Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Sometimes it's good to go into something with very few expectations. Such is the case with The Heart of Robin Hood, currently running at the Royal Alexandria Theatre

Now, I am of course familiar with the Hood, from movies, TV, comics, anime etc but I can't recall every seen him strut around the stage. The Hood's previous appearences in media have covered a broad spectrum of presentation, to action to historical drama to comedy. This presentation clearly falls into the last category

The Heart of Robin Hood is hilarious. There are many laugh out loud moments in the production and a lot of the humour edges into Monty Python territory; a few time if I closed my eyes I swear Michael Palin was on stage. What makes it Monty Python is that the humour is mixed in with some rather realistic representations of life in the middle ages; there is torture, murder, death and a bounty put on the head of children. Yet, it all remains really funny


There have been Robin Hood musicals before but this is not a musical .. well it is ... but it's not. There are one of two occasions where the characters sing but most of the music is provided by the fine roots band Parsonfield. They are an active part of the production, appearing on stage. At one point, when a villain is just bent on hanging someone it is suggested "take the band" Very Monty Python

Parsonfield and their music serves as a kind of Greek chorus but the play employs another classical theatre device, the narrator. Christian Lloyed plays Pierre, Lady Marion's music instructor. In more classic theatre devicery (yeh I just typed that, live with it) Pierre (as well as Marion) have to go in disguise and pretend they are other people which leads to much jocularity

Lloyd is very very good as is everyone in the cast. Paul Essienbee is a standout as Guy Gisborne, being incredibly malicious and hilarious at the same time. Izzie Steele plays Marian and infuses the character with strength and is more than up to the physical requirements of playing the classic "woman disguised as male" role

Another important character in this production is the stage, and the staging. The Hear of Robin Hood is presented on a stage with a huge ramp that starts up at the lights and slopes down to the floor. The actors run up and down this ramp, representing moving from one location to another. Openings can appear in the ramp and sections slide out of it, allowing characters to walk out over the stage below. This is particularly effective when representing characters residing in castles or looking down at the populace

The set also included a huge "oak tree" hanging from the ceiling, extending well out into the audience and another tree on stage proper where Robin hangs out and has his morning latte. There is also a "pond" on stage that characters fall in and out of, it has real water in it. There is another opening in the stage, a hole that opens up and which characters are generally tossed in to at their demise. The chant of "into the hole, into the hole" became a common refrain

This is an incredibly physical production. Cirque de Soleil is living in Sherwood Forest. There is ribbon work, there is a hoop and there is an genuinely hilarious scene where a "dead" character is manipulated like a flesh and blood marionette .. and oddly, it isn't Marion ...

I'll give you a minute

There is a lot of stuff happening in this play or, as they say, a lot of "business" Sometimes that makes for an uneven production but it all works here. Mostly it works because the play does not at all take itself seriously. It's a lark and it makes for a great way to pass a couple of hours

So the next time you're in the woods, keep an eye open for gender bending Ladies, archers in the trees and acrobats with serious knife skills

Saturday, January 3, 2015


There is a movie about to be released called Blackhat. It is directed by Michael Mann (yay) starring Chris Hemsworth (yay) but following Mann's recent annoying trend (it appears to me) of shooting on digital video; the guy who once had some of the most luscious cinematography (Thief, Last of the Mohicans, Heat) in film (boo)

The film looks like an action film. Hemsworth stripped to the waist with a pistol in his hand etc

All I know about this movie is what I've seen in the trailers. And in one of those trailers we here a character speak this line:

"We need a blackhat hacker name Hatthaway"

So, directed by Michael Mann, script (apparently) by Dr Seuss

A blackhat hacker named Hathaway said
You'll not shoot me with a gun, Sam I am,
you'll not shoot me with a bow
you'll not shoot me in my head,
if you load up a cannon
you'll not shoot me in my bed

I'll hack and hack your phone
I'll hack you porn and hack your home
You'll not shoot me with a Sam I Am
or I'll hack you to your bones"

Yay. Can't wait

Friday, January 2, 2015


I guess it makes sense to write my first post of 2015 around the thing that has been the center of Collette and mine's attention for the past few weeks

This thing, right here

This is Panda. Panda is a nine year old border collie. She came to my attention through a high speed and efficient form of wireless communication ... not Blue Tooth or the interwebs but the DPFN ... the Dog Park Friends Network.

