No One Told Me You Were Clever: Alayne Stone in the Winds of Winter

Yulia Nikolaeva, image from George RR Martin's web site.

Image by Yulia Nikolaeva, image from George RR Martin’s web site.

On Thursday, George R.R. Martin saw fit to bless us with another chapter of the long-awaited The Winds of Winter.  Most recently, we received word of what one Stark daughter was doing when we met a little mummer called Mercy who only shows her wolf colors when murdering the man who had killed her friend Lommy.

Now it’s the elder daughter’s turn, with Sansa- still in hiding as Alayne Stone, bastard daughter of Littlefinger- preparing for a tourney held in the Vale.  In this chapter, she meets her next betrothed- Harry the Heir. Throughout the chapter, we find Sansa doing something she has only started recently- playing the game.  Calmly but firmly refusing Sweetrobin’s awkward pre-adolescent advances toward her, she manages to turn his words around into an insult, providing herself an opportunity for a graceful exit.

Like her sister, Alayne is firmly “Alayne” here, never going by Sansa, and only slipping up occasionally in her thoughts, calling Lord Eddard Stark her father before correcting her own thoughts, and remembering Robb when meeting a man of the same age.  We also find Alayne happy for the first time in ages, able to act the part of her father’s daughter.  We also find out the tourney she is witnessing the preparation for was her own idea. Throughout the chapter, Alayne is many things Sansa has never been- witty, quick, sly, and proactive, to name a few, although she is still watching every word she says.  She has learned to watch her words and conceal her emotions when needed.

We also receive some insight into Alayne as student of Petyr Baelish, as he highlights Harry the Heir’s weaknesses and coaches her on how to use her placement at the feast to her advantage.  Sansa is motherless, and Petyr is teaching her how to deal with men not as someone’s future wife romantically, but as a political seductress.  Sansa understands exactly why Harry the Heir is important to wed, and has less romantic notions than the little girl who once fell in love with Joffrey Baratheon.

But what does all this mean?  It means that the Stark daughters are becoming survivors, in different ways.  Arya works outside the system, but Sansa works from within.  Think Batman vs. Jim Gordon.  Both are fighting for the same goal, but in wildly different ways.  Arya’s other motivation is revenge, while Sansa seems to bear the Lannisters no real ill will.  She calls Joffrey a monster, but remembers Tyrion as being kind.  Sansa’s other goal seems to be getting home to Winterfell, able to rebuild.  Marrying Harry the Heir provides that goal, and she is happy to do it.  She still believes one thing from her childhood: courtesy is a lady’s armor.

The sisters are different even in their similarities.  One is living in the past through her quest for revenge, while the other can only survive by moving forward.  Though Arya is trying to become No One, Sansa really has successfully buried her identity, rising to prominence in the Vale as Baelish’s bastard.  Sansa blends in by standing out, becoming the fallen Princess of another kingdom instead of the mummer/ assassin her sister becomes to survive.

Little Northern Princess Sansa is becoming a woman, and her confidence is apparent throughout the chapter, breaking only in her brief scene with Petyr in the crypts.  The last line shows how self-assured Alayne has become.  After denying Harry the Heir her favor to wear in the tourney, she tells him it’s promised to another, and then thinks: “She was not sure who as yet, but she knew she would find someone.”  She is confident in her beauty, and knows she can use it to manipulate Harry and other knights if need be.  Sansa was a pawn.  Alayne is an emerging player.

Which way will prove successful?  Only George RR Martin knows.  But I’m excited to see what is in store for both sisters when book six arrives (next year?!)

Wrestlemania: Is anyone excited?

Wrestlemania 31....or Wrestlemania Play Button.

Wrestlemania 31….or Wrestlemania Play Button.

Monday night was the go-home RAW before Wrestlemania, and the crowd went wild…ly apathetic towards the evening’s proceedings.  What went wrong with this year’s WM build?  Here’s a five-point list.

