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George R.R. Martin buys the historic Santa Fe Southern Railway with two other partners

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George R.R. Martin buys the historic Santa Fe Southern Railway with two other partners

Most of us may not remember when exactly we lost interest in the toys that we wanted to preserve throughout our life. The toys that formed the basis of our existence after school and friends. A distinct item in that stack used to be a train set. Some tracks that you had to assemble, a locomotive and a few cars, and some add-ons to put around the railway tracks. Our beloved American author George R.R. Martin, now 71-year-old, believes it’s “a deep-buried case of Train Lust” from his childhood that prompted him to buy the defunct Santa Fe Southern Railroad along with partners, Catherine Oppenheimer and Bill Banowsky. Read on to find out more.

George R.R. Martin buys the historic Santa Fe Southern Railway with two other partners

The Santa Fe Southern Railway is an 18.1-mile spur line between New Mexico’s capital, Santa Fe, and the depot of Lamy, a village-town in New Mexico. It starts from just behind Martin’s movie theatre Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe. The three partners came together due to shared interest and closeness to the Santa Fe Railyard; which they bought through a joint venture called Santa Fe and Lamy Railroad Partners LLC. Catherine Oppenheimer, an arts philanthropist, has co-founded the New Mexico School for the Arts while Bill Banowsky owns the Violet Crown Cinema. But more than everything, it’s Martin’s child-like enthusiasm about being able to sit in the engine car and blow the whistle that catches our eye. “Even though I’m an old guy, I’m a 13-year-old inside,” he told the Albuquerque Journal.

Regularly scheduled passenger services stopped on the rail-line in 2014. It has since been used for private events and the odd shoot for movies or TV. The trio of Martin, Oppenheimer, and Banowsky has had to push hard to arrive at this fruitful outcome of ownership. The process started in June 2019 with buying a mortgage on the real estate. And it finished with acquiring close to 89% shares of the railroad and the Santa Fe Southern; along with ten train cars and two locomotives. The Lamy depot falls on the route of the Amtrak Southwest Chief train between Chicago and Los Angeles. Amtrak’s lease on Lamy ends soon, and thus, the trio would be able to operate the train track hassle-free.

George R.R. Martin buys the historic Santa Fe Southern Railway with two other partners

Although it would require some significant work, time, and money to revive it, Martin and his partners have some elegant plans for the train line. GRRM plans on using the Lamy depot in the expansion of film and TV production; as his non-profit group Stagecoach Foundation is committed to doing in New Mexico. “A Wild West sound stage”, “a backlot”, and the use of the train in film productions are a few of his thoughts. “It was already used in Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid,” he said.

All three of them feel that the railroad and the Lamy depot could become a fun community experience for the locals and the tourists. “There are a lot of opportunities for a new tourist attraction. COVID has thrown a monkey wrench into our plan. We had hoped to get things up and running in 2021, but now it won’t be until 2022,” GRRM said. The author also wrote on his Not a Blog regarding their plans; “We have all sorts of fun ideas for the future: live music and murder mysteries and train robberies (actors playing bandits) and escape rooms and…well, we shall see.”

George R.R. Martin buys the historic Santa Fe Southern Railway with two other partners

He calls the murder mystery event “Murder on the Lamy Express”. “We don’t want this to be a shabby railroad on its last legs. We want this to be a real jewel,” he concluded. It seems like George “Railroad” Martin would invent a good amount of fantasy fiction for this exciting new project. And we certainly aren’t complaining. We wish the train-trio the best of luck! Moreover, we hope The Winds of Winter is on the tracks too. Since we want it to be an enthralling ride through the penultimate station of A Song of Ice and Fire saga, we are ready to wait for it!

So, what are your thoughts about this? Tell us in the comments section below.


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Game of Thrones stars reunite to play Dungeons & Dragons for charity

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Game of Thrones stars reunite to play Dungeons & Dragons for charity

Once a great show is over, the fans are always looking for hints and chances to see the cast back together; either to entertain or interact with them again. It could be a game, a virtual-session, an interview, or if the odds are too good, a new film or TV show. Since it has been more than a year that Game of Thrones wrapped things up, the longing for a reunion might be rising. And that’s what the fans of Thrones got last week.

Five cast members from GoT joined a virtual gaming session of Dungeons & Dragons with D&D Live 2020: Roll w/Advantage held between 18-20 June. The games were meant to raise money for Red Nose Day; in order to help children impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Bolton), Natalia Tena (Osha), Gemma Whelan (Yara Greyjoy), Kristian Nairn (Hodor), and Daniel Portman (Podrick Payne) represented the cast of Thrones in the session held on 20th June. Read on to find out more.

