2016 Flash Fiction Challenge: Blood Money

Hey, I received an honorable mention in the 2016 NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge! You can read it in its entirety right here:

Blood Money

It had been months since Edward French had set foot on the trading floor, and he was nervous. “Was,” in the strictest sense of the past tense; a quick bump in the cab ride over had put his nerves to rest. Now all he felt was exhilaration, a flashback to the time when he was just another ambitious trader eager to get his own set of triple-weight eggshell engraved business cards.

Much had changed in just a few short months – he’d gone with ecru instead of eggshell – but Edward was hungry as ever. His sights were simply higher now. He had a corner office, sure, but why settle for a corner office on the 17thfloor when Jim McConnell had his on the 18th? And how could he rest, period, knowing someone else’s name adorned the building?

No, Edward French knew what he wanted. Which explained the surge of frustration – he had long since set aside childish emotions like embarrassment and sadness – when he realized he would be picking up Frederick Mayhew’s slack.

The whole situation infuriated him. Edward wasn’t Freddy’s boss, sure, but Freddy was still a junior. Freddy had a plastic desk, not a mahogany one. Freddy’s business cards came from Kinko’s!

Yet here Edward was, waiting for the trading floor to open alongside twenty-somethings in cheap suits. He couldn’t believe that Freddy’s secretary had called him, specifically. As though he could just “fill in” like some junior broker in off-brand Brooks Brothers.

Had he not perfected his power stance? Was he signaling weakness? Perhaps one of his colleagues had suggested he might not be cut out for the executive track…?

He decided cocaine was making him paranoid.  Edward forced the matter out of his mind and busied himself, pretending to read the Wall Street Journal. He really just enjoyed dropping the pages to the floor and watching interns scurry to pick them up – it was one of the few joys to be had before the opening bell.

As he dropped another page, a pair of Chanel pumps caught his eye. He followed them up to shapely Wolford-clad calves, then to the hem of a tasteful scarlet Christian Dior skirt suit. If he had to hazard a guess, which his imagination was delightedly doing, he would expect nothing less than La Perla underneath. He forced his gaze upward to a pair of ruby lips, beguilingly parted, and bright blue eyes tastefully rimmed with kohl. Her blonde hair was upswept, but he pictured it down and flowing around her shoulders – preferably while she was wearing nothing but the La Perla.

“Frederick Mayhew?” she asked in a warm voice.

“No, I’m Edward French,” he said. He couldn’t resist adding, “Senior broker. He’s out sick today and I thought I’d see how our accounts are doing first-hand. Is there something I can do for you, Mrs…”

“Ms.” she said firmly. “Ms. Dawn Weiss. I was supposed to shadow Mr. Mayhew today to learn the floor, but…”

She was a broker? It’s the 1980s, Edward, he reminded himself. This is the world you live in now.

“I can’t stand seeing a beautiful woman upset. Why don’t I show you the ropes?”

“Oh, would you?” She beamed at him. “I’m a quick study – I did lots of research before coming here.”

“So you know about our pharmaceutical holdings.”

“The focus of your portfolio,” she said. “I found your past work with Bauer to be of particular interest.”

“The lawsuit,” he laughed. “Everyone thought I was crazy to buy during that disaster.”

“But you knew it was a good buy,” she said.

“I knew they would win their case, he said, winking conspiratorially. “I had a hunch.”

“A hunch that made you senior broker.” She smiled amiably and made a note in an embossed Smythson agenda.

“Great agenda,” he noted. “You’ve got killer taste.”

“It’s really more a scrapbook,” she said, snapping it shut. “Shall we go to where the real action is?” He nodded, and they made their way through the bustling crowd of traders on the floor.

“It’s a shame Freddy won’t see this again,” she sighed.

“Drop out of the rat race? Freddy?” Edward laughed at the thought. Even with his misguided use of a sick day, Freddy was no slouch.

“His illness is terminal,” she said.

“Did his secretary tell you that?” Edward was slightly alarmed at this development, but mainly irritated the secretary hadn’t told him.

“Oh, no. I just saw him this morning. He won’t be coming in again…ever.”

“But…”He faded off as she began unbuttoning her suit jacket, revealing not La Perla but a bloodied undershirt.

Edward recoiled in horror, but was prevented from moving. He thought it was the crowd until he felt a sharp pang in his arm, where Dawn Weiss had just withdrawn a syringe of…something.

“It took a long time, but I finally pieced it together. Would you like to know what I found?”

