Posts Tagged ‘Richard Armitage’

After the eight day orgy of pondering, analyzing, ogling and downright perving Guy, I wondered if I would respect myself in the morning.  After the initial rush over having actually completed the project, I feel conflicted: glad it’s done, relieved to take a break, yet  anxious to continue writing.  My thoughts are a whirl.  As the writers have all stated during FanstRAvaganza, it’s important to hone your craft by writing, writing, writing.  Yes, I thought, I want to be like you when I grow up. I shall rise the day after and court my muse.

Sadly my muse isn’t feeling helpful.  He grudgingly returned after I criticized his appearance, looking maddeningly the same.  He peered over my shoulder throughout the fest, emitting smug grunts of approval as I toiled. He’s again sprawled, silent and juggling that Bag of Goodies.  I wrack my brains for A Topic having nothing to do with all the fest reading I haven’t finished, my writing I haven’t dissected, and feelings I’ve yet to analyze.  I recall a famous author once mentioning the curious letdown after a project is finished.  What do writers do to revive themselves, to get the literary juices flowing again.  They don’t really say.   Apparently they don’t have arrogant silent muses convinced it’s all about them.

So bear with me Dear Reader.  I probably fried my brain pawing through tens of Guy pictures and videos.  Damn, that was a tough job.  I anticipate spinning my wheels a bit until my gears slip back into place, sanity returns, and I plow through over 40 posts.

Meanwhile, here’s a another shiney.

Richard Armitage, 2009 photoshoot

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 I’m taking a break from navel gazing to ask for help.  As you may have heard around the blogs, FanstRAvaganza is coming in less than three weeks.  I’ve settled on the ultimate bad boy, Guy of Gisborne as a topic.  Yes, for eight straight days, I’m talking all Guy, all the time.

Here’s where you come in:  I would like some victims volunteers willing to be interviewed regarding why this character is their favorite.  The interview can be as light-hearted or I can dredge your deepest soul as serious as you like.  You can even be anonymous if you feel shy.   So if you love, love, LOVE Sir Guy to bits, I need to talk to you.  The contact tab is located at the top of the page.   Just click it.

C’mon, you know you want to.

Sir Guy would approve; richardarmitagenet.com

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I was an avid reader as child.  I consumed reams of books, first for the pictures, then for the stories.  I craved a good ripping yarn that transported me away from my troubled world.  I recall reading very little children’s books but hit the ground reading books for tweens and young adults.  I was inspired to write my own stories, although I never thought to get them published.     Teachers and relatives reacted favorably to my efforts, and truth be told, I felt quite puffed up.  So I dreamed of writing The Great American Novel because that’s what great writers did.

Then when I was 17 years old, I perversely asked for a book for Christmas, any book.  My parents scratched their heads, grilled a sales person and gave The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough.  I was floored.  Her prose leaped off the page from the first paragraph.  The words were smooth, lyrical and rich without getting in the way of the story, and, to me, enhanced the telling.  I found myself stopping to savor phrases like good wine (as if I had any taste in wine) and then deconstrusting sentences to learn how she did it. Did words flow from her brain that way or was it an acquired skill?  In my mind, this was a true wordsmith and I wanted to write like that.  Then I understood that I’d fallen in love with her lyrical style and realized every good writer had his or her own distinct style.  I devoured more books and reread others, looking for style.  (I’ve seen learned that lyrical prose can be taken too far.  For example, I adored Toni Morrison’s work until it seemed she’d become so enamored of her own lyricism that it drowned the storytelling.) 

As I reread books, the question hit me like a shot out of the dark: what was my style?  How was I to compose deathless prose with no style?  I didn’t have a clue, and as I’ve gotten away from writing, still don’t have a clue.  Maybe I’m not clear on the concept and simply can’t see mine. I’m just not sure. It’s part of what this experiment is all about.  There’s this feeling that with better understanding, I can remove an obstacle blocking my creativity.

RA had a similar revelation.  He had trouble at auditions until he once arrived for one completely in character.  Then he realized the immersive method style worked for him and best showcased his talent.  He’s been honing that skill every since.

Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) gets his total crazy on in Robin Hood, S3.1; richardarmitagenet.com

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My writing hiatus had given me time to read old posts and take stock in my progress.  The original purpose of this blog was to regain the ability to write tight creative prose.  As I dissected each post, I realized the biggest problem wasn’t so much about finding the right action verb, or active tense or pithy adjective.  Something else has been getting in the way.

The problem is one of the pitfalls of intropspective writing: how to discuss thoughts and feelings without talking so much about oneself.  I’m sure Dear Reader has encountered that writer whose navel gazing prose is so intense and relentless that it crosses the line between introspection and narcissism, leaving a bad taste.   I want posts to be at least interesting, not insufferable.

This worry has led to increasing self-consciousness.  How many “I’s” can I cut out and still make sense?  Was the story overstated in the haste to emphasis a point?  Did I understate something else?  Is it organized and flowing or babbling?   Do those words accurate reflect my thoughts?  What’s the point to this?

Having made a pact with myself not to rescind a post once it’s published, I then lapse into a heap of insecurity the instant I click the button.  Is it too personal?  Is it too much?   Will readers understand or is it simply more I, me and myself?  Then I anxiously watch for replies and realize it’s not as bad as envisioned.  Things didn’t blow up in my face; I avoided looking a fool.   And then I start drafting another post and the agonizing starts again.  I realize the self-consciousness and insecurity is caused by the vulnerability in revealing parts of myself, but it never gets any easier.

For these reasons, I’ve turned to closely reading blogger, Roger Ebert, the famous film critic.  He still critiques movies but now writes about everything from soup to nuts.  He’s a gifted writer with a simple elegant style and a penchant for just the right turn of phrase.  I’m reading him for not only the technical, expressive aspects of writing, but also for how he deals with posts that have backfired on him.  He treats these occasions as learning experiences, apologies,  clarifies or corrects and then moves on.  (For the creative side, I’m also reading Stephen King’s book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.)

So in essence I have to deal with the ongoing issues on the process of introspecive writing in addition to the techinical presentation and the topic being discussed.  Had this dawned on me at the beginning, I might have thought better of the whole experiment.  But I’m in for a penny, in for a pound, so the blog goes on.

John Thornton (Richard Armitage) has no choice but to be in for a pound in North & South; richardarmitagenet.com

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[I want to preface this post by adding an addendum to the previous post regarding The King’s Speech.  I don’t want anybody to come away with the thought that my problem was severe as his.  What he did was truly heroic, as Colin Firth said in an interview.  My issue flowed from partial deafness; gnarbled sounds equalled gnarbled speech.  Once my parents and school therapists realized one caused the other, my speech impediment was basically controlled by age 11.  My comments mainly concerned experiences as child and efforts not to lose ground as an adult.  I don’t feel as badly plagued as he was, but can truly empathize and identify.  So, there is nothing brave about me.]

Anyway, believe it or not, I’ve been ramping up to talk about my first exposure to fandom, except for maybe the bits about blizzards, dogs and computers.  I actually drafted a partial post about an adult fandom experience but realized that if this was to be an introspective view, I needed to explain my thoughts.  But everytime I questioned why I behaved a certain way, it led to earlier and earlier experiences requiring more peripheral explanations.  So, I’m going to chuck it all and take things way back – before I was born

When my mother was 16 years old she developed a fascination for a young British actor, named Laurence Olivier.  When Wuthering Heights premiered in 1939, she made her boyfriend (my father) take her to see it so many times, he finally refused.  Way before he became Sir Larry and Lord Olivier, she knew LO would be considered a great actor. In fact, she would shake her fist and exclaim, “I knew he would be great, before he was great!”  I was small child when the film was broadcast on televison for the first time.  While she squeed and exclaimed and sighed, my father would smirk, shake his head and walk out of the room.  This was my first experience with a fangrrl.  I looked forward to repeats just to see my proper mother behave so unseemingly, although my parents’ reactions signaled it was all silly and fun.  Later I paid more attention to the actors and thought they talked funny.  Then I realized I could understand every word.   Remember this was before anybody realized my hearing problem.

