Friday, April 29, 2016

Royal Families: The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge

Will and Kate's journey from 2003 to 2016
Happy Five Year Anniversary Will and Kate!!

     I can remember the moment when my friend told me that Prince William had a new girlfriend and her name was Kate...or something like that. I'm happy to say that I have followed Prince William and Princess Kate's whole relationship from their first appearance while skiing to the engagement, the wedding and now their growing family life. Although Catherine Middleton may not have seemed like royal material in the beginning, she slowly grew from obscure girlfriend to princess-in-waiting.

     While the world was forever harping on Prince William to get married, he and Kate took their time. A lesson learned from William's own parents who hardly knew each other and had a very whirlwind courtship which led to a disastrous ten year marriage, a messy divorce and no small amount of scandal from both sides. So, it's only natural that William and Kate take their time, get to know one another and even took a break from each other for a small period of time. 

The Cambridge family
     Then in October 2010, the royal court announced the engagement of Prince William and Catherine Middleton and the whole world was in an immediate royal frenzy. The wedding was on! For months, all that was talked about was the dress, the church, the bridesmaids, anything and everything pertaining to a right and proper royal wedding. I'm not ashamed to admit that my mom and I got up at 3 a.m. to watch the wedding and it was worth it! Kate was a stunning bride and seemed at ease, but very much excited for the day that was about her and her new husband.

     Now, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have settled quietly into royal life with their two children, Prince George (2) and Princess Charlotte (11 months). They do a variety of charity work and travel a great deal as well. Like most young royal families, Will and Kate have balanced traditional duty to the royal family with their own modern day parenting of their two small children. Although they are still a young couple, William and Kate have quite the royal ride with one another as well as with the royal family, the media and the rest of the world. They have a great dynasty resting upon the two of them, but as of right now, they're probably content with just being called Mum and Dad.

William and Catherine's Wedding -- April 29, 2011

Coming in June

Monday, April 25, 2016

Character Sketch: Sansa Stark

Sophie Turner as Lady Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones

(Note: I had plans to do Sansa's sketch in April, long before I knew that season 6 was premiering last night!
 Perfect timing though!!)
     One of the most controversial characters in the Game of Thrones series, Sansa Stark's character can be summed up in one word, conflicting. Beautiful, polite, generous and noble, Sansa Stark is a quintessential lady that would have the makings of a loved queen. And that is all Sansa has wanted...or is it what she has been told to want? Is Sansa just an airhead with unrealistic romantic ideals or is she a product of her environment?

     When we first meet Lady Sansa, she is a sweet natured teenager living with her family at their home in Winterfell, set in the great North of Westeros. Sansa is the oldest daughter of Lord Eddard and Lady Catlyn Stark. She has one older brother, Robb, two little brothers, Bran and Rickon and one younger sister (and the bane of her existence), tomboyish Arya. Needless to say, Sansa is the pride and joy of her family and all of Winterfell have high hopes for her to marry Crown Prince Joffrey.  

      Sansa has been raised to be a lady who may end up becoming a queen. That is all she has known and that is what has been encouraged her whole life. So, how can one accuse Sansa of daydreaming about castles and crowns when that is what she has grown up expecting to happen to her? Her mother had no problem shipping her daughter off to marry a boy she had only known for 24 hours. Her father, although he saw the Lannisters as nothing short of satanic, still encouraged the marriage because that's what was done. That was the only reason to have a daughter. Only Arya had the sense to see that this was dangerous for her sister and it's understandable why she wanted no part in becoming a lady.

Sophie Turner as Lady Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones
     Eventually, Sansa's hopes and dreams of marriage and children begin to crumble. Joffrey and his family (with the exception of his uncle, Tyrion) turn out to be cruel, manipulative and inhumane. Sansa watched as they executed her father and then proceeded to keep her as a hostage using her as leverage for the war between the Starks and the rest of Westeros. Sansa is beaten, abused, almost sexually assaulted and humiliated to no end. Her only allies are Tyrion (whom she is made to marry), Shae (her lady in waiting and Tryion's secret mistress) and illusive Petyr Balish, who ends up betraying her in the end. Not much hope for her at all.
     Yet, no matter how many disasters Sansa must face, there is one thing that holds her together and becomes her consistent sanctuary. She is still a Stark of Winterfell. While she may have been taught to be a lady, she was also raised to reason, ascertain, and weigh every option. She was taught to think on her feet and not lay down dead when she's pushed to the ground. While Sansa's childhood may have a protective bubble of family perfection, she was not without the knowledge of the evils of the world. 