He was silent; he found he couldn’t form words.

“It just didn’t make sense that Bauer would win their case. So many people had died; my husband among them. The evidence was there. And yet the jury still voted to acquit. You know why?” She caught him as his legs faltered. “Because you paid them.”

“You’ll never get away with this,” he choked.

“I don’t intend to. Actions have consequences. Or at least they do now.”

He blinked hard, to keep darkness from clouding his sight.

“I will admit I had a morbid curiosity. I wanted to feel like you; to wear a fancy suit and kill people. But I’m afraid after all this I just don’t see the appeal.”

Blood and the raucous peal of the opening bell flooded his ears. Edward French slid to the ground, eyes unfocused. Dawn slid a manicured hand into his pocket, withdrawing a single engraved business card. The last thing Edward French saw was a perfectly lacquered finger pressing it into an impeccable Smythson, directly below that of one Frederick Mayhew.

2016 Flash Fiction Challenge: The Wicker Man

In a jet lag-inspired fever dream, I signed up for NYC Midnight’s Flash Fiction Challenge. The idea is to be given a random genre, setting, and object, and to write 1000 words of fiction – or less – within 48 hours. My round one assignment was to be a fantasy set in a furniture store, involving a dog’s leash, somehow. Here are the results of that challenge!

NYC Midnight

THE WICKER MAN

Baldrick Arterton caught his reflection in the ornate scrying mirror next to his desk, and it did not paint a pretty picture. He sighed, turning back to the pile of past due notices in front of him.

He was officially Old. It had gotten to the point where Tony Pennuto, his strapping delivery man, thought his name was actually “Bald Rick.” A nickname he’d assumed, Tony had said, “on account of all the baldness.”

The fool! Didn’t he realize who he was dealing with?

Baldrick shuffled the unread notices, lost in thought. Of course he didn’t know who he was dealing with. Why would Tony Pennuto, whose primary accomplishment in life appeared to be chewing gum and walking at the same time, know or care about the metaphysical wonders of the universe, the sacred and profane arts of which Baldrick “Bald Rick” Arterton was a steadfast practitioner?

When Baldrick had first opened up shop, it was the 1970s. It seemed nearly a lifetime ago. Tony Pennuto hadn’t even been born yet. Magic was simply everywhere; even grandmothers knew their zodiac sign in those days. Not like 2016, where any belief in magic–even the more traditional stuff, like horoscopes and Christianity–was viewed with derision.

Back in the 1970s, Baldrick was on top of the world. He had used his well-honed magical ability to divine the best time and place to open The Wicker Man: Fine Outdoor Furnishings With A Magickal Twist. He’d settled on May 1973, in Salem, Massachussets, precisely 300 years from the last witch trial.

The store was an unprecedented hit. Wicker was just about as popular as magic in those days. It didn’t hurt that 1973-era Baldrick was exactly what a predominantly female customer base thought a magical outdoor furniture salesman should be; thin, polyester-clad, with flowing blonde hair past his shoulder blade and a golden talisman gleaming in a nest of chest hair.

Things were different in 2016. The demand for wicker was about on par with the demand for Baldrick. He still had the golden mane, though the top was conspicuously barren. The talisman had long been sold to pay for a moving truck – the very moving truck that Tony Pennuto now drove.

Who was taking another one of his 2-hour lunches at the moment, it seemed. So when the shop’s front door bell gave a melodic tinkle, Baldrick was the only one working.

He snapped into action, tugging his baby blue polyester jacket across his expanding paunch. He stepped onto the sales floor smiling, ready to greet the first customer in weeks.

His smile didn’t last long.

“Greetings, Voltaire,” said Baldrick sullenly.

“Baldrick, Olde Friend! How marvelous it is to see you!” exclaimed Voltaire, oblivious to Baldrick’s turn of mood.

“Why are you here?”

“Right to the point, eh? I like that!” Voltaire said, stroking his pointed beard. Baldrick made a gleeful mental note of the obvious dye job.

“Look, Voltaire, I’m very busy…”

“Clearly,” said Voltaire, eyeing the empty store through his monocle. “I’m actually here to help with that. You see, Fiona mentioned–”

He kept talking, but Baldrick had stopped listening after hearing her name Fiona. Of course she had said something to this prattling peacock. Were no things sacred anymore between husband and wife? Even if they were no longer married…?

“She is my wife now,” Voltaire said, as though reading his mind. Or perhaps he actually was; it was one of his specialties. Baldrick began envisioning the words VOLTAIRE IS A COCKMOUTH in bright neon letters, just in case.

