My Exotic Side Piece… Or, What’s the Turkish word for “Obsession”? #ErkenciKus

Armitage Army Investigator: Jholland, isn’t it? And you are the admin for the “preoccupiedwitharmitage.wordpress.com” fan site, are you not?

Me: Yes, and yes, Ma’am.

AAI: Let’s cut to the chase. Where have you been?

Me: You wouldn’t believe it if I told you. I would never have believed it either.

AAI: Jholland, Castlevania was released a week ago. You were waiting over a year for that. Where have you been?

Me: ….. Oh. Hmmmm? …..

AAI: Castlevania? Armitage?! Where have you been?

Me: Look at this.

 

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Ooooof.

AAI: Who is that? Is that where you’ve been?

Me:  Just … those laugh lines, right?

AAI: (*Snorts*) Right… And yet, it seems self-evident this might have… become… (*Clears Throat*) Or I should say, what’s unbelievable?

Me: Well, it’s just a bit quirky. But… who blames me?

AAI: No really, who is that?

Me: He only leads The. Hottest. Thing. Happening…. on Turkish TV!

 

 

AAI: Did you say… Turkish TV? Seriously, who is that?

Me: So please, PLEASE check it out! Erkenci Kus!  By the time you binge it entirely, you might be prepared to wait in agonized suspense for the-

AAI: Jholland! FOCUS! Who is that?

Me: It’s Can Yaman! Can Bey!  Can is pronounced “John/Jean” though! Weird right? I never knew I could go for a man-bun but dayum!  I’m learning a bit of Turkish! I have knowledge of where to find every episode with English subtitles if you need it!

AAI: You’re way ahead of yourself! I just-

Me: And look at this!!

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The production knows what they have in him… shameless ogling opportunities abound…

AAI: …. Can Yaman, you said?

Me: It’s not just about how hot this gorgeous Turkish man is, though! Erkenci Kus is HILARIOUS! I love the lead actress who plays Sanem, Can’s love interest! I do! I love her just as much! It all just makes me happy!

 

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Actress playing Sanem (Demet Ozdemir) has wonderful comedic timing. *coughs*

AAI: But… how did… OK, that is distracting me. I do see what happened.

Me: You DON’T know the half! I have been Giffing EK like crazy. I’m all over the #Canem hashtag! Binged 16 Episodes, and now I’m in the same boat as the other fans… the joy of weekly strong anticipation!!

 

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The feels and the flutters all over again, watching them fall in love!

Me:  Look at these two! Oh! And there is some kind of rumor that the Turkish government will fine productions thousands of dollars for getting too… erotic…

 

 

 

 

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The chemistry is off the charts

Me: Which means it’s all kisses and some flashes of male muscle…. really top-notch flashes, we’re talking! Whew…. but how did I learn of it? It was recommended by a smart, funny  author I enjoy in her fall newsletter…  I’m just glad I was stuck at an appointment, just killing time in a waiting room, clicked that link, and #BOOM #Fandomnumber2 #preoccupiedwithcanem!

 

 

Need some goofy comedy? Erkenci Kus!

Me: Erkenci Kus is refreshingly so silly…but with a healthy dose of self-irony! And I know it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and I’d sure as hell never have thought that what basically amounts to a Turkish “telenovela” with a fantastic comedic core would so capture my heart… Erkenci Kus translates to “Early Bird”… and it’s such a mood enhancer! I kid you not, I have woken Hubby up while laughing like a loon in bed, completely unable to contain myself! And another time I spewed a drink through my nose…. partly to do with the hilarious subtitles! Let’s just say that they (the devoted fans who create the subtitles) probably over-utilize Google-Translate, with side-splittingly funny results!

Me: Anyway… I just love it! The setting is Istanbul, and that Mediterranean culture just totally reminds me of Greece! And I am learning Turkish hand gestures! I want to share it! You should check it out for sure and then we can talk about it!!!!! They are so in love, but it all goes wrong!

 

 

Me: And it’s impossible, once you’re hooked on #Canem, to imagine them breaking it off…. but ohGods it turns into an emotional rollercoaster!

 

Me: AAI?

AAI: …. MmmmmmHmmmmm….OH!  Ah… what?

Me: But even when it breaks my heart, the same episode will have laugh out loud moments!  It just lightens my mood in a world gone mad….

 

 

AAI: I bet it does! Oh, Jeez. Did you see this fanvid?

Me: Yes. Yes I have. Oh, you have so much delight in front of you! Like this one, which is practically NSFW….  not safe anywhere. But… back to Castlevania. I’ll get to it when EK is over.

AAI: Yeah.

Me: So is that all for now? AAI?

AAI: Hmmmm?

Me: If we’re all done here… I have a thing….

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He so deserved it….

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Wanderlust Impressions: Overall, a VOD Situation

Aliona Savchenko,Bruno Massot

(These two took my breath away!)

Ah, Wanderlust. I so much wanted to love it. I was predisposed to be favorable toward it,  as I frequently do enjoy this light genre and I adore RA narrations, but I have to admit I was a tiny bit disappointed. The writing/story just wasn’t strong enough. It took me a lot longer to listen to this one than the average 7 to 8 hour audiobook. This was partly due to my own distractions, as I spent time watching Winter Olympics the past several days while doing kitchen and laundry tasks, rather than immersed in the book. But there have been other Olympics when I kept an eye on the TV while listening to a better book, so I can only conclude that my inordinate interest in Olympic commentary reflects my general lack of connection to the story. SPOILERS below….

 

The plot was on the weak side. More specifically, the romantic conflict was feeble. I love the genre, so it isn’t about the fact that it has a Happily-Ever-After or is, plotwise, ultimately predictable. That is the just the way of the genre, and if that doesn’t float one’s boat, it’s going to be hard for any romance novel to please. But I appreciate a love story and the feel-good ending as much as the next romance reader. And it’s not that I require an overly large heaping of angst in my romance reading, but I do value a solid romantic conflict, and it wasn’t really to be found here. That Joy and Griffin initially cannot act on their mutual attraction because they are working together, with Griffin hired by Joy’s company as an on-the-job translator, certainly didn’t tug at my heartstrings. This leaves the “time-limit” on their relationship as the major romantic conflict, and it had potential to be quite interesting.

