Archive for April, 2013

Game of Thrones – an opinion

(no spoilers if you’re current with last week’s episode)

This is Samwell Tarly, played by John Bradley.

Sam and three other people – late king Robert Baratheon, Varys and Hot Pie – make up the fat part of the Westeros cast of Game of Thrones. (There is also Xaro Xhoan Daxos, a liar and a traitor, but he is from Qarth, in Essos, and I’ll not discuss him here)

Now, I like Game of Thrones. I’m a sucker for fantasy anyway and this series has carefully chosen settings, overall great character development and superb acting. It has strong female characters along with the male and, despite it being ‘ period’ drama in a sense, it passes the Bechdel test several times (Catelyn Stark and Brienne, Sansa and Shea and Sansa and Cersei, just to name a few). I also have a happy little celebrity crush on Jon Snow / Kit Harington. I think it’s the pout. In any case, I love the series and look forward to every new episode.

However, there is one thing that annoys me, and it annoys me more every time I see it. I’m hoping it will become less prevalent over the coming episodes and seasons.

Game of Thrones is not cool when it comes to fat people and that’s a pity and a shame, because I think it does a good job of not being exclusionary otherwise.

I have not yet read the books so I don’t know if this is something George R.R. Martin put in himself, but I believe that the series would have been stronger if Sam, king Robert and ‘Hot Pie’ had not been written as clearly inferior to their companions. Varys is a different story – while he is considered unusual, he is also considered dangerous enough to make up for it. His fatness is not a defining quality, overshadowed as it is by his choices of clothing, his effeminate behavior and, of course, the known fact of his missing genitalia and mysterious past. His fatness is also not associated with a host of character flaws or, worse, a lack of character whatsoever. As spymaster and member of the small council, he may be subject to rumor and gossip, but he is considered a force to be reckoned with.

Sam is a character with potential. While he often comes across as bumbling and cowardly, he shows strength of character on par with other major characters in the tale on a few occasions. I, for one, hope that he’ll develop into a more well-rounded character. Not as ‘comically’ insecure,  not as scared and inept, not as lacking in courage and will to fight. No longer the laughing stock of the rest of the people at the Nightwatch. And then I hope he stays fat. If Sam is only allowed to grow mentally while shrinking in physical size, I’ll be disgusted. Of course it is possible for a scared and insecure person to also be fat. But I don’t see why the one visible scaredycat in the Nightwatch needed to be ‘Ser Piggy’.

King Robert Baratheon used to be a capable man, charming, good at fighting. That’s how he came to be king. And then.. Then he won the war and began drinking too much. He became a drunken sot, incapable of ruling and unwilling to spend time on serious matters. He spent much time with prostitutes and fathered some bastards. In return,  he was cheated on by his wife and was tricked into raising three children, none of which are his. In his seventeen years as king, he drove the Seven Kingdoms millions into deep debt.  His love of the drink even leads to his assassination. Robert ends up a man who hits his wife, bullies his squire and is entirely unwilling to deal with anything that distracts him from his pleasures.

In Robert’s own words, to Eddard Stark: “I’m not trying to honor you, I’m trying to get you to run my kingdom while I eat, drink, and whore my way into an early grave.

So, while King Robert may not have started out incapable, slothful and overindulgent, he sure ended up that way, and fatally so. How better to show this than by having a scene in which Robert tries to put on armor, but has become too fat to wear it? And then laugh at himself (because when you’re fat, you better be very good at self-deprecation, I guess). While I understand that every king must have a tragic flaw, I would have appreciated it if it had not been so mixed up with his exterior. A lustful, unfaithful, overindulgent drunk can still be thin, if you know what Im saying.

Then, there’s Hot Pie. Who – as far as I can tell – has no other name than Hot Pie. Shortly after we meet him, he bullies Arya. Then, he shows himself as a braggart and a liar -and not a very good one. When fighting breaks out, he alone hides and yields immediately when found, displaying cowardice. He shows incompetentce by believing a rumor and so puts himself at risk of being killed. He pees his pants when he is scared. Later, Hot Pie is sent to work in the kitchens of Harrenhal. After his escape from that castle, he decides not to continue on with Arya and Gendry  and chooses to stay at an inn and bake bread.

Now, Hot Pie doesn’t get that much screen time, but when you do see him, there’s an guesstimated 50% chance that he’s eating. He’s also heard talking about recipes and food. While I don’t know what the future holds for Hot Pie, I wonder what those involved in making the series thought to gain with his character up until this point. Was he supposed to be funny?  Was he just ‘filler’? Was he once an interesting, well-rounded person who got squashed into two-dimensional ‘always hungry, cowardly fat kid’ because of a lack of time for character development?