     Every person has their breaking point and at the end of Season 5, Sansa has finally hit hers. She is at the absolute worst in her life. Trapped in a abusive marriage with no allies and increasingly no hope, Sansa would rather die trying to escape than live in this nightmare that was once her home. Up till now Sansa's whole life on the show has been a crucible of pain, heartache and fear. Now, from the crucible, a naive, romantic, sweet girl is transformed into a strong-willed, courageous she-wolf that is finally ready to fight for her family, her home and for herself. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Mighty Ducks Trilogy

     So I decided to take a trip down memory lane (the 90's to be exact) and review one of my favorite childhood movie series, Disney's The Mighty Ducks. These movies defined a generation of kids and gave birth to terms like cake-eater (negative term for a rich kid), knuckle-puck (a hockey move of a flipped puck on its side and then shot straight into the net at break neck speed), the 'Flying V' (a skating technique), the slogan "Ducks Fly Together!" And the most important life lesson of never quacking at the principal.

~ ~ ~

The Mighty Ducks (1992)
The Mighty Ducks (1992)
     As a a child, Gordon Bombay's life consisted of two things, his dad and hockey of which had a great deal of talent. Then his father died and Gordon ends up failing his team in winning their championship game when he misses the penalty goal. From that moment on, Gordon put away all hopes of hockey, but memories of his lost father and failed dreams still haunt him.

     Years later Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) is now a hot-shot lawyer who seems to have everything going for him, but when he's arrested for drunk driving, life takes a slight detour. That leads him to community service of coaching the worst pee-wee hockey team in Minneapolis. Although the kids have potential, no one has cared too much to train them and they only play hockey for lack of anything better to do with their time. At first meeting, the kids and Bombay develop an immediate dislike for one another and Gordon feels that there is no hope for them.

      Then Gordon runs into two men who both had a significant influence in his life. His old coach, Jack Riley who still coaches the best pee-wee team and Hans, an elderly Norwegian immigrant who taught Gordon how to skate as a child. Meeting up with Jack triggers Gordon's memories of failure and loss of which he takes out on the kids. However, Han's kindly instruction begins to open up Gordon's once closed off spirit and encourages him to give the kids a chance. Gordon takes Han's advice and with a little sponsoring he turns the rag-tag underdog team that was once known as District 5 and turns them into the championship bound Mighty Ducks.

~ ~ ~

D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994)
D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994)
      Several years later Gordon is playing professional hockey, but a knee injury sends him back home to live with Han's brother, Jan. Unsure at what to do next, fate intervenes when he is asked to bring the Ducks back together and enter the Junior Goodwill Games in Las Angeles, California. Joined with several newcomers, the Ducks become Team U.S.A and begin to rise to the top of the Goodwill Games, becoming immediate favorites and seeming undefeatable. However, Gordon gets caught up in the fame and attention and leaves the kids on their own, which allow them ample opportunities to get into trouble. 

       Then the fiercely competitive Icelandic team catch up with them, putting strain on Gordon's ability as a coach and leader. After a humiliating defeat from Iceland, Gordon puts the kids through rigorous exercises, demeaning them when they don't do well and refusing to listen to reason. The kids soon begin to resent Gordon and question why they're even there, but they get a wake up call when they play with a street hockey team and end up gaining a needed team member.

     Meanwhile, Gordon gets put in his place by the team tutor Michelle McKay who intervenes on the kid's behalf and instructs him to take a break. Then Jan comes to Las Angeles and, like his brother, gently reminds Gordon of why he started the Ducks and to remember his love of hockey. Gordon and the kids reunite, stronger than ever, and begin to to play as a team. However, the Iceland team do not give up and they will stop at nothing to defeat team U.S.A., but they soon find out that before they were Team U.S.A, they were Ducks first and Ducks don't always play nicely. 

      While the movie received poor ratings, it's my favorite as well as a consistent favorite among the fans. The movie was made to have an Olympic Games feeling to it and is probably the funniest of all the films, without the cheesiness of the first one. 

~ ~ ~

D3: The Mighty Ducks (1996)
D3: The Mighty Ducks (1996)
      The kids are now teenagers and have all received scholarships to the prestigious Eden Hall Academy where they will play Junior Varsity hockey. All prospects seem bright, but Gordon drops the a-bomb when he tells the kids that he won't be their coach and takes a position at the Junior Goodwill Games. Gordon's replacement ends up being strict and overbearing coach Ted Orion. Orian was a former NHL champion who (like Gordon in the beginning) clashes with the kids, especially the team captain, Charlie Conway (Gordon's favorite). 

      This film focuses more on Charlie as the lead character and how he struggles to adjust to the snobby private school and dealing with the superior Varsity team that clearly don't want the former Ducks there. Charlie's major antagonism is directed toward Orion who he believes is trying to destroy everything that the Ducks had. Like Gordon, Charlies seeks advice from Hans, but unlike Gordon, he refuses to take it. The other Ducks, however, don't deter from their trouble-making and begin to cause friction within the school. After a final fall-out with the Varsity team and a humiliating reprimand from Coach Orion, Charlie quits hockey and leaves the school.

