Top 5 Villains

Latimer musing over her Top 5's (kawaii artwork inspired by Miss Wah)
Latimer musing over her Top 5’s (kawaii artwork inspired by Miss Wah)

Latimer: Another one of the Top 5 posts! This time, dangerous villainous villains!

The series comes from the archive of the ‘Top 5 Wednesday’ Tag. This Tag was started by Lainey on Goodreads; here’s the link if you want to check it out: Lainey!

This is a complete list of everyone partaking in the Tag if you want to check them out.

1. The Joker by DC comics

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DC’s the Joker has to be a top villain. No one knows his origin story, he never tells the truth. He’s absolutely crazy, but he’s also incredibly intelligent. He has no loyalties and yet can somehow manipulate those around him to do anything he wants. But the Joker is completely bananas, and as interesting and mysterious as I find him, he’s a villain I’d never want to meet!

2. Dracula by Bram Stoker

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I couldn’t stomach the original Dracula from Bram Stoker. He made me want to hit him with a shovel; the way he manipulated Mina and basically killed Lucy. It really annoys me now when I look at the screen versions of Dracula; he wasn’t sexy, or a fallen hero, he was an absolute narcissistic, megalomaniac. No tears shed when he died… and now I can’t really look at Dracula the same way anymore.

3. Hannibal Lector by Thomas Harris

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Hannibal Lector is a strange one. I always feel like I’m on his side in a way, which it not a comforting thought. I want him to get away, escape and survive (which is bad). He’s an amazing villain, I have a weird soft spot for him; I like him, but he’s a cannibal and a murder, and he’s scary. I’d never want to be in the same room as him. I haven’t watched the TV show, but I’ve seen the finale of season 2; Mad’s Mikkelsen is an amazing Hannibal. I’m still amazed by the vicious intelligence of the character. He worm’s his way inside people’s heads then destroys them.

4. Mr Wickham by Jane Austen

What an absolute arse...
What an absolute arse…

I’ve said it before; I’m a massive Pride and Prejudice fan.

Mr Wickham is the quintessential ‘arsehole villain’. He’s not scary and he’s not powerful, he’s just such an unbelievable jackass. He’s a Jane Austen villain. He’s the sort of guy that if you met him you’d punch him in the nose. Of course, I wouldn’t be afraid to be alone with him, because in a lot of ways, I’d love the opportunity to punch him in the nose.

5. King Joffrery Barathon the First of his Name by GRR Martin

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What a little pain in the ass this guy is. Brilliantly portrayed by Jack Gleeson (he’s an amazing actor, and he’s Irish, by default I’m almost programmed to love him as an actor!).

Joffrery has killed too many people I loved. He’s  malicious, vindictive and stupid – the issue here is when a villain is stupid and has power, his acts of violence are like a bull in a china shop, it’s impossible to predict who will suffer. What a fecker!

Chillin’ at Court

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Latimer: For as long as I can remember, I wanted to go to Hampton Court.

But, I kept forgetting/never knew, what it was called, so I’d get really frustrated trying to explain to people where it was I wanted to go.

“I’d love to go to Henry VIII’s Palace… you know with the,” cue my distant expression, “with the red-brick gatehouse.”

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I would stare expectantly at the person and they would stare back rightly confused. I would get frustrated, thinking everyone should know what I meant and give me the name of said building (so I could forever remember it and not look like a fool every time I said I wanted to visit it!).

This has been the way it’s been for me for years. But finally I realised it was Hampton Court I wanted to visit.

It’s in London, so when Ridley and I went there, I just had to go!

Hampton Court is epic and after being stuck in a queue for every which-way-thing in London, it was surprisingly low on visitors, which probably made the experience all the better. We had an ice-cream on the lawn, enjoyed the sun and stared in wonderment at the gorgeousness that is the Court.

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While there, Ridley got real bohemian. She headed over to a tree, sat down, pulled out a notebook and pen, and with a big smile said –

“Let’s do book-work!”

I shuffled over to the tree, thinking this was a very quaint idea; we’d be like Jane Austen or something. A minute later I leaped up. “There’re ants crawling all over the tree! I hate nature -!”