A friend of mine told me the story of this woman who had an elder border collie looking for a new home. We were not actively seeking a new dog but my buddy knows that I won't let any dog, especially a border collie, go to a shelter. He told me that this indeed was the case with Panda. Her owner had to find her a home or it was a shelter

As my buddy informed me "You're the border collie guy, I thought of you first" So I contacted the woman and she told me a story. Panda lived with her dam (mother) who is around 13 at this time. The woman had lost her husband and she was finding it too difficult to manage both dogs. The momma dog is very anti social and can't really be taken to dog parks so Panda was not playing much.

And the woman lived with both dogs in an apt and could not give Panda much attention So Panda taught herself to pee and poop in the shower. Yeh .. I know. That had me cocking my head spaniel style .. "Say what?"

She said the situation was dire. She had to rehome Panda immediately.We weren't sure we wanted an older dog, Terra responds well to younger dogs though she was raised with Hayley who was considerably older.  I did inform the owner about Border Collie Rescue, a terrific organization dedicated to rehoming BC's. They have a foster network who care for the dogs until they find them homes.

I was told that BC Rescue had no foster homes for Panda but may have a home for her in a couple weeks. We agreed to take her in on a temporary basis. She is a sweet little dog. She is very very affectionate. But there were issues right away. She was extremely dominant with Terra. Very very dominant. She was limiting Terra's movement in the house, trying to sequester her out of the living room and away from us. Terra was definitely taking the submissive role. I've taught her not to scrap in parks and walk away from the fight but now the fight was in her own house.

Some of this behaviour I corrected by doing what Terra should have been doing; I was putting Panda down. As soon as she snapped or lunged at Terra I just took her collar and put her down. This seemed to work, it certainly established my dominance and Panda was learning some limitations. The biggest issue though was around food

Terra has been in the homes of other dogs, I've boarded dogs here, usually she will eat some of their food but generally does not freak out if they ate hers. Never really had any problems. But Panda had a different approach. She tried blocking Terra from eating her own food and Panda would frantically eat her own food if Terra even looked in that direction. Food hoarding. I was quickly realizing that I may have not gotten the full story on this dog

Terra's reaction was quite strong and in some instances quite sulky. Except in the park. In the park both dogs were great. They would chase the same ball and never get into disputes over it. One would usually defer to the other and let her pick the ball up. They walked side by side on leash without any issue. So that gave me hope

Over a week or so the work we were doing with Panda, putting her down, separating the food areas, giving Terra precedence by letting her be the first in and out of doors, started to work. Panda was not quite and dominant and Terra began to relax. The food remained an issue and still remains. It's getting better but Panda gets frantic over her food when Terra is nearby. We have separated them at feedings but that's not the way I like to run the house. So having them in the same room but around the corner and feeding them at the same time, that seems to be working

I have been in contact with Border Collie Rescue and the story I was told by Panda's owner does not match theirs. They do not have any homes in mind for Panda and they weren't even posting her for adoption on their website. And they are very puzzled as to why Panada had to be let go with such urgency, as am I. I told them that I don't want Panda to go to another temporary home, that would not be fair to her, she is settling in here and the routine is doing her good.

We want to keep Panda. She is loving and sweet, has good energy. I suspect I know why her owner wanted to dump her. I am hearing a cough from the dog that makes me think she has a heart condition. If that is true it means a lot of expense to deal with it. Well, we've been down that road before. If we can get the food situation under control .. and it's getting better .. Panda will be ours. I agree. Collette agress

Terra may have a different opinion

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