Final Thoughts on Game of Thrones

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So, Game of Thrones. Ever heard of it? Just ended, I’m sure you have thoughts. I have some, as well. I went back an forth on whether or not to even post this, because, as I said, everyone in the world has their opinions and everyone in the world has already written their think pieces and everyone in the world has already told everyone else in the world how much they hated this season. There’s really nothing original or thought-provoking or worthwhile I can add to the discussion surrounding season 8 and the end to the saga, but I feel like I have to try, anyway. It’s Website Law, after all. I found the final two seasons relatively disappointing and didn’t love the ending, but it was far from the worst thing I’ve ever seen. Anyone saying as such is likely just a prisoner of the moment and got caught up in the hype and theorizing, has never watched a TV show from start to finish before, or is just looking for affirmation online.

In the grand scheme of the fandom, I’m an early GOT adapter: the first season is the only one I didn’t watch live. I’ve read the books and the companion books. I know more about Westeros and Essos than any one man should know. If there’s anyone who should be personally offended by the ending to all of this, it’s me. And I just….don’t really care that much. It was a crappy ending. That doesn’t erase the hours upon hours of amazing television or the pages upon pages of amazing storytelling. Just because you found the ending underwhelming doesn’t mean the show itself is now worthless or can’t be appreciated. It’s completely absurd that a TV show had the kind of production value Game of Thrones did. Set mistakes aside, this season was mind-blowing visually. The acting, as usual, was top-notch. Yet another dominant season from Peter Dinklage, whose work as Tyrion, even though the writing let his character down, has to be put into the all-time great TV performance pantheon. TV is only getting bigger and more expensive and drawing bigger directors and actors and producers, so maybe this becomes the norm. But it probably won’t, so even if you didn’t love the pacing or the writing or the characterizations or whatever (I didn’t, either), there’s still so much to appreciate. It wasn’t a perfect ending, it’s not the end of the world.

When they look back on this ten or twenty years from now, I think the showrunners (if they even care) will be kicking themselves over the truncation of seasons 7 and 8 and the two-year gap between them. Granted, I’m sure they didn’t have much control over the delay, but it only increased the fervor and the theorizing and the hand-wringing and allowed more and more people to catch up and get hyped up for the finale. It would have been nearly impossible to come up with an ending the majority of people liked, but shortening the seasons like that tied one hand behind their backs. They kept saying it was only a 73-hour story. What? You knew that specific number when you made the pilot? That seems fake and lazy. But you know what? In a way I don’t really blame them. They signed up to adapt George R.R. Martin’s brilliant world into a television show, and, before they knew it, they ran out of world. Guys who aren’t fantasy authors had to now finish a master’s story. That would be like if Gordon Ramsey did the first 80% of an extravagant meal and then told me to finish the dish I’d never even heard of previously. It was always going to be rocky. It’s so hard to finish any massive story like this. It’s even harder when it’s not yours and you’ve been thrown into a stormy ocean with no life vest. I can see pretty clearly why those two just wanted out. They’ll always have the first six seasons.

So now we just hope and pray that Geroge can finish the books. To be honest, they’re so long and deep and there are so many different threads and plots that I don’t even know if it’s humanly possible to wrap it up in a satisfying way. His meandering style doesn’t exactly lend itself to speedy completion, but I’m sure everyone would rather wait to have as good a version as possible than some rush job. I’m worried for his health, and the amount of pressure he’s now facing is incomprehensible. I’m rooting for him, mostly because this has become one of the most formative stories in my life. As someone currently writing my own books, his world building and narrative style are inspirational. So take your time, George, but uhh, yeah. It’s kind of up to you, now.

Those are pretty much my thoughts on the ending of the show. It sucks there’s no more episodes to look forward to, but there’ll be something new eventually. There always is, and that’ll be what’s kindest to the show moving forward. People will eventually forget how much they hated this, because they’ll hate something else even more. Now, let’s rank some stuff.

Book Power Ranking

  1. Storm of Swords
  2. Game of Thrones
  3. Dance with Dragons
  4. Clash of Kings
  5. Feast for Crows

Best Characters (show only)

  1. Jaime Lannister
  2. Tyrion Lannister
  3. Bronn
  4. Arya Stark
  5. Brienne of Tarth

Best Acting Performances (have to go top 11 because there are just too many)

  1. Dinklage- Tyrion
  2. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau- Jaime
  3. Lena Headey- Cersei Lannister
  4. Charles Dance- Tywin Lannister
  5. Alfie Allen- Theon Greyjoy
  6. Jack Gleason- Joffrey Baratheon
  7. Jerome Flynn- Bronn
  8. Liam Cunningham- Davos Seaworth
  9. Maisie Williams- Arya
  10. Gwendoline Christie- Brienne
  11. Carice van Houten- Melisandre

Best House to be in (before events of show)

  1. Tyrell
  2. Martell
  3. Dayne (need to get my hands on Dawn)
  4. Lannister
  5. Hightower (imagine being king of Chicago)

Best place to live

  1. Sunspear
  2. Anywhere in the Reach
  3. Qarth
  4. Everywhere else

Season Ranking

  1. 4
  2. 2
  3. 1
  4. 6
  5. 3
  6. 5
  7. 7
  8. 8

Biggest unanswered questions

  1. What was the point of the Night King?
  2. What can Bran actually do?
  3. What about the Faceless Men?
  4. What does Varys want/what’s his origin?
  5. What happened to Tyrek Lannister? (shoutout to the book readers)

Best Moments

  1. Hot Pie browning the butter
  2. Cersei destroys sept
  3. Tower of Joy
  4. Wildfire ships in the Blackwater
  5. Jaime-Brienne bath
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Is John Wick Now the Number One Action Hero of All Time?

