Is Meereen a good test-run for Daenarys? The Rains of Podcastamere

PodcastamereThis week on The Rains of Podcastamere, we talk about “Game of Thrones” season 5 episode 5, which is presumably the first new episode you all have seen in a month, since I know you’re filthy pirates through and through.

We have lots of questions about Meereen and the North. I fawn over the lovely Valyria scene. It’s all-in-all a good time.

Then we get to our major question: Is Meereen Dany’s leadership test-run for ruling Westeros? Should it be? All this and more. Keep listening!


The Rains of Podcastamere” is PennLive.com’s new “Game of Thrones” podcast starring PennLive Senior Westeros Correspondent Sean Adams, Community Engagement Lead Chris Mautner and myself.

Tune in each Tuesday afternoon at PennLive.com, if you’re into this podcast.

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Travel highlights: Stockholm, Sweden

I’ve been thinking a lot about my time in Stockholm recently. I visited with my then-fiancé/now-husband in August of 2011 after having spent a week meeting and spending time with my distant Swedish family in Gothenburg.

One week we’d be living like Swedes, the next we were tourists sleeping almost every night in a different room in our hostel. It was a big change, but we couldn’t help but spend time in Stockholm on our first trip to the country.

Here I’ll highlight some of my favorite parts of the city so that you might enjoy your trip as much as we did.

Seasons

IMG_1353 copyWe visited Stockholm in the late summer, which is ideal for tourists looking for mild weather, but not so ideal if you’re looking to get an idea of what life in Sweden is like. Much of Sweden goes quiet in the summer, when almost everyone takes their vacations, heads up north or gets out of the country altogether for a while. This leaves room for the tourists to swarm into the city, occupying every narrow alley.

You’d be among few tourists in the winter, but of course the weather might not be to your liking. The city does set up a huge ice skating rink in Vasaparken, though, if you’re into that.

Spring might be a happy-medium, catching the Swedes before they head out and the tourists before they rush in.

Lodging

For about $30 a night, we stayed in the Gustaf af Klint, a hostel located in the lower levels of an old ship.

The Gustaf had a lovely complementary hot breakfast with plenty of options, served with – of course – coffee. The view from the common area overlooked the water and had a nice view of historic Gamla Stan. It’s centrally located off the Slussen subway stop, so you can easily get to all parts of the city.

We had a room to ourselves the first night, shared a room with another couple a few more nights and stayed in a common bunk room with 14 others the last night. All experiences went just fine, although the French couple we bunked with left some pretty dank towels hanging to dry at a few points. I prefer the solo rooms, but I don’t mind sleeping in bunks, either.

Where to go

If you’re like me, you’d rather wander than plan out your day around museum and tour schedules.

Wander aimlessly through Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s “Old Town” area with beautiful architecture and cobblestone streets. There you’ll find a mix of tourist shops and fine goods, along with some delicious restaurants.

Take a tour of the archipelago. There are several hop-on-hop-off boat tours of the archipelago, which you can take to learn a lot about the history of the Swedish capitol and see some stunning views of the islands. Their beauty cannot be understated. If you want to just sit back and relax, hanging out on the boat all day taking in the views is an option. Or, get out at any of the stops and explore.

There is plenty to do in Stockholm, but the first step is to get a lay of the land. Take a walk and take note of where the tourists gather. Avoid those places if you can.

Things to do

Figure out your priorities: History? Shopping? Art? Museums? Animals? Architecture? Politics? Crazy awesome food? It’s all there and more. Make a list of your top to-dos before you head out each day so you won’t miss anything.

Politics, culture & history: Visit the Riksdag (Congress), the royal palace or the Nobel Museum. The Vasa Museum is a must-see if you’re into ships, or even if you’re not. It’s a ship that was preserved for hundreds of years in the brackish Baltic waters, and it’s in remarkable condition. It also has a hilarious backstory. There’s also the Swedish History Museum, Gripsholm Castle, Vaxholm Fortress, and about a hundred more historical museums and sites to visit.  (More suggestions.)

Shopping: This is the birthplace of H&M. There is shopping everywhere. You’ll find stores you love whether you intend to or not. Head to Nybroplan if that’s your thing.

Art: I loved the Fotografiska museum. They happened to have an exhibit with Robert Mapplethorpe when we visited, which was a beautiful coincidence, since I love his work to pieces. There’s also the Royal Dramatic Theatre, the Royal Opera House and, yes, the ABBA museum.

Animals: Skansen is a must-see zoo and cultural park where you’ll learn about vikings, Saami people, Swedish animal species and more. The aquarium is neat but underwhelming. You’ve been warned.

For everything else, there’s visitstockholm.com, which can guide you through the city with ease.

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‘Game of Thrones’ podcast: Does R + L = J? Our favorite fan theory on ‘The Rains of Podcastamere’

PodcastamereOn the May 3 episode of “Game of Thrones” (season 5, episode 4), Petyr Baelish gave a little wink and a nod to the Internet’s favorite fan theory, called R + L = J.

If you (particularly non-readers of “A Song of Ice and Fire”) aren’t privy to the details, well, we’ve got a surprise for you.

I’ll let Sean Adams explain:

…For many fans, particularly the book readers, that simple algebra adds up to one of the series’ biggest secrets. And it’s time that we discuss it on The Rains of Podcastamere!

To be clear, our discussion includes no spoilers from the books, as this is only a fan theory that has never been verified or denied by series creator George R.R. Martin.

