obits

Rest in peace, Prince Philip…

I don’t have much to say today. It’s raining outside, so even if we weren’t still stuck at home, I probably wouldn’t want to go out. I watched Lyle Lovett’s most recent live stream with Willis Alan Ramsey. I had never heard of Willis Alan Ramsey before, but he and Lyle are old friends. It was an enjoyable live stream, although maybe not as interesting to me as the ones Lyle did with Vince Gill and Michael McDonald.

Bill informed me that he’ll be gone for most of May. He also told me that it looks like we’ll be getting vaccinated sometime next month… although if he’s going to be TDY, maybe not. I sure am tired of waiting and I hate this lifestyle. It’s very depressing.

What a life.

I was saddened, but not surprised, to read about Prince Philip’s death yesterday. He was 99 years old and had been married to Queen Elizabeth II for 73 years. Until very recently, he had enjoyed fairly good health, but I know he spent some time hospitalized a couple of months ago. And, let’s face it… he was a mere two months shy of turning 100, so the end was bound to come eventually. Still, I kind of enjoyed Philip, who was like the court jester of Britain’s Royal Family. He had many quips at the ready, and a lot of them were very politically incorrect. I enjoy political incorrectness very much, even though I know it’s not so cool nowadays.

Last night, Bill and I were talking about everything the Duke of Edinburgh had seen over his long lifetime… He was a young man when World War II was happening. He was here to see cars, computers, televisions, organ transplants, and air travel become normal. He saw the first space travel, artificial hearts, and the Internet. And no matter what you might think of him, his wife, or their family, a 73 year marriage is an incredible accomplishment.

Let’s also not forget that he was a man who faced some significant hardships early in life. He was rushed from his native Greece when he was a baby and spent his earliest years in Germany. His mother went a bit crazy and later joined a religious order. And then, having been a decorated naval hero, he married Princess Elizabeth and became her consort, basically a “kept” man at a time when being a “kept” man was kind of humiliating. He took Elizabeth’s name and walked behind her as she continues to reign over the United Kingdom… Not every man could have handled such a role with the great aplomb Philip did.

I know not everyone loves them, but they sure seemed to love each other.

I have some British friends who are sad that Prince Philip has passed on, although I know there are a lot of other Brits who feel it’s time to get rid of the Royals. As an American, I have no skin in the game, but I have always been a bit fascinated by Britain’s Royal Family. I enjoy watching the pomp and glamour, even if maybe it’s all rather outdated.

Anyway… when I saw video of him riding in a car recently, I thought Prince Philip was looking pretty poorly. I am not surprised that his time came yesterday. My heart goes out to Queen Elizabeth II, whom I am sure already misses him. It’s too bad he wasn’t able to make it to 100, although maybe he didn’t care about that particular goal.

My Granny lived to be within six weeks of her 101st birthday, but I feel pretty sure she was more than ready to go when the time came. She lived a long life and was much beloved, but I think her final years were hard for her. They probably were for Prince Philip too, even if he didn’t have to worry about a lot of the things more common people do.

The passing of the prince led Bill and me to talking about our own deaths. We talked about what we’d like done with our bodies– cremation, burial, or whatever. I told Bill that I don’t really care too much, although I think I wouldn’t mind being turned into a tree. However, I would not want him to use a “mushroom suit” to accomplish that goal, since I have a phobia of mushrooms. That would be my worst nightmare, although it’s unlikely I’d know the difference.

I read that the actor Luke Perry, who was a big star on Beverly Hills 90210, and died a couple of years ago of a stroke, was buried in a “mushroom suit”, which is supposedly made of mushrooms and is an eco-friendly way to dispose of one’s remains. I like the idea of eco friendly burials, but wearing a suit made of mushrooms is enough to make me want to scream. Actually, reading about the suit while looking at the creepy stock photos of mushrooms is traumatizing enough. Still… I do like the idea of feeding trees and doing good things for the Earth… or even providing a handy spot for a dog to pee, though I am not into golden showers as a living person.

Well… like I said, I don’t have much to write about today. I think I’ll close this post and go watch something trashy on TV in an attempt to cheer myself up on this gloomy Saturday. As happy as I am that Bill has a good job, these trips really suck balls, especially when the pandemic prevents me from doing anything fun to pass the time. I guess I’ll keep working on my guitar and pondering what kind of trouble I can get into.

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humor, royals, technology

God bless Queen Elizabeth II…

I don’t have much to write about today. I wrote about how we spent yesterday on the travel blog, so if anyone is interested in that, click here. Other than that, I just have one more thing to write about, and that is the mighty Queen Elizabeth II and her annual Christmas speech.

I never used to consider myself an Anglophile, even though my earliest memories are of England. As I’ve gotten older and have had a chance to visit my ancestral homeland a couple of times, I find myself more appreciative of England and its immediate environs, to include Ireland, even though Ireland is definitely not England.

