Friday, October 31, 2008

Vasn't It Scary...?


It's late Friday night - pitch black outside. You're stretched out on the sofa or snuggled up in bed under a mountain of covers, lights out, bowls of chips and platefuls of cookies surround you. Your eyes are transfixed onto the television screen, spooky images sending chills down your spine...

Hee-hee. I crack myself up. I wouldn't be able to write a thriller if you paid me, but today is Halloween, and if you want to watch some movies [after those trick or treaters go home for the night] that possess the right ambience, why not give the ones below a try?

Because I'm not one for scary movies, other then Scary Movie, you won't find movies like The Exorcism of Emily Rose on my list. Instead, you'll find:

1. Murder By Death
2. Clue
3. Jumping Jack Flash
4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
5. Ghostbusters
6. The Birds
7. Rear Window
8. Vertigo
9. Basil Rathbone's [black and white] Sherlock Holmes movies
10. Dune

Take a look at this list for more Halloween movies, including lots of scary ones. I also really like this list of movies, for both adults and children [I would watch most of the children's movies]. And I came across this 'wimp list' by Moira that had some cool-looking picks, that I'm more in tune with [wimps of the world, unite!].

Snuggle up tight for a spooky, spooky night.

[Photo at top is from Harry Potter Wiki]

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Feet


My feet are always cold these days. So naturally my thoughts drift towards slippers. Warm, cozy things to keep my toes nice and toasty.

Slippers are such a necessary part of comfort during the winter months, because few things invite illness faster than bare feet touching a cold, uncarpeted floor. Even when my feet walk on carpeted parts of the house, my ankles still feel the chill and they don't like it.

I'm already feeling not quite myself, due to the dip in temperature - and then the follow-up warming trend, followed closely by a cooling down of 20 or so degrees. This yo-yo-ing of temperature can't be any good to the body. So it's imperative that you keep your feet nicely covered up, and your throat well-lubricated with some warm tea, preferably with a bit of ginger, lemon, and honey swirled in.


These adorable red slippers from Cath Kidston immediately put me in a cozier mood, just looking at them. They are soft and woollen, with felt flowers adding a whimsically decorative touch - the vibrant redness of these slippers also seem very appropriate for the upcoming holiday season.

Because I have somewhat of a harsh disliking for socks [and will only wear them for exercise, i.e. biking], and my ankles always become uncomfortably cold along with my tootsies, my slippers need to cover up my ankles - always. So the slippers I own now do that job quite well. However...although they are charming, very much so, in their own way, they lack the idyllic romance that Cath Kidston's slippers possess.

But I sure do love them. When I'm not wearing them, in order to ensure their safety, they need to be kept somewhere out of reach from our playful 2 year old Chihuahua Ace. Right now they're kept on top of the humidifier. Ace goes cuckoo when I put these babies on, traipsing around as I do, doing a little dance now and again. He lunges at them, nips them, and bats them with his paws like a cat. I can just imagine what he would do to them if he got a hold of them, and I wasn't around. So without further ado, introducing my slippers...


Aren't they grand? Play ball...

[Photo of feet is from Clinical Correlations]

Monday, October 27, 2008

As You Wish, Sir


Oh how I love Jeeves and Wooster! It's one of those shows that I have to watch with lots of snacks around me, snuggled up under a warm comforter in bed. Yesterday was no exception. I watched season four, disc one mid-day, cozily cocooned with plates of cheese, crackers [Saltines - not my first choice, but was all we had available], a sliced up apple, homemade hummus, and 2 brown sugar Pop-Tarts - random I know. With smorgasbord at hand, I was ready to enjoy.


Besides laughing and groaning at the crazy predicaments that dear old Bertie gets into, and keeping up with the roller coaster twists and turns of interweaving plotlines involving said crazy predicaments, one of the most enjoyable aspects of watching Jeeves and Wooster has to be gazing longingly at the Art Deco period decor and the fantastic costumes. I've rambled on about my views on Art Deco before, but I must reiterate how visually appealing those designs are. And the clothes...well, if only I could flounce around in those dresses every day and night, I would feel like a million bucks! Sigh, but I do know that in the real world, I'm a bit too much of a comfort-loving slob to make that much of an effort to dress up.

