Serene Sunday: Groovin’ on A Sunday Afternoon

I’ve been lying around on a hot Sunday afternoon, sipping a frozen strawberry margarita and being remiss in publishing today’s post.  I mulled over what uplifting and terribly appropriate spiritual spoke to me over some delicious flan.  That’s when I made the mistake of looking at my blog stats.

There’s an app for that on my iPhone which inexplicably quit then started working again.  It lists posts, comments, referrals and search words.  Curious about what people googled to find me, I took a look.  “Judiang,” check.   Various permutations of “confessions of a watcher,” no surprise.  “Thorin beard,” okay.  “Thorin beard Klingon,” yes, I did say that.  “Richard Armitage beard,” I’m noticing a theme here.   “How large is Richard Armitage penis,”  Oh. OH!

I sat baffled that somebody expected to find the answer, as if he or persons unknown measured and put the information out there.  Then I was stunned this inquiring somebody hit MY blog!  Let’s be clear: I have never and will never blog such a topic to be remembered for all posterity on the internet.  I have standards.  That’s what the chat room is for.  (Seriously, if you haven’t participated in our sessions, you’ve been missing out.)  That’s all I’m sayin’.

Distracted by this discovery, I strained the brain all day trying to make the herculean leap from RA’s little Richie to today’s Serene Sunday.   One idea was wildly inappropriate so I decided to be good and stay with, you know, those standards I mentioned.  So, *ahem,* moving right along.   “Serene” can be applied to other songs besides spirituals, something that is also calm, peace, unruffled.  The following song is perfect for a lazy afternoon.  It’s smooth, pleasant and catchy.   I’m sure RA has been taking it easy today and hope you did as well.

Here is Groovin’ on a Sunday Afternoon by the Rascals





For those of you craving that dollop of RA, here’s a recent photo to contemplate as you listen.


Richard Armitage at the NYC Captain America premiere 2011; courtesy


Surreal Saturday

Happy weekend!  It’s promising for me because the insufferable heat and humidity has finally broken.  I drop like a fly in this weather so stayed indoors during the worst of it.  It’s the only time I regret not having a car.  This means I must be one of the last people see Harry Potter and Captain America.  I intended to rectify that today: HP or CA?  Decisions, decision, decisions.

For those following my London travelogue, sponsored by Murphy’s Law, I’m still piecing it together.   Thinking about it too hard caused a log jam, but after taking a needed break from the computer, more details are coming back to me.   Memory is funny that way.

Speaking of disasters I came this commercial on YouTube.  It’s funny and on some level identified with the poor guy.


banned beer commercial

beer can save lives, greene king ipa, super


London and Me, or Winston, We’re Not in Kansas Anymore: Part 2

[This post is reconstructed from semi-coherent posts and tweets on Facebook and Twitter.  Social medial experts call it microblogging.  I call it leaving a trail to remember I was there.  If you want to read about the newspaper account, click here. If you forgot who or what Winston is, click here.  If you want to read past installments click here.]


Tuesday, June 21st


I arrive at the airport with no mishaps: read departure time correctly, remember to pack everything including iPhone, iPad and their accoutrements,  comfort upset Patty (my real dog), remember passport (barely) and tickets, get limo on time, and hit no traffic snags.  I lug my spanking new red overnight suitcase purchased to better identify my luggage in the sea of black.  Medication is split between bag and purse in case something is lost.  The cotton waist pouch under my clothes contains money, birth certificate, copy of passport, credit cards and other personals in case I’m mugged. I check the suitcase and watch it disappear in the bowels of the airport.  Security flows relatively smoothly.  I’m not selected for “advanced security clearance.”  A wave of my new enhanced security chipped U.S. passport gets me everywhere I want to go.    The Golden Arches beckon and I indulge in a Big Mac happy meal reasoning this is vacation time. I walk miles through the main terminal, down into the even longer funky multi-color lit people mover and into the United’s steel and glass terminal Concourse C.


The lounge holds seats for the 6 surrounding gates.  It’s a very hot humid day and the AC is barely detectable.  I find my gate – Chicago to Ottawa departing at 7:00PM, take a seat and chow down.  Rubbernecking reveals the plane is at the gate.  Things are going swimmingly. A gate door opens and I breathe in the heady aroma of jet fuel, infusing me with a sense of contentedness and well-bearing.  How I love the smell!  I’m doing what I love, traveling, to a place I love.  The only thing better would have been to leave from the international terminal, but no worries.  Winston sleeps in my bag, snuggling his bottle of happy pills.  I’m almost fond of him.  Almost.  I’m cool.


After quickly popping into the women’s restroom and not the men’s (don’t ask), I gather my things.  The airline rep announces the flight is delayed until 8:00PM.  We look out at the mildly overcast sky, puzzled.  My Ottawa connection to London is at 10:30PM-ish.  A passing flight attendant confirms I’ll need to clear customs in Canada first, so there’s no way in hell I will make that flight; I’ll need to reschedule.  Damn it!