Griffin’s bucket list, written by his dying brother, means he intends to leave Paris for Indonesia in a few short months, to realize the dream of running a marathon there… and after that, he’s destined to go on travelling the world. The problem is, his heart obviously isn’t in it, which means my heart wasn’t really in it, in terms of the romantic conflict. I didn’t feel that Griffin actually had a case of wanderlust, and therefore, there wasn’t actually a believable conflict. (The concept of wanderlust as a romantic conflict was much better explored in Truth or Beard by Penny Reid- Lauren Blakely’s solution for it was, to me, kind of a cop out.) But in absence of a great romantic conflict, a character-driven romance can still be wonderful.

Protective footwearThe characters, then, also weren’t strong enough. It isn’t going well when I find myself eye-rolling during the story. This happened a number of times for me in Wanderlust, and I won’t list all the eye-rollers here. But bear with me while I bitch for a minute, because the heroine, Joy, really lost my respect when she opted to wear flip flops to her first day of work. I mean, flip-flops are unprofessional in most work settings that aren’t the pool or the beach, and especially day 1 on the job! But even if she’s the most casual new laboratory supervisor ever… well, any lab I’ve been a part of (and I totally manned the chem lab supply room and was a student assistant in more than one on-campus biochem research lab for extra spending money as an undergrad), it was a pretty firm rule that everyone in the lab wears impermeable, closed-footed shoes. Perforated shoes, sandals, cloth shoes and for fuck’s sake flip flops? All a no-go. Safety first, Joy! Safety. First.

And then she had a problem when she asked a fellow co-worker for a particular dilution of peach-essence while mixing a new fragrance. The dilution was lost in translation and she wasted her afternoon concocting a mixture that was way too strong. Couldn’t this have been written numerically, just a quick jotted 1:8 or 1:whatever to be sure there wasn’t confusion? Use your numbers, Joy. Use. Your. Numbers.

But enough about Joy. You get the idea. I didn’t buy that she was very bright at all, much less the brilliant new star of the show at the fragrance company. Was her part performed well? Grace Grant gets a B- from me. She did a nice job conveying that Joy is a bubbly, positive type of person, but I really wasn’t digging her British accent for Griffin. Perhaps if I hadn’t had Richard’s voice with which to compare and contrast, I wouldn’t have become so bent out of shape about it, but I just didn’t like it when she narrated his dialogue. I found I liked Griffin during Griffin’s chapters, but wasn’t able to hang onto my affection for him during Joy’s chapters. I frequently found myself wishing this had been a male-only POV, and then we could have Richard reading all the chapters. Dual narration isn’t usually a problem for me, though, so I have to think that Grace Grant is getting the short end of the stick here. I just wanted Richard reading all the chapters. Period.

So on to Richard Armitage as Griffin. He gets an A- from me. Part of this may not be his fault. I was frequently distracted from what he was saying because I was wondering in my head what he thought about the lines he was narrating. For years I used to read romance novels at home, but my audiobook selections (always cd’s from the library) would be from other genres. There was a time when romance audiobooks were few and far between, and male narrators were rare. When I did eventually decide to try a few audio versions of romance novels, I found I had a problem becoming distracted wondering what male narrators “thought” of the material they were covering. For years, romance novels were sort of a guilty secret to some extent- my family and significant others might know I read them, but I didn’t like to read them in public where I’d feel judged for my reading choices. All this to say, I had this preconception that romance novels were mainly read by women and in privacy, so it was strange to imagine a guy reading the story, and I couldn’t help but wonder what the male narrator’s reactions were. Was he laughing at this stuff, making fun of his listeners after hours, rolling his eyes at us? Eventually, as more and more romance novels became available on audio, and male narrators became popular for dual POV and even entire novels, I got over this problem, and now I rarely worry about what the male narrator is thinking. That is, until THIS particular narrator embarked on his first steamy novel. LOL

No TitsSo, RA in the steamy sections- decent, but my own head got in the way of things, and to be perfectly honest, I’ve heard better. There were moments in the narrative where Armitage would lower his voice into a suggestive tone as Griffin contemplates his desire for Joy, but in the actual encounters, I felt he wasn’t 100% invested, at least in the descriptive paragraphs. The writing of the sex scenes was only so-so, but I thought he could have done a little better. The dialogue was narrated far more sexily than the descriptive sections, with a lower register and occasional breathless quality that I liked. Dialogue in general is really a strength for Armitage; it shines and elevates the writing every time.  But the writing itself was just generic fare for sex scenes, and also, certain words or phrases can always annoy me. Tits is one of those words. If I hear “tits”, it throws me right out of the moment. I never want to hear Richard Armitage say “tits” again in this life.

So, RA’s narration of the steamy scenes gets about a B+, and his dialogue gets an A. That dialogue rating should have been an A+, as I really liked the French (I’d definitely love to hear many more lines from him in French), and I thought most of the emotional sections, especially the flashback conversations with Griffin’s dying brother, were narrated flawlessly. But there was one area of dialogue that irritated me. His mother was supposed to be French, and that is the reason Griffin was so fluent in French… so why did his conversations with his mother not reflect a French accent on her part? I actually kind of liked the voice he gave the mother, this voice for an older British lady, as initially it made me wonder if this was an impression of the way Armitage’s own mother might sound on the telephone. Imagining that felt like a small insight into Armitage himself. But then I remembered that Griffin’s mother was French, and I wondered whether Armitage had forgotten that detail, and why the Audible director didn’t ask him to try a different voice? Can The Armitage do no wrong, or was nobody really paying attention to minor plot points? LOL

