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Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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Entries in dick cheney (166)

Thursday
Aug242017

In Which This Is The Only Thronesapedia You Need Concern Yourself With

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Terms of Thrones

by DICK CHENEY

Imitators. Pretenders. I was the first man in the entire world to even conceive of writing recaps of Game of Thrones. Now in my old, older age, I don't have to the time to parcel through Jon Snow's periods, mutely observing the wet trail of blood he drapes across the snow. I don't pore over the show the way I once did, and indeed, there's a lot less to make fun of in general on HBO's cash cow now that they finally gave David Benioff the money he needed to make this look like a movie and not Babylon 5. It was far too obvious how much they had to cut back in order to make this work on television over the past decade, but that is all forgotten.

I remember when I used to quietly while an afternoon away scribbing down the various key moments in the history of the Targaryen family. Hints are still being dropped about Jon Snow's parentage, although the end result is quite obvious by now. In order to follow the action, you'll want to read this important encyclopedia, preferably while you are on the toilet.

ARYA STARK: Having Arya play lots of different roles in Winterfell is a very good idea for a storyline, and I'm sure we'll learn that the two of them are about to outsmart Littlefinger in short order. The castle itself has been a disappointing locale outside of the crypt — we never get a sense of it as a setting, really. Arya's acting is kind of hit or miss, but having a teenager as a female Superman is never going to get old. I loved her scene with Hot Pie, but moments with Sansa haven't been much, with the directors usually forcing them not to look at each other or touch in any way.

BRAN STARK: Fuck Brandon Stark. This little piece of shit has the nerve to say, "I haven't been Brandon Stark in a long time," like anyone gives two fucks that he had some mystical experience beyond the Wall. Like, if you're so all-knowing, how come you can't be the slightest bit polite to the people you depend on for food and sustenance. God how I wish the Lannisters had murdered this loser when they had the chance.

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BRIENNE OF TARTH: Sending Brienne to King's Landing and reuniting her with the only straight man she ever loved (RIP Renly Baratheon, you were fabulous) is a positive move, since there was only so many times I could watch her giving wisened advice to the boy-man they call Podrick. I am looking forward to her battling the monster that never leaves Cersei's side.

CERSEI LANNISTER: Lena Headey has long been the best performer in this entire milieu, and her trials and tribulations made her eerily sympathetic over time. The amusing way she announced her latest pregnancy to Jaime was fun, and her newly unapologetic view of her own sexuality makes her something of heroine as well. It would make more sense for Dany to vanquish her before the Night King, and I hope it happens that way. I can't dislike a strong woman.

DAENERYS TARGARYEN: The true lowpoints of Emilia Clarke's acting career are thankfully in the past, although it would be a stretch that she is in any way suitable to portray this character. A queen that rides around on dragons and plots a war against a continent should be a far more dynamic figure; instead she is turned into a pesky do-gooder — she's basically a college student who just discovered socialism. Her chemistry with Kit Harington is decent to good, and when they touched hands I would be lying if I wasn't gripping a blanket. Her reaction to the emotional death of her dragon Ethan was a bit stoic for my tastes. I get what they were going for, but she just looked constipated.

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GENDRY: He's been at that forge every day for nine years. It's a lucky thing he didn't take a long lunch.

GREY WORM: So he has no penis or no balls, or both? I'm not googling this.

HOT PIE: It is really too much to give Hot Pie a love interest? I only have so many years left; they couldn't write a scene where Arya ruffled his hair while eating his prepared food? Also, he could have done with a familiar, like possibly a parrot or capuchin monkey that demanded his lovely pies all the time.

JAIME LANNISTER: Jaime and Bronn have always been great together, but it's been a few seasons of this eerily codependent relationships and I feel like I'm ready to move on. Jaime's discomfort about renewing relations with his sister also seems like a weird retcon to get them back exactly where they started, as if nothing ever happened. Jaime's face turn is probably coming, but I get the feeling that even the producers really don't know what to do with the character at this point. It would have been great to see him acting like a father, but instead they killed all his kids off.