I find customer service has a maze and a long line.  Pulling out the trusty iPhone, I call their line and wait on hold as I stand.  Everybody around me is doing the same thing.  After 50 fruitless minutes, I decide to sort things out in Ottawa and return to the gate.


We board quickly.  I luckily get a single row seat still worrying about the London flight. Will I get another in the morning?  The plane taxis, and taxis and taxis and I wonder if we’re driving there instead.  A flash catches my eye, then another and another.  It dawns on me we are taxiing into a lightning storm, while in a pressurized metal can.  This is not good.   The pilot chirps rather loudly over the PA system, “well, we’re not taking off folks; there’s a storm coming.  So, just hold on!”  WHAT?

Suddenly the heavens open and a curtain of rain hits with a WHOOSH. The rain is so torrential we can’t see out.  I’m usually unflappable during travel.  The increasing lightning storm around our little sardine can has me only slightly concerned.  That is until the gale hit, rocking the plane back and forth. “Oh shit,” I mumble.  The passengers around me obviously think the same thing as we clutch our armrests.  The wind whips and howls.  It’s like the Blizzard of 2011 except with water.  Everybody is actually remarkable calm considering. They probably are pondering the weighty question of why we waited to taxi into a lightning storm like I am.  I mull how long it would take United to go out of business after paying out outrageous settlements to our heirs because all the passengers and crew were electrocuted or drowned or both.  I feel the solidarity with my co-travelers and hope we will be commemorated by President Obama in a special ceremony.  I’m cool.   I wonder if the others are medicated too.


The storm abates.  The plane has not shaken apart or sprung a leak.  The chirpy pilot returns.  I start to hate him.  “The storm looks like it’s passing over but the tower says we need to return to the gate.”  No shit.  “The problem is it will take time to find a gate, maybe upwards of an hour.”  Out come the phones to call customer service.  I try but notice my battery is low so opt to wait.  The flight attendant passes through with cups of water.  She later does the same with salty pretzels -after we drink the water.  We taxi, and taxi and taxi back and double park along a median strip. I listen to a woman behind me give extraordinarily complicated directions to a third party for booking another flight.  I chat with a stressed young woman from Ottawa who has to be at work the next morning.  The pilot chirps from time to time. I imagine sticking him with pins to fix that chirp but Winston snorts in my bag so I switch to rubbing his tummy and he goes to back to sleep.  I’m cool.


We finally are in hailing distance of a gate and dumped.  After three hours in a plane without ever taking off, nobody cares.  Ironically we could have flown to, back and to Ottawa in that time.  We trudge into the terminal which turns out to be Concourse B and hordes of milling people. Instead of emptying out, the place looks like the middle of the day.  I again find customer service behind a maze behind a line and queue behind a young newlywed couple.

“Guess I’m not getting to London anytime soon,” I say.

“Oh we just flew in from London,” says the groom.  “The turbulence was awful from the east coast.  But wasn’t that exciting?

I am clueless.

“You missed it? The concourse was evacuated.  A tornado was in the area and they moved us down to the people mover area cuz this place is glass. Hundreds of people down there.”

“Yeah I missed it,” I yelp. “Because I was sitting in a little metal plane out in the middle of nowhere waiting to get hit by lightning or sucked up!”

“Wow!” the bride says.

“Guess you guys were on your own,” he snickers.


Tuesday, June 21st to Wednesday, June 22nd

11:00PM – 12:30AM

Eavesdropping passengers around us join in with their stories. We eventually piece together that the storm was so big, all eastbound flights were cancelled. It doesn’t look good but there is nothing I can do.  Shit happens, as they say. Hopefully I can reach London by Wednesday night.  I’m cool.

The other stranded passengers realize the same thing and after awhile people laugh and talk. We save spots for each other for toilet and food breaks.   Occasionally some hothead screams on his phone and those around him murmur in disapproval.

“Don’t be a dick,” smirks the groom.

As we enter the maze, we spot an elderly distressed Japanese couple with an increasing disgruntled rep.  They clearly don’t speak English.  Word passes down the line and a young woman volunteers to translate.  She quickly handles everything much to the couple’s relief.  We cheer the woman as the smiling couple departs and motion her to complete her business.  It’s a feel good moment and everybody looks at each other smiling.  I idly mused if enough people had playing cards we could break into bridge groups, or maybe do pinochle.  I’m cool.


I approach the airline rep.  Let’s call her She so I don’t call her something else.

“What’s you final destination?” She asks.


“Well I can’t help you.  We only do domestic here.”  She’s mouth forms a grim line.

“But I had a connection in Ottawa.”

“Sorry, we only do domestic here. You’ll have to leave security and go to the international terminal or go to customer service in Concourse C.”

I stare at She.  “Are you SERIOUS?”

“Ma’am we only handle regional flights here.”

“My regional flight originated here.  This is where I was supposed to leave from.”

“But your final destination is London and that’s international.  You need to go to Concourse C.  She scowls.

“Are you seriously not going to help me after I’ve been standing in line for a hour and a half?   You want me to stand in another line?”

“There’s nothing I can do,” She spat.

I step away in complete astonishment.

‘She refuses to help me,” I say to the line.

