Thursday, July 30, 2009

So much alike it is almost scary!

A few years ago my husband and I took our 3 youngest children (who still lived at home), and a nephew to England on a family trip. We rented a cottage in Upper Wraxall, Wiltshire, because it was a great location for travel to some sites we wanted to visit. This was in the spring of 2002 and "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" had been released the preceding November. We planned to visit a few of the sites featured in the movie. One of those sites was Lacock Abbey in the village of Lacock, about a 15 minute drive from our rented cottage.

Lacock Abbey
I also wanted to see the village because it was one of the film sites used in the great adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice" made by the BBC starring Colin Firth. However, my the kids mainly wanted to see the "Harry" sites. Before going into the Abbey we went through the adjacent museum that provided details about the 800+ year history of the Abbey and of one it most famous inhabitants, William Henry Fox Talbot.

Room at the Abbey used in several "Harry" movies as the Defense against the Dark Arts classroom
William Henry Fox Talbot was the inventor of the negative/positive photographic process which was the precursor to the photographic processes of the 19th and 20th centuries. One of the first pictures he took was at Lacock Abbey of the lattice window in 1835, as shown below.

The lattice window, photographed in 1835

We found this all very interesting, especially since my maiden name is "Talbot" and I had fun imagining the possibility of having a distant claim to this Talbot "family estate" in some way. I bought a booklet with all this history from the gift shop and tucked it away in the luggage until we got home.

William Henry Fox Talbot
One evening shortly after returning to our home in Arizona, I was showing Jeramy, my son in-law, that booklet since he is a very talented photographer. I thought he might be interested in Fox Talbot's history. Jeramy took one look at the picture of Fox Talbot and observed that he looked very similar to my father, Grant Talbot, except that dad obviously got the "good hair gene." We looked closely for the first time at his image and sure enough, there is a very strong resemblance between dad and Fox. I later checked with my father, who is the family's family history and genealogy expert to see if we might be directly related to Fox Talbot, or not.

My Dad-Grant Talbot

It turns out that there is not a very direct relationship, but distantly our family lines do join. It was amazing to all of us to see the similarity in the appearances of those two men even though they were separated by so many generations! I wish I could find a photo of dad having more "serious" expression on his face, because then the striking likeness would be much more apparent...

Sigh ... I do wish we could make some kind of claim to that particular Talbot estate through the family tree, connecting back to the beautiful Lacock Abbey, but, alas, it is not to be .... !

Friday, July 24, 2009

A few years ago a wonderful German movie came out called "Mostly Martha". It was released at the time of Martha Stewart's very unfair prison time so I think many movie buffs missed it thinking it had something to do with her. The only thing it had in common was that the main character is named "Martha".

This movie is in German and has sub-titles, which may turn some off bout DON'T LET IT!!! It is set in a restaurant where the head chef, Martha Klein, is the master of her kitchen. She is unexpectedly thrust into taking care of her niece when her sister is killed in an auto accident. It is such a touching, funny, romantic move. There is one scene where Mario, played wonderfully by Sergio Castellitto is feeding a blindfolded Martha some soup and she is trying to guess the ingredients. It is probably one of the MOST romantic scenes in the history of movies!
All of the actors are great. Now if this sounds familiar, yes it was remade in the USA .

The remake, "No Reservations" was ok, but I say watch the original first because it is SO much better. They only changed a few things but they were BIG things and I liked the original story, it didn't need to be changed.

WARNING!!! DO WATCH THIS MOVIE WHEN YOU ARE HUNGRY!!! You will be STARVING when you are through and eat everything in sight!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A flower by any other name...

In Arizona, there aren't many flowers that you can plant and have beautiful colors in the hot desert summers.

One of the most colorful exceptions is the Zinnia.

I have a friend who recently passed away who would always say, "Don't worry about it... the zinnias are in bloom and everything will be okay!"

