Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bungle in the Jungle

 Call me crazy, but I really think one of the best stories ever imagined is the legend of Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. At the time it was written in 1912 there really was nothing like it in literature before. An abandonned child is raised by a tribe of great apes in the darkest Africa. He grows to communicate with the jungle animals, and is respected by them as the King of the Jungle.
Oh sure, there was Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book with stories of the boy named Mowgli who was raised by wolves and a bear and a panther. (Huh? I don't think so!) Older than that was the legend of Romulus and Remus, the twins raised by wolves who founded the city of Rome -- but where's the back story? Hmmm? What were those twins doing out in the woods so that wolves could get at them? And what self-respecting wolf would raise a pair of humans when they would make a darn good meal with some leftovers? Not any wolves around my neck of the woods!
However implausible Burroughs story may seem to you, it has a fully-realized plot that is so EPIC, it has been spawning it's own sequels and adaptations ever since.

I was inspired to read the Tarzan books by first reading a collection of Tarzan cartoons that was my favourite book at my local Public Library when I was a certain impressionable age. I wish I could get my hands on that book again! I think it must have included comic book art by Hal Foster. (Please check out the link)!  There have been many graphic artists over the years to illustrate the Tarzan story, but none have been more seminal than Foster. The artist had a fascinating history himself, (which I hadn't known before doing this research). He was Canadian, born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and was a self-taught artist who developed his talent while living in Winnipeg, Manitoba before relocating to Chicago, USA where he finally found fame.

In 1918, barely 6 years since the publication of Tarzan, the story was told in film. It was a silent version (talkies had not yet been invented) but theatre goers were enthralled with the character who eventually inspired many more screen versions. Most Tarzan devotees hail Johnny Weissmuller as the King of the movie Tarzans. I enjoyed the movie Greystoke: the Legend of Tarzan of the Apes (1984) with Christopher Lambert. But, unfortunately there were also many regrettable movie versions, which are also included in this clip:
This video shows all the movie portrayals of Tarzan

 My favourite screen portrayal of Tarzan was by Ron Ely 
from the 1960s tv series of that name.
 I have to admit that I had a little-girl sized crush on him. He was so handsome and heroic and well...shirtless! And he actually spoke in proper sentences, not that nasty "Me Tarzan, you Jane" lingo.
(Yes, I know I just started a sentence with AND. If Elizabeth Gaskell can do it, then so can I!)

Here is the opening to Ron Ely's Tarzan television show.

Disney's cartoon version of the story was very well done. I also enjoyed the soundtrack which had many songs by Phil Collins. The following fanvid does a wonderful job of retelling the story.

You'll Be in My Heart / Phil Collins

Now this song doesn't really have anything to do with Tarzan but it brings back many youthful memories.

Jethro Tull  / Bungle in the Jungle

 Some other of my favourite rock songs having  a Jungle theme are: Welcome to the Jungle by  Guns N' Roses and the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen's epic song Jungleland. These songs are very serious comparisons of modern society to a jungle.  A real jungle is probably less dangerous than a modern city.
Which reminds me of the Australian version of a modern Tarzan in the movie  Crocodile Dundee (1986) with Paul Hogan.

The following song was new (to me) and I'm sure very annoying to some, but I think it's a hoot!

Tarzan and Jane -- Toybox

Now here's someone in the RA fandom who has an appreciation of a Jungle theme! This wonderful fanvid by TeaRoseProductions celebrates Richard Armitage as Harry Kennedy starring with Dawn French as Geraldine Granger in The Vicar of Dibley.  If you watch it on Youtube you can change it to HD quality.

Richard Armitage has a pretty good yell! Here he is as Guy of Gisborne in the BBC's Robin Hood (2006-2009). I am sure he would have no trouble yodeling a Tarzan yell!

(April 12, 2011)

My first attempt at using my new SonyVegas Movie Studio software. It is very complex and not very user friendly so please forgive the roughness of this video.  Anyway, I wanted to make Guy do a Tarzan call... and here he is....

Not convinced?
Maybe this picture will help you to picture him as Tarzan!

Even HE doesn't look so impressed with this idea! :D

But that's not all!
I received some help in the graphics department from a dear friend who wishes to remain anonymous.

