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18 Dec 2014 | Leave a Comment

While the story of the modern world is often narrated through tales of hardship and despair, it is worth noting that humanity remains an Omni-present feature of everyday life. This is something that the Microsoft Lumia brand is keen to reinforce, with the result that it has launched its highly touching and innovative #MakeItHappen campaign. Driven by the needs of consumers and the emotive issues that impact on their lives, Microsoft Lumia has pledged to fulfil 31 resolutions in 31 days and bring a touch of festive joy to households around the world.

One of the most touching stories concerns 36 year-old Lani O’Brien, who despite being a U.S. citizen resides in Lancashire. Throughout her 13 years in the UK, however, she has never managed to make it home to see her family at Christmas. Given that her husband is also an expat living and working in New Zealand, the family are forced to interact through Skype during the festive season and throughout the year to remain in close contact. With this in mind, Microsoft Lumia decided to fly Lani and her first born daughter back to the U.S. so that the family could enjoy a proper festive celebration and see in 2015 in style.

The family had been unable to afford this, so Lani decided to submit her application and Microsoft Lumia managed to #MakeItHappen. To see more of how the campaign unfolded, check out the video below.

 

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15 Dec 2014 | Leave a Comment

As every gamer knows, it’s often the simplest games that are the hardest to put down. Just as the likes of Tetris and Minesweeper never really go out of style, the simplicity of bingo made it a huge hit from the outset and saw it sweep around the world, winning fans who would play it, on and off, throughout their lives. But how did it get started?

A Medieval craze (1530)

Lo Giuoco del Lotto d'Italia

Lo Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia

The first version of bingo was created in 1530 when the organisers of Italian lottery Lo Gioco del Lotto d’Italia decided to try to make their weekly game more interesting. The result was so popular that the same game is played to this day, and is now worth around £48m a year to the Italian economy. A little over two centuries later, the game was adopted by the French and became a craze among the educated classes, who called it simply lotto and gradually introduced it to other areas of Europe. In Germany it was adapted to create an educational game where the numbers had to be worked out by solving puzzles or answering questions.

Big in America (1929)

Bingo reached America in 1929, becoming popular at farmers’ markets where games often took place alongside the trading. Because beans were used as counters to mark off numbers, it became known as beano. New York toy seller Edwin S Lowe renamed it bingo after mishearing a winner’s cry, and quickly understood its mass market potential. He brought in a mathematician to help him create more varied bingo cards. Because of the simplicity of the game, he was unable to prevent other people from making and selling it too, but contented himself with the knowledge that he had made a contribution to something so many people enjoyed.

English Bingo

English Bingo

The English bingo revolution (1939)

Where the game really found its heartland, of course, was England. It was during WW2 wartime there, stress levels were high and nobody had very much money. The arrival of a game that was simple and inexpensive to play, and that provided an opportunity to get together and have fun was just what people needed. Soon the game boomed, with dedicated bingo halls opening up all around the country, and it became a national obsession – as much a part of the English character as fish and chips or a nice cup of tea.

The modern game (now)

In recent years, the bingo halls have declined, but this doesn’t mean that bingo has become less popular – to the contrary! It has simply moved into new territory, with online sites like www.mirrorbingo.com/bingo making it possible to play anytime, anyplace, anywhere! The huge variety of games available has seen it attract huge numbers of players who would never think of themselves as gamers, and it has drawn in new fans from the traditional computer gaming world. With so much appeal and such a knack for adapting to changing circumstances, bingo seems set to stay with us for a long time to come.

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14 Dec 2014 | Leave a Comment

David Wayman

David Wayman

This week we’ve been chatting to actor David Wayman, who stars as Theo in the upcoming movie ‘Wandering Rose‘. In the movie, Rose (Carina Birrell) and her fiancé Theo escape the city for a weekend away to the idyllic Scottish Highlands. Theo sees it as a last chance to have some romantic alone time with Rose before she gives birth to their first child. The couple’s peace disintegrates as Rose is confronted with chilling memories of her secret past. The weekend descends into a living nightmare as Rose is forced to confront her demons.

David has starred in a wide variety of roles across theatre, film and tv, from playing the young Harold Shipman in a tv mini-series about the mass murderer, to the lead in the upcoming romantic comedy film Art Ache. And from playing Benedick in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, to the the voice of Dylan the Dragon in the Doris the Dragon Show! He also has over 6 yrs experience working with the British Army 7 Rifles. 

If you’d like to know more about Wandering Rose, we have also interviewed the female lead, Carina Birrell, who you can listen to here.

Geektown Podcast 31: Actor David Wayman

If you have iTunes, you can click here to subscribe to the Geektown Podcast, or just click below to listen or download!

