Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Women, A History: Katherine 'Kat' Ashley - Loyal Lady-in-Waiting

Katherine Champernowne Ashley
Loyal Lady-in-Waiting

     This is going to be considerably shorter, because not much is known about Katherine Ashley except that she was governess to Queen Elizabeth I when she was a child and eventually became her most trusted lady-in-waiting. When Anne Boleyn was beheaded, Elizabeth went through several different governesses before she was put into the care of Katherine Champernonwne. Kat was a brilliant young women who was well educated and had a good reputation among the nobility. She cared for the little princess as if she was her own child. 

     Kat was also Elizabeth's tutor and instructed her in history, grammar, astronomy, mathematics, and taught her how to speak Flemish, Spanish, Italian and French. She was also supplementary in training Elizabeth in needlework, horseback riding and dancing. Elizabeth once commented that Kat worked tirelessly to bring her up as a proper young woman. Elizabeth and Katherine were inseparable and Elizabeth truly saw her governess as her own mother at times. In 1545, Kat married John Ashley who was a distant cousin of Anne Boleyn.
     As life in the King Henry's court became more and more complicated, Kat tried to shield her charge the best she could. However, it was difficult because Elizabeth tended to belligerent and independent. One such issue was Elizabeth's blossoming relationship with Thomas Seymour (brother to Jane Seymour). At first, Kat was excepting of their friendship, but then they were becoming to physical with one another and eventually Kat told Thomas to leave Elizabeth. However, Thomas was accused of treason against the king and due to his relationship with Elizabeth, Kat was arrested and called into questioning, but was eventually let go when they realized she knew nothing.

     After Henry's death, Kat stayed with young Elizabeth during Mary's reign of tyranny and was imprisoned with her in The Tower until Elizabeth was taken to court. When Elizabeth became Queen, she named Kat First Lady of the Bedchamber (or Lady in Waiting). Kat stayed with the Queen until she died of a rapid illness in 1565. 

     Kat was more than Elizabeth's governess, she was her mother, her guide and her friend. She stayed close to her Queen in good times and in bad, and never wavered in her loyalty. Anyone would hope to have a friend that loyal in life.
“We are more bound to them that bringeth us up well, than to our parents, for our parents do that which is natural for them, that is bringeth us into the world, but our bringers up are a cause to make us live well in it.”
     ~Queen Elizabeth about Katherine Ashley 

The Celebrities Tag

Ruth from Amongst Spring Blossoms tagged me for this fun tag!

Thank You!

Paste the ''Famous People Tag'' button on your own blog
Answer the questions
Tagging is optional

The Questions:
1. Who's your favourite actress? (Okay, pick at least three, because there are so many of them)
     - Anne Hathaway, Hilary Swank and Sandra Bullock

2. Which red carpet dress is the best one you ever saw?
(Sorry I couldn't find a better photo! But I saw this dress in a magazine and it was stunning!)
3. If there is going to be a new Pride and Prejudice, which actor and actress would you choose for Elizabeth and Darcy?
     - Emilia Clarke as Lizzie and James Norton as Darcy

4. Do you know Lily James full name without looking up?
     - Lily Chloe Ninette Thompson

5. Who's your favourite actor?(pick at least three, because there are also so many actors)
     - Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale and James McAvoy

6. Which red carpet dress is the worst you ever saw?

7. Who's your favourite Royal family?
      - The Crown Princely Couple of Denmark

Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary with their children
Prince Christian, Princess Isabella, Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine
8. Are there actors/actresses you don't like? If yes, why?
      - I really can't name any! I was quite surprised! 

9. Do you have a favourite child actor/actress?
    - Shirley Temple

10. What's the prettiest celebrities name you ever heard?
     - Nina Dobvev

11. What's your favourite movie quote?

In spite of its historical inaccuracies, this was a wonderful movie!
My movie review 
12. If you where a actress, and you where casted to play one of the ladies of DA, who would you want to play?
     - Edith Crawley. I'm the middle child as well as the middle sister and so I can relate to Edith on so many levels! 

13. Do you often talk about actors/actresses with your family?
     - I do with my sisters; we have a lot of the same tastes.

14. Which actor/actress would you want to meet? (Right, just pick two, to make it funner)
     - Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman 

     I tag:


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Character Sketch: Morgana LeFay Pendragon

(Note: this is not about Morgana from Merlin, but about the actual Arthurian legend)

     Queen, princess, sister, sorceress, priestess, lover, murderer, legend. Morgana LeFay Pendragon is a plethora of characteristics that has defined one of the most archetype feminists that was way before her time. Like with her counterpart, Guinevere, Morgana has been on both sides of the fence. She has been ultimate good and she has been ultimate evil. She has been Arthur's enemy, ally and lover. There has been a consistent love/hate stort between Merlin and Morgana and their own advantageous relationship is older than the knights of the Round Table. Yet, no matter what side Morgana is on, there is something about who she is that gives her character such longevity.