This morning, my ex shrink, who is now a friend, shared Queen Elizabeth’s annual Christmas message. I decided to watch it, and I’ll be damned if I wasn’t moved to tears by it. Queen Elizabeth still looks fantastic, and I am awed by her fortitude and attitude of service. She’s 94 years old!

“God Save The Queen”… the band on horseback and the healthcare workers singing were highlights, besides Her Majesty’s wise words. She really is a remarkable woman.

After I watched this video over breakfast, I sat at the table sniffing back tears. At the end of the Queen’s speech, there’s a lovely version of “Joy To The World” sung by NHS workers that made me all weepy. The older I get, the more scenes like this make my heart fill with emotion. It’s nice to be able to cry because I’m moved, instead of because of someone or something hurting me. I love the way the Brits celebrate tradition and pomp and circumstance, and I love the music and humor of Britain. It makes sense that I’d love the Brits, though, since I would have been a Brit if my people hadn’t moved to America. They’re kind of my people.

Then Bill showed me the very cool and pointed “deep fake” version done by Channel 4. Bill earned a master’s degree in cybersecurity a couple of years ago, so he’s particularly interested in this stuff… I thought it was brilliantly done, although I’ve heard that the folks who made it got some flak. It’s a good reminder, though, that things are not always as they seem, especially online.

Always verify your info and double check your sources. What you’re seeing might not be real.

It’s pretty scary how technology has made it possible to alter messages and create disinformation. I, for one, plan to keep this in mind in 2021. Well done, Channel 4! They managed to make this valuable and entertaining message without being mean spirited or preachy. And yes, I laughed after the Queen made me cry.

And if you’re interested in seeing how this was done, check out the video below!

Fascinating! I like that they’re reminding us about how technology can be used to trick us.

Hopefully, in 2021, there will be some sense of normalcy restored. Until then, I’ll keep following Queen Elizabeth II. She’s a wonderful lady and I admire her very much.

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Netflix

My thoughts on season four of The Crown…

Once again, I’m fighting the urge to write about politics and COVID-19. I do have a lot on my mind about both topics, but I figure we’re all a little tired of reading about politics and plagues, especially since we’re all affected by them these days. Since I finally got around to watching The Crown on Netflix, I figure now is a good time to write about that, instead of yet another anti-Trump screed or observations about how shitty COVID-19 is on so many levels.

I have mentioned before that it takes me a long time to get into most television series. I used to be addicted to TV, but got out of the habit. Consequently, sometimes it will be years before I watch a very popular show. Sometimes I never get around to seeing them. For instance, I’ve never seen a single episode of Lost. But then, I’ll binge watch shows like Tiny Pretty Things. I did manage to see the end of that series yesterday. Now that I’ve seen the ending, I can state with no hesitation that, in my opinion, it’s not a very good show.

The Crown, on the other hand, is a very good show. Even though I fell asleep during the first episode, the rest of it kept me riveted for a couple of intense weeks. I finally finished season four a couple of days ago and am saddened that I’ll probably have to wait two years for season five. Filming for the next season is projected to start in June of 2021. I guess I’ll live. I’ve been patiently waiting for new episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale, too.

The official trailer for season 4…

Season four of The Crown covers the time period that I, and most other people of a certain age, remember the most. I was nine years old when Prince Charles married Princess Diana. I remember living in England during the Silver Jubilee in 1977, and we had memorabilia from that event in our house, to include a nifty marble lighter that had Queen Elizabeth II’s insignia on it. My parents were smokers in those days. But I don’t really remember that much about the Royal Family when we were in England. It wasn’t until the 1980s when I even knew who Prince Charles was. In fact, I think I remember Margaret Thatcher more from the 70s than the Royal Family.

As fascinating as the earlier seasons were, and as much as I preferred Claire Foy’s version of Queen Elizabeth than Olivia Colman’s (although I think Olivia Colman is a fine actress), I might have been more drawn into season four because I remember Charles and Diana so well. And it’s amazing to me that there are so many young adults out there who were born after Princess Diana died. She was definitely a big part of my childhood.

Emma Corrin plays young Diana, who was regarded as shy and sweet. At twenty years old on her wedding day, she was at the height of her beauty. And yet, Prince Charles just wasn’t into her. He loved the former Camilla Shand, who is now his second wife. Charles and Camilla met in 1971, when they were both young and randy. He had also had another girlfriend, the late Dale, Lady Tryon, whom he’d nicknamed “Kanga”. But Kanga has no role in The Crown, probably because she did not eventually become Charles’s wife, nor was she in the press as much as Camilla was. Lady Tryon is also dead, having suffered many health problems. She died of septicemia in November 1997.

Actors Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles) and Emerald Fennell (Camilla Parker-Bowles) seem to have genuine chemistry as they play two real life lovers. I remember seeing Fennell in Call The Midwife, in which she played a 60s era nurse who is a lesbian. I was impressed by her in that role, but I think she also did a great job being Camilla.

