Monkeys and Mountains

The Shy Girl’s Guide to the Naked German Sauna

The original can be found here: The Shy Girl’s Guide to the Naked German Sauna. Please read the original.

I’ll admit it.  I’m a prude when it comes to being naked!  That might be fine in Canada where I’m from, but in Germany where I now live?  It’s a little bit odd! My German husband first introduced me to the naked German sauna, when I was visiting him from Canada.  Here, it’s not clothing […]

Monkeys and Mountains | Adventure Travel Blog - Adventures in Europe | Germany Travel Tips | Life-Changing Trips | Outdoor Adventures

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Posted on 28 April 2015 | 8:22 pm

Indian Country

Killing Season For Enviros: Death Threats Still Coming to Goldman Prize Winner

Winning an international environmental award highlighted Berta Cáceres’ efforts to block a dam in her people’s homeland...

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Posted on 1 May 2015 | 12:00 am


Church’s Sahara Suede Desert Boots

Church's 'Sahara' desert boots stay true to the style's military roots

The post Church’s Sahara Suede Desert Boots appeared first on Hello Vancity.

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Posted on 3 May 2015 | 5:06 pm

List Verse

10 Political Villains Who Have Never Faced Justice

Martin Luther King Jr. famously proclaimed that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Of course, that long arc means that tyrants, dictators, and war criminals often manage to escape punishment for their crimes. It might be frustrating, but many of the most notorious figures in recent history will […]

The post 10 Political Villains Who Have Never Faced Justice appeared first on Listverse.

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Posted on 3 May 2015 | 7:00 am

The Gate

Film review: ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’

Joss Whedon probably never wanted it to turn out like this. Maybe he even regrets getting on board for the whole Marvel experience. I don't know. All I do know is that there's very little of what we've come to expect from him in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and I doubt he's all that happy with what ended up on the big screen in his latest superhero smash-up.

The post Film review: ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ appeared first on The GATE.

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Posted on 2 May 2015 | 2:23 am


This week in labour: May Day madness

Friday, May 1, 2015
Before you go take to the streets, find out what's up in the labour movement this week.

I don't want to chide you for reading but this is International Workers Day, so you should really be in the streets, doing some rabble rousing there. Oh wait, you're on your phone reading? Well, keep on marching, then!

Since the 1880s May 1 has been a day to celebrate the rites of spring and the spirit of revolution. So read about what the labour movement has been up to this week and then go take part in the revolution, please.


Photo: Flickr/Robert Cudmore

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Posted on 1 May 2015 | 7:47 pm

This hungry Kitten

Easy Chicken Shawarma Kebobs

My last post was almost a month ago! Life gets busy sometimes and finding moments to sit and reflect don’t come around often enough. I have been on a journey to better health, and it’s been wonderful! I think we’ve … Continue reading

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Posted on 10 July 2014 | 3:45 pm

The cat from Hell

The First Selfie Sunday in May

Every Sunday The Cat on My Head has Selfie Sunday! First Yous can click here to joins the blog hop and sees all the other selfies – Take it away The Cat on My Head!!! Filed under: Cat Behaviour Tagged: … Continue reading

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Posted on 3 May 2015 | 2:26 am

The Future Soon

Octopus killing a seagull - THE KRAKEN WAKES

Octopus killing a seagull off Ogden Point breakwater

I love octopuses. Smart, powerful, adaptive, and deadly.

These are the first ever photos of a Giant Pacific Octopus catching and killing a Glaucous-winged seagull.

And they provide two important lessons: One, always carry a camera with you because you may happen upon a scientifically important event. And two, keep an eye out for the unusual.

I loved finding and booking this story for my local CBC morning show, On The Island. 

Take a listen to Ginger Morneau, the woman who took these photos.
Here she is speaking with CBC On The Island host, Gregor Craigie.

And this is where I found this story.

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Posted on 3 May 2012 | 6:21 pm

Urban Toronto

North Tower and Rebuilt Subway Connection Coming to E Condos


It was just a couple of weeks ago when we last visited the site of BazisMetropia and RioCan's E Condos, a two-tower Rosario Varacalli-designed condominium development now in its early construction stages at the northeast corner of Yonge and Eglinton. At the time of our last visit, excavation was pressing on at the south end of the site, while demolition prep work had begun at 31 Roehampton, located at the northeast corner of the site. The three-storey walkup apartment building, which was added to the development site last year, has since been largely demolished.

E Condos, Toronto, Roy Varacalli, Bazis Inc., Metropia, RioCanDemolition work at 31 Roehampton Avenue, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor Roundabout

Since successfully acquiring 31 Roehampton, the developers applied for increases to the development's total number of units and floor area for the development, which was approved by City of Toronto's Committee of Adjustment in November 2014. To address these changes to the plan, the north tower of the development - which is expected to rise 112 metres and contain approximately 450 units - is currently being redesigned.

E Condos, Toronto, Roy Varacalli, Bazis Inc., Metropia, RioCanDemolition work at 31 Roehampton Avenue, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor Roundabout

UrbanToronto Forum contributor Roundabout stopped by the site earlier this week, and captured this video showing the demolition process well under way.

Even more changes are in the works for the E Condos plan, including plans to rebuild the existing pedestrian tunnel that links the development site with Eglinton Station, located on the intersection's opposite corner. This new connection will include a replacement entrance from E Condos containing two escalators, as well as an elevator that will provide barrier-free access between the subway concourse and street level.

Existing pedestrian tunnel under Yonge Street to Eglinton subway stationExisting pedestrian tunnel under Yonge Street to Eglinton subway station, image by Jack landau

The TTC is working with the City of Toronto Community Planning and Urban Design staff on plans for the new pedestrian connection, and the developers of E Condos have entered into a construction agreement with the TTC, allowing for construction on the connection when work reaches that stage.

E Condos, Toronto, Roy Varacalli, Bazis Inc., Metropia, RioCanRendering of E Condos' street realm on Eglinton Avenue east of Yonge, image courtesy of Bazis/Metropia/RioCan

The proposed new entrance is part of the larger reconfiguration of Eglinton Station, which will be shifted north of the existing subway platforms into where the tail tracks are now. This relocation will centre the platform and its mezzanine level around the future platform for the Crosstown LRT line's Yonge Station, below the subway platform.

Additional information and renderings can be found in our E Condos dataBase file, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum threads, or leave a comment in the space provided at the bottom of this page.

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Posted on 1 May 2015 | 10:06 pm

The Hook (B.C. News)

Six 'Revolting' Lessons from Prankster Pros (in Culture)

'Yes Men' collaborators dish on election mayhem ahead of all-new DOXA premiere.  

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Posted on 2 May 2015 | 7:40 am

The Greater Fool

The lucky guy

Stan worked on the line at GM’s Oshawa plant for thirty years. “Last of the breed,” he says. “Man, look at the news.” Indeed. GM just punted a thousand workers, who will be gone by November. When Stan started there, 15,000 guys crowded the gates. Now there are 3,600. Soon, a third less. “This place […]

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Posted on 3 May 2015 | 5:22 pm

The Truth Can Be Googled: The X-Files Returns to a New Era

[body_image width='1200' height='1146' path='images/content-images/2015/05/04/' crop='images/content-images-crops/2015/05/04/' filename='the-truth-can-be-googled-the-x-files-returns-to-a-new-era-385-body-image-1430765316.jpg' id='52459']

What are they looking at? You know it's creepy because the smoke machine is on. Promotional photo

The X-Files is coming back! Fox has greenlit a mini-series, bringing back Mulder, Scully, and series creator Chris Carter. I am so freaking pumped. When I was a kid, my family and I would watch new episodes together every week. My favourite episodes were always the monster-of-the-week ones. The creepy LA goth vampire episode, the one where insectoids took human form and only Mulder could see them, the redneck incest episode that only aired once but everyone knows is the scariest one. The show illuminated my brain with tantalizing, scary possibilities. All of a sudden, every news article held a deeper mystery and every shadow hid unspeakable terror.