Thus was born my love of British films.  Because of the lilting tones and crisp diction, I could hear every syllable and consonant.  When a speech therapist informed me I wasn’t talking like others’, I loosely patterned my speech after the Received Pronunciation type British accent in an effort to enunciate clearly. Pygmalion with Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller was one of my favorite films. British actors became my personal speech therapists and Laurence Olivier headed the list, spurred on by my totally smitten mother.  We watched Wuthering Heights every single time it was broadcast (along with anything else LO made).  When finally after viewing Love Among the Ruins for the upteenth time I admitted,  yes, LO was a great actor, she loudly cheered, “yes, he’s finally gotten to my daughter!”   Her crush continued some 47 years until her death.  Wow, that’s what I call a loyal fan.

I wonder if her crush would have lasted as long in this internet age of information access.  I suspect my mother would have preferred not knowing facts disclosed about LO in recent years.  But in her time, the star system and satellite media panted rosey pictures of its actors and so, my mother managed to preserve the innocence of her fantasy.  In a way, that’s kind of sweet.

Speaking of sweet, I thought this picture is just that:

Richard Armitage realizes he has fans while on Red Carpet at BAFTAs 2007

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A blizzard is a-comin’, at least that’s what the forecasters say.  However it’s been my experience that when the word “blizzard” is invoked, it fizzles into an anti-climax.  But winds are seriously howling, the snow has started and my building has emailed high gales warnings to the residents.  And I see forecasters have swapped specific predictions for a generalized “heavy accumulation.”  Now that sounds ominous.

Being a budding old fart, I’m now afflicted with the tendency to reminisce. No, I’m not going to talk about walking every day 10 miles to school uphill both ways.   This trip down memory lane concerns the Great Blizzard of 1967.  This storm has gone down in the annals of weather history for dropping 23 inches of snow in 35 hours, totally paralyzing Chicago and northwest Indiana for days. People were trapped on overnight buses, in cars, in homes. It became the benchmark for blizzards.

That January I was six years old and already an avowed snow freak. I loved snowstorms and when I heard about this one, it was almost more than my little heart could stand.  When it passed, we were all trapped at home.  Schools were closed and it was impossible for my dad to get to work.  My parents bundled up in more clothes than I have ever seen and went outside to begin the ordeal of digging out a very long driveway buried in drifts.  They admonished me to absolutely, on pain of punishment, not come outside.  I could look out the door, but that was it.  I was utterly dismayed and angry.  They were keeping me from my snow!  So I mummified myself in coats and scarves and gloves and pulled on my little red boots.  I would show them.  I opened the door, stepped out, and my world went white and then dark as I sank into a drift.   I cried for help, my father yanked me out and that ended any notion of making snow angels for awhile.

Actually I recall hating snow the rest of the winter, especially after school reopened.  When the streets were plowed, it created huge mountains at the curbs which I had to climb, sometimes on my hands and knees, while I envisioned falling into the street and getting run over, my guts plastered for half a block.  Fortunately I survived and lived to see two more blizzards.  But they were nothing like the ole Blizzard of “67.  Yup.

Why does this look so terribly ancient?  It was only 44 years ago.  Sigh.

I’ll leave you here with an image of another snowy affair:

Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North and South; richardarmitage.net

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The weekend is here.  I conclude the first week of blogging and didn’t keel over.  Stream of consciousness jotting is easy but concise, precise, introspective prose does require care and time.  I realize how I’ve done so much of the former and so little of the latter. The wheel is still very rusty but I see some bits flaking off.  The weekend is a good time for a mental break, so I’m giving myself breathing space by allowing simple jotting on these days.  Don’t worry.  I’ve got a heavy post coming next week.

I’m drawn to the unusual no matter what medium. Garden variety simply doesn’t hold my interest; I need to have something to pull me in.  I really liked Inception starring Leonardo DiCaprio. I adored the book and audio adaption of Vurt written by Jeff Noon. I’m a big fan of the British sci-fi show  Doctor Who because it’s fantastical. (However things do have to have some internal logic, so don’t start me ranting over S9 of Spooks.  Grrr.)

Jane Austen was talented and unusual woman for her time and her literature has endured through the centuries.  What best to kick off my first Silly Saturday but an off the wall mash-up of her work.

