Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

I've been working on a post about my visit to Hill Top Farm for quite some time which I had planned to have ready (this) Easter Sunday!  For whatever reasons, it just hasn't come together yet, but I wanted you to know it won't be too much longer until it is ready.

In the meantime, I have sent Peter Rabbit to entertain you.
The complete story is available online!  Click here to read it.

As another Easter gift (for those of you who celebrate the religious aspects of this day), here is a very touching video by Knitelady

May you have a joyous Easter season, a spring in your step and a song in your heart!

Friday, April 22, 2011

It isn't over 'till it's over

Sometimes it takes a friend to remind me what is important to me.  This post was inspired by a Facebook comment by JaneGS.

I have always had trouble with the Easter season, especially Good Friday.  When I first saw Jesus Christ Superstar as a  teeny bopper it was pretty heavy stuff.   I grew to appreciate it more by listening to the music (my older sister had the album).  Fast forward years later, and my son discovered the music from a High School music class.  So I bought him the DVD one Easter.  What followed was an Easter tradition for quite a few years that we both enjoyed.

There are so many songs I love from the 1973 production (that was the one my son preferred as well). This one must have been very difficult to perform, not only for its subject matter.  I don't think anyone could do a better version of this song than Ted Neeley.

Thanks for the reminder Jane! :)

Songs from Middle Earth

Not long ago, I happened upon this picturesque video with music from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack  and thought it seemed very appropriate for Earth Day.

The music here  is by The Tolkien Ensemble
a truly amazing group that I hope to hear a lot more from.

This beautiful music makes me even more excited about Peter Jackson's production of The Hobbit.  I didn't realize that there was so much potential for music until I read the book and saw the lyrics there. 

A lovely slide show of location pictures from Lord of the Rings 
set to Enya's "May it Be" and Annie Lennox's "Into the West"
New Zealand truly does make a spectacular Middle Earth. And according to a new video from Peter Jackson's blog, the production is being wise enough to reuse many of the old sets from LOTR for his new production of The Hobbit.  That sounds very earth-friendly to me! :)

Of course I am most anxious to see this man (Richard Armitage-- as if you didn't know!)
--who is front and centre and being gazed at adoringly by the actor who plays Bilbo Baggins!

What do you think Martin Freeman is thinking here? (Sounds like another caption contest idea!)

We are not sure exactly how he will look as Thorin Oakenshield (the leader of the dwarves). But if it is anything similar to Gimli from LOTR, he could possibly look like this...

We can only hope and pray that we get to hear him SING!!
(or play the flute or cello?)

Check out a new RA blog: Befuddled Musings, I just discovered today. Thank you Servetus!
Calexora has been thinking about Richard's musicality as well -- on this post.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

There's nothing like a good rant!

My son phoned from University to tell me he was all finished exams and he had just voted in an advance poll for Canada's upcoming Federal election.  He always makes me proud but today -- I was even prouder than usual!  Last time there was a Federal election he was away at University and in the middle of exams, and well, he just didn't take the time to exercise his democratic rights.  Even after being encouraged and reminded by both his parents.  Not even comedian Rick Mercer could persuade him last time.

Rick Mercer's rant from 2 years ago.

Since that last election not too much has changed in Canada.  Sure, we had a worldwide recession, but Canada fared much better than a lot of other countries.  Prices are higher, wages not much, so you would think it should be business as usual in our Nation's capital (that would be Ottawa -- not Toronto, not Quebec City, and not Calgary) -- Ottawa, Ontario, the land of minority governments since 2004.

Canada is not a stranger to minority governments. In fact, it might seem that Canadians actually prefer them, since we elect so many of them.  Of course the governing party would prefer to have a majority, but since the voters have agreed to disagree, we expect those elected officials to just carry on and get along with the governing of our nation.  Sure, we know there will be a few disagreements, maybe even a little name-calling (not too much that the Speaker of the House can't handle), but basically -- we expect them to find a way to make things work.

Except that the minority government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper just can't seem to accept that it is in a minority.  It has tried twice before to get a majority and failed, and now here we go again with another expensive election so that Stephen Harper can attempt to achieve a majority government.

