• Your one stop for college news and resources!

Ellen Zacarias

Hey there. I’m Ellen, and I graduated with a lit/writing degree from UCSD. As the chosen major suggests, I love books and working with text, and in addition to that, my other interests include style, MBTI and travel.

When I’m not working, reading or writing, I enjoy walking along trails, spending time with my family, and thinking about imaginary realms and characters.

You can contact me at ellen.ly@gmail.com.

Back to School Essentials

With fall classes coming up, getting back into the school grind can be tough after summer vacation. Here is a list of things that can help you get through the day when you get back to school.

Portable Phone Charger / Portable Power Bank

Whether you’ve been draining your cell phone’s battery by catching Pokémon or using GPS apps like Google Maps, a portable phone charger is going to come in handy to get you through your day—especially when you’re back to school and on the go.
Portable power banks come in many colors and store varying amounts of energy. Many of the inexpensive ones store about one full charge for your cell phone. Larger ones can store three or more charges, but they tend to be bulkier and heavier than the one-charge power banks that you can toss into your pencil bag or purse.

Daily Sunscreen

While this may be a given for people who already do it regularly, it’s a habit that I only recently began. One of the most common pieces of advice the elders have given me is to wear sunscreen. Whether you live with ample sunshine or ample clouds, when you go back to school, daily sunscreen is a must for preventing skin damage and premature wrinkles (your skin will thank you in ten years—or sooner!) You can get a lighter formula and apply it to your face, neck, chest, arms, hands…anywhere the sun hits.
You should still wear daily sunscreen on cloudy, snowy or rainy days. The goal is to prevent UV damage to your skin—clouds only block about 20% of the sun’s UV rays (so your skin is still being pelted with 80% of the sun’s UV rays).
Make sure to protect your lips too! I’ve known people to wear sunscreen but forget to protect their lips (either with sunscreen or lip-balm with sun protection). They suffered swollen, dry and flaky lips which resulted in a trip to ER due to the pain.
Ultimately, it’s best to get in the habit of wearing sunscreen everyday.

Read: Staying Safe on Campus is Not Necessarily a Right—Apparently

 

Thank You Cards

Have some pretty stationery ready for when a friend goes out of their way to do something for you, someone gives you a gift or a professor writes you a letter of recommendation. Writing a “thank you” card is a way to show appreciation that goes beyond an email or a text message.
“Thank you” cards are often inexpensive when purchased in a box (as opposed to individually). You can find them in places like your college bookstore or Target’s $1 section (eight cards for a $1 pack of “thank you” cards is a fantastic deal and their designs are often beautiful and fresh-looking).

Academic Planner

Stay on top of your assignments and deadlines with an academic planner.
*Bonus: You can keep track of club meetings, appointments and hangout plans too!

Learn about: How to Set Academic Goals 

ALL FALL DOWN by Jennifer Weiner – A Mommy Blogger's Secret Addiction to Prescription Drugs

I found a used copy of All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner in a Starbucks cafe in Point Loma in the newspaper rack. It was still in good condition, and I looked around for someone who might’ve placed it there on purpose. An old man smiled at me from his seat. Maybe he does this as a hobby, I thought, smiling back at him as I slipped the book into my purse.
 
Am I really going to read this?

Does my bookshelf need another book?
 

My paralegal program started recently, and on top of that, I started my new job as case assistant for one of the largest local firms in San Diego. I flipped through the book during the weekend as I printed out stuff from the computer. Before I knew it, I was halfway done. And a little after that, I was done.
 
All Fall Down is about an educated, upper-middle class mommy blogger who lives a stressful life trying to balance between taking care of her sensitive daughter, their finances (she has to write professionally to make ends meet for the family), her distant husband, and her aging father with Alzheimer’s. To placate her stressful mind, she takes prescription painkillers. But soon, the calming and soothing effect of those pills becomes the only reason she is able to get up in the morning.
 
What makes this book good is that it deals with real problems and misconceptions that people have towards drug addiction. We all have this horrid image of the homeless and haggard low-income drug addict, but drug addiction goes past socio-economic barriers, as we can see in Jennifer Weiner’s novel, All Fall Down.
 
My plan for this copy is to pass it onto the next person in a public place.
My rating: 5/5 stars
Find out more about All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner:
 

 

GAME OF THRONES Season 5 Episode 8 Recap: "Hardhome"

The Silence Advances into the Lands of the North

This week’s episode of Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 8, “Hardhome” shows us a sulky Cersei in the dungeons beneath the castle and follows a bit of Arya in her adventures as Lana, an oyster merchant. However, the focal point of this episode was Jon Snow’s trip with Tormund to the far north, where Tormund’s fellow Wildlings live, and the devastating destruction that comes at the icy hands of the White Walkers.

Jon and Tormund have to convince Tormund’s people to relocate south of the wall in exchange for their support in the Wall’s battle against the White Walkers. Tormund’s people would have lands to farm on, while the Night Watchers would have military aid when the war begins.

Sansa Discovers the Truth

Sansa forces Reek to reveal that he hadn’t killed the two youngest Stark brothers. This gives her hope. The look of grim hope on Sansa’s face reminds me of Lindsay Lohan. Not sure if it’s the makeup. 

