Tywin Lannister Goes to Barcelona

I love me some HBO.  It’s like a restaurant or a bar where you know they only have the good stuff. Their body of work to date has been impressive : Sopranos, True Detective, Band of Brothers, and of course, The Wire (the best thing I’ve ever watched on TV, with Breaking Bad coming a close second).  I could go on and on about the other shows on HBO, but I wanted to talk about the latest thing, which is Game of Thrones.

And given the recent turn of events, it triggered a memory about a year ago when I was flying from London to Barcelona when I saw someone familiar on the plane.  It was Tywin Lannister.

Tywin He looked as if he didn’t want to be disturbed and he had the same displeased bitchy-resting-face as the picture above.  And now I know actor’s name is Charles Dance.  But I didn’t know it at the time.  He looks roughly the same in real life, except for hair that looks like it was in a pony tail at one point but had escaped.

I wanted to say hello to him but really debated whether I should or not.  This is after a 12 hour transatlantic flight with a cast member of the TV show Glee sitting pretty close to me.

I’m from Los Angeles, so I know a thing or two about approaching celebrities.

Here are the rules:

1) Don’t.

Don’t approach celebrities.  Just don’t.  They don’t want to be bothered.  And really it’s a reflection on who you are as a person.  You are just too cool and INSOUCIANT to be bothering “celebrities” — I mean, right?  (There was a time when I had to quiet down an out of town friend who was freaking about seeing Kiefer Sutherland a few years ago at a local restaurant.  I told him to be cool because that’s what Angelenos do and PLUS Kiefer is just totally TV y’know?)

2) Know their names.

I think this was a bigger issue before smart phones.  But I was on an airplane, arriving in Spain, so I had a slew of reasons why I didn’t google the actor that plays Tywin Lannister and see that he has a pretty impressive resume.  Royal Shakespeare Company fools.  Let me emphasize, I did not know his actual name.

3) Know a few of their earlier works.

Again, see number 2.

4) Don’t approach after a plane flight

Granted it was a two hour flight from London to Barcelona, but who likes to fly these days?  I am probably the most anti-social right after an airplane flight.  He didn’t look happy — almost angry, like he would kill babies or bang his son’s true love.  You know, ruthless.

So with all the above being said, I did approach him as we were deplaning — we were sitting roughly in the same area.  The exchange went something like this:

Me: Are you who I think you are?

Tywin Lannister/Charles Dance: WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

Yeah, he was pretty furious.  He stormed off.

Tywin: 1 Me: 0

And I will say this in hindsight, I was totally in the wrong.  But man oh man, I don’t think it was much of a push for him to play Tywin.

I’m team Tyrion.

My First Trip to China

Shanghai Skyline - Pudong

I had the privilege of actually traveling to China a few weeks ago — it was for business.  My first time.  For a guy who “loves” to travel, I thought it was odd that I’ve never been to China.  My time in China was brief and I really got to see two cities; Beijing and Shanghai.  I did, however, reconnect with a lot of people that I knew from a long time ago who are currently working in China.  And that made the trip great.

Great Wall

My new travel strategy is to hit large developing countries while I’m young — namely the BRIC countries.

BRIC = Brazil, Russia, India, & China.

One down and three to go.  And as for rest of the developed world, I’ll see them in a wheel chair on a senior cruise later on in life.

I’ll slowly start to post about my trip.  This was basically a business trip, so the accommodations, people, and tenor are very different from my earlier backpacking/hostel days.  There are plenty of very adventurous 20-somethings out there running around doing what I once did a long time ago.

My whole philosophy of travel has evolved has I started using different guide books — I no longer use the Let’s Go! and Open Road books, which are fantastic books for young budget minded folk that don’t mind bumping into a lot of other young post-collegy expats.

I’m currently using a mix of Lonely Planet and The Rough Guide for my travels.  The Lonely Planet has great downloadable chapters in PDF format — I downloaded the sections on Beijing and Shanghai.  And I purchased The Rough Guide to China because it was the most current edition out there.  I like the two guides because they mention the really upscale accommodations with the budget ones — truly giving one a choice.

I’ve not graduated to Fodor’s or Frommer’s quite yet.  Give me about 10 more years.

More posts to follow . . .

Shantaram

Shantaram = Good book.

A real page turner without it actually devolving into super piss-poor bestseller prose. It’s not the literary book of the year or anything, but it was a damn good read. (Don’t get offended if you like the book — the author writes well enough, but he’s not up there with Chabon, Atwood, nor McCarthy).

The book is by Gregory David Roberts. He is an Australian writer who now permanently resides in Mumbai, India. Shantaram is semi-autobiographical — although it is a work of fiction.

