Category Archives: nerd

What Felix Baumgartner And I Have In Common (Red Bull)

Felix Baumgartner’s awesome space jump this weekend, sponsored by Red Bull, reminded me once again of how freaking cool humans are, but also how much I love Red Bull.  It’s my go-to for all-nighters, whether writing a paper or going to a midnight premiere.  A few years ago when I was completing my graduate degree, I was egotistical enough to ask if the company would “sponsor” me in my final exams, since I had been a loyal customer for so many years previously.  And they responded!

The following is a re-posting of my write-up at the time, complete with updates, originally posted on my facebook.  (My name has been redacted to protect my superhero identity).  It’s not nearly as epic as Baumgartner’s feat, but it was still a very, very cool Red Bull moment in my own life :


Several weeks ago, I decided to solicit finals-week sponsorship from both Snickers and Red Bull.  Those two products have been my secret formula for success throughout my entire academic career.  Once, when I had back-to-back finals,  I even buried a can of Red Bull in the snow on campus between my two buildings so that I could re-energize with a chilled energy drink after the first exam.  My idea to ask the companies I’ve been supporting if they would support me back with a few freebies during my last finals week ever was partially inspired by a friend who used to have a blog based on a similar theme, and it was also a great way to procrastinate writing my real papers.

So I composed my requests, copied and pasted them into “contact us!” boxes for each company, and got back to work on my actual studies.  Here’s what I sent to Red Bull, choosing “Event Sponsorship” from the drop-down subject menu:

Dear Red Bull,

Ever since I was a freshman in college, facing my first finals week, I have turned to you in times of academic stress.  You have helped me stay up late writing papers, reading assignments, and studying for exams.  You have helped give me energy to make it through a full day of classes when I had stayed up the night before.  You have helped me to focus on exams and refresh my concentration when I had two exams back-to-back.  As I transitioned into graduate school, I relied on you to help me stay up grading assignments, writing even longer papers, and studying for even bigger exams.  You have been a staple of my semesters, especially during finals weeks. 

I am about to complete my Masters degree this May, after eight years of Red Bull-fueled finals.  You are a proud sponsor of many athletes and athletic events, but for some of us education is our sport, reading and studying are the ways we train, and writing papers and acing exams are the arena in which we dominate.  I would be truly honored, therefore, if you would choose to consider yourself an official sponsor of my last finals week, by sending me a coupon for a free four-pack of Red Bull.  It would truly give me wings.



Lo and behold, I received an answering e-mail, from a real person, in a matter of days!  This is what it said:

Hi [pagelady],

Thanks for the great compliment! Now I might need more wiiings to keep my big(ger) head soaring =)

We want to show our appreciation to you for being such a big fan! Allow us to reciprocate your kindness and loyalty to the Bulls and Sun!

Just hit me back with your address, and I’ll see if I can put together a little study booster to send your way..



Red Bull

Twitter: @RedBull

I replied with my address and included information about my University and degree, since I had neglected to include it in my original letter.  Today I came home to a package containing a handwritten note and six free Red Bulls.  So, I’m going to consider my attempt to pass my MA comps in May as officially supported by Red Bull.

Photographic evidence, edited to obscure my name and location. (Sorry internet, I’m paranoid.)

My excitement at having actually received a positive response from Red Bull far outweighs my slight disappointment so far with Snickers, who responded about a week after I had already heard back from Red Bull and simply said,

All sponsorship proposals are handled by our sports agency, Velocity Sports and Entertainment. Please direct your inquiry to and they will be happy to assist you.

When I submitted my request to the directed address, I received this automated reply:

Thank you for your interest in partnering with Mars.  We have received your proposal for review.  Due to the large quantity of requests, it may take 1-2 months for you to receive a response.  Thank you for your patience.


Mars Sponsorship Team

So it doesn’t seem likely that I’ll hear from them again before my exam.  Morals of the story:  Red Bull runs a much more effective customer service department, and if you want Snickers to sponsor your finals you should maybe ask them a semester beforehand.

*update* just got an official “no” from Snickers:

We appreciate your interest in Mars Chocolate NA as a potential sponsor. While we are certain that your opportunity will be a success, we are unable to participate as a sponsor at this time.

Mars Chocolate NA is an active participant in activities that impact our consumer targets throughout the United States. We value the chance to review sponsorships that can help us reach this goal. Please keep us apprised of any new sponsorship opportunities you may have throughout the year that will help us grow our business, and we will be happy to evaluate them as part of our overall sponsorship portfolio.

Again, thank you for your interest in Mars Chocolate NA, and we wish you the best in your endeavor.

Sincerely, Mars Chocolate Sponsorship Team


Boo, Snickers/Mars!  Yeah, Red Bull!

****UPDATE***** I took my exam and passed, with the help of the free Red Bull.  And everyone lived happily ever after, The End!



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Re-Playing The Hobbit

This Saturday (September 22) was “Hobbit Day,” the shared birthday of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins.  I might not have noticed, but the marketing for the movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey made a big deal out of it being “Tolkien Week,” releasing a new trailer and asking via their facebook page what people were doing to celebrate Hobbit Day.  Since it was a Saturday and I’m always up for a random reason to celebrate, (I once threw an elvish party on Orlando Bloom’s birthday, and an Australia-themed party on Australia Day which involved watching movies set down under), I decided to celebrate by eating second breakfast and playing the Vivendi Universal video game The Hobbit on Gamecube.

pic of video game cover

I may have slept in too late to have what could really be considered “second breakfast,” but it at least counted as “elevensies.”  And I did manage to play The Hobbit up to the “Riddles in the Dark” chapter, so I covered nearly as much ground as I predict the first film will.  Plus I was barefoot, so, it was a pretty good Hobbit Day.  Could have used more theme foods, but maybe next year I’ll have more time to prepare.

I was excited about re-playing The Hobbit because I remembered it fondly as my favorite video game, the first RPG that I played all the way through.  (I didn’t grow up with any gaming consoles, so until college I only played snippets at friends’ houses.)  In re-playing I discovered that it isn’t quite so perfect, but still very enjoyable, with the best video-game music I’d heard before I played Skyrim.  The game music for The Hobbit actually won “Best Original Soundtrack of the Year” in 2004.

The drawbacks to this game that I either forgot or didn’t recognize the first time I played include not having any maps to refer to, so if you stray from the courage-point-gemstone-led path it’s very easy to become lost for extended periods of time.  I guess Bilbo didn’t have a map for all of his burgling either, but I was jumping to a ledge so I could fight some goblins to get to the next save pedestal in a cave, and missed, sliding down the cave wall to a level below.  It took at least thirty minutes to find my way up again without a map or courage points leading the way.  It was extremely frustrating, and leads me to another drawback of this game-not enough save pedestals!  Maybe that’s just supposed to be part of the challenge, but you can’t save unless you’re at a save pedestal, and sometimes they are few and far between, meaning I had to keep re-killing the same goblins over and over and jumping up and down the same paths because I would die before I could reach the next save opportunity.  Also annoying is the fact that you can’t go back and re-play a level; when you get to the end of a level your stats tell you if you missed any chests, coins, or loot, but you can’t tell while you’re in the level if you’ve found them all or not and you can’t go back to re-play once you find out you’ve missed some.  (Maybe that is just another challenge and I’m too accustomed to relying on game hints).  Finally, the camera angles are super-irritating; they change in the middle of your movements and make it difficult to maneuver since the joystick direction depends on the camera angle.  If you’re in a corner it’s sometimes impossible to get the camera behind you to look ahead, and you have to sort of jump blind or at an awkward view and hope you don’t miss.

