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Ok everyone!  Who is ready to get elbow deep into Book 3 of the Outlander Series – Voyager by Diana Gabladon.  If you do not have a copy you  can get one here as a hardcopy, digital, or audiobook version.

I am testing out how I want to do this, so there may be a change in formatting here and there.  I will always try to put the synopsis and content discussion under a cut.  That should keep spoilers down to a minimum.

Today we will be talking about the Prologue and  Chapter 1

Warning…..there be spoilers ahead!

Continue reading Voyager Readalong Prologue – Chapter 1

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Lionsgate and Starz to Spend $1.8 Billion on New Films, TV Shows

Lionsgate is banking on the old adage that content is king. As part of that strategy, the media company will spend $1.8 billion annually on new films and television shows, Lionsgate Chairman Jon Feltheimer said during a shareholders meeting in Toronto on Tuesday.

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Lionsgate is banking on the old adage that content is king.

As part of that strategy, the media company will spend $1.8 billion annually on new films and television shows, Lionsgate Chairman Jon Feltheimer said during a shareholders meeting in Toronto on Tuesday. That figure represents the programming budget of not just the studio, but alsoStarz, the cable player that Lionsgate has a deal to buy for $4.4 billion.

That will work out to roughly $1.5 billion spent by Lionsgate for film and TV content combined, and approximately $300 million shelled out by Starz for TV programming.

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In some brisk remarks to investors, Feltheimer said that, backing this programming will allow Lionsgate to “…deepen our relationships with current distribution partners as well as to forge alliances with new digital platforms.”

Analysts have questioned the sales price for Starz, arguing that it leaves the company heavily leveraged. But Feltheimer also argued that bringing the players together would lead to cost savings, in the form of more than $200 million in combined operating cost synergies and cash tax savings. That deal is expected to close by the end of 2016.

A union with Starz also gives the studio greater negotiating heft in a field that is dominated by sprawling media conglomerates such as Disney and Comcast — companies that command theme parks, cable channels, and massive merchandising operations. That allows them to demand better pricing for the shows they license to cable providers and other distributors.

A marriage between Lionsgate, the studio behind “The Hunger Games,” and Starz, the maker of “Outlander” and “Power,” will, in Feltheimer’s words, give the two entities “more leverage [and] better relationship for us with all of our buyers.”

The company’s theatrical business has struggled in recent months due to the failure of “Gods of Egypt,” a pricey fantasy film, and the end of the “Hunger Games” franchise.
But Feltheimer argued that Lionsgate’s mojo is back. Its film business is on a roll, he claimed, while hailing the upcoming release of the acclaimed musical “La La Land” and the World War II drama “Hacksaw Ridge.” He also cited the success of television programs such as Hulu’s “Casual” and HBO’s “American Lion.”

The Lionsgate chief stressed the company’s willingness to take advantage of digital platforms as a means of bringing its programs to the masses, noting recent pacts with the likes of YouTube Red and Verizon’s Go90, as evidence of its flexibility. Once the merger closes, the companies will also be involved on five over-the-top services and a Starz app.

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“These new platforms are bringing us closer to the consumer and capitalizing on our natural advantages as a young, digitally-fluent next generation studio,” said Feltheimer.

The gathering took place at the Shangri-La Hotel, with a crowd that was dominated by board members, executives, and only a handful of investors. As part of the meeting, shareholders approved the nominations of Mike Fries, the CEO of Liberty Global, and David Zaslav, the CEO of Discovery, to the board of Lionsgate. The two executives helped orchestrate the Starz merger through the companies’ stakes in Lionsgate. Sir Lucian Grainge, the CEO Of Universal Music Group, was also approved as Lionsgate’s newest director.

John Malone, Liberty Media and Liberty Global’s chairman and a Lionsgate board member, was not on hand.

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Caitriona Balfe’s best moments in Outlander as she marks three years playing Claire Fraser

www.dailyrecord.co.uk

AS Caitriona Balfe marks three years in the role that has catapulted her to stardom here we mark her five best moments in Outlander

 

Caitriona Balfe as Claire Fraser

THIS week marks the third anniversary of Caitriona Balfe joining the cast of Outlander to star as time-traveling combat nurse Claire Beauchamp Randall.