Poor Richard! He looks a bit surprised to be deposited into a jungle scenario!
Now maybe if he had Jane, he might be happier!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A little SoM thing

The Sound of Music and me go waaay back. It was the first (non-children's) record album I ever owned, given to me by my maternal grandmother who lived with us until she died just before my seventh birthday.  I remember singing the songs on the bus on my way to school.
I also remember when our local theatre showed the film they had seats roped off at the front for special townspeople. (That was the one and only time I ever saw such a thing!) Of course our town didn't have a theatre for very long after that, but I digress...
You may have also noticed a little reference to one of the songs from the album on my blog.  (On the tag cloud-- the title is: These are a few of my favourite things...

Julie Andrews was also very special to me. The Mary Poppins record was another of my favourites and I knew all the words to sing along. I actually wished to be just like Julie Andrews -- the way she could sing, her way with children, her cheeky, brave charming self -- that was the kind of person I aspired to be!
 I used to sing to my children at bedtime (after the bath and storytime) and my son especially enjoyed it.  The best compliment I have ever received from anyone in my life, was once when my little guy sighed after a particularly good rendition of ...probably "Feed the Birds", or perhaps it was "Stay Awake" and he said "Mom, your name should be Phyllis Andrews!" It still chokes me up! :)

So it was with great interest that I discovered through my blogger buddies that there was going to be a reunion of the complete cast of The Sound of Music for its 45th anniversary on the Oprah show. She was even having some of the actual Von Trapp family to sing on the show. "How exciting!" I thought, "I must remember to watch it!" Well, the show came and went....and I missed it!
Luckily Charleybrown (who is much more on the ball than me) has several wonderful posts all about it. Here is one of her posts over at Enchanted Serenity of Period Films. She even posted the Oprah episode, so now I have watched it too! Thanks Charleybrown!!

It actually occurred to me before I even heard of this milestone reunion, that perhaps The Sound of Music could be remade for the new century. Of course I love the original, but it might be quite exciting to imagine some modern actors in these iconic roles. For Julie's Maria Von Trapp, I could think of no one else but Amy Adams. She is my current favourite singing movie star. I loved her in Enchanted and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. She has the same fresh faced beauty and joyful, sparkling personality as Julie Andrews and her voice is simply beautiful!
Now I realize that this is just a pipe dream of mine because in reality Amy Adams (born Aug. 20, 1974), and very youthful in appearance, would probably be considered too old for the part of Maria.  But please indulge me anyway...

Julie Andrews as Maria in the Austrian Alps

Amy Adams in Enchanted in Central Park
I can't help but see the similarities here. What do you think, hmmm?

 In Disney's Enchanted, Amy playing the part of Giselle,  begins as a cartoon character searching for her "true love" who is of course, a Prince and very charming.  But after she falls through a hole in her fairytale land, she comes up through a manhole into the middle of modern day New York city.  Her rescuer is an ordinary single parent father (Patrick Dempsey) who has relationship issues with his girlfriend. In this song, Giselle is trying to help him make up with his girlfriend.

What I love about this musical number is how natural Amy makes it seem to just stroll around singing and then get the rest of the world to join in. I have often wished the world would really work like this! Obviously Patrick Dempsey doesn't buy into it at his lines! But by the end of the song, he is enjoying it in spite of himself.

The role of Maria Von Trapp is still a very coveted role as shown by the stiff competition for the stage part in the televised "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" on BBC in 2006 and three years later in Canada on CBC. Here's the trailer for the British show:

Here's another someone with somewhat of a resemblance to Julie Andrews as Maria. I am not too sure that Danielle Denby-Ashe can warble a tune though!

Margaret Hale with similar hat
Maria with sun hat

You must be wondering by now, who I might pick for the role of Captain Von Trapp? Afterall, Christopher Plummer was just wonderful in this role -- tall, dark and handsome, with a brooding masculine charm, a witty sense of humour and even a nice singing voice! Sound like anyone else you know?

Luckily a very graphically talented blogger friend of mine consented to make me several photo manips that are very cleverly done. 
Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews
Richard Armitage and Amy Adams

Apparently, according to Christopher Plummer's autobiography, his singing voice was dubbed for the movie, but this video proves that he sings very nicely indeed. If the video does not load properly, you can also watch it if you  click here.

Edelweiss - Sound of Music - Christopher Plummer's own voice from Mark on Vimeo.

Here are a couple more SoM things to think about....

Don't they make a lovely couple!

