As I stated yesterday, Elsa and I went to see The Debt starring Dame Helen Mirren. Mirren is a fabulous actress; she adds class to any project she does so I was keen to see it.
The film is about three Mossad operatives in East Berlin who conspire to kidnap notorious Nazi Dr. Dieter Vogel, the Surgeon of Birkenau and take him to Israel to face trial for war crimes in 1966. This is a take on the kidnapping in Buenas Aires of real Nazi Adolph Eichmann who stood trial in 1961. The film is a remake of the 2007 Israeli film of the same name by Assaf Bernstein. This version was directed by John Madden based on a screenplay written by Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman and Peter Straugha. The operatives (Rachel, David and Stephan) are played by six people, three younger in 1966 (Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington, and Marton Csokas), and three older (Helen Mirren, Ciaran Hinds, and Tom Wilkinson) in 1997. Vogel is played by Jesper Christensen.
The story begins in 1997 when Rachel’s daughter writes a book about her mother’s involvement in the mission, and jumps back and forth in time to show us events might not have been what they seemed. To avoid spoilers, I’ll say that things unravel from there.
Having not seen the original, I had no clue about this version. It’s billed as a suspense thriller and doesn’t disappoint. It’s more than just the intricate staging of a kidnapping however. There’s a strong psychological component to it. The operatives have to reconcile their feelings between the mission (all of them had relatives who died in the concentration camps) and getting Vogel to Israel unharmed. There is a subplot with a sort of menage a trois between Rachel and her two colleagues which seems unnecessary but is a handy vehicle to showcase the hollow souls created by traumatic childhoods. Vogel is not painted as a sympathetic character. He is more of a scientific opportunist than a true believer; his deadly contempt for the Jews stems apparently from their unwillingness to save themselves. Vogel’s monstrousness and those like him haunt the lives of the operatives over the course of the film.
Mirren of course does a marvelous job as the older Rachel in her usual cool understated style. The rest of the cast turns in strong credible performances thanks to the even direction. Even Sam Worthington, who I found wooden in Avatar, stretches himself and made me take a new look. The pacing is even; most of the action suspense occurs in 1966 but the fallout happens in 1997 supplying the psychological suspense.
This film asks a lot questions besides the big one (SPOILER). Elsa and I left the theater debating the purpose of continuing to have World World II trials in the 21 century. Most recently German officials in 2009 brought to trial Nazi guard John Demjanjuk who has been granted US citizen and worked for 30 years as an auto worker in Ohio. This man was 89 years old and had ailments so serious he didn’t know what was going on. Many of the witnesses were either dead or could not identify him after all that time and there was no definite way to prove who he was. In 2011 at age 91 he was convicted of accessory to murder and sentenced to 5 years in prison with a suspended sentence. Was justice being served by prosecuting a very low level Nazi functionary who no longer knew what was happening to him or is it pure revenge? Should these criminals be pursued no matter what to prove the point that war crimes should never escape justice, disregarding the fact that higher level Nazi criminals were granted amnesty and asylum by the Allies in the late 1940s and early 1950s for the knowledge they possessed? Elsa and I could not come to a consensus, although we both agreed the line between justice and patent revenge is almost indistinguishable.
If you’re looking for a mindless action thriller, this isn’t your cup of tea. But if you want a suspenseful thriller about a grim period in history which gives you food for thought long after you’ve left the theater, then I highly recommend this film.
This past weekend I headed out of town to visit one of my buddies, Elsa (she of the Trina, Elsa, and me trio of 15 years and counting. She’s also Patty’s godmother.) Elsa snagged a day off and I seized the opportunity to head to the suburbs for some autumn fun. City girl that I am, I’ve never done any of the fall activities like picking apples in orchards, going on hay rides, carving pumpkins or seeing a cider mill. Elsa offered to take me to Blake’s Farm and Yates Cider Mill. It just so happened that Dhana (she of ArmitageWorld) also lives in the same area. We arranged to meet for Sunday dinner, then sight see at Yates.
As luck would have it, my travel mojo was *still* broken. Everything that could happen did: I forgot my phone and had to retrieve it; the train was late then sat on the tracks; TSA decided to hold up the security line, etc. I missed my plane. But I got a ticket for the next one. However the delay made it too late to visit the orchard. So Elsa and I met with her brother and his SO at Famous Dave’s. I have no clue if this franchise is in Chicago, but it’s a great place for BBQ done the right way, slow cooked with smokey flavor. The desserts were heavenly (Be sure and try the bread pudding or Kahlua chocolate brownie. Mmm.)
Carbonado en Zapalla
Dhana’s travel mojo worked just fine. She bravely drove to Elsa’s house, risking the possibilities we were either ax murderers or would have made her watch the entire tenure of David Tennant in Doctor Who. (Well, I might have done the latter but we didn’t have enough time.) She told me she wasn’t troubled due to experience in meeting members of her quilting group. Dhana sews gorgeous quilts by the way. Dhana is a lovely woman; she is soft-spoken but friendly. She’s also not as quiet as she thinks she is. (I’m looking at you, Dhana.). She showed more of her arts and crafts talents: little converted figurines. She’s transforming RA action figures into other characters and doing quite an amazing job.
