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7 shockingly nice moments from the season finale of 'Game of Thrones.'

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.

via Pixabay

A sad-looking Labrador Retriever

The sweet-faced, loveable Labrador Retriever is no longer America’s favorite dog breed. The breed best known for having a heart of gold has been replaced by the smaller, more urban-friendly French Bulldog.

According to the American Kennel Club, for the past 31 years, the Labrador Retriever was America’s favorite dog, but it was eclipsed in 2022 by the Frenchie. The rankings are based on nearly 716,500 dogs newly registered in 2022, of which about 1 in 7 were Frenchies. Around 108,000 French Bulldogs were recorded in the U.S. in 2022, surpassing Labrador Retrievers by over 21,000.


The French Bulldog’s popularity has grown exponentially over the past decade. They were the #14 most popular breed in 2012, and since then, registrations have gone up 1,000%, bringing them to the top of the breed popularity rankings.

The AKC says that the American Hairless Terrier, Gordon Setter, Italian Greyhound and Anatolian Shepherd Dog also grew in popularity between 2021 and 2022.

The French Bulldog was famous among America’s upper class around the turn of the 20th century but then fell out of favor. Their resurgence is partly based on several celebrities who have gone public with their Frenchie love. Leonardo DiCaprio, Megan Thee Stallion, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Reese Witherspoon and Lady Gaga all own French Bulldogs.

The breed earned a lot of attention as show dogs last year when a Frenchie named Winston took second place at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and first in the National Dog Show.

The breed made national news in early 2021 when Gaga’s dog walker was shot in the chest while walking two of her Frenchies in a dog heist. He recovered from his injuries, and the dogs were later returned.

They’ve also become popular because of their unique look and personalities.

“They’re comical, friendly, loving little dogs,” French Bull Dog Club of America spokesperson Patty Sosa told the AP. She said they are city-friendly with modest grooming needs and “they offer a lot in a small package.”

They are also popular with people who live in apartments. According to the AKC, Frenchies don’t bark much and do not require a lot of outdoor exercise.

The French Bulldog stands out among other breeds because it looks like a miniature bulldog but has large, expressive bat-like ears that are its trademark feature. However, their popularity isn’t without controversy. “French bulldogs can be a polarizing topic,” veterinarian Dr. Carrie Stefaniak told the AP.

american kennel club, french bulldog, most popular dog

An adorable French Bulldog

via Pixabay

French Bulldogs have been bred to have abnormally large heads, which means that large litters usually need to be delivered by C-section, an expensive procedure that can be dangerous for the mother. They are also prone to multiple health problems, including skin, ear, and eye infections. Their flat face means they often suffer from respiratory problems and heat intolerance.

Frenchies are also more prone to spine deformations and nerve pain as they age.

Here are the AKC’s top ten most popular dog breeds for 2022.

1 French Bulldogs

2 Labrador Retrievers

3 Golden Retrievers

4 German Shepherd Dogs

5 Poodles

6 Bulldogs

7 Rottweilers

8 Beagles

9 Dachshunds

10 German Shorthaired Pointers


This article originally appeared on 03.17.23

Pop Culture

Woman who moved to Italy lists the most basic human needs Americans now have to pay for

Remember when these things used to be free? They still are in some places.

Representative image from Canva

If you're feeling like everything is just out of reach, you're not alone.

How many times have you, or someone in your circle, made this joke:

“I can’t seem to go outside without spending money!

But, as with many jokes, there’s some dark truth layered in. Life just feels a little hard right now for many of us when it comes to finances. And one person has hit the nail on the head as to why. Spoiler alert: it probably has nothing to do with anyone being lazy.

Amber Cimiotti, a mom of two and expat living in Italy, begins her video by noting how America has removed naturally occurring activities like “exercise, talking to friends, connecting with people, spending time with our kids,” from everyday life. And so now, Americans only have access to these very necessary things if they are able to pay for them.