Even if it's not The Sound of Music, wouldn't these two be great in a musical?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Spooks Series 9 -- Lucas North -- Lies

Dedicated to Lucas North (Spooks / MI-5 Series 9) ** SPOILERS**
It's hard to admit that I've been in mourning for an imaginary character for just over a week now, but I think I've finally come to my senses. What has helped me was the wonder of "music therapy", if there is such as thing, I can testify to its success! I have been reliving the last few episodes by watching some fanvids done by bccmee, Juliet D001, and GiztheGunslinger.  Lucas North, from Spooks / MI-5, I can now let you rest in peace, or not, as the case may be.

I had an idea I wanted to make another fanvid (or musical slideshow as that's as much as I've learned to do so far).  So I was scouring Youtube for music videos with the title Betrayal, or Lies.  When I found the song Lies by The Black Keys, I knew it sounded right, but I had to have a look at the lyrics to make sure. Well, it was like the Spooks writers had this song in mind when they were deciding what to do with Lucas's character this season.  So as much as I don't approve of what happened to his character, and hated the way the plot was thrown together like a vigorously tossed salad with some vital ingredients missing the bowl, I couldn't make myself look away from the screen, so as not to miss a nanosecond of Richard Armitage's magnificent performance!

So I'm over the bitterness. When I think of Series 9 now it will be with this song in my head and a bittersweet memory of a spy who wasn't who we thought he was, or even who he wanted to be.

I just caught the end of a very good biopic the other day The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004).
Peter Sellers was a brilliant comedic character actor who starred in one of my favourite movies -- Being There (1979).

What I learned about Peter Sellers was that he was so good at becoming the various characters he created that he believed he had no personality of his own. This reminded me of Lucas / John uttering the words, "I am nothing". The spy known as Lucas North was only playing a role, he was not really that person, but he had played the role for so long and so well, that he didn't know who he was anymore. As with the real life Peter Sellers, this lack of knowing one's self led to many relationship problems, broken marriages, drug and alcohol abuse and if his heart had not given out at the relatively young age of 54, he was probably due for a mental breakdown.  This made me feel a little more sympathetic to the spy a.k.a Lucas. And so I have put him to rest.

Here is my tribute to Lucas North in the BBC's Spooks Series 9:

I will miss the character I thought he was and believe he could have been.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Last Spike -- 125th Anniversary tribute

CPR travel poster
November 7th 1885 was the date that the last spike was driven into the track of Canada's first transcontinental railway (the Canadian Pacific Railway -- a.k.a. the CPR).  Sorry, my post is late by a few days, but I just got the memo!

Actually I missed seeing last week's episode of the Rick Mercer Report. Luckily I subscribe to his Youtube channel and what to my wondering eyes did appear -- but this excellent clip where Rick interviews Parks Canada employees about the Last Spike and rides the rails over some of the most beautiful railway scenery to be found anywhere in the world!

The history of Canada is defined by this transcontinental railroad.  There is a good chance that without the persistence of Sir John A. Macdonald (Canada's first Prime Minister) and the partnership of railway engineer Sir Sanford Fleming and CPR general manager Cornelius Van Horne, Canada would not exist in its present form today of 10 provinces and 3 territories linked together from east to west coast by a fragile network of rail (and now highways).  In fact, it was mainly in order to bring the province of British Columbia into Confederation that started the mad rush to build the railroad in the first place.
Is it any wonder then that so many talented performers have paid homage to Canada's railways?

Here's a famous song called Canadian Pacific by country music star Hank Snow

And one of my favourite songs by Gordon Lightfoot, Steel Rail Blues

Now you know I can't leave without a picture of Richard Armitage, so here he is as
Claude Monet in The Impressionists admiring a train.
screencap courtesy of RichardArmitageNet
Just had to share this lovely montage done by a dear friend and fellow admirer of Richard Armitage.
Just look at the way she has blended Richard as Claude Monet in The Impressionists with Monet's own artwork and a quote by fellow Impressionist painter Edouard Manet about his artistic vision.

The quote in English is "I paint what I see, not what pleases others to see".
Monet is more appropriate to this post than I at first realized! His birthdate was November 14, 1840 which means that I just missed his 170th birthday by one day!