There are so many wonderful things about Jeeves and Wooster, thanks in large part to the author PG Wodehouse - what with the brilliant storylines, the colorful dialogue, the amusing characters, and the names, my goodness the names! Bertie's beloved female pals are given adorable nicknames such as Stiffy and Nobby, but that's nothing compared to the nicknames of his male compadres - take for instance, Gussie Fink-Nottle, the Reverand Stinker Pinker, Bicky Bickersteth, Biffy Biffen, Beefy Bingham, Stilton Cheesewright, Chuffy Chuffnell, Boko Fittleworth, and Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps. Yes, quite barmy, all of them!


And perhaps, in respect to making good television, a huge reason for this series' success is the strong chemistry between its two lead actors - Hugh Laurie, as bumbling open-mouthed Bertram Wooster, and Stephen Fry, as his invaluable and respectable valet Jeeves. Fans of these actors know full well the length and breadth of their working relationship, having appeared together in Blackadder as well as A Bit of Fry and Laurie among others, as well as their friendship - Fry served as best man at Laurie's wedding to Jo Green in 1989, and is godfather to Laurie's three children. Fry and Laurie actually began their friendship and creative collaboration while at Cambridge University, as part of the Cambridge Footlights, an amateur theater club, along with mutual friend Emma Thompson [who Laurie dated for a spell].

And that, as they say in Hollywood, was the start of a beautiful friendship.

[Photo of Jeeves and Wooster intro image is from TVARK, photo of Jeeves and Bertie in their finely-tailored clothing is from The Fedora Lounge, and photo of Jeeves looking with concern at Bertie's befuddlement is from This isn't writing, it's typing]

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bouncing Baby Boy for Piper & Fox


Billie Piper and Laurence Fox are now the proud new parents of little Winston James. Baby Winston was born via emergency Caesarean in a London hospital on Tuesday, UK time. Fox told reporters that he was now a 'proud father', Piper was 'happy' and that they were both tired.

Fox also referred to his newborn son as 'beautiful' and 'sweet', and revealed that his wife would stay in hospital for the next few days up to a week, in order to recover from the surgical aspect of the birth.

Hmm, Winston James Fox. I like that name. Best wishes to the happy family!

[Photo of Billie Piper and Laurence Fox is from Daily Mail]

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Brilliance of Brett


For the first time in who knows how long, I watched the impressive Jeremy Brett do his thing [as only he can] as Sherlock Holmes in The Return of Sherlock Holmes. I was mesmerized all over again.

My PBS station is airing episodes of The Return of Sherlock Holmes, filmed during the years 1986 to 1988, on Friday nights I believe. The one that I Tivo-ed and watched was The Musgrave Ritual. The first thing that struck me about it was the depiction of Holmes' recreational morphine habit. I don't remember if I had ever seen this particular episode before, although I'm sure I had during my teenage years but...I was particularly clueless and off in my own world then. Drugs, drug paraphenalia, and any references to those kinds of illicit things went straight over my head. I'm alittle more wordly now so I was able to catch these pretty obvious references, both in Holmes' manner as well as the scene showing his hypodermic syringe. Duh, right? I really was off in la la land.


Jeremy Brett is of course brilliant here, showing Holmes' hawk-like deductive skills even whilst in the throws of drug-induced euphoria. Personally, I think Brett's portrayal of Sherlock Holmes is unparalleled, and considering how many actors have taken on that role, that's quite a statement. During his career, he also appeared in the film version of My Fair Lady starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison as Freddie Eynsford-Hill. I've seen that film many a time but don't remember Brett in it - must rent it again.

Sadly Brett was known to suffer from manic depression, or bipolar disorder, which became aggravated from the grief he suffered after his second wife Joan Wilson passed away. The episode I saw was filmed a year after her death, and I could note [and now understand the reason for] his frail appearance. From the time of his wife's death to his own, Brett was hospitalized on several occasions due to the effects of his mental illness, throughout which his health and physical appearance deteriorated further. In 1995, he passed away at age 61 from heart failure.


A few interesting notes regarding Jeremy Brett's relationships...his first wife was the daughter of actor Raymond Massey. Years after their divorce, in 1978, Brett and his ex-wife appeared together in Rebecca, with Brett portraying Max de Winter and Anna Massey portraying Mrs. Danvers. Brett was also a cousin to actor Martin Clunes, who may be recognized for his appearance in the Doctor Who episode Snakedance, opposite Peter Davison and Janet Fielding [Tegan]. Clunes also had a recurring guest role as Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps in season two of Jeeves and Wooster.