A return of The X-Files is very appropriate for the world we live in today. The late '90s were a time of optimism, while the early goings of the Aughts were a time of cynicism. Today, we assume that our institutions are lying to us, that official stories aren't revealing the whole truth, and that the "truth" is indeed "out there," probably on 4chan. On top of that, conspiracy theories have never been more mainstream. The rise of Google has made it possible for everyone to find a government cover-up that suits them, whether techno-geek or soccer mom. Conspiracy theories are not just for people with newspaper clippings on their apartment walls anymore, and the new season of The X-Files will likely reflect our present state. That certainly seems the case from the leaked episode synopsis list that "Frank" (certainly not his or her real name, if we knew who "Frank" was) gave us while we were drinking Colt 45s in that abandoned parking garage last week.

Episode One: "Reunited"
Owing to an increase in strange events, Skinner reforms the X-Files. Returning to the FBI from a sabbatical spent attempting to be a writer, Fox Mulder, along with his partner Dana Scully, head to Alaska where mysterious explosions have been heard by locals. Scientists tell Mulder that these explosions come with the released methane gas caused by a warming climate—but Mulder thinks something else is going on. Those weird lights in the sky can't just be a coincidence... can they? Scientists tell Mulder they can. But can they, really?

Episode Two: "2Canines"
There have been strange animal attacks around the FBI headquarters in Virginia. The official explanation is black bears. Mulder is not convinced, especially after he is bit by a dog in the park. Scully thinks he was antagonizing the dog, but only Mulder knows the truth. He was antagonizing that dog. But he was only doing it for the purpose of finding out the dog's true intentions. There's something bigger going on here. Scully is just happy to have the Agency's dental plan back.

Episode Three: "Roots"
Trying to contact Mark Zuckerberg to find out the truth about Facebook, Mulder accidentally clicks on a friend's Facebook link and is introduced to the troubling world of GMOs. Hoping to avoid the mind control of pesticides, Mulder starts a community garden on top of his apartment building. After a disappointing first harvest, he is convinced that shadowy forces are ensuring his cucumbers will not grow. Scully thinks cucumbers are just out of season. Mulder knows there's something bigger than the weather at work here, but what?

Episode Four: "11-13-33"
Mulder's walkman finally breaks, causing him to give in and sign up for a music streaming service. While investigating his options, Mulder becomes convinced that Jay Z is a member of the Illuminati, especially after seeing a YouTube video where someone overlayed a dollar bill over Jay Z's hands. Is Tidal his mind control plot, allowing him access into the mind through the ear canal? Mulder knew that was always the best way into someone's mind, and now it seems that Jay Z knew it too. Something bigger is going on, and someone needs to do something before it's too late. Scully, meanwhile, prefers Spotify's interface, and thinks that it's nice that all famous people are friends with each other.

Episode Five: "Vaxx'd"
Scully's sister is having a baby, and she is overjoyed to be an aunt. Mulder is happy for her, until one afternoon he watches an episode of The View. When he finds out Scully's niece is being vaccinated, Mulder warns Scully of the potential side effects. It's obvious to Mulder that autism, which he knows is caused by vaccines, is actually a dangerous mutation in humanity's evolutionary chain. Scully continues to cite statistics and facts proving Mulder wrong, but she doesn't see that there's something bigger at work.

Episode Six: "Reptilian"
While flipping around his satellite radio in search of what the voice in his head calls "the signal," Mulder stumbles on an interview with David Icke. Confirming his suspicion that the world is run by a secret elite of reptilian humanoids, Mulder doesn't know who to trust. After Scully starts complaining about constantly dry skin, Mulder knows that there's something bigger at play. Going straight to the top, Mulder asks friends in the Secret Service about the President's moisturizing habits, only to learn that the POTUS uses baby powder. Just like Mulder knew he would.

Episode Seven: "Bitconned"
While trying to buy a bluetooth betablocker pill on the Silk Road, Mulder stumbles onto the existence of Bitcoins. It's not long until he realizes that this currency was created by the Federal Reserve, which used this imaginary money as a vehicle for government control. To escape its grasp, he must invest in the only currency with real value: gold. Not having enough money due to some outrageous data charges as a result of his feelings on Wi-Fi (doesn't trust it), Mulder tries to convince his friends to go in on a pile of gold bullion. Skinner and Scully refuse, citing how "fucking stupid" the request sounds, but Mulder knows that something bigger is going on.

Episode Eight: "The Truther Is Out There"
Mulder eats what he assumes are the bluetooth beta blockers he ordered on the internet, only to have them turn out to be meth. After staying up for a week in his newly constructed blanket and cutlery fort while watching Loose Change and Zeitgeist, Mulder comes to the FBI headquarters fixated on finding out what really happened on that fateful day in September. He opens the computer, his yellowish brown fingernails prying apart the laptop as his soul screams for more meth. He browses his emails, scrolling back to several unopened ones from the CIA in August 2001. He sees one email in particular titled "Fwd: Suspicious Flight Schools." He opens it. He eats a little more meth. He knew it would end like this, he always knew. Scully contemplates retirement.

*These plots are a work of satire. Any resemblance to actual plotlines is a very unfortunate coincidence.

With additional reporting from Slava Pastuk

Follow Jordan Foisy on Twitter.

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Posted on 4 May 2015 | 6:28 pm

Michael Geist

Study Reports Big Drop in Spam Following Canadian Anti-Spam Law Implementation

The launch of Canada's anti-spam law generated considerable criticism suggesting that the law was unenforceable and would not have a discernible impact on spam. Recent enforcement actions by the CRTC and the Competition Bureau, which led to millions on fines, demonstrates that the law can be used to target businesses that run afoul of the law. Now a new study from Cloudmark, a network security firm, concludes that there was a significant drop in spam originating from Canada once the law took effect. Moreover, Canadians received considerably less email after CASL was implemented. Cloudmark states:

The post Study Reports Big Drop in Spam Following Canadian Anti-Spam Law Implementation appeared first on Michael Geist.

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Posted on 30 April 2015 | 12:24 pm

The Tyee / The Hook

Six 'Revolting' Lessons from Prankster Pros (in Culture)

'Yes Men' collaborators dish on election mayhem ahead of all-new DOXA premiere.  

Related Stories

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Posted on 2 May 2015 | 7:40 am

These are nobody's memories: PFLAG Canada for legalizing same-sex marriage everywhere

While same-sex marriage may be legal on this side of the 49th parallel, it's still a patchwork progress south of here.

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Posted on 30 April 2015 | 9:02 pm

A View from the Edge

Merry Christmas!

I just want to take this opportunity to thank all of you
for following my blog. I have been blogging since 2005; 3 years on 
another site and 5 1/2 years on this site. I started the blog mainly as a
diary and for my friends and family to keep track of our doings and 
whereabouts when we decided to hit the road in our RV. We got off the
road in April 2012. I have decided to step away from blogging for awhile, if not
permanently. I have many ideas in my head for books, and, in fact, have started
a few of them! I am hoping to spend more time this new year on writing. I
might check in from time-to-time on your blogs; may not comment, but just to
see how you all are doing. I've made some good friends over the years through
blogging, and I know that we will stay in touch.

Have a WONDERFUL Christmas and a HAPPY and HEALTHY
New Year!

Love, Pat

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Posted on 22 December 2013 | 2:24 pm

Cottage Country Reflections

Chores are getting done!

Before I have many projects, keeping me out of trouble. This may be foolish, but a local store was having a store closing sale and I figured out a way to reorganize the workbench. The previous home owner had a full workshop in here. He made furniture in this garage. The space above the workbench had all sorts of nails, with his many tools for this purpose. He sold them. I was faced with lots

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Posted on 3 May 2015 | 11:36 am

Steve Paikin

Steve Paikin: My weekend with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter (Part 2)

Every Sunday that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is in his hometown of Plains, Georgia, he attends his local Baptist church and “teaches.” 

The first time I heard the 39th President do that, I asked the church official for a clarification.

“Don’t you mean he preaches?” I asked.

“No,” I was told. “He teaches, not preaches.”