From the first episode, it was clear Balfe was the perfect choice to play the hard-headed, soft-hearted character, Claire.

To celebrate, here’s a look back at some of Balfe’s most memorable moments from the last three years.

The time she fixed Jamie’s dislocated shoulder

This scene cut straight to the heart of Claire’s character. She had been tossed through time, attacked by Black Jack Randall, hauled to a strange cabin by a violent (albeit loveable) ruffian, and still had the presence of mind to properly set Jamie’s shoulder. Because at the heart of it, Claire is a healer first.

The wedding

It was a beautiful episode in its entirety. The dress, of course, was stunning, and the private moments between Claire and Jamie were by turns tender and humorous. But perhaps the most poignant scene was the moment she stood staring at her two wedding bands, a bittersweet reminder of all she had lost and all she had gained.

Any time Claire sassed Dougal

Whether she was knocking him over the head with a handy object or giving him a sound tongue lashing, she stood her ground and refused to back down.

Faith

In this episode, fans had the opportunity to witness Claire without her hard veneer as she crumbled at the heartbreaking loss of her baby girl. Vulnerable and without such hard edges, she seemed a much more relatable person.

When Claire says goodbye to Jamie

Her agony at their parting – for what she believes is the final time – is clear, as is the fact that she knows she has no choice but to go back through the stones to an uncertain future. A heartrending moment indeed, and Balfe brought it to life on screen in a way that left her fans’ hearts hurting, as well.

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Episode 109, “The Reckoning,” is aptly named.  Throughout the episode we see many characters having to answer for and deal with the consequences of their behavior.  It is one of my favorite episodes and is the beginning of the second half of Season 1.  These are a few of our favorite scenes.

Forgiven

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Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan said this is one of their favorite scenes.  In fact, it was one of Caitriona’s audition scenes.

The episode begins with Jamie’s rescue of Claire where the mid-season finale left us.  Once Claire and the rescue party are safely away, Jamie confronts Claire.  They engage in a fierce argument where each says things that will soon be regretted.  The root of their anger is fear.  Jamie is afraid of losing Claire and Claire is afraid for her own safety.  When she was captured by the Red Coats, she was still shaken by the attack in the glade.  No only had she been nearly raped, but she was within seconds of a second attempted rape and mutilation by Black Jack Randall.

It is difficult to argue against Jamie’s point that her capture wouldn’t have happened if she had stayed “put,” but neither of them sees the situation with a clear head.  Harsh words are exchanged, but when Jamie explains his feelings of helplessness when he heard her screams and reminds her that he was practically unarmed when he rescued her, the situation begins to calm.  He finally drives home his point when he tells her that she is “tearing his guts out.”  Despite the fact that she attempts to return through the stones, she loves Jamie, and seeing his grief brings them back to a good place… for about five minutes.

Duty

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This was a highly anticipated scene when the episode premiered, and fans wondered if Ron Moore would really take it there.  He did.  Although parts of the so-called “spanking” were funny to fans, Claire failed to see one bit of humor.   A husband spanking a wife for disobedience is taboo in Claire’s time and ours.

However, I disagree that Jamie performed his “duty” because it was the societal norm of his time.  When Jamie, Claire, and the Highlanders first arrived at the inn, Jamie doesn’t seem to have any intentions of exercising his duty.  It isn’t until he notices, to his surprise, the highlanders ignoring Claire that he begins to consider it.  He even tells her upstairs that if what she had done had hurt only him, he would never say more about it.

When Duncan points out that Claire doesn’t “understand” what she has caused, that is the game changer.  Jamie knows he must take action.  In my opinion, he doesn’t punish Claire because it is customary, but rather because the Highlanders expect it.  That in itself I don’t believe would even be enough to persuade him to take action, but he knew if he didn’t do something he could never depend on their help again.  Claire would be ostracized from the group.