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13 Dec 2014 | Leave a Comment

Mark Sheppard

Mark Sheppard

Final interview (for now) to help celebrate Supernatural coming to E4, we chat with the worlds most ubiquitous scifi actor, the wonderful Mark Sheppard, who plays Crowley in the show! Supernatural Season 9 will air on E4 Tues 6th January 2015 at 9pm.

What happens to Crowley at the start of Season 9?

Crowley is in lockdown. The best way I can explain this is that the process of trying to cure Crowley has had a profound effect upon him, and not the effect that was originally desired. It’s probably more profound than Crowley would enjoy, so I’m sure it’s going to have its consequences.

How will viewers find him at the start of the season?

You’ll see that Crowley is pretty much incarcerated in the same sort of state he was left in. So, while Sam has not been able to cure Crowley and complete that cycle, the effects of experiencing some form of human-ness is definitely going to have a profound effect on him. Whether he likes the effect or not is another story, and so is how deep the effect on him will be.

Are there any other spoilers or hints you can share with us about Season 9?

Having been on shows where I’ve been the keeper of secrets for a very, very long time, you’ll never get a spoiler out of me. It’s just not what we do. We have to be in agreement that in order for people to enjoy what it is that we do, we tease out elements of it to pique interest, but we never want to give away what’s actually happening.

How much do you enjoy playing a character like Crowley?

It’s been fabulous. They are very kind to me on this show. There’s something rather fun about him having that kind of whimsy and that kind of enjoyment in everything that he does. He’s really insatiable when it comes to consuming fun. He’s a lot of fun to play.

We’ve seen some incredibly evil villains on Supernatural, but Crowley is almost jolly. Your character is very unique…

I’m giving absolute credit to the writers for this; I think Ben Edlund created the character first. In a way, Crowley is like Bugs Bunny because he tends to fight only when he’s provoked. If you shoot him, he’s going to do something. He was created with that idea in mind. I think the writers were really smart and when they saw that his character was working in this way, they thought, ‘Let’s keep going in that direction.’ That’s the great thing about having smart writers on the show. I’m sure there’s a little trial and error when it comes to how evil Crowley is, but he’s so much fun to play.

Do you have the flexibility to change some of your lines if they don’t seem to fit your character?

Most lines fit. You’ve just got to remember that what human beings say is not always what they mean. So what they say is not always as relevant as the meaning behind it.

Crowley has been deliciously bad on the show. If the cure works, would you enjoy changing him up to be a moral character?

We can only wait and see how deeply the effect of that experience is on Crowley. As an actor, doing anything that morphs your character and gives them more dimensions is great. As I say, to have writers that allow you to experience new things with a character year after year is a lot of fun.

What is the secret to Supernatural’s success?

We’re in Season 9 of a show that doesn’t bore me. And it really doesn’t bore me! I’m still interested in what happens to these characters and their stories. Supernatural has its moments of great whimsy and it has its interesting changes, but I think the writing just keeps getting better and better. I think it’s more fun and more interesting than a lot of other shows. For example, I love Law & Order. For years and years and years, I’ve watched Law & Order – but after 14 seasons there was nothing different you could do, apart from doing things like character changes. I’m so glad that we’re not in the situation where we have to solve everything, or where Supernatural was something like Battlestar Galactica, where you can’t jump in the middle because you have no chance of working it out. We’re very lucky in that respect. It’s a great show to work on.

As an actor, you seem to land great roles?

I try very hard to play distinctive and different characters, and I hope that it works. The projects I’ve tended to enjoy over the years are the projects that the viewing public has also tended to enjoy and I appreciate that a lot. Fans are everything. Without them, this stuff doesn’t exist. We’re the space between soap commercials – but hopefully we’re some of the most interesting space between soap commercials. I don’t think anybody that I’ve worked with for any longevity has gone out to try and make a bad programme. We love making them and it shows when we love it.

What do you like most about your fans?

The great thing about the fans, and Supernatural fans especially, is that you can’t fool them at all. You can’t fake the passion and you can’t fake the vibe – and you can’t fake whether somebody is going to like it or not. If the show is made by people with their hearts on our sleeves, then it’s going to be a really fun show to watch. And that’s exactly what Supernatural is.

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12 Dec 2014 | Leave a Comment

Misha Collins

Misha Collins

Well, seeing as you’ve all been so good, have another Supernatural interview! This time with Misha Collins / aka Castiel.  Supernatural Season 9 is due to air on E4 Tues 6th January 2015 at 9pm.

What can you tell us about the major storylines for Season 9 of Supernatural?

This season feels more character-driven than past seasons. Each character seems to have their own story arc that is very important, and they all have their own issues to deal with. I think this season is a bit more fractured than it has been in the past, too. There are a lot of different storylines and there are a lot more balls in the air. As is often the case with Supernatural, every character has to make compromises and do the best that they can – but they are not always pure at heart.