Ridley jumped up, screaming, her dream of book-work in the park destroyed by nature. Deflated we gave up and headed into the Palace, letting the magic of Hampton Court wash over us.

If anyone watches/reads Game of Thrones, Robert Baratheon reminds me of Henry VIII. I think that might be intentional – George R. R. Martin draws from history right? Well, the banquet hall has Baratheon stamped all over it – it’s so cool!

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In my head I was saying, ‘ours is the fury’! over and over again, until I annoyed myself!

Ours is the Fury!... or something.. ha!
Ours is the Fury!… or something.. ha!

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Apparently the tapestries that hang in the hall are made of gold and silver thread.

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Rich people back then got tapestries as a show of wealth, because of the cost involved in making them and the materials used. Henry VIII amassed tapestries like celebrities today buy diamond encrusted iPhones and fancy cars. Tapestries were the flash accessory of the day, and Henry VIII had the largest collection. The tapestries aren’t as bright now as they were in his day, but they are still impressive!

Throughout our holiday we were asking each other the question of – ‘what would you do if you fell back in time?’ Our hypothesis started out with the notion that we’d be gods! We’d know everything.

But, Dara O’Briain sums up the truth of what would happen…

Ridley struggled to read the tiny script writing on a massive charter in Hampton Court. Waving her hand she moaned; “And I wouldn’t even be able to read!”

Even if we could read it wouldn’t be written in the same English as it is today – we would probably not even understand what people were saying to us. That old adage by Wittgenstein that; “If a lion could talk, we would not understand him,” because his frame of reference would be so different to ours.

So, the portal that opens sucking me and Ridley into the past becomes more and more dangerous! I think our science backgrounds would also lead to us being burnt as witches!

We did conclude, on our travels, that it would not be good to get sucked back in time and end up in Edinburgh. It was hit by ‘plague’ (we never learned which plague) 11 times. We also would not have survived the closes, with people tossing buckets of waste down the narrow streets… or having to drink beer because the water was so dangerously full of bacteria (from the waste flowing down into the lake and therefore the drinking water).

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Walking around the Court is almost like walking through time (the safer version of it). You half expect to turn a corner and see a man in tights, a grey curly wig, heels and a fancy velvet jacket…

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Funnily enough, that did actually happen at one point. He was sitting talking to a 1700’s era woman.

We (the tourists) all walked past them, listening in on the conversation, confused as to whether they were in-character or not and nobody talking to them to find out.

We all kept a safe distance; blinking and straining inward to listen to them, but glancing to each other and giving a nervous laugh, like we were all thinking, ‘is this a mass hallucination?! Can you see them too?!’

We left the palace, happier for having been there! If you’re in need of an oasis of calm in London, head to Court!

Where Giant’s Roam

Latimer: Last weekend, I journeyed north – to the rugged and jagged cliffs of the county Antrim coast (Game of Throne’s country! :)).

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The Dark Hedges Antrim

I’m just after realising… I thought ALOT of the places I saw as we drove around the coast looked like the Iron Islands from Game of Thrones… and we ended up, having missed a turn, at a tiny, tiny harbour – and!- AND I just looked it up (it’s called Ballintoy) and it was a location for the Iron Islands on Game of Thrones!

Ballintoy Harbour
Iron Islands, Pyke… but actually Ballintoy… I’m in awe
Yo, Theon Greyjoy spin around, Latimer is waving at ya!

It was the back of beyonds. Wow, I’m actually just going ‘damn, I should have gotten out and ran around or something!’ (over his shoulder on the left-hand side facing us! up there near the cove… yep :)!). I even took note of the place, thinking, I must remember this place!

Anyway, going to Antrim was a first for me. It’s not that far from home, nowhere in Ireland is in fairness, but sometimes it takes a few years before we end up going to the places that we’ve always meant to go.

I’ve always meant to go to the Giant’s causeway; it’s one of those ‘on the list, but never seem to go’ sort of places (like Sceilig Mhichíl, the tiny rock monastery out in the Atlantic ocean; but that’s another story!).

