Author: JD Pawson

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Custom cards

May 25, 2017
Skull and crossbones vector created by Freepik

It’s been a while since I posted. Hey I’ve been busy.

I’ve found myself doing more and more Photoshop jobs for friends and colleagues – for birthday cards, custom made invitations, that sort of thing. So I thought I’d share some of them right here, as a bit of a record and to show that if you want something like this doing, you can get in touch.

The beauty of sites like moonpig is that they’ve given us free reign to create one off personalised stuff much easier. If you want to go the extra step, you can create your own image compositions, like some of these examples, to really go to town. Anyway, enjoy!

This is just the tip of the iceberg of course. I’ve also been known to help people out with editing videos for weddings, hen dos (oo-er misses), school projects, birthday surprises plus creating logo animations (or stings as we call them in the biz, what), editing music for children’s plays and a whole lot more. Basically if you want some sort of custom multimedia sorting for a personal project then I can help!

Film/Television

Game of Thrones S6 E8 review

June 15, 2016

Spoilers again all – don’t do it if you’ve not caught up (but I’ve left enough time this time surely?!)

WOW! I’ve just got over the episode (hence the delay in writing). That was an episode, and while it probably disproves some of my theories, I don’t really care, as it was still awesome!

 

The Hound bites back

First up, this scene probably had my favourite line of the series “those are your last words?” etc etc. Love it. The hound is back to his usual self, spilling entrails, swiping off heads and deftly cutting throats, what a guy.

The exchange between him and Donadarrion later was just as great, with them discussing who gets which of the non-Brotherhood types who did the slaughtering last episode, and then the Hound’s disappointment at having to just hang them… boring (I agree, Hound!). His is one storyline that I’m really intrigued to follow in terms of what he decides to do next now. I’d love a spin off show in fact “adventures of the Hound”. It’d be amazing.

 

Cersei moves Mountain’s

… and about time too! It’s nice to see what the blackened face behind the helmet is capable of… namely taking an axe to the chest before ripping a guys head – complete with spinal column – clear off. If nothing else, it was grimly satisfying to see the smile wiped off ol’ cousin Lannister’s symbol tatooed face after Cersei “chose violence”

MOUNTAIN-KILL-SPARROW-GIF

One thing’s for sure, if The Hound ever does face off against the Mountain, he’d better be ready…

 

Trial by combat is out

Well there goes my previous idea around Hound vs Mountain for the trial by combat, though in all seriousness, it was looking unlikely last week after the Hound’s new buddies were slaughtered that he would agree to be the Faith’s chosen combatant.

Tommen has been totally sucked in by the Faith and more or less sentenced Cersei to death. Jaime had better get back quick snap if he wants to try and save her, which leads us to…

 

Riverrun run run Brienne

Well Jaime managed to talk round Edmure, and while I’ve seen others say that they saw the emotional, softer side of Jaime as he talked about his absolute love for Cersei, for me this was somewhat marred when he, in the next breath, described how he would hurl Edmure’s son over the walls of Riverrun if he didn’t get his own way. Bloody entitled rich kids, eh.

I loved Bronn’s wedgy-esque strangulation of Pod. It was the Game of Thrones equivalent of a good “Noogie”.

Anyway, the Blackfish had the measure of the situtation, that Edmure would screw everything up, and as his reward, we didn’t even get to see his last stand. Cheers Edmure.

jaime-brienne

At least Brienne and Pod were able to slip out on the waterway, and Jaime then gave us another reason not to hate him by simply waving them off.

Oh and I have a feeling that Jaime may well end up regretting giving Brienne that sword.

 

The mother’s return

I personally enjoyed seeing Tyrion, Melisandre and Greyworm’s exchange around drinking and jokes. Tyrion is clearly trying to re-establish some friends to share in his vineyard’s finest batch some day after seeing off Varys previously. Here’s hoping there’s enough people left by the time we get out the end of this for anyone to have friends at all!

Anyway, they were interrupted by the arrival of the annoyed ex-slave owners, and just when we thought they were up the creek without a paddle, Danerys returned. It was a bit of an anti-climax as no words were exchanged (as far as I can remember). In fact, other than her destruction of the Dothraki Lords, Dany’s part in this season has been pretty mediocre to say the least. Let’s hope for a bit more of action from that side of the world in the last couple of episodes.