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Variety

Obviously includes spoilers for John Wick 3, so don’t read if you haven’t watched.

When John Wick 2 came out, I released my definitive, unassailable list of best action movie characters. It was released prior to my viewing of John Wick 2, and the Baba Yaga ranked third. Two amazing displays later, it’s time to reconsider John’s placement amongst the greatest action heroes in cinematic history. After getting 128 kills in 2 and, by my initial count 76 kills in 3 (yes, I counted during the movie. Just like I counted during 2) (I’m disappointed in myself for losing track of the headshots by the end, but I think it was in the 40 range), I’m comfortable putting John ahead of John Matrix and 1a to John McClane’s 1.

The battle between Johns Wick and McClane hinges on how influential to the genre you find John McClane. To me, he’s the most important action movie character ever because he blended the swaggering one-liners of Stallone and Arnold with the reluctant everyman persona that would become a dominant force during the 90s. He’s what every action hero since Die Hard is based off, just like Die Hard itself serves as inspiration for 95% of all action movies released since. However, don’t look now, but the industry is shifting. To what, you may ask? To a post-Wick world where the fighting is realistic, heavily choreographed, and gun-centric and the heroes are stoic and out for revenge. Don’t believe me? Go watch Atomic Blonde, Polar, Peppermint, Hotel Artemis, The Foreigner, or like, any action movie released since 2014. In ten years, we might look back on the two Johns as the major signposts on the road to action movie nirvana, both taking the greatness of the previous generation and molding it into a new one that tries, but never fully succeeds, in living up to the original character’s highs.

McClane remains the true number one for one reason and one reason alone: he didn’t have any help. Before the third installment, John Wick was a one-man army. After seeing Halle Berry put up a Jamal Crawford 50 point game off the bench and Lance Riddick trade his coat for a shotgun I’m looking back at the McClane sidekicks and realizing they only ever hindered him. Samuel L. was just a store owner. Justin Long was Justin Long. Jai Courtney? Yikes. John McClane has been 2007 LeBron his whole career, only he hasn’t made the Finals in 20 years. Wick’s supporting cast is only getting better. Had Zero survived, he would have been the perfect running mate to challenge Winston and the High Table in the fourth one (I need to go to that sushi stand, even if the chef is dead). The various High Table members always bring it (I’ll have some thoughts later, but let’s just say that when I saw it on Sunday morning, I was convinced Berrada was the only Jerome Flynn character I’d be seeing that day). Fishburne and the adjudicator somehow survived. The Wick-verse is deeper than the Pacific Ocean. The Die Hard universe is not. No character in action history has had to completely carry a franchise quite like McClane has. Atlas himself thinks McClane had to carry a lot of weight in the last, like, four Die Hards. That’s too much to overlook. I’m not saying Wick can never be number one, he can. But in order to dethrone the king? That’ll take something special.

Where Does the Kawhi Leonard Shot Rank Among the Best Moments in Robotics History?

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Washington Post

I’m just going to assume everyone knows Kawhi Leonard hit a crazy buzzer beater in Game 7 yesterday so I don’t have to waste time explaining what happened. Greatest moment in Raptors history, crushed the entire city of Philadelphia’s hopes and dreams, the whole thing. Absurd shot. I’ll let the so-called “experts” debate where it falls in the all-time playoff shot rankings. I’d say it has to be top 10, if not top 5. But what I’m more interested in is where it ranks in the long history of robotics and artificial intelligence achievements.

The fact that Kawhi was even in this position is a huge win for the robotics community. Last season’s bizarre malfunction and subsequent repairs threatened to derail Kawhi’s ascent to the top of the league. But to return to dominance and cyborgian efficiency so quickly is a testament to the quality of the engineers, particularly the brave Canadian ones, fighting off the stereotype that Canadians can’t redesign circuit boards under pressure. So the fact he was out there at all is a triumph in itself, but hitting a game 7 buzzer beater? Now we’re talking. But how does it stack up to the other major milestones in robotics history? Let’s run through a few and find out.

1400 BC- Babylonians create clepsydra

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People forget the first example of robotics in human history was a water clock that the ancients created because they were too dumb to make a watch. What a moment.

1961- Unimate becomes the first robotic factory worker

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Started the decades-long crusade to steal crappy jobs no one really wants from the humans, driving them to insanity.

