Ranking Minor Characters [Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire]

If you are wondering where the major characters are, we ranked them here.

Minor Characters

1. Robb Stark

As a fantasy fan first, I believe Robb Stark’s storyline is the most intriguing one in the book and was fresh and new in fantasy epics. He was the main character we observe from afar, the boy that became a man out of necessity, the man who never lost a battle but lost the war, son of his father, both killed for the same reason- honor. I especially love the book’s arc when he goes to war as a boy and returns a man, told from the vantage point of his mother watching him leave and not seeing him again until he returns, without anyone narration while he was gone. He is also the reason the Red Wedding is the most heartbreaking shit in books or television. We rooted for Robb to win the game of thrones, and it was only in the wake of his death that we realized that there was no plan B in Westeros, so we turned our eyes to a white-haired Targaryen girl across the Narrow Seas. 

Also, interesting and noteworthy- Rob Stark had zero POV chapters in the books. What a cool way to develop him- always a legend from afar even in death.

2. Sandor Clegane (The Hound)

The Hound had the most consistent portrayal from books to TV (it was so well done they had to bring him back to life- so much for the show that kills people). The character makes perfect sense, and he adds so much turmoil to any scene. He was such a badass and yet he had moments of crippling fear. He was so scarred but also tender (taking care of those Stark girls like he’s a babysitter). Viewers are equally excited to see him chop off heads and protect people’s necks. He also embodies a key theme in the book- the irony and farce of knighthood. The Hound got it before anyone else. There is no honor in being a knight. There never was and never will be. And as he marched through Westeros, doing what he felt needed doing, we at first disliked him for it, then we respected him for it, and eventually I loved him for it. 

3. Tywin Lannister

Cold, ruthless, remorseless, he was the inverse of the Starks and became their ultimate undoing. In the game of thrones morality and empathy have no returns on investment, and Tywin understood this better than anyone else. He was also such a cool parent (not a good parent but a cool one). He contained and provided all of the attributes of Cersei and Tyrion and Jaime (although I am guessing Jaime had a lot of traits from his mother- ironic). His death was a great pop in the book, provided huge catharsis for Tyrion, and kept the game of thrones alive, because Tywin was about to hold things down and end the story.

4. Joffrey Baratheon

Jesus. This kid was so easy to hate and then they got that piss-ant to play him on screen and my Lord… His ranking suffers from an early exit in the series (by the end, his reign felt like a footnote), but Joffrey was so good he made two worlds loathe him.

5. Barristan Selmy

One of the great parts of Game of Thrones is its rich history. The most interesting stories are the ones never told, and we watch as the one that is told fades into legend and lore (often with a large twisting of the truth). Barristan was a bridge between those two worlds- equal parts myth and reality. He also bridged the reality-based Westeros and the mythic world of the Free Cities where Daenarys and dragons await. More like Barristan “The Bridge” am-I-right?

6. Robert Baratheon

Robert was the perfect king to create this whole mess.  He loved the hunt, hated the feast, it was fitting that it would be the hunt that eventually killed him. The saying goes, “never meet your heroes,” and this was one of those heroes. How interesting to hear all the legends surrounding this ‘great’ man and all of the stories of his ‘terrible’ enemies, only to have them flipped on their heads as the book goes on. A nice touch that forces a unique mindset on the reader/watcher as the assess everything they hear secondhand about a character.

7. Gregor Clegane (The Mountain that Rides)

The Mountain is interesting because in a world of dynamic characters he was as flat as Brienne’s chest. No discernible motivation, no conflict, no foil. He is intriguing in his lack of any motivation or development. He was a killing machine and felt all the more dangerous because there was no way to understand him. Dude just dipped his brother’s face in fire and killed babies because he was told to. 

The Mountain that Rides stands covered in blood. Cause why not?

8. Strong Belwas

You all died inside when the final season of Game of Thrones wasn’t a five-star masterpiece. I had died long before when they wrote Strong Belwas out of the series. Maybe I already knew of the writer’s capacity for bad decision making or maybe I was so hollowed out from the lack of Belwas’ fight scenes actualized (I spent two seasons looking forward to his entrance into the show) that I didn’t take the last season’s failures has hard as everyone else. I knew what bad decision making felt like.

Read the books. Belwas fucks.

9. Jorah Mormount

Jorah added a clarity and connection to the strangeness of Dany’s world in the Free Cities that helped us understand and compare that world to Westeros. That comparison was important as the two areas grew to be at odds with each other. He also had a strong story of his own as the disillusioned and exiled knight who became a believer in something greater. In many ways Jorah’s development mirrored our own as we became disillusioned with the glorious knights, lords, and castles of Westeros and sought something purer to save us. 

10. Margaery Tyrell

The TV show did wonders for this character. She was conniving and manipulative in both the books and the shows, but Margaery of the series shifts into another gear (she was well acted by Natalie Dormer). With her newfound savvy at playing the game of thrones she became a legitimate contender for the throne for about a half a season and became infinitely more interesting.

Honorable Mentions…

11. Lord Varys

12. Petyr Baelish

13. Khal Drogo

14. Oberyn Martell

15. Grey Worm

16. Renly Baratheon

17. Stannis Baratheon

18. Syrio Forel

19. Ramsay Bolton

20. Bronn

21. Melisandre

22. Hodor

23. Daario Naharis

24. Tommen Baratheon

25. Jaqen H’ghar

26. Tormund Giantsbane

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For more posts like this, like, comment, or follow, or check us out on Twitter @BlankDid.

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Ranking Major Characters [Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire]
The Last Season of [Game of Thrones]
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Top Ten TV Shows

Ranking Major Characters [Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire]

Let’s get the Game of Thrones conversation out of the toxic sludge of the last season and onto a healthier bedrock with a simple ranking of the top ten major and minor characters (show and books).

Deciding whether it is a Major or Minor character…

  • If they had more than five chapters in the books written from their perspective, they are major (14 total), if not, they are minor.

Ranked by the following standards…

  • Engagement
  • Coolness
  • Storyline

Major Characters

1. Daenerys Targaryen (I’m not going to include all her titles. Sue me)

It’s popular to hate on Daenerys because of the way her storyline ended in the show and some slow points in the middle of the book, but without Dany, Game of Thrones is just a fantasy epic no one reads. The Mother of Dragons holds the plot down and makes it unique. Dany shows the power of the game of thrones. Its allure, even from across the Narrow Sea, creates and crushes armies and transforms a young, innocent, girl into a deranged dragon-wielding killer (like a dragon egg to a flame). Cersei’s iconic line that you either win or die in the game of thrones may have been wrong. If anything is clear from watching the series finale… nobody wins.

2. Jaime Lannister

Based on the way the internet trends it might be a hot take not having Jaime as number one, but where character arc and coolness reign there is a lack of significance in Jaime’s storyline. It is significant (he is number two), but also his journey is isolated in many ways (he doesn’t ever really play the game of thrones), seeking atonement for what he did to The Mad King as opposed to reaching for higher power. But Jaime is the character that tugs at our heartstrings the most. We hate him and love him in equal degrees and more than we hate or love most other characters.

3. Arya Stark

Arya is badass, the perfect character for the modern viewer. She breaks every mold, goes against stereotypes, adapts and changes to her environment in order to survive, advance, and thrive. Her murder prayer is epic and she becomes (arguably) the deadliest character in GoT. But her culmination was maybe a bit disappointing? All of these assassination skills and she kills Walder Frey (which was cool) and the Night King (which was disappointing because no one wanted her to) so what did it all amount to? If she had gotten Cersei or something her impact on the game would be more significant.

4. Tyrion Lannister

If empathy conquered thrones there would be no game and we would all kneel before the Imp. There aren’t as many ups and downs with Tyrion, he is a self-loathing, abused, under-appreciated genius who against all odds finds ways to win. He is easy to root for, and he had major implications on the game on almost every side which makes him an integral part of the story. I am still hoping he rides a dragon in the books. He deserves it.

5. Eddard Stark

Game of Thrones is known as the show/books that kills main characters because of Ned. Other than that, not a whole lot of main character-killing going on- without bringing them back to life of course (Just look at this main character list. In the show, no other main character was killed before the final season where every story has significant deaths. They are alive in the books as well- except for Jon who is definitely going to be brought back to life). But Ned’s death was so powerful and significant and emotionally charged an entire aura was created around the series and hooked millions of viewers.

