Servetus had another fantastic idea – donating to RA’s charities in appreciation. What do you think? For the next week, why don’t we, as a fandom, GIFT BOMB his JustGiving page? It would be an early start on the Christmas giving, plus it would be like sending him flowers in congratulations, except better. Remember the collective “Just Another Rubbish Richard Armitage” signage he got a kick out of?
How about we each make a donation, not matter how big or small anonymously at JustGiving, and comment: “The Armitage Army Rubbish Gift Bomb of Congratulations, With Love, Us” or some such. How about it? If you like the idea, please tweet, Facebook, reblog, and Tumblr. Remember, the idea is to make a mass congratulatory statement for very worth causes. (Of course, you can give to other organizations in his name if you so choose).
Today is election in the U.S. I encourage everybody to exercise their right to vote and head to the polls. Your vote is your voice. Make it heard. For those of you who argue that voting is useless because nothing really changes, I urge you to reconsider. If you do nothing, then you’re guaranteed nothing.
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.
“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.
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.
As 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.
When I was 12 years old, I went to my first musical, Jesus Christ Superstar. My parents were non-practicing Catholics and blandly irreligious by the time I was born. I had a general grasp of the New Testament but don’t recall any particular expectations of the outing except that it was a new and exciting experience. My parents later said they wondered how the crucifixion would be depicted without it being a total downer. I quickly realized watching a live performance eclipsed listening to any recording. It was invigorating and captivating and I found myself completed immersed. Had I a shred of singing, dancing or instrumental talent, I might have toyed with the idea of going into the theater.
I loved the songs including the theme showstopper. However the last instrumental at the end of the show did it for me, John 19:41. Although it had swelling strings and flutes, there was a certain simplicity that was both beautiful and uplifting. Afterwards, my parents bought for me the cast album which I still have.
There have been many versions of this instrumental over the years, but I think the original 1970 version is the best. I found some YouTube videos with either distracting graphics or poor sound and had to settle for an excerpt from the 1973 film. (I’m not a fan of the film. For me, it failed somehow to translate the energy of the musical.) So, turn up the volume, close your eyes, and just absorb the music.
Let me rephrase that: I don’t believe in the omnipotent arbitrary supreme being advocated by Western religion. But I’m not atheist. I can’t empirically prove there isn’t a God any more than I can prove there is one. I think there is a life force that exists in nature which we aren’t required to praise or appease, it just is. I call myself agnostic because people are comfortable with the label and it’s least likely to provoke a negative reaction. To put a fine point on it, I’m a secular humanist. However I find people have trouble grasping the notion that morality doesn’t have to flow from religion.
It has been argued that religion is man’s defense mechanism in response to awareness of his own mortality. This is a valid point. Yet I reject the stridency of militant atheists who declaim that believers are fools and religion is the opiate of the masses. It is religious institutions and contrived rules devised by man, which distort the message and is the source of great harm, that I distrust. That being said, there is a place for religion in the world. People like to believe there is a point to their lives, that all that striving isn’t for nothing, that somebody cares and watching over them. Belief can be a source of comfort because it suggests a sense of order to this chaotic world. Most of the great religions advocate love and compassion for fellow creatures, and if people can’t find that within themselves but need belief in a higher being to motivate them, then it’s still all good. I support people believing what they want as long as they don’t feel entitled to force their beliefs on others.
This view took years of deep soul searching. Oddly, the first Christmas after I stopped calling myself a Christian I was in a quandary: did this mean I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my beloved carols anymore? How could I play my 24 versions of O Holy Night without feeling a hypocrite? The word I received from a minister turned atheist was this: do you really need to believe the words to appreciate the song? So I listened again. I realized the musical arrangement was still haunting. The voices were still beautiful. The simplicity of the lyrics were still lovely even though I didn’t subscribe to the meaning. I hummed secular songs whose words meant nothing to me. It dawned that I didn’t have to get mystic to find the carol beautiful or any other spiritual piece. Religious music can not only be devotional, but also powerfully soothing and serene.
So on Sundays, I would like share some of my favorite religious songs as well as any others I come across. Here is a prime example of how a song can still be compelling, even though the singer has a different religious background: Barbara Streisand singing Ave Maria, Bach/Gounod version.