Friday, February 28, 2014

Pray for Ukraine

      My sister has been to Ukraine several times for mission trips and she absolutely loves it there. This country is so beautiful, but so broken as well. All these people want is freedom; they thought they would get after the fall of Communism in 1989, but it's been hard fought and little benefits have been reaped from their fighting.

Obama warns Russia against Ukraine intervention, says 'there will be costs'
By Chelsea J. Carter, Ingrid Formanek and Diana Magnay, CNN
updated 7:11 PM EST, Fri February 28, 2014

Armed men patrol outside the Simferopol International Airport in Ukraine's Crimea region on Friday, February 28. The gunmen, whom Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov called part of an "armed invasion" by Russian forces, appeared around the airport without identifying themselves. Crimea is an autonomous republic of Ukraine with an ethnic Russian majority. It's the last large bastion of opposition to Ukraine's new political leadership after President Viktor Yanukovych's ouster.
Simferopol, Ukraine (CNN) -- Tension dramatically mounted in Ukraine's Crimea region Friday as its ambassador to the United Nations warned Russia against any further violation of its territorial borders, a warning that came as the United States urged Russia to pull back from the region or face possible consequences.

"We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside Ukraine," U.S. President Barack Obama said in televised comments from the White House.

"...It would be a clear violation of Russia's commitment to respect the independence and sovereignty and borders of Ukraine and of international laws."

Obama said any violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity would be "deeply destabilizing, and he warned "the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine."

The remarks were the latest in a series of fast-moving developments that saw Ukrainian officials grappling with rising secessionist passions in the Russian-majority region, where the airspace has been closed and communications have been disrupted.

Ukraine accused Russian Black Sea forces of trying to seize two airports in Crimea but said Ukrainian security forces prevented them from taking control.

Ukraine Interior Minister Arsen Avakov earlier characterized the presence at the airport of unidentified armed men, who wore uniforms without insignia, as an "armed invasion."

The crisis echoed throughout the world, with the U.N. Security Council president holding a private meeting about the crisis enveloping Ukraine and world leaders calling armed groups not to attempt to challenge Ukrainian sovereignty.

'This group is making a serious mistake'

At a press conference outside the U.N. Security Council, Ukraine's ambassador to the U.N., Yuriy Sergeyev said the country was prepared to defend itself and urged the U.N.'s moral and political support for the Kiev government, particularly in Crimea.

Since last week's ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine has faced a deepening schism, with those in the west generally supporting the interim government and its European Union tilt, while many in the east preferring a Ukraine where Russia casts a long shadow.

Nowhere is that feeling more intense than in Crimea, the last big bastion of opposition to the new political leadership. And Ukraine suspects Russia of fomenting tension in the autonomous region that might escalate into a bid for separation by its Russian majority.

"We still have a chance to stop the negative developments and separatism," Sergeyev said.

Sergeyev accused Russia of violating its military agreement by blocking Ukrainian security forces, including its border guards and police, in the region.

"This group is making a serious mistake challenging our territorial integrity," he said.

But Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaliy Churkin, compared the reports of Russian troops taking charge of positions on the ground to rumors that "are always not true."

"We are acting within the framework of our agreement," he said.

Even so, U.S. military commanders and intelligence agencies were scrambling Friday to determine what was needed to get a better picture of Russian movements.

That included an assessment of intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance needs, a senior U.S. official told CNN.

Meanwhile, Obama is considering not attending the G8 Summit in Sochi, Russia, in June, if Russian troops remain in the Ukraine, a senior administration official familiar with the discussions told CNN.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

Kerry talks to Russian foreign minister

The Russian Foreign Ministry said maneuvers of armored vehicles from the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea were needed for security and were in line with bilateral agreements.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday morning about the airport and military activities, and Lavrov told Kerry that the Russians "are not engaging in any violation of the sovereignty" of Ukraine. Russia has a military base agreement with the country.

Lavrov told him the military exercises were prescheduled and unrelated to the events in Ukraine, Kerry said.

Gunmen seize Crimean parliament

"I nevertheless made it clear that that could be misinterpreted at the moment,'' Kerry said, "and there are enough tensions that it is important for everybody to be extremely careful not to inflame the situation and send the wrong messages."

Yanukovych's news conference was under way in Russia, Kerry said, as he spoke with Lavrov.

Kerry said Lavrov had reaffirmed to him a commitment that Russia would "respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine."

"We would overwhelmingly stress today that we urge all parties -- all parties; that includes the new interim technical government, rightists, oppositionists and others, anybody in the street who is armed -- we urge all parties to avoid any steps that could be misinterpreted or lead to miscalculation or do anything other than to work to bring that peace and stability and peaceful transition within the governing process within Ukraine," Kerry said.

Russian response

In a telephone call with European leaders, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed the importance of avoiding a further escalation of violence in Ukraine, the Kremlin said in a prepared statement Friday.

Putin also called for a normalization of the situation, speaking with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, according to the Kremlin.