And because I know what you people come here for, here is a great video by Delicate Blossom:

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I went to bed last night feeling quite pleased with myself for actually proceeding with this experiment.  Just as I drifted off, my mind decided it wasn’t quite done and directed a few stomach flip-flops.  “Are you sure you want to talk about being in fandom?” it asked. “Because people will know.”  This touched off a bizarre feeling; you know, the one you get when you’re arguing with yourself and think you just might have finally gone around the bend.   “People will know WHAT?” I thought furiously.  This transpired in my head and not out loud, so don’t worry.

Blogging about fandom will be an official acknowledgment of being a fan.  I’ve always been the reluctant variety with only a few like-minded people aware of my particular hobby horse.  I once was a fan of a particular actor (a mystery man!) and found an outrageously expensive autographed framed photograph of him.  Anxious to break out of my careful predictable mindset, I decided to take a spontaneous risk and buy it.  (Trial and error and a lot of sleepless nights over other actions later taught me that spontaneity and risk taking did not mean what I thought it did.)   As soon the squeeing stopped, I wondered what to do because I didn’t want anybody but close friends to see it.    So this costly piece of foolishness lived in the closet, literally, for years because I might be fingered as a fan.

This is probably a generational fear. I grew up during the heyday of the Trekkies, the biggest fandom at the time.  These followers of Star Trek had a reputation for being rabidly devoted and a bit bonkers. They were known to ask actors on the show impossible questions: “In episode 4 of season 2, when you fought that Klingon while being taken over by a Vulcan parasite, what were you thinking?”  This image was widely publicized by an infamous skit on Saturday Night Live skit where a total dork’s ridiculous questions sparked a rant by William Shatner to “Get a life!”

I dreaded being perceived as being like That Guy.  I couldn’t be taken seriously in my profession if people thought I was That Girl.  Of course over time I discovered this was a stereotype and fans ran the gamut of enthusiasm and sanity.  Now days, easy internet access has caused an explosion of fandoms.  There are many magazines, websites, and entertainment programs dedicated to celebrity watching.  The cult of celebrity is huge. People readily talk about their favorite show or person.  Nobody cares as long behavior is kept within a reasonable parameters.

So, I won the argument with, erm, myself.  It’s okay people will know.  I’ve done nothing for which I should be ashamed.  I’m not running for political office.  It’s no big deal.

Last year my sitter came to watch my dogs while I was away.  In my haste to leave, I forgot remove a picture of another actor (another mystery man!)  from my desktop and turn a large picture calendar to the wall in the den where she would be staying.  I noticed when I returned that the calendar had been turned to the wall.  ‘Oh,” I exclaimed in embarrassment.  ‘Hey,” she said.  “That’s a nice picture but I had to turn it around. Every time I looked up from the bed, there he was staring at me!”   That was the beginning and end of it.  So much for her knowing.

I’m considering leaving a picture of RA on my desktop to see what she thinks.  Notice the smooth segue.  I might become good at this.

Guy is amused

Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisbourne, Richard Armitage Central Gallery

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I’m stockpiling entries that WordPress can auto-post.  This gives my procrastinator heart new hope in achieving the goal of posting daily.  High tech, I love you.

The second question Servetus asked me which led to formation of this blog was this: if you could interview RA, what would you ask?  I asked her the same,  but she decided  to play her cards close to the chest.  I felt this was a challenge so I’m picking up the gauntlet and having a go at it.

This question stumped me for weeks.  What on earth can I ask that hasn’t already been posed?  Certainly it wouldn’t be about shoveling elephant poo, his sex symbol status, or his looks.  It occurred to me the best way think about this was to imagine a setting which would set the tone.   An informal chat in a pub wouldn’t work because of the potential for me to become too inquisitive (as in Spanish) and him deflecting questions or not answering seriously.  So it would have to be a formal setting, on stage, before a live audience, ala Actor’s Studio.  The interview would focus on his craft since I can’t see how any personal questions would be relevant unless it concerned some life changing event he had publicly discussed.

