Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ruining a good thing

O.K., here's my critique of the HBO production of Game of Thrones, which one of my staff had ordered, and lent me to watch. It looks great, perfect, some things, like The Wall, so much better than I'd imagined in reading the book; the music was mesmerizing, the opening credits amazing, the acting, virtually without exception, excellent. But but but.

Bob had warned me that there was a lot of "gratuitous sex," and as it turned out, that gratuitous sex ultimately ruined the show for me, and made it impossible for me to continue watching it. Just way too much totally unnecessary sex, nearly all of which involved women -- usually totally naked women -- being thumped soundly from behind, bare breasts flopping. The only time I witnessed what you might call halfway affectionate, facing-each-other sex was in the scene where Princess Daenerys convinces her barbarian husband to try it that way for a change. And interestingly, that was her only sex scene in which she was allowed to keep her clothes on...presumably because they had to cover up the man's penis (still that particular double standard?).

I ignored this stuff for as long as I could, but when we finally reached a scene that could in no wise be described as anything but pornographic -- two totally naked women having sex, in various positions, accompanied by much exaggerated heavy breathing, under the gaze and tutelage of a man -- I decided that was it. I couldn't even just fast-forward through this tasteless scene, because I realized the man was doing a helvua lot of talking, while gazing at his two whores, and when I turned off the mute, sure enough, he was giving all this information that was actually important to the story. But doing it to the accompaniment of this totally distracting heavy breathing. Boo hiss.

Although the show did such an excellent job otherwise in adhering to the book -- one of its many pluses -- none of this beat-the-bitch down sex is in the book, not an ounce, not an inch of it. There is a sex scene between the Queen and her brother, while they are visitors at Winterfell -- which the boy Brand inadvertently witnesses, which brings about his near-death -- but it's nothing like what we were shown on the screen (brother pounding sister from behind, though in her case she's clothed, just has her skirts hiked up.)

Some folks will respond with irritation: well for heaven's sake, you don't have to watch the thing. If someone was watching it when it was being shown on HBO that someone could switch it off and not tune in again; in my case, and that of anyone else watching the DVDs, rather than the original show on T.V., we could simply stop watching it. Which is of course true, although while in my case I could just return the borrowed DVDs to the gentleman on my staff who had lent it to me, and be out nothing, if one had ordered the DVDs, started to watch them, and discovered how much offensive sex there was in it, one would just be out of luck, and that much money.

But here's the real thing, the big thing: what a shame that what was otherwise such a well-done production of a fascinating story that so many of us enjoyed in book form, should be ruined for what must surely be a goodly number of us by the addition of scenes of pornographic crudeness and offensiveness that had nothing to do with the book. If all that had been left out, the men in the audience would be no worse off -- you can't miss what was never there -- and the women in the audience would not have had to sit through so many scenes that one begins to suspect represent the director's fantasies about putting women in their proper place. Frankly, I feel sorry for all those actresses who are forced to agree to perform in pornographic scenes, in order to snag what are otherwise excellent parts. Boo hiss.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Lots of things to talk about. First, it's been a gorgeous day, a perfect day, here in central Maine, the third in a row. A few weeks ago we had several days of false spring, when we all got excited because it was sunny, and the temperatures got up into the 70s, even 80 degrees one day. But we all knew that wouldn't last, and we were all right; there followed several weeks of coolish, often overcast (though rarely rainy; we are way behind on our rain quotient) weather, when we were all still wearing turtle necks, jackets and gloves. But the last three days have reassured us: yes, spring does always come 'round at last, even in Maine. I actually wore a skirt and sandals without stockings when I went out to run my errands today.

Now, as to those errands. One of them was to buy salt and pepper shakers. I can't even remember when last I had a salt & pepper set; for literally years I've just bought the little cardboard sets you can get at the supermarket. The problem with that was that the salt would always run out long before the pepper, so I'd be collecting pepper shakers in the cabinet, in order to keep myself in salt. My friend Susan did give me the cutest little salt and pepper mills a couple of Christmases ago, which I do love, but milled salt isn't always what I want; that is, I'm often looking for more finely-grained salt than you can get from a mill (besides which it always seemed to be the case that when I would grab for them they'd be empty, and I'd fume while I fumbled to get them refilled, while the whatever was cooking on the stove).

So anyway, I've been looking for weeks at places like the Goodwill Store, K-Mart, Target, Reny's (the wonderfully old-fashioned department store we have here in Maine) for a not-too-expensive set that wasn't boring. Today, as I was driving to Staples to buy ink cartridges for my printer, I passed the Bed and Bath store and the light bulb went on in my head: hey, they should certainly have salt and pepper sets. And they did, but most of them were, alas, boring; but then I found the last remaining Bear Set! A Maine black bear sitting on its rear end, holding a small shaker in each arm. Kitsch as all get out -- the sort of thing I normally do not go for at all -- but it charmed me, no doubt at least partly because of all the too-big, too-expensive, too bland shaker sets I've looked at lately.

So that was the successful part of my outing. The less successful part was connected to my constant, constant, constant inability to remember things. When I decided I would have to go buy ink cartridges I had the fleeting thought that I should take the used ones I have, to turn them in for reward coupons (although the last reward coupon I received, for $6, I forgot to use before the deadline...) However, in the event, I forgot to take them with me; thought of it as I was pulling out of the parking lot at the local drugstore, where I'd gone first, in hopes that they'd have the ink cartridges I needed, so I wouldn't have to drive all the way to Augusta. I was about five minutes from home, but simply did not feel up to adding to the driving I was about to have to do (I had also done a lot of running around yesterday), by going back for the old cartridges; would just have to turn them in another time.

And here's the big thing: I shouldn't have had to go get ink cartridges at all today, because I went to Staples yesterday, to get something for work (can't now remember what it was!), and I had the thought, oh, I should get ink for my home printer while I'm there. But I realized I wasn't sure what the number of the cartridges was. Pretty sure, but not absolutely sure; I simply could not remember, for sure. And mind you, I've had this printer a good two years, have bought ink cartridges for it innumerable times...but I couldn't remember the number.

I do despair. I know we all joke about our Senior Moments, and Nora Ephron has made lots of money making us laugh as she describes how She Remembers Nothing. I just can't seem to maintain a sense of humor about constantly not being able to remember, having to constantly look for things because I can't remember where I've laid them down (this happens on average about six times a day), constantly discovering I've missed deadlines at work, failed to do this that or the other thing that needs doing, despite the To Do Lists, and all the giant notes all over the place. I REMEMBER NOTHING!! And alas, it really isn't funny.