Cersei’s Pride

Cersei looks awful – her greasy hair has long lost its texture, and the layer of grease that has congealed on her face magnifies her pores. Looks like she’s been down there for a while. 

The nun will give water only in exchange for confessions. But Cersei refuses to confess. She alternates between from trying to bribe the sisters and threatening the sister with a terrible death. Then, after the nun spills the water on the ground and leaves, Cersei quickly slurps the water from the ground. Cersei seems to be going nutty, which isn’t much of a surprise considering how she mentioned that prisoners go insane in these dungeons to Margaery. 

Qyburn visits Cersei and tells her that Pycell has arranged for Uncle Kevan to become the King’s Hand, and also that her son, Tommen, is keeping himself holed up in a room and won’t eat or visit her or Margaery. Ultimately, what befell Margaery also befell Cersei, and neither woman has access to the young King anymore. 

Qyburn also added a mysterious line, “The work continues.” 

If you remember Qyburn from last season, you’ll see him working on a giant lump. I believe the FrankenMountain is currently Qyburn’s lab project, and Qyburn is updating Cersei on the progress. Although I don’t think she’d care very much in her current state.

Arya as Lana, Oyster Merchant

Jaqen instructs Arya to assume the identity of Lana, oyster merchant with a fabulous blazer, and spy on a man who takes bets on whether ships sink or sail. Jaqen tells her to poison him. 

I wasn’t sure if Arya has adopted someone’s face at some point but it looks like she’s not ready for that yet. The Waif, Arya’s colleague/nemesis, is jealous of Arya’s progress.  

Things Escalate Quickly in the North

Jon and Tormund arrive in Hardhome to persuade the people to relocate south of the wall for the Winter. The locals mention that the hunting has been poor lately, but there is some division between the folk on whether to leave or stay. But that disagreement comes to an end quickly as an avalanche of death destroys a large number of the Wild folk trapped outside the gates. The folklings destroyed quickly become part of the White Walkers’ army of dead, and they overflow the gates and quickly destroy the rest of the Wildlings who failed to get on the boats to escape. 

The speed of the wights’ movements was terrifying. A key moment that made me yelp pathetically was the part where the army of wights plunge to their “deaths” beneath a cliff and then reanimate to charge at the remaining Wild folk. 

In Jon’s failed search of the dragonglass weapons that were lost in the chaos, a White Walker attempts to kill Jon Snow. Jon Snow pulls out his family sword made of Valyrian steel–and destroys the White Walker. Until now, the only known weakness of the White Walkers was to dragonglass. Now we know they’re also vulnerable to Valyrian steel.

The show introduced Karsi (played by Birgitte Hjort Sørensen), a hilariously blunt and pragmatic character with two daughters, only to kill her soon after in a Walking Dead-esque group hug (with teeth) by zombie children. It’s really scary when predators stand and stare at characters for a few moments before attacking them. Why do they do that?

Hardhome descends into a deadly silence as the last of the Wildlings left on the shore die to the wights. The Lich King/necromancer/leader White Walker reanimates the fresh corpses (including Karsi) into wights, which stand and stare out at Jon and Tormund’s boat with glowing blue eyes. 

I was glad the giant didn’t die. He wasn’t going to fit on any of those flimsy wooden boats, so I was worried they were just going to leave him behind. To my curiosity, no one looked that worried for the giant. But then he waded past the boats into the water and swam off. I also thought he might turn into a giant zombie.

Thoughts: This was a good episode because we see more of the White Walkers and their army of wights, which we’ve only caught glimpses of in previous seasons. Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 8, “Hardhome” also contains a scene in which the White Walkers and their wights interact with the humans on a larger scale for the first time. 

+5 The Giant survived (off-camera). Also, Jon, Tormund and Eddison survived.
+3 Introduction of a cool character, Karsi, with her down-to-earth statements about ancestors being dead. 
-2 Karsi did not survive. 🙁
+100 The horrifying invasion of the wights and White Walkers. That stuff is disturbing. 
+3 Tormund’s beard and stylish staff, which he uses to smash the words of political opponents.
+3 Arya’s stylish blazer and hairdo as Lana, oyster seller.
+5 Closeups of the wights and the White Walkers. Looks like Jon killed someone’s ice brother or something.
+10 Quburn’s reference to what I believe is his work on the Mountain.
+20 The set design of Hardhome. Beautiful, rough, and icy.

Alumnus Speaks Out: Career Interview with Christina Hernandez – Accounting

My favorite part of being an accountant is that everything is consistent and exact.

Name:  Christina Hernandez 
Job Title:  Accountant
Location (city, state):  City of Industry, CA
College You Graduated From:  UCSD
Class of:  2013 
Degree/Major:  Bachelor of Arts, Communication
Additional Degrees or Certifications for Your Career (optional):  Minor: Literature/Writing & Visual Arts Media

This series of career interviews with college alumni will explore the various career paths that people take after graduation. Part of the goal is to show the wide array of options and potential futures for college students who are on the fence about what they want to do, and also to get a scope on how it’s like to work in a particular field or industry.

