Garbo version is pretty good. I never saw the Vivian Leigh version which I should watch. But frankly I like the book and I think it’s best that left way much like most great books. The imagination is a much better movie set :)

If you have not checked out yet, or as other TV shows wind down, and you find yourself with an hour or 2 a week with nothing to do, I HIGHLY suggest:

Season 2 just started on HBO (2 eps in.) I am probably 30-40% through Book 3. Book 2 – which season 2 of the show is going to follow – is CRAZY! Book 1 was awesome! And Book 3 is getting even CRAZIER. HBO just renewed the show and I read that they will probably break up Book 3 into Seasons 3 (and hepefully picked up season 4.) I am very stressed as I read it. But I cannot put it down either.

The casting and acting of the HBO show is amazing. Truly amazing. There are a lot of characters to keep track of but it’s very worth it. The GOT panel at last year’s San Diego Comic Con was GREAT! The actors were very engaging. Although I do wish they would have brought the direwolf puppies :)

Do yourself a favor. Check out this show. And the books if you are so inclined. House Stark rules!! (yelled out just like San Dimas Highschool Football rules!) :)

I just finished the 3rd book of the trilogy. I have to say – overall – a big giant MEH. That might not be a popular opinion, but frankly, after the 1st book (which was good and hooked me), they went downhill fast. Part of the 3rd book kept me very interested and I think it could have been good. But man, half-way through you start looking around for any uppers you might have in the house to get through more pages. Not boredom mind you – just a serious downer.

I’m sure I’ll still go see the movie. Or at least rent the DVD anyway. But man, people applauding Katniss as a strong heroine/female figure – that’s disturbing. I would send my tween or teenage girl to a Buddhist Monk temple if she said she looked up to Katniss.

I get the survival aspect. The “do what you gotta do” frame of mind. Don’t disagree with that at all and most of the decisions she had to make. But her constant whining and “oh, I should just kill myself” BS got tired after the first few. Fine, do it or quit your moaning and groaning. Crikey.

And ***SPOILER*** the author really wanted to do a complete 180 from the Twilight series in terms of personal relationships. Jeez. Hook up with the completely bonkers basically lobotimized slobbering goober. Good choice. This will help civilization re-populate and do well. (?????)

Her indecision between Gale and Peeta bordered on an All My Children storyline. Duh – Gale. Period. The end. Yes, I know she is supposed to be a 17 year old girl. But the author wrote her so that we forgot her age and she was a kickass. So you can’t whip out the immature, emotionally-stunted teen girl card when it suits you. That worked for Bella. But we knew going in that she was a whiner through the entire series. And she didn’t kick any ass until well into the 4th book. So we weren’t being teased. We knew she was a whiner. Katniss – she kicked ass. She was tough. At first, the back and forth was OK but then *eye roll* and then *give me damn break you stupid girl!*

So I guess I would say they are worth reading I suppose, but be prepared they are not for everyone.

I just read the Kindle single “Comic-Con Strikes Again!” and I LOVED it! Super quick read. But if you are a Con attendee – you will giggle :) The writer hits it SPOT ON. The frustrations, the lines, the commercialism but also the pure fan joy :)

He also hits the nail on the the head with his note about Star Wars:

“Star Wars is the closest thing the culture of Comic-Con has to a single story that unites it: the myth that can support endless allusions that will be universally understood, at least here. Not a lot of us know who, say, minor Biblical characters were, as we might have a few centuries ago, but we know Jango Fett.”

So true… :)

If you have a Kindle, it’s $0.99. And short. If you’ve ever been to SDCC, you will laugh. If not, you will probably shake your head and wonder what is wrong with us attendees. Entertaining either way :)

I just finished Andrew Gross’ recent release “Eyes Wide Open”.

It was good. There were actually a couple parts where I was very stressed out and locked the doors at night! Husband asked “Why do you read books like this?” I don’t know. Same reason I watch “Criminal Minds” I guess?

