Hi. How’s it going?
So yeah, Game of Thrones is back and I’m pretty excited! I want to share some thoughts with you about the season-eight premiere. But mostly I want to tell you about the live performances I have coming up this week. And I want to tell you a little bit about my weekend. Does that sound okay?
We Saw Jonathan Banks at the Grocery Store and Other Notable (and Not-So Notable) Weekend Happenings
I had a nice, easy, slow weekend filled with a lot of loafing. I was scheduled to perform a show on Friday, but that got canceled due to the venue’s permanent closure. Damn. Annie and I ended up going to a local brewery for some nachos, beverages and music. You know, it’s nice that the area breweries support the local live-music scene, but goddamn if Albuquerque’s taprooms aren’t some of the worst-sounding spaces for music in the galaxy. Just completely unintelligible. And it’s no one’s fault, really. These rooms are built for a constant, echoing din of beer-soaked revelry, not for live music. The performer with the delicate finger-picking style, sophisticated looping setup and no doubt interesting-as-fuck stories from the road just blends in with the rest of the din. Chaos! But the nachos were really good. And the beer.
Saturday was spent just fuckin’ chillin’, man. I got caught up on all my preparatory research for the new season of Game of Thrones. I watched some basketball. I was delighted to see the Brooklyn Nets take down the Philadelphia 76ers. That was cool.
Sunday was a big day. The evening promised the return of not only Game of Thrones, but also the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the NBA playoffs. We got up and had paleo pancakes for breakfast. Those things were really good! Unbelievable, really. It’s amazing how far pancake technology has come in recent years if you think about it.
We went to a four-year-old’s birthday party in the afternoon. It was really good to hang out for a little bit in the atypically not windy spring weather. There was a bounce house. There was pizza. There was cake. I enjoyed the pizza and regretted not fuckin’ around in the bounce house. Damn. Next time. I enjoyed hanging with the little group I found myself near. I think the birthday boy was pleased with his day.
I probably would have had some cake, but we had to get the hell out of there to meet some more little people at the movie theater to see Dumbo, the Tim Burton-directed, Colin Farrell-starring live-action remake of the classic animated film. It was pretty good. Fine. Met expectations. Was cool to look at. The small people dug it, so that’s a win.
We stopped at the grocery store on the way back home. I was looking for the Lära Bars when I noticed an older bald fellow with prominent ears. Then I remembered Better Call Saul, which is, of course, one of my favorite TV shows, is back in town filming its upcoming season. So I thought, “Jonathan Banks?” And it was Jonathan Banks!
He was wearing shorts and a nice, clean white polo shirt. Glasses. Pushing around one of those little carts that’s not as big as a regular cart, but bigger than a basket. I didn’t notice what he was buying.
I went over to Annie and whisper-shouted, “Jonathan Banks is in the store!” She was all like, “Who’s Jonathan Banks?” Then I was like, “You know, 'Mike' from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.” And she was like, “Oh yeah! Are you going to say something?” I was like, “I don’t know.”
Another couple noticed him, too, and took a picture. He seemed to be gracious and into it. I never ended up saying anything. I’m not the type of person to request photos with people, generally. And I feel like there are famous people all over this city all the time, what with all the film and television-industry stuff happening constantly in these parts.
Annie and I spent some time with him in the chip aisle. He seemed to be content with just taking his time.
I wish I would have said something. Here’s what I would have said:
“Hey Mr. Banks! It’s good to know you’re back in town. You know, I’m a big fan, but one thing I really appreciate is you taking the time to appear so frequently on the official Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul podcasts. Have a great season and stay cool around here this summer!”
As we were pulling out of the parking lot, I noticed Mr. Banks fiddling with his keys next to a rental car. Trying to figure out how to open the trunk. It took him a minute. Nothing like his character Mike. That’s how I know he’s one of our better actors.
We got home and I was anxious because the Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons were already in the middle of their first-round playoff game. I started watching from the beginning as Annie and I made dinner. My anxieties were lifted quickly and easily, as the Bucks dominated the Pistons. The starters played barely half the game. Coach Bud played 11 guys. Absolutely dominant. They got up by as many as 43 points and won by, like, 36. If the Bucks don’t win this series in four games, I will be really surprised.
And then there was the season-eight premiere of Game of Thrones.
SPOILER ALERT – the content between the previous heading and the next one was written by a person who has watched all 68 episodes of Game of Thrones. If you don’t want to know anything about that shit, skip ahead.
By the way, remember when spoilers meant information leaked from the production or other sources regarding episodes that hadn’t aired yet? That was what the term meant back in the LOST days. Nowadays people talk about spoilers in terms of information from episodes that have aired, but people might not have seen because no one watches shit as it airs anymore now that we’re deep into the streaming era.
So yeah, Game of Thrones is back! The season-eight premiere was entitled “Winterfell,” but nobody found that out until well after the episode became available. I didn’t learn the episode title until the next day. HBO has really tightened the screws. Of course, that’s how it was back in the old days. For example, I never knew any X-Files episode titles until I bought the VHS cassettes.
Winterfell. The ancestral home of the Starks and the seat of The North. And where most of this episode’s action took place.