Meet Christina Hernandez, who works as an accountant in the City of Industry, California. As an accountant, Christina crunches numbers and manages payments, invoices, and other documentation for her company. Thriving in accounting was a surprise to Christina, who had majored in Communications, and she quickly developed a passion and a knack for it. 

Questions:    

What attracted you to the accounting industry?  

It was never my intention to enter this field as it wasn’t my field of study. When I graduated I had the full intention of pursuing a career in television and broadcasting but the job opportunities I fell into took me into another path. I suddenly found myself intrigued with the notion of business and I began to research and slowly develop a passion for it. I started managing a small business and took care of all the accounts and before I knew it one opportunity lead to another and I found myself working in the accounting department for a wholesale company. 

How would you compare the reality of being an accountant to the vision you had of it while in college?   

While I was in college I recall friends who were studying to be accountants and they were constantly stressing over their courses. I had no notion of what the major entailed let alone a career in accounting. My initial vision consisted of a very stressful environment that entailed numbers I couldn’t even fathom.  However, once I started working in the accounting department I found it captivating and I wanted to absorb as much information as I possibly could. 

On a scale of 1-10 (10=best), how would you rate your college courses in preparing you for your career?   

I can definitely say that my college courses did not prepare me for this career at all. I did take my general ed. classes which did consist of Calculus and Statistics, but that did not prepare me for what was to come. Much of the work I do now has been based off of the knowledge I received from other accountants and research that I have done on my own.

What surprised you the most about being an accountant?   

I was truly surprised by the fact that I was so drawn to this field and how complex it was. While I was studying I had no real drive and I felt lost most of the time. I changed my major thinking that it would clear things up for me but even then I was still unsure of what I was going to do once I graduated. Accounting just felt right and I suddenly found myself passionate about a career that I never even considered.

Describe a typical day of working as an accountant at your firm/company/organization. What do you spend most of your day doing?

A typical day as an accountant consists of a lot of numbers and paperwork on a day to day basis. I have to process invoices, receive payments, enter payments, inventory, create purchase invoices, factory payments, etc. I have to make sure all the numbers match for each customer and that all payments have been documented. Everything has to be exact because even if one number is off that can make all the difference. 

How many hours do you work each week? Does it vary depending on clients’ needs or is it constant?  

My work hours are consistent as our office is open Monday through Friday from 9 to 5. Our schedule rarely changes and most of our customers are well aware of this. There are rare occasions when a customer may come in near our closing time but we do accommodate them and stay as long as they need. 

Describe your working environment. Is your company/organization/firm large/small, bureaucratic/intimate, do you spend a lot of time alone or talking to people face-to-face, etc?   

The company is small with a little less than 20 employees and it is a pretty close unit. I am constantly working in my office and I tend to spend a lot of time alone. I do work with our walk in customers, but most of our orders are done online or over the phone with our sales representatives. Thus most of the work I do comes through email or directly from the sales representatives. 

What are your favorite parts of being an accountant?  

My favorite part of being an accountant is that everything is consistent and exact. Everything must be ordered in a certain way and documented for our records. In Visual Arts and communication there were always vague and abstract subjects that could be interpreted in various ways. This was always one of the things that I very much disliked about this field and when I began working in accounting I loved the fact that this was far from it. 

What are your least favorite parts of being an accountant?   

My least favorite part would have to be the overwhelming amount of work that I have at times. With so many numbers and so much to accomplish in a days work I find it overwhelming at times to complete the task at hand. My concern much of the time is that with my head being in a million places at once there may be an error and there is no room for error in accouting.

What changes can you see taking place in accounting over the next few years?   

As far as changes in the current company that I am employed with I see much more data being entered into the system versus hand written documents. I feel that much of this documentation is headed in that direction regardless, nonetheless the company has been documenting much of their reports in this manner. It makes everything much cleaner and easier to locate when the information is required at a moments notice.

What advice can you give to college students who are thinking of pursuing a career in accounting? 

I may not be the most qualified person to be giving advice in this department, however, I will say that students shouldn’t limit themselves to one field. Students need to explore and find the right career path for them, don’t settle for what you think is the best career path or what other people think your career should be. Research and work at various companies to find the right career path that fits you and your goals in life. Always continue learning and never lose that drive for knowledge, it’s what keeps us going even after graduating. 

Thanks for reading! Check out our other post-college career interviewees: 

GAME OF THRONES Season 5 Episode 7 Recap: "The Gift"

Cersei Plays with Forces She Can’t Control

After last week’s Game of Thrones episode, I approached this week’s Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 7: “The Gift” with trepidation. Last week’s ending scene weighed me down like a brick in my stomach. Who’s going to get killed in this episode? Who’s going to get brutally violated? 

Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 7: “The Gift” involves a semi-juicy comeuppance (about time) and a long-awaited meeting between special characters. Oh, and a few people die, one peacefully, the other slowly. But what episode doesn’t involve a grisly death of some sort? This is Game of Thrones

In previous seasons, the number of viewers remained steady throughout the season and slowly increased. After last week’s lowly-rated episode 6, it looks like some viewers either boycotted the show or just didn’t have the heart to come back. Or were partying it up for Memorial Day weekend. 

