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'Game of Thrones' recap: 'The High Sparrow'

Tyrion kidnapped! Arya learning to become an assassin! A beheading!

"The High Sparrow," the third episode in this season's "Game of Thrones" season, had a lot of interesting plotlines.

Foremost, in the show's final moments, Jorah Mormont kidnapped Tyrion to take him to Daenerys. This could be really, really bad for almost any other character. But methinks Tyrion is clever enough to talk himself out of almost anything.

Next, Arya got acquainted with The House of Black and White, the legendary school for assassins, and that, my friends, is some badass training. She has to disown her old self to become a face-changer and got slapped around for not really doing that.

"I am ready. To be a faceless man. To be no one," Arya pledged. She had to throw all of her possessions into the sea, but couldn't bring herself to get rid of Needle, the thin blade given to her by Jon Snow.

Meanwhile, Arya's sister, Sansa, was paired up with the cruel psycho Ramsay Bolton. First Joffrey, now this: poor girl.


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'Mad Men' recap, 'Time & Life'

"They keep telling me their future's in California."

California has always been a magical place where "Mad Men" characters can leave their mistakes behind to start over. At least, that's what they hope.

It's surprising, if not slightly disappointing, that the theme of starting fresh should revisit nearly identical stories from previous seasons. For the most part, "Time & Life" was reminiscent of the season three finale, "Sit Down. Have a Seat."

"Mad Men" refresher course: McMann Erickson was set to acquire Puttnam, Powell and Lowe, of which Sterling Cooper was a subsidiary. Don and crew wanted no part of that. So, they secured all their clients in secret and broke away to create their new agency, SCPD.

Now, SC&P has already joined McMann Erickson, but they kept their employees and their deluxe two-floor office in the Time & Life building. That is, until the soulless McMann Erickson stopped paying rent.

Not because they're deadbeats — they'e making SC&P move into their office. They're devouring...

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For black dancers, it's unequal footing

As long as there have been ballet companies in the United States, African-American boys and girls have been discouraged from having Sugar Plum Fairy fantasies and "Nutcracker" dreams.

They were told they weren't born with the right bodies to form the elegant lines required by classical dance.

They were told that their race was too muscular, too athletic, and too curvy — code words for "too sexual" — for the sylphlike innocents celebrated in such ballets as "Giselle" and "Swan Lake."

They were told that America wasn't ready to see a dark brown woman cast as a white snowflake or swan. When black ballerinas executed routine steps correctly in class, they were over-praised to the point of insult. And they were expected to dust their face and limbs with a milk-colored powder when they performed certain roles.

Those stereotypes are being exploded in a big way in Baltimore, thanks to an exhibit opening this weekend and two coming visits by world-class troupes composed primarily of African-American...

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Pane e Vino adds refreshing element to Little Italy

When I need a reminder of my love for Baltimore — and we all do sometimes, for reasons complex and simple — I look to the neighborhoods, not only for their residents and histories but because they often find new ways to surprise.

A prime example is Little Italy, a neighborhood with no shortage of character. The cuisine it's known for is a given, but the area's charms are far from confined to a plate of Bolognese. I play in a weekly bocce league at the outdoor courts at D'Alessandro Park on Stiles Street, and rarely miss the sights, sounds and bingo of the annual Feast of St. Anthony Festival.

So, let me add a recent surprise to the list: Pane e Vino, the companion bar to corner restaurant Cafe Gia that opened last month. Sure, Little Italy has plenty of bars inside its restaurants, but Pane e Vino — which is run by Cafe Gia owner Gia Blattermann, her brother Steven Blattermann and Cafe Gia chef Gianfranco Fracassetti — feels like the rare location that could succeed as a stand-alone bar.


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Nearly three decades in, Widespread Panic has new album on the way

On the phone last week from a tour stop in Florida, Widespread Panic's John Bell sounded like a musician no longer surprised by the road.

Asked if his veteran jam-rock band's current three-month outing feels any different from recent tours, the singer and guitarist better known to fans as “JB” felt no need to lie for the sake of a good story.

“No, not really,” Bell said with a chuckle. “You just wake up, get together and then go play. It's been that way for about 30 years.”

Technically, next year is the three-decade anniversary of Widespread Panic, but Bell does not seem to be counting. Instead, the 53-year-old is looking to a near future that includes the release of his group's 12th studio album. (Before then, though, the band will kick off the Pier Six Pavilion season on Sunday and return May 14 for the sold-out “Dear Jerry: Celebrating the Music of Jerry Garcia” concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion.)

It has been nearly five years since the release of the last LP, “Dirty Side Down.”...

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Relationships column: Keeping up with the Johnsons

In the summer of 1998, my family took a road trip.

Washington, D.C., was our destination and at one point during our excursion, my sister and two brothers were in comatose-like slumbers. I was the only kid up and alert, counting the number of trees we zoomed by.

I enjoyed gazing at the sky, the road and even the license plates of other drivers. It beat looking at rowhouses or vacant lots back in Camden, N.J..

My dad blasted his compilation CD with songs from '70s R&B groups like the O'Jays, the Isley Brothers, the Ebonys and Heatwave.

I giggled at his limited singing ability as he forced his baritone voice to tackle the soprano notes. I don't know if I laughed more at his screaming or at my mom's facial expressions while her eardrums were violated the entire drive.

This was years ago, and those trips don't happen anymore. Boy, do I miss them.

Even when trying to plan something as simple as brunch, everyone has to check their work and social schedules just to set a date and time.

When I...

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