 

The waif got what was coming to her

Well done Arya, you finally cut that bitches head off. I loved the running through the streets scene – it was literally the on-foot version of a good bond car chase.  And just when you think she’s down and out, Arya takes all she’s learnt as a blind fighter, plus everything from Syrio Forel and does that crazy bitch in.

arya_candle_out_gif

 

Are you Jaquen me around, mate?

Jaquen seemed somewhat pleased about it all after finding the waif’s mounted, blinded and bloody head int he Hall of Faces; I’m guessing he too found her creepy and weird, but would rather let someone else take care of it.

By the end of his exchange with Arya and that slight grin he gave her, I’m thinking that he had always intended to train her up and then release her back into the wild to go back to Westeros and cross off all the names on her Kill Bill-esque Death List… either that or he was trying to cover up how much he had underestimated her and messed up!

a97e3802e1b185941bb81c0d679f65a8

 

Two more to go

I can’t believe we’ve only got a couple of hours of action left for this season. It’s depressing to think that after that, we’re going to be staring down the barrel of about 10-11 months of Game’s free telly. BUT flip that round – we STILL HAVE TWO HOURS TO GO! And surely, surely they will make these two hours the best of the series.

Roll on Monday.

Film/Television

Game of Thrones S6 E7 review

June 6, 2016

As per usual, (major) spoilers alert! Don’t read on until you’ve seen the episode…

This weeks’ episode had a few neat twists for the series as a whole, but was a bit “ploddy” again. Get the action going, c’mon! And I don’t know if its just me, but things are starting to feel a little predictable…

Guess who’s back

So let’s talk about the elephant (well, hound) in the room… the big dog himself is back, just as I anticipated! Even though I had an idea that it was coming, I was still a bit surprised by the left-field, pre-credits intro to this weeks’ episode. And it looks like he’s now ready to take up arms again, given how being a chilled non-violent pacifist type has worked out for his new buddies.

What's not to love about this guy eh?
What’s not to love about this guy eh?

 

What I was a little confused about was why the rest of the peaceful villagers got it from those Brotherhood types. Sure, the Hound said that they’d come back for the food and the women, but it looked more like they had just butchered them all for fun (including the ladies). And unless the Hound has got incredible hearing (unlikely with the old burny burny face face) it seems they didn’t stick about long enough to nick anything at all.

It seems like the Brotherhood without Banners may have turned into the arseholes that they were trying to protect people from… unless of course they weren’t Brotherhood, but someone else.

Either way this little plotline seemed like a nice quick way to reintroduce the Hound without having any other loose ends to worry about (not that that usually deters Game of Thrones, but perhaps we now literally have to see a bloated hanging face or severed head to make sure we know that character is not coming back from the dead)

She should have seen that coming (I know I did)

Surely, given that she’s been on the inside of the House of Black and White, knows how that works, and went so far as to sleep with needle at the end of last week’s episode, you’d have thought Arya would have been a little more wary of weird, crone-like women walking straight up to her.

Things have gone from bad to worse for Arya
Things have gone from bad to worse for Arya

 

There was a moment where I thought that she was for it, but this can’t be the end of her. Not a chance… surely. In the old days, I’d have probably thought there was a chance – it’s just another Ned/Robb moment I guess, but now I’m not so sure. Stark’s are thin on the ground these days and things don’t seem to be as wildly unpredictable as perhaps they once were. Mind you, I’m not exactly sure how she’s going to figure it out given she had multiple belly stabs and some sort of cross-body slash before she threw herself into a river. Perhaps a friendly face will turn up to help her out? Just as long as it’s the actual person she thinks it is behind that face of course.

The Bitch of Bear Island

I loved her! Lyanna Mormont is a great little know-it-all… with 62 men. She had some fantastic comebacks to her would-be- condescending-if-they-could-get-a-word-in-edgeways visitors “Sansa Bolton isn’t it? Or is it Lannister, I hear conflicting reports” Boom! Put Sansa right in her place.

Thank God(s) that Davos was there to convince her- friendships with young female aristocracy is something of a speciality of his. Even if the result was a little thin on numbers, apparently Bear Islanders are worth 10 men each… so add 620 to the roster of Jon Snow’s mishmash wilding army.

Sansa sees some sense?

