Sunday, June 16, 2013

Great Dads

My father has been dead now for 10 years.  No worries, because he lived to the ripe old age of 90 and was more than willing to leave sooner.  He deserved a good rest.  I've written about him before.
 I think of him most around his birthday which is the day before Remembrance Day.

He was an interesting person, very witty, charming when he wished to be, but also extremely volatile -- perhaps not the best role model for a father.  So I was fortunate to have some great examples of  fathers provided by television shows that influenced me throughout my childhood, and provided great role models.  Sadly, in today's television wasteland there are a lot fewer examples of excellent fathers to point to.

Here were my favourite Dads on television when I was growing up.  But keep in mind, I only had one channel for most of my childhood, so not as many programs were available to me until much later.

The Andy Griffith Show, Andy Griffith as Andy Taylor
with Ron Howard as son Opie

My Three Sons, Fred MacMurray as Steve Douglas

Little House on the Prairie, Michael Landon as Charles Ingalls

The Cosby Show, Bill Cosby as Cliff Huxtable

The Waltons, Ralph Waite as John Walton, Sr.

These TV dads were calm and caring, always there when they were needed with exactly the right thing to say. (No wonder - they had great writers!)  I know that in reality, no real-life Dad could compete with these paragons, but I still think it's important to have something to aspire to, rather than settling for what modern television shows seem to reflect as the reality of today.  A growing child needs a role model, especially if there aren't many good examples close to home.  

I love this selection of great Dad moments from the movies, courtesy of Movieclips :

Here's a big hug to all the Dads out there.  Just keep doing the best you can.  
Your kids will love you for it!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Here kitty!

I do love cats...even though I cannot have one of my own as I am very allergic. :(
So I have to love them in theory, rather than in practice.

As I am a Beatrix Potter fan - I had to include this one.

My personal favourite cartoon kitty was Warner BrothersSylvester the cat
voiced by the inimitable Mel Blanc.
Warner Bros. Sylvester the Cat

Since this blog is inclined to be fairly musically oriented, here is Sylvester attempting his musical debut:

Unfortunately he didn't get a warm reception.

 There are many other fabulous cartoon cats, if you are interested in seeing some more,
here is a link to a great article: Famous cartoon cats

The AristoCats was a Disney cartoon feature film which I enjoyed very much when it hit theatres in 1970.  I probably had to wait awhile to see it though. Even though we still had a theatre in our town then, it usually took about a year before it found its way to my neck of the woods.
The music was very memorable.
I was delighted to find this clip from a television special which reunites
two of the best voices in all of moviedom!

Everybody Wants to be a Cat / The Aristocats

 I also remember being inspired to sketch some of these cats,
probably from a comic or possibly colouring book.

This movie, An American Tale : Fievel Goes West came out when my kids were little and I am sure my husband and I enjoyed it as much (or more) than they did.  I particularly liked Dom Deluise's tubby cat named Tiger who was a friend to Fievel Mousekowicz, unlike the bad guy cat who was voiced by John Cleese.  This clip has Tiger rushing to catch a train (while being hindered by countless dogs)!

Dom Deluise as Tiger in Fievel Goes West: An American Tale (pt.2)

Do you remember The Stray Cats?  I loved their retro Rockabilly sound back in the '80s.
This next video includes cute pictures of real kitties.

Stray Cat Strut / The Stray Cats
video by Dayniac4324

Love this next song, and although it is not about cats,
the video cleverly features claymation cats.

Nina Simone _ My Baby Just Cares for me
video by pluisje666
Do you think that Tomcat is a bit of a stalker? Hmmm.....

You may be wondering.... 
What has all this cat stuff got to do 
with Richard Armitage?

Well ... some of us cats know that Richard Armitage 
appeared in the 1994-95 production of the musical Cats 
in London's West End.

Lots of gReAt bloggers have already written about it, but I believe Jonia (Jonia's Cut Blog) was the first to get the scoop on all the best information.  Here is her post about it. (Click Here).
Apparently Richard played the dual roles of Admetus and Macavity.

