Animals, Outdoors

Ducks Are Awesome

Ducks are awesome.

Let me tell you.

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ducks r awesome1

I have posted ducks before, as part of one of Cee’s challenges. In the linked entry, I mentioned a Tumblr post that went something like this:

Humans from 150 years ago would be very confused if they suddenly found themselves in our time. Not so ducks. Ducks would be like, still have lakes? Okay.

Most of my duck pictures come from the same place–the little pond in the woodsy area of Heaton Park (which was hit by algae occupation on the day the above photos were taken–it’s not normally like that).

Apart from this pond, Heaton Park has a boating lake, but that one is usually inhabited by geese and swans. Geese can also be spotted in the canals of Manchester city centre, but they deserve their own post.

So, ducks. The first time I started appreciating these animals was when I went to Heaton Park sometime in October 2013. It remains a very memorable trip, as I narrowly escaped from getting soaked in a short, but very intense shower. Luckily there in the woodsy area, next to the pond where the ducks hang out, is a little shelter. You can see it on the below picture, on the left:

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So on this day, it started raining and I, being in its vicinity, quickly hid in the shelter. The little pond was full of ducks then, but were they bothered? Naah. They didn’t move a feather. Unlike me, a loser human who had to run from a bit of water.

ducks 1 – 0 me

See it here (this was shot with my old compact, hence the low quality, but you can see the raindrops falling in the water):

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Rain, what rain?

That particular trip was a surreal experience, because it suddenly got very dark and I lost the network on my phone and for a while it seemed like I was the only person in the whole park, but that is a story for another day.

Water off a duck’s back.

~an old saying

Here they are sharing their pond with a heron.

ducks with heron

On this occasion I observed that ducks, when they land on the surface of the water, look like they’re surfing–and what’s cooler than that?

Now, check this one out:

duck in the city

I snapped this one with my phone on the way from work. I remember it was one of those freezing cold days we had at the end of March. The area in the middle of the picture is called Cathedral Gardens and far on the left side, not visible on the picture, is National Football Museum. The terracotta-ish coloured building on the right is Chetham School of Music. Behind me is Victoria Station. What’s a duck doing there? I thought that maybe it got lost; there’s an arm of a river not far from here, where I have seen ducks before, so I just thought it lost its way. People were smiling and laughing at the sight and the duck actually quacked as if to say, wot you lookin’ at? 

Then, not long ago, one evening I was coming back from the city centre where I was taking some pics and was passing Cathedral Gardens again, when I saw them:

ducks in fountain

There’s a fountain and that’s where the duck was going!

Of course, I should have known that a duck wouldn’t be so stupid.

I guess for ducks, any pool of water will do. Or, if you’re Joey and Chandler from Friends, a bath is fine.

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image credit: Coolspotters.com

I’m glad I found an image of them which features rubber ducks. It just proves the awesomeness of ducks, because if ducks weren’t awesome, why would we be making toys of them? For kids to play with while they bath?

I also have a pencil sharpener at work shaped like a duck.

duck pencil sharpenner

Being the boss of the canal.

duck swimming

Conclusion:

Ducks are awesome.

Bonus: a video of ducklings

So–how you feel about ducks? Love, hate, indifference? Do you like photographing ducks or other waterfowl? Share your thoughts in the comment box.

Miscellaneous

Stop Brexit March, Leeds

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I attended a Stop Brexit March in Leeds on Saturday, my second march of this kind. I’m posting about it somewhat late; I felt exhausted all day Sunday as I also went to a friend’s son first birthday party when I got back to Manchester. I normally barely set a foot outside on weekends if I don’t have to. My body can’t quite handle so much action!

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This march was one of similar marches taking place around the country to mark the first anniversary of the triggering of the Article 50. The Leeds march represented North.

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This was my first time visiting Leeds and I will definitely visit again, properly with my camera; this time my attention was dedicated solely to the march. All pictures were taken with my smartphone.

It all started on the train:

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I caught the same train as some fellow protesters, who hung EU flag on the window.

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Of course the giant EU flag wasn’t missing.

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More pics and signs and banners:

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One of the speakers at the march was Richard Corbett MEP, you can see him on the above picture on the very left, talking to the woman with blond hair. I’ve met him before at a Q&A session he did at the University of Manchester last year.

I suppose the next picture should come with a trigger warning!

brexit monster in leeds

I was pleased I got to photograph the Brexit Monster up close, it was too far away from me at the Manchester march.

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Will this message get across?

