Bawdy bits with the BwB
By Fire And Blood on in Events.

Sunday night following the Vroman’s signing, a number of ASoIaF fans wandered over to the nearby home of one of the more prominent members of the Brotherhood without Banners, there to feast, drink, sing, and dance in glorious and bawdy gaiety amidst fellow fans of the novels.

A little history: The Brotherhood Without Banners (BwB) was created in 2001 by fans of A Song of Ice and Fire. It grew from an unnamed gathering of people from the Westeros boards, and it soon took the name of the Berric Dondarrion-led Brotherhood from George R.R. Martin’s epic tale. It has since grown into what is by and large the only official fanclub of the ASoIaF series. They have multiple gatherings each year at different locations all around the world (the Belfast moot was organized by them), and are basically just a bunch of really cool, nerdy people. I’ll admit to an initial trepidation; I knew none of them personally, and was not sure how they would take to this “FaBio guy from that TV show website” tromping in on their business. Most of them had been friends for years, after all. I could very well be treated like an intruder.

And boy, was I!


I was met by the mysterious man known only as Prince Lodey—so mysterious he also refuses to be photographed. Some say Lodey is actually Dondarrion returned once more to life. To that I cannot say. I can say, however, that he has a commanding yell. “What, you don’t know how to use the front door?” he barked at me as I entered the party through a side gate. It was a fair assessment on his part; I didn’t know how to use the front door. In fact, I almost entered through the house’s gigantic front window, which would have been very interesting, not to mention par for course where FaBio entrances are concerned.

(I eventually did locate the front door once it was time to go. But I had help.)

It’s a great house too, belonging to a lovely lady called Iseult of the White Hands. No, that’s not her real name either (Westeros names are used to protect the wicked), but I followed Blackfyre’s lead and called her “Izzy.” Blackfyre, by the way, is also one of the olde guarde of the BwB; a very charming man with a friendly smile and a disarming gaze that says yes, he is smiling now, but he will kick your freaking ass if you break anything in the house. (I really think he occasionally thought of the house as his. Izzy thinks so too.) I liken him to a better-looking Bruce Campbell. If that’s possible.

Inside was a feast made for men and women of all sizes (and guaranteed to make us larger). The mushroom soup was divine, as were the wicked sliders and a “Trader Joe’s Special” stuffed ravioli soup that you had to taste to believe. But it was the DESSERT TABLE which caught my eye. Those little pink cupcakes? Lemoncakes, people! I devoured five.

Soon enough GEORGE ARRIVED, and in even better spirits than any time earlier in the week. His illness abated for the nonce, the Man worked the room like a seasoned Bunny at the Playboy Club. With him was Melinda Snodgrass, co-editor / author of George’s Wildcards series, Mara from HBO, a lovely editor from Bantam (her name escapes me like brains leaking out of my cracked skull), and Ty, George’s always-mellow assistant.

I poke fun at Ty (and who doesn’t?) but he’s actually pretty cool. A more self-deprecating dude I have never met, half-convinced that half the world hates him. And it’s not true; he is only hated by half of the ASoIaF fandom. You see, Ty is the dude who screens George’s messages. He’s the guy who tells you, “No, I’m not letting you post on George’s LiveJournal that you sexually fantasize about him with your cat Butterbumps. I don’t care if you think it’s flattering. He won’t.” Ty is the first and last line of defense. In short, Ty tells a lot of people “No.” So when he says, “Everyone hates me,” I don’t disagree with him, I just get him a drink.

To the right is Ty with FaBio (circa Vroman’s). FaBio is wearing his Dean jacket, trying in vain to be cool. FaBio also sometimes refers to himself in the third person. Ironic that Ty has long hair (it’s in a ponytail) and FaBio’s former mane has been chopped. Sweaty hair FTW.

(I couldn’t come up with an amusing caption that didn’t have “Blue Steel!” or “Who farted?” somewhere in it, so I leave the captioning task to you all.)

I met more long-time BwBers (pronounced Biebers), including a wry gent named Cueller who told me a few jokes I cannot legally repeat, as well as Kevin, who begged me with his eyes to stop following him everywhere. (I did eventually find the bathroom.)

… And here we have the infamous Westerosi “Wet Blanket,” Venardhi. If you think he’s wet on the boards, well, you should see him when he gets a few drinks in ‘im. Love this guy. Part-time actor, full-time pontificator, he still looks like my approximation of Edmure Tully, and he came to the party sporting the week’s most awesome ‘stache. We bonded over tales of Hollywood and Avery Clark. At one point he looked GRRM in the eyes and drawled, “Joseph Mawle would have made a better Ned. I’m just saying.”

