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Welcome to “A Song of Nice and Fire” Upworthy’s weekly series recapping one of the most brutal shows on TV. Since brutality is not really in our wheelhouse, Eric March has taken it upon himself to dig deep, twist and turn, and squint really hard to see if he can find the light of kindness in all the darkness. He may not always succeed, but by gosh if he won’t try his best.

Here’s what he found on this week’s "Game of Thrones."


Welp. Image via HBO.

All nice things must end. True to form, this season of "Game of Thrones" concluded as all seasons must — with kindness, empathy, and respect.

Also, one hilariously brutal murder. But that's not why we're here!

Let's get to it.

1. The King's Landing grounds crew does a great job installing the chuppahs for the big meeting.  

[rebelmouse-image 19476770 dam="1" original_size="700x467" caption=""We could get married under one of these things behind me. Just saying." Image by Macall B. Polay/HBO." expand=1]"We could get married under one of these things behind me. Just saying." Image by Macall B. Polay/HBO.

With basically all the surviving main characters in town for a powwow, it's important to set up the right outdoor decor. What could be better than a series of traditional Jewish wedding canopies clearly stolen from the Rosenstein-Kaplowitz ceremony down the block?

It is a marriage of sorts, after all — in this case, a marriage of a few dozen people who really, really hate each other.

Luckily for the fate of humanity, what begins with a series of tense reunions (Bronn and Tyrion! The Hound and Brienne! Pod's penis and jokes!) eventually climaxes with a predictably distressing main event: the releasing of a zombie that sends Euron screwing off back to the Iron Islands (so it seems anyway, more on that later), Cersei into a terrified bout of conscience (so it seems anyway, more on that later), and Jon into his best Ned Stark impression, and then ends in a shockingly composed alliance of formerly bitter enemies.

Through it all, the discussion remains remarkably civil! And the participants deserve lots of credit for not slicing each others' throats.

But more importantly, big ups to the staff for setting the mood for all of our favorites to make a home together. Mazel tov!

2. Littlefinger teaches Sansa a fun game!

Winterfell takes playtime seriously. Two weeks ago, Arya and Littlefinger challenged each other to an epic round of hide-and-go-seek. This week, it was Littlefinger's turn to teach Sansa his favorite game: Always Assume the Worst in People and See How Their Actions Match That Assumption!

Honestly, it sounded kind of boring at first, but when they finally got to play, it was really exciting! "What's the worst reason you have for turning me against my sister?" Sansa asks Littlefinger to kick things off. Considering all the things Littlefinger did over the last seven seasons, the newly minted Lady Stark determines that, whatever his reason was, it's not good!

Oh, and you die if you lose, apparently. Sorry, Littlefinger.

Game, set, match. Image via HBO.

I'd say get 'em next time, but there will be no next time. Them's the breaks.

Meanwhile, it's become something of a begrudging love-fest between Stark sisters, who have found something like respect for one another amidst the secret multi-episode plotting to murder their enemies. "I was never going to be as good a lady as you," Arya admits. "You’re the strongest person I know," Sansa replies. Yeah, she still calls Arya annoying and strange, but sisters.

Speaking of...

3. None of the Lannister siblings can bring themselves to kill each other.

Image by Helen Sloan/HBO.

After talking a big game about offing Tyrion for the past three seasons, Cersei hesitates when the opportunity finally presents itself (his apologizing to her for the deaths of her kids and pouring her a glass of red wine probably didn't hurt). Later, she refuses to sever Jaime's head from his body, despite his defying a direct order to stay and help her re-re-re-re-conquer the continent. Family first!

Honorable mention to Ser Gregor for ominously pulling out his sword a couple of times but failing to use it. That guy is mercy incarnate.

4. Theon kinda, sorta, totally wins a fight thanks to none other than Ramsay Bolton (RIP).

Miss u buddy. Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO.

Fresh off a get-right-with-yourself pep talk from Jon, Pyke's large adult son actually stumbles into something resembling a win, beating the crap out of a burly Ironborn dude to convince a bunch of other burly Ironborn dudes to sail after his sister — all thanks to "Game of Thrones" reigning MVP of kindness and excellent source of nutrition for dogs, Ramsay Bolton.

For a while, the brawl appears pretty one-sided, particularly when the random reaver starts viciously kneeing Theon between his thighs. Thankfully, Ramsay had the foresight to cut off anything in that general area that could be injured. Sure, Theon didn't much appreciate it at the time, but sometimes we don't realize the gifts our friends have given us until it's too late and we're punching a beardy sailor to death on the beach.

5. Cersei does what's best for the realm for ... 37 minutes.

Image by Helen Sloan/HBO.

Near the end of DragonPitCon 2017, Cersei surprises everyone by announcing that Team Lannister is on board with the plan to nail the Army of the Dead to the wall before dealing with the thorny question of who should sit on the Iron Throne.