6. Cersei Lannister

One of the best villains in television or books- The Mad Queen, with seventy-two internal conflicts that make her compelling and dangerous. Cersei’s clarity is her strength. There is no guessing as to why she does anything, only how she will do it, and she is so ruthless, nothing is off-limits if it will get her what she wants.

7. Jon Snow

I am not sure if everybody loves Jon Snow or nobody does. Maybe the books tainted me, but I found him boring. His storyline was always intriguing, including one of the best in the series about his parentage (which was easy to figure out, but fun to anticipate. I am glad they didn’t try to subvert our expectations with this storyline). But he is so brooding that when I am most inclined to cheer for him, his internal conflict doesn’t increase the moment but sours it. 

8. Sansa Stark

There is nothing harder to read/watch than someone learning the hard way. The disillusionment that descends on Sansa as she meets ‘prince charming,’ becomes royalty, and gets involved in political intrigue is sad, and makes an easy-to-hate selfish girl with her head in the clouds into the girl who wins the game of queens. GRRM is most talented at taking a reader’s opinion on a character from point A to the farthest possible point away from point A. Sansa is a great example of that.

Winner of the Game of Queens

9. Theon Greyjoy

This fucking guy…

10. Davos Seaworth

Davos is a fun story, and the gateway to a large portion of the book. He has a unique take on the world of Westeros as a low-life thief with worldly experience (the only narrator not from a large house). His perspective in the Battle of Blackwater is second only to Tyrion’s, but other than that, he never is the narrator I am excited for when I see his name as the chapter heading.

The Rest…

11. Samwell Tarly

12. Catelyn Stark

13. Bran Stark

14. Brienne of Tarth

Come back on Thursday for the next post as we rank the Top 10 Minor Characters.

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For more posts like this, like, comment, or follow, or check us out on Twitter @BlankDid

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Ranking Minor Characters [Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire]
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Two Bobs- The Perfect True Crime [The Jinx]

As Bob Durst sits down for his interview at the end of the first episode of The Jinx, which detailed all of his misdeeds- being accused of killing his wife, running from the law in an investigation into a different murder, stealing a sandwich when he had thirty thousand dollars in cash, ya’ know, the usual- and as he blinks and twitches and drinks from his glass of water it’s hard not to think, “Oh yeah, this guy definitely killed some people.”

And as the interview begins in episode two, it’s hard not to feel confirmed in your assumption. His voice is like a car driving slowly on an unpaved country road, his eyes are black like a shark, and he blinks…a lot. Its unsettling. But by the end of episode five, a new, completely different Bob takes form in the viewers mind, contradicting the original Bob. You may find yourself actually liking this guy, a feeling as unsettling as his cold gaze at the camera.

Bob Durst prepares for his interview
Durst ready for his interview

Lots of true crime is being released as series, movies, podcasts, books, and documentaries. And the recipe goes as follows: an interesting personality to be interviewed, an absurd crime, and the newly added and most popular ingredient- never-before seen evidence (dun-dun-duuuunnnh). The recipe was created by the success of ‘Serial’ a podcast about Adnan Syed, perfected by The Jinx and then copied many times over, with notable shows like Making a MurdererMcMillions, and Tiger King.

But I will repeat, this was perfected by The Jinx. Their newly acquired evidence may not have been the most shocking (although it was presented the best; the last scene is fire), and the crime might not have been the most absurd (although a billionaire who most likely killed three people and is still walking free is pretty absurd), but the interviews are incredible (Jarecki is an interviewing god), and Bob Durst reaches through the TV screen and grabs you by your eyeballs. 

The interview walks us through his significant life events, like witnessing his mom’s suicide and burial, running away from home, the family business being given to his younger brother, marriages crumbling around his fear of parenting, and an inability to emotionally connect with anyone who reaches out. He was, as they put it in the doc, the poor little rich boy who had all the tangibles and none of the intangibles to make him happy. 

Then we learn about the disappearance of Kathy Durst, the death of Susan Berman, and that Bob Durst killed a man named Morris Black in what was deemed in a court of law as ‘self-defense.’ And to be frank, he provides us with a very human side of a man who may have killed as many as three people (may have). 

Durst on the streets of New York

He had humorous moments. Like when he shaved his eyebrows while ‘on the lam’ for the death of Morris Black. When questioned if this was on purpose Durst exclaimed, shoulders shrugging gratuitously, “How do you accidentally shave your eyebrows?” When asked in a deposition why he didn’t get along with his brother Douglas he quipped, “You’d have to go back to my childhood for that…I think he stole my toys.” When asked what he thought about fleeing to Galveston, dressed as a mute, stoner woman, to avoid the press, he tells us, “That was a great disguise.” While on the stand at trial for the murder of Morris Black he tried to direct the prosecution as to how his tussle with Morris Black went down. As they poorly reenacted per his instructions he said, “I can’t say that’s my testimony. The two of you look like spaghetti is the truth of the matter.”

He had honest moments. He told us he didn’t want to have children, and how he forced Kathleen to get an abortion because he thought he somehow “would be a jinx.” He talked about domestic abuse as if he was having dinner with a significant other. He mentioned how he couldn’t connect with his in-laws because they were so…normal. His mother-in-law was interested in ‘Yankee’ magazine and Bob claimed he “wasn’t interested in canning.”

He had sweet moments. When asked about his childhood with his mother he called it (as an old man being interviewed at the end of his life) “happy happy happy.” He asked Jarecki for a copy of a photo with Susan that he hadn’t seen before. And towards the end of the series, he walked around Times Square looking like any one of our grandparents, walked into a Starbucks for a Café Americano with his backpack slung over one shoulder. And, in this moment, Bob as a murderer seems like the faintest most fleeting idea. There are two Bobs, the theoretical Bob who most likely, probably, in the past, killed three people, and the real Bob, who sits on-screen and connects with you for five episodes

Jarecki (the director) puzzles over this very paradox as he prepares to confront Bob with newfound evidence that incriminates Bob as the murderer of Susan Berman, “I’ve spent a lot of time on the phone with him. A lot of time talking to him. I think Bob is a lot more volatile than I’ve ever thought before. And maybe that’s what I had to think in order to do everything we’ve done. In order to be as close to him as I’ve become, maybe I had to imagine that he was more rational.”

Jarecki waits behind the scenes

He struggles to reconcile the current Bob that he has come to know with the Bob of the past who is most likely a murderer. 

HBO and TV in general have a history of making us cheer for the bad guys. Tony Soprano, Walter White, Stringer Bell all make us root for criminals to get away with the crime. But this strange empathy becomes infinitely more conflicting when the story is true, when the man may have actually removed other people from the same planet you are inhabiting. It makes the ‘true’ in true crime a bit too real.

These conflicting views come to a head in the last episode. We thought the story had been told, we thought we understood where we stood on Bob, but then it was all thrown into turmoil when a letter was discovered that made any excuse for Bob’s innocence seem ludicrous and naïve. 

As we await the final confrontation between a murderer and his mistake, the viewer must conjure two Bob’s in their mind – the Bob we have come to empathize with and Bob the murderer that lurks in the back of their minds but wasn’t allowed to manifest himself amidst the half-truths and lies.

Thus, the last interview is no longer a documentary of Bob, but a documentary of a documentary of Bob. Jarecki is no longer the man behind the scenes, directing the course of the interview, but an integral part of the story, coming to grips with the new Bob, and choosing an appropriate lane of confrontation. The documentary has the same split personality as Bob himself, and all participants, viewer, director, producer, must adopt this double mindedness in order to capture Bob’s guilt

When confronted with the letter Bob goes cold, burps, gets hostile, dances around questions, and is unable to tell the difference between the ‘killers’ handwriting and his own. And yet, it still feels like the same old Bob antics. He has danced around dangerous questions before. Here was yet another affirmation- the largest affirmation- of something we always expected, but, just as before, the Bob we empathize with feels like the Bob that will endure in our minds.

That is…until Bob starts talking in the bathroom, unaware of his hot mic. When he finally declared, ‘killed them all of course’ my reaction was so strong because in the last possible moment, this persona that I had created around Bob- that he created around himself was shattered. 

I no longer could balance two Bobs and just as the documentary could no longer tell me how to feel, I had to figure out for myself who Bob actually is, hurriedly scrolling through Google searches to reconcile this new person I had never met. 