JON SNOW: I never thought I would ever praise Kit Harington. Go back, if you will, to his early days on Game of Thrones. Christ was his acting shit. His line deliveries were all over the place, and his movement was downright amateurish. My, how he has grown. It was maybe somewhat offensive how they made a point of saying how tiny he is; like is it really necessary to burn him with casting directors when you can simply shoot him from below? This season his voice and inflection have really been top notch, and his acting in his scenes with Dany has been excellent. He's singlehandedly carrying this show, and when he's not in the same scene as Sansa, it's really not half bad. Pairing him with the Onion Knight was a good move.

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JORAH MORMONT: There is this pernicious idea ensconsed in the world in general, and also on Game of Thrones which can only reflect our own world, that once people reach a certain age, they stop evolving or changing. I hate how the old folks of Westeros may as well all be suffering from greyscale. They just spend time trying to make up for these ancient mistakes; a penitent posture that starts to get old after the fifteenth time Jorah Mormont returned to the only woman he ever loved. I hate to break it to everyone, but greyscale can't be cured.

THE ONION KNIGHT: It's nice to have him around as comic relief, even though his weird tendency to grab onto whoever has power is never really explored thematically or by the other characters. Liam Cunningham is such a spectacular actor that I think they figured that they might as well keep giving him things to do.

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SAMWELL TARLY: Sam's always been a bright spot on Game of Thrones. His experience at the Citadel was roundly boring, and they sort of just said mea culpa and moved him on his way. I would have liked to see him back running his father's estate in a multi-episode storyline, but it looks like he will simply be educating the people of Dragonstone. If he ends up leaving his incest-wife for Dany, I will never say anything bad about George R.R. Martin again.

SANSA STARK: Listening to Sansa rehash how she was terribly mistreated by some of the worst men in the ten kingdoms is getting a bit repetitive. I don't know what else she really does now, except question her brother publicly in front of everyone. It is obvious she doesn't respect Jon, and her political opinions are pretty rough overall. I really hope she is killed soon.

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THEON GREYJOY: How many times can one man be redeemed and fall from grace? They probably should have sent him to Braavos and given him the face of Roose Bolton so I don't have to look at this fellow's slack, pale visage anymore. What is even the point of him existing now?

TYRION LANNISTER: Is there anyone who is not fully convinced at this point that Peter Dinklage smells his own farts like they were the most beautiful perfume on earth? What I would give to see him munched on by a dragon.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

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Tuesday
Jul182017

In Which We Have Written And Discarded Some Sansa Stark Love Scenes

He Did It All With A Knuckle

by DICK CHENEY

Game of Thrones
creators David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
HBO

There was a moment during Sunday's Thronesing when I was pretty sure Jon Snow was going to strike Sansa Stark down. She was talking at length, in front of a large crowd, about her plan to make child-aged heirs to fiefdoms homeless, and he let loose a "No!" deep within his caustic stomach. All the nearby lords were like, "Sansa, the fuck are you doing, girl? You have done exactly shit except watch a couple husbands die and now you think you're Disraeli?" Thrones is just fanfiction now.

They should honestly make Thrones silent at this point. Jamie Lannister can mime with his faux right hand if he can't sign. You see, the original Game of Thrones was actually about how various families operated when they pursued power  but now it is about decimating a Big Bad, in this case a frozen army that is going to be awful susceptible to three enormous dragons. I mean, what can they really do against these beasts, hole up in a refrigerator like Indiana Jones?

Sure, Game of Thrones was always like a light, easily passed stool but now it gives me various headaches with the plot holes and the reinvention of various characters. Only one thing can never be retconned or re-envisioned, and that is how much of a useless mound Bran Stark is. Maybe I'm feeling particularly hostile because no one can ever bother to write dialogue or conflict for Daenerys Targaryen and her group of ne'er-do-wells looks to average a height of 4'11". 

I think I was most angry when I saw Arya Stark destroy the Freys in one scene. How hard is it exactly to murder all of King's Landing given that? This mass poisoning was roundly unsatisfying, and the sexist way she spared the women like they were not culpable as well irked me, too. Thrones has a terrible time struggling with its innate sexism. Women are quick to anger and murder, men are all Father Brown. Even when you flip a stereotype on its head, it's still a fucking stereotype.

Speaking of Father Brown, Samwell Tarly living with his wife and child in the Citadel was such a letdown. I mean, would it have been that hard to give the maesters some secret power over their betters, for example a blood pressure test or access to unlimited antibiotics? Instead they are a shittier, primal version of doctors, having inherited only the egotism and propensity for note-taking. 

