Monday, January 28, 2013

Phylly's favourite Austen

I very much enjoy the works of Jane Austen, and have read most of them more than once.  But my favourite is the most popular of her novels, none other than Pride and Prejudice. This year is the 200th anniversary of its publication.  Because of that, many Jane Austen fans (and fans of the novel) have banded together on a Blog Hop, hosted by Alyssa Goodnight and Stiletto Storytime.

My way of participating is to relate the story of how I came to be an admirer of Austen's works, and in particular - the novel we are celebrating now.  It's certainly not the usual way one might fall in love with an author, but then Jane Austen is not your usual author!

The first Austen novel that I encountered was given to me as a present by my best friend, when we were in our early teens.  I doubt that my friend had ever read it - she was into horror novels like Stephen King's.  She must have thought I would like it because of my love of "romantic fiction".  It was Emma (certainly not your typical type of romantic fiction), and although I tried to get to know our heroine, you must admit, she isn't really all that "likeable" at first.  Several times throughout my teen years, I attempted to plough through it, but I would get bogged down by all the gossip and tea times and long walks.  I couldn't really see the point of it all, and as I wasn't fond of the main character, there was nothing to keep me going.  Fast forward to me in college.  I was taking a course called a Survey of English Literature (or something like that).  It was just a simple introduction to a huge range of classic literature taught by a not unhandsome man of a certain age with a dreamy English accent!  I am not so sure I would have had such a perfect attendance record for those 8:00 am classes had they been taught by someone else!  So when he posted a list of authors we had to pick from to do a book review and I noticed Austen's name there, I figured it was a good opportunity to finally read Emma from cover to cover!
My favourite adaptation of Emma

So at last I finished it, and lo and behold, I liked it!  Once I got past the reason for all the gossip, I could see that the plot was as tight as any Agatha Christie mystery!  I must admit I was pleased when Emma got her comeuppance delivered most nobley by the heroic Mr. Knightly. That was probably the turning point for me, after that scene I was truly hooked.

The perfect P&P pairing

Years later when I saw the wonderful miniseries with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle on television I knew I had to read Pride and Prejudice. Not long after, we decided to purchase our first home computer.  I had heard of the Gutenberg project so I looked up what books were available to read online.  I probably tried to read a couple of books that way, but it was rather uncomfortable to sit too long at the computer, so I didn't get very far.  Then I saw Pride and Prejudice listed and noted that the chapter lengths were rather short.  So I thought that it would be a good idea to read just a couple of chapters in a sitting, then get up and do something else, and return to it later.  Turns out, it was so engrossing that I had no trouble reading more than a couple of chapters at one sitting.

The story enthralled, entertained and enchanted me from beginning to end.  I think that had Miss Austen written none other than this one book, she would still be as famous as she is today.  It is a perfect jewel of a book, polished to perfection.  Each word is well chosen and serves its purpose perfectly.  After that experience I headed to our local public library and was overjoyed to find that their collection contained most of Austen's works.  I discovered that even though I truly enjoyed Sense and Sensibility, followed closely by Persuasion -- it was still Pride and Prejudice that I returned to over and over again.  Perhaps it was because I came from an all-girl family with a long suffering father that I related to it so well?

Whatever the reason, I am very glad I finally did succumb to the pleasures of Jane Austen's universe. If I could sum up my reading experience with Miss Austen I would have to say...
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Jane Austen, Pride And Prejudice

This isn't the first time I've written about my interest in Jane Austen's works. 
See this previous post about my trip to Bath, UK, where I seek out 
the Jane Austen Center despite all odds!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cold as Canada

This song came up on my YouTube feed from someone I subscribe to.  It fit with my mood perfectly as I have been very lethargic because of the cold temperatures.

It is by the Australian folksinger Paul Kelly, whom I wasn't familiar with, but can certainly appreciate, so I am grateful to be introduced to him. The video (I had originally posted included many iconic images of Canadian winter to fit with the title "Cold as Canada". It was made by a vidder called paganmaestro with quite a wide collection of great music and photographs that have been shared through YouTube.)  Unfortunately that channel has been discontinued - so I had to find a replacement video.

Canadians who are lucky enough to afford winter vacations love to travel to warmer destinations to escape the cold.  This blog post by Australian author Pru Batten made me very envious as it sounds like paradise! It is summer where she is in Tasmania. She describes a day at the beach near her home.  I can almost feel the sun and water on my skin as I read it.  Aaaahhh!

This is so not what I was picturing.
by Sebastien Lefebvre on 05 Oct 2012 in Ottawa
Runner up in Stormy Scenes from Canadian Geographic
magazine's Whatever the Weather photo contest

Yep. We are knee-deep in winter here in Canada and although Canadians pride ourselves in our ability to withstand and even thrive in cold temperatures, it doesn't mean we don't enjoy whining about it occasionally. For instance, last month was comparatively warm around here, so of course the cold had to start sooner or later.  I think we're getting spoiled actually. Environment Canada has reported that in the last 65 years temperatures in Canada have warmed over 3 degrees!  That may not sound like much to you, but it is a pretty big deal.  So when the temperatures start to dip to 30 below zero celsius (which is pretty normal for January in my part of Canada) we don't seem quite as able to adapt because the week before it was barely minus 10!  The variation in temperature is pretty crazy lately.  In the past decade I have seen pouring rain in February, and then a few years later in January even!  Believe me, that was unheard of here when I was a child.