That is the long-lasting impact of The Jinx. And no one has been able to do it as well since.

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For more posts like this, like, comment, or follow, or check us out on Twitter @BlankDid

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On Trial [Parasite] vs [1917] (Best Picture)

One of the best conversations in film is debating ‘who should have won.’ We are going to revisit the great award debates, and decide, in hindsight, who should’ve won.

Maybe enough time has not passed to adequately judge Parasite and 1917. But then again it is amazing how quickly we gain perspective on films after leaving the grandiosity of the theater and award’s season. 

So let’s start with the most recent installment of the on-going debates about who should have won Best Picture, keeping in mind that there exists a debate only because these two movies are so awesome. 

Never convince yourself a movie is bad as you defend why you like another better.

The Case for 1917

1917 is a directorial clinic. The entire film is a giant oner, which turned me off at first. The concept felt gimmicky and self-serving (i.e. The Revenant), but man it worked… It was an integral part of the time-dependent plot and story and created an intensity in its unbrokenness that needs to be experienced. 

Sam Mendes (the director), in an interview with IMDB, explained, “Stories are nothing if you are not emotionally engaged. The two characters are given very little exposition, you don’t really know who they are and the one-shot technique, I think, allows you to live with them and breathe every breath and watch the clock ticking down.” Because of this decision, everything else necessary in a war movie fell into place. 

The set needed to be phenomenal because there was a lot of walking and sneaking around with no cut and reset. As a plot/narrative/story guy, I am rarely captured by the setting and the cinematography when I first watch a movie, but in 1917 wanted the camera to slow down or pause so I could look at every detail. It didn’t. It constantly moved forward, pressing the narrative and the tension. The trenches alone are worth multiple viewings before we even see the green fields of France

They also had to be efficient in their storytelling, which they were. Mendes mentioned the character’s lack of exposition, so they took small moments, like the terrific opening scene, to efficiently establish the characters and their relationships to each other. 

He also mentioned ‘breath[ing] every breath’ with the characters as a means of connecting with them, and by the end, when Lance Corporal Schofield, sat beneath a tree and brought out a picture of his wife and child, the viewer realizes just how big of an emotional impact the technique had. 

None of this considers the scope of the story and the telling. The film is shot over broad swaths of land and open country, and then dives into underground tunnels and bunkers as it tells a story of WWI, a massive epic in human history, as experienced through just two men. It has the up-close and the afar, the human and the humanity, the personal and the universal. As Schofield ran across no-mans-land to save the lives of those men, my heart ached for his bravery, and I believed he was making a difference. And when Colonel Mackenzie basically told him all those lives would just be wasted another day, and to “Fuck off.” I realized the needless waste of war, and the futility of one man. There are no heroes in war. Just men doing brave acts that no one will know about. 1917 shows us this.

There is a unity in the comprehensive scope of 1917 based on its one-shot technique, that demands all facets of the film work together. It shows the cost of war on humanity and humans, over fields and in trenches, through the setting and the story.

The Case for Parasite

Parasite, in comparison to 1917’s broad sweep, is crammed into the nooks and crannies of existence. It digs into the ground to unearth the truth in a specific social dynamic, and by-god it does it well. Each shot feels intentional, and often are up close and cramped, like a life in a semi-basement. 

Stories are nothing if they don’t get us to empathize and comprehend those different than us, and I think the Parasite-demonium (Did that work? I think I like it) came from how easily it was for us to feel empathy for a group of people that we are unlikely to meet in person. That speaks to the directing of Bong Joon Ho. 

But it also speaks to a universality to the story. Americans are familiar with the social ladder and, through this understanding, felt a connection with a country across the world from our own. Seems like the reason we watch movies.

But this foreign language film is not a documentary. There is plot for days. Some of it fun, some of it haunting, all of it killer. Parasite moves fast, getting from one place to the next believably but quickly, and the story layers on itself, the characters continually complicate their relationships with each other, the setting becomes more and more crowded, until everything culminates in the scene at the backyard barbecue that had my hands on my head and my jaw on the floor. 

Parasite, through this story and these amazing and well-rounded characters, runs the gamut of emotions, not focusing on being any one thing, but allowing humans to interact as we do, sometimes hilariously, sometimes seriously, sometimes horrifically.

This is where Parasite does its best work. It portrays a human so well, puts a bunch of them in a film in close quarters, and then puts the viewer right in the middle of it as they careen off of each other.

But Parasite also has the X-factor that often gets downplayed in the film critic world: re-watchability. I want to go back and see the funny jokes and the clever moments, when they get in a fight with the alley-pisser and the Jessica Jingle (I find myself doing that thing she does with her fingers all the time). It’s not the most rewatchable, but I can see myself hitting play on this one a few times more.

Parasite surprised everyone as a foreign language film that was relatable because of Bong Joon Ho’s framing of every scene for the max amount of significance and humanity. Story’s pile on top of stories in a movie that builds on itself the way humans build on each other like…parasites.

The Rebuttal for 1917

Isn’t the whole oner thing just a little self-serving? Just because a director can do something doesn’t mean it needs to be done. Couldn’t he have cut and changed perspective a couple times? Would that really have prevented us from feeling the same connection to the characters? Were we less connected to Saving Private Ryan because they used more traditional methods of filming?

And this story hits like a Mack Truck, but I am a sucker for a story that makes me want to rewind and watch it again. I may need a year of recovery before watching 1917 again. 

And there is such a thing as trying to be about too much, and a movie that tries to bring us themes like the price of war and the loss of humanity can find itself overwhelming an audience.

The Rebuttal for Parasite

If this movie was in English, would it have won? This felt like one of those ‘brave’ moves by the Academy to honor a foreign language film for the first time in 93 years because one finally found its way into the mainstream (how brave). 

Meanwhile, the film world ‘hipstered’ it into local theaters, by liking that film that is entirely in Korean. Nothing amazes your casual movie going buddies than by saying your favorite movie of the year is in Korean, am-I-right?


In my biased, subjective, very personal opinion the winner of the 2019 Best Picture Award should have been…


Watching this movie in theaters was an experience that I don’t expect to have again. I was locked in for every second because of the reasons stated above. One way to measure stories is in their emotional currency, and this movie broke my bank.

Meanwhile I see the impact of Parasite fading with time. Forever a great movie, but I think a large reason it won Best Picture was because it was a foreign language film, which will stop being amazing after a while. 

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For more posts like this, like, comment, or follow, or check us out on Twitter @BlankDid

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Quaid Reads [The Right Stuff]

A while back I read an excerpt from Stephen King’s On Writing (I didn’t read the whole thing until much later) that said he reads around 60-80 books a year. The stat staggered me. I considered myself an avid reader but was getting nowhere near that number. I reinvested myself in reading and took one piece of advice from King – listen to books. Fast forward to now, and I do all of my nonfiction books on Audible. 

The experience is interesting and can be hit or miss based on the reader of the book. I prefer novels read by the author (because even though they may be more boring than the professionals, there is a ‘correctness’ in the way they interpret) and between 8-10 hours long. But my favorite audiobook of all-time fits neither of those parameters. My favorite audiobook (and maybe book in general) is The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe. And this is where Audible needs to start paying me advertising fees, because I don’t like any plain audio rendition of The Right Stuff. It needs to be the Audible Original reading by Dennis Quaid. Any other version is inferior.

The post brought to you by Audible an Amazon Company (not really, but that’d be sweet)

Tom Wolfe is a great author, a ground-breaking author, one of my favorite authors, but a strange author, full of rhythm and sound, rapping and beats, impressions and emotions. In more frank terms, he does some weird shit. And sometimes it gets very lost on me. 

Take Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test for instance- my introduction to Wolfe. I am not an acid head nor have I ever been an acid head, so I was relying entirely on Wolfe to relay to me what it is like to be on acid and at an LSD party, and he does it, which is a testament to his writing. But there are moments when he is conveying these experiences, and I just can’t pick up the ‘feel’ of what he is doing. Here is an example of the brilliance and absurdity of Wolfe’s truly inspired moments…

You can see the rising emotion that builds on itself like a wave, the rhythm and cadence that sputters into existence hits a high rev and then downshifts into a lower gear, the visual effect of tracking sentences of such odd form. Its brilliant, but also takes a lot of interpreting, and can be off-putting and distancing when it misses.

