Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fire Away!

 I am catching up on some posts, some of which I started quite awhile ago but didn't have the time or the inspiration to finish. Please bear with me!  Would you believe I have over 40 unfinished posts?...

Things were really heating up in RA Land this July!
And believe me, it was pretty hot here too **fans self**

Richard Armitage as Heinz Kruger in Captain America
 Captain America had its North American debut on July 22, 2010. I had to wait to see this until I travelled to a city to get to a theatre. I couldn't wait for the DVD! Besides, I  had to see Richard Armitage on the BIG SCREEN (even if it was only for a few moments of glory). I thought it might be hard watching him as a badass Nazi spy, but I knew he would put his heart and soul into it (as he always does) so it would be very memorable and worthwhile.  I am impressed again with the background research he did so that he could immerse himself in the role.  If you haven't already seen it Servetus at me + richard armitage blog has an excellent analysis of the real-life person upon which RA based his character.

He looks really nasty in this shot!
Oooo! You are very scary like this Richard!  I wish you were the hero!

I dedicate this song to Richard Armitage because of his amazing talent, he can draw hundreds of middleaged women into a theatre to watch a movie made about a comic book character (that they would normally have absolutely zero interest in).  But not only that, they are not there to watch the main character and star of the movie, but to see a cameo performance of a relatively unknown actor playing a minor role as  one of the villains! Here is RAfrenzy's post about that! :)

Hit Me With Your Best Shot / Pat Benatar

My husband and my daughter came with me to watch it.  We all enjoyed the movie, and I behaved myself and didn't make inappropriate squeeing noises when Richard was on screen.  But I opened my eyes as wide as I could and prayed not to blink so I wouldn't miss a nanosecond of his performance!  
The whole movie was much better than I had even hoped.  I would have gone to it even without Mr. Armitage in it, as I do like comic book heroes and World War II movies too.  All the actors were very good in it, but I have to admit, I was just not as interested once RA's part in it was over.  Too many action scenes usually bore me, so when the explosions started getting out of hand I nearly nodded off.  (Mind you, the movie ended near midnight - but I am a nighthawk so whatever!)  I am not much for writing movie reviews so if you want to read a really great detailed review, see this one at my blogger buddy Ruth's Book Talk & More.

 3-D was not available at this theatre in lovely Banff, Alberta.

Chris Evans as Captain America is manhandling the Nazi villain Heinz Kruger 

played by, (you guessed it!) Richard Armitage.

Yes, he's a Nazi spy who just killed the scientist, 
but if you knew him -- he's really not so bad!!

 Look at the absolute conviction on his face in this gif made by Jonia.  (It might not work on my page so please check out her post here at Jonia's Cut).

For more information about this Heinz Kruger character, 
please see Musa's post at her blog: White Rose: Sincere and Simple Thoughts.

It was amazing to watch him on a big screen! 
How can we be patient until The Hobbit finally gets to theatres?

Here's a sampling of most of the best RA scenes from Alenanok

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Adieu good and faithful servant

In the early hours of August 22, 2011 while I and my fellow bloggers and admirers of Richard Armitage were just starting our worldwide celebration of our favourite actor's birthday, the life force was ebbing away from one of Canada's most beloved citizens.  Jack Layton, newly elected leader of Canada's official opposition succumbed to cancer and Canadians from all over this country, from every walk of life, of every age, gender, race, religion, first language and political stripe were dismayed and deeply saddened.

My nephew put it very well, he said, "It kinda feels like Canada has lost a Dad."

Jack Layton was that for us.  He was an incredible leader who inspired and mentored others, who did what was right and yet always had time for people: his fellow Canadians, his constituents, his colleagues, his friends and most especially his family.  As I watched his state funeral today, I was struck by the outpouring of love from the huge crowd at Roy Thompson Hall and that even larger crowd outside.  In Toronto, Canada's largest city, and earlier in Ottawa, our nation's capital, but also in other cities and towns across this vast and varied nation, people needed to join together to celebrate his generous life and mourn his passing.