I love how Rick Mercer explains the likelihood of that happening:

Unfortunately that video was filmed a year ago and some people think Harper's chances are much better now to get his majority...

Two weeks ago Rick Mercer makes another appeal to the youth of our nation to exercise their freedom and get out and vote!

You tell 'em Rick!

Well, guess what?  This time they actually listened!  Students at the University of Guelph staged what they called a "vote mob".  It is a fun, positive, non-partisan student rally to encourage students to vote.  The movement has spread to many other Canadian universities across the country.

Is it any wonder that Canadians voted Rick Mercer one of our Greatest Canadians?  He came 50th in a poll that included politicians, scientists, sports stars, music and movie stars and many other celebrities.

Anyone who can inspire that much passion about the political process is a very special individual!

And just in case you thought I forgot ...Here is another special individual who inspires passion (at least to the female heart). ;)

Many of his fans have been voting for him lately in polls @ The Hunkies.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

UPDATE to my Tarzan post

After much struggle and much colourful language!....I have finally completed my first video with my new software.  Strangely, it was the title slides I had the biggest trouble with.  My first attempt is a very short video where I revisit a previous post's theme.

In Bungle in the Jungle. (which I have now updated to include this vid), after embedding a vid of Gisborne's famous yells, I mentioned I'd like to hear him do a Tarzan call.  Well, as I can't leave well enough alone... that is exactly what I have attempted here.

I have no shame!

If you'd like to see what other dreadful things I have have made this poor man do....
See this post: Bananas!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wrap Up (FanstRAvaganza 2)

It's about time I did some analysis of all those polls I had us fans taking.  Thank you very much to everyone who participated, by the way!  I realize pollling is not a very scientific way to discover facts but I do think that it is possible to get a snapshot of a moment in time of at least the fans who frequent my blog.

An impression of Richard Armitage as Claude Monet by Elvira Sweeney

Mind you, my stats were up quite a bit during the FanstRA although not as high as might be expected if my topic were of a more popular incarnation of Mr. Armitage's panoply of characters.  As Claude Monet in the BBC's The Impressionists, Richard Armitage did an amazing job portraying the highs and lows of the famous painter's life and career, but because some RA fans might not be interested in art or biographies, or (more likely) because they weren't enamoured of the character's facial hair, ;) they all didn't flock to my humble little home in the blogosphere. Plus, with all the range and quantity of posts this year's FanstRA engendered, who had time to read it all?  I know I will be catching up for quite some time!

The following RA- related blogs participated this year:

  1. Servetus- Me + Richard
  2. Mulubinba- RA Viewers Perspective
  3. Skully- The Spooks Fan Blog
  4. Traxy- The Squeee!
  5. Avalon- Avalon's Blog
  6. "Frenz"- RA Frenzy
  7. Nat- The RA Fan Blog
  8. Sarah- From the Quill Tip
  9. Christine- CDoart
  10. Pi- Nevermind, Mr. Armitage
  11. Prue- Mesmered’s Blog
  12. Musa- White Rose Writing
  13. Judiang -- Confessions of a Watcher

I certainly didn't mind having M. Monet to myself!  We had a lot of fun during the week of FanstRA (well I certainly did!) I was touring 3 Hawaiian islands with my wonderful husband who surprised me with the details of the trip on Valentine's Day!  And here I thought I was going to Alberta for March Break!  Quite the surprise as you can imagine!  But because of the surprise, I had a lot of extra preparations to do to get ready for the FanstRA so that all my posts could be prescheduled before I left.  Hubs would not have been very understanding had I been chained to my laptop in Hawaii!  As it was, he couldn't figure out why I wasn't busy researching all the places we were going to -- because I was getting a weeks' worth of posts ready!!  Stressed?  Well, maybe but I enjoyed it all nevertheless!  As I always told my kids -- nothing worthwhile comes without a bit of hardwork! (I am sure no one is very sympathetic with someone who gets a dream vacation!)  'Nuff said!