Crimea was handed to Ukraine by the Soviet Union in 1954. Just over half its population is ethnic Russian, while about a quarter are Ukrainians and a little more than 10% are Crimean Tatars, a predominantly Muslim group oppressed under former Soviet leader Josef Stalin.

Meanwhile, Russian lawmakers introduced two bills Friday to simplify annexing new territories into the Russian Federation and simplify access to Russian citizenship for Ukrainians, the state news agency Itar Tass said.

One bill also stipulates that the accession of a part of a foreign state to Russia should be taken through a referendum, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

Ukraine's President in Russia

Making his first public appearance since his ouster Saturday, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said the newly appointed interim government was not legitimate and did not represent the majority of Ukraine's 45 million citizens.

"I intend to continue the fight for the future of Ukraine against those who, with fear and with terror, are attempting to replace the power," Yanukovych said in Russian, not Ukrainian.

"Nobody has overthrown me. I was compelled to leave Ukraine due to a direct threat to my life and my nearest and dearest."

In his hourlong news conference, Yanukovych accused the interim authorities in Ukraine of propagating violence. He spoke against a backdrop of Ukraine's blue-and-yellow flags before reporters in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don about 700 miles south of Moscow.

"I never gave any orders to shoot," he said, adding that he sought peace and that the security forces took up arms only when their lives were at risk.

Yanukovych is wanted in Ukraine on charges connected to the deaths of demonstrators, who were protesting his decision to scrap a European Union trade deal in favor of one with Russia.

Armed men at airports

Back in Kiev, Andrii Parubii, chief of national security and defense, said Ukrainian military and police forces had stopped Russian military forces from seizing two airports in the Crimean region.

The Russian military is on the outside of both airports, Parubii said in a televised news conference from the Ukrainian parliament.

Weapons were not used during the operation, according to Avakov, the interior minister.

Russian armored vehicles were moving toward Simferopol, the regional capital, on Friday, the Ukrainian news outlet TSN reported.

Men in military uniforms had been seen patrolling the airport in Simferopol, as well as a military and civilian airbase in nearby Sevastopol since early Friday.

Avakov said the armed men at the Sevastopol air base were troops from Russia's Black Sea Fleet, stationed in the port city. They were in camouflage uniforms without military insignia, he said.

The presence of the armed men has not affected the Simferopol airport, civil aviation authorities said.

"We are checking to make sure that no radicals come to Crimea from Kiev, from the Ukraine," said one man outside the airport, who didn't give his name. "We don't want radicals, we don't want fascism, we don't want problems."

Other men outside the airport, dressed in black rather than military fatigues, said they belonged to the pro-Russia Unity Party and had come on the orders of the new Crimean administration -- voted in Thursday after armed men seized regional government buildings.

Concerned about the latest developments, Ukraine's parliament passed a resolution Friday that demanded Russia halt any activity that can be interpreted as an attack on its sovereignty.

Moscow alarmed some observers by announcing the surprise military exercises Wednesday in its western and central areas, near the Ukraine border.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's largest telecom firm was unable to provide data and voice connectivity between Crimea and the rest of Ukraine because unknown people had seized telecommunications nodes and destroyed cables, it said Friday. There is almost no phone connectivity or Internet service across Crimea, said Ukrtelecom, which is the only landline provider.

Source: CNN

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Thor: The Dark World

Thor: The Dark World (2014)
     I actually saw this back in November for my birthday, but I felt like I needed to see it a second time to understand the story and get better understanding of the character development. I saw it again last night on DVD and can finally get to reviewing it!

~ ~ ~

Thor
Chris Hemsworth as Thor in
Thor: The Dark World (2014)

    Change can normally be a good thing and in the case of Thor Odinson (one year after the attack in New York) change is very beneficial. Thor Odinson is no longer the same rash warrior he was in the first film or the naive brother he was in The Avengers. His humility renewed, but his heart broken by Loki's betrayal, Thor has finally found the answer to his life in spending every moment bringing peace to the Nine Realms.  Odin, is proud of his son for the man he has grown into, but he sees that Thor still aches for 'the mortal' or Jane Foster, who he promised two years ago that he would return to.

     And return he does when Heimdall is unable to see Jane from Asgard. Thor returns to London to find that Jane has become host to an ancient and dangerous power called an Aether that can be used to destroy anyone or anything that comes close to it. Thor keeps to his long awaited promise and takes Jane to Asgard to help her. Except, her coming to the realm proves to be detrimental when the Dark Elf Malekith, who has been seeking the Aether for years, breaks into Asgard to find Jane and therefore possess the Aether. He is almost successful, but when he kills Frigga (Odin's wife and Thor's adopted mother) for hiding Jane, he runs from the wrath of Odin, Thor and Asgard.

     Odin becomes distraught and inconsolable at the destruction of Asgard and the death of his beloved wife. He puts Asgard under complete lock-down and allows no one to leave. Now only Thor can save Asgard, protect Jane and avenge his mother's death, by doing one thing...commit treason.

    The only way to escape without anyone knowing is by using a secret passage known only to one person. His imprisoned brother, Loki.