I admit to not being concerned as well. Like her, I’m also an old hand at meeting strangers from fandoms and most of them have been good experiences. Meeting Servetus was more daunting because I had to travel alone to a strange city and it would just be her and me. Here, I was on familiar turf with friends. Dhana definitely had the riskier task. Also, since I earlier had gotten the issue of race out of the way by discussing it on my blog, I didn’t have to worry about it anymore.
Sunday dinner was amazing. Elsa loves to cook (she gets upset if she doesn’t get to cook when she visits) and she opted to cook Carbonado en Zapallo , beef stew in a pumpkin. It’s a South American dish that is both slightly sweet and spicy. The ending flourish is cooking the stew the last hour inside a pumpkin and serving it that way. It was a great presentation and an excellent stew. It was so good that I want to make it myself which will be a minor miracle. Dessert was a scrumptious homemade apple custard torte. Every bit of it was gone by the time I left for home.
Conversation was an interesting experience: Elsa was from Doctor Who fandom, Dhana, from AW, and Tom and Ardath from none. I was the only one who linked all of them. What do you talk about when one doesn’t know anything much (or at all) about the other? I felt like Oprah. Happily all the guests didn’t have much trouble finding common ground and the chat went smoothly.
Yates Cider Mill
After dinner, we waddled to our cars to drove to Yates Cider Mill. Elsa and Dhana tell me it used to be in the country but urban sprawl has caught up to it. However it’s located next to a city park that looks like a forest preserve so the area was still woodsy. The mill is what I had expected: a large barn straddling a stream with a giant wheel. The wheel has been turning every season since 1863. The building itself is smaller than expected. It’s still a working mill; workers moved the huge press which churned out pure unpasteurized apple juice. The building also contained a store where you can purchase anything made from apples: cider, donuts, turnovers, pies, and caramel apples. The mill’s grounds were quite crowded with both people and their four legged friends. I’ve never seen so many dogs in one place. So, I was happy camper, sipping cider, eating donuts and chatting with Elsa and Dhana. (Winston was back at the house, being cowered by Ollie and Floyd, Elsa’s Jack Russel terrier and black Labrador.) Finally we bid Dhana adieu and later went to see The Debt with Dame Helen Mirren.
Overall, it was a lovely weekend. My Master Plan proceeds apace. Oh, you don’t know about my Master Plan? Alright, I suppose I’ll have to tell – in another blog post.
When Winston, my black dog of depression, leaps out of the bag, morphs and starts misbehaving, I’ve noticed my pomeranian Patty has been suddenly like velcro at my side. Usually she’d be off loving Dolly (which looks indistinguishable from biting, mauling and beating up her stuffed meerkat) or sleeping under the futon. But when Winston threatens to comes out, Patty has been right there.
I first noticed this when walking her. I’d bring her back in and usually she would trot back through the myriad of doors we have to pass in my building. But on bad days, she would try to get me to go back outside until I’ve dragged her through too many doors. She would persist at the front door, act odd and then give up. At first I assumed she wasn’t finished with her business but each time that has not been the case. She stayed close by, keeping an eye on me although I feel fine. Then later, Winston would come out and run amok.
Courtesty Black Pug Art, Deviant Art
It turns out this type of behavior is not unusual. Sensitive canines such as seizure alert dogs are being used to assist epileptics. They also may be able to detect other disorders including diabetes and cancer. Scientists aren’t sure exactly why animals are able to detect the onset of a seizure or a hypoglycemic attack in a human. They theorize dogs are able to smell chemical changes or are more connected to us. Their reactions can be false positives; dogs may react whether it’s an actual episode or not not. However scientists point out the important thing is the owner’s response to the dog’s signals. A diabetic should immediately test her blood sugar; an epileptic should find a safe place to avoid injury. Googling this subject, I’ve learned dogs are also being used as psychiatric service animals to detect disorders like depression.
I’m learning to anticipate the slumps, either alerting myself to log the episode, checking medication or rearranging activities. This has been immeasurable in assisting the doctor in treating my condition. Although Patty has not been trained for any type of detection, perhaps being such a sensitive dog, she has trained herself to anticipate my moods. It appears as if Patty and Winston are squaring off nose to nose like competitors. This possibility grows stronger every day.
It’s Monday again, so time for Fitzg’s Journeys. Today’s installment: Richard Armitage and the archetype of the Byronic hero.
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My older brother bought a lot of 45s (remember those?) for his much prized record player. One of his favorites was R&B singer/songwriter Sam Cooke’sChange Gonna Come produced in 1964. As a four year old, I couldn’t really understand the lyrics but I sensed the world weariness behind the words. Cooke, usually known for light songs, penned the lyrics following the death of his 18 month of old son. His entourage being arrested for disturbing the peace after attempting to register at a whites-only hotel in Louisiana also contributed to his mood. Change Gonna Come became one of the ballads for the Civil Rights Movement. It was released posthumously in 1964 after Cooke’s murder. Initially not a Top 40 chart hit, the song has become a Cooke classic.