Anyway, my focus for FanstRAvaganza 2 was on Richard Armitage's performance in "The Impressionists" as Claude Monet.  Why did I choose this particular character? I have always been a fan of the Impressionist painters particularly Renoir, for his lovely portraits, but later Monet's landscapes and rich colours drew my interest as well. Of course, once I realized that Richard Armitage had a starring role in a production about the Impressionists, I was completely sold!  It is also the only RA related production that my husband has ever watched with me!

Here is how I planned the week:

Day One was an introduction to my polls. I only had a few to start with.  I planned to add more as the week went on.  Unfortunately that did involve a little blogging on my holiday, but not too much.  For the RA Fanfest I wanted to get a picture of RA's fans.  What are we like?  Do we have much in common with each other?  Stay tuned for my results.

Day Two was a collection of fanvids about RA as Monet in The Impressionists.  There are only a few of them available on Youtube, but I managed to miss at least one of them anyway!  If you would like to see my updated page with 19bt80's lovely tribute to Monet's life as an artist, please click here.  Or you could go directly to the video on Youtube here.

Day Three was an interview with a very original fanvidder named Bccmee.  Her first video was of RA in The Impressionists. Since then, her favourite character has become John Porter from Strike Back. She seems to think she is not the creative type...but we know different! ;)

Day Four was St. Patrick's Day which I celebrated by showcasing several of Monet's paintings containing a predominance of shades of green.

Day Five was Le Salon d'Armitage -- my fabulous collection of fan art which my daughter helpfully framed for me (as I was running short of time and who knows how to do all these grandiose ideas I have anyway?!) I can see I will have to try this again some day. There are so many wonderfully creative souls out there who are very inspired by Mr. Armitage's manly beauty.

Day Six I focused on Monet's series paintings with some videos showing the progression of sunlight on the same subject over the course of a day.  Who knew bridges and haystacks could be so exciting?!
Wouldn't you like to see RA sit still long enough that we could see him in every possible light? *Gah!* The mind boggles! @_@
Screen cap from Richard Armitage Central Gallery

March 19 was also the one year anniversary of my first post.  A Blogoversary is what I believe it is called! :)

Day Seven was my interview with artist and published author Elizabeth Alger.  There is no shortage of authors who have been inspired by Mr. Armitage to continue exploring some of the characters which he has brought to life.  (Someday I intend to indulge myself and read more fan fic!) But as Lizzy is also an artist who illustrates children's books -- the school librarian in me was very excited to get to know her. Wasn't it exciting to learn that RA had actually commented on one of her drawings?!!

As a final post I need to examine all those curious polls, but the whole polling idea was the most time consuming thing I have ever attempted!  So bear with me here as I try to make sense of it all and if you disagree with my all-encompassing conclusions, by all means leave a comment and say so (let's all remember our manners please). ;) This is really just an opinion piece after all, not scientific fact! :)

The Polls:

1. How long have you been a fan of RA?
I had 77 people who voted on this poll. It was the only one I was able to embed on the actual post, so some may have missed seeing it as it wasn't with the others in the sidebar. 
It seems that most of my readers are fairly new to the fandom.  The majority are in their first or second year, but if you add up the newest 2 categories: this year and less than a year -- totalled they equal the same as the 1 to 2 year fans.  I was very happy to see that I have some readers who are longtime fans -- 22% have been fans for 3 to 4 years and a healthy 15% have been fans for 5 to 6 years.  It appears that I have 1 reader who is a die-hard fan of 7 or more years as well as 1 who admits they are not a fan.  Could it be Dezz, or have we converted him?   More likely it is one of my family members who thinks I am a nutbar! :)
It might be easier to view this poll as a pie graph:

2. Have you ever participated in a fandom before?
60% of us have never participated in a fandom before! This answer didn't really surprise me, as most of the discussions on forums and blogs seem to run similar to this example.  I had 94 respondents to this poll so it was one of the highest attended polls.  I think this says a lot about the charisma of Richard Armitage, that he can attract so many new fans who otherwise would never bother to be interested in an actor.  The number is even more significant if you add on the fans who replied: Once but not to this extent. It is not unusual for a person to be a fan of someone (especially in one's teen years), but "not to this extent" reveals that there is certainly something more about Richard Armitage than the average celebrity crush.