Sceilig Mhichíl… another ‘on the list’ place

As we journeyed to the tip of Northern Ireland, I started thinking back on the story of the causeway, or what I remembered of it. In school I remember that we learned lots of the old Irish stories; children of Lir, Deirdre of the sorrows, Fionn and the Fianna (band of warriors) – I even remember learning about all the tests a young warrior had to do before he could join the Fianna; we had to draw a picture for each task and I think there were 12? I remember one of them was run through the forest while picking a torn out of your foot (and another task was to run through the forest without breaking a single twig!).

We learned a lot of Irish stories; we even did plays ‘as Gaeilge’ (in Irish). Children of Lir was a popular one (I played Fiachra? I think! In the act where the children are turned into swans… I play a child being turned into a swan very well, as it turns out! HA!).

The story of the causeway was a little fuzzy for me. The giant’s name was all I really remembered: Fionn Mac Cumhaill.

When we got to the causeway visitors centre, the story started to come back to me as I watched the CGI Fionn (known as ‘Finn Mac Cool’ in Northern Ireland, but ‘Fionn Mac Cumhaill’ in Irish) on the explanatory video they played.

This story, and the one that I remembered, was where Fionn was mocked by a Scottish giant who he could see beyond the sea in Scotland (jumping up and down and making gestures – the Scottish giant wanted a fight).

Fionn was enraged and threw stones into the sea to build a bridge to get to Scotland (one of the sods of earth became the Isle of Man – that’s a side-story!). He built the causeway, and traveled all the way to Scotland to confront this would-be foe.

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Fionn crept along the final steps of the causeway. He started to haul himself up the Scottish cliffs then paused. The Scottish giant, Cuhullin, was far bigger than Fionn. So, like any sensible person (and giant!), Fionn fecked off back home and shut the door. As his wife stared at him, with a ‘what have you gone and done?’ look on her face, the ground beneath them started to tremble! BOOM, BOOM, BOOM! Cuhullin was racing across the causeway to fight Fionn!

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Fionn’s wife, proving the clever one, told Fionn to get into their baby’s cot. She dressed him up as their baby and pulled the curtains to hide him from view.

Cuhullin banged on the door and she let him in. Fionn’s wife told Cuhullin that her husband was out. The giant pulled back the curtains and saw Fionn ‘the baby’ in his cot. What a massive baby, he thought, shaking in his boots – how big would his father be?! Fearing for his safety, Cuhullin raced back to Scotland.

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I remembered the name Fionn Mac Cumhaill as also being ‘Fionn and the Fianna’, the story of an Irish warrior and the fearsome Fianna warriors. As it turns out this Fionn and the giant share the name, but the two have very different stories.

If you have ever heard the story of Tir na nÓg (the land of the young) and the young Oisín who journeyed there on a white horse with a girl called Niamh; well, Fionn Mac Cumhaill (of Fionn and the Fianna fame) was Oisín’s father.

The causeway was beautiful, despite the typical Irish bad weather (winds that would whistle right through your bones and icy cold rain!). The rocks were a little dangerous, because of the wet and the wind, but never one to care I scrambled across them and out as far as I could go – by law! The rocks of the causeway are made of basalt, which is solidified lava. It was caused, in reality, by a volcanic eruption.

Apparently at one point in its life (around 1901), it was rumoured that the causeway was going to be moved to a Philadelphia park (stone by stone and rebuilt there). Thankfully it wasn’t, but lots of the stones were taken away and can be found all over the world.

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This box shows some of the places where you can find some of the Giants causeway! It’s very unlucky to remove stones and you are definitely not allowed anymore (my Mam kept saying; ‘wouldn’t you love some of those stones for your garden?’).

Back at the visitors centre we saw a collection of postcards from years ago, from people who visited the causeway (some would have been from the early 1900s). Very interesting to read voices from the past 🙂

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We also saw some lovely jewellery made from buttons by a woman called Jane Walsh (Button Studio) in Athlone Ireland. I couldn’t leave without one!

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The things you can do with buttons!
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Button rings!
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My button necklace

Also lots of Irish fudge and chocolate, yummers!