Jon’s army clearly need more men (I mean, even Blackadder’s Percy turned them down), and again, I saw Sansa’s little note coming. Is GoT becoming more predictable? Anyway, no doubt that there will be a raven on its way to the Vale as we speak to drop a “go on then, give us a hand” note to the weasely Littlefinger, and they’ll show up just in time to save a failing Wildling army. But at what cost? Littlefinger does nothing without it benefiting his own ends in some way, so I wonder what the price for saving the day will be. Perhaps Sansa will end up having to placate that milksop “bitty” Robin Arryn again. Gross.

Creepy weirdo anyone?
Creepy weirdo anyone?

One things for certain, Jon and Sansa had better pull their finger out, or Rickon may well end up having the shortest amount of screentime of any of the Stark’s, and become a flailed body over the gates of Winterfell. I’m a bit surprised that Ramsay hasn’t done it already given the fact that he’s a total whack-job arsehole.

Gone fishin’

Jaime and Bronn (welcome back by the way) turned up at Riverrun to turf out the Blackfish. They seemed to have arrived pretty quickly with their 8000 men given how long it used to take anyone to get anywhere in Westeros. I loved the golden-handed bitch slap Jaime gave that little Frey twerp after he bitched out on doing-in Edmure. Empty threats mean nothing! Each week, the Frey’s remind me of different kids TV shows – last week was Maid Marian, this week they were a lot more Chucklevision.

 

GoT-Jaime

Anyway, everyone loves an underdog, and the Blackfish appears to be the under-est dog there is. The last of the Lannister’s real opponents (if you put a Wildling army run by a bastard to one side). Treating with Jaime just for something to do is one way to pass the time I suppose. I wonder if Jaime’s loud retorts about letting good men die was a plot hint moving forward for some good old-fashioned rebellion and treachery? Perhaps some of the Blackfish’s men will double-cross him? It’s been a while since we’ve had a ‘Why is Roose Bolton wearing mail under his shirt’ moment.

In the meantime Jaime will be getting Edmure back to par and then sweet talking him as much as possible no doubt to attempt to get the castle back peacefully. Something tells me he’s barking up the wrong tree with that.

The rose of Highgarden

I’m glad that we were shown that Margery hasn’t been brainwashed this week, and glad that she told her dear old gran to bugger off before it was too late. What I’m hoping is that she goes back to Highgarden, gathers their Army and then we can have another nice big King’s Landing battle. It’s been a while.

Granny Tyrell’s parting comments to Cersei were just too good. Once she’d finished, Cersei had a little lip-tightening and I thought, just for a second, that the Mountain would be chopping off a head. But alas, it wasn’t to be (not that I want to see an old Lady get her head cut off you understand). “Are you the worst person I’ve ever met?” Lovely. And she did point out to Cersei that she’s pretty vulnerable now. All Lannisteresque talk of strength and Lions and all that rubbish is going to sound pretty hollow from her now, and even a zombie Mountain can’t kill everyone (or can he?)

Must have been a fair wind

Not so cocky now Theon (geddit)
Not so cocky now Theon (geddit)

Theon and Yara (who I didn’t realise was called Yara until this series, since she’s Asha in the books) are on the run, but taking some well-earned time out to visit a brothel or two. They also seemed to have managed to cross half the world pretty quickly, and are on route to Meereen to treat with the Mother of Dragons… I’m not entirely sure what they have to offer her in return at this stage, a few ships and fealty I guess of the Iron Islands should she help them out of a fix. Theon looked pleased to be back in his favourite sort of establishment didn’t he?!

Force fed drink by his big (apparently Lesbian by the way – who knew) sister and more or less told to man up or do one. At least he appears to be on his way back from being Reek to being Theon.

“Pulling a Theon”

It’s funny how Game of Thrones puts you through real cycles of feelings towards characters – and this is true of the books too, and a testament to how well written it is. You may hate certain characters at some points – they’re definitely the baddies – and then low and behold, you change your mind when they’re down on their luck. Characters are well-rounded, but equally troubled and often thrown into bad situations that you can’t help but feel sorry for them.

With the books, each chapter is written from a different characters perspective, so this literally lets you inside their heads to understand them a little more and if not empathise with them, at least sympathise for them.

