You Win or You Die: Game of Thrones Fantasy League

If you’re like me, you’re sick and tired of watching HBO’s Game of Thrones with all these “book readers,” smirking and nodding every time another character gets knocked off. Well, now that ol’ Balon Greyjoy has been tossed to his death, and the series has entered mostly uncharted territory, I think we’re all on even ground here. So it’s high time we kicked off a Game of Thrones survival-style fantasy league.

Our concept is simple, but feel free to expand and modify for your own GoT fantasy leagues. In this case, we’re banking on more characters getting killed off over the balance of season six (otherwise this won’t be too much fun). If history is any indication, however, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Nobody wants to draft me? Fine.
Nobody wants to draft me? Fine.

To honor The Seven, seven Idlers comprise the league, drawing from a player pool divided into seven groups. We started with a strictly defined number of available characters — 49 divided equally among House Stark, Team Targaryen, House Lannister, Old Gods and the New, The Wall, Friends Like These, and The Rebels. Draft strategy was going to be important. Since each team has to roster one character from each group, avoiding a guy like Ser Alliser meant you had to draft a different character from The Wall before you ran out of options.

We used to randomly generate our draft order, but there are lots of ways to determine this, including some fun in-person draws that you can use to kick off your episode three viewing party on Sunday.

Scoring works thusly: starting with episode three of season six, each character earns one point per episode in which he or she appears. If a character dies at any point this season, all of those Appearance Points are voided. If the character was directly killed by another rostered character, then the killer assumes all of the Appearance Points that had been accrued by the victim up to that point and adds them to his or her Appearance Point total. Additionally, each time a character kills another rostered character, he or she earns an additional Kill Point. Kill Points stay with a character even if he or she dies over the course of the season, and cannot be stolen by another character.

The stakes: Each time a character on your team dies, you must immortalize his or her passing with body art. A quote, or artwork if you’re feeling ambitious. Level of permanence: Sharpie or better. Then, of course, share a pic with the world. Additionally, at the end of the season, the team with the highest point total takes home The Trophy. [We don’t know what that is yet, but rest assured we’ll argue about it over the next few months.]

The Teams:

Abominable Snow-Bran – hltchk

GoT Ftsy Team MH
House Stark: Bran
Team Targaryen: Missandei
House Lannister: Tommen
The Wall: Jon Snow
The Old Gods and the New: Lancel Lannister
Friends Like These: Olenna Tyrell
Rebels: Yara

Analyzing these groups was one of the most fun aspects of the draft. With the first pick, Jon Snow was the obvious choice (he can’t die AGAIN can he?), but also obvious for his group, as The Wall is a tough place to stick it out and I don’t imagine any of those characters lasting too long. And you know Mr. Snow is going to have a big kill or two. I was really surprised Bran and Yara dropped to me in the second round, so I quickly snatched both of them up with my back-to-back picks. I have no idea what to expect from Bran, but since he missed out on all of last season, I’m betting he appears in every episode this time around, with sweet new powers to boot. Yara, with her father killed by her uncle, is out for blood; hoping she racks up the kills soon. I felt like Tommen is a pretty safe pick. While being King doesn’t guarantee you safety as we’ve all learned, he is now surrounded by Jaime and Cersei, the latter of which has the Mountain at her beck and call. Tommen is Cersei’s last child left; she’s gonna give it all she’s got to keep him alive. He’s also excused from the whole mess the High Sparrows are investigating regarding Margaery and Loras. Olenna is probably not going to do much I imagine, and neither will Lancel. Missandei I’m a little worried about. While she does have the protection of Grey Worm, with Dany and Daario no longer around, I’m not sure how much longer she can last. I suppose it all depends on how quickly Tyrion and Varys can turn Meereen around.
Continue reading You Win or You Die: Game of Thrones Fantasy League

New Comics: The Punisher

Fuck me, it’s Frank Castle.

A few days after Marvel announced that Jon Bernthal would be reprising his role as The Punisher in a new Netflix series, Frank makes his All New All Different Marvel debut in the pages of Becky Cloonan and Steve Dillon’s The Punisher #1. He gets right to work doing what he does best, killing fools and blowing shit up. And he does it without saying a single damn word.

Becky Cloonan is a badass. Already well known for her artwork, collaborating on books like Demo with Brian Wood and American Virgin with Steven Seagle, this time she gets bloody with the typewriter (I like to imagine her scripting this book on a cranky Smith Corona, filling up an ashtray and smashing down on the carriage release with the bottom of her whiskey glass). She’s got Frank chasing the distributors of a dangerous new street drug, while the DEA tries to keep above the tide of dropping bad guy bodies.

The DD/Punisher Infinite comic gets a physical re-package
The DD/Punisher Infinite comic gets a physical re-package

Steve Dillon is a professional. You loved his brutal realism on Vertigo books like Hellblazer and Preacher, and you were happy to see him dip his toes into Marvel’s capes-n-tights pool over the last decade. Then you were thrilled when he teamed up with Jason Aaron on The Punisher. He hasn’t half-assed a spray pattern since, and there will be plenty of eyes rolling back into victims’ skulls. Nobody does it better.