Jonia has some great videos on her blog but more recently Crystal Chandlyre saved us all some time but compiling several videos to highlight just the parts that Richard Armitage appeared in.

Richard Armitage as Admetus in CATS - Pas De Deux

/ compiled by Crystal Chandlyre

As quoted from the Wikipedia article on Macavity:
Macavity is typically depicted as a cat with a chaotic array of red, orange, white, and sharp black stripes. He is often portrayed with very long claws and wild dark hair. The role of Macavity is usually played by the same actor as Admetus...  His costume is ginger and white, and specifically includes a simple make-up design that the actor transforms into the elaborate Macavity make-up, and then re-applies after the featured scene. Admetus/Plato is also often recognizable as one of the tallest cast members, as the fight scene between Macavity and Munkustrap requires him to be able to lift other male dancers. 
Richard Armitage in the 1994 cast of Cats, on London's West End (photos from Jonia's Cut Blog).

I was rather thrilled to hear he had played the Macavity role because I was very familiar with the poem (from  Old Possum's Book of Cats by T.S. Eliot).

Way back in my elementary school days I performed that poem on stage in our local Festival of the Arts. As it is a fairly long poem I was given kudos by the adjudicator for my (I believe she said) "prodigious" memory (if only it were so good today). But I was also criticized for not putting more feeling into it.  I remember being a bit shocked, because no one else had suggested that I should do that.  My mentors, who were family and friends only helped with my lines, but never did it occur to me that I should do more than get up on stage and recite it!  It made me wonder how differently I could have done it had I actually tried to perform it rather than just recite it. This was long before Andrew Lloyd Webber's  musical CATS was inspired by the poems. If I ever wanted to try the poem again, I think I would rather sing it!

Then, there is the Tumblr blog entitled: 
Richard Armitage with Cats!

When I saw these pictures for the first time, 
it was a very happy day. :)

Here are two of my faves!

This next video is very cleverly done by Ana Cris 
who hosts the blog La Loba.
She has combined clips from the documentary narrated by Richard Armitage
with clips of him in Spooks / MI-5.

Richard Armitage_Eye of the Tiger / by acrl2

Imagine if all the characters in The Hobbit movie were portrayed by... you guessed it -- Cats!

Trailer Cats version of The Hobbit trailer

More Hobbit Cats!
The longer I wait to post this, the more great stuff I find!  This is the newest one. From the fantastically creative graphic artist Tannni  - where she compares the cast of The Hobbit to various cats.

Oh course I had to show you a couple.

She has several options for Thorin.

You simply must click on this to see the whole page!

I know! That was amazing!

You think that's something?  Look at this..
Another great graphic from Tannni!
Watch Richard Armitage transmogrify into the King of the Beasts!

How are you "feline" about cats?  
What is your favourite cat from literature, 
stage or screen?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Meet Fayzabeam:Teacher and RA fanvidder

This is the second part of the previous post where I featured the fanvid set to Loreena McKennitt's recording of The Highwayman, featuring the BBC television series Robin Hood's characters of Marian Knightly and Guy of Gisborne (played by Richard Armitage).

Watch video here

Welcome Fayzabeam!  I was so happy to find your video.  

Please tell me how you came to create this video.
The Highwayman fan video was a classic example of me trying to shoehorn my obsessions into my teaching,  (I teach 11-18 year olds here in the UK). My Year 8 class (who are about 12/13) were doing the poem with me in class and, as they were so lovely I wanted to make them something that would help them to remember it!
I also made a comic strip/storyboard using screencaps from Robin Hood to use with the class.

So your students are aware of your interest in RA?
Most of my students know, by now, what a fan geek I am! It seems like lots of us who work in education have fandom tendencies ;). The screensaver on my laptop that kicks in occasionally when I'm projecting something on the whiteboard in the classroom is basically choc full of RA pictures and quotes, which they find hilarious. I've also made three videos for 'Macbeth' using RA's Gisborne as Macduff for the benefit of my Year 10 GCSE class, blending footage from Robin Hood and the BBC's other recent fantasy drama, Merlin, to try to tell the story of the Scottish play. There may even be a moment or two of Doctor Who footage in there, too!

Watch the general Macbeth trailer: HERE

Macbeth Act 5 Scene 8 trailer

 I was never really completely happy with the third one, so I didn't upload it to Youtube. Perhaps I'll reopen the project and tweak it a bit sometime soon. Would you like an exclusive if I do? ;)
I certainly would! Thanks for asking. :)

Do you get your idea first and then search for music to fit, or are you inspired by the music to create a video?

I mostly get an idea first when I see the film/tv show, and then try to think of music to fit what I want to achieve (this was particularly true for 'Is This Love?', my first Guy/Marian vid, and most of the other vids I've done), but one or two vids have been done because I liked the songs first. One instance, the vid I did for Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes, I'd heard the song (Will Young's 'Jealousy') and was desperate to do a vid, any vid, for it. When I saw the second SH film, it just fell into place! Also, 'All Coming Back to Me' and 'Love Story' (both G/M) were songs first, visuals second (although, of course, as they're both shippy vids, that wasn't too tricky!).

Behind the scenes in Robin Hood

 How did you first "discover" Richard Armitage?
I discovered Richard Armitage when I was watching the BBC's Robin Hood back in 2006. I've always been a Robin Hood fan, and I was really interested to see what the beeb would do with this new interpretation. Oddly enough, Guy was my favourite character from HTV's Robin of Sherwood when I watched that as a kid, and so I was pretty sympathetic to the character, anyway! I was really impressed with the way Richard played him, and obviously captivated by the dynamic between him and Lucy, who played Marian. I think what impressed me the most about him was they way he just threw himself into that role - despite the fact that at times the scripting was ropey and the writing of the character was inconsistent (can you tell I'm an English and Media Studies teacher?!). He absolutely seemed to live every moment of the character, and when he was onscreen, you just couldn't look anywhere else. There was a subtlety to his acting that really appealed and showed the light and shade of Gisborne beautifully.

RA in Spooks / MI-5 series 8

 What other roles have you seen him in? 
To be honest, I've not seen much else that he's done - mostly through lack of time than anything else! I've seen a few episodes of Spooks, where he did impress me again, pretty much for the same reasons as above, but although I've bought North and South on DVD, I haven't watched it yet, although I read the book last summer and can't imagine anyone else as John Thornton. I've also yet to see The Hobbit! I'm sure, when I do get the chance, though, I won't be disappointed. I did watch the BBC's 'Shakespeare Retold: Macbeth' a year or two back, where Richard played Macduff, and I enjoyed that a lot, too. Possibly seeing that led me subliminally to cast Richard in my own Macbeth trailers! And, being a Brit, The Vicar Of Dibley is a firm favourite - he and Dawn French played off one another so well :).

As Macduff in Shakespeare Retold's version of Macbeth

 I do know how busy teachers can be - and bravo for reading the book - but you really MUST watch the miniseries of North and South!
Irrationally, I think I'm nervous about seeing N&S now! As I read the book, I could see Richard and Daniella in my head (I've watched quite a few Youtube vids, even though I haven't seen the whole of N&S yet!) and so I'm nervous that it won't match up to what I've 'seen' in my mind's eye. Weird, I know! I should have more faith in Richard and Daniella, I think! Incidentally, it's the same with Chris Ryan's 'Strike Back', which I read last Autumn and I'm still not brave enough to watch... On a more personal level, I've also been really impressed with how he comes across in interviews as a really down to earth, lovely person; a representation of himself which I find really endearing. And of course, he's pretty easy on the eye ;).

You are from the UK, I gather. Can you tell us which city you call home?
I'm from the South West - a village about 20 miles from Bristol, down in Somerset, land of Cheddar cheese, ley lines and amazing cider ;).

 How long have you been a teacher? 
 Ten years this year - although I took a break for a year to have my first daughter (she's now three) and I'm about to go off again in June to have my second girl :).

 What are some of your hobbies?
 Reading, writing, (naturally!), vidding, and, when I'm not about to have a baby, I like to jog in the countryside.
Out jogging Thornton? (photo courtesy of RACentral gallery)

 Have you ever participated in a fandom before? If so, please tell us! And do you find the RA fandom any different from the other(s)?
 I'm a bit of a fandom veteran, these days - my first fandom experience was back in 1997 when the internet came properly online (I was at university) and that was for a cartoon called 'Dungeons and Dragons'. Since then I've written, vidded and joined in fandoms for quite a few things, including Robin of Sherwood, Doctor Who, James May, various films etc. Most of the fandoms I've been in seem to be pretty friendly and full of lovely, enthusiastic people - perhaps I've been lucky I haven't really stumbled across any completely mad, scary ones!

 Do you participate in any of the forums? Read blogs? Watch fan videos or read fanfics? In general, how do you get your RA fix?
 Being a vidder I tend to watch quite a few vids from other fans, and I've recently discovered tumblr (although I'm still not quite sure how it really works!!). I've been a member of livejournal for years, so quite a few comms on my friends list are Robin Hood/RA related. I'm still a bit of a lurker on the Armitage Army forums - not been brave enough to post much, yet! The Hobbit RPF scares the heck out of me, having read a few, although I'm not averse to RPF in general, so long as it's in character and not too explicit! I've even dabbled a bit myself (again, Robin Hood related), although mine was more of a 'I wonder what happened' take on Marian's death scene, and didn't involve any shipping!

This isn't the ending Richard was expecting either!

Please follow this link to read this excellent RPF which has Richard and Lucy Griffiths discussing and practising for their last scene together in the heartrending  2nd season-ender.

 Have you ever met any other fans in Real Life?
 Not for the RA fandom, but for others, yes, and it's reassuring to find out that they're lovely, sane people :).

 Do you plan on watching The Hobbit? Or any other of his roles? 
 Oh yes, when I get time, but teaching and being a mother mean time is pretty limited for me. The Hobbit's definitely on my rental list!

 What other roles would you like to see him take on? 
 I'd love to see him on stage - Stanhope in RC Sheriff's 'Journey's End' for instance, or some Shakespeare - perhaps playing against type as Oberon! Oddly, in terms of film, I'd like to see him act opposite/alongside Bradley Cooper in something - I think they seem to have a similar approach to their work, and a similar intelligence and intensity. And of course, there's always the next Doctor Who!

Do you think RA is a good role model for young people?
 That's a tricky one! I mean, of course, he seems hardworking, dedicated and very nice (and humble!) but I think 'role model' puts unrealistic expectations on someone - I'm not sure I would want to class him as that!

 Have any of your students become RA fans because of your interest?
 *G* I'm not sure they'd tell me if they did! They like to tease me about my obsessions - in the nicest possible way, of course!

 How do your family and friends react to your RA "enthusiasm"? 
 My husband just rolls his eyes and writes it off as just another obsession, but then he knew he'd married a fan geek! Friends have a good laugh (but some of the girls secretly agree, I think!). I did make a Gisborne/Marian vid to Meatloaf's "All Coming Back to Me" because a friend of mine suggested it; they like to indulge me!  The rest of my family just put it down as one of my quirky things!

All Coming Back to Me: A Guy and Marian vid (BBC Robin Hood)

Thanks so much for telling us a bit more about yourself and for sharing your videos and fanfic with us!  Your students are very lucky to have a teacher who is able to make the study of English literature and poetry more accessible to modern students!

I am sure you will be very busy this summer with a new baby to care for.  Please drop by and let us know how you and baby are doing!   I hope you will have some time later to watch The Hobbit, or finally break open that North and South DVD.  :D