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On very busy men

(Game of Thrones 1×05: The Wolf and the Lion)

1 The King…

“I thought being king meant I could do whatever I wanted.”

We’re all subject to something, someone. At King Robert’s level, he’s subject to the office, and as much to the people as the people are to him. Many of these characters are subject to their families, to systems that keep them in check, to traditions that none can conceive of dying. Anyone who might consider themselves free in this world would also have few meaningful connections, few ways to connect to society.

More loredumping — Bran is tasked by Maester Luwin with reciting the names and mottos of various Houses. What is a family motto if not being subject even to your dead ancestors?


Sky cells! Yikes!


Sansa and Arya both fight for the respect they crave, though they’re different respects. Sansa wants to be like her mother, and Arya like her brothers. One imagines Arya would be perfectly happy with Jon Snow’s life.

It’s a queer story, that. But the faux-medieval thing of it all is an extremely limiting factor to that ever going anywhere. Even with Ser Loras and his freshly-shaven boyfriend around, queerness here is about what people want, not who they are. And I hate to imagine what any of the many aggressively heterosexual shitheads in this show would say if they knew about them.

4 …and below

Who is most looked down upon in Westeros? There’s Tyrion, who is mocked and ignored, respected in this episode really by Ros the sex worker, and by Catelyn Stark and her entourage, for what he’s capable of, not for who he is. But he still has the ear of characters above him, could still get things done if need be. There’s Bran, whose disability and age put him in a similar place, without even the respect for what he can do.

I’m thinking also of the White Walkers, who are, at least, humanoid, but not even thought of as people.

“I’m the same as you”

(Game of Thrones 1×04)

1 Spring

There should not be more than a month between me watching ones of these — the break strikes me as not particularly conducive to keeping up with yer who’s whos and what’s wheres and all that. Who was that prince again? Who’s fucking who again? I suppose for this one I’m Sam — who I like — on account of I, too, am new here.

2 A long time ago

People love to tell each other history in this show. When did people do what with dragons, who built the throne, who built the room, what made who legendary.

Do we do that in real life? Do we go on and on about what people did five hundred years ago? I feel like when we do it tops out at the edge of human memory — an American might reference Lyndon B Johnson, Brits might talk about the Blitz. But we don’t go much further back than that. As a cartoonist, the history of my field doesn’t stretch that far back, as a Dutch person the history of my country is fractured and divided. What emperor Karel V got up to on these lands in the year 1514 is functionally irrelevant to my life, and–

Wait, fuck, I teach art history, I do actually bring up 16th century artist Albrecht Dürer all the time.


3 Summer

I like Sam. But I especially like what his presence at the Wall tells us about the people around him. He’s not the fastest, the strongest, the hardest, or the best at anything. Their boss goes on and on about this, how Sam is soft and useless, about how he eager he’d be to eat him in a Donner Party situation. But Sam is kind and nice, qualities in short supply at the wall. And so, we must notice, who does and doesn’t value him and include him, who does and doesn’t see that he might not be all of those things everyone else has to be at the Wall, but that he is still there, with the rest of them, at the Wall?

“I’m the same as you,” Jon tells him. They’re talking about virginity, and bonding about both having been somewhat unlucky in the relevant regards. But they were both essentially sent there to get out of other people’s ways, they’re both at the edge of the world they know. They’re both there.

4 Winter

Tyrion: “I must say I received a slightly warmer welcome on my last visit.”

Well, yes. Winter is coming, after all.

Things That Are Coming

  1. Winter, still.
  2. A war of some kind.
  3. Bran’s testimony, though he supposedly has no memory of the accident.
  4. White Walkers.

The Pitcairn Review: “Contemporary View,” by Maze de Boer

Being approximately the size of a large shoebox, the Pitcairn Museum for Contemporary Art is, probably, the world’s smallest museum. I walk past it several times a week, and would happily say it’s my favourite museum. But I’ve never seen any kind of serious writing about it, so in the spirit of living the change, enjoy this recurring feature.

