Bronn: 1, Drogon: 0—Game of Thrones, Season 7, So Far

Game of Thrones Spoiler Alert! (With that out of the way—)

Dany and Jon Snow

I sincerely hope this doesn’t turn into a romantic relationship. The Onion Knight needs to mind his business.

As I watched Drogon bearing down on Bronn and the ballista, I found myself rooting more for Bronn than Daenerys. Actually, I was more on the side of Jaime and Bronn for the entirety of the battle. Given Dany’s insistence that Jon Snow bend the knee in the last two hours of GoT, I’ve been somewhat annoyed with her.

This season, Dany has been acting rather entitled to the Iron Throne and the whole of Westeros, and it’s gotten tiresome. The first Targaryen to sit on the throne had taken the continent through conquest and threat of violence. Robert Targaryen took it back by the same means, relieving the people from the whims of the Mad King. So, though it’s fair game for Dany to say she’s going to take the throne by the might of her dragons and her army, I find it a bit lame for her to so strongly rely on the argument that it’s her “right.”

Jon’s retort to Dany on episode 3 was on point. He basically said he didn’t acknowledge her right to the throne because her father gave up the throne when he went ballistic on the people of Westeros. Overall, I’m not a fan of monarchies and (governing) power-by-inheritance. As a person who grew up with Hollywood films touting the values of Democracy, I kind of want Daenerys to unite Westeros and then put down her crown—as cheesy as it my be.

So after Dany spent two episodes basically clashing with my beloved King in the North, and insisting that she is entitled to the entire continent and all the people’s allegiance, I wasn’t quite in support of her flying down to Highgarden and laying waste to Westerosi.

The showrunners (and, perhaps, George R.R. Martin) intended for these late-game clashes to leave the audience conflicted, and it was done well. I didn’t want anyone to die in this fight. Sure, the Lannisters have a history of being jerks, but all the lives lost in this episode are warriors who should have united to fight against the true enemy.

By the end of the episode, when Jaime told Bronn to use their secret dragon-slaying weapon, I was both hoping and expecting for Drogon to be shot down (sorry, animal lovers). I wanted the dragon to fall, somewhat selfishly, because Dany needed a reality check. I also expected it because, like most folks, you could see this coming a mile away—more lives and resources need to be wasted, from a writing/show-running standpoint, before the good guys can finally band together.

Bronn being awesome

Take that, Drogon.

So the postman may hate Bronn, but he has my support. As for his and Jaime Lannister’s fates on the show after they dodged the flames and fell into the water—

They’re probably okay. They’re not shown in teasers for the next episode just to screw with people. The showrunners seem to be going in the direction of The Walking Dead and leaning a bit too much on cliffhangers to jerk the audience around (which, if true, is a mistake).

GoT Season 5 – Diversions, Deaths, Rebirths

I’d read somewhere that the showrunners for Game of Thrones were planning to diverge from George R.R. Martin’s books—getting away from the source material and GRRM’s plans for the novel series. Knowing this, I went into the fifth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones both dreading and anticipating David Benioff and D. B. Weiss’ changes.

The following will contain massive *SPOILERS* for the show and the novels if you’re not up to date.

Some Characters are Better Off Missing

jeynepooleThe show wrote off a number of characters, making the plot less convoluted and saving themselves the trouble of so many named characters with lines. For the most part, a lot of these characters should be glad they went missing.

In both versions, Jeyne Poole is Sansa Stark’s best bud who goes with Sansa from Winterfell to King’s Landing where both their fathers are murdered. Good times. In the show, however, that’s where Jeyne’s journey ends; she vanishes after the first season, which is probably for the best. Continue reading

A.D.M. Was Here: Italy (Italia)

During one of my winter breaks in law school, I ditched my family for the holidays and spent two weeks in Italy.

Rome (Roma), Parte Uno

After flying into Fiumicino Airport, I hopped on the train to Termini Station in Rome. Having learned a few lessons in Tokyo and Seoul, I expertly made my way on Rome’s subway system and found my accommodations for my first night or so in Italy (that’s right—no wandering around with my luggage looking for my hotel this time!). I stayed in a private room at the B&B Night and Day.