It’s a subtle difference but one that’s important to the former President. He’s not telling the audience what to think. He’s offering the wisdom of a man who’s lived for 90 years and done some remarkable things. He has something to share, something that’s worth listening to.

For his latest lesson, he speaks for almost an hour, non-stop, standing and pacing at the front of the Maranatha Baptist Church, prompting parishioners with questions and urging them to shout out answers. His voice is strong. And, of course, he frequently flashes that iconic toothy smile.  

One of the first things he says put him at odds with the evangelical base of the Republican Party.

“The Bible is not a science book or a history book or a sociology book,” he says. “It’s about who we are and what our relationship should be with God. It tells us how we should act to take advantage of the blessings he offers, and best of all, it’s free of charge!”

As a trained nuclear scientist and former Navy man, Carter says there’s absolutely no incompatibility between religion and science.

“Either there are no miracles, or everything is a miracle,” he says. “The tree. The butterfly. The bird. Those are God’s miracles. So there’s no incompatibility there.”

“How do we accumulate wisdom?” the former president continues. “We study. We make mistakes. God gives us the freedom to do so. He doesn’t say, ‘I made you, now I’m going to control you. Act as you want to. Shun me or be ungrateful if you want to. Lie and cheat if you want to.’ We have the freedom to take precious life and waste it by not enhancing God’s kingdom.”

Carter then does something I haven’t seen him do before. He reveals a significant character flaw from his past, hoping his example encourages others to take a different path.

He tells the crowd he started his life with great success, attending four universities, joining the naval academy, becoming an officer, then a submarine officer, then the first officer on the first ship the U.S. Navy built after the Second World War. Then he became a successful business man.

“I got proud of myself,” Carter confesses. “I figured I couldn’t fail, and so I ran for governor.”

Carter’s first campaign was against a racist named Lester Maddox, whom Carter describes as “a man who stood outside his chicken restaurant and threatened to club on the head any black person who wanted to go into that restaurant."

“I shook hands with 600,000 Georgians and gave them a pamphlet telling them what a nice person I was,” he continues. “And I lost.”

The confession continues. Carter says he lost confidence in himself and turned against God.

What saved him was a visit from his evangelist sister Ruth Carter Stapleton, who urged him to look inside himself, to be critical of what he saw, and to forget about money or politics for a while.

“Try to do something pleasing to Jesus,” she said.

The brother listened to the sister. He has been a believer ever since.

“Christians have the wisdom of God available to us,” he says. “Modern rulers don’t have it. If you look at the world, you can see God’s wisdom does not prevail. Does anyone want to disagree with that?” 

The line elicits laughs and no disagreement.

“We’re always at war,” he says, then takes a shot at his own country. “All the weapons used by people fighting in Syria and Yemen were bought from the United States. The world has departed from the basic principles espoused by the Prince of Peace.”

The lesson continues.

“The key to a good, successful life, to joy, to peace, is to adopt God’s wisdom,” Carter says. “We value things that are not worth anything in God’s eyes. Money in the bank; how nice our house is; university diplomas; how many people we can boss around. How many of those things did Christ have?  None!”

And then comes the final message.

“How well do I measure up against a perfect example set by Jesus Christ?” Carter asks. “He gives us a glimpse of a life of peace, joy, happiness, security, humility, compassion, and love.”

The former President then gives his biggest smile of the morning.

“That’s what all of us should want. Now, did any of you feel inadequately instructed?”

The church explodes in laughter. Thus endeth the lesson.

Jimmy Carter was a one-term president. No one has ever called him one of America’s great presidents. But he may be America’s greatest ex-president. And surely, he’s the best president ever to teach Sunday school. 

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Posted on 23 April 2015 | 5:37 pm

Margaret Wente

Childless? Whose business is it anyway?

Increasingly, family life and raising children is losing its allure

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Posted on 2 May 2015 | 12:00 pm

Lauren Out Loud

HIATUS: re-launching January 2015

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Posted on 24 July 2014 | 6:54 pm

Rants n Rascals

Turkey & Ham Croissants Plus Watermelon Pizza #Recipe and Shopping at Loblaws Brand Stores #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias The first long weekend of our Canadian summer is coming and my taste buds are already in overdrive. I don’t know what it is about the season changing from spring to summer, but I get an awful […]

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Posted on 30 April 2015 | 8:37 pm

Bow. James Bow

An Odd Way to Conduct an Opinion Poll

The website ABvote has been following the Albertan election super closely and, yesterday, released this startling poll. You can see the results (along with other polls earlier in this campaign below: I would wager that anybody who has been following...

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Posted on 29 April 2015 | 3:16 pm

A Toronto Blog

Kensington Market Mona Lisa

All the city is a canvas for art, especially in the comfy confines of Toronto's eccentric neighbourhood near Dundas and Spadina. Mona has had pride of place in the area for quite some time, out of reach for more of the damaging tags that deface many other graffiti murals.
Kensington Market is starting to come alive again as the choking snow has given way to leaves that are beginning to bring green back to the trees. Pedestrian Sundays begin at the end of May and cafe and fruit markets are always inviting year round. The Toronto School of Burlesque is even on Augusta Avenue.
The area is still safe as the gang from Star Trek the Next Generation are on Neighbourhood Watch

Pepsi Next giving out free samples in the hood

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Posted on 2 May 2015 | 11:57 am

Robyn Urbak on Campus

McMaster University to increase female faculty’s pay after review

An analysis found that women faculty members earned on average $3,515 less than their male counterparts in 2012 and 2013

The post McMaster University to increase female faculty’s pay after review appeared first on

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Posted on 29 April 2015 | 9:35 am

Postcards From the Mothership

Photo of the day: Trout Lilies

Hey, remember when I used to take photos? Yeah, me too. I missed it! I went for a nice long walk in the woods today and saw the most glorious signs of spring, including patches of these delicate little flowers in sunny spots at the bases of trees. I’ve since learned that they’re called Erythronium [...] Related posts (automatically generated):
  1. Talk to me about Nova Scotia!
  2. It’s not every day you get to drive a ferry across the Bay of Fundy
  3. Our fishing adventure

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Posted on 3 May 2015 | 6:07 pm

David Akins on the Hill

When progressives line up behind one party, the right better watch out…

  Ekos and just about every pollster in the country it seemed had a poll of Alberta voters out today and their vote intention ahead of Tuesday’s vote in that province. Every single poll has the NDP comfortably in first, the Wildrose in second and the long-governing PCs in third. But let me flag this […]

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Posted on 30 April 2015 | 8:17 pm

Dutch Blitz


Last August, we made the decision to put our house up for sale. I haven’t written about the reasons why, but I will. Promise. We’ve had a number of people come through for showings and every single one of them LOVED it. I mean, how could you not? Each one of them had a reason […]

© Angella Dykstra 2005-2013 All rights reserved. | Originally published for as SOLD.

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Posted on 29 April 2015 | 2:55 am

Nik at Night

Game of Thrones 5.4: Sons of the Harpy

Hello and welcome to week 4 of our season five Game of Thrones recaps. As always, I'm joined by Ser Christopher Lockett, whom I would expect to come into a hallway of angry golden-masked noblemen and take them out like the sword-wielding ninja that he is! Or, as he does on the blog every week, come to my rescue by explaining all of the literary references on the show that we viewers who haven't read GRRM might have missed.

This week saw the arrival of the Sand Snakes (YES!) and King's Landing and Meereen have something in common — the people rising up against the monarchy, daring to raise their fists and voices to them.

You're probably still reeling from the horrifying ending of this episode, so let's go back to the beginning and ease our way up to that incredible battle scene. Christopher, the floor is yours...

Christopher: Well, to start with, we finallyget Dorne in the opening credits. Though if I can offer a geographical quibble, this is the first time the credits name an entire region rather than a specific castle or city. But I guess that’s neither here nor there.

