Tuesday, September 27, 2011

End of Season

Baseball is one of the few team sports that I can relate to. I wonder if it has anything to do with my Dad?  He was so much older than me I don't remember him really playing with me much, but I'll bet he must have tossed a baseball at me now and then. Or maybe he did with my older sisters and they passed on the favour?  I know my Dad used to play ball, and he must have been a good player too.  I know he got a job once because the company needed a new player for their team.  Weren't those the days! 
I used to watch my oldest sister's husband play ball.  He was the pitcher -- a very important position.  Somehow I got the feeling he pitched better when I wasn't there. Was I so distracting or was it only my imagination?  All I know is that I missed seeing most of his best games!
Anyway, I always loved to play.  The neighbourhood kids would get together and play "Scrub". It was a type of baseball game with as many players as you could round up. From 3 players up to any number (the extras were just fielders).  The players rotated positions as soon as someone struck out so that everyone eventually had a turn at being the pitcher and the batter, well -- at every position, really.  It was a great way to learn how to play, and very fair too!

I wasn't very good at organized sports, baseball included.  I was a good batter, and a great runner.  I wasn't a good catcher! It took me until grade 6 to discover I needed glasses. By then I had learned to be afraid of the ball.  (I never knew where it was coming from!)  As for throwing a baseball... well that was just sad!  Because of my lack of skill in catching, I always got stuck in the outfield.  But there was no way I could throw that ball home.  Luckily I was a fast runner, so what I had to do was throw, and run and throw it again! (Pathetic really!)

But as poor a player as I may have been, I still enjoyed playing the game.Which reminds me of a baseball song by Kenny Rogers in which he captures the confident spirit of youth. I found this song in a great homemade video by Gino East.

  I Am the Greatest / Kenny Rogers

In the next video, Bruce Springsteen introduces John Fogerty (formerly of Creedence Clearwater Revival) who had a huge hit with this tribute to baseball in 1985 from his solo career.

Centerfield / John Fogerty

 Here are some very famous comedy routines about baseball by two different comedy duos.

Who's on First? / Abbott & Constello

Thanks to fitzg for reminding me of this next video!

Shakespearean Baseball / Wayne & Shuster

Don't you just love all the references to Richard III?

 There are quite a few baseball themed movies and several posts on the web about people's favourite Top 10.  So rather than list them myself, I thought I would show some stills from some of them. I don't think there's a baseball movie I didn't like, (unless it  was a sequel).

 Charlie Sheen appeared in 2 very different baseball movies within a year of each other.

Eight Men Out (1988)
Major League (1989)

Yeah, I know. But this was before he went foul.

David Strathairn also had a role in the star-studded Eight Men Out, the true story about the White Sox scandal, where some members of an ill-used ball team throw their chance at the World Series title in a betting scheme.

A League of Their Own
Eight Men Out

He also played the good-hearted manager of a woman's baseball league during WWII in A League of Their Own.

Kevin Costner 
Both of these movies usually end up on people's Top 10 baseball movies with Bull Durham rating higher among afficionados.  But I was not fond of the characters in it and have never been able to watch it from start to finish.  I much prefer Field of Dreams, which is based on a book by Canadian author W.P. Kinsella. It is a blend of fantasy and realistic drama with some historical characters thrown into the mix. One of these characters is "Shoeless Joe" Jackson who, along with most of his team members (featured in Eight Men Out) were banned from playing the sport, in his case, mistakenly. They all get their chance to play ball again, their ghostly selves returned to their prime and hanging out in a corn field in Iowa. Other people must also prefer Field of Dreams, as it has a higher rating at IMDb.com (Internet Movie Database).
Field of Dreams (1989)
Bull Durham (1988)

Tom Selleck

Not the greatest movie here, but this one is interesting for the fact that it takes place in Japan so we get to see the clash of cultures and a different style of playing the game.  Fans of Tom Selleck will also enjoy his performance.  If you are not crazy about Tom S., Japanese culture or baseball you will definitely strike out with this movie.
Mr. Baseball  (1992)

Robert Redford

I have mentioned Mr. Redford before on this blog, so regular readers may know I have a soft spot for him.  Basically, all he has to do is show up in a movie and I'm happy!  I saw The Natural quite a long time ago and as it wasn't on my Netflix line-up I couldn't do a rewatch, but I do remember enjoying this movie.  It is a bit of a fantasy too, so those people who are not dreamers, but want "just the facts" might not be impressed by it.