The things that I love about this game far outweigh the frustrations, (except in those moments where I am being defeated by some foe or falling off an edge, in which case I temporarily scream that it sucks, until I go back and vanquish the same foe or difficult jump and then I’m back to thinking it’s awesome.  So maybe I am not the most emotionally stable and rational person when I’m playing a game.)  I love that the tone is a light-hearted, yet at times dangerous adventure, just like the book.   The music does a lot to help set the tone, and as I’ve mentioned it is fantastic.  I love that part of the game is solving puzzles, sneaking around and “picking locks”, like a good Hobbit burglar.

picture of lock picking in game

To pick a lock in game, you have to hit the button as the moving pieces line up with the green. More difficult locks have more pieces to get right, and there is always a timer. Some locks are poisonous, and if you hit the button at the wrong time or run out of time your health suffers. Of course, those chests tend to have better loot.

I love that you can use your walking staff to sort of pole-vault into a long jump, and you don’t immediately drown if you hit the water.  (You can’t swim, but sometimes you can hop out or onto a rock if you’re fast enough.  If it’s too deep, you die rather gruesomely–poor Biblo struggles and then leans his head back, eyes closed, and opens his mouth when he drowns.)  I love that you can climb, up some cliffs if they have vines hanging, and you can hang on ledges by your fingertips and creep along them scooting one hand at a time while hanging.  I love that you get to use Sting as light in dark caves, and use the Ring to sneak invisibly past foes after you acquire it.  (The Ring has a time limit, which is good because otherwise the second half of the game would hardly be a challenge).  I love the choices in weapons–you start out with just your walking staff, but later acquire throwing rocks and the sword Sting.  The staff has a longer reach, Sting does more damage, and the rocks are a distance weapon.  Sometimes you can use flaming or freezing rocks for special attacks.

I’m currently at a stage in the game where I’m trying to sneak past and/or fight goblins, and it made me realize how differently I think of the same “type” of creatures within different stories.  In The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, goblins are the enemy, they’ll kill you if you don’t kill them.  But in the Harry Potter universe, goblins run the wizard bank Gringotts.  They have an uneasy history with wizards, but they aren’t goons grunting around in caves.  And in The Hobbit, there’s a whole company of heroic dwarves, while dwarves are hardly mentioned in Harry Potter.  There are several dwarves in The Chronicles of Narnia, but I don’t remember any goblins.  It’s funny how some fantasy elements are universals, but still re-defined in each story.

To give you an idea of what gameplay in The Hobbit looks like, here’s video of someone playing part of the first level, “An Unexpected Party.”  The music for this part in the Shire might be my favorite in the whole game.

I expect there will be new Hobbit video games made in the next few years to go along with the movies, but I think I’ll always prefer this version.  Despite the drawbacks, it’s truly a delight to play.

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Clash of Kings Book Reaction

I actually finished reading Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin two weeks ago, but I haven’t had a good chance to sit down and compose my thoughts, reactions and predictions until now.  (The beginning of the semester is always a little hectic).  Like it’s predecessor, this book is so long and dense it’s a little overwhelming to dissect, and I’m resigned to the fact that I’ll probably forget to include some crucial plot twist or character dynamic in this post.  Although, my system of marking noteworthy passages was much better organized this time.  I used different colors for characters, quotes, cultural clues, and prophecies:

I have not started reading Storm of Swords yet, because I really wanted to write down what I was thinking and feeling about the series at this point before moving on.  You only get to read something for the first time once.  Also, once I’m caught up to what has been published so far I’ll still have to wait an agonizing few years before the last two books come out, so I might as well savor the journey I have ahead of me.


Arya: Still totally love this girl.  She is probably my favorite character so far, (followed closely by Jon Snow with Tyrion in third place).  She is so strong-willed, determined, and smart, and she is probably one of the only one in her family who could endure and survive what she has been through.  I liked that she spent this entire book masquerading as a peasant, too, because every main character is high-born (or at least a bastard raised in privilege) and I was starting to wonder what life must be like for the common people.  Whenever the narrative describes these elaborate, jewel-encrusted outfits that Cersei wears I think, how long did it take some seamstress to make that?  It’s not like they have sewing machines, and they’d have to make or acquire all the fabric and materials, and it would take months or years and that would be their whole life, sewing sewing sewing all day long till their backs and fingers ached.  Or what about these guardsmen, standing around in front of a door all day, loyal to one family and getting killed because of the other families that don’t like the family you serve, and it has nothing to do with you except that you had the misfortune to not be born to a lord.

Arya, aka Nymeria “Nan”, page to Roose Bolton at Harrenhal.

Davos: Davos is so far the closest thing to a lowborn main character.  I mean he actually was lowborn, but now he has a title.  I liked his not-from-privilege perspective and I thought he was honorable, but I wish he would be more concerned with his sons’ futures than just hoping they’ll have higher stations.  He should be instilling some of that code of honor into them–what good will a lordship be if they grow up to be horrible?  They seem foolish and overly enamored with power.  Also, I think it’s kind of funny, but mostly gross, that Davos carries his severed fingertips around with him.  Fingertips: the new rabbit’s foot?  I guess both are pretty morbid.

Theon: I hate Theon.  I hadn’t really thought about him much at all during Game of Thrones, so when I started reading the first chapter from his perspective I was like, “yay, another new p.o.v!”, but two pages in, when I saw what a misogynist pig he is, I was like, NOPE!  Shut it down.  Not fangirling over this jerk.  Then of course I thought it was hilarious when he accidentally hit on his sister.  That’s what you get, Theon, for treating women like crap!  I guess I felt a teeny bit bad for him when he wasn’t accepted by his father the way he thought he would be, but really, he just waltzes in expecting praise and responsibility and he hasn’t really done anything to earn anything.  He’s a spoiled brat, and basically everything he did this book make me continue to dislike him, (hello, taking over Winterfell, fake-killing Bran and Rickon, actual-killing two innocent peasants?!), but when I ranted to my friends that have read ahead of me about how much I hate Theon they said, “he’s confused, he’s torn between his father and Robb!”  I certainly didn’t see any confusion from him in this book, so I’m guessing he must have some more character development to come.  But at this point I really hate him, so if I end up defending or loving him later, it had better be because he does some majorly redemptive rescuing of some other character or something.

