Ghostbusters & the War on Nerds

images-14In The Dark Knight, Harvey Dent says that you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. People of the nerd community, we have become the villains! The Ghostbusters reboot was recently released featuring an all-female cast. I went to see it because I love the original Ghostbusters movies and I thought it was a cool idea to refresh the franchise that way. Sadly there were some who were less than receptive and behaved like assholes. Newsflash! It’s 2016. Women can do pretty much anything that men can do if they have the desire and skillset. An all-female cast doesn’t mean a movie’s going to be about cramps and heavy flow days. Grow up.

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This is what a damn funny actress looks like.

I thought the movie was great and respectful to the original franchise. The three remaining original Ghostbusters made appearances there was a bust of Harold Ramis (RIP). The actresses who played Janine and Dana in the original movies also had cameos. It never claimed to be a remake and Dan Aykroyd is the Executive Producer.

 

There was nothing about this movie that anyone should be upset about yet, people still felt the need to harass Leslie Jones on Twitter. I was raised in a Christian house, so I won’t repeat what was said, but it was bad enough to get right-wing CEO Milo Yiannopolos permanently banned.

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This is what a colossal asshat looks like.

A permanent ban was previously unprecedented, but Twitter appears to be taking a stand against online bullying and harassment. We have the right to free speech, but there’s a difference between speaking your mind and harassing someone. If you don’t understand that please stop reading and go check your front yard. Your Trump signs and Tea Party flag are blowing away.

 

Seriously, WHY?!?! It’s just a freakin’ movie! Nobody is forcing you to see it and if you saw it and didn’t like it, that’s fine. Nobody said you had to like it. People died in Orlando just because they were LGBTQ. Mass shootings and terrorist attacks are taking place all over the world. Police officers are committing murder in the street. It’s an election year and our choices are Professor Umbridge and Voldemort. THERE ARE BIGGER ISSUES THAN A FREAKIN’ MOVIE!

The toxic mentality behind things like the harassment of Leslie Jones and Gamergate has to go. The War on Nerds is real, people! The last thing we should do is allow anyone within our community or any outside force to pit us against each other. Ned Stark (RIP) told his daughters in Season 1 of Game of Thrones that Winter is Coming and they needed to pull together as a family to survive the dark days ahead. If you don’t believe the dark days are here, read the last paragraph. If you still don’t, read it again until you do. A community is where people come together and accept each other. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” I’m not a fool and I don’t think you are either.

images-13Some members of the nerd community seem to think that we live in a John Hughes movie. Let me put this in a way they’ll understand. THIS IS REALITY! THE WORLD DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY! Remember how you walked the halls in high school receiving daily torture because you didn’t fit someone else’s mold of who you should be and what you should like? That sucked, right? All you wanted was to be accepted by your peers, but instead you got shut out and ostracized. So you sought out others like you, befriended them, and become part of a community that accepted you.

You may think there’s no such thing as a female nerd or even a nerd of color. Let me assure you both as a woman and a nerd that female nerds are real. I experienced the same things you did. The popular kids looked at me like I was dirt on their shoes until they wanted or needed something. Sorry boys, but you’re not the only ones who had to deal with rejection from the opposite sex. You can stop taking your aggressions out on all women now, k? Thanks. Let me assure you that there are also nerds of color. A few of my African American friends even refer to themselves as “Blerds.” Being a nerd has nothing to with race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. and has everything to do with being passionate and knowledgeable about the things we love. I’ll make this crystal clear: HEY WHITE MALE NERDS! YOU CAN’T OWN AN ENTIRE SUB-CULTURE!

You may think I’m harsh, but I’m pissed off because I love the nerd community and it’s being corrupted. I’m pissed off because there’s a mentality of exclusion. How dare you stand shoulder to shoulder with me?  We both endured the same abuse and rejection throughout our young lives and we both had a choice. We could’ve allowed it to make us bitter, angry, hateful, people or we could’ve allowed it to make us better, stronger, and more compassionate. You made the wrong choice.

Here’s the good news: We don’t have to continue making bad choices. We can stop being villains. Here’s how:

Put yourself in check: I know it’s hard, but if you struggle with accepting others into the nerd community, try reaching out. You don’t have to do anything big, just try striking up a conversation next time you’re at a con or the comic shop. You might enjoy it. You might end up making new friends or finding love.

Put your friends in check: If your friends are doing stuff like harassing people online, acting like misogynist jerks, or taking a woman’s cosplay as an open invitation to act like complete pervs, call them on it. Tell them what they’re doing is wrong. Cuss them out if you have to. If they get disrespectful with you, find some new friends.

Let’s be heroes again.

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Farmstead Arts Center 7/23

Last night I did a show up in Basking Ridge. Next to my open mic performance in Naples, Florida this is the farthest I’ve traveled to do a comedy show. I hosted and had an absolute blast. I have a few takeaways:

  1. I need to invest in a GoPro and dash mount because according to my passenger, my road rage is hilarious.
  2. You can lengthen an interview with any reporter by simply refusing to shut the hell up.
  3. Warren County is full of conservatives and Republicans which is weird because New Jersey is traditionally a more left-leaning, blue state. Being from South Jersey I must confess I’m not as familiar with the political leanings of the Piedmont region of my home state.

I made a snarky comment about Chris “Donald please notice me” Christie and I did my joke about why I don’t often go to church. I was approached by a woman who said that she didn’t find those jokes very funny and repeated what Christie said about how Hillary Clinton should be locked up. I was nice to her and listened politely, but what I really wanted to say was “Oh aren’t you a good little parrot.” She asked why I didn’t make any comments about Obama. I let that go, but I wanted to say, “Because I’m not a racist.” I’m not the least bit offended by this, and in fact she has every right to her feelings and her opinions, no matter how un-original they may be. I would never take away anyone’s right to their opinions and feelings, but folks if you’re going to be critical of a comedian, the least you could do is have the guts to get up on the stage yourself. It’s not as easy as you would think.

Writing material isn’t just getting wacky with a pen or a keyboard. For every minute of material I have, I conservatively estimate that I’ve put four hours of work polishing, perfecting, memorizing, and rehearsing. Then there’s the amount of intestinal fortitude to get up in front of a room full of people and own that room. It’s hard to explain how I do it because I have absolutely no idea. Being a comic is a challenge and I love doing it.

If you want to watch my set, there’s a link here. If you can figure out how I appear as comfortable as I do, by all means drop me a line.

Keeping Wildlife Wild

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Endangered baby dolphin, not a selfie prop

An endangered baby dolphin was taken out of the water in South America and passed around for selfies. It died of heatstroke. Dolphins can’t regulate their body temperature the way humans or other mammals can. This makes them prone to heatstroke. A dolphin’s skin is also extremely sensitive to touch as well as the sun. Nicholas the dolphin, a resident at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, who was rescued in 2002 when he was found beached with his mother, still has scars from his sunburn four years later. The point I make here is that the dolphin killed in South America most likely died in pain. Repeat after me: Wild animals are not selfie props.

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Nicholas the dolphin in his pool at Clearwater Marine Aquarium

A baby buffalo was placed in the back of an SUV overnight because the campers felt that it would be “too cold.” It later died. Fact: That baby buffalo has a mother who will gore you to death if you mess with her baby. Don’t do it. Buffalo are born with thick fur and are meant to live in colder climates. That baby buffalo was going to be just fine where it was. Taking a wild baby animal out of its natural habitat may cause it to be rejected by its mother and abandoned and baby animals don’t typically survive when abandoned. Now repeat after me: wild animals belong in the wild, not the back of my SUV. If you think a baby animal has been abandoned, contact the park rangers or your local fish and wildlife agency.

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These people are running for a reason: A furry SUV with horns is charging at them. Don’t mess with this momma!

A baby seal was taken off a beach in Washington in a plastic bag and when the individual figured out that she didn’t have the first clue how to care for it and called fish and wildlife, the animal was so sick it couldn’t be saved and had to be euthanized to end its suffering.  She thought the baby seal had been abandoned because it was alone on the beach. Fact: Baby seals spend lots of time alone on a beach. After giving birth, a mother seal needs to hunt and eat to gain back the strength she lost giving birth and ensure her ability to produce enough milk to feed her hungry baby. While some mother seals may be killed by sharks or other predators while out hunting and this would mean almost certain death to the baby she left behind on the beach, though it’s sad it’s all part of the natural order and we as humans really shouldn’t interfere. Now repeat after me: wild animals belong in the wild, not at my house. If you really think the baby seal you see on the beach has been separated from its mother and is stranded, contact your local fish and wildlife agency or your local marine mammal stranding center.

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Baby seals belong in the ocean, not a plastic bag on someone’s deck. This animal suffered.

This will sound completely insane, but most US states don’t require you to be specially licensed to own a wild animal such as a lion, tiger, or bear (Oh my! Sorry couldn’t resist.). The federal government requires an inspection of the environment you’re keeping the animal in, but that’s about it. As a result, people who don’t know what a tiger requires in terms of containment and a stimulating environment decide it’s a good idea to purchase one and keep it as a pet. Regardless of where and how that animal was bred or how used to humans it may be, it’s still a wild animal and its instinct is to hunt and kill for survival. You can’t breed or train that out of them. What you have is not a pet. What you have is a ticking time bomb if you don’t provide appropriate enrichment and proper containment.

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Oh right because an apex predator totally belongs at the dinner table.

So what happens? The animal either attacks you or the animal gets loose and now the police and/or fish and wildlife have to deal with it. In that scenario, the animal is almost always killed. An animal suffers and dies and havoc is wreaked on a community because someone made a bad choice. How is that fair? Repeat after me: Wild animals are not good pets. Want a big cat? Go down to your local shelter or contact a rescue in your area and adopt a Maine Coon, Norwegian Forest Cat, or some other domestic cat. Believe me, they’re quite wild enough and you can be reasonably certain they won’t try to kill you, your friends, or your neighbors.

Taking animals like birds and fish from their natural habitat is irresponsible and bad for the environment also in most cases ILLEGAL for a reason. The animals often encounter diseases among humans that they wouldn’t encounter in the wild and therefore have no immunity. Exposure is almost always fatal to the animal. Wild animals don’t adapt well to caged life.

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After Finding Nemo was released, clown fish became so popular as pets that they were taken from the wild at an irresponsible rate. This negatively impacted oceanic ecosystems which have only just started to recover. There’s a large concern among environmentalists and marine biologists that the same will happen to the blue tang after the release of Finding Dory. Removal of any animal from the wild is always detrimental to the ecosystem that animal inhabits. So if you’re going to get a bird or a fish of any kind, do your homework and make sure that they were sourced responsibly and sustainably.

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Two residents of Howling Woods Farm, a rescue for wolf-dog hybrids. Their crate-training lasted about three seconds.

Breeding wild animals with domestic animals is irresponsible. Breeding Servals with domestic cats to create Savannah cats and wolves with dogs are two fairly common examples. You’re not only creating an animal with special needs in terms of space, containment, and enrichment, but also not being honest and up front with people about the needs of the animal and charging top dollar to boot. A wolf-dog hybrid puppy is up to $5,000. FYI: You can’t crate-train a wolf-dog or train the prey drive out of it. If you have something that runs and squeals in your house like a small child, a wolf-dog hybrid is not for you. Rescue a husky, malamute, or German Shepherd. Wild animals are great, but they make terrible pets. The same is true about hybrids.

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Hello, human. You’re probably wondering how I got up here. It’s quite simple: I’m a Savannah Cat.

Keeping a wild-domestic hybrid is only appropriate if you’ve done the research and can provide the right environment. When researching, remember: the breeder is trying to sell you something and people who are trying to sell you something typically withhold information or present it in a very biased way so you’ll buy what they’re selling. Your best resource for information on the needs of any hybrid animal is your local veterinarian. If they can’t tell you everything you need to know, they most likely know someone who can. If you’re not able to provide the right environment and level of care for a wild-domestic hybrid or for any type of animal, please do us all a favor: DON’T GET THAT ANIMAL.

If you’re tired of seeing wild animals suffer and die, get involved. There are hundreds of organizations dedicated to wildlife and conservation. There’s the Sierra Club, the World Wildlife Fund, organizations dedicated to specific habitats like the Ocean Conservancy, and ones dedicated to specific species like Tiger Time. I’m sure any of the organizations out there would be happy to have someone willing to help wildlife stay wild.

Game of Thrones Season 6 Review

WARNING! THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT CAUGHT UP ENTIRELY WITH THE MOST CURRENT SEASON OF GAME OF THRONES. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!

Season 6 of Game of Thrones premiered April 24, 2016. This season is a landmark in the TV series because something unprecedented has happened: the TV series has pulled ahead of the books. Lovers of the books fear not! According to various sources The Winds of Winter is set to be released in early 2017. Hopefully we’ll have enough time to read it before Season 7 starts next April. This season was one hell of a ride.

Episode 1: The Red Woman

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Bubba prepared for this season by reading A World of Ice and Fire

We pick up where Season 5 left off. Ser Davos finds Jon Snow’s body and carries it into a room with help from Jon’s friends. They lock themselves in to keep Alliser Thorne from burning his body and releasing Ghost north of the Wall. Sansa and Theon are rescued by Brienne and Pod and Sansa takes Brienne into her service. Brienne finally gets to fulfill her oath to Catelyn Stark at least partially. Jaime arrives at King’s Landing with Myrcella’s body. All hell breaks loose in Dorne when Oberyn Martell’s paramour and her daughters known as the Sand Snakes kill Oberyn’s brother Prince Doran, his faithful bodyguard Areo Hotah and Doran’s heartbroken son Trystane who had just lost the love of his life. Daenerys is taken by the Dothraki and Arya is living in the street as a blind beggar getting daily beatings from the Waif. We find out that Melisandre is actually an old Crone and who’s lost faith in her god. I believe I speak for all of us when I say that her naked absurdly old body was not a visual we needed. I can’t un-see that.

Episode 2: Home

Roose Bolton celebrates the birth of a son before getting stabbed by Ramsay who then feeds the infant and Walda to his dogs. Brienne tells Sansa that Arya is still alive. Balon Greyjoy is reunited with his estranged brother, Euron who promptly murders him. Arya returns to the House of Black and White. Tyrion has a hilarious conversation with then unchains Rhaegal and Viserion. Bran travels back in time to Winterfell and sees a young Ned, Benjen, Lyanna, and Hodor. Jaime threatens the High Sparrow, Tommen asks Cersei to teach him to grow a set, and Davos persuades Melisandre to try resurrecting Jon Snow. This appears to fail until the very last second of the episode when he suddenly awakens. I’m not ashamed to admit I cheered.

Episode 3: Oathbreaker

Jon Snow’s first official act as resurrected Lord Commander is to execute Alliser Thorne and the other mutineers. He then decides to leave the Wall since after all, his Watch has ended. Sam tells Gilly that he intends to leave her and the baby with his family at Horn Hill while he travels to Oldtown to become a maester. Bran sees a vision of the Tower of Joy in Dorne and watches his father and Meera’s father, Lord Howland Reed kill Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. We hear a woman scream and the Three-Eyed Raven calls Bran back just as we see Ned ascending the stairs. What a tease! Daenerys is brought before the Dosh Khaleen and clearly not ready for retirement. Rickon, Osha, and Shaggydog’s head are brought to Ramsay Bolton. Must we kill the direwolves, people?!

Episode 4: Book of the Stranger

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I’ll admit that I cried at the reunion of Sansa with Jon Snow at Castle Black. I applauded their decision to march south and take back Winterfell.  Tyrion brokers peace with the slave masters. Littlefinger returns to the Vale to mobilize the army against Ramsay Bolton. Margaery visits Loras in church jail and tries to comfort him. Cersei, Jaime, Kevan, and the Queen of Thornes make a plan to stop the High Sparrow. Theon arrives at Pyke to find his father murdered and pledges to support his sister’s claim to the Seastone Chair. Daario finds out about Jorah’s greyscale and they arrive in Vaes Dothrak to rescue Daenerys. The episode ends with Daenerys torching the temple of the Dosh Khaleen killing all of the Khals and emerging unhurt prompting thousands of Dothraki to follow her.

Episode 5: The Door

This one hit me right in the feels. It began with Littlefinger offering to help Sansa. She turned him down then sent Brienne to try to convince the Blackfish Brynden Tully, her great uncle to rally to her cause. She and Jon begin looking for support among the other Northern houses. Arya is given a mission to kill an actress. We learn that the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers during a war with the First Men. Euron Greyjoy admits to fratricide but still wins at the Kingsmoot. Turns out the Ironborn would rather be led by a murderer than a woman. Yara and Theon flee with the entire fleet. Daenerys learns of Jorah’s greyscale. Tyrion and Varys meet with a red priestess Kinarva who offers her support to Daenerys. Bran is touched by the Night King who assaults the cave with hordes of wights and White Walkers. The Three-Eyed Raven, several Children of the Forest, and  Summer the direwolf are all casualties, but the one that weighs on this heart is Hodor. Hodor’s younger self is rendered mentally incapacitated through Bran’s travel to the past. Seeing your own gruesome death could do that to a kid and theDoctor Who writers say, “You’re welcome,” for the plot device. Jokes aside, this says a lot about Hodor. He always knew he was going to die and stayed with Bran anyway.

Episode 6: Blood of My Blood

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Bubba the dragon of House Emonds’ utter joy & contentment at the sight of Drogon

We finally find out what happened to Uncle Benjen who disappeared during Season 1. Sam and Gilly arrive in Horn Hill and after the most awkward family dinner ever, they leave with the family’s ancestral Valyrian steel sword, Heartsbane in the middle of the night. Arya warns the actress Lady Crane instead of killing her. The Waif is instructed to kill Arya for this infraction. Jaime and Mace Tyrell attempt to protect Margaery from the Faith, but Tommen beats him to the punch by forming an alliance with the High Sparrow. Jaime’s dismissed from the Kingsguard and ordered to Riverrun to retake the castle from the Blackfish. The episode ends with Daenerys on Drogon’s back rallying the Dothraki to take Westeros with her.

 

 

Episode 7: The Broken Man

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Margaery persuades Grandma Tyrell to return to Highgarden after the High Sparrow issues a veiled threat. Jon, Sansa, and Davos recruit the Wildlings and House Mormont, but they still remain outnumbered. Sansa writes a letter in secret begging for help. Lyanna Mormont became my homegirl. Jaime arrives at Riverrun and attempts to parley with the Blackfish unsuccessfully. We find out The Hound is still alive and was saved by a Septon. When renegades threaten then slaughter the group of followers of the Faith, Clegane seeks revenge. Theon and Yara spend the night in partying Volantis. The episode ends with Arya securing passage to Westeros but being attacked by the Waif and escaping badly wounded and yes, I lost my shit.

Episode 8: No One

Tommen abolishes trial by combat and Cersei realizes how very screwed she is. Brienne attempts unsuccessfully to convince the Blackfish to help Sansa. Jaime threatens Edmure Tully’s young son if he doesn’t convince his uncle to stand down. He complies and the Blackfish is killed by Lannister men. Or was he? We never saw a body. Pod and Brienne escape. Varys leaves on an unknown mission. The Hound kills the renegades who slaughtered the Septon and his followers and encounters Ser Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr. Lady Crane takes Arya in and heals her wounds but the Waif arrives, kills Lady Crane, then chases Arya through the streets. Arya leads her with a trail of her own blood into the catacombs where she’s waiting for her with Needle. After literally cutting the lights Arya returns to the House of Black and White and the Waif’s face goes to the wall. Arya Stark is my homegirl.

Episode 9: Battle of the Bastards

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Bubba the Conqueror attempting to breathe fire

OMG OMG OMG Daenerys deals with the slaver’s fleet with Drogon , Rhaegal, and Viseron. Grey Worm kills two of the three masters, leaving one alive to tell the tale. Daenerys agrees to an alliance with Greyjoy siblings once Yara agrees that the constant reaving of the Ironborn will stop. Then the Battle of the Bastards. It starts with Ramsay using Rickon to draw Jon Snow and his men into the open and killing him in the process. Who the hell forgot to teach Rickon that you run in a zig-zag pattern when being shot at? Jon Snow and his men get stuck in a pincer move until the knights of the Vale arrive at the last second. Ramsay turns tail and runs and Jon, Tormund, and Wun Wun give chase. Wun Wun sacrifices himself to get through the gates of Winterfell and Jon proceeds to beat the piss out of Ramsay. I can’t begin to tell you how satisfying that was to watch. Even more satisfying was seeing Ramsay tied to a chair in the kennel with his “faithful” hounds who he hasn’t fed in seven days. Let this be a lesson to those who abuse or neglect animals.  I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that his last words were “No! Down! Sit! Bad dog! “

Episode 10: Season Finale: The Winds of Winter

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“Fire and blood…and crickets.” -Bubba the Conqueror

Again OMG OMG OMG. All hell has broken loose in Westeros. I’m still trying to process the first 10 minutes. Cersei and Qyburn have Grand Maester Pycelle killed and blow up the Sept with wildfire killing Margaery, the High Sparrow, Mace Tyrell, Loras Tyrell, the entire Faith Militant and hundreds of King’s Landing nobles and citizens. When Tommen finds out, he throws himself out a window. Davos loses it on Melisandre when he confronts her about Shereen. Jon Snow banishes her from Winterfell. Littlefinger shares his dream of sitting the Iron Throne with Sansa at his side, but she’s clearly unimpressed. The remaining houses of the North pledge their support to Jon Snow and name him King in the North. The Freys hold a banquet to celebrate the retaking of Riverrun and Jaime Lannister tells Walder Frey exactly how useless he is. We finally get to see the rest of our vision from the Tower of Joy when Ned finds a dying Lyanna and takes her newborn son as his bastard. This confirms the wildly popular theory of Rheagar + Lyanna = Jon Snow…or does it? Sam and Gilly make it to Oldtown and Sam practically weeps for joy at the sight of the library. Jaime returns to Kings Landing to find the Sept of Baelor a smoldering ruin and Cersei crowning herself as Queen. We see Arya Stark feed Walder Frey his own children in a pie before slicing his throat. That was so satisfying. Grandma Tyrell didn’t go back to Highgarden. She went to Dorne and has allied what remains of House Tyrell with Dorne and Daenerys through the work of Varys. The episode ends with Daenerys mobilizing a crap ton of ships and her dragons to sail for Westeros. Fire and blood.

Here are my key takeaways:

1. This season had the highest body count of any previous season. Valar Morghulis.

2. For those keeping score at home, Daenerys has roughly 40,000 Dothraki, 8,000 Unsullied, the Ironborn longships and their crews, the Tyrell army, Dorne, and three dragons. By my count she easily has the largest and most skilled army in Westeros and SHE HAS FREAKIN’ DRAGONS!!!!! She’s also done what Aegon the Conqueror couldn’t and by bringing Dorne to her side.

3. The possibility of Sandor Clegane getting his wish and killing his brother (hopefully for good) is still alive.

4. Most of Cersei’s prophecy from Maggy the Frog has been fulfilled. The worst of it is yet to come and she has no idea. I don’t want her to die until the very end because she’s that character I love to hate, but oh is that ever going to be satisfying.

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Yes I colored this all by myself #adultingwin

5. Arya Stark has made a list and she’s checking it twice. Anyone else who still remains from that list better watch their asses.

6.  Melisandre could still have a part to play in the war to come between the living and the dead.

7. The dragon has three heads. We (tentatively) know of two: Daenerys and Jon Snow. There’s still a third dragon floating about somewhere and fan theories abound as to who it is and how he/she will arrive in the TV series. There’s a lot to look forward to next season and the books to come.