Also appearing in The Musgrave Ritual was Michael Culver, as Reginald Musgrave. Culver can be seen as Captain Needa in the Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back, and as Edward Symmington in the Joan Hickson Miss Marple mystery, The Moving Finger [which is where I remember him best]. Culver also appeared in A Passage to India [what a beautiful movie] as Major McBryde.

Ian Marter had a small role as Inspector Fereday. For Doctor Who fans, you will know Ian Marter from his role as companion Harry Sullivan and a guest-turn in Carnival of Monsters years before. Tragically and quite coincidentally, Marter passed away from a heart attack the day of his 42nd birthday.

I fear this post has taken on a more melancholy note as it's progressed, and I apologize for that. But do rent the ultimate Sherlock Holmes adaptations as soon as you can, to watch the brilliant Jeremy Brett in action - or if you're lucky, maybe your local PBS station will air them for everyone's viewing pleasure. Take care, everyone!

[Photo of Jeremy Brett in profile is from Tapestry-Sagar Sunkle, photo of Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes in color is from NNDB, photo of Martin Clunes is from Daily Mail, and photo of Michael Culver is from Le Candide]

Monday, October 20, 2008

Animated


Last night I watched Doctor Who's The Invasion, disc one. This was one of Patrick Troughton's serials featuring Zoe and Jamie as companions. The disc featured two animated episodes, which replaced the 'lost episodes', and what a hoot they were to see! The animation was pretty cool, in black and white just like the film used in the 'real-life' episodes. The animated episodes contained the original dialogue voiced by the original actors, thanks to fans of the show who had recorded the soundtracks at home.

Here are a few random thoughts about The Invasion...

I have to say that Patrick Troughton's Doctor has to be one of the most adorable and charming characters on television, but also one of the most annoying! His propensity for getting captured is one of those infuriating traits.


Loved the mod-sixties clothes and hairstyle worn by Sally Faulkner, who portrayed Isobel Watkins, and to a lesser extent Wendy Padbury, who played companion Zoe.

We are introduced to Sergeant Benton, who I have always been fond of, and re-introduced to now Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart of UNIT. I always enjoy the UNIT stories, and something about Lethbridge-Stewart, or the actor who portrays him, is calming. Even when he acts like a stubborn idiot! An interesting tidbit is that Nicholas Courtney's [the Brigadier] theatrical agent is Wendy Padbury. Since her career shift from acting, Padbury also represents Mark Strickson [Turlough] and Colin Baker [Doctor Number 6].


I thought I recognized the actor playing Professor Watkins as the same man who played another Professor, in Tom Baker's first serial as the Doctor - Robot. And I was right! Edward Burnham did portray Professor Kettlewell, who sported a fuller beard but smaller frame in Robot, but those eyes are instantly recognizable.

The man who played sadistic security bully Packer also looked familiar, but I couldn't place him anywhere. Looking at his credits on IMDB, it appears that I must have recognized the actor Peter Halliday from a few other Doctor Who appearances, namely in Carnival of Monsters with Jon Pertwee and City of Death with Tom Baker.

Can't wait to watch disc two.

[Photo of animated The Invasion is from iOffer, photo of Wendy Padbury is from geocities.com, and photo of Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is from wikia]

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Just Doing A Bit of Shopping...

Some pretty pictures for your Saturday afternoon, all courtesy of Caroline Zoob. They may just inspire your weekend shopping expeditions.


What a cute little woodpecker for your garden.


Pretty little wooden boat. Love the red-striped sail on it.


It is apple season you know, and what a rustic looking basket to keep them all in.


Sweet refrigerator magnets. Love that green color and the flower design. The jar is fab too, but I'm pretty sure it isn't included in the package.


How gorgeous, and nice-smelling this cushion must be. Filled with lavender and goodness me, look at that tree! Charming.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Most Wanted Man and Others


There's not much going on in terms of new releases at the movie theaters this weekend. In select theaters, Madonna's directorial debut Filth and Wisdom comes out today. Filmed in London, this film centers around three flatmates, each with his or her own big dream to chase. Co-stars Ade, Vicky McClure, Richard E. Grant, and Stephen Graham.

Perhaps you'd rather be at the bookstore this lovely fall weekend. Then check out John le Carre's [author of The Constant Gardener among many others] new novel A Most Wanted Man, if you're in the mood for a little bit of espionage. Or how about Philip Norman's book entitled John Lennon: The Life? It's out on bookstands now chronicling...John Lennon's life. Read a review of this biography at The Sunday Times or at The Observer.