There was a new title sequence, too. It won me over, ultimately, but it also reminded me of the weird, unnecessary credits-sequence makeover Big Love, another HBO drama (but with fewer dragons and way more fundamentalist Mormons), unleashed in its final season. The new GOT sequence is actually pretty cool, and it makes sense from a story perspective at this point in the series run.
I loved seeing all the callbacks to the first season and the very first episode. Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark, has mastered the art of the reaction. It was great to see lots of people together who haven’t been together since season one. And people who have never met.
Here are some stray little thoughts about it:
- If I were Jaime Lannister, I would feel pretty icky about seeing Bran Stark again, too. But I think it will all be cool. Bran has access to evidence of all the noble shit Jaime has done since they last interacted.
- I am a little more worried about what Daenerys is going to do about Jaime. His “Kingslayer” title comes from the fact that he killed her dad.
- Cool that Jon (Aegon Targaryen, actually) found out the facts about his parentage in the shadow of Ned Stark’s statue. Ned did promise Jon that they’d talk about his mother the next time they saw each other. Neat.
- I think there would be more snowmen and cool forts and shit up north. I know there is a serious existential threat looming, but still.
- Tyrion isn’t as sharp, politically or strategically anymore, but I feel like it’s understandable considering the terrible, untreated PTSD he must be dealing with. It hasn’t been that long since he murdered the love of his life (who would have certainly murdered him) and then murdered his own dad, who he learned had been screwing the love of his life, whom he had just murdered. And then he had to sit in a box on a boat for God knows how long. And then there was all that shit with Jorah and the fighting pits or whatever. Jesus. Cut him some slack, man.
- Lots and lots and lots of talk about family.
- With Jaime out of the picture (I think she had reached the point where she was just cool with everyone knowing about all the incest stuff), Cersei needs someone to be the daddy of her child for official purposes. So I get why she led the despicable Euron Greyjoy to her holiest of holies.
- “Harry Strickland” is the name of a character on Game of Thrones now, I guess.
- The little screaming (and eventually flaming) wight in the center of the dismembered limb spiral was pretty unsettling.
- I feel like Gendry is going to figure out the recipe for Valyrian steel.
- There’s no way Bronn kills Tyrion and Jaime, especially since he got paid upfront, right?
- That was a really cool coat Daenerys was wearing.
Speaking of the Mother of Dragons, my big takeaway from this episode was that they must be setting her up to transform into the “Mad Queen.” We’ve seen some seriously questionable behaviors from her in the past, but they have always been overshadowed by her status as the “Breaker of Chains.” But she’s definitely got crazy in her, and I think we’re about to see her change. I don’t think they’re going to be naming little girls “Khaleesi” anymore after this season is done. Someone – Sansa, I think – asks her what dragons eat. Daenerys replies something like, “whatever they want.” Obviously referring not only to her actual dragons but to herself as a Targaryen. And then there’s the scene where Tyrion, I think, assures someone (Sansa, I think) that Daenerys is not her father (the “Mad King,” Aerys II Targaryen). The very next scene is the one in which Dany reveals to Sam, rather coldly, that she was responsible for the deaths of his father and brother. Jesus. And then there was the weird lack of concern about Jon’s safety during their dragon ride. I think there was some other stuff, too, that seems like evidence of her character arcing toward evil, but I can’t think of it.
So yeah. Those are my main thoughts from Game of Thrones. Maybe I’ll publish more thoughts after next week’s episode. It’s going to be fucking killer for SEO purposes (see this post’s title)!
No More Game of Thrones Spoilers – Just Good Times and Great Live Music!
All right. The real purpose of this blog post is to tell you all about the shows I have coming up this weekend. There are three (THREE!) of them!
If you don’t live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this information may not be useful to you. Or maybe you want to move here. I don’t know. I can’t say whether you’d like it around here or not.
On Thursday, April 18th, 2019 I’ll be playing a show with the wonderful Kira Holt at the Red Velvet Underground. Music starts at 7:00 pm and wraps up at 9:00 pm. I have a feeling this might be my last show at that venue for a little while, so make sure you come out if you can! Here’s the show link on my website.
On Friday, April 19th, 2019 I’ll be performing at Poki Poki Cevicheria’s west side location from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm. This will be a little different. I’ll probably play a little more blues and do some more guitar stuff. More covers, too. Check it out!
Finally, on Saturday, April 20th, 2019 (420!!!) I’ll be hosting the Red Door Spring Singer/Songwriter Festival at Red Door Brewing Company’s Candelaria location. Everything gets started at 6:00 pm and goes until 10:00 pm. Food, beer and great music from a lineup I’m really friggin’ excited about. I’ll do my thing until about 6:40, at which point Melissa Rios takes the stage. She’ll be followed by Alonerly at 7:30 pm, who will be followed by the aforementioned Kira Holt at 8:20 pm. Oscar Butler ends the show with his set, which will begin at about 9:10 pm. This is going to be a fantastic night of music and fun vibes! Here’s the link.
Bye Bye Now
Geez, this was going to be a quick little shorty. But now look at me. More than 2,100 words. Great. I didn’t even talk about my entry into the NPR Tiny Desk Concert Contest. Dang.
I sure do appreciate you reading until the end. Did you like the Game of Thrones stuff? How about Jonathan Banks? Have you seen him around, too? Anything else you want to tell me? You know how to reach me.
See you next time!