Tormund’s Fiery Beard: Lumberjack or Brooklyn Hipster? 

With that glorious beard, Tormund belongs with a group of tree-axing Wildlings or a bookstore coffee shop in Brooklyn. All he needs are some flannel shirts and ripped jeans… 

Anyway, I digress. 

Jon agreed to go with Tormund to convince the Wildlings to move south of the wall in order to be safe from the White Walkers, and also in return for a military alliance with the Night’s Watch. Today, they set off. Alliser Thorne speaks against it, but Jon is not deterred from his unpopular decision to accompany Tormund. He leaves Thorne in charge.

But Jon Snow forgot to bring his pet wolf…

Maester Aemon Dies of Old Age

Compared to all the cranky and bitter prunes at the Wall, Aemon was a source of kindness to Sam and Gilly and her child. The old, mild-mannered Targaryen scholar dies of old age, calling out to his dead brother, Aemon V. Compared to all the other grisly deaths that we’ve witnessed in this show, Aemon’s death was surprisingly peaceful. 

At the funeral, Sam delivers a beautiful farewell speech to Aemon. Right after the torch lights up the funeral pyre, Alliser Thorne wastes no time in whispering to Sam that he is losing his friends. Sam looks up at the grim blokes eyeing him with hostility. Gulp.

Sam: Not a Fighter, Not George Takei

With diminishing influence of Sam’s friends, a couple of Night Watchers gang up on Gilly and try to rape her. After what happened to Sansa last week, I dreaded another brutal rape scene this episode. But Sam came to the rescue, clumsy and holding the sword the wrong way. 

We all know that one’s not a fighter. I thought Sam was going to get his head bashed in a la Oberyn. Those blows looked like some serious brain damage. 

However, Sam unleashes Jon’s direwolf, who growls and scares off the Night Watchers.
I have a feeling they’ll be back. It’s not safe for Gilly, and they might try to take out the wolf. Sam might not be able to protect her next time.

Gilly tends to Sam’s wounds afterwards. They exchange cute kisses before Gilly climbs atop Sam and makes surprise love to him. “Oh my,” says Sam. 

Sansa’s Bruises; Reek Disappoints Yet Again

In Winterfell, Sansa’s arms show several weeks’ worth of bruises. It’s hard to tell how long she’s been married to Ramsay Bolton, but it looks like he keeps her locked up in the room and rapes her at night. 

Sansa tries to find help – she asks Reek to help her deliver a message to her helpers by running up to the north tower and lighting a candle. Reek refuses at first but Sansa insists that he is Theon Greyjoy. We know Theon has a horrible track record with loyalty to anything except his master Ramsay, especially since he sold out Sansa to Ramsay earlier when she found him in the kennels. 

Reek runs up the stairs–but to Ramsay’s study instead of the north tower. Sigh. His sister was right to leave him behind when she saw that he was broken — good judgment call on her part. Unfortunately, Sansa will have to learn the hard way. 

Meanwhile, Brienne and Podrick wait for the candle to light the north tower window. 

Later, Ramsay tells Sansa that he found the old lady who had been willing to help her, and flayed the old woman. She died before they peeled off the skin of her face. 

Stannis Refuses to Sacrifice His Daughter, Tells Melisandre to Begone

Stannis gets a bit nervous this episode. He tries to seduce Melisandre, perhaps being in the mood for some Shadow Babies for Success. He asks Melisandre to confirm that his army will win Winterfell. She asks him to sacrifice his daughter…and Stannis says no. Why not? Because “she is my daughter.” The man has limits to what he would do to conquer. +2 respect. Then he tells her to leave. 

Dany’s Rogue Lover

This isn’t the first time Queen Daenerys has slept with her rogue lover Daario. He asks her to marry him, but she laughs at the suggestion, knowing her duties as Queen to provide diplomacy and security to her people. He also recommends that she gather all the leaders of the nobles and kill them all. Dany is left with no knights to advise her, but a rogue who is more skilled with aggression than with diplomacy, all or nothing. 

Daario is a ball of chaos rolled and kneaded into the shape of a handsome man. Where Dany tries to play by the rules, the man has none. 

His take on ruling: “All rulers are either butchers or meat.” 

Jorah: One Does Not Need to Kill to Fight Well, Tyrion Meets Dany

In the fighting pits, fighters are picked to kill each other. Jorah is not picked for the first round, but he goes over to the opening and sees Daenerys sitting with her betrothed. He pulls on a helmet and runs out, knocking out and disabling several fighters with efficiency and speed as he hurries over to his Queen. 

Jorah proves a point: you don’t need to kill in order to fight with skill. 

He unmasks himself. Due to his previous deception, Dany doesn’t ever want to look at him again. However, just in time, Tyrion runs out and presents himself as the “Gift”. I would like to see Tyrion advise Dany. He’s got a knack for politics (being a Lannister and all) and for improving morale within a group. I think he’d be a great counsel. 

But what happened to Varys? I don’t think he enjoys bar-hopping. 