This book is about a guy trying to figure out why his nephew died. The how he died was obvious. But the why is not so. If you like whodunit/whydunit kind of story lines moving at a pretty quick pace, this is for you. He wrote a couple books with James Patterson as well as a few on his own. I’ve read all of his books and have enjoyed them all. And he sent me a signed book jacket for this book! True, my book is a Kindle book but that was cool.

I will say that I wasn’t sure I would like this one once I started reading it. It starts off (no plot spoilers don’t worry) with a kid (early 20s) seemingly killing himself. We find out that he had drug problems, family problems, family drug problems, not an easy “adult” life. He had an uncle (his dad’s younger brother) who had a good life. Lived on the opposite coast, basically separated himself far from his Dad and brother as their problems became to be more self-inflicted and he didn’t want to deal with them and he was living a great life with his wife, kids, career, etc. But the Uncle wanted to get the nephew away from the Dad/brother and get his life back on track. The kid also might have died because his doctors just plainly sucked.

As I was reading this I was reading parallels into my own life into the story. Just happens sometimes. Why I stay away from certain movies, shows, books, etc. My little brother unexpectedly died last November. By unexpectedly I mean I am still not “over it”. He was on psych drugs over-prescribed by his suck-ass doctors when he never should have been on any. I hate psych drug and doctors. Period. My Dad is an alcoholic. He could have fixed this. He didn’t. Yes, I firmly believe this. I have very little sympathy for him. I wish things were different but they aren’t. But my life, apart from the far away family drama, has been a pretty darn good one. And I did always want to get my brother out of there. I am still, and will always be, firmly convinced that had I gotten him away from the drama and out with me where people and life was normal, he would have done much better in life.

I almost stopped reading the book after the first bit actually. Was too scab-picky. I’m still not “over” stuff. Better I suppose. But still easily moved by the littlest/oddest things. But thankfully the story moved over into serial cult killer storyline and, frankly, I was happy about it. Would rather get freaked out by creep factor than saddened by real life emotions. And plenty of creep factor in this book!!

I remember reading about the Charles Manson stuff when I was young. I loved the Beatles and Helter Skelter was a theme that Manson grabbed onto so I was interested. But I also remember being insanely creeped out by the books and photos of the murders. Manson is the poster child for why the death penalty should be utilized. It’s rather ironic (and disgustingly gross if that could also define ironic here) that Jerry is our Governor once again and Manson is still being kept alive by CA tax dollars.…jackass.

Anyway, that is the story that Andrew Gross drew a parallel to with this story. Crazy. Creepy and great for diverting “real-life” story lines. I actually shut my Kindle one night and put it down. ARGH! Too scary! But picked up again the next night because I needed to know how it ended. :)

The tougher part was that Andrew Gross wrote a postscript on the book. About his own nephew dying of unclear circumstances. Bad drugs by bad doctors. Unexplained and inexcusable BS by doctors misdiagnosing their patient. Back to my own internal sadness about my brother. Hit home that I still have his ashes to hike up to the top of a mountain. Now that my ankle is healed enough to hobble up there, I need to. I am not waiting through another winter of too much snow. But I’m also not picking another location for convenience.

As I type this I have the TV on. I can’t even count the commercials for psych drugs offered for every little single thing. Let’s F up your mental and emotional state to treat aches and pains, smoking, weight loss, PTSD, addiction, etc. It makes me sick.

Anyway, I do recommend this book if you like creepy :)

I first saw this book here at SDCC last year. I never bought it but now AMZN is offering the Kindle version for $0.99 for a short time!!! So if you are suffering from The Walking Dead withdrawals – go!!

I want Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter too. But that’s not on sale currently so since I have a gazillion books on my Kindle to read, I’ll hold off for now. Although, since the movie comes out in 2012, I can’t hold off too terribly long.

Blurb about John Thain, the former CEO of Merrill Lynch, from “Too Big To Fail”…

“In his junior year at MIT, when he interned at Proctor and Gamble, he made a simple but highly significant observation of an assembly line he was supervising. The workers were making Ivory soap, and whenever technical problems forced the line to come to a halt, they would wait for it to start up again before getting back to work. The college boy persuaded the workers that there was no reason to stop – they could keep making soap and stack the boxes on the side until the line came back on. That way their bonuses, which were based on production, would not be affected.”

