On this morning’s walk I was listening to my iPod when The Steve Miller Band’s Abracadabra came up on the playlist. Without conscious thought, a big smile broke across my face as I listened to the silly lyrics — which are not exactly like poetry. (“Abra, Abracadabra . . . I want to reach out and grab ya.“)
A stranger happened to be walking by in the opposite direction, and when he saw my grin he smiled right back. His reaction, in turn, made my smile a bit wider.
Genuine smiles are contagious. We all know that from personal experience, and scientific studies of the phenomenon prove its existence. Whether it is due to the existence of “mirror neurons” in our brains, or social conditioning, or a combination of factors, humans are programmed to meet a smile with a smile. And when we provoke that expression of delight, and see the face of a loved one turn sunny as a result of our comment or conduct, it is a wonderful thing.
I don’t know if Steve Miller anticipated all of this when he wrote Abracadabra — but he worked a little bit of magic on a New Albany walking path this morning.
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.