Continue reading New Comics: The Punisher

Free Comic Book Day 2016

This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of Free Comic Book Day, easily the best name for a very straightforward attempt at getting folks into comic shops and seeing what all the fuss is about. On the first Saturday of May, a variety of publishers, from big names like Marvel and DC to smaller outfits like Nobrow Press and Th3rd World Studios, partner with shops to offer a wide range of exclusive comics. Some books contain all new material, others are mixtape-style samplers of previously released work, and still others offer extended excerpts from new graphic novels. But the one thing that all these comics have in common is that they’re offered 100% free of charge.

one of the many All Ages titles, DC Super Hero Girls
one of the many All Ages titles, DC Super Hero Girls

While supplies last, obviously. And different stores have different policies limiting the number of giveaways. Check out the FCBD website for details on participating stores and, this Saturday, plan on visiting as many as you can! Most shops plan related events, contests, and other frivolity around FCBD. Drag along your uninitiated friend who loves Firefly but won’t pick up a funnybook and stick that Dark Horse freebie in her hands. Dress the kids up in their favorite superhero t-shirts and load them up with All-Ages books like Image’s Oddly Normal or DC’s Super Hero Girls. That guy in your office who won’t shut up about Enter the Dragon and wants to know if you caught this weekend’s UFC bloodfest? There’s a Bruce Lee treat for him as well.

Like music, movies, and ice cream flavors, there’s a comic book for everyone. Here are the FCBD offerings I’m most excited about, including the Previews solicitation information. Continue reading Free Comic Book Day 2016

New Comics: Micronauts

IDW Publishing announced, last October, that they would be adding two more beloved toy properties to their stable, pulling both Mego’s Micronauts and Parker Brothers’ ROM out of limbo and onto the comic book shelves. Or, to be fair, back onto the comic book shelves. Like IDW’s G.I. Joe and Transformers properties, both Micronauts and ROM: Spaceknight were fan-favorite Marvel comic books in the late 70’s and early 80’s. And, as opposed to some of the lesser-known action figure lines that earned shoddy cross-promotional series (think Sectaurs or Crystar), the Micronauts and ROM books were as fun, if not as successful, as their Hasbro brethren.

Marvel's Micronauts #1 (1979)
Marvel’s Micronauts #1 (1979)

I wasn’t lucky enough to have any of those sweet “plastic and die-cast metal” toys of my own, being a little too young when they were popular, but I loved the comic book, and especially loved when my favorite Marvel heroes crossed over into the Microverse and vice-versa. Some of those original comic book Micronauts, not under the toy license, have remained in Marvel’s ownership and have survived into modern continuity, like the Guardian of Galaxy, Bug. The rest of those stalwart defenders of the sub-atomic realm, as well as the tyrant Baron Karza and his evil minions, would need to wait years to see their adventures continue in a monthly series.

From reading the afterword, it’s clear that if anyone other than Cullen Bunn was tapped to write this series, we may have had a problem. His lifelong passion for the Micronauts will, we hope, save the IDW series from being the third stalled attempt at rekindling that Micromagic. Bunn’s words are paired with the crisp, vibrant art of David Baldeón, and the whole package is a characteristically beautiful IDW release. I can only imagine how excited the bloggers of the excellently named Blog for ROM Fans Who Aren’t Dicks are for the Free Comic Book Day premiere of that new book. Now if only they could get cracking on Shogun Warriors.

IMG_0690 Continue reading New Comics: Micronauts

Fifteen Years of Idle Time: The Swedish Obsession

Looking back over the fifteen-year history of our silly little collective has involved much more than spinning old CD-R mixes, reading photocopied zines, and digging up photos of RF in a skirt. But of course I’ve done all of those things too.

The infamous “Young Folks” mock cover, November 2006. RF on the left.
The infamous “Young Folks” mock cover, November ’06. RF on the left.

It has also involved opening backup folders in subfolders in mis-labeled directories on flashdrives and SD cards hiding in dusty cardboard boxes all over Northern California. I’m not the most organized of archivists, but I do maintain that everything is somewhere, provided I have the patience to look for it. In this case, I didn’t find what I was initially looking for (a spreadsheet with the first iteration of our Ultimate Mixtape), but I did uncover some random word documents with transcribed content from our old Google group.

One particular narrative (that I composed as a radio play for some reason) is especially interesting. It recounts the car ride in which WH, RF, and I realized that we had slowly come under the spell of Swedish pop music. And it snowballed from there. The accuracy of the transcript is debatable, but it certainly sounds like one of our car ride conversations.
Continue reading Fifteen Years of Idle Time: The Swedish Obsession

Tunes of the Month – April

It’s no secret that Idle Time has a serious crush on Swedish music. And it was only a matter of time before our five-track Tunes of the Month feature propped up some new songs from that magical, shimmery land of pop perfection. I would seriously be fine blogging five new Scandinavian tunes every month, but there are other people round these parts who have a say, and, sure… other bands who can hold their own against the best Sweden has to offer. But, for now, Happy April, and more Swedes, please.