Dungeons & Dragons is a fantasy tabletop role-playing-game where the players go on an adventure full of wizardry, monsters, and fantasy. The players create their own characters while giving them specific traits and abilities. The game features interactions between the characters and the setting of the fantasy world; which are overseen and judged by the Dungeon Master (DM). These activities involve verbal impersonation of characters by the players while using a mix of social and cognitive skills. The cast of Thrones played the game on June 20 with Kate Welch (designer of D&D at Wizards of the Coast) serving as the DM. The GoT stars made up quite interesting characters for their adventure; Iwan Rheon was Woody Elftree; Natalia Tena created Puff the Magic; Gemma Whelan became Barbara Bladeboy; Kristian Nairn as Finvarra and Daniel Portman played Untrustworthy Alan.

Game of Thrones stars reunite to play Dungeons & Dragons for charity

According to Entertainment Weekly, the campaign unfolded on a video chat; where “a group of heroes meets an unusual creature that sets them on a strange task. It seems simple enough – but in a realm legendary for its danger, all is not what it seems.” Iwan Rheon let us know in the teaser video that his GoT character, Ramsay Bolton would not provide an ideal source for his D&D character. “It’s not all about brawl, man. You gotta think your way through problems. Not like Ramsay Bolton, probably. Not gonna be very useful,” he said.

Kate Welch gave an overview of her games and how the Thrones’ cast fits in. “The games I run tend to be ridiculous and goofy; which are two words I wouldn’t apply to Game of Thrones, necessarily. Super excited to see how these actors, in particular, let loose with the antics you typically find at a D&D table,” she told EW.

Game of Thrones stars reunite to play Dungeons & Dragons for charity

However, the GoT get-together is not the only gaming session that the D&D Live hosted. Many other popular stars like Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood), Amy Acker (Angel), Sam Richardson (Veep), David Harbour (Stranger Things) also took part in the D&D games which began on 18th June. You can catch the full episode with the cast of Thrones here and other episodes as well on the Dungeons &Dragons YouTube channel.

So, do you have any thoughts about this reunion? Tell us in the comments section below.


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Game of Thrones Studio Tour delayed due to COVID-19, but it’s still coming

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Game of Thrones Studio Tour delayed due to COVID-19, but it's still coming

As the world is struggling to resume its day-to-day activities amidst the prevailing coronavirus situation, most projects in the development phase are either at a standstill or lagging behind in their schedules. People are gradually adapting to learn to live with the virus; while continuing their work since no one sees any immediate end to the problem.

We hope that you remember the Game of Thrones Studio Tour which was supposed to open this fall (October) in Banbridge, Northern Ireland. It had promised to be a huge attraction for fans who miss the show; or those who just wish to witness the magic of its sets, costume, props, and behind-the-scenes glory in person. The rather sad news is that the tour won’t be able to make its autumn deadline due to the delays of COVID-19. But, be rest assured, the one-of-a-kind studio tour is still on its way. Read on to find out more.

Game of Thrones Studio Tour delayed due to COVID-19, but it's still coming

Part of the Game of Thrones Legacy project in Northern Ireland, the £24 million effort is a joint venture by HBO and the Linen Mill Studios (the site of the studio tour). The HBO sensation shot extensively in Northern Ireland, and Linen Mill Studios was one of its prime locations. So, the studio tour was supposed to give an intimate look into the workings of the world of Westeros. However, the initiative has not even gone through the planning stages yet. Brian Johnston, ABC Council’s Head of Tourism, Arts and Culture, confirmed it to Armagh I; an online publication dedicated to areas in and around the government district of Armagh City, Banbridge, and Craigavon (ABC) in Northern Ireland.

The tourism arm of Northern Ireland (NI) has been very excited about the opportunity to host tourists from across the globe; who would get a welcome to the “deeply immersive and sensory experience” of Game of Thrones history. Mr. Johnston said that Tourism NI “really wanted the project to happen” and thus, were “putting great efforts into it”. He also assured that the Game of Thrones team was “heavily invested” and “still very positive about the development of the project”. But since the whole thing is still to go through the process of planning, the October date of operation is “unlikely to be the case”.