pink doorAs for the story itself, it wasn’t horrible or completely idiotic, but it just didn’t quite live up to what I hoped it could be. I really enjoyed the picture that Lauren Blakely painted of Paris- I’ve never visited the city, but this book inspired an interest in me to see the colorful doors with quirky knockers, the flowers and gardens with hidden angels and sundials, etc. That was well-done, and the author’s love of Paris shined through. And there were a few funny/quirky details that I also enjoyed here and there, such as Griffin’s friend Christian being the naked guy doing handstands to entertain the canal tours in Copenhagan. And I enjoyed some humorous moments- when Joy has a “proposition” for Griffin, and misunderstanding her intention, he becomes overly eager at the prospect. I couldn’t help but chuckle at Armitage’s delivery as Griffin comes on strongly with a little under-the-table fondling in a restaurant, which leaves her breathless, but grinds to a halt when she explains that the proposition involves her wishing to hire him to teach her French. And I was happily entertained by the flirty name game between “Archie” and “Judy” in the beginning… the way Armitage says the name Judy was rather fan-freaking adorable.

VODSo I didn’t feel that I had wasted my time by listening to Wanderlust. I basically enjoyed the Griffin-narrated chapters in much the same way that I enjoyed Richard’s role in Vicar of Dibley- it was lighthearted fun, with a few annoyances, but pleasurable simply for the novelty of the situation. VOD or Wanderlust will never be my favorite performances, but they were memorable and brought more smiles than eye-rolls.

My personal review: Overall: B-

Richard Armitage’s Narration: A-

Grace Grant’s Narration: B-

Lauren Blakely’s Story: C (I feel a little bit bad about this, as in the author interview at the end, she came across a pretty sweet person and she was really excited about this story!)

 

 

 

 

A Bit Belated… But Lauren Blakely Impressions

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Hereby “outing myself” as a one who partakes of so-called “trashy” romance novels on a regular basis. I’m not ashamed of my reading habits, but I will say that there are some romance novels I might recommend to almost anyone, including Hubby and other non-romance fans, but a great many more that I would not. I never read except for entertainment, so you won’t often find incredibly literary material on my reading lists. I only read fiction, and I tend to skip around between historical and contemporary romance, (with occasional forays into steam punk, fantasy or sci-fi romance), mysteries/detectives/police procedurals, action thrillers (espionage/counterterrorism), historical fiction, and the very occasional straight fantasy or sci-fi, and other fiction that has some kind of buzz. I consume so many books that it’s not unusual for me to forget what I’ve read within a week or two of reading it. Before I had a smart phone, I would typically have 3 books going at once- my book at work, my book at home, and my audiobook in the car. Since getting the smart phone, I’ve transitioned to one book at a time, almost exclusively in audio format, and I listen all the time- I start in the morning during my hair and makeup routine, continue whenever in the car, during my lunch breaks, when I’m sewing, and when I’m cooking, doing laundry or dishes, etc. My audiobook habit has actually really broadened my horizons, as I will frequently try new authors and even genres, based only upon the narrator.

For many years, I have visited a website called All About Romance, which offers reviews on mostly romance novels. Over the years, this AAR site has expanded from historical and contemporary romances, to now include many reviews of subgenres (romantic suspense, sci-fi romance, M/M romance, YA) as well as some “women’s fiction”, and after some sleuthing into my Audible library date of purchase information combined with an author search on the AAR website, I am certain that I first tried Lauren Blakely after reading a review of Mr. O in June 2016. Another AAR review of Lauren Blakely coincides with the next book purchased, Full Package in Jan 2017, (B+ overall ratings by the AAR reviewers for both, and narrator Sebastian York is one I like). I remember the broad outlines of Mr. O and that I enjoyed it, don’t remember much of anything about Full package, but evidently I didn’t hate it because I later purchased Big Rock in May 2017, and Joy Ride in June 2017, and The Sexy One in Sept 2017. For whatever reason, I listened to Joy Ride next, and after reviewing the blurb, I recall I didn’t connect with the characters or story, and my failure to connect may have something to do with why I hadn’t downloaded any Lauren Blakely titles in my library since.

Therefore , Big Rock and The Sexy One were untouched until a couple of weeks ago, when news of RA’s new audio project reached me. I get emails from Audible on a regular basis, and I remember that there was an email with a link to a Romance Editor’s Select page, and Wanderlust is at the top of the page, with a hint from the Audible editor that fans will “freak out” when the male narrator is announced. Funnily enough, I distinctly remember thinking something along the lines of “I doubt I will FREAK OUT because I doubt it will be Richard Armitage”, but I did wonder if it might be a celebrity narrator, and then low and behold, it WAS Richard. So now I’m just as excited as the editor!

After finishing The Drowned Girls by Loreth Ann White, which was too suspenseful to abandon even in pursuit of Lauren Blakely research, I did go and listen to Big Rock and The Sexy One, but I was too busy catching up on my charts from work to write reviews while they were still fresh in my mind, and I have since listened to 4 more audiobooks (the sequel to The Drowned Girls, my first Anne Perry Inspector Monk novel, the newest Deanna Raybourn novel, then a really long one called The Verdict by Nick Stone)… all that to say, there were many words since I listened to the Lauren Blakely novels, and all I can recall is that I thought they were both decent, but not even close to memorable. For comparison, I can immediately recall the plot and the characters names for all four of the intervening audiobooks, but I’m having trouble remembering the Lauren Blakely novels. So they failed to make a big impression.

I do recall that the first few paragraphs in Big Rock had me shocked. It’s a male-only POV, and the main character starts right off with an ode to his genetalia. What was so shocking was that I was thinking about it in the context of Richard Armitage reading similar material, and I was just completely flabbergasted that he would “go there”…. of course, since that time, Ms. Blakely has made efforts to reassure her followers (or Richard’s?) on Twitter that Wanderlust will not be as “bawdy” as her male POV books, and I confess that while this type of language doesn’t bother me, per say, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the idea of Richard narrating similar material. Why?