Although it was released as a R&B ballad, Change Gonna Come has a decided spiritual essence that speaks of maintaining hope and faith that “change gonna come” in the face of life’s obstacles. I listen when feeling blue; it lends me strength and faith that things will get better. This song remains one of my favorites today.
I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh and just like the river I’ve been running ever since
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will
It’s been too hard living but I’m afraid to die
Cause I don’t know what’s up there beyond the sky
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will
I go to the movie and I go downtown
Somebody keep telling me don’t hang around
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will
Then I go to my brother
And I say brother help me please
But he winds up knocking me
Back down on my knees
There been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long
But now I think I’m able to carry on
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will
I’m reaching back again to man DeStorm for today. Two weeks ago he hit 1,000,000 subscribers on YouTube. In honor of the occasion, he put together another Soul Toon episode – Disney version! This young man is very talented; you really must take a look at his other videos. You’ll bound to find something you like.
WordPress.org is becoming sentient. It just took a draft post and published it – dated three days ago. If some of you saw the “Patty Takes on Winston” post, that’s not supposed to go live until next Tuesday. For once, I’m not trying to be a tease today. So if you see any other strange goings-on here, HAL is messing with me.
Anyway, how about another kind of tease?
Richard Armitage in 2004 promotion shoot; Courtesy RichardArmitageNet.com
Since discussing Richard Armitage’s being callipygian and David Tennant’s sexiness, I have been mulling over the definition of what is “sexy.” According to the new urban slang, something can be sexy without having to do with sex. A thing can be sexy if it’s exciting or interesting; it gives you a thrill when thinking about it.
Being a geek, all electronics can be sexy to me. Yes, anything that smacks of computers, electronics, do-dads etc interests me. But all things electronic aren’t sexy. There has to be some panache, something special about it that captures my eye and inspires desire – to buy it. For example, a new Apple laptop launch arrested my attention:
Oooh, this screams, "come here."
No this is not free advertising for Apple (although it could be. Hi Apple!) I’m saying that this new, sleek, compact, screamingly fast, lightweight piece of beautiful engineering strongly appeals to my geek aesthetic sense; it’s sexy. It thrills me. I want it although I probably won’t buy it being indoctrinated in PC world. (Sorry Apple). But all that won’t stop me from finding it sexy.
So what about you Dear Reader? What things do you find sexy? The taste of chocolate? The smell of a favorite cologne or perfume? The sounds of a man cooking in the kitchen? You know there’s something that gives you buzz.
Yesterday I talked about Richard Armitage’s being callipygian for obvious reasons. There’s no doubt he’s a very attractive man, but he’s not the only one. Although ArmitageWorld is dedicated to all things RA, I wonder how many fans have other squees on the side, other actors they crush on.
David Tennant; publicity shot courtesy david-tennant.com
It’s no secret that my other crush is another British actor David Tennant (see a pattern here?). (If this is news you need to start reading my London adventure). I discovered DT back in 2006 when he played the 10th Doctor on the popular British sci-fi series Doctor Who. I didn’t even like him at first, but he won me over. He has much in common with RA: same age, similar upbringing, classically trained in drama school, similar approaches to acting, similar talents, similar personalities. DT became acclaimed as a Shakespearean actor on the stage before making it big on television. It’s likely because of DT that I found myself drawn to RA.
As pointed out in the chat room (what, you still haven’t visited?), a big difference between the two is RA wins in the looks department. DT is cute with boyish looks. He also has a very slight wiry but slight build, so much so that he’s been accused of not eating properly. I’ll admit DT does not have RA’s stunning good looks or physique. But while not on the same level as RA in the looks department, many people including myself find him incredibly sexy. Why?
Richard Armitage; publicity shot courtesy richardarmitagenet.com
There are other factors which contribute to sexiness besides looks and physique, such as personality, presence, and charisma. Every article I’ve read about him point out these same things in one form or another. Plus, he has one additional factor: confidence. He is comfortable in his own skin and aware of his talents without being arrogant. This shows in interviews and his work. I find this terribly sexy.
Before RA, I was only able to crush on one actor at a time. Not sure why that was. I have spent five years and counting in DT fandom. Then either my gaze widened or I tapped a new level of perving (otherwise known as graduating to dirty old woman), but I discovered I could appreciate the attributes of two men at once. And for the record, that has not extended to my real life. Damn.
So confess Dear Reader; what other actor do you find sexy and why? Can you crush on more than one at a time? Are you straddling two fandoms? Let me know; tell me your stories!
