Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Is Royalty A Silly Topic For A Blog?

I belong to a writing board and recently a member reviewed some sites, mine included. Here's what Virginia Lee had to say:

Marilyn...types about all things royal. I'm ashamed to admit that I once thought this was kind of a silly topic for a blog, but I was wrong. She handles her topic with grace, class, and honesty and I..now visit at least once a week to see what she has to say. I don't believe in royalty much, but it's interesting to learn about this privileged set via Marilyn's blog.

I responded on Virginia's blog that she isn't the first person to think so and she won't be the last! I'm sure there are plenty of people who think that royalty is a silly topic for a blog. Despite this, I can't even begin to count the number of royal blogs out there. At least 20 English language and two dozen more European ones. Looking at the number of sites, maybe it isn't as silly after all.

When I started Marilyn's Royal Blog almost three years ago, I did it mainly to have an outlet for my interest in royalty. People don't necessarily understand why I have such a strong interest in this subject. But that's okay, they don't have to. Through this blog I have found a sense of acceptance with other like-minded people who have also felt misunderstood. I'm not trying to make this into a serious problem people need to seek help for; although I have joked about that in the past!

Although I'm proud of my blog I still find it difficult to tell people about it. Maybe if it were a website it might be easier. Everyone has heard of websites, but blogging is a different story. I also find it difficult to tell people about my show. Luckily I have a husband who takes my blog and my show seriously and actually encourages it. He may not always understand, but he knows it's important to me. I don't know what I'd do without that support.

As a friend of mine recently observed, royalty runs the gamut of celebrity, news, politics, and religion. Considering the interest in these topics, maybe a subject that combines them isn't all that silly after all.


© Marilyn Braun 2007

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Like royal books? Visit Marilyn's Royal Bookstore!
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Monday, October 29, 2007

Is it realistic?

There's an interesting post on the World of Royalty Network about posting photos that are copyrighted. In order to read the post you'll need to register, but I highly recommend doing so as it's a great place for royal watchers to meet.

It's always wise to respect copyright. When in doubt, don't post it. Now I'm all for respecting copyright but I'm wondering...whether it's realistic, in general, for official sites and photo agencies to expect people not to use these photos in their blogs, on their royal tribute sites, or on any other website. Obviously there are lots of photos out there. It's easy to copy them and think the photo is now yours. But it isn't. So where are people supposed to get photos?

At one point, there were various official royal websites that had image sections where you could download official photos for non-commercial use. Now this seems to have changed. Why? I don't have a clue. But knowing there was a royal source for fair-use photos was great. As a royal watcher, I assume that people know who I'm writing about. This is not always the case. So being able to show a photo with the article makes sense. Prince Christian of Denmark is cute? Here's a photo - see for yourself!

Surfing the Internet there's rampant copyright infringement. Or so I assume. Yes the music industry is cracking down but still, where would You Tube be without videos of celebrities? Or royalty? But most people can't afford to get the proper permissions to use said photos and music. In my case I actually have tried to get permission for a photograph and received no response to my request. Okay, I'm trying to go through the right channels here. Why not then respond, tell me how much it will cost and then I can go and save up my money? I've been told by photographers that agencies don't know how to respond to blog requests. So does that mean any blog that uses images is doing so because they haven't received permission, despite requesting it? Receiving no response, is it little wonder that people go ahead and use the photos anyways? True, there are sites that have fair use photos - but just try to find one of Prince William or Kate Middleton.

I'm not saying that the use of copyrighted photos is a given right, but it sure can make an article and a blog more interesting.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Photo: (minus the X) Snowdon/Camera Press

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Upcoming Royal Report - Sunday October 28th

Join me for the next Royal Report on Sunday October 28th 5:00PM PST (8:00PM EST).

The topic will be: Prince William and Kate Middleton - are they the real deal?

You can listen to the Podcast here.

The next Royal Report will be on November 4th. The topic will be: Should the succession laws be changed from male primogeniture to equal primogeniture?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Introducing The Kate Middleton Report

Can't get enough of Kate Middleton?