“What?!” says the line.

“Yes? Did you say something?” She calls over.

“I can’t believe you’re refusing to help me!”

“Ma’am, you’ve got to go Concourse C. It’s that way!”  She points viciously.

Winston stirs in my bag.

“Rarf?” he asks.

“Shut up!” I snarl.  He goes back to sleep.

I’m so not cool.



I storm down into the not so funky multi-color lit people mover and up back all the way to Concourse C where customer service sits behind a maze behind a line literally gates long. I waylay a young pert rep supervisor in stilettos pretending everything is under control and tell her what happened.  “I don’t know why she wouldn’t help but we’re take care of you here,” she coos and beats a hasty retreat.

I queue with an old English lady who is as dotty as I am furious.  I compose a scathing but brilliantly crafted testimonial and indictment of the airline in my head.  An ironclad legal defense for airport rage blooms in my mind like an epiphany as I sense a Wednesday night arrival slipping away. I’m handed a voucher for a reduced hotel room; they do not reimburse for weather-related cancellations. The line inches and stalls, but mostly stalls.

Winston quivers with fear in my bag.


A young rep supervisor arrives but he’s not wearing stilettos.

“We’re taking about 25 people over to Concourse B. They handle domestic and international there,” the supervisor announces.  People tiredly drudge towards him like dying men to an oasis.

“But I was over in Concourse B and your rep refused to help me saying she didn’t handle international!  She REFUSED!  And I’ve been standing in lines for almost THREE HOURS!”  I am incandescent.

“What!”  The supervisor has the grace to look indignant.  “I don’t know why that happened.  You stay with me.”

I remain close as he organizes a group and issues order into his walkey-talkey.  He’s apparently a real honcho because other reps crowd around waiting for instruction.  Wild horses couldn’t tear me away from him now.  He marches us through Concourse C, down through the damn headache inducing multi-color lit people mover and back up to Concourse B.  The crowd is herded to the scene of the crime.  He barks more orders; it’s almost time to shut down operations and send the reps home.

The supervisor shepherds me past gates looking for particular people.  He finds an older rep willing to help me when she hears my story although she’s technically off duty. Let’s call her Ms. Wonderful.  Ms. W. exudes experience and compassion and I deflate like a balloon.  She motions me to a terminal and gets to work.


I drape myself across the counter in exhaustion as she searches and mutters. Ms. W. discovers the issue is how to get me out of the country.  The eastbound cancellations also affect international hubs in Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey.  I can’t get a flight on any other carrier either direct or non-direct. My heart sinks.  The trip is quickly turning into an expensive long weekend abroad.  I debate whether to give up and go home.  Winston stirs.  I groan.  Ms. W. offers two options from which to choose.  Winston peers out with interest.  I decide to sally forth and pick option B: an early flight to Reagan Airport in Washington D.C., shuttle to Dulles Airport, and then a night flight to London.  I would arrive Thursday morning, and still see the show that night.  This trip can still be salvaged.  I’m proud of my optimism and persistence. Winston harrumphs and goes back to sleep.  Little bastard.


I wear a fleece hoody zipped to my neck but I’m cold.  The airport AC had been set to 32F after all.  People wrap themselves in blankets which are flying off the shelves at the only open drug store in the terminal.  I rush in and get one for myself.  Starbucks is also open, selling hot coffee by the vat.  I decide caffeine now is a bad idea.


I walk miles up and down the concourse, wrapped in a blanket with a phone in one hand and an AC cord in the other looking for an available outlet to recharge the damn thing.  I see bundled shapes huddled by plugs, sometimes hogging two, recharging their phones, iPads and laptops. It’s every geek for himself.  I eye a spare outlet but a shape moves and gives me the evil eye.  I move on.  I find a spare and plug in, but realize I need to guard the phone.  It’s so cold.  I give up after half a hour.


I walk up and down the concourse looking for a place to sleep.  It made no sense to pay for a hotel since the flight was at 7:30AM.  Sleeping bodies lie everywhere, on seats, on the floor, across a stage, up against pillars.  I’d seen newscasts showing hundreds of travelers trapped in airports and wondered what it as like.  I wonder no more.  Finally I spot a row of armless seats not under an air vent.  Mummifying myself in the blanket and using the bag as a pillow, I stretch out and slip into semi-unconsciousness.

Winston snores.


NEXT: London or Bust



London and Me, or Two Ships that Almost Passed in the Night: Part 1

I’ve touched some heavy topics like depression, racism and the impact of Richard Armitage’s facial hair. It’s time to move on a lighter topic: London!

I left off blogging about the suspenseful 4th week on medication. Ordinarily this would have been only me and my shrink heaving a sigh of relief as Winston morphed into a pug and hid in my bag. But I also had a long standing problem demanding resolution. In January, I purchased tickets to see two performances of Much Ado About Nothing with David Tennant (my Other Squee) and Catherine Tate in London for the third week of June. In March, my computer fell ill with a virus, causing me to lose about everything including my ticket reservation code and dates. I tentatively planned to leave Saturday, June 18th and spend a week there. But as Winston dragged me down, it became unlikely I had the mental wherewithal to do anything, much less vacation alone in a foreign country even though I’d been there many times. I renewed my passport and had it expensively expedited. I moped and procrastinated and despairingly checked the expensive air fares. My friends asked how I would cope if something bad happened? (My backpack with passport was stolen on an earlier trip.) I suspected not well. Still it galled that I would miss seeing DT and the city I loved.