      Tragedy strikes and Charlie is brought back to deal with the loss of an old friend. Angrier and more confused than ever, Charlie gets a surprise visit from Gordon who relays to him the importance of teamwork, true leadership and surprising secrets of Coach Orion's life. Charlie returns to the team with a deeper understanding of a real team player and greater respect for Coach Orion, who now sees the Ducks as a winning team who need their captain back. When the kid's scholarships are temporarily revoked by the school, Orion puts his own career on the line to keep them there, but unexpected help comes and the kids stay to show Eden Hall Academy how to play hockey like Ducks.

      Like the second film, this one got poor reviews, but I still thought it was a great movie! The kids all grew up very well and it was great seeing how far Charlie had come from the shy boy in the beginning, to the confident teenager at the end. Also, how Gordon begins to take the position as the wise mentor and uses his life experience to teach and train the kids. The pranks between the Varsity and Junior Varsity teams are unforgettable and there was a great deal of humor that balanced out the stronger drama in this one.  

~ ~ ~

     I believe that every generation has a movie franchise that have people look back in their childhood and think "Those movies were awesome!" That's how I've always felt about The Mighty Ducks. They're your quintessential feel good Disney sports films that were made to make you laugh at the realities of life. The kids were a bunch of underdogs that needed a push from an unlikely force to bring out their true talents. Gordon Bombay, himself, was always a great character to me and one of the reasons I loved the second one so much is how his own character development was stronger than that of the kids. These films are the absolute films of my childhood and no matter how old I get, I will always have a special place in my heart for the 'Ducks.' 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Happy Birthday Queen Elizabeth!

Queen Elizabeth II with her two youngest grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Happy 90th Birthday to Queen Elizabeth II!

Born Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor 
on April 21, 1926.

She was the first born daughter of Prince George and Princess Elizabeth, the Duke and Duchess of York.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Spring Layout

Time for a new layout! This time I used one of my absolute favorite couples, King Arthur and Queen Guinevere from BBC's Merlin. I LOVE these two!!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Hunchback of Notre Dame: The Musical

     Olivia at Meanwhile in Rivendell wrote a post on her site talking about her newest musical obsession, Disney's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame: A New Musical." She posted several of her favorite songs and I was intrigued to see if I could find the musical on YouTube and I did! The musical uses the song from the 1996 film, but the storyline in the musical differs from the movie. This is an off Broadway production from La Jolla productions from 2015. I've seen most of part one and I'm already crazy about it.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Friday, April 8, 2016

Little Things #9

1.) A clean public bathroom: I seriously do rate the bathrooms I go into.

2.) Having a lot of eye shadow to choose from: Probably my favorite part of my makeup routine.

3.) Going to the movie theater: Still my absolute favorite outings : )

4.) Internet is my daily need: But it's not always there : (

5.) I'm really not a morning person: Anyone who're a braver person than me.

6.) I hate being ignored: Possibly one of the worst feelings in the world. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Celtic Woman: Destiny

Proof that I was there. Our seats were awesome!
     Last night, my mother, two of my sisters and I all went and saw Celtic Woman: Destiny live at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk. It was amazing! Absolutely stunning! My family have been longtime fans of Celtic Woman since their beginning in 2004. We watch a great deal of PBS and of course, Celtic Woman is a great favorite, so we're always on the look out for the next show.

These were some of my favorite songs.

"How Can I Keep From Singing?" by Eabha McMahon

"Walk Beside Me"

Skyrim by Máiréad Nesbitt

"I See Fire" by Mairead Carlin

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

     I just got back from the theater and I knew I had to immediately review this movie! OMG!!! It was...WONDERFUL! Visually stunning, well written, with astounding performances from an international cast! While there was an explosion every five minutes and no small shortage of car crashes, the emotional and moral centerpoint of the story did not get lost at all. BvS explored the mental mindset of human beings; "Are we good?" This is put in deep religious undertones, brought on by Lex Luthor, himself. While the story primarily focuses on the rivalry between Batman and Superman, if does not gloss over the real reason these men (and eventually an extraordinary woman) fight and sacrifice. For the preservation of good, the protection of humanity, and the beautiful hope of a better world.

Bruce Wayne//Batman, Clark Kent//Superman, Diana Prince//Wonder Woman
     Bruce Wayne//Batman: The story begins with the genesis of Bruce Wayne becoming the Batman. After witnessing his parent's brutal murder as a little boy, Bruce swore that he would protect his city of Gotham and the people within from the onslaught of of crime. Then we are thrust into the present day and picking up where Man of Steel left off, only it's told from Bruce's POV. After the destruction of Metropolis, he strongly believes that Superman is a menace with his own diabolical agenda for coming to earth. 