Game of Thrones Studio Tour delayed due to COVID-19, but it's still coming

The studio tour will be a steady source of GoT tourism once it gets up and running. It’s expected to have about 600,000 visitors every year; who would have a park and ride facility near the Boulevard retail complex in Banbridge. Set to employ close to 200 people to assist the GoT lovers, the studio will provide a taste of its catering experience through a restaurant and ‘back-lot café’. The set pieces would include many iconic places from the seven kingdoms; the Great Hall of Winterfell, Dragonstone’s Throne Room and Map Room, Castle Black’s Mess Room, and the King’s Landing Courtyard. The fans will also get a chance to view the authentic props, costumes; plus engage in digitally interactive activities to know the behind-the-scenes aspects of the show such as the awe-inspiring special effects.

We know it’s a bummer that this amazing GoT treat will take some more time to arrive. But there’s a whole lot of business and plans that have got affected by the global crisis we’re in. A large number of people have lost their jobs and are struggling to make ends meet. So, please, be kind and helpful to those near you; they might need your support. Also, keep practicing the social distancing routine you’ve been following till now. We wish everyone who’s impacted by this a quick recovery, and good physical and mental health.

Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.


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Sophie Turner and other Game of Thrones stars join ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests

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Sophie Turner and other Game of Thrones stars join "Black Lives Matter" protests

With what we are seeing around the world these days, it’s hard to say that we have gained any significant development or evolution as sensitive human beings. The pathetic condition of poor migrants in various countries, the lack of care and testing facilities for the patients, and an overall coverup of the mistakes on the part of the authorities during the COVID-19 crisis; these things have opened a sore wound in our matters of administration and humanity. To top that, we witnessed the death of George Floyd, an African-American, on May 25 owing to police brutality in Minneapolis, Minnesota of the United States. It shouldn’t be called death, it was a brutal murder by four policemen; one of whom kneeled on his neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds.

The tragedy has triggered widespread protests against racism and police violence; not just in most states of the USA, but also in more than fifty countries across the globe. The Black Lives Matter movement caught fire immediately after George’s demise. Celebrities have come out in huge numbers to stand beside the people and Game of Thrones stars are a good part of it. Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) with her husband, Joe Jonas, Kerry Ingram (Shireen Baratheon), and Richard Madden (Rob Stark) joined the protests to lend their voice, solidarity, and support.

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No justice, no peace #BlackLivesMatter

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Sophie joined the protests with Joe and their friends and posted the photos on Instagram. In the first photo, the protesters lay down on the ground with their hands on the back to display Floyd’s final posture. Sophie held up a placard that said “White Silence is Violence” in the second; while the third is a short video clip, where she kneels down and chants with everybody, “No justice, No peace”. She captioned her post with the same text before the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Joe Jonas also informed us of their support through Instagram.

Turner apparently explained the value of the protests in a comment; after being asked why the protests were continuing even after the arrest of the four officers. “This isn’t just about those 4 cops; this is about Breonna Taylor, this is about Trayvon Martin, this is about Eric Garner, this is about the systemic racism that black people have faced for hundreds and hundreds of years. This is about changing the system. Justice will be done when society reflects our beliefs that we are all equal. Until then, there should be no peace”. It’s certainly the larger cause that people should aim at because these problems have had a long history in the United States and other countries in the world. But we do hope this change gets reflected in everyone’s day to day life; where racism, violence, and other vices haunt us regularly.

Among other GoT stars, Kerry Ingram joined one of the peaceful protests too; holding out the message of “Silence is Violence”; while Richard Madden came out to protest for the second time in Santa Monica, California. Many other celebs rose to the occasion and either marched with the protesters or voiced their support through social media. Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Pink and Carey Hart, Brad Pitt, Shawn Mendes; and many more joined the fight against racism and violence. Michael B. Jordan took it to the next level by delivering a speech during a protest in Los Angeles. He stressed the importance of diversity in Hollywood and how black voices need amplification.

Sophie Turner and other Game of Thrones stars join "Black Lives Matter" protests

In spite of all the seemingly good intentions, many protesters caused violent riots and loots in several regions of the US. Some people have also termed this as a ‘leftist liberal’ agenda to suit a particular political or personal gain. However, whether someone protests out of empathy for the victims or only to spread their bias, one needs to wonder if they can label the whole movement as propaganda. If you happen to see the clip of Derek Chauvin (the white police officer) relentlessly choking George Floyd with his knee, the cries of “I can’t breathe” would remain with you for quite some time. It’s time to look inward, to reflect and introspect; to see if we have George Floyds and Derek Chauvins within and without us.

What are your thoughts? Talk to us in the comments section.


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