One question would definitely have to address his creative transitions.  He took dancing as a child to correct pigeon toes.  He developed a passion for playing the cello but didn’t pursue it professionally due to alleged shyness in front of audiences and instead danced professionally even though he was too tall.  When he realized he was fighting an uphill battle, he enrolled in LAMDA.  There isn’t necessarily a logical progression between these areas, especially in the context of his purported shyness.  It’s also my understanding that not anybody can get into LAMDA or RADA.  How did he make these transitions?  Why acting school and not music school? Did he think he had real acting talent or did he go on a wing and a prayer? How did he deal with the shyness issue?

Another question which has always intrigued me is this: how does he memorize all those lines?  This might seem cause a mental eyeroll, but I think a lay audience not in the business would be curious.  Seriously, how do actors do it?  David Tennant had 358 lines in Hamlet which he learned in six weeks in addition to his role in Love’s Labor’s Lost.  I know they just do it, but technically how?  Does RA use cues? Emotions? Memories? Associations? Rhythms?  Is it a technique he had to learn or does he just need a damn good memory?  How does he reach the point when remembering the lines recedes into the background, and conveying the emotion takes hold?   I would love to hear an actor talk through the process, and maybe demonstrate a scene he would be warned about ahead time.

I’m not sure if I would ask this next question during an interview; he might feel put on the spot.  I would comment on his widening fame and point blank ask about his views on privacy and expectations he has of fans and vice versa.  I’ve read comments from fans reading deep meaning into relatively innocuous comments and ascribing feelings and motives to him that basically sound like projections of their own personal issues.  I know he enjoys being teasingly cryptic with fans to add some excitement, but it would be nice to know what he actually thinks.   Maybe this question would be a good submission for a written interview when he could answer with careful and considered thought.  Not sure how I would pose such a loaded question before a studio audience.  Don’t think I would have the mettle to do it as long as I was a fan.

I can’t think of any more burning questions right now.  I imagine some minor ones like which was his favorite role and why. Don’t believe he’s actually been asked that.  Also, knowing he likes to create diaries for his characters, I would discover what story he had for Lucas in S9 of Spooks.

As a treat for getting this far, here is one of the best interviews he’s given, discussing about Lucas North in Spooks:

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So my experiment truly begins, which begs the question: what is this blog about?  Writing about the process of learning to write again doesn’t strike me as particularly interesting to anybody but me at the moment.  So what else?   Well, I joined WordPress to comment on a ring of fan blogs about British actor Richard Armitage.  These blogs are written by older highly educated women whose styles and level of fandom are fascinating.  Some make passing references to RA on the way to talking about something else.   It’s the something else part that intrigues me; it gives a window into their worlds and fleshes them out as complex people, more than the usual SQUEE! post on a forum.  The comment section discussions can be more interesting than the original post.  I imagine some blogs sprang up so the commenters can discuss further in their own space.

(Oh, WordPress says I should stop here and hold your interest with SHINEY! so how about this?


Prince John really liked Glamor Guy

Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood, my cap

Ahem. As I was saying, this space will be about my experiences in fandom, fandom gone wrong, and the cult of celebrity.  This idea grew out of Servetus asking me on her blog how I arrived at my current attitude as a fan of certain celebrity hunks.  I answered it didn’t spring forth fully formed but evolved through trial and error.   I can’t link to the comment but will discuss it more later on. Having been part of different groups for almost 20 years, I’ve seen a lot up close and personal and hope I can offer some insight and humor about my journey.

As the title of the blog says, I’ve been a watcher, an observer all my life.  It stemmed from a chaotic childhood where psychological warfare was the norm.  I had to constantly watch for cues and clues to defuse situations or stay out of the fallout.  This carried over into adulthood where I spent years sorting out my own head.  But this still has left a fascination for why people do what they do.  I have another blog on LiveJournal which is basically a long version of Twitter.  Those posts were dashed off, without particular thought to composition, style or shamefully, editing.

So this blog will be dedicated to reflection and introspection while exercising that flabby creative writing muscle.  I’ll make passing waves at RA since it’s his fan blog ring that started this and we will need have some pretty and fun here.  I’ll also throw in a few other hunks as well to keep things fair.

Oh, I might be tempted to veer off at times but will try to make it worth the reading.

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