With the series, it’s great that they’ve managed to keep this going. Poor Theon was in fact a key part of things going majorly tits-up for the Starks and Winterfell (who are definitely the heroes) so we should hate him. But having your knob (and a couple of fingers) cut off by someone like Ramsey Bolton is probably comeuppance enough. After that, you do really feel for him! I’m now rooting for him to get his act together and go and kick some A. We can perhaps call this phenomenon “pulling a Theon” – also employed by Tyrion (repeatedly framed for things he didn’t do, ruined life more or less), Jaime (sword hand cut off) and the Hound (found soft side but then all but left for dead by Arya).

I guess as long as there is a badder bad guy, there’s always hope. I doubt that we can get much worse than Ramsey, so I for one hope that his death is a particularly drawn out affair.

So what’s next?

1_MountainVHound
Here’s hoping for the fight to end what was started here…

Now more than ever, I’m feeling (and hoping) that the mighty brotherly showdown of once-nearly-dead-Dog vs actually-died-but-now-reanimated-Mountain might just happen soon. I’m not sure exactly how though, as it’s pretty clear that the Hound has not become a monk as suggested in the books. Perhaps he’ll be doing it for revenge for his face-burn – maybe he holds his bruv responsible for everything that has happened to him since then or something. Either way, it’s surely got to happen at some point.

I hope the Tyrell’s come back and give the High Sparrow something to chirp about. I’m getting a bit sick of hearing the fanatics going on about atonement and bla bla bla. He’s earned a head-lop I reckon.

And not forgetting those not seen in this episode – where’s Dany up to? Is Tyrion still holding back Varys from verbally abusing that other red woman? Where is the original red woman too for that matter? How on earth does Euron expect his people to build him a thousand ships when he lives on an island seemingly made entirely out of rock? How far will fat Sam and thin Gilly be able to run with Daddy’s precious sword? Are we going to see Dondarrion and Dennis Pennis ever again? Or for that matter Gendry?! Is Benjen going to stick with Bran for a while? Is Bran going to stop messing things up? What are the Dornish doing now that they’ve done away with the pacifist in the chair, his badass bodyguard and his heir?

Fingers crossed all this and more is answered in the next 3 hours of Thrones action, otherwise it’s going to be another long wait until next year (we all know whatever does get answered there’ll be a whole bunch of other stuff to be anticipating for another year!)

Film/Television

Game of Thrones S6 E6 review

May 31, 2016

As per my previous post don’t read on if you haven’t seen this week’s episode of Game of Thrones yet! There will be spoilers!!! There are also some outright guesses from me based on some info from the books, so again read on at your own peril!

Still here? Ok…

Well after last week’s post about the action finally starting, this week’s episode felt a little flat. Plenty happened in terms of set up for other upcoming stuff (I hope) but I wanted more action now!

Vision express

Bran’s vision’s at the beginning of this episode might be one of the best we’ve seen so far, even though it was just a mish-mash of time and space, characters and undead. We briefly glimpsed the Mad King giving his “burn them all” order, which feeds the fire (ahem) of theories around Bran somehow being part of a much bigger picture of the Game of Thrones storylines through his time-travel abilities.

There’s a theory that the Mad King only went mad because of Bran trying to give him the heads-up on the White Walker’s and to let him know that he needs to “burn them all”. Here’s hoping that’s not another big whoopsidaisy moment for him (I’ve still not forgiven him for Hodor yet, the ruddy twerp).

There were flashes of young Ned, the Night King and a whole bunch of other stuff. I’ll be watching it again later in super-slo-mo to see what else was being offered out to us!

Ben Ben Ben Ben, Benly Ben Ben Ben

So then there was a bit of a reveal with the return of Benjen Stark (good timing by the way Benjen)… not so much of a big deal necessarily if you hadn’t read the books; I mean, yes it was a bit  “wow there’s that guys from season 1”, but as with Jon Snow’s fate, the show is now answering some of the books long standing questions. Coldhands is Benjen Stark.

For those who haven’t read the books, Coldhands appears at just the right time to help Sam and Gilly out of a fix, and later helps guide Bran, Hodor ([icon icon=icon-frown size=14px color=#000 ]) Meera and Jojen to the last greenseer – the Three Eyed Crow (or Three Eyed Raven in the TV series).

But his identity is never revealed. He wears the same colours as the Night’s Watch, but keeps his face shrouded. His hands are black from his own congealed blood (nice) and Bran and his pals know that he is (un)dead, but we’re never told who he is, right up to the point where he delivers Bran to the Three Eyed Crow’s cave and buggers off after fighting off some Wights (White Walkers).