What’s been frustrating to me recently is not the events that are happening, it’s the fact that people don’t seem to care a bit. They’re going about their lives, probably thinking it’ll all work out or possibly believing that Brexit won’t happen, whilst doing nothing towards it not to happen. It’s this apathy that that’s the worst. I’ve not heard anyone outside my circle even mention the Cambridge Analytica story. Even Remainers say we should just “get on with it”. Um, no.

One day they’ll wake up in the morning into a first day of dictatorship and will keep asking, how did this happen? Like this, motherfuckers. Sigh.

samuel jackson wakethefuckup

To end the post on a positive note, it’s been great seeing news about March for Life in USA. To all the people that came out to the streets, I want to say: you absolutely rock!

Miscellaneous

Everything is Connected

everything is connected

This sign is outside one of the many University buildings on Oxford Road in Manchester.

Why have I taken a picture of such a random thing? Because 1. that’s what I do and 2. it reminded me of something.

If you’ve watched Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, then you will recognise “Everything is connected” as a sort of tagline of the show. (If you haven’t watched it, then I highly recommend it–it’s funny and clever and has amazing characters, so basically everything a good TV series should be.)

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Image credit: IMDb, caption mine. Samuel Barnett is Dirk Gently, Elijah Wood his sidekick Todd Brotzman

It also reminded me of another thing, non-fictional.

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Image credit: Guardian, Illustration: James Melaugh

.

.

.

End of blog post.

Outdoors, Weekly Photo Challenge

Bridge

Bridges are one my favourite things to photograph. In fact, they are one of my favourite things ever. Bridges are great, really. I even like the word bridge. It looks nice written down (or typed) and is easy to pronounce for a non-native English speaker.

I decided to go for this one for this week’s photo challenge.

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The bridge is a metrolink bridge in inner city Manchester. Not quite aesthetically pleasing, perhaps, but that’s the point. If it wasn’t for all that glorious sunshine, it would be a proper grim shot!

Inspiration for this photo came from a scene in The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I’ve taken a few similar shots after reading the book.

I’ve also been listening to my mega 90s playlist, which of course features the Red Hot Chili Peppers song Under the Bridge; probably one of the most iconic tunes of the decade. The song deals with feelings of loneliness and past drug abuse.

Under the bridge downtown
Is where I drew some blood
Under the bridge downtown
I could not get enough
Under the bridge downtown
Forgot about my love
Under the bridge downtown
I gave my life away

-lyrics by Anthony Kiedis

Speaking of music, a bridge is also a section of a song, but I have no idea what exactly it means. If you know, please do enlighten me in the comments.

Another bridge that comes to mind is captain’s bridge on a ship. Or better–a spaceship.

enterprise bridge
Starship Enterprise NCC-1701-D from Star Trek The Next Generation

So that would be it regarding the bridge. Have a great week/month/year and remember:

Bridge

Miscellaneous

Share Your World – 15 May 2017

This week’s Share your World is basically me talking about things I like.

How many languages do you you speak?

My native language, Slovak, and English. At school I did German as well as English and later I learned a bit of Spanish but I forgot a lot as, living in UK, I don’t have the need to use any other lingo. I’ve always liked languages, who knows maybe one day I’ll speak another one fluently. Though nowadays knowing a different kind of language would be more beneficial–a programming language.

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Image credit: www.expatica.com

What are you reading, watching, listening to, eating?

I’m reading Robot Visions, a short story collection by Isaac Asimov. I’ve blogged about Asimov before, he’s one of my favourite authors.

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I’m watching a few things. American Gods on Amazon Prime, The 100 on TV and I just started Narcos on Netflix. I must mention the last series I finished watching and enjoyed immensely was Parks and Recreation. I think it must have been one of the best things on TV; funny as hell with a meaning behind it and characters that I now miss like old friends.

I’m not listening to anything in particular because my taste in music is all over the place at the moment. I’ve been listening to some Beatles as I recently visited the museum in Liverpool but otherwise I mainly listen to new-ish stuff. Though last week I searched for Ode to Joy by Beethoven on my Amazon Prime Music app and listened to every version they had. I was overjoyed about the result of the French election and Ode to Joy is an EU anthem and I’m basically Euro-trash and I’m not sorry about it.

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My eating habits have much improved from the past, but I still eat too much junk food and chocolate. Also it turned out I had high cholesterol so I swapped my breakfast bacon sandwich for avocado on toast.

What was the last photo you took with your phone?

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What is your favourite time of day?

Evening and night. I’m a night owl.

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

What am I grateful for from last week? I guess Eurovision was alright. And you know, just being alive and healthy and all that. And the world looking more green.

