My wife is awesome. She claims she sucks at coming up with gift ideas, but lately she has been giving me presents that overflows with awesome to such a degree that I’m hard-pressed to find her anything equally incredible.
Take the present I got when I woke up this morning: Guess Who? is a game she bought back when she was still a youth worker and needed ways to entertain the kids who regularly hung out at her place. It’s basically twenty questions. Each person picks a card with a character on it and then you take turns asking each other yes/no questions to try and figure out who is on the other person’s card before they can figure out yours. It’s the coolest present ever!
I just saw the news that Sir Christopher Lee passed away on Sunday, at the venerable age of ninety-three. This is all the more impressive if you consider that he still kicked ass in the final Hobbit film that was released last year.
If I had to describe Lee in one word it would be bad-ass, both on screen and off. On screen he excelled as a villain. We all know him as Saruman from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequels. But he also played the big three movie monsters of the fifties, namely Frankenstein’s monster, Count Dracula (several times), and The Mummy. Then he was the Bond villain, Scaramanga (The Man With The Golden Gun), Rasputin, Count Rochefort from Dumas’s The Three Musketeers and Willy Wonka’s demented dentist dad in Tim Burton’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And as a voice actor he brought to life, among others, Terry Pratchett’s Death, and Lewis Carrol’s Jabberwocky in the Tim Burton adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.
But off screen he was just as incredible. I mentioned him playing Rasputin above. Would you believe that as a child he had met the men who’d killed the real Rasputin and was later told by Rasputin’s daughter that he actually looked a bit like her father? Or that he’d witnessed the last public guillotine execution in France and was friends with the ‘Last Hangman’ of England? How about that in the Second World War he was a pilot in the RAF (he did his flight training in South Africa) and involved in special operations with the SAS (though never revealed exactly what he did) and knows how to handle a sword? And how many members of the LOTR cast and crew can claim that they had actually known J.R.R. Tolkien? (Edit:None, apparently.) He was a descendant of Charlemagne and was engaged to a Swedish noblewoman, an engagement to which the king of Sweden himself gave consent. But they later called off the wedding and he married a Danish model instead.
But the thing that blew me away when I first learned about it was that he was also the world’s oldest metalhead, starting his career in his late eighties, and the oldest living person ever to make it onto the Billboard Hot 100 charts at ninety-one and a half years old. He had an incredible voice and released several heavy metal albums, the last one, a Christmas album of all things, a mere six months ago. One of his albums, Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross even received the Spirit of Metal award at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods ceremony in 2010. You can watch the one music video produced from that album below (be warned, it’s a little…surreal).
No one can dispute that Sir Christopher Lee has had an exceptional life. He was a living legend. Living he is not anymore, but he’ll always remain legendary.
Did you watch the first episode of Game of Thrones last night? Apparently it was already available on Saturday afternoon, along with episodes two, three and four. That’ll teach HBO to send advance copies to reviewers. According to TorrentFreak the first episode was downloaded over a million times during the first eighteen hours. So much for trying to keep anything secret in the digital age.
In 2012 Metro Trains in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia released a public service announcement in the form of a little animated video and song, titled Dumb Ways To Die. The video went viral on social media (in two years it has had over one hundred million views on YouTube), spawned a mobile game, and even yours truly have used it in a piece of short fiction.
The video has also inspired numerous parodies, the latest one featuring Game of Thrones which is, frankly, filled with dumb (or at least gruesome) ways to die. They have kept the words of the original, but the video depicts all of the most memorable deaths of the series thus far.
Spoiler alert: Don’t watch this if you haven’t yet watched season four/read A Feast for Crows. (And for goodness sake, stay away from the comments!)
“…and worth far more than diamonds.” (Proverbs 31:10, The Message)
No, we’re not interrupting regular programming for discussing passages from the Bible. I’ve just been thinking about that passage as I appear to have one of those. A good woman, that is. In fact, King Solomon goes on to say, “She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing.” (Proverbs 31:13, The Message) That’s my wife exactly.
Saturday we met the Twelfth Doctor for the first time. As I’ve declared this official Doctor Who week on if all else fails… in honour of the new Doctor, I can hardly let the actual episode pass without comment, now can I?
I must point out there will be spoilers in this post, so if you haven’t yet watched Deep Breath you might want to bookmark this post for now and come back later after you’ve seen the episode.