“Callipygian is a word coined by the ancient Greeks (‘kallipygos’) that means ‘having beautiful buttocks.” This picture was associated with that reference:
A nice example of beautiful buttocks. Courtesy RichardArmitageNet.com
This screen capture is of course Richard Armitage in Ultimate Force. Ancient Greeks would say he is quite callipygian. Now this type of talk in the modern age raises protests of objectification. My question is: why does that have to be so?
Ancient antiquity has always depicted nude image and statues of the human form.
(l) Greek male nude (r) Replica of nude male wrestlers. Both quite nude. Courtesy of Greek Museum Authority
The human form has always been considered a source of nature beauty, sculpted and painted for ages. It’s certainly safe to say that because artists could not take actual human being and freeze them in time, they froze them through other media. The following picture of Michelangelo’s “David,” sculpted circa 1501, is considered a masterpiece:
Michelangelo's "David." Courtesy of Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence
Millions of tourists flock to see this statue. Nobody would say (other than the must repressed prurient type) that it’s improper to admire and even study this work of art. People would certainly say “David” is callipygian even though it’s an idealized medieval depiction of a human male. Nobody could convincingly argue that Michelangelo objectified the human form unless they believe that all nudity is inappropriate. Since that’s not my premise, I won’t answer that argument since it takes us down the road of morality and personal taste which I’m not discussing here.
So why do fans become uncomfortable when viewing this picture? It caused quite a stir when first published:
Richard Armitage as Lucas festooned in tattoos. Would you say this form isn't view-worthy? Courtesy RichardArmitageNet.com
I observe similar lines and muscles depicted in the idealized statues. If fact, the real human form is more beautiful because it shows the real flawed form, not simply an idealization. Does viewing his form suddenly become objectification because he’s a living man? Is it improper to also say he’s callipygian here? I argue no.
Sexual objectification arises when a person is viewed as an sexual object or only as one. I have yet to find any fan forum where RA’s artistry and personality isn’t also discussed in detail. He is not seen solely as an object of lust. However, it’s self-delusional to say that he shouldn’t be viewed as the sexy man he is. Human beings are sexual creatures; this is how we have the drive to reproduce our species (or not, as the case may be). We are hard-wired to perv each other. We sexually objectify each other to a degree on an instinctual level. We view the human form as desirable and have since probably cave man times. This form has been frankly depicted since antiquity. The fact that the modern media makes it possible to photograph the human form in real time doesn’t change anything.
I’m always amused when women protest the loudest that men should not be objectified because it implies a hypocrisy in protesting against female objectification. I have problems with female objectification only to the extent that it’s used for exploitation. When that’s not the case, I have no issue if Halle Berry’s fans consider her the epitome of beauty. Conversely I have no problem with male objectification and feel no shame and admiring male beauty. Is RA being exploited? He is a grown man who made informed choices to appear in roles requiring undress. I don’t believe it’s for us to question his judgment as to whether that undress was integral to the story or gratuitous. I’m comfortable respecting his decisions as to whether he considers himself exploited or not. I can safely assume he would not take a role he deemed exploitative. Even if he did, it was still his decision. So, I feel free to say that RA’s is callipygian in particular and gorgeous in general without any need to justify.
Here’s an absolutely callipygian screen cap:
Richard Armitage as Paul in Between the Sheets. Callipygian, no? My screen cap.
Very callipygian. Yes? Richard Armitage as Lucas North. Donated artistic screen cap.
What, no? Does it really make a difference that this is a screen cap of a real man playing a fictional role in a fictional series? What if RA decided to pose nude as himself? I don’t think this picture is less worthy of being admired than if a sculptor made an approved marble statue of his bum or his body and placed it in a museum. As a straight sexual female, I will admire his body no matter what form it took.
I’m amused every time the objectification issue arises. When the above tatted picture surfaced, fans drooled but always rushed to add they also admired RA’s work and personality lest they be accused of objectification, although this was understood by everybody. I find all this protestation unnecessary. It’s time to drop that veil of political correctness and just be honest as fans. We like to look up RA’s form because it’s beautiful and desirable.
Hot on the heels of last Thursday’s post, I decided to continue making little films but quickly ran out of usable footage. One of the big problems recording with an iPhone is making sure to shoot horizontal and not vertical. Hence I wrecked a nice film recorded at a Japanese hibachi restaurant. What to do? I don’t intend to make fan videos but it would interesting to learn about the process. Interviewing other video makers about the how-to seemed the best way to go, until I realized that many of the main fan vidders had already been interviewed for the two Fanstravaganzas. Great.
Although the task seemed daunting, the only thing to do was read up a bit and jump right in. It turned out to be not quite like that. So, hypothetically, if I were a new video maker interested in leaping into the fray, what exactly would it take?
First I would have to select the editing software. Being cheap, I would opt to use Windows Live Movie Maker bundled with Windows 7. This program was not immediately intuitive. The idiot proof aspect occurred only after I watched the tutorials. However, producing the fireworks and bicycle videos were simple and linear. They simply required music and transitions if needed. But how would you tell your own story in a fan video using footage from a series?