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There’s always weekend to look forward to if nothing else. And some pictures to take!

Miscellaneous

I Heart EU

25 March 2017 marks 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome – which eventually led to the formation of European Union

This entry is unapologetically Eurocentric.

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Construction of a new Metrolink line in Manchester, which has now completed

EU has always meant a lot to me. I was born on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, in former Czechoslovakia. I was nine when Velvet Revolution that overthrew the Communists happened. I still remember bits of it; my mum taking me with her out to the streets, the banners, the slogans. This was 1989. Mere fifteen years later, both Slovakia and Czech Republic joined the EU–an astonishing achievement. It enabled me to make something of myself in UK, where I first came to in 2003 as an au pair. As 2003 was before we joined EU, I still had to wait a line outside the British Embassy early in the morning to obtain a visa.

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Development in Manchester – Allied London

I’ve never been patriotic, I’m just not wired that way. I’m a European. I am fiercely loyal to my home city of Bratislava (don’t let me hear anyone badmouthing it!) but that’s about it. People usually call me Eastern European, however I reject that label because that’s not what I am.

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Side of a bench on Market Street, Manchester

Bratislava sits on the border of both Austria and Hungary, the only capital city in the world located at a tripoint. You can easily walk between the three countries as you would in your favourite park. Some people even pass the border twice a day on their commute to work.

blava map

I came across this article by Guy Verhofstadt published in Guardian. Guy Verhofstadt is a former Prime Minister of Belgium, a Member of European Parliament and the leader of Alliance for Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

In the decades since [the Treaty of Rome] was signed, European countries have worked successfully to fight against the return of the rampant nationalism that led to two world wars and the slaughter of millions of Europeans, finding a way to work together to create a largely peaceful, free and prosperous continent.

In 2017, the EU stands at a crossroads. Our common project is consistently attacked and denigrated by nationalists, often working with authoritarian regimes outside the EU, who wish to destroy the EU and once again set our communities and societies against each other.

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Sign at Victoria Station, Manchester

It is ironic that, as we saw in the Brexit referendum, the postwar generation that benefited so much from European integration is now driving an explosion of Eurosceptic nationalism. Young people, a majority of whom deeply value their European citizenship, too often face barriers to full political participation.

Ah, but Brussels demanded they use low-energy light bulbs… or something.

Manchester Midland Hotel
EU flag above the Midland Hotel entrance, Manchester

Nationalists tell us that the nation state is best placed to deal with common challenges, but their argument fails the test of reason and ignores the nature of the trans-national threats we face. Climate change, international terrorism and the negative consequences of globalisation cannot be tackled by individual countries acting independently. If the European Union of today did not exist, we would have to create it.

And you know what’s funny? You can argue that UK is NOT a nation state. England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland.

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Media City, Salford Quays, Salford

Ultimately, nationalism will be rejected because its politicians are incapable of resolving the challenges we face. It is time for those who believe in a united Europe to stand up and be counted.

Beautifully put. I hope he’s right.

28 Members of EU

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • UK (for now)

eu flag dwf

I love you all.

Beethoven’s Ode To Joy, an Anthem of Europe, performed by Banco Sabadell Flashmob:

Miscellaneous

We Are Grounders

Not long ago a I made a post citing dialogue from one of my favourite TV shows, Vikings, and how it related to real life stuff. I never expected to do something like that again–and on the same topic!

So, I’ve been watching The 100.

Set 97 years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization, when a spaceship housing humanity’s lone survivors sends 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth in hopes of possibly re-populating the planet. –IMDb

I admit, after the first couple of episodes, I had a feeling as if I was in one of those YA dystopian series that are in vogue now, but this is not a bad thing. (In fact, the TV show is actually based on books by Kass Morgan.) I loved Divergent. And well, why not? YA has always been a good age group to write for and dystopia–have you read the news lately? Though The 100 is post-apocalyptic rather than dystopian. What I like about this series is how the characters find themselves in situation where they have to make very difficult decisions. Do we kill 100 people to save 1000? Someone like Captain Picard would refuse to even answer that but here, it’s sure, let’s pull a trigger. And while the hundred from whom the show’s title is derived are all in their teens, there are plenty of older characters to root for.

Now to my quote. As it happens, the humans on the spaceship, The Ark, were not the only survivors of the nuclear war; there are people living on the ground, who are soon referred to as Grounders. The Grounders nickname those from the Ark the Sky People. Naturally, tensions rise between the two groups, culminating in a big battle. This is said by one of the main characters, Bellamy (played by Bob Morley), in Season 1, Episode 12 – We Are The Grounders Part 1.