We open this episode with a wordless scene picking up from where we left off: Ser Jorah knocking a hapless fisherman unconscious and stealing his boat. He leaves a couple of coins in the prone man’s body, though I somehow don’t think it’s quite enough for the poor guy to buy himself a new boat. And he unceremoniously—and rather callously—dumps a bound and gagged Tyrion in the bilges to start them on their quest to take him to the “queen.”

I read an articleyesterday in which the author praised Game of Thrones for its dramatic use of editing, specifically its use of blunt cuts to drive the narrative forward: a great example from last week being the cut from Roose Bolton telling Ramsay that he’d found him an ideal bride who could solidify the North for him, to Littlefinger and Sansa riding along an escarpment under a gloomy sky. That gave us, the viewers, the heads up on the plot twist before Sansa twigged to it: a moment of shock for both those who have read the books and those who haven’t, one that heightens the dramatic tension of watching Littlefinger’s scheme dawn on Sansa.

Here we have a lovely transition that provides a certain thematic symmetry: the cut from Jorah’s stolen boat to a proper ship, which houses another Lannister. The brothers are both embarked on treacherous journeys (though Tyrion does so under protest), but away from each other—literally and figuratively, a fact emphasized by Jaime when he tells Bronn that Tyrion “murdered my father … if I ever see him, I’ll split him in two.”

Initially, the Jaime and Bronn road show is rather more moribund than Bronn’s travails with the shorter Lannister brother. Bronn doesn’t understand Jaime’s strategy, and Jaime is not inclined to spell it out for him. All he will say is “It has to be me”—from which Bronn deduces that it was Jaime who freed Tyrion. Jaime maintains that it was Varys, but it’s obvious Bronn knows he’s sniffed out the truth. Presumably he assumes that Jaime has embarked on this fool’s errand as a form of atonement for the act that led to the murder of Tywin … but of course we know it’s more complicated than that.

Once again, this is uncharted territory: Jaime makes no such journey in the novels. And while there is almost certainly a measure of atonement for Tywin here, there is also the fact of Mycella’s parentage, something he of course cannot divulge to Bronn. Not that I think Bronn would care one way or another, but it was obvious in the scene when Cersei shows him the intricately-packaged threat from Dorne that his necessary denial of his daughter and the distance he has had to put between himself and all his children weighs on him. Cersei’s accusation that he was never a father to his children was petty and disingenuous, but we begin to see in this episode the emotional damage it has done to Jaime. This is in itself something of a departure from the novels, though a subtler one: in Jaime’s POV chapters, he makes his relative indifference to his children clear, reflecting at points that the only person who has ever mattered to him—the only person he’s loved—is his twin sister. “It has to be me,” is atonement, yes, but also perhaps his vestigial paternal instincts asserting themselves.

Though the banter between Jaime and Bronn is tepid aboard ship, things get more interesting once they’re ashore … actually, before they get ashore, as we see what will almost certainly be one of the running jokes of their partnership: Bronn hauls laboriously at the oars, panting, and when he pauses to give Jaime a pointed look, Jaime just raises his false hand. “Sorry dude. Can’t very well row with this thing.”

What I’m enjoying about this partnership is the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which the differences between Jaime and Bronn emerge. Bronn’s relationship with Tyrion was always far more cut-and-dried; even though it was obvious that Bronn had a great deal of affection for Tyrion (and vice versa), it was always clear that their main relationship was financial—in part because Tyrion’s stature necessitated the hiring of a bodyguard. Less his sword hand, Jaime Lannister is no longer the brilliant fighter he was, but there is at least (at first) the illusion of parity between these two. But their breakfast conversation begins to highlight the significant class differences between the two. With a pragmatism born of want, Bronn does not hesitate to chow down on his snake kebab; Jaime eyes his suspiciously and puts it aside. And he voices surprise that Bronn’s ideal death is “In my own keep, drinking my own wine, watching my sons grovel for my fortune.” Why not something more exciting, Jaime asks? “I’ve had an exciting life,” Bronn says. “I want my death to be boring.”

Jaime, raised in a castle as the golden son of Westeros’ richest and most powerful family, thinks nothing of the comforts Bronn desires. Bronn however, who has probably spent his life impoverished more often than not, is far more practical. He is, to paraphrase Liam Neeson, a man with a specific set of skills—and unlike those who would seek glory, he employs his talents as a means to an end. Which shortly after breakfast is simple survival: in yet another amazing fight scene, he dispatches three out of their four attackers, while the formerly fearsome Jaime Lannister is humiliated by a mere guardsman, saved only by chance by that which nearly doomed him—his false hand. And once again Bronn is reminded that he is as much servant as partner, as Jaime’s false hand means the burying of the bodies is left to him.

And then another nice piece of editing: after Bronn extols the virtures of Dornish stallions, we see a veiled rider galloping through the surf. As it turns out it is Ellaria, meeting up with Oberyn’s bastard daughters to plot against both the Lannisters and their own prince.

What did you think of our first encounter with the Sand Snakes, Nikki?

Nikki: They were everything I’d hoped they would be. As I know by pinging it on the Google, “Sand” is the surname given to noble-born bastard children in the south, much as “Snow” is the name given in the north. If I understand correctly (and you can correct me if I’m wrong, Chris), the Sand Snakes are all Oberyn’s daughters, and there are actually eight of them. The one with the short brown hair — Tyene — is Ellaria’s daughter with Oberyn. Ellaria has also mothered several of the others who aren’t shown. But perhaps on the show the Sand Snakes will consist of only the three, and the other five will remain literary characters only.

For years before I had children, I used to attend the Toronto International Film Festival with my best friend. We would take the week off work and attend 30 films, sending long emails to friends who had signed up for our email list, in an early version of blogging that predated actual blogs. In 2002, our top film of TIFF was Whale Rider, starring a then-12-year-old Keisha Castle-Hughes. She was transcendent in the film, at one point having to deliver a stirring speech in a school play on the verge of tears, and the entire audience was bawling. It was the world premiere of the film, and afterwards Castle-Hughes and several other cast members got up in front of the room. She was so young, so sweet, grinning the entire time (this was her first time watching that movie, and first time seeing an audience’s reaction to her work), and yet there was a fierceness to her even then, a toughness that made you think this is going to be one of those child stars who transcends child stardom.

And she has. While she’s mostly taken small parts, you can see what a fantastic actress she is in everything she does. And it’s no different here, where, as Obara Sand, the eldest of the Sand Snakes, she is very devoted to her father, and will stop at nothing to avenge his death. Ellaria explains to the Snakes that their uncle, Prince Doran, will not start a war to avenge his brother’s death. So, she concludes, they must do it themselves. They have Myrcella, and that’s a major bargaining chip against the Lannisters. Nymeria explains that they have a problem, and with one crack of her whip, she flips a nearby cannister up in the air to reveal a man’s head. He’s alive, but has been buried up to his neck in the sand, and has three giant scorpions crawling on his face. He had approached Obara and told her that he had information (seeing his current predicament, methinks he should have kept his mouth shut). He told the girls that he had brought Jaime Lannister over from King’s Landing. This puts a new wrench in the plan. Ellaria says, matter-of-factly, that the girls must make a choice: “Doran’s way and peace, or my way, and war.” Tyene immediately joins her mother, while Nym nods a quiet agreement. Ellaria turns to Obara, and in a magnificent speech, where she tells of her father taking her from her mother at an early age and telling her she had to choose between one of two weapons — the “manly” spear, or her mother’s “womanly” tears. And with that, she picks up a spear, and in one throw lands it directly in the centre of the skull of the man in the sand. Looking back at Ellaria, she says, “I made my choice long ago.”

As we’ve said many times while talking about this show, this is a series where women are not subservient to men. Yes, Daenerys was taken by her vicious brother and married to the terrifying Khal Drogo, but she stepped up, took over, made him love her, and then became the Khaleesi. Her brother? Dead. Brienne is every bit the knight that any man is, if not more. Sansa might be manipulated at every turn, but despite that, she is stepping into a new role now as vengeance for her family, and something tells me she’s got this. Arya is embarking on a life where she has almost always been in complete control. Gilly was raped and impregnated by her father, yet now she lives confidently within a town of all men, and shows no fear. Stannis makes his decisions based on what Melisandre tells him to do. His daughter is brilliant. Robert Baratheon, Ned, Tywin, and Joffrey are all dead: Cersei and Margaery are still standing, and hold all the power.