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Chocolate and fudge! Yummy! (That bench read; ‘can you fit in a giant teaspoon?’ and had a teaspoon drawn on it 🙂 )

We had another site to see while on the Antrim coast, the Carrack-a-Rede rope bridge. It’s a short rope bridge that leads over to an island where fishermen used to cast salmon nets (back in the old days they would cross the, then, one-rope bridge to collect their catch and haul it back over the nauseating cliff gap).

Not my picture, but this is clearer I think

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A view from a parallel cliff of the bridge. That island/rock is what you are crossing the bridge to get to.

I really, really wanted to cross the bridge (even though I was afraid). But the winds were far too dangerous and the bridge was closed for the day. The sharp, icy winds would have swept you right off the bridge, so no good, we weren’t getting across. It was annoying, but being that close to the cliff, I felt pretty scared anyway. I kept saying I would have done it anyway, and I would have, but it looked really scary.

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Uh-oh… the long way down! Eek
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Be brave Latimer… you will return to cross one day!!

There were steel steps leading downward to the bridge itself at a very steep angle. If I have a fear of something, it is the sea. I really don’t like it. But heights aren’t great either, and it was high up over the waves crashing violently against the cliffs, so… I’ll put it back on the list for a later date!

We saw a lot of stunning views of the rugged coastline and also stopped by a small ‘village’ (I’m not sure it was a village exactly, maybe a small collection of private houses right on the coast more like?).

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(I notice these pictures look like the place was warm… hmm, it was freezing and the wind would cut right through you!)

This was home to what is called (apparently) the smallest church in the world! It was basically in someone’s garden.

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Smallest church in the world

They had a gorgeous view of the sea and the loveliest little place to sit and watch the wave’s crash along the pebble-dash shore. It was very beautiful.

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This was a great trip – the causeway, the bridge and the Antrim coast should definitely be on the list of places you have to visit if you ever come to Ireland 🙂

The trip really made me think of all the old stories I learned in the past and I had this nice re-connect with my Irish-ness – all in perfect time for Lá Fhéile Pádraig (Paddy’s Day) this week 🙂

(also if you are interested in winning that kindle fire – the competition is still going on!)

Old School Fantasy: aka ‘Epic Fantasy’

Latimer: Good evening; I am the ever absent, but ever present Latimer (that’s an oxymoron I think).

My life recently has been a bit chaotic. But Ridley has bravely held the fort (actually, she built the fort; or re-built? Renovated? She’s lost in here somewhere now, the foundations of our creaky, cyber-space battle-ship of dreams!).

Fear not Ridley, like White Gandalf, I return to you now at the turn of the tide!

Basically, I have finally re-emerged from work; slightly the worse for wear, but triumphant (also like White Gandalf, I see a pattern emerging; Ridley is Frodo and I am Gandalf! It’s so obvious, ha).

Now, it’s time for tea and a blog; my first in what feels like years. Forgive my creaky style; don’t worry it’ll all gel together somewhere in the middle/end!

I wish I could be industrious like Ridley and blog a book review, but honestly I haven’t read anything (unless you want to hear about Frank Ryan’s Virolution- well once I fight my way through the rest of it-! Slowly but surely, I’ll get there; you won’t win against me Frank Ryan!).

So because of that, I’ve decided I’m going to start with a TV show that is also a book (see, it’s almost a book review! ALMOST!)—

My ‘renovation blog post’ is *drum roll* on Game of Thrones (GoTs) (one of the hottest shows on TV at the moment I reckon).

I saw this one coming over a year ago; it was a teaser for HBO way before it was due to come out in like May last year. We were being teased big time, for ages.

 It’s obvious from the get-go that HBO knows how to make a show. GoTs is shiny; it’s vast, it’s epic… and it’s peppered with a great cast (mostly England, Scotland and, Ireland as it happens; Joffrey goes to Trinity College (so Wikipedia tells me). I want to hang around Trinity and shout at him ‘you’re mad, Joffrey! Mad!’; wonder does he get that often? Hmm, I want to know!).