Staying in a quiet corner

Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps

Nigh and Day was in a nice quiet area around the corner from a subway station and within easy walking distance of Trevi Fountain. I’m not sure I’d really call it a true bed and breakfast. It’s sort of an apartment suite that rents out the bedrooms and they don’t serve breakfast there. Rather, they give you a little coupon which you can use to redeem a pastry and drink at a nearby cafe (which, I think, is preferable to just sitting and eating in the apartment itself).

My first day in Rome, I spent a few hours walking around the city in a giant circle to the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Colosseum, Castel Sant’Angelo, and the Spanish Steps before I got tired and returned to the Night and Day for a rest.

New country added to my mental library—hooray for learning

Some ruins and stuff in RomeI met the folks staying in the other room of the Night and Day, folks from from Brunei (they were studying abroad in Scotland and traveling other parts of Europe during the break). Being awesomely American, I had no idea where Brunei was at the time. As soon as I got the chance, I Google’d the country and learned a bit about its history, its unique military situation, and other stuff (which I’ve since forgotten). There was at least one other person at the B&B we also talked to, but I’ve sort of forgotten. I’m going to assume it was an Australian guy (because anywhere you travel, at any time of the year, you will meet an Australian guy—it’s inevitable).

The five or however-many of us went out to dinner together and grabbed some dessert. I’m still in mild contact with some of the Bruneian folks (and met up with them when I went to Scotland on another trip). They’re very nice. Not as into drinking as I am (considering where they’re from, it makes sense), but nice.

One of these nights in Rome, I made my way down to The Yellow for the hostel bar. It wasn’t all that lively considering how close to Christmas it was, but I’d be back.

Christmas in the Vatican

Christmas in Saint Peter Square (Plaza)

So many people.

The next day was actually Christmas Day, so I went to stand among the crowd out in the Plaza of Saint Peter (Piazza San Pietro). Having not reserved a ticket to get into the Basilica for Christmas Mass (sounded too hectic for me), I ended up just people watching for a minute before wandering down Via Ottaviano to a fairly lively area north of Vatican City.

Venice (Venezia)

Since I planned on meeting my brother in Rome a week later, I didn’t stay in the capital for long after my initial arrival. The day after Christmas, I got on a train and shot up to Venice where it was substantially colder (still no snow, though they did salt some of the walkways to melt ice that formed overnight).

Venezia - Venice - View from the Hostel (I think)

View from my hostel window (I think).

Having done some proper research, I managed to avoid getting lost. The hostel wasn’t too hard to find—just had to cross the big bridge east of Santa Lucia Station, turn right, and look for a big red door for the Residenza Santa Croce (pretty good hostel in a good spot; it may be because it was right after Christmas, but it was also clean and not too crowded).

When I got to the six-person dorm room, there was no one in there. However, the luggage and clothing by the beds indicated that the room was nearly filled to capacity. As it was the middle of the day, obviously the other folks were out being touristy. After some solo-exploring, I came back to the hostel and met my dorm mates: a guy (from Hong Kong), and three young women (from Australia, South Korea, and a country in South America—I don’t remember which).

Cheap eats in Venice, and general touristy stuff with the guy from Hong Kong

Venice - VeneziaIt didn’t take much convincing on my part to get everyone to agree to go to dinner together (hostel people are normally pretty friendly).

We went down to a place called Brek, a sort of low-end cafeteria-style restaurant. The food wasn’t the greatest, but it was relatively cheap and conveniently located near the train station and our hostel—good enough for me to return a few times. An additional plus was that the restaurant had free wi-fi (the wi-fi in our hostel was basically non-existent).

San Marco Plaza

Piazza San Marco



On day two, being the only two Venice-noobs who haven’t walked to San Marco yet, the guy from Hong Kong and I spent half the day walking across the island to see the church and the plaza before it (it’s the biggest tourist destination on the main island). The walk itself was entertaining, seeing the canals, buildings, and people along the way, and the plaza itself was pretty cool (we didn’t opt to stand in line and pay to get into the church or the tower).

Excuse the partially obscured foul language graffiti.

Pizza al Volo. Excuse the partially obscured foul language graffiti.