To me he was the embodiment of the phrase: Think Global, Act Local.  Everything he did was from a personal wish for a better world, a better life for everyone.  He started with the simpler things (but not necessarily the easier things).  He cultivated a solid family life. Although he was divorced from his first partner, he was able to find a new love with fellow politician Olivia Chow.  The eulogy from his two grown children, Mike and Sarah was testament to what a wonderful father he was.

Besides the family testaments, there were several other very moving parts of the ceremony for me. The first was the blessing by the Chief of The Assembly of First Nations, Shawn Atleo. Let me assure you, this type of tribute is a huge honour which is not the kind of thing that happens very often, especially for a politician!

Sorry this video is not available anymore. Please click here to watch it on

The eulogy by Stephen Lewis, a Canadian icon himself and the son of David Lewis, a former leader of the New Democratic Party, was deeply touching.  He had a difficult time getting everything out that he wanted to say not only because his emotions were very close to the surface, but also because he was interrupted many times by applause and even several standing ovations. Click here to view a video of this speech.

The musical tributes were very special too.  Stephen Page (formerly of the Barenaked Ladies) sang Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah;  Lorraine Segato performed a soulful reworking of her anthem Rise Up; and Julie Michels provided a stirring rendition of Get Together as his casket was carried from the building.

An excerpt of the ceremony from the television coverage I watched today:

Phylly's Top Five Reasons to admire Jack Layton:

1. His love for his wife and "soul mate"

2. His "Man of the People" quality

Watch this interview where Rick Mercer tours Jack's home

3. His caring for people and for the quality of life

Jack proved his committment to Health care in this CBC video Make the Politician Work

4. His  joy for life ...

and his quirkiness!

5. His incredible optimistic spirit and his ability to inspire others.

Thank you Jack!  Canada will miss you.

 More Tributes:

Richard, King of hearts

Who was Richard III?  Was he the Machiavellian prince of York bent on ascending the throne of England at any cost?  This is what William Shakespeare would have us believe.

Here are three different actors' takes on the character from the opening soliloquy: Ron Cook, Jonathan Slinger and Ian McKellen. If you watch it from Youtube there are links to other actors' performances.

Shakespeare's Richard III Act I, Scene I  (3 versions)

But Shakespeare was not a historian.  His knowledge of the real King Richard III (1452-1495) (the last of the Plantagenet family line) was based on histories written to reinforce King Henry VII's (a Tudor) claim to the throne. If this theory is true (which many modern historians now believe) then Shakespeare's extremely unflattering portrayal of King Richard is simply a dramatic work of historical fiction based on propaganda. Could you believe a biography of one your county's previous leaders if it were written not by an impartial journalist but by his political enemies?  Goodness! One can hardly even believe all the rhetoric that goes on during political campaigns, nevermind in a biography!

Please join Ian McKellen who answers questions about  Shakespeare's play.This is an interactive site where you can choose which question Mr. McKellan will answer.

 Click here: A conversation with Sir Ian McKellen.

Shakespeare's aim was never to be factual, merely to write a compelling drama, which has captivated audiences for over four centuries, since it was believed to be written in 1591.
Richard III has had many actors portray him on stage and screen.  Here is just a small sampling

David Garrick painted  by William Hogarth
John Barrymore (1929)

Sir Laurence Olivier Richard III (1955)

Sir Alec Guinness (1953)
Alec Guinness has the distinction of being the first performer to grace the stage at Canada's Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario.  How interesting that the first play performed there was Richard III.

Open since June 2 until September 25, 2011 at the Stratford Festival, Richard III is once again being performed.  This time the lead role is being played by the actress Seana McKenna.

Here are some other unusual portrayals of this character.

Al Pacino in the docudrama Looking for Richard (1996)

He is looking very regal in this crown!
Ian McKellen

Interesting costume choice here...
Kenneth Brannagh

Surely this must be one of the quirkiest portrayals of all!  Here is Peter Sellers in a parody of Laurence Oliver's performance of RIII using the lyrics to The Beatles' song A Hard Day's Night

 This is talk show host Craig Ferguson's off the cuff impression.

None of these portrayals come close to revealing the real person behind the myth.  Is the truth lost in the mists of time?  Many historians labour to set the record straight.  The Richard III Society (both the British and the American chapter) has been sponsoring research into this question for many years.  