     The rest of the story is way (way) too complex to go into detail, but I can say, it was exciting, funny and heartbreaking all at the same time. Chris Hemsworth's acting as Thor just gets better with each movie. It's great to really see his character development throughout the years and watch as Thor's character grows and becomes stronger each passing year.


~ ~ ~

Jane Foster
Natalie Portman as Jane Foster in
Thor: The Dark World (2014)
     If a handsome prince from outer space who can wield a mystical hammer and summons thunder and lightening promises to return for you, one would assume that you would wait. Only Jane Foster is tired of waiting. For two years since New Mexico, Jane has waited and hoped for Thor to return to her. Now she lives in London and has continued her research, but this time with less drive than she had before. When an unexpected force hits an abandoned warehouse Jane and her former intern, Darcy Lewis (illegally) go and see what they can make of it. This strange force can levitate heavy objects or make them disappear and magically reappear. Jane wanders off deeper into the warehouse and finds a strange red that immediately consumes her body and mind.

     Jane is knocked unconscious for five hours and wakes to find that Darcy has called the police. She begins to panic, thinking that the FEDs and/or eventually S.H.I.E.L.D. will discover what they have been up to. In the midst of the confusion (and rain), she looks over and see that Thor has returned for her and takes her to Asgard. She is overwhelmed by the realm's beauty, but the red matter in her arm, a mystical power known as the Aether, is dangerous and must be removed.

     When the Dark Elf, Malekith storms into Asgard  looking for the Aether, Jane's life is put into more danger, especially when she sees the future of what will happen when the Dark Elves gain possession of the Aether. Thor, Sif, Fandral, Volstagg and (much to her dismay) Loki all plan a jailbreak from Asgard to get to the Dark Elve's realm for Jane to be released from Aether and at the same time destroy Malekith.

     Jane is still a favorite of mine (despite what other people say). Her dingbat nature was still there, but her ambition and drive has been severely toned down due to waiting for Thor to return and for her questions about him and his realm to be answered. Jane plays a much more pro-active role in the story and her work as an astrophysicist becomes key to destroying Malekith.

~ ~ ~

Loki Laufeyson
Tom Hiddleston as Loki Laufeyson in
Thor: The Dark World (2014)
     Once a king (for about 14 days) Loki has completely fallen from grace in the eyes of his father, his brother and all of Asgard. Only by his mother's mercy has Loki escaped death and instead is sentenced to the dungeons (that are about as filthy as room at a 5 star Hilton hotel). Loki spends his days hour by hour doing nothing but wallowing in his self-pity and hatred for his family and Asgard.

     After Asgard is attacked and his mother is killed, Loki is seen in a rare moment of anger and grief. Thor releases Loki is he promises to help him find one of his secret passages to get out of Asgard...under one condition, if he betrays Thor, he'll be killed. With nothing better to do, Loki agrees and helps Thor and Jane (who decks him in the face) to defeat Malekith. As the former god of mischief and lies, Loki can still surprise people with his actions and you still never know if you can trust him or not.

     Tom Hiddleston did not fail as his third portrayal as Loki. He was surprisingly hilarious and did provide a lot of comic relief with his sarcasm, pithy comments and never ending banter with Thor. Even now, there is still something about Loki that just tugs at you and makes you want to like him...maybe even give him a hug. 

~ ~ ~

Odin Allfather
Anthony Hopkins as Odin Allfather in
Thor: The Dark World (2014)
     With one degenerate son in jail and another worthier son protecting humanity one realm at a time, Odin believes that Asgard is in appropriate care. A good thing to know because he feels that his time on the throne of Asgard is coming to an end. Although he keeps it secret from his family, Odin knows he doesn't have much time left and fuels all he has into training Thor to eventually take on the mantle of responsibility. 

     As  much as Odin wants Thor to be happy, he really cannot accept Thor's taste of love interest in the mortal, Jane Foster. So when he brings her to meet his family, Odin is anything but accepting towards and tells Thor to send her back. Only when he finds the red Aether in Jane's body, she may need to stay a little while longer. 

     After Frigga is killed by Malekith, Odin sinks into a deep grief and shuts himself away from everyone as well locking the Bifrost bridge so no one can leave. When Thor defies his father's orders, commits treason, lets Loki free and takes on Malekith in the cosmos and then in England, you would think that Odin has every right to be angry; he's not though. In spite of what has happened, Odin sees that Thor's actions were done out of justice and not revenge, and that he seeks only to be a good man, instead of a great king. That's enough to make any father (or king) proud.


~ ~ ~

Malekith
Christopher Eccelston as Malekith in
Thor: The Dark World (2014)
     Heartless, cruel and vengeful, Malekith and the Dark Elves are one of the Nine Realms oldest adversaries. Malekith was been the sole possessor of the Aether, but lost it when he fought Odin's father Bor (probably before Odin was even born) war and was finally defeated. Now, thousands of years later, the Aether has been found and is being hosted in the body of a young Midgardian woman. When she is taken to Asgard, he thinks it will be simple to take her and repossess the power of the Aether, but he's in for a big surprise when he is outsmarted by Asgard's most powerful sorceress, Queen Frigga. Malekith makes one grave mistake when he takes the life of Asgard's beloved queen and now must face the wrath of her sons who will stop at nothing to hunt him down and destroy him.