For example—let’s talk about exercise. Cimiotti notes how "there's not many places, neighborhoods, and cities where it's super easy to walk everywhere, where you can get a lot of natural exercise, whether it's walking to and from your house or to the grocery stores. This just doesn't exist for most people now, so you have to wake up earlier on your lunch break or after work; you have to go to the gym so you can get in your exercise." Which means someone has to have anywhere between $40 to upwards of $300+ a month to invest in their physical health in this way.

Next up—mental health resources, primarily in the form of real conversations in a supportive community. Cimiotti says “people are meant to share their struggles, their stories, everyday, constantly. And we’re not doing that. And what do you see happening? Nowadays, everybody needs a therapist. Yes, therapy is needed for some things but most people just need to be talking to people way more. And I don’t mean like trolling on the internet.”

Also—child care. "There used to be kids running around neighborhoods all the time. Parents didn't have to pay all this extra money to do activities so their kids can be involved in things; parents didn't have to drive all over the place... But now that doesn't exist. So we do need to pay for activities,” Cimiotti says.

Lastly—food. “Eating healthy food in America is a part-time job, if not a full-time job…it would all be so much easier if we just had healthy food in general.” I don’t think Cimiotti needs to convince anyone here that quality food (food in general, really) is definitely not accessible for many folks, and high prices are at least partially to blame.

“The point is when things don’t happen naturally in your day and you need to take extra energy to achieve basic things like healthy food, exercise, talking to friends, which helps regulate emotions and things like that…when you have to build those into therapy sessions, exercise sessions, hobbies, reading 17 books…of course you’ll be tired,” Cimiotti concludes with a big sigh.

@ciaoamberc #america #culture #family #friends #parenting #society ♬ original sound - Ciao AmberC

Down in the comments, people seemed to really resonate with what Cimiotti had to say.

One reader commented, “I’m totally convinced that a lot of therapy effects could be achieved by processing time with an array of friends in different stages of life. Which isn’t possible to mutually schedule like therapy.”


And while Cimiotti’s video might be sobering, she tells Buzzfeed that her hope is it can lead to more conversations that “help lead to a change.”

Judging by some of the viewer reactions, it seems she’s succeeded, at least in helping people not blame themselves for their challenges. One person shared, “It’s so validating to hear cause I feel like I never have enough time to just live well and not be completely exhausted and have space left to do fun stuff!”

Family

Heartwarming comics break down complex parenting issues with ease

Lunarbaboon comics tackle huge, important subjects with an effective, lighthearted touch that you can't help but smile at.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Writing comics helped a father struggling with anxiety and depression.

Christopher Grady, a father and teacher from Toronto, was struggling with anxiety and depression. That's when he started drawing.

He describes his early cartoons and illustrations as a journal where he'd chronicle everyday moments from his life as a husband, elementary school teacher, and father to two kids.

"I needed a positive place to focus all my thoughts and found that when I was making comics I felt a little bit better," he says.

He began putting a few of his comics online, not expecting much of a response. But he quickly learned that people were connecting with his work in a deep way.


The comics series called Lunarbaboon was born, and the response to the first few was so powerful that Grady was inspired do more with his comics than just document his own experience.

"I began getting messages from many people about how they connected to the comics and it gave them hope and strength as they went through their own dark times," he says.

"When they look back…they probably won't remember what was said…or where you were when you said it. They may not remember any details of your time together. But they will remember that you were there…and that's what matters most."

"Usually the circle of people we can support, help, influence is limited to our families, friends, coworkers, random stranger at the bus stop, but with my comic I suddenly found my circle of power was much much larger," Grady explains. "I guess I decided to use this power for good."

Grady continued to draw, making a point to infuse the panels with his own special brand of positivity.

"Kids are always watching adults and they look to the adults as role models," he says. "I try to show (my kids and students) that even with all my flaws and weaknesses I am still a good person and I can still make a positive change in the world."

Lunarbaboon comics tackle huge, important subjects with an effective, lighthearted touch that you can't help but smile at.

Check out Grady's take on teaching his son about consent. (All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission.)

consent, relationship advice, father son advice, family

A comic about listening and respecting your partner.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Here's one about parents being supportive of a gay son or daughter.

sexual orientation, parenting gay children, positive messages, gender orientation

Parents being supportive of their gay son.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

On raising girls in a patriarchal world.

adulting, education, medical field, dreams

Comic encourages girls to chase all their dreams.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

And here's a sweet one about appreciating the heck out of his wife.

motherhood, moms, childbirth, family

Mom one ups dad easily.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Big topics. Important issues. Grady tackles them with humility and ease.