I mean, really… why? I can’t say. It’s not as if I’ve never considered him in an erotic context, and I have a strong feeling that he is going to deliver a wonderful performance no matter the material. I love his Georgette Heyer narrations; I love the sensual nuances he has often delivered there, as well as in Romeo and Juliet, and even at times, to Uhtred’s thoughts in Lords of the North. But somehow, explicit “cock talk” from RA was borderline alarming to me, so I confess I was glad to hear that Wanderlust is going to be a little “tamer” by comparison. LOL

Anyway, back to Big Rock. The premise is pretty silly- the main character, Spencer, knows his father is trying to sell his big jewelry franchise to a buyer who is all about “family values” and is having reservations about buying the business because the seller’s son (Spencer) has a reputation as a “player”. That in itself was pretty unrealistic, as Spencer isn’t involved in the business at all- he owns several bars in NYC with his best friend and business partner, Charlotte. But somehow Spencer is roped into having dinner with the two families involved in the jewelry store purchase, and he ends up telling everyone that he recently and at long last has entered a committed relationship; he tells them he is, in fact, engaged to Charlotte. His parents, who know and love Charlotte, are really excited, though his sister (who I remember as the heroine in Mr. O) suspects he’s lying. He figures that as best friends, he and Charlotte can fake an engagement for the next week or two until the deal is signed for his father, and then break it off.  It’s a friends-to-lovers romance from Spencer’s POV, with a lot of sex along way. It was funny in a few places, but definitely not one that I would place on my “keepers” list.

I liked The Sexy One less. I listened to that just a couple of weeks ago, and yet at the time of this writing, I still had to go back to the audible blurb to remember what it was even about. This one was a dual POV, and it was a “nanny/single father” scenario, which just didn’t work for me. I don’t tend to like books about certain taboos, and boss/employee is one of those. I can’t think why I even bought it, but looking my library and the fact that there were 4 other books purchased on the same date, I think it must have been on sale. Anyway, it was really short, only about 5 hours, and it was just barely ok.

Confession- when I’m wanting to take a nap on my lunch hour, I listen to Lords of the North, because it doesn’t matter if I drift off to sleep- I don’t have to back up and figure out where I was in the story, since I know the story forward and backward. I’ve been doing quite a lot of that recently, mainly due to my MS fatigue, and I can confirm that LOTN is my all-time favorite RA narration. Today, Lauren Blakely released a couple of short excerpts from Wanderlust, and fresh from drifting off to Uhtred’s adventures, I could perfectly hear Richard’s voice delivering the lines from Wanderlust. I’m quite confident that this one is going to be the most memorable Lauren Blakely title in my library. While I may not want to hear him rave about his boy bits, I’m extremely willing to hear that voice in a seductive context. Pretty sure I’ll be substituting a slightly different image than the one above in my head as I listen, too….

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A LLL Commemorative New York City Quilt for DaphneHS

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“City Scapes” 2017, for DaphneHS

2017 was not a very productive year as far as my hobbies went! I think I managed a whopping 4 blog posts, and quilted even less than that! As you may remember, my life was really sent spinning in February and March of 2017 when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and my focus completely shifted at that point. I was already mostly finished with the top of Daphne’s quilt before the entire right side of my body went numb my diagnosis, but even after I regained near-normalcy, I had by then become fanatically involved with trying to eat in a healthy, organic way, which meant I was committed to a big garden and a lot of cooking … I didn’t really get back into the quilting until November, and by that point it had almost been an entire year since I met fellow Richard Armitage fan Daphne over the course of a weekend of Love, Love, Love in New York City…. but I really wanted to do something that might convey how deeply I appreciated that weekend.  Daphne gave so much of her time and energy, taking us all over New York City and showing us the sites- Times Square at night, Times Square in daylight, Central Park, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 5th Avenue, Rockefeller Center in daylight, Rockefeller Center at night, World Trade Center Memorial, The Oculus, Bryant Park, and Grand Central Station… she was lovely! Brings a big smile to my face just thinking about how well we hit it off! And so when I suddenly realized I needed to get my rear in gear if I wanted to get Daphne her quilt before the year was out, I had to get busy in a hurry. LOL!

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Thankfully, I’d already completed most of the top of the quilt before my MS detour, and the theme of the quilt was easy- New York City! I’d found this “Skylines” fabric by Hoffmann Fabrics , and after learning from Daphne that she was cool with pretty much any color scheme except for orange, I had only to decide upon a pattern. I had 2 contenders, a “Skylines Circle” quilt, which was simple but striking, and “Skylines Sensation”, which reminded me of a stained glass window like those inside St. Patrick’s cathedral, where together we lit a candle last year. Then I realized I could actually do both patterns, and make this quilt a reversible number… perfect! So when November rolled around and I got back to work, I really only had to put a border on the front, then I was ready to create quilt number 2, which would be the back.

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Of course, “simple yet striking” was not exactly technically easy to do, because it involved  more effing applique- where the large circle is attached to the black background fabric. Although it caused me a bit of panic, in the end I was pretty lucky that my sewing machine started skipping effing stitches and had to go to the shop, because it forced me to take my project over to Mom’s quilting studio. Mom, having misplaced her quilting partner and found instead a fanatical organic gardener for the better part of a year, was more than happy to assist, and Daphne’s quilt undoubtedly benefited from her technical expertise on how best to applique that circle on… the infuriating Skylines Circles pattern instructions very helpfully only said “applique the circle to background fabric” as a final step… which was obvious, but how to do that, step-by-step, was left to the hapless individual! Huge thanks, Mom! She helped me figure out the fusible and get it ironed on, and took the reins when I told her I was afraid I was going to mess it up. It was a nice bonding time we had, and I realized how much I missed our quilting time together.

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In the end, Daphne, I’d be hard pressed to say which side is my favorite! Both sides turned out better than I could have imagined, which is fitting for such a lovely friend! Looking at it just make me smile, and remember all the many laughs and giggles we shared while we were Richarding at the Laura Pels Theatre, and traipsing all over New York City! Enjoy!