Besides historical essays and books there have been several popular novels which investigate this theme.  The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey was written in 1951 as part of her detective series about the Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant.    Another work of detective fiction along these lines is I, Richard written by Elizabeth George (who also writes the Inspector Lynley series). The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman is an award winning book of historical fiction.  (I read this book years ago and remember enjoying it immensely.  I have recently purchased a new copy, but haven't gotten around to a reread yet.)  Here is a great review from the blog Fly High!  

This blog post contains a very concise argument about the true character of Richard III.

Does this look like a hunchbacked, misshapen, limping multiple murderer?  
Although I don't believe you can read someone's character from observing their face (no matter what Tey's Inspector Grant believes), this portrait does not show any evidence of a deformity. 
The earliest surviving portrait of Richard III
On closer inspection you may notice that one shoulder is higher than the other.  Could this be where people got the idea he was hunchbacked? One writer claims that Richard's greater muscle mass in his arm is what makes for the difference in the size of his shoulders.  Apparently he was a very able soldier, brave in battle and a mighty wielder of the heavy battle axe. 
Dare I offer a modest opinion here?  Perhaps it was merely this artist's rather crude attempt at perspective which gives us this false impression?  This whole debate might actually boil down to "a mountain being made out of a molehill", or more likely -- a hunchback being made out of a shrug.

Portrait from the collection at Windsor Castle
 I was very excited to recognise this as the actual portrait I saw in the Queen's appartments at Windsor Castle last summer.  The more commonly found portrait is a later copy of this one. I knew something wasn't right about the other portrait I used in this post. But notice here, it is the opposite shoulder that is higher.  Make up your minds, you portrait artists!  What! Does he have a mobile hump?  Perhaps he just put it on for portrait purposes, just to confuse the masses!  What a practical joker that Richard III must have been! :)  Imagine, here we are 500 years on, still not getting the joke.  He must be rolling in his grave!

 Richard Armitage, who was born on August 22 (the same date as Richard III fell at Bosworth Field) has always wished to play a more true to life characterization of his namesake.

Was he a cocky jokester?

A troubled, brooding romantic hero?

Or was he just misunderstood and in search of himself?

We hope he gets his wish to bring a better version of the life of Richard III to light.  See this website to add your name to the petition, if you would like to help.

Whatever you believe about Richard III, fans of Richard Armitage know he is our King of Hearts!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, dear Richard!

For his 40th Birthday tribute, Richard is being serenaded by a blonde bombshell from the past.  Who could it be?

Let's see... there were quite a few good looking blonde castmates from his time on MI-5 / Spooks...

Perhaps Genevieve O'Reilly as Sarah Caulfield?
No. Definitely a bomb, even a shell, but not a bombshell.

What about Hermione Norris as Ros Meyers?
While we do like her, still not bombshelly enough.

I know! How about Miranda Raison as Jo Porter!
A bombshell yes, but no, it's not her!

Then it must be...Sophia Myles as Beth Bailey!
Lovely choice, but wrong again I'm afraid.

You are so close...  While she was not on the cast of Spooks, 
she could actually qualify as a Spook!

It is the beautiful,
but long gone
Marilyn Monroe!

How is this possible, you may well ask?  
Well, in the modern world of technology, nothing is impossible! 

August 22nd is an auspicious day in the world of RA fandom, but it is also famous for another reason.  It is the same date as King Richard III of England was killed in battle on Bosworth Field.  Perhaps because of this tie to such a famous namesake, Richard has always been keenly interested in this period of history.

If you would like to support Richard's goal of bringing to the screen a new biopic of  England's much maligned ruler King Richard III don't forget to sign this petition.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hat's the way

RA in Marie Lloyd
 Don't you think it's time hats were back in fashion?  Perhaps they are, and I just missed the memo.  I don't pretend to be a fashion diva.  In fact, by the time I pick up on a trend it's usually "old hat" (pun intended -- sorry, I can't help myself!). 