~ ~ ~

Thor: The Dark World (2014)
     Definitely darker and deeper than it's predecessor, this was a great sequel. One aspect I loved was that they showed a great deal more of Asgard, which is beautiful! Oh, and the music was amazing as well as the costumes! Fantastic with a great storyline that left it wide open for a concluding third movie.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Life & Love (and some hates)

My favorite painting of all time
     Normally I try to avoid writing about myself. One, because often times I can find it very narcissistic and two, I seriously doubt anyone would really care about my personal life. So, the basis of my blog isn't necessarily writing about myself, but moreover my general opinion about the world and the media. From Downton Abbey Confessions, movie reviews, defense posts (Cosette, Frodo Baggins and Jane Foster) and most recently exploring the historical content of holidays (Redeeming St. Valentine's Day. And wait until you read my St. Patrick's Day post!!).

     On this day though, I'm really bored. Alright the truth is I'm...actually running away from doing my homework, which consists of---
  • reading two history chapters 
  • taking two history quizzes 
  • writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper for English
  • studying for my English mid-term 
  • doing my math homework. 

   Yeah, I'd rather be blogging. Then I got an interesting idea of taking the pins that I have from my Life & Love Pinterest board and using them in a Blogger post about my personal interests in life. I mean if you really want to know about my interests you can stop by my Pinterest page, but oftentimes that's not the same as really writing down who you are as a person.

Random Facts

I would seriously die without him
Constantly. It's my most embarrassing habit.
At least Edith Crawley makes me look like an angel in my family
  • I've had epilepsy since I was 13 years old and probably earlier than that. 
  • I have never broken a bone in my body. 
  • Even though I'm the middle child, I'm not particularly close to any of my siblings.
  • Although I love writing, I don't want to take it up professionally.
  • I question everything around me, even my own religious beliefs.
  • I love my church and my church family!
  • I don't care for classic literature.
  • I have severe learning disabilities in math

Music

Wonderful, beautiful, perfect, all American girl!
That's what I would do, if I were you.
I will carry you through the dark.
  • I'm very eclectic when it comes to music. I enjoy almost everything from classical to country.
  • One type of music I cannot stand is rap music.
  • Celine Dion has been my favorite musical artist since I was a little girl.
  • My first album I bought was the Lilo and Stitch soundtrack.
  • My second album was Clay Aiken's debut album, Measure of a Man.
  • I hate the word singer. I say musical artist instead.
  • As a kid I was in every one of my church's choir/drama productions.
  • For my Father/Daughter dance I want to play Peter Cetera's, "Daddy's Girl." 
Books and literature

Teaching me that being different is acceptable.
Teaching me to never be afraid to do the right thing.
Teaching me to believe in the impossible.
  • I own the whole "Harry Potter" series and some of them are falling apart from repeat usage.
  • My favorite Narnia book is "The Magician's Nephew."
  • "The Hunger Games" peaked my curiosity for Dystopian literature.
  • When I read a book I will automatically begin rewriting the story.
  • I read most of the "Twilight" series but couldn't get through the last one because it was so boring.
  • I got my whole family into reading "A Series of Unfortunate Events."
  • I enjoy more modern literature, because I can relate to it.
  • Comparing series is ridiculous and a waste of time.
Movies

Favorite genre <3
My collection is huge
There's nothing like dressing up and going to the movies
  • My DVD collection are all in a general order. Fantasy, history, superheros, romantic comedies, Christian, musicals, The Tyler Perry collection, the Steel Magnolia collection and random.
  • I'm not into super sappy romantic movies.
  • I don't care for westerns.
  • I have a habit of buying movies before previously viewing them.
  • I enjoy remakes to original movies, depending on how the story is worked out.
  • I don't mind when a movie doesn't always follow the book. I think it makes it more interesting.
  • I could spend all afternoon watching DVDs in my room.
  • Being a fan-fiction writer, when I see a movie for the first time I'm rewriting the story in the first 10-15 minutes of the film. 
Television Shows

Best British drama of my generation!
Love everything! The acting, the storyline, the music, all of it!
Maybe a little overrated...but still intriguing and fun!
  • My favorite television shows are Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, The Vampire Diaries, Merlin, LOST, Sherlock, Criminal Minds, Cold Case and The Road to Avonlea.
  • It's habitual in my family to get warped (almost to the point of obsession) into a series.
  • In The Vampire Diaries, I'm Team Stefan because I admire his courage, honor and loyalty.
  • My favorite character in Sherlock is Gregg Lestrade.
  • I hope the name Sybil comes back into style because of Sybil Crawley.
  • The best character development throughout all of the seasons of Downton Abbey is Branson.
  • I have season 5 of Merlin and I'm still to afraid to finish it!
  • If I could live in any of my favorite television shows, it would be a toss up between Merlin and The Vampire Diaries
Food

