Murakami Throws Shade on Ugly Dentist

Story # 5 of The Elephant Vanishes: Sleep

(Murakami writes from a woman’s point of view in this one. Self found the effect a bit startling at first)

“I know why you’ve got so many patients,” I always say to him. “It’s because you’re such a good-looking guy.”

This is our little joke. He’s not good-looking at all. Actually, he’s kind of strange-looking. Even now I wonder why I married such a strange-looking man.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Signs You’re In New York City

It’s midnight, and the airport terminal is as crowded as Grand Central.

The line at the taxi rank is 200 people long, at least. It makes self’s stomach twist in all sorts of nasty ways.

A woman keeps trying to cut ahead of her, for some reason. All self’s fighting instincts come to the fore and she blocks the woman, refusing to give up an inch.

A man wearing a bright yellow vest marked AIRPORT MONITOR keeps yelling at people. Strangely, he does not strike self as angry. In San Francisco, when people yell, they are really really angry.

There were 10 cabs lined up at the taxi rank. Until self got to the front of the line, and then there were NO taxis. NO taxis for another 20 minutes. And the airport monitor kept yelling, to no one in particular: “There are a hundred taxis coming, people. A HUNDRED taxis!”

The green-and-white Medallion cab looks very nondescript, and the leather seats are worn. No GPS, just the driver saying he knows where to go (and he does). Sometimes New York strikes self as being on the verge of breakdown. But it never quite gets there. Which shows you just how tough its people are.

She catches just a glimpse of skyline before the cab enters Manhattan. Next thing you know, it’s stopped in front of a very nondescript sign on a very dark, narrow street that seems to be one big construction zone. Welcome! You’re in New York City now!

People self knows in New York City: one niece and two nephews and of course their parents; Melissa; Penny and Thomas; Luis and Midori; Sam; Marie; Drew; Bruce. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but whenever self is in New York, she is always busy seeing people. She used to know a literary agent who, as far as self knows, probably still has her office in a building on 57th Street.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Laszlo Krasznahorkai, SEIOBO THERE BELOW

It’s the quote that begins the last story, Screaming Beneath the Earth, p. 447:

We ask nothing of the dragons, and the dragons ask nothing of us.

— Zi Chan

Self finds these quotes pretty droll. For instance, the one that begins The Preservation of the Buddha is “For the greater glory of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.” The entire story is about the Buddha and there is nothing, literally nothing about Jesus Christ.

Krasznahorkai, you savage troll. Not only do you put misleading quotes at the beginning of each story, you force us to read 50-page sentences. How dare you.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Finding Gendry (in 2017) And Losing Him Again

I’m worried about Gendry, bc if they left him on the Wall, SWEETIE NO

Is Gendry out rowing again?

Pod’s drinking with Bronn, Gendry’s at . . .  Castle Black, I guess.

Wait . . . I have to wait TWO YEARS for Arya to reunite with Jon and Gendry??

Y’all did Gendry get on another rowboat, where tf did he go

Finale: Best death FINALLY! So perfect. Glad I don’t have a nephew, would’ve been far more awkward. Needed more Gendry.

Where is my man Gendry

*wakes up from a dead slumber* Wait, where was Gendry? Is he okay? I need him to be okay. *falls back asleep*

Is there any way Gendry can have some respect, like, you just made him run the Olympics and then you don’t even show him.

So . . .  Gendry ran so fast in #GameofThrones that he got out of the storyline??

still can’t believe Jon and Gendry didn’t stop by Winterfell to see Arya

season 3: spends six seasons rowing. season 7: runs for one whole episode

gendry and arya sitting in a tree K.I.S.S.I.N.G.

*thinks about Gendry x Arya and cries*

the worst thing that could happen in the next episode is killing off Gendry right after he stopped rowing

Gendry is so attractive he’s definitely going to die next

(Which is what everyone was secretly thinking about Dickon. Seriously. What a waste of eye candy. Simply disgusting. HBO, D & D, you guys definitely missed an opportunity there)

So, let’s give three cheers to the greatest dead people of Season 7

  • Dickon (Oops, forgot Dickon’s dad, Randall Tarly. How rude!)
  • Dolorous Ed (Wait, did he die in Season 7? Not sure. But he definitely DEAD)
  • Littlefinger
  • Olenna Tyrrell
  • Viserion
  • Thoros
  • random redshirts (at least two died Beyond the Wall)
  • Polar Bear wight
  • Captive wight
  • many other wights
  • Lannister soldiers
  • Dothraki (please God not the one who was in the foreground during the “jumping onto a galloping horse” cavalry charge)

The greates death of all, drum roll, ta-ra!: The Wall

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

MVP: “Beyond the Wall,” GoT 7:06

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“Beyond the Wall”: Game of Thrones, Season 7, Episode 6

MVP: The Hound

Because, seriously, the way he was front and center of all the fight scenes.