I love to have zinnias growing and they make me smile when I see them even when it is 115 degrees outside. My friends Kim and Tammy planted many packets of seeds in their flower bed last year and it was beautiful! So I decided instead of an organized flower bed I would do the same this year.

They are such a friendly flower and they greet anyone who come to my door. If only I could keep my granddaughters from picking them!!! However, when they present me with the picked flower my heart melts. I always think of my friend when I see zinnias and the memories I have of her.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Great Idea...Wrong Location Harry Potter!!!

I just read that they are building a "Harry Potter" theme park entitled "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter". Now this is a wonderful idea, (by the way "Half-Blood Prince" is excellent!), but I am not happy about where this park is going to be. It will be at Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando Florida. Don't get me wrong, I love Orlando, but this park needs to be in Great Britain!
Part of the magic and the success of the books and movies is that it is all English! The author, locations, actors, everything is so English! It will lose a lot of the magic for me having it in Florida. I would go to England just to go to this park alone if it were there, but I won't go to Florida just to enter "Hogwarts".
Here are some of my suggestions as to where the best locations would be for this theme park:
1-Scotland...pretty much anywhere in Scotland would be magical!
2-York or the Yorkshire area...just because it is my favorite place in all of England!
3-Pretty much anywhere in Great Britain would be better than putting it in Florida.
The question you may be asking is will I go to the park next time I am in Florida? HECK YEA!!! I will just be comparing it to what it could have been if it had been located somewhere in Great Britain!
Maybe if it is successful enough they may open another one in the UK in the future. HOPEFULLY!
Here is a link to the Official web-site about the park, Check it out:

Monday, July 13, 2009

My Favorite Things...

Besides loving my family... church...and country...yada, yada, yada....

I love great (well made), and GOOD (happy endings only!), movies. I feel a good movie is like a good book and it needs to be in my "library". So I tend to have quite a few movies.

Here in AZ it has been over 110 degrees for several days and will continue to be for a couple more months. I'm not complaining, I love the heat, but it does mean I don't spend as much time out in the garden or in the car driving (because the car never cools down). So I tend to spend more time reading, on the computer, or watching a good movie. So I thought I would share some of my favorite movies. I have my very favorite movies listed in categories and they are separated from the alphabetized list of all the movies in my library.

Naturally I will start with the "Shakespeare" movies. Now if you are a purest, you may not like all the movies on my list. I am not saying these are all GREAT movies, they are just all the "Shakespeare" movies that I have seen and have in my collection. Some of them are on the list simply because they are variations of Shakespeare's plays. Some are geared to just teens, but I think that is great if it introduces them to the Bard!

The list is Alphabetical, not in order of preference, however, I will star my favourites on the list:

1-A Midsummer's Night Dream (edited, too much skin in original, but edited it is fun. Christian Bale and Anna Friel are great! )
2- A Midsummer's Night Dream (Re-told) (Series of 4 plays re-told in modern day settings-lots of fun!)
3-*** As You Like It( Kenneth Branagh version-Love this one! Never released in the USA but Dallas Bryce Howard was nominated for an Oscar for her performance of Rosiland)
4-***Complete Works of Shakespeare-Abridged (filmed version of the stage production. Lots of fun!)
5-***Hamlet (Kenneth Branagh version-great, but it does have some "skin")
6-***Hamlet (Mel Gibson version-also great!)
7-*****Henry V (Kenneth Branagh version-the greatest Shakespeare movie ever made of any of the plays!)
8-In Search of Shakespeare-Documentary on the Bard
9-***Julius Caesar (With Marlon Brando...need I say more? It is fantastic!)
10-*****Looking For Richard-Documentary on the play "Richard III" that won an Oscar for it's category. Al Pacino and friends dissect the play. It is fascinating and very informative.
11-Loves Labours Lost (Kenneth Branagh version-fun but not a classic. He turned it into a musical with Cole Porter and George Gershwin music.)
12-Macbeth-Filmed stage production with Judy Dench and Ian McKellen-very good!
13-***** Macbeth Re-told-Excellent re-telling in the modern setting of the competitive world of chefs. James McAvoy is REALLY great as Macbeth.
14-***The Merchant of Venice (I have an edited version--Joseph Fiennes is so good as Bassanio, and Al Pacino is Shylock. Really good!
15-*****Much Ado About Nothing (Kenneth Branagh version-LOVE IT!!!!)
16-Much Ado About Nothing (Re-told)-Again re-set in modern times, a fun watch.
17-Romeo and Juliet-(Baz Luhrmann version-very interesting, and yes DiCaprio is quite good as Romeo.)
18-Shakespeare In Love (edited version-again Joseph Fiennes....YUM...need I say more?)
19-She’s the Man-Fun teen version of "Twelfth Night"with Amanda Bynes
20-Strange Brew-VERY loose version of Hamlet but also for teens. My kids were shocked when I informed them that one of their favorite "goofy" movies was a Shakespeare rip-off.
21-********Taming of the Shrew-The greatest!!!!! Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton are the best Katharina and Petruchio ever!
22-Taming of the Shrew(Re-told)-Another in the series of re-told plays in the modern day settings. Great fun!
23-Ten Things I Hate About You-A fun take on "Taming..." Heath Ledger is cute in this. Kind of a guilty pleasure one for me.
24-*****Twelfth Night-Trevor Nunn directed this version and it is FANTASTIC!!!! Nigel Hawthorne is a great Malvolio!
25-William Shakespeare-Biography (From the Biography Channel)
Now that is my list that I have collected so far. If I am missing one, I would love to hear from anyone so I can continue to complete my collection.
Happy summer viewing!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Part of the Reason for the Fall of the Roman Empire!

A couple of weeks ago I heard a commentator quote the Roman Emperor, Diocletian (Emperor from 284-305 AD). I was surprised that something that was said hundreds of years ago was so applicable to us today. The quote is: “Give them bread and the circus and that will suffice”.

Emperor Diocletian
That is exactly what our Government and the mainstream media is trying to do to, so we will not pay attention to what is really happening in Washington DC. Today, for the most part, most Americans are well fed, and we are overly entertained, with our TV, computers, Theaters, iPods, iphones, DVR’s, movies, sports, etc. So much so, that we don’t really know what is happening in the world that is affecting our everyday lives. And that is what “they”, i.e., the government and the media, want. They don’t want us to be aware of the destructive decisions that are being made or trying to be made every day!

I know for a fact that watching too much politics can be depressing, but we need to know enough about what is going on in order to have a voice and to try to stop the decisions that are not good for the country. Washington thinks as long as they give us free healthcare, food, education, etc., and the mainstream media thinks that the death of an entertainer is more important than our country’s problems, that we won’t care to pay attention to what is happening in the world. For some, this may be the case, but we need to stand up and let the politian’s know how we feel and that it is not all right to take away the basic freedoms that we have.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Happy Birthday America!

Here are a few pics from our family’s tribute to the 233 birthday for our Country.

God bless America!

We had fun at our family Shrimp boil/cherry-pit spittin/ swimming party! I hope everyone had a great day celebrating our country!

Friday, July 3, 2009

What a doll!

I really love the movie "Gone With The Wind" but I love the spoof that was on "The Carol Burnett" show even more. It is a classic in comedy sketches, which most of her show sketches are. How happy I was when "Barbie", (which I hate) came out with a commemorative doll about this skit. I finally found one in a discount store and I bought it. It makes me laugh everytime I look at it because I remember the skecth from the show that it pays tribute too.

I was able to find the skecth on "youtube", and thought you might want to see it if you haven't and you are either a GWTW fan or a Carol Burnett fan. It is in 2 parts because it is about 20 minutes long. I hope you enjoy it:
part 1-