1) No one likes Roman Reigns. He’s been the lucky recipient of a Willy-Wonka Golden Ticket to the top of the card, despite not being all that popular.  John Cena, while largely unloved by the Internet Wrestling Community (IWC, or “those goddamn smarks,” if you will,) is well loved by children, who buy lots of merchandise.  His place at the top of the card, while sometimes annoying, is understood.  Reigns doesn’t make any sense.  In one year, or even two, he could have been someone the audience could grow to love.  Right now, however, it’s still too close to the Shield’s glory days, and Ambrose and Rollins are both better on the mic and in the ring.

2) Too many part-timers, not enough appearances.  Come on, Undertaker.  You couldn’t show up once to accept Bray Wyatt’s challenge?  I honestly think Bray is doing a fairly good job building a match all by his lonesome, but couldn’t Taker have met him halfway?  Once?  Sting’s decidedly half-assed appearance schedule is also annoying.  Triple H doesn’t appear every week.  So this is a “main event” level feud that’s only built up some of the time.

3)Plotlines?  What? Bray and Taker are fighting over who is the “face of fear.”  What does that even mean, really?  Sting and HHH are fighting because WCW went out of business fifteen years ago or something.  Nothing feels personal.  It feels like Creative found a filmsy reason for each fight and went with it, with very little idea of how to make the fight personal.  Yes, beating the stuffing out of people is pretty much Brock Lesnar’s thing.  To him, nothing is personal, and that’s awesome.  It’s more awesome when it is personal to his opponent.  Nothing feels personal to Reigns, who elicits pretty much no emotion from the crowd.  Out of the card, only Cena vs. Rusev seems to have any kind of real, personal fight.

4) You get a match.  You get a match.  EVERYBODY GETS A MATCH….except most of the Divas. Since pretty much the entire current roster has been kept out of the top of the card, we get a ladder match of supremely talented people that could be way higher on the card, and the Battle Royal, or the miscellaneous pile of the WWE.  Cesaro’s treatment after his Battle Royal win doesn’t give me a lot of confidence in what the WWE will do with whoever wins.  So why not Zack Ryder?  These huge matches are very fun, but there isn’t much by way of storyline involved, and Creative more than likely won’t use this great opportunity to set themselves up with more storylines.

5) All of the matches they left off the table.  I am still furious with Memphis for ignoring the very good Stardust vs Goldust match at Fastlane.  With the storyline incomplete, I thought we would get a Dust Bros match at WM31, with Dusty Rhodes guest refereeing (or better yet, Dean Ambrose just doing his Dusty Rhodes impression.)  The Brie vs Nikki storyline that just got forgotten about when they turned Brie heel and elected to not follow through with the sister vs sister storyline.  Ambrose and Seth Rollins?  Probably not still thrilled with one another, probably Ambrose should keep trying to ruin Rollins’s life, you know, for funsies.  Hopefully, we’ll get some of these for Summerslam?

One- Shot Wednesday: Heil, Honey, I’m Home


One-Shot Wednesday tackles a show that was canceled after one season, with many of the featured shows being canceled after one episode.  Some had hints of greatness.  Some, as you will read, did not.


It’s a domestic sitcom.  But with Hitler.

I expected any number of things from this show, canceled after only one episode.  I expected it to be offensive, subversive, maybe clever.  What I didn’t expect was boring.  The 25 minute program barely held my attention, with me drifting off to pack another box twice.  It literally ends in a conga line involving Neville Chamberlain.

Upon its 1990 release, the show was incredibly controversial, and the outcry caused its early cancellation.  I love controversial and banned entertainment, and I’m not easily offended.  I had to bite.  Expectations were high for this legendary flop.

The plotline is a sitcom standby- Neighbor A (in this case Hitler and Eva Braun) tries to conceal an important dinner guest (Neville Chamberlain) from Neighbor B (the Jewish Goldensteins.)  Obviously, the Goldensteins find out because Braun slips up and tells them, and attend the dinner, and Hitler needs to make them leave before Chamberlain turns up.  Also, Rosa Goldenstein wants to set Chamberlain up with her niece, Ruth.  None of this is done tastefully or creatively, or even all that well.