On a separate and soon to be converging note, I think the great part about audiobooks is that they’re steeped in the rich oral history of storytelling, where the orator makes their interpretation of the text and through their telling of it they help you understand the writing better than through reading it. This doesn’t always happen, in fact I may argue that it rarely does, but sometimes it does, and those are some memorable moments.

So when Dennis Quaid reads The Right Stuff for Audible (hit me up Audible) both of these worlds collide like a jet through the sound barrier. As he read the opening chapter- no- as he interpreted the opening chapter about the danger of being a pilot, his voice swelled with the action of piloting fighter planes and waned with the solemnity of tragedy, and as he read Tom Wolfe’s repetition in unique ways and paused and ran the sentences together as necessary, I got it. I emotionally connected with the story. I understood it better than I ever could have on my own, and in my book reading life, it will be a moment I never forget. That sounds so melodramatic, but it’s true. Every once in a while, as I go about my day, I will look at a person or a thing or my cat and be like, “He’s got the most righteous stuff” in my very best Dennis Quaid snarl (my friend says he sounds like what a Miller Lite can would sound like- poetic). 

Quaid’s voice fits the Wolfe-isms of The Right Stuff perfectly, and apparently from his time in the film version he understands the emotions behind the story, and he brings it to life in a way that left me wanting it to go on and on. 

The book is phenomenal, audiobook or not. So if you can only get it in print, devour it. But for my money, I’m listening to Quaid.

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The Ring Thing [The Fortress of Solitude]
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Books About Writing

Tobey Maguire is Player X? [Molly’s Game]

According to Screen Rant, the mysterious Player X played by Michael Cera in Molly’s Game, is actually, probably, most likely, none other than…Tobey Maguire? I don’t phrase that as a question because I don’t think it’s true. Their argument is convincing, and you should read the article if you remain skeptical. But the implications of Tobey Maguire being Player X are just terrific. 

But before we get into them, I would like to address, ‘it’s based on a true story’ guy, who would argue that we don’t know that, even if Tobey Maguire is Player X, we do not know if any of this stuff actually happened, and therefore we cannot conclude anything about Tobey Maguire as a person. 

First of all, screw you…

Second of all, we know, and we don’t care because we like talking about movies, go watch some documentaries for your shitty facts.

So assuming good ole’ Tobey was Player X, as Screen Rant has convinced me (plus I am also assuming there was some insider knowledge while casting Player X and had they known Player X was like Ben Affleck or Leo, I doubt they would have cast Michael Cera to play him, but if they knew it was Tobey, they definitely would have cast Michael Cera to play him), and assuming the moments in Molly’s Game all actually happened (because ‘based on a true story’ guy drinks alone at bars) can we take a moment and look at  what we learn about Tobey from Molly’s Game. The book goes into more less than flattering details about Tobey, but we only have so much time, and the movie provides us with more than enough fodder.

According to the movie…

…Tobey Maguire is a killer poker player.

Apparently, he is the best. No one can touch him. He is relentless, takes everyone’s money (“he subscribed to the belief that money won was twice as good as money earned”), and revels in it. But there is something a bit off about the way he heralds his own skill. In one scene, after talking another player into folding the winning hand by swearing on his mother’s life that he has him beat, Tobey lifts up his shitty hand to show his bluff and tells the other man, “fuck you.” Which is some bad-assery to be sure. That is some next level confidence in your poker playing. 

But there is something about knowing it is Tobey Maguire that makes it feel strange. It felt the same way in the movie while watching Michael Cera act these moments out. They are just a bit… dweeby… to pull off moves like this. If Ben Affleck looked me in the eyes while holding a shit hand after bluffing me out of the winning hand and said, “fuck you,” I would cry myself to sleep for the next thirty-seven days. But if Tobey Maguire did it, I’d probably just smile wryly and say, “Good for you Tobey. You deserve it,” while he aggressively raked his chips towards his pile, making eye contact with no one, expecting everyone to be looking at him. We all feel good for Tobey, and he wants to rub it in our faces.

He’s the guy that doesn’t read the room quite right. Everyone else is rooting for him because it’s about time something went his way, and he is talking shit because he thinks he is the top dog. In summation, knowing Tobey Maguire is so good at poker and so proud of it makes it seem like this is his one major skill in life, (other than being Spiderman) and he’s a little too aggressive in letting everyone know it. 

…Tobey Maguire hates people.

Even beyond the incident recounted above, we have even further evidence that Tobey has a deep-seated resentment towards other people. After one of Molly’s games Tobey hung back for a bit and told her that he didn’t actually like poker. When Molly, in a state of confusion, then asked him why he played, he replied, in the height of melodrama and randomness, “I like destroying people’s lives.” 

Okay Tobey. Slow your roll just a bit. I mean… nobody asked…and also, What happened to you man? Was it so hard playing Peter Parker? Why all the resentment?

…Tobey Maguire is super vindictive

So once again, the previous two stories also illuminate this next point. But, also once again, we have further proof to ponder. Tobey decides that Molly is making too much money on his poker game, and that she believes (incorrectly) that it is her game, and he wants her to know that it is his game. So Tobey decides that she should cap her tips. To which she gives him a firm, “Hell no.” To which he decides to move the location of the poker game behind her back and remove Molly from the game entirely- which is some weak-ass bullshit.

But the worst part is when he calls her as she is driving to the now non-existent game and laughs at her and says, “You are so fucked,” and then hangs up. Apparently, Tobey’s love for ruining people’s lives is not merely confined to the chairs surrounding a poker table. 

They both had a good thing going and were making a ton of money, but he feared losing the recognition for being the ‘draw,’ the ‘top guy,’ that everyone was coming to see and play with, and so he needed to flex his radioactive-spider-enhanced muscles on whoever wasn’t recognizing his status. There were also other reasons at play which we will get to next, but mostly this shows a vindictive side of Tobey who will come at you hard for doing very little.

…Tobey is sexually frustrated.

We are going to get a little Freudian here so bear with me. If the above actions by Tobey seem a bit extreme or random, then let’s color the situation- pepper in a little background if you will. Molly Bloom is, how can I put it…. a smoke show (once again we are basing this on the movie, and once again fact guy can go take a flying leap. I have no idea if Molly Bloom was this good-looking, but Jessica Chastain in Molly’s Game made me forget my first name). And, to earn her tips, she has a lot of playful banter with the poker players. But not poor Tobey. She is very cordial with Tobey. It feels like a business relationship. I perceived that Molly respected Tobey as someone who was good at what he did (poker not acting) and who had ideas that could continue to make them both money. 

But Tobey did not perceive it this way. He confronted her later in the movie and asked her why she didn’t flirt with him like she did with all the other players (I didn’t really reduce that at all. He pulled that middle school boy crap for real). Tobey wanted some attention too, and in the wake of not getting the attention he desired, he stole the game. 

This feels like an accumulation. I doubt this level of vindictiveness and retribution and confrontation would have occurred if this had not happened to Tobey before. Maybe, for example, Kirsten Dunst, on the set of Spiderman, flirted with James Franco (understandable) and gave Willem Dafoe some ‘I hate my father’ banter, and Tobey stood off to the side in his red and blue latex and watched as the girl he saved from the Green Goblin showed absolutely zero gratitude. And so at the point of Molly’s poker game and the experience of being at the periphery of female’s attention for years, Tobey was feeling a bit frustrated (sexually I mean). Apparently, the poker game wasn’t the only action Tobey was seeking.

…Tobey’s been through some shit.

This isn’t based on anything in the movie, but rather as the culmination of all the other points. It feels as if Tobey Maguire feels inferior. He feels looked down upon and insecure about his position in a room full of men and women. I don’t know what caused all these feelings but it must be tremendous. He did take some heat (deserved) for Spiderman 3, but also, he is a killer poker player and he is credited with starting the superhero movie phenomenon. He became the face of nerdy geeky actors in Hollywood, which is rough, but that’s a thing now. In hindsight, Tobey was ahead of his time, but I guess it is hard to be ahead of the times, because you are all alone. That poor ‘green-screen little shit.’