I could eat these all day.
One of the bests!
I'm only...mildly obsessed...
  • I tend to be a very picky eater.
  • I am a chocoholic and will eat any type of chocolate you give me.
  • Tropical Smoothie and Sweet Frog (frozen yogurt) are my favorite places to eat.
  • Although I don't care for baking, I love to make cookies.
  • I love shellfish of any kind, shrimp, clams, oysters, lobster, crabs, scallops, you name it.
  • Oriental food is my favorite foreign food.
  • One day I want to have traditional made bouillabaisse. 
  • I can't eat meatloaf or I'll throw it up.
Personal

Always
Constantly
All my life
  • I get annoyed when girls compare themselves to literary heroines. It seems unrealistic.
  • I think my personality is a mix of Gimli, Pippin, and occasionally Dr. McCoy.
  • I wish I was actually like Obi-Wan Kenobi.
  • Nothing hurts me more than when people break their promises to me.
  • I hate being ignored, interrupted and overlooked.
  • I don't trust people outside of my family.
  • I never expect to have friends for very long.
  • I'm very judgmental. 
Superhero Love

If only he was from Virginia .
I wasn't expecting to love them so much.
I never look at thunderstorms the same way now.
  • With the exception of the Bible, I believe that superheros and their stories are the ultimate proof of good overcoming evil.
  • Superheros also show that there is always hope in humanity.
  • My favorite superhero is Charles Xavier "Professor X" from X-Men.
  • I hate when girls rag on the Hulk. He's an awesome character! Not everyone can be Captain America!
  • My sister said if I could be with any Avenger it would be Bruce Banner.
  • I only watch Batman because of Christian Bale.
  • I was surprised when I found out that the in the original Thor comics, Thor was written as a Christlike character who came to earth to help the mortal people.
  • I think that Tony Stark should run for president : )

My favorite Disney movie!
     So, there's 64 (or roughly around 64) facts into my life. Using the pins actually added a lot of fun to the post and I might do another like it.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

AU Cap. America & Black Widow Story

 In which Hayden and Annie left The Upper East Side in Manhatten. 
Hayden giving up law and Annie giving up nannying...
Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson in
"The Nanny Diaries" (2009)
And became Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanav or otherwise known as
Captain America and Black Widow of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson in
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (2014)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!


Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, 
destroying all memory of a beginning all fear of an end. 
 ~Author Unknown

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Goodbye Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple Black, Screen Darling, Dies at 85
by Aljean Harmetz - Feb. 11, 2014


Shirley Temple Black ~ 1928 - 2014
Shirley Temple Black, who as a dimpled, precocious and determined little girl in the 1930s sang and tap-danced her way to a height of Hollywood stardom and worldwide fame that no other child has reached, died on Monday night at her home in Woodside, Calif. She was 85.

Her publicist, Cheryl Kagan, confirmed her death.

Mrs. Black returned to the spotlight in the 1960s in the surprising new role of diplomat, but in the popular imagination she would always be America’s darling of the Depression years, when in 23 motion pictures her sparkling personality and sunny optimism lifted spirits and made her famous. From 1935 to 1939 she was the most popular movie star in America, with Clark Gable a distant second. She received more mail than Greta Garbo and was photographed more often than President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The little girl with 56 perfect blonde ringlets and an air of relentless determination was so precocious that the usually unflappable Adolphe Menjou, her co-star in her first big hit, “Little Miss Marker,” described her as “an Ethel Barrymore at 6” and said she was “making a stooge out of me.”

When she turned from a magical child into a teenager, audience interest slackened, and she retired from the screen at 22. But instead of retreating into nostalgia, she created a successful second career for herself.

After marrying Charles Alden Black in 1950, she became a prominent Republican fund-raiser. She was appointed a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly by President Richard M. Nixon in 1969. She went on to win wide respect as the United States ambassador to Ghana from 1974 to 1976, was President Gerald R. Ford’s chief of protocol in 1976 and 1977, and became President George H. W. Bush’s ambassador to Czechoslovakia in 1989, serving there during the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe.

After winning an honorary Academy Award at the age of 6 and earning $3 million before puberty, Shirley Temple grew up to be a level-headed adult. When her cancerous left breast was removed in 1972, at a time when operations for cancer were shrouded in secrecy, she held a news conference in her hospital room to speak out about her mastectomy and to urge women discovering breast lumps not to “sit home and be afraid.” She is widely credited with helping to make it acceptable to talk about breast cancer.

Shirley signs her first film contract, 1932
Shirley Jane Temple was born in Santa Monica, Calif., on April 23, 1928. From the beginning, she and her mother, Gertrude, were a team (“I was absolutely bathed in love,” she remembered); her movie career was their joint invention. Her success was due to both her own charm and her mother’s persistence.

In “Child Star,” her 1988 autobiography, Mrs. Black said her mother had made a “calculated decision” to turn her only daughter into a professional dancer. At a fee of 50 cents a week, Mrs. Temple enrolled 3-year-old Shirley in Mrs. Meglin’s Dance Studio.

In 1932, Shirley was spotted by an agent from Educational Pictures and chosen to appear in “Baby Burlesks,” a series of sexually suggestive one-reel shorts in which children played all the roles. The 4- and 5-year-old children wore fancy adult costumes that ended at the waist. Below the waist, they wore diapers with oversize safety pins. In these heavy-handed parodies of well-known films like “The Front Page” (“The Runt Page”) and “What Price Glory” (“War Babies”), Shirley imitated Marlene Dietrich, Mae West and wearing an off-the-shoulder blouse and satin garter as a hard-boiled French bar girl in “War Babies” Dolores Del Rio.

When any of the two dozen children in “Baby Burlesks” misbehaved, they were locked in a windowless sound box with only a block of ice on which to sit. “So far as I can tell, the black box did no lasting damage to my psyche,” Mrs. Black wrote in “Child Star.” “Its lesson of life, however, was profound and unforgettable. Time is money. Wasted time means wasted money means trouble."


“Baby Burlesks” was followed by five two-reel comedies and a year of casting calls and bit-part auditions, which garnered young Shirley half a dozen small roles. By Thanksgiving 1933 she was growing older. She was 5½, and in the previous two years she had earned a total of $702.50. Her mother did the sensible thing: she shaved a year off her daughter’s age. Shirley would be shocked to discover, at a party for her 12th birthday in April 1941, that she was actually 13.

Her career began in earnest in 1934, when she was picked to play James Dunn’s daughter in the Fox fantasy “Stand Up and Cheer,” one of many films made during the Depression in which music chases away unhappy reality. She was signed to a two-week contract at $150 a week and told to provide her own tap shoes.

Within an hour of completing her song-and-dance number “Baby, Take a Bow,” she was formally placed under contract to Fox for a year at $150 a week. The studio had an option for seven more years and would pay Gertrude Temple an additional $25 each week to take care of her daughter.

In its review of “Stand Up and Cheer” (1934), Variety called Shirley Temple a “sure-fire potential kidlet star.” She made eight movies in 1934 and moved from potential to full star in February, when Fox lent her to Paramount for “Little Miss Marker,” based on a Damon Runyon story.

Shirley Temple and Gary Cooper
Playing a child left with a bookie (Adolphe Menjou) as a marker for her father’s gambling debts, Shirley reforms a gang of gamblers, bookies and horse dopers. She would play a similarly wise and maternal miniature adult, dominating the adults around her and solving their problems with unbounded optimism and common sense, in most of her films.

She brought peace to a British regiment fighting rebels in India in “Wee Willie Winkie” (1937) and to white men and Indians in “Susannah of the Mounties” (1939). She was frequently cast as an orphan, the better to show adults how to cope with adversity: her father committed suicide in “Little Miss Marker”; her aviator father crashed and her mother was killed by a car in “Bright Eyes” (1934); she was the sole survivor of a shipwreck in “Captain January” (1936).

“People in the Depression wanted something to cheer them up, and they fell in love with a dog, Rin Tin Tin, and a little girl,” Mrs. Black often said in appraising her success.

Shirley with the Shirley Temple dolls
It is no surprise that Shirley Temple dolls were the best-selling dolls of the decade (and are valuable collectibles now). In many of her films she was a living doll, adored by entire groups of men: aviators in “Bright Eyes," a Yankee regiment in “The Little Colonel” (1935).

No Shirley Temple movie was complete without a song — most famously “On the Good Ship Lollipop” and “Animal Crackers in My Soup” — and a tap dance, with partners including George Murphy, Jack Haley and Buddy Ebsen. But her most successful partnership was with the legendary African-American entertainer Bill (Bojangles) Robinson. She may have been the first white actress allowed to hold hands affectionately with a black man on screen, and her staircase dance with Mr. Robinson in “The Little Colonel,” the first of four movies they made together, retains its magic almost 80 years later.

Not everyone was a Shirley Temple fan. The novelist Graham Greene, who was also a film critic, was sued by 20th Century Fox for his review of “Wee Willie Winkie” in the magazine Night and Day, which he edited. In the review, he questioned whether she was a midget and wrote of her “well-shaped and desirable little body” being served up to middle-aged male admirers.

After the failure of “The Blue Bird” (1940), a film version of the Maeterlinck fantasy that Fox expected to be the bonanza MGM’s “Wizard of Oz” had been a year earlier, the studio dropped 12-year-old Shirley’s contract. Even before the movie was released, her mother had decided it was time for Shirley, who had been educated in a schoolroom at Fox, to go to a real school.

Shirley's wedding portrait, Sept. 19, 1945
She entered the private Westlake School for Girls in seventh grade, with little idea of how to cope. She had sat on 200 famous laps and found J. Edgar Hoover’s the most comfortable. Amelia Earhart had shared chewing gum with her. She had conversed with Eleanor Roosevelt. The Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood had created the Shirley Temple — a nonalcoholic drink of lemon-lime soda, grenadine and a maraschino cherry — in her honor. (She didn’t care for it.) But her playmates had been few and carefully chosen. At Westlake, after months of being given the cold shoulder, she decided she might as well be herself. She eventually spent a happy five years there.

What Fox had dropped, MGM picked up eight months later. But the little girl was now entering adolescence. On her first visit to MGM, Mrs. Black wrote in her autobiography, the producer Arthur Freed unzipped his trousers and exposed himself to her. Being innocent of male anatomy, she responded by giggling, and he threw her out of his office.

She made “Kathleen” (1941) for MGM and “Miss Annie Rooney” (1942) for United Artists; played supporting roles for David O. Selznick in two 1944 films, “Since You Went Away” and “I’ll Be Seeing You”; and made “Kiss and Tell” on loan to Columbia in 1945. But her golden hair had turned brown and, as the film historian David Thomson observed, she had become “an unremarkable teenager.” The public had lost interest.

By then she was a strong-willed, chain-smoking 17-year-old. Determined to be the first in her Westlake class to become engaged, she had accepted a ring from a 24-year-old Army Air Corps sergeant, John Agar Jr., a few days before her 17th birthday. They were married on Sept. 19, 1945.

Unable to handle being Mr. Shirley Temple, Mr. Agar began drinking excessively. While his wife was appearing in “The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer” with Cary Grant and Myrna Loy and “That Hagen Girl” with Ronald Reagan, Mr. Agar began an acting career of his own. He went on to appear in several low-budget movies, in support of John Wayne in a few westerns and war films, and on television. But he failed to achieve anywhere near as much success as she had.

Shirley and her daughter, Linda Susan in 1948
They were divorced in December 1949, a year after the birth of their daughter, Susan. Less than 60 days after her divorce, Miss Temple, 21, met and became engaged to Charles Alden Black, the 30-year-old assistant to the president of the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, who claimed he had never seen a Shirley Temple movie. They were betrothed after a 12-day courtship. Their marriage lasted almost 55 years, until his death in 2005.

Mr. Black, who was dropped from the San Francisco Social Register for marrying an actress, told a reporter in 1988: “Over 38 years I have participated in her life 24 hours a day through thick and thin, traumatic situations, exultant situations, and I feel she has only one personality. She would be catastrophic for the psychiatric profession. You can wake her up in the middle of the night and she has the same personality everybody knows. What everybody has seen for 60 years is the bedrock.”

Mrs. Black had left the movies for good by Dec. 6, 1950, when she married Mr. Black. A son, Charles Alden Jr., was born in 1952; a daughter, Lori Alden, in 1954.

During the Korean War Mrs. Black followed her husband to Washington, where he was stationed at the Pentagon as a Navy lieutenant commander. In later years he would follow her to her diplomatic postings.
Late in the 1950s, with her old movies being shown on television all over America, she briefly returned to show business. From 1958 to 1961 she was the host and an occasional performer on the television series “Shirley Temple’s Storybook” (also known as “The Shirley Temple Show”), an anthology of fairy-tale adaptations.

By the early 1960s she was president of the Multiple Sclerosis Society and co-founder of the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies, raising funds to fight the disease that afflicted her brother, George. She was representing the federation in Prague on Aug. 21, 1968, when Soviet and Warsaw Pact tanks rolled in and brought to a premature end Alexander Dubcek’s effort to remodel the Communist system.

For many years the Black family lived in the San Francisco area, where she was active in civic and community affairs. She worked particularly hard for the development of the San Francisco International Film Festival, but she resigned from the festival’s executive committee in 1966 in protest against a decision to show the Swedish film “Night Games,” which she called “pornography for profit.”


Mrs. Black had become interested in politics when she lived in Washington. In 1967 she ran for Congress to fill a seat left vacant by the death of the Republican J. Arthur Younger. She hoped to emulate the California political successes of George Murphy, her dancing partner in “Little Miss Broadway,” who had become a United States senator, and Ronald Reagan, her co-star in “That Hagen Girl,” who had become governor.

A backer of the Vietnam War, she lost to a more moderate Republican, Pete McCloskey, in the suburban 11th Congressional District south of San Francisco. It probably did not help that the bands kept playing “On the Good Ship Lollipop” at her campaign stops.

But Mrs. Black pressed on with her decision to have a new career in public service. In 1969, President Nixon appointed her to the five-member United States delegation to the 24th session of the United Nations General Assembly. She acquitted herself well by all accounts, speaking out about the problems of the aged, the plight of refugees and, especially, environmental problems.

When she was appointed ambassador to Ghana in 1974, some career diplomats were outraged, but State Department officials later conceded that her performance was outstanding.

Among her duties as the government’s chief of protocol was heading a one-week training program for new envoys. She flashed her wit in describing it: “We teach them how to get used to being called Ambassador and having Marines saluting. Then, on Day 3, we tell them what to do if they’re taken hostage.”

When she arrived in Prague as ambassador — a post usually reserved for career diplomats — she discovered that there had been a Shirley Temple fan club there 50 years earlier. Officials brought “Shirleyka” old membership cards to autograph. Having been Shirley Temple was extremely helpful to Shirley Temple Black, she told reporters, “mainly because it provides name identification,” although she added that it had “little bearing on whether I succeed or fail thereafter.”