It was an odd night, but an extremely cool one. I highly suggest attending at least one of these in your lifetime. Where else might you find a conversation regarding Catelyn Stark’s possible choice of underwear (or lack thereof)? Or hear Nessa of Jeffrey’s Tight Tee Harem loudly debate the history of the English monarchy with GRRM? (Nessa, Shea, Kristin, Victoria—I’m telling you, those girls are trouble!)

I learned a lot. I learned that GRRM occasionally “knights” loyal BwBers, sending these errant folk out on quests for cheeseburgers. I learned that Ran is always dying for updates from these gatherings, so we’re all just supposed to make up fake shit to tell him. (This time we determined that a book was in the works featuring the corpses of dead ASoIaF characters that would rise to form Westeros’s first super hero group, called Wild Cadavers!). I learned when Mara says “Don’t you dare tweet this!” that I really shouldn’t tweet it. And to my credit, I didn’t.

As the night drew to a close and the gathering waned, GRRM found himself in a quieted living room with just a few people. He talked about the rigors of his profession, and the fact that his vacations always included some form of business or another; he said Parris asks, on rare occasions, if they will ever just go somewhere that isn’t work-related. And then he said to us, with a mischievous little grin, “I’m of a mind that, if I go too many days without doing something constructive, I just might wander into the nearest bookstore and start signing things.”

He talked, as more than a few people have, about the kids on the show. The kids! How worried everyone was that they’d never find the right ones, and how relieved they were that the old trope (“You work with adult actors; you work around child actors”) would not prove true once they found Sophie, Maisie, and Issac. They were so vital to the show, he knew, because of the extremely adult nature of each of their roles. “Half the kids you get, they memorize their lines, they do their scene and then look up at you, so proud that they got through it. The other half just mug, trained since birth at being cute, or silly. We saw that, over and over again. You almost become numb. They’re all the same.” And he shook his head and chuckled and said, “And then Maisie comes up. She just blew us away. And we knew we had it.”

It’s these softer, quieter, late-night moments when George is just barely speaking above a growl that you really see the love he has for his series. He says the characters are his children, and yes, sometimes they have to die to further the story. He is equally saddened and yet at peace, I think, with the characters who have left the story, but he admits a part of him is very happy to see them living on again on the small screen.

Some critics want to paint George as a huckster of sorts, a man with a golden goose who is never at a loss for hocking his wares. My view is not so narrow, and I say it’s every person’s right to make a living, however they can. But let me tell you something—this is a man who loves this story. You think you love it? You don’t love it like he does. You wait, like I do, for any scrap of news, any little tidbit, be it for ADwD or for the show. But you’re not up nights, fretting over a few small words that could turn the tide in not just a chapter, but the entire series. Worrying over a Merenese Knot that to most casual readers wouldn’t even register as problematic, but to the fans who have taken the time to figure out exactly how long it takes to get from point A to point X—it matters. And so he works on it, tweaking his sacred story here, there, or another place.

I can’t put words in his mouth (even though I probably paraphrase from time to time), but I believe he thinks this story will be his legacy. A Song of Ice and Fire will be his magnum opus. And he knows—and works toward the fact—that he needs to get it just so.

Just so.

And that was my night with the Brotherhood without Banners. I occasionally remembered I was supposed to be taking notes for this post, and had even brought my camera. Wouldn’t it be cool to get a large group picture of the BwB? At an opportune time, I leapt up and directed everyone to gather around George. “This one’s for the archives!” I cackled. “Everyone on three, say ‘Winter Is Here!”

“One… two… three!”

“WINTER IS HERE!”

This was going to be perfect!

Click!

Oh well.


55 Comments

  1. Sam
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Really gotta work on those camera skills. :p

    Would love to have George in Canada more often, or even any get-together, but living in the Prairies means I’m that weird librarian who sits at her desk at work reading this stuff getting weird looks from her students. (Don’t worry, I’m converting as many as I can.)

    Glad you had such a wonderful time, I’ve been happy to be able to read something new every day. Thanks for the hard work!

  2. LacyinTX
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I SO wish I could have been there. My heart is always with the BwB. Thanks for the updates!