Ok. So…after re-reading this and having a “fist of fury” moment (as my husband calls them as I really do shake my fist in the air in fury) at the pure unbelievableness of it, I asked myself so it took this boy genius from MIT to convince these workers, whose bonuses were based ON PRODUCTION, to keep making soap and simply stack the boxes to the side until the assembly line was working again so they could load them up? Really? THIS is what the heck people do when left to their own devices? And there was clearly no better supervisor previously to instill this little nugget of wisdom.

This is the type of thing that infuriates me. Mind-boggles me. And makes me NOT sympathetic to the (typically but not always) union worker bee who feels entitled to corporate profits, lifetime pensions and health benefits and whatever else they can get. I guess businesses really do need those highly paid MBA types…that way work can still get done, and workers can make their bonuses, when the assembly line stalls.

Filing under #unfrackingbelievable

I finished “The Other Boleyn Girl” last night. Great book. I highly recommend it.  I saw the movie, and did like it, but the book (as usual) was much better. There is obviously a lot more detail and story than a 2 hour movie will allow.

The thing I really liked about the book, which I didn’t really expect, was that it is truly a story about Mary Boleyn. With Henry, Katherine, George, Anne and the rest of the cast in supporting roles. Very large supporting roles to be sure, but the story is concerned about sharing everything from Mary’s point of view. The movie was more of a story about Mary along with Henry and Anne. The book is a story told from the point of view of Mary. How things that went on affected her, how she felt, what she did and how her decisions affected those around her but all the while staying in the Tudor Court and their dramas.

It’s hard not to picture everyone as they were in the movie (or in The Tudors.) But Henry is described in this book how he (as per historal texts) was in reality. Started off a handsome prince with a kingdom to rule and much potential and turned into a fat, gluttonous tyrant drunk with his own power whose first desire was to fulfill his own wants first and foremost.  So not very Eric Bana or Jonathan Rhys-Meyers- like in looks :) and not very King-ly in actions.

Mary is portrayed as quite innocent and the “good” sister. Even though she is married quite young (13) but then pushed at the King to become his mistress. And bore 2 of his children. She does all this without any ill intent though so it apparently makes it OK. I can’t imagine it was as black and white as that. But she did get to keep her head.

Anne is a polarizing figure. She was religious and did believe in God and her faith. But believed that the Catholic Church should not have so much power over everything. And she was quite correct in that…in my opinion. She fought very hard to get Henry to change Church policy and he/they did. But in the end, that was her undoing. Anne made the fatal mistake that mistresses do – if he he did for you, he can do it to you. But apparently some view her as some sort of heroine figure because of her stance on the Church and what she did to change things. Not sure I’d go that far. Especially since her beliefs seemed to mostly stem from her own desires being curtailed by the Church policies.

She set out to seduce a married man and take him away from his wife and was evil in her pursuits of the King and throne. Although one could lay a lot of that blame on the male figures in her family who pushed her (and Mary) towards that singular goal for their own gain. Truly, they are the worst in my opinion. Royal flesh-peddlers.

And Anne was quite bad if you believe some of the rumored things about her (Poisoning leading to death/murder? Not impossible to believe. Incest? Yikes but not entirely out of the question. Witchcraft? Unlikely other than maybe wanting fertility spells to try anything to guarantee birthing a live male heir. Men loved to hang the ol’ witchcraft moniker on women who interfered with them.)

Who knows. It’s a story ripe with characters to write endlessly about.  No one will every truly today know since they are not around to tell us. A time machine (or better yet a time viewer so no one could change history!) would really be a fantastic invention, like in DeLorean form :)

I have 2 episodes left of the final season of The Tudors. I just ordered The Other Boleyn Girl from Amazon to watch again. The next step in my journey through 15th and 16th century England is Wolf Hall. A story of Cromwell should be interesting.  But I think I will take a quick break into present time for Michael Connelly’s “The Lincoln Lawyer” since it’s been on my Amazon list for months and the movie comes out soon!