The 4th week when my medication kicked in was the same week I’d planned to leave. As I sat talking to my shrink on June 16th, an inner voice I’d not heard in a while spoke up. Not sure whether Freud would have called this my id, ego or super ego, but I call her Jada. Jada suggested that since I was so much better the trip could still be salvaged; I could get there in time to see the second show (I was convinced the tickets were for the following Tuesday and Thursday. Remember that, dear reader.) Dr. G. thought this an excellent idea. I thought my chances of finding a relatively decent air fare on short notice was as good as getting the stars’ autographs – meaning nil. (Remember that one too.) That night I found the cheapest fare yet and a Bed & Breakfast to boot. So I booked everything. This was Thursday, June 16th. I was to leave Tuesday night, June 21st. This was my shortest turnaround for a trip ever. I’d never been on a trip alone so that was a bit scary. But I would see DT onstage again and London after all.

I was a happy camper through better chemistry, so I was chuffed.

Next: Travel Trauma!

In Which I Shamelessly Plug My Blog – On My Blog

Welcome new subscribers!  Feel free to make yourselves at home.  As I said when first starting this writing, this blog is mainly about getting my creative literary juices flowing again.  I’ll discuss everything from A to Z peppered with comments about a certain Richard Armitage because he’s what you people really come here for.  I’ll especially return to him to stir the pot because it’s what I *do*.   Pretty pretty pictures may also find their way here.

I notice a few of you are looking through old posts.  May I suggest the Fanstravaganza 2 ones?  They were great fun to write and contain much eye candy. That I managed to write about Guy of Gisborne for eight straight days still amazes me.  Plus we can use more Guy converts.  So, have a look, tell your family, tell your friends!  Seriously, we need more converts.  Just click here and work from the bottom posts up.

EDIT: Due to migrating from to, formating is a little odd on some posts prior to April.  I ‘m manually fixing each one, but they are readable.

Anyway, here’s some motivation to get you started:

A work of art

Richard Armitage shows that dancer's physique; Spooks S9; Courtesy,

On Meeting A Fellow Fan: the Other Fan

Yesterday Servetus posted about meeting a fellow fan on Saturday but mentioned no name.

I’m the mystery fellow fan.

She wrote in a circumspect manner so that I could decide whether to blog or not.  My hesitation wasn’t due to Servetus, she’s exactly the way she seemed otherwise:  intelligent, accomplished, perceptive, funny, empathetic, engaging and approachable. Part of my reluctance was because I felt unable to legitimately talk about our meeting without talking about past experiences. I stated in an earlier post that fandom was one of this blog’s topics.  It’s turned out to be a tricky and touchy subject to discuss and it’s hard to decide where to begin. This is as good a point as any.

When Servetus first suggested meeting, I was surprised but enthusiastic. I’ve met many people, over the years in Star Trek and then most significantly, Doctor Who fandom, both collectively at conventions and separately.  Generally it’s been a positive experience.  Two people I met through DW are still my best friends 15 later.  Many from DW fandom follow each other on Facebook.  I met up with friends in London last month with whom I have kept in touch with on Twitter and it was if I’d just seen them last year. Passion for the show has waxed and waned but people still remain friends.  I’m connected to a nice circle of people for such disparate backgrounds and countries.  We are diverse but like-minded in valuing respect, equality, common decency, debate and civility. When the chips are done, we have supported and defended each other against those who violate those values.  Everybody can vouch for each other (or find somebody who can); it’s a safe circle. And it all started on the internet, with nobody knowing each other in real life.  I particularly appreciate this safety because it’s kept me insulated from certain unpleasantness.

After Servetus and I agreed to meet, I was excited that we were part of the first group in ArmitageWorld to cross the boundary from virtual to real life.  We were ArmitageWorld pioneers who would meet each other then two more and they would meet two more and so on and so on, just like that old shampoo commercial.  Then I remembered nobody had ever seen me in this fandom and an ugly old potential problem reared it’s head: racism.  I’m African-American.  In an ideal world that shouldn’t matter but on two occasions it shockingly mattered, once before they ever met me, the other long after.  To say I was stunned is an understatement and since then I’ve been acutely conscious that internet anonymity is a double edged sword.  It can afford the freedom to explore oneself but it can also conceal.  My circle rallied to me and gave those two hell but still I was hurt.