Dear people who work on Game of Thrones, I know you on’t read this. But just in case you do, please put a little effort into not giving in to sizeist prejudice. I know that ridiculing fat people is something is sometimes thought to be acceptable in this day and age. I know that you’ll appeal to many people’s biases when you correlate being fat with negative things such as a lack of courage and competence, and win some easy laughs. But think about it for a second: why would you take the easy way out here when you’ve obviously worked so hard on getting all the other things right. Why do justice to men and women alike, to cultures far and near – taking the effort to develop a whole new tongue to enhance the depth of the Dothraki people, and then drop the ball on some people, just because they’re fat.

Cultural differences

On our way back from some governmental office, having just dealt with our red tape, Beloved and I decided to stop by a Starbucks to get coffee.

As I walked into the place, I stuck my hand down my shoulder bag to confirm the location of my wallet. Seeing as that I’d need it just a minute later, I kept my hand down my bag while walking up to the register. I ordered our drinks, pulled out my wallet, paid, stuck the wallet back, grabbed the two cups of caffeinated yumminess and walked back outside.

Beloved: “Hey.. don’t do that when we’re in America.”

Me: “Wut? Do not do what?”

Beloved: ” Walking into a store with your hand in your bag – don’t do that..”

Me: “Eh?”

Me (thinking): Of course! Like this, people can see where my wallet is and they may try to steal it..

Beloved: “..because it looks like you have a gun and may try to rob them.”

Me: “.. oh..”

Case complete and a place to stay

The week has been eventful. First, the NCV sent us a checklist asking for a police certificate. Seeing as that it is impossible to obtain a police certificate here and NVC seemed – based on the text of the checklist – to be aware of this, I called them to ask for more information. We wer told that the checklist should not have been sent, were promised that the case would be reviewed by a supervisor, received apologies for the mistaken checklist and were told to expect a ‘case complete’ soon. Just for confirmation I called again yesterday. We’re now in a queue to be scheduled for an interview. I hope to be able to go to an interview in the next six weeks.

We received more great news. The university at which Beloved has been admitted has a residence area for students with family. This area has apartments that can be rented at prices far below the average for an equivalent place in the area.  Seeing as that the university is enormous and we only registered two months ago and have no children, we assumed that the chances would be very slim that they’d let us lease an apartment. However, just two days ago they informed us that they have an apartment available for us. We’ll start the lease six weeks from now, even if we can only move in a few weeks later. *Squee*!

Seriously – I live in a country where housing is expensive. I live in an expensive city. But the prices in the SF Bay Area are just insane. I’ve seen totally normal, modest apartments without ritzy details or many extras that cost $2500 a month (and about $1000 more than what we’ll be paying now).

Just for fun: I’ve looked up the purchase price per square feet of living space (not counting yards, just usable space in the home) for the town we’ll move to, and then calculated the same for the city in which I live. I haven’t been able to find the same for monthly rent per square ft, but I think the difference should be close to the same. See my calculated prices below.

city I live in: $288 per square ft

city to move to: $428 per square ft (off of

Seeing as that I’ll be the only one making money, I can only be very, very relieved that the university has decided to let us live in a ‘subsidized’  place. That way maybe my income will cover more than just the rent, meaning that we won;t need to pay for health insurance or food out of our savings.

Developments and travel pictures

Guards at a gate

We’ve paid our last NVC-bill, the one for the IV-package. We’ve sent in the last of the paperwork for the IV-package. All we can do now, is wait. Once the NVC checks all our stuff, finds it complete and sends it to the consulate, we can start moving again.

Beloved has had his last day at work, so he’s home too now. I am happy to no longer be responsible for the largest part of house keeping and am curious what it will be like to spend so much time together for the next  month or two.

Next week I’ll join a class on dog behaviorism and body language at the shelter I volunteer at. More quality time with lovable pooches!

We took a trip to Rome with my family and it was great. My feet are still sore. Pictures accompanying this post are from said trip and were all made by my relatives. Please don’t steal them.

I’m negotiating a freelance writing project, which I hope pans out.

I’ve heard rumors about my resume traveling the US and going interesting places (like Stanford *squee*).

Next week we’ll organize an Open House to attract someone to buy our house from us. Fingers crossed on that one.

Inside the Colosseum

Saint Angelo’s castle

The Trevi Fountains

Tasty foods