Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Dark, Dark Tale...

This is one of my very favourite children's picture books which I love to read to young children at this time of the year. Written and illustrated by Ruth Brown, it is delightfully scary as it leads the reader (or listener) to a surprising climax!  I got the best response from the 4 years olds who were wide-eyed with suspense and then laughed uproariously at the ending.

Here is a Youtube video of the story being read on a British children's programme called "Flicks". If you don't want to see the introductory part just skip ahead to the 3 minute mark for the beginning of the story.
A Dark, Dark Tale on video.

For more information about this author/illustrator, please see this article:
Ruth Brown (1941–) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights

Brown's story begins "on a dark, dark moor" which I was happy to describe to the children because I had finally visited "the moors" this past July when I went to see the home of the Bronte family in Haworth.  I wish I had spent more time there, in order to really get a feel for the place. But this website has some lovely pictures of the moorlands. I imagine at night and in bad weather, it must look very spooky indeed!

While in Edinburgh, we took a nighttime tour through the narrow streets of the city and then down into the underground to the Vaults which are believed to be haunted and where we heard a spine-tingling ghost story!
Here are some of my pictures from this tour, but make sure you watch the videos on the link above, as they were very similar to what we saw.
These evil instruments were displays at the Torture Museum which was part of the tour. I'd tell you what they were for, but it was so ghastly that I couldn't take it all in! That people could be so cruel to each other is just mind boggling to me!

Underground vault
Wiccan temple
These two pictures were taken in the underground vaults. The first is not a very good one, as it was so dark I did not really know what was going to be in the picture. The second one is a room in one of the underground vaults which was used for Wiccan religious ceremonies until the High Priest felt the presence of a dangerous spirit which so terrified his group that they apparently abandoned the room to move to a more favourable area within the underground.

Our tour guide relating another dark, dark tale
This picture was taken of our tour guide while he told us a tragic and horrifying story about a group of homeless people who were trapped in the underground during a great fire in the city.

And now here is a ghost story by none other than Elizabeth Gaskell. It is a radio program version of      The Old Nurse's Story dramatized by Weird Circle Theatre.
Sorry for the cigarette ads on this radio show...Remember this was made back in the day when smoking was extremely popular.  Now just hearing the ads is almost as unnerving as the story itself! :)

Currently on the BBC's Season 9 of Spooks (a.k.a. MI-5),  
Lucas North is living his own dark, dark tale. 
One can only hope that he, like his name "Lucas" which means light, will not be extinguished, and that his character will remain undimmed by the storm of plot contrivances with which the scriptwriters have attempted to smother him.
This pumpkin carving idea is thanks to an anonymous poster at Richard Armitage Fan Blog.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet

I'm getting a headache too, trying to figure out this plot!
Season 9 of Spooks has been quite confusing for those of us lucky enough to watch it. Where I live PBS has finally gotten around to showing season 7 (called MI-5 in North America), where the character of Lucas North (played by Richard Armitage ) is introduced. On another channel, they are showing season 6 (which is fine as I haven't seen it yet).  But in order to watch the current season, I have taken myself to the internet where the joys of illegal downloads exist (thank you to those generous rule breakers out there!) Without getting into a big discussion about copyright and all the intricate legalities and moralities that go with that, let me just say that in this day and age if there is a television show available somewhere in the world that people want to watch, and the local/national television network is not providing it, then who can blame someone for getting that program elsewhere?! The internet is a revolution in giving power to the people and even if that power is only the mundane choice of what entertainment they wish to consume then let no trumped-up authority get in their way!  ** cough** (getting off my soapbox now!)

SEASON 9 SPOILERS TO FOLLOW: (But I will try to minimize them)
Lucas or whoever you are...WHY do you put up with this guy?
So now, after watching episode 6 of season 9 I am not only still confused, but also thoroughly depressed. It's a character assassination going on against our hero, and I'm not sure I can stomach the way it's all going down. Lucas's personality has been gradually devolving into some other unknown mystery person that is understood only to another mystery character named Vaughn. It is never really explained what hold this man has over Lucas (other than the knowledge of his past life).