Myrcella and Uncle Jaime

Myrcella talks to Jaime and asks him why he’s trying to take her back when she has gotten used to living in Dorne. I often forget how little she was when Tyrion sent her away from King’s Landing to live in Dorne. By now, she’s probably somewhat socialized the Dorne way, if not educated in its ways. And she has a fiance. 

This was a pretty heart-wrenching scene from Jaime’s perspective. Jaime can never tell her the truth of who he really is to her. Myrcella may actually be safer in Dorne than in King’s Landing, where the lack of stability in power is bound to lead to something ugly. Safer, if we ignore the fact that the Sand Snakes and Ellaria Sand want to kill the Lannister daughter to avenge the death of their father.

Tyene and Bronn

Now here’s a flirty coupling. The Sand sisters and Bronn are residing in different cells of the same prison. Through the bars, Tyene starts heavily flirting with Bronn. As his heart rate goes up, the poison from her blade kicks in. She reveals that it is fatal, but makes him say that she is the most beautiful woman before tossing him the antidote, which she wears around her neck in a bottle. 

Bronn and Tyene look like they’d make a fun couple. They like to tease and troll people, and they’re both playful. 

Lady Oleanna’s Barbs

Lady Oleanna, the matriarch of the Tyrell family, tries to persuade the High Sparrow to free her grandchildren, Margaery and Loras. The two trade clever barbs in an old-people-flirty way. Or maybe that’s just me, thinking that in a different world, Lady Oleanna and High Sparrow would make a fun and witty couple. 

The High Sparrow reminds her that no one is immune to the religious laws. She tells him that half the city would be damned if he actually enforced it, and also points out that compared to other sins (rape, murder), Margaery and Loras are pretty low on the totem pole. 

She tries to offer him money, but he has no interest. She threatens to halt shipments of grain into the city, and the High Sparrow looks at her with disdain before he turns the threat back on her. “You are the one percent,” he says. “We are the 99 percent, and we outnumber you.” Or at least, that’s how I remember it. 

Later, Oleanna meets up with Little Finger, reminding him that if her family falls, then he will fall with them due to their mutual involvement in the death of King Joffrey. He tells her that there is a way…

Cersei Plays with Fire and Gets Burned

Tommen is frustrated by how he can’t do anything. His mother has stripped him of all his kingly powers. Sadly, her actions have greatly destabilized the power dynamics within King’s Landing. He may be in greater danger now because of her actions, due to her petty grudge against Margaery. 

Cersei visits Margaery in her cell beneath the castle to gloat, offering false words of consolation, such as that her isolation will end once the trial begins. Margaery isn’t buying any of it and throws the deer food back at Cersei, calling her a “hateful bitch”. 

Cue: Cersei’s smug face as she saunters through the hall and informs the High Sparrow that Margaery’s accomodations are “sufficient”. The High Sparrow starts talking about the architecture while Cersei humors him with that smug smirk on her face. He keeps repeating that the wealthy will be stripped of their riches, but Cersei does not get it until he brings out her cousin who had joined the cult and spilled her dark and ugly secrets to the High Sparrow. This is really good acting on Lena Headey’s part. Her smug face doesn’t completely give as the High Sparrow’s threats begin to dawn on her but she quickly casts sidelong glances at the guards before she attempts to hurry away.  

Nuns drag her into the dungeon, as she screams that she is the Queen, which confirms something that we all know: Cersei never stopped seeing herself as Queen, not even after Tommen married Margaery. Now we await her trial.

Thoughts: 

+50 Lady Oleanna, for being the most awesome grandma ever. The clever, sharp-tongued, and witty “Queen of Thorns”. 
+1 for a possible romance between the Tyrell matriarch and the High Sparrow. Just kidding. But they do make amazing verbal sparring partners. 
+2 Stannis, being a good dad by not sacrificing his daughter for success.
+1 Jaime, being an awkward dad-uncle with a rebellious daughter who’s in love.
-2 Cersei, lacking the foresight to see that she is putting her son in danger by playing with forces that she can’t control. 
+1 Cersei’s look of 1,000 years of hurt when Tommen tells her that he loves Margaery. And her rage-inducing smug-smirk. Props to Lena Headey, for creating a character that people love to hate, and hate to love. 
+100 Cersei’s comeuppance. Many of us have been waiting for this for a very long time.
+8 Jorah finally reunites with Dany. Also, Tyrion meets Dany for the first time.
-10 The poor old flayed woman. She wasn’t sneaky enough, and Ramsay was able to sniff her out fast.
-15 Reek, being Reek and not Theon Greyjoy. Theon was a jerk, but I liked him a lot more as the pervy and horny Greyjoy. Once again, disappointment. 
+1 Sam’s heartwarming “Oh myyy” moment with Gilly.

Game of Thrones: Critical Reception by Episode

 

Summer Décor for Your Dorm

Chase out the wintry dust bunnies and welcome this summer’s colors and patterns into your dorm.

Summer is the season of life and new beginnings. Colors. Patterns. Birds. Flowers. As you clear out your winter gear, you can incorporate the trends of the season with your room décor. Many of these pieces are versatile and will easily carry through summer.

