Sunday, November 10, 2013

Leia and Lilly and Loki, Oh My

The first week of November was quite the geek fest for me. I thought I'd share my adventures.
Friday, November 1st: Met Cult Leader and Princess Leia


Some of you may remember when author Helen Fielding joined Twitter two years ago as @BridgetJonesHF. She likened her followers to a cult and herself as our cult leader. So since then, my friends and I refer to her as cult leader. Last month, her third Bridget Jones book, Mad About the Boy, finally came out. I won't get into how I feel about the book (or the death of a certain character, who has become a bit of an archetype for me, and that you may see a few times on this very blog) until I have the time to read it again and truly process it. However, nothing Fielding wrote was going to stop me from meeting her and getting a book signed when she came to L.A. during her book tour this month. The fact that Carrie Fisher was hosting the event was just icing on the geek cake.

I don't have any good pictures from the event (my camera is broken), and I can't find any to steal from the internet, but they both looked lovely (Carrie was a ginger tonight, with a purple streak in her hair and copious amounts of glitter). I won't bore you with a transcript of the Q&A but you can find an overview here. I will add that she did admit that most of what happens to Bridget and her urban family has either happened to her or one of her good friends, but she wouldn't admit to any of the characters actually being based on her friends. She said she has four gay friends who all think they are Tom, and readers of Mad About the Boy will certainly see similarities between "Rebecca" and Helena Bonham Carter.

During the book signing I learned that she adores my best Twitter girlfriends and fellow cult members, Pepper and Marcie, but doesn't have the foggiest idea who I am, despite our hilarious conversation regarding the use of tampons as earplugs. Disappointing, but I'll get over it. I didn't get a chance to have a one on one Carrie Fisher encounter because she dashed out after the Q&A (getting the Princess Leia Pez signed will have to wait).

Monday, November 4th: Hobbit Fan Event and Thor 2 red carpet

I lucked out getting tickets for this (hardest tickets on the planet to acquire). I grabbed my best geek guy friend and we got to The Grove about 10am. There were only about 12 people in line at that time, so we were happy. The venue was covered in The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug posters and banners and costumes (including one of Mark Atkin's Thorin size double costumes - also Bilbo and Gandalf costumes). We picked up some serious swag during this event: t-shirt, poster, Denny's collector's coin, and, for the first 20 people in line, the Extended Edition DVDs for The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey.

Evangeline Lilly was the guest cast member at the Los Angeles event. She is so funny and so sweet. By the time we left the event, every fan in there was ready to proclaim Tauriel their favorite character. Other actors were participating in this live fan event from London (Lee Pace, Luke Evans and Andy Serkis), New York (Richard Armitage and Orlando Bloom) and Wellington (Jed Brophy and Peter Jackson). We got to see the 12th Hobbit Production Diary. Then they had a brief Q&A with the actors and Peter Jackson. Then we got to see 20 minutes of the new movie (which I won't spoil, even a little bit - but will say Martin Freeman is a comic genius). After the footage, Evangeline stayed to answer more fan questions. You can see that here.

It was an excellent afternoon, but my geek guy friend and I were still full of energy, so after the fan event we head over to the El Capitan in Hollywood to watch the red carpet for Thor The Dark World. I didn't get good pictures (broken camera & lousy camera phone), but I can report that Jaime Alexander's dress was even sexier in person than in photos (more like strategically placed pieces of cloth held together with tape and string), Chris Hemsworth and his brother Liam are hot, and Tom Hiddleston is an awesome dancer (and extremely silly, in case you missed that from the MTV videos or his sketch with Cookie Monster - look them up on You Tube). I can proudly state that I am a Hiddlestoner now.  And this event leads me to....

Thursday, November 7th: Thor Marathon

The El Capitan in Hollywood hosted a Thor Marathon on the 7th (Thor, The Avengers, and Thor The Dark World). This time I went with three of my geeks (they are all more Mr. Bingley/Col. Fitzwilliam types and not Mr. Darcy types). We got some light meals in between movies, but I brought my own healthier options. We didn't get any swag (just themed 3D glasses) or win any of the raffle prizes. Stan Lee (who is a spry 90 years old) and Jaime Alexander were our surprise guests. The crowd had great energy and was surprisingly over half female (well that isn't really a surprise considering Thor and Loki are hot and the movies are very female friendly).