All I want to do is stay warm.  My automatic car starter isn't working now for some reason.  Maybe it has something to do with when I bashed into a snowbank on a slippery corner on the way to work last week.  At least I avoided hitting the school bus!  You might think a snowbank would be full of soft, fluffy snow.  Oh no!  Not here!  The crunch sounded more like hitting a brick wall.  I damaged the front right corner of my Honda van, curiously in the same area as my husband bashed the truck the previous week.  Did I mention the roads were slippery?  Let's see, above normal winter temperatures followed by a huge dump of snow for two solid days, so that the town could barely keep up with snow removal on the roads. (Luckily for me it was on the weekend); followed immediately by bone chilling temperatures!  That is what's been going on for the past two weeks here.

I am going into hibernation mode.  But before I do, I am going to try and thaw myself out by gazing on some cozy photos of my favourite actor, (you know who).

You'd better bundle up a bit more than that Richard!

That's better!  But is that coat warm enough?  Nice watch!
(Speaking of watches - The Armitage Watch Movie Club is at it again.  Check out this blog for the times to tune into Robin Hood Fridays and Spooks Saturdays)

This coat looks quite cozy, but not good enough for a Canadian winter!

Now this guy knows how to dress for the cold!

screencap by Linda van Pelt

But this is the scene that really warms my heart!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

SNL spoofs The Hobbit!

Thanks to Servetus for her post here:"More Hobbit" on SNL or Mr. Armitage, when they spoof you there, everyone in the U.S. will know who you are...
She thanks her Twitter friends for the alert.  I am very grateful too! But I couldn't play the link she posted (not available in Canada).  So I found this on YouTube and I couldn't resist posting it!

I wouldn't be surprised if this video disappears soon so enjoy it while you can!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Call for participants...

For more information, or if you are interested in participating, please contact Traxy @TheSquee blog

The Squee

or on the 
FanstRAvaganza page on Facebook

and fill out this form

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Some Lucky Canuck might win a trip to New Zealand!

I was alerted to this opportunity to win a trip to New Zealand by my blogger friend Nat from Richard Armitage Fan Blog.  She was contacted by the company who is promoting this prize but since it for Canadians only, she passed the information on to me.

Here is what you could win:
Roundtrip Economy airfare for two (2) from Vancouver, Canada to Queenstown, New Zealand
Ten (10) night’s accommodation for two (2) at the Hilton Hotels & Resorts Queenstown in a deluxe lake-view room
Daily breakfast for two (2) at the Wakatipu Grill, courtesy of Hilton Hotels & Resorts
Follow this link to to enter the contest:

You can enter until Feb.10, 2013, so keep trying until then!

For more information, the rules are all laid out here:

Good Luck!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Music to the honour the King

In honour of the birthday of J.R.R. Tolkien (Jan. 3, 1892 - Sept. 3, 1973)

I have collected a bit of a musical tribute to Tolkien's first fantasy adventure The Hobbit,
focusing on my favourite character, Thorin Oakenshield a.k.a the rightful King Under the Mountain
(portrayed in the movie version by Richard Armitage).
GIF from Tumblr by Courtney of

All Tolkien fans would know of this author's wide influence on the fantasy adventure genre (which began with the publication of The Hobbit in 1937, but one might be surprised to discover his many other influences in pop culture, such as in the field of music.

This first musical offering is in a genre called Folk/Viking Metal (an intriguing style mixture) by the northern British band called Windrider.

The King Under the Mountain / Windrider 

For the lyrics click here

Did you know that Led Zeppelin was one of many rock bands that have been inspired by Tolkien's works?  I'll have to admit - I didn't until now.  However I can't admit to being a huge Zeppelin fan. My husband bought the album that this next song is on and he didn't get the reference until now either. But he read The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit long after first hearing this song.

Ramble On / Led Zeppelin

For a composite list of songs with Tolkien influences - check out this web page:
The Tolkien Music List

This next selection has nothing to do with J.R.R. Tolkien or The Hobbit, but its title is reminiscent of Thorin's title of "The King Under the Mountain".  I like to imagine that Tolkien may have been inspired by this music when he was writing his famous works.  And yes, I do know this music has been played ad infinitum in movies and commercials alike, but I still enjoy hearing it!

In the Hall of the Mountain King / Edvard Grieg

Edvard Grieg, a famous Norwegian composer created this music for Henrik Ibsen's musical version of the fairy tale Peer Gynt.  It was first performed in Oslo, Norway in 1876.  Of course, I don't know if Tolkien ever heard this music, but as it is about the hero being chased by Trolls through a cave, it certainly bears much similarity to some scenes in The Hobbit.

This next video is a reading from The Hobbit with illustrations from various artists such as Alan Lee, John Howe, David Wyatt, Greg & Tim Hildebrandt, Ted Nasmith, and Justin Gerard. The beautiful Gaelic Harp music is by the band "Alzibar".

The Hobbit - Misty Mountains / by ambermaykay

But Tolkien's poetry is meant to be sung, and who better than the composer of The Lord of the Rings soundtrack, Howard Shore to put those poems to music!  And who better to sing them, then the dwarves themselves, and their deep voiced leader, Thorin Oakenshield.

The Hobbit - Misty Mountain Song / by bccmee

For more traditional Tolkien inspired music, please visit my previous post:
Songs from Middle Earth

What are some of your favourite Tolkien inspired songs?