Pods for readers (and writers) without a lot of time

Ugh.  Time is at a premium.  I work full time, go to school, have a boyfriend, family, friends, and a dog…I’m not sure where all the time that technology “saves” has gone, but it’s not here.  I barely have time to clear my mental space, let alone enjoy one of my favorite hobbies – cracking open a book and slipping into another world.

I mean, what’s a reader to do…when you don’t have time to invest in a book?  And what’s a writer to do, for that matter, as writers need to read too.

The magic of podcasts, y’all.  I must admit, I’ve shown up more than fashionably late to the podcast party.  But now that I’m here, I’m hooked.  Best of all – I can make time for the  short episodes.   There’s time in the car (while driving to class and work), time while working out, and periodically during the day if you do any data entry.

Here’s a short list of my favorite crime and mystery pods.

1. Crimetown (5 stars) Season 1 follows the story of Buddy Cianci, the former mayor of Providence, Rhode Island.  It’s a podcast on politics, corruption, the mob, and  investigations.  Crimetown is addictive.  I started listening to this podcast about halfway through the season and quickly caught up….and then was forced to wait a week between episodes (binge-watching Netflix seems to have killed my patience…).  I can’t wait to see what town they tackle next.  I’m selfishly hoping it’s one that I don’t know much about, as I enjoy learning along with my storytellings.

2. Stranglers (4 stars) is an investigative deep dive into the Boston Strangler murders, with engaging interviews from reporters, investigators, children of the original investigators, relatives of the victims, F. Lee Bailey (yes, that one…before the trial of the century, he represented Albert DeSalvo), and recordings/re-enactments of interviews.  I am a (not-so) secret armchair detective, so stories that involve investigations are usually interesting to me.  But, even if you think you know what happened in Boston, it’s worth another look…or listen, in this case.

3. Serial – Season 1 (4 stars) discusses the murder of Hae Min Lee and investigates whether the man who was arrested for the crime – Adnan Masud Syed, Hae’s ex-boyfriend, murdered her.  It’s an interesting piece of investigative journalism, but as a warning….it raises a lot of questions too.  So many, in fact, that Adnan will be granted a new trial.

4. Ponzi Supernova (3.5 stars) takes a deep dive on Bernie Madoff  and the infamous ponzi scheme that rocked Wall Street.  How did he do it?  Why? What happened to his victims and where did they get money to repay some of their losses? Who better to answer these questions than Bernie himself?  Steve Fishman (with snippets of his interviews with Madoff) weave an interesting tale.  Though I should warn you, this podcast won’t do much for your trust issues….

GoT fan theories

Get a fandom big enough, and you’ll get more fan theories than you know what to do with. As a writer or a writer for a show, fan theories have got to be a huge marker of a successful series.  As a writer, it would make me positively gleeful.

Also as a writer, and what I’d call and active reader/watcher, I can’t help but theorize myself.  There are times when I watch a show or read a book, and in my free minutes (of not reading, going to school, or working) I’ll puzzle through what’s coming next.  There are always a lot of possibilities, a lot of things that could possibly work.  But the question is, what is the one that makes the most sense and fits the story the best (yep, I really am that much of a nerd).

So, what are my theories on this – the eve of Game of Thrones Season 6 – Season finale??

  • Cersei’s trial – a whole lot of people are gathering at the temple in King’s landing and there have been whispers of stores of wildfire under the city.  Since she can no longer get a trial by combat, Cersei’s options are severely limited.  Being desperate and angry, her decision will be to burn it all down (literally).  Unfortunately, Tommen is there and wearing gold (remember the witch’s prediction of all of Cersei’s children dying before her and in golden shrouds?).
  • Dinner with Walder Frey – this is always a bad idea.  Robb can attest to this.  I’ve said before that Jaime can’t survive this whole series.  Is this where Jaime will meet his sticky end?  Maybe Arya will make an appearance or maybe Lady Stoneheart?   I’m not sure, but guests of the Frey’s don’t generally enjoy their dinners, just sayin’…

  • Jon’s parentage – this has been teased ALL season.  While it’s possible that they’ll continue teasing us (there will be a lot of ground to cover with Cersei’s trial), I’m hoping we get a peak.  Please?
  • Night King – we haven’t heard from/seen him in a while, maybe a quick appearance?

What will tonight’s episode of GoT bring?  Can’t say for sure, but I know it’ll be a long wait until next season.  And if last season is anything of a hint, we’ll be in for a serious cliffhanger.  Enjoy, only a few hours to go…

Battle of the Bastards

Nope, that title is not a nod to the current state of many political battles, it’s about the latest installment of Game of Thrones Season 6 – Episode 9.  There are spoilers below, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, stop reading now….