     Like I said above, Morgana is a feminist that was written in legend at a time where women were still being sold off to men in marriage. What sets Morgana apart is that she has never needed a man to survive. She is clever, witty, manipulative and even cruel. Yet within her extreme intelligence, Morgana has always had the capabilities to do the wrong thing for the right reason. In most legends she is bound by history and by rights the throne is rightfully hers, but she must first combat Arthur (her half brother) to obtain it. Morgana is usually portrayed as a sorceress who uses her magic for evil instead of for good. That how she and Merlin are most strongly opposed to one another. Merlin normally is seen using his magic as a necessity, but Morgana uses magic because she can.

      At times, one cannot help but pity Morgana. She is by rights a queen, but the preference primogeniture laws at the time prohibit her from taking what is hers. So, the question is, does Arthur rightfully take the throne because he is male conceived by magic or does Morgana rule because she is a natural blood heir, even though she is a woman? While Morgana craves power, she oftentimes craves something so much more. Love and a family. Deep within Morgana is the capability to love and that is often shown with the character of Mordred who is sometimes written as her own son or a child she cares for. Yet, Morgana chooses power and control over love which usually cuts her off from affection and familial happiness.

     While Morgana has been written and portrayed in every way imaginable, her one consistent attribute that always remains is her neverending strength. She remains standing when all around her fall, she never wavers in her beliefs (even when she may be wrong), she has never lives by men's rules and is passionate in her causes. In most cases, Morgana is more anti-hero than villain She has a lot of good reasons for doing what she does, but does that necessarily make it right? While the throne may rightfully be hers by birth, does that mean she will be a good queen? Morgana is a character that creates more questions than answers and is a woman that will never submit to anyone's authority, least of all, a man's authority.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Liebster Blog Award Vlog (and new layout!)

Olivia from Meanwhile In Rivendell nominated me for (another) Liebster Blog award! And seeing as I hadn't done a vlog in months, I decided to do it vlog form : )

Also, Now that Downton Abbey week is over, I've redone my layout for the fall time and I love it!!!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Writer's Camp: Day Six - Break Out of the Mold

      This is going to be a fun one! There are a lot of genres and character types that are definitely overused in today's writing. While ever several years there seem to be certain genres that are popular (magic, vampires/supernatural, dystopia), sometimes it seems like they are all telling the same story over and over again. However, my greatest aggravation is toward stereotype characters and how they seem to produce unrealistic expectations for society.

     Need I say anymore on the subject?? Love triangles are fine to a certain point, but when they start to deter the audience from the real story than it's a problem. Now, some love triangles are important to stories, such as Authrian legends with King Arthur, Queen Guinevere and Lancelot, because in most legends, Lance and Gwen's affair is what brought down the fall of Camelot or "The Vampire Diaries" where it really is a struggle between love and lust. Some love triangles can add much needed humor to the story. "Harry Potter" is a brilliant example of the stupidity of young love and the mistakes people make when they can't tell someone they love them. 

     However, love triangles such as "Twilight," "The Phantom of the Opera" and even "The Hunger Games," really had no bearing in the story, because quite frankly none of these guys had the girl's best interest in mind. The girl is usually a pawn in their testosterone wars. Also, there is a terrible double standard in love triangles. If it's girl between two guys than it's fair game for everyone. Yet, if it's a guy between two girls than it's the preferred girl (that the guy wants) who normally gets all the hate and the second girl (that the guy ignores) who gets all the sympathy. Stories that deal with these type of love triangles would be "Les Miserables" (Cosette-Marius-Eponine) and "The Lord of The Rings" (Arwen-Aragorn-Eowyn). 

     Love triangles are overused, boring and unrealistic. You can write about loving just one person or even better, struggling to love a person. There's beauty in that, because it's painful, but real. 

      There's Arya Stark with her sword, Hermione Granger with her wand, Katniss Everdeen with her bow and arrows, Natasha Romonoff with her spy skills...the list goes on and on. While all of these women mentioned above are great examples of strong heroines, the 'fighting woman character' is getting stale. Women can no longer just read, write, take care of people, be loving, tender, generous, wise and soft-spoken. Characters like that are seen as weak, shallow and boring. So, women can no longer be just women. The only way a female character can be popular and loved is if she is better than a man. Also, the super brainy, computer hacker character is getting really old too. While I believe that women can be (and should be) portrayed as smart and intelligent, not every girl can fix a computer or hack into a top secret facility. 