Giffing #Castlevania, or: I’m Sweet on Trevor Belmont

Castlevania… I’d never heard of it, either as a game or as a Netflix series, until enterprising fandom members began speculating that Richard Armitage was connected. I was immediately intrigued because it was coming soon on a platform that caters to my binge-watching tendencies so nicely, and of course because if there is one quality about Richard Armitage that never changes for me, it is his ability to captivate me with his voice. On the down-side, I’m just not that into the whole vampire/monster genre, I’ve never caught any kind of anime bug, and I’ve sure as hell never been any kind of gamer. Although, as a side note, I DO play Slither.io, and I admit it tickled me pink to see a worm called “Trevor Belmont” on the leader board yesterday… prior to this I’d have figured Trevor Belmont was some player’s actual name! So yay! A fellow Slither.io player, and one good enough to get onto the leader boards, has probably watched Castlevania and probably digs Trevor, too!

So while it was no surprise that Richard Armitage nailed the voice role, and that I enjoyed every moment of his dialogue… it was really an unexpected pleasure to actually find myself caught up in the story to the point that I binged all available episodes last Friday evening, then went back for a second helping the next day. Not only that, but I plan to subject Hubby to the first episode and if he likes it, I’ll go it a third time. Actually, I’ll probably go it a third time whether Hubby likes it or not! And without a doubt, I was left wanting more. [Spoilers follow]

More of Trevor Belmont, with his wide shoulders, scruffy jaw and emo hair. Trevor Belmont, with his acerbic wit and laissez-faire approach to Wallachia’s doom and destruction. Have I ever said how much I appreciate the quintessential, unwilling antihero archetype?

I just love this guy. Pretty much everything about him, and from the moment he delivered his one word of dialogue at the end of episode 1.

He’s just a bad ass. And damned if he’s not easy on the eyes.

 

 

In the beginning of Episode 2, Trevor is sloshed with drink, but manages to stumble into a tavern-fight after his family crest is identified by several belligerent villagers.

I loved the humor in this scene, as the aforementioned bad-ass takes a heavy beating (and a couple of kicks to the testicles) before he sobers up enough to fight.

 

 

Have I mentioned how much I loved his tattered cloak? It totally embodies Trevor’s outcast, shabby nobility.

I confess I was concerned for the cloak when Trevor ascended the sewage shaft in pursuit of his breakfast. And I was sorry to see him shed the cloak when the time came for our reluctant warrior to step up to the plate and commit to his mission.

 

Which took him a while. It seems Trevor Belmont, while mildly curious about the town’s defenses, was rather unenthusiastically stirred to step in to preserve the life of an Elder of the Speakers from a pair of bloodthirsty priests.

After doing his one good deed for the day, however, we learn he entered Gresit genuinely only interested in his breakfast, and hoped to lose his sobriety soon after.

 

Trevor Belmont has resigned himself to life as a loner. The last living son of the House of Belmont, he seems to enjoy his own company well enough.

He constantly talks aloud to himself, and I confess, I adore his internal dialogue, and how he stumbles, swaggers and swashbuckles through the world, muttering salty, sardonic commentary for his own diversion along the way.

 

 

But Belmont does have mad skills, when he bestirs himself. We have our first real taste of Belmont in monster-combat when he encounters a Cyclops in the subterranean vaults. (He can’t seem to shake that inconvenient soft spot for the Speakers, and in an effort to nudge them out of Gresit before they come under attack, he offers to fetch the probably dead missing grandchild of the Elder, who disappeared while searching for a sleeping savior under the city.)

 

Turns out, his assumption was wrong… that grandchild wasn’t a dead boy, but a young woman, Sypha, and the death of the Cyclops restored her to her family.

That’s all done, then… after telling the Speakers that the Bishop is “Beyond insane, over the top and into new lands of just snake-fuckingly crazy” (one of my favorite lines!), Trevor Belmont is ready to casually, and callously, move on.

 

But not before we see a few sparks fly between Trevor and Sypha. I’m hoping there might be a romantic angle between these two, in the future. I’d really love to see Trevor Belmont become twisted up over a scholar.

Who’d have thought I’d be shipping animated characters so readily? LOL

 

And when it becomes clear the Speakers have no intention of leaving, Belmont finally decides to throw in his lot to defend them. Or the city. He’s not completely clear on his plan, but he hides the Speakers and confronts the priests, with the town mob behind them.

Off comes the tattered cloak, and we have our first real look at Trevor Belmont as noble warlord.

 

When Trevor finds himself surrounded by the mob, Sypha reveals herself as an elemental mage, protecting him with a ring of fire from her position on a rooftop, and earning an admiring look from Belmont.

Who just seems to get sexier every time I look at him.

 

 

And now, Trevor Belmont takes command. The hordes of Hell are descending as night falls on the town, and Belmont begins issuing orders, all business.

I have to hand it to him… Richard Armitage does “battle commander” so very forcefully well.

 

After the ground collapses, Trevor and Sypha fall together through several levels and waken a sleeping, shirtless vampire. Sypha sees the savior of Speaker prophesy, but Trevor’s cynicism shines. He stalks about and casts aspersions (“Tell that to your floating vampire Jesus!”), then gladly rises to the vampire’s challenge.

 

 

Possibly my favorite moment: Alucard, son of Dracula, having separated Belmont from whip and sword, pins him down with neck exposed, and asks if he has a last prayer. “Dear God, please don’t let the vampire’s guts ruin my good tunic.” This. This final little piece of snark, as Alucard discovers a dagger in his torso… if I wasn’t already half in love with Trevor Belmont, this would have sealed the deal.

A cooler mind prevails, ultimately, as Sypha steps in before the vampire and the hunter can simultaneously end one another.

Season 1 ends with the trio of vampire savior, hunter and scholar entering a wary accord, their mutual goal to destroy Dracula before Dracula destroys Wallachia.