Also, just as an aside, he rides on an Elk in the books, which is infinitely cooler than a horse.

Get on with it!

Next up we had the non-fight between the Tyrells and the High Sparrow’s bunch of fanatics. Just when it looked like things might get tasty, that milk-sop King Tommen ruined it. Boring. Please just start cutting each others heads off again.

I do confess I’m a bit confused by Margery, and whether she’s acting the part of has actually been brain-washed. When we last saw her talking to Loras she seemed set on not giving in to the High Sparrow.

Anyways, tying up the crown with the faith does potentially make things interesting for the future in terms of what happens with the Lannisters. But not necessarily what I wanted to happen with this episode in terms of ACTION!

The coolest part of this set-piece was Jaime riding a horse up some steps.

Who let the dogs out?

Cersei’s mention again of the trial by combat and that she’s planning to use the Mountain for her champion does make me wonder who the Faith may put up against him.

As I mentioned previously, I have a sneaking suspicion that we may well see the return of the Mountain’s brother for an epic big-guy battle. If the Hound does return, that will certainly raise the action stakes for me.

That sneaking suspicion has been built from the couple of mentions of the trial-by-combat (and the fact that Cersei et al are so certain that zombie Mountain will win) along with some of the hints of the Hound’s fate from the books.

Specifically in one of the books, Brienne (who didn’t fight the Hound in the books) visits a Monastery on her travels with Podrick. While there, she sees a huge monk “the Grave Digger” moving as if he has some injuries, and there are some serious hints that the near fatally-wounded Hound may have been taken in by these monks.

Now, I’m thinking, Monks, Religion, High Sparrow, Faith Militant, trial by combat… I could be reading too much into it, but let’s face it, given the stuff that we’ve seen so far, it could happen!

What a bastard (no, not Jon Snow)

Sam’s been telling us all along what his dad was like, what did you expect? Again, book-readers will know that Randyll Tarly is as bad as Sam makes out.

I did think for a moment that we may be seeing the end of Sam and Gilly’s storyline’s in the show. If they split up, Sam going off to the Citadel and Gilly living as a kitchen-maid, then what really would be the point in following them any more (to be honest I don’t necessarily think that it would be the worst thing ever).

Now, I really have no idea what they’re going to be doing. They don’t appear to have any real plan or objective in mind, but since he’s stolen his father’s precious sword (bit of an idiot move I imagine, though well deserved) things could get a bit nasty for them.

Shame-faced

Well Arya messed up, didn’t she? I’m not sure I like how quickly Jaqen seemed happy to sentence her to death, especially since that bloody sour-faced know-it-all girl will be doing it.

This foray into the house of the Faceless Men now seems a little redundant to me. Granted, Arya has picked up some skills in how to fight with a stick, how to fight without her eyes, but not much else, and she hasn’t been given the ability to change faces. Sorry to keep going back to it, but in the books (so far at least) Arya is a successful member of the Faceless Men, carrying out her first assignment for them rather than chucking it all in and going all “Stark-y”.

That being said, I do like the fact that she’s got Needle back out and seems to be thinking about personal revenge a bit more… that’s what I like to see!

I’m a-Frey-ed not… (sorry)

We got to see that old git Walder Frey again this week – been a while, but the old bugger’s still up to his old tricks, slapping girls arses (urrrgh), being angry at having such a crap place to live and generally being gross.

He and his two dimwit sons bring to mind the baddies from “Maid Marian and her Merry Men” – for those that don’t know, it was a UK 90’s kids TV show where everyone lived in filthy squalor and its hapless bad guys were the Sheriff of Nottingham (played by Tony Robinson) and a couple of numbskull henchmen.

Anyway, at least he’s annoyed at losing Riverrun. Fingers crossed the Blackfish keeps hold of it and we start seeing some good-guys winning at stuff soon.

Edmure also came out of his chains momentarily, as the upcoming bargaining piece for the Riverrun siege (as per the books! Sorry again!), but personally I don’t think Edmure has had a big enough part to warrant the sort of “who’s that” reveal that they gave him.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a bloody great big dragon you idiot.