     Not sorry to say, but women need to be seen and written as women. Sure it's alright for women to fight, but don't cut them off from feeling and emotion. All the characters that I listed above (with the exception of Arya) in the beginning are incapable of loving deeply and letting other people know that they love them. all of their stories continue, we're finally able to see that they are capable of loving, being generous and kind and even wanting a family and children (Natasha Romanoff!!!), but what happens? They are crucified by femi-nazis and seen as pathetic and anti-feminist. That is wrong on every single level! They are women and are written to be women, as emotional, sympathetic, frightened, compassionate

      Go ahead and create a strong female character, but she doesn't have to shoot a gun or break into Fort Knox to be seen as a heroine. Good heroines, like Skeeter Phelan from "The Help," or Marty Davies from "The Love Comes Softly" series are fantastic examples of women who could change the people and the situations around them by simply caring and allowing their feminine natures to guide them.

      Now, this is a mold that most definitely needs to be broken! The poor, mistreated, misunderstood villain who has the idea the ends justifies the means...and everyone else just rolls with it. No, just no. I do not care how terrible someones backstory is; a villain is a villain and anyone who kills for his or her own selfish gain should be hated, not praised. Characters such as Loki, Morgana, Magneto are all considerably praised for their villainous actions, because of their traumatic, abused and ignored childhoods. Alright, I'll give some leeway to Magneto because he is more of an anti-hero than just a villain.

     The tragic villain is an interesting character, but in the last several years, it has been overused probably thanks to Tom Hiddleston's performance as Loki. While he was great in the role, the character of Loki is the paragon of selfishness, arrogance, injustice and inhumanity (I really just don't like him), but people are so focused on the fact that Odin was such a terrible father (which he wasn't!!) they use that as justification for Loki's actions. No. That is not the way the villain should be treated.

The villain is what you should be afraid of becoming. 

     Case in point: Say Suzanne Collins, the writer of "The Hunger Games," wrote a prequel story concerning the life of President Snow. She wrote that Snow was abused and lonely or suffered from very dominant parents who ignored him. Then she goes and writes that Snow's father kills one of his [Snow's] siblings in an effort to gain control of his family and it works. That causes Snow himself to be afraid of his father who was suppose to protect him, but he also realizes that fear is a powerful tool. Overtime Snow turns into a psychopathic leader who uses murder and fear to control Panem.

     Now, that may change one's perception of Snow, however, it does not negate the fact that Snow is an evil man who had to be destroyed. No one wakes up one morning as a child and says, "I want to be a murderer when I grow up." It's usually a long and painful process, but two wrongs don't make a right. You may not have been able to control your past, but you can take hold of your future. The tragic villain may add layers to the character, but it is not a character to be patterned after. Use character perception instead; you may think he or she is a villain, but instead there is more than one way of seeing them. Character perception is a great way to write both a hero and a villain in the same person. 

~ ~ ~

     That was really fun! I didn't realize there was so much I wanted to say! There are a lot of story molds that need to be broken or just redone in a certain way. A girl can be in love with two guys and vice versa, but don't make it a fight. Introduce a new character that comes in and stirs up the triangle. Female characters are difficult to write, but keep in mind that women don't have to be men to get through in the world. And the tragic villain should be a life lesson that no matter how bad one may have had it, evil done in return can and never will be validated. 

      Other posts I've done on topics similar to these:

Monday, August 22, 2016

Matthew Crawley: Unexpected Heir; Everyday Hero

     There's Mr. Darcy, Mr. Rochester, Mr. Knightley, Mr. Thornton, Mr. Ferrers and then there is Matthew Crawley. The beloved hero of Downton Abbey took the world by storm as a lawyer turned heir who overnight had a great dynasty thrust upon his young shoulders. And that reason alone is what separates Matthew Crawley from the heroes of Jane Austen and the Bronte Sisters. The son of a upper middle class doctor and a former nurse, Matthew has lived a comfortable, very educated life in Manchester, England working as a city solicitor. He was not raised in a great estate home, with servants to do his bidding. He knows nothing about managing land or dealing with family traditions. At least he's willing to try...and as long as it doesn't change him.

     Matthew is given a lukewarm greeting by the residents of Downton Abbey, when he and his mother arrive. He is most especially put off by snotty Lady Mary who believes, that as the oldest, she should have Downton, not some distant stranger cousin. However, instead of buckling underneath the pressure of having to prove himself, Matthew goes above and beyond everyone's expectations. His once perceptions of how the wealthy live begin to change as Robert teaches him how to care for the tenants and protect the land. Mary, Edith and Sybil all have varied views of him, but all agree that he's worth keeping around. 

     The longer Matthew stays in Downton, the more he realizes how much of a difference he can make. Not much is spoken of Matthew's father, but it's clear that Matthew missed him dearly and finds a new father figure in Robert Crawley. While Robert loves his daughters dearly, he sees the son on Matthew he was never able to have. He sees an honest, good, and honorable man than any father would be proud of having and that any father would want his daughter to marry. 