Hail to the Chief

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First, Colum summons the “three weasels” and holds them accountable for collecting funds for a Jacobite rising.  We can’t fault Colum for being agry that Dougal and Ned did this without his prior knowledge or approval.  He may have physical limitations, but Colum commands the room.

After dismissing Dougal and Ned, Colum shares his displeasure with Jamie on his marrying a sassenach.  I especially like this scene for the show-only fans who haven’t read the books.  This is the first time we realize that Dougal does in fact want Jamie to be his successor instead of Dougal, but he fears that having a sassenach wife will prevent the clan from supporting Jamie over Dougal. Subsequently, we learn that Colum’s judgment is sound when Jamie advises him on resolving the issues that threaten to induce a civil war within the clan.  Jamie, our King of Men, is showing us great leadership potential.

Beauty and the Beast

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This is one of my favorite scenes simply because of Jamie and Sam Heughan.  He’s so unbelievably handsome.  It is understandable that Laoghaire (aka Leghair) wants Jamie to be the one to take her virginity (assuming she still has it), but… NO.  Back off sister.  He’s off the market.

Jamie, being the King of Men, rejects her in as kindly a manner as can be done.  However, in a Podcast, Ron Moore claimed he really wanted Jamie to actually be tempted enough by Laoghaire to kiss her.  He said Maril argued with him about it and he finally acquiesced.  We owe Maril a debt of gratitude.

You are my home now.

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Let’s just be honest here.  Who doesn’t love good make up sex?  Jamie and Claire certainly do, but she made Jamie earn it.  She withheld affection, but after seeing that Colum was capable of bending for the greater good, Jamie followed suit.  And thank you, Sweet Baby Jesus, that he did.  Jamie swears an oath to never lay a hand on her again, and Claire forgives and “has” him.  (Who wouldn’t?)  But when she has him where she truly wants him, she makes him a deal he can’t refuse.  With a knife to his throat, Claire makes her own vow:

“Jamie, if you ever raise a hand to me again, James Fraser, I will cut your heart out and have it for         breakfast.  Do you understand me?  Do you?”

“You have my word.”

Girl power in action.

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Episode 108 is the mid-season finale.  We see what Frank has been doing since Claire went through the stones and we also see how Jamie and Claire’s relationship continues to grow.  She has become one of the clan.  She forgets about her plans to return to Craigh na Dun until she suffers an attempted rape and happens upon the stones while awaiting Jamie’s return from meeting Horrocks.  Before she can touch the stone, she is captured by British soldiers and taken to Black Jack Randall.  Jamie rescues her just in the nick of time.

It’s different.

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Jamie and Claire are married two days when they picnic at the top of the cliff and meet the beggar, Hugh Monroe.  Hugh gifts Claire with a unique fossil, which appears to be a dragonfly trapped in a chunk of amber.  We will see this fossil twice more in Episode 213.  However, my favorite part of this scene is illustrated in these gifs.

Jamie, as inexperienced as he is, recognizes that their relationship is special and wonders if what they have is typical of married couples.  Out of guilt, Claire fights her feelings for Jamie but ultimately does not lie to him.  She confesses that what they share is not usual, it is different.  This may be the first time Claire admits to herself, as well as Jamie, that they share a unique and special love and a unique and special physical relationship.

May I just add here that the hand sex in the last gif is super sensual?

The Sgian Dubh.

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“Every man and woman must know how to defend themselves, Sassenach, especially those married to a Fraser.”

After the attack by the Grants, the Highlanders decide Claire should learn to defend herself from an assailant.  Poison is often seen as the weapon of choice for women, but as Dougal points out, “it has certain deficiencies in combat.  The lass needs a sgian dubh.”  Angus trains Claire in the proper use of the sgian dubh (hidden dagger), and we later realize that this scene is foreshadowing an imminent future event.

 

The Sgian Dubh Again.

