Thursday, September 30, 2010


Are you tired of hearing about dancing bananas? I hope not because the following video seems to be the definitive answer to any questions about this fun frolicking fruit.

Yes, indeed! Bananas are funny! Could it be their sunny yellow colour, or their curved shape? Or perhaps it has something to do with its ressemblance to a certain part of the male anatomy (which will henceforth go unmentioned)?! **cough**

In 1992 a couple of famous Australian bananas became very popular television stars with children all over the world!
Named B1 and B2 they were collectively known as  
Bananas in Pajamas. The show was inspired by a catchy tune written in the 1960s by the nephew of children's author Enid Blyton.

Here's a blast from the past with Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street and their Banana phone!

Perhaps this was the inspiration 
for Raffi's Bananaphone song...

Rumours abound about Richard Armitage appearing as a dancing banana in his early stage career. Richard himself has admitted it in a BBC1 Interview with Scott Mills & Becky, May 4th 2010. Even his new Spooks co-star Sophia Myles has admitted in a recent interview that she had in fact, appeared in play with Richard in which he performed this unenviable role.  So far no film clips have appeared of him wearing this costume. But that shouldn't stop his irrepressible fans from seeing him do a banana dance!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Elizabeth Gaskell's Bicentennial

September 29th 2010 is the 200th year since the birth of my favourite author Elizabeth Gaskell. I came to appreciate her talents by introduction to the miniseries North and South, produced by the BBC in 2004, starring my favourite actor, Richard Armitage. Since watching that beautiful adaptation I have read the book on which it was based, as well as several more of her works.

I have mentioned Mrs. Gaskell in several posts so rather than repeat myself, here is a link to the one in which I visit her home in Manchester.

There are quite a few bloggers out there in blogland who are celebrating her birthday today. My blogger buddies Maria Grazia, Charleybrown, Traxy, and Jane Greensmith have all done posts in her honour. We all wish more people were aware of the talent of this often overlooked, but immensely talented Victorian author. If you haven't already read one of her novels or short stories, you will be very pleased and surprised if you do!

One of the little details that makes me so fond of Richard Armitage (who plays mill owner John Thornton in North and South) is that he actually read Mrs. Gaskell's book before he even showed up for the audition. Although it may sound like an obvious thing to do, I doubt that very many actors would take the time to do this. 

Here's hoping that more people discover the works of Elizabeth Gaskell so that she gets all the attention and appreciation that she deserves.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

After the Gold Rush revisited...

 After the Gold Rush (the album and the song) was released in 1970, so this is the 40th anniversary of its release, which is certainly worth celebrating. This is an update to an earlier post about Neil Young's song "After the Gold Rush". Earlier I had said that I had wanted to make a video for this song but I didn't know how.  Well,  since then I have made a few simple musical slideshows, soooo after a bit of tinkering, here is what I have come up with. I have put together pictures from various productions in which Richard Armitage has had either a major or minor part, in order to fit with the words of the song.

Haunting me for years with it's fantastical and dire vision of the future mixed with Young's plaintive voice, I believe this song to be a masterpiece of classic folk rock.  I am grateful that Mr. Armitage has had such a varied career that I was able to be inspired to envision certain scenes which seemed to fit so well with the lyrics.

My only regret (besides the fact that I still haven't managed to make an actual moving picture video!) is that I really wanted to capture his updated lyrics "in the twenty-first century" rather than the original "in the 1970s".  But so far, Mr. Young has not (to my knowledge) made a recording of this version, although he has sung it many times in concert. I did try to cut and paste, but with my limited skills and equipment, the mix did not sound right at all.  Perhaps this is still a work in progress, and I will return to it again in the future...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Let me be plaid!

Sorry to go all stereotypical on you, but I can't post about Scotland without mentioning that exceptional piece of a Scotsman's wardrobe referred to as "the kilt". Well, you can't ignore them, they are all over the place.  I, for one am a huge fan of anyone wearing something a little different than the norm. If I were a man I would be bored to tears wearing pants (sorry) trousers all the time!
  Of course we all wonder what might be hidden underneath the kilt.
Any idea to which clan these tartans belong?
Our guide to Edinburgh Castle
Street music
I realize that in North America the terms tartan and plaid are virtually interchangeable, but in the land of the kilt, this is definitely not the case. So in the interest of clarity, here is the actual meaning:
a design of straight lines, crossing at right angles to give a chequered appearance, esp the distinctive design or designs associated with each Scottish clan. 
1. A rectangular woolen scarf of a tartan pattern worn over the left shoulder by Scottish Highlanders.
2.  a. Cloth with a tartan or checked pattern.
     b. A pattern of this kind.

So a plaid would be a scarf or blanket worn (perhaps with a kilt) in Scotland, but elsewhere plaid simply refers to the chequered design of the fabric.

 Clear as mud? Yeah, I thought so! Moving on....

Hunter plaid
My husband wanted to purchase a kilt (until he realized that the full regalia was over a thousand pounds!).  There seemed to be nothing in between this exorbitant amount and a cheap Halloween costume version.  As we didn't really have time for comparison shopping, a bit of wishful window shopping is all it amounted to. As his mother's maiden name was Hunter we would like to consider this his family tartan.

Ghastly Gaskell plaid

Molly Gibson (played byJustine Waddell) in the BBC's production of Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters. When she is unexpectedly invited to Hamley Hall, she finds her wardrobe is not up to snuff. Her father suggests she should buy a few new store-bought dresses.

'Well, but it seems people consider you as a young woman now, and so I suppose you must run up milliners' bills like the rest of your kind. Not that you are to get anything anywhere that you can't pay for down in ready money. Here's a ten-pound note; go to Miss Rose's, or Miss anybody's, and get what you want at once. The Hamley carriage is to come for you at two, and anything that is not quite ready, can easily be sent by their cart on Saturday, when some of their people always come to market. Nay, don't thank me! I don't want to have the money spent, and I don't want you to go and leave me: I shall miss you, I know; it's only hard necessity that drives me to send you a-visiting, and to throw away ten pounds on your clothes. There, go away; you're a plague, and I mean to leave off loving you as fast as I can.'
'Papa!' holding up her finger as in warning, 'you are getting mysterious again; and though my honourableness is very strong, I won't promise that it shall not yield to my curiosity if you go on hinting at untold secrets.'
'Go away and spend your ten pounds. What did I give it you for but to keep you quiet?'
Miss Rose's ready-made resources and Molly's taste combined, did not arrive at a very great success. She bought a lilac print, because it would wash, and would be cool and pleasant for the mornings; and this Betty could make at home before Saturday. And for high-days and holidays - by which was understood afternoons and Sundays - Miss Rose persuaded her to order a gay-coloured, flimsy plaid silk, which she assured her was quite the latest fashion in London, and which Molly thought would please her father's Scotch blood. But when he saw the scrap which she had brought home as a pattern, he cried out that the plaid belonged to no clan in existence, and that Molly ought to have known this by instinct. It was too late to change it, however, for Miss Rose had promised to cut the dress out as soon as Molly had left her shop. 

Mall-teasers plaid
Another Gaskell plaid below. Jo Joyner as Fanny Thornton wears this plaid monstrosity to visit Margaret Hale in North and South.
Big bad plaid

While trying to board the Royal Yacht Brittannia (which we were unfortunately  too late to do), we hoofed it through a shopping mall in Leith (Edinburgh's northern port) where I took this picture at a ladies clothing store sporting quite the selection of plaid clothing items. (I couldn't resist the pink deer's head either! LOL)

Now, excuuuuse me while I go off on a bit of a tangent, but I had to include this trailer for comedian 
Steve Martin's homage to Film Noir just for the title alone -- "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid"!
It's a pretty funny movie, (if you like that sort of goofiness -- I DO!) from back in 1982.

Now ... here is Canadian comedian Mike Myers wearing a kilt and toasting that inimitable Scottish actor Sean Connery at the American Film Institute awards show.  I couldn't have found a better film clip if I had paid these people! (If you look carefully, you will catch a glimpse of Pierce Brosnan too!)

Thank you loyal readers. If you have read this far you certainly deserve a treat.
So here you are...

Lucas McNorth clad in plaid

Thanks to my dear friend TeeTotallyNot for her wonderful artwork!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Taking the high road...

Just another pub on Princes Street
What a magnificent place is Edinburgh, Scotland. My husband and I had two lovely nights at our Bed and Breakfast, but we should have spent a week!

I didn't get to Loch Lomond (another reason to go back)! But I simply must include this video of the Song "Loch Lomond" which include the lyrics "Ye'll take the high road and I'll take the low road". I've always loved to sing this song. This version is performed by John McDermott (a Scottish-Canadian) with a magnificent voice! The video is captioned with a lot of interesting facts about the area.

Our first evening in Edinburgh we took a bus from our B&B down to Princes Street and spent the evening seeing the sights on the Royal Mile. That is a succession of streets connecting Edinburgh castle to Holyrood Abbey (one of which is called High Street.)  It is very picturesque, there are lots of pubs and restaurants and great places to shop.

The Royal Mile
An old clock tower

Sunset on the Royal Mile

We didn't eat here, but I couldn't resist taking a picture of this cafe.

The view from our restaurant window.

The beginning and end of our luscious meal!

Pint and half pint of ale
Sticky toffee pudding

Lagavulin Single Malt Scotch Whisky
We had a lovely meal (I wish I could remember what it was!) But what I do remember is that after we ate, my husband decided to try the local whisky. We have not ever been big on drinking Scotch whisky but when in Scotland.... we were ready for anything! So my husband casually asks for a list of their "Scotch". Now in Canada -- or probably anywhere in North America -- this would be a perfectly understandable request. Except that it would be a very short list, if there even was a list! However here, the waitress looked a bit perplexed. After a bit more explanation, she said, "Oh yes, you want to see a list of our malt whisky!" This is when it ocurred to me that of course in Scotland -- everything is Scotch! (Duh!) As I explained to my husband, in France they don't call them "french" fries either! And in Canada, what Americans might call Canadian whisky we just call Rye. This is why travel is such a mind expanding exercise! By the way, the list was very long, but our waitress was very knowledgeable and gave us a great recommendation. Long story short -- we are now officially admirers of good Scotch whisky.

Oops! How did that picture get in here? Oh yes... Isn't that Richard Armitage drinking some whisky?
(This picture is from Agatha Christie's Miss Marple series: Ordeal By Innocence)

I have lots more to say about stay tuned for further posts!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Phylly's solution for ideal management / labour relations

Clearly, THIS is not a solution...

When this kind of bossman behaviour results in 
dire consequences for his love life...

And the woman of his dreams 
looks at him like this...

The "overbearing master" tries a new way 
of relating to his workers:


Much better...

Better still...

And my personal favourite...

I think his girlfriend approves...
Screencaps of the BBC miniseries North and South (2004) starring Richard Armitage, Danielle Denby-Ashe and Brendan Coyle courtesy of Richard Armitage Central, Richard Armitage Net and Foolish Passions.

My wish for a better world of work...

We should all be so lucky.

Have a wonderful Labour Day Weekend!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sing along with Phylly

I love to sing! How about joining me at some of my 
favourite singing spots on the web?
All hail the inventor of the Karaoke machine! Unfortunately, Mr. Daisuke Inoue apparently didn't earn a dime off his invention as he didn't think it warranted a patent! Mr. Inoue, if I had your address I should probably send you a little royalty check for all the joy you've given me since I took up this interest!
The first time I tried to sing all alone in front of a crowd at the local Legion Hall, I failed miserably! I couldn't even find the opening note to start singing! It was the song, "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" (the version sung by Neil Diamond). What I didn't realize at the time, was that I was used to singing the version by The Hollies, which is in a higher key.  I have since decided that I will never attempt a Neil Diamond song (in public) again. Well, things could only go up after that humiliation, so my next  try "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" went much easier.  Some songs are quite easy to sing, others near impossible! Do yourself a favour and never, I repeat..NEVER attempt "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Diana Ross, unless you totally go nuts with it, it is unsingable!

Youtube has some great Karaoke videos. Basically you can type in any song and add the word Karaoke after it and you will probably get one. If you can't think of any to start with, here is a channel by someone who calls himself finekaraoke.

I have had lots of fun on this site below.
The songs are only midis but if you sing loud enough you can't tell.

More midis here:

Old English Folk Tunes:
Taylor's Traditional Tunebook

This page is is from

where you will also find Irish, Scottish, and Welsh songs.

Why not compose your own tunes? is a link to Richard Armitage singing a little ditty
(as Robert Lovelace in the BBC Radio 4 production of Clarissa)

Here's your chance to singalong with Richard!
      picture by Liza Franks from the book: My Celebrity Boyfriend.
(Please forgive the alterations. They are all in the spirit of fun and fantasy!)

Not the most flattering picture I'll agree, so please forgive me -- since this is living proof that Mr. Armitage likes to karaoke, I just couldn't help myself! Feel free to imagine yourself in this picture. By the way, from the looks of those lyrics behind him I think they might be singing "I'll Be". What do you think? 
While you are thinking, sing along to the song. It is somewhat appropriate (if you don't take it too seriously!).

“Always keep a song in your heart - it's like karaoke for the voices in your head”