Yes, this is still a show where women have to “overcome” being women to show they’re strong, and yet it feels like that’s more for us, as an audience, and less for the people in this world, who accept that Daenerys, Cersei, Ellaria, and Melisandre are in charge.

I adoredthis scene, where the women basically shrug and say, “All right, if the menfolk aren’t up to it, I guess WE have to do it,” as if they assumed that was going to be the way the entire time. I also loved the outfits, the shoes with the upturned toes, the way the horse was dressed, the simple tent — everything about that scene was perfection. These sisters are doin’ it for themselves.

But now let’s move away from the warm climes of Dorne and back to the land of the ice and snow, where Melisandre — whom I think is absolutely gorgeous, regardless of how evil she is — discovers that Jon Snow might not be into allredheads. What did you think of the seduction scene, Chris?

Christopher:  Before I answer that question, Nikki, I just want to address your excellent point about the women of Game of Thrones. In many ways the depiction of women on this show is a bit fraught, largely because it has taken advantage of HBO’s now-signature freedom to show full frontal female nudity. Last week’s scene with the High Septon in the brothel was a case in point: yet more sexposition, with nothing like parity for male nudity (lots of asses, no dongs). I wish they’d either tone down the former or ratchet up the latter for the simple reason that it detracts from what you’ve pointed out: this is a show that depicts any number of nuanced, complex, ambitious, and capable female characters—you can see I’m trying to avoid using the cliché “strong,” which has effectively become meaningless—who, despite their pseudo-medieval environment have as much as (if not more) agency than many of the key male characters.

This, I must say, is one of the things I love about HBO in general. I’m teaching a graduate seminar this fall titled “Difficult Men,” which looks at prestige television’s tendency to create dramas centering around mercurial, brilliant, and, well, difficult men: The Sopranos, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Deadwood, and so forth. One of the questions to be asked is: why this masculinist turn in television so loved by the intelligentsia? But of course what makes so many of these shows notable is not so much the masculine center as the female counter-narratives that provide dramatic and narrative tension and undercut the logic of what are unavoidably masculine economies of power (whether it’s the mafia, 1960s Madison Avenue, the drug trade, and so forth).

Game of Thrones is a bit too much of an ensemble piece to make it onto my syllabus, but this dynamic is baked into its DNA.

To return to your question about Melissandre: we sort of knew a moment like this was coming since her flirtatious elevator ride with Jon Snow in episode one. Melissandre is quite literally a femme fatale—she possesses enormous power, and much of it is bound up in her sexuality. The Lord of Light does not seem to preside over a particularly austere or prudish church: Melissandre’s attempted seduction employs the rhetoric of free love and the naturalness of sex. “The Lord of Light made us male and female,” she purrs, “Two parts of a greater whole. In our joining, this power—the power to make life, power to make light, the power to cast shadows …” Given the persecution of Ser Loras by the sparrows in this episode, to say nothing of the serendipitous coincidence of this episode airing while the Supreme Court of the U.S. hears a case on marriage equality, one wonders what Melissandre thinks about sexual coupling that falls outside the male-female paradigm?

Of course, her whole point is to tempt Jon away from Castle Black, first by showing him how tenuous his oath to the Night’s Watch is, and second by reminding him of the pleasures he could enjoy as a free man and a Stark. And if her quarry were almost anyone else in the world, she’d likely have succeeded. The beautiful little irony in this scene is that, in the end, it’s not so much his vow as a Night’s Watchman that makes him hold firm as the memory of the time he’d broken that vow. He remains true to Ygritte. “I swore a vow,” he protests, and follows that with “I loved another.” “The dead don’t need lovers, only the living,” Melissandre responds. “I know,” he says, with finality. “But I still love her.” To that Melissandre has no riposte, and abandons her seduction attempt. But as she exits, she echoes Ygritte’s favourite mantra: “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”

Coincidence? Or does Melissandre know more about Ygritte than she lets on? One way or another, the comment devastates Jon, and he sits behind his desk with a distraught expression. It was a moment that gave me pause, as I reflected that Jon Snow, more than anyone else on this show, has what he “knows” derided. But it occurred to me that, whatever his real parentage, he really is Ned’s son in this respect: “as stubborn as he is honourable,” as Stannis said last week, which the would-be king did not mean as a compliment. Eddard Stark knew nothing, or rather he knew just enough to underestimate Cersei and let himself be betrayed by Littlefinger. But then, Ned was unwise enough to take on the role as Hand of the King, which requires a shrewder political mind than he possessed. As Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, Jon Snow has found his level.


That being said, I loved the poignancy of the scene preceding Melissandre’s seduction attempt. We’d just watch Stannis et al watching Jon training men to fight—and listened to Queen Selyse’s blinkered prejudices against bastards and cripples—but here we see him playing the tedious role that every administrator knows: paperwork. Sending out requests for men to a legion of petty lords, few of whom Jon has heard of. But he balks at sending a letter to Roose Bolton in a moment that ironically parallels Sansa’s anguish of last episode. There was little in the series to hint at Jon and Sansa’s relationship; in the novels, when Sansa thinks of him, it’s in dismissive terms. He’s just the bastard. Arya of course loves Jon, because she does not care about the social niceties that preoccupied pre-King’s Landing Sansa. But Sansa had basically a milder version of her mother’s antipathy. So it makes for an interesting twist that they’re both in a position of needing to kowtow to the new Warden of the North, and that both of them do so with murder in their hearts.

Speaking of Sansa, she’s being left alone at Winterfell by the only person who qualifies as a friend. Littlefinger apologizes, but fills her (and us) in on his larger plans. So remember that time, last week, when I speculated about how Baelish had miscalculated? Turns out I was wrong. Turns out he wasn’t forgetting about Stannis, he was counting on Stannis marching on Winterfell. Huh.

What did you think of the Sansa scene, Nikki?

Nikki: Your excellent analysis of Melisandre as one with a single-minded purpose, pulling people over to her dark side by brainwashing them but at the same time probably not accepting of the idea of same-sex coupling just made me realize something I hadn’t before: she’s the Michele Bachman of Westeros. Now I’m looking forward to the inevitable scene, when her empire crumbles and she’s standing in the ashes, looking upwards, shaking her fist and angrily yelling, “This is your fault, Obama!”

Also, you and I should do a post on the treatment of women on TV. And I need to come out and audit your course.

Before we leave the Wall, I just wanted to add that I loved the scene between Stannis and his daughter. Yet another thing I constantly love about this show is that they make these characters so complicated. There are characters whom we’d love to see as evil, but with almost no exceptions (let’s just set Joffrey, Ramsay, and Craster aside for the moment), they are still human, and capable of earning our sympathy. Stannis is someone who claims to have the blood right to the throne, and frankly, he’s not wrong. If his brother died, and Robert had no legitimate children of his own, then the succession should have been the same as before Robert was married — it automatically goes to the brother (one need look no further than the current royal family and what happened when Edward VIII abdicated to see evidence of that). On the other hand, his devotion to Melisandre and the Lord of Light makes his judgement suspect. In this scene with his daughter, he’s a loving father, devoted even more to her than to anything else — I feel like he’d throw this entire “heir to the throne” thing to the direwolves if he thought it would rid his daughter of the greyscale on her face. In a moving story, he admits that it was he who caused it, by buying a little doll for her that had been infected with it. His act of love had gone awry, and infected the one person he loved more than anyone. Everyone told him that she was a goner — just think of Gilly’s sad story in last week’s episode, where she told of two of her sisters getting greyscale, and how her horrible father put them outside to separate them from everyone else, rather than attempting to treat the condition. (Considering his daughters were nothing more than sex toys to him, one is unsurprised.) Last week’s story was in there to show viewers just how horrible the greyscale could have gotten for Shereen, but for her father’s relentless belief that he could make her better and save her life.