The Pitcairn typically asks you to imagine standing in the space it presents, but for Maze de Boer’s Contemporary View, no imagination is necessary, because we’re already standing in the space. In fact, from this side of the fourth wall, we appear to be the art.

A photograph of the exhibit described in this review. We see the back of what is, relative to the scale of the space, a large canvas, and, in the corner, a tiny fire extinguisher.
“Contemporary View,” by Maze de Boer.

Or, in other words: Ah, a meta one.

From Exhibition Continues Upstairs by Gerbrand Burger and No Show by Maurice Bogeart, which play with the gallery’s implied but non-existent space, to Michell Bows’ Sorry for the Inconvenience, in which the lack of exhibit becomes the exhibit, the meta exhibit is, at this point, a standing tradition at the Pitcairn. Even the fourth wall break of the art gazing back upon you is nothing new, with Jelte van Lente’s Kijkers previously having taken a much more literal approach.

But what we have here is much more pared down than those. There’s no stairwell, no mirror1Unless you count your own reflection in the glass., nothing looking at you. The only things in the space are a large2Relatively speaking. canvas, visible only from behind, a bench, a fire extinguisher, and, in the very back of the space, a sign.3I need to remember to transcribe the text from a better picture.

A lightly blurry photograph of the sign in the back of the space. The text on it can't be made out.

Mostly, I’m bored here. So bored that this review has been sitting here unfinished for four months. The next exhibit will have gone the way of the courier service back to where it came from by the time this review goes up.

So let’s just turn it around. If we are the art… what are tiny visitors to the tiny museum seeing through the fourth wall? Or, well, what did they see, back in November?

A photograph of the street as seen from in front of the Pitcairn Museum.

I walk past there three times a week. Maybe parked vehicles, the top bit of a trash can, and ugly construction fences are inspiring to you, but they’ve lost a little of their luster to me.

The Pitcairn does not publish images of its full exhibits until they’re already gone, but with limited local exceptions, I’m writing for a global audience here. To publish without an image of the full exhibit robs that international audience of context, and to publish with full images spoils the full exhibition for people who might still want to go see it. As a compromise, these reviews run one week before the exhibit closes or, uh, much later.

Some of my photographs of the space have been lightly modified only to obscure my reflection in them.

  • 1
    Unless you count your own reflection in the glass.
  • 2
    Relatively speaking.
  • 3
    I need to remember to transcribe the text from a better picture.

Review: “Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire” (2023)

Also on Letterboxd, based on the usual Mastodon thread.

I feel about Mr Snyder’s work like most people do about the dentist, every now and then you come out and go “that wasn’t that bad,” but most of the time it’s like somebody is just violently wrestling your face. And 2023’s Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire is the exact oral fistfight it looks like.

Backing up a little, okay, so, in Star Wars, at the same time Luke’s aunt and uncle are killed offscreen by Stormtroopers, the film is in the middle of presenting this whole galaxy of magic that you, the viewer, want, nay, need to see more of. Luke, this innocent, a survivor of imperialist violence, touches but the edge of an imaginative world full of funny droids and cool swords and interesting people, and immediately you’re desperate to see him explore it, to see him bring his innocence into the galaxy, to see it through his eyes. There’s pain and loss and greed and corruption — but it’s a world full of love and life, too.

In 2023’s Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire, Mr Snyder’s equivalent of Luke is a brooding badass, already a highly-trained ex-military fighter, whose backstory is that her entire family is already long dead and she was trained by a different brooding badass. Having retired from being an action here, now her fight is against the people1Imagine the Empire from Star Wars, make their costumes 10% more Nazi, and stop there. who want to tear her village apart with visceral violence and explicitly sexual threat. Before she sets off on her quest, the world around Kora is depicted only as unpleasant, dangerous, hard to exist in — even on a better day it’s hard to imagine her having a particularly good one. And yet her quest is to put together a team2Because this is doing Seven Samurai just as much as it’s doing Star Wars. to defend her way of life on her South African-coded3I’m sorry, it’s literally called “Veldt.” home moon — even though nothing about her way of life on Space South Africa feels particularly worth defending. certainly don’t want to see any fucking more of it. I’d like to see less of it!

