Being a fan of Harry Potter I’ve heard it said by a number of fellow Christians that they feel the series is inappropriate due to its ties to witchcraft and/or wizardry. Now your faith is your faith and your opinion is your opinion, however I feel that anyone who feels that Harry Potter isn’t appropriate for Christian readers has completely missed the entire message of the story.
The Harry Potter series can be studied as an epic and that means that we’re presented with a larger than life hero who faces nearly insurmountable odds to defeat a larger than life villain. Love and the absence thereof is a continuous theme throughout the series. You have an arrogant villain who has never known love and you have a humble hero who was so loved by his parents that they gave their lives to protect him and his friends who risked everything for him time and time again.
Our villian, Voldemort is a wizard with both extraordinary power and extraordinary ambition. He is also extraordinarily arrogant which in the end becomes his undoing. Voldemort wasn’t born evil. No one is. He also wasn’t born Voldemort. Tom Marvolo Riddle was born to Merope Gaunt, a witch and direct descendant of Salazar Slytherin one of the four founders of Hogwarts and a muggle aristocrat by the name of Tom Riddle. His father left his mother while she was still pregnant with him and his mother died shortly after giving birth to him. He never knew the love of either of his parents. Being rejected by his father and losing his mother at such a young age is ultimately what turned Tom Marvolo Riddle into the evil Lord Voldemort. The old English epic poem Beowulf has a similar villain in Grendel. Grendel is a hideous monster because of his choice to separate himself from God’s love. We see a similar transformation as Tom Riddle changes from an attractive young man who looks like his father to an ugly, snakelike man as he destroys his soul by murdering innocent people so that he can become immortal.
Our hero, Harry Potter, is also an orphan thanks to Voldemort who murdered Harry’s parents when he was only a year old. Harry was born to James Potter and Lily Evans. Lily sacrificed her life to save Harry and by doing so sealed a powerful magic in his blood that caused Voldemort’s killing curse to rebound off of Harry and hit him. Lily Potter’s final act was one of love and it saved our hero’s life when he was only a baby. This will be the first of many times that our hero is saved by someone’s love for him.
Voldemort didn’t have friends during his time at Hogwarts. He had followers and hangers on, but didn’t have anyone he could really consider a true friend that loved him. Harry on the other hand, had Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger and have couldn’t asked for two truer friends than them. He even had the love of Ron’s sister Ginny. They all risked their lives and made sacrifices for him. Everything they did for Harry was done for love. Everything that Voldemort’s followers did for him was out of fear of what he would do if they didn’t do what he asked.
The final battle of Hogwarts could be considered a show of love conquering evil. Harry Potter fought an army and then freely gave his own life to save those he loved then destroyed Voldemort once and for all with the help of his friends and all those who loved him. Voldemort may have had an army but not one of his followers stayed loyal to him in the end. Just look at the Malfoys who turned tail and ran as soon as they could.
Just because a story involves magic doesn’t mean that it’s not appropriate for Christian readers, especially when the entire message of the story is that love is the most powerful magic, more powerful than any spell including or Unforgivable Curse
. The Bible teaches us time and again that love is more powerful than any evil in the world and that God is love. When you look at it that way, it’s hard to consider Harry Potter anything other than a good story with a positive message.
If you follow this blog you will become aware of two things: that I am a female stand-up comic and that I’m a lover of animals. I decided within the past year to put my love of animals into action and begin volunteering with a rescue and I have not regretted it.
Now here’s something not so obvious about me: I’ve struggled my entire life with low self-esteem. It’s kind of what happens when you grow up the scrawny nerd and you’re raised to be a perfectionist. It can’t be helped when you get your share of bullying and constantly hear about how nothing you do is ever good enough. I consider myself fortunate because I know there are so many people out there that have it worse, but this is my story so I’m telling it.
Being a perfectionist works to my advantage in a lot of ways, but sometimes it can be more of a hindrance than a help. In my own mind, I’m too short, I’m hard to look at, and my personality kind of sucks. I always have to make a joke, I accidentally interrupt people because I have a thought and get too excited to keep it in, and everybody tells me my voice carries which, and don’t lie to me, is a nice way of saying I’m obnoxiously loud. Really, it’s okay. I’ve come to accept this. Besides if you have the perfect life, stand-up comedy is not for you so if nothing else, it makes me funny. There’s my silver lining.