It's surprising, in part, because it's a total and obvious (to everyone but Jaime) lie. As usual, instead of helping save humanity, Cersei is secretly scheming to bring 20,000 heavily armed mercenaries across the Narrow Sea to retake the rest of the Seven Kingdoms while the rest of the living and dead are busy tearing each other to pieces.

Still, for a little more than half an hour, she remained outwardly committed to doing the right thing.

For Cersei, that's got to be some kind of record.

6. Sam and Bran idiot-proof this (and last) season's biggest revelations about Jon Snow's true parentage.

"Hey, Sam, thanks for helping me get to the other side of the Wall so my friends could die and I could learn to be a sullen psychic wizard. By the way, did you know Jon is actually the bastard son of dead Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and my aunt Lyanna Stark, which I am now telling you even though I have already showed you?"

"No, actually, I didn't, Bran. But I recently discovered that Rhaegar and Lyanna were secretly married. Actually, Gilly discovered that and I ignored her at the time, but somehow I know that now and am not giving her any credit for it because that's what men have done throughout history and also do in fiction."

Get it? Geeeeetttttt ittttt???? Image by Helen Sloan/HBO.

"Right on. So everything the audience thinks they know about all this is double super mega confirmed, Robert's Rebellion was based on a lie and Jon is actually the true heir to the Iron Throne and has been this whole time."

"Seems like it. But what about the Dragon Queen?"

"She is his aunt. Right now they are having sex on a boat."

"Weird."

"Yeah. Oh, Jon's name is actually Aegon Targaryen."

"Wow, thanks. That actually is a new piece of information."

"Cool! Good talk. Thanks, bud."

"Same! Good luck conveniently knowing everything at all times."

7. The ice dragon generously proves that walls don't work.

Image via HBO.

Obviously peeved by the current state of the immigration debate, Viserion provides a real-life simulation of what people from China to Berlin to El Paso have known for years: A wall might intimidate some, but if someone is determined enough to get to the other side, they will — whether by scaling it, flying over it, or with knocking it down with magical fire-ice breath.

Of course, immigrants are people seeking a better life for themselves and their families and the white walkers are ruthless godlike monsters who want to see all Westerosi life extinguished, but hey, it's complicated. Thanks to Viserion for urging us to start a conversation.

We might have to wait two freaking years 'til next season after all.

Random Acts of Niceness

  • Everybody respects Brienne! Even the people (cf. the Hound) she's tried to kill respect her. At least we've got that.
  • Some comedy club in King's Landing clearly gave Euron some time at an open mic to work on his material. It's still not really there, but with practice, who knows?
  • George R.R. Martin does British history nerds a solid by setting up a pretty clear parallel between Jon and Dany's quest to take back the Iron Throne and the Glorious Revolution of 1689. See, it's all about Aegons and Williams. If the first Aegon Targaryen — Aegon the Conqueror — is William the Conqueror, who sailed from Normandy to become King of England in 1066, then Aegon/Jon has gotta be William of Orange who, along with his Queen Mary, invaded Britain from the Netherlands and initiated some democratic reforms, passing a Bill of Rights that greatly curtailed the Crown's power! Obviously, that's what he's going for, right? It's not just me, right? Hello? Anyone still there?

That's a wrap, folks! See you next season when, presumably, Tormund and Beric totally survived that fall, Jon and Dany learn that genetic sexual attraction makes their union completely healthy and normal, and the Night King learns that offering free ice dragon rides to local kids can be an invaluable tool of soft power.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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Education

All-female flight crews known as 'Night Witches' bombed the crap out of Nazi targets in WWII

The Germans were terrified of these pilots whose silent planes swooped in like ghosts.

The Night Witches were feared by the Germans for their stealth bombing runs.

If you like stories of amazing women, buckle up, because this one is a wild ride.

During WWII, the Soviet Air Force's 588th Night Bomber Regiment flew incredibly harrowing missions, bombing Germans with rudimentary biplanes in the dead of night. The Germans called them Nachthexen—"Night Witches"—because the only warning they had before the bombs hit was an ominous whooshing sound akin to a witch's broom.

The "whoosh" sound was due to the fact that the women would cut the planes' engines as they approached, gliding in stealthily before dropping their bombs. And the Night Witches moniker was fitting, considering the fact that the 588th was an all-female regiment.

Their missions were incredibly dangerous, especially considering how the women were equipped. Most of the recruits were in their late teens to mid-20s, and crew members had to learn how to pilot, navigate and maintain the aircraft so they could serve the regiment in any capacity. They underwent an intensive year of training to learn what usually took several years to master.

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This article originally appeared on July 2, 2019


Sadly, a lot of men go out of their way to avoid learning anything about a woman's period.

(That could be why throughout most of the United States — where the majority of lawmakers are men — feminine hygiene products are subject to sales tax.)

So we should give some love to the guys who make an effort to learn a bit about the menstrual cycle so they can help their family members when they're in desperate need of feminine hygiene products.

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