Thor The Dark World really is a chic flick: romance, shirtless Thor, kick ass women, lots of humor, and full of Loki goodness. It was quite funny. The main plot is extremely stupid, but the humor and the Loki subplots make it better than most superhero movies. I highly recommend seeing it.

And that was my geek week.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Ultimate Power in the Universe

The power to rule armies of men.

Last weekend, I finally took the time to have a Game of Thrones marathon. All 30 episodes in three days. (I admit it. The marathon was really begun in an effort to avoid doing any real work.) After the first episode, I was hooked. No, obsessed would be a more accurate word. It wasn't because the plotline so closely resembled the history of my other current obsession, The War of the Roses. (I still have several more books to finish reading before I'll be returning to blog about that topic.) It also wasn't due to the admittedly hot, softcore porn prevalent in the series (Who knew there were so many classically trained porn actors out there? They really are very good actors. LOL)

I'm obsessed with Game of Thrones because of the multitude of kick-ass female characters in it: Arya, Daenerys, Brienne, are my top three. These women are fierce fighters, and for the most part they are pretty smart. I won't say that the creator/author George R. R. Martin has overcome his gender's tendency towards sexism in the creation of his characters. His females are still constantly being shown up by men, out smarted by them, beaten by them, and they often resort to using their feminine wiles (aka sex) to get men to do their bidding. Martin certainly won't gain points from feminists for that. But in fairness, his females are still a lot stronger than most fantasy authors, including women authors, so he does get some credit.

But I noticed a reoccurring theme in Game of Thrones. Though these female characters were strong and smart, the threat of being raped by a man would bring them to heel every time. Every time. Sure they would fight the men off as best they could, and usually they would succeed (or a man would step in and intervene on their behalf, sometimes with a sword through the penis), but nothing made these women more afraid than the threat of being raped.

It made me think of something Gavin de Becker, author of The Gift of Fear, said once on Oprah, "At core, men are afraid women will laugh at them, while at core, women are afraid men will kill them.” I remember when I first saw this again a few years ago on Oprah's Lifeclass, I thought, "or raped." I've been thinking about this since watching my Thrones marathon. Are women really afraid of death more than of rape? I wonder. Apparently, the females of Thrones are more afraid of rape.

I found something very interesting while I was Googling that Gavin de Becker quote. On a Yahoo Questions/Answers page, someone asked if it was true that men most feared women would laugh at them. In the top answer, a man named "Bill" said, "they [men] fear that the woman may succeed in dominating him by virtue of her powerful ability to attract him sexually"

Does that mean that Summer's Eve's "Hail to the V" commercial was right? Is the vagina the ultimate power in the Universe?

If "Bill" is correct, and Man's ultimate fear is his powerlessness over controlling his own sexual urges, and he blames women for that powerlessness, then the history of Man's oppression of women, and his overwhelming urge to have dominion over her vagina (even today) makes so much more sense. Why are male congressmen trying to take away our reproductive rights? Because they fear our vaginas' power over them. Why do men use the threat of rape to control women?  Because their physical dominance is the only real power they have over us. Why are men confiscating tampons outside of the TX legislature today (July 12, 2013) but not guns? Because the fear of having a bullet-sized piece of cotton expelled from our oh so powerful vaginas at their heads is more scary than having a real bullet expelled from a gun at their heads. (Look up #tampongate on Twitter. It's very funny.)

So in summary, men are being such pussies, because they are ultimately afraid of our pussies. (Sorry, I had to say it. It was too funny not to.) Ladies, maybe it's time for us to learn how to wield this power we've been given to better effect. Tonight's required reading: Lysistrata by Aristophanes and Caitlin Moran's How to Be a Woman. While you do that, I'm going to hang with Khal Drogo.

Khal Drogo is joining my amalgam of the perfect man list.