Recap – Many of the last few episodes were set up chapters – moving the characters along and moving the story along, but at a pace that recent fans who binge-watched the whole series earlier this year (me) found slow.  Writers, why must you tease!

Until episode 9.  And boom, we learn a lesson that should be added to the top of the life lessons for GoT: always remember to feed and care for your pets.

Thanks for the public service announcement, Ramsay.

I could summarize the events of the episode for you, but really, I want to talk about how the #1 hated character on the show (at least for the last few seasons) died.

Done in by his starving dogs – animals he used as a means to kill, hunt, and terrify people – at the hand of the woman he raped, abused, and tried to break.

And her walk away from it was my favorite part of the whole episode, as just a hint of a smile twitched at her lips (and she practically strutted).  Ah GoT revenge, you are so sweet.

I’m all for it.  And I’m glad Sansa got her revenge (as many of us hoped she would). But…the killing by the dogs. <sigh> As a writer, I get it.  Really, I do.  The neat and tidy wrap-up, the symmetry in the story, the “master” being killed by his instruments of torture, perhaps even a statement of the limits of loyalty even by the most loyal beings in the world..all of that are not lost on me.

But…

I would have almost rather seen Sansa get her hands dirty on this one.  Granted, her hands aren’t all that clean, she did release the dogs and she did stay and watch the beginnings of Ramsay’s demise.  But, and maybe it’s because I’m used to Arya’s hands-on approach, I would have liked to see Sansa do the complete dirty work.  It would have helped bolster the story of Sansa taking charge of her destiny, taking care of things herself, and her growing power.  Or maybe she’s taking after her mentor (and the devil she recently made a deal with) – getting rid of people without doing any of the nasty bits herself…

What say you, fellow fans?

Hold the Door

<Game of Thrones spoilers below, you’ve been warned>

Ahead of tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones, let’s briefly review what happened last time:

  • Sansa tells off Little Finger (yay!  Queen of the North!)
  • Sansa and Jon are leaving Castle Black, with new threads Sansa made (you work that needle point, girl)
  • Tormund Giantsbane is smitten like a kitten (and we love it)
  • Arya gets an assignment from the faceless men
  • Renaissance ice zombies are on the move
  • Bran’s direwolf dies
  • We find out Bran-muffin and his time travel are the reason Hodor says Hodor 😦

Speaking of which, we also add to our GoT life lessons:  always try to hold the door, it is after all, the polite thing to do.

Theories and questions for the next few episodes:

  • 2 direwolves (Ghost and Nymeria) are still alive.  Please George R.R., no more direwolf deaths
  • Will Arya be able to complete her mission?  I say 50-50 odds.  But wouldn’t it be neat if Nymeria shows up and her appearance helps Arya decide if she really wants to be a faceless man?  If not now, I’m hoping Nymeria shows up at some point, it would make Arya’s story arc even more interesting.
  • Bri-mund amusement to continue.  And why not?  It’s our much needed glimmer of giggles and comic relief in the stark landscape of GoT (points to me on the pun).
  • Bran-muffin will discover the truth of Jon’s parentage (though I’m guessing this won’t happen until close to the end of the season)
  • Sansa and Jon aim to unite houses of the North under their banner – I think Little Finger and the Knights of the Vale will meet them at Riverrun to join forces.
  • Oh and King’s landing – are we going to see the takedown of the barefoot creeper known as the High Sparrow?  I certainly hope so.

Just a few more hours to go until the next installment of Game of Thrones.  Are you ready?

The Unburnt

Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 4 Review


Before we get a new episode of Game of Thrones today, let’s review the top lesson learned from last week’s episode – 

Pay attention to how people introduce themselves. 

If someone’s name is Holly the plumber or Steve the vet, I feel like you know what’s in their wheelhouse. So, if someone’s name is long and has in it “….the Unburnt” maybe don’t be rude to them in a small, flammable room filled with little pots of fire. 

Just a thought 🙂

Also, how amused am I with Tormund Giantsbane trying to seduce Brienne of Tarth during dinner? So amused. Looking forward to more amusing bits on this season’s Game of Thrones (as I attempt to watch while on vacation in Europe). 

GoT Oathbreaker Review

<Spoilers below GoT fans – you’ve been warned>

Game of Thrones is all about giving the fans what we want this season:

1. Jon Snow alive again

2. Promise of answers on the genesis of Jon (R + L = J??)

3. Arya’s eyes back

4. And… #JonSnowButt

Thanks HBO and hello #JonSnowButt.  Which brings me to an update for life lessons from Game of Thrones, squats…squats do a body good.

