Game of Thrones

A Mish-Mash of Highlights: Doctor Who, Cloud Atlas, Eddings, etc.

Beanie of the year.

Beanie of the year.

It’s getting towards winter down here in the southern hemisphere of the world.

Last week the weather took a welcome dip from the thirties into the low twenties, and we all started layering extra blankets onto our beds and pulling out scarves, beanies, brollies and boots. For me, this time of year is marked by the transition from pyjama shorts to pyjama pants, and the resumption of a continuous intake of hot tea. It’s quite blissful.

Important events of this week included:

1. Neil Gaiman’s wonderfully well-timed and encouraging post on, amongst other things, writing: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2013/03/princess-and-some-thoughts-on-writing.html

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2. The return of Doctor Who; more specifically Doctor Who Season 7 Episode 6: “The Bells of St. John.”

Five-line review…

A modern-London adventure, penned by Moffat, with lively new companion Clara ‘Oswin’ Oswald, that also oddly comes across as a warning against being too connected to wifi/social media, just in case malicious aliens want to eat your mind through the interwebs. Chemistry between Smith and Coleman felt less forced. Plot was well-paced and easy to follow with neat twists. Great half-season kick-off that continues the mystery of the girl with multiple lives.

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3. Season 3 of Game of Thrones. You know it’s getting big when you see a GoT ad at the local bus stop. To be watched.

4. Finishing David Eddings The Elenium Book 2 (The Ruby Knight). Recommended by the beloved BF, who read it in the early days of his youth, the Elenium is a grand swords-and-sorcery style fantasy epic largely revolving around politics. There is a severe deficiency of cool female characters in this story, as Sparhawk and the other heroes are mostly big buff knights with even bigger swords/axes who deliver awesome one-liners before and after they behead their foes. The only key females are Sephrenia, an ageless sorceress, and Flute, a mysterious little girl with powers–interesting, but not entirely unique. Most of the book involves riding back and forth across the countries of Eosia chasing the Bhelliom (a precious gem). Eddings’ writing is unpretentious, lively and straightforward. An easy series to read, though long, and it keeps you turning the pages.

5. Watching Cloud Atlas.

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Cloud Atlas is an insane compendium of story fragments–6 different narratives, each taking place at a different point in time–piled on top of one another. Some of the narratives are fascinating (I liked the futuristic Neo-Seoul story best) and others are boring (Tom Hanks and Halle Berry in the post-apocalyptic distant future. It was impossible to engage with their characters given almost no context and zero background about their motivations and situation). Jim Broadbent’s imprisonment and dramatic escape from an English nursing home is also a gem, as is Jim Wishaw’s portrayal of composer/musician Robert Frobisher.

I was hoping that there would be more of a sense of interconnection between the 6 timezones, but apart from using the same actors and a few pieces of prose floating from period to period (journals, documents), it lacked for substance. The narratives were largely entertaining, but at the end of the Wachowski’s masterpiece I wasn’t sure what message I was supposed to get from it all.

The structure of the book, however, sounds intriguing: a sort of concertina of stories, travelling from 1849AD, through to 2321AD, and back again. Elegant. Perhaps I’ll get my grubby hands on it one day.

Off to work.

x,

GLF

Winter is coming.

It’s the last few weeks before the Big Exams and the heat is on. Also, the heaters are on as med students huddle in common rooms, hospital libraries and the dark recesses of their own bedrooms in scholarly preparation. It doesn’t help that the temperature is shedding numbers and my fingers start to chill just typing on this keyboard.

Normally, I make it taboo for myself to write about medicine here, since this blog is supposed to be an escape from the world of physiology, pharmacology and lessons on how to be nice to patients. But, as the hard work of the past year comes to a point of culmination in the next month, I feel like my life is being absorbed in my studies. Almost like I am being absorbed.

The amount of learning demanded of us is ridiculous. Stress levels are high; students roam the corridors like zombies. I’m trying not to let it all rub off on me, but some days the combined feelings of expectation, competition and dread can be overwhelming. Yawning my face off while making the long drive from Rowville to Epping, and back from Epping to Rowville, only to come home to the loving embrace of my books…it’s no fun.

My philosophy to survive the next few weeks is to eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, and perhaps most importantly, slack off from time to time. ‘Cause I know I’m the type of person who sometimes demands too much from herself, even when it’s uncalled for. After all, it’s only medicine. It’s not life. Not mine, anyway =)

As I am a little girl inside, one of my escape mechanisms is to crawl off into an imaginary world. This weekend past, the imaginary world was…*drumroll*…WESTEROS!!!

Yes, that is Boromir. And yes, this is the TV series adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. I finally checked out episodes one and two on the weekend after recommendations from both Kat and Jez. The reviews are right. It is a 9.5/10, and it does have a lot of boobs and gore…usually not in the same scenes.

I’ve never really seen epic fantasy done in a TV series format before (well, apart from Merlin, but I don’t know if that counts…) and to be honest I never expected this adaptation to work so well. The big budget is evident: the buildings, costumes, armour, scenery, everything…it’s all done in such detail that it’s effortlessly believable. I love the ratty black cloaks of the Night Watch. The helmet shaped like a leering lion. The hemlines of the woollen gowns stained with mud.

Each episode feels like a movie. It’s Lord of the Rings, but grittier. Instead of orcs, there’s the freaky White Walkers of the north. Instead of your bearded, axe-wielding dwarves, you have the cunning, whoring midget Tyrion Lannister. Instead of gypsies, you have the half-savage Dothraki tribe, who eat horse hearts and slay each other at weddings. The King isn’t benevolent. The good guys might not win. In fact, who are the good guys?

If you want to watch Game of Thrones you’ll need to keep your head around multiple characters and concurrent storylines, which might be easier if you’ve read the books, or have someone awesome sitting next to you to answer all your questions. (Me! Meee!)

After thoroughly enjoying the first two episodes, I got to wondering aloud about why it is that all humans crave adventure. It seems to be built into our physiology. Though we claim that we are creatures of habit, we tire of monotony and dream of our own personal epics. Whether you are a housewife who dreams of being 20 years younger and swept off your feet by a “perfect, ice-cold vampire” or a kid who puts on a stretchy Spidey suit, we are all mesmerised by the thought of being a part of something bigger. Of being a hero to someone else. Of changing the world, and maybe leaving a small legacy.

Maybe it’s a pointer to the fact that we were designed for more than just our physical, self-driven lives. Or maybe it’s an evolutionary twist designed to keep us striving for greater achievements. It’s up to you to decide.