And he did. He put his mind to it, gathered up everyone he could, and managed to stave off the spreading of the disease on her face. She will forever be marred by it — and her repugnant mother reminds her of her ugliness at every turn — but he doesn’t see the greyscale. He sees only the way in which he failed his beloved daughter. His similarly relentless pursuit of the Iron Throne seems to have been fueled by this failure: if he can attain that Throne and rule the Seven Kingdoms, he will have made his daughter a princess. “You are the princess Shereen of the House Baratheon,” he says to her. “And you are my daughter.” In this moment, I was willing to burn my Targaryen sigil and follow him into battle.

Stephen Dillane has always played Stannis with such solemnity and sadness that I can’t help but sympathize with him. Even when he was burning Mance Rayder at the stake, I saw that as something he 100% believed in at the moment. It’s that sense of conviction that makes him such a dangerous foe, but also an invaluable ally. What a mesmerizing character.

But back to Winterfell. Sansa is in the crypt below the castle, paying her respects to the dead. She’s painfully aware that both of her parents and her brother Robb (and his wife) should also be buried there, but they aren’t. She lights the candles, ending with the one she puts in the hand of the statue of Lyanna — her aunt, her father’s sister, and the woman whom Robert Baratheon loved so much he never recovered from losing her. I squealed out loud when Sansa reaches down and finds a dusty feather sitting on the ground next to Lyanna’s feet. This hearkens back to a scene way back in season one, when Robert and Ned go to the crypts to pay their respects:

How fantastic that they reminded us of how much had changed in so short a time. Just holding that feather in her hand links her to that earlier discussion, where Robert Baratheon places the feather on the hand of the statue and tells Ned, “In my dreams I kill him every night.” He is king because he swore a vengeance that Rhaegar Targaryen would die for what happened to Lyanna. And she, similarly, is about to help Baelish wreak vengeance on the House Bolton for killing her family.

And then Baelish suddenly shows up, like the Oirish Batman he is, lurking in the shadows, and takes us back even further, to when he was a child and he got to see a tournament at Harrenhal, where Robert Baratheon and Rhaegar Targaryen and several other men were jousting. He tells the story of how, when Rhaegar won, he rode past his own wife, Elia Martell — for those keeping score at home, she was the sister of Prince Doran and Oberyn Martell, and the sister-in-law of Daenerys — and instead laid the crown of winter roses in Lyanna’s lap, as a hush fell over the crowd. Baelish looks back at the statue: “How many tens of thousands had to die because Rhaegar chose your aunt?”

Sansa reminds Petyr that he did choose her . . . right before he kidnapped and raped her. He smiles knowingly. They then begin walking away from the tombs and he explains his plan to her. He’s heading to King’s Landing, leaving her at Winterfell (I would panic if I didn’t know that Brienne was waiting in the hills outside the castle), but he knows that Stannis and his army are headed south. First, he explains, they have to take Winterfell, and his army is stronger than Bolton’s. Once he wins, he’ll have the north behind him and will take the Iron Throne. “A betting man would put his money on Stannis,” he says. “As it happens, I ama betting man.” Then, if all goes to plan, Baelish says Stannis will rescue Sansa from the clutches of the Boltons, and to repay her father for having supported his claim to the throne, he will name her Wardenness of the North. If, by chance, the Boltons are victorious, Baelish tells Sansa to simply make Ramsay hers, in much the same way Daenerys did with Khal Drogo. Ramsay’s attracted to her already, and Petyr reminds her that she learned political maneuvering from the best of them — i.e., him. And then he stands on his tippy-toes and kisses her because he’s a foot shorter than she is, reassuring her, “The North will be yours. Do you believe me?” She nods, and reminds him she’ll be a married woman the next time she sees him.

It’s a lovely fairy tale, but will any of it come true? Does Baelish actually believe any of it? I noticed in this scene one slip that he made, something he said that differed from the previous episode. When he’s reassuring Sansa that this will all work out in her favour, he says, “You’re the last surviving Stark.” But in the previous episode he’d said, “You’re the eldest surviving Stark,” as if he somehow knew about Bran and Arya being out there somewhere. Did he slip then? Is he slipping now? Is he playing her? One must always remember that with Baelish, no matter what, he never puts another person before his own political maneuverings. She’s right: she did learn from the best of them. But will her learning be enough to win over Ramsay Bolton? He, after all, is inhuman.

It’s not just Baelish I’m beginning to wonder about, but Reek. Last season I was pretty convinced that Theon Greyjoy was 100% gone, and that Reek was now here. But in the past couple of episodes, the way he appears to be listening to Ramsay and Roose as they talk, and the way he seems to be a little less shaky and more focused — while hiding himself from Sansa, as if remembering that he was raised almost like a brother of hers, something Reek shouldn’t have remembered — is making me wonder what’s up with him. He could turn out to be a wild card we didn’t see coming.

But now, as Baelish heads to King’s Landing, let’s go there, too. The Sparrows have become a malicious army that is wreaking havoc in the city. Cersei has given the High Sparrow full power, but in doing so, she’s allowed her own son’s power to be undercut, since her single-minded purpose at this point is to imprison Loras to punish Margaery. Last week I said that poor Tommen is caught in the crossfire between these two, and is being emasculated in the process, and that was clearly evident in this episode, as Margaery demands that he DO something, and Cersei makes it impossible for him to perform. Freud would be having a field day with this plotline.

What did you think of the way the Sparrows are taking over King’s Landing, Chris?

Christopher:  There’s an old saying about reaping and sowing. I forget how it goes.

I think it’s safe to say that Cersei is playing with fire. Absent her father or for that matter any competent allies besides Dr. Frankenstein Qyburn, she’s making a power play by arming the Sparrows, assuming that their leader will adopt a quid pro quo attitude in exchange for this alliance. It becomes pretty obvious that this is a dangerous assumption when Tommen is refused entrance to the Sept. He’s just a boy, and has little idea how to properly exercise his royal power (his one lesson in governance from Tywin being “do everything I tell you”). But more important than this is the reminder that the Lannisters aren’t exactly loved in King’s Landing—and that the pervasive rumours that the Queen’s children were born of incest have not gone away. “Bastard!” the crowd shouts at Tommen. “Abomination!” What before were salacious rumours that gave the commons license to mock the Lannisters in secret are something dramatically different in the hands of a mob of religious fanatics. They feel completely comfortable shouting out in public what was previously whispered in private.

And if this is the reception the king gets … what will they have to say about the woman who birthed these “abominations”? How inclined will the High Sparrow be to play Cersei’s game then? After all, in giving them Ser Loras, Cersei has essentially given them license to beat, punish, and imprison anyone they suspect of sexual deviance—or, really, anyone they suspect of sinning against the Seven, and the Jesus-in-the-Temple sequence shows that they’re casting a pretty wide net.

And Cersei isn’t doing herself any favours in her attempts to consolidate her power. She alienates her uncle Kevan, who decamps to Casterly Rock; and in this episode she denudes the power of the Tyrells at court by sending Margaery’s father away on the pretext of making him an emissary to the Iron Bank. Mace Tyrell is a fool and a buffoon, absurdly honoured by the mission rather than seeing it for the ploy it is. Whatever she has planned for Margaery can now happen without her father to stand in front of her. And the fact that she has sent Meryn Trant along to “guard” him might well mean he’s not meant to return from the trip.

I can't be the only one who thinks Mace Tyrell looks like the Mayor
of Munchkinland, right?

But in the process, Cersei has managed to isolate herself. “The Small Council grows smaller and smaller,” Grand Maester Pycelle observes. “Not small enough,” Cersei retorts, making it obvious that she wants to shoulder the old man out too.

It is plain that she hopes to win her son back to her influence. And in the short term at least she has made progress: whatever havoc ensues from the now-armed Sparrows, in having Ser Loras taken she has driven a wedge between Tommen and Margaery. How quickly the worm turns … just last episode he was ecstatic about his new bride, and with the enthusiasm (and randiness) of adolescence imagined things would always be the sexy romp of their wedding night.