Listen to the whole eighteen-minute jam via Idle Time’s newly minted Mixcloud account, or stream the tunes individually below.

Continue reading Tunes of the Month – April

The Top Five Sexually Horrifying Creations of H.R. Giger

H.R. Giger died on May 12th, 2014, due to injuries sustained from a fall. From 1979 until his death he was the world’s foremost artist in the realm of cybersexual horror. His achievement might seem niche, but his art was far-reaching. Alien burned the image of Giger’s horrifying monster into America’s collective brain. Subsequent films in the franchise only furthered that mind branding, despite Giger’s limited involvement after the first film. The artist’s absence from Aliens through each of its sequels contributed to dwindling interest by the public, which has only recently rebounded. This list is meant to draw attention to artwork H.R. Giger created outside of the realm of Alien. Much of which was either sculptures or album covers, but Giger did work on several other films throughout his career.

Captions meant to be read in the voice of Werner Herzog.

Muro do Classic Rock

5. Walpurgis

What looks at first to be a buxom, if pasty, lung headed, vampire woman turns out to be… just that on the back cover also, so yeah. Giger was great at making things that at first can look appealing, only to reveal their true horror upon closer examination.

Continue reading The Top Five Sexually Horrifying Creations of H.R. Giger

The Joys of Independent Bookstores

Since I’m the only one in the general vicinity of this website who doesn’t think every book should contain “splash pages” and that dialogue should be contained in bubbles and consist mostly of exclamations and vapid expository pronouncements, I’ve been tapped to say a few words about National Independent Bookstore Day.

The short version is, I’m in favor of independent bookstores. Not only can you find all manner of superhero stories — intended to be disposable entertainment for children, but for some reason ending up being “boarded and bagged” like holy relics — you can also find that weird manga shit and probably some of those adult coloring books, too. So, go to an independent bookstore — today, if possible. Most of you need not read any further.

The long version, for those of you who like things that take longer than five minutes to read — the pleasure of independent bookstores lies in real books. Perusing an independent bookstore should be agenda-less. If you’re looking for something specific, well, that’s what Amazon is for. You should discover things at independent bookstores. Things you never knew you needed, but once seen, you cannot live without. Continue reading The Joys of Independent Bookstores

Game of Thrones Top 5: Back from the Dead

Season Six of Game of Thrones kicks off this weekend, which means, of course, it’ll be time to say farewell to a few more characters. And since some of the plotlines have either moved beyond or veered away from the source material, most of us have no idea who’s getting gutted, poisoned, or beheaded in the new episodes.

But regardless of which characters get killed off this season, it’s nice to know that the actors portraying said characters rarely have trouble finding new gigs and new ways to entertain us on television and the big screen. Here are five of my favorite GoT “rebirths,” so to speak – some from series and movies that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, and a couple from roles that I’m looking forward to.

pyp-10245. Pypar (Josef Altin)
Dies in Season Four, Episode Nine

Poor Pyp. Just when he thought he had a handle on the Night’s Watch job, he takes an arrow through the throat from that damn Wildling woman. This is a case of a character dying in the show before his time comes up in the books, which, unfortunately, means the character couldn’t have been that important to begin with. Hang in there, Sam.

The actor, Josef Altin, has made numerous television appearances both before and after Game of Thrones, but the best among those shows, by far, is BBC’s six-part crime drama River, starring Stellan Skarsgård. It’s a tightly woven detective mystery, but River also brilliantly explores loss, loneliness, and the conceit of our own memory. Altin plays a murder suspect who dies in the very first episode. He does however, make another appearance in the series (it’s been called “Wallander meets The Sixth Sense“). The show also features Owen Teale, best known as the not-dead-yet Ser Alliser Thorne, in a much more prominent role, and it’s available for streaming in the U.S. on Netflix.

Continue reading Game of Thrones Top 5: Back from the Dead

New Comics: Dept. H

IMG_0669In his new series for Dark Horse Comics, MIND MGMT and Super Spy creator Matt Kindt teams up with wife Sharlene to pull the reader under for a fantastic, immersive murder mystery. Dept. H takes place in a deep-sea research station, thousands of miles below the sunlit surface (deptH, get it?) and within the first few pages, I’m already terrified.

I like to think that I have a healthy fear of the open water. I grew up a few miles from the Pacific, and now live even closer. I love the ocean, but it scares the hell out of me. And when special investigator Mia dons her superunderwatersuit and investigates the crime scene, one beautiful Kindtian clue at a time, the culminating image of the floating body absolutely chills me.

IMG_0671I’d like to echo the closing comments in Kindt’s afterword. I’m as guilty as the next guy of waiting until certain series have been collected before purchasing and reading. But let’s help keep those floppies on the comic book shelves, team. We’re in the era of binge-watched Netflix shows and discounted introductory TPBs. I get it. But I also get how valuable it can be to patiently wait for each new installment of an engrossing series, especially when the creators go out of their way to make each installment so individually worthwhile. And, in the case of Dept. H, we’ll be rewarded for swimming along with each successive issue, each day in the life of our main character. Continue reading New Comics: Dept. H


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