A lot of people dislike Prince Charles. A lot more people dislike Camilla, although the vitriol against her seems to be less these days than it once was. People tend to blame women more, when they get involved a married man. Camilla obviously knew Prince Charles was married. I know nothing at all about this couple, other than what I’ve read and seen on television, but having lived through the Charles and Diana years, I can state that I notice that they’re not in the tabloids. By contrast, Charles and Diana were always in the news. It was very clear that they had nothing in common and did not love each other. But they stayed together for fifteen years… fifteen LONG years. When I think of that wasted time and how miserable it must have been for both of them, I feel nothing but empathy.

The other day, Bill and I were talking about The Crown. In one scene, they showed Charles being kind of mean to Diana. It was often reported in the press that he was mean to her. I remember back then, many people automatically took Diana’s side, perhaps because she was so charming and beautiful and young. But the truth is, Diana wasn’t blameless. She had affairs. She also suffered from mental illnesses. It was widely reported that she had bulimia and borderline personality disorder. Either one of those illnesses would make someone difficult to live with, even if they are much loved. Charles never loved Diana, so my guess is that the stress level must have been stratospheric.

That doesn’t excuse the terrible way he treated Diana, of course, nor does it excuse his cheating on her. But having read about Diana’s problems, realizing that she was much younger than Charles is, and had completely different interests, and knowing how I, myself, behave when I am forced to interact with someone I can’t stand, or someone who can’t stand me, I do have some empathy for Charles. It really is a shame that he wasn’t allowed to marry the woman he clearly loved. Hindsight is 20/20, of course. At least it appears that the Palace has learned from the Charles and Diana nightmare fairytale.

And while I can see why people don’t like Camilla, and why Diana especially didn’t like her, as the second wife of a man who married the wrong person first, I have some empathy for Camilla. Bill and I did not have an affair. He didn’t even take off his wedding ring before he divorced his ex wife. But their marriage was also one involving two people who were completely incompatible and mismatched. I imagine enduring it must have been like wearing high heeled shoes on the wrong feet. And they weren’t under a microscope the way Charles and Diana were. I don’t think Charles and Diana ever had a hope in hell of staying together. It was obvious they were miserable. As Charles’s second wife, Camilla has proven to be much more suitable and stable. Personally, I like Camilla and have empathy for her and their situation, even if I don’t condone the cheating.

She was in a tough situation. I wonder what would have happened if she hadn’t married Charles.

My mom and I were talking on Skype last night. I asked her if she’d been watching The Crown. She said she had, and didn’t enjoy the latest season, because she remembers watching it unfold in real life. I think the actors did a good job portraying their characters. Josh O’Connor is especially adept at making some of the pained facial expressions Charles made so often in those days. Emma Corrin doesn’t look that much like Diana, but she has a shy, pretty quality about her that makes it easy to suspend disbelief. And again, I genuinely enjoyed watching Josh O’Connor and Emerald Fennell portray Charles and Camilla. They really seem to have a genuine connection. O’Connor and Corrin, by contrast, were not as easy to watch. I got the sense that it was difficult for O’Connor to be genuinely nasty to Corrin.

I also enjoyed Helena Bonham Carter’s take on Princess Margaret, who seemed to have been quite the character. I now feel like learning more about her. She seems like she was a trip.

I suppose I ought to mention Margaret Thatcher, too, played by Gillian Anderson. I never saw Gillian Anderson in the X Files. I remember when she was very famous for her role as Dana Scully. I will say that listening to her speak like Margaret Thatcher, with that super hoarse sounding voice, made me cringe a bit. Like, it was painful to my ears to listen to that, although I understand Margaret Thatcher did have a distinctive speaking voice. I was impressed by how Gillian Anderson was able to channel her character in such a realistic way. She managed to bring Margaret Thatcher back to life, even if that voice made me cringe… not just because it was unpleasant to listen to, but also because I imagined that speaking that way was probably exhausting for her and perhaps even potentially dangerous to her natural voice.

And finally, I want to say that my favorite character in seasons 3 and 4 is Princess Anne, played by Erin Doherty. I loved her facial expressions and no nonsense delivery. As someone who loves horses myself, I loved seeing her in her breeches and riding boots, and I enjoyed the witty one liners. I have heard Princess Anne is actually kind of like that in real life, and she does so much resemble her mother. But I think Princess Anne, at least as played by Erin Doherty, should have her own show. I think she’s awesome. I might have to find Erin Doherty’s other works.

I love Princess Anne, as portrayed by Erin Doherty.

Well… that about does it for my take on season four of The Crown. I am officially hooked, and yes I realize it’s a dramatization, so the British culture secretary has nothing to fear about my getting “the wrong ideas”. I find the show visually stunning, which is such a treat during these lockdown days. I love the quirky stories they’ve found, all of which are based at least partially in truth, even if the interpretations are dramatized. And having watched the dreadful Tiny Pretty Things, I now feel like I need to find something higher quality to knock the images out of my head… Hell, I think even the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team might do it. And I happen to have a fresh episode to watch as I type this, so I think I’ll close and go give myself a mental enema.

Perhaps I’ll watch this documentary later.

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