Twilight’s Last Gleaming

Bellamy’s full speech:

This is our home now. We built this from nothing with our bare hands! Our dead are buried behind that wall, in this ground. Our ground! The Grounders think they can take that away? They think that because we came from the sky we don’t belong here! But they have yet to realize one very important fact. We are on the ground now. And that means WE are Grounders!

I’m speaking as an EU citizen living in UK in this crazy post-Brexit time. The government have refused to guarantee us any rights, instead they are using us as bargaining chips in the Brexit negotiations. We will give you rights, as long as the other EU countries give rights to UK citizens living there. Because that’s how it works. UK decides to leave EU and then demands rights for their citizens that live in there. Have your cake and eat it, anyone? I am aware that some nations think themselves superior to others but surely there is a limit. But I digress.

Of course, probably not many of us have built anything here with our bare hands, but we have built our lives. You know, got married, had kids, bought houses, got university degrees, got promotions at work. And yes, buried some dear ones too. We are here now, we are the residents! (Gosh, how I hate the word immigrant.) At least the House of Lords is arguing for our rights, let’s see whether it’ll do anything good.

 

Indoors, Miscellaneous

Share Your World – February 27, 2017

Some great questions in this week’s Share Your World.

Ever ran out of gas in your vehicle?

I don’t drive.

Which are better: black or green olives?

Black. They’re regulars in my salads.

If you were a great explorer, what would you explore?

There are sooo many great places to explore on this planet! I’d like to see with my own eyes all the nice places that I admired on pictures. To answer something particular, something that could be quite feasible–castles and coffee shops of continental Europe.

Quotes List: At least three of your favorite quotes?

I narrowed my million favourite quotes down to four:

ddm-quote

einstein-quote

darwin-quote-2

george-carlin-quote

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

My willpower for keeping up with eating well and losing a whole kilo from the previous week.

kidmeme

I’ve got a week off work so I’m looking forward to more reading, watching TV and just chilling.

Indoors, Weekly Photo Challenge

A Good Match

In this week’s photo challenge post, Ben posts a photograph of a donut, a cup of coffee and a glass of sparkling water, but tells us not to limit ourselves to edible stuff–but this is exactly what I’m going to do, even though I don’t normally blog about food or post pictures of food.

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The colours are a good match too

Let me introduce you to my favourite breakfast. Bacon sandwich + a cup of black coffee = heaven. For me bacon sandwich is the second best thing in the world (the first is pizza). But there is more to this shot.

We hear of things typically British and we hear of things typically Continental European. Nothing more essentially British than a bacon sandwich, I’m sure you agree. On the other hand, coffee is continental, whereas the Brits like their tea.

Best of both worlds then. Imagine if referendums never existed, we could have breakfast instead of Brexit. Sigh.

Speaking of which…

poirot-hastings

A very Belgian private detective with his very British sidekick.

A Good Match

Indoors, Miscellaneous

Love is Somewhere Around Me

For this Valentine’s Day, let me talk about about my favourite fictional couples (or, as is the fandom term these days “ships”).

Originally I was planning to post just one photo for Valentine’s–a shot of two figures from my favourite series with a simple card in the background–but a comment I made on this Goodreads Facebook post inspired me to expand it a bit more. At least this gives me an opportunity to blog about my favourite things.

The Couple That Gives Me All the Feels

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Jon Snow and Ygritte (Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire). Equally good in books and in TV show. And the only love story that can truly melt my cold, cynical heart.

The series has a lot of memorable quotes, such as All Men Must Die (which inspired my blog’s tagline) and Winter is Coming and–You know nothing, Jon Snow. She’s the one with the common sense, he’s the one with the  formal education. She teaches him about the Wildling ways, he shows her castles.

If I could show her Winterfell… give her a flower from the glass gardens, feast her in the Great Hall and show her the stone kings on their thrones. We could bathe in the hot pools and love beneath the heart tree while the old gods watched over us.

~A Storm of Swords

It was not meant to be, but I like to think there is an alternate universe where they stayed in that cave. And there is–Kit Harington and Rose Leslie are dating in real life.

Here’s the photo that I mentioned earlier:

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Not Your Typical Couple

Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist from The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (the Millennium series). But not together as in together.