For instance, none of the characters make any sense.  Hitler and Braun are pretty much the standard “sitcom” couple, with her being a loudmouth with no discretion, and him being a bumbling idiot.  The Goldensteins don’t fare much better, with Rosa feeling like a dollar-store-brand Ethel Mertz, and Arny not being memorable at all.  Instead of placing a slightly more realistic but still cartoonish version of real people into these mundane events, they just slapped a moustache on a random actor and got to it.

Heil, Honey, I’m Home! fails on every conceivable level.  Mel Brooks did Nazi satire earlier and better in the Springtime for Hitler sequence of The Producers.  Sitcom parodies have been done to death, most recently with Adult Swim’s deeply unsettling Too Many Cooks. It doesn’t even succeed in being shocking or offensive, because it’s not smart enough to be either of those things.

When researching the show, I found that the producers intended the show to come off silly and corny, as it was supposed to be a send-up of the American sitcom and of German appeasement.  What results is a nearly unwatchable mess.  I have seen some of the worst films of all time.   I would rather watch Movie 43 again than watch this garbage.

If you hate yourself, the video is available in its entirety on YouTube.  Don’t watch it.  It’s 25 minutes of your life you can’t get back.

Pretty Nerdy Party Planning: Community



Just like that, we’re off hiatus!

This week, something near and dear to my heart returns- The Greendale Seven Six Four + Chang are back TOMORROW with a new season.  This little sitcom that could deserves to be brought in in style, and you know what that means?



We’re going to take from the season two episode Mixology Certification

  • Seven and Seven (even if it’s a high school girls’ drink)
  • Screwdrivers (for Annie)
  • Root beer (again, for Annie)
  • Make a punch, and then serve it with this ice cube in the center


  • A tray from Subway- always appropriate
  • Chicken fingers, from season one’s excellent mafia episode.
  • Order pizza.  Try to figure out who should answer the door.


  • Colorful cake pops for all of your paintball needs
  • Shirley’s brownies, of course!
  • Try varying brownies for different characters.  No-pudge brownies for weight-conscious Jeff, vegan brownies for Britta, disgustingly rich brownies for Pierce, etc.
  • Cookies and Cream “Puppy Chow,” for Dean Pelton’s love of Dalmatians


  • Turn your living room into the Greendale cafeteria with banners
  • Recreate posters from famous episodes
  • Make a flag out of Greendale’s famous logo.



  • Please don’t dress as a Human Being.  You will scare your guests.

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Alternately, throw this entire thing out and throw a Pulp Fiction themed party in honor of Abed.


Temporary Hiatus


Hello, everyone!

I know we’ve been pretty quiet around these parts lately.  I promise, you’re not forgotten.  However, Laura’s moving, so we’re on hiatus until Monday, when we go back to Greendale for a Community theme party that will please all of the Human Beings on your guest list.

Rock on, and take care!


Pretty Nerdy Things Managing Editor.

Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015)



Today’s Agents of SHIELD party post has been rescheduled, because I can’t post a party today.  About twenty minutes ago, I received confirmation that Leonard Nimoy had passed away.  I would never call myself a Trekkie- it’s not my favorite franchise, though I do enjoy it.  However, Mr. Nimoy’s death has affected me, more than I assumed it would.

In early 2014, Mr. Nimoy offered to adopt us all as his honorary grandchildren.  Like the lost children so many of us are, we eagerly agreed, adopting him as well.  Maybe that’s why we, as the nerd community, are taking this so hard.  Losing an actor is not difficult.  Losing a man, even if we did not know him well, who was kind and generous to his fans and his friends- that’s much harder.

I dislike saying rest in peace, because I find it trite and peculiar.  I have no other words but thanks for Mister Nimoy.  Thank you for your kindness, your warmth, and your love.

That is where you truly prosper.