The film truly never makes a case for her quest, or for anything at all, beyond that that’s… what you do in these. She doesn’t need to learn anything to go on it, she already knows who to reach out to. We get a cantina scene where they meet a pilot and get some exposition because that’s what they do in Star Wars, but the scene is homophobic, misogynist, and anti-sex work at the same time, and has none of the life in it you want from a cantina scene. We get episodic introductions to each team member because that’s what they do in Seven Samurai, but they’re all sketched so thinly that they might as well be cool action figures, clanking against each other plastically. The scene with the griffin-like bennu is straight from Avatar. You’ve seen every part of this before.

While the shift of focus to an already competent adult who knows what she needs to do might be an interesting flip on Star Wars in the hands of a competent storyteller — a Luke who’s blazing with righteous fury at the injustices of the world around him, discovering he has the power to do something about it4Wait, is that Anakin? — instead it all just serves to deliver the cold, oppressive bleakness Mr Snyder has so consistently forced upon the culture around him. It’s all just unpleasant.

I don’t want to accuse Mr Snyder of anything, but if I thought there was any kind of coherent ideology to this beyond “Star Wars and Seven Samurai are cool and Netflix will give me $166 million dollars to make a 2-part 5-hour crossover of those” I’d be extremely suspicious of a lot of what’s going on here.

On top of that it’s only half a film. In the rest of this review, I will

  • 1
    Imagine the Empire from Star Wars, make their costumes 10% more Nazi, and stop there.
  • 2
    Because this is doing Seven Samurai just as much as it’s doing Star Wars.
  • 3
    I’m sorry, it’s literally called “Veldt.”
  • 4
    Wait, is that Anakin?

From the Starkzone to the Wallplace

(Game of Thrones 1×03: “Lord Snow”)

1 On allegiances

Oh, Sean Bean’s folks and the Lannisters are separate things. Okay, okay, let’s write some of this out.

Ned Stark and the Starks in the, I wanna say, North. Winterfell? This is where Ned lives, though he’s out of town right now. Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran are some of his kids, the latter is in bed, awake. Jon Snow is one of these guys, but a bastard, and attached to the Night’s Watch. Mrs Sean Bean is probably from some other grouping, but fuck knows who.

The Lannisters, then, obviously, in King’s Landing. Jaime and Cersei. Tyrion is part of this but also his own thing, also currently chilling at the Night’s Watch. Jaime is the one who chucked Bran out the window, that’ll probably come back to bite him in his naked ass. Cersei is Mrs King Robert, but also in a long-term incestuous thing with Jaime. Probably no protection from pregnancy in this world, so I assume Joffrey etc. are theirs, and that Robert doesn’t know. Lots of space for conflict here.

Daenerys and Jason Momoa and the rest of the Dothraki are their own thing. Ser Jorah is hanging out with them right now, as a sort of ambassador type figure connected to the… Starks? and so there’s a normal adult Daenerys can talk to who isn’t a grunting beefman. I think Ser Jorah is probably up to something. Daenerys’ brother seems like he’s probably not in season three, if you know what I mean.

If you’re in the Night’s Watch you’re very loyal to the Night’s Watch, but if you’re not you’re more like, wow, what a bunch of weirdoes in the Night’s Watch.

2 On places

I also haven’t really thought about geography yet, but the Starkzone is all autumnal, while Jamie’s place has palm trees. (It’s weird seeing the “Winter is coming.” guy next to a palm tree, I’m sorry.) The Wallzone is obviously where winter already is. Daenerys and the Dothraki are bare-shouldered, probably pretty warm there, too. Are these places very far away from each other? How far would I have to travel from my 5 celsius to see people in short sleeves?

I should pay more attention to the title sequence.

3 On contrasts

Arya is taught to fight as if it’s a form of dance, the Knight’s dance — when every death we’ve seen has been brutal, grotesque, awful. There’s only so much dancing you can do when somebody comes at you with a great big thing of metal that’ll cut you in half. Ned realises this, too.