Yep, the big boy Drogon is back with mummy and ready to give her a platform for a kick-ass speech. The speech itself was great (or depending on your point of view, terrifying) but the timing seemed a bit off. It could have been saved for a better moment, as to me at least she seemed to be preaching to the converted. Its not like they were abandoning her was it?

Maybe I missed something there, but Daenerys’ appearance in this episode was a bit “so what”.

Moving on…

So again, I’m looking forward to next week’s episode, and this time I think there will likely be a bit more in the way of ACTION!!! With only 4 episode’s left of the season, I can understand why this week we felt a bit of a lull… they’ll be building us up for the finale, and from here on out I think we’re likely to see things accelerate.

That being said, it seems all to soon to be saying that we’re heading toward the end of the season.

Are we actually further along than the books?

Before this season began, it looked as though we were going to be heading out into the darkness, with the shows’ writers and producers going it alone as they had caught up with the source material. I was a bit nervous to be honest.

But compared to other seasons its feels as though not as much has happened thus far. Yes, we’ve had a couple of big wow moments (see my previous post for more) but given how much appears to have come from the books anyway (all be it from different times in some instances) and that we know George R.R. Martin had given the shows’ creators some major plot points to stick to, I’m wondering whether they’ll have strayed too far from the storyline’s we can expect to read at all now.

Season 6 may only see us part of the way through the plot of the next book, and Season 7 may tie up again with the end of it. That might give Martin some breathing space to get the seventh (and potentially final) book done before the subsequent seasons of the show.

Having said that, judging by the time between “A Song of Ice and Fire” book releases, I’m not holding my breath!

By the way, I’m not a book-snob about it at all. Coming late to the party on both fronts I read the books and watched the show concurrently, so whatever happens I’m happy. Just as long as they keep coming (and we get an awesome finale at some point!) in both formats!

Film/Television

Game of Thrones – Half way through season 6

May 26, 2016

SPOILERS GALORE!

Seriously, turn back if you haven’t seen up to season 6, episode 5 of Game of Thrones! I won’t be held responsible for ruining it otherwise…

As a huge Game of Thrones fan, I was of course delighted when the new series started. Now, I don’t know whether its because I know that some of the storylines are moving beyond the end of where the books had reached – and perhaps I’m reading too much into it – but this series feels somehow… different. George RR Martin has given the shows creators some salient plot-points that they have to adhere to, but otherwise they pretty much have free reign to go in whatever direction they want.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying it immensely. There’s been some great wow moments (Jon Snow’s resurrection, the (old) Red Lady, the Martel boy being spiked through the back of the head, Daenerys burning up the Dothraki leaders and walking out through the flames, seeing the birth of the White Walkers, Roose getting it from Ramsey, Rickon finally turning up, a couple of Ned Stark’s kids reuniting, Arya getting her eyes back, young Ned, Tormund eyeing up Brienne, Osha returning for the briefest of appearances, Theon going home etc etc etc) but there just seems to be something in the way the characters are interacting that doesn’t quite feel right. It’s almost impossible for me to give you any examples mind you, other than I feel that Greyworm is speaking too much!

Hold the door

That being said, the final set-piece in the last episode “The Door” was incredible and a great return to form from my point of view. I learnt after watching the episode that Hodor’s back-story and subsequent demise was one of the aforementioned George RR Martin-approved plot points. Perhaps that’s why it felt so “Game-of-Thrones-y”.

The moment of clarification for why Hodor is Hodor was in itself brilliant and opens up a world of possibilities in time-altering – not necessarily to change things, but perhaps Bran (and others?) will be playing a part in plot points that we have seen come and pass; trying to make things change for the better only for them to produce the very fate they were trying to avoid, just like the tragedies of ancient Greece like Oedipus. The Three-Eyed-Raven said that “the past is already written, the ink is set” but it seems to me that the point of Bran and the Three-Eyed-Raven travelling back in time at that critical moment in “The Door” (when they could have been running away) was to ensure that Bran made Hodor, Hodor. If he hadn’t gone back in time right then, Hodor would not have had the seizure, and who knows what impact that would have had on everything else. Perhaps the ink is set… its just that the writing hasn’t happened yet!

Damn it, Bran!