When I was a little girl, (back in the day), everyone wore a hat.  Men took them off in church, but women didn't (I couldn't figure that out -- But here is an article on hat ettiquette to explain a few things).  I remember wearing a little white straw hat to church on Easter Sunday.  But sometime in the late 1960s hats all of sudden completely vanished from the fashion scene.  What happened?  I can't help wondering.  Perhaps it was when women started wearing all those wigs.  It's pretty hard to wear a hat over a wig.  I remember my mom had two wigs!  They were slightly different hair colours and styles, but fairly similar to her own hair.  There was nothing wrong with her hair, but wigs were the fashion.  With men, somehow the ball cap became the head covering of choice.  I am heartily sick of ball caps! They are a storage nightmare which creates an endless source of bickering in many households.  Ball caps to men are what shoes are to women!

Anyway, here is just a little tribute to men's hats from when men really looked like men.  

There's no one better to start us off than my favourite children's entertainer Al Simmons!

Where Did you Get that Hat / Al Simmons

I couldn't begin to top this awesome blogpost on men's hats.  So rather than do a pale immitation, just check out this link: 

This is arguably the most popular men's hat of the first half of the Twentieth century.

RA in a fedora as the haughty Philip Durrant in the
Miss Marple mystery Ordeal By Innocence (2007)

Here's one of my fave Canadian bands from the '70s with a hat-themed song and a positive message:

Hat's Off To the Stranger / Lighthouse

I do like Phil Collins, but I actually didn't know about this song until I came across it recently (probably because it was never released anywhere but the UK).  Looks like Phil has had some "fan issues" of his own.

Wear My Hat / Phil Collins

Here is my favourite hat scene in a movie -- the 1999 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair with Pierce Brosnan.  It is such an excellent combination of clever writing, great acting, beautiful art and wonderful music (the song is by Nina Simone)! You can see the thief (who is going after a Monet painting, btw) is a practical joker by dressing in a bowler hat and leaving behind the a copy of  the artist René Magritte's painting of a man in a bowler hat -- The Son of Man.

Here's another great scene from an odd little romantic movie where Johnny Depp is channelling Buster Keaton.

Johnny Depp doing hat tricks in Benny and Joon

I believe that type of hat is called a Pork Pie hat if it has a flat top or a Derby or Bowler if it has a rounded top.  It's hard to tell from this picture which type of hat he is wearing.  But I like his expression!

RA in The Impressionists as Claude Monet

Ah!  Now we can clearly see it is a Bowler hat!
RA as Claude Monet with actor portraying Edouard Manet in a top hat
Speaking of Top Hats ... We mustn't forget dear John Thornton wearing his top hat in North and South!
Here  is my little collage of Richard Armitage wearing a selection of working men's hats.

Oops! I forgot this one...
Here he is in Chris Ryan's Strike Back from Sky1.  Not to be confused with Strike Back 2 : Project Dawn from HBO/Cinemax (which was one of the saddest excuses for a sequel I ever had the misfortune of watching.) The promo is the best part of the whole thing.  Do yourself a favour and watch the first one, but skip the sequel.  Richard Armitage was very lucky to get out of his contract in order to be available to go to New Zealand to star in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit as Thorin Oakenshield.
RA as John Porter in the Zimbabwe portion of Strike Back
It almost looks like he's wearing a Tilley hat in this picture. That's the kind of hat I need!

It's not just me who likes to look at pictures of Richard Armitage in a hat...

The Medium is Not Enough blog has an archive of headshots of Richard Armitage (preferably in a hat) called Dick Heads.  They ask for photo contributions and encourage you to add a Haiku as well!

Nat at Richard Armitage Fan Blog once posted a look-alike picture of The Man in the Yellow Hat (from Curious George children's books).
Here is M. Giant's take on what is up with this guy and his pet chimp in a hilarious blog post on Velcrometer.


Here's a man in a Panama hat!
RA as William Chaftord in Malice Aforethought (2005).

Not in character, but  looking very fine in real life 
while wearing his own hat.
Richard Armitage sporting a flat cap

This fanvidder was inspired by Richard's cap to create this fun musical slideshow.

You Can Leave Your Hat On / by tuttiatavalo

August 22 is Armitage Day in RA Land!  Fans of Richard Armitage will be joyfully celebrating his 40th birthdayCalexora at Befuddled Musings put together and published a lovely birthday book with messages from fans all around the word.  If you missed leaving a greeting you can still do so at Richard Armitage Net.