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For more posts like this, like, comment, or follow, or check us out on Twitter @BlankDid

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Is Ivan Drago Overhyped? [Rocky IV]
The Apache Relays: The Greatest Upset In Camp History [Heavyweights]
The Scout Scene [Moneyball]

The Many Kendalls [Succession]

Secure on the back of Jeremy Strong, Kendall, as a Succession character, goes through many transformations- becoming many separate and unique ‘Kendalls,’ if you will- in only these first two seasons. These evolutions are a mighty feat of acting, and the bedrock upon which the storyline of Succession, not only stands, but evolves and thrives. Every character has their time in the sun, but, as we saw at the end of season two, it all comes back to Kendall. So here are the four different Kendalls seen in the two seasons of Succession in order of worst to best.

Destroyed Kendall (S01 E10- S02 E02)

Something broke in Kendall when that car plunged into the pond and only one man floated to the top. The worst kind of baptism and renewal took place in those waters. Torment over the decisions he must make wash across Kendall’s face in the darkness of the night, on the banks of a watery grave. And as Kendall drowns in the wake of that accident, trying to rebalance his future and bury his recent past, he is barely functional. He is in a walking coma. He becomes skittish and unsure, emotionally damaged and volatile, in-eloquent and scared, susceptible to suggestion by his father with no autonomy or choice. He gives up on the takeover which leaves his best friend and business partners high and dry. He is called back from rehab after only two days and the best objection he can muster is that he has a mud bath scheduled for that afternoon. He sits skittish in front of a camera as he does an interview, reciting spoon fed lines that make him look foolish and subservient. Destroyed Kendall is painful to watch. The only redeeming quality of Destroyed Kendall is that we only had to watch him for two and a half episodes. That is not to say Destroyed Kendall is gone. He reappears in S02 E07, Return, when Logan takes him to the dead boy’s family’s house in a not so subtle reminder of who’s in charge, to a Kendall that too closely resembles the Kendall who tried to overthrow his dad (after five episodes of Logan supporting Kendall in odd ways, he turns on him in an instant when Kendall questions the wisdom of sleeping with Rhea. Never get too comfortable with Logan). The many Kendalls are a fragile ecosystem, and Logan likes to introduce new species in his free time. 

Overthrow Dad Kendall (S01 E02; S01 E08-S01 E10; S02 EP10)

Kendall is subconsciously always Overthrow Dad Kendall, so to pinpoint the exact timeline for when he becomes Overthrow Dad Kendall is difficult. But he actualizes his Overthrow Dad intentions in clear moments throughout the two seasons- the beginning, the middle, and the end. Overthrow Dad Kendall is over-emotional and perceives himself as something he is not. Take for example when Stewy asks Kendall if he is too scared to take the bear hug letter to Logan. Kendall tells him, “No. Fuck you. Are you?” To which Stewy replies, “Yeah man. I’m scared. So if I’m scared and you’re fucking pretending not to be scared, then fucking you should do it.” Of course, Kendall was scared. But he is faking it until he makes it. He needs to prove that he is not a ‘hot-house flower’ unable to make it if displaced from the greenhouse Logan created for him to grow and flourish. But in reality, as far as what we’ve seen, Kendall struggles in the real world. So every time he turns into Overthrow Dad Kendall, he isn’t as sharp as, let’s say, CEO Kendall. This could be seen right away in Sh*t Show at the F**k Factory. Kendall’s pleas to his siblings as to why he should be declared interim CEO in the wake of Logan’s stroke are weak and vain at best, and his attempts to arrest control, like when he leaked information on Logan to the newspaper and goaded Lawrence into writing an article about their very tenuous situation, are reckless and reactionary. So when Overthrow Dad Kendall appears at the end of season one, marching through the pre-wedding celebration carrying the bear hug letter like a gun, it is no surprise it ends poorly. And if you think the car accident did not have anything to do with poor business decisions by Kendall, just think about how his insecurities about maybe not being declared CEO after the takeover caused him to tell Frank about it… which pushed up the timeline for giving Logan the bear hug letter… which caused Kendall to go overboard on liquor and coke… which led him to get in the car with the kid in the first place. Hot house flower indeed.

CEO Kendall (S01 E01-S01 E08)

We are introduced to Kendall, rapping in the backseat of his town car, as CEO Kendall, fully realized in his world of billion-dollar business deals for breakfast and deli wraps with ketchup for lunch. This is his whole world, his whole life, and he wakes up before everyone else to put on a white shirt and suit coat, only to take it off later than everyone else because he loves it and feels like he is good at it. He was born, bred, and raised, to be a businessman and it is all he wants to do. This is what makes Logan’s railroading of Kendall in episode one so impactful. His life’s work is being measured, found wanting, and his succession to the throne- the reward for that work- delayed. This crisis of character puts the series in motion. But, because of his dad’s stroke he remains CEO Kendall until the middle of episode seven. Because even though he was fired from Waystar Royco, he was still (classic) CEO Kendall as he wore his dopy sneakers and offered seed money to Dust. He only stops being CEO Kendall when he gets told to ‘fuck off’ by Dust and is subsequently confronted by Stewy, who finally tells him that he and Sandy are an entity, like “a creature from mythology, you know, head of a horse, dick of a swan,” therefore transforming him into Overthrow Dad Kendall. Which means that we have wonderful book ends of CEO Kendall moments, the backseat rap and the dopy sneakers on the table. CEO Kendall is a great version of Kendall because the mental health of all other Kendalls is judged based on how closely he can operate as CEO Kendall. Even Seed-Money CEO Kendall gets a bit off center because of the drug use (you can see it in Frank’s eyes as Kendall puts on the sneakers), but he’s doing business, he is making deals so he is still okay. Kendall gets into a bad place when he no longer feels like he can do business or make deals (notice the four lines of coke that Greg has to take for Kendall- that greedy coke whore, sucking them big white dicks- after he is rejected by Dust- but they really liked him in the room). Thus, he transitions into different Kendalls.

Robot Business Terminator Kendall (S02 E03-S02 E10)

After the season one finale and the season two opening I was nervous that season two Kendall was going to be brittle and broken and not as engaging as season one Kendall (like he’d be Destroyed Kendall the whole time). But oh was I wrong. In a brilliant bit of writing, Kendall retreated into his hot house (which makes perfect sense) and turned into his dad’s personal Robot Business Terminator. After Kendall’s string of fuck-ups in season one, it was easy to forget that he was CEO of one of the largest corporations in America, and he may have gotten there because his dad owned the company, but only an idiot wouldn’t learn some business acumen along the way (or Roman, but the jury is still out on whether he is an idiot) and Kendall Roy is no idiot. After he destroyed his own creation, Vaulter, because his ‘dad told him to,’ and proved his loyalty to Logan, Kendall was reborn as a slightly suicidal but massively bloodthirsty Robot Business Terminator. Starting in S02 E03, Hunting, when he obliterated Roman on their business retreat, including a headlock in order to facial-scan into his phone (badass), we see that an aligned Logan and Kendall is going to be hard to stop (you should be thinking about Logan leaning over a seated Kendall with his arms resting on his shoulders and hands on his chest). The very next episode we see them in action together (please ignore the doddering Shiv in this scene, she’s just being annoying and insecure) as they read Rhea’s coded language and work her to find the right offer for an acquisition of Pierce (This is maybe my favorite scene of Kendall’s. He feels like the version of himself he imagines he is at the beginning of season one, but he had to lose all of his delusions of grandeur in order to truly become it). Later he works the room at Tern Haven, completely in sync with Logan, and maybe the only family member who actually ‘stayed in his lane’ (you could argue doing illegal drugs with one of the Pierces is quite adamantly exiting your line, but in that moment he closed the deal in Logan’s favor by pivoting an important member in their favor, and I have so much confidence in Business Robot Terminator Kendall I believe that he thought to himself, “I am going to do this line of coke, and drink this bottle of vodka for my dad”). He also covers for his dad before Congress, mounting the only real offense in the shellacking they took from Gil Eavis (“if it is to be said, so it is”). He even was going to lay down to be sacrificed on the altar before the business gods as a blood sacrifice, like Isaac before Abraham, but re-found his ever-present Overthrow Dad version of himself at the last moment. But all of these collective Business Robot Terminator Kendall moments surprisingly comprise the best collection of any one Kendall, which makes it the best version of Kendall (for the viewer at least). We will certainly get a healthy dose of Overthrow Dad Kendall next season, but I am hoping that he takes a bit of Robot Business Terminator Kendall with him, for his sake and mine.

