Category: Music

A Return to Downton Abbey

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Like the millions of people who tuned in year after year to catch up with the Crawley’s, I find myself missing the great house this time of year.

Odd, since in the US the series ran starting in January – long after the U.K. had visited and moved on for the season.

Somehow, though, Christmas is the time I get a bit wistful to see Branson, Lady Mary, and all the other occupants of the house and grounds, not to mention the neighboring village.

There is something serene about the place.  Comfortable even in those rooms full of gilt, silk and deep carpets.

If you are a viewer of YouTube, you can see some of the DVD extras that talk about back stories and settings and characters.  For me, who does not own the DVDs, it is an interesting addition to the fond memories I have of the series.

To be honest, it makes me want to brew a cuppa and settle down in front of the telly with Amazon Video to dive in.  The entire series is there, waiting.

I am hearing bits about the new movie that is coming next year.  To be honest, I’ve not paid any attention if only to preserve some of my sanity.  There is something about the anticipation that keeps things on an even keel.

Join me, won’t you?  Settle back and dive in to watch all or part of the series.  Remember the joys and the sorrows and the amazing holidays at Downton Abbey

Categories: Music Musings TV

Returning to Cherry Tree Lane

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She’s Back

Put a note on your calendar.  December 19th is the release date of the brand new film Mary Poppins Returns.

The very first movie I remember seeing was Mary Poppins way back in 1964.  I was six.  My mother and I walked from our home to the local movie house and spent a magical couple of hours watching penguins, chalk pictures, tea parties on the ceiling and this nanny…this nanny who turned everything upside down only to turn it right side up again.

It was my first experience not only with Disney magic, but with movie magic.  It set the stage for a lifetime love of film, music, musicals, dance and tons of other connected arts.

For those who don’t know, Mary Poppins was the creation of author P. L. Travers who went on to create eight volumes of Poppins stories from 1934 until 1988.  Wikipedia has an interesting collection of information here.

Walt Disney obtained the film rights for Mary Poppins and set about creating the movie version that won several Oscars and huge box office returns.

By the way, if you want to see a rather interesting film that tells the story of the acquisition of the rights to the book and the backstory of Ms. Travers, see Saving Mr. Banks.  It will give you an insight and impression on two very formidable personalities.

There were stage versions of the story, along with rumored adaptations of other books and a remake.

The amazing Emily Blunt will be playing Poppins.  I won’t go into the rest of the stellar cast.  If you are inclined, check out imdb.com here:  Mary Poppins Returns.  The cast list is one to make your mouth water.

If you are inclined, take a step on the wild side and pick up the books.  You will find a slightly (?) different version of Poppins.  Travers’ creation is a bit more … Poppins than we were introduced to in the movie.  None the less, well worth the read.

I heard a comment the other day that made me stop in my tracks.  The com-mentor said that they had no idea they needed Mary Poppins until they found she was returning.  

In this day and age, with all the stress and angst, perhaps it is the perfect time for the nanny to return to take care of the children by taking care of the adults.

(This will make a lot more sense to you if you’ve done your home work.)

In the meantime, I’m digging out my DVD version, looking for the soundtrack and contemplating parrot umbrellas and dancing penguins.

She’s on her way…

Categories: Disney Movies Music Musings

Mental Health Days and Why I Craft

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I recently came across a link to an article that got me to thinking about why I craft.  The article:  When A Woman Needed A Mental Health Day Off Work, Her Boss’ Response Shocked Everyone.

There is an old saying that if you do what you love, it isn’t work.  To a point, I would agree.  I’m like several of my friends and acquaintances, I enjoy the day to day processes of running an office.  That doesn’t mean that any of those projects, or jobs, is not work.

I have a passion for food and I love to cook.  Sometimes the act of cooking is more job than hobby, but not always.

I love reading, listening to music and watching film and television.  While I have a better than average knowledge of the behind the scenes functions of most of those activities, I have never had the pleasure of being employed in those industries.

Quilting is a new-ish addition to my life that encompasses my fondness for color, pattern and (believe it or not) geometry.  🙂

I do these things in varying degrees because it relieves stress, allows me to create something out of my own imagination and gives me an outlet to not think about the 9 to 5 day to day grind.

I think it can be looked at as mini-mental health days.

I know people who look at hobbies as stress replacements.  They are not so much into a hobby as a way to relax as a way to do something until they can do something else.  I don’t understand that, either.  🙂

I also know people who have no real understanding of, or use for, hobbies.  There’s work to be done, why waste your time?

