Random Pics, Newsy Chat (with Contest Reminder) and a Little Bit About TV and Book Reviews

Good evening and happy Monday, All! Finally the weekend came and I was able to catch up on some of my reading. I was pretty psyched a couple of Saturdays ago because I started Richard III (by David Baldwin) at 08:00 and finished it that night! I’d read chunky passages of the book before but never cover to cover, and it was well worth the day. I do have a Richard III tab up top—or click here—that I haven’t been keeping up with, so you will see changes to this coming in the days ahead, and I invite readers to submit links for resources you would like to share, found useful, etc. I daresay you will be hearing more from me re: Richard, with a nice surprise coming in July.

There’s another nice little thing coming up next week, and that is the announcement of winners for the contest I am holding as a way to thank people for following my little blog all these years. I deleted one of my social media accounts, which cut my followers roughly in half, and I’ve been so busy lately that I didn’t advertise this quite as much as I wanted to and should have, so any shares you can give will be much appreciated. And what are they? Well, I’m gifting two $10 Amazon cards on Valentine’s Day, so if you’d like to win one of them, click here to find out how! I probably won’t win, you say? Why would you say that? Someone has to win, why not you!? Give it a shot and see what happens!

Speaking of Amazon: One of the books I just started reading, Strong Advice, is one I actually gifted my son for Christmas (we are both interested in this book). I surely paid too much for it, but, as far as I can tell, its author, Nzube Udezue (aka Zuby, rap musician, author, podcaster and computer science graduate [Oxford]), works independent of this behemoth, which increases his own expenses, and I wanted to support his brand, through which he cares about people and their ability to do the best for their bodies and health as they can. I didn’t really interact very much with him when ordering and after, but when I did email (a couple of times), his response was very timely, cheerful and customer-service oriented.

As for the book, I have skimmed it (a bit heavily) so far, and have a date with it later this evening. A word about this small work, though, is that it’s not the sort you read cover to cover and then put on the shelf. Provided you find currency with what it advocates, you have to live it. So, once I read it all, well, I do have to return it to its owner, but I will be referring to it until what it teaches me becomes absorbed enough that I won’t need to so frequently reference it. I will say, though, that Zuby’s chosen writing style is not only accessible, but also real—as in he speaks like a real person and as if you are real, not unlike an informed casual conversation that you walk away determined to follow up on. That adds to the encouraging nature of its advice, and of what I have read thus far, I don’t feel reads like some elevated being passing down to me, but rather as I have said above, a real person who actually is in touch with the sorts of concerns I have.

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My New Addiction: Game of Thrones and a Top Three

Note: the following contains some spoilers for Seasons 1-3

I’m a complete newbie when it comes to Game of Thrones. I’ve had several of the books for a few years now, and more than once I’ve seen the complete first season in the shops and thought about getting it. My son even urged me to, although I’m unsure why, given he doesn’t tend to be interested in these sorts of books/movies/television series. And to be honest, I myself didn’t even really know much about it, other than that it depicts some sort of, well, game of thrones in which a variety of rivals lay claims to one throne with a multitude of validations, real or imagined. (As you can see, the GoT volumes on my shelves have been gathering dust, but not to fret, dear readers, I have been energized – see here.)

And then came Christmas morning: there under the tree, as I discovered, waited my Game of Thrones future. It was an especially delightful gift because it was totally unexpected—this series was not on my mind in the least. Now my son—previously uninterested, as you will recall—and I are on the third season and have been fully reigned in. The hook is deep. We’ve discussed many angles of the show, including the over-frequent bits of nudity and sex, though to be fair, not nearly as extraneous as the borderline porn featured in Outlander; tactics; secrets we think characters may be hiding even from us, the viewers; awful deeds and small kindnesses; what lives beyond the wall. We’ve scanned the maps and poured over the genealogy in order to ensure we have the relationships straight. And we both seem to be rather preoccupied with its sort of medieval fantasy, though as far as I know this isn’t really set, as my son says, in a different time so much as another world. Sure, the author may have had ulterior motives for this—freedom with writing and not having to adhere as strictly to history as historical fiction writers must—but it also liberates us as viewers, for we never have to wonder about the Danegeld, when Duke William’s army might arrive to create a mess, or the horrible end of Richard III, mistreated even in death, because none of these figures necessarily exist in this world.

It is probably inevitable that the two  of us would start making lists of who we prefer and don’t—we certainly spent enough time gushing and griping over the various characters. Now that work, school and deadlines are on the calendar again, our viewing is sure to slow down, but our conversations likely won’t, especially as we are now in Season 3, a time in which many changes are underway, events conspire to influence events, and some are confronted by reality. I’d like to take the time now to highlight my initial favorite characters, let’s go with three, and I will attempt to pinpoint the reasons I was drawn to them. Fret not, for I will be returning with updates.

Sean Bean as Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell

3. Ned Stark, Lord of Winterfell—Yes, Stark is late by now, but he is the first character I liked. I admit, this is a bit of a biased affection, given that the story opens with the Starks, giving them a bit of preferential advantage. But there is substance there, such as Stark’s lesson to his son that he who pronounces a death sentence must be the one to carry it out. It’s probably impractical in today’s world, but I respected him for it. (Though I do rather wish this could be enforced today.) He is a flawed character, having brought home a bastard child from the last war, a circumstance that will have its own set of ramifications. He also speaks the truth to his king, Robert Baratheon, delivering it with humor and grace, though in the end truth becomes his enemy.

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Reading Challenge 2021: The Year of My Neglected Bookshelves

It just occurred to me that I’ve lost track of whether my opening entries for each year, these past few years, have been titled with a nod toward the revolution ‘round the sun just completed or the one newly embarked upon. Looking at last year’s entry doesn’t provide much aid, given it was late and that I also began to wonder if I used to do one for each. Well, no matter. Some might say 2020 doesn’t really deserve recall, but that’s not why I’m just going to roll it and looking ahead into 2021 into one entry this time. The year 2020 should be remembered even though by any account it bred the suck. I’ve always been an advocate of remembering the past, because it’s essential for effectively moving forward.

In terms of reading, how do I do in 2020? Well, last year’s reading—there wasn’t much to it.

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