Monday, May 28, 2012

Watch him pRAnce!

Bccmee's Graphic a Day in May has been a wonderful daily treat.  There were so many brilliant graphics to admire but here are a couple that fit nicely with my latest video.

This was her offering for Day 24.
The photo inspiration for bccmee's graphic was supplied by Holliday.
I really must thank bccmee for the idea of calling his dance moves pRAncing! :)

I have been wanting to make a video from this photo shoot ever since I saw the gif posted on Enchanted Serenity of Period Films.  If you click on that link, you can see that I made a comment there in November 2009!  I really wanted to set it to music, but at the time I didn't know how to use any video software (I'm still trying to figure it out), plus I had no idea of what song to use.  So the idea just lay fallow until my daughter was home for Christmas and she showed me this silly website called where you can add any name to the Duck Sauce song.  I am sure you can guess whose name I was thinking of using!

I also enjoyed the caption to the following graphic.  It is always very annoying to hear an interviewer pronounce Richard's last name wrong!
Day 25 inspired by smitkit

So here is what I came up with, 
since I finally decided to get working on it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Geeking out over stats

I have to admit that the part of my blog that I look at the most is my Statistics page.  I really like it when people visit me!  I always hope they stay to read my words, watch or listen to my Youtube selections or at least gawk at some pictures.  But I realize that since what I post is very picture oriented, that most of the hits I get are from people doing image searches and only staying long enough to snaffle whatever graphic was of interest to them.

This has been a rather unusual week for my blog's stats.  I was encouraged to finally reach one of my goals.  The number of UK visitors have finally exceeded my Canadian visitors!  This makes me very happy because I have always suspected that my own frequent page viewings have inflated the stats.  (Even though I keep clicking the option that says "Do not track my own page views".)  Not to mention the fact that since there are much more people in the UK than in Canada, and since Mr. Armitage is from the UK, it is only reasonable that I should get more visits from there.

By the way, I should mention that my top country for visits is.... (you guessed it!)  The United States of America!!!  Yay!!  Thank you kind, generous and very numerous American visitors!!

What bothered me this past week were the inflated stats from my Green Day post.  Apparently I had used a picture which was in hot demand by Green Day fans.  When I did google image search for Green Day, the picture I had used was a front runner and the source was my blog?  How did that happen?  I obviously got it from somewhere else -- did that source pull the picture?  Anyway, I got tired of all the meaningless traffic so I pulled the picture and put up another one which I didn't like as well, but added some colour and text until I was satisfied.  It took a few days for the traffic to die down but things are now back to normal.  Here is what my statistics chart looks like for the past few days.

Now don't get me wrong, I would be thrilled if my statistics more than doubled in a week.  IF I had been blogging about something I was interested in like RA, or even one of my many other interests.  But this was just a picture of a band that I only mentioned as an excuse to be somewhat topical and enable me to show some more RA fanvids.

As my son would say, what I had was definitely a "First World problem".  So nevermind.  Problem solved.  I am back to my usual "off the beaten track" corner of the blogdom, where I reside in peaceful good humour.

To all those who visit here, I say welcome, enjoy and if you like something please make my day by leaving a little comment.  I am always happy to meet my guests.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


To hear an excerpt, click here
I grew up in a house where the piano was the biggest piece of furniture. It's presence dominated the livingroom and  someone could almost always be heard pounding at its keys.  My  mother taught piano lessons. Two of her four daughters learned to play and two did not.  I, unfortunately was one who did not.  Not for lack of interest, as I loved to fiddle with the keys and played a bit by ear.  But it is difficult to learn from a parent, too easy to say, 'not now' when told to practise.  I didn't feel the need to impress my mother, so I didn't try to.  The two sisters who did learn to play had other tutors besides my mother!

Sparky's Magic Piano was my favourite children's record as a child.  The piano selections included on the album are still fascinating to me -- especially The Flight of the Bumblebee.  If you would like to hear a bit of it, please click on the link.  I had mentioned this same album previously in my very first post as the flip side of the record is Sparky's Talking Train.

I've always liked to blame my mother for the reason I never had piano lessons. I wanted to have lessons from another piano teacher as my older sister did, but I wasn't allowed as they hadn't budgeted for two children to have lessons.  ... Fast forward many years....  Since I had always wanted to learn to play, when an opportunity to take Adult Piano Lessons presented itself a couple of years ago, I jumped at the chance and signed up.  It was a lot of fun, and I did learn quite a bit, but it also served to remind me that practising piano was not something that I was inclined to want to do.  This next video from Canada's National Film Board has always tickled my funny bone (as it perhaps reminds me a bit of myself?).

Getting Started / Richard Condie (NFB)

D.H. Lawrence "Piano"
Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me;
Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see
A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings
And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.

My mother had a love / hate relationship with the Canadian superstar of piano, Glenn Gould.  She hated his posture and his wild style of playing which was not the proper way to play in her book.  But of course, she enjoyed listening to him as he was a master pianist.  She owned a CD of his Bach Goldberg variations that I used to play for her when I visited the Seniors home where she now lives.  I could see how she enjoyed it. It seemed to relax her and she listened very intently.  Perhaps I played it too much and she got tired of it. I'm not sure, because one day I couldn't find it.  The case was there but not the disc. It had mysteriously disappeared.

Goldberg variations, 1981 / Glenn Gould


In the BBC's 2004 production of North and South, the character Fanny Thornton
appears heart broken at the Hales' lack of a piano.
"I wonder how you can exist without a piano?" Fanny agonizes.

 Here is a famous pioneer who refused to be parted from her piano even while venturing into the wilds of the Canadian frontier.

Canada Vignettes - Lady Frances Simpson / by the National Film Board of Canada

I wonder if anyone ever called her Fanny!

Piano playing was an important social skill in Jane Austen's time.
For a history of the pianoforte check out this link.

I came upon a wonderful video of Elizabeth Bennett's efforts at the piano in three different versions of Pride and Prejudice. Unfortunately I cannot embed the video, so please click here.

Billy Joel has some excellent piano songs but I think he says it all with this one!

Piano Man / Billy Joel

Some people might like to criticize the simplistic nature of this song, but I just love it.  I love the idea of it, I love Paul and Stevie and I especially like when the video shows them in minature sitting on the keys!

Ebony and Ivory / Paul McCartneyStevie Wonder

It is difficult to find a good video of Burton Cummings playing piano.  In particular I wished to highlight this song (with is piano theme).  This is a live recording which unfortunately cuts out before the end of the song.  What I enjoy most about this video is looking at the faces of the crowd who are watching him perform at lunchtime in a Toronto mall.

I Will Play a Rhapsody (Live) / Burton Cummings

Burton Cummings acted in a movie called Melanie in 1982.  He played a singer songwriter who falls in love with the girl in the title role (played by Glynnis O'Connor. Here he is in the movie, singing a song called Something Old, Something New.

Amazing what you can do when you are stuck in time with nothing better to do than practise.

Bill Murray's piano solo in Groundhog Day

This movie was based on the real life story of pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman.

The Pianist (2002)

And who can forget Holly Hunter's amazing performance in this movie?

The Piano (1993)

I saw Impromptu on Netflix recently and I recommend it highly.  It is about the very unusual author Georges Sand (wonderfully played by Judy Davis) and her romantic attachment to Frederic Chopin (Hugh Grant) whom she meets during a madcap weekend at a country house.  Also appearing in the movie is Franz Liszt (Julian Sands) who appears to be jealous of Chopin's genius. The rest of the star studded cast is terrific too. Emma Thompson, Bernadette Peters, Mandy Patinkin play their parts famously!

Impromptu (1991)

I think Mr. Armitage would do a great job in a biopic of Chopin!
The real Chopin
It works for me!

I couldn't resist including this little gem.

 Learning Piano to Get Laid (With Bo Burnham)  

Wait! Who is that sexy guy at the piano?
I am not sure that Richard Armitage plays the piano.  I have heard he can play the cello and possibly the flute.  He is definitely musically inclined.  Perhaps he can tinkle the keys a bit?

One of the many reasons the BBC production of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South was so memorable (besides the fact that Richard Armitage is starring in it) are the beautiful piano themes running through it.  Here is one fan's performance of the main theme (with a link to the sheet music from the Youtube page).

 I might be more inclined to practice if I had this picture to inspire me!
Now I know not to blame my poor Mother any more!
 I just didn't have my Muse back then!

Do you have any favourite piano-themed movies, or favourite piano pieces?

Friday, May 11, 2012

LibRAry Comix

Things I shouldn't be doing when the library software is down...

Any other caption ideas?  I'd love to hear them!  
Perhaps this could be a regular feature?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

In a Nutshell

Hearing of the death of Maurice Sendak yesterday brought me back to being 6 years old and reading his Nutshell Library collection of books at our local library.  They were perfect sized books for little hands. They were cleverly written with amusing language and charming illustrations.  They were probably the first books I ever signed out of the library.  My favourite of the four book set was Chicken Soup With Rice.  But what I didn't know (until today) was that it became part of a musical with the words sung by Carole King!

His most famous picture book was Where the Wild Things Are.  Although I should have known it as a child, I didn't really connect with it until I was old enough to babysit.  I decided my nephew needed to have his own copy and so I happily presented him with it when he was around 4 years old.  It was one of the bedtime stories that I didn't need any prodding to read to him.  When my own son was born, this book was a necessity for our home library.

I have seen the magic of this book happen for other young children (particularly rambunctious boys) in my work as an elementary school librarian.  More than once, there has been a certain Kindergarten aged boy who for some reason has not yet discovered the joy of a good book.  I bide my time, and when I decide the time is right, then I read that class Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are.  I have witnessed the moment of transformation, like a wonderstruck epiphany where I imagine the child is thinking, 'Hey! This book is about ME!' And after that introduction to the world of great literature, that child is the first one sitting on the carpet, with eyes and ears ready for another great story.

I am privileged to have the opportunity to share the great talent of Maurice Sendak with my school community.  Let the Rumpus never end!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Have some Sombreros!

Man in sombrero by Diego Rivera
Thought I was done with hats?  What else could I possibly have under mine?

I have had the pleasure of visiting Mexico on two occasions.  The first time I was near Cancun at Playa del Carmen, and more recently on the Pacific coast near Puerto Vallarta, at Nuevo Vallerta.  Anyway, the first time I visited there, I couldn't leave without bringing home my very own sombrero -- even if it meant some creative rearranging of my suitcase to get it to fit in! I don't know why I felt the need to have it... but it was just so Mexican!

Well I happened upon this video done to Allan Sherman's The Hat Dance and I had to share it with you!

Of course that video brought back fond memories of this one by Battlemarchmedley.
I really love it!

Occasionally while researching these crazy posts of mine, I come across little gems I didn't even know existed... such as this song by ABBA.  The video is fan made, but looks very much like a music video from MTV.
Put on Your White Sombrero / by ABBA (video by RJS)

Here is a singer I enjoyed listening to in Mexico who is sporting an authentic sombrero.

I've seen better looking guys in a sombero.
Richardo Montalban

This is nice. But technically it's not 'on' his head!

Now this guy looks much better in a sombrero, wouldn't you agree?

Hold on to your hats Ladies!

*****UPDATE: May 6, 2012*****
Thanks to a helpful comment by Virna, who reminded me of another very handsome man in a sombrero -- Here is Alejandro Fernandes.  Please click on the link below to hear his excellent singing voice!
To see an Alejandro Fernandez video: click here

Friday, May 4, 2012

Happy Star Wars Day!

For more Star Wars fun, here is my video which mashes RA roles - especially in Robin Hood with Star Wars stuff.