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While frolicking in the meadow (because the wanting never stops), Jamie and Claire are attacked by two British soldier deserters.  The situation looks grim, as one soldier holds a gun to Jamie’s head while the other attempts to rape Claire.  Claire takes a brief moment to gather her wits and recalls her sgian dubh training.  Because she has the weapon and knows how to use it, she is able to save both their lives.  During the instant the gun wielding soldier is distracted by the screams of his dying partner in crime, Jamie is able to slit his throat.

I love badass Claire.

The Cliffhanger.

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Jamie rescues Claire before BJR can harm her, but Jack’s reaction is priceless.  “Good God.”  Then he laughs like he is happy to see Jamie, which is probably true given his obsession, but Jamie is the last person he expected to see in his window.  This is a great cliffhanger because we know we’re going to see a confrontation, a battle between good and evil.  We even suspect Claire will have some explaining to do since she promised Jamie she would “stay put.”

Then begins our first Droughtlander.

 

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The Druids at Craigh Na Dun (Outlander, S1.1, “Sassenach”)

In Druidry, the days of Samhuinn (October 31 to November 2) represent a time where the veil between our world and the World of the Ancestors is lifted, allowing those individuals who are prepared to journey safely to the other side. Druid rites facilitate contact with the spirits of the departed, who serve as guides and sources of inspiration.  Some of these rites include the use of fire and circle dancing around stone circles oriented to their points of sunrise and sunset.  (x)

In terms of Outlander, this could explain the presence of Ghost Jamie, to see Claire safely on her journey to the other side and through time.  Claire’s ability to travel through the stones implies a Druid ancestry, and perhaps the same applies to Geillis Duncan.  The abilities seem to be hereditary.

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Lionsgate Hires Deloitte To Craft Post-Merger Integration Plans With Starz

A Lionsgate and Starz memo to staffers has disclosed a few new details about their integration plans following the studio’s $4.4 billion acquisition of the premium networks company, which they expect to close by year end. Lionsgate has hired Deloitte Consulting to help.

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BY David Lieberman, September 2, 1026

A Lionsgate and Starz memo to staffers has disclosed a few new details about their integration plans following the studio’s $4.4 billion acquisition of the premium networks company, which they expect to close by year end.

Lionsgate has hired Deloitte Consulting to help. Its people “will be on-site at Lionsgate for the next several weeks and will assist our integration teams with development of integration plans and recommendations,” execs told employees.

“Some quick process or system consolidations may be implemented in the near term after the transaction closes,” they added, “Broader initiatives may take up to 18 months to implement.”

Unidentified “colleagues from both Lionsgate and Starz” have been tapped for an integration team. “As we progress in our planning, we will evaluate the need to include additional colleagues in our planning efforts.”

They reiterated their plan to base the combined company in Los Angeles. They add that they’ll have “a continued presence in Denver, New York and London as well as other offices.”

Communications and Human Resources teams will “update employees on a regular basis.”

But those on the front line “should not share any integration-related communications with external parties at this time” because “it’s important that we speak with a single unified voice.”

The memos offered a rosy view of the companies’ future together.

The combo “will create a global content powerhouse” that will have “greater scale for attracting world-class talent, creating platform-defining content and distributing it with an incredible array of options.”

Wall Streeters remain mixed about the value of the deal for Lionsgate. Its share price has fallen about 37% in 2016.

In a report yesterday, Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger says that those who like the combination envision that “some future Lionsgate production will become a huge hit on Starz (similar in proportion to Orange is the New Black on Netflix, or Mad Menon [AMC Networks]), only now Lionsgate will capture the full value in its own Enterprise.”

But he lowered his earnings estimates, noting bears’ concerns about the debt Lionsgate will have to take on leaving “lots of downside if Starz deteriorates.”

That’s worrisome, he says, because they’re competing against “much bigger brands with much deeper pockets, including: HBO, Showtime, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, (and Epix). Not to mention conventional TV networks like: the broadcast networks, FX” and AMC.

Barrington Research’s James Goss says he likes the stable cash flows Starz offers Lionsgate, as well as “significant” tax benefits from putting Starz in a company that’s incorporated in Canada and pays its lower rates.

