Self-Proclaiming “Bad Ass” Status

Can you properly proclaim yourself a “bad ass”?  Or, is “bad ass” status something that can only truly be conferred by others, in recognition of your record and your lifelong body of work?

il_570xn.1459814370_mhh7This compelling issue arose because a friend at work referred to herself as a “bad ass.”  Admittedly, she did it in a carefully phrased, utterly lawyerly way — I think she may have said that she “projects a bad ass persona,” or something similar — but the implication was essentially the same.  And that raises the question of whether self-proclaiming that you are a “bad ass” is really valid.  Can you become a “bad ass” simply by buying a “bad ass” nameplate for your desk?

I think earning true “bad ass” distinction can only come from your recognition as such by third parties, and not by a personal declaration.  A “bad ass” is defined as someone who is tough, intimidating, and uncompromising.  (And wouldn’t you like to know, incidentally, how the phrase came to have that meaning, and when it was first used in that context?)  Being a “bad ass” therefore is a quality, like being deemed “smart,” that is difficult for individuals to self-assess, in part because it involves some comparison of your qualities to others.  And true personal evaluation isn’t easy for people.

Samwell Tarly, for example, desperately wants to be seen as a tough guy, and he’ll remind anyone within earshot that he once killed a white walker — but despite poor Sam’s pleading, no one is going to call him a “bad ass.”  Arya Stark, on the other hand, is recognized by one and all as a “bad ass,” without really even trying.  She has that quality and everyone knows it, and Sam doesn’t.  Indeed, the Urban Dictionary website says that the first rule of actually being a “bad ass” is that you don’t talk about being a “bad ass.”

I therefore question whether self-proclaiming that you are a “bad ass” really works.  However, I acknowledge that my friend is indeed tough and uncompromising — so I hereby declare that I consider her to be a “bad ass,” thereby conferring upon her official “bad ass” status.  Now I just need to find one of those nameplates for her desk.

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A New Game To Enjoy

The Buckeyes’ loss to Wichita State still stings, but at least we’ve got a new Game to command our attention and analysis:  HBO’s Game of Thrones returns tonight.  You can see the extended trailer for Season Three here.

I’ve written before about Game of Thrones — both the HBO series and the epic-length books.  It’s a fantastic show, rich in themes and plots and production values, one that convincingly captures the curious medieval world where seasons can last for decades, dragons fly, and magic is real.  I’m looking forward to the return of characters that I love, and even more to the return of the awful characters that I love to hate.

I’ll relish reigniting my intense loathing for the detestable Joffrey Baratheon, the sadistic, cowardly punk who sits uneasily on the Iron Throne, and his duplicitous, manipulative mother Cersei.  I’ll be interested to see what happens to Jon Snow and the tiny yet hardy band of misfits and castoffs manning The Wall in the far north, working to meet the challenge of the wildlings and the White Walkers.   I’ll root for the honest, loyal Brienne of Tarth, the gigantic female knight who displays more knightly virtues than the men who ridicule her.  And I’ll enjoy becoming reacquainted with Arya, and Bran, and Tyrion, and the complex, interwoven storylines that characterize this series and meeting the new characters that will be introduced this season.

Having read the books, I suppose I could announce “spoilers,” but that’s not fair Game.  I’ll say only that big things, and terrible things, will be happening to the characters we’ve come to know.  Of course, loyal watchers of the show knew that already.  Any show that kills off its main character by public beheading before Season One even ends is not afraid to spin the world of Westeros on its axis.

Lost Magic, Due To Too Much Magic

Kish and I watched the Game of Thrones season finale and came away vaguely disappointed.  It was well-acted and interesting, as always, but vaguely anticlimactic after last week’s big battle — and also unsatisfying because the mystical and magical plot elements seem to be overpowering everything else.

I loved the first season of Game of Thrones because the characters were richly drawn and often highly flawed, the settings were exotic and fascinating, and the intrigue, infighting, and infamous villains made for riveting television.  There was some enchantment and sorcery — such as the mystical bond between the Starks and their wolves — but for the most part the story line focused on families and courtiers vying for power in the nest of vipers that is King’s Landing.  The deaths of leading characters, showing that no one was safe, made the show even more unpredictable and fun.

This year there’s much more magic, and in the finale there was a lot more magic.  There’s a witch who gives birth to black smoke creatures advising one pretender to the throne, a fireproof woman who can command dragons to burn her enemies, the undead marching on civilization, and a swordsman who can change his face.  I recognize that the characters live in a world where such things are more common, but frankly I find the magic kind of boring.  If a character can just command dragons to breathe fire on her enemies, who’s going to be able to stop her?  Where’s the suspense in that?

I’d prefer to see the focus be more on the characters who lack the knack for witchcraft, and who are therefore more vulnerable and interesting than the purveyors of the black arts.  I want to see more of the slippery but apparently decent eunuch who has the best interests of the kingdom at heart, mighty mite Tyrion Lannister, who to his own surprise discovered inner courage and cunning enough to save the kingdom from invasion, the giant female warrior who is devoted to Catelyn Stark, and the unconquerable Arya Stark — among others.  Let me see the nauseating and loathsome Joffrey Baratheon get his much-needed comeuppance by a sword thrust from a brawny arm, and not by the wave of a wizard’s wand.

Getting Ready To Get Back Into The Game

On April 1, HBO will start to air new episodes of season 2 of Game of Thrones. Kish and I can’t wait.

In case you haven’t watched it, Game of Thrones is a show about a mythical land in a medieval time period. The story revolves around kings and contending noble families, as well as a nomadic tribal society. The characters include a dwarf, an incestuous brother and sister, and an insufferable, cowardly youth who now sits uneasily on the throne.

What makes the show especially tantalizing, however, is the more fantastic elements of the plot lines, including sorcery, dragons, and the mysterious “white walkers” who live outside an enormous Wall somehow erected by the generations past — and who inevitably are going to try to get past the Wall as winter comes.

I’m ready to get back into the storyline and to take a dip into the gore that comes with swordplay, executions, and heads on pikes. I want to finally see the “white walkers” contend with the brave outcasts manning the Wall. I want to see Littlefinger betray a few more people in his high-wire effort to keep his hands on the levers of power. I want to see the newborn dragons in action, commanded by the woman who survived the fires with them. I want to see the Starks kick some Baratheon butt. And, most of all, I want to see the callow Joffrey Baratheon squeal like a stuck pig and beg for his life before getting his head lopped off — preferably by young Arya Stark, who took her sword lessons last year.

Let the Game begin!