     While Matthew hold the title of unexpected heir in the story; to fans he is simply an everyday hero. While hardly a brooding hero, people love him because he was a regular guy who went through extreme changes in his life, without himself being changed. 

     Matthew has always been a moral compass throughout his time on Downton Abbey. Yet, he was portrayed in a way that didn't make him too good to be true. Was he flawed, definitely? He could be judgmental, analytical, impatient and had difficulty getting over heady issues in the past. Yet, instead of these flaws demeaning his character, they made his character so much more real. Matthew wasn't always broodiness and hard work; he knew how to relax and have fun. There was also a sense of cluelessness about him that endeared him to the world. He didn't always know what was going on or how to handle things. What person ever does? 

     When Matthew died at the end of season 3, it did quite a bit of damage to the show. Many male Downton Abbey fans stopped watching the show, because for the first time, there was a guy that could relate too. That didn't have the perfect or unattainable qualities that girls always seem to want. Someone who was just as confused about love as they were. Matthew wasn't Mr. Darcy or Mr. Thornton who do could do no wrong; he was a lawyer who only wanted to do what was right. However, Downton Abbey survived for three more successful seasons, but really, the loss of Matthew was keenly felt through out the rest of the show. 

     From, lawyer to landowner, Matthew Crawley broke the mold for the romantic hero. A guy who could be understanding, but confused. Who could love deeply and lose greatly. A man who knew how to laugh, have fun and look beyond the boundaries of society.

 Thank you, Matthew Crawley for being the everyday hero the world needs right now.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Writer's Camp: Day Five - Bring Out The Books

     Today, we're suppose to talk about our favorite authors and book series and how they inspire us in our writing. This won't be hard at all : )

      From the time I was first allowed to read "Harry Potter," I have found J.K. Rowling to be an inspirational and cultivated writer. I grew up reading "The Chronicles of Narnia," and C.S. Lewis' ability to take Christian worldview and make it the centerpoint of a fantasy world, was nothing short of genius. 

     J.K. Rowling: She was a struggling single mother who had the bizarre idea of writing a story about a boy who went to school to learn magic. Well, almost 20 years later, that bizarre idea has made J.K. Rowling one of the wealthiest women in the world, and that boy and his magical school have become an part of our social culture. When Harry Potter came along, the world began to believe in the impossible. We got caught up in this orphan's story of boyhood to manhood as he lived, learned, fought, loved, hated, lost and ultimately redeemed his own happy ending. We fell in love with Hogwarts and dreamed that one day we would get out letters. We wanted Ron and Hermione to be our best friends, attend Quidditch matches, eat in the Great Hall, go exploring in the Forbidden Forest and the all manner of the other things that J.K. Rowling brought to life in her writing.

     As the series continued, Rowling expanded her world, but the ideals of Harry Potter "The Boy Who Lived" never got lost in that expansion. I'm a character person. I enjoy reading about characters, their development, their strengths and weaknesses, their gifts and their flaws and how we can relate to them. While J.K. Rowling wrote about a magical world, she placed within that world real human people every person could relate to.

Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
      She broke boundaries with her creation of Hermione Granger, the brilliant young witch who didn't care what people thought about her and was noble to the end. Before Hermione, it wasn't cool to be smart. Smart people were the shy, demure wallflowers that no one noticed. Well, there was nothing shy about Hermione Granger and she has inspired legions of girls to not be afraid of being intelligent, of being heard and not conforming to the social expectations. Rowling was able make Hermione a feminist minded character, without the negativeness of female empowerment or women always having to lead. That can be difficult to accomplish.

     Rowling's writing, in general is enviable! She is very fluid and balanced and, thankfully, doesn't waste too much time on detail. I'm horrible with dialogue; I'm more narrative in my writing, but J.K. Rowling's ability to write proper dialogue without it coming off as wooden I find very talented. So, while I write, I'm trying to focus more on dialogue and how to make it more interesting and less on narrative.

     C.S. Lewis: The great creator of Aslan and Narnia, and a man that made children want to believe that there was a greater world out there. I grew up with C.S. Lewis and his stories of "Narnia." I watched the BBC mini-series on videotape until they were worn out and I also love the the 1979 animated version. While Lewis wrote many other books, "Narnia" was his only children's series and really that is all I have read from him. However, no matter how old I have gotten, I have never lost my love for "Narnia" or for Aslan.

     Lewis' story from staunch atheist to devout Christian has been inspirational for decades. He wrote on theology and Christian worldview that is becoming increasingly lost in this day and age. "Narnia," while being primarily a fantasy story for children, also held a great deal of his own worldview. While he denies that he wrote "Narnia" as a Christian allegory, he may not have realized that huge impact his stories of a lion, a group of lonely children and the underlying tones of good v. evil has had on society. 