Poor Tommen. So oblivious, and so utterly confused when Margaery deserts his bed. How long before he returns to his mother for help?

The maneuvering between Cersei and Margaery reminds me a great deal of the war between Caesar’s niece Atia and his lover Servilia on Rome. That show did a wonderful job of undermining the whole “great man theory of history,” in part because it depicted those groups marginalized by history—the underclasses and women—as actually being the people who shaped history’s course. Male and female power is even more complex on Game of Thrones because there isn’t such a clear distinction between the two. Daenerys is as powerful and competent as any of the male kings or would-be kings, but is an explicitly matriarchal figure. With the symbolic emasculation of Jaime when he lost his hand, it is now clear that the single greatest fighter on the show is Brienne, a woman who has chosen to embody all the trappings of traditionally male power. Arya has also chosen the route of eschewing traditional female roles, and at this point has gone farther than anyone else in agreeing to divest herself of (almost) all the trappings of her previous identity. And if Cersei, Margaery, and Sansa seek agency within their circumscribed roles as highborn women, our sojourns this season to Dorne and our introduction to the Sand Snakes open new possibilities entirely.

But whatever other small victories Cersei might be savouring in the short term, mounting Tyrion’s head on a pike won’t be one of them. “You’re going the wrong way,” he tells Ser Jorah. “My sister is in Westeros.” But instead of taking Tyrion west for the certainty of a pardon and a lordship, he’s taking him east, gambling that handing Daenerys a scion of the Lannisters will atone for his sins. “A risky scheme,” Tyrion observes. “One might even say desperate.”

Suffice to say, Jorah is not happy with Tyrion’s observations.

But it raises the question: Lannister or not, Tyrion made Daenerys’ life easier by taking one of her most formidable foes off the board when he killed Tywin. Why would she exact her revenge on someone who did that, and was furthermore just a child during the war that killed her family and exiled her?

One way or another, the Jorah/Tyrion road show promises to be a whole lot less entertaining than the one with Varys. One suspects that Tyrion’s wit will be lost on Lord Friendzone, and will probably result in a few more beatings.

Which brings us to our rather dramatic conclusion … what did you think of the Rise of the Harpies, Nikki?

Nikki: What I find so interesting about the Jorah/Tyrion debacle is that at the end of the third episode, when Jorah said that he was taking him to the queen, my husband immediately said, “Well, he’s about to see his sister a lot sooner than he expected to.” And I looked at him, baffled, and said, “No, he’s going to Daenerys; she’s the only person Jorah would ever refer to as queen.” And neither of us had even considered there was more than one “queen.” It’s amazing that, again, the show is so complicated it would elicit two completely different responses. (This is also me relaying that story to boast that I WAS RIGHT. Hehe...)

The end of the episode, where we see the Harpies rise up against the Unsullied, is a heartstopping scene. It’s preceded by Ser Barristan regaling Daenerys with the story of her brother Rhaegar, whom she’d always been told was a vicious killer — the one who, as we were reminded at the beginning of this episode, loved Lyanna Stark only to kidnap, rape, and kill her. But now, after hearing that story, the audience hears Ser Barristan tell a very different one. Rhaegar had a beautiful singing voice, he loved singing, and hated the killing. People lavished money on him, which he gave to charities and orphanages. Daenerys sits and listens to Ser Barristan with a starry look in her eye, as amused and thrilled by this story as she was revolted and ashamed of the story that Ser Barristan told her in the second episode of this season about her father. We’re reminded in this scene of how loyal Ser Barristan has been to the Targaryens, and how long he has served her. When she’s called away by Daario, Daenerys smiles at the aged knight. “Go, Ser Barristan,” she says. “Sing a song for me.”

We didn’t know she meant swansong.

As Daenerys sits and listens to another plea by nobleman Hizdahr Zo Loraq, once again arguing that she should allow the fighting pits, we see what the Harpies are doing out on her streets. With the help of the same prostitute who helped kill White Rat, the Unsullied run after the Harpies as the latter embark on their killing spree, only to be cornered in a stone hallway on both sides. Grey Worm is a brilliant fighter, as are all the Unsullieds, but they’re outnumbered.

I have to say that, at first, I felt a little betrayed by this scene. The Unsullied are the most experienced and adept army in the Seven Kingdoms. From the moment they are toddlers, they are taught to focus on absolutely nothing but fighting. Ten thousand Unsullied, we have been led to believe, could take on an army 10 times their size. So a bunch of men — whom I suspect, though I could be wrong, are the noblemen who are angry with Daenerys for unseating them — corner them in an alleyway and they somehow manage to beat them? Shouldn’t 15 Unsullied be able to fell 100 noblemen? Perhaps these men aren’t who I think they are. If the scene is introduced by the words of Hizdahr Zo Loraq talking about how badly they want the fighting pits back, perhaps the Harpies are in fact the men who have achieved champion status fighting in those pits. And if that’s, in fact, who they are, then I can believe they are a mighty force. But even that shouldn’t rival an army of men with one single-minded purpose in life, I thought.

However, the one thing we need to remember is that the Unsullied are taught to fight like an army. And the Harpies aren’t fighting with any sort of order or training, but ambushing them. And that’s a VERY different fighting style. You have men stabbing you in the side with daggers, rather than forming a line and coming straight at you on the battlefield. And every time they kill one, two more seem to run into the room.

The fight itself is awesome. Grey Worm is a formidable foe, taking down as many as four men at a time, sustaining serious stab wounds and continuing to fight with the focus of a true warrior. Blood is splattered all over the walls, heads are rolling, but it’s still too much. There are 15 men bearing down on him and he can’t take them all on.

And then Ser Barristan finally shows up to sing his song — and what an epic, glorious aria it is. He comes flying into the room like Obi Wan Kenobi, unsheathes his sword and effortlessly begins making a Harpy shishkebob with it. He stabs one in the back, then takes out NINE men in a row before splitting the tenth one right up the middle (ew). Meanwhile, Grey Worm hasn’t gone down, and now sees his chance, as several Harpies run over to take on Ser Barristan instead. But then Ser Barristan is stabbed. He swings and takes out a man. He’s stabbed again, in the leg. He takes out another. He’s stabbed in the shoulder. He kills that guy. And then he’s stabbed in the abdomen, and he falls forward. As that man runs around behind him and is about to give him the Catelyn Stark treatment, Grey Worm stabs that man in the back. Ser Barristan falls, and Grey Worm falls to lie beside him.

Noooooooooooooo!!! Daenerys’s strength just dwindled considerably if they’re actually dead. Maybe they’re not dead, I’m thinking... but this is Game of Thrones. George RR Martin isn’t exactly known for his generosity when it comes to NOT letting characters die. Ahem.

I should probably mention to everyone here that TV critics everywhere were given the first four episodes, and we watched them a month ago and have been hanging on that cliffhanger ever since. It feels like such an inordinately long time since that episode already — let’s just say next week’s episode cannot come soon enough.

Just a note that this will be the last episode recap that will appear immediately following the end of an episode. As of next week, Christopher and I will be watching live with everyone else, and our recap will probably go live on Tuesdays. Thanks for reading what might be the longest recap we’ve done yet!! See you next week...

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Posted on 4 May 2015 | 2:00 am

Word Grrrls

The Weirdest Book…

The post The Weirdest Book… appeared first on Word Grrls.

What would you write for the #DearDiary hashtag on Twitter? This was especially clever, I thought. 

The post The Weirdest Book… appeared first on Word Grrls - Adventures in Writing.

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Posted on 29 April 2015 | 9:29 am

Elfshot - sticks and stones

Emulating Independence I Tool Makers

The current issue of Above&Beyond, Canada's Arctic Journal contains an article that I wrote about the Quttinirpaaq National Park reproductions that I made a couple years back.  If you've ever visited the Canadian Arctic, you might recognize Above&Beyond as the inflight magazine of First Air.  Here is a link to the full issue and my article called "Emulating Independence I Tool Makers: Quttinirpaaq National Park's Oldest Artifacts".