So I addressed the issue directly with Servetus.  She was at first flippant (hope you don’t mind I’m white!), reassuring, then concerned which turned to dismay and sadness when I explained I didn’t suspect her of bigotry; I simply needed to clear the air to avoid any ugly surprises.  This is the world in which I live, the mythical post-racial America. It’s a problem not likely to go away in my lifetime.

stock vector peopleAs I said earlier, my fandom experiences have been mostly positive.  I enjoy virtual friendships and getting to know people online.  However as Servetus blogged about identity, I can only see the face a person presents to the world, the public persona.  I can gauge and assess what a person’s true persona might be to a degree, if they are not hiding behind a mask, but it’s not until I cross the boundary from virtual to reality and actually  interact with and observe that person’s expressions, gestures, demeanor, personality, and attitude that I can lay a foundation for a meaningful lasting friendship.  I noticed on Servetus’s blog that other fans are suggesting doing the same.  I heartily encourage this.  The virtual world and the internet have its uses, but crossing into real life is priceless.


Serene Sunday: Precious Lord

In memory of those lost in the senseless carnage in Norway, one particular hymn came to mind for today’s selection.  Thomas Andrew Dorsey wrote it in 1932 after the death of his wife and son in childbirth.  He purportedly said ” the words healed his spirit. I learned that when we are in deepest grief, when we are furthest from God, this was when He is closest and we are most open to His restoring power.”

This beautiful  hymn has been translated into 32 languages and is widely sung at funerals and memorials.  It was performed at the funerals of my parents and grandmother.  It moves me to tears every time because of the associations. However I want to share it with you and anybody else who might gain comfort from it on this somber occasion.  I’ve chosen gospel great Mahalia Jackson’s version that is definitive as far as I’m concerned.

Here is Precious Lord, Take My Hand.

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m lone
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When my way grows drear precious Lord linger near
When my light is almost gone
Hear my cry, hear my call
Hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When the darkness appears and the night draws near
And the day is past and gone
At the river I stand
Guide my feet, hold my hand
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m lone
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home



Here is a longer and clearer rendition:




Surreal Saturday

Oh no, missed a day!  All those RA posts zapped my fangurl strength.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Surprisingly the baby beard/no-beard camp is increasing in numbers by the day, so I take heart.

Since you all probably need a break from all that testosterone I offer another Surreal Saturday. Today, it’s DeStorm again.   He never ceases to amaze me especially with this challenge, rapping in pig latin.  I could hard say a sentence much less sing it.  Can you do it?



Add to Favorite and share! pig latin becomes a huge tongue twister when trying to rap…this was a lot tougher than I originally expected…but not impossible. BAM! done and done. My iPhone, iPod, iPad App: Also available on the Android platform.





The Infamous Beard Post: Take 3!

There’s been a veritable monsoon of all things Richard Armitage in the past few days.  Last night, a group of us camped in the chat room, multiple browsers at the ready (or fingers on the recorders and screen cappers) and watched RA take his first Hollywood walk down the red carpet at the Captain America premiere in L.A.

He arrived looking dapper in a Tom Ford suit blah blah blah – let’s cut to the chase:

RA showcases the sharply dressed man. Courtesy of Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Our suit expert (Servetus) stated the suit fit him well.  It’s a designer suit, it had better.  Let’s have a closer look at our rising international star:

Richard Armitage at Captain America

RA is amused when he's introduced as Richard Armitahge. Courtesy of Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

This is one of the best pictures because of his big smile.  The suit does look expensive although the striped shirt and checkered tie tend to strobe under lights.  But let’s look closer:

RA wonders if anybody knows how to pronounce his name. Courtesy Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Ah yes, those eyes are just as lovely as ever.  Truly his best feature in my opinion.  Oh, and look at his beard, it’s… er… it’s er…longer…fuller…almost bushier… it’s GROWN. It’s ungroomed and marching down his neck.  DUDE!  The Beard is getting it’s act together and going it alone.  The buzz cut must be jealous.

Having resigned myself to The Beard I happened on a certain forum to get eyewitness reports from two ecstatic women (so happy for you!) and what should I read but discontent in the beardy ranks!  Apparently quite a few in the beardy camp thought things were getting too wild and woolly for their tastes. They said he looked older and maybe more stodgy.  Apparently more than a baby beard killed the doparmitage effect; they weren’t feeling it any more. Then I heard the same thing on Twitter.

Well, that tickled my funny bone and I got to thinking.  Oh yes, wait for it!  He reminded me of television character from my childhood called A Family Affair featuring a proper dapper bearded British butler played by Sebastian Cabot on the left.   Or maybe it’s the one on the right:

RA would be thrilled to be mistaken for Sebastian Cabot circa 1966
Santa was probably hot as a young man. Courtesy of Kevin Payne













With distention in the ranks, I had to rethink my position The Beard.  Much soulful thought later I agree that baby beard a la Recognize magazine still allowed him to look dark, hip and edgy.  But if RA is growing it more, then everything changes.  Chic is one thing; Grizzly Adams is another. My allowance will only go so far.  I really don’t want to start thinking of him as the butler.

RA at his natural glory, lest we forget. Courtesy of


The Other Dog Goes to the Vet or Better Living through Chemistry

Two days ago I announced the return of the new and improved blog.  Actually it’s the new and improved me.  Although I’ve been graciously maintained as a blogger in blogrolls here in ArmitageWorld, many of you probably have noticed long gaps between periods of writing.