4 On fantasy without fantasy

“I don’t believe that giants and ghouls and White Walkers are lurking beyond the Wall.”

You can tell which of those we’re meant to care about from which one the subtitles capitalise. No way are we ever seeing giants or ghouls.

Things That Are Coming

  1. Winter, still.
  2. A war of some kind.
  3. Bran’s testimony?
  4. White Walkers? Is this the same as winter? Are they just the friendly face of Father Winter?

On mail

Alright, I’ve had a day.

So I bought a new chair. Well, my parents bought it for me, because it’s my birthday soon, and my chair has not been getting less creaky, it has felt like it could break in half for a while, good useful gift that I’ll get a lot of daily use out of for years. Happy birthday to me.1Well, on the 17th.

Ordered it online, because none of us felt like shoving it into a car and all that hassle, picked a delivery window when I knew I’d be home. That was yesterday, the morning of the fifth, I was home the whole time. It did briefly announce it would show up today instead, right while I’d be at the cinema, but that only lasted about an hour. A little weird, not a problem. And I am, indeed, home the whole time. And then the delivery window ends, I check the mail box, and discover the delivery person has missed me. Funny way to find out I wasn’t home at all.

It is at this point that I start to seriously consider my previously announced intention to destroy and eat the next mail van I see.

Anyway, now I’ve got to get this 22kg box from a supermarket a kilometre from my house. Which is a lot more hassle than it would’ve been with the car, for anyone. Realise that might be a lot for me on my own, so I ask the Brother, who lives 300 metres away from me.2Close enough that we can juuuust about wave at and see each other if I go up the roof. He’s happy to help, and leaving a work a little early, anyway, so we go that same afternoon.

The Plan: We take my bike, pop the box on top of the bike, two pairs of hands should get it home. Simple. We’re Dutch, we could solve a murder with a bike and two pairs of hands, and we could do it without the hands if we needed to.

Halfway to the supermarket, my bike announces its plan to decouple from three of the spokes on my back wheel. Clang clang clang. Thunk, thud. Three loose at once, damn. The metal on the wheel has bad cracks in it. That’s gonna mean a new wheel, baby. Sigh. Oh well. It’s a 10-year old bike, it’s a miracle it’s served me this well this long. I’ll take it to the guy after I come home.

Get to the store, pick up the package. Well, two packages, they had a book for me, too. Coincidence. We try a few different angles, get it on the bike, standing up on the, what do you call that, the pakjesdrager, literally the “package carrier,” the metal shelf thing over the back wheel. A package carrier carrying a package. This works fine, almost exactly like I’d expected.

It is at this point that I’d like to talk about the ways in which you’re wondering how this is gonna go wrong. Maybe the back wheel collapses. Maybe the box falls off. Maybe the whole bike just explodes. Maybe– No. It goes wrong in none of these ways. The box is heavy, it’s a bit of a walk with that kind of weight, but we know what we’re doing. Two hands on the bike, two hands on the box. We get it home. I thank the Brother profusely, and offer to buy Subway tomorrow, before the movie.

Once I get the box in the hallway, I suddenly have a thought. I ask the Brother, hey, if I go inside, can you do this real quick? I do, he does. The thing that should happen… doesn’t.

There’s a beat, like a silent penultimate panel in a comic strip that overuses those.

My doorbell doesn’t work.


  • 1
    Well, on the 17th.
  • 2
    Close enough that we can juuuust about wave at and see each other if I go up the roof.

On blogging (II)

The oldest revision of this post is dated 21 September, 2023, and I think I must’ve deleted four or five different versions of it between then and now. In its first iteration, it was about, what have we learned from blogging for a month, from being off the old web forum for a little? What has changed about how I think, how I exist in the world? In a later iteration, I go through a bunch of posts and go, what worked, what didn’t? I posted none of these, obviously. They all felt annoying.