 

My biggest complaint? Season 1 was far too short! Like a lovely appetizer, but now we must wait for the main course to be served.

I, for one, can hardly wait.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JHolland: An Update

So the verdict is in, and my neurologist has diagnosed me with Multiple Sclerosis. This is considered to be an immune-mediated disease, in which my own immune system essentially does irreparable damage to nerves in the central nervous system, causing demyelination of neurons which alters and inhibits neural transmission. The most commonly diagnosed form is called Relapsing/Remitting MS, which is what Dad has, and in most cases eventually, over 10-15 years, progresses to Secondary Progressive MS. In my case, the initial diagnosis was Secondary Progressive MS, meaning I likely cannot expect to ever return to normal for periods of time, only have ups, downs and plateaus that never leave me feeling 100% my former self, but may wax and wane and generally worsen over time. He did say that if I can tolerate the prescribed Copaxone, a 3 times weekly injection that mimics a protein in myelin, thereby allowing the immune system to “attack” the injection rather than the actual myelin in nerve sheaths, it is unlikely that I will progress to severe disability/wheelchair status.

Of course, I am still waiting on approval from the insurance company to actually start the injection, but the great news is that my symptoms, after worsening quite scarily all last week to the point where I could not carry a laundry basket a distance of 50 feet without stopping to sit down, and had to lean against walls, tabletops and countertops when standing more than 5-10 minutes… have now lessened to the point where I have very normal strength and energy and only mild numbness and tingling in my right hand, foot and knee! I really want to start that injection, like, yesterday, with hopes that it will forestall a repeat of last week!

Flowers from Guylty… I already ate the chocolates, and the wine is forthcoming, so those aren’t pictured here. =)

In fact, yesterday I managed to perform an ovariohysterectomy/spay and was able to find the uterus using my right hand- last week the prickling sensation and numbness overwhelmed all other sensory input and I’d never have been able to find the ovarian horn (without making a bigger incision and locating it by visualizing it rather than feeling for it). And that is if I could even manage to stay upright for long enough to do the surgery. So things are, indeed, looking up.

I want to thank all of you for your messages of love and support, and for the flood of prayers and good vibes that you sent my way. I never realized what a boost and a comfort it could be. I’ve also received a number of emails off-blog offering tips and support and love and morale-boosting.

The lovely Guylty, who knows me well, sent a gorgeous bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolates and a generous wine voucher! This came when I was at my lowest point, and almost nothing other than this particular combination could have cheered me.

Care package from Linnet Moss… another delicious treat, in more ways than one! =)

Then this week, another package arrived from Linnet, who took the time to create a one-of-a-kind “Dr. Armitage Prescribes” box… complete with humorous kitty cats and swoon-worthy Richard images… and a delicious array of Sugarfina candies! That Dr. Armitage was spot-on, and I have to say that as appealing as Dr. Hottie the neurologist is… he can’t hold a candle to this guy!

 

 

 

The Walking Dad and My Young Love… a smile-inducing duo if I’ve ever seen one!

Little Sister, who is full of pure love and my most constant source of hugs.

Meanwhile, I am actively doing everything I can to really supply my body with healthy food packed with vitamins and antioxidants- tons of fruits, vegetables and weird stuff like Kombucha and seaweed and on and on… I have to make a life change and do everything I can so I can stick around and be actively involved for these three… they are everything to me, and they need me.

I have so many reasons to be thankful, so many blessings in my life. And all of YOU are definitely among them. (((HUGS)))

 

 

 

Preoccupied Elsewhere… In Case I Appear to Disappear

My last post was on Valentine’s Day, and while it was a Happy Day, and felt like maybe a step back into a more regular blogging role, I regret to say that it was the same day that my life may have changed forever. It can really happen overnight, and it is eye-opening. I’ll share a little here, because as distant as we may be, I do know that I have amazing friends amongst the fandom, and I could really use your prayers, positive thoughts, well-wishes. But if I don’t spend a lot of time on responses, please know that my life was busy as of 2 weeks ago, and now it’s complicated in ways I can’t fully comprehend. Or, I may just be emotional, overwhelmed or otherwise unable to formulate words.

So Feb 14. In the morning I did a surgery and felt my right hand numb/tingling almost as if the hand fell asleep afterward. It occasionally happens if my hand gets fatigued or maybe my surgical glove is too tight, but goes away after 20 minutes. That day, it never went away. Later in the day, same pin/needles feeling in my right foot. Still later, an area on my right thigh. Fast forward through the days to Sunday, by which time I’ve seen my primary care family medicine doctor and had baseline bloodwork (all normal) and ordered an MRI of the brain for Monday… the entire right side of my body, torso, limbs, side of head, ear, but fortunately not the face, all numb/tingling and easily fatigued. Still have decent motor function and coordination, not falling, still actually able to type and give injections, and even do simple surgeries, but not able to lift even 10 lb Roxie into the car using the right arm, and by 1 week later, Tues 2/21, the idea of chopping 2 stalks of celery, 1/2 onion and some Polish sausages to fix a simple dinner was a tear-inducing and impossible ordeal after a long day at work.

I’m fortunate that Hubby’s cousin is a well-loved oncologist here in town, and is an amazing advocate, calling in advance to smooth the way and see that I’m squeezed in for whatever testing is required and getting in with a great neurologist who was fully booked and also about to be leaving on vacation. I saw him Thursday with my initial MRI results and while he’s leaning toward a diagnosis of a rapid/fairly aggressive form of Multiple Sclerosis, apparently it’s generally a diagnosis of exclusion, so while he’s on vacation, I’m having a lot more tests and we’ll reconvene to go over the results next Monday.