3. How secretive are you about your RA obsession?

Let's face it! Some of us are kind of embarrassed to admit to having a celebrity crush (with all the squeeing that entails).  I had 80 people respond to this poll. -- And 7 of us are in denial! ;)  14 people say that no one knows about their RA obsession.  The majority of us (33%) are willing to discuss it with our closest friends.  But that's probably because we are trying to convert them!  27% of us have come clean with their significant others and some other close friends and family.  At least 10 brave souls are out there telling anyone and everyone about their addiction to Mr. Armitage! You GO girls! (I am obviously not THAT brave! :) You see, although I am out here preaching to the world about the wonders of RA, I do it anonymously so only my family and friends really know.

Here is Ragtag's take of how this RA obsession all goes down from her blog Reviewerama.
It's a wonderfully hilarious fan portrait that certainly applies for me!

4. Relationship Status
I got the most respondents to this poll.  50% of the RA fans who visited my blog last week to vote are single, never married.  I guess I shouldn't have assumed that it was the same age group as in the last polls I saw, because I think that RA is getting a younger following lately.  It makes sense since Captain America and The Hobbit will have a very high appeal to young people. I dropped in on RAFrenzy the other day and she seems to agree about more and younger fans:  Click here.
Actually, I just checked my stats and I was extremely surprised to see that without posting anything new yet in April, I have had more page hits already than the month of November! Something is definitely going on here! @_@
What should be suprising, is that 36% of us are married!  It seems strange to be crushing on a man we barely (think we) know when we are already in a committed relationship.  I'm not so sure I would be so understanding if my husband was crushing on an actress to this extent!  I am pretty sure my kids are creeped out about it.  And so I try to explain it... but I can't really understand it myself.  That is partly why I blog about it.  I am attempting self-analysis.  It's a bit difficult typing while lying on the couch. ;)

5. Introverted or Extroverted?
I always thought an introverted person was someone quite shy and retiring who prefers the quiet life versus an extrovert who is outgoing and doesn't mind being the center of attention and needs to be around people. Traxy at The Squeee! has a post that explains what each personality type is like according to a book called The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney.

It doesn't really surprise me that there are more introverted people than extroverted ones taking my polls as the extroverts are probably out in the real world chatting up people rather than on the internet.  However, for an introverted person, the anonymity of the internet is rather freeing and probably provides much more opportunity for interacting with people than real life!  After reading Traxy's review I can see I am probably more introverted than I thought.  Most people would say I am a true extrovert.  I am not shy, I have little trouble chatting to strangers and I don't really mind public speaking.  But those people don't see that I enjoy my down time and quite often choose to stay home alone to amuse myself.

You would think that an actor would have to be an extrovert, but according to the interviews I've read (courtesy of Richard Armitage Online) Richard enjoys his downtime as well, prefering DIY projects like laying floorboard to painting the town red. So perhaps he is an introvert?  That might possibly explain part of his appeal to us introverted fans.

6.  How adventurous are you?

Why this poll?  I guess I was just wondering if RA fans are the adventurous type.  I am not much of a risk taker myself, but I have a wide range of interests and I do like to try new things.  I probably was inspired from my interview with Lizzy Alger about her fabulous voyages around the world on a couple of tall ships.  I don't think all RA fans are quite that adventurous!  It seems the majority of us (more than half) are willing to entertain the idea of having an adventure, but we want to make sure we have all the facts first.  That seems fairly adventurous, but practical too.  20% of us have some safety concerns (also reasonable), but there are a few more bystanders than there are those who are "game for anything'.  
Here is a definition of the personality trait of adventurousness:

High scorers on adventurousness are eager to try new activities, travel to foreign lands, and experience different things. They find familiarity and routine boring, and will take a new route home just because it is different. Low scorers tend to feel uncomfortable with change and prefer familiar routines.
By this definition I think perhaps we fans are a teeny bit more adventurous than the average person?  Hmmm?