Second, I learned not to grab any kind of footage, so I had to read about ripping raw footage from a DVD. This would require downloading a small but powerful program, MPEG Streamclip. If I used clips, they had to be preferably high quality. But I couldn’t edit that footage yet in WMM – I would have to “set up” the clips or my video would look like garbage.
Third, I learned from nifty tutorials all over video forums how to setup clips, that is how to process and convert them to a format appropriate for editing. This meant I would have to know the resolution (i.e. 720×526), format (PAL or NTSC) and aspect 16:9 (letterbox)/ 4:3 (normal) of the footage. Heaven forbid I didn’t know the right aspect or I’d have squished or squashed images. If I had a mix of resolutions and formats, I would have to convert the clips to be on the same page, as it were. The tutorials provided the exact settings for using MPEG Streamclip. Boom, converted. Once I wrapped my brain around this process, which was the hardest in terms of a learning curve, my studies progressed. (If you’re curious, the answer in my situation was to convert to NTSC DVD DV AVI. Aren’t you glad you know now?). This may sound complicated, but as I said, once it mentally clicked, it’s smooth sailing.
Four, armed with a load of newly convert AVI clips, I would have to attach descriptive labels so they could be used again. THEN I was ready to drag and drop them into WMM. I would select a song, depending on copyright constraints which would be published on either YouTube or other more lenient sites like Vimeo. With the song in place, I would use WMM to edit the clips I wanted and arrange them like a jigsaw puzzle according to taste, tempo and and the story I wished to tell using all the programs bells and whistles if I so chose. Tutorials listed different things to do or avoid in making videos but from watching numerous pieces on the internet I would say it’s all down to viewer personal taste and what the vidder wanted to say.
Five, I would add the title and credits (very important) and render my masterpiece into a file appropriate for posting on video sites and then upload it to that site. That’s it. The video would be out there for all the world to see.
So, after all that study, would I bite the bullet and finally make a fan video? Well, if I did I’d probably select as a topic Sir Guy of Gisborne played by a certain Richard Armitage. Or maybe not.
Today is Monday, that means it’s guest blogger, Fitzg’s day. She’s prepared a blog all about Richard Armitage and LEATHER. (If you’re having problems viewing this post in Internet Explorer, try another browser like Firefox or Chrome. IE does not play well with plugins. If you trouble loading in the small viewer, click the far right icon at the top with the black box in it and it will load in a new window and bigger viewer. iPads don’t have the capability for scrolling needed here.)
Kumbaya was the first spiritual I learned as a child. I recall being taught it during a Girl Scout meeting. Then I heard it frequently during folk revivals, civil rights and Vietnam protests of the 1960s. Kumbaya is Gullah for “Come by here.” It’s an old African American spiritual from the 1930s. According to Wiki, “the song was originally associated with human and spiritual unity, closeness and compassion, and it still is in many places around the world.”
There are many versions but I’ve picked my favorite folks singer, Joan Baez because all this song needs is a simple guitar and lovely voices.
Forgot exactly how I found this video but it’s a hilarious. Put two dogs in a room and I’m sold anyway. This happens to be two dogs arguing – with subtitles. Didn’t you always wonder what they were saying?
As pointed out in my London saga when Winston loves his Happy Pills, my psyche flourishes. This is a very welcome development. I started blogging in an attempt to jump-start my creativity which has lain dormant since law school. Law school by its nature teaches to think inside the box and by the law; creative legal thinking could very well get your client 20 years to life. Over time, my right-brain hemisphere, the seat of creativity, has been very slowly awakening to the idea of returning to things I loved: writing and drawing. I even darkened the door of an art supply store for the first time ever inspired by Zelda’s wonderful artist blog. Schools supplied my earlier tools, so this was a novel experience for me just to buy pencils, charcoal, knead-able erasers and sketch books. I felt a sense of accomplishment walking out with my supplies.
So armed with writing and drawing tools I’m getting right to it, right? Wrong!
Instead I entered the addictive world of video making! For those of you who miss the daily chat room discussions (usually 8:00PM onwards CDT), the topic of video making arose. Video maven BccMee explained the programs she used to make her great videos. She pointed out Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 bundled with Windows 7. (It also is downloadable for Vista). Now, I’ve never paid any attention to this program for some strange reason, I felt compelled to try it. I had gigabytes of video taking up space in my iPhone that needed to seen by somebody’s eyes. So I downloaded it all and proceeded to make movies – for hours. Now I understand the addictive quality of making fanvids. This program is so elegant and simple, it’s almost – I repeat almost- idiot proof. It’s fascinating watching the movie coming together piece by piece to create the finished product. Finally I produced my first actually watchable videos. Who woulda thunk it? So for my 100th post, I’ll share them.
My first attempt is July 4th fireworks filmed live with an iPhone 4 in HD. YouTube blocked it so I had to audio swap (which you can watch) but the original is now on Vimeo. There’s also a short slideshow tribute to my dog Lance if you wish to view.