Mrs. Black succeeded beyond almost everyone’s expectations, winning praise during her three years in Prague from, among others, Henry Kissinger, who called her “very intelligent, very tough-minded, very disciplined.” It was a fitting tribute to a woman who had left the screen at 22 saying she had “had enough of pretend.”

Source - New York Times

~ ~ ~

Shirley Temple Black

 April 23, 1928 - January 10, 2014
Goodbye dear, wonderful, Shirley Jane Temple Black
Who made the world smile and laugh 
when it was at its darkest and inspired generations of children.

Hollywood will never, ever have another Screen Darling like you.

All pictures are from my personal Shirley Temple Pinterest board

Monday, February 10, 2014

Redeeming St. Valentine's Day

If you follow me on Pinterest,
then you know my love for Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang!
  Note: I might get into a lot of trouble with this post

      So...this is a post I've been waiting almost an entire year to write. Now I should start off by saying, I'm single. I have never been one to bemoan my single status in public or on the web. I have never had a boyfriend and right now, I don't want one. My family have never been really big into Valentine's Day. A normal Valentine's Day for us is waking up and finding some sweet Valentine's Day chocolate on the table; lovingly bestowed to us by our parents (something they've been doing for almost 25 years).

     I don't know exactly when it began, but for quite a while Valentine's Day has also been referred to as 'Single Awareness Day.' A term I found to be absolutely moronic and idiotic.

     Now, I'm not going to lie, Valentine's Day has been considered a 'Lover's Holiday' for 700 years (starting with the Feast Day of St. Valentine in the 14th century), but it's the selfish, pitiable attitude that is held in society's frame of mind that because you're single than you have no reason to celebrate. Just lock yourself up in your room and feel sorry for yourself for 24 hrs. I don't have a problem with the holiday itself, I thinks it's always good to have a romantic holiday now and then, but what I do have a problem with is society, Christian and secular, making it a pity party day for themselves and not looking around realizing that there is more than one kind of love.

     Why is Valentine's Day a day to be thankful that you don't have 'single' on your Facebook relationship status?

      Aren't there other people in your life that are just as important, such as your parents, siblings and friends?

     How come we never spare a word about the value of friends and family who usually know you better than a boyfriend and girlfriend do?

      I help teach 1st and 2nd grade Sunday school at my church (best class in the whole church!!! I love those kids!!) and on Sunday the kids were making Valentine's cards for their family and friends. So it's all cute when they're children, but why is it a given that as soon as they hit 14 or 15, all of a sudden Valentine's Day is all about getting a boyfriend or girlfriend to show off to the world?

St. Valentine Kneeling by David Teniers III (1600s)
     If you actually read the history about St. Valentine, then up to a point he does have a great deal to do with love, he is the patron saint of young marriages, love, lovers, and happiness, but history's account of love is vastly different from our present day account of love. Valentine was born in Terni, Italy and died in 269 A.D. and according to scholars the name Valentine means worthy, strong and/or noble.  There are many legends surrounding the St.s life. 

     One of the most common was the he was a bishop who would marry young Christian couples and give aid to Christians during the tyrannical rule of the Roman Emperor Clauduis II. When Valentine was caught for aiding Christians he was thrown into jail, but the emperor was rather intrigued by the noble priest and allowed him to live. Valentine did the unthinkable and signed his death warrant when he tried to witness to the emperor. Claudius tried to get him to renounce his faith and when Valentine refused, he was beaten and eventually put to death. Nothing romantic there. 

     Another legend that is considered the "Golden Legend" was that he was in jail awaiting his execution where he gave sight to the jailer's blind daughter. On the day he was to be dragged out and killed, he left a note with the jailer's daughter signing it "From Your Valentine." That is probably where the romanticism of St. Valentine originated from. His simple act of faith restored the sight of a young pagan girl and before he died he left her a reminder of God's love and why he was dying. Yes, that was a romantic gesture, but it sure wasn't Romeo & Juliet, plus he was Catholic priest, he was forbidden to fall in love. On top of that, St. Valentine is not only the patron saint of lovers, love and marriage, but also of travelers, bee keepers, and epilepsy (yahh!).

     It wasn't until the Middle-Ages that Geoffrey Chaucer romanticized the idea of St. Valentine to remember the people that you love (maybe it was in "The Book of The Duchess," remember, it was allegorical...)* and since the 14th century been considered a lover's holiday. So yes, in all honesty it is a day to remember a special someone in your life, but in this day and age, does that mean that the special someone has to be a boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse?

     The point I'm trying to make is to STOP calling Valentine's Day 'Single Awareness Day' when you really aren't single or alone at all. Not if you have a family that loves you, friends that care for you and a God that puts up with your perpetual whining regarding your self-proclaimed singleness. They themselves are just as important as a significant other and until you have a ring on your left hand, should bear more importance than someone who can leave your life just as quickly as they came into it.

*A Knight's Tale (2001) - If you haven't seen it...you need to!!

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