Catelyn: I am getting really tired of Mrs. Stark.  For most of her chapters I was wanting to shake her and shout, “Get your ass back to Winterfell!” Her four-year-old misses and needs her desperately, her other son is having to deal with adjusting to life without he use of his legs and she hasn’t even seen him since he was still in a coma!  She doesn’t even act like she cares, she just says “Oh yes I miss my kids at Winterfell but I have to stay here with Robb, he needs me more,” when the truth is she wants to be wherever she thinks she can personally wield the most power and influence.  If she were honest about her ambition I might not find it so annoying, although I would still think she’s a bad mother for abandoning her youngest and most vulnerable children, (and look how that turns out for them, by the way!  Who needs you more now, Cat?!)  I wish we could get Robb p.o.v. chapters instead of Catelyn.

Tyrion: This was totally Tyrion’s book.  I loved seeing how clever he was at the manipulation and diplomacy involved in running a kingdom.  His plans kept falling into place so perfectly that I started worrying about the inevitable downfall when everything would come crashing down.  I really thought something bad was going to happen to Shae, and I guess it still might.  I’m extremely curious to see what becomes of Tyrion now that his father has returned to take over the job of Hand of the King.  I was cheering for him when he rode out into batle, though.   Poor guy, getting his face cut up, like he needed another physical deformity!  Tyrion definitely creept up the list of my favorite characters during this book.  I want to see him get married and have kids–he would be such a good dad!  And I want him to be happy.

Daenerys: I’ve decided that Dany’s chapters are primarily interesting for the cultural descriptions, (of the Dothraki, Qarth, the merchant shipyard, etc.), but not so much for her character.  Maybe she will grow to be more compelling later, but for now I’m like, “Hey cool, you have dragons!  And…not much else.”

Bran: I tend to forget about Bran until I get to one of his chapters, and then I remember that I totally love him and feel bad that I’d forgotten about him.  I was so proud of the way he carried the responsibilities of Winterfell lordship in his mother and older brother’s absence.  I’m heartbroken for his broken legs and broken dreams of fighting and becoming and knight, and I’m loving this whole wolf-warg business, mostly because he still gets to experience running and moving independently that way.  When Jojen said Bran was the winged wolf who would never fly, I started to worry that Bran wouldn’t survive to the end of the book, and I almost held my breath from the time Theon put those decapitated heads up to the time it was revealed they weren’t really Bran and Rickon.  Maybe, (hopefully), Jojen’s vision just meant that Bran would never walk again.  (Please don’t die, Bran!)  I do wonder, if Bran wargs into Summer’s brain right before he died, would he continue to live on in the wolf form?  It seems like that’s what happened to the wildling guard Jon killed towards the end:

On a rock above them, the eagle flapped its wings and split the air with a scream of fury.

“The bird hates you, Jon Snow,” said Ygritte.  “And well he might.  He was a man, before you killed him.”

Jon: Speaking of Jon, who discovered in this book that he, too can warg into his direwolf, he continues to make me say “awww!” in a high, adoring/pitying pitch when I read about his bravery, loyalty, and noble character.  His is a difficult path.  When Mormont needled him about his brother being King while Jon could never leave the Watch, I loved his response:

“What will you do?” Mormont asked, “Bastard as you are?”

“Be troubled,” said Jon, “and keep my vows.”

I love Jon’s sword, Claw.  I know he got it in the last book, but I think I forgot to mention it in my previous post.  I still love his friendship with Sam, and I know that even if all the other watchmen believe Jon has betrayed them, Sam will always believe he’s still loyal.   (I really love Sam, too.  I love how gentle and well-meaning he is, telling Gilly that surely Jon can help her, teaching his ravens how to talk).  I loved that Jon spared Ygritte, and that his squad leader probably based his decision to give Jon the most difficult mission of joining the wildlings in part based on that act, (my conjecture).  When Jon asks why he was commanded to kill the girl, Qhorin say:

“I did not command it.  I told you to do what needed to be done, and left you to decide what that would be.”  Qhorin stood and slid his longsword back into its scabbard.  “When I want a mountain scaled, I call Stonesnake.  Should I need to put an arrow through the eye of some foe across a windy battlefield, I summon Squire Dalbridge.  Ebben can make any man give up his secrets.  To lead men you must know them, Jon Snow.  I know more of you now than I did this morning.”

I’m still sticking to my theory about Jon’s real parents, but I put this book’s revelations on that front below in the Prophecies and Predictions section.

Sansa: I liked Sansa better in this book than Game of Thrones, because she finally realized the Lanniester suck and started acting more like a Stark.  Too late, of course, because she’s trapped there now, but at least she’s wishing she wasn’t.  That’s an improvement.  And I like that she is resistant but still a lady–I mean, she has to keep dressing fancily and making appearances and keeping proper court manners, but not everybody would be able to carry on and maintain composure in that situation.  She isn’t a warrior like her sister, but she does poses great strength, and I like the contrast between the two forms of strong females.  I also love her “Florian,” but I’m afraid he’s pretty much worthless, except to keep her hopes alive.   Oh, and poor girl, traumatized by her first period because she’s afraid she’ll have to marry Joffrey, (which she now doesn’t have to do, *phew*), I felt so bad for her, but also laughed a little bit:

“The blood is the seal of your womanhood.  Lady Catelyn might have prepared you.  You’ve had your first flowering, no more.”

Sansa had never felt less flowery.  “My lady mother told me, but I…I thought it would be different.”

“Different how?”

“I don’t know.  Less…less messy, and more magical.”

Sansa becomes a woman.

Jojen Reed: thank goodness, a green-eyed character who is not evil!  I was worried when I read his description that he would be another Lannister-type villain.  Even better-his prophetic visions are called “greensight.”  I’ll take all the posotive green-eyed connotations I can get!  I really like his sister, Meera, too; she is now Arya’s main competition for the character in this series I would most like to be.

Cersei and Jamie and Joffrey Lannister: they still suck.  Carry on.

The Hound: I’m still fluctuating, but I think overall I like him more in this book than I did in Game of Thrones.  His best moment for me in Clash of Kings was when he saved Sansa from the mob.  I also liked when he talks back to Joffrey, and that he refused knighthood.  But what exactly was he planning when he waited in Sansa’s bedchambers?  And why does he seem to be drunk all the time?  I know patricide is awful, but I kind of hope he kills his brother.  Because Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane needs to die, and I think The Hound would get the most catharsis from it.

Jaqen H’ghar: Loved him, by the end, because of the way that he helped my favorite character.  Very intrigued about his background and abilities.  Hopefully we will see more of him.  Valar morghulis.

Hodor: Hodor!  Hodor hodor, hodor hodor.  Hodor?!  Hodor!  Hodor.

Quotes and Cultural Things I Loved:

Winter is coming, and it’s going to be fierce because this summer has lasted:

Ten years, two turns, and sixteen days it lasted, the longest summer in living memory.

We learned a lot more in this book about the religion of The Seven, as well as the Lord of Light and the Drowned God.  We learned a little about the old gods, too, and the children of the forest.  I think I’ll save an analysis of all those religions for a separate post, though, since this one is already pretty long.  I also marked all the different ways people referred to the comet, so I can post about that later too.