However, I have good news for anybody who thinks badly of themselves like I used to and in fact still do sometimes. None of that shit matters. No, I’m serious. It really doesn’t matter. You know what does? Your character. Do you do your best every day to be a kind person? Are you kind to everybody and not just people who are like you? Then you’re a person of good character. None of that stuff you don’t like about yourself is important. I’m telling you this because I had to figure it out the hard way and I want to make it easier for others. If I help even one person then I’ll be happy.
Two groups tend to sense kindness in people: children and animals.I seem to be very popular among my friends’ children. Even kids who don’t really know me tend to smile at me. Now that may be because they sense that I’m an aunt who spoils the crap out of her niece and nephew, but you never know so the true test for me was when I started volunteering and working with rescue animals.
After new volunteer orientation, I mingled with my fellow volunteers and the cats before visiting with more of my fellow volunteers and the dogs. When I rounded the corner, this female hound/pit mix made eye contact with me and surprised her handler by bee-lining for me. She was a shy dog and she’d never actually approached anyone like that before. So of course, I found myself unable to resist my urge to pet her and I saw a past in her eyes. We may never know the full extent of it, but it was clear that her life in rescue was the start of a new and better chapter. Shy dogs are often overlooked at adoption events, so I gave her as much attention as I could. A young woman came up and took to her right away. That woman adopted her within a few weeks. I felt like I witnessed and was even a part of the moment when that dog learned to trust again. Needless to say I was hooked and haven’t looked back. I didn’t choose the rescue life. The rescue life chose me.
Now what does this have to do with self-esteem? Well that’s simple. That dog didn’t care that I’m short. She didn’t even care what I looked like. She didn’t care about my jokes or any of my weird social quirks. She saw something in me. She knew just by sight and scent that I cared about her and wanted to help her. She’s not the only one, either. A notoriously picky male Chihuahua-Jack Russel mix approached me and jumped into my arms when I knelt down to pet him. My lap has also been jumped into. I’ve been leaned upon by dogs of all sizes. Leaning is a dog’s way of saying “I trust you. I feel safe with you.” I’ve had cats paw at me for attention which of course I gave to them. Look, all I’m saying is there must be something good about me. All these kids and animals can’t be wrong. So all that stuff I didn’t and well still kind of don’t like about me is eclipsed by their love.
St. Theresa of Calcutta once said “Do small things with great love.” Giving my time and attention to rescue animals probably seems like a pretty small thing, but it makes a difference. Showing people their personalities helps them get adopted into loving forever homes and makes room for us to save another. Nothing builds self-esteem quite like knowing that you’re making a positive impact on someone’s life and that’s how saving them saves me. I only hope now that reading this helps someone else.
Friday night’s show at Take 5 was pretty special. It was on Veterans Day and we were lucky enough to have a veteran in the crowd who we thanked for protecting our right to entertain people with our jokes.
The very nature of comedy and humor is critical. You’re poking fun at someone or something. Nothing is sacred. Yet, I noticed that even though the result of our election was the elephant in the room we were all a little tentative about making our Trump jokes. As host I purposely put one out there just to test the waters in case the other comics wanted to blow off some steam. Thankfully it did not go over like a fart in church.
Our line-up included Chris Kiley, Tom Mongelli, James Camacho, Chris Sicoli, and Steve Schwartz. Everyone was outstanding and the crowd really enjoyed themselves. I ran the show to fill in for Kurt since he was out of town and I’m pleased to say that since Take 5 is still standing, his sound equipment is still intact, and nobody was killed or injured it went well. If you’d like to see my set, you can watch it here.
We like to think we’ve come so far with respect to women’s rights and while I admit there has been a great deal of progress, there are still some things that I feel should no longer be things in 2016. Society still seems to have an unwritten code of conduct for women and this code holds us to a very different standard from our male counterparts.
Rule #1: Never stand up for yourself or anything you believe in.