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Preparing for Mr. Darcy

Almost two years ago, for my birthday, I made a wish, a deep, heartfelt wish from my soul to the Universe, that I was ready for my Mr. Darcy. I hadn't made a real wish on my birthday since I was a child, but that year, having just returned from a trip to London, where I felt I was leaving a part of my soul behind me,  I knew the time had come to stop hiding, postponing, and fearing a happily ever after. I thought "I'm ready now," but the Universe's response wasn't to send me a man. No, instead it sent me a woman named Oprah (yes, that Oprah) and a show on her then new network called Oprah'sLifeclass (that people on my Twitter feed were buzzing about).  

Lifeclass was a revelation. All of those life lessons that I had ignored, missed, or been completely blind to in the past came rushing toward me, a torrent of wisdom flowing into my brain. I always thought I had above-average wisdom to begin with. I was intuitive, empathetic, and observant, a student of psychology, sociology, philosophy, and history; I understood human nature fairly well. But I didn’t really understand myself. All those self-help books I started were left unfinished (bookmarks still in many of them). I hadn’t been ready to receive the wisdom they imparted, but suddenly, after making that wish, I was ready.

This new wisdom was coming from everywhere now. Twitter friends led me to Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra which led me to the Tao Te Ching. Oprah’s other big wisdom-imparting show Super Soul Sunday introduced me to dozens of writers and teachers I had never heard of before (like Iyanla Vanzant, Eckhart Tolle, Marrianne Williamson, Brene Brown). Somehow I heard about and its Twitter feed (a daily dose of wisdom about health, relationships, spiritual healing, being more successful, etc.) and that introduced me to even more teachers, writers & gurus (like the Art of Love series, which was a two week online program on finding a life partner, and what to do once you got him – e.g. how to communicate or to have better sex, etc.).

I’ve read so many books, watched hours of uplifting television and listened to hours of podcasts, and I can’t stop yet. I’ve got so many books sitting in my Kindle waiting to be read (I’m alternating between self-help, relationship & Richard III right now – haha). The really interesting thing to me is that each link in this chain seems to be progressive. Each time I learn something new, I’m guided to the next level of wisdom. I don’t feel like I’m learning anything out of order (but if something does go over my head, it’s brought back around to me in a different manner once I’m ready to learn it).

I truly feel like when I meet my Mr. Darcy now, I will be fully baked, ready to be savored for the long term. I’ll know how to attract him, how to keep him interested, how to communicate with him, how to be the example of happiness for my whole family for the rest of my days. I know now to trust the timing of the Universe. When I meet him I will be ready. There may be more for me to learn, but I will learn it with him. There’s no reason for me to doubt my readiness or my perfection when I meet him, because I can tell that the Universe is trying to set me up for THE ONE, the life-long love, not the transitional guy. It makes me kind of giddy sometimes. :-)

Before I wrap this up, I want to share some of the books (with links) that I’ve found most helpful/profound/wise/enjoyable (that are good for those of you who are just starting your own journeys).

The Tao of Dating There is a reason this book was Amazon’s top relationship guide last year (there is a version for men and one for women). It mixes advice from the Tao Te Ching (perhaps the wisest book ever written IMHO) and advice for attracting a member of the opposite sex. No ‘rules’ or silly guides to flirting here, just honest observations and the knowledge that confident women who know they are sexy and lovable, will be seen by others as sexy and lovable too (same with men).

Wishes Fulfilled Forget The Secret. If you want to manifest a great future, here’s your guide. I like Wayne Dyer. He has a youthful spirit and is easy to mentally digest. I’ve read several of his books and loved them all. His PBS specials are really great as well. (I still love watching his special on Inspiration where he tells the story of Jack the Butterfly. You will never look at a butterfly in the same way again. See for yourself Here, the story starts about 1:32:35)

The Five Love Languages I admit, I only skimmed this one after seeing him talk about this with Oprah last month (it’s currently number two in the relationship books queue, and number six in my overall Kindle queue on books to read fully – lol), but since learning about these five love languages, I’ve been applying them to all of my relationships. I have found that I prefer to receive love via Physical Touch and Quality Time, but that I tend to feel most comfortable giving love via Words of Affirmation and Acts of Service (no doubt because these were my mother’s two primary languages of love), but if I never Receive Gifts again I will be ok (a girl can only have so much stuff – just more to have to keep clean or store) so I’m lousy at giving or receiving gifts. (Amazon gift cards for all!) P.S. It’s fun to assign love languages to your favorite characters from literature.