What issues will Castiel be dealing with in Season 9?

My character is going to be struggling with being human for some time. He’ll be learning what it’s like to be a human, and all of the pitfalls and the occasional joys that come along with that experience. This is something that I have wanted to do on the show for six years. I’m really happy that we’re actually getting to do it now. Castiel has sex. I can tell you that. That’s a big spoiler!

Does that answer the question about whether angels are anatomically correct?

I don’t know if it does because he’s a human now! I honestly don’t know. We haven’t actually hit that question head-on yet, so to speak. No pun intended.

So Castiel is no longer an angel; there’s no more ‘angel juice’ for the character?

That’s right. I guess it’s a bit of a bummer, but it’s also a lot of fun. I’ve been hoping for a long time to see what it would be like for Castiel to become human. We’re really diving deep into that terrain.

Does he get to wear a new set of clothes now?

At the very least, I hope that Castiel is now going to change his underwear! OK, since we’re getting into his wardrobe, here’s something I will tell you – and this is some juicy news here – there is going to be a launderette scene in episode one of Season 9. I think this very question has been at the forefront of the writers’ mind. [Laughs]. You just know he’s going to have one red sock that gets in there!

Does the fact that Castiel is human give you more opportunities to explore humorous situations in the show?

There are going to be a lot of opportunities for comedy, and I think that the comedy is better this season than it has been in the past. There were times during the last six years where I think some of the comedy of Castiel has been slightly out of character. Some of the fish-out-of-water comic relief moments haven’t been my favourite for the character. However, the comedy this season is very real. It’s totally consistent with the character and it’s grounded in the situations that someone confronting being a human for the first time would face. It’s good, true comedy and not slapstick.

How does it feel to be a cast regular in Season 9?

It feels great. I think I’m slated to appear in 13 or 14 episodes, which is a substantial jump. I think that means we’re going to be seeing a lot more of Castiel this year.

Are we going to meet some characters from Castiel’s past soon?

Yes, we will. That’s the short answer, but that’s all I can say right now.

What can you tell us about Castiel’s relationship with the fallen angels in Season 9?

The fallen angels are going to blame Castiel for having fallen. They are all angry at him and they are out for blood. They have power and they are still formidable foes. They are still ‘kind of’ angels, but they are trapped on Earth and they are not good enemies to have. So, basically, it’s a bad relationship.

Will Castiel hang out at the Men Of Letters’ bunker this season?

He certainly makes an appearance there. He has a host of his own issues to deal with in Season 9, though. Part of the problem is that a lot of angels are pursuing him, so he’s attracting a lot of bad mojo. He’s not great for the Winchester brothers to have around. It’s not like it used to be when he could solve their problems; he’s actually causing problems now.

Jenson Ackles (who plays Dean Winchester) described having your character around as similar to having a backseat driver in your car…

That’s right, but Castiel is like a backseat driver who doesn’t know how to drive! He’s not a really great thing to have around. We’ll have a lot of fun with it this season, but it will definitely change the dynamic of the relationship.

Over the years, Supernatural has played with religious imagery, particularly with presenting angels as imperfect creatures. What are your thoughts on that?

If you look closely at Biblical lore, you will discover in the Book of Revelation that angels are, in fact, highly imperfect creatures. They are creatures who are charged by God with the task of, for example, slaying half the fish in the sea and half the animals on land. I’m not quoting scripture accurately here, but angels are actually warriors, first and foremost. It is more in our modern lore that they become the cherubs that sit on your shoulders and make sure nothing bad happens.

And the devil is an angel?

That’s right. The devil is an angel. You know what? I feel like Supernatural has turned into a massive piece of fan fiction because the writers are really drawing on material that is in the Bible and extrapolating it and creating a new and twisted world from it.

Would you say that this is part of the secret to Supernatural’s success and longevity?

Probably, yes. One rule that Supernatural writers have is that every storyline has to start with something that is ‘Google-able’. They try to start with mythologies or monsters or themes that already exist in lore – and they might be biblical lore or folk tales. Whatever it is, it means that they’re actually drawing on stories that have already resonated with people. I think that’s a good start because they’ve got a load to draw from.

You’re going to direct an episode of Supernatural in Season 9. What can you tell us about it?

My episode is towards the end the season, so it’s far enough away that neither I nor anyone in the universe really knows what’s going to be going on. But they are planning it and [executive producer] Jeremy Carver is doing a great job of mapping things out in advance. We actually do know quite a bit more about this season at this point than we have done in the past at this time. It’s great.

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12 Dec 2014 | Leave a Comment

Jared Padalecki

Jared Padalecki

It’s not really fair to just to interview Jensen, so here’s Jared too!

What excites you the most about Season 9 of Supernatural?