     For the next year, Bruce meticulously plans to take down the Superman, but other issues get in the way. Namely Lex Luthor of LexCorp, who is just as ambitious as Bruce is when it comes to destroying the Man of Steel. Eventually, Bruce and Superman come to their final showdown with one another, but an unexpected twist of fate regarding their loved ones turns Bruce around. Realizing that Superman has only ever wanted to do good, Bruce kills his former prejudices and becomes Superman's most formidable and honorable of allies. 

     While I grew up watching Christian Bale as Batman, Ben Affleck slid into the role with an effortless ease and complete control. His Bruce Wayne had the same grit and darkness, but there was also deep compassion that is eventually seen as his true force and not his revenge.

     Clark Kent//Superman: A good man, a brave man, and a man who is trying to live two separate lives. Clark's life has been successful since his fight with Zod 18 months earlier. He is primary reporter at the Daily Planet and the love of Lois Lane's life. However, his alter-ego, Superman, is beginning to feel the strain of a world that hates and fears him. Despite his best intentions to to the right thing, Clark's Superman becomes the target of extreme aggression and anger by many who blame him for what happened in Metropolis. 

     While trying to deal with Superman, Clark begins to look up the mysterious vigilante batman from Gotham City. He finds this anti-hero to be erratic, unmerciful and inhumane. Soon, Clark begins to believe that the Batman must be stopped without risking the the threat of having blood on his hands. Clark's deepest test of honor and courage are put at risk, hen his mother is kidnapped by Lex Luthor, who threatens to kill her if Superman doesn't kill the Batman first. Now Clark must gather all his courage to save the one he loves and eventually save the world that does not deserve his sacrifice at all. 

     I was so happy to see Clark Kent//Superman again! Henry Cavill plays him with such a genuine charm that it is so hard not to fall in love with this Kryptonian alien! I'm a fully fledged Superman girl (Thanks to Smallville) and Henry Cavill's portrayal as Clark Kent//Superman is nothing short of absolute perfection.

     Diana Prince//Wonder Woman: A beautiful, but illusive woman who seems to be one step ahead of Bruce Wayne and forever thwarting his plans. While most of her story is kept in the shadows, Diana is seen as deep seeded mystery, but she certainly does not lack personality. It's not until the last 15-20 min. of the film that we see Diana's alter-ego of Wonder Woman explode onto the screen. A much needed asset to the newly minted Batman//Superman duo, Diana can fight and defend just as well as either man. At the end, it's stated that this is only the beginning if Diana's story and in time, we'll see the origins of who Wonder Woman is.

      I loved her! A great heroine that didn't distract from the storyline and gave just enough to make you curious for more of who she is. 

Allies and Adversaries 
Alfred, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor
     Alfred: Bruce Wayne's butler, guardian, counselor and everything in between. Alfred is utterly loyal to Bruce, but also advises him when he needs it. Although, this take on Alfred was very different, I liked that they didn't just repeat Michael Cane's characterization. In BvS, Alfred is younger, more active and seems well instructed in weapon design and management. However, he is still Bruce's moral compass and will not hide the truth from him no matter what.

     Lois Lane: The star reporter of the Daily Planet, Lois Lane still manages to find herself in trouble when it comes to going where angels fear to tread. While madly in love with Clark Kent, Lois is heartbroken at the world's rejection of Superman and she will stop at nothing to try and clear his name. Spunky and determined are probably the best adjectives to describe Amy Adam's Lois Lane. Lois is brainy without being too reckless and she has a fiery will for the truth and for the world to know about it.

     Lex Luthor: Wealthy and eccentric, Lex Luthor knows no bounds when it comes to getting what he wants. And what he wants is power, control and absolute greatness. Although incredibly intelligent, Lex's arrogance and manipulation gets the better of him, when he realizes that goodness and power can reside side by side with one another. A scarily psychotic Lex Luthor, who gets very aggravating in a short amount of time, but gets a taste of real power in the form of absolute justice. 

      This movie is a wild ride and while it may seem confusing in the beginning, it all comes together and begins to make sense. What I enjoyed the most about this story (besides Henry Cavill), was that Zack Snyder continued to incorporate Christian elements that shaped not only the story, but the characters as well. I saw this greatly in Man of Steel and appreciated it very much. Like with most superhero movies, Batman v Superman is a story of ultimate good battling ultimate evil. Yet, sometimes prejudice and anger can blind us from seeing true goodness and Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman (soon to be followed by other superheros), bring this trouble world symbols of goodness, courage and ultimate hope. 

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