Happy Weekend!

[Photo of John le Carre is from Shelf Life]

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oh My, What Colors!


I love this pink bedroom, although pink isn't my color and I should never wear it. There are some who believe that you should never decorate your house or other personal spaces in colors that aren't you...I tend to agree with that. I'm an autumn, and there are no pinks in the autumn color spectrum! But I still appreciate the color pink, and I think this bedroom is sweet and charming. They actually refer to the color as lilac. Pretty.


Then there's this eye-poppingly fresh color palette. Spring pinks and greens matched up with a tropical/Caribbean shade of blue really makes a statement, doesn't it? It's bright and modern. These colors aren't me either, but I think this bedroom is cute!


Now this kind of sage green really does work for me. I love it, it's so soothing and wonderous. But if I have to be knit-picky again, I must be truthful and say I'm not a fan of modern design in the home. But that's for me personally. I appreciate the beauty of the modern aesthetic in other people's houses - the clean lines especially. But I am a comfy slob of a girl, so living in a modern space for an extended period of time would make me uncomfortable and a bit cold. But I love, love, love this green color. Green might very well be my most favorite color in the world.

Inspiring designs, yes?

[Photos of the lilac bedroom, the bright bedroom, and the beautiful green living room are all from Homes & Gardens]

Monday, October 13, 2008

Gardening & Mysteries Go Together Like Cookies & Cream


I watched all three episodes of my Rosemary & Thyme dvd last night in one go. This mystery series is amazing and I have yet to get over the fact that there are only 3 seasons of it. Why oh why did they stop making it?

Did the actors not want to continue? Felicity Kendal and Pam Ferris, is that true? Please say it isn't so. Or did ITV cancel the series because of lack of viewership? I can't believe that for a second. The premise is ideal for a British mystery, the plots of each episode [did you get that? hehe] are mesmerizing, the acting is superb, and the scenery can't be beat. I bet people tuned in just to gaze longingly at the lovely gardens alone. Rosemary & Thyme is such a cozy mystery, full of idyllic imagery, and boasts two lead actors who are colorful, charming and relatable.

Argh, please come back!

The two-parter 'The Memory of Water' and 'Orpheus in the Undergrowth' were the episodes I watched last night, and I loved them as much as I did the first time I saw them. For one thing the titles, especially 'Orpheus in the Undergrowth', are just enchanting. The gardens in both episodes weren't terribly exciting, but I loved watching Rosemary and Laura wheel huge wheelbarrows full of beautifully tinted, blooming plants. That's when I would begin daydreaming about owning a garden where I could wheel such plants about in an oversized wheelbarrow.


The mystery of 'Orpheus in the Undergrowth' was wrapped up a little too abruptly for me, but the interplay between Laura and Helena balanced things out so I enjoyed that marvelously-titled episode as a whole. This episode showcased a few notable actors, including Joanna David. She's been in lots of British mysteries from Midsomer Murders to A Touch of Frost to Inspector Morse, but I first remember her from Rebecca with Jeremy Brett. Incidentally she has a very interesting modern geneology. Joanna is married to actor Edward Fox, and together they have an actress daughter named Emilia. Emilia in turn is married to the son of the late, great Richard Harris. Also Edward Fox is brother to James Fox, who is Laurence Fox's father. Laurence Fox is married to Billie Piper, of Doctor Who fame. Coincidentally, Laurence's wife and mother share the surname Piper, but they aren't related [as far as I know].

Another familiar name from 'Orpheus in the Undergrowth' is Phyllida Law, who also sports a pretty powerful geneology. How cool is it that Law is [no, not Jude's mom but is in fact] Emma Thompson and her sister Sophie's mother. Now that I know this fact, I recognize a strong resemblance between Emma Thompson and her mom. Law is also mother-in-law to actors Greg Wise and Richard Lumsden.


Small world isn't it?

[Photo of Rosemary & Thyme DVD jacket is from iOffer, photo of Joanna David is from The Joanna David Page, and photo of Phyllida Law with daughter Emma is from Daily Mail]

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Veg Out


I found this cool little article on house to home's website about growing your own vegetables in containers. It's part of their eco at home series.

It got me to thinking about planting veggies in my container pots again. After the columbines and coneflower, that I ordered from a nursery way up north, didn't quite flourish the way I wished [i.e.wilted, bloomed sporadically, or never bloomed at all], I thought of planting vegetables instead of flowers. Also I vowed to always buy locally when possible. That's pretty important in many ways.