Get your fix at The Kate Middleton Report - All Kate, All the time.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Royal Review: The Rick Mercer Report: The Book by Rick Mercer

Right now you may be scratching your head going, first, Who on earth is Rick Mercer? Second, you're probably wondering, What does he have to do with royalty? I'll answer the first question in a moment. The answer to the second question? absolutely nothing. So now you're probably thinking you've come to the wrong blog, or I've taken leave of my senses by reviewing a book by a person you know nothing about and who has nothing to do with royalty.

You may think he has nothing to do with royalty. But you know my show, The Royal Report? He's the inspiration behind it. Or at least the style of it. True I've satirized the royal family for almost three years without needing him. Satirizing them is in my veins. However The Royal Report is different and I channel him everytime I write my script and go live with it.

So now you're thinking, it all makes sense. It's so obvious. All of the questions about me and my show that run through your head have been answered by this one review. Since September 25th, 2007, when the book was released, it's been so clear. You're wondering, why didn't it come to you before?

Me too, my friends.

Now to answer the first question: Who on earth is Rick Mercer? If you're in Canada, if you watch the CBC, you're likely to know him from This Hour as 22 minutes and of course,The Rick Mercer Report. If you're in the USA, you might know him from his comedy routine Talking to Americans.

RMR - The Book is a collection of his best rants over the last four years from his show. True, you do need to see the show in order to appreciate his rants but this book comes pretty close to them. Actually, other than reruns and YouTube, it's the next best thing. Rick Mercer satirizes Canadian politicians, and although I know next to nothing about Canadian politics, it doesn't matter. Seeing Rick Mercer having a sleep-over at the Prime Minister's house, skinny dipping with politicians, and rolling joints with Pierre Berton, is something that just has to be seen, or in this case, read about, in order to believe it. And it is funny. Now if you don't know who the politicians are, you can replace them with ones from your own country. Stephen Harper (PM of Canada) now becomes George W. Bush, Gordon Brown, Fredrik Reinfeldt or Heinz Fischer. Members of Parliament now become Senators, or Congressmen. Replace the Conservatives, Liberals, and the Green Party with Republicans, Democrats and your own Green Party. See now the book is fun too! Pencil and eraser not included.

Now you're probably wondering, hey this doesn't sound too bad. What's taking me so long to buy it?

Me too, my friends. Me too.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

Upcoming Royal Report: Sunday October 21st, 2007

The next Royal Report will be on Sunday October 21st.

The topic will be:The Diana Inquest - Will this finally end the rumours?

You can tune into the show at www.nowlive.com/marilynbraun
5:00pm PT (8:00pm ET)

Here's a time zone converter if you're outside of North America.

Hope you can join me!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Question: What is it like being a royal watcher?

Jerry writes:

You mentioned you wanted suggestions about what to write about. I'd love to know more about you. What's it like being a royal watcher? When did you start? What's been your favorite experience with royal watching? What sort of friendships has it lead to? The thing that differentiates your royal watching from everyone else's is you....

Well Jerry, thank you for your questions! I'll answer them one at a time.

What's it like being a royal watcher? When did you start?

My interest started the day Prince William was born - June 21, 1982. I was 10 years old and I remember hearing it on the radio. I've been fascinated ever since. Before this blog I was only a closet royal watcher. But now the secret is out! I'm happy now, because I no longer have to pretend to collect egg cups, sports memorabilia, or paperclips. I enjoy being a royal watcher quite a bit, and having an outlet for it with this blog is even better.

What's been your favorite experience with royal watching?

I would have to say *cough* appearing on tv *cough*

What sort of friendships has it led to?

It's led to several friendships - which I think is just wonderful. I've always felt that people who are royal watchers form a small, tight knit, community. At least that's the feeling I get from visiting various forums. In terms of royal blogging I think it's an even smaller world as there are only about 10 or so English language royal blogs.

The thing that differentiates your royal watching from everyone else's is you....

I don't know that I'm any more passionate about royalty than any other royal watcher or people who participate in royal forums. Maybe having *cough* internet talk show *cough* makes me somewhat different because I don't think there's anything else out there like that. But for the most part I put my pants on one leg at a time. ;)

© Marilyn Braun 2007

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Like royal books? Visit Marilyn's Royal Bookstore!
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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Diana Inquest - Justice for whom?