These were some of the quotes I liked in this book, with pages numbers from the paperback edition I was reading, (ISBN 978-0-553-57990-1):

“Power resides where men believe it resides.  No more and no less.” -Varys, p. 132

“When we speak of the morrow nothing is ever certain.” -Ser Rodrick, p. 257

“To Winterfell we pledge the faith of Greywater.  Hearth and heart and harvest we yield up to you, my lord.  Our swords and spears and arrows are yours to command.  Grant mercy to our weak, help to our helpless, and justice to all, and we shall never fail you.”  –Jojen and Meera Reed, p. 329

“That’s pretty.”  He remembered Sansa telling him once that he should say that whenever a lady told him her name.  -Jon Snow, p. 370

His stunted legs might make him a comic grotesque at a harvest ball, but this dance he knew. –Tyrion re:playing Cersei’s manipulative games, p. 450

“We can only die.  Why else do we don these black cloaks, but to die in defense of the realm?” -Qhorin, p. 632

Jaqen made me brave again.  he made me a ghost instead of a mouse. -Arya, p. 681

Tears filled Bran’s eyes.  When a man was hurt you took him to a maester, but what could you do when your maester was hurt? -p. 967

WTF Moments:

I mean, Melisandre giving birth to Stannis’ assassin shadow.  That’s the main one.  It’s the only one I can think of right now.  I did not see that coming, at all.  I mean I knew she was up to something sinister but I never would have guessed it would take that form.  It was…a WTF moment.  There is no other way to describe it.

I share your shock and revulsion, Davos.

Prophecies and Predictions:

I’m not really sure what all the visions that Dany saw in the House of the Undying Ones mean, but I marked them all so I could check back later to see if they end up making more sense eventually.  Like, could this one be talking about Ned Stark, whose sigil was the direwolf, who was led like a lamb to his slaughter?

Farther on she came upon a feast of corpses….In a throne above them sat a dead man with the head of a wolf.  He wore an iron crown and held a leg of lamb in one hand as a king might hold a sceptor and his eyes followed Dany with mute appeal.

Then she saw the bit about the Targaryean baby, and that has to be significant somehow because they mention the name of the series, “song of ice and fire.”

Viserys, was her first thought the next time she paused, but a second glance told her otherwise.  The man had her brother’s hair, but he was taller, and his eyes were a dark indigo rather than lilac.  “Aegon,” he said to the woman nursing a newborn babe in a great wooden bed.  “What better name for a king?”

“Will you make a song for him?” the woman asked.

“He has a song,” the man replied.  “He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire.”  He looked up when he said it and his eyes met Dany’s, and it seemed as if he saw her standing there beyond the door.  “There must be one more,” he said, though whether he was speaking to her or the woman in the bed she could not say.  “The dragon has three heads.”  He went to the window seat, picked up a harp, and ran his fingers lightly over its silvery strings.  Sweet sadness filled the room as man and wife and babe faded like the morning mist, only the music lingering behind to speed her on her way.

It seems like its gotta be referring to Rhaegar Targaryean and his firstborn Aegon by his wife Elia of Dorne, but as Ser Jorah says when Dany tells him about the vision,

“If [Aegon] was this prince that was promised, the promise was broken along with his skull when the Lannisters dashed his head against a wall.”

My theory about Rhaegar being Jon Snow’s true father could mean that Jon is actually “the prince that was promised,” but then I’m not sure what the meaning of this vision was.  Did Rhaegar misinterpret a prophecy?  Where did this “promise” come from, anyway?  What is this business of the three heads?  And does the fact that he plays a harp tie him to Ygritte’s tale about Bale the Bard, so is it all just a cycle that keeps repeating and the vision is not meant to represent exactly how it happened?

The tale of Bale the Bard definitely supports my theory about Jon being Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark’s son.  The blue winter roses!  They’re everywhere!  In Game of Thrones, Ned kept seeing them in his flashbacks of Lyanna, and she wore a crown of them in her crypt statue, and Rhaegar gave her a boquet of them at that joust before he supposedly kidnapped her.  Well, in the Bard’s tale, (which is called the SONG O’ THE WINTER ROSE, by the way!) Bale sings so beautiful for the then-lord of Winterfell that he is told he can choose his own reward.  Then, in Ygritte’s words:

“All I ask is a flower,” Bael answered, “the fairest flower that blooms in the gardens o’ Winterfell.

Now as it happened the winter roses had only then come into bloom, and no flower is so rare nor precious.  So the Stark sent to his glass gardens and commanded that the most beautiful o’ the winter roses be plucked for the singer’s payment.  And so it was done.  But when morning come, the singer had vanished, and so had Lord Brandon’s maiden daughter.  Her bed they found empty, but for the pale blue rose that Bael had left on the pillow where her head had lain.”

The story continues, as the father searches for his daughter to no avail, but a year later she shows up in her room with a baby, and it turns out they were hiding in the crypts beneath Winterfell all along.  (Then the story gets sad and  bloody and I think involves a Bolton ancestor who flays the grown-up baby.)

I’m telling you, these blue winter roses are significant…somehow.

So, similarities to the Rhaegar/Lyanna theory: a Stark maiden is supposedly abducted but might actually love the guy, and has a baby, and blue winter roses are significant.  When I type it out that way it doesn’t sound like such a strong argument, but the roses…the similarities…it’s got to be significant!  When Jon refuses to believe Bael’s story, calling him a liar, Ygritte responds with, “a bard’s truth is different than yours or mine.”  So maybe it won’t be clear what the meaning of these parallels are until later.

But then, we do find out that Bran and his entourage escape Theon Greyjoy by hiding in the crypts of Winterfell, while everyone goes searching far and wide outside the grounds for them!  Just like Bael and the young lady Stark, in the song!

This is totally giving me Battlestar Galactica flashbacks: All of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again!

One last, minor prediction: I think that Varys can warg, possibly into that old cat that has been around King’s Landing forever.  It would make a lot of sense as to how he is able to somehow know everything about everybody else’s business if he spies on them in animal form.  I suspect that cat just because it has been mentioned several times.  They call Varys “the spider” but do spiders even have ears?  If he warged into an insect could he really see very much?  (Although, I guess it worked for Rita Skeeter in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire!)

How I Felt At The End:

What is to become of my poor Starks, scattered to the winds?  The winds of the WINTER that is coming?!  Arya needs to rip that flayed man emblem off her tunic, because the Boltons are bad news.  As much as I hope she and her small posse make it quickly to Riverrun, I’m afraid the fact that her direwolf Nymeria is still running wild and unaccounted for is prophetic of Arya’s fate to remain separated from her family and on her own.  Jon is with the wildlings now, and had to kill a night’s watch brother to join!  I was so happy when he spared Ygritte, and I hoped she wouldn’t betray him later.  Well, I guess she’s probably part of the reason he’s still alive now, but I’m already worried about how he’s ever going to get back to his brothers, and whether they’ll believe he didn’t really betray them, and I’m worried about how lonely he’s going to be, unable to really trust anyone.  What’s going to happen to Bran?!  His optimism closes the book, but all I feel is anxiety.  He and Rickon have loyal helpers but they are such small groups, if anyone finds them they are pretty much screwed.  Their biggest protection is their direwolves, but that’s not going to help them if they run into one of the armies wandering around the country!