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Rulebook for Boar on the Floor

The Dance Scene [Pulp Fiction]

Mia Wallace and Vincent Vega are so stinkin’ cool.

I mean, completely bombed out on cocaine, and sometimes barely above perceptible levels of functionality. 

pulp fiction vintage GIF

But the dialogue… the swagger. 

pulp fiction love GIF

And there is no point in Pulp Fiction where this is more evident than at Jackrabbit Slim’s.

pulp fiction GIF

And inside of Jackrabbit Slim’s, there is no better moment than when they enter the twist contest.

is that so uma thurman GIF

So what is it about that scene that leaves its indelible mark on all our minds? Why is it so iconic? Arguably- in the most Tarantino sense- it is bizarre, unnecessary, and melodramatic. But we aren’t turned off by those traits, we lean into them. And there may be a few reasons why.

For one, this ‘not-a-date’ with Mia and Vega is doomed to be successful. They are trapped in their own connection. They have a chemistry- aided by the cocaine- that is obvious from the moment they get out of their convertible car to sit in their convertible booth. On the right side there is Mia’s intensity and thoughtfulness, leaning into the table, making intense eye contact, ever the temptress, and on the left side there is Vega, prone to fits of spacing out, eyes wandering everywhere. Mia is supposed to be shown a good time by Vega, but not too good a time or he might end up like Tony “Rocky Horror,” thrown out of a four-story window by the boss, Marcellus Wallace. So before they ever kick off their shoes and let the music play, Mia and Vega are locked in a dance, and it is beautiful to watch. 

pulp fiction smoking GIF

The dialogue is a push-pull of interaction. Vega tries to please and participate. Mia carries the weight of topic selection and content and often serves as the antagonist, knowing Vega’s unenviable position, having done this before. The conversation that precedes the dance is always at arms-length. Neither want to fully embrace the interaction because they aren’t supposed to. It’s the forbidden fruit. She starts off by asking Vega what he thinks of Jackrabbit Slim’s, out of which the wonderful dialogue starts flowing, “I think it’s like a wax museum with a pulse.” But things get fun when she orders that fi’ dolla’ shake.

Pulp Fiction Milkshake GIF

Vega confirms it is just milk and ice cream, they “don’t put bourbon in it or nothing.” And the banter begins. Everything remains professional and in line but it is cut with a playfulness like, for example, when Mia asks Vega to roll him a joint, “Could you roll one of those for me cowboy?” and as Vega tries to get Mia to tell her joke from her pilot episode for Fox Force Five.

There was also pleasure. As Mia explains the cancelled show to him, she loses her cool and implacable façade and seems like an excited young girl.

pulp fiction GIF

And Vega seems genuine about his desire to hear the joke and sad when he thinks he isn’t going to.

There was sexual energy as Vega asked to try her fi’ dolla’ milk shake…

pulp fiction GIF

Mia: “You can use my straw, I don’t have cooties.”

Vega: “Yeah but maybe I do.”

Mia: “Cooties I can handle.”

…and as the guitar strums chords in the background while Vega sips his vanilla coke and Mia sucks on a cherry. “Don’t you hate that?…. Comfortable silences? Why do we feel it is necessary to yak about bullshit in order to be comfortable… 

pulp fiction are these playing for you guys? GIF

When you can just shut the fuck up for a minute and comfortably share silence.”

But Vega senses the danger in where this is headed and pulls back, “I don’t think we’re quite there yet, but don’t feel bad, we just met each other.” And their date gets put back into its proper perspective as the conversation turns to whether or not Marcellus Wallace actually threw Tony “Rocky Horror” out a four-story window for giving Mia a foot massage. And by extension, the tension behind these carefree demeanors.

uma thurman gossip GIF

This night can go well, it just can’t go great.

So by the time Mia declares that she wants to enter the Jackrabbit Slim twist competition…

i want to dance pulp fiction GIF by MIRAMAX

These two have already shown us their ability to partner up and dance. The competition just becomes the culmination of their back and forth. 

Therefore, we are primed for the moment as they line up across from each other. Will Vega be able to dance as high as he is? Taking off those shoes seemed to be mighty difficult… Should these two be dancing together at all? And when Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell” starts to play, and Mia and Vega start to dance, right on cue, they seem symbiotic. 

pulp fiction dancing GIF

But they don’t dance together at first. They dance at the same time, just like the date thus far. Travolta twisting in his dress socks, and Mia in her bare feet, no eye contact, separate dance movies. It’s still good, but two people on a dance floor are not two people dancing. 

Then then the music overcomes their wariness, even the reticent Vega. And when Vega drops back into a knee waggle, thrusting his hips forward, Mia twists forward into his open knees…

pulp fiction GIF

…and as she twists away, and does a modified sprinkler back towards him, they make eye contact, they dance together, and their connection finally culminates with a good old-fashioned swim move. 

pulp fiction GIF

They go from polite conversation, to playful banter, to meaningful conversation.

They go from dancing on the same stage, to dancing with each other, to doing the same moves.

pulp fiction GIF

And as the intensity in their dancing grows, the inhibitions that were telling Vega to keep Mia at arm’s length fade away, and the night before them becomes ever more dangerous (just probably not in the way they are expecting).

pulp fiction dancing GIF

The dance is so powerful because it tells a story. The dialogue is about nothing, but it is about everything. The dance is out-of-nowhere but takes us from a man doing a favor for his boss by showing his wife a good time, to a danger zone where anything can happen. We watch tensions rise and the plot thicken in the most mundane of ways, a conversation over dinner. And when the bizarre dancing occurs, it breaks us into a realm of new storyline possibilities that can be equally as bizarre because we spent so much time connecting to the characters while the story was being told. It’s what makes Tarantino special. His ability to tell a story by means that seem totally unrelated. He shows us people interacting in an interesting and often tense situation, and everything else just kind of happens.

fiction tarantino GIF

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For more posts like this, like, comment, or follow, or check us out on Twitter @BlankDid

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Tobey Maguire is Player X? [Molly’s Game]
Mediocre [Mad Max: Fury Road]
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The Setting Of [Prisoners]

Workout Montages [Rocky, Creed]

Judging the Rocky workout montages based on what type of wall I would run through after viewing.


There is a freshness and unexpectedness to this first Rocky workout montage that still remains even when watching it now. Why is Rocky running in a gray sweat suit? Where is this going? What is about to happen? But the music, which is so vital to all of the Rocky workout montages, tells the story. It grows and crescendos until the synthesizer finally hits in a keening whine while Rocky is doing pushups, and we finally know what is about to go down. This guy is doing work. He is getting pumped, and we get pumped with him. The first, unexpected workout montage does what none of the others could, because they weren’t first. As Rocky goes from a limping jog to a full-on sprint through the streets of Philadelphia, with a choir singing in the background, “Getting strong now.” It establishes that emotional connection to Rocky that we never had before, and it creates the by-product of all of these workout montages -hope. Hope that lets you dare to believe that he can win. He can beat Creed. He can go the distance against all odds. And when the camera zooms upwards from the bottom of those steps to a dancing Rocky, and when he throws his hands up in the air in that now iconic pose, I feel like I can do anything too.

Rocky: I would run through a brick wall.

Rocky II

Even at this point, the workout montage was a necessity in any Rocky film, so the trick here was to get us to want it even though we expected it. So Rocky II goes through some of the most boring and frustrating footage in all the Rocky films- Rocky putzing around, reading to Adrian, training like a bum- in an effort to get a payoff when that music finally hits. And when Adrian tells him to ‘win,’ we buckle up baby. And when he starts doing one-handed push-ups at a junkyard, we know we about to get this bread. But this scene never hits a great crescendo moment, it is broken up awkwardly by Rocky putting his baby to sleep, and even though the kids singing was a nice touch, and I enjoyed watching Rocky dust their slow asses, I don’t need them celebrating with him on the stairs, and I don’t really need him on the stairs again in general. This one establishes the Rocky workout montage as a ‘thing’ but didn’t quite know how to build off of its success yet. And for that I would probably run through some dry wall by the end but that’s about it.

Rocky II: I would run through dry wall.