“As I was saying…” Voltaire continued, before drifting off. “Very mature, Baldrick. Look, I’m here to help. I’m going to get you online.”

Baldrick scoffed. He didn’t even own a computer! It wasn’t very refined, a grand old wizard like him, checking the Facespace or whatever it was the youth were using nowadays.

“Baldrick, it works. You’ve seen how good DarkestDesires.biz has been for my business!”

“You sell sex toys to freaks, is my understanding. Not my demographic.”

“We marital aids to people who want to bring the magick back to their bedroom, thank you,” said Voltaire, though he didn’t seem bothered. He brought out an iPad with a flourish, screen flashing the Darkest Desires landing page. “Your customers aren’t so different from mine, really.”

“I’m don’t think the kind of people who…” Baldrick trailed off, squinting at the screen. “What is that? A dog leash, for people?”

“‘His Master’s Vise,'” nodded Voltaire.

“This isn’t going to work for me.”

“It works for Fiona.”

The words hit Baldrick like a punch to the gut. “What…?”

“It works for Fiona!” Voltaire repeated, pulling open a page devoted to love and luck charms. “She’s making a killing now that we’ve partnered up.”

Baldrick was relieved that Voltaire meant e-commerce, not sex toys. He looked around his dusty shop, with pieces that hadn’t moved in months, then back to Voltaire. There was something about the man’s jaunty top hat that rubbed him the wrong way, bubbling the rage inside him.

“I will never work with a preening idiot like you,” hissed Baldrick. Voltaire opened his mouth to respond but was silenced by the surprising event of being turned into a handsome rattan settee.

“Hey, nice work, boss!” came the voice of Tony Pennuto, striding from the back of the shop towards the furniture formerly known as Voltaire.

“You simply must stop taking these long lunches,” Baldrick said with twinkling eyes.

Tony ignored this mandate – he always did – and motioned to the attractive midnight black setee. “Want me to stick this out back?”

“No,” replied Baldrick. “Deliver it to Fiona Pendragon in Marblehead. Address is in my Grimoire.”

“Sure, boss,” said Tony, wheeling the Voltaire piece out of sight on a dolly.

Baldrick surveyed his dusty little shop again, this time with pride. It was a shame to simply give away such a fine piece of furniture, but so what? There was always the Internet.

Chinatown, Los Angeles.

Now on Flickr: 9 new photos of Chinatown, Los Angeles.

Chinatown is one of my very favorite areas of the city. It has the feeling of a real community, due in no small part to the aging Chinese population that still lives there among the new art galleries and restaurants. While Los Angeles as a whole is known for juxtaposing old and new, Chinatown feels different than anywhere else – a place you can go as noticed or unnoticed as you want to.

Chinatown

Unlike the Chinatowns of other major cities, Los Angeles’ Chinatown has always had a bit of Hollywood in its blood. The Central Plaza was designed by Hollywood set designers; Cecil B. DeMille himself donated props. And yet, the area has been largely Chinese-owned since its inception, with Chinese businesses, restaurants, and community centers dominating the landscape. All these factors lend to a sense of authentic inauthenticity that is impossible to escape. (Not that you’d want to!)

Chinatown

Nowhere else in the world grants the opportunity to visit a museum of velvet painting art, eat “slippery shrimp,” and buy two tiny red-eared slider pet turtles for only $5 – all in one day! And at the end of the day, there are few places I’d rather be than drinking Tsingtao in front of the jukebox at Hop Louie.

Click for the rest of the photos over at Flickr.

Chinatown Central Plaza
950 N. Broadway
Los Angeles, California 90012

Now on Passport Game Studios: Gen Con 2015 wrapup

This week(ish) on the Passport Game Studios blog, a wrapup of Gen Con 2015. (I also reminisced about Gen Con 2012 earlier this month.)

There’s a good reason that Gen Con remains my favorite convention – it is welcoming to all levels of gamers, and stubbornly unpretentious. I’m so glad I got to experience it from an exhibitor’s perspective, and bring my friend Holly Conrad along for the ride!

Click on over to the Passport Game Studios blog for a photo-heavy exploration of Gen Con 2015 through my lens.

(And, click here for the rest of my Gen Con photos on Facebook.)

I’m back from Gen Con 2015, so let’s talk about Gen Con…2012?!

I just flew home from Gen Con 2015, and boy, are my arms tired!