I filmed the next videos at one of the most interesting places I’ve ever seen, the Bicycle Museum of America in New Bremen, Ohio. I visited this summer with Trinalin who does the honor of correcting my lousy vision. These videos are entertaining and informative especially if you remember the old days and love bikes. Try to watch close to HD if you can.
So, I know you’re thinking: does this mean you’re making fanvids? I don’t know, the idea is tempting. However considering the quality of some of the fabulous ones I’ve seen, I will certainly take my time with the music and compilation. The bar is so high in this area.
So what do you think about fan vidding? Any tips, stories, recommendations? Feel free to share!
As you may already know, the whole purpose of the London saga was to see David Tennant in Much Ado about Nothing. I talked about the astonishing karma I experienced there but didn’t say much about the play itself. Here is the review.
I’ll admit right off that I’m not a Shakespearean expert. I didn’t study him in school, have not seen all his plays and cannot tell which quarto should have been included or not. The intrinsic discovery of the Bard didn’t occur until my late 30s when my mind clicked with both the language and the plots and I acquired a better appreciation through live performance rather than dry text. I vaguely remember the film version with Kenneth Branaugh so there’s no comparison being made in this review.
The action was set in 1980’s Gibraltar with Don Pedro (and his men stationed there including Benedick (David Tennant). Beatrice (Catherine Tate) was the niece of Governor Don Leonato (Jonathon Coy). The production solved the issue of how to get uber famous Tennant on the stage by having him drive on honking a golf cart festooned in Union Jacks. The comedy was slapstick and wrung for the most laughs it could get including a fancy dress disco ball with Tennant dressed in black fishnet stockings and a mini skirt, and swinging Tate in the air from a harness. It also got surprisingly raunchy with a stag party blow up doll and stand up sex in an alley.
For those who don’t know Much Ado: Beatrice and Benedick, confirmed cynical bachelors, are duped into believing they are in love with each other. Their story runs parallel to that of Claudio and Hero who have a more traditional courtship. This is against the backdrop of political intrigue between brothers Don Pedro and Don Leonato.
Tennant was fantastically cynical, funny and smitten with Beatrice. He was clearly at home with Shakespeare and during the scene where he’s tricked into thinking Beatrice was in love with him, he played directly to the audience for all it was worth. There clearly were Doctor Who (Tennant played the 10 Doctor, aka the Lonely God) fans during the evening performance; when Tennant uttered the line “I’ll be like a god!” the audience laughed and groaned. He played that for all it was worth, breaking character for a moment, “Not that god!” His scene contained much slapstick and tomfoolery but he smoothly pulled it off with panache, leaving the audience gasping with laughter. Too bad his duping scene preceded Tate’s because by the time she’s dangling from the ceiling in a painter’s harness, it just wasn’t as funny. Ironic for a woman whose profession is comedic acting.
Tate was very humorous in her funny scenes but somehow missed the mark when poignancy and wistfulness were required. She mostly appeared distant and sarcastic until she heard that Benedick was in love with her. Tate also had difficulty during the scene where they acknowledged their love and she suddenly ordered Benedick to “Kill Claudio!” This scene required an almost instant transitional moment between hilarity and deadly seriousness which Tate didn’t hit consistently during the two performances I saw. That’s not to say Tate didn’t hold her own; it’s that it was apparent to me she was not the same acting caliber as Tennant. I can honestly say this without bias. Had Tennant turned in less than a stellar performance, I certainly would point it out. I believe in saying the emperor has no clothes, if necessary, even about my crushes.
The rest of the cast was quite good with Claudio and Hero (newcomers Tom Bateman and Sarah Macrae). Don John (Elliot Levey) was more of a cardboard villain than a flawed individual which might have been a mistake in characterization. The cast breakout was Dogberry (John Ramm) played as a very funny bumbling Rambo type.
Overall, it was an excellent but flawed production staged by Josie Rourke. Since I can’t recall Branaugh’s version, I can’t say whether it favorably compared. However, I can say that this adaption worked for me. I enjoyed it and found the trip worth it.
Once upon a time in far off internet history (last month), a smitten tweeter raised a question: if you could cast Richard Armitage as a character in a book, who would that be?
There were the excellent but highbrow suggestions such as Heathcliffe in Wuthering Heights. This would tickle me pink because the 1939 version starred my mother’s lifelong crush, the great Lord Laurence Olivier. Somebody suggested he should be Mr. Darcy in yet a new Pride and Prejudice but personally I think Pride and Predjudice has been done to death. It’s time for something more modern yet historical, just as romantic but raunchier.
My suggestion is the knight Sir Nicolas Stafford in A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux. I read this book roughly 20 years ago at an age when bodice rippers appealed to my youthful sensibilities. This is a bodice ripper of sorts but a charming twist. It’s a romantic historical fantasy which our hapless heroine, Dougless Montgomery (how’s that for a British name) weeps atop of the tomb of the long dead Sir Nicolas and he comes to life before her. The rest of the novel follows their adventure of sending him back to his time, 1564, and then in a twist, how to get Dougless back to her time in the 20th century. There is much intrigue and skulduggery as Nicolas and Dougless figure out how to save each others’ destinies.