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus Snicker if you must, but twenty years later this book is still a relevant, if not basic, guide to communication between the sexes. 

Once you’ve read Five Languages and Mars/Venus if you are ready to get even deeper, go next to Harville Hendrix’s Getting the Love You Want (I’ve skimmed this too, but it’s a bit further down my queue because it’s more intense).  Next up in my queue in the self-help category are Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly. After I saw her on Super Soul Sunday I knew I needed to tackle her next (she’s alternating with Richard III bios right now).




Wednesday, April 3, 2013

"An Hypocrite, a Crook Back and Buried in a Ditch Like a Dog"

John Payntour is cited as having said this in 1491 about the late King Richard III (one of the earliest 'negative' descriptions of Richard, written off by Ricardians as the first of the Tudor myth spinners). But now we know it wasn't spin. Richard did have a crooked back, and he was buried, not in a ditch as we would think of one, but in a hastily dug grave with no proper coffin or shroud or markings, not even large enough for him to fit in properly. And by all accounts, he was a bit of a hypocrite.

I'm a history nerd. Especially for British history and even more specifically for Tudor history. I lurve the Tudors (but not The Tudors the TV series, as it was unnecessarily historically inaccurate and dumbed down), so I was fairly familiar with the basics on the War of the Roses time period, although I hadn't studied it in depth. I also love Shakespeare's Richard III. I find him to be one of the funniest villains in theater (I suspect Shakespeare intended it to be that way).  So naturally when the bones of Richard were found last summer, I perked up.  September 2012 press conference 

I was too busy over most of the fall to dig into the history of the late king, although I did notice my Twitter friends' discussions of both the history of Richard III and the book The Sunne In Splendour (which is waiting for me on my Kindle, along with a dozen other historical fictions and historical biographies of the time period - I want to read the 'non-fiction' histories first). But the confirmation of the find in February of this year followed by the TV special Richard III - The King in the Car Park made it impossible for me to stall my historical curiosity any longer, and my surgery last month gave me the excuse to take some time to start my research. Also check out Richard III The Unseen Story

I began with David Starkey’s Monarchy. Then the general history books on English royalty that I had at hand: The Lives of the Kings and Queens of England by Antonia Frasier (who, although mostly impartial, does tend to believe the Tudors made Richard out to be worse than he was), and The Oxford Book of Royal Anecdotes which is a compilation of quotes, letters, and accounts from primarily contemporary sources, presented in a mostly neutral manner. Next was Shakespeare's King Richard III (including re-watching both Olivier's and McKellen's Richards). Followed by Shakespeare's primary source material: The History of King Richard the Third By Sir Thomas More.

I must admit, More's Richard made me laugh (not so much history as historical fiction - some historical facts mixed in with beautifully descriptive scenes and emotional monologues - the man would have been a bestselling novelist if he were writing today). Ricardians have written off most of what More has said about Richard; claiming either that he was writing to please Richard's enemies; or because his primary source was Morton, who hated Richard and slandered him; or by pointing out that many of More's facts are incorrect, and thus the whole should be ignored.

But the discovery of Richard III's remains last summer prove that More wasn't lying about everything he'd said about Richard, "...little of stature, ill-featured of limbs, crook-backed, his left shoulder much higher than his right...." Now that we know this was a fairly accurate description of the man, it does make one wonder whether More's sources on the man were a bit more accurate than we might like to think.

Also, much of what More relates as fact is very similar to accounts reported in The Croyland Chronicles (most likely written by someone who knew Richard well, probably John Russell, Bishop of Lincoln), Dominic Mancini an Italian monk and visiting 'diplomat' (spy) for the French (making him not the most impartial reporter) who was in London during the summer of 1483. (I'm not going to include Polydore Vergil's corroboration of More, as some historians do, as a reason to believe More, since they were buddies.) I've been researching the accounts of these men, as well as Commines, Rous, Fabyan and the various London Chronicles, and all of the other contemporary sources the various historians use to back up their claims, as I come across them.