In terms of container gardening, although I like the idea of planting things in the ground, I don't like the idea of our dogs 'doing their business' on top of them. I could partition the flowers and/or vegetables away from the dogs, but I think containers are easier. At least for now.


For container vegetable plantings, I was thinking of tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, and peppers [like jalapenos and other chillies]. But I never considered carrots, potatoes and sweet corn! I didn't know root vegetables would do well growing in pots, but apparently they sure can. And that opens up a whole new world of possibilities that I'm excited about!

Posts about growing carrots in containers can be found at Vegetable Garden Guide and at My Tiny Plot.

Now what to plant...and when...

[Photo of vegetables growing in containers is from Oh My Aching Debts and photo of carrots in containers is from Vegetable Garden Guide]

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I've Hit the Jackpot!


No, unfortunately I haven't won the lottery. But thanks to this vividly colorful blog named allsorts by Jenny Beck Harris, a children's book illustrator, I have stumbled across a goldmine of lovely links. Oh the possibilities!

So in the meantime, while I'm adding these lovely links to my sidebar, please follow the link above to Jenny's post on the joys of British home and garden magazines. And while you're there, you'll immediately want to investigate her blog further. Without a doubt, you'll get drawn into her colorful and charming world, so much so that you'll find you've stayed quite awhile. I know I did, and loved every minute of it.

[Photo of wooden colored pencils is from Decorative Country Living]

Saturday, October 4, 2008

To Every Leaf, Turn Turn Turn

To get you in the mood for autumn's arrival in all it's earthly glory, especially if you live someplace that still feels like summer, here are some lovely photos of English, autumnal scenes of nature. It's a peaceful, quiet activity to engage in on a Saturday morning. Let's sit back, relax, and imagine that the scenes you are about to see on your screen are right outside your window. Ahhh...


[from Cambridge 2000]



[from Garden Visit courtesy of Bedford Borough Council]



[from English Countryside]



[from BBC Midlands courtesy of Gerald Mujumdar]



[from Garden Visit courtesy of Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens]

Thursday, October 2, 2008

That Old Familiar Face...


Two nights ago I finished watching a Tommy & Tuppence DVD that I received from Netflix. It contained the stories 'The Clergyman's Daughter', 'Finessing the King' [I love this title], and 'The House of Lurking Death'. They were all fabulous, of course.

In 'The House of Lurking Death', I saw a familiar face in that of Joan Sanderson, who played the character Rachel Logan. Hers is an unforgettable face, and the first and perhaps only time I had seen it before Tommy & Tuppence was in the John Cleese vehicle Fawlty Towers. She played that unforgettable character whose name I can't recall, but who seemed to suffer from selective hearing, according to Basil anyway, at the hands of her faulty hearing aid.


Another face I recognized from that story, but couldn't put a finger on where I had seen it, was Michael Cochrane's who played Captain Dennis Radcliffe. So I needed the help of my trusty ally The Internet for research help and support. Thank you, IMDB. I had seen Cochrane before in one of my favorite Doctor Who episodes of all time, 'Black Orchid', as Lord Cranleigh, Nyssa-look-alike's significant other. He also played Tony, the helpful and gentlemanly Ship's Officer, who gave Hyacinth and Richard a tour onboard the QE2 in an episode of Keeping Up Appearances. I had also seen him, 20 years older, in an episode of Rosemary & Thyme [which I love love love and can't wait to jabber on about in a later post], called 'The Tree of Death'.


The last person I recognized but couldn't remember from where was Jane Booker, who played Monica Deane, the clergyman's daughter in 'The Clergyman's Daughter'. Apparently Booker was married at one time to James Fleet, who is famous for his roles as Hugo Horton in The Vicar of Dibley and as Tom in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Referring to my friend IMDB yet again, I found out that I had seen her in Joan Hickson's 'Miss Marple: Nemesis'. But I don't remember her character Miss Cooke, as it's been a while since I've seen that particular 'Nemesis'. I may have also seen her in Midsomer Murders, episode 'Written in Blood', but I can't be sure that I actually saw this particular episode.

*sigh* What a poor memory I have. Thank goodness for The Internet.

[Photo of Joan Sanderson is from Leonard Rossiter, photo of Michael Cochrane is from the BBC, and photo of James Fleet, because I couldn't find one of Jane Booker, is from Telegraph]