Rocky III

This Rocky workout montage seems to learn from Rocky II’s mistakes, starting with the music busting into the room like the Kool-aid man. The bass slaps so hard it gets your hairs standing on end before any of the good stuff even happens. They figured out that these montages are all about overcoming more than sheer exertion, and so watching slow-footed, lumbering Rocky at the beginning of the montage become slim, trim, fleet-footed Rocky by the end makes me ready to go find my local beach with some shorty shorts and run on some sand. The close-up shots of Creed’s and Rocky’s thighs starts to usher in the “steroid” era of Rocky, making them mythical, larger than life figures that can do the impossible. And the climax of this music is so good. It hits a peak with “getting strong noooowwwwww,” making you think it is done like the last two montages, but then draws out the moment until they are on the beach in a foot race. And then, when Rocky finally beats Creed, you are like, “Awwwww man, Mr. T better watch his ass before it gets beat!” There is a slight come-down at the end though when Creed and Rocky dance and hug in the water like this is Baywatch. 

Rocky III: I would run through a plywood wall.

Rocky IV

The Rocky IV workout montage comes in two parts separated by an Adrian interaction. And it works. The first portion has got some haunting synthesizer as Rocky looks over the Siberian cold, and the camera continually moves back and forth between Rocky and Drago training in drastically different ways. This is the montage where everything clicks for the Rocky workout montage franchise. It is all about overcoming adversity. Rocky is the punchy underdog and this first scene sets up how much of an underdog he actually is as he faces the blistering cold and lack of advanced training methods that lie firmly in Drago’s corner. BUT WAIT…. After an Adrian pump up, cue “Hearts on Fire,” and get amped. The pinnacle of this workout montage is immediately after the break when the synthesizer hits and John Cafferty drops, “Silent darkness creeps inside your sooooul.” And everything after is brand new. The truly grueling nature of this workout becomes evident as Rocky does a bunch of ridiculous feats of strength that make him seem like a superhero. The other workout montages seemed intense, this one seems unbelievable. Meanwhile, Drago shows how much of a freak of nature he is with what he does, but it seems so much more attainable in the comforts of his gyms, carefully controlled by his trainers. We cheer harder and get more pumped for Rocky lifting heavy boulders, and lifting his training group in a giant wheelbarrow, we want the grit and determination of the underdog who has nothing, to beat the evil steroid-injected Russian who has everything. And by the end, as Rocky runs away from his Russian babysitters and overcomes their cold and snow to climb their tallest peaks and screams Drago’s name from the top of the mountain, we know he can do it.

Rocky IV: I would run through a cinderblock wall

Its weird that they never made a Rocky V….Oh well…

Rocky Balboa

This was the workout montage we never thought we would see, and because of that they got to be self-aggrandizing and go back to the well one more time. They didn’t have to come up with anything new, we didn’t want anything new. They just, after so long, needed to show us Rocky overcoming all odds and becoming a boxing monster again. So they went back to the original music, and it is phenomenal. The “getting strong now” choir hits at just the right spot, and the violin strings send shivers through my soul as Rocky, old and beaten up, washed up and past his time, transforms, once again, into someone we believe in. He can go the distance like we have seen so many times before. They even end on the stairs, something they shouldn’t have done in Rocky II, but definitely works in this one. But the true greatness in this Rocky workout montage is the speech before it begins. Duke leads off with all the crap Rocky can’t do because he’s old and had the crap beaten out of him by Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang, and Ivan Drago. But then he tells him what they ARE going to do, and I’m here for it. They are going to use ‘blunt force trauma,’ ‘good old-fashioned horsepower,’ ‘heavy-duty cast-iron punches’ that ‘will rattle his ancestors,’ *cracks kneck* “Oh yeah. Let’s start building some hurtin’ bombs.” Then the music hits…oh maaaaan. Give the people what they want!

Rocky Balboa: I would run through a glass partition.


Creed was fresh blood and a fresh take on the Rocky workout montage. Creed wasn’t just the underdog, he had a crisis of identity, and this montage slowly built his training skills, his belonging on the streets of Philadelphia, and his love for Rocky. The music was a modernized play off the old style but gets a huge pop when the rap kicked in as Creed runs the streets, just like Rocky used to do, but this time with ATVs and motorbikes peeling out left and right, a much improved rendition of being chased by small children. This Rocky workout montage is good, but mostly for the story it tells and not for the adrenaline pumping grey out and forget where you are energy that some of the others inspire.

Creed: I would run through a wood paneled wall.

Creed II

This Rocky workout montage takes its time. As the sixth installment in the workout montage lineage, it has seen the failures before it, it has seen what works, it has seen the changes and development over time, and then it bashes our collective teeth in with a nasty left hand jab, right hand uppercut. The soul music as they drive into the desert establishes the forlorn and sorrowful feel of both Creed and Drago. And when Rocky tells Creed, “If you’re going back to hell you might as well get used to it.” We know we are in for something special. The cool part of Creed II that this workout montage captures is that, more than any movie before it, both fighters have a story to tell, and so maybe except for Rocky IV (fitting) this workout montage plays up both fighters more than usual.  We see Drago just mashing fools in his gym, leaving them in a limp puddle of flesh, sweat, and stupid looking headgear. And we see Creed struggle to find a rhythm in the desert as he sledgehammers the dry cracked ground and gets mauled by a guy with the biggest trapezoids on the planet as they both keep their feet a tires width away from each other. Creed II, better than any Rocky movie montage before it, plays up the underdog, ‘can’t do it’ mindset. As the soul music hits again and slows the pace, we see Creed throwing up from getting hit in the gut so many times, getting in a full body ice bath with his knuckles torn to shreds, stepping out of the tire because he’s getting beat like a stray dog, and ultimately falling in the middle of the road, in the middle of the desert. As Rocky looks at an inert Creed from the car urging him to “Get up,” the music draws out in a long and crescendo-ing, “Amen, Am-EN, AAAAAMEEEEEEEEEN!” Creed gets to his feet, the bell rings, the rap hits, “Breaking out the cage, tell them lock the chains.” And this shit takes off. The beat is faster than ever before as Adonis fists pop of punches in a blur in the ring, against pads, over a barrel of fire, it doesn’t matter, Adonis Creed is reborn in the desert, and he will destroy anyone in a fight, and I will fucking run through any goddamn wall in my way. We even get an awesome throwback scene with him outsprinting Rocky’s car with that same ole choir getting their vocal workout in the background. Perfection.

Creed II: I would run through a pre-panelized load bearing metal stud wall. 

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Dictionary of Malapropisms [Sopranos]

Nobody in The Sopranos seems to know any correct idioms, colloquialisms, adages, or allusions. They are a font of malapropisms. This inclusion in the writing is a nice ode to the street smarts versus book smarts element of the show. What follows is a dictionary of some of the best (not all) of The Sopranos malapropisms, misnomers, and messed up idioms and some entries explaining them.

Revenge is like serving cold cuts. 

Tony Soprano explaining to Dr. Melfi how anger is bad for business.

Tony adds an Italian flair to the well-known adage, ‘revenge is a dish best served cold. And when corrected by Melfi he is fairly certain that he had gotten it right because, quite frankly, a cold dish to Tony would probably be cold cuts. The dude isn’t nomming on a salad at lunch time. Also, this is a much more succinct and sonorous version of a very long and clunky saying.

She’s like an albacore around my neck

Johnny Soprano referencing his wife Olivia.

Johnny was obviously referring to the albatross from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in which the mariner kills an albatross, blaming it for the bad luck they have received, and when the bad luck continues, the crew blames the mariner. A wonderful allusion to classic literature if he hadn’t gotten it switched with the famous brand of tuna of which he is probably much more familiar. I am sure, in a different sense, his wife may have operated like tuna around his neck, but that seems like it would be a much different set of problems.

Why not? Create a little dysentery among the ranks

Christopher Moltisanti referencing the possibility of Vesuvio being bugged.

The correct phrase would have been ‘dissention among the ranks.’ However, Christopher may have accidentally been more appropriate in his misspeak, seeing as, in history, troops-in which ranks would refer- are some of most common contractors of dysentery and Tony’s response to Christopher, “…what the Fed’s want is a lot more interesting shit than…” would also make more sense in response to dysentery than dissention.

Alright, sure. Go ahead. I’m a little miffled but yeah, sit with it.

Tony Soprano referencing the possibility of Vesuvio being bugged.

