When The Internet Is Fun Again

-6I recognize there are downsides to the internet. It can be an angry place, where anonymous people hurl their rage like weapons. It’s filled with porn, and scams, and falsities, and predators looking to inflict harm on the unwary.

There is so much about the internet that is bad that we forget, sometimes, that the internet can be fun, too. I remembered that today, when I received a comment on our blog from a fellow named Tim. He’d read some of our blog posts about Grandpa Neal, and he wanted to reach out and connect. You see, he’s related to one of Grandpa’s lifelong friends, and he has some pictures of Grandpa with that friend that he wanted to share.

This kind of contact with an unknown person is exactly the kind of thing that makes the internet so much fun — and, sometimes, so treacherous. I responded to Tim, we exchanged emails, and he has sent me some great old photos and news articles. This picture of the Firestone Bank 1923 basketball squad, which apparently won the Akron bank league competition, is a classic that made me smile. I’ve never seen it before. That’s a ridiculously youthful Grandpa Neal holding the ball, and Tim’s grandfather standing above Grandpa’s left shoulder.

Were it not for the internet, I never would have communicated with Tim or seen this photo. For all of its drawbacks, the internet remains an extraordinary communications tool. Thanks, Tim, for sharing — and thanks to the internet for making it all possible.

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In The Game Of Thrones Book-TV Confusion Zone

Kish and I have been happy to see the ads for the new season of Game of Thrones on HBO. We love the show and think that everyone could use a few more dragons in their lives.

My problem, however, is that I’ve read the books and watched the TV episodes. The books take you to events beyond the TV show, and now I’m having a hard time remembering where the HBO blockbuster left off. Seeing previews with Joffrey Baratheon — that miserable, sniveling little sadist — helps to place the show on the timeline of the overall story, but there are countless other characters that I need to place on the story arc. Let’s see . . . Robb’s been killed in a monumental act of betrayal at the Red Wedding, but where are Sansa and Arya? How about Brienne of Tarth? Where was the story of Jon Snow left off? How far has Cersei slid down the path to her own personal humiliation and madness?

With a tapestry as rich as that woven by George R.R. Martin in his books, with dozens of prominent characters and hundreds of weird-sounding names, it’s not hard to lose a plot thread or two. Fortunately, HBO has recognized that and has scheduled a catch-up program to allow us all to remember precisely where things stand.

Speaking of Martin, the release date for the next book in the series, The Winds of Winter, still has not been set. Martin continues to tantalize his fans, however, by periodically releasing parts of the book — including most recently a single paragraph about Tyrion Lannister. The internet buzz is that the book has been written in rough form, is more than 1,000 pages long, and is in the process of being edited, which probably means it won’t be hitting the bookstore shelves for some time. I hope we get plenty of advance notice, because I’ll need some lead time to reread the series and get back up to speed.

Season 4 of the HBO show, in the meantime, begins on April 6.