1.     Nate Berkus Black Triangle Printed Pillow, Target, $24.99 Target.com

A different take on the black-and-white grid trend, this pillow will make a colorful addition to your bed when your friends visit.

2.     Empress Bowl 6” Diameter, ZGallerie, $14.95 each, zgallerie.com

Need a cute place to stash your keys? Try one (or all) of these cute bowls so that you will never forget where you put your keys on your way to class.

3.     Yellow Gray and Blue Floral Pillow, ElemenOPillows, $18, etsy.com https://www.etsy.com/listing/169623400/decorative-pillowgoldgrayblue-pillowsall?

The gray and the white in this pillow make it versatile with many color schemes. The blue and yellow make this pillow feel fresh and modern—and less granny-esque.

4.     Tribal Printed USB Wall Charger, Forever 21, $4.90, forever21.com

Who needs a boring old charger when you can have one with a print? Use this in the dorm and take it along with you to the library for study trips.

5.     Handcrafted Raw Hammered Copper Pencil Holder, YanceyLighting, $20, etsy.com
https://www.etsy.com/listing/110770717/handcrafted-raw-hammered-copper-pencil

This hand-hammered pencil holder adds a rugged, earthy element to your surroundings.

6.     Colorful Birds Tissue Box Cover, Dogwood Box, $42, dogwoodbox.com

This eye-catching tissue box will brighten up any day. Bird silhouettes with eye-catching colors. 

7.     Allyson Johnson for DENY Hello Beautiful Heart Box, Urban Outtfitters, $29, urbanoutfitters.com

Lean this keepsake box against a wall on your desk to show off its unique design while storing your essentials (such as jewelry, coins, etc). The light colors are perfect for spring while the wooden texture of the box feels woodsy. 

GAME OF THRONES Season 5, Episode 6 Recap: "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken"

“The dwarf lives until we find a cock merchant.”

Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 6, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” ended with such a downer that left me bummed out for half an hour afterward. Then I realized I was in great need of Gay of Thrones therapy. As of Tuesday, the Gay of Thrones recap of this depressing episode hasn’t happened yet, but a trip through their older content on YouTube cheered me up somewhat.  

This was the worst episode in the entire series of Game of Thrones.

Once again, I must point to the SPOILERS ALERT sign. However, if you’re reading this recap of Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 6, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”, you’ve either seen it or are willing to find out through another person’s eyes. So I will proceed with no stains to my conscience. If you haven’t seen this episode but plan to, get your butt to the episode already.  

Arya and What Lies Beneath the House of Black and White 

The scenes with Arya in the temple of the Faceless God fuse the mysteriously dark and bare set (except for the bowl torches that line the pathways) with eerie music. The setting is so engrossing that sometimes I have to consciously pull myself out of the scene and marvel at how creepy and mysterious it all feels despite the superficially stark appearance of the rooms. Some credit goes to the fact that there is always a cracked door tempting Arya to peek at what lies beyond.  

The last scene with Arya gazing at the pillars filled with faces from the dead folks should have been the final scene. All those faces filling up the pillars, the flickering lights, and the eerie music conveys the alien experience of looking at dead, disembodied faces. Part of me was half-expecting a face to suddenly open its eyes a la Mountain and attack Arya. 

I can’t wait to find out what happens to Arya after discovering the under-temple. I look forward to it.  

Jaime and Bronn vs. Sand Snakes 

Cersei’s daughter Myrcella is a teenager stricken with puppy love for the purty-boy Trystane Martel, the youngest son of the Prince of Dorne. The Prince approves of their romance and beckons his guard to protect the young couple. This looks good for Dorne-Westeros relations, but Jaime and the Sand Snakes are rushing to ruin it…at the same time. 

I almost expected Jaime to take the entire fifth season Game of Thrones to reach his daughter–erm, “niece”. But that escalated quickly. However, the Dornish Prince’s guards quickly take over, capturing Jaime, Bronn, the Sand Snakes, and Ellaria, who had been pacing around in her little lair.   

I would have liked the brawny Michelle Rodriguez to be cast as one of the Sand Snakes, perhaps Obara Sand. But I also like Keisha Castle-Hughes as the eldest daughter of Oberyn.  

Tyrion Would Like to Keep His Cock, Thank You Very Much 

Tyrion and Jorah are captured by slavers, who at first intend to cut off and sell Tyrion’s cock to a “cock merchant” for its magical dwarf properties. Tyrion points out that one cannot tell the difference between a dwarf cock and a non-dwarf cock, and persuades the slavers to wait until they can confirm to the cock merchant that he is indeed a dwarf before cutting off his cock.  

Jorah, on the other hand, is considered for use in the salt mines or as a worker on the ship. However, Tyrion uses his powers of persuasion to convince the slavers to use Jorah, despite his age, as a champion in the gladiator rings, which is ironic because Queen Daenerys had ordered the rings to be reopened only for “free men”.  

Littlefinger Meets with Queen Cersei… 

Ever the double-spy, Littlefinger meets with Queen Cersei and informs her that Sansa Stark is about to marry Ramsay Bolton, which would secure their claim to the North. Cersei is outraged because she blames Sansa for the murder of her son and wishes her dead. Littlefinger persuades Cersei to let him lead the Knights of the Vale to defeat both the Boltons and the Stannis. 