How to: End a Sitcom Gracefully: Parks and Recreation Edition



Friends, Parks and Recreation ended last night.  This warm, hilarious show about small government and public servants who actually serve went out not with a bang- but with a sweet, nostalgic fizz not unlike The Colbert Report’s excellent finale last December.

The year, I remind you, is 2017.  On Leslie Knope’s last day of work in the titular department, a man comes in to request a swingset be fixed.  That’s it.  Nothing life changing.  As she exchanges heartfelt words with each member of the main cast, the camera freezes on each gesture and tells us what became of Tom, Donna, Jean Ralphio, Andy and April, Garry/Jerry, Ron, and of course, Ben and Leslie.  I might have liked to see more of what became of Ann and Chris, but what we did see was wonderful.  The small story about one broken swing exists solely as a plot device for the clip-show style of the rest of the episode, but seldom does that device work so well as it did last night.

The endings for the characters never denied who they were, and rewarded their virtues without making them pay too dearly for their flaws.  Garry’s ending, even with a misspelled tombstone, was heartwarming.  A dear, optimistic man dying on his hundredth birthday, surrounded by the people he loved, who clearly loved him dearly.  Tom’s resourceful nature and neverending tenacity are rewarded, even when fate deals him a bad hand.  April and Andy grow up without maturing, as baby Jack’s incredibly long full name implies.  Everyone evolves but never changes.

Parks and Recreation was wry, but never cynical.  In a world of Breaking Bads and Game of Thrones, a world where even in comedies like The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men rely on insulting and undermining each other, Parks dared to be kind.  It dared to be gentle and sweet and believe that people could really be good to each other.  Instead of finding the humor in nastiness, it found the humor in love and devotion.  We laughed with them, not at them- except maybe for Garry.

By the time Leslie Knope said her last line: “I’m ready,” I was, too.  I loved Parks and Recreation, and I’m happy it got to go out on its own terms.  NBC didn’t do the show justice cramming all of its episodes into a few weeks, but I’m grateful we got this last season to say farewell.  For me, two words started the waterworks:  “Ann’s here.”  The sheer joy and emotion in Poehler’s voice sold the moment, and I was happy to see all of these wonderful people together in one place one last time, too.
How I Met Your Mother writers, take note: This is how a sitcom finale is done.  Realistic, cathartic, and respectful of the characters, their world, and the fans.  I leave you with one of the most basic moments of Parks and Recreation, celebrating unity and mini horses.

Pretty Nerdy Party: Agent Carter



Next week, we lose the Marvel limited run series Agent Carter for an entire year!  So let’s see her out in style with a true 1940s-themed party, like one post-war Peggy might have attended herself.  We’re going to fudge the timeline a little bit, because 1950s food, frankly, is not that appealing.  You don’t want to eat aspic, do you?

Food Notes:

  • Rationing was in full force around the time Captain America takes place, and some authentic 40s food does the trick nicely.
  • Additionally, cheese and butter were rationed, so this is the perfect menu to give your body a break from all of those Valentine’s Day treats. (Don’t worry, delightfully unhealthy food will be back next Friday)



  • Bread is the staff of life, and its lack of rationed ingredients make it a great choice for your pre-meal fare.
  •  Victory gardens were very popular, so this would be the time for your veggie tray.
  • I won’t tell if the ranch dressing isn’t authentic, but peanut butter is probably more period-appropriate.



  • Hamburgers, Meat Loaf, and meatballs were popular in the 1940s, when beef was much less expensive than chicken.
  • Hot dogs were similarly popular, even though they were at that point called frankfurters.  This also creates a nice underlying theme of Americana, proving Steve is (at that time) gone, but certainly not forgotten



  • Go ahead and bake a cake from a box.  Convenience food was just being introduced owing to the rationing of sugar, butter, and eggs.  If someone gives you any guff, tell them you’re being authentic.
  • Frost it red, white, and blue, and serve with ice cream for Peggy’s frozen boyfriend.