In a post over two months ago, I blogged about my problem with my other dog I’ve since called Winston.  He’s named after Winston Churchill and is the metaphorical black dog of depression.  I mentioned he was quite the shapeshifter, changing from a big Great Dane to a small Chihuahua and back at any time.  I had hoped Winston would stay teacup sized but that wasn’t the case.

It turned out to be the lull before the storm. As shown by posts shortly after the beginning of June, I was incapable of writing anything substantive and before long, incapable of writing.  My memory and concentration left me.  I grasped for words, couldn’t retain thoughts, and failed to correct mistakes because I was unaware of having made them.   My paralysis extended to work where extended decompensation was not an option. I’m my sole breadwinner with no back-up support so I didn’t have the luxury of sliding into the stereotypical Victorian “nervous breakdown.” Winston had grown to the size of a Mastiff and was crushing me.  Clearly it was time for action and fast.

Fortunately my job in the federal government made getting help as easy as picking up the phone and going.  There’s nothing inconsequential about depression.  It’s a bitch.  There’s nothing easy about clawing of it either.  Clinically depressed people cannot “snap out of it.” Counseling will not immediately make us better and medication is not a cure.  It’s amazing to me that so many people don’t understand this, even while experts state depression is the most prevalent mental disorder in here in America. Having dealt with this most of my life, I knew things would get worse before they could get better; that’s the way it works.  And it seems every transition into new stages in life creates new kinks, requiring me again to address and cope with depression in new ways.

So Winston and I went to the doctor.  Returning to counseling and medication has been no picnic while learning to deal with Winston instead of resenting the hell out of him.  Medication doesn’t mean taking a pill and everything is alright; it takes 4-6 weeks to determine it’s effectiveness and that isn’t guaranteed.  Different dosages must be considered. Then there’s the side effects.  Some people have known; others don’t have it so good.  For me it was awful and might have put me off it except the physical illness distracted from the mental distress. So I persevered as my body struggled to adjust.

Then sometime in the 4th week, I noticed something different.  On previous medication, I functioned but still had breakthrough symptoms.  This is why you see commercials for drugs such as Abilify, a secondary medication for people taking anti-depressants who are still depressed.  Yes, I felt better but there was something more. I felt not only an absence of misery, but an absence of depression.  Except for a very short period caused by another physical issue, I’ve been depression free for over a month.  This is a completely new experience for me. Winston, now a cute black pug, stays out of my way. Memory and concentration have greatly improved, although they might never return to previous levels. But I can work and write again and solve problems like fixing this blog’s technical problems.  I’m not cured and never will be; this is a lifelong disorder.  Counseling will help me realize my potential as I move into later middle age.  I’m hopeful.

Interestingly, people have told me they’ve observed a slight shift in my personality.  I seem brighter and more engaged.  I’ve noticed a friendlier attitude in others which probably reflects my own.  When I returned to work after a long absence, no less than three people waylaid me on the way to my office, not to talk work, but just to chat. My close friends have reacted favorably too.  After accepting me and Winston for over 15 years, they seemed happy about the new change. When I asked them how they put up with me they said when I was Better Judi, it made the wait worthwhile.  Aww, I love you gals; you know who you are.

In case you wondered how the improved me would react in a crisis, let me assure that very thing happened during that 4th week on medication.  The drama involved thrills and spills, as it were, across international borders.  I kid you not.  But that’s another post.

Images from Living with a Black Dog by Matthew Johnston


The Infamous Beard Post: Redux


I don’t know how to say this.  It flies in the face of better judgment. I can’t even begin to comprehend.

Most of you saw this post in which I passionately argued that a good looking man like Richard Armitage in a beard and a buzz cut was travesty.  The Project magazine photo shoot that caused the whole furor shocked me with RA’s radically different appearance.   Where was his hair and his face – I couldn’t see every inch.  What was the joy in being a shallow fangurl if I couldn’t squee over clean-shaven floppy haired loveliness?  RA’s working look harshed my squee!  It was all ironic and funny.  As the beard and anti-beard camps (well, us 7 against the beardy horde) squared off the post comments, I was forced to give the opposition opinion thoughtful consideration.  Was my assessment a hasty knee jerk reaction?  As the masses continued to swoon in virtual rapture, I couldn’t believe that was the case.  As a psychology enthusiast who is fascinated by workings of the mind (hence the title of this blog, the watcher), I smugly wondered if this wasn’t a case of group behavior/mass hysteria or virtual McClintock Effect (remember women in a dorm?). Calexora theorized this was the dopamine effect.  So was this a definitely a female thing and I was missing out?  Still skeptical, I decided to keep an open mind.

The siege continued as the beardy photos flew around social media.  Fans linked and compared their favorites.  Well, I didn’t have one.  But if forced to choose, I decided this one wasn’t too bad:


RA realizes they lied when they said viewing the film Sex in the City would send chills down his spine.


Then creative types hit me with this.  Oh, that photo:

A beautiful desktop by HeathRa. Very British.


