Choosing the proper jigsaw puzzle is an art. One mustn't saddle oneself with some 2,000-piece classical painting or a photo of a goddamn covered bridge. I go for the busy ones — rows of buttons and notions, jars on shelves at a candy store, a jumble of vintage Santa figurines. I go to Games of Berkeley every few months to stock up; without fail, my excitement and enthusiasm for the five or six puzzles I have just selected and brought up to the counter is never met with the same exuberance from the jaded, sullen staff, but I don't let that whiz on my picnic basket. No siree.
Last week I wandered in and checked my bag with the dude who wordlessly handed me my claim clip, determined to remain cheerful amid a sea of arguments about whether or not the system employed by Blizzard Entertainment for World of Warcraft is riddled with spyware. Yet, strangely, something else hung in the air — an energy of sorts, an excitement. Then I heard it, “blah blah blah Game of Thrones blah blah.” But of course! The new season starts this Sunday, and nerds everywhere are dry cleaning their Lannister flags and having their dire wolves groomed.
I was in the bathroom when I overheard the buzz. The shop has a separate area downstairs for role-playing and board gamers (and peeing, natch). My friend Karl and I affectionately refer to them as “The People Under The Stairs,” in homage to what is arguably the best Wes Craven movie. Though I always see them and automatically start chanting “Nerds! Nerds! Nerds!” a la Ogre in Revenge of the Nerds, I finally realized that buying $85 worth of jigsaw puzzles to sit and do all by myself on a Friday night in front of the TV was far lamer than interacting with a group of friends in downtown Berkeley. So touché, dorks. You win.
That's not to say that I can't make fun of Game of Thrones obsessives. The best are those who have painstakingly created entire maps of Westeros. One such enthusiast is J.E. Fullerton, who has created colorful and frankly adorable pictures of every region. His Frozen Shore has cute little eskimos and bug-eyed White Walkers. His anthropomorphic trees of Wolfswood look like jaunty stalks of broccoli. I can't keep track of every character on the show, let alone every hamlet and isthmus, but thank God for people who live for this shit.
Season Four will give us sociopath Joffrey's wedding, more trouble for Tyrion, the further humanizing of that pervert Jamie, and the inevitable unwieldy carnage of Daenerys' dragons. Anything beyond that stuff will go completely over my head. I basically have watched the show for two reasons: I like any plot line that involves revenge, and I really wanted to see Jon Snow get laid. That sex scene in the cave was epic. The actor who plays Jon, Kit Harington, has been kind enough to release a public service announcement (via GQ Magazine), saying that he hopes that the show will air just as much male booty as it does female this season. “It's only right,” he said about getting naked. “If you're going to make a show where nudity and sex is a large part of it, that you be a part of that.”
“You know nothing, Jon Snow…” Scratch that. “You are very wise, Jon Snow. Now disrobe.”
The discussion at the downstairs table seemed to turn to the very real fact that most George R.R. Martin fans think that his last book sucked Dothraki deuces. How will HBO handle this? I wanted to interject that the author has given the network the license to change plots, but somehow interrupting their conversation with my own nerd factoid seemed inappropriate. A true anthropologist never becomes involved with her subjects.
Before I get too haughty, I need to cop to my own obsessive cartography of another show, The Golden Girls. I have been slowly creating Rose Nylund's hometown of St. Olaf on paper, complete with the bakery that makes Genurkenflurken cake and the big top for the herring circus. A monument to Blanche Devereaux was just erected in the town square, doncha know, with monies from the Emergency Statue Fund.
Back upstairs, I ran my fingers along the rows of puzzles, finally landing on one that seemed perfect for my upcoming Game of Thrones evenings: an image of playing cards — suicide kings and randy jacks, Lady MacBeths and vain Red Queens. Let the games begin.