23 December 2010

The Selfish Giant & Other Tales - Oscar Wilde

For a while, when I was growing up, the CBC used to broadcast several animated tales taken from Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince and Other Tales.  I best remember The Selfish Giant, The Little Mermaid, and The Happy Prince.

These were specials I looked forward to watching every year when they were broadcast around Christmas. Produced by Potterton Productions the animation was great and the music was superb. I'd forgotten about them until a few years ago when I went searching on YouTube where, of course, I found them. I was amazed at how well I remembered the music and songs...

You're just building a wall to surround yourself,
You're just building a wall to protect yourself, 
You're just building a wall to defend yourself,
But you're building a wall that will break your heart!

They are all beautiful stories with great messages. The Little Mermaid was initially my favourite (what is it about little girls and mermaids?), but as I grew older I came to love The Selfish Giant (it won an Oscar!). And while The Happy Prince is a very touching tale, I can never finish watching it as it makes me cry buckets.  Christopher Plummer is the narrator and the prince, but it's the voice of Glynis Johns, as the swallow, that gets me every time.

    21 December 2010

    Celebrate Solstice!

    It's the Winter Solstice! So get down and get pagan...or yule be sorry (yeah, couldn't resist). Below is was my Solstice playlist dedicated to the time of year known as winter.  All those long nights, all that cold air, falling snow, sleet and ice....oh god.

    Don't forget there's also a lunar eclipse today.  It will be the first time this has happened in 456 years! And the moon will have a reddish tinge....(insert sound of awe).

    18 December 2010

    Merry Christmas Baby - Charles Brown

    Great tune and love the slideshow by SCWoodbury2009. Captures that slight melancholy mood that the holidays can bring...especially when combined with booze and lots of snow on the ground.

    16 December 2010

    A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett

    When I was young I had an older brother who lived far away. At Christmas time he would always send me books...the best books. I don't remember the titles of all the books he gave me (although I still have the copy of The Hobbit he sent me), but I do remember they were just the best books. I loved all of them and they fostered my developing and voracious appetite for reading.

    One book I often think about this time of year is A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This is an Edwardian era novel that centers around the fortunes of a little English girl who, after spending her first years in India, is placed in an English boarding school after her mother dies. Her depressed and now widowed father returns to his business dealings in India/Africa but within the year is reported to have died. There is now no money to pay for her place at the school and Sarah Crewe descends from the most privileged boarder to the lowest scullery maid.

    There is a happy ending, of course, and I seem to recall it is somehow associated with Christmas. This  slideshow is made up of images from a 1995 movie version.

    12 December 2010

    07 December 2010

    The Ghosts of Christmas Past

    Many years ago, I bought myself a copy of Robertson Davies' High Spirits.  This is a collection of Ghost Stories as told annually by Mr. Davies himself while in his role as Master of Massey College at the University of Toronto.

    I'd only been vaguely aware that there was a tradition of ghost story telling during the holiday season. Obviously, there are the ghosts of Dicken's Christmas Carol, and then there's that thing called the 'Christmas spirit,' but it was't until reading the forward to this book that I realized, hey, this could be another Halloween!

    Ok, maybe not quite, but it makes sense. I mean in my part of the world this is the month when the nights are longest. And what better way to pass the time during a long chilly evening than to huddle around a fire and tell a ghost story or two.

    Just think about it...ok?

    01 February 2010

    Historic Bentley snowflake photos for sale in US

    from BBC News

    Ten of the pioneering photos of snowflake crystals US farmer Wilson A Bentley began taking more than a century ago are to be sold in New York.

    Bentley (1865-1931) is credited with capturing the first images of single snowflakes on camera. He made thousands of the jewel-like prints, no two alike.  His photomicrography technique involved a microscope and a bellows camera.

    He caught pneumonia in a blizzard and died just weeks after the publication of his book Snow Crystals.

    The sale of his crystal images is a rare event, the Associated Press news agency reports.

    When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost - Wilson A Bentley

    27 January 2010

    Christmas Morning 2009

    So, here you have my hubby and I on Christmas morning in Doha.

    A few words of explanation re: the bruising on my face. They are not the result of being decked by my husband, but rather the result of the dentist's extraction of an infected molar.

    We have not officially adopted our backyard lodger, Mr. Wow. This is due to my husband's allergies not the result of any misbehavior on the part of Mr. Wow...who we like very much.

    The Christmas Story is a 'tradition' that my husband started a number of years ago....although I don't seem to recall any being as elaborate as this year's story of Tony the Baker.

    Christmas Morning 2009 from P.E. Coristine on Vimeo.