Still, if you’d rather not know the theory, we save it for last on our podcast. You can still enjoy our discussion of season five, episode four (read the recap here!) as well as our speculation on next week’s episode, and remain blissfully ignorant of what those little letters stand for.

The choice is yours!

The theory happens to be my favorite, (without spoiling too much here) because it makes otherwise inconsistent characters consistent, and it changes a horrific story to a tale of love living on. And those are rare enough in this series.

Listen for more! We talk about the theory after our discussion of some of the major developments of the last episode, and a brief look ahead to season 5, episode 5 – the first episode in season 5 which wasn’t prematurely leaked. So, new things to anticipate!

What do you think of this theory? Too neat & tidy, or perfectly consistent? Tell me in the comments.


The Rains of Podcastamere” is PennLive.com’s new “Game of Thrones” podcast starring PennLive Senior Westeros Correspondent Sean Adams, Community Engagement Lead Chris Mautner and myself.

I may or may not post each episode here as they air, but you can tune in each Tuesday afternoon at PennLive, if you’re into that sort of thing.

‘Game of Thrones’ season 5: Who should sit the Iron Throne? The Rains of Podcastamere

PodcastamereIn this week’s “Podcastamere,” we take a look at the third episode of “Game of Thrones” season 5, and between Sansa, Margery and Jon, we have A LOT of great developments to talk about.

We also get to the nitty gritty about who should really sit the Iron Throne. Which main character would be the best leader of the Seven Kingdoms?

Listen below & find out what we think. Then tell me what you think in the comments!


The Rains of Podcastamere” is PennLive.com’s new “Game of Thrones” podcast starring PennLiveSenior Westeros Correspondent Sean Adams, Community Engagement Lead Chris Mautner and myself.

I may or may not post each episode here as they air, but you can tune in each Tuesday afternoon at PennLive, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Cosplay & the art of creating complex characters

Cosplay

To me, cosplaying is one of the most perfect acts of creative expression. We use so much of our brainpower to recreate or even invent a character to express who we are as people – and what we get nerdy about the most.

Me and my husband as our versions of Ygritte & Jon Snow at the Pa. Renaissance Faire in 2014.

Me and my husband as our versions of Ygritte & Jon Snow (Game of Thrones) at the Pa. Renaissance Faire in 2014.

So much goes into a person’s costumed expressions. To recreate a famous video game character, for example, it’s not just about knowing her clothes. We have to know her inside and out – her history and her personality, as well as the materials she wears, uses, or would have access to in her world. We have to know what life she lives, so we can be true to her character. Is she a warrior? An adventurer? An oracle? A princess? A prize?

Sometimes, we might create our own character who lives in an existing fictional world. A generic orc or Tolkien-esque elf, perhaps. A new take on some famous character, like a female Link or a Renaissance-era Harley Quinn. Women are so pathetically underrepresented in nerd culture that there aren’t enough video game, sci-fi, fantasy, or comic book characters to satisfy all of us. Love “Tomb Raider,” but think Lara Croft is an objectified, one-dimensional character? Make your own tomb raider. You got this.

We’re playing writers, actors and costume designers all in one.

Corset I made from a dyed leather scrap and a few grommets. I like to use it to create a pirate, a viking or a khaleesi.

Corset I made from a dyed leather scrap and a few grommets. I like to use it to create a pirate, a viking or a khaleesi.

There are many ways to cosplay. Since I frequent Renaissance Faires, my tools tend to be leather, metal and thread. Others’ tools might be makeup, prosthetics, liquid latex or wearable technologies. I admire some of the professional cosplayers who really go all out on their costumes, but I don’t have that type of budget.

My costumes usually involve something upcycled or found, repurposing thrift store clothes or antique store finds. That means there are some practical limitations to authenticity. So, rather than trying to recreate a character exactly, I like to invoke for others something about a character, or a time period, or anything else I’d like to embody.

I’m thankful that creativity fills the emptiness that limitations create. I’m forced to think of how I can conjure images of a pirate, a viking, a khaleesi, or a 16th-century hippie with what I have already in my closet –  with what I can easily find or create. I try to stay true to my guidelines for the character while making it my own.

But the best part about a successful cosplay? Meeting new people at the Faire or convention who get nerdy about the same stuff you do.

When ‘Game of Thrones’ beats ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’: The Rains of Podcastamere

PodcastamereIn this week’s “Podcastamere,” we take a look at the second episode of “Game of Thrones” season 5, and we get into some technical bits about adapting an epic book series to an also-epic television series.

We talk a bit about one of my favorite topics: Where the TV show and the books diverge, and when the TV show gets it just right. I hope you like it.


The Rains of Podcastamere” is PennLive.com’s new “Game of Thrones” podcast starring PennLiveSenior Westeros Correspondent Sean Adams, Community Engagement Lead Chris Mautner and myself.

I may or may not post each episode here as they air, but you can tune in each Tuesday afternoon at PennLive, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Another week, another ‘Game of Thrones’ podcast (season 5, episode 1): The Rains of Podcastamere

Hello, dear readers.

PodcastamereHere is the second episode of “The Rains of Podcastamere,” PennLive.com’s new “Game of Thrones” podcast starring PennLive Senior Westeros Correspondent Sean Adams, Community Engagement Lead Chris Mautner and myself. I haven’t listened to the new episode myself yet (it’s too weird to listen to myself talk), so you’ll have to tell me how it is in the comments.

I may or may not post each episode here as they air, but you can tune in each Tuesday afternoon at PennLive, if you’re into that sort of thing.

So, what was your #1 GOT moment? What has been your least favorite? Drop me a comment.