This book is romantic and a bit fantastic but it reads like the ultimate chick book. What woman wouldn’t like this type of fantasy especially with a tall, dark, good looking blue eyed royal hunk challenging them? When I first read this book many years ago, I wondered who could play this part. No name readily came to mind until I beheld Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne. Ladies, the description of Sir Nicolas is Season 3 Sir Guy when he returned from Prince John’s Red Door Resort and Spa. Exactly. Sir Nicolas has many opportunities to be bare chested, and well, – bare. Aside from that, there is an intriguing plot, clever repartee and in the hands of RA and an actress with whom he had chemistry, the story would sizzle.
Dear Reader, RA was born to play this role. I envision the book made by an independent studio and released as the sleeper of the season. In the right hands, the adaption would be fabulous. So, I strongly suggest you get a copy of this book and see for yourself. Even if you normally dislike potboilers, bodice rippers, and sappy romances, I assure you this story is a cut above; you will enjoy this entertaining and engaging book.
Dougless is confused about who is her Mr. Right. Take a look at newcomer’s Gratiana’s blog who asks: which one of RA’s characters would you consider Mr. Right? It promises to be an interesting discussion.
Can you picture Richard Armitage as a 16th century knight? I knew you could. Courtesy richardarmitagenet.com
[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 forgot who or what Winston is, click here. If you want to read past installments click here.]
There’s not much time to be a tourist today; I have a matinee performance of Much Ado and an evening staging of Butley. Exhaustion is catching up with me. So after a breakfast becoming more Continental than English, I opt to stay in and relax as much as I can on the sloping bed. I doze off and dream.
Winston wonders when the good times will roll. Courtesy of Uglyduckling on Deviant Art
I’m vaguely aware of a soft cold nose nudging me. It’s Winston again. Only he’s being stroked by flashy grinning version of myself. It’s Jodi. As a child, I called Jodi the evil twin I wish I had. As an adult I realize she’s my id, according to good ole Sigmund, one of the three parts of my psyche- id, ego, and super ego. (It’s good to read a lot of psychology.) Usually it’s Jada, the super ego, who does all the thinking and talking. But ever since Winston discovered Happy Pills, Jodi has had more to say. Knowing pleasure loving uninhibited Jodi, this is probably not good.
“Ah, sleeping beauty finally awakes,” says Jodi.
Jada is as practical as ever. “She really does need her rest. Don’t want to get sick do we?
“Yes, but look at the missed opportunities. We could be shopping on High Street or at least finding Lords of the North!
I hate when theses chats happen as if I’m not here. “Look, you weren’t awake for almost two days and sleeping on a bed that feels like it might tip over. And stop spoiling that dog!”
Jodi flops Winston on his back and rubs his belly. “Oh, but he’s such a cutie.”
Winston snorts in delight.
“He’s a cute horror. *You* don’t have to deal with him. What are you guys doing out anyway?”
Jada begins. “We do need to talk about Winston.”
Jodi protests. “What, here, in London?”
Jada begins again. “We need to plan-”
Jodi interrupts. “We need to plan what we’re doing tonight. Evening performance. Saturday night. A night on the town… ” She wiggles her hips. “There’s a club next to Hagen Daz in Leicester Square. You saw last night. Looked like where the beautiful people in black go. And there were some sexy guys…”
Jada pales. “We didn’t come prepared for that – sort of thing.”
Jodi grins. “Oh, you even remember what that – sort of thing- is?”
I laugh. “Beautiful? Well that leaves me out.”
Jodi is not phased. “You should have brought that little black dress. It’s not too late to hit Marks & Spencer and buy another one.”
“C’mon, I’m really tired.”
Another voice pipes up. “Yeah, me too.”
Winston sits up.
Oh. I haven’t heard that voice in a while. The three of us turn to look at a figure sitting in the shadowy corner. I peer harder since I’ve never actually seen her. She’s a younger version of me, much younger than expected, perhaps twenty years. Oh my, she seems to be lagging behind. She’s the third element of my psyche, the ego. She rarely talks so we call her Quiet One.
“I think we should rest and take care of Winston. We have two shows to sit through so let’s just plan where to eat and take it easy.”
The three of us gape. That’s the most she’s said in a long time.
Jada coos. “Hello dear. That makes a lot of sense.”
Jodi sags. “Well, she speaks and I’m voted down, naturally.”
I smile. “Good to see you.”
Quiet One smiles back. “It’s good to be here. Really.”
Jodi teases. “Oh, we *are* feeling good, aren’t we?”
DT knows the good time are rolling.