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Legend of the Queen Mary and her phantom guests

Docked just 20 miles south of Hollywood, the hallowed halls of the Clydeside-built passenger liner-turned-hotel & restaurant play host to oft-witnessed acts of ghostly apparition and spooky goings-on, amid the decaying grandeur of the ship’s luxurious confines.

24 November 2005

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JUST as Edinburgh’s catacombs inspired the creation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde, so too the haunted corridors of the RMS Queen Mary offer chilling insight into a more modern work of macabre horror, The Shining.

Docked just 20 miles south of Hollywood, the hallowed halls of the Clydeside-built passenger liner-turned-hotel & restaurant play host to oft-witnessed acts of ghostly apparition and spooky goings-on, amid the decaying grandeur of the ship’s luxurious confines. As you walk through the once-shimmering ballroom among the gold-velvet upholstered chairs, you could almost imagine a young Jack Nicholson chatting to sinister barman Lloyd in the horror movie’s haunted Overlook Hotel.

Much of the reported paranormal activity bears a startling resemblance to Stephen King’s novel (albeit set in Colorado), adapted for the silver screen by Stanley Kubrick in the 1980 horror masterpiece that portrays a writer’s descent into murderous madness brought on by evil spirits in an isolated hotel. The Queen Mary even boasts a phantom grand-piano player, whose eerie notes shocked one visitor to the deserted hotel lobby – the piano lid was down at the time. Ballroom revellers replete in gowns and tuxedos are frequently witnessed by staff and visitors to the ship.

As Jenny Moore, of the ship’s Ghosts and Legends tour, says: “These ghosts are reliving the best years of their lives here. They’ve obviously enjoyed good times here and are hanging around for more.” More chillingly, a little girl’s voice is heard crying in many of the ship’s long, constrictive corridors.

Though the ship was launched from Glasgow’s John Brown Shipyard, it was more known for sailing more than 3 million miles as a luxury passenger liner before its final port of call in Long Beach in 1971. Currently a major tourist attraction that boasts an active Scottish society, in its heyday the Queen Mary played a pivotal role in world events. Winston Churchill is believed to have plotted D-Day from his bath in suite number M119.

After its maiden voyage on 27 May 1936, from Southampton to New York, the Queen Mary went on to race 2,552 passengers and $44 million in gold bullion across the Atlantic to the US on the eve of Britain’s declaration of war, on 2 September 1939. The 1,018-foot-long vessel proved invaluable as a troop carrier. Able to transport some 15,000 troops in one journey at speeds up to 30 knots, it became known in the Atlantic as the Grey Ghost.  Appropriately, the ship actually boasts a Grey Ghost and a Woman in White.

A ghostly apparition of Churchill himself is said to have spooked a cleaner in recent years after appearing alongside a painting of the former British leader, who was famously a follower of the esoteric arts. Forty-nine deaths have been reported aboard the ship, with many of the sprits roaming the R-deck, the ship’s most haunted.

But perhaps the most infamous is that of the crushed crewman of engine room No 113, who died in a doorway during a test for water-tightness in July 1966. The ghost’s bearded and overalled apparition apparently left his mark on the face of a male visitor on the ghost tour. The guest emerged with a streak of grease painted across his nose after his chilling encounter. Spooky!

A Queen Mary manager in the early 1990s heard children’s voices while descending in a lift from E-deck to F-deck. She clearly heard a child’s voice crying “mommy, mommy”. There was more laughter and then a dog’s bark, a pet cat could also be heard. The child cried again before the voices subsided. The ship’s mysteries continue today. The attraction is well worth a visit on any trip to Los Angeles, perhaps aptly summed up by the tale of the ship’s launch in Clydebank in 1934.

As Lady Mabel Fortescue-Harrison, a prominent astronomer, announced then: “Most of this generation will be gone, including myself, when this event occurs. However, the Queen Mary will know its greatest fame and popularity when she never sails another mile and never carries another passenger.”

 

For more information on the RMS Queen Mary, visit http://www.queenmary.com/history/our-story/.

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