Self’s beloved Gendry was tucked safely out of harm’s way by his newfound bestie, Jon Snow. “Go run back to Eastwatch, Gendry!”

Points to the King of the North for doing his best to keep the last Baratheon Bastard alive until Season 8!

Best Lines:

Tormund/The Hound/Gendry/Tyrion

Most Heartstopping Moment: When she thought Tormund was going to be dragged through A HOLE IN THE ICE with white walkers grabbing his legs (Self thought they hated water???)

Come to think of it, there was another heartstopping moment, that she learned about on Twitter via spoiler, but she did not expect to worry that Tormund might die, so she’ll give the Heartstopping Moment Award to Tormund.

Self forgets everything said back at Winterfell. Oh! Brienne spoke. And she was honorable and doomed. Revealing her distrust of Littlefinger to Sansa? Not perhaps the best idea.

Arya’s collection of creepy Fun-House faces: probably a B. Sansa registered the requisite shock, but the mask (Frey’s?) looked like self’s neighborhood costume shop Halloween latex. To Arya’s overall affect this episode: also a B.

Sansa gets an A because the poor dear was so worried that her own sister might carve off her face. No one deserves to endure that kind of fear. No one. Not even Sansa.

A+ Wight: The one dragging the sword across the ice

B+ Wight: The captive wight; for sending the alarm, despite having half its jaw torn off by The Hound

Gendry’s buzzcut finally revealed its utility in this episode: it is easier to tell who he is, with hood down and buzzcut.

Also, the man does NOT run like a penguin. Do viewers understand the mechanics of running through snow? He did the best he could, considering he had never seen snow before and was probably falling into snow drifts and slipping and sliding and what-not.

Hmmm, what else?

Oh yes. The wounds on Jon Snow’s torso: they looked exceedingly fresh. And he looked very pale, almost corpse-like. Jon Snow’s wounds = B+

Gendry collapsing right in front of the Wall: YES! A+ !!!!

Ser Davos being the first of the rescuers to reach Gendry: All the FEELZ! A++

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

DO THE MATH: THE FALL OF THE OTTOMANS, p. 263

The narrative has arrived at the siege of Kut.

Self knows not the exact location of Kut, but she won’t let something like that impede her reading. Onward!

There is a little problem of the food supply for the British defenders :

General Townshend advised the commanders of the relief force that his food stores would be depleted by 23 April but that he would have enough horses to provide meat until 29 April.

An attempt is made to re-supply Kut by air-drop, but — alas! — the pilots have a really bad sense of direction: “. . .  as often as not their parcels go into the Tigris or into the Turkish trenches!”

Final Tally:

  • The siege of Kut lasted four months.
  • In order to relieve 13,000 besieged troops in the city, the British suffered over 23,000 casualties.

This reminds her of another horrendous rescue operation which she read about recently in The Three-Year Swim Club: a World War II unit of Japanese American troops was sent in to rescue members of a platoon. They successfully completed their mission, suffering a terrible casualty rate, something like 50%, many times more than the number of men they ended up rescuing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Sentence of the Day: Vulture.com

  • In the final scene of tonight’s episode, all your Game of Thrones boyfriends (Jon! Jorah! Gendry! Tormund!) find themselves together in Eastwatch castle, and it’s like the angriest sitcom crossover episode you’ve ever seen.

Ha, ha! Good one Vulture writer Nina Shen Rastogi!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Verge on Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 2: “Stormborn”

Self had to sign up for Amazon Prime solely in order to be able to watch Game of Thrones Season 7. She got the first week of HBO free, but now she’s being charged $14.99/month. It’s all good because if she weren’t able to watch GoT Season 7, especially now with confirmation that Gendry would be returning (At last! My Gendry is in the House! Gendry is back, people!), she would just die.

Under the foolish assumption that having HBO deliver the show directly to her feed means she can watch Episode 3 about 12 hours ahead of anyone else, she keeps checking her Amazon link to make sure it is “good” and that the signal is strong. As of right now, there is nada.

So, here she is, all lonesome and frustrated and wondering how she is going to fill the next 12 hours. And then she stumbles on The Verge. Wow, whoever writes the show re-caps is so on point!

There’s this:

We’re back in King’s Landing before you can say “the feature-film debut of pop sensation Britney Spears,” and it seems to me like we could have just stayed here and held off on the 90-second greyscale explainer video until later, but it’s not my show. Cersei and Qyburn take a stroll through the Red Keep’s basement collection of skulls, where he unveils his dragon-slaying plan: a sinister-looking mechanical crossbow loaded with an enormous spear, which he claims “the finest artisan blacksmiths in King’s Landing” have been working on for months.”