I digress (#JonSnowButt is a worthy topic though) but back to the GoT writers giving us what we want:

#5. Jon Snow leaves the Night’s Watch

Why do we want this?

Because plot!

Sorry, that was my writer side coming out.

We want it because for the past several seasons, our main characters have drifted apart (some to the far reaches of the world) to have their own adventures.  Jon leaving Castle Black is the beginning of another trend – main characters beginning to meet again and converge around a main area (or begin to make their way there).  Which is a good thing and a bad thing.

Good – because we’ll start seeing big questions answered (the genesis of Jon) and comeuppances for super evil characters (I’m looking at you, Ramsay), but also…

Bad – because it’s the beginning of the end.  Even though we have two more seasons after this one, I’d imagine we’ll have some payoffs coming soon:

1) Revealing Jon’s parents (though, goodness…how long is the three-eyed raven going to drag this out?)…is it too late to hold out hope that the R in R+L = J is Robert?  I’m still hoping, I like that idea but I don’t think I’m right anymore.

2) Bran-muffin’s time traveling and possible past/time interactions (oooooooh maybe we can change something?!)

3) Ramsay’s death at Winterfell.

Then season 7 will be mostly setting up for the last season and hopefully not being a slogging mess.

Now, go ahead and scroll back up to see more #JonSnowButt…you know you want to.

The Genesis of Jon

You’ve been warned, spoilers and theories below.

Season 6 Episode 2 gave fans (are there fans that didn’t want it to happen?!) what we’ve wanted since leaving us with Jon Snow bleeding in the snow at the end of Season 5.  Finally! They also gave us an update for our life lessons by Game of Thrones – no one loves you like your dog.  Everyone left that room, except for Ghost.  He never gave up.

Aww.  Dogs are great. 🙂

But back to our topic of today – the Genesis of Jon and why the writers behind Game of Thrones are ready to reveal it.

#1. Jon coming back to life makes his background relevant to the story again.  It’s true.  If he were actually gone, while some of those mysteries would continue to tickle many fan brains, they wouldn’t necessary be solved (which is the worst).  Now we can find out if Jon has a real claim to the Iron Throne, as so many fans believe…

#2. Bran Stark, Three-Eyed Raven, and time travel = GoT mystery wagon.  Yep.  While Bran is supposed to learning about how to defeat the white walkers, the three-eyed raven lets him see his father, uncle, and  Hodor as children as well as Lyanna…And if Bran can control where they go, why wouldn’t he watch as much as he could?

R + L = J …..but which R?

<Sigh> Jon…Lyanna makes you a Stark. As for your father, who knows?  But I hope we find out this season.

And now for more Season 6 forecasts:

  1. Awkward reunion at the Wall…  Jon to Olly: Remember that time you tried to kill me?  lols.  Now go clean my chamber pot.
  2. Arya gets new eyes…but how?
  3. Sansa shows up at Castle Black slightly ahead of Ramsay’s men and convinces him to help her retake Winterfell.  Side note: Does being murdered mean that Jon’s life dedication to the night’s watch has been served?
  4. Amusing anecdotes when Brienne of Tarth meets Tormund Giantsbane (pleeeeease?)
  5. Jaime and Cersei versus the High Sparrow…and maybe Jaime’s death.
  6. And where the f*ck is Baelish?  I don’t want to say I’m missing him…but I’m missing him.
  7. Hodor’s background solved, but what will it be? Kicked in the head by a horse?  Hurt by someone named Hodor?  Something happened to him that caused Benjen to become a crow?

Just a few days left until the next episode.  Are you ready?

 

Of blood and snow – GoT Season 6.1 revisit

Because I’m an active reader (and viewer), I like to ponder what will happen next with characters. This happens all the time, if there’s a plot mystery, I will sit and puzzle it out as though I were the writer. It’s something I’ve always done and will probably always do.

But on to what this post is really about –  Game of Thrones (and what I really hope they’ll cover in episode 2…or, come on HBO, episode 3 at the latest?!) –

SPOILERS AND THEORIES (some half-baked) below:

Jon and the blood in the snow –

1. Is he dead or not?

The show’s writers seem to be teasing us. The good guys have his body, so it hasn’t been burned. The Red Woman is at Castle Black and we know the Lord of Light has brought people back before….

I feel like most fans are leaning toward the theory that Jon will be brought back. Either that, or George R. R. Martin likes to torture us more than we thought possible.