Anyway, immediately after getting that initial thrill of “Oh, I get it now, that’s why he’s called Hodor!” it was clear that this was going to be it – the end of perhaps the greatest non-violent character in the story, and one that by uttering only one word has brought some light-hearted relief since season one. And with that, I felt a renewed anger toward that little idiot twerp Bran, not only for being a self-involved, entitled little so-and-so and grabbing the tree while the Three-Eyed-Raven slept (and therefore inviting the Night King in for a cup of tea) but additionally because in doing so he effectively ruined Hodor’s life and sentenced him to death in one fell swoop!

Whatever next

At this half-way point, I feel like its time for some real action now, which we got a taste of in this weeks episode. Hopes for the rest of the series: Jon Snow and his army of Wildlings go and kick Ramsey into touch, we find out through Bran’s time-travelling some more Ned Stark history (perhaps the parentage of Jon Snow?) the Sparrow and his fanatics get done-in by Jaime Lannister, Daenerys actually starts on her way back to Westeros, Arya becomes a fully-fledged Faceless Person, The Martel’s march on Kings Landing, Bran feels some remorse for his actions and – why not – the Hound returns and faces off against his big zombie brother Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane.

What would you like to happen in the latter part of this series? Comment below!

Blog, Writing

The Quotable April 2013 Writing Prompt Micro-fiction (100 words) Contest Winner

April 12, 2016

It was a long, long time ago…

No that’s not the start of a new story of mine, it is a factual representation of the length of time between the events told in this blog post and today. Way back in April 2013 I won a micro-fiction writing contest on the Quotable, a writing website. The contest was to write 100 words based on a prompt by a famous writer. Unfortunately it looks like the good people a the Quotable are hanging up their quills, and the site no longer functions as it used to. To make sure I don’t lose online reprsentation of this enviable win, I’ve decided to publish the prompt and my winning entry here on my own website.

The prompt was “…it was Greek to me.” — William Shakespeare

And here is my (winning) entry:

The palaeographer scratched his head, confused. The slab of granite sat front and centre of the table, surrounded by aged tomes and yellowed, dog-eared books. These letters… there was no doubt; he’d definitely seen them before. But if the carbon dating was accurate, these pre-dated any written language he’d heard of by over four thousand years. He checked the paperwork again. It was conclusive.
“We have unearthed something here” he muttered to his assistant “The symbols on this tablet pre-date Ancient Egyptian, Sumarian even ”
“But isn’t that…”
“Yes” he interrupted; excitement and wonder etched into his face “it’s Greek.”

 

Who knows, one day I may take this and make it into something a little more substantial; for now, I’m just keeping this as a personal record!

Film/Television

Finally Back and Breaking Bad

May 16, 2015

Well I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from the site… in fact it was even offline for a couple of months – which I’m sure thousands of people wept about.

Anyway, I’m back, and so is the site.

Breaking Bad

I finally got around to starting the phenomenally successful series, Breaking Bad. I’ve wanted to see it for a long time, but without Netflix, I felt that I had missed the boat, and I didn’t want to fork out for a whole box set without knowing I was going to enjoy it.

Luckily, while channel surfing a few weeks back, I saw an advert for a new channel in the UK called “Spike”. As luck would have it, Spike was launching that very day, and one of its launch shows was Breaking Bad, which was starting at 11pm and showing an episode every single week night. I set up a series link.

Quick review

I’m currently up to season three, so can’t yet give a review of the full story, but I can say that I’m finding it immensely enjoyable. The show (to this point at least) has a great balance of intriguing snapshots of things to come (with the show often starting with short, stylishly shot and edited flash forwards) against a gripping, often darkly comical plot that moves along at just the right pace.

It gives me a similar edge-of-the-seat nervous feeling to that I felt with the recent Fargo TV series; the lead protagonist gets in way over his head, and you feel that things could all topple over any second. You really feel connected to the character, but due to the inherent nature of modern storytelling, you sort of know that at some point things are going to unravel for him.

Part of what makes the show so compelling is, of course, the acting. Bryan Cranston does an incredible job as Walter White, the good guy turned bad to try and take care of his family. His transformation in the early series from mild mannered teacher to ruthless drug manufacturer (that won’t ruin things too much here for anyone still further behind than me!) is nothing short of brilliant. His frustration at times palpable and you can’t help but side with him at every turn.