If you like trains as I do, don't miss my first post on this blog, "I Think I Can"

Friday, November 12, 2010

65 years Young

Neil Young was born 65 years ago today on November 12, 1945.  Yes, that's right, that means he is now officially a senior citizen. Well, it's quite an accomplishment to be still actively touring and creating music for an adoring public for the past 40 plus years! I'm sad to say I have never seen him perform in concert. I missed my chance a couple of times now. :(
Although Neil now lives in the United States, he is still proudly Canadian, born in Toronto, Ontario, he lived briefly in Northern Ontario during his youth and performed in a high school band (called The Squires) when he lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I understand that Thunder Bay, Ontario  also has a claim to fame (as the place where Neil first met Stephen Stills).
 He is a singer/songwriter who has been honoured by many musical awards, Grammys, Junos, and even an Academy award for the song Philadelphia used in the film of the same name starring Tom Hanks.

He made a name for himself during the 1960s with his country / folk flavoured Rock sound and most notably for his protest songs against war.  He teamed up with Stephen Stills in the group Buffalo Springfield and then with the supergroup Crosby Stills & Nash who changed their name to Crosby Stills Nash & Young when Neil agreed to join them. Their soaring harmonies and Neil's brilliant songwriting skills added greatly to the fame of that band.
(Neil when young) I like his brooding looks.

Always serious and intense about his music, he was sometimes not the easiest person to get along with. Although he took his music very seriously, he didn't seem as concerned about his appearance and his unkempt, dishevelled appearance is also part of his mystique.

I have enjoyed his music since his Harvest album, released in 1970.  I find his melodies haunting, combined with his warbly falsetto, his sound has an otherworldly quality. But it is his lyrics that really shine. Neil always has something worthwhile to say, but he says it like the poet and troubadour that he is.
There are so many songs of his that I love. I have actually made some fanvids starring Richard Armitage using them. Here is a page at with some song clips you can listen to from his Greatest Hits album.  My personal favourites are: Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Helpless, Needle and the Damage Done, Ohio, Comes a Time and of course, After the Gold Rush.

Because it is this time of the year, here is a song I haven't heard before but it is very much in keeping with the themes of most of his work.  This song is entitled Love and War.

This is one of his newer songs -- It's a Dream. It talks about the memories of his youth in Winnipeg, when he roamed around the banks of the Red River and how things have changed over time. This song touches me deeply and can even bring me to tears.

 This isn't the first time I've posted about Neil Young and it probably won't be the last. But before I'm done just let me say -- Thanks Neil! For all your wonderful music and for your generous spirit to share it with all of us.
Happy Birthday to Neil Young!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Linda Granfield. Toronto, ON: Stoddart Kids, 2001
The poppy -- a flower for remembrance. Blood-red, it is at once a symbol of sacrifice and a hope for the future. The flocked red plastic pin with black centre poppy that Canadians start wearing as soon as the Halloween gear is stowed away, has been offered for sale by the Royal Canadian Legion since the 1920's.  
Remembrance Day November 11th at 11:00 am we will pause in our work and play and pay tribute to those brave souls who put their lives on the line for all of us who live in freedom.
All Canadians are familiar with the poem "In Flanders Fields" by John McCrae, a doctor in the first World War from Guelph, Ontario who wrote the poem after his friend was killed in the battle of Ypres, France, 1915.

In this video by Poetryanimations,
we see a picture of John McCrae seem to perform his own poem.
If you watch this video at Youtube, you can read the extensive notes underneath the video. To visit Youtube, simply click on either the video title or the Youtube symbol within the frame.

I don't know how I missed knowing this before, but apparently this poem has been made into a song!
Even if you are familiar with the poem, please listen to the song -- it is quite beautiful.

Remembrance Day is always a very sombre and sad time for those who feel the pain for those who have suffered and are still suffering because of war's devastation. But the symbol of the poppy is one of hope. It is afterall, a part of nature, it has a graceful and strong beauty able to withstand the turmoil that humankind inevitably creates.

Here are some of Claude Monet's paintings of poppy fields.
It seems he must have admired the beauty of these flowers too.

And now, although it may be entirely inappropriate. I am going to include an imaginary character from a television show who is wearing a poppy.  I am actually feeling quite sad about this character right now because of the way in which the scriptwriters chose to write him out of the series. I would like to remember Lucas North from Spooks / MI-5 as he was in the first episode in which he appeared in season 7.

Richard Armitage when he was Lucas North

Sunday, November 7, 2010

So close...