      What Lewis' inspires in me as a writer is the ability to see the ordinary (like a wardrobe, a group of kids, a teacher, an attic, etc.) and make something great from it. "Narnia" was written for children, so he had to make it easy for children to understand. He manged to tap into a child's imagination and allowed them to see themselves within this wonderful world. He didn't spend too much time on physical detail, except maybe the color of someone's hair, and he was more focused on the character development and how the character's storyarc turned out in the end. Lewis' writing was very simple and concise, but he also had a great deal of humor that could balance out the dark undertones that all his stories had.

     Both Lewis and Tolkien created worlds of fantasy, heroes to believe in, villains to hate and worlds we dream of living in. And yet, in the centerpoint of those worlds and the heart of those heroes they wrote a message of hope, peace and understanding. Both men were veterans of WWI that inevitably changed their lives forever. So years later, they created stories that centered on wars within these magical worlds, but primarily focused on the training of boys, girls, men and women who would fight to better their worlds, even at the cost of their lives. 

Downton Abbey Week - Day One: Tag & Game

     Downton Abbey Week hosted by Naomi Sarah is officially begun! She started it off with a tag and then a trivia game. So, lets begin with the tag!

Downton Abbey Tag

1. Who introduced you to Downton Abbey?
      - PBS 

2. What Season did you (or: do you think you would) enjoy the most?
     -Season 2

3. Who wore the prettiest wedding dress?
      - Both of Edith's wedding dresses

4. What plot twist/ scene came most unexpected to you? (Or do you pre-read all the spoilers?)
     - Sadly, I had a weakness for looking up spoilers, but probably Anna's rape by Mr. Green. 

5. If you could save one character from dying, who would you save?
     - Matthew Crawley 

6. Who is your favourite Downton Abbey footman?
     -Andrew! He was great! 

7. What typo annoys you more? "Downtown Abbey" or "Downton Abby"?
     -"Downtown Abby" 

8. Which character do you think developed the best throughout the seasons?
     - Tom Branson 

9. Favourite Downton couple? (Okay, pick two, because there's too much cuteness to narrow down to one.)
     - Matthew Crawley and Lady Mary Crawley
     - The Earl (Robert Crawley) and Countess (Cora Crawley) of Grantham 

10. Which of Granny Grantham's one-liners is your favourite?
     - "I am a woman Mary; I can be as contrary as I choose. 

11. How do you react when you meet another DA-lover?
     - Kindred Spirit!!! 

12. Do you think the show should go on and on, or do you think it should have ended earlier?
     - I think it ended in a very good place, but it was left wide open for more story possibilities.  

13. Which room in Downton Abbey is your favourite?
     - The library/Lord Grantham's study 

14. If you could be part of the story, would you rather be a person downstairs or upstairs?
     - That's tough, because neither was easy to live in, but probably downstairs. 

15. Who would you rather spend an afternoon with, Mrs Patmore or Lady Grantham (Cora)?
    - Lady Grantham! 

16. Do you have any Downton Abbey inside jokes with someone?
     - Not really...I've had plenty good debates with my sister about Mary and Edith though. 

17. Describe the show in one word.
     - Extraordinary! 

18. On a scale of 1-10, how much of a fan do you consider yourself?

19. Do you sometimes forget who is who?
     - No, never! 

20. Finally, who is your favourite character (okay, pick three favourites, but no more than three - NO MORE), and why do you love them? 
      - Matthew Crawley
      - Anna Smith Bates
      - Mrs. Hughes 

Downton Abbey Game

1. Name three Downton Abbey redheads.
      - Beryl Patmore
      - Gwen Dawson
      - Lavinia Swire

2. Which two ladies said the following lines? A: What shall I wear? B: Clothes.
     - A: Gwen Dawson
     - B: Lady Sybil Crawley (Season 1)

3. Why is Lady Rose wearing a servants outfit here?! Explain it to ME.

     She had met a young boy at a dance and he followed her back to Downton Abbey. Fearing that he would find out she was actually a lady and also she might get into trouble with her aunt and uncle, Rose borrowed a uniform from Anna and met him at the back door.  (Season 4)

4. Name three characters that cut their hair into bobs.
     - Lady Sybil Crawley Branson (Season 3)
     - Lady Mary Crawley (Season 5)
     - Daisy Mason (Season 6)

5. What is Cora's Mother's first (Christian) name?
     - Martha

6. What did the Dowager Countess say during Daisy and William Mason's wedding?
     - "I just have something in my eye." (Season 2)

7. Who does this beautiful jacket/dress belong to?

     - Lady Edith Crawley (Season 5/6)  

8. Name three of Lady Rose's 'lovers.' :-P
     - Atticus -- her husband (Seasons 5 and 6) 
     - Jack Ross (Season 4)
     - A man she was caught with at a nightclub in season 3??