2.  Blood in the snow and ink blot tests

There are some fans who think the show’s creators are trying to give us a clue about who Jon’s parents really are by hiding a dragon in his blood  –


This is an interesting theory and certainly not an old one in the fandom. In order to protect his nephew, Ned Stark takes the baby of his sister (Lyanna) and Rhaeagar Targaryen, after his sister dies in childbirth.

It’s a plausible theory.  It’s also possible that people would try to kill a baby Targaryen because that’s what happened to most of them.

But…if he were a Targaryen, wouldn’t Jon have those long, flowing, white locks?

Methinks so. Which brings me to a perhaps more plausible theory –

Jon is the son of Robert and Lyanna, taken by Ned Stark to protect his friend from being executed for getting in the way of Rhaeagar Targaryen (or perhaps, allow protect the baby during Robert’s war).

Jon’s got the dark hair of House Stark and House Baratheon. And what’s more, the Red Woman was very much interested in seducing him (perhaps to make another smoke baby?).

But who knows, the mystery of his origins may not be solved until the very end of the series and maybe not even then. Alas, some mysteries are never truly solved and as time goes by…the answers may not even prove relevant.

In the meantime, let’s hope for a Castle Black episode tonight with the Wildlings and the Red Woman to coming to the rescue…and, if we can be greedy – an answer to if Jon is coming back to life or not.

It’s all about the accessories (GOT 6.1 Review)

Last night was the much-anticipated release of Season 6 of Game of Thrones and the show’s writers updated us on the many storylines, which didn’t really help to advance the plot on any of them, as a lot of the characters are more or less where we left them.  To recap:

  1. Arya is still blind (for now).
  2. Margaery is still in prison (for now). Sidenote: Did anyone else get a weird lecherous vibe off of the high sparrow when he visited her?
  3. Daenerys is still in need of rescuing and Jorah and Daario are still looking for her (again, for now).
  4. Cersei still hasn’t exacted her revenge (say it with me, “for now”).
  5. And Jon is still dead (please please please, only for now).

<Sigh>  And it seemed like this episode was really short.  But, we do still have a GoT inspired knowledge to add to our lessons learned pile:

I mean, really, they can.  Who knew that a necklace could offset a cloak so well?

Predictions (because, why not? Everyone else has one.)

  • Arya will get her vision back – because, duh. And also because the red woman alluded to it a few seasons ago when they met.
  • Lady Mel will bring Jon Snow back (because otherwise, I will cry).  But I’m guessing it won’t be for a few episodes yet. 
  • Sansa is going to amass an army of sorts and storm Winterfell (is it too much to hope that she or Theon gets to kill Ramsay?).
  • The house of widows & Daenerys – I’m hoping she can free those ladies. And that some of them are witty – not lame and depressing.
  • Jaime Lannister might die. I know, I know. But I feel like I need a crazy one in here. And also, now that most things/people keeping he and Cersei apart have been removed…I feel like that story arc may get kind of boring.
  • Winter is coming – I mean, they keep saying it, so it’s bound to happen at sometime.  Maybe this season’s finale will have the white walkers approaching Castle Black. 

Also, for giant foodie nerds like me – you can nosh on Game of Thrones inspired foods whilst watching the new season.  I tried out some delicious carb options that I found from the Google machine 🙂  and I highly recommend them –

  • Bread and salt – be sure to start this a few hours before you’re ready to watch as the dough has to rise a few times before putting it in the oven.
  • Honeycakes – which I’ve officially nicknamed Sansa-Cakes, since she liked them so much last season and they’re seriously a show stealer (as she’s likely to be this season). 

 

For the watch(ers)

 

Game of Thrones is just a few days away.  And what better way to celebrate the upcoming new episodes then to review important life lessons it has imparted to its viewers…

#1.  Don’t go to your ex’s wedding…

They’ll either throw daggers at you (hopefully only with their eyes)

or rant that you ruined your ex’s life.

#2.  Don’t trust religious fanatics.  Even when they’re on your side, the still want to burn your daughter or shame <shame!> you.

#3.  Don’t trust people who have taken a vow of celibacy either.  All that pent up frustration will be your undoing.

#4. Listen to your mother…


or you’ll inadvertently cause a string of events that will kill 85% of your family. (Thanks, George R.R. Martin for the ultimate mom guilt trip.)

#5. And finally, things aren’t always what they seem. 

I mean, you thought you were watching a drama about a power struggle, somewhat based off of the War of Roses…


And then suddenly, you realize that you’re essentially watching a Renaissance  zombie show.

Only a few more days to go for the next season!  Let the count down begin!