Season 9 is really cool! I’m more excited about shooting this season than any other season of Supernatural. I was really excited when I read the first five scripts and I think they are the best five episodes I’ve ever read, including Season 1. As an actor, and as a fan of the show, I’m really excited about it. I am certain that the fans are going to think the storyline is bad-ass this season. And I’m really hoping that they like my choices as an actor when they see what happens.

Tell us more, Jared…

At the end of last year, Sam was not getting better. Well, this storyline will explain how Sam gets better. Dean says, “Hey buddy, stop the trials and you’re not going to die.” And so Sam does stop the trials, but clearly he does not get better. We know that at some point between then and the second episode of Season 9, he gets better and you’ll find out why immediately.

Can you fill us in with a bit more on the back-story?

Basically, Sam and Dean show up in the middle of this bunker. Kevin [played by Osric Chau] tries to come over and he doesn’t realise that they’re still alive. Then Sam walks Crowley in with a bag over his head; they sit him down in the dungeon where the Devil is trapped and they pull the bag off his head. They tell him that he’s going to have to give them the name of every demon on Earth, and the human who they are possessing.

What happens next?

Jared Padalecki

Jared Padalecki

Crowley’s reaction is, “There’s no way I’m telling you that!” He’s not going to give up that easily, but they still have him. We know that at some point in the second episode they’ll put Crowley in their dungeon inside the middle of this bunker. Obviously, Kevin is there; Kevin and Crowley don’t really have an affection for one another, so Sam and Dean are going to have to try to convince Kevin to leave Crowley alone. And, they’re not going to fall for his tricks. They know that if Crowley says, “Hey, let me stretch my legs,” they mustn’t let him. Crowley presumably knows where Kevin’s mother is, if she actually is dead. And so he’s certainly going to try and get into Kevin’s head and then escape. Sam and Dean are going to hope that that doesn’t happen.

This is the ninth season of Supernatural. How does the show keep its appeal after all these years?

One of the great things we do with this show is reinvent it. Our fans are very forgiving; they are passionate and they let us know what they think, but ultimately they trust the writers. One of the things we’ve been able to do is see different versions of these two guys [Sam and Dean] and we’ve been able to treat Seasons 8 and 9 as one massive season. We get to build and build, and we don’t have to break walls down when we don’t need to. I’m really excited about this season. I’m more excited than ever about what I get to do with Sam.

How much has the show changed recently?

When we did the pilot, we were told to say that it’s like The X-Files meets Route 66; it’s about two guys on the road in a car. That changed quickly and it has built and built, and now we have a standing set. It’s nice to have a base and it’s nice to have some sort of spot where we can let the audience know what the story is about before we go on the road.

How do Seasons 8 and 9 work differently to the other seasons?

It’s almost like we’re treating Seasons 8 and 9 as a 46-episode season, without any false breaks. We pick up right where we left off. Well, it’s not right there in the church – but it’s within an hour or a couple of hours.

Supernatural was originally planned to run for five years. Why do you think the show is still going strong?

We’re one of the longest running shows on television! When I turned 31, I remember thinking, ‘Wow… I’m 31 and this is my ninth season. This is a third of my life!’ It’s pretty amazing. I feel that what we’re doing this season could go on for however long the writers, and the fans, want to keep it going. We’ve opened so many doors and we didn’t close any; we didn’t kill this or stop that, we just left it so that we can do anything. What the writers have chosen to do is so awesome. I want to strangle them because I’m really excited about it – but I’m not allowed to tell you anything more at this stage. My hands are tied.

What’s the over-arching theme to Season 9?

The over-arching theme is that the brothers made a commitment to each other in the church. This is a commitment that they’re going to check in with each other; that they are going to remain partners and stay on the same track and not be like, ‘You go do this while I go and do that, and we’ll all try to solve the world our own way.’

What else can you tell us about Season 9?

We now know how to cure a demon. And, as you all can tell, we have the King of Hell in our basement. He’s bound to know where some demons are, and we’re going to have to barter with him. We’re also going to try and hit the pavement and do the groundwork of trying to cure demons, however many at a time.

How much of your own personal experiences do you get to bring to your character on the show?

I bring a lot of myself to the character. In fact, [executive producer] Jeremy Carver and I had a conversation about one of the big secret things that’s going to be a plotline through the show this year and I brought up some of my own experiences. We discussed what I wanted to bring to the table and he said, “Yeah, we trust you. Obviously you know this character.”

How much do you care about Sam Winchester?

I really love Sam. He’s become a part of my life and he forever will be. I care about protecting him and I care about being true to him. He’s an entity that I respect and he’s a friend of mine. They allow us a lot of freedom because they know we care about the show; they trust us. It’s not like I think it’d be cool if Sam had a motorcycle and a hot chick. I want to be true to Sam and they know that.

Supernatural Season 9 is due to start airing on E4 Tues 6th January 2015 at 9pm.

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