9. The Dowager Countess once joked (wait, she was perfectly serious) that Americans lived in: a) treehuts b) wigwams c) plantations d) bear-skin huts
     - b) wigwams (Season 1)

10. Why does Mr Bates walk with a cane? 
     - He was wounded when he was Lord Grantham's batman in the Boer War. (Season 1)

11. What is the name of Lord Granthams' dog? (the first dog)
     - Isis (Season 1,2,3,4,5)

12. Who does this fantabulous hat belong to?

      - Countess of Grantham -- Lady Cora Crawley

13. Name three DA characters whose names start with M (last names are also allowed; you're welcome.) 
     - Matthew Crawley
    - Mary Crawley
    - William Mason

14. Who did the Dowager Countess tell to stop whining and find something to do?
     - Lady Edith Crawley (Season 3) 

15. Who said the following quote? "You know the trouble with you lot? You are in love with the wrong people."
     - Beryl Patmore (Season 3) 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Young Guns

     As I continue on with my 2016 Great 80's Movie List, the 1988 cult film Young Guns had been on the top of my list for a while and planned to see it this summer. However, I couldn't get my hands on it, nor was it run on TV (I would think AMC would have played it at least once, while The American West was running). Then I found that my brother owned a copy this entire time and (like with Legends of The Fall and The Untouchables), I swiped it from him.

     Although the story is about notorious wild west outlaw, Billy the Kidd, to go and say this was a 'historical film' would be something of a stretch. Hollywood has never gotten history right and that was certainly the truth in the 1980's. Yet, the movie is a huge 80's favorite because of its cast of leading men that were up and coming in their careers, including Brat Packer Emilio Estevez, typecast villain Kiefer Sutherland and Red Dawn's Charlie Sheen (also Emilio Estevez's younger brother). Another reason for it's longevity was the 80's vibe music that was used for the score, which actually sounded pretty cool. 

Top: L-R, Lou Diamond Phillips as Chavez, Casey Siemazsko as Charlie and Dermot Mulroney as Steve 

Bottom: L-R: Kiefer Sutherland as Doc, Emilio Estevez as Billy and Charlie Sheen as Dick

     In 1877, the west is being settled by greedy business owners, dishonest politicians and productive cattle barons. In Lincoln, New Mexico, English born John Tunstall (Terence Stamp) is one of the wealthiest cattle ranchers in the country. He is honest, moral minded, well educated and a hard worker. These qualities don't deter John from the realities of the world and from people who suffer from poverty, illiteracy and want. So, John takes in young men from troubled backgrounds, gives them decent work, a good education and teaches them how to live in society. One of these men is William H. Bonny, a thief and gun slinger running from the law. 

     While there Billy meets The Regulators.

 Josiah "Doc" Spurlock, a former outlaw turned gentleman rancher (uncharacteristically played by Kiefer Sutherland as the moral compass and romantic of the group).

 Jose Chavez Y Chavez, a Navajo Indian who has lost his family and his people.

 Charlie Bowdre, a fun loving wrangler with a lot of mouth.

"Dirty" Steve Stephens, well his name says it all. 

 Richard M. "Dick" Brewer, John's sensible, no-nonsense foreman. 

     Billy soon begins to feel like he has a family and a future, yet John has no shortage of enemies of businessmen. Known as The Ring, they are led by Lawrence Murphy, who can't abide John's moral virtue and his refusal to give into their corrupt ways.

     John is eventually killed by assassins set out by The Ring, but they are never called into court because Murphy owns the town and no one wants to take him on. So, The Regulators are sworn in as deputies and they go on a hunt to find John's assassins. However, Billy is not one to play by the rules and he begins a bloodbath of revenge and vindication. Soon, The Regulators become outlaws with nowhere to go and increasingly no hope of survival from Murphy and The Ring. 

     Being a western, there was no shortage of gun fighting, blood and testosterone filled action. And while riddled with inaccuracies, the movie was a fun watch, with a great cast that blended well together in every scene. I have to say the rock music score was awesome. It added to the pace of the film and matched the youthful recklessness of its lead characters. The movie balances between action, comedy and even a small amount of romance and by no means has any boring moments at all. Another great example of Hollywood 80's moviemaking that didn't stick to the rules, but definitely made history fun to watch. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Downton Abbey Layout Re-do

The second layout is infinitely better than the first now that I put in all the couples! including Mary's second husband : ) I love it! Can't wait until Downton Abbey week!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Writer's Camp: Day Four - Plot Bunnies/Writing Prompts Reveal 

Writing Prompt:

"Dying is easy. Coming back will be hard. Are you sure you have the skill for this?"