Writing this post has definitely re-ignited my desperate obsession with this series.  I’m off to start Storm of Swords!  Do NOT spoil it for me!




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The Katniss Braid: Screenshots

Now that the DVD is out and I have been able to pause and closely analyze Katniss’ side-braid in as many shots as possible, I would like to revise my hypothesis about there being three distinct braid styles in the Hunger Games movie.  I think it’s really just two, the District 12 braid (that Katniss styles herself, so when she’s in the Games her hair reverts to this by day 3 or so), and the Tribute Training/Arena braid that her stylist team does for her.  When she’s entering the Arena, it does look like the fanciest, most elaborate version, but I think it’s the same as when she’s training, it’s just the training room is pretty dark so we never get a great look at it.  When she walks in the sunlight to get on the Arena-bound hovercraft you can really see the intricate twists on the back of her head.

So, as mentioned earlier, her basic hairstyle is a dutch braid that starts on the left side of her head and hangs over her right shoulder.  The braid wraps low around the base of her hairline on her neck.  When she styles it herself, that’s all it is, and her right ear is covered by the hair going straight down her head into the braid.  This is what most of the youtube tutorials end up with, too.

When Katniss goes to the Capital and is in the hands of professional stylists, her has has a bit more texture.  (I mean when the character is in the hands of professional stylists; obviously Jennifer Lawrence had stylists for the entire movie, but I think they did a pretty good job of making her look fairly believable for the character’s changing situation and resources).  This youtube video, with input from Linda Flowers, the lead stylist on set, shows how to get the texture for those top strands that twist into the braid.  The tutorial does end with the hair on the right side of the head covering the ear, though, and when Katniss is Tribute Training the hair on her right side is actually pulled back away from her ear.

I *think* there is actually a small braid made from some of the hair on the right side of the head that then joins the larger braid.  (Another blog thought so too, although they reversed the direction of the braid.)  I didn’t catch a glimpse of the smaller braid until I saw the film on the big screen, and I’m not positive in some of these shots if it is a braid or a twist.

When Katniss and Peeta are eating in their suite after a day of training, she has her hair down except for a small braid, which I thought might be evidence for my theory until I noticed it’s hanging on the wrong side of her head…still, it could just be flipped to that side, or an entirely separate braid created by her stylist team, or a continuity error.

I still think the Tribute Training/Entering Arena braid also starts higher on the left side of her head here than when she is in District 12 (or days into the Arena).

  Here is a compilation of images of Katniss’ hair just before she enters the Arena, to give you an idea of what the braid looks like from all sides.  They are all from the same scene, (when she’s talking to Haymitch.)


Honestly, when her hair is its most elaborate braid, it’s sometimes kind of a mess in the back:

I haven’t been able to try the braid on my own head lately because I cut 10″ off several months ago to donate, but maybe by the time Catching Fire comes out it’ll be long enough to try again.  The other thing that complicates trying to replicate this look exactly is that Katniss has shorter pieces of hair in front that frame her face, so if your hair is all long it will actually stay in the braids better and longer than hers does but you won’t look quite like her.  Anyway, hope this is helpful to those of you wanting to have Katniss hair.


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The Bat Chant

There has been a lot of speculation about the meaning of the thrilling, heart beat-increasing “bat chant”, featured in all of the trailers for The Dark Knight Rises.  I’ll update after I see the movie (in just a few days!), but I don’t believe that the chant involves existing words in any human language.  (Here’s another fan analysis that comes to the same conclusion).  I think it was just created for the film.  Bane is from a fictional country anyway, so it’s not a stretch to create a fictional “language” or chant to go alone with him.  According to one trailer, the chant means “rise” or “he rises,” but trailers don’t always give the full film context so I’m going to wait to see if the full movie gives any more hints to the actual meaning.

Whether the chant is randomly combined phonemes or not, it’s existence and use in the film score is still meaningful because of the way in which it was recorded.  Composer Hans Zimmer solicited thousands of volunteers online to record themselves repeating the chant, and mixed them all together.   According to, the site that was used to submit the recordings, people from 107 different countries participated.   I mean, how cool is that, for all those people to be able to go to the movie on opening night and turn to their friend and say “that’s my voice, I’m part of that chant!”  I’m very sad that I can’t brag about the same thing, because I didn’t find out about the submission request until a few days after it closed.

This quote from Hans Zimmer, (in an article on, gives an idea of the scale of global enthusiasm for this franchise, and emphasizes just how very cool the chant project was:

The chant became a very complicated thing because I wanted hundreds of thousands of voices, and it’s not so easy to get hundreds of thousands of voices. So, we Twittered and we posted on the internet, for people who wanted to be part of it. It seemed like an interesting thing. We’ve created this world, over these last two movies, and somehow I think the audience and the fans have been part of this world. We do keep them in mind. And I thought it would be something nice, if our audiences could actually be part of the making of the movie and be participants in this. So, we’ve got this website up,, where you can go on and be part of it. It was fantastic. The first Tweet that went out just melted our server because we had tens of thousands of people a second, trying to get onto the site.

You always want to create a sound that nobody has ever heard, but I think, this time, we might be doing that. As a musician, I think about what environment things are recorded in. Now, you have hundreds of thousands of voices, all recorded in their own individual environment. Up until now, that’s been impossible to do. There’s a lot of people doing a lot of editing, as well.

The chant, despite being labeled elsewhere on the internet as “Bane Bane Matalo Matalo,” “This is Arkham, Arkham,” “This is Our Gotham,” and even “Fishy Fishy Pasta Pasta”, is actually:

Deh-Shay Deh-Shay Bah-Sah-Rah, Bah-Sah-Rah!

And you can listen to the bare chant here:

I can’t wait to see how the chant fits into the story in the film itself!



*Update* and **SPOILER ALERT**

Well, it turns out the movie doesn’t reveal anything more about the meaning of the chant than the trailer did.  Story-wise, it comes from the prisoners in the Pit, who chant it whenever someone tries to make the climb out.  The third time that Bruce Wayne attempts the climb, (“as the child did, without a rope,”) he asks the fellow prisoner who has been assisting him, “What does that mean?” and is told, “Rise.”

The rythym of the chant on that final climb was closer to the way Hans Zimmer’s recording solicitation was set up; it would start out slow with the individual repeating the words in a call-back style, (so the computer would play “deh-shay” and then you’d say “deh-shay”, it’d say “basarah” and you’d repeat “basarah”), and then it got faster and you’d say all four words together.   (The stress goes on the first syllable of each word, by the way).

Before seeing the movie I had assumed that the chant would be connected to or representing Bane in some way, and it is mostly heard in the soundtrack while Bane is on-screen, but the only time it’s mentioned by the dialogue is in connection with Batman/Bruce Wayne.  It is, after all, titled The Dark Knight Rises, so it makes sense that this cool chant element would relate to the title character and his title trajectory.  He rises.