Women who stand up for themselves and are vocal about it are immediately labeled as a “bitch” or “volatile” or “difficult.” Talk to any woman and chances are she’ll tell you that she’s experienced this. I have enough firsthand knowledge to teach a Master’s program in it. Meanwhile, men who don’t stand up for themselves are labeled as a part of the female anatomy that Donald Trump seems to think you can grab.
Rule #2: Never show anger or frustration.
Don’t. Just don’t. Everyone will assume that you’re on your period or “not getting any,” even other women. Meanwhile men can be as angry and frustrated as they please. This is nuts. If every woman who’s ever been angry or frustrated felt that way because she was on her period then women have been on their periods non-stop since the DAWN OF FREAKIN’ TIME! If that were true the feminine hygiene product industry would be booming and we’d have no national debt. If every woman who’s ever been angry or frustrated felt that way because she was “not getting any,” humanity would’ve died out by now. Maybe that woman isn’t on her period or sexually frustrated. Maybe she’s angry and frustrated because you’re an ass! If you say stuff like this, grow up.
Rule #3: Never go jogging alone at night or in broad daylight, never go to a party, never go to a bar, never go out on a date, never have any alcoholic beverages of any kind, never wear a skirt, never wear pants, never go to sleep in your own home, never go out to the store during the day or at night…screw it. Basically never leave your house if you don’t want to risk being attacked or raped.
From the time I was twelve, I was conditioned to always be aware of my surroundings and always be ready to defend myself because there are people out there who want to try to make me into a victim for no other reason than the fact that I was born female. That’s a pretty young age to have your whole childhood just end for you, isn’t it? As teenagers women deal with men old enough to be our fathers objectifying us before we’re even fully aware of what that means. We’re conditioned to cater to and coddle the male ego because God forbid the guy we’re turning down for a date or a drink just snaps when we tell him we’re not interested. We can’t even walk down the street minding our own business without constantly looking over our shoulders. Even falling asleep in your own home is dangerous. A woman in NJ went to sleep in her home and woke up to find a man raping her. She reported it and cooperated with police only to have a judge tell her she wasn’t raped because she wasn’t awake to say no. We can’t even report a rape without having to answer a series of victim-shaming questions. “What were you wearing? How many drinks did you have? Were you intoxicated? Did you flirt with him?” Women and young girls get this mixed message that our bodies belong to us and no one is entitled to them without our consent and then we’re told in the same breath to be careful because if the wrong guy takes a liking to us we might just get raped. I have an idea! WHY DON’T WE TEACH MEN AND YOUNG BOYS TO KEEP IT IN THEIR PANTS?!?!?!?!
Rule #4: Never be proud of your body, dress in a way that flatters you too much, or try to own your sexuality.
Women who do any of the above are immediately labeled “sluts” or if your prefer as a T.H.O.T. (That Hoe Over There). Men can wear and do whatever or whomever they please and people not only respect it, they also glorify it and high five them to congratulate them on their latest sexual conquest. Sex should not be about conquest. Ladies and gentlemen we’re not at war. Treating sex as an act of conquest is too close to treating sex as an act of violence. This mentality is why rape culture exists. Sex should be about mutual love and connection to another person. Despite the strides we’ve made women are still viewed as objects or prizes to be won. I’m sorry boys, but this isn’t a carnival game. If you have a conquest mentality, don’t step right up. Step right off.
There is undeniably room for growth here. First, ladies we need to build each other up. If you see someone standing up for herself, stand with her. Take care of yourselves, take care of each other, and for God’s sake stop calling other women sluts because you’re jealous that you don’t look as good as they do. If we don’t build each other up, we’re just getting in our own way and impeding our own progress.
Men, get it together. I know that there are good men out there. I’m personally acquainted with several. Guys, we know you care about us. This is your fight, too. If you hear one of your friends being a misogynist ass, tell him off. There are a great many things I’d like to say to misogynists, but they all end with “and the horse you rode in on” and it’s not like they’d listen anyway, so this is where I’ll jump off my soap box. Let’s do better, people.
WARNING: This blogger has not done one of her classic rants in a while, so she figured you’re all due for one. If you can’t hang, here’s your out. If you can hang, enjoy!
It’s 2016. We’ve made many strides as a society. We have marriage equality, medical science is making people live longer, and we can even access quality writing on the internet for free with great sites like WordPress! So, why are people still racist? I can’t possibly be the only person who finds racism completely abhorrent, morally wrong, and downright stupid. In fact I know I’m not because the people I choose to associate with feel the same way I do. Being racist is stupid. There I said it. Nobody freakin’ asks to be born white, black, Asian, Hispanic, etc. So if you hate someone because of their race, you basically hate someone for being born. If that’s not stupid I don’t know what is.
Now if I dislike someone, note I didn’t say hate because I make a conscious effort not to hate because hate is poisonous to the human soul and I like my soul intact; unlike Voldemort’s which was split into seven pieces to create Horcruxes. What you are inside reflects on your outside which is why Voldemort has no nose. I’d like to keep my nose deviated septum and all, thank you very much. Besides I really have no use for Horcruxes. I don’t hate, I appreciate. I’m about the hug life, not the thug life.
If I truly feel a burning distaste for someone, I don’t feel that way because of their race, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic they were born with and thus can’t control. No, I feel that way because that person happens to be an asshole. Being an asshole transcends race, sexual orientation, and a great many other things. It doesn’t matter what type of asshole you are. An asshole is an asshole is an asshole and if you’re racist, you’re an asshole.
Nobody is born racist. It’s learned behavior. If you hear from childhood that you shouldn’t play with this kid or that kid because they’re (insert race here) and (insert race here) people are (insert ridiculous and insulting stereotype here), it becomes ingrained. Then don’t play with this kid becomes don’t socialize with this person or don’t work with or for that person when you reach adulthood. However, there’s hope because anything that can be learned can be unlearned.
Don’t believe me? Smoking is a learned behavior. Nobody has ever come out of the womb with a lit cigarette in their mouth. If someone did, it would surely be a viral video by now with several detractors either arguing that it’s a fake or spouting hate and vitriol. No, you learned your smoking behavior and reinforced it until it became a habit, yet people quit smoking every day. Sure, they might need some help doing it through patches, gum, hypnosis, etc., but they still do it. So, even though smoking is a learned behavior, it can be unlearned.
How can someone who has been taught to be racist unlearn that behavior? Well first they have to want to unlearn it. They need to have a reason to make that change. Think of our smoker. Despite being addicted to cigarettes, at some point something drove them to quit. It could’ve been a doctor, nagging from a child, spouse, or significant other, or maybe even social pressure. Regardless they made a conscious decision to quit smoking. That’s what needs to happen for someone to unlearn racism: they need to make a conscious decision to do it.
What would drive someone to make a conscious decision to unlearn racist behavior? Let’s go back to our smoker. Maybe every time they lit up, they would hear from one of their friends how terrible smoking is for you. Maybe their friends stopped hanging out with them because they didn’t want to be exposed to the second-hand smoke and hearing that nobody wants to be around them drove them to quit smoking. Now let’s go back to our racist. Maybe if their peers called them out on their behavior or their friends stopped associating with them they’d want to stop being racist.
That’s where we come in, people. If you hear someone saying something racist, call them on it. I don’t care if it’s a friend, coworker, or a total stranger on the street. It’s 2016! We can’t tolerate this crap anymore! Don’t just sit or stand there looking uncomfortable. Open your mouth and tell the person that what they’re saying offends you. They might get on your case and you may even lose a friend or two, but do you really want to associate with people who are racist? If you sit idly by and allow this nonsense to continue, you’re just as guilty as they are. Don’t be a coward. Stand up and do the right thing.
If you’re a racist, STOP IT! YOU’RE MAKING THE REST OF HUMANITY LOOK BAD! Remember what I said before about how people who are racist are assholes? You don’t want to be an asshole do you? Of course you don’t! Nobody wants to be an asshole. The only people who want to hang out with you are other racists, so not only are you an asshole but you’re also surrounded by assholes. Who wants to be surrounded by assholes? Nobody, that’s who. Come on, that’s enough. Stop it already. No excuses! Just stop. Return to some semblance of sense, sanity, and reason with the rest of us, k? Thanks!