  3. Mormegil
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Great pic.

    Took me ages to even spot GRRM ;)

  4. Evoldoer
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    i be envious.

  5. fuelpagan
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    I bet after a few beers that picture is awesome.

  6. fevredream
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Alright, I’m convinced. If ever I should be lucky enough to have the chance I will try to make it to a BwB meeting. Looks like I better stop lurking and actually start posting over at Westeros….

  7. Hear Me Roar
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Mormegil,

    LOL, this!
    Another great piece. Oh, and I like you with less hair overall. David Hasselhof vibe, anyone?

  8. The Rabbit
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Hear Me Roar,

    David Hasselhof vibe, anyone?

    LOL. Indeed. :)

  9. Raynette Schroeder
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Sam,

    Hey, Sam. Which part of the prairies are you from? I’m in Alberta, east of Edmonton and I’m that weird librarian that is trying to convert her students too!

  10. DigDoug
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    That looks legend….(wait for it)

  11. Cardus
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Looks like a new Sansa photo on the HBO site?

    HERE

  12. DigDoug
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    …dary

  13. DigDoug
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Cardus,

    And a new production diary update from yesterday.
    Kudos to WiC.net for getting the link again.

  14. Blackfyre
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Sadly, I ended up being the only one that broke something at Izzy’s house…

    Great meeting you FaBio. Thank you for honoring us with your presence.

  15. Porcupine Tree
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    fevredream,

    You’d beter be quick, or be forever a Floob…

    Hear Me Roar: Mormegil,
    LOL, this!
    Another great piece. Oh, and I like you with less hair overall. David Hasselhof vibe, anyone?    

    separated at birth, I’d say!!

  16. Nicole
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Awesome, hilarious post. Great marketing for BWB :-)

  17. Maester Reed
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    I love the new sansa pic, thanks for the link.

    Would be great to get a seen with her in any new trailer

  18. Winter Is Coming
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Cardus,

    Nice find! They snuck that one in there. Here is a direct link: http://bit.ly/ihOucI

  19. Flóra Ballabás
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Sounds wonderful! It seems a problem sometimes, that I live in Hungary, and only learning in University still. I can’t go to these BwB meetings…

  20. sjwenings
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Cardus: Looks like a new Sansa photo on the HBO site?HERE  Quote  Reply

    She does grow fast… I hope she looks younger in the show than in this particular pic. Not a superbig deal, but she’s supposed to be a kid. This might as well be an 18 year old.

  21. sjwenings
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    sjwenings,

    Actually, come to think of it: Having gotten this growth spurt before recording season 1, rather than in between season 1 and 2 might be for the better. Arya is also quite a lot older looking from the s1 footage than what we saw from the Pilot recorded in 2009.

  22. Steve B
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Ha! My wife teaches highschoolers, and Sansa doesn’t look 18 at all. Highschool for sure, but a senior or a freshman in college? No way. :)

  23. Sam
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Raynette Schroeder,

    Manitoba, here. Good to know there are more like me out there!

  24. sjwenings
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Steve B,

    I’ve seen 18 year olds too. Some look like this.

  25. David Thomas
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Maester Reed,

    I love this photo! You know, each time I read aSoIaF, I focus on different characters. My first read-through, my favorites were Arya, Tyrion, Catelyn, and Dany. On my second read-through, I started to appreciate Sansa, and finally got a little love for Jon. On my third, I started becoming a major Sansa fan, as well as Jaime and Brienne. I’m now on my fourth read, and Sansa’s chapters are now my favorites. Knowing her character evolution in advance makes her so much more compelling. Seeing her grow, chapter by chapter, is stunningly good reading.

    I still find Davos’s chapters to be painfully dull. I just started aSoS, and I have decided that I’m going to try to enjoy Asha’s chapters this time. There’s clearly a lot of plot information about the whole Greyjoy thread of the story that I keep missing because I don’t read her chapters as closely.

    But Sansa is a brilliant character, and I cant’ wait to see her character arc come to live in GoT!

  26. Shea
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, FaBio, for the awesome coverage!! ‘Twas a spectacular night indeed!

  27. Mormegil
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    What sort of chair is Sansa sitting on?

    Looks nothing like a Westeros chair should look and probably has Director written on the back. ;)

  28. MirriMaz
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Mormegil: What sort of chair is Sansa sitting on? Looks nothing like a Westeros chair should look and probably has Director written on the back.   Quote  Reply

    Since this is from the red keep i think it’s in line with what they said, very mediterranean in style.