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“Better not mess with us.” Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace from the Swedish movies

Lisbeth is one my most favourite fictional characters ever. She’s a brilliant hacker and she kicks ass. And she always look out for the vulnerable and the abused. I don’t ship her with Blomkvist in the normal way, instead I like to think of them as BFFs with benefits slash partners in crime. Besides, Blomkvist is a womaniser and Lisbeth is too much of a free spirit to settle down.

It was absurd to pretend that he did not exist. It no longer hurt her to see him. She opened the door wide and let him into her life again.  

~The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest

In the English version they are played by Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. I once saw a comment on YouTube video of the trailer saying “Lisbeth Salander is so badass, James Bond is her sidekick.

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The Couple That Should Have Been

Jo March and Laurie, aka Teddy Lawrence from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, who ended up not together because the author threw a tantrum.

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Then do, for god’s sake. Ugh.

I recently read Little Women for the first time in English. I love Jo, but I’m not a fan of the book. Some passages made me want to throw my (quite new) Kindle against the wall and it’s not because of the obvious mismatching of couples. It’s the constant preaching. Dog forbid you want to have fun once in a blue moon or a day off work… but I’m not here to talk about that.

If readers and Alcott’s publishers wanted Jo and Laurie to marry, there was a reason for it and that reason was that she wrote them that way. Apparently Alcott meant for Jo to remain single but the publisher was against it, so okay, 3/4 through he story Alcott introduces some German professor or other who would become Jo’s match but why, why oh why oh why OH WHY pair Laurie with Amy? Amy, that frivolous little shit that burned Jo’s book? Gosh, I hate her. She should have died instead of the loving, kind Beth.

Some fans say that Laurie was too immature for Jo. But he could have grown up, done something with his life and then come back and try asking her again. Like, character development, you know.

I can somewhat accept Jo with her professor but I will never be able to accept Laurie with Amy. Ah, what the hell, in my mind he never stopped loving Jo.

Forever and Ever and Ever…

Of course, it’s got to be them. The One True Pairing–OTP.

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Anne and Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables series.

Poor Gilbert, though. It took years of suffering and almost dying for her to finally realise he was the one for her. The romantic hero she had dreamed about since her childhood didn’t belong to her life the way Gil did… and turned out not to be very interesting after all. Gilbert may not have written poetry but he could make her laugh, he comforted her. He got her.

There was nobody else–there never could be anybody else for me but you. I’ve loved you ever since that day you broke your slate over my head in school.

~Anne of the Island

There was that time in Anne of the Island when Anne’s bosom friend Diana secretly entered Anne’s story into a competition for the best story featuring a baking powder Rollings. Diana simply took Anne’s story Averil’s Atonement, which failed to get published in magazines, added a line or two advertising the baking powder and sent it–and the story won the prize. Twenty-five dollars, which must have been a lot of money then. Anne felt very ashamed because she thought it meant, how we would say now, selling out. So when Gilbert came to congratulate her and she confided in him and told him she was afraid that her fellow students at Redmond will tease her for it, he had this to say:

The Reds will think just as I thought–that you, being like nine out of ten of us, not overburdened with worldly wealth, had taken this way of earning a honest penny to help yourself through the year. I don’t see that there’s anything low or unworthy about that, or anything ridiculous either. One would rather write masterpieces of literature no doubt–but meanwhile board and tuition fees have to be paid.

Contrast this with Jo March’s professor who got all superior over Jo’s silly stories. Jo wrote them to earn some money and thus help her family, the point that completely escaped the educated professor. (Maybe that’s why he’s penniless in his forties.) What’s interesting is, when Anne rejects Gilbert’s first proposal, her feelings are very similar to what Jo goes through when she says no to Laurie. At least one writer with initials LM knew how to satisfy her readers!

Boys Love Boys

Barca and Pietros from Spartacus: Blood and Sand.

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I know Spartacus is not to everyone’s taste but I loved it. It has everything; profanity, violence, nudity, sex. It makes Game of Thrones look like a weak tea.

From what I’ve seen on Tumblr, another gay couple from Spartacus: War of the Damned, Agron and Nasir seems to be the more popular one but I prefer these two. I was rooting for them so much and they had such a tragic end.

I do what I must, Pietros. I’ll return soon.

Girls Love Girls

Look who I just remembered:

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Xena and Gabrielle. Friends? Sure, they were friends. That’s how it started.

Quote by the Warrior Princess herself, Lucy Lawless:

Now it wasn’t just that Xena was bisexual and kinda liked her gal pal and they kind of fooled around sometimes, it was “Nope, they’re married, man.”

They were.

You know what, I changed my mind. I think Xena and Gabrielle are my OTP after all.

Happy Valentine’s Day!