Friday was just a shitty day for me. There, I said it. My morning at work wasn’t the greatest and my afternoon was no better when the US Women’s soccer team lost to Sweden in PKs due to what I honestly feel was God-awful officiating. If that overtime goal was offsides, then I’m the freakin’ Queen of England. I am a HUGE fan of US Women’s National Team and I was absolutely gutted for them. That game literally took years off my life. I said more Hail Marys in a single afternoon than I had in a lifetime raised in the Catholic Church. I’m grown enough to admit it: I cried. I’m not going to lie, my faith in the power of prayer is a bit shaken.
But in the great words of Freddie Mercury, “The show must go on.” With my comedy Mr. Miyagi away for the weekend it was down to me to haul in the equipment, wrangle the epic cable tangles, and put on a good comedy show. As it turned out though, the cable tangles were surprisingly not that bad. Seriously I’m kind of touched that Kurt remembered my cable OCD and neatened them up a bit. Four years as a theatre technician gave me a great appreciation for lovingly coiled cables. Well, that and having to re-coil a 20-foot cable because it wasn’t cabled to your boss’ stringent standards.
So Kurt and the other comics that were coming from far and wide, aka the greater Philly area all the way to Robbinsville were counting on me. I couldn’t let them down. I decided that the best way to honor the 18 women plus the alternates, coaches, and staff that had done so much to make me proud was to dedicate my performance at Take 5 Gourmet to them and bring the funny, so that’s what I did.
Before the show I had to stop at a friend’s house to feed their cats while they were away, but the key to their front door somehow didn’t work. After much sweating and even attempting to coach two felines on how to work the lock and let me in, I called my friend who got their niece to come over because they were reasonably certain her key worked. I was bummed out because I always like helping a friend and because I could hear the “I’m hungry! Move it, bipedal underling!,” meows of my friend’s cats through the door. I knew they were going to get taken care of, but I still felt bad for them.
So my not great morning was followed by a crappy afternoon which was then followed by a rough evening. Nevertheless, I pressed on just like I’m sure the USWNT will do. To Take 5 I went and with the help of my long-suffering and much-mocked on stage boyfriend, I hauled the equipment inside in the rain (Relax, Kurt! Nothing got wet), set up, and did a quick sound check just in time for the other comics to start arriving.
Heavy heart and all, I worked with a talent-stacked line-up that included Mike Sgroi, Tom Mongelli, Sami Stans, Jared Keith, Chris Sicoli, Paul Goldenberg, Chris Stenta, and our headliner the one, the only Natalie Levant. I hosted and warmed up the crowd, played with the sound system, and handled lighting everyone for time. The crowd was enjoying themselves, the other comics brought the funny, and as bummed out as I was, I still enjoyed myself. That’s the magic of comedy. There’s just something about laughing with a room full of people that lifts your spirits even in the toughest of times. That’s part of what keeps me coming back.
But folks, adversity wasn’t done with me just yet. When I went to view my footage, I found that my video blurred out and came back in focus at random intervals. I wasn’t able to post a video of my full set because I didn’t want to upload a video that I wasn’t going to be completely happy with. At the end of the day, I half-ass nothing. However I was fortunate enough to be able to upload all of my new material that made it’s debut Friday night and you can view it here.
My main takeaway from this experience is that you can still be funny in spite of adversity. In fact you could say that adverse circumstances fuel my comedy fire. It’s inspired me to write material and I’ve noticed that my punchiness increases with my level of frustration and trust me adversity can be damned frustrating. Another great thing about comedy is that it can give you the power to push past the heartbreak we all encounter in life and become something better and stronger than we were before.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Ladies, do you get disgusted when you’re walking down the street just minding your own business when some guy walking in the opposite direction looks you in the eye and says “Hey baby, you’re too fine.”? It’s annoying right? Why do men catcall women? When has that ever worked? When you ask a couple how they met, you never hear “I was walking down the street and he was walking the other way and said “Hey baby, you’re too fine!,” and I just fell in love with him right there and we’ve been together ever since.” The odds of cat-calling a woman actually getting you laid are non-existent, so why bother?