Yesterday I had several tests including a pretty unpleasant lumbar puncture to collect cerebrospinal fluid for analysis, 21 large tubes of blood drawn for more advanced testing of autoimmune and other obscure disorders, an IV catheter placed for a daily infusion of a whopping 1000mg steroid at the hospital once daily for 5 days (thankfully, all this is outpatient), and I’ve had to be on my back for 24 hours following the lumbar puncture. I also had an echocardiogram in there somewhere… all kind of a blur. Monday afternoon I’ll have a bigger and better MRI of the brain plus entire spinal cord which may take several hours of holding still. Then we wait and see what we have.

My dad has MS, diagnosed when he was 55 years old, and apparently, while not directly heritable, it can tend to run in families. There are other possibilities, but the initial MRI showed several areas of demyelination in my brain. Thankfully, doesn’t look like a tumor. The biggest concern so far is that one of the lesions is in the brainstem, and that is one of the worst locations, and the reason for the big gun steroids to try to slow the really rapid progression and salvage my right hand because it is absolutely necessary to my profession. I will not be a successful veterinarian without full use and sensation in my right hand. The leg being numb, I can work with. The hand… whole different story. The steroid injection has improved me dramatically, so I have high hopes that 4 more of those and I’ll be feeling pretty fantastic. Literally already feel about 50% better after the first injection. (also buzzed… up typing energetically at 5am on a Saturday!!) LOL

I have a wonderful Hubby and a lot of local family support. I’d rather this happened to me than to my husband or my children or anyone else, but it is really, really scary. So Mr. Armitage is firmly on the back burner while we wait to see what happens. But please do keep our family in your thoughts and prayers. I’ll try to update when I know more

— J

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day 2017… #CelebRAteLove Contribution, with Short Limerick =)

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Thorin bearing a Valentine’s bouquet… my office. That’s not too shabby!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!! And a special shout-out to Guylty for the impetus to make something, anything happen on this poor, sad blog! So! While my preoccupationwitharmitage was definitely rejuvenated after my wonderful trip to NYC, a Stage Door Runner event, and 4 performances of Love, Love, Love… it didn’t really translate into a whole lot more blogging on my part. And I really wish that wasn’t the case. Life is just busy right now, and the lovely Richard Armitage has a lot of competition for my time and energy.

I’m elbows deep in another quilt, the kids have a ton of extracurricular activities, the veterinary business is going gangbusters, and it’s just about time to start gathering material for the accountant. But I did have the energy to set up a little office photo shoot… since I knew everyone would probably appreciate Thorin bearing Valentine’s flowers!

He does look rather manfully romantic, there in front of a little collection of Armitage memorabilia, the dog curled up at his feet…

 

 

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Introducing Roxie, our small dog-like animal.

Oh yeah, and speaking of that dog curled up at Thorin’s feet… I don’t know that I have ever formally introduced my new child, Roxie! Our sweet little Girlfriend did pass away late last spring, and it wasn’t long before we were fortunate enough to welcome Roxie, a 2-year-old rescued Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, into the fold. She’s pretty stinking cute, and has provided all kinds of entertainment and pure, loyal affection. This dog is my shadow. She could probably fill up a blog post, or even a blog of her own with all her antics, but since I’m on the subject, I’ll give you her short story… she was purchased as a puppy by an elderly man with cancer, and after he passed away, she spent several days alone with his body. Needless to say, we work on separation anxiety issues! She was then sold to a family who loved her, but their 60lb boxer was terrified of her 10lb ferocious self, so she went to the Cavalier Rescue organization. Aside from her separation anxiety, she also had bilateral luxated patellas (knee-caps out of socket) since puppyhood, which caused her to spend her entire life completely unable to bend her hind legs. She now has both her knees repaired and fully functioning, and a family that absolutely adores her, not to mention a mom who doesn’t put up with any bullshit terrorizing other animals. She goes back and forth to the clinic with me, tries to steal into the exam rooms to accompany me, enjoys greeting clients in the lobby, believes she has been wrongfully banned from the sterile surgery suite, and absolutely loves the kids. And their socks. And their dirty underwear. I love her so much!

 

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Hubby playing Bass while I sew. We barely fit in the craft room!

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My three kids!

And since it’s the holiday of love, and Roxie had a photo op, I would be remiss if I didn’t include the other Valentines in my life… Hubby, My Young Love, and his adorable Little Sister. They bring laughter, smiles and all kinds of good feels on a daily basis. So blessed!

 

 

 

 

 

v4But back to my Valentine’s collaboRAtion… my office sports a little bit of memoRAbilia, as you can see. Several magnets on my mini-fridge, several framed photos that were gifted to me, a lovely Francis Dolarhyde shrine, subtle Richarding tree ornaments, post-cards, and mementos from my trip to Greece. Not to mention my very own, life-sized, always amorous Thorin Oakenshield.

 

 

 

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A Valentine’s Care Package from Guylty!

Naturally, after I had already taken my photo, yet more Valentine’s goodness arrived in a package from Ireland! Guylty, you’re amazing! Thornton’s Fabulous Fudge, a cucumber face mask (can’t wait to surprise the kids with my green face!), a heart-shaped candle holder, lotion and an unusually sexy post-card all bundled together in a clever handmade zipper bag which is a total shout-out (to the discerning, in-the-know eye) to Mr. A….  Gah! I LOVE IT! I The interior is lined with water-proof vinyl, really nice, and the exterior sports custom fabric… peaches, roses, chess piece kings, red dragon symbols, vinyl records (is that a nod to young Kenneth?) and of course, that unmistakable silhouette (with nape curls!). Thank you!!

 

v8And finally, although this came a little early for Valentine’s Day, for me it was truly inspiring.

Richard Armitage, filming Ocean’s Eight.

*fans self*

Seriously, if I saw him walking down the street, I’d admire from a distance. I really would.

But if I saw him walking Borzois down the street… I make no promises.

I mean, I’ve always had a major attraction to sighthounds.

And, Dayum.

The HOTNESS!

I want some.

If this can’t make me wax poetic, nothing can. Well worth a little ode…

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Dabbled in Erotica, Or: A Commemorative “Celebration of Greece” Quilt for Obscura

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Boxer At Rest, 2016. (We’d had windy day after windy day that week… this was the best I could do!)