Gen Con dredges up a ton of emotions for me. While everyone else is busy talking about this year’s (awesome!) show, I can’t think about this year’s show without also thinking about my very first Gen Con. After all, that’s where I met the person I’d eventually work for, as well as so many others who have become lasting friends.

A photo posted by Beverly Reynolds (@beverlynoelle) on

Bikers in downtown Indianapolis during my first Gen Con

Don’t know what Gen Con is? Don’t worry – I didn’t either, three years ago, when I attended for the very first time. For the uninitiated, Gen Con is the largest tabletop gaming convention in North America (in 2014, over 56,000 people attended!), and it’s where people come to geek out over board games, card games, role-playing games…you get the idea.

TableTop stickers
TableTop stickers at our little table in 2012!

My first visit to Gen Con was a last-minute thing arranged by my bosses at the time. Back then, I was the marketing director at Geek & Sundry, a YouTube entertainment company that was fresh off the rather unexpected success of TableTop, a show about board games hosted by Wil Wheaton. With the overnight success of TableTop, and Gen Con being the biggest tabletop gaming show in North America…well, you can see why they were so keen to be represented there.

My trip to Gen Con was arranged last-minute, and I was dreading it with every fiber of my being. After planning Geek & Sundry’s activities at the inaugural VidCon (which is a great show, if you’re 15 years old) and the stress juggernaut that is San Diego Comic-Con, the last thing I wanted to do was go to another convention. But, the ticket was already booked, so off to Indiana I went.

I was to meet up with producer Boyan “Bo” Radakovich – an incredibly passionate tabletop gaming advocate I had met only once prior, during a serious 3-hour long affair planning for what would become International TableTop Day – and assist him in any way possible with his mission of forging relationships with game companies, as well as scouting games for future episodes of TableTop. I was so nervous at the idea that I nearly stayed in the hotel room my first day there. Once people found out how little I knew about tabletop gaming, would they take it out on the show? How would I even know what games were good enough for Tabletop?

I was so dumb.

Bev & Bo
We became such good friends, we rocked matching scarves at Christmas (made by fellow TableTopper Tabz!)

Bo made me feel at home instantly – no small feat considering he had to talk me down amidst throngs of tens of thousands of adoring TableTop fans. Bo taught me that while some of the games looked intimidating, the people behind them were anything but, introducing me to many of the nicest people I have ever met. More than that, he made sure I knew what tabletop gaming was all about. In between meetings with game companies, he would explain to me the games, designers, and relationships that were key to the success of both TableTop and the tabletop industry, and he never once made me feel stupid for not knowing these things already.

(To this day, I have not met a more enthusiastic advocate for tabletop gaming than Bo. He was a true guiding light through the darkness and insanity of the TV production process, and I can definitively say that we would not have had a show if not for him and his tireless efforts. He might not have been the face of the show, but to me and so many others that worked behind the scenes, he was its heart.)

Learning about tabletop gaming on my feet at Gen Con was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, and it was a decisive turning point for me in the way I deal with people. I met so many people through TableTop – on-air talent, fans, designers, business people, journalists – and my experiences from my very first Gen Con have shaped the way I’ve dealt with each and every one of them since.

Here are the three things my first Gen Con taught me:

  1. Be kind to everybody.
    I have to get this one out of the way first, because it is the most important. As my friend Holly Conrad told me at Gen Con this year, “You don’t know what anyone is going through, and it’s not hard to just be nice to people.” She’s obviously right. It doesn’t matter who they are or how successful people seem, everyone is struggling with something. I have seen employees from “rival” companies be adversarial with one another simply because their companies compete in the same space, which seems so backwards to me – at the end of the day, you just never know how people will impact your life. For example, I met Rob Merickel at my first Gen Con when he was pitching Tokaido to be on TableTop, and now I work for him. I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t have happened if either of us had been a jerk, like if he’d made me feel dumb for not knowing who Antoine Bauza was at the time, or if I’d shot down Tokaido for the show (which would have been a mistake, since it’s an excellent game that was destined to be TableTop’s Season 3 debut episode)!
  2. Some people are only interested in what you can do for them.
    This was a very hard lesson for me to learn, post-Geek & Sundry. Once I had quit Geek & Sundry and no longer had access to Felicia Day or Wil Wheaton, a lot of people who were previously nice on the surface stopped responding to texts, or unfollowed me on Twitter, or did things that I can only classify as “dick moves.” At the time, I was devastated, but now I am grateful to have learned firsthand how low people can sink when they don’t think you’re important. It’s a reminder that is always at the back of my mind, and being a little bit more cautious has helped me immeasurably in business (and life!) since. (Plus, it also helps me remember the first point of being kind no matter what.)
  3. Some people are genuinely good people.
    Hold on to these people and never let go. I would never name names for the previous point, because even jerks have feelings, but I am ecstatic to be able to give you this little list of great people I met at my first Gen Con who have proven to be wonderful human beings since:

    • Rob Merickel of Passport Game Studios (duh!)
    • Caylie Sadin, a TableTop fan who has become one of my favorite people – as well as an excellent writer
    • Andrew Hackard and Phil Reed of Steve Jackson Games, who always make me feel welcome and included no matter what
    • My friends Josh “Cash Money” Cash, Matthew Duhan, Aaron Smith, and Michael Laundry, who I didn’t even see this year but made my first Gen Con so awesome that we’ve all been Facebook friends since

This year’s Gen Con was quite different. I’m no longer a layperson, and my experience was that of an exhibitor rather than a mouth-agape newcomer. (My official wrap-up for this year will be on the official Passport Game Studios blog and everything!) Still, the points above are principles I applied to every interaction I had this year – and will for every year to come.

See you next year!

Two weeks without money.

Note – I debated even writing this post, because I am aware of how privileged I am. For far too many people, a 2-week spending freeze isn’t an exercise – it’s just life. I ended up deciding to write this because I do think that habits like mine – unthinking, insidious, wanton spending – is a symptom of a greater, shared problem. My attitudes towards money are not only bad for me, they’re bad for society, and they’re bad for the kind of world I want to live in. As someone who idealizes a life based on experiences, and spending time with people, and eschewing harmful aspects of the society we live in, my actual habits don’t reflect any of that. Furthermore, that type of life will never be attainable for everyone if people like me keep feeding the cycle of mindless consumerism. I feel that’s something that’s worthy of another look.

I know I’m not alone in saying that my spending has become a sort of crutch for temporarily relieving the aches and pains of being a middle-class professional living in modern society. Feel ugly? Buy new makeup! Feel bored? Buy a video game! Feel poor? Buy designer clothes! (Not sure how that one is supposed to work.)

Like many other young(ish) professionals, my spending has inflated along with my income, and it’s crept up so slowly I didn’t even know it was happening.

It was only when I was on vacation for the first time in years that I realized – I’ve been prioritizing buying stuff over things like going on vacation and seeing new places. I was spending too much money on going out to eat forgettable meals because I couldn’t be bothered to cook. I had a closet full of clothes that made absolutely zero sense for my life in LA. (Four winter coats? Uhh…) I was just spending, spending, spending, without ever stopping to evaluate why.

So, I took two weeks to stop all spending (groceries exempted!) just to see what attitudes and impulses popped up.

Here’s what I learned:

  • Impulse purchases are real, and destructive. Is grabbing a candy bar in the drugstore checkout line really such a big deal? Of course not. The thing is, I had dozens of those “candy bar”-type purchases throughout my previous month’s bank statements. Not only do they add up financially, they’re also completely forgettable. I would never have remembered that $5 nail polish if I hadn’t checked my statements, nor would I have really remembered ordering yet another t-shirt online at midnight. Forcing myself to table any purchases for two weeks showed me just how pointless these types of purchases are. My life sure isn’t any worse for not having spent $5 on in-app purchases for Alphabear.
  • I am not a great cook. I know how to make a few things reasonably well, but because most of my food came from restaurants, I never had to get better. Forcing myself to eat in really highlighted the limitations in both my grocery shopping strategy and my cooking ability. This was the hardest part of the challenge for me – and one I suspect will be the most rewarding to overcome. (An added incentive? Eating healthy meals at home helped me drop 4 pounds!)
  • When I did spend money, it felt kind of weird. I allowed myself a day off to go on a date, where I purchased movie tickets ($18) and a large popcorn ($7). I normally wouldn’t think twice about that sort of spending, but it just felt a little strange. Not necessarily a good or bad thing – I think I was just being more aware of what I was doing for the first time in a long time.
  • Owning less is the answer. I was spending so much time and energy cleaning, storing, and maintaining my stuff, and I never stopped to think about that added cost. It certainly never crossed my mind while purchasing the stuff to begin with! Buying nothing made me take a closer look at the things I already owned – I figured I would “shop my closet” instead of shopping online – only to realize that I didn’t really like most of this stuff to begin with. Don’t underestimate how good it feels to discard stuff you don’t really like or need – when you’re left with only the things that make you feel good or are useful, it’s a strangely amazing feeling.