  29. The Rabbit
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Mormegil,

    Oh, Chairgate Part 2!

  30. Kanga
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    FaBio,

    Your recent turn as the amusing yet slightly awkward but actually totally epic representative of the ASOIAF fanbase does me proud. Way to be awesome, man.

    I’m still laughing over the Emilia Clarke phone number thing, big props to you on that one. Heck, if came down to it I’d want her phone number too ;)

  31. Johan Sporre
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Ohh, sounds like a great evening and night in Pasadena. When’s the next time it’s happening in Europe? Do you think there’ll be something in NI the coming summer?

  32. Nicole
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Permalink
  33. Mormegil
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Lots of Fighting there.

    First real look at the Arakh as well.

  34. Sam
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Love your t-shirt, FaBio. ;)

  35. Martin
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Jealousy kicking in big time here… I was lucky enough to be at the Belfast Moot in October and had a fantastic time meeting George and some of the cast and crew and I would bend over backwards to get to another one.

    Thanks for the write ups – they’re coming thick and fast – I guess there is a push at the moment to get people to subscribe in advance of the screening hence all the publicity.

    I just want to sit back and wallow in all this anticipation, I was always someone who enjoyed the tease of a good build up – and this is one of the best.

  36. Full of Greyjoy
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Buster Reeves on MGOT.

  37. HMZ
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Might be time for a ‘Days til Premiere’ countdown… under 100 to go :D

  38. GaR
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Cardus,

    Anyone else get a Kerry Condon vibe from that pic?

  39. Nicole
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    New pic of Sansa from my link above as well.

  40. GaR
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Same pic, isn’t it?

  41. Ty
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    In my defense, what I believe I actually said is, “I have many enemies.”

    I love everyone. Except for my enemies. I hate those guys.

  42. Winter Is Coming
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Ty,

    Thanks for dropping by to clarify. Yes, you are the enemy of trolls and GRRM haters everywhere. I’m sure you wear that title as a badge of honor. ;)

    It was nice meeting you in LA. Wishing you success with your book!

  43. jon
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    how in the hell do you mess up a photo that badly and then not bother to take a second?

  44. KG
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Hey I have an idea – how about a meeting somewhere were most of the US could actually come see the guy?

  45. Lex
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Fun write up FaB, nice pics!

    Also, great Sansa pic. Sophie Turner does a good intense face, similar to this one:

  46. Fire And Blood
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Ty,

    I have been known to paraphrase wrongly. But lead us to your enemies. We will destroy them all.

    Seriously, great meeting you. I will plug your novel (coming this summer!) once you allow it.

    Sincerely, the newly-dubbed:

    FaBihoff

  47. Fire And Blood
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    To piggyback a little on GRRM and his writing pressures, here’s a fantastic outline by Werthead regarding the basic timeline of the creation of ASoIaF:

    The Factual History of A Song of Ice and Fire

    Good stuff, Wert!

  48. Ollie
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    Great report FaBihoff!! LOL
    :)

  49. Sareeta
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Your articles are so much fun to read; I read it while on lunch break and had to laugh out loud at your group shot. Hint: next time take more than one picture just in case the first one fails!

    By the way, I really like that Sansa picture. She looks completely irritated with Arya! Oh and I love her outfit.

  50. Blackfish Blues
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Oooh, the report was already hilarious, but I scared the neighbours in the middle of the night when I read this

    Blackfyre:
    Thank you for honoring us with your presence

    as “Thank you for ignoring our presence.” :D

    I second the absolute need for a meeting in Continental Europe.

    Hi Ty!

  51. OhDanyBoy
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    HMZ: Might be time for a ‘Days til Premiere’ countdown… under 100 to go     

    We have one of those already – scroll to the bottom of the page ;)

  52. Johan Sporre
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    OhDanyBoy:
    We have one of those already – scroll to the bottom of the page     

    I almost never look at the bottom of the page, except when I’ve pressed “End” and missed a “Page Up” :)

  53. dizzy_34
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Nice post as always Fabio.

  54. lista de emails
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 6:16 am | Permalink
  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Blackfish Blues, mhladnik, Raija P, Chad Harris and others. Chad Harris said: Bawdy bits with the BwB: Sunday night following the Vroman’s signing, a number of ASoIaF fans wandered over to the… http://goo.gl/fb/1eGIF [...]

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