The Natural (1984)

The baseball movie that I can easily drop everything to watch again repeatedly is A League of Their Own.  director Penny Marshall's look back at World War II on the home front, when women not only took over for men in the factories and businesses, but also on the baseball field!

Tom Hanks & Geena Davis

A League of Their Own (1992)

Geena Davis looks gorgeous in this movie playing the part of Dottie Hinson, the best player in the league. The character was a composite of several outstanding female ballplayers but mostly modeled after Dottie Kamenshek, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 84.
Also appearing in this movie are Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell who are hilarious together and I hear became close friends as a result of this movie. Tom Hanks, as a washed up player recruited to coach the team behaves like a useless drunk, until he finally  realizes these aren't just pretty girls in skirts pretending to play ball, but true athletes who play for the love of the game. Tom Hanks has no shortage of famous movie quotes and one of his best is in this movie.  Said to a distraught player after he berates her for fumbling a play, "There's no crying in baseball!" 

I would challenge anyone to a dry eye after watching Gary Cooper in  
Pride of the Yankees (1942)

Meet the real man behind the movie -- New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig.  That's right, he is the one with the disease named after him.  ALS or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He was the most famous person at the time to develop this illness and I guess you could say he also put a face to the name.  It is such a horrible disease that gradually but inevitably robs a person of all their abilities until it eventually causes death. 
Lou Gehrig (1903-1941)

Here is Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig in Pride of the Yankees shaking hands with baseball great Babe Ruth, who played himself in the movie.

Since we are now in a melancholic mood, I must share this Paul Simon song which I have loved ever since I first heard it on his Still Crazy After All These Years album from 1975.

Night Game / Paul Simon

Okay... so you know I like baseball movies and you might remember that I have this favourite actor ... So...pardon me while I fantasize about Richard Armitage in a baseball movie!!

No?  This doesn't work for you? He's just too British for the American League?

I don't give up that easily. Wasn't baseball a spin off from that grand old
British sport of Cricket?
 Oh dear! Maybe that's just not cricket!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hot potato!

I heard from a tweet awhile ago by Sinjoor that Kenneth Branagh will be producing a movie version of this wonderful book by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie BarrowsThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society captivated me from beginning to end.  I love historical fiction, the time period of World War II, all things British, humour, books, heroes, tender moments and this book has it all and then some!

I borrowed it from a friend at work because she was gushing about it in the Staff Room one day. I kept it for so long because I loved it so much and I just knew I'd end up blogging about it.  So I had to keep it "for research purposes".  I knew the owner had asked me to pick her up some Hawaiian coffee when I was in Hawaii on the March Break.  So I wondered if she would accept a trade? -- The coffee for the book!  It wasn't an easy decision for her (she obviously loved the book too) so she mulled it over at home for a night.  The next day she told me it was a deal -- and so I had my book!

Why was I so attached to this book?  Here is part of the reason:

The story, which takes place after the end of World War II is told in a series of letters. A writer named Juliet Ashton who became famous during the war for her humor column, decides she is tired of that syle of writing.  Then she receives a letter from an unknown man from the island of Guernsey named Dawsey Adams who has found a book of essays by Charles Lamb which used to belong to her.  When she answers him back, they begin a correspondence which also includes many other acquaintances of Dawsey's. The letter writing results in her wanting to visit the  island (which had been occupied by the Nazis during the war) to interview residents about their experiences and the bond which was forged between them by their love of reading as an escape from the harshness of wartime reality.

The plot is explained much better by one of the authors, in this video:


Here is the other reason I loved this book.  I envisioned the main male character as a perfect movie role for Richard Armitage. I am not the only person who feels this way.  Yesterday Maria Grazia who also reviewed this book on her blog Fly High! alerted her Facebook friends to a Facebook page called Richard Armitage for Dawsey Adams Campaign  It is trying to persuade people that Richard Armitage should play Dawsey Adams in the movie adaptation of the book.  According to Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com) the film is due out in 2013.  I hope there is time for Mr. Armitage to conclude his part in the The Hobbit movie in order to be available for filming this movie.

Although I could picture Richard Armitage right away as I got to know the character of Dawsey Adams, it was when he appeared wearing this hat that I was absolutely convinced he would look the part in a movie role.

His gentlemanly manners and shy demeanor in real-life are similar to Dawsey.

Signing autographs.. or writing a letter to Juliet?
This cap seems like a fashion from the 1940s.

Have you read this book?  If so, who else would you want to cast in this movie for the role of Dawsey or Juliet or any of the other roles?  Here is a website where you can make your suggestions. Or write me a comment below.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Art of Words

Here is a Wordle of my Subject tags:

Just in case you didn't notice my main interest!

I would like this more if it kept phrases together.  It has separated first names from last so it took me some time to find one arrangement where Richard and Armitage were close together.
(Still working on some longer posts, hope this will do for the interim!) :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

three songs

This song was written by Hamilton Camp and was recorded in 1964 by Gordon Lightfoot on his first album Lightfoot! which was released two years later.  It is my favourite album of all of his great works probably because it is his only true "folk" album. He is accompanied only by his own guitar and harmonica.  The song Pride of Man was apparently written in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis but when listened to in the post 9/11 world it is eerily prescient of what happened on that terrible day exactly 10 years ago.

This next song is a tribute to the indomitable spirit of the American people and especially to the heroes who rushed to the scene risking their own lives to save others.

You Raise Me Up / Celtic Woman

This last song echoes my hope for peace for all in the future.

I Have a Dream  / ABBA

Monday, September 5, 2011

Mercury is rising!

Freddie Mercury would have been 65 today, had his fabulous career as the front singer and founder of the avant-garde rock super group Queen not been cut short by the ravages of the AIDS epidemic in 1991.

I remember the first time I heard a Queen album. I was on holidays visiting at an older cousin's house.  Her husband pulled out a new album: A Night at the Opera and insisted we all had to listen to it.  He then put the song Bohemian Rhapsody on his stereo and life was never the same again!  It was so different from any kind of rock music I had ever heard before.  I wasn't sure if I should take it seriously or not.  But I couldn't deny the artistry of it. Freddie Mercury's soaring operatic vocals, the crazy but touchingly delivered lyrics, the band's powerful electric guitar solos, the symphonic background -- all converged to create a mastery of sound which was joyfully exhuberant and mind boggling in its originality.  That night, cold sober at the age of 14 -- I had my mind blown! Queen's a Night at the Opera and the later A Day at the Races became two of my most favourite albums in my rather extensive record collection.

Now please forgive me, but I can't help thinking that Saturday Night Live's Mike Myers and Dana Carvey had the best interpretation of Bohemian Rhapsody in the crazy movie Wayne's World  (1992) 

Are you still there?  I really hope so, because I have a real treat for any Richard Armitage fans that didn't run away screaming after that last video. :)

I would like to use this opportunity to listen to more Queen tunes and look at fanvids of Richard Armitage. ;)

Good Old Fashioned Loverboy / by CatChester66

This vidder must be a big fan of Queen too!  Here are three of her slideshow vids set to Queen songs.

This is the song that was used in the fantastic tribute by Google, which luckily alerted me to this special day.

 Don't Stop Me Now / by angieklong

If Youtube doesn't work for you, here is a link to the same video on Vimeo.

This song is a staple anthem at hockey games to get the crowd going.
Just looking at pictures of RA gets me going! ;)

We Will Rock You / by angieklong

Watch this video on Vimeo.

Here is Liisakee's version of that song! (Update added thanks to Fanny/Iz4blue)

This is another favourite song.  It is very well suited to Gerry and Harry's relationship, don't you think?

 You're My Best Friend / by angieklong

Here is a link to the same video on Vimeo.

I am very glad somebody made an RA fanvid to this song, or I would have had to because it is my all-time favourite Queen song!  I spent many teenaged hours in front of a mirror singing into my hairbrush along to the words of this song!

Somebody to Love / by austen2gaskell

I am sure I probably missed some good videos out there.  Please let me know and I will update this.

King or Queen, Freddie Mercury deserves all the honour he can receive for his fabulous contribution to Rock music.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Roman Bath

A bus trip to Bath was an exciting daytrip during last summer's trip to Britain.  The focus of our short visit was the Roman baths.

This wasn't my tour bus, but it made for a colourful shot.
Our day of touring started out at Windsor Castle. (I had a previous post about that.)  We had to cover a fair distance to get to Bath but it was beautiful countryside along the way.

The Roman Baths

The underground hot springs

The complex during Roman times

Medieval architecture looms over the ancient structure

What the pool looks like today. 
No one bathes there now!


And this was the pool guy!

I couldn't help but be reminded of one of my 
favourite Wayne & Shuster skits.

So here we have my favourite Roman soldier!

Richard Armitage in Cleopatra
(photo courtesy of Richard Armitage Net screencapped by Jonia)
RAFrenzy has a great post about watching this movie. I haven't seen it yet. Richard doesn't have more than a tiny role, but he makes the most of it.  If there was an Oscar for "best background" actor he should get it!