Last year, HBO created a great viewer guide for the first season of Game of Thrones; this year, they updated it for season 2, and it now contains the most complete map of Essos found anywhere. If you’re a somewhat-more-than casual viewer of the series, it’s a great way to get a feel for the geography of that world and to see the intricate family trees of the dozens of characters. If you’re a hardcore fan that reads the books, A Wiki of Ice and Fire from the westeros.org fan-site might be a better reference since it’s a lot more in-depth; but the maps on HBO’s viewer guide are still the best drawn, best designed, and most extensive currently in existence. So until the new map book comes out, enjoy poking around HBO’s guide.
This October, we will finally be able to get our hands on professional maps of the world in the A Song Of Fire And Ice book series and Game of Thrones TV series. The map collection, called The Lands Of Ice And Fire, is available for pre-ordering now, is blessed by GRRM, costs 26$, and includes the following maps:
The maps are supposedly excellent quality, but it would be nice to see a sample. But even if they’re as awesome as they sound, it seems like it may be best to wait for some later edition — one released after the book series is finished. But if you don’t want to wait another decade until that comes to pass, this is your chance for some legitimately cool cartography with which to decorate your dorm room or nerd cave. Or that of a nerd you love.
From Amazon, via Westeros
Mittens Romney‘s father, George Romney, was CEO of American Motors Corporation (which in the ’80s became the Jeep part of Chrysler) until 1963, when he became Governor of Michigan; he followed this by being the Secretary of HUD in 1969 and then retiring in 1973. Since Mad Men is set in the ’60s, during George Romney’s governorship, the writers decided to weigh in on this year’s elections, in a 1966 kind of way: Betty’s new husband, who is a campaign adviser for New York politicians, at one point says on the phone:
Well, tell Jim His Honor’s not going to Michigan.
Because Romney’s a clown and I don’t want him standing next to him.
From YouTube, via NPR
After six years of being gone from television, one of the best screenwriters of our time is finally back! Aaron Sorkin left TV after Studio 60 flopped in 2006, and instead moved to other media: he wrote his first play in 17 years — an excellent one called The Farnsworth Invention, – a couple of very good movies (Charlie Wilson’s War and The Social Network), and touched up the script for a third (Moneyball). His new HBO series looks like a cross between his two best TV shows, The West Wing (first four seasons) and Sports Night, in that it’s about an impartial news anchor whose politics get outed: it has all the behind-the-scenes stuff that Sorkin loves to write about, plus political banter — the other thing he loves to write about. The series has got to be summed up by this quote: “I’m a registered Republican — I only seem liberal because I believe hurricanes are caused by high barometric pressure, and not gay marriage.”
Some of 'The Newsroom' cast: Jeff Daniels, Sam Waterston, Emily Mortimer, Allison Pill, and Olivia Munn
The anchor is played by Jeff Daniels and the president of the network is Sam Waterston, who is probably a lot like Isaac Jaffe’s character on Sports Night. Other familiar faces (and their equivalent Sports Night characters) include Emily Mortimer (Dana Whitaker), Allison Pill (Natalie Hurley), and Olivia Munn (Jeremy Goodwin). The series is going to start airing on June 24th, probably in the timeslot after True Blood.
This might not be that funny if you haven’t used Siri a few times, but if you have, it’s hilarious.
From YouTube, via Laughing Squid
College Humor has a list that maps the various TV networks to family members. These two are the funniest ones:
From College Humor, via Neatorama
Besides the fact that Steve Jobs accidentally met his real father without either of them knowing, it sounds like the other interesting revelation from The Gospel of Steve Jobs according to Walter Isaacson is that before he died, folks at Apple had reinvented the TV. Said Jobs to Isaacson: ““It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine,” as if anything else was even a possibility. Anonymous Apple employees who can’t keep secrets say that the guy who invented iTunes (and had a big role in developing the iPod) is heading up the project — which, if it’s not called iTV, then Tim Cook isn’t doing a good job impersonating Jobs… who would’ve probably bought itv (the British TV network) just to get the trademark.
Apple is of course not acknowledging anything in order to build buzz and you know… keeping being Apple. But besides this rumor having popped up before, Steve also told his biographer that AppleTV (the toy that connects your Apple gadgets to your TV), was just a hobby, not an actual money maker. The iTV though will probably do stuff like integrate cable and streaming video into one interface and come with Siri and iCloud installed. Speculators say it’ll be out sometime in the next year or two. By then, Google will probably also come out with a mediocre TV, or at least a clunky operating system for it.
In 1922, at the age of 14, Philo Farnsworth invented television. Remarkably, he was only on TV once in his whole life, on the CBS game show I’ve Got A Secret, in 1957. The purpose of the game show was for the contestants to guess who he is — they didn’t. Philo died penniless in 1971, from pneumonia brought on by alcohol abuse in his later years. Throughout his life, he wasn’t sure if TV was a good invention or not, but after seeing the moon landing in 1969, he said to his wife “this has made it all worthwhile.”
Some people credit Philo as the inventor of “electronic television”, as opposed to “mechanical television“, which briefly existed in the 1920s and 30s.
Update, Nov 5th, 2011: an intrepid reader took and sent in these pictures of the laboratory where Mr. Farnsworth created the first operational TV set, at the age of 21, in 1927. The lab is located at 202 Green St., in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood of San Francisco.
Farnsworth's lab at 202 Green St. (Photo by Adam Farmer)
The plaque outside Farnsworth's lab (Photo by Adam Farmer)
Close-up of the plaque (Photo by Adam Farmer)
From YouTube, via Laughing Squid
It’s early October now and there are still several new TV series that will debut over the next month or two, but most of them have already started. So without further ado, here’s a list of the new shows, ordered from best to worst:
- Homeland (excellent) — a Showtime series about a crazy CIA agent stalking a war hero/terrorist, starring Claire Danes? Yes, please!
- New Girl (very good) — Zooey Deschanel being eccentrically cute with three of her roommates. Not a lot to not like, but it may or may not get old quickly.
- Suburgatory (very good) — really smart, dry satire on suburbia. Like Better Off Ted and Arrested Development though, it’s probably too smart for its own good and unlikely to last too long.
- Up All Night (very good) — it’s funny trying to see hip new parents try to stay cool, and this show captures it very well.
Up All Night
- Free Agents (good) — there’s a lot of good here, but something doesn’t quite click all the way. Still, one of the better new series: funny, well-written, interesting. All signs point to it being cancelled soon though. (Update 10/8: it got cancelled.)
- Pan Am (good) — between The Playboy Club and this, it’s the one closest to Mad Men. Decent writing, lots of style.
- Ringer (good) — lots of interesting drama. Good hook, well-written, intriguing, Buffy — cool stuff.
- 2 Broke Girls (pretty good) — odd-couple kind of sitcom. Not bad, but not particularly original or funny.
- How To Be A Gentleman (pretty good) – odd-couple kind of sitcom. Not bad, but not particularly original or funny; looks like it’s on it’s way out the door, too. (Update 10/8: it got cancelled.)
- Prime Suspect (pretty good) — it’s a procedural crime drama, but it has a bunch of character around it which makes it a little fun to watch, since it doesn’t strictly follow the “solve the murder” script each week.
- Revenge (pretty good) — kind of like The Count of Monte Cristo in the Hamptons. It’s decently executed, but really predictable so that cuts out a lot of the reason to watch it.
- Whitney (pretty good) — it’s an average sitcom with a little spice that makes it a little above average.
- Charlie’s Angels (average) — keeps reminding me of how good Alias was, and how meh this is. Word on the street is that it’ll get cancelled soon too.
- The Playboy Club (average) — it tried to be Mad Men, right down to the lead who could be Don Draper’s cousin, but it just didn’t get there. The first show that got canned this season; would be good on Lifetime, though.
- The Secret Circle (average) — basic CW show about teen angst and superpowers. Nothing to see here.
- Person of Interest (not good) — procedural crime drama. Nothing interesting about it, unless you like being told how clever the writers are at coming up with a crime to prevent each week.
- Terra Nova (pretty bad) — really bad Jurassic Park. The only thing decent about it is the special effects. Everything else seems like it was created from a “How To Make An Action Movie For Dummies” book.
For other TV watching ideas, check out the Good TV page.