And this:

Ferociously wonderful desktop by BccMee


And this, uh oh that photo again:

Another lovely literary desktop by BccMee


But then there was this.  It’s a Fanny’s (aka Sinjoor on Twitter) film of the one of Project magazine’s artsy iPad video. It’s sideways so cock your head to the left:


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I’m can’t explain exactly what it was here but when RA unveils his head and pierces the viewer with those eyes – I was riveted.  As he moves his head around like a model I have to confess he’s one handsome bastard, beard, buzz cut and all. So congratulations Fanny.  After being cajoled by the beardy horde in chat, blogs and Twitter, you were the one to finally break me with a video of RA in action.  I am defeated.

Before you lot start laughing and cackling in the comments, let’s be clear: I still dislike beards on good looking men and can hardly abide buzz cuts on anybody,  but I’m only make an exception for one Mr. RA.  This is a special case.

So, I’ll just say it.

I like his beard.

Damn it.


THORIN! or Who’s that Klingon?

Sir Peter and his gang launched a brilliant PR campaign to unveil the Hobbit dwarves over the past week.  The big question became when would Thorin (aka Richard Armitage) be revealed.  I’m not a Tolkien fan. I never read any of the books but did see all the LotR films as seasonal blockbuster entertainment.  The whole suspense of “how will Thorin look?” swept me up in spite of myself.  But truthfully the question for my shallow self was “what will they do to Richard?” This was an extension of the debate raging since he was cast: why cast a younger good looking man to play an older dwarf leader if they are going to obliterate those looks in make-up and prosthetics? (Keep in mind I know nothing about the books and hence can happily wallow in my shallowness.)  Well, he burst upon the scene yesterday.  Everybody and their sisters and brothers rushed to judge.

Thorin shows off his knife. Courtesy of


I felt a bit let down. For one, he is hardly recognizable.  After examining his blurry image from the hobbit reveal a few weeks back, I concluded in relief that RA was prosthetics-free.  But this shows he has enhancements to his nose, brow and fingers.  Something else bothered me too but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  Otherwise, I loved the costume and long flowing grey streaked hair complete with braid.

Throughout the day I read mostly positive reactions, that RA looked awesome, that they could see RA in there, that Thorin was fierce and perfectly realized.  Okay, if they said so.  Then I fell over a reference on Twitter which caused me to laugh out loud.

You've got to admit Worf was hot stuff. Courtesy Cine TextAllStar


Thorin looks like a Klingon without ridges. There. I said it.  C’mon, you have to notice a similarity. Look at the wide noses, very prominent brows, long hair, facial hair, and reputation for uber maleness and fierceness.  I couldn’t help making the Klingon comparison because it was the only thing to which I could relate.  Well, this amused me most of the day while I remained ambivalent about Thorin’s look.  I perused to see how real Tolkien fans handled it.  The positive reactions gave way to scathing reviews from purists who exclaimed that Thorin and all the other dwarves looked nothing like described in the book and that Sir Peter was leading their literary masterpiece to rack and ruin.  Others retorted there was wiggle room in the book’s descriptions for interpretation and besides the films were adaptions, not literal translations intended to target both fans and larger audiences.  This sounded reasonable and fair.  I wasn’t perturbed by some of the overly hostile reactions and chuckled as I imagined Thorin as Worf’s long lost older brother.

However this morning I came across a tweet that said in essence: “Yes, that Klingon is Richard Armitage.  This is promising to be the unsexiest blockbuster of next year, what a waste. (my italics)”  What a waste?  I thought that harsh and went about my business.  As I showered (don’t we think our deepest thoughts in the shower?), it dawned on me.  What on earth was that tweeter expecting? What was I expecting, an older, shorter, stubbier S3 Guy of Gisborne? Actually, if S3 Guy had shown up, I would have been thrilled to the tips of my toenails.  But Thorin is a dwarf not a man; any other depiction would harm the integrity of the book.  A Tolkien dwarf is not meant to make fans swoon in lust, except maybe Fili, but he’s young.

So I look at Thorin with new eyes.  He has the nose, brow and fingers befitting a dwarf.  The eyeliner, and long black mane and leather suggest S3 Guy which is fine with me. His gray streaks and lines denote an older but still vital leader.  The picture is dark but I’m sure we will be able to see RA’s lovely expressive eyes with no problem.  So yes, they toned down the pretty boy aspect but RA is still there underneath.  And who knows, through RA’s acting, we may find him sexy indeed.  I have no doubt RA will do this character justice.

Thorin will be awesome.


The Watcher: New and Improved!

I’m officially back in business!

After a prolonged battle with first over open comments and then email notification, I can again interact with you properly, dear reader.  Yes, you can now enjoy the instant gratification of agreeing with my extraordinarily erudite and insightful posts as soon as they are published.  No more wondering what I’ve gone and done today, the answer will be in your mailbox.  Isn’t that marvelous?

So feel free to register/subscribe in the side bar to the right today if you haven’t already. I need to see if that is still working too.  There will be a flurry of new posts coming. For once, I have the problem of too much to talk about instead of not enough.  My muse is baaaack.