The long awaited Diana inquest is underway. Jurors have been sworn in. Six women and five men charged with answering four questions: who died, when did they die, where they died and how they died. The answer to these questions should be rather obvious, at least the first three anyways. It's the last question that may prove... to be the most difficult to answer. Or should the conclusion that there was no conspiracy, will it be the most difficult for Mohammed Al Fayed to accept?

Mohammed Al Fayed has propagated many of the allegations that have led to this inquiry. The events of August 31st and the days leading up to it have created hundreds of questions and launched many a conspiracy theory. Al Fayed alleges that Dodi and Diana were about to announce their engagement, that she was pregnant with Dodi's child and that the royal family could not accept the fact that the future King of England would have an Egyptian Muslim step-father. Some people need battles in their lives and he may be one of them. He fought for this inquest in front of a jury. Railed against the system in order to get it. Now that it's here, what happens next?

Al Fayed says: "I want justice for my son."

What about justice for Diana? What about justice for Trevor Rees-Jones - the sole survivor, and whose life is irrevocably changed? It's interesting to note that only Mohammed Al Fayed is the only one seeking the truth and justice. Where are the Spencers? Where are Prince William and Prince Harry? Do they not deserve the truth? The Princes have publicly announced that they accept the findings of the Lord Stevens Report. Also known as The Operation Paget Report, its 871 pages considered each allegation put forth by Al Fayed. He accused the original French investigation findings as incomplete. In Operation Paget, the investigators interviewed 300 witnesses, some for the first time, and went through 600 exhibits. Using the latest technology, they also reconstructed the crash in great detail. Lord Stevens came to the conclusion that there was no conspiracy to murder Diana and Dodi. It's unlikely that she was pregnant. With no indications given to family and friends, it's unlikely that she was engaged or about to get engaged to Dodi. The conclusion was that their deaths were the result of a tragic accident. Isn't that thorough enough?

It would be easy to dismiss Al Fayed as a loose cannon. His allegations make it easy to ignore the fact that he's a father who has never recovered from the loss of his son. "Grief is the price we pay for love." said the Queen in response to the September 11th, 2001 attacks. Can he be blamed for wanting closure? It depends on whose terms its on. Should this inquest lead to the conclusion that the crash was an accident, will Al Fayed accept it and let Diana, Dodi and Henri Paul rest in peace? Somehow I doubt it.

And after all of this time, that would be the biggest injustice of all.


© Marilyn Braun 2007

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Like royal books? Visit Marilyn's Royal Bookstore!
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Friday, October 12, 2007

The Royal Report: I just called to say...

Tune in to The Royal Report on Sunday October 14th. The topic will be: Royalty & the media. Should the media lay off the royal family?

Email me and let me know what you think.

You can catch the show live at www.nowlive.com/marilynbraun

Sundays 5:00 pm (PST) 8:00 pm (EST)



© Marilyn Braun 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Royal Review - Diana, A Princess Remembered by Glenn Harvey

Aside from books that have yet to be released, or ones I've waited until they've ended up in the bargain bin, I can't say I've ever waited as long for a book as this one. Ordered in late July, I now have it in my hands today. Usually I'm impressed by the efficiency of..Amazon but in this case I was truly frustrated by the experience. However, don't let that stop you from purchasing this book!

The first thing I notice about this book is the shape of it - a horizontal rectangle. This presents an aesthetic dilemma as most of the royal books I own are not horizontal rectangles. So where do I place this so as not to disturb the careful visual alignment of books I've created? I'm conflicted, do I put it at the front of the shelf or at the end? Or do I put it on the shelf with smaller books, where it will stick out? Luckily the shape of the book will not affect my enjoyment of it or whether I will give it an unbiased view. The second thing I notice is a DVD which includes 'images set to a soundtrack.' with a '60 minute running time.' This more than makes up for the aesthetic dilemma. I am of course torn between watching this versus giving a deserving review of this book. So I have now decided to look at the book and revisit the DVD later.

Diana A Princess Remembered is filled with photos of Diana throughout her royal career. In that respect it really isn't much different from Diana: Portrait of a Princess by Jayne Fincher (also a horizontal rectangle). Covering official and private travels from 1985 to 1993 to Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Caribbean, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, France, Germany, Hungary, Hong Kong, Korea, Kuwait, India, Indonesia, Italy, Spain, Thailand, the USA and of course the UK. It has a similarity to Portraits of a Princess: Travels with Diana, by Patrick Jephson, which details her travels from an insiders perspective with the relevant photos.

My enjoyment of this book is somewhat marred by Glenn Harvey's reputation as a paparazzi who relentlessly pursued Diana, upsetting her on several occasions for his own cause. However those types of photos are not included in this book, allowing me to believe I have some integrity left after having bought it. Accompanying the book are anecdotes of his travels with Diana and the situations Harvey encountered in order to capture the moment.

The DVD is enjoyable and a pleasant surprise. The musical accompaniment starts sombre but becomes festive depending on the location of the photos. For instance, during her United States visits, the soundtrack section starts with music that belongs more on a game show, complete with wild audience applause. I started to wonder what music would be played in the Canadian part of the DVD - Oh Canada? Bird calls? Aboriginal drumbeats? Instead they decided to stick with acoustic guitar music; the type you'd hear at Starbucks.

If like me, you're on some sort of misguided mission to own every book ever written about Diana, then this book is for you. If not, then you might enjoy the book for what it is - photos of Diana in her royal element, relating to the people and making her extraordinary impact on the world.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Click here to purchase Diana: A Princess Remembered

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Like royal books? Visit Marilyn's Royal Bookstore!
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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Is the 'Death of Prince Harry' art?

Y'know, I don't have a problem with artwork. As a matter of fact, I go to the museum at least a couple of times a year to make myself feel somewhat cultured and refined. I don't always get what's on display, but I try to hide it. At present, I'm working on making observations which sound important, but ultimately say absolutely nothing of significance. For example...

Marilyn: I like the way he smushed all of the colors together. Such joie de vivre! Almost childlike in its energy and enthusiasm.

Companion: Yes, his use of primary colors is impressive. But see how he experimented with red and blue to make purple? So inspired.

Marilyn: Indeed, so avant-garde. He's really growing in his artistry.

Now I will admit that I tend to like sculpture more, especially when it's of the human form, for obvious reasons; I can tell what its supposed to be. But sometimes I still don't get it. Take for example artist Daniel Edwards recent work "Iraq War Memorial: Death of Prince Harry." The Memorial features Prince Harry prone, his unfired gun holstered, pennies placed over his eyes, and his head resting on a Bible. Prince Harry is represented clutching a bloodied flag of Wales, and holding to his heart a cameo locket of his late mother, Princess Diana, while a desert vulture perches on his boot. 'A war-mutilated Prince Harry is the symbolic fallen hero in a memorial honoring those willing but unable to serve in the Iraq conflict...Harry’s head is ear less, denoting the explicit threats against the Prince from militia leaders saying they planned to send him back to his grandmother "without his ears." Eventually, the severed ears will be bronzed, put on display and then auctioned on eBay.

Tugs at the heart strings doesn't it? Makes you want to enlist to compensate for him right? Somethings missing though, a card that says "Harry" in Charles'/William's/or the Queen's handwriting. Who knows, maybe Mr. Edwards thought that might have gone a tad too far.

Unsurprisingly Daniel Edwards is no stranger to controversy. He's also created 'Suri's bronzed baby poop', and 'Paris Hilton Autopsy,' as a 'warning to underage, teenage prom-queen drinkers.' His sculpture featuring Britney Spears is called 'The Birth of Sean Preston.' shows her on all fours, giving birth to her first son. It's meant to be a pro-life statement - the bravery of her decision, as a young mother, to put family before her career. "Britney provides inspiration for those struggling with the ‘right choice’,” said artist Daniel Edwards, pre-head shaving incident and regrettable MTV awards appearance. Isn't that like saying Madonna (the singer) is a model for Catholicism?

Whether you're for the war or not, whether you think this is art or not, this piece does make a statement. While his work is intriguing I find it somewhat sceptical that he has chosen such well known subjects, in such extreme positions, and claim they convey an important message. Actually having done so cancels any such message out. Some may find this piece inappropriate, an attempt to shock, a gimmick, a prank or a sincere comment on important issues. Ultimately art is in the eye of the beholder.

What do you think?

© Marilyn Braun 2007