7. How spiritual are you?
The last few poll questions were posted quite a bit later on in the week of FanstRAvaganza so they did not get as many responses.  Voters were able to choose more than one answer for this poll. 41 fans voted with 59 responses.
I was quite surprised that so many fans were atheists -- 36%.  I had formed a picture of his fans from the places I frequent on the Net that most were of a fairly spiritual nature (whether it was Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or Wicca).  I got the feeling from some of the comments in his Christmas letters that RA himself seemed to be quite spirtual.*
19% are members of a faith community plus 9% were Actively involved in their faith community.  That makes a total of 28% who participate in some type of religious organization.  Of those who reported religious beliefs 34% said their beliefs are liberal and only 1% said their's were conservative.
*The trouble with poll questions is sometimes they are worded mistakenly.  I have just looked up the word "atheist" and while I know it means someone who doesn't believe in a deity, I made an assumption that an atheist would not be spiritual, which apparently is not true!  Here is a quote from the article on Atheism in Wikipedia.

In Western culture, atheists are frequently assumed to be exclusively irreligious or unspiritual.[11] However, atheism also figures in certain religious and spiritual belief systems, such as Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism. Jainism and some forms of Buddhism do not advocate belief in gods,[12] whereas Hinduism holds atheism to be valid, but difficult to follow spiritually.[13]
Since conceptions of atheism vary, determining how many atheists exist in the world today is no easy task.[14] According to one estimate, about 2.3% of the world's population describes itself as atheist, while a further 11.9% is described as nonreligious.[15] According to another, rates of self-reported atheism are among the highest in Western nations, although also to quite varying degrees—United States (4%), Italy (7%), Spain (11%), Great Britain (17%), Germany (20%), and France (32%).[16]
It seems that the RA fandom has more atheists than France! *shrugs*

8. How many of these creative activities do you enjoy doing fairly often?
 72 fans voted (you could pick more than one choice) and it seems we are a very creative bunch -- especially with words -- 61% of us enjoy writing and/or blogging.  36% enjoy photography or digital art.  31% play a musical instrument or sing, 25% enjoy needlework or quilting (I must start my RA cross stitch project!), 23% enjoy drawing or painting, 13% picked handicrafts or sculpting, and film/video making at 12% barely edged out performing for an audience at 8%. 
I'll bet if we put all our talents together we could produce Richard III for RA to star in!  Oh, yeah -- financial backing! Unfortunately we had no one in the next poll respond to "independently wealthy"!

9. What is your career field? 
(May choose more than one answer)
Only 45 people responded to this poll as it was posted during the last 2 days of the FanstRA.  Also I did it in a bit of a hurry so I should apologize that it could have been done much better.  I tried to think of as many possible careers as I could but as 7 people had to pick "Other" I feel this poll is very flawed.  It is interesting to note that one quarter of us fans (who voted) work in an "educational" field.  Another quarter of us work in an "artistic" field.  It is possible that one could have picked both possibilities.  (I think that was me.) Because I believe libraries combine both the educational and the artistic.  Business /Sales at 13% was slightly higher than I expected and Technical at 11% was slightly lower than I expected.  (But what do I know?)  4 people are in communications/media. (Yay! Are you getting the word out on RA?)  4 people are homemakers and 2 people are retired -- lucky you!

 10. What is your highest level of education?
 76 fans voted on this one and what a surprise it was!  Although I did suspect we were a fairly intelligent group of people I had no idea it was to this "degree"!  The majority of the fans who voted here have a Master's Degree - 27% and 5 people have a Doctoral degree!  (I am humbled! Now I really will be checking my spelling and grammar errors more carefully!) Second highest answer was a Bachelor's degree 25%, third highest had a College Diploma - 21%  At least 15% had some University courses under their belt, 4 people had some College courses, 4 people had a High School Diploma and 3 were still in school.

I thank everyone who visited my blog during the Second Annual FanstRAvanganza, and especially those who left comments and/or responded to my polls (flawed as they were).  I hope you found it interesting and enjoyable, but please don't take anything I say too seriously, usually my tongue is so far into my cheek that I find it difficult to talk at all! :D