     I'm a huger lover of any Arthurian legend and I have always been fascinated by Guinevere especially, but she is usually very one dimensional, only seen as the love interest or the pawn between Arthur and Lancelot. So, I have a story idea about Guinevere's life, her family and her country before Arthur enters the picture (even though she has known him most of her life).  

Princess Gwen in her last happy moments at home.
      Guinevere is a sixteen year old princess living in the tiny island kingdom of Lyonesse, with her father, King Leodegran, her older sister Princess Wynefria (or Neffi) and Neffi's fiance, Mordred. Guinevere's mother is dead and her younger sister, Evienne, died in a terrible accident a year before. Camelot has been at war with another kingdom for the last year and a half, and now Arthur has called on King Leodegran's help. Leodegran allies with Arthur, allowing him to settle his troops in Lyonesse in hopes of finally ending the battle.

      Guinevere stays with her father, acting as a nurse and a spy and eventually finds herself in Camelot. However, things go horribly wrong when she is caught and slain by the enemy, and her body is thrown into the river. There Gwen's body travels down deep into the heart of the Lake of Avalon. Battling for her life, but only expecting death.

     Gwen was gasping for breath. She was a good swimmer, but her body felt like lead. The wound that the enemy gave her across her back was searing with pain. The water kept on pushing her down farther and farther. Great waves seemed to get stronger and heavier and soon Gwen was pushed all the way under water. The bright full moon shone down through the water, glistening and white. Gwen could feel her her lungs about to burst and soon her mind began to lose conciseness. The last thing she saw was the full moon, bright and beautiful. Soon her young body could take no more and Guinevere's life began to be measured by small, still heartbeats. Darkness began to cloud her mind and eyes closed. 

     One last heartbeat.

     Then darkness. Peaceful darkness.

     "Gwen. Gwen, you need to wake up?"

     That voice, it was so familiar...where had she heard it before?

     "Gwen. Guinevere, please, wake up."

     Evienne! She knew that voice! Of course it was her sister! How could she not have noticed it before?

     Gwen slowly opened her eyes. She was in...well she didn't really know what or even where she was in. It was a large round room....that was completely underwater, yet everything there was dry. The walls were dry, the chairs, the books, she was dry!
     "Is this...magic?" she finally said

     "Yes, it is," came Evienne's voice.

     Gwen turned around and saw her sister standing right before her, completely alive and human. She was still as beautiful as ever with her long golden hair around her waist and her sweet smile that could brings tears to the most hardened of men. Only fourteen; so young when she died. So innocent and pure, and full of hope and life. She had drowned a year before when the girls got caught in a horrible lightening

     "Evie? Oh, Evie is it really you?" Gwen asked in a whisper. 

    Wait..was she dead too? Was this some sort of magical resting place for souls? Surely something Arthur's dull old crow Merlin would create. 

     "Yes, it is me," said Evie reaching out her hand to her sister, "and yes, this is some sort of magical resting place, but believe me, this was created long before Arthur's old crow was born."

     Guinevere smiled though tears and took Evie's hand. It was still soft and warm; as if she had never been gone.

    "So I am dead then?" Gwen asked.

    If this was death than how bad could it be? Her sister was here with her! The sister that knew her better than anyone. The sister she couldn't save and she would live with that guilt for the rest of her life. 

     "That's your choice," said Evie.

     Now Gwen was confused. What idiot would choose to die?

     "No one chooses to die," Gwen said, "I would assume everyone would want to live forever if given the chance."

     "And is that what you want, Gwen? To live forever? Even after death has truly taken you?"

     "I don't understand, Evie? What are you talking about? How can someone just choose to live or die?"

    "Not many people do get the choice, but you do, because the fate of Camelot is wrapped up in your fate as well. Whether in life or in death, Camelot, her king and his people are now bound to your decision to either live and return from this watery grave or to stay here...with me."

     Gwen's mind was spinning. She had a heard a great deal of magical nonsense from Merlin 'the crow,' but never did she think that she would be caught in the middle of it! Who was she to Camelot? A simple Lyonessian princess that loved reading and horseback riding. That really...well really had no future plans for her life; they had all seemed to die with Evienne the year before.

    And Arthur? What was she to him? To her, he was a king, good king, a wise and brave king, and a handsome king. He was eleven years her senior and had lost his wife three years ago. Loved by his people, Arthur rose from his obscure beginnings as Uther's secret son with the widowed Queen Igraine and became the king that brought Camelot out of Uther's ashes and into a golden age of peace and plenty. That had been twelve years ago, since Uther died and Arthur had pulled the great sword out of the stone, proclaiming his right as Camelot's prophesied king. Of course, that old crow had his hand in all this. Gwen believed that Merlin really ran all things and was only using Arthur and his royal blood to wield his own black magic. 