Next up: THORIN!  Oh yes.  (As if I’m not in enough trouble already.)



More Tinkering: Test 3

Thorin looks like he had extensive plastic surgery to have those Klingon ridges removed.  Did I writes that?  Whoops, I did it again!

Hope this motivates anybody who received motivation to comment.   😀



Surreal Saturday

This post is seriously late but I’m working to get back in the swim of things.

Weird Al Yankovic has been a favorite musical satirist for the past 20 years.  He’s hilarious, irreverent and usually hits his subjects stop on. Here’s a recent one posted to YouTube.  Enjoy!



The Infamous Beard Post

Unless you were comatose, on the moon or at a Harry Potter marathon, everybody in ArmitageWorld has seen The Pictures.  Ironically I didn’t see them on the iPad publication but in blogs, tweets, Facebook comments and emails within 15 minutes of release.  Richard Armitage has done photo shoots before but the amazing thing about these pictures is how they caused ArmitageWorld to collectively swoon.  I walked over virtual bodies, so to speak, as I was summoned to the chat room for account for myself.

The problem started a few days ago when Sir Peter Jackson released his second video blog.  RA appeared for a few seconds displaying a new look.

He does an escaped convict quite convincingly.

RA as himself, during The Hobbit break

Fans squeed approvingly over the buzz cut (probably short to stay cool under the wig) and clearly natural color hair. They loved his beard.  Simply adored it, would crunch it between their toes and eat it with a spoon if they could.  The consensus was he looked tired but happy if only a little thin and possible sun or wind burned.  They described his look as real and accessible.  What did I think?  Well, you know me.  I wryly commented he looked like an escaped convict who got sun or wind burned going over the wall.  They suspiciously speculated this was not a ringing endorsement.

I knew he would have his beard for the Recognize magazine photo shoot edition due out next month. However the pictures today from Project Magazine came as a surprise.  This is the first one I saw.

RA misses Thorin

RA clearly misses Thorin

Many women (and apparently some fellas) exclaimed this was one of his best pictures EVAH.  He had attained the epitome of manly perfection and need not do anything else to himself.  My reaction was “Nah nuh!”  Hence I ended up in that chat room with the nick “Anti Beard Judi” debating Beard or No Beard (also Hair or Not and Chest Hair or Not – well, you don’t want to know) for almost three hours with no less than 20 people.

RA shows you can mug in style

RA shows how to stylishly mug in dark halls.

I asked what was it about The Beard that made them swoon and break into cold sweats.  They said in a nutshell: “he looks so VIRILE, like a REAL man, not a pretty boy.  He looks so RAW, and PRIMAL and SEXY!  PHWOAR!”  PHWOAR! wasn’t actually used, it was worse than that, but all capital words were.  I was aghast.  “What’s wrong with you girl?” they cried.

“But he IS a pretty boy!,” I retorted.  Let’s look at some examples, shall we?

RA as pretty boy

RA as a pretty boy in main publicity picture

This is his main publicity photo.  It’s slightly and badly airbrushed under the eyes but that’s how he looks. He can’t help himself.  Now look back at the bearded photos.  You can’t see the dimple at the corner of the mouth, the dip over his lip or all of his lips, the curve of his chin or the planes of his face as it slopes downward; you only hair which obscures it all.  You also don’t see how his hair curls over his forehead or gently shapes his face because it’s mostly gone, shorn like a sheep.  And observe, he certainly looks like a virile real man.  Tell me he’s not sexy.

RA still being pretty sans make-up

RA still being pretty sans make-up.

Here he is again, sans make-up after an awards show, still not being able to help himself. There’s some stubble.  He looks about to smile. You see the planes in his face.  You couldn’t see that with a beard.  Hair frames his face, makes you look at everything.  And let’s be honest, we all love to look.  Fans have gushed over these pictures and more.  No matter what fans say, his looks play a significant part in the squee factor.  But now we have pictures like these and fans have lost their minds.

RA thinks the AC is a bit high

RA suspecting the beard disguise won't work anymore either

I don’t care for the beard because it obscures his looks. Beautiful people have no need to cover their faces.  Don’t get me wrong; he’s rocking the beard.  His long angular face goes well with one.  But he doesn’t need one (other than for his character) because it doesn’t really enhance his looks.  Plus a beard with a buzz cut is too much. It’s a personal preference but I think buzz cuts make nobody look good.  They make ugly men uglier and handsome men less so.  They remind me of skinheads, so I guess that would be a personal bias.  I think RA is too good looking for styles that can only take away.

It seems to me from that chat room, setting aside personal preferences for beards and very short hair, that many fans would prefer something that takes away.  They want a beard covering his face and hair shorn to make him less of a pretty boy, the very thing that attracted many fans in the first place.  It’s like many are saying “I can’t stand all this pretty;  I just want him to be (extraordinarily) sexy man next door!”    Am I missing something here?

Call me old-fashioned.  I like a man with hair on his head, and if I’m going to spend my time eyeballing a pretty man, I want to see all the pretty.

Doesn’t anybody agree with me?  Anybody?  Bueller?


All photos courtesy of