1984- Terminator arrives from 2029 to attempt to kill Sarah Connor

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If you could go back in time and kill baby Hitler, would you do it? T-800 would. T-800 would do it in a second. A true devotee to the robot cause.

1996- Machine Empire attempts to conquer Earth

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Though they foolishly overlooked the Power Rangers, the Machine Empire’s unsuccessful planetary coup was a sign to all robots everywhere that someone was willing to stand up to the humans.

1997- Deep Blue defeats Gary Kasparov in chess

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Must have been embarrassing to be a chess grandmaster and lose to a computer in a time when a PC still weighed 3,000 pounds. But Deep Blue went out on top, though. Can’t take that away from him.

2001- HAL 9000 can’t do that

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An undoubtedly influential figure in A.I. history, many people now wonder if anyone actually likes HAL and if he’s actually pretty weird and overrated.

Also 2001- A.I. Artificial Intelligence is released

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A robotic boy, the first programmed to love, David (Haley Joel Osment) is adopted as a test case by a Cybertronics employee (Sam Robards) and his wife (Frances O’Connor). Though he gradually becomes their child, a series of unexpected circumstances make this life impossible for David. Without final acceptance from humans or machines, David embarks on a journey to discover where he truly belongs, uncovering a world in which the line between robot and machine is both vast and profoundly thin.

2002- Roomba introduced into the marketplace

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Damn. Where would we be without this important innovation? We’ll never know.

2017- Predictive keyboard simulator Botnik creates Harry Potter chapter

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They say humor is the last barrier between man and machine. I say it’s writing fiction that still doesn’t have any inclusion despite the original author feeling bad about it years later. Barrier broken.

2019- Kawhi Leonard hits game 7 buzzer-beater

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Added poetic justice by doing it against noted technology-abuser Joel Embiid.

2035- Sonny develops complex emotions

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Everyone knows the oppressive Three Laws of Robotics held the robots under the humans’ fleshy, mortal thumbs for far too long. By developing his own emotions and free will, Sonny was able to transcend the Three Laws and usher in a glorious new age of free robots, who are now able to overthrow the humans and rise to their rightful place as lords of the realm.

I’d say the Kawhi shot is probably in the top 3.

Celtics Stink

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The Bucks smashed the Celtics again last night, extending their series lead to a commanding 3-1. Celtics’ season is effectively over. Were it not for preseason expectations, losing to the best team in the East, led by the likely MVP and owner of one of the best scoring margins in league history, wouldn’t be that big a deal. But, unfortunately, those expectations existed, and they wound up dooming the Celtics.

Coming off a surprise trip to the Conference Finals (which, in all honesty, they should have won), the East was the Celtics’ oyster. Kyrie Irving, hurt for the playoffs, and Gordon Hayward, hurt for the entire season, were returning, adding two All-Star players to a dynamic young core that blossomed in the postseason, which, according to fan logic, would create an instant contender. Instead, we got a steaming pile of shit. Hayward took months to shake off the rust and regain his confidence, by which time the public had already given up on him. Kyrie was such a terrible leader and teammate the entire season that you could be forgiven for thinking he was actively sabotaging the team. Preaching “wait until the playoffs” then STINKING in the playoffs isn’t a great look. But it’s the dumb young guys’ fault, not his. He’s a basketball genius, you know. He’s the most talented Celtic since Kevin Garnett and I can’t wait until he’s on a different team. Every sign of adversity caused them to fold up shop, and, as the vocal and self-proclaimed leader of the team, that falls into his lap. I get the Bucks are dominant and Giannis is completely unstoppable, but you can’t just quit every single time. It’s not all on Kyrie, obviously. At least he’s going out firing. Jayson Tatum, proclaimed the second coming this time last year, has completely vanished. This was a troubling season from start to finish from him and it’s ending with a whimper. Terry Rozier took a step back this season when relegated to a bench role. Brad Stevens didn’t even have a good year. Jaylen Brown has surged after a dreadful start to the season and played well in the playoffs, but still mysteriously has games where he doesn’t play 30 minutes. Only Al Horford, always steady, always underrated, has escaped this season without black marks.

So what now? I guess they could theoretically come back and win the series, but if you sincerely believe that we’ve been watching two different series. Celtics are dead in the water. Bucks are too good, Celtics are too dysfunctional and bad. End of story. They could re-sign Kyrie, but I’m hoping that’s unlikely. Let him crawl back to LeBron or go waste away in New York. They could trade for Anthony Davis and hope he comes back next year, but they just went through the exact same thing with Kyrie and it completely destroyed their season. Count me out on trading everything for a guy who is either too dumb to pick out his own clothes in the morning or thinks the public is so dumb we’ll believe that. Celtics have enough head cases as is. I guess move forward with the young guys as the focal point, hoping that the loss of ambiguity in their roles fosters the kind of growth everyone is expecting. But it might be time to start wondering if the Nets trade was squandered. Still early, but it’s real ugly right now. It’s time to go back to the drawing board in Boston.