Game of Thrones Seasons 1-2 & Speaker for the Dead

After plenty of time spent being stubborn, I finally decided to start watching Game of Thrones. The first two seasons are excellent and I would encourage anyone who has not watched the show to do so. The books I find to be more enjoyable in plenty of aspects, but the show is remarkably well done. Some of Martin’s best writing comes when he is character building. Some of those really well written smaller scenes are taken out. It is very understandable, even in a show format it is hard to fit all that Martin has to offer. It is still disappointing nonetheless.

One of the characters I was disappointed with was Sansa. In the first season she is a bit too reserved. In the book she written in such a stuck up way it was hard to even read without getting frustrated. That makes her transition as a character more rewarding. I think Sophie Turner does an excellent job as the show progresses, but I was definitely hoping for more from her in the first season.

The character I think is best realized is Tyrion Lannister. Peter Dinklage is brilliant as Tyrion. It is an incredibly tough role to play, and he is excellent at finding the right balance between clever pettiness and real pain at his circumstances. He is the smallest person on screen, but easily steals every scene he is in.

I really enjoyed the first two seasons and am looking forward to the rest of the show.

No human being, when you understand his desires, is worthless. No one’s life is nothing. Even the most evil of men and women, if you understand their hearts, had some generous act that redeems them, at least a little, from their sins.

I finished Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead a month ago. It is an incredible peace of work, and while it at times is a bit preachy, it is beautifully written and told.

The book is a sequel to Ender’s Game, but it is not necessary to read Ender’s Game to enjoy this book. Ender is the main agent in this book, and his role as Speaker is terrific. While I will not spoil too much, how we handle guilt and how we grieve for those we have lost is the driving point of this book. It is absolutely heartbreaking, but in the end puts forward not only a moving story but a compelling argument for being honest about those who pass. It is a tough read, but incredibly worthwhile.

My Guide to 2018

I am a bit late on this but I thought it would still be a good idea to go over my year in smaller tidbits. It was a year of personal growth and change, and while many seem to despise 2018 I could not have asked for a more incredible year. Here are some highlights.

Favorite Movie: Minding the Gap – Bing Liu’s masterful documentary struck a cord with me I could never quite shake, as its chronicles of skateboarders transitioning into adulthood are joyous and heartbreaking. I used to skateboard when I was little, and so I understood the motivation these three people felt. It was a way to break rules and to rebel from what was expected of you, or to challenge yourself in new ways. The underlying motivations for skateboarding turn to their home situations and also towards domestic abuse, creating a powerful portrait of life in America. A must watch. I gave it a 9.7 and I think that is modest if anything.

Runner-up: First Reformed – Paul Schrader’s haunting tale of a Reverend having a crisis of faith is the most topical and relevant film to come out in 2018. It is slow and intentionally still, creating an austere sense until it breaks its own rules. Amanda Seyfried is most impressive, as she plays the woman who can most understand the two men who are at the focal point of this story. Please do me a favor and see it. It is truly special.

Favorite Book: When Breath Becomes Air – A book I picked up off of my uncle’s shelf quickly turned into one of the most searing and poignant books that I read this year, as the pain, trauma, and delight of a neurosurgeon in his final days was a beautifully rendered story. It is tough and heartbreaking, but it finds a way through sheer determination to find its voice, and for Paul to get the auto-biography he always deserved. A book I loved and I think others will as well.

Runner-Up: A Storm of Swords – While I am still not finished with this book, George R.R. Martin continues to amaze me with his deep and empathetic take on characters most of us would have looked away from. This was the first in the series to dig deep into many of the villains of this story, and it makes for incredible reading and deep emotional thought. Certain scenes killed me, and the major deaths in this story keep the incredible shock-value, but what I was consistently amazed by was Martin’s care for everyone in the story.

Favorite Moment: NIRCA National Championship Meet – It is hard to overstate how incredible my experience was running in freezing cold Shelbeyville, Indiana with my club track team. All of our hard work came to fruition, and we had a blast while doing it. I can not thank my team enough for all they have given me and I hope to get to go to more incredible meets in the future.

Defining Change in Character: Openness – So much of my time before 2018 I spent my time in a bubble, resulting in stereotypes about people who live outside of my own. After spending a year away from home and traveling the midwest as well as meeting people from all over, I had the incredible opportunity to meet people from the furthest corners and reaches of the midwest and beyond. This has allowed me to be much more open to new experiences and new people, and my slight fear of breaking my bubble has turned into exuberance to discover others.

What will define 2019: Resolve – 2019 looks to be a year that will be hard, with a lot of goals set and plenty of things to achieve. My hope is that by the end of 2019 I can be in an even better spot than I am now, and that will take strength and resolve to get through it. I know I, as well as you can, but it will take time. To an amazing 2018 and an even better 2019.