Gregory Roberts (like his fictional protagonist, Lin), was incarcerated in Australia. He escaped from prison. He fled to India to start a new life (like his fictional protagonist). And you should just read the book . . .

It’s going to be made into a movie. Apparently Johnny Depp loved it like I did and convinced a few of his friends to back it. I am not as influential as Johnny.

However, I wanted to talk about the book before the movie came out and of course, inevitably, the movie inspired cover that I will be embarassed to be seen with (a vestige of my English major snob ways — what are you gonna do?).

Any book that convinces you to travel to another country is something. Mumbai here I come . . .

The Dark Knight + Noblesse oblige

I’m clearly behind in my blog.  Whatever.  I suck.

And I’m clearly behind in writing about Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight.

The normal litany of excuses:  work, rewatching Season 1 of Mad Men, work, and more work.

Please read Recycled Film’s musings and analysis of the “The Dark Knight” — very good stuff.  (You have to scroll down a few posts to get to the Dark Knight posts, because Charlie’s clearly on top of things and has moved on, whereas I’m still stuck in the past).

Great movie. I’m still chewing over whether or not it’s a better than Iron Man.

I’ve been busy, so here are some points:

1. Heath Ledger’s Joker made Jack Nicholson’s Joker look like a total p*ssy.  (If you want a more eloquent discussion on the two cinematic Jokers, please read the post by Recycled Film — good reading).

2. Chris Nolan made one of the best transitions from awesome independent filmmaker (Memento is one of my favorite movies of all time) to an awesome mainstream film director (yeah, I changed filmmaker to director — I think I did that unconsciously, to acknowledge the increased resources one has when making a movie that grosses $300 mil in the first weekend).

3. Dark Knight made Tim Burton’s movies look like Saturday morning cartoons. (However, in all fairness to Burton, in this post-9/11 world where Bourne rules with his realpolitik spy tactics and even James Bond has ceased to become a Cold War cartoon character, the world (and its flawed mirror, the movies) has changed dramatically.)

4.  My wife, who is a current public defender, really didn’t get the big deal about the transformation of Two Face (Harvey Dent, played very well by Aaron Eckhart) — and I understood exactly what she meant (yeah, I was a former public defender).  HE’S A PROSECUTOR!!!  That meant inherently that he was corruptible (most people don’t get that the majority of DA’s in the US are elected and therefore really politicians) from that standpoint.  I knew what would Harvey Dent would ultimately become Two Face — but my wife was not aware of any of the history with Harvey Dent.  So she just assumed that he was a villian and when he became Two Face, she kind of expected it.  Anyone who’s that sanctimonious and hypocritical is bound to become the thing they hate.  And yes, that applies to all those prosecutors.  So if you’re a DA reading this, go bite me.

5.  Don’t watch this movie with a bunch of pimply dumbass adolescent kids who are whooping it up in the theatre.  The comics have gone mainstream despite these idiots.  Now I’m going to write a letter to the editor as I take my daily dose of Geritol.

6. The whole notion of noblesse oblige is imbued into the Batman character — especially in this film.  I know that every comic and movie deals with the inner motivation of this dark hero as the killing of his parents by a criminal (it really wasn’t the Joker, was it?!?  C’mon, give me a break).  Noblesse oblige is the a very anachronistic notion that those who are more powerful (aristocrats and nobles typically) should look out and assist those who are less fortunate (peasants, normal denizens of society).

Superman is the perfect character to attribute noblesse oblige to — he is a morally upstanding individual that feels that because of his powers he must protect those who are lesser than he (mere mortals without the yellow sun given super powers).

But once you get past this notion of general revenge on the world, Batman also shoulders the burden that he too must protect society at large because of his greater abilities/resources.  Given Bruce Wayne’s place in the world I think he does have a sense of noblesse oblige.   He is a wealthy man, a smart man, a very capable fighter, and with almost limitless resources at his beck and call.  He uses all of these resources to support his night job as a caped crusader.

This has to be more than just a general sense of retribution against all criminal elements.  I’m looking at this in a very Marxist way rather than the psychoanalytic way that most people do.  Because as the movie points out, he is not about to let amateurs (those who wear hockey pants and try to do vigilante thing as batmen auxiliaries) do what he alone can do and do well.

I’ve overextended myself.  I think the next topic is going to be one of my favorite topics, Batman versus Superman.

WiFi is OK @ Coffee Bean

In all fairness to the Coffee Bean, I should note that their wi-fi is up and running.

And it logs on MUCH faster than the AT&T Wireless that is now available at Starbucks.

There are rumors that it kicks you off after two hours of use — although I haven’t reached that limit yet. I’ll let you know as I find out.

But as far as internet connections at Coffee Bean go, so far, so good. I’m back at Coffee Bean, although I now have to use up the Starbucks card that I got from the internet blackout from Coffee Bean . . .