In another plaza near a bunch of schools and libraries there’s a place called Pizza al Volo which sold what I could call a New York style pizza by the slice for just two euros a piece. It was good, and I would assume it’s priced that way because it’s near the schools. I don’t think there’s a place to sit inside, but one of the awesome things with Italy is its many plazas. On my second visit to Pizza al Volo I sat outside and watched some kids kick a soccer ball around (er, a football—and in a non-creepy manner).

Something notable about Venice is that it pretty much has no night life. So, on night two, I rallied the Australian girl and Hong Kong guy to go pick up some alcoholic beverages from the supermarket and drink in our hostel. We didn’t get particularly wasted, but it was fun.

Boating to the other islands

A house on one of the islands.

A house on one of the islands.

On the third day, I think all my original hostel buddies left except for the girl from Australia who also ditched me for the the morning to go on a day trip to Verona. It was okay, though, as I sort of had other plans: taking the water bus to the other islands—Murano, known for blown glass, and Burano, known for its lace.

While on the water bus, I was recognized (purely from my clothing) as an American by a Californian woman traveling with her Italian husband and his friends—more Italian folks (including an adorable little girl of about five or so), and a nineteen-year-old German girl who interned at the husband’s work. Pretty random, but this led me to what was probably the best meal I had while in Italy. Eating with Italians while in Italy is a pretty good idea. That frutti di mare pasta was worth every cent.

That crooked bell tower.

That crooked bell tower.

I’m not sure why I remember this of all things, but the Italian husband (who had moved to the United States for work) was complaining about how it was really hard (or impossible) to get good bread in the States, and that he thought ketchup was kind of gross. He said something along the lines of ketchup being a weird sugared-up version of tomato sauce.

Oh, and one of the other Italian guys also pointed out a tilted church bell tower, saying that Italians can’t build straight (referencing the Tower of Pisa, of course).

Back at the hostel, the Australian girl and I returned to our beloved Brek.

Four days in Venice is two days too many—unless you have good company

Kind of dorky and adorable, the girl from Brisbane (which she affectionately referred to as Bris-boring) was a bit too young for me to really pursue romantically. She’s part of the generation that really grew up with Harry Potter. She confessed to me how disappointed she was when she turned eleven and didn’t get a letter from Hogwarts. Shortly after she found out she was a Muggle, her father introduced her to The Lord of the Rings, making her an adorable nerd for life. She also has a tendency to trip over things, and slip into puddles of mud.

Venice - Venezia 3On my fourth day in Venice, I felt I’d already done most of the normal touristy things I could there (at least for a person with a moderate budget). The girl and I walked down to the end of the main island, away from all the other tourists, to a little park at the end. On the way, there were a bunch of houses occupied by locals as opposed to abundance of hotels and restaurants you see on other parts of the island.

For dinner, we ventured away from the cafeteria-style Brek to a more proper restaurant. She laughed awkwardly when the waiter assumed I was going to order for her. I asked her why though it was obvious she was laughing ’cause the guy thought we were on a date.

That night, we were surprised with a new roommate when we got back to the hostel—a kid from Belgium who spoke English like an Englishman. He was perfectly nice, but he basically turned the lights off on us at some absurdly early hour (maybe 9 or 10 PM).

Arrividerci, Venezia

Santa Lucia Station in VeniceThe last day in Venice, the girl and I went to some cafe in the morning for breakfast where she utilized more free wi-fi to book a weird set of train tickets to make her way up to Paris (a lot of the trains were already booked up).

I, on the other hand, already had my train tickets to go back to Rome and meetup with my brother.

We said our goodbyes and parted ways (well, I’m still facebook friends with five or so of the people I met in Venice).

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Awesome Character #2: Podrick Payne

Daniel Portman as Podrick Payne

Daniel Portman as Podrick Payne

Looks like I’m going with another dorky supporting character: first was lovable loser, Milhouse Van Houten of The Simpsons, and now, the equally awkward Podrick Payne of A Song of Ice and Fire (and Game of Thrones).

So, if you aren’t quite up to date with Game of Thrones, you may want to avoid reading this post due to the likely presence of *SPOILERS*.

A not-so-obvious choice

For this post, I wanted to find a character from GRRM’s series who isn’t obviously awesome, which sort of precluded a lot of characters whom I assumed would show up in most people’s lists of top ten favorites (e.g., Daenerys, Jon Snow, Arya, the Lannister brothers, Brienne, Bronn, the Hound).