As Lunarbaboon has continued to grow, Grady says the messages of support he gets have become increasingly powerful.

He certainly doesn't claim to have all the answers to all the complexities of parenting, but he does say that "people like knowing they aren't alone in life's daily struggles. Most people who contact me just want to say thank you for putting something positive into the world."

Grady doesn't expect his Lunarbaboon comics to fix rape culture or end bigotry. He just hopes his message of love, inclusion, and positivity continues to spread.

inclusion, gender roles, social anxiety, happy

Teaching children to accept what might be different.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

"My hope is that for the short time people read it they smile and feel good," he says. "Then I hope they take that good feeling and smile into the world and make it slightly brighter."

You can check out even more of Grady's awesome work over on his website or in his newly published book.


This article was originally published on 11.30.17

Tennessee state senator gives fiery speech on arming teachers

Every once in a while a state's bill will make a blip on national media that causes people to dig a little deeper into what's happening. One such bill made headlines last year for a brief time before a new bill from another state took it's place.

After a tragic school shooting in the state of Tennessee where six people were killed, including three young students, state politicians began talking about arming the teachers. The idea was if teachers were armed then they would be able to stop school shooters, but the bill was widely unpopular among teachers and many parents. That didn't stop the state legislature from drawing up the bill and putting it up for a vote April 2024.

Many parents showed up to Tennessee State Senate to protest the bill, but it was the fiery speech of State Senator London Lamar that has people talking.


The new mom held her infant son in her arms while she addressed her colleagues who saw fit to laugh after moms protesting the bill were asked to leave. Lamar did not hold back in not only expressing her disappointment in her colleagues behavior but their disregard for very real concerns that she also shares with the people asked to leave.

"We are literally talking about arming educators who took an oath to teach our kids writing and arithmetic and how they can one day contribute to Tennessee's great economy, and we're now turning them into law enforcement agents by arming them with guns. We think this piece of legislation is going to keep kids safe which is probably going to enable the next school shooter, and it's not going to be someone coming in from the outside. It's unfortunately going to be a teacher with this piece of legislation," Lamar declares.

You can watch her passionate speech below:

@iamcalledlucas/Instagram, used with permission

We need every Lucas version of Taylor's songs.

Sure, Taylor Swift did a great job at writing, performing in and directing her “Fortnitemusic video (which has only dropped a couple days ago and already at over 30 million views)…but you know what could make it even better? Having a dog perform all the parts, that’s what!

And that’s exactly the treat we received, thanks to an adorable dachshund named Lucas.

The clip (aptly titled “Fortnight (Lucas’ version)”) recreates the music video’s black-and-white typewriter scene, where the camera alternates between a moody Swift and Post Malone clacking as they lament about how much love is “ruining” their lives. you know, basic tortured poets stuff.


Only this time, Lucas plays both the roles—costumes as all! Major kudos to Lucas’ parent, who clearly has an eye for detail and camera angles. Both the original video and Lucas’ video play simultaneously so you can really see how similar they are.

“I look like @taylorswift in this light, i’m lovin’ it 🤭🤍,” the clip caption says.

Watch below. Spoiler alert: get ready to see little doggy paws in lace gloves.

Down in the comments, people were enthralled.

One person wrote, "THIS NEEDS MORE ATTENTION”

"Magical!!!!!!!" another added.

Though clearly Lucas’s is a whole ‘nother level of Swiftie, is he not the only dog to be a fan. In an experiment produced by WoofWoof, dogs were “visibly more relaxed” by her music than other artists in the study. Her songs got more tail wagging and even more “howls of approval.” That’s right, her music transcends species.

Just like Taylor Swift, Lucas has many, many more music videos where they came from, including “The Archer,” “Hoax” and “You Belong with Me.” And just like Swift, he outdoes himself with every new project.

Check out even more of his content on Instagram and TikTok.