Let’s define cat-calling. The dictionary defines a cat-call as a shrill whistle-like sound or loud raucous shout made to express disapproval at a theater, meeting, etc. or an instrument for producing such a sound. The verb to cat-call is defined as to sound cat-calls or to express disapproval of by cat-calls. Disapproval isn’t what I’m hearing when a guy cat-calls me. In fact I’m hearing quite the opposite, so I don’t think we can continue using the word cat-call or any derivation thereof to refer to what’s really going on here. Let’s call it what it really is: street harassment.
But how is it harassment if I’m paying you a compliment?
If you wanted to pay me a compliment, what’s wrong with saying any of the traditional greetings in this country and striking up a conversation? Let’s try something like this:
You: Good morning
Me: Good morning
You: Lovely weather today
Me: Yes it’s nice, less humid than it’s been.
You: Definitely. That’s a lovely skirt you’re wearing.
Me: Thanks! I got it on sale.
You: It suits you. Have a nice day!
Me: Same to you!
Isn’t that nicer? What you’re doing isn’t paying me a compliment. What you’re doing is being disrespectful and I’ll show you how. Here, let’s break it down:
Whoa! Pump the brakes, slick. We’ve never met. Who exactly do you think you’re calling baby? The only individuals you should be calling “baby” are your significant other, a dog or other animal, or an actual baby. I’m not your significant other. I’m a human being, not an animal and I’m a grown woman not a baby. So, calling me “baby” isn’t cute or a compliment. It shows that in your mind I’m equal to an animal, small child, or that you’re just deluded enough to think I’m your significant other. Frankly that last bit is sad enough to be funny.
“You’re too fine.” Yeah that’s what you said, but what I hear is “I’m eye-f*cking the sh*t out of you and there’s nothing you can do about it.” That’s not a compliment. Basically your entire statement has shown me that in your mind I’m being viewed as an object instead of a person.
Well so what? They’re only words.
I’ve heard street harassers say pretty filthy things to women walking by; even women who were pushing their toddlers in a stroller. Can you imagine how awkward that “Mommy what’s a…?” conversation must’ve been? They’re only words but they’re disrespectful words and who wants to be disrespected? Nobody, that’s who. It doesn’t always stop at words either. I’ve seen guys cat-call a woman then proceed to follow her for multiple blocks. That’s not creepy at all. (<=Heavy sarcasm) Words aren’t the problem. The problem is the mentality behind those words.
What street harassment says to women is, “You can’t even walk down the street without being reminded that some view you as ‘just a woman’.” Add walking down the street to the long list of things women can’t safely do in America in 2016 which also includes going for a jog, going out to a bar or club, having a drink on a date, speaking during business meetings without beginning every statement with “I’m sorry,” and of course getting paid the same amount of money as a man to do the same job. Yes, men have held the power in our society for time immemorial, but we so need another reminder. People, please it’s 2016. Drop the caveman mentality already. Women are rising to prominence in businesses and governments the world over which is amazing when you consider the fact that women didn’t receive the right to vote in America until 1920.
The mentality behind street harassment speaks to anger at the fact that women have made great strides toward equality. I get it. You’re upset because this means that your safe little world is changing and your behavior is going to have to change with it. Please do us all a favor and CLIMB DOWN OFF YOUR CROSS, USE THE WOOD TO BUILD A BRIDGE, AND GET OVER IT! The mentality behind street harassment is closely related to if not exactly the same as the mentality that drives violent crimes against women. If you don’t think that’s a problem, please stop reading immediately and go take a long walk off a short pier.
The sad truth is that saying this will probably get me called a feminazi bitch. You’re certainly welcome to that opinion and I’m sorry you feel that way, but I’m not saying that all men are terrible people or even that men who participate in street harassment are necessarily terrible people. Put yourself in the shoes of the woman you’re harassing. Would you really feel good about some guy saying filthy things to you or following you for several blocks down the street while you’re just trying to get somewhere? The world would be a better place if we could all learn to be more respectful and considerate of others. Guys, cat-calling is not sexy. It’s a huge turn-off and it’s never ever going to get you laid. If you want a lady’s attention, treat her with respect. Respect is hot. Seriously if you’re going around cat-calling, stop. Just stop.
Friday night was a truly epic performance for me, but not just because I got to meet and connect with other comics I hadn’t yet had the privilege of working with before, but also because I got to help inspire the next generation of funny.
Monday night, I went over to the Zimmerman house and I helped his daughter Katelyn work on her material. She’s got great stuff so it was a pretty easy job. I was excited for her all week. She had an advantage that I didn’t have the first time I went up and that was time to prepare. Kurt, being the great friend he is threw me on stage spur of the moment. I did it because I knew that if I didn’t that I would continue to talk about doing stand-up as opposed to you know actually doing stand-up.
Friday when I walked into Take 5 Katelyn didn’t quite see it that way. Sure she had time to prepare, she told me, but she also had time to panic. Kurt pulled me aside and asked me to talk to her because she was trying to back out and nothing he said was having any real impact because she’s a teenage girl and he’s her dad. There’s a long-standing history of teenage girls not really wanting to listen to their dads. I’m sure my family will attest to me absolutely being a typical teenage girl on this front.
Being a comic and having been a teenage girl myself, I worked on talking Katelyn down and getting her grounded back in this reality, not the big, scary world of “what if?”
“What if I forget all my material?”
Use your cheat sheet. Nobody’s going to give you a hard time for that.
“What if I didn’t write enough on it?”
Let me see. Okay take a breath and start your set. At this point, she rattled off the first 2 minutes of her 4-minute set without me prompting her from her index card cheat sheet once, but she was still afraid. At that point I said probably the most adulty thing that she’s ever heard come out of my mouth. Fear could stand for 2 things. Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise.
“I like the first one.”
I reminded her of how good her jokes were and I told her that if you keep putting it off for next month, you’re going to be saying “I’ll do it next month” for the rest of your life. Her friend and I kept talking her up until she agreed to perform and guys, she was INCREDIBLE! Off the cuff she told the crowd that if they didn’t laugh, they were going to make a little girl cry. Kurt, her mother, and I exchanged a look and high fived when she came down off the stage after totally owning the room. They both thanked me for talking her into performing and I know they were both proud. I’m pretty darn proud of the kid myself. She was part of a line-up that was stellar despite having me in it.
Steve Schwartz hosted. There were great sets by Johnny Smallwood, Tina Marie, Tom Mongielli, Greg Rapport, James Camacho, and Dan Lamorte. Tim Eli came out to support us. As much as I say I’m not that funny, the other comics and the crowd seemed to like my set, but you be the judge. Friday night set @ Take 5
In a rare twist of fate, I had 2 shows booked in one weekend. Friday night at Take 5 Gourmet in Robbinsville, NJ and Saturday night the Coins for Colleen Fundraiser.
Friday night at Take 5 almost became the show that never was. I spent most of the day in bed with a migraine. However I rallied in the late afternoon and when show time arrived, I daresay I even passed for a functional adult. We had another epic show. The audience turned out and they were turn’t up as the kids say nowadays. I hosted and newcomer Harrison Brown, a very funny teenager led off followed by Tom Mongelli, Jonny Smallwood, Doug Max, James Camacho, Peter Brown, Steve Schwartz, and Joey Novick who came very close to causing me to nose my beverage. Kurt Zimmerman headlined and was off the chain as usual. I’m definitely looking forward to next month.
Saturday night was the Coins for Colleen fundraiser and it was really something special. It was a packed house of 300 people my largest audience to date and my fellow hosts of the Robbinsville Trainwreck (previous shows can be found here) Kurt Zimmerman and Tim Eli came out to help. In addition to all the laughing because we killed it, there was also dinner, dancing, drinks, a 50-50, a basket auction, and a crap ton of fun. What made this show special to me was looking at Colleen, a damn nice lady who’s sick with colon cancer, and seeing her laughing. It reminded me why I started doing this in the first place and it made all the hours of writing, rehearsing, and arguments with myself over phrasing all worth it. I also donated my hair in Colleen’s honor so that it can give hope to others who are battling cancer.
So folks, my weekend was chock full of jokes. In fact even my video camera got in on the act and rendered almost all of my footage unusable to anyone who doesn’t want to watch a video that looks like my world before I put in my contacts. Even my video camera is funny! However I did manage to salvage a little bit in the form of exactly one joke from Take 5 on Friday and it’s brand new. You can watch it here.