As you may know, Hubby and I were fortunate enough to travel to Greece in September on a wonderful tour led by our own lovely Obscura, and after the tour, I spent yet another fun-filled week in her company, along with several other like-minded ladies, dubbed AHA (Armitage Hellenic Association). When we returned, having been gone for a stretch of 19 days (officially my longest vacation ever!), I hit the ground running at work, with so much catching-up to do, that I never found the time to blog about it. Oh, and I was also feverishly working on another quilting project. =)

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Richard Armitage as John Proctor (2014), and detail of head (Boxer at Rest). Look at those muscular necks!

I wanted to create a commemorative “thank you” quilt for Obscura, celebrating our time together in Greece. I thought about a theme that involved stunt-driving, but ultimately I got my inspiration from this post on Obscura’s blog, Ancient Armitage, where she discussed her appreciation for the art of the Hellenistic period (323 BC – 30 BC) and its evocative, emotional impact on her. Naturally, she compared one of her favorite examples of that era, Boxer at Rest, with our (also quite sexily gorgeous) Richard Armitage. Obscura’s post was written prior to 2014, when John Proctor came into fruition, but I couldn’t help but notice a striking similarity between The Boxer and our favorite Puritan farmer, myself!

Perfect, then! Of course, no such fabric celebrating the brawny male nudity beauty of the famous Greek sculpture existed, so using several HD images of Boxer at Rest, I created the fabric myself using my favorite design-your-own fabric site, Spoonflower.com. Once I had a nice layout celebrating some of the best bits, I ordered 5 panels of the Boxer fabric, and with Hubby’s help, I also created a background fabric for the back of the quilt using a kaleidoscopic repeat of a small area of the Boxer’s beard. For this quilt, which I hoped to get out by Christmas, I needed blocks that would be fast and simple, so I chose to do a pattern called a “Four Patch Posie“, where 4 repeats of squares cut from the fabric are put together into  kaleidoscope blocks to create interesting new patterns. Because one such block contained a 4-way kaleidoscopic view of the, ah, genitalia, Mom dubbed this quilt “The Porn Quilt.” LOL

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What I had failed to predict ahead of time was that, while the panels themselves are really beautiful representations of a splendid, ancient work of art, my efforts at erotica blocks were destined to turn out alarmingly drab, having nothing but tones of black and bronze. Too dark! Too dull! Not at all feminine, and just completely unappealing! Whoops. Looking at just the blocks together on the design wall, I was dreadfully disappointed, and just about scrapped the whole project, but later I decided maybe I could brighten it up by adding a more colorful fabric in the sashing between the blocks and in the border.

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That did improve the overall appearance, and, well, if Obscura isn’t crazy about the front, then at least I think she will appreciate the back of the quilt, which shows the very alluring Boxer in all his glory. I chose a Greek-themed overall pattern for the quilting stitches, and after a few missteps trying to embroider a label for Obscura, Mom and I managed to get it quilted the weekend after Thanksgiving. Then, while I was off gallivanting in New York City, my long-suffering Mom was kind enough to do the binding for me. (Thanks, Mom!) She’d probably kill me if she knew I posted her picture, but the last step was to obtain pictures of the finished product, and we had a terrible time of it fighting gusts of wind!

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I had a bit of a scare after finally shipping it off, when I heard not a word from Obscura for over 2 weeks. Because the quilt is really a bit on the weird side, and I myself had moments of extreme doubt as to whether it was attractive enough to gift to its intended recipient, I was a little paranoid that maybe Obscura was struggling with the awkwardness of receiving a well-intentioned but fugly-as-hell quilt, so hadn’t gotten up the resolve to respond in any way… but then there were the holidays and a mention of an ER visit, so I thought maybe she just hadn’t had any time to respond. When I finally located my shipping receipt and tracked the package the other day, it turned out it had reached her general vicinity but hadn’t been confirmed as delivered, so next I worried that the package was lost or that some other unsuspecting person may have received a porn quilt! LOL! Finally, I just had to contact Obscura, who had to schlep off to the Post Office and track down my dubious offering. =)

I had a lot of laughs, Obscura, while making you this “Porn Quilt”… between enduring Mom’s ribbing about the nudity, my initial dismay when I saw the blocks looking all kinds of blah on the design wall, my multiple really craptastic efforts at making the label, and even while persevering against the gusting wind when I was ready for final photographs before wiping my hands of it shipping it off! Maybe not quite as many laughs as we had together during our goat bell misadventures and our many trips across the Corinth Canal… but close! Enjoy!

Post-Christmas Bling Has Arrived!

ornament-2I have received my winnings! A trio of tasteful and highly discreet little fandom Christmas ornaments that I was so lucky to have won on Day 8 of the 12 Days of Christmas raffles held by the lovely Guylty over the past couple of weeks… as a matter of fact, that raffle was actually on my birthday… though Guylty didn’t know it and neither could the random picker protocol… how about that?!?

ornament-1These would definitely look wonderful on the Christmas tree, adjacent to our weird and wonderful assortment of blown glass ornaments, sparkly poinsettias and random kid creations, but I couldn’t bear to stash them away with the other Christmas decorations that may or may not be taken down this weekend (that’s laughable, actually… normally our Christmas decorations stay up for months after Christmas…) so I decided to decorate my little artificial bonsai tree in my office instead. It looks great with a touch of bling!

They are beautiful, Guylty! You are a crafter extraordinaire! And I also loved the Christmas postcard… how I’d love to catch that man under a mistletoe… *snickers*… it would be mistletoe all through the house, I’m afraid! But I digress… Love how subtle the reference to Richard is… just a sparkly little “R” to pay homage. (*Coughs* If I didn’t already have a 4ft Thorin cut out and multiple photos and magnets of Mr. Armitage, nobody entering my office would even know!) LOL.

Wishing Everyone a Happy New Year! Hope your holidays have been as blessed as mine have been. (((Hugs)))!