  • “At the River Club in New York, as the bartender told me, the six most popular mixed drinks are: bacardi cocktails, daiquiris, dry martinis, manhattans, old-fashioned cocktails and whisky sours. Usually, and for even a fairly large party, dry martinis, with whiskey and soda highballs, sherry, iced fruit juice and milk for the many who are on diets but who like going to parties just the same, offer something for every taste.”—Entertaining is Fun! How to be a popular hostess/Dorothy Draper [Doubleday, Doran & Company:New York] 1941 (p. 67-70)
  • The above quote was super interesting.  The links are from me.



  • Bowls of M&Ms and Tootsie Rolls can be placed strategically around the room for pre-meal snacking, since both were introduced as a way to heat proof chocolate for Allied soliders!
  • Propaganda posters like this one could be a nice touch.

Woman Crush Wednesday: Six Ladies of SNL that Inspire


Welcome to the queendom.


SNL40 aired on Sunday night, and I was personally reminded of why I do what I do.  Women have had a tough road in comedy- John Belushi famously sabotaged sketches by female writers, claiming women weren’t funny.  Obviously, we are, and I wanted to take this week’s Wednesday column (One-Shot Wednesday will run next week, I swear) to honor six of the women that have blazed the trails for all of us.  This is not a comprehensive list of every woman who is SNL legend, but these are six women whose example we all follow or hope to follow as females, comedians/comediennes, and smart girls.


Jane Curtin– “It used to be I was the only pretty blonde reading the fake news- now there’s a whole network of them!”  The second anchor ever for Weekend Update and the first woman, Jane’s deadpan delivery and ability to play straight against living cartoon characters Chevy Chase, John Belushi, and Dan Aykroyd made her an invaluable member of the Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time Players.  Curtin is still with us, and is sassy to this very day.


Gilda Radner– Where Jane Curtin played straight, Gilda Radner was broad.  The first player cast, Radner was honored on SNL40 by Emma Stone’s impression of her Roseanne Rosannadanna character, though I personally favor her as nerdy Lisa Loopner.  Like Jane Curtin, Radner abstained from the drugs than ran rampant throughout the original cast.  Unfortunately, we lost Radner far too soon to ovarian cancer in 1989. However, as long as Barbara Walters (Baba Wawa) lives, Gilda does, too.

I love everything in this picture.

I love everything in this picture.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Simply put, Fey is iconic.  She made smart girls cool and mean girls funny.  Amy Poehler went on to create one of the warmest, funniest television shows of recent times.  Fey was the first woman to be named head writer for SNL, and Poehler is the first woman to be nominated for an Emmy for acting in SNL.  Their tenure hosting Weekend Update is widely considered to be among the best runs the segment has ever known.  Bitch will always be the new black, and bitches get stuff done.  Poehler’s Hillary Clinton and Fey’s Sarah Palin were at odds, incredibly funny, and spot-on.  I considered listing them separately, but they belong together. Never before has the power of female friendship been so palpable, honest, and inspiring in comedy, where women tend to be pitted against one another.


Cheri Oteri– What do you call the woman who can hold her own with Will Ferrell on the regular, playing instantly recognizable cheerleaders or idiotic talk-show hosts?  Well, you call her Cheri Oteri.  She didn’t blaze trails like Curtin, Radner, Fey, or Poehler, but she held her own with the boys, able to be just as funny and cartoonish as Ferrell.  Unfortunately, Oteri was not able to feature in SNL40, as she was unable to confirm her attendance until the last minute.  There was no time to rehearse for her.  We just can’t “simmer down now” when it comes to talking about this madly talented woman.


Maya Rudolph– Kristen Wiig might be more popular, but I had to choose Rudolph for our last spot.  Rudolph is a chameleon, imitating countless celebrities during her tenure on the show.  Her sleepy, sloshed Donnatella Versace and gutsy, uncanny Beyonce earned her place in our hearts and in the show’s history.  Rudolph might not have as many legendary characters, but there was certainly room for the gifted impressionist here.


There are many, many more women in SNL history, and I can’t wait to see what Vanessa Bayer, Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Sasheer Zamata, and Cecily Strong will offer as their legacy- keep being legendary, ladies.