Walter’s partner Jesse Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul, makes a great contrast to Walter; a troubled twenty-something that a lot of the time you can’t help but feel sorry for. Circumstance, bad decisions and accidents see the pair on a journey that takes them in way over their heads,playing at the drug trade in amongst some seriously dodgy characters, yet all the while keeping the characters connection to their families at the forefront.

I’ve still got a couple of series to go until I reach the finale, and I’ve somehow managed to avoid what happens. Here’s hoping that remains the case until the end, as this is one series I want to keep me guessing. Needless to say, I’d class myself a (late-coming) fan. Watching one episode each weekday is almost painful, but I suppose good things come to those who wait!

Photos

South American Landscapes – Peru and Bolivia

April 1, 2014

South America has some truly inspiring places to visit.

The scenery is so fantastically varied, constantly fresh, and unstoppably diverse that you can’t help but let your mind open up and be transported to other worlds, because often you feel like you’re visiting one.

These are just some of the landscape shots of a handful of places in Peru and Bolivia that I visited during my trip to the continent… more to follow later.

Music

Wolfmother’s Joker and the Thief

March 20, 2014

I was listening to a playlist of songs on shuffle on the commute into the office this morning when Wolfmother’s Joker and the Thief came on.

The song’s steady build to a crescendo put me in mind of the build up to an action sequence, and within a few seconds of the songs beginning I’d thought up the next set-piece for one of my current projects.

Film-makers use music, special FX and sound stings to enhance scenes; an exercise I remember from my A-Level Media Studies days was watching scenes, particularly in the horror genre, on mute, or with a completely different piece of music playing; its fascinating to see the difference in tone that sounds effects and music (or lack there of) can have. Writers of works to be read can’t offer the same influence over the consumption of their written work in conjunction with an auditory experience (unless utilising some modern tablet/mobile app technology, or a children’s singing book or similar).

But the great thing about music is its ability to paint a picture in your minds eye; the auditory experience can paint a vividly visual one. Because of this, music can continue to be a source of inspiration for writers like myself. By listening during the creative process (or even simply on the drive into work) it can inspire ideas, and help maintain the tone of the creative environment.

Film/Television

Winter is coming (again… this April on Sky Atlantic)

March 16, 2014

With season four of Game of Thrones almost upon us, I’ve been in the throws of rewatching the first three series.

I have to admit that I was a latecomer to both the books and the tv adaptation, but I picked up the first novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire series last year, having heard the hype, and I’ve been hooked since. What with one thing and another I’m still only part way through reading A Storm of Swords – so I’m actually playing catch up to some of what I’ve seen in season three.

For me the Game of Thrones experience has been a lesson in characterisation and the importance of a realistic, believable character journey. What I love about George RR Martin’s fantasy world is that the inhabitants in it are all REAL. Every one of them – even those that might be considered lead heroes – can bleed (and so much more). No one is safe, and on a couple of occasions I’ve been left turning pages back and forth thinking to myself that there must be some sort of trick; that couldn’t have just happened to that guy, it must be a double or magic or something… Only it’s not. As a reader we’re used to being delivered stories about heroes who can’t be stopped, seemingly up against incredible odds yet somehow they come through (perhaps a little changed but certainly still with a pulse). Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a good unbreakable hero (I’ve written about a few and certainly read and watched plenty) but I admire George RR Martin for both his bravery in not allowing anyone to truly be ‘safe’ and for his ability to deliver such rich, fully-rounded characters that he’s then happy to bump off.

As a writer you can find yourself developing emotional connections with characters; in fact I think in order to deliver believable characters it’s important, to really be able to understand how they would react in certain situations. George RR Martin must have this connection too – each chapter is written from a characters’ perspective and every sentence drips with the inflection and vocabulary that the character would use. As mentioned, my takeaway lesson here as a writer is to be bolder, write from a place of love for the characters, yes, but do so with the verisimilitude of the story in mind at all times.

Lessons aside now, as a reader, A Song of Ice and Fire is exactly my kind of thing; it takes epic fantasy/sword and sourcery and gives it a firm kick between the legs. The result is a series that’s gutsy, takes no prisoners and doesn’t allow you to second guess the next chapter. What’s equally fantastic is that the tv series plays so closely to the source material that we’ve finally got some incredible, brave tv that also happens to be in one of my favourite genres. I’m all for it, and can’t wait until April for the next installment.

Now I just somehow need to finish a book and a half in four weeks. Goodbye social life…