 

In return, Littlefinger wants to be named the Warden of the North. Cersei agrees, but only if he brings her Sansa’s head on a pike.  

It looks like Littlefinger is just out for himself. But I always feel like he’s planning something else, and that his motives aren’t simply what he states they are. They change depending on who he’s talking to. So what does he really want? 

Regarding the coming battle between the Boltons and the Stannis, I don’t want to see Stannis’s daughter die. Not after Episode 3, where she asked her father if he was ashamed of her, and he gave her that beautiful speech and returned her hug. That was a well-earned aww moment.  

Cersei Gets Rid of the Tyrells 

As we saw earlier this season, Cersei teams up with the High Sparrow, the leader of a religious cult within the city. She arms them for a “purge” of the sinful people of the city, particularly Loras Tyrell. 

Olenna visits Cersei and threatens to stop the import of Tyrell grain and other resources into the city if Cersei harms her grandson, Loras.  

Later, Olenna and Margaery are summoned to a cell for questioning by the High Sparrow. They deny having witnessed any of Loras’ homosexual acts. 

However, the High Sparrow brings in Olyvar, who testifies against Loras. As a result, Loras is set for trial, and Margaery is taken to prison. She screams at her King-husband, Tommen, to stop the guards from taking her. Tommen, being the momma’s boy that he is, looks distressed but does nothing.  

Sansa’s Red Wedding Night 

Myranda gives Sansa a bath to prepare for the wedding and tries to intimidate Sansa about Ramsay Bolton and the terrible things that he has done to his ex-lovers that “bored him”. At one point, Sansa interrupts Myranda and asks her how long she’s been in love with Ramsay, and asserts that she is Sansa Stark, and Winterfell is her home, and she will not be frightened. Defeated, Myranda leaves.  

Myranda is as big of a sicko as Ramsay, and I thirst for her comeuppance. However, comeuppances are not guaranteed in Game of Thrones.

Ramsay forces Reek to watch as he rapes Sansa on their wedding night. Reek cries; he looks awfully distressed…but ultimately, he does nothing.  

Thoughts: 

Overall, Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 6 “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” was frustrating to watch, and is my least favorite episode in this series thus far. The scene with Arya discovering the creepy faces in those pillars in the House of Black and White would have been a preferable ending to this Game of Thrones episode because it piqued my curiosity.  

The ability of Game of Thrones to manipulate and elicit such a visceral reaction in the audience deserves some praise but this episode left me feeling frustrated.  

The strengths of this episode include the beautiful sets, sound effects, and music used in the Arya’s scenes in the House of Black and White. The sound of scrubbing on the floor. The hollow and empty sound of Arya’s steps as she moves around the House. I can’t wait to see where this arc will lead. 

  • +100 The amazing set used for the House of Black and White. Bare but holds so many secrets beneath the surface.  
  • +2 Wait, so do they cut off these faces? How do they preserve them–magic?  
  • -10 Reek and Tommen exhibit a frustrating pattern of showing distress but not doing anything. Yes, they are relatively powerless characters, as Tommen answers to his Queen-Mother, and Reek answers to Ramsay Bolton. I yearn for them to do something, anything, to prevent their loved ones from getting hurt. Maybe this time he’ll step up and slit Ramsay’s throat! But each time, I am disappointed. Granted, every world has its share of heroes and its share of cowards. This show of helplessness and passivity is an ongoing pattern, and I hope it ultimately leads to a moment of redemption (or ultimate condemnation) for either Reek or Tommen.   
  • +1 I couldn’t help but pity Reek as he watched the terrible consummation of Ramsa or Sansay. The helplessness and torment was completely and brutally captured on that wretched face.  
  • -1,000,000 Ending the episode with the rape of Sansa. That was terrible and cast a gloom over my view of the entire episode. 
  • +3 Trystane Martel’s opulent robe. WHY SO BEAUTIFUL. THOSE TEXTURES. I need a jewelry bag cut from the cloth of his robes. That would sell.  
  • +1 Trystane Martel’s dark curls. Okay, I think I’m in love. 
  • +3 Sansa: “…I take this man.” Cue creepy smile on Ramsay’s evil-Frodo face. Kudos to Iwan Rheon, he has made Ramsay utterly repulsive, as in I’ll-take-the-next-bus repulsive.  

Game of Thrones Season 5 Critical Reception by Episode:

YES PLEASE by Amy Poehler: "I have the Angelina Jolie of vaginas."

SNL actress, writer, producer, and director shares her memories, opinions, and thoughts on life

Yes Please is Amy Poehler’s book of all-things-Poehler: memoirs, opinion essays, thoughts, ideas, lists, and the occasional haiku poem. 

Amy Poehler’s voice strikes me as sincere, intelligent, witty, and engaging. She is highly conscious of her role as an entertainer who is creating a book about herself: “I have the Angelina Jolie of vaginas. And there is your pull quote, editors” (32). 