 

So…did I learn anything earth-shaking? Not really, but then again…kind of. I didn’t feel empty or bored without spending money, and it made me realize that most of the things we think of as “required” for living are truly optional. It’s something I already suspected, but having experience back it up feels like a turning point for me.

Would I do it again? Definitely. I am greatly inspired by Blonde on a Budget, who didn’t buy anything for a whole year (!!!) and is doing the same thing again right now. Could I make it a year? Could you? Maybe we should try.

The sad, strange affair of Cheque Tires

I walked by the former site of Cheque Tires in South El Monte the other day and did a double-take. What was once a vibrant local tire shop is now a burnt-out husk.

Cheque Tires

What happened here? It’s the scene of a molotov cocktail attack that left three teenagers dead and a fireman injured.

As of now, the site is still there, collapsed buildings and all. It’s an eerie place, that’s for sure.

Cheque Tires
1252 Santa Anita Ave.

South El Monte, California 91733

Now on Medium – Where in the world is Daenerys Stormborn?

This week on Medium: With the Game of Thrones Season 5 finale just around the corner, I wonder where we might expect to find Daenerys Targaryen and Drogon. The books already have an answer, but given the show’s propensity for streamlining the story, all bets are off!

Click here for my five predictions over at Medium.

The 80s are alive in Anaheim

Hidden away in a nondescript industrial park is one of the best-maintained private collections of video games in Southern California.

Arcade 2084, which is either clearly named after the Robotron arcade game or the world’s most super-freaky coincidence, is the result of four personal arcade collections put together in one place in Anaheim, California. It’s private – by invitation only – and it’s amazing.

Pinball at Arcade 2084

I’ve been to Arcade 2084 twice. The first time was for an SC3 gathering (another first for me!), when the parking lot was filled with collectors trading video game paraphernalia, and the upstairs was filled with home consoles. It blew my mind.

Inside Arcade 2084

I returned to Arcade 2084 on Saturday, June 6th, for one of the arcade’s bi-weekly events. Ten bucks at the door got me free drinks, free cupcakes, and most importantly, free play on all of their machines.

Hanging out at Arcade 2084

There’s something about coming here that makes me feel like I’m part of a private club. (I guess that’s because I technically am!) Walking in just feels right. No food or drinks (except in designated areas, away from the cabinets), no drunk dudes crashing into you in the middle of a game of Track and Field. New Wave blasting through the speakers while retro movies and Dragon’s Lair animations are projected onto the walls. And, of course, so many games.

Rows of games at Arcade 208

How many machines are there? I honestly couldn’t tell you. I end up getting too entranced by all the blinking lights and forget to count! All I know for sure is that there are a ton, most in absolutely immaculate condition.

Star Trek at Arcade 2084

It’s incredibly easy to spend a whole evening here. I arrived at around 8:30, took a break around 10:30pm to get food and beer at the nearby Umami Burger, then stayed until after 1am.

If you’re in Southern California, you owe it to yourself to make a trip out to Arcade 2084 at least once…if you can get in. Luckily, you know a guy. (Me!)

Arcade 2084
By invitation only
520 S. Claudina Street, Unit C
Anaheim, California 92805

Arcade 2084

Now on Medium – Ceci n’est pas une wheel: Misdirection and perception in Game of Thrones

This week on Medium, I have written a pretty great post with a pretty pretentious title – Ceci n’est pas une wheel: Misdirection and perception in Game of Thrones.

If you’ve ever wondered just how much the Game of Thrones showrunners are concealing, this is the post for you! It also talks about the cognitive dissonance that exists on both the audience and the characters’ parts, and how it keeps us from the truth of the story.

From the post:

It takes a special kind of cognitive dissonance to talk about “breaking the wheel” while drinking wine at the top of a pyramid. If she stood closer to a window, she might have even heard the wailing of “those on the ground” fighting each other to death in the slavery-friendly fighting pits that she personally re-opened.

It may seem laughable, but we share in her delusion. How else can we hope for anyone to seize control of a throne that we’ve seen corrupt so many? Deep down, we understand that the Starks and Targaryens and Lannisters and Baratheons are remnants of a system that crushes the common people of this world, direct beneficiaries of the stratified society their ancestors built.

Click here to read the rest of it over at Medium.

I also include a list of loose ends the show has left mysteriously open. Add your own to the list and let’s see just how deep this rabbit hole can go!