     Camelot, Arthur, the people, herself. What about her family? What about father and sweet Neffi and Mordred, the only brother she ever knew? What of their fates? Were they bound to her as well?

     "I don't have all the answers, Gwen," said Evie, breaking her sister's racing thoughts, "I am only telling you what I know."

     "And what is it that you know?" Guinevere asked.

     Evie looked up to where the moon was shining and then looked back at her sister. Her once blue eyes were now silvery and now seemed to be staring right through Gwen.

     "If you decide to die, you will stay here in the Avalon Lake as a spirit. You will have great powers, but they will not always be easy to control. You will see darkness and pain, but you will also witness hope and happiness. You will always be young and always be beautiful, but you will never return to the earth. If you die then Camelot will continue on until Arthur's death, but he will have no heir and eventually that kingdom will fade into obscurity. Camelot will not be remembered. Arthur, his great deeds, his knights, their stories will all be forgotten."

     Gwen felt a sick feeling in her stomach. How could Arthur be forgotten? And this beautiful kingdom simply fade away? 

    "However, if you choose to live...then Camelot will be ushered into its most golden years, but nothing beautiful will last forever. There will be great anguish and suffering. You will suffer and so will Arthur in ways that are unimaginable. And Camelot will eventually fall when Arthur himself falls."

     "Then what's the difference whether I live or die!?" Gwen cried, "Camelot will fall anyway?"

     Evie smiled at her, "Yes, Camelot will fall. Yet, in its place will rise a kingdom far greater than any kingdom ever known on earth. And Camelot will live on in legend and song. Arthur will be revered, his knight's stories will be read to children and their children and their children's children. And you, Guinevere, you too will go on in legend."

     "Me?" Gwen said, "I will become legendary like Arthur? And Kay and Gwaine and Percival?

    "Very much so," replied Evie.

     For a few seconds Gwen pondered what Evie had just told her. A reincarnated life as a water spirit where she would be immortal and beautiful, but obviously forgotten. And yet, if she lived...what is it that would make her great, make her legendary? And for Arthur, to go down in legend and myth, for Camelot to be remembered in history? How would she accomplish any of that? Yet, Evie talked about great pain and anguish for both her and Arthur? Would she bring that pain and anguish to him?

     Would she bring down Camelot?

    "If I choose to live and go back, I will be mortal. I will die again?" Guienevere asked.

    "Yes," said Evie.

    "Yet, if I die, I will become all seems to work backwards."

    "Nothing ever works normal in Camelot," Evie said.

    Gwen looked up at the moon. It was beginning to fade. Morning was coming and she had two choices upon her. 

    Die, live, forget.

    Live, die, remember.

    "What is the pain and anguish you were talking about?" Gwen asked a little nervously.

    "That I cannot tell you," Evie said, "I've already told you enough about your future, but I can tell you this. Dying is easy. Coming back will be hard. Are you sure have the skill for this?"

    "What skill?" Gwen asked

    "The skill to live, not just survive, but to truly live. Once you have made your choice, you cannot go back."

    To live, to truly live. Ever since Evie died, Gwen felt that she was just holding on, trying to survive. Now she had a chance to stay with her sister in peace, but now that she knew where Evie was, maybe this was a second chance at life. To be able to live again on earth and to live on in time and legend and myth. What person ever got that chance? 

     "I want to live," she finally said, "For so long, I've felt dead to the world and if this is a second chance for me to start a new life, then yes, I will live and I will not see Arthur or Camelot fade away."

     "Even if it means that you will suffer?"

     "I am no stranger to suffering, Evie. I survived and now I want to live."

     Evie took both of her hands, "Then go, dear sister. Go and live."

     Gwen felt herself become lightheaded and Evie's face became blurry.

    "Evie," she said.

    "Go and live."

~ ~ ~

     Gwen opened her eyes, the first thing she felt was pain. A searing pain across her back where the soldier had struck her down. She was freezing cold and was lying flat on the ground right next to the lake. She pulled herself up and saw the sun beginning to rise over the mountaintops.


     "Evie?" Gwen said. She looked around but saw no one.


    She sounded like she was coming from the lake...Gwen looked over and in the misty rippled she could make out Evie's face.


    "One more thing," Evie said hurriedly, "I don't have time, but I have to tell you, be careful in who you put your trust in. All kingdom's are filled with spies and betrayers and some will sit at Arthur's table. And of these, you know one, but you cannot reveal him to anyone or his wrath will do great damage to all around him."

    "Who?" Gwen asked.

    "It's Mordred, Neffi's fiance."

    Now Gwen was incredulous. How could it be Mordred? She and Evie loved him, he was wonderful, an older brother they always wanted."

     "That's impossible!" said Gwen, "How could Mordred, of all people, be a threat?"

     "Because Mordred is the one that killed me; he was Merlin's secret apprentice."

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