I do wonder if the chant will become a popular phrase among Batman fans, pop culture in general, or be forgotten in a few months.  I wish they had referenced it a bit more explicitly in the film itself, because it doesn’t really lend itself to being picked up by the masses this way, but I still think it was a really neat that they included all those fan voices and I definitely perked my ears up every time I heard the chant during the movie.  Here are all the times I noticed it (based on two viewings so far):

  • When Bane starts talking to that agent guy on the plane at the beginning.  It gets louder after the “No, they expect one of us in the wreckage, brother,” “But we started a fire,” “Yes, the fire rises,” exchange.
  • When Gordon goes down the man-hole into the sewers, (which are filled with Bane’s henchmen,) chasing the perpetrators after the firefight at the bar where they find the missing congressman (and Catwoman/Selina Kyle cleverly escapes).
  • When Bane walks onto the roof as a temporarily teamed-up Batman and Catwoman/Selina Kyle fight a group of baddies, (and Catwoman reluctantly goes along with Batman’s “No guns.  No killing.” stance).
  • The three times Bruce/Batman attempts to climb out of the pit, as well as the time he watches another prisoner try it.
  • When the street full of cops moves toward the mob of Bane’s men.  The chant starts out slow here and then picks up speed, similar to the way the individual recordings were made.


Filed under language, movies, music, nerd

Prometheus: Second Viewing

Things I Noticed This Time:

  • the barren planet that the Engineers seed animal life on in the opening sequence already has plant life.
  • the earthworms that somebody steps on in the big room swim into the black ooze, and get morphed into the bigger worms that kill Millburn.
  • It’s David that notices that the giant stone head is “remarkably human.”  Like himself.
  • I think David sprayed the canister with liquid nitrogen or something while in the cavern in order to be able to handle it without it oozing all over everything.  when he goes to retrieve the single drop later he has to break apart the ice.
  • David’s fingerprint has the Weyland logo on it.
  • David never smiles except:
  1. when he sits in the Engineers’ Captain’s chair
  2. When he’s standing in the middle of the Engineers planetary projection
  3. When he hears the heartbeat of the Engineer in stasis
  4. When the Engineer places a hand on David’s head, right before ripping it off of his body.

Things That Annoyed Me:

  • the music is unoriginal.  it sounds so familiar, like i’ve heard it before in another movie.
  • Why do i care that there are 17 crew members? we never learn most of their names. they all die.  Shaw ends the movie by saying she’s the last survivor.  Why do we need these meaningless statistics typed across the screen?
  • Why does everyone on the ship drink from sippy cups?
  • Vicker’s push-ups are wimpy
  • Chalier is such an a-hole , the entire time. I hate him.  I think even his death is selfish, he knows he’s dying and wants it to be over faster.
  • They spend two seconds flying around the planet before deciding where to land.  They explore only one location.  Why didn’t they fly around the world once before landing?  Why did they assume the Engineers were all dead based on such limited data?
  • Why would they assume a carbon dating device would render accurate results on a specimen on an alien planet?  They don’t know if the rate of carbon decay is the same here.  Too convenient to get such a fast answer.  Same with the DNA-human match.  “Their genetic material predates ours.” oh really?
  • How does Fifield get lost?!  He’s the one with the readout on his arm from the scanner “pups.”  Earlier they ask him, “which way?”  So why suddenly when he and Millburn split off does he start wandering in circles?  (other than the fact that the script needed them stranded so they interact with the aliens and ooze and die.)  Also when they are supposedly “lost” Millburn tells the captain their exact location.  So…why are they lost?!
  • When Fifield and Millburn find the huge pile of dead Engineers, Fifield warns “don’t touch!” but forgets his advice when dealing with the worm/snake.  (maybe it is arrogance that a non-humanoid creature can’t possibly be a threat to superior human intelligence?) in any case it’s stupid. “here hissing and hostile alien, let me pet you!”
  • Why are there different styles of spacesuits?  The first expedition they wear plain blue, but later they have blue with orange stripes or tubes, and there are some random crew members in orange and silver suits that are more bulky (who are just in the scene to be killed by a raging, morphed Fifield anyway)
  • Why did they try to make the “Weyland is Vickers’ father” reveal such a big deal?  It was pretty obvious.
  • It’s really stupid that Vickers and Shaw don’t just run sideways to avoid being crushed by the ship.
  • It’s really stupid that there’s such an impractically-shaped axe on board the lifepod.
  • It’s really stupid that Shaw spits out a “you have no idea what fear is” retort to David’s “I was afraid you were dead.”  that expression doesn’t usually denote literal fear anyway.  He’s just communicating with normal human language usage. there’s no need for everyone to keep hammering him over the head with the fact he’s a robot. unless it’s actually a defense mechanism the humans are using the elevate themselves above him.

is the captain in on the secret Weyland agenda from the beginning? Is that why he lies to Fifield and Millburn about their feeds not streaming through?

Things I’m Interested in Analyzing Further:

  • David’s humanity
  • David’s motives
  • David’s and Shaw’s similarities
  • What motivates Shaw to keep her ‘faith’?

(see also my other post analyzing Prometheus).


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Hunger Games Midnight Premiere

ZOMG you guys, who else watched The Hunger Games last night at midnight?  It was so amazing, right?  (Full disclosure, this post is being written on one hour of sleep and half a can of redbull, so please excuse any typos or outbursts of incoherency.)

I would have to say it was one of the best midnight movie premieres I have been to so far in my life.  I mean, it certainly doesn’t compare to the magnitude and scale and passion and costumes of the last Harry Potter screening I went to.  But I felt extra satisfied at this one because all of the work I put into preparing activities for my friends and fellow fans paid off, and people enjoyed my efforts just as much as I had hoped they would.  Seeing their delighted faces and eager excitement was so rewarding it would have almost been worth it even if I hadn’t seen the movie.  (But I DID see the movie, and loved it–more on that later!)

The two things I was most proud of last night were my tribute training target and my silver parachutes.  I painted the target (with help from some of my siblings) from screenshots of this clip.  It looked amazing, and I got permission from the manager at my theater to display it in the lobby.  People were lined up using it almost the entire time, and I got to see one young teen’s jaw-dropping gasp when she walked in and saw it (and then spent a good forty minutes or so monopolizing it) that just made it so worth while.

The beautiful target my lovely siblings helped me paint.

















The silver parachutes were made from a half yard of fabric I bought and some ribbon, with silver Hershey kiss anchors.  They had notes attached to them that said “A gift from your sponsor–may the odds be ever in your favor!”  I got permission from the manager to go upstairs and open the projection window and throw them out into the audience (about an hour before the show started).  I had hoped that everyone there would understand what they meant, since I couldn’t predict where they would fall exactly.  (They didn’t exactly float but they didn’t plummet either; I tried it with gum anchors and that was too light.)  It could not have gone more perfectly.  The first girl to catch one was actually also the first person in line in the lobby and was wearing a legitimate tribute training replica shirt like the ones in the movie, so you know she was a big fan.  (I mean, everybody there at midnight is a fan.  But she was a fan).  She and her friends screamed when they caught their parachute–“WE HAVE A SPONSOR!  YESSSS!”  It was like I was a benevolent, unseen Gamemaker.  I loved it.