  • Wait a minute: Did Qyburn actually use the words “finest artisan blacksmiths in King’s Landing?” Or did he just say “finest blacksmiths”? Because there is a difference. At this point, any mention of the word “blacksmith” has self going waaaay waaaay back in time, to Seasons 2 and 3. Because reasons. Anyhoo, end of digression.

I don’t know, I mean, it’s just a crossbow loaded with a spear. It looks to be only about 1.5 times larger than the one Joffrey was using to pick off prostitutes six years ago. But it successfully shoots a centuries-old dragon skull that is sitting perfectly still . . .  on the ground . . . about 15 feet away. Oh baby, here is a foolproof plan if I ever saw one. And artisanal!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Still More Unusual: Art Is In the Eye of the Beholder

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Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain” at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art


Airplane “Found Art”: Self’s seatmate on a flight from the East Coast back to California was a little girl named California Rose. She made self this sculpture out of Twizzle sticks! The finishing touch: a tiny Mini-Me on the top!

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Most Creative Use of Twizzle Sticks Ever!

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Another Fine Detail: A Graham Cracker Lion at the Base of the Flowers

Game of Thrones, Season 7 Episode 2: Minutiae, As Usual

If you still haven’t seen Season 7 Episode 2, then obviously SPOILER ALERT

Gendry did not show his lovely face, but almost every second of screen time was a reminder. D & D love messing with us! Just cut it out, you two!

Here’s a list of times when self couldn’t help thinking of The Last Baratheon:

  • Dragonstone war room. Many, many things happened in this room. Such as: Stannis. Such as Stannis and Melisandre on the map table. Such as Gendry’s first meeting with his uncle Stannis grabbing his face and saying, “Half Robert and half lowborn.” Remember poor Gendry’s look of bewilderment?
  • Melisandre. She took Gendry from Arya! We will never forget the leeches. Never.
  • The conversation between Dany and Varys: Almost every sentence had the word Baratheon in it. This has got to be foreshadowing, right? Since both Cersei and Danys seemed to sneer every time they made reference to King Robert, self thinks Gendry is pretty smart to stay out of sight and under the radar. Keep rowing, Gendry!
  • Not only was the word Baratheon sprinkled liberally throughout the convo, Varys also brought up his concern for the common people. And we all know Gendry is a commoner. (Varys knows about Gendry! Oh my Lord! Mebbe he is Gendry’s Secret Protector!)
  • Cersei going with Qyburn to the crypts where he unveils a fantastic dragon-killing machine, forged by “the finest blacksmiths.” You say blacksmith, self thinks Gendry!
  • Arya bumping into Hot Pie. The missing member of this threesome was very much in the room, even though neither Arya nor Hot Pie ever mentioned his name.
  • Someone tracking Arya in the woods. That could be Gendry! He’s hiding behind a tree, observing Arya (100% wishful thinking. Again.) Self wonders if Hot Pie and Gendry ever get to share a scene; mebbe Hot Pie brings up the fact that he’d just seen Arya?

Moving on.

Wins:

  • That sea battle was so kickass!
  • Yara. Just, more Yara. Yara putting her legs on the table. That moment when she realizes all is lost, and gets a really determined look on her face. Gemma Whalen is fanta-ma-tas-tic! Self knows this because she has seen Gemma in RL and she is such an itty bitty thing. This actress projects huge.
  • Olenna Tyrell, always a scene stealer.
  • Varys. Loved his conversation with Dany.
  • Cersei. Lena Headey, you are such a queen!
  • Jon almost strangling Littlefinger. More!
  • Hot Pie. Good at any time, but especially good at dropping Easter Eggs.
  • Theon abandoning ship. It is so perfectly in character. Plus, his backstory (and continuing evolution) is fascinating.

Fails:

  • Ser Jorah. Just got itchy looking at him. Fast forward over the “cure.” You’ll know it’s over when Sam stops retching.
  • Surprisingly, the absolute bulk of Nymeria. She looked like she’d wandered in from a Ray Harryhausen movie.
  • Euron’s grand entrance. Hey, this isn’t Scaramouche!

Meh:

  • Missandei/Grey Worm. She just can’t get excited about these two. Although Grey Worm is pretty fabulous, especially from the back. Three cheers for D & D, finally showing us what the character’s hiding beneath all that armour.
  • Tyene Sands’ long hair. This character is going to die, and all self could think was: Why did she decide to grow out her hair? Somehow, self can’t get past it.

In closing, self would just like to say that the reddit user who, a few weeks ago, posted a blow-by-blow of Season 7 (since taken down) was correct in every little plot detail. Here’s what he said about Gendry’s return: it happens in Episode 5. And Arya and Gendry don’t meet until the final episode of Season 7.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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