Figurine Fan

IMG_5990I’m not a fan of most figurines. My mother and grandmother had a lot of those delicate china items, usually depicting women in gowns with umbrellas and kept on tables where little boys could easily knock them to the ground and ruin them forever. I simply have no appreciation for them, perhaps because I grew up afraid that I’d break them.

My grandmother also had some interesting carved figures of men and women from the Far East, dressed in traditional Japanese and Chinese garb. I’ve inherited them and keep them on my home desk, and they’ve helped to convert me into something of a fan of figurines. They are exquisitely detailed and — perhaps not coincidentally — sturdy and heavy. I’m not sure what they are made of (bone? ivory?) but they have the feel of age and quality and craftsmanship about them. I can’t tell anything else about them, because they only include Japanese or Chinese characters on the bottom of the base, with no English to be seen.

Russell, ever the artist, said something interesting recently. We asked him what he wanted from a particular place, and he said he didn’t care, so long as it was “something beautiful.” That concept stuck with me. It’s nice to have a beautiful thing or two around, to make you appreciate care and detail and inspire you to work a bit hard to bring quality to what you are doing, too.

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Game Of Thrones: The Books And The Broadcast

Game of Thrones fans eagerly anticipated last night’s episode opening season four. To help put the story in context, and to remind myself of the characters and their back story, I’ve been re-reading the books. Season four begins in the second half of the third book, A Storm of Swords, just after Robb Stark and his forces have been slaughtered at the Red Wedding by the scheming and now-cursed Walder Frey.

Having just read the book prior to last night’s broadcast, you can’t help but notice the differences. That’s not surprising, of course — the books are huge and sprawling, and if you were to faithfully recreate every fight scene, character, and vignette, the series would be impossibly expensive to film and last forever. In a nod to the realities of TV storytelling, some characters and incidents need to be cut. (And, it being HBO, the whorehouse settings, where some random nakedness can be displayed, tend to be accentuated.)

In addition, some of the more subtle aspects of the books and, particularly, the conversations of the characters are changed to direct statements in an effort to make clear, in an instant, a realization that books might convey to a reader after 50 pages of careful writing. Last night’s observation by Jaime Lannister that Cersei Baratheon is drinking more than she had been previously is a good example.

What are some of the other differences? Characters tend to be a bit more pointed on TV. For example, the writers of Game of Thrones never miss a chance to insert the execrable Joffrey Baratheon into a scene and have him say something that reconfirms what a miserable, bullying, craven little bastard he truly is. I don’t mind that, either, because anything that makes that sniveling character easier to hate is fine with me. And, because I read the books after I started to watch the show, I don’t have the disconnect that happens when you read a book first, fix a mental image of the characters in your head, then have to get used to a different person when the story hits the small screen.

I’m glad I re-read A Storm of Swords, which is packed with great scenes and shocking developments. I’m ready for season four, which should be a very wild ride.