I also brought trivia questions, which I made mostly from skimming through the book with a little help from the Hunger Games wiki, and the last tribute still “alive” in the Trivia Arena won.  We decided an incorrect answer was a wound, and if you got three wounds you died.  I didn’t think to bring arrow stickers or something, which would have been awesome, so we just taped the slips of paper with the questions on them to people that got them wrong.  That led to some joking about where they had been injured–lost legs, arms, or ears–wherever they stuck the questions.  As prizes I had a bag of trading cards that I let people choose from (blind), and the actual victor got to choose from a bag with bigger prizes (official tie-in magnets and small Hunger Games figurines.)  I gave out the same prizes for winners in Rock, Poison, Arrows tournaments, which is what I decided the Hunger Games version of Rock, Paper, Scissors would be.  Rock crushes poison, poison kills archers so it beats arrows, and arrows beats rock because it is a distance weapon but rocks are only effective up close.  I’m sure the logic isn’t perfect but whatever.

I’ll update later with my thoughts on the movie itself, but I can summarize by saying: loved it, great companion to the books that really enhances the world and the story, Jennifer Lawrence, Stanley Tucci, and Wes Bentley killed it.  Definitely going again.  Wasn’t wowed by Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta but wasn’t disappointed in him, either, (I think the script just didn’t make him as likeable as the book).  Would definitely recommend fans of the books to watch the movie, and fans of the movie to read the books.  Lastly, why is there an “official soundtrack” if NONE of the songs on the album are featured in the film, and only two are played during the credits?

P.S. Here’s my awesome friend @martinchughes sporting his Seneca Crane beard!



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Why John Carter Is Probably Still Stuck on Earth

Ok, so I am still struggling through trying to figure out most of the Barsoomian in the movie John Carter.  And I will be the first to admit that phonetics is not my strong suit.  But I’m absolutely confident about the pronunciation of the teleportation phrase that triggers the Thern device.  It’s repeated several times, and it’s spoken slowly and distinctly both by the dying Thern in the Arizonan cave and by Dejah Thoris teaching John Carter to repeat it phonetically.   John Carter also pronounces the phrase slowly and deliberately when he finds himself back in the cave on earth, desperate to return to Mars, as well as at the very end when he lays his body to rest in his tomb with his newly acquired device.  We’re meant to believe that he is waking up on Mars while we watch the credits roll, but I’m telling you, that poor dude is still in his tomb, probably crying.  Because his pronunciation was wrong.

I mean, we’re not told exactly how  the devices work.  Judging by the way he gets to Mars, when the injured Thern weazes out the phrase, and Carter picks up the device and only repeats the last word, a person has to be holding the device for it to work, but they don’t have to say the entire phrase as long as someone in the vicinity of the device says it.  (So then, I’m not entirely certain why it doesn’t work when Dejah is teaching the phrase to Carter, unless the person holding it has to say the final destination word in order for it to work, and she hands it to him before she says Jasoom?)  It doesn’t seem to care about inflection, since Carter’s “Barsoom?” at the beginning deviates from the morm, and Matai Shang rushes the first two segments together when he spits out the phrase very quickly to send poor Carter back to Jasoom towards the end.  So, whatever, it’s entirely possible the device doesn’t care about vowel distinctions either.

But that’s stupid.  Isn’t this phrase supposed to be a soundwave command?  Why would it not be sensitive to distinct sound deviations?  Plus, the likely explanation for Carter’s distinctive (wrong) pronunciation is lazy and/or inattentive film-making.  Which is so annoying!  You ask me to suspend my disbelief, but then force me to think about the fact that Taylor Kitsch is reading a script.  As I’ve said before, I know it’s not real, but it should still make sense!

So the Thern that Carter shoots very clearly wheezes:

(Here’s a pronunciation guide for unfamiliar or ambiguous symbols, in case you’re not familiar with IPA):

Dejah Thoris pronounces the phrase in exactly the same way as the Thern, except that she substitutes Jasoom for Barsoom as the destination:

Carter mimicks Dejah properly in the scene where she is teaching him what to say.  But when he finds himself suddenly back in the cave on Earth, the first thing he does is try to return to Mars/Barsoom by repeating the phrase even though he doesn’t have a device, and he says:

He totally changes the first vowel from a low back unrounded “ah” to a mid back rounded “oh”.  And he says it that way again at the end!  Very deliberately!  But the problem is that we’ve already herd a Thern and Dejah pronounce the first vowel as “ah,” equally deliberately, and I’m inclined to think they know what they’re talking about over Carter.

Maybe that first word is spelled ok or och or something.  And that could be confusing, because the letter “o” in standard orthography can sometimes stand for an “oh” sound, (like in open, no, and rope), but it can also represent an “ah” sound, (like in octopus, ox, odd, and dog).

I have no idea how the phrase is spelled in this script, (it doesn’t appear in the book,) but John Carter shouldn’t know how it’s spelled either!  He learned this phrase phonetically from the princess.  He can’t read the writing she deciphered.  Every single time he heard the phrase pronounced by others, it was with an “ah” for the first syllable.  There is no reasonable explanation for why he should have changed it to an “oh” unless it is that the actor Taylor Kitsch read the lines that were perhaps spelled with an o in the script, and perhaps did not go to Thark camp like everybody else, and perhaps filmed those scenes before he filmed the ones with the princess where she explicitly taught him to repeat it as “ah,” or else filmed them so far apart that he forgot, and nobody on set corrected him, and nobody in the editing and screening processes noticed or decided it was worth it to do a simple voice-over rerecording to fix it?

I seriously don’t understand how that happens.  And I will maintain that either Carter is stuck on Jasoom at the conclusion of the movie, or else the phrase is basically meaningless gibberish and the device just feeds off the will of your heart or something.  I mean it can’t just be a magical phrase, right?  Because Harry Potter taught us that pronunciation does matter: (“It’s leviOsa, not levioSA!”)  Cater’s butchering of the teleportation phrase is not the worst line of dialogue, (not by a long shot), but when a film sets up an element as being important and then can’t even stay consistent with said element, it’s very disappointing for viewers like me.  What about you?



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Barsoomian Language in “John Carter”

I saw the new Disney live-action film “John Carter” this weekend.  I liked it, I mean it’s not without some pretty obvious story and character flaws, but the mythology and world building was so much fun that I was willing to overlook the fact that the main character’s motivation is never truly defined.  and I am 100% planning to see it again, mainly to transcribe more of the Barsoomian dialogue.