Now that every single one of Cersei's children is dead, I was semi-interested in how she would appear altered as a character. Instead we are witnessing a quick rehabilitation of her as a powerful executive, only the point of all this is not exactly clear. She at least is a good performer – we feel how lame and pathetic the regular stars of Thrones are when a particularly charismatic and attention getting actor takes over the scene: the immensely talented Richard Dormer as Beric Dondarrion, or the disembodied hand of Ser Jorah Mormont.

Thinking too long about this stuff gives me a headache at the worst possible time, before Lynne and I curl up to a solid hour of the Starz series Power. It seems they have taken the criticisms of Thrones' constant nude scenes to heart: now we cannot even get so much as a bodice or some ample cleavage. What a world. To fill the gaps, I have composed this brief elegia to the Sansa Stark that was. Enjoy.

When we had to pass in a narrow space, doing the hard work of reassembling Winterfell, she contrived to bump me with a round hip. She looked bemused and tricky and smug, darting her blue and challenging glances. She finished a sandwich, licked her fingers, tried to give me a wink. But she couldn't close one eye without nearly closing the other. It made her look like a blind direwolf.

When she would come to show me where something went, she would manage to press the heat of a mellow breast against my arm. She built the big awareness of Sansa. The infrequent small talk — "Did you know that Brienne always smells like a hot dog that has been left out for a couple days?" — bore little relation to what was happening between us. Wasn't I supposed to be her brother?

Finally, she managed to trip and turn and be caught just so, gasping, a silky weight, breath warm, eyes knowing, lips gone soft and an inch away, and not enough air in the frigid room.

I straightened back up and gave her a little push. "Now, Sansa, we can't do this."

"Oh Jon," she said, "ethics and everything. The little sister. You talk so many bold games about knighting those traitors, it gets confusing for a girl. I guess you think it would be a lousy thing to come here to take care of me, and then take care of me too many ways? But there are all kinds of ways. How it is you should be so stuffy you make me seem sort of cheap and obvious?"

I said nothing, only thought of Sam giving it to his girlfriend in warmer climes.

"I'm getting mad to keep from crying," Sansa said, brushing her hair back from her face. "I mean you're so stuck on this role you have to play. Seven gods, I suppose I am the little sister, but I am also an adult, Jon. I told you before I've run into some doors and had my share of black eyes. My husbands are all dead now. I had a disaster of a marriage and a very fast annulment. But you have some kind of boy scout oath... Now I feel degraded, and... damn it, get out of here!"

I laughed and caught her. She leapt about, saying in effect that the precious moment had passed, and to the Narrow Sea with it, and we couldn't retrieve the situation, it was spoiled, etc etc. I stilled her mouth and each time she talked it was with a little less conviction, and finally she stood docile, trembling, taking huge noisy inhalations, her strong pale neck bent forward while, with clumsy fingers, I unlatched the little hook on the back of the potato sack she was wearing for some reason.

"This is n-n-n-nutty," she whispered. I told her that indeed it was. I could feel Littlefinger's eyes on us from the alcove above. Time moves slowly, then, as in an underwater world. She had hitched herself to rest upon me, so distributed that she seemed to have no weight at all. She had her dark head tucked under the angle of my jaw, her hands under me and hooked back over the tops of my shoulders,  her deep breasts flattened against me, used loins resting astraddle my right thigh.

"Golly, golly, golly," she said in a sighing whisper. "Do you think that Jamie ever made Cersei this happy?" I told her I hoped that he had.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.


Tuesday
Jun202017

In Which They Ruined William Shakespeare For Us All

Beautiful Tyrant

by DICK CHENEY

Still Star-Crossed
creator Heather Mitchell
ABC

It was my genuine mistake that I thought this show was going to be about if Romeo and Juliet lived and entered into a completely unhappy marriage, with Juliet still upset about the residual effects on her concentration from imbibing the poison. When Romeo and Juliet died in Still Star-Crossed, I was in shock, because I figured this would finally be the interracial romance that would work out well for everyone involved, unlike every single time Kerry Washington falls in love with a white man.