Clearly, I wasn’t going to go with a character I’m not a fan of, either (e.g., Sansa Stark, Viserys, anyone with Bolton or Frey blood).

With the huge cast of characters in the series, there’s more than a few who are pretty cool but aren’t too popular, like the Blackfish (Catelyn Stark’s uncle), Jorah Mormont (whose popularity seems to have risen thanks to the HBO adaptation), and Syrio Forel.

Ultimately, I wound up choosing Podrick Payne.

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Irksome Things in Game of Thrones

I’m talking only of the Game of Thrones television show which I’ve been binge-watching recently. As far as I can tell, these “problems” are liberties taken by the show (I read all the books a while ago, so I may be wrong).

Ser Dontos Game of Thrones

Captain Westeros, The First Avenger

1. Ser Dontos, an overweight drunk, wears armor that has a marked resemblance to the American flag.

That’s just mean. He’s called Ser Dontos the Red, not Ser Dontos the Red, White, and Blue.

Though I’ll admit it’s kind of funny that he looks like a really crappy Captain America.

2. Catelyn Stark says “stand down” which is a phrase thought to have originated in the early 1900’s, and the Bastard of Bolton says “phantom limb” which is a phrase coined in the 1870’s.

Yeah, yeah—I know the show is set in a fictional fantasy world, and it wouldn’t really work to have them speak Middle English (no one would understand except English majors, and even then it’ll only be the handful of people who paid attention during their Chaucer class). However, I personally prefer medieval fantasy to avoid modern-ish technical phrases as much as possible. I’m really not sure if these phrases were in the books or if they’re only in the show. I’ll have to pay attention if I ever read the novels again.

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Major Influences #7: Hobbits, White Walkers, War Wizards, and a Circle of Magic

Lord of the Rings Game of Thrones Sword of Truth Circle of Magic

By now, my three readers might be thinking, “Why aren’t any of these ‘major influences’ books? Isn’t A.D. Martin is supposed to be some kind of novelist? This is dumb. I’m un-following that bastard.”

Don’t do it! My influences also includes books and stuff, not the least of which are the fantasy series presented infra (use of this term proves that I’m a lawyer).
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The Good Guys: Square Bear Heroes

The Good Guys: Captain America, Ned Stark, Cory Matthews, Harry Potter, Obi-wan Kenobi, Doug Funnie, Ross Geller, Rick Hunter, Superman

Some people have problems with a male character if he’s too much of a square bear. I personally think it’s rather important that we have these characters in our social consciousness. They are, more or less, the kinds of guys that boys and men should strive to be.

Here’s a list of some fictional good guys who go the extra mile (in no particular order; I’ll try not to drop too many spoilers to anything, if any):

Captain AmericaCaptain America

Steve Rogers starts out as a scrawny little guy who is rejected from service in the U.S. Army because he is too frail. He volunteers to undergo an experimental procedure which turns him into the super-soldier, Captain America.

What I think a lot of people miss about Cap is that, though he loves his country, he doesn’t blindly follow orders from the government; he fights for a truer sense of freedom and liberty, and for people who cannot fight for themselves. People who dismiss Captain America simply because of his name and the fact that he wears a flag are missing out on an awesome hero.

I also like how he’s so polite to everyone (when he’s not knocking their teeth out with his shield).

Eddard StarkEddard Stark

Ned Stark, the unfortunate protagonist of A Game of Thrones. The first word that comes to mind when I think of Ned Stark is “honor.”

While discussing Ned, someone once told me that Ned’s honor—and all honor—is simply for the sake of appearances. I was annoyed, but didn’t respond right away. Thinking about it later, I concluded that this person was simply wrong. Honor isn’t just about appearances; honor can drive you to do the right thing, whether or not anyone else is aware of it.

Though a lot of Ned’s honorable acts are public and preserves his family name, I believe Ned would do the honorable thing even where no one’s looking. That’s why he’s awesome and that’s why he’s on this list. There’s also some internet speculation as to Ned’s past that, if proven to be true in George R.R. Martin’s later books, would make Ned all the more awesome as it implies he sacrifices some of his own honor for others.
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