Tars Tarkas meets John Carter on Barsoom

Never having read any of the Barsoom novels (by Edgar Rice Burroughs), I didn’t know before seeing the movie that the inhabitants of Mars (Barsoom) would be speaking some lines in a novel language.  Of course those scenes instantly became my favorite, because I am a language nerd.  Preliminary googling on Barsoom turns up this general info  and word list page, as well as this article about expanding Burroughs’ linguistic creation for the movie.  The linguist hired to work on developing the limited inclusions in Burroughs’ novels into a fully-functioning spoken language for the movie was Paul Frommer, who is also responsible for creating the Na’vi language spoken in Avatar.  I’m extremely jealous of Frommer, but I’m also grateful for his work to make these fiction-based languages “real” and rule-based the way languages actually are, because it makes it so much more fun to analyze and try to learn them.  (As opposed to the alien languages in Star Wars, which are basically jibberish and not even consistent with themselves.)  In researching Barsoom I also discovered that Frommer has a blog in which he discusses grammatical aspects of Na’vi, and I can’t wait to find time to start pouring over that information!  (You can get a head start on me by reading his blog here.)

Anyway, here’s as much as I was able to transcribe during my first viewing.  (So glad I had my notebook with me!)  I’ll update this post when I’m able to watch the movie again, because there are some lines I didn’t catch and it’s also possible that I didn’t hear everything clearly.  (I’m pretty sure I confused some k’s and t’s.)  And of course I’m totally guessing at word boundaries.

I’m using IPA.  It seems like voiceless stops are mostly aspirated word-finally, but then some of them sounded unreleased.  (Of course maybe the unreleased ones are not word-final and my word-boundary guesses are wrong…)

[mi dutʃe] “…hell are you?”  (spoken by Tars Tarkas upon seeing Carter, following Carter’s own “What the…” utterance.)

[sɑ tʃɑ tʃik] “don’t shoot him” (-Tars Tarkas)

[ʤɑteth] “don’t run” (-Tars Tarkas)

[tsɑtɑ] “it’s okɑy” (-Tars Tarkas)

[sɑkh | səlɛt˺ sɑk vəˈʤɑkh]  “Jump!  Jump like you did before.” (-Tars Tarkas)

[sɑkh] “jump”

[doθekh ɑdɑs] “step ɑwɑy” (-??? Probably Tars Tarkas. It’s hard to get everything written down!)

[doltɑɹ ˈsoʤath] “my right hand,” the Thark name given to John Carter by Tars Tarkas.  (Sometimes sounded like it might actually be [doltɑɹ ˈsoʤæth]?)

[ɑkh ɑhɪm ɑkte wiz bɑɹsu:m] -the phrase the Princess teaches Carter to say that will teleport him between planets.  (Barsoom is replaced with Jasoom when she originally teaches it to him, becauses they’re on Mars and he wants to return to Earth.  But this is the phrase as he says it at the end of the movie.)


Blerg, I’ve seen the relevant scenes a couple more times and feel more lost than ever.  I’m just not very good at phonetics, (don’t tell my students!)  Also this would be a lot easier if I could hit pause and rewind.  Anyway here’s a pdf of what I have at this point:

pagelady barsoomian transcriptions


***update*** i missed my chance to see it again and it’s no longer showing at my theater, so i’ll have to wait for the dvd.  it’ll be easier to capture with a pause button anyway.



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More Katniss Hair

“Capitol TV” just released an exclusive clip from The Hunger Games.  I continue to be impressed with the spot-on marketing job that Lionsgate (or is it Lionsgate/Summit now?) has been doing for this film.  Of course there was never a question of whether I would see it or not, but I’m still really enjoying the way they are doing so much with a Capitol flavor, playing right into the atmosphere of the book.  Like these ads, for example.

I bought tickets for myself and my friends the day they went on sale, and I’ve started planning themed activities to keep ourselves occupied (and psyched) while we wait in line for the midnight showing.  The other part of my preparations, as mentioned earlier, involves trying to figure out how to braid my hair like Katniss wears hers in the movie.  (That’s the extent of my costume for this one.  But I fully intend to go a little more elaborate for The Hobbit in December.  I’m thinking Elf ears.)

I’ve been paying a lot of attention to all the glimpses of Katniss’s hair that we’ve seen in the trailers and spots released so far.  I’ve also sifted through many of the Katniss hair tutorials on youtube, and I’ve concluded that none of them are quite accurate.  (At least not as of this writing).  And my last post on the subject is misleading as well.  I think some of the confusion is because there are three variations on the side-braid that she wears at different points during of the story.  (But all of the variations start on her left and end over her right shoulder, so, come on youtube hairstylists, that’s a pretty basic detail to get right.)

The three variations on her basic hairstyle could be categorized as District 12 Braid, Tribute Training Braid, and Arena Braid.  She won’t really have Arena Braid the entire time she’s in the arena, though; it’s the fanciest version of the hairstyle and it’s what she wears when she first enters the deadly game, but shots from later scenes show she has reverted to District 12 Braid.  This makes total sense and is in line with the book, in which she talks about re-braiding her hair in the arena.  And of course she would braid it the same way she always had at home.  Also, Arena Braid is difficult.  I’m not sure I’m going to be able to pull it off, so I’ll probably settle for the Training Braid.

All three are Dutch braids, which just means you put each strand under instead of over the others as you braid.  You still add hair to the three strands as you go like you do for a French braid.

District 12 Braid is the most simple.  It starts fairly low on the left side of her head and stays low across the back of her head.  Her hair is basically parted down the middle and falls down into the braid rather than being pulled back into it.

Notice the braid starts about even with her ear, maybe a little lower (hard to judge at this angle)

The Tribute Training Braid starts a bit higher up on the left side of her head, and the braid goes at a diagonal  angle across the back of her head instead of tracing around the nape of her neck.  (This is basically the style that most of the youtube tutorials follow).  The hair on the right side of the head is not simply pulled back into the braid, it is twisted a bit.  At least it appears to be twisted in two places, (see final two pics in this set).  Some of these are from the clip above.  Looking at other pictures that have been released, braids seem to be a fairly popular (mandatory?) hairstyle for female tributes in training.

Finally, the Arena Braid is the most elaborate version, with a small braid starting near the crown of the head and curving around rather than going in a straight diagonal line.  The strands from the right side of the head are all twisted a bit and it looks very pretty; you can see it best when she is ascending in the tube to the arena.

Later in the arena, like in the scenes from the first teaser trailer we saw, her hair is much more disheveled and resembles her originalDistrict 12 Braid, falling down from a middle part and not pulled or twisted back.

She's got her black arena jacket and silver arrows here, if you need proof that it isn't just a shot of her in the woods back home.

I think this is a kill shot. If you've read the books it's pretty obvious what this scene must be, (Katniss running into a clearing and immediately loosing an arrow).

Of course I’m completely leaving out Katniss’s reaping hairstyle, (which I would say is basically her side braid pinned over on top of itself,) and the Girl on Fire hair, (which is too elaborate for me to even attempt and looks like it involves clip-ons of extra hair anyway.)


**update** having seen the film, i noticed that her Arena Braid actually includes a small separate braid on the right side of her head, that i labeled in the pictures above as a twist, that is incorporated into the larger braid at the bottom.



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