I had a parent who worked hard most of his life.  He also spent a good amount of that time doing things he actually liked doing (hence the reminder of doing things you love not being work…)  But there came a time when he was no longer physically able to do the projects he loved.

As he had no hobbies, he was left with nothing to fill his time with.  And he ended up having a lot of time to fill.

My suggestion to you is the lesson I learned watching this parent deal with life.  It is all well and good to have things you love to do, but diversify a bit.  You never know when it will be in your best interest to spend time doing things you never thought you would.

If you are a hiker, what would you do if you broke a leg and couldn’t do that for a while?  If you had issues with your sight, how would you deal with not being able to read printed text?

You get the idea.  Work is a wonderful and productive way to spend time and earn a living.  It provides a great sense of self worth.  But work is not the end all or be all of a life.  It should be a part of the whole.  Find something that you are interested in and give it a try.  Doesn’t matter what.  Once you find a passion for something, you will notice that the world is a bit lighter, perspective a bit brighter and work is less, well, work.

Background Noise

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Music

For some of us, having music in the background adds a level of relaxation, warmth, energy to any project we are working on. 

For others, music – or anything – playing in the background is an unnecessary distraction.

Me?  I prefer the music.  Most of the time.

I have pretty eclectic taste in music.  It evolved over years of exposure to soundtracks, television orchestras, radio and the generosity of other music lovers.

For many years I cultivated quite a collection of vinyl, cassette and compact disc.  The move away from a dedicated stereo system was jarring.  I admit I’m a bit old school, but there is nothing – nothing – like the sound of good music.  Streaming just doesn’t always cut it.  I like to feel the music.

Soundtracks

There is a richness to a good soundtrack.  Its purpose is to create a mood, provide information to the viewer and set a tone for the film or television show.

Gunsmoke’s radio show had an amazing theme that is iconic.  For a western, it is particularly relaxing and easy going.

On the other hand, listen to the soundtrack for any of Eastwood’s Spaghetti Westerns and feel your heart rate go up and the tension rise.  Ennio Morricone created seriously iconic music for those films.

I’m a long time fan of John Williams.  His catalog is as impressive as is the breadth of his artistry.  From Star Wars to Indiana Jones to Harry Potter and more, his work is both recognizable and unique.

Han Zimmer is another composer who brings his own stamp of originality to his work.  Crockett’s Theme from Miami Vice is just wow.

Classics

Classics for me covers a wide territory.  I grew up in the 1960’s when rock and roll was figuring out its identity.  As such, I love the Beatles, Bee Gees and groups of that ilk, along with folk artists and the big bands.  Glenn Miller, Lawrence Welk, and the like.  I really miss the Boston Pops.  We used listen to them every weekend.

Show Tunes

My love of theater and musicals came about due to the exposure to Broadway recordings and the soundtracks of films made from those productions.

When I was in school, I cleaned house to earn money.  One of my regulars was a fan of show tunes and we spent many a Saturday cleaning to Hello Dolly, Fiddler on the Roof and South Pacific.

Years later I was able to actually see the plays on stage.  What a thrill!

Disney and Peanuts

I love the Disney soundtrack – not just the individual films, but the sounds you hear in the parks that accompany the rides.  There is nothing like hearing the background to Main Street or listening to the Tiki Room show to make me feel as if I am at the park enjoying the ride.

Peanuts has always been a part of my life – the Christmas special debuted in 1965.  I am pretty certain that this was my first real introduction to jazz thanks to Vince Guaraldi’s beautiful music.

Classical and Opera

As for classical music, it took a while before I got a good taste of that genre.  While I had a slight exposure to pieces growing up, it wasn’t until Cosmos that I had something that I could sink my teeth into.  Classical music used as a soundtrack.  Beautiful.

Opera came as a bit of a surprise.  I worked with someone who loved listening to it as she worked on her projects.  Then along came Phantom of the Opera and the chandelier dropped.  Almost literally.

At one point I worked in a soundproof room due to the noise of some of the printers we used.  Being in there by myself, I was allowed to play my music as I wished – as long as it was not a distraction.

One day the Big Boss walked in at just the point where the chandelier fell in Phantom of the Opera. 

He almost had a heart attack.  🙂

These days I find myself browsing online playlists, playing my Disney soundtracks or catching up with a local radio station that plays oldies from the 1980’s.  🙂

I’m exploring the Amazon playlists and am amazed at what I have found.  I’m enjoying headphones that allow me to actually hear the layers of sound.  And I’m wondering how I can create a playlist or two for the car.  Hooray!

So, tell me, what are you listening to lately?

Categories: Music Musings

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