Next I read Alison Weir's The Princes in the Tower (I had it sitting on my book shelf, unread, for years). Weir is not a Ricardian. She's also not the best historian. I did find she made some very compelling arguments for the timeline of the princes' murders, and for how only Richard could have given the order for their deaths. But she tends to leave out any facts that confuse or contradict her arguments and she has a bad habit of quoting sources without telling the reader where the quote came from. I did learn a few things reading Weir, however, that I'd not considered after reading the other sources: Elizabeth Woodville/Wydville was by ALL accounts a grasping, power-hungry woman who often acted before she thought things through - no one seems to have liked her, not even her son-in-law Henry VII; if Elizabeth Woodville was the Wicked Witch of the East, then Margaret Beaufort was the Wicked Witch of the West - if you told me that she had plotted to kill the princes, I'd totally buy it, in fact.... Another thing I had never considered until reading Weir was that Elizabeth of York and Richard might actually have been in love, or at least were having an affair. I knew about the letter from Elizabeth to the Duke of Norfolk and her 'crush' on Richard, and how the nobles squashed any possibility of them marrying after Anne died, but I'd never thought they might have already been having an affair (spurred on by Momma Woodville), or that one of the reasons it took so long for Henry VII to get around to marrying Elizabeth might have been that he was waiting to make sure she wasn't having Richard's baby.

The last book I've read so far is Horace Walpole's Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of King Richard the Third. Walpole sets out to prove that Richard wasn't as bad as previous writers claimed. He begins by saying that Richard didn't have motives to kill Henry VI or his 'son' Edward, Prince of Wales (aside, if you believe that Edward was actually the son of Henry, then you are living in Lollipop Town of the Land of Denial - even Henry said the father must have been the Holy Ghost - haha), and that if they died by his hand it was solely on Edward IV's orders (that's true enough). Walpole also acquits Richard of being complicit in Clarence's death (I agree with him on this). On Rivers, Grey, Vaughn, their deaths were political necessities (here I have questions, because I wonder why Richard would order their deaths so quickly and not use them to ransom the treasury back from their relatives), and Hastings was a political necessity as well (here I have a huge question mark which I'll discuss later). But the majority of Walpole's arguments in favor of Richard come from his belief that little Richard of York was smuggled out of the country by Richard III, that Momma Woodville and Elizabeth of York knew it and that is why Elizabeth fell in love with him, and that the pretender Perkin Warbeck was Richard of York, and Henry VII killed him and spread the false rumor of a murder confession by Tyrell, made on the eve of his execution. I must admit Walpole has a very good argument on these theories (if it wasn't for those skeletons they found in the tower in the late 1600s).

It is this theory that Richard of York was spared that really makes me want to petition the Queen to have the alleged skeletons of the princes exhumed and re-examined. (They know where mom, dad and sister are buried, so it's not like they can't grab a few teeth and do a triangulated DNA comparison. They could also compare the DNA of Edward IV's to Richard's and possibly put to rest that rumor of Edward being a bastard due to his mother's alleged adultery.) Walpole argues that Henry VII behaved like he was uncertain that the princes were murdered, which is strange considering he was married to one of the people most likely to know the truth. I can't deny Walpole makes me question whether those skeletons could possibly be legit, and I want more information on this.

I have so many questions on which I want more information. Hastings leaves me with huge question marks. I can't reconcile my mind to the idea that Richard just ordered his execution on a whim, or that Hastings would align himself with the Woodvilles. I want more info on the timeline of events the summer of 1483. I don't believe Richard intended to take the throne for himself when he started out. Something happened in June that made him hasten the execution of Rivers, Grey, et al; turn on Hastings, and choose to take the throne instead of act as Protector.

Morton is another one who makes my Spidey senses tingle. What was his relationship to Margaret Beaufort? I think Richard made a big mistake not sticking a dagger in this guy's blackened heart. And then there is Buckingham. Historians have completely distorted his motivations. There is nothing you could say to convince me he'd ever support Henry Tudor's claim to the throne over his own. So what the heck was going on with him?

So I will continue with my research. Next up is Clement Markham's Richard III: His Life & Character. I also want to read Paul Murray Kendall's Richard the Third - he sounds more neutral than some other historians - and then see who else I can find in the 'non-fiction' category before I move on to Sunne and the other fictions. When I'm done, I'm sure I'll blog my own version of Richard's history. I already have some theories. If you have suggestions for non-fiction books I should read, please tweet them to me @MrsFitzwilliamD (leaving comments is unreliable right now, I'm not sure I'm getting them all).

The game's afoot!

Friday, March 22, 2013

I’m Back!

Hello Dear Readers. After a year’s absence, I’ve realized I can’t stay away from blogging any longer. I missed having an outlet to share my thoughts, being able to talk about what’s on my mind, and occasionally discussing my search for my very own Mr. Darcy (that allusive, nearly perfect man to be my life partner and the father of my adorable, future babies).

So far, Mr. Darcy has eluded me. I have, however, been on several lovely dates with a few Mr. Bingleys and a Col. Fitzwilliam. Lovely men all, but no Darcy spark from any of them. Over the last few months, I’ve been studying the arts of flirting, dating, getting a man, keeping a man when you’ve got him, making a relationship strong enough to last, and the Kama Sutra. When I find Mr. Darcy, he will find nothing lacking. *wink* I intend to share what I have learned from these books and websites with you all over the next few months.

Past readers may recall I was part of a weight loss challenge last spring. Team Downton Abbey wiped the floor with the other teams. We lost a combined 21% of our body weight. The second place team lost only about 5%. I lost 25 pounds total, half way to my goal Marilyn Monroe weight (although I gained 5 pounds or so back during the holidays). I’m always better at losing weight in the spring and summer and gaining it back when it is cold outside. I’m slowly getting back on the program. This year I started doing yoga in the mornings. I love it. I’ll share some of my favorite yoga videos and programs with you later.

I had surgery recently (nothing serious or scary, more on that later), so I’ve had to do very light, modified yoga, and no weights or cardio for the last few weeks. I’m looking forward to being completely healed so I can get back to work on reaching a healthy, swimsuit-ready body. I’ve made a lot of changes in the last year to improve my health. I discovered I had gluten intolerance and since cutting it from my diet, I’ve had far less reflux and skin breakouts. I’m also eating mostly organic foods, which makes my body very happy, but my pocket book is a little on the thin side because of it.

I’ve also been on a spiritual journey this past year (actually for the last two years). I’m a big fan of Oprah’s Lifeclass and Super Soul Sunday on OWN, and these shows have been introducing me to a number of wonderful writers and thinkers and self-help gurus. Be warned, you’ll be reading about a few of them here. I’m also a fan of  If you are looking for inspiration, suggestions for how to make your life better, or a little pick me up when you are feeling down, you need to follow them (@TheDailyLove ).

Finally, some of you may be wondering why I stopped blogging for a year, or why some of my old blog posts are missing or altered. When I first created this blog, my intention was to focus on my personal journey (as narcissistic as that may sound). It was not my intention for the blog to focus on celebrities.

My intention moving on is to focus on my journey to becoming healthier in body, mind and spirit, achieving career success, and finding a partner to share my life with. I may also talk about current news topics that interest me, or about interesting celebs who inspire me, but I will try to remember that my blog is not about them but about me. The celebrity men I feature in this blog are not an obsession for me, but are meant to be inspiration, a template for the qualities I’m looking for in my nearly perfect Mr. Darcy (see the first few posts of the blog from Jan 2012).

My other intention is to be as honest and vulnerable as I can be about what is going on in my life (without divulging my true identity for professional reasons). I have gained a lot of wisdom over the last couple of years on this journey, and continue to gain more. I believe it is my duty to share what I’ve learned with others, as it was shared with me, to help them, and that can only happen if I am fully open about what’s going on in my life. So who knows what you’ll learn about me over the course of this blog.

Let the adventure begin. See you soon. :-D