Some great scenes with this character, until....(I don't want to talk about it!)
Lucas had a great moment this episode foiling his enemies' plans by not following orders strictly. He demanded further proof that the order was actually coming from Harry. There was a lovely scene where Lucas is reunited with a former grid member.  But later in the episode I was left shocked beyond belief by his behaviour. WHAT is he thinking!! This Maya person is not worth this kind of grief!! And if Vaughn is causing him so much trouble -- how about getting rid of HIM? Hmmmm? Wouldn't that solve everybody's problems?   I can't take much more of this edge of my seat, nail-biting, "oh why are you doing this?!" agony much longer!!

Lucas is getting screwed this season worse than he was by last season's femme fatale Sarah Caulfield. At least we knew what was up with her. She was bad news from the get go. But Lucas, although he was needy and fool"hearty" still saw through her in the end and behaved admirably.  This season, it will take a minor miracle to redeem him now. Come on Lucas, come clean and tell Harry your problems! I don't trust this Maya person, and if love for her is having this effect on him then it does not bode well for this relationship.  Doomed from the start, I'd say! Give it up already!

Even before this episode I couldn't help feeling somewhat sentimental about last season's much more straightforward plot. Then I heard a song which always brings a smile to my face and seemed to fit with Lucas and Sarah's relationship (in a goofy kind of way!). The song also seems to portend the coming troubles of the following season!

 So here is my musical slide show #8 set to the song 
"You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" by Bachman Turner Overdrive.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Move over Bilbo -- Thorin is in the House!

Now THIS is some sexy dwarf!! Thank you to the wonderful graphic artist at
I couldn't resist posting this picture. It's so great, that the link I added in my last post, just wasn't enough to do it justice.
Enjoy it with the music playing from the video below! How can we possibly wait over ONE WHOLE YEAR to see this movie in theatres?!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

There and back again

Well, he's done it again! Yours truly has been inspired to attempt to reread a classic piece of children's literature that I couldn't get through years ago! Why did I decide to try it again? Simply because I just found out the exciting news that Richard Armitage has been cast as Thorin Oakenshield in a movie remake of The Hobbit!

I have never been a lover of the fantasy genre, and a copy of this book and I never crossed paths when I was a child.  But many years later as an adult, I decided that this novel was a necessary read.  However, when I realized that the hero of the piece was a stunted, gnomish little man WITH HAIRY FEET I couldn't go any further. If that makes me shallow then so be it! Just imagining those feet put me off poor Bilbo Baggins so much that I had to put it back on the shelf for the hardier, more imaginative readers.
Now I can let Bilbo alone and instead imagine Thorin as my hero! Yes, I know he's a dwarf! It will be interesting to see how movie magic can make a 6'2" dreamboat look like a dwarf! But that's okay, 'cause I'll be front row and centre when it hits the theatres to stare at Mr. Armitage in all his big screen glory!
See a much better rendering of Richard as Thorin here!
 Just please... don't give him hairy feet!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

To Autumn

Claude Monet, Autumn Effect at Argenteuill
To Autumn
by William Blake
O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stained
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou mayst rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.

"The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust'ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather'd clouds strew flowers round her head.

"The spirits of the air live on the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees."
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat;
Then rose, girded himself, and o'er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.
This past week I had the great pleasure of discovering a very talented singer named Eva Cassidy who is singing in this video. Sadly, I also discovered she no longer graces this earth with her presence, having succumbed to cancer in 1996. There are many lovely videos of her songs on Youtube, but I chose this one for the beautiful pictures of autumn foliage. If there are any readers out there who care to send me a translation of  the language in this video, I would very much appreciate it.

Claude Monet, Waterlilies series (1920-26)

Claude Monet has always been one of my favourite Impressionist painters. He also was a dedicated gardener who often used his garden as a subject of his paintings. I would love to visit his house at Giverny, France.  Many people do visit and many take photographs. Here are some photographs of his lovely garden in the Fall.

It ocurred to me that although I love all things British, (poets included), I should include a poem by a Canadian author.  This one paints a picture of autumn in the Canadian woods.

Here is the poem "The Solitary Woodman" by Charles G.D. Roberts

Some of my favourite Fall scenes by the Canadian artist  

Arthur Lismer
Frank H. Johnston

Frank Carmichael

A.Y. Jackson

JEH MacDonald
Lawren Harris

And here is another work of art....Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne!
Couldn't you just "Fall" for him?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Trapped Miners Rescued!

CBC News - World - All 33 Chilean miners rescued

The world is rejoicing for the family and friends of the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped underground for 69 days. The dramatic rescue took 22 hours to extract each man individually from a capsule lowered down 600 meters after having taken many more days to drill a new shaft to get to the men.
This really seems like incredible good luck that so many were found in fairly good health after such an extended ordeal.
My neighbours and friends were following this story very closely as I live in an area that developed because of the mining industry. My husband has participated on a Mine Rescue Team and knows the effort and training that goes into that endeavour. 

Congratulations to everyone involved in this rescue mission!

This rescue was a very difficult one with many people involved. There were many heroic efforts made to keep these people alive. I am sure we will be hearing more stories as time goes by. Believe it or not I have actually had a tour of an underground mine, and I know how so many people have a fear of dark enclosed spaces. I certainly wasn't underground long enough to have to worry, but it is definitely an unnatural experience to be so far away from the open air.

***UPDATE***(Oct. 15, 2010)
I just found this website: World News Mining Disasters. There are lots of videos and pictures here about various mining disasters around the world. 

 Well.... if I was ever trapped underground I am sure I would have plenty of time to fantasize. I would probably be thinking about when and how I would be rescued. It would be quite likely that this image might come to mind:

Thanks to Mulubinba for suggesting this episode of The Golden Hour
 and to Maria Grazia for providing the film clip!

In Episode 2 of The Golden Hour, Dr. Alec Track is trying to rescue a man who is trapped in a collapsed building  after an explosion. It is a very tense and graphic scene involving an amputation.

More Screencaps below:
This screencap is courtesy of Richard Armitage Central Gallery

This one is from the screencap gallery of Richard Armitage Net
Those pictures are much better than the Face in Hole one I originally did. Thanks again Ladies!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's Thanksgiving in Canada

On Saturday, the day before Thanksgiving I was writing this with the yummy smell of turkey cooking in the oven and wondering how I am going to make a proper Thanksgiving post which links nicely to my current obsession and the real subject of my blog (in case you haven't noticed). I had a post started, which was only peripherally about Thanksgiving and I had a couple of neat ideas, but no time to do anything with it because I was bringing the turkey to my sister-in-law's house in another hour to celebrate with my in-laws. Yes, I know it was day early, but the following day I was going to my own sister's house for another big feast soooo, you can see there is little time for blogging between the feasting and festivities!

A traditional Canadian Thanksgiving supper is a roast turkey with a savory breadcrumb stuffing (usually a family recipe), mashed potatoes, gravy, various fall vegetables (our family likes brussell sprouts, but squash or turnips, or green beans are other choices).  A necessary condiment is cranberry sauce made from fresh berries (not the canned type!)

Depending upon the number of guests, various other side dishes may be offered as well. Canada's mixture of cultures is evident in the wide variety of types of food people enjoy eating. Central Canada has many descendants of Ukrainian and Polish immigrants so perogies and cabbage rolls are popular here. I still remember the first time I saw a perogie. My sister had bought some of the delightful potato and cheese stuffed dumplings at a bazaar in the Catholic church. She had to explain to us that it was to be heated up, garnished with fried bacon and onions and served with sour cream. It is now a staple food in our house, but especially served at holiday times. My daughter looked to buy some when she was in England, but no one knew what she was talking about. So that was one thing she missed about Canada!

Of course dessert must include Pumpkin Pie and perhaps an apple or blueberry pie as well, for those who may not be quite as fond of pumpkin. Years ago my family grew a bit weary of the same old pumpkin pie so we tried variations like pumpkin chiffon, or more recently pumpkin cheesecake!  But to die-hard traditionalists, there is nothing like good old, plain pumpkin! It's just not Thanksgiving without it!

So, as I started off saying, I was wondering how to tie Thanksgiving and Richard Armitage together when what to my wondering eyes did appear? -- but a fabulous (and timely) post by TeetotallyNot at her blog: Y I, Mum?  She has made the most gorgeous Thanksgiving picture with none other than Richard right in the middle of it!

Well, much as I would like to snaffle it and put it up here, she did inspire me to make my own (nowhere near as good as hers of course) -- with the help of Face in, a website I have become quite fond of lately!

So here's a toast to you, my loyal readers! I am very thankful for those friends I have made online ever since I took to the web to discover something about this mysterious actor person I was so curious about. But I have since discovered so much more. People from all over the world who share the same interests, who are kind, generous and inspirational to each other, and have fabulous discussions, many creative talents and a wonderful sense of humour.
For all of you -- I am thankful!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

North by Northwest

Cary Grant, now there was a movie star. Didn't we all love him? And who didn't like Hitchcock thrillers? Put them together and you have a very exciting thriller with darling Cary Grant called "North by Northwest" (1959).

You know who else likes this movie? None other than Richard Armitage himself! As quoted in an article by Natalie Graham in the Financial Times:
Natalie: What is your money-saving tip in hard times?
Richard: I would have a good night in with a bottle of wine and a DVD of a classic film, like Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, one of my favourites.

Here is a trailer for the movie:

Now we can either take that little tidbit of interesting information for what it is, a little fact about himself that he felt free to share with us.  Or as some of us fans like to do, we could interpret this statement to mean, perhaps he is putting it out that he would like a Cary Grant-like role.  I, for one would think he would be perfect in such a role. Maybe even a remake of this very movie! Can't you just picture it?....

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Look of Love

I had a completely different post planned -- more holiday pictures, etc.  But then I watched the third episode of Spooks / MI-5!  I suppose this post is a spoiler but I have to mention -- the KISS! It's totally squeeable!
Spooks 9.3 from Richard Armitage Net
Since I had already been working on a new video with Dusty Springfield's classic hit  "The Look of Love", I quickly revised my screencaps, throwing out some to make room for the fabulous NEW ones!

So what has inspired my latest video?  I have been thinking about my fascination with Richard Armitage, and while I've been going on for quite a few posts about his eyes -- I never could quite grasp what it was about his eyes that so enthralled me. Yes, the colour was entrancing, the way he blinks while thinking is bewitching, his gaze is certainly mesmerizing. But then it occurred to me that it was the object of his gaze that made the whole package so sizzling, he can turn otherwise normal females into puddles of drool.

The way he focuses his attention on a woman (even if she is an actress -- and he an excellent actor at the top of his game) makes the observer really believe that he is feeling overwhelming desire for her.  Although I have enjoyed many romantic films before, I have never seen such longing and passionate emotion play over an actor's expressions before to such a degree. It is totally believable and how every woman wishes her man would look at her. And well... if her man would kiss like him too...then who needs movies?

I really must thank those tireless screencappers at Richard Armitage Net and Richard Armitage Central and also now Skully at Spooks Fan Blog has her own Screencap Gallery. I couldn't do without all your hard work amassing, organizing and storing these pictures!

 If you are not afraid of spoilers, check out RAFrenzy's latest post, where she decides she is a fan of Lucas North after all! Season 9 to the rescue!  She has a film clip of the lovely kissing scene and also a link to her slide show.  Me + Richard Armitage also has a very meaty review of the new Lucas this season. Her site is password protected for the people who are trying to avoid spoilers. (We all seem to be enjoying the kissing scene). :P