Replacing Romeo and Juliet as the stars of Still Star-Crossed are Rosaline Capulet (Lashana Lynch) and Benvolio Montague (Wade Briggs). They are roughly the same size, and they wear very similar outfits. The plot of Still Star-Crossed is somewhat confusing – a member of each family died because everyone could not accept their love. Yet in this show the Montagues and Capulets decide to force their families to intermarry, even though the couple in question is not in love at all. Nor do they hate each other, they are just kind of neutral when it comes to all this.

Still Star-Crossed is the brainchild of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee writer Melinda Taub, who wrote the YA novel from which this is all abstracted. Sadly, even Ms. Taub appears to absolutely loathe this adaptation of her work. She never talks about the show on her twitter, just tells people nervously to buy her book. This is a sad deal, since Shakespeare can really be improved on, as you have recently seen with the Democrats who regularly have Donald Trump stabbed to death by a bunch of minorities. Considering pretty much everyone in the New York theater industry is a liberal, I expected more subtle commentary on current events, like maybe Twelfth Night with Trump as Duke Orsino.

Still Star-Crossed probably would have been a semi-decent TV movie, but it is hard going to sit down for the entire forty minutes of this show. At some predictable point in every episode, the writers get tired of the fake Shakespearan lilt to all the dialogue and one of the women is just like, "Wanna get something to eat?" The show is also fond of stealing lines from Shakespeare's other plays to spice things up. There is even this one part where someone must have wholesale copied an anti-Semitic monologue from The Merchant of Venice.

Shakespeare was never my absolute favorite or anything, and it seems like he is finally fading out of most curriculums. The reason is that he is not super great at writing for women and some of his racial attitudes were a wee bit retrograde. Or maybe The Tempest is proto-Amiri Baraka: I didn't major in semiotics, people. I had this one teacher who was just crazy about Falstaff, I have no idea why. Even Orson Welles made this guy look like a bumbling fool. I have learned to detest writers who turn tragic circumstances into comedy, and the reverse as well, but that was until I saw Still Star-Crossed. I mean, this was destined to be a comedy – Melinda Taub is a graduate of the Upright Citizens Brigade theater.

There are some jokes in Still Star-Crossed. At one point Benvolio tosses this crazy guy who killed a bunch of people off a building – the man's body is dashed on the parapets below. Rosaline is looking down on the corpse with something like regret, and Benvolio deadpans, "Did you forget he tried to rape you?" I'm sure she didn't want to be reminded of that, but as rape jokes on network television go, I guess it was fine.

In another subplot, Juliet's father (Anthony Stewart Head) keeps seeing her as a ghost. When he finally tracks the girl down, she says, "Beware." Instead of asking what he should beware, he just stands there with a goofy look on his face. What a weird show.

The costumes and environments remain weirdly inconsistent throughout Still Star-Crossed. Even though everyone involved in this story should ostensibly be of the nobility, Benvolio usually looks like he is wearing rags he picked up off the floor, and it is impossible to tell which Capulet is the servant and which is the master from their mode of dress. At one point I was pretty sure a man was romancing a princess of some sorts, since she was wearing a frock from the Jasmine collection. When he tried to kiss her, however, she told him that even though she was a servant, she was still a lady. Perhaps she meant that literally.

I really try to give Shonda Rimes the benefit of the doubt, even though it's obvious that her major influence on this project is to make the cast pleasantly multiracial, except no Asians. With that said, no one ever brings up race at all in Still Star-Crossed. At first this seems fine because who cares if we're not going for a historical look at this period, but in practicality it means that ethnic differences, even national differences, cannot be acknowledged as part of the plot. Even though from all appearances this is a show about a race war, the core conflict can never be described in those terms.

I think what is really hurting Shakespeare is that he does not have that one solid IP to hang his hat on. Hamlet is very pretty to listen to, but it is depressing and somewhat of an Oedipus Rex ripoff if I'm honest. Richard III is shit. Falstaff was a mistake. The comedies are about as humorous as T.J. Miller's stand-up. Macbeth is kind of fun for an act or so but it all gets a bit predictable, doesn't it? Julius Caesar is wretched and hackneyed. King Lear was probably his best play, but it makes no sense now and is incredibly sexist. Othello is decent, but no one has ever been like, oh my god, I am so psyched for Othello tonight. I think he probably should have written some more uplifting work.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.