While strolling down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh this July, I couldn't help notice the narrow alleys between the buildings which were called "close" for obvious reasons. I got very excited when I peered down one and thought it was probably the same one used in a scene of Elizabeth Gaskell's 2004 BBC miniseries North and South. There are actually two scenes with stairs that are similar to what I saw. The first scene is where Margaret Hale is going down the stairs in an alley at the same time as the factory whistle blows for the end of the day and she is jostled by all the mill workers streaming by. Then, one young man teases her by taking her purse and she is rescued by Nicholas Higgins.

The second scene involves John Thornton who is having a conversation with a police constable about the suggestion that Margaret is a possible witness to a murder at the train station.

So there I was in Edinburgh, Scotland on the very streets where they had filmed this fabulous miniseries and I believed that I was actually on the same stairs where Richard Armitage once stood. (Let's just say I was pretty excited!)

Here are my pictures of the stairs:

My euphoria was greatly lessened when I realized later that there were quite a few other Closes with stairways and the one that I happened to find was not in fact the one that was in the film.
I should point out that I didn't actually set out purposely to find these locations. I was aware of them but I hadn't really done the research in order to scout them out. So what I did see was very exciting and completely random.

What I should have done was check out this website before I arrived. Ace Marsupial's Richard Armitage page: North and South locations.

If you frequent this blog much you will know how I love music! Well although I had Frankie Valli's song "My Eyes Adored You" in my head when I thought about this blogpost, I knew it didn't quite fit. After a bit of research I found this song (which I didn't know before!) but I like very much, and is much more appropriate. :)

I was disappointed about not being in the right location but I knew of one more place I had to visit before I left town, and it happened to be near the train station.  So I dragged my long-suffering hubby to Calton Hill so I could get a picture something like this one:

Margaret Hale going for a walk in imaginary Milton (which was actually Edinburgh, Scotland)

It was quite a blustery day and a good thing the wind was blowing toward the tower and not away from it, or I would have been blown right off my perch where I took this shot.

It really is a lovely view "while the weather holds".

Another scene from North and South showing just a hint of the background architecture.
In this picture, you see the crenelations on the edge of Nelson's Monument
Nelson's Monument

I walked along this very footpath that Richard Armitage (as John Thornton) is walking in this picture.

Very gloomy with the added graveyard (not really there).

Here is my shot of the foot path with the Nelson Monument in the background.

You can see the same fence in this screencap (from Richard Armitage Central gallery).
Cheer up John! Margaret will come around eventually.
 John Thornton out for a walk (see the fence?).

I wish I could have spent more time in Edinburgh. It is a beautiful city, especially the Old Towne. I didn't get to Holyrood Palace (which was home to Mary Queen of Scots). So I simply MUST return some day. But I was so happy to see what I did get a chance to see and Calton Hill was simply lovely. The view was magnificent for which I was very grateful because the day we were at Edinburgh castle it was almost completely fog enshrouded! But on this day, with the cloudy sky the weather looked very similar to how it was in North and South and I was so pleased to be there!

Some clever travel agency should market a tour of locations for North and South and I am sure they would have quite a few enthusiasts very interested!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Spy vs. Spy

 Spooks Season 9, episode 7...

I give up! I can't tell the good guys from the bad guys anymore, well maybe I never could. I was just fooling myself (or misinformed). One thing is for sure. I would be a terrible spy. I'm not very good at keeping secrets and although I have a very high pain threshold, I can't stand to see anyone in pain.

I needed some kind of distraction to cheer me up after watching this episode, 
but the plot of this cartoon is actually amazingly similar!

What I do know is people do love a hero. I love a hero. And I had one, but I guess I don't now. I am quite depressed about it too. I am now treading into spoiler city, but I need to talk.

My husband who has refused to watch a single episode of Spooks, but really enjoys making fun of my loud exclamations of shock, dismay and fear actually asked me tonight what happened! Where do I begin? Two seasons ago a character was introduced who captured my heart, and through many heroic efforts proved his loyalty to his country and his colleagues. Finally, after being jerked around this season for 7 episodes they have apparently told us the "real" story behind this character.
Forgive me for feeling like it's 1986 and I'm watching Dallas, and wishing that Pam would wake up and find Bobby in the shower, meaning that the whole previous season was a dream!"

Can somebody please wake up in Spooks and let it be Season 7 again?  And while we're at it, that means I get Ros back too!

Ros, Harry and Lucas from Spooks / MI-5 Season 7

This is the kind of season ending I am still hoping for, silly romantic that I am...