Really Phylly?  Did you really feel the need to put me in this ridiculous headgear?!
Awww Richard!  Lighten up! At least it's not a picture of you in your "birthday suit"!  ;)

We also have plans for a much better hat for Richard to wear soon!

If you are interested in seeing Richard wear a crown... please sign this petition to show your support for the Richard III project

Friday, August 12, 2011

Things are grape!

Still life with bottle, carafe, bread and wine by Claude Monet
I have to admit I am very fond of wine.  I'm not picky either.  I think I have a good nose and enjoy complex flavours, but there are very few wines that I would turn up my nose at. 

My husband makes wine, from a kit and we have found some of his concoctions to be better than the bought variety. We only buy the best quality kits now and we have had quite a few guests who think they are connoisseurs but  thought our wine was purchased from the liquor store.

Last summer I was very lucky to visit Paris for a couple of days. My husband and I had a very memorable and romantic time sightseeing and enjoying fine food and wine in the little cafés that line the streets.  On our anniversary we wanted to go to a particular little bistro around the corner from our hotel.  Sangria was the special aperitif for the evening so I enjoyed it's fruity flavour before our excellent meal arrived.  With the meal we shared a bottle of the House red which was paired perfectly for our food.  (Sorry I don't remember what it was called).  When we were done we strolled down the avenue hand in hand looking for another place to have a night cap.  Since it was rather chilly out (unusual for July!) I wanted to sit inside the restaurant this time.  Our waiter showed us a table and a menu.  I noticed something unusual on the drink menu which interested me: "vin chaud". The english translation is: warm wine, otherwise known as Mulled Wine.  Since I had been drinking red wine all evening, and I was quite chilled, this sounded very good to me.  But when I ordered it, the waiter was incredulous. "Vin chaud!" he exclaimed. "Vin chaud?"
"Oui." I insisted, "Vin Chaud." and pointed to it on the menu.  He asked me again to be sure. I said, "Il fait froid ce soir." (It is cold this evening.)  With a look of disdain, he turned from me and proceeded to have a longwinded conversation with someone in the kitchen. The french words were flying so fast I could hardly understand more than Vin Chaud back and forth in various intonations.  From what I could gather the person in the kitchen was verifying the fact that he could fill the order but the waiter still persisted in making a big deal about it. My husband and I exchanged looks of dismay. Was it really such a "faux pas" to order a drink 'out of season'?  I guess in Paris, the customer is not "always right", at least with this waiter!  Finally I got my vin chaud and it was just perfect!  A perfect end to a perfect meal on a perfect day (with only one imperfection -- that supercilious waiter)!  As a parting shot he asked me if we were from Allemagne. He thought we were German!  Was it my french accent?  I laughed and said, "Non, nous sommes du Canada."  Maybe it was my imagination but I thought he looked a bit chagrinned.  After all, for Canadians to complain about the cold it must be pretty darn chilly!  We are known world wide for cavorting in shorts while others are still swathed in their woollens!  And I am particularly hot blooded -- not to mention the odd hot flash! :D

I would dearly love to go on a wine tasting tour of Europe, or California -- or even British Columbia or the Niagara region of Ontario!  But we are too far away and our holiday times do not coincide with the wine harvest.
So if you wish, come on a bit of a wine tour with me!  Pour yourself a nice glass of your favourite vintage, sit back, and hopefully you will enjoy a taste of music and movies with a grapey theme --with of course, the help of Mr. Armitage. ;)

Wine is bottled poetry. 
-- Robert Louis Stevenson
Ah yes! We know what you're thinking!
(As Paul in Between the Sheets)

W.B. Yeats
Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That's all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

I am a huge fan of Elton John and I have always loved this song 

Elderberry Wine / Elton John

I didn't actually know that John Denver performed this next song.  It was written by Randy Sparks of the New Christy Minstrels in 1964 and was a huge hit.  I remember it being sung quite often on many variety shows throughout my childhood.  My favourite memory of it being performed was by a duet of teenagers for our local Festival of the Arts.