In the past, I used to read epic fantasy- mostly because A) my brother had an epic collection of epics and B) I was a kid and I couldn’t afford to buy my own books. I didn’t know Ridley back then so I had to make do with e.g. The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind and The Belgariad by David Eddings. Later in life, I read my own epics: The Guardian Cycle by Julia Gray and The View from the Mirror by Ian Irvine. There are common themes in epics:

– Author: usually a man (almost ALWAYS a man let’s be honest)

– Boy, farm boy, well, average Joe Soap. He’s just a kid; He’s a He (bar The View from the Mirror; a rare exception with a female lead)

– He might look it; but he’s not normal, he’s special (we are all writing that character, though, I will put my hands up on that score, the common in all fantasy, epic or urban)

– A terrible event, *scourging of the shire style*

– Boy leaves on a journey

– A shadow stirs in the East, a Dark Lord

– Annoying female characters, jaded knights, sex, war, blood, death, depravity, politics so confusing you no longer know where you are; names that make NO sense; place names that look like the author had a fit while typing; a million and one characters, with a million and one points of view that alter change and grow with each book in the series that seems to last an eternity to the point you no longer know if you even A) like the story anymore or B) know what happened in the beginning (so the re-reading cycle begins!)

– Mystic forces move in the dark, the characters enviably ignore them *just stories, Joe Soap of the Shire, just stories*

– And of course they aren’t

– Epic battle…

– PROPHECY! So important- ‘Joe Soap, you are the chosen one’

In the end, all the epic series you read blend together, so that you no longer know what events happened in what stories.

So, bar the lack of concrete Joe Soap (though, actually John Snow would probably suffice), Game of Thrones is a quintessential epic. Honestly, I have no particular love for epic books. They weave and twist and weave and twist; and at first you enjoy the weaving but then you realise you have gotten lost in a maze and it’s no longer fun and actually it’s just a chore to follow.

There’s a lot to be said for over-complicating stories. The reader wants to float, not struggle through your story. I want to be taken on a journey, not forced into a battle, with the plot.

I know the Game of Thrones story; I know he has a million and one characters and points of view. And for me, that’s why I can’t handle epics anymore (Lord of the Rings is the great outlier though!).

BUT wow, Game of Thrones is fun to watch!

HBO are going to work me through the confusing parts; the actors are going to show me the plot. So the stress is taken out of the epic (mostly!).

It’s not brilliant; but it’s good it’s really good. And it’s something different to watch. It’s got so much going for it. The opening theme is epic; beautiful.

The design is slick and realistic; it’s a grubby, deprived world, with nasty people, and only a few who you actually like. There is a LOT of ‘whoring’ though; sometimes very gratuitous- I’m no prude, but there’s an element of porn without plot in Game of Thrones, more often than not.

 Peter Dinklage is excellent as ‘The Imp’, Tyrion Lannister. You can’t talk about GoTs without mentioning Peter Dinklage. Although his faux-English accent is a little grating after a point, I forgive him this because Tyrion is smart, witty and he knows what’s going on (unlike much of the other characters) and I want him to outwit the people who think he’s pitiable; I enjoy the way he uses his head to fight his battles, it makes him an unlikely force to be reckoned with. He’s a political player; and you can tell he’s only going to get more and more involved in the power struggle as the story goes on. I lift my hat to George R.R Martin; the Imp is a very bold and intriguing character.

There’s also some nice eye-candy (Jaime Lannister and Rob Stark, par example). Even though my imagination can handle making a handsome man, it’s nice to have HBO doing the work for me!

I’m not in love with Game of Thrones; but I’m ‘in like’, very much so. It’s a good watch, there’s no getting around it. Once you get into it; it’s like eating a cake- ‘more! Give me MORE!’; it’s not the tastiest cake, but the sugar rush is so good! I would recommend it, if you haven’t watched it. Try a few episodes, get into it. The opening of the first episode is very atmospheric (I want to know more about the White Walkers; they seem to have been seriously neglected in series 1; I really hope they come back with a vengance in series 2).

Ah, yes, I’m blissfully ‘in like’ with Game of Thrones.

Series 2 is starting this week- so it has occupied my thoughts throughout the last week of struggling. Looking forward to something really takes the edge off the stressful things.

YES- Winter is finally here!