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THE TUDORS: THE SUMMARY

Unknown to me, The Tudors, has become a part of my life as can be seen by my four year old’s comments such as, “Mommy’s watching The Tudors now, Shhhhh!”  Tudors became a religion of sorts as I prepared to watch it with the same rituals – popcorn, fluffed pillows and demanding complete and total silence.  For the past few months, I found myself totally turned off and sickened by television programming.  From corny competetive dancing and singing to “reality shows”, I really gave up on TV.  I have even been missing the weather and the news because I refused to turn the television on. 

The Tudors have not renewed my faith in television as a whole but it felt refreshing to watch a program that was made with actual brain power.  At first I did think that it would be a knock off of my favorite mini series, HBO’s Rome, even though it depicted a different time period, so I was not that enthused about watching it.  Also, I heard that it was simply a dry humping fest, as King Henry VIII jumped from bed to bed but it proved to be much more than that.  I was so drawn into the characters, I found myself feeling their emotional ups and downs.  Characters who I looked upon with disgust, I ended up developing an understanding for and the characters I initally admired, I ended up looking down on them, finally seeing through their deceit.  For example, I developed sympathy for Chancellor/Cardinal Wolsey (played wonderfully by actor Sam Neill) who I initially despised from the very beginning of the show because of his greed and blatant hypocrisy.  In the end, there was no doubt that he was a great statesman and a right hand man to King Henry and this was to be admired.  Then his fear of losing his high position got the best of him and he acted without thought, making some bad and desperate decisions that resulted in him being arrested for high treason.  I was actually surprised at myself  for changing my feelings this way.  This character seemed to grow on me like a barnacle. 

Then we have the ever seductive and cunning Anne Boleyn, played by actress Natalie Dormer, who I sided with from the beginning because she was the King’s match in every way.  He was totally unyielding and she was equally unyieleding.  She was sort of a man in a lacy dress.  I can see why he was enthralled with her.  As their romance persisted and the King’s need for a divorce from his wife to marry Anne by any means necessary culminated, I started to side more with Queen Katherine who beared the brunt of the pain in this situation.   After a while, it seemed as though Henry was more concerned with attacking the church for not letting him get his way as opposed to wanting to marry Anne.  Anne Boleyn’s haughtiness as the King’s royal mistress began to annoy me to the point that I actually couldn’t wait to see how her whole world would unravel until she is lead to prison to await her execution.  But alas, I will have to wait until Season Two. 

There were many great lines in The Tudors but one stood out for me.  It was an actual line uttered by the real Sir Thomas More.  When it became apparent that King Henry VIII might actually do the unthinkable (sink the influence of the Catholic Church in England) he said, “Wolsey once said,you should tell the King what he ought to do, never what he can do.  For if the lion knows his own strength, no one can control him.”  Of course the lion is King Henry and he started to realize, with the help of Anne Boleyn and others, that he always had more power than the Church.  This hints to the inevitable in Season Two.

Johnathan Rhys Meyers who plays the egotistical, yet vulnerable King Henry VIII did an outstanding job.  Then on the opposite pole, Maria Doyle Kennedy is absolutely fantastic as Queen Katherine of Aragon.  She was able to translate stifled emotions perfectly as a mother with the threat of her only child being taken away from her hanging over her head, as a loving wife enduring her husband’s unlawful attempts at getting a divorce from her and as a lady of the people, standing up against all of her enemies but maintaining her dignity, loyalty and Virgin Mary-like image.  At the same time she was a spitfire, never backing down from her stance of being the lawful wife of King Henry.  I truly admired this character above all others.  This is interesting because I honestly did not care for the character at first because I thought she would lay down and allow her husband to continuously cheat on her without a protest.  True, she was the wife of the most powerful man in the world but I did start gaining more respect for her as she stood up against him time and time again. 

The Tudors was an educational experience for me.  It made me want to research the 1500’s in England history when King Henry VIII reigned whereas I normally wouldn’t.  I always preferred ancient history compared to this particular time in history.  Somehow, it always came across as boring to me.  Outside of school, I did not retain dates and events during King Henry VIII’s reign.  Although I am sure the Showtime series, The Tudors, is not an exact representation of the happenings in King Henry’s court, it succeeded in making me want to research this time period with a new and invigorated eye.  I will most definitely watch Season Two. 

I give the whole first season of The Tudors-

5 out of 5 gold pounds

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March 30, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

THE TUDORS: EPISODE TEN-SEASON ONE

I have been awaiting Episode Ten, the last episode, but I was disappointed.  I guess my disappointment is supposed to encourage me to see Season Two of The Tudors.  Showtime has succeeded.  I am so interested in The Tudors that I must see Season Two somehow. 

Episode Ten opens dramatically with King Henry masturbating while a servant catches his DNA in a cloth.  I wondered out loud, “What is going on?”  It was quite disturbing. Then I remembered a part of the book of Genesis where God forbids a man from allowing his semen to touch the ground, thus wasting it.  Also in Leviticus 15:16 and 17, God denounces a man as unclean if his semen touches his flesh and his garments unclean if semen touches them.  A combination of the three scriptures is my best explanation as to why the King was masturbating in front of a servant who had to stand there and catch his semen in mid-flight.  Yuck!  Anyway, it is obvious that the King’s patience for Anne and her “chasteness”, which is really a weapon to hold the King’s attention while her family conspires to gain more power , is wearing thin.   At the end of the episode, King Henry and Anne Boleyn finally have sex but it doesn’t end with  the bells and whistles that they expected.  It was a moment of weakness that caused them to have sex before he is rid of his wife and married to Anne.  They both walk away disappointed, Anne being the most disappointed because now it appears that the King’s attention will no longer be wrapped around her.

In this last episode, the King has a new group of advisors as Wolsey and 15 of those working for him are arrested for high treason.  Although the King has turned against Wolsey, he makes it very clear that Chancellor Wolsey, as one man, was more successful at managing his affairs than his group of advisors.  Wolsey ends up slitting his own throat in prison before his trial-a happening that the King wants to keep secret.  I believe that he wanted to keep this secret because according to Catholic belief, a suicide is unforgiveable in God’s eyes and the person’s soul would have to wonder eternally in purgatory.  The King dismisses all of his servants as he mourns for Wolsey.  Even I felt some sadness for this character’s passing.  Although he was a snake in the grass, he possessed qualities that we as humans, all possessed at one time or another.

My rating: 4 out of 5 gold pounds

March 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

THE TUDORS: EPISODE NINE – SEASON ONE

In Episode Nine, Cardinal Wolsey, seeing his future hanging in the balance, takes it upon himself to beg the Queen on his knees in public to bend to the King’s demands.  Of course he is only thinking of himself.  His desperation causes him to grovel like a dog.  I felt sorry for him a bit because for the last three episodes, I’ve seen him drop steadily out of power and favor with the King.  He has physically manhandled other cardinals to do his bidding ahead of what they deem as God’s work.  He accused an innocent man of doing what he was doing (spying for France on King Henry’s affairs) thus driving him crazy in prison.  He has threatened to imprison the Queen and her young child if the King is ever assassinated.  His haughtiness preceded him and yet, he finds himself on his knees before the Queen who he has helped to make her life a living hell.  My how the tables have turned.  Queen Katherine denounced him and told him to get up.  She stood firm and continued to refuse to grant the King an unlawful divorce while everyone looked upon Wolsey peculiarly-A Cardinal who professes all reverence to only God bowing before Queen Katherine instead of some revered religious statue? 

Anyway, Katherine exposed the Cardinal in public for all his deceit, telling him that he intends to string her along like he does with everyone else, but this time, it won’t work.  She and her servants leave him in the dust on his knees-Priceless.  I do believe there was some symbolism here.  Earlier in the season, Queen Katherine is likened to the Virgin Mary in her dress, her reverence to the Virgin Mary and her chastity and loyalty.  For the Queen/Mary to physically turn her back on Wolsey, spoke volumes.  I believe the writers were trying to suggest God’s disfavor and rejection of Wolsey.   

During the continuation of the Case – Queen Katherine vs. King Henry VIII, Bishop Fisher is the only one who would speak in behalf of the Queen and in direct defiance to the King.  He uses the example of King Herod in the Bible who wanted to take his brother’s wife, Jezebel, unlawfully.  John the Baptist was the only one who spoke out against this act and thus, he got his head cut off.  Similarly, the Bishop likened “The Tyrant” as he said, King Herod to King Henry and the fearless and loyal John the Baptist to himself.  I thought that was effective reasoning, using Bible scripture against the same people who profess to live by it.  But of course, the fearful ‘men of the cloth’ criticize Bishop Fisher for using that reference. 

The whole scenario shows how fear easily rules most men, prodding them to go against all that they believe or profess to believe.  I do have a respect for people who do not back down from their beliefs, even if they are attacked from all sides. 

At the end of this episode, King Henry banishes Cardinal Wolsey for not getting him what he wants and places Sir Thomas More in his place.  He does not want the position and who can blame him observing what happened to Wolsey.  The King orders him to be his new Chancellor against his will and charges him to do the will of God even if he himself is not in agreeance.  We’ll see how long this lasts.  According to history, this doesn’t last for too long.  Less than three years later in 1532, More resigned from the position citing ill health but the real reason was his disagreement with King Henry’s decision to split from the Church.

My rating: 5 out of 5 gold pounds

March 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

THE TUDORS: EPISODE EIGHT – SEASON ONE

Episode VIII begins with King Henry and Queen Katherine sitting for a painstaking portrait which probably took hours of standing in the same pose to achieve.  What a contradiction.  The King is aggressively seeking a divorce from his Queen so that he could marry Anne Boleyn and yet they pose for a family portrait.  Similarly to many families today, they save face for the public while their lives are unraveling behind the scenes. 

In this episode, a newfound respect and admiration for Queen Katherine grows in me.  She stands, perfectly lady-like but with a fighting spirit as she is attacked from all angles.  The King and the ‘men of the cloth’ who are scared out of their wits by the King, try everything in the book to get the Queen to leave the King ‘willfully’ since it looks as though the Pope will not grant the King his divorce.  I don’t know how I would have acted amidst the intense pressure.

The King asks the Queen to retire to a Nunnery with grace and leave him to the occupation of marrying Anne Boleyn.  She refuses stating that that is not God’s will for her.  It is God’s will for her to be Queen of England and she continues to stand behind her claim that her marriage to King Henry’s brother was never consummated; therefore it is not wrong for him to be married to her.  This is King Henry’s only argument for having his marriage voided. 

Cardinal Wolsey’s life hangs in the balance as he is well aware of as everyone else is, that the King must always have his own way or there would be dire consequences.  So he resorts to sending other lawyers who resemble ‘men of the cloth’  to threaten the Queen by stating that if the King is assassinated, she and her daughter would be prime suspects.  I even thought that was a new low for Wolsey.  It is obvious that he would do whatever it takes, even threatening a woman and her innocent child, to ensure that his career and riches stay in tact. 

Lastly, the King himself threatens to take the Queen’s daughter away from her permanently if she doesn’t grant him a divorce.  I loved and admired the way the Queen stood up to the menacing figure of King Henry and reprimanding him for thinking of taking their daughter from her.  She then refused to bend to his whim.  As my respect for her grew, I noticed my respect for her adversary, Anne Boleyn waning.  Although it was intriguing to watch Anne Boleyn’s cunning catch the eye and heart of the King, the reality is that she is nothing but a woman, employed by her father and uncle, to use the King to bring down Cardinal Wolsey.  Even though she has apparently fallen in love with the King, he is still a married man and this is wrong.  So her end could never be a favorable one. 

Anyway, a court trial commences with the Queen vs. the King.  The Queen uses her craftiness to portray herself as a humble woman (as she respectfully kneels before the King) who only loves and wants more than anything to be loved by her husband who is, as she emphasizes, was her first and only lover.  The King and the Cardinal are mortified because they know that this humble display can only work in her favor.  She then makes a dignified exit out of the courtroom, against the Cardinals orders, to a throng of subjects cheering for her.  She definitely had the hearts of the public and rightfully so.  I am in awe of this woman played brilliantly I might add, by Maria Doyle Kennedy.  I can’t wait to see the end of this case, even if I already know that the Pope will never grant the King his divorce.

My rating: 5 out of 5 gold pounds

March 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

THE TUDORS: EPISODE SEVEN – SEASON ONE

When I sit down in my living room to watch the Tudors, besides my notebook and pen, I must have three important things – My sofa pillows fluffed and propped up perfectly behind me, popcorn and total silence. Therefore I always end up watching it very late at night after putting my rambunctious daughters to bed. But today, I was able to watch it in day light (5:30pm) for the first time since I left work early to take my older daughter to the doctor. My little one, being the noisiest of the two, was having a great time running back and forth as I popped my popcorn in preparation for my show. I said to her for the fourth time, “’Ella (not her real name) you have to go in your room and watch your movie because mommy has to watch….” She finished my sentence, “Tudors! I know, I know.” A smile came over my face. I didn’t realize that my little one was aware that I watched The Tudors let alone the routine leading up to my viewing experience. That was interesting. Tudors has become a part of my life! Is that good or bad? I don’t know.

What I do know is that Episode VII of the Tudors turned out to be haunting and welcoming at the same time. It was literally plagued by the “Sweating Disease”- an almost always fatal disease which was marked by sweating in its victims. The sweating sickness, also known as the “English sweate” (Latin: sudor anglicus) today, was a mysterious disease that struck England, and later continental Europe, in a series of epidemics beginning in 1485. In 1528 the disease recurred for the fourth time and with great severity. It first showed itself in London at the end of May and speedily spread over the whole of England. In London the mortality was very great; the court was broken up, and Henry VIII left London, frequently changing his residence and this was illustrated well in The Tudors. The show went on to show the King’s insecurity and fears mounting to the point that his dreams and waking dreams were disturbed by the possibility of him being infected.

The worst did happen to him though. His beloved Anne Boleyn became stricken with the disease and this nearly destroyed him when he had to wait patiently for word on her health. She somehow miraculously survived the disease and is rejoined with the King. I don’t think this actually happened but it makes for a great drama. To see the character of King Henry VIII who is usually spitting became overjoyed at the sight of a now well Anne Boleyn really touched me. I felt so upset at myself for saying “Awwwww” out loud. It would have been only natural for my next step to be turning to the Soap Opera Channel. Never that!

Chancellor/Cardinal Wolsey whom I am not fond of also fell with the sweating disease. I was surprised to see how I felt sorry for him in his pain and suffering. His vulnerability caused me to see him as a human being who simply makes flaws as all human beings do. I forgot his hypocrisy and cruelty in this moment of desperation. After he recovered, I found it difficult to feel that same hatred towards this character. Maybe I’m a softy.

The sweating sickness eventually died down by the end of the episode but in reality, it died down in 1551 after which the disease apparently vanished. The onset of symptoms was dramatic and sudden, with death often occurring within hours. Its cause remains unknown to this day.  I must admit that this episode was not only entertaining but an educational tool because I wouldn’t normally Google “Henry VIII”, but I find myself doing that a lot these days.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 gold pounds (because this episode didn’t have as much depth as the previous ones. It actually just felt like a pathway to the next episode)

March 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

THE TUDORS: EPISODE SIX – SEASON ONE

“Love makes any man vulnerable”, the Duke of Norfolk tells his niece Anne Boleyn.  Both Norfolk and Thomas Boleyn, Anne’s father, read every love letter the smitten King Henry sends to her.  After all, it was all part of the plan that they devised to have Anne planted in the King’s heart with the purpose of supplanting the snaky, conniving Cardinal Wolsey.  They both remind her to stay focused on her mission and to not fall in love with the King; too late.  It seems that Anne has fallen for King Henry even against her own will.  We can not tell ourselves who to love and who not to love.  Love just happens and it did in the case of Anne Boleyn and King Henry.  He wooed her completely not only with lavish gifts, but more importantly, with lavish heartfelt words.  My heart dropped when he explained to the confused Anne why he would want to have dinner with her father and uncle.  He said in part, “When I am with them, I am close to you.”  If nothing else showed the trueness of his love for her, this line certainly did.  The character of Anne Boleyn’s whole demeanor melted when he said this.  Even I, who despises the character portrayed as King Henry VIII, would absolutely melt if I were told this by him.

 Anyway, I digress from the mushiness. Cardinal Wolsey’s days are numbered.  The plot thickens to oust him as Anne plants a seed of doubt in the King’s head regarding Wolsey.  She coyly advises him to not believe everything he says.  Right before Anne Boleyn gets audience with the King, Wolsey notices her and asks, “Anne? What are you doing here?”  She tells him that she asked for audience with the King.  Wolsey then literally looks down on her and says with a slight giggle, “What would a silly girl like you have to say to the King?” Then he walked away with his nose in the air.  I didn’t care for the Cardinal and his evil, scheming ways before but when he looked down on Anne, as if a woman were a second rate human, I was turned off from his character completely.  Little does he know that that same silly girl is the key to his impending end.

 King Henry continues to pursue approval from the Pope to remarry.  This matter seemed more important to him than the second try at a peace treaty with King Francois of France.  He sends Wolsey to France to sign the new and improved treaty and to ask for audience with the Cardinals there to get their approval which would more than likely influence the Pope’s ultimate decision.  Although King Francois has been paying Wolsey handsomely to spy on King Henry’s affairs for him, thus showing his allegiance to France, all of the Cardinals refuse to meet with him.  They refuse to even entertain the idea of King Henry getting a divorce and King Francois can do nothing about it because they supposedly answer to a higher power.  “The wheels turn my friend.” King Francois says to the frightened Wolsey who knows full well that if he returns to England without good news for the King, it may very well mean his head.

 I loved how the ominous music began as Wolsey slowly lit all the massive candles in the room where he was to meet with the Cardinals.  He sat a bit.  Then he paced a bit and you could feel his anxiety.  I honestly felt a bit sorry for him when you could tell a lot of time passed and no one showed up.  He eventually and sadly put out every candle as slowly as he lit them.  Then in the darkness, King Francois broke the news to him.  The darkness, I am sure, represented the dark doom looming ahead for Wolsey.  All of his lights or “friends” of the cloth, were extinguished.  I thought that was brilliant. 

Thomas Boleyn manages to entice Charles Brandon (the exiled friend of the King who married his sister, Princess Margaret) to take part in the plot to get rid of Wolsey’s influence over the King.  Boleyn, using his newfound favor with the King, encourages Brandon to join himself and the Duke of Norfolk and in exchange, regain good standing with the King.  He reluctantly agrees.  Boleyn puts in a good word to the King for Brandon.  Then Brandon follows Boleyn’s advice to beg King Henry for forgiveness for taking his sister in marriage without his permission.  In a comical twist, the King, who normally goes mad with unadulterated rage, challenges Brandon to a game of arm wrestling.  If Brandon won, he would regain his station at court and all of his properties and his favor again.  At one point, only for suspense, it looked as if King Henry would win but of course, Brandon won and all is forgiven. 

 I am really enjoying all the twists and turns of the lives of these characters that are based on real persons in history.  Interest has been stirred up in me to the point that now I want to study this time in history in a more detailed way.  Funny enough, I intend to do that only after I finish watching the first season because I don’t want to spoil the ending. 

 My rating: 5 out of 5 gold pounds

March 15, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

THE TUDORS: EPISODE FIVE – SEASON ONE

King Henry VIII and Sir Charles Brandon played by Henry Cavill

 

  Episode Five of the Tudors has been an emotional roller coaster for me.  Many important events transpired causing me to look at some of the characters differently.  Episode Five begins when King Henry knights Anne Boleyn’s father, Thomas Boleyn.  His son who is about five years of age is also knighted, Duke of Richmond and Sommerset and Earl of Nottingham.  He hands him a crown and a scepter and sends him off away from his mother where he would be taught and primed to be the future King of England.  This seemed cruel to me, especially when the mother could hardly contain herself when she had to let her son go.  The same scenario was acted out when the King had Cardinal Wolsey, the bearer of bad news, break it to Queen Katherine that her daughter would be taken away from her as well to be trained to be a Princess in another palace.  This separation really hurt me being a mother and seeing how much the character of Queen Katherine is portrayed to truly love and adore her daughter amidst the cold pomp and circumstance.  Her daughter was her life, so it was as if her heart was ripped away from her.  I did not knock the King for his decisions because it is the custom of the royals. As I mentioned before, watching The Tudors helps me to realize how difficult it is being part of a royal family. Your life is basically not your own.  It throws away all childhood fantasies brought on in part by Walt Disney, of what being a princess would truly be like.   

To add insult to injury, Queen Katherine is told by her husband that he no longer wants to be married to her.  “As far as I am concerned, this marriage is over”, he says.  His excuse is that he believes he is cursed for marrying his dead brother’s wife and he doesn’t want to be a sinner in  God’s eyes (meanwhile he is jumping from bed to bed with all the women of the court).  This is a justification for something that he wanted to do for a long time since he never loved Katherine.  His lust or love (I don’t know yet) for Anne Boleyn is driving him to make this decision which is totally against the Catholic Church.  The King was cold in his delivery of this news to the Queen.  He basically told her to pick a place to move to and he never wants to see her again.  Meanwhile his eyes were red and watery.  When he dismissed himself as quickly and coldly as he entered, the Queen, who actually loved her husband, wailed her soul out, arching to the ground.  This was great acting in my opinion.   

 My disgust for King Henry was softened not only by the sincerity in the eyes of Jonathan Rhys Meyers who plays him so magnificently, but also by the fact that it is difficult being with someone that you don’t love while the one that you do love is so close but so far away from your grasp.  This soft spot I had for the King hardened again when I saw how he treated his sister Princess Margaret.   

King Henry forced Princess Margaret to marry the old, decrepit King of Portugal for political reasons against her pleading.  She kept asking him to promise to allow her to remarry whomever she chose after the old King died.  He coldly ignored her pleading.  On the way to meet her husband to be, she carries on an affair with Henry’s friend, Charles Brandon.  Margaret, driven by disgust and total desperation, suffocates the King shortly after their marriage and ends up marrying Charles. The King, upon being told about the secret marriage banishes the both of them from court and takes away their London homes, as if they were his disobedient little children.  This act turned me off from the King once again because he being in a similar situation should have been more sympathetic.  Yet he would expect the Catholic Church to be more sympathetic to him by allowing him to marry the one he loves.  Being the King in the 1400’s afforded him to be a true example of hypocrisy as he towered above everyone and apparently every law.   

Toward the end of episode five, King Henry is bogged down with bad news from everywhere.  In addition to his sister’s betrayal, he learns that he is betrayed by Emperor Charles V who has left an allegiance with him and joined forces with his enemy, King Francois of France.  It is also revealed that Spain and Germany have become allied and they have sacked Rome and killed over a thousand priests and are now holding the Pope himself prisoner.   The worst news of all was learning that his only son died of a sudden infection.  I could not sympathize with the character while he received all of this bad news but when he lost his son, I did feel some sympathy but it didn’t move me as much as when the boy’s mother saw his dead body lying on his bed.  I had to forward that part slowly because it was too emotional for me.    

I believe that the writing in The Tudors thus far has been superb.  It doesn’t matter whether the scenarios played out move me to the left or to the right.  The fact that I am affected gives credence to the writing as well as the acting.   

My rating: 4 out of 5 gold pounds

March 15, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

THE TUDORS: EPISODE FOUR – SEASON ONE

Anne Boleyn played by Natalie Dormer

 

“Defender of the Faith”.  This is a new title which is given to King Henry by the Pope.  Just when you thought his head couldn’t swell anymore.  On the other hand, Martin Luther condemns the King, thus his head deflates a bit and the hot air is replaced by anger.  We all need to be grounded a bit, especially the overly magnanimous Henry VIII.   

Surprisingly in this episode, King Henry VIII had sex with only one woman other than his wife.  This time, it wasn’t showed but the lustful sounds coming from his quarters entertained the two guards who sat at the doors.  I guess they never get tired of the King’s erotic escapades.  In episode four, he spent most of his time getting hurt from jousting as he almost got his eye knocked out and from pole vaulting in mud to prove his kingliness.  The latter almost got him killed but at the same time, it caused him to sit down and do some serious introspection.  

Anyway, the part that I was waiting for; the question that I needed to be answered.  How did the not so astonishly attractive Anne Boleyn manage to steal the King’s heart???  I observed several points that came into play.   The first was orchestrated by her father and uncle.  

ANNE BOLEYN’S RULES OF SEDUCTION WHILE TRYING TO KEEP YOUR HEAD  

1) Make Yourself Noticeable:  In the third and fourth episodes, Anne seemed to be at every function the King was present at.  She was even appointed one of the Queen’s maidens, always present when she was.  He couldn’t help but notice her after a while.   

2) Do not be aggressive:  Although Anne was at almost every function, she would never look the King’s way.  She acted as if she were there just to have a good time and couldn’t be bothered with him.  When he would steal a look her way, she would act disinterested.  

3) Do not be desperate:  The King gave Anne four expensive jeweled broaches and she returned them with a note in which she said in part, ‘I am unworthy to accept these broaches especially since I have done nothing to deserve them.  Please give them to some other young lady more deserving.’ She understands that the King is yet and still the King, so she has to play up to his grandiosity by humbly referring to herself as unworthy.  By telling him to give them to some other girl, she is showing that she is not hard up to be with him as opposed to every other girl in the Court.  He is hurt by being turned down by her but impressed, so he ends up begging her to wear another “more appropriate” piece of jewelry-a beaded crucifix, which brings me to number four of my observations of Anne Boleyn’s game tactics.  

4) Do Not Reveal Past Trysts:  It is obvious to me and other viewers I am sure that Anne was having an affair with a married man who ended up leaving his wife for her.  But when her father approached her about seducing the King, she dropped him and his poetry like an old hot potato and charged him not to tell anyone of their relationship unless he wanted to die.  So when the King himself approached her ex in a threatening manner to inquire of a possible past relationship with Anne, the young man denied and was left with the ‘fear of God’ in him.  Later, King Henry observed Anne frolicking with a young man at a party and asked her about it in a threatening manner as well (holding onto her throat).  She smiled and confidently said, “That is my brother”, now knowing full well that she had the King where she wanted him.  No man, especially a king wants to hear details about past relationships.  They want to believe that the woman they are with is “clean and pure” so to speak, and has only been with them.  Even if the man is a bed hopping, skirt chasing jerk like King Henry VIII, he still wants to believe that his woman is nothing like him.  It’s an ego thing.  

5) Out of Sight, Out of Mind:  After Anne returned the broaches to the King, at the end of the attached note she revealed to him that she was traveling to the country to visit her family for a while.  Henry almost had a conniption.   He was left with no choice but to patiently wait for her return, all the while fueling his longing for her.  

6) Tease:  To the King’s surprise, Anne meets him in a secret place as he requested.  She knows that he wants to have sex with her but she is not going to be so easy.  She does allow him to kiss her once but then runs away like a coy Cinderella when she hears people coming in their direction.   

7)Do not give in too soon to a sexual relationship:  Anne actually refuses to engage in any sexual affair with the King until she is married to him.  The natural hunter in him loves this and continues to pursue her.  I’m sure he thought this would have been an easy “kill” so to speak like the others but Anne doesn’t give in and this makes him want her all the more, even to the point where he entertains the thought of taking her in marriage. 

It was fun observing these seven points of Anne Boleyn’s seduction of the King.  But of course, they are not fool proof as can be seen by the end result, so don’t try them all at once.   King Henry is in Anne Boleyn’s little web but how long will this game last before she loses her head? (almost rhymed).   

I am just enjoying how everything is unfolding.  As I mentioned earlier, the King’s brush with death causes him to do some introspection.  He says that God is punishing him for marrying his brother’s wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon, and for this reason, he can not produce a legitimate heir to the throne, so he pursues a divorce which is unheard of in the Church.  Let’s see how this plays out in Episode five.  

My Rating – 4.5 out of five gold pounds

March 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Debbie Almontaser: Monster or Educator?

When I first started watching the documentary piece on Debbie Almontaser, I already made the assessment that this was just another case of prejudice.  Ms. Almontaser is an American educator who was to be the principal of a NYC dual-language Charter School called Khalil Gibran International Academy.  Arabic would be the language taught.

Now many critics arose when they found out that the Arabic culture would be a part of the curriculum.  The opposition that arose in Topeka, Kansas with the Brown vs. Board of Education case in which Brown fought the segregation of schools popped up in my head. 

There are over 65 other dual-language programs all over NYC teaching languages such as Hebrew, French, Spanish and Chinese.  Why should this one cause so much of a stir? Because the terrorist attacks of 9/11 are still fresh in everyone’s psyche with NYC experiencing the brunt of human casualties.  As a result, everything Arabic is bad in the minds of many New Yorkers let alone Americans.  This is an unfortunate fact, thus I can understand why so many were opposed to the school.  I believe that critics thought that the program would breed many American supporters of terrorism.

 A smear campaign touched off against Debbie Almontaser but a story from the New York Post was the clincher that eventually forced her to step down as principal of the Academy.  In an interview by a Post reporter, Almontaser is asked about a T-shirt with the words, “Intifada NYC” created by a group called, “Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media”.  This group only borrowed office space to run this youth program at Saba: Association of Yemeni American.  Almontaser is just one of the board members of Saba so for them to ask her about it in an attempt to incriminate her is highly devious.   She went on to explain that the word, “intifada” means ‘shaking off’ and she continued by stating, “it is a negative connotation due to the uprising in the Palestinian-Israeli areas” and she does not “believe the intention is to have any of that kind of violence in NYC.”  The Post misquoted her as saying, “I think it’s pretty much an opportunity for girls to express that they are part of New York City society…and shaking off oppression.” This story fueled the already burning fire of unfounded hatred against Almontaser.

 Almontaser denied using the phrase “shaking off oppression” but that did not matter.  Those who wanted to destroy her dream of being the principal of New York’s first Arabic/English dual language academy won.  It’s very scary that the media can one day uplift a person’s career and the next day destroy it with a simple word.  I do not think the blame should fall on the media alone.  I do believe that if the public was more educated and less prejudiced, they could look objectively at the media, especially when it is wholly partisan like this Post story on Almontaser.  We can not sit and passively swallow everything we hear without doing an educated evaluation. Human nature attacks things it doesn’t understand.  For this reason, schools like the Khalil Gibran Academy, are needed to teach our children about cultures other than their own.

Debbie Almontaser is not only affiliated with the Saba organization.  She finds ties with many other organization such as Columbia University, the Mayor’s office of Immigrant Affairs, the NYC Police Department, the Dialogue Project, the Brooklyn Borough President’s New Diversity Task Force, the Same Difference Interfaith Alliance, Youth Bridge N.Y. and Nickelodeon to name a few.  If any of these organizations happened to allow another organization to use one of their spaces and later turned out to be questionable, should Almontaser be the one that is attacked?  It makes no sense and frankly, it sounds like outright bullying to me.

 9/11 is a touchy subject for all Americans and the world but that doesn’t merit attacks on Arabic peoples and their culture.  I believe that because it is a sensitive issue, people who have views on it such as Churchill, should be more sensitive and tactful to the public and try to keep their views within their circle without suppressing their right to free speech.

March 2, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

THE TUDORS: EPISODE THREE – SEASON ONE

In Episode Three, the intentions of every major character are made more apparent.  George Boleyn, now former Ambassador to France, intends to reap a fortune by pimping off his daughter, Anne, to King Henry.  A relative of his who was an ally of the late Duke of Buckingham and his attempts to usurp the throne, wants Anne to get close to the King in order to side track him while a plot of theirs unfolds.  Anne intends to follow her father’s instructions to seduce the King, so she coldly breaks off her affair with a married man who appears to be completely enamored by her.  Imagine a man reading a love poem to the object of his affections, who then criticizes the heart felt words and walks off but not before ordering him to never speak to her or ask for her again.  I love Anne Boleyn already!

The sanctimonious Cardinal Thomas Wolsey  is still aggressively pursuing the Papacy by any means necessary.  Revealed in this episode are his ill intentions toward King Henry who hangs on almost every word he says.  I was not surprised to find out that he is being employed by the King of France as a spy.  As much as I am not fond of King Henry and his affairs, this would be one beheading that I wouldn’t cringe at if they showed it.  I just do not take kind to religious figures who are pious on the outside and calculatingly wicked on the inside. 

Queen Catherine of Aragon simply wants the love of her husband.  She continues to beg the Virgin Mary for a son, even if it means walking barefoot in the rain to get to her sanctuary.  Queen Catherine is a devout and loyal wife who only wants to gain the favor of the King who wants desperately to have a son.  He even blames her for not having one, not knowing as we do today that the gender of a child is determined by the male.  As I continue to watch The Tudors I am more and more thankful to be born in this time period as opposed to medieval times.  To the Queens dismay, one of her ladies in waiting whom she confided in, Lady Elizabeth Blount, gives birth to King Henry’s first son.  Elated, he decides to recognize the illegitimate child and holds a gala event in honor of him.  The measure of the Queen’s regal stature and dignity is dramatically increased in my eyes as she walks into the celebration and politely congratulates the King in front of everyone.  I could not have been so well-mannered, then again, I am determining this by today’s standards.

On the King’s Agenda:  To amass enough wealth as possible to pummel France to the ground in war and replace King Francois by becoming the King of France.   In order to do this, he joins forces with the utterly rich 20 year old Emperor of Spain who is also the nephew of Queen Catherine.

In episode III, it seems as though the King is giving out the title of Sir like it’s going out of style.  He Knights one of his friends, Charles Brandon, played by Henry Cavill to the woe of his two other companions who demand that Henry go to the King and influence him to Knight them also.  A rift between the friends has now been created as can be seen when Henry in response, chastises them and reminds them to respect him and his newfound authority.  Thomas More and Thomas Boleyn are also knighted.  Thomas Boleyn could not ask for anything more enticing.  Thomas More, on the other hand, is initially in shock and feeling somewhat unworthy at the new title, yet of course, he ends up embracing it with a smile.

I notice that the writers are prolonging the affair between King Henry and Anne Boleyn to whet the appetite of the viewer, knowing full well that this is what we really want to see.  How did it transpire?  How was she able to hold the King’s attention for so long and so strongly that he defied the church and ended up divorcing his wife and making her Queen of England?  What kind of whiles does she possess, especially since historically, she is known to not be as outwardly  beautiful as her sister Mary?  I can’t wait to find out.  I must say that I was a bit turned off by the King’s dream sequence of him and Anne Boleyn playing cat and mouse.  At first I couldn’t tell if it was real or not.   The corny slow motion scene gave it away as being a dream.  Boleyn wore a flowing gold dress that hung in the breeze as she ran from him seductively which was an okay touch.  But I couldn’t help but want to imagine her in red, since she is the object of his red hot passion and desire.  Although what I have seen so far only hints at his attraction to her, I don’t think that the little that was covered by this episode and the last was strong enough for him to be haunted by visions of her in his sleep.  I think the dream was pushing it a bit.

 All of the chess pieces are in place so I await Episode IV.

My rating – 3 out of 4 gold pounds

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment