Jeff’s Gallery: Ludwig II

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A portrait of the Swan King the way he would probably want it. Image from https://www.neuschwanstein.de.

It is hard to make your mark in the world, especially as an artist. To create wonders but others can’t see what you’re trying to accomplish. It is especially hard when they expect you to be something you are not and you’re not given the choice of what to be. No one probably knew this better than Ludwig Otto Friedrich Wilhelm also known as Ludwig II the “Mad King” of Bavaria.

His Majesty was born on August 25, 1845 at Nymphenburg Palace, the summer residence of the Royal House of Wittelsbach, today in a suburb of Munich. His parents Maximilian II (then Crown Prince) and Marie of Prussia wanted to name him “Otto” But his grandfather; the current king of Bavaria, Ludwig I, insisted that the new prince be named after him since they shared the same birthday. His parents later named his brother Otto. As a child he and his brother were both drilled with the burdens of monarchy at early ages and Prince Ludwig was usually controlled by royal tutors and very strict studies but was never interested in politics. He was also never close to his parents and preferred his grandfather (who was also a bit of an eccentric himself, writing bad poetry about pretty much anything). He grew up at Hohenschwangau Castle near the Schwansee Lake. The castle’s Gothic Revival decorative style full of frescoes of heroic German sagas were very influential to him later in life. Ludwig was a great lover of arts, especially music, architecture and the Romantic operas of the distinguished composer Richard Wagner. He even became Wagner’s patron during the first half of his reign. He was also close friends with his aide-de-camp Prince Paul of the wealthy Thurn und Taxis family, until he was engaged in 1866 and the Duchess Elisabeth  of Bavaria, a distant cousin who was later Empress of the Austrian-Hungary Empire.

Flag, Coat of Arms, Map and Crown Jewels of the Kingdom of Bavaria during Ludwig’s reign. Images from en.wikipedia.org, Canva put together by Michele Bledsoe.

Prince Ludwig became king at age 18 when his father died on March 10 1864. Although he was unprepared and uninterested in the position he was a popular monarch due to his age and good looks. He never liked large public functions and avoided large public social events as much as possible. Instead he preferred to travel the countryside chatting with locals and distributing lavish gifts to those who were friendly to him. While these did help his image with the people, it made him butt heads with the ministers (he never bothered to appoint new ministers when he started his reign, just kept his father’s). Also more trouble was heading his way, the Austro-Prussian war reared it’s ugly head just two years after he came to the throne and King Ludwig supported the losing side. Soon Bavaria was forced to ally with Prussia and later joined the North German Confederation. They did fight with Prussia and the other German states against France in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. Their victory led to the birth of the mighty German Empire the next year. Ludwig would continue to rule Bavaria but now under Prussia’s control, although it would still enjoy a number of freedoms as a kingdom. Still, he was very unhappy about Bavaria’s loss of independence and even refused to attend the Proclamation of the Empire in the Palace of Versailles, France. Instead he sent his brother Otto and uncle Luitpold as his representatives.

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Brilliant but controversial opera composer, conductor and theater director Richard Wagner. Lugwig was a dedicated fan and patron early in his reign. Wagner’s work is still celebrated today. Image from Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The king withdrew from public life and began focusing on his real passions of the arts and the works of Richard Wagner. He worked to introduce famous operas, plays and ballets across Europe to his subjects and is said to have seen over 200 private performances in his life. He also started creating his greatest claim to fame, castle building. Inspired by his love of fantasy and the places he visited in France and Germany prior to the Franco-Prussian war, he designed several elaborate castles, as well as the interior, across his kingdom. He created the famous Neuschwanstein Castle near his childhood home, the small Linderhof Palace which was the only one completed during the king’s life, and on an island on Bavaria’s largest lake, the Chiemsee, he built the Herrenchiemsee, an intended copy of France’s Palace of Versailles. Ludwig also created a winter garden (or open conservatory)n to the Official Royal Palace, the Munich Residenz. He had plans for many more castles including a Chinese Summer Palace and the magnificent Falkenstein Castle that would even outdo Neuschwanstein. Unfortunately the winter garden was constructed after the king’s death due to water problems and the other castles only got as far as models and plans. Though there is a recreation of Falkenstein Castle in Texas (link here: https://www.hillcountrycastle.com).

A castle in America, surprisingly not as uncommon as you might think. Image from https://texashillcountry.com/

By now Ludwig II, King of Bavaria was falling out with his ministers even more than usual. Although he was decent enoph to use his own personal wealth instead of state funds for his projects, it all put him in great financial distress. He kept borrowing money from his relatives and attempted to make loans from royalty across Europe. He continued to work on his buildings non stop and ignored matters of state. He would dress up in costumes from his favorite stories and plays and act out scenes to no one. He usually dined alone and held conversations with historical figures long dead like Louis XIV of France. Another major issue was his sexuality. The king never had children, married or even have any mistresses, rare for a European monarch at the time. Through surviving diaries and personal letters we learn that Ludwig had strong homosexual desires and was deeply conflicted with them because of his strong Roman Catholic beliefs, especially since such feelings had not been punishable in the Kingdom of Bavaria since 1813, but were now illegal the German Empire. Although he was engaged to his cousin Duchess Sophie Charlotte and maybe did love her in a way, the relationship was canceled due to Ludwig constantly postponing the wedding. 

In 1886 his fairy-tale reign came to an end and it was no ‘happily ever after.’ King Ludwig was up to 14 million marks in personal debt and continued to borrow money instead cutting his expenses like his advisers suggested. He  was starting to feel like he was being constantly harassed by his ministers and decided to dismiss all of them and start all over. His government declared him paranoid and mentally insane, “proven,” by a group of doctors who never even met him but one, and that was just once 12 years earlier, using only his diaries (that they later had burned) mention of his attractions to men. On June 10 of that year a government commission took the king into custody. Still loved by his subjects, supporters and allies rallied by his side but were soon dispersed. He tried to escape but was soon captured. He was taken to Berg Castle and his uncle, Luitpold was made Prince Regent.

The spot where the Swan King died. He still gets an annual memorial service to this day.

Image from en/wikipedia.org

On June 13, the former king went for a walk with his personal doctor, Bernhard von Gudden, who was one of the doctors who declared him insane. Hours later they found Dr. Gudden and King Ludwig dead in Lake Starnberg. It was officially declared that the king probably strangled the doctor, since there was some sign of a struggle, and then committed suicide by drowning. However Ludwig was known to be a powerful swimmer and no water was found in his lungs at the autopsy. There is still mixed evidence on how they died and conspiracy theorist say that the Fairy Tale King was murdered. As he had no heir his brother, Otto, was made king. Sadly he had even more mental issues then Ludwig so their uncle continued to rule in his name. Today there’s a chapel and memorial to the sad king’s death and a memorial service every year at the lake on June 13.

However, King Ludwig now has the last laugh. History is much more sympathetic and better understanding of his symptoms. It is believed that he suffered from Pick’s Disease or schizotypal personality disorder. His memory is still as beloved today as it was during his reign and his castles still stand as monuments of his unrealized dreams. They are now, ironically, world famous tourist attractions, bringing millions of marks into Bavaria and the Neuschwanstein Castle is even the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland.

Neuschwanstein Castle Panorama
The majestic Nuschwanstein Castle, a must see for anyone visiting Bavaria, Germany. image from travldigg.com

Aaron Fotheringham: An Inspiring Athlete by Anna P

Aaron Fotheringham: Flipping Perceptions | Ever Widening Circles

Aaron Fotherinhman is an inspiring athlete and founder of WCMX (sport using wheelchairs by using forms from skateboarding and BMX.)  Born November 8 ,1991, he was born with Spinda Bifida, a birth defect which made him unable to move his legs. However this did not let Aaron down. As a child he would chase other friends on their bikes and refused to be in a special gym class for people with disabilities. One day his brother who was a BMXer said  he should try to skate with his wheelchair. He failed at first but tried again and again until he succeeded. He is now a celebrity athlete known for using a custom made wheelchair and performing with the wheelchair . Doing stunts like black flipping, double backflipping, and when he joined Nitro Circus Live Tour, he went over a fifty foot mega ramp and jumped the ramp going straight. Most people would not except someone in a wheelchair to do this. But Aaron Fotheringham did. Just showing that using a wheelchair he can do skater moves, he can let others see it’s not impossible for them to do similar things with their disabilities. Aaron or his nickname Wheelz is an inspiring athlete that I hope many non athletes and alike will try to see him in person for his amazing talent and perhaps give them encouragement that they to can do things with their disabilities or problems.

Jeff’s Gallery: Princess Caraboo

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The best known portrait of the exotic jokester. Painted by distinguished painter Edward Bird. image from artuk.com

I admit as a guy, I do not know for sure; but princesses still seem to hold a grip on gender culture. While there are its critics, the concept and appeal of female royalty show no signs of ever truly leaving our minds. They are people most any girl or young woman in some way aspire to be. Someone they relate to or a level they hope to achieve in life. Whether a kick-ass warrior who needs no man’s help or a dreaming romantic for a happy ending (or just money, power and life of luxury) princesses will probably always be one of womanhood’s most powerful fantasies for life.

However, the chances of growing up to be one are like one in a billion or something. We all can’t be the next Grace Kelly or Megan Markle, so then take the alternate; MAKE yourself one.

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Modern day Almondsbury, still with it’s English countryside charm, just like it did in the Regency era. What a bunch of suckers. image from en.wikipedia.org

On April 3, 1817 in the town of Almondsbury in South Gloucestershire, England a woman  in odd clothing appeared. She had strange markings on her head and spoke in an unknown language. The woman was taken to the county magistrate; a mister Samuel Worrall, declared her a beggar and had her tried for vagrancy and possession of counterfeit money (one fake sixpence). However his wife took pity on the strange lady and welcomed her into their home until the matter was cleared up. He was not at all happy about it. Her strange behavior took notice creating quite a stir with the local peers. Many (including the Magistrate) accused her of being a fraud while others (including Mrs. Worralle) insisted she was genuinely a foreigner in need. No one could figure out the strange woman’s language but managed to get out her name as “Caraboo” and came to the conclusion that the language was Asian.

During her stay a Portuguese sailor clame forward and claimed to understand her, revealing that she was “Princess Caraboo” of the Indies island of Javasu. She was apparently kidnapped by pirates and escaped by jumping overboard near the Bristol Channel to avoid being sold into slavery. Her language was later confirmed by local experts.

The people ate the story up like grapes and she was taken back to Almondsbury where for the next two and a half months she was treated like royalty and was a favorite with many local authorities. She ritualistically fasted every Tuesday and wildly danced, sometimes with a bow and arrow and wearing a gong like a breastplate. The lost princess also practiced fencing and archery, would dress in very exotic clothing of her own design and even went skinny dipping without much complaint from others. All shocking things for a woman in polite society at this time. She often made prayers to a god she called “Allah-Talla,” sometimes in a tree. Apparently the people of Almondsbury were much more tolerant then most of this time period or they were glad to have such a distinguished and exotic resident to put their town on the map. She also provided the full alphabet of Javasu for future research.

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Sample of “authentic” Javasuis writing; judging by the name at the bottom, it’s pretty obvious this was written much later. image from en.wikipedia.org

However her fame eventually leads to her own downfall. A boarding house keeper in Bristol soon recognized her in a newspaper. She came straight to Almondsbury and when Princess Caraboo visually recongnized her, the jig was up.

It turned out her real name was Mary Willcocks and was the daughter of a cobbler. She was born allegedly on November 11, 1792 in Witheridge, Devon. Her “foreign” language was made up to entertain the children for a family she once worked at as a maid.  However she had become unemployed and started posing as a foreigner when she noticed they got more sympathy when begging. The Portuguese sailor and doctor who confirmed the language were in on  it.   The marks on her head weren’t scars from escaping pirates, they were from a failed cupping therapy back at a poor house. It all worked because she knew how to play on people’s want to believe and it helped that they never expected her to know how to read or have such a good memory.

She soon departed from England and started traveling abroad that June. In September a letter was published in the Bristol Journal, supposedly from the governor of St. Helena Island, Sir Hudson Lowe, that Napoleon Bonaparte had sent an application to the Pope to marry her when she was apparently shipwrecked on the island. This story is most likely also a hoax.

She continued to entertain in the USA as Princess Caraboo for a few years, but did not have the same successes. Peoples’ interest in a confirmed hoaxer can only go so far. Eventually she returned to Britain, married Robert Baker and started a family. She made a living selling leeches to the local hospital and live the last thirteen years of her life, ironically, on No. 11 Princess Street in Bedminster, Bristol. She died on Christmas Eve in 1864.

Princess Caraboo remains one of the best known, and most colorful hoaxers in history. Practically every book I found about hoaxes in general tells her story. In 1994, actress and model Phoebe Cates played Princess Caraboo in a movie loosely based on these amusing events of a very clever common woman who fooled higher society. 

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poster of the movie. I believe this was Phoebe Cates last film. image from Amazon.com

ZOOM by Jake M.

In order to keep Seeds students engaged during the time off, the Seeds staff put together a weekly online curriculum for the students. I really enjoy doing the online coursework. Seeds also does weekly Zoom chat meetings, which is great because it allows me to interact with my peers, and the instructors. There are also Seeds Zoom clubs, where we talk about Disney movies, do sing-a-longs, and many other fun activities. The Zoom chats are the highlight of my week.

Bruce Lee by Anna P.

Bruce Lee: 8 gems gleaned from new biography

Bruce Lee is a name many know because he is a famous martial artist, actor and Philosopher.  Bruce Lee was born in Chinatown, San Francisco but his family moved to Hong Kong when he was young.  He became an actor at a young age and appeared in over twenty movies. Also, he got into many fights. One was against the son of a Triad family. Some of his fighting skills he learned might have come under the training of Yip Man who taught him more martial arts like Wing Chun.  He moved back to America when he was an adult and started teaching martial arts to everyone. This angered others who believed he should not train non Chinese people KungFu.  So a deal was made that if he got in a fight and lost he would stop teaching KungFu to non Chinese.  Bruce Lee had the man pinned down and won the fight. 

When his was at school around this time he studied philosophy and his philosophy went with his martial arts.  For example, he said that in life and martial arts one should be like water; Formless, shapeless.  Like how water in a cup becomes the cup or water in the teapot becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or crash.  Basically this meant one must know what to do in a situation like when to crash like water or when to expand like water because life and martial arts is about changing. This became Jeet Kune Do though Bruce said it was just a name and mirror to see ourselves in.

Bruce become an actor again after he went to an international Karate Tournament. A hair stylist saw him and told a producer about this amazing man. He had some roles in acting but not as much as he would later get.  Also he injured his fourth scarcel nerve around this time.  People didn’t think Bruce could do martial arts again however he tried his own treatment and began to get better. Because he didn’t get a lot of acting roles he decided to do more acting in Hong Kong rather than American movies. He was in the big hit in The Big Boss movie. He was in other movies even helping to make one of them. Finally those in Hollywood wanted him in American movies. Enter the Dragon was a big Hollywood/ Hong Kong production. Unfortunately Bruce later died after being prescribed medicine which swelled the fluids in his brain.  Bruce was so famous at this time that doctors from around the world came to see what caused his death. To me Bruce Lee’s story is incredible.   He was an actor, philosopher and martial artist together. I relate that when he got injured he still fought to be better. I think I am similar because with my OCD I try to get better even though it’s hard. Bruce Lee was an incredible man and a blessing to this world.

Learning how to deal with being inside during the Covid-19 Pandemic

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If you’re feeling trapped because you can’t leave your house or interact with people who aren’t family members, I’ve got a list of things you can do to productively pass time.

  1. Write in a journal
    1. Whether you’re a writer, or just have something you want to say, but no one to talk to, writing in a journal is a great way to express yourself.
    2. It can be happy things or sad, it depends on what you’re feeling at the moment. It really helps.
  2. Pray
    1. If you’re a spiritual or religious person, praying in times like these might be the best remedy.
    2. You can also go on websites that provide daily devotionals
  3. Read a book
    1. Reading a book is a great way to divert your attention to something other than negative thoughts.
    2. Whether you’re reading fiction, nonfiction, chapter books, or picture books, just read something you’ll enjoy.
  4. Start a hobby
    1. Some people like collecting certain items, or doing activities as a break from life.
    2. Different hobbies or collections include scrapbooking, coin collecting, trading cards, sports memorabilia.
  5. Sing a song
    1. Singing a song is a great way to express your creativity.
    2. It’s a great way to spread joy in yourself and others.
    3. The key is singing something upbeat, otherwise it defeats the purpose, which is to lighten the mood of your day.
    4. If you don’t know the lyrics, go to youtube and find a sing-along version so that you can practice the words.
    5. It’s a good mind exercise.
  6. Watch a movie
    1. Watching a movie is always a great way to pass time.
    2. You can watch something new, or something that you’ve seen several times.

I hope this helps you handle the stress of staying home.

Jake M.

If you enjoy sports, please visit Jake’s blog: Jake’s Daily Sports Report

Cosmo’s life by Sydney

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I got Cosmo when he was a puppy. Thru puppyhood, he was mischievous: licking the kitchen drainpipe, bringing rocks into the house and chewing holes in our underwear. He loved to run after bunnies in our yard. Once, he caught a dove in his mouth and brought it inside to show my mom. I remember seeing him for the first time: Christmas 2006. My dad brought this BIG box into the room and set it down in front of me. I opened it and there was this adorable ball of fluff inside, wagging his little tail. He was there when I had my first boyfriend at 17 and first kiss. but , that’s a story for another time. He used to be this active dog, always pawing at the door to be let outside, so he could chase away the bunnies in the yard. Then , he lost his sight in both eyes and his hearing too.  So, at the ripe old age of 13, we made the decision no pet owner wants to make: my mom and I took him to the Humane Society’s vet clinic to end his suffering. Mom fed him multiple treats to keep him calm. When we first entered the room, he began pacing around it and the vet tech administered something to make him sleepy and shaved some of his fur off in order to put a catheter in his leg. Then the vet entered the room and inserted a needle into Cosmo’s leg that contained the euthanasia drug. It was over in a matter of minutes. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room: I bawled my eyes out over Cosmo’s body. The pain of letting go is something I’m still dealing with. But I’ll always have my memories of him.

Jeff’s Gallery: “Lord” Timothy Dexter

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only known image of Lord Timothy Dexter, probably America’s luckiest idiot. from thevintagenews.com. Nice hat by the way

Some days we try hard to archive our goals but fail. Other days were trying hard and succeed. And sometimes we just wing it and hope Lady Luck is in a good mood and BAM! We hit the jackpot. However, as anyone who has spent a long time in Las Vegas would understand, we never know when or even if that will ever happen. After all, if we could control it, it won’t be “luck” after all. So how is it that a total bumpkin became one of the most successful businessmen in the early United States? I have no idea.

 

“Lord” Timothy Dexter was born in Malden, Massachusetts on January 22, 1748. He had very little schooling and worked as a farm laborer when he was eight years old and an apprentice leather-dresser at sixteen. In 1769, he moved to Newburyport and married a wealthy widow named Elizabeth Frothingham. He did not get along with the social elite of the time and they often gave bad business advice to discredit him and destroy his fortune.

 

Probably under the advice of others, Timothy imported items that were obviously worthless for the chosen area. He tried to sell warming pans (used to warm bed sheets in cold nights) and mittens to the West Indies but surprisingly made a profit off both as the ship captain sold off the pans as ladles for molasses and the mittens to Chinese merchants who sold then to Siberia. He also shipped coal to Newcastle upon Tyne, England, a major coal mining industry, just in time for a miners’ strike, Bibles to the non-Christian East Indies just before a religious revival erupted (one he may have helped start) and cats to the Caribbean, right before a major rat infestation broke out. He also hoarded whalebone (baleen) and ended up monopolizing the business. Whalebone was the plastic of its day used for anything from corsets to buggy whips. Say what you wish about the whaling industry today but keep in mind there was a need for material.  

A couple of classic warming pans. Fill them with hot coals, slip them under the bed and be cozy for the night. Image from invaluable.com

He became rich enough to buy a couple ships and  started a small export business of his own.  Dexter’s wealth took another surprising rise around the Revolutionary War, when he bought an enormous amount of then worthless Continental Currency. When the US won the war and he became one of the richest men in early America! Was it dumb luck or was he secretly a business genius?

 

However despite, or perhaps because, of his unexpected successes and probably also of his simple nature, high society rarely socialized with him. Instead he copied it to the point he was probably an unintended caricature of the upper class. He made friends with all kinds of local characters instead including a fortune teller and an amateur poet who Timothy had write bad poems about him.  He did all kinds of things to impersonate European nobility including giving himself the title “Lord” and bought a large lavish mansion which he overly decorated in the most tasteless fashion. It had a cupola with a golden eagle on the top, curtains that once belonged to a Queen of France, Muslim minarets, an empty mausoleum for himself (we will get to more of that later) and at least to forty statues in his garden of famous people. His collection including Adam and Eve, George Washington and other Founding Fathers, Napoleon, Louis XVI, William Pitt, “Motherly Love,” and even two of himself which had “I am the First in the East and First in the West,” and “I am the Greatest Philosopher in the Western World,”  inscribed on them. His statue collection alone probably cost more then he spent on the house. There was also his massive library he barely ever read.  Living in it was described as living in a brothel, maybe the spiritual forerunner of the Playboy Manson in a way. Expect long nights of heavy drinking, women and doing things you’re glad to not remember in the morning (but maybe secretly glad you did them!)

 

He also was said to have sent notice to Washington D.C. to make himself  king of America, or at lest Chester, New Hampshire. He was very upset to have been denied.

Unfortunately his relationship with his wife and children also started to wane. He told people that his wife died and the woman they met in the house was her ghost. His temper could be pretty nasty as well. Lord Dexter once even held a mock funeral at the mausoleum where 3,000 people showed up and served expensive alcohol. Even though his family was in on the joke, he beat his wife with a cane for not mourning enough. Another time he threatened a sculptor with his long rifle over if Thomas Jefferson was author of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. The sculptor was right (Declaration of Independence) but was smart enough to not argue with his armed employer’s opinion anyway.  He was not much of a father apparently as his son was said to be a fat, lazy bully. Still he was said to be very charitable especially with friends and supporters.

some clips of Lord Dexter’s magnum opus. I keep imagining it sounding like I have marbles in my mouth when reading this. images from barnsandnoble.com, top-opinion.com and interstellar-superunkown.blogspot.com

When Timothy was about fifty, he wrote a book on philosophy entitled, “A Pickle for the Knowing Ones or Plain Truth in a Homespun Dress.” The book was known for having Horabl speLkin an RitEen as one sent ance wif rAndom KapiTLizaTonn. He first started handing them out for free but were in such high demand that it sold eight editions. Due to complaints of lack of punctuation he published another edition with a page with nothing but commas, periods, and other punctuation that the reader may “peper and solt as it as they plese.”

Lord Timothy Dexter died for real on October 23, 1806. Instead of his mausoleum he is buried in his family plot in the Old Hill Burying Ground of Newport. His house still stands but is still a privet residence and its famous stature garden has been destroyed storms. Rebuilding the collection would be an interesting project to increase tourism but may decrees the property value and be to expensive. Dexter’s book is still available to read online, if you can follow it.

I never studied architecture, but I do find these mansions fascinating; especially ones of the rich and overly creative. image from        ancestoryarchives.com

My Reaction to Spider-Man coming back to the MCU

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I’m very happy that both Marvel Studios and Sony are reteaming up for the third MCU Spider-Man film and Tom Holland returning as Peter Parker/Spider-Man 

After watching Far From Home, the cliffhanger is a game changer…it’s gonna be a new chapter for Peter and the characters in the MCU and other films

Tom Holland did a great performance as Peter in Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home. Tom’s talented. 

Myself and others are looking forward to Tom Holland’s upcoming films like The Current War, Spies in Disguise, Third MCU Spider-Man film, Onward, Chaos Walking and more

 

By Angel