Today / John Denver

Phylly's Top 5 Reasons to drink wine (No pressure)

  1. Because it tastes good.
  2. Because it makes your food taste even better.
  3. Because it is fun to make toasts!  Cheers!
  4. Because it might be good for you. (Red wine -- but not too much).
  5. Because I said so.*
The only reason to drink wine is the first reason, if you are drinking it only for the 4th reason you are a very silly person.  :) Find something else to drink that's better for you -- like WATER!
* #5 doesn't apply in this case.  (I reserve this reason for other instances -- like when I have grandchildren someday. I always thought it was a lame reason until I had children. Then suddenly one day it made perfect sense to me.  It is a very useful tool in childrearing to be used wisely!) ;)

There's nothing quite like Dean Martin 
singing a drinking song!

Little Ol' Wine Drinker Me / Dean Martin

I am extremely happy that I remembered this tune.  It has stayed in my memory since I first heard it as a young girl.  It made me a fan of Canadian singer /songwriter Gene MacLellan even more so than his more famous song Snowbird.  If you'd like to hear his version (which is quite nice)  click here.   Otherwise here is the singer he wrote it for to perform it.

Biding my Time / Gene MacLellan (sung by Anne Murray)

Although I am very fond of UB40's upbeat reggae version of this song I feel the need to give the nod to the composer of this song and his properly heartbreaking performance.

Red Red Wine / Neil Diamond

Here's a more modern song with a wine theme.
This Swedish band has become a new fave for me.  I can't believe I hadn't heard of them before!

I Need Some Fine Wine / The Cardigans

This individual is even more complex than the wine!
As the not to be trusted John Mulligan in Moving On

My blogger friend Maria Grazia likes to watch movies while she catches up on her ironing.  
She wrote a great review for this movie not long ago on her blog Fly High! (click here)

 A Walk in the Clouds (1995)

 I enjoyed the movie as much as she did!  It's definitely worth a watch, especially for the beautiful scenery.

I only just heard about this movie while finding clips for this post.  Then what do I find in a sale rack at a local variety store, but this DVD!  What a find!  This is a very enjoyable movie based on a true story about how the world discovered Californian wine.  It is always fun to cheer for the underdog and this feel-good movie really evokes the look and spirit of the 1970s.   Of course I remember back when North American wine was pretty sad stuff (particularly Canadian wines), but look how far we have come!  Apparently all thanks to one special event back in 1976. Who knew?

Bottle Shock (2008)

He looks like he's enjoying this particular vintage.  Could it be Merlot?
as Harry Kennedy in The Vicar of Dilbley's last Christmas special

Here is a very funny and as well as poignant movie about wine tasting, relationships and learning to believe in yourself.  Paul Giamatti's character does a lot of raving about the Pinot Noir grape which apparently made this type of wine much more popular than it was before.  He also rants against Merlot, but that won't stop me from enjoying a good Merlot now and then!

Sideways (2004)

Why not try some white wine for a change?

Lucas North in series 7.5 Spooks / MI-5

Now I'll admit I am cheating here, as I haven't actually seen this movie...yet!  But from what I have seen of the reviews and the clips I am sure it will be one of my faves soon.  I just couldn't resist showing you this clip.

French Kiss (2003)

Now here is a very enjoyable movie I haven't seen for many years!  CBC used to play excellent latenight movies especially during the summer months, so that must be why I have seen this one more than once. It stars Anthony Quinn as Bombolini, the village drunkard in WWII Italy.  Just before the Nazis are set to ransack the town's wine cellars, Bombolini becomes a hero for initiating a plan to hide their precious bottles from discovery.  The following clip is a bit long but well worth a watch if you haven't seen this great movie which won 2 Oscars.

The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969)

Thank goodness I was reminded of this great video by Avalon Medieval!  It combines the narration from the Robin Hood audiobook The Seige with clips from series 3 Robin Hood.  Here we have Robin and Gisborne having a conversation while imbibing quite a bit of vino!

Is your goblet more than half-empty yet?  Maybe it's still half-full?  Depends on how you look at it, eh?
And now I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs,
From the brim to the dregs, it poured sweet and clear,
It was a very good year.
If that song or sentiment made you sad click here for some wine jokes!