Tony meant to use the word ‘miffed’ to indicate he was put-off by Paulie rejecting him. The cadence and rhythm of ‘a little miffled’ might be the culprit for the slip. And certain adds a more delicate and humorous feel to the world. One can imagine being a little miffled at all sorts of humorously annoying incidents in life, like when you wear the same tie as a colleague to an important engagement, or when your golf ball accidentally bounces of the flagstick and ends up in the bunker.

You know, Quasimodo predicted all of this

Bobby Baccilieri referencing the decline of the world.

This is a special moment because we get insight from Bobby as to how he made the mistake. After Tony corrects him, “Who did what…? Nostradumus. Quasimodo is the hunchback of Notre Dame. Nostradamus…Notre Dame…its two different things completely.” To which Bobby replies, “Its interesting though that they’d be so similar, isn’t it? And I always thought…okay…hunchback of Notre Dame. You also got your quarterback and your halfback of Notre Dame.” Makes sense to me even if Tony wasn’t buying it.

What with Vito passing, and all that entrails

Tony Soprano discussing Vito Jr.’s poor behavior.

Tony was uncomfortably accurate with this slip-up. By substituting ‘entrails’ (someone’s insides) for ‘entails’ (all that is involved) Tony is alluding to the most gruesome death on Sopranos of Vito Sr. at the hands of Phil Leotardo, the details of which I will leave to the reader’s own Googling.

Keep your eye on the tiger, man

Christopher Moltisanti in a pep talk to Tony B.

We have an adage smash of ‘keep your eye on the prize’ and ‘eye of the tiger.’ Both very optical oriented sayings that fit incredibly well together. They form a Megatron of pump up sayings about being focused on goals AND staying fierce in your pursuit of them. It also seems to foreshadow a lurking doom in Tony B and Chrissy’s life the moment they take their eye off the tiger…

I was prostate with grief

Tony Soprano explaining how he felt about Chrissy’s death to Dr. Melfi.

The correct word would be ‘prostrate.’  An often-confused switch of two similar words (that sneaky little ‘r’ makes all the difference). This mistake provides a comedic break from heavy emotions in the wake of Chrissy’s death, but also belies the falseness of Tony’s grief. He wasn’t really ‘prostrate’ with grief, so it might as well have been ‘prostate.’

You’d think I’m Hannibal Lecture or something

Tony Soprano reacting to Carmela’s joy at him seeing a therapist.

He for sure was searching for the name Hannibal Lecter, the fictional psychiatrist from Silence of the Lambs, but what is unclear is what Tony thinks that guy does. Because in the face of Carmela’s joy and love for Tony, he clearly doesn’t know that Lecter is most famous for eating people.

Yeah, well, that’s the flying ointment

Christopher Moltisanti trying to convince Tony to take a bad deal with Leotardo.

It is to be believed Chrissy meant to say, ‘that is the fly in the ointment.’ However, flying ointment is a thing as well. It is a hallucinogenic ointment used by European witches in the Early Modern period. So as Chrissy goes on his final drive, still drugged up from earlier shenanigans, he may have been aware of a rare Early Modern hallucinogenic. Also, when using this malapropism, it was in defense of an argument that may have been the only time Chrissy was right. In hindsight, if Tony had just taken the deal with Phil out of good will, maybe a lot of what comes after would have been avoided.

Water over the dam

Tony Soprano assuring Johnny Sack that issues had been resolved

There is a great colloquial debate over water over the dam and water under the bridge. People philosophize about whether ‘water over the dam’ is the converse of ‘water under the bridge’ in which case this malapropism may just be a warning from Tony to Johnny Sack that all is not forgotten, which is much truer to the way Tony does business.

You just keep your antidotes to local color

Tony Soprano to Feech La Manna to get him to stop telling ‘in my day…’ stories.

‘Anecdotes’ are short stories to make a point, something Feech La Manna annoyingly chooses for rhetorical purposes too many times for Tony’s tastes. Admittedly, the ‘nec’ sound of ‘anecdotes’ can be hard to say, especially for someone with such a heavy Jersey accent. He may have known the word but struggled to pronounce the word.

She’s been wanting to get her teeth wet with the entertaining

Christopher Moltisanti explaining Kelli’s good idea.

Another phrase smash for Chrissy, the two phrases being ‘cut her teeth’ and ‘get her feet wet.’ They both mean just about the same thing, but they create a different aesthetic. Combining them may be an efficient means of the best of both worlds.

I’m a strict Catholic. I agree with Senator Sanitorium, who says if we let this stuff go too far, pretty soon we’ll be fucking dogs. 

Tony Soprano describing to Dr. Melfi his feelings on homosexuality.

Never shy to share his political opinions of the day, Tony is referencing Rick ‘Santorum’ and his comparison of homosexuality to bestiality. A fitting representation of Tony’s political views. They are conservative, aware enough to know the conversation, but ignorant to the point where he doesn’t know the name of the person making the argument.

When he saw them, he took off like a bat on a hill

Christopher Moltisanti describing Vito’s disappearance. 

He meant to say, ‘like a bat out of hell,’ which is fast and uncontrolled. A bat on a hill is significantly less visual or helpful as a description. Chrissy just isn’t the brightest.

Very observant. The sacred and the propane

Little Carmine addressing a girl’s comments about his movie premier.

The sacred and the profane is a dichotomy proposed by French philosopher Emile Durkheim to explain religion. And that philosophy is nowhere to be found in Little Carmine’s movie, Cleaver, despite the juxtaposition of a cross and a scary figurine. On the other hand, it is much more likely there was an explosion with propane somewhere in the film.

We’re in a fucking stagmire. 

Little Carmine in reference to the warring New York Factions.

‘Stagmire’ is most likely a word smash of ‘stagnant’ and ‘quagmire,’ a nuanced approach to their situation which is both very troublesome and also stuck in the same state of existence. 

If there is one thing my dad taught me, it is this… A pint of blood costs more than a gallon of gold. 

Little Carmine addressing Tony and Leotardo during a sit-down.

I guess there are no rules against making up your own sayings… It feels though like his dad did not in fact teach him this. Maybe something like ‘blood is thicker than water.’ However, this isn’t even close. And who measures gold in gallons?

This alteration you had with him. You’re at the precipice, Tony, of an enormous crossroads

Little Carmine advising Tony after an incident at Coco’s.

He forgot the ‘c’ in altercation. And then he got a bit messed up with his landscape allusions. He’s a bit scattershot.

I have had nine pictures under my subspecies

Little Carmine explaining his film credentials to a room full of potential investors.

Auspices? Sub-genre? Maybe…?

He’s an old-fashioned guy pop, very allegorical. I don’t think it was his intention to insult anybody

Little Carmine telling his dad that he met with Tony.

…I don’t know… Fuckin’ Little Carmine, always trying to use big words…

My friends have abandoned me. I’ve been totally fuckin’ ostrafied. 

Christopher Moltasanti explaining to an AA friend the repercussions of his sobriety.

The correct word is ‘ostracized.’ But we can chalk this one up to Chrissy being completely wasted.

You know, Sun- Ta-zoo! The Chinese Prince Matchabelli! 

Paulie Walnuts crediting the originators of his philosophical thought.

Paulie is a bit out of his depth trying to reference Sung Tzu and Machiavelli. He is endearingly trying to become more worldly and study Art of War at Tony’s urging. Therefore, his attempt to drop some names and knowledge is well-intentioned but a bit premature.

He’s the hair apparent. 

Christopher Moltisanti referencing Jackie Jr. hanging out with connected guys.

When someone is an ‘heir’ apparent, they are next in line to inherit something. Jackie Jr. was not the next in line to inherit the business (as Tony tells Chrissy as a correction to this slip), so maybe he was actually the hair apparent, which would be someone who’s hair is undeniably present. Or maybe Chrissy read the word before he had ever heard the word, and thought it was pronounced with the ‘h.’ Probably the second.

A guy like that is going out with a woman. He could technically not have penissary contact with his Volvo

Tony Soprano explaining Ralphie’s sexual proclivities to Dr. Melfi.

Janice had confided to Tony earlier that her and Ralphie don’t have sex. So he is trying to explain that his ‘penis’ won’t touch her ‘vulva’. But something about this saying makes Ralphie seem an even greater sexual enigma as we picture him keep his groin off the seats as he rides in her car. A slip-up, but maybe an improvement. 

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