I awake feeling a bit more refreshed. Winston whines it’s time for lunch so we head back to Leicester Square. There’s an Italian franchise restaurant with a 10% off tourist coupon. Good enough for me. Finally back at the theater, on time and with a hearing device, I attend the matinee performance of Much Ado. I’m again shocked to find my seat in the 4th row a little off center. Did Mr. Awesome give me another lottery ticket? I can’t think enough kind thoughts about that man. David Tennant is still in fine form although the afternoon audience seems a bit subdued. He soldiers on and I’m not disappointed. The audience peps up enough to give the ensemble three curtain calls.
I debate heading to the backstage door even as I find my feet taking me there. Lo and behold I locate a spot only three people deep and slide in. I’ve already gotten footage for his fan club so there’s no purpose to being there except to get his autograph. However I already got that hard won signature after his Stratford performance as Hamlet in 2008. What do to? I notice I’m a bit taller than most of the people around me. I am considered tall but seriously, this crowd is short. Catherine Tate makes her way around the cordoned area and I impulsively hold out my program over everybody’s heads. She immediately grabs and signs it. Cool!
Well, should I go for a matched pair? DT follows behind Tate and the crowd gets a bit wilder. He smiles and chats and dives down for photo ops with a child. He’s nearly in front of me and again stoops for a child. A handler whispers it’s time to go in. What the hell. I shoot my arm out just as he rises. Tall DT grabs the program from tall me and signs. He turns to go. He’s done. Groans erupt around me. I walk away grinning like a fool.
Jodi is jubilant. “SCORE!”
Jada tuts. “You should have allowed somebody else to get that you know.”
“But I wanted a matched pair!”
Quiet One laughs. “Still that was cool.”
Jada isn’t finished. “You already have one, why do you need two?”
“Awww, oh c’mon! Jada, you’re really no fun.”
Quiet One compromises. “Look, why don’t you got back to the stage door. If you don’t see a needy child to give the program, then you can keep it. Okay?”
I don’t and keep it.
Paul McGann remembers when the good times rolled.
Still filled with joy from the DT caper, I set out for the Duchess Theatre to see Dominic West in Butley. Actually, I’m seeing an old crush, Paul McGann in the cast for old time’s sake. My paper maps fail me as I can’t make out the odd side streets of this part of the West End. I wander in circles until finally remembering to use Google GPS to find the damn place. Butley it turns out is a two act biting comedy written by Simon Gray. Butley is a washed up professor at a college who signals his disillusionment by being a slob, profligate and total bully. Paul McGann plays Reg Nutall, the closeted boyfriend of Butley’s much abused closeted protege, Joseph Keyston. Reg is a guy who doesn’t take abuse lightly and sees right through Butley. PM plays him smooth, calculating and tough. It was a good performance and worth the ticket.
Almost immediately I realize I can’t hear the actors from my seat near the back. Winston stirs and sticks his head up in interest. I approach the head usher at intermission and ask for a hearing device. Let’s call him Mr. Nice.
Mr. Nice: I’m sorry but this theater wasn’t outfitted for hearing devices. That is a problem.
Winston: Ruh roh.
Me: *crestfallen and about to ask for my money back* Oh, so there’s nothing you can do?
Mr. N: *thinking* Come back to me after intermission is over.
Me: I’m back.
Mr. N: Follow me.
Mr. Nice take me down to the front row and whispers to a patron to move his stuff from a spare seat. The man looks a little affronted.
Mr. N: This is her seat please.
Me: Thank you.
Winston sighs in disappointment
From that point on, I could hear the actors just fine; they are right there.
I sit inwardly smiling. Maybe I should find how to get an Irish Sweepstakes ticket. Does that still exist?
Today begins a special feature here at Confessions of a Watcher by new guest blogger, Fitzg.
Fitzg is our faithful commenter and sometimes guest interviewee here at ArmitageWorld. You may have read Servetus’s wonderful interview with her for Fanstravaganza 2. Fitz is an interesting, cultured and erudite woman with a small problem – she has no blog. She assures me as a technophobe that will never happen because she is the “Typhoid Mary” of all things high tech. Such a shame. But wait- I have the tech know-how and she has the talent. Truly this feature is made in heaven. When asked to provide a blurb about herself, she said: “It’s always a pleasure to right about Richard Armitage.” That’s our laconic Fitz. She’s yet to settle on a title for her bloglet but thought “Journeys through the Work of Richard Armitage” might be catchy.
As you can see, this format is new in ArmitageWorld. To keep all of Fitzg’s pictures and formatting, I embedded her document in a Google viewer. You can click the + sign to zoom and read, or you can click the far right corner icon (with the little black box in it) at the top of the viewer. The page will load a full sized viewer in a new window. Loading time should be minimal but the wait is worth it. I hope you enjoy this as much as we have. Fitz sees herself blogging sporadically, (so let’s not tell her she will be a regular guest instead.) So give her some love and feedback and maybe can make that happen. Be sure to let me know if you encounter any tech problems.
She also needs a blog title.
(If you’re having problems viewing this post in Internet Explorer, try another browser like Firefox or Chrome. IE does not play well with plugins. If you trouble loading in the small viewer, click the far right icon at the top and it will load in the second viewer.)
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