Link to story

Photo Credits: Screen Captures from Above&Beyond

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Posted on 4 May 2015 | 6:39 pm

Adam Radwanski

Trudeau set to reveal Liberal policy agenda focused on middle class

Liberal leader will make two major economic announcements – but has he left it too late to shuck off lightweight label?

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Posted on 2 May 2015 | 12:12 am

How to Survive Life in the Suburbs

Date Night Ready In 30 Minutes? Impossible!

I am naive.  I honestly thought when my girls got a little bit older life would slow down to a leisurely pace.  I was positive since I had survived life with two little ones and we had entered the stage of life with two teenage girls, that our life would slow down.  I was wrong. […]

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Posted on 4 May 2015 | 12:01 pm

A Peek Inside the Fishbowl

Moment of bliss #020

It was Friday afternoon and I had a list of things I should be doing. Work, or housework, for example. We were having friends over for dinner and there were Many Things Left To Do. And then there was laundry – there is always laundry - but I took advantage of the sunny day and walked down to the […]

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Posted on 2 May 2015 | 8:28 pm

Dawg’s Blawg

404 country not found

I kept meaning to write about the events going on around Greek membership in the Eurozone, but events kept happening so often that the post that I usually write first in my head kept getting out of date. And...

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Posted on 25 April 2015 | 5:39 pm

Dammit Janet

Fetus Freaks: They're Slow But They're Stupid

Good gord. Regular readers of DJ! know how highly we esteem the intelligence and moral compass of the fetus freaks, but this should be embarrassing even for them.

Let's hop into the Way Back Machine. On November 8 last year, we reported that the Trillium Foundation, the granting agency for Ontario's gaming proceeds, rescinded the second year of a two-year $84K grant to a fake clinic.

There was some squealing from the predictable sources, who amusingly decided collectively that this blog was to be unnamed as the culprit.

On November 25, SUZY ALLCAPS linked to Our Number One Fan (Bertha Wilson Motion, now sadly defunct, aww) who had uncovered the shocking fact that the CEO of the Trillium Foundation, Andrea Cohen Barrack, also serves as volunteer Chair of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Western Hemisphere Region.

Here's SUZY's plain-text URL:

And my reaction, dated November 26.

That's about as far as that went, until last week when Patricia Maloney, who is "Canada's pro-life investigator" according to Focus on the Family's Astroturf blog, finally twigged to Ms Cohen Barrack's dedication to public service. (More on Canada's pro-life investigator in a future post.)

As is the custom in the antichoice echo chamber, LifeShite picked up the SCOOP on April 23.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation has denied that CEO Andrea Cohen Barrack is in a conflict of interest after alert bloggers noted that while she is a member of International Planned Parenthood Federation’s governing council, her foundation recently cut funding to a pro-life pregnancy center and approved a grant for Planned Parenthood Toronto.

The fetus freaks are trying hard -- if ridiculously late -- to spin some shit out of this, even contacting Ontario's Conflict of Interest Commissioner, whose lawyer Heather Popliger said:

Popliger told LifeSiteNews in an email the following day that “our understanding is that the President & CEO of the Ontario Trillium Foundation plays no role regarding grant decisions. There is a process for evaluating which entities receive grants, and the Board of Directors of the Ontario Trillium Foundation makes all decisions regarding grants.  The President & CEO has no involvement.”

When questioned about Cohen Barrack’s involvement with IPPF creating the appearance of preferential treatment, Popliger only reiterated that, “the President & CEO has no involvement in the grant process at the Ontario Trillium Foundation.  Accordingly, she is not in a position to, nor is she in fact, providing one entity with preferential treatment.”
Ominously, LifeShite ends with:
The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport did not respond to enquiries from LifeSiteNews by deadline.

Oooh, I bet the Ministry is peeing its pants.

When you've got your Outrage-O-Meter cranked to MASSIVE allatime, I guess it's hard to remember that you've already hit a particularly dipshit note previously.

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Posted on 24 April 2015 | 6:27 pm

That Artist Woman

Mother's Day Block

In my current residency I have been working on these mixed media blocks for Mother's Day.

We used Model Magic to add a nice 3D element to them. On my sample I wrapped the painting around the sides and back.  At school we only had time for the sides.

Here is some student work.


- wood block, I had standard 2"x6" lumber cut into square pieces
- Model Magic, I buy white and in the large bin. (use your Michael's 40% off coupon). One bin (4pkgs) was more than enough for 2 classes.
- acrylic paint
- heart gems, I stock up at the Dollar Store during Valentines
- tacky glue
- printed text from the computer
- Mod Podge for sealing
- scrapbooking paper, optional


I handed out the wood blocks so the kids could figure out the right size to make the clothing.

Each student got a plum sized piece of Model Magic.

We pressed them flat on a piece of wax paper.

I also gave each student a napkin with their name on it.

Using a plastic knife they cut out the clothing.

Using some assorted tools we added texture to the Model Magic.

Those green tools are from the Dollar Store.  I bought several sets of them.  They are for decorating cupcakes but work great as tools for clay.

Place on napkin/paper towel and set aside to dry.  About 24hrs.

While the Model Magic is drying you can paint the block. Make sure to do the sides and top for a nice finished look.

I gave the kids a few ideas, a nature scene like my sample.

- standing by your house, the house is cut from scrapbooking paper

- shopping in the city, shopping bag is paper

- just a simple background with a few flowers, the flowers are out of paper

Or whatever scene they wished.

We painted the Model Magic after it set.  It's still fragile at this point so i asked the kids to be careful.

Once it's mounted on the block and seal with podge it's firms up and is more durable.

I gave each student a piece of paper and they sketch out the head, arms, and feet of their moms.

We added some outlining and colour and cut our body parts out.

We glued everything into place with some tacky glue.

We added a small heart gem and sealed them with some Mod Podge.

That's it, a great Mother's day gift that will be treasured.


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Posted on 1 May 2015 | 2:44 am

A pretty Life in the Suburbs

Make-It-Yourself Lemon Sugar Scrub & More Mother’s Day Ideas!

Make-It-Yourself Lemon Sugar Scrub is a great gift idea that is so easy to make!  All you need are 3 simple ingredients to make this gentle sugar scrub.  And make sure to keep reading for many more great handmade Mother’s Day gift ideas! - – – – – – – – - Hello friends!  There […]

The post Make-It-Yourself Lemon Sugar Scrub & More Mother’s Day Ideas! appeared first on A Pretty Life In The Suburbs.

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Posted on 1 May 2015 | 11:00 am

Canada's Adventure couple

8 Lessons Learned as Slow Traveling Nomads

The beach has never been too far away - not for the past few months, at least. Since moving to Krabi (southern Thailand) in October, but  (I'll use the term nomad as well, since they both imply a person who moves frequently or as they desire.) Plan the big things out ahead and let the small things [...]

Read the original post 8 Lessons Learned as Slow Traveling Nomads on The Planet D: Adventure Travel Blog.

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Posted on 29 April 2015 | 9:00 am

My New Life in Canada, under the snow!

5 Great Podcasts You Should Listen to Now

A couple of years ago, I decided to give radio another chance. Not the annoying radio stations with their pre-formatted playlists and ten-minute commercial breaks—I turned to podcasts.

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Posted on 1 May 2015 | 12:45 pm

Live From Waterloo

WW#366 - Selfie: Impossible

All six of us were home for dinner so we wanted to celebrate by taking a few ‘selfies’.
Problem is, all six of us are… us. Getting a nice picture was almost impossible!
Estábamos los seis juntos para cenar asi que quisimos celebrar sacándonos unos ‘selfies’.
El problema es que nosotros somos… nosotros. Era casi imposible conseguir una foto decente!
No luck with Gaby as the photographer… / Gaby como fotógrafa no tuvo suerte…
Carolina didn’t do much better…  / A Carolina no le fue mucho mejor…
My shift wasn’t looking too promising… / Mi turno no parecía muy prometedor…
However… / Sin embargo… :-)

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Posted on 29 April 2015 | 9:22 am