Related-ish…how embarrassing is it that THIS is today’s Duke of York? Reading about past Dukes of York (and other English Lords) makes this seem so pathetic and wrong. Elizabeth (I in her grave and II in her palace) must just cringe….



I just finished the book, The Red Queen, by Philippa Gregory. Before it, I read her other book, The White Queen. And no, it was not about the Hellfire Club :)

To be honest, I have not read too, too much about the War of the Roses (no, not Michael Douglas…) or the Plantagenets. I started most of my English history reading with Henry VIII (after anything Arthurian of course.) And all of the reading I did was purely historical (well, as historically accurate as one can hope it to be since I am a firm believer that history is written by the victor and the loser and it’s up to the readers to see the middle.)

I have to say – I am sucked in. I was recently drawn back into my love of all things English by watching The Tudors. This is a fantastically well-done show on Showtime. This past season was its last and that is very sad. Like all really good shows on TV, it will be off the air while pure crap like Jersey Shore and The Bachelor is on. But I digress…You could also argue that Henry only had so many wives to off :) And they have taken some historical license with battles, members of the court living or dying, etc so I’m sure there was only so much they could do to keep it kinda-sorta historical but also intriguing and believable.

So now that I am watching this final season, knowing more about the stories behind his family, I find myself even more intrigued. Like, his standard (of the House of Tudor) is a red and white rose. Made after the joining of the houses of York and Lancaster. I also brought down an old book from my bookshelf “Kingdoms of Europe” that I have had for years and years, having been enthralled with English and European history since I was a kid (baaaaack when they were great countries and not Socialist messes) and will be pouring through it again now. I even found my old handwritten notes in it. Funny. I seem to have always loved the pink post-it note.

Philipa Gregory also wrote The Other Boleyn Girl. I have not read the book ( just bought it as my next one though), but did see and enjoy the movie even though I don’t think Scarlett Johannson was cast correctly in that role. They cast Eric Bana as Henry VIII. I love Eric Bana. Ever since I saw him in Troy (another great period movie IMO) and loved him more than Brad (WHA?) I have seen all of his movies I think. But they made him a very noble and likable king who was just in a bad situation making bad decisions. Yeah. I am thinking this is not historically accurate. But whatever. I will read the book now and see if Hollywood took license with it or if this author is simply more of a Lancasterian and very kind to Henry. Although, even Henry Tudor in The Tudors is very likable. Although you can clearly see how he is son of a bitch and goes kooky sometimes. All that damn in-breeding the royals do…

I will have to say that after reading these 2 books, I am more of a Yorkist. By far. The author does not claim them to be 100% historically accurate or anything but the general facts of the people and places are there and then she takes license with what facts are now known. And the “Red Queen”, Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, is a first class self-serving, jealous bee-yotch dressed up in holy piety. She is called the Red Queen because the House of Lancaster had a red rose as their standard.

The “White Queen” is Elizabeth of York (white because the York standard was a white rose.) The wife of King Edward IV. She is a bit wacky too. And quite selfish. But she is definitely more loving and cares for her family. Her entire family. And wants England to be peaceful and successful. Margaret’s only goal is for her son to be on the throne because she has seen herself as some Joan of Arc type who must serve God like Joan did…but does it by plotting and murdering and getting her son on the throne no matter what as he “deserves” it because she has suffered for it. And even though England is at peace and prosperous and people are happy with King Edward (or later King Richard) on the throne, she doesn’t care. Her son MUST be on the throne no matter what. Clearly a very pious and selfless woman.

I think the author does a good job of writing these 2 very powerful women from a time where women were treated as property. Margaret has to get permission to read books. Nice. Women were only good for birthing sons. And yet, like Guinevere, it seems they control and cause to be so much more.

If you are looking for a good book – start with The White Queen. It’s a bit slow to start, and keeping all of the different people (and their loyalties) straight can be a bit of a challenge but a worthwhile one. And once it gets going, it’s involving. Same with The Red Queen. Starts off a bit slow, but you luckily more familiar with the characters now, but then gets going. They are basically the same (ish) story, from different points of view. And that’s really what history is anyway right?! In my opinion…