5 days into 2024, what I think each of these iterations have in common is what I’m trying to say with them. So let’s just say it without structure, without format: To a tee, every single revision of this post is trying to say, hey, I’m… better off.

In the end, the basic truth of it is, the fact at hand, it’s, with that one door closed and this one opened? I’m happier. Six months in, I like myself more, I like the shape of my life better, I like the sound of the two dozen audio tracks playing constantly in my head a lot better, than I did a year ago.

That’s all I wanted to say. Happy new year.

On allying with one of many families in a war-torn medieval land

Game of Thrones 1×02: “The Kingsroad”


“Dear brother, there are times you make me wonder whose side you’re on.”

Let’s think about sides for a moment. A lot of this kind of story hangs on whose side everyone is or isn’t on, because they all have complicated allegiances and loyalties, and they love to make snide remarks that suggest or imply those might change, or that they might have secret ones. So much said, so much unsaid. Even bonds of the heart or blood aren’t sacred if the right advantage comes along to draw one to another allegiance.

I couldn’t rattle off these allegiances to you off the top of my head right now, that’s not how my brain works. I assume Lannisters are with Lannisters, Starks with Starks, that the Night Watch will typically take priority, etc.

This may be a big part of why I found this hard to get into way back when I last tried, all those social rules — but it should be much easier to relate to now that I’ve been on Mastodon for nearly a decade.


“There’s a war coming, Ned. I don’t know when, I don’t know who we’ll be fighting, but it’s coming.”

Let’s keep track of some arrows shot that are in the air, some things that are meant to be coming.

  1. Winter — already at the Wall, but approaching places that aren’t usually like that.
  2. A war — this seems inevitable regardless of current affairs, because what is a story like this if there’s not a war to deal with.
  3. Bran, out of his coma.
  4. White Walkers?
  5. All of these people having all of this graphic sex, hopefully?


“A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone.”

Tyrion to Game of Thrones as Sawyer was to LOST — the jester, the understander, the knower, the guy who speaks the truths others aren’t socially allowed to, and who is happy to throw himself into a fight if need be. What are the odds he’ll similarly come out somewhat on top, having suffered losses but better for it in the end?


“In the Shadow Lands beyond Asshai, they say there are fields of ghost grass with stalks as pale as milk that glow in the night. Murders all other grass.”

By whatever dead god they worship, even the fucking grass is no fun allowed.

What are your pinned tabs? Here’s mine.

Cucumber season in blogland. Or, well, lots of stuff I want to write about but that I can’t find the time or the words to, you know, write about. Let’s do a classic “what’s on your keyring” question.

As of 2 January, 2024, these are my pinned tabs. I use Opera on macOS.

  • 🫑 Piperka. The webcomic bookmarking service I’ve used for… half my life, I think. Together with its bookmarklet, first in my bookmarks bar, Piperka is how I read webcomics. Real second brain stuff for me. Here’s everything I read.
  • ♟️ BrainKing. I play a lot of board games online, these days mostly Backgammon (and several variants like Plakoto) and Dice Chess. My username is AlexDaily — feel free to invite me to some games.
  • 💬 Discord. A recent addition. I don’t really use Discord, but DMs with a friend had to go somewhere after I quit Twitter. This is essentially the slot where TweetDeck used to live.
  • 🐘 Mastodon. My own instance, Beep Boop One. Advanced web interface, always. Follow me on there if you don’t already.
  • 🎬 Letterboxd. An integral part of how I watch movies, another real second brain service for me.
  • 🪐 Cal’s forum The Planet.
  • ✍️ This blog’s admin panel.
  • 📺 The TV Calendar. More second brain stuff. Genuinely, if it’s not on here, I lose track of it and forget it exists.

A temporary addition as of last week is Paul Gadzikowski’s The Hero of Three Faces, which was due a reread — I’d do it through Piperka, but Piperka tracks Three Faces in production order, not chronological.

What are your pinned tabs? What can’t you do without in your browser? What services are second brain for you? Why not blog the answer yourself, or leave it in the comments?

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