Poehler’s career has survived at least two wars and the 9/11 attacks. Amy Poehler stated that after the September 11, 2001 attacks, “It felt like America might not ever smile, never mind laugh, again” (135). But it did. Amy Poehler performed hilarious skits on SNL with Tina Fey during the presidential campaigns of 2008.

If Yes Please reflects Amy Poehler as a person and comedian, then the book has given me a lot of respect for her because she shares the guilt she felt over the way she’d indignantly handled the negative reaction over a skit making fun of a girl with cerebral palsy. She lived with this guilt for years until she finally gathered the courage to apologize. I thought it was brave of her to come out and admit the crummy way in which she’d reacted to the backlash.

In addition to stories about her way to becoming the SNL star that she is now, Amy Poehler shares moments from her childhood. One of my favorite parts is the section about her “plain” looks:

“I had already made a decision early on that I would be a plain girl with tons of personality, and accepting it made everything a lot easier. If you are lucky, there is a moment in your life when you have some say as to what your currency is going to be. I decided early on it was not going to be my looks” (20).

Amy Poehler also points out the double standards that mothers and teenagers are held up to. With mothers, stay-at-home-moms and working mothers are made to feel bad for either not working or for not spending enough time with their children. For teenagers, girls straddle the line between “virgin” and “slut”, a game that no one can ever truly win. Amy points out all of these frustrating standards with a light and humorous tone, without sounding preachy or angry.

Her life motto: “Good for you, not for me.”

The layout of Yes Please by Amy Poehler is beautiful, consisting of splash pages between each chapter with short and snappy lines, such as “Do whatever you like,” and “Short people do not like to be picked up”. I also enjoyed looking at photos of her past, which are sprinkled throughout the book but do not dominate the discourse.

My rating: 5/5

Thanks for reading! Find out more about Yes Please by Amy Poehler:

Amazon | Goodreads

World of Warcraft Loses 2.9 Million Subscribers, Hearthstone Increases in Popularity

World of Warcraft’s subscription numbers dropped to 7.1 million at the end of the first quarter of 2015, according to Activision’s announcement of its earnings report earlier this month. At the end of last year, there was a surge in subscriptions due to the release of the Warlords of Draenor expansion and BlizzCon. 

The current number of 7.1 million World of Warcraft subscribers is down by 2.9 million from the last quarter of 2014. World of Warcraft is still the No. 1 subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game in the world, according to Activision in its report. 

Possible Reasons for the Drop in World of Warcraft Subscriptions 

Many World of Warcraft players are troubled by this rapid drop in subscriptions, as it is the fastest drop in subscriptions out of all the previous expansion periods. Some players point to the lack of new content in Warlords of Draenor expansion. Only two raids have been released so far (Highmaul and Blackrock Foundry), and no arena battlegrounds or arenas were introduced. 

Other players point to the Garrisons, which have been a large part of this expansion but contribute to feelings of isolation, as players spend a lot of time maintaining their garrisons instead of venturing out in the world. 

Hearthstone Increases in Popularity

In contrast to World of Warcraft’s drop in subscriptions, Hearthstone is doing well: the earnings report announced that Hearthstone players have increased to 30 million players from 25 million last year.

Harriet Tubman Wins Contest to Replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 Bill

Womens on 20s Campaign Hopes to See Harriet Tubman Bills in Circulation by 2020

On Tuesday,  people voted on the Women on 20s campaign website for the woman they felt should replace Andrew Jackson as the new face of the United States $20 bill. Over 600,000 votes were submitted to a poll on the Women on 20s website.

Final round candidates included Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, and Wilma Mankiller (Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation).

The Winner: Harriet Tubman

The winner chosen was Harriet Tubman (1822-1913), an escaped slave who became one of the most well-known abolitionists of the time. She is famous for her work as the “conductor” of the Underground Railroad, an elaborate secret network of safe houses leading escaping slaves to freedom in the North.  

Eleanor Roosevelt followed Harriet Tubman as a close second. 

Why the $20 bill?

The Women on 20s campaign has been gaining popularity over the past few months, popping up on social media feeds and news outlets. The campaign’s reasons for choosing the $20 bill include the fact that although Susan B. Anthony and Sacagaweas were used on dollar coins, those coins are rarely used except at transit stations (and have a small circulation of Sacagaweas coins of about 3 million by 2012), 

In contrast, the $20 bill is widely used in circulation in wallets, ATM machines, and other places. 

Why Replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill?

The Women on 20s Campaign cites two reasons:

  1. Andrew Jackson helped gain Congressional passage of the “Indian Removal Act of 1830”, which drove Native American tribes of the Southeastern United States away from their homes and into Oklahoma so that white people could settle on their lands and use their resources. This brutal mass relocation of Native Americans was called the “Trail of Tears”. Many women, children, and others died during the process of being driven off their land from disease, starvation, and exposure. 
  2. Andrew Jackson was never a big fan of paper money. He preferred to use gold and silver money (“hard currency”) over paper currency. 

When Will Harriet Tubman Be On the $20 Bill?

The Women on 20s campaign hopes that Harriet Tubman $20 bills will exist by 2020, the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, the passage of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote.