HOW MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS SCREWED THE POOCH

DAILY PROMPT – In Loving Memory – Write your obituary? Say what? I don’t think so. I’m not up for the Daily Downer. So instead, let’s do some history, shall we? As usual, there will be a short quiz at the end of the period.


Mary Queen of Scots did everything wrong from the get go. Some of it wasn’t her fault … she was too young to have much say in the matter, after all … but even after she knew her own mind, she always seemed to make the worst possible choice in every situation. She lost her head, though many felt it was too little, too late. Nor was it an unusual fate in her family where getting beheaded was a more common cause of death than liver disease from excessive alcohol consumption.

As a toddler, she was betrothed to the French Dauphin and in due time, married King Francis II of France. He was a child king and she a child bride. He didn’t live to adulthood, leaving Mary a very wealthy and insanely eligible widow. She was next hitched — by all accounting of her own choice — to Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. He was a total jerk, but was descended from the Plantagenet lines and himself in line for the English throne. Upon which no one wanted to see him sit except a few drinking buddies.

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley

He was a complete asshat — drunken, cruel, probably syphilitic — but handsome. Pretty is as pretty does. The relationship between he and Mary deteriorated immediately, to no one’s surprise. Shortly thereafter, Hank Stuart was murdered

“No, no, I had nothing to do with it, I swear,” said Mary, but no one believed her, probably because she was lying. She didn’t kill him with her own hands. Queens don’t do that. She had Bothwell do it for her. And then married Bothwell a month later. Sneaky.

"Mary Stuart Queen" by François Clouet

“Mary Stuart Queen” by François Clouet

James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, was believed (with good reason) to have “taken care” of Darnley on behalf of his Queen. Like most rich people accused of murder, he was acquitted in April 1567. When Mary married him in May, pretty much everybody thought it was a bad idea. Especially Elizabeth I, in Merry Olde England. Mary was her heir, but she thought Mary should not try to get to the throne while Elizabeth was still sitting on it.

Mary just didn’t have  … what do you call it? Oh, right. Brains. Commonsense. She couldn’t for a single minute stop plotting and trying to overthrow cousin Liz. And then Liz got all pissy about it and Mary lost her head.

What a tragedy! Well, maybe not a tragedy exactly. Despite it being a major personal loss for Mary and the hottest scandal of the century, it was no loss to the world. The Stuarts were a nasty bunch, right down to and including Bonnie Prince Charlie who gathered the clans for one last glorious battle then abandoned them to be slaughtered. What a guy!

This is my favorite part. Mary was not beheaded with a single strike. The first blow missed her neck and struck the back of her head. The second blow severed her neck, except for a bit of sinew, which the executioner cut with the ax. When he held her head aloft and declared, “God save the Queen,” her hair came off in his hand. A wig, it turned out. Her head fell to the ground and rolled some distance, revealing Mary’s short, grey hair. Mary’s little dog — a Skye terrier — had been hiding in her skirts. After Mary’s execution, the little dog was covered in blood and had to be removed from the scene and washed. Yuk.

Now that is a death scene to remember. Have a great day!

REMEMBERING GRANDMA KRAUS – GARRY ARMSTRONG

My mother died 7 years ago this month. It’s always fresh in my mind. I was sub teaching at our local High School. I kept thinking I should continue the history class after being informed of Mom’s passing. I was numb. Seven years later, I still really haven’t cried.

We received word a short time ago that Grandma Kraus died today. She wasn’t my grandmother but I called her Grandma as did many others. Muriel, as family and close friends called her, would have been 104 tomorrow. Just last night, Marilyn and I were talking about family and how Grandma Kraus might outlive all of us.

Kraus Family, Machias 2004

Kraus Family, Machias 2004

Her grandson, Owen, received the news by phone just as he was getting ready to go to work. His biggest concern before taking the call was coping with yet more falling snow on our already hazardous roads. Owen and his family live downstairs in our house so I saw his face when I stomped in from the snow. He repeated the message because I’m practically deaf. I heard him the first time but didn’t believe the news.  Sandy, Owen’s Wife, came in and hugged him. I waited a moment and also hugged him. He didn’t pull away. He just cried softly. I think Sandy called Owen’s boss to explain what had happened and that Owen might not be in for work.

I didn’t know Grandma Kraus as well as other family members and close friends. I hadn’t seen her in years. But every year of our marriage, Marilyn and I have been remembered with cards and very thoughtful gifts from Grandma Kraus.

“You can call me Muriel”,  the elegant lady told me during my first visit to her home more than 50 years ago. She could have been that elegant character actress Gladys Cooper. Matter of fact, she WAS the real life version of the legendary actress. Muriel was my best friend,  Jeff’s mom. She made me feel comfortable. No small task back in those days. She approved of what she called my good manners and seemed very pleased that I was her son’s best friend. She confided that she didn’t think highly of many of Jeff’s friends. It’s a good thing Muriel didn’t know about some of the social habits that forged my friendship with her son. I was invited back to the Kraus home several times with Muriel apparently telling Jeff to make sure I knew I was very welcome. Jeff always seemed surprised his mother liked me. So did I.

Over the years, Muriel stayed in touch with Mother, sending her elegant, hand written letters. I found one or two of the letters after Mom died. Muriel had followed my career and told Mother how proud she was of me. I was surprised. I’m not sure Muriel shared those same sentiments with Jeff who mentored many people including me.

My last visit with Muriel is a bit hazy. It was years ago after Muriel and her daughter, Gail, had moved to a very small town in northern Maine. Muriel must’ve been in her late 80’s or early 90’s. She was still very, very spry and busy in the kitchen. Her hearing was on the wane which made for great conversation as I tweaked my hearing aids to chat with her. Muriel asked about my family, remembering almost all of them. I helped set the table for one meal and caught Muriel smiling at me. “You still have good manners, Garry”. I blushed and Muriel’s smile grew bigger.

Sid Caesar the Curtain Closes on a Comedy Giant

Marilyn Armstrong:

Truly one the greatest of the greats. I remember “The Show of Shows” when I was a kid. From that show came more giants — Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Woody Allen — to name a few.

Originally posted on Mikes Film Talk:

Sid Caesar the Curtain Closes on a Comedy Giant

Sid Caesar is dead at 91 and the curtain has softly closed on a comedy giant. Although giant is perhaps not a large enough term to refer to a legendary figure who, through his live comedy programs, seemed to have invented the forerunner to the TV sitcom. The comic, and comedic genius, had been ill for a year before his death on Wednesday February 12. Stars and other comic icons have come forward to speak of their sorrow at the trial blazer’s death and also to talk of his ability to connect with audiences in a way that made them “roar with laughter.”

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