A North & South Spoof Piece (The Toast)

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My edit! (And just for fun, completely unrelated to the Spoof piece!)

This was just the ticket to give me a chuckle and a much-needed boost after all the emotional upheaval this week. From The Toast, and brought to my attention by Janeite.

Hope you enjoy!

http://the-toast.net/2015/10/15/north-and-south/

 

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Staged. An Interesting Foray Into Richard’s Early Work

baby face

I have to admit, I didn’t find Richard Armitage as appealing as usual when he was a baby-faced twenty-something. Not sure if he’d have caught my eye “back when”… I guess some men really do improve with age.

So I finally got around to watching the DVD of Staged that arrived in the mail at some point a couple of months ago. Believe it or not, I do have a stack of unwatched early Richard Armitage material. You’d think that with all the time I devote to my Richarding, and having now been Richarding for about one year, I’d have long since watched this stuff, but always for one reason or another, I find myself rewatching favorites, reading blogs, playing games on the forum, and occasionally updating my own blog with this or that. But earlier this week I found myself with about 15 minutes, charts all caught up, nothing much else to do, and Staged sitting next to me. Knowing it was a very short production, I decided to pop it in and have a look at a very baby-faced Richard Armitage.

Staged Laughter

This is just a cute gif of RA as Darryl Newman, busting out in laughter. Something that made me smile. Can’t help but wonder if he’d laugh like that that looking back on his own alleged American accent in the film. =)

Overall, I don’t think my ~$25 (if I recall what I paid correctly) was necessarily worth it. The script certainly didn’t merit $25, and the performance wasn’t exactly of the caliber I’m accustomed to from Richard Armitage. If he’s embarrassed that this is “out there” (which I seem to have picked up on somewhere, but can’t recall who implied it), then I think that’s a little harsh on himself… but nonetheless, I would have to agree that it’s a bit of a sophomoric effort. Especially if that’s supposed to be an American accent. Um, if so, it was terrifically bad. I have to say, I thought his American accent in Into The Storm had a few sketchy moments, but overall was decent. If I hadn’t known he was British, I might not even have noticed anything was off. So props to RA for making a huge improvement there in the decade and a half since Staged was created. But even if that was not an early failed attempt at an American accent, there were other aspects that didn’t exactly wow me.

That being said, I did enjoy Staged simply because it offered an opportunity to see Richard Armitage when he was such a fledgling. I don’t think I’ve seen him in another black and white film, so that was interesting. I was definitely intrigued when RA’s character, Darryl Newman, spoke the lines that turned out to be, if not prophetic, then certainly somewhat of a mirror to his real life, when his counterpart, Lily, asks Darryl what caused him to want to return to the stage after a successful run as a film actor:

Darryl: You know why. It’s been 12 years since I’ve done theatre. Stage is what made me. I miss the days when I’d  pour myself into a role. One you could really sink your teeth into. You can go lost in a character for days… and it’s emotionally draining but for some insane reason I loved it. Get a kick out of really shaking people up, making them actually believe I was somebody else.

Lily: You like to keep your true nature hidden, don’t you?

Darryl: People see what they want to see. Trouble is once you become a commodity, you have to play into people’s fantasies of who they think you are. Unfortunately after a while they stop taking you seriously as an actor.

jptheatre

Richard Armitage as John Proctor in the critically acclaimed production of The Crucible, Old Vic Theatre, London 2014

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Himself looking a bit exhausted when I met him the second time at the Stage Door in London. Exhausted, emotionally drained, but satisfied, I think.

I can’t help but notice that Armitage really has wanted to “return to his roots” and recently, after 12 years onscreen, did exactly that with his phenomenal debut as the leading character with The Crucible… while unlike Darryl, I don’t think that the stage was originally “the making” of Armitage- (I’d argue that North and South was “the making” of Armitage)- it is true that he did start out there, and upon his return to the stage, he most certainly did “pour himself into the role” of John Proctor, and was rewarded with critical acclaim and even an Olivier nomination for his efforts. One can’t look at the many stage door photos toward the end of that run and not feel that the process was draining for him, as he looked increasingly haggard and exhausted, and I think most would agree, too, that he really shook people up in the process. So in that sense, Darryl’s words did in the end rather eerily forecast Armitage’s career in real life.

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Richard Armitage, circa 2013 Berlin Premiere of DOS. Definitly looking like a hot commodity here. And see what I mean? He’s like a fine wine. Improved immeasurably with age. (Photo found on Something About Love!)

I have to wonder how much the second line from the script above also might echo reality for Richard Armitage. He’s inarguably now entering a stage in his career when he’s something of a commodity, and I think some of the debates that rage in the fandom more often than not stem from the very problem Darryl muses about… how much does he feel he has to play into people’s fantasies of who they think he is? I know it comes with the territory, but I’d imagine it’s not always easy, living up to expectations. And I have to wonder if he ever feels like he’s not taken seriously, (*coughs* thinking of my own Nipplegate Spoof) despite his recent success leading The Crucible. Well, RA, you’ll just have to knuckle down and do another play. Wow everyone again. I’ll try not to look at your nipple next time.

 

 

moles2

I’m afraid I wasn’t swept away by the passion in this scene. I was instead captivated by Richard’s former moles.

moles1

We see here how nicely Richard has filled out, and we don’t see the same moles from circa 1999. I think that’s a scar on his right deltoid muscle. Either that, or the mole has lost pigment and flattened quite a bit….

Speaking of nipples, Staged did offer another opportunity to ogle a much younger Richard Armitage in bare chest mode. I’m happy to report that he’s filled out nicely and put on some impressive muscle since then, but he was nevertheless attractive even when he was more of a bean pole. Some other important considerations that viewing Staged has created for me: did Richard Armitage have some moles removed since then, or do his new muscles just distract me? I had to have a look, and yes, I do believe he’s had some of his moles removed since then, though he hasn’t had them all removed. I think the rather prominent mole on his right deltoid area has been removed, but left a little scar. And those on the right trapezius area have also disappeared even as the muscle has notably developed.

staged kiss

Kiss approach circa 1999…

Kiss 1

Kiss approach circa 2004…

Right. So, moving along… I did notice one other interesting thing about Richard’s performance as Darryl Newman. I couldn’t help but notice that his “approach” as he went in for a kiss with his ex-wife, who we are supposed to understand he still carries a torch for, was really rather similar to his “approach” as he gazed at Margaret as John Thornton in North and South. Check out the tender gaze, the blinking eyes… the little eyebrow lift. I have to say the addition of that very eloquent and gentle hand on Margaret’s face was an inspired improvement, but Darryl’s approach was really quite well done.

That’s about all I have to say regarding Staged. It was enlightening. He’s put on muscle. He’s lost some moles. He’s matured both in appearance and in his performance. All in all- I’m glad I watched it, but probably won’t spend much time on it in the future.

It’s Been One Year Since #RichardArmitage Had Me at “Stephens!”

Stephens

John Thornton shouts at the hapless Stephens, North and South, BBC 2004, Episode 1. I was a goner from that moment on.

In the process of going through my PayPal records looking for business expenditures, I noticed that my first payment to Netflix was the first week of April, 2014. It just so happens that the first show I ever streamed on Netflix was BBC’s wonderful 2004 adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, and although I didn’t know it at the time, my life was about to change. So yeah… I guess this is something of a One Year Fanniversary for me!

From the moment I saw John Thornton overlooking the mill floor, my heart started thudding. A few seconds later, the gorgeous jerk shouted “Stephens! Put that pipe out!” then chased the unfortunate smoker down, and delivered a beating. I was toast.

So, in honor of this occasion, I’ve been busily giffing away on North and South… many of these have probably been giffed a thousand times, but I wanted my own little John Thornton library. Prepare for Thornton Thursday overload, ladies. And pray for a fast connection, because I might have gone a bit wild. LOL

Oh, and if you, for some completely unfathomable reason have NOT watched North and South, there be spoilers below. =)

 

I Saw You

Thornton chases Stephens, violently furious.

Get That Woman Out Of Here

The ideal gentleman, surely! LOL

Something about Richard Armitage’s fury, his energy and  on-screen magnetism just gripped me in those moments, and I knew that this was going to be something more than an enjoyable period drama. From then on, he absolutely dominated every scene he was in, and I really haven’t been the same since.

 

 

 

Meet Thornton

Meet John Thornton. Properly, this time. Such an arrogant turn, and head set. Damn but he’s fine. THUD.

Turn Away

It seems I like to watch John turn in either direction!

Something in the way John Thornton held himself. Something in the way he turned around to face Margaret. In fact, whichever direction he turned, impressed me.

 

 

 

 

 

sinister thornton

Thornton hosts a dinner party for the mill owners.

Watching

Thornton watches the workers enter the meeting hall.

He embodied the sinister Master so well. No sentimentality for the plight of the workers, just pragmatic business sense. Yet… he didn’t join the others in mocking the workers. And he didn’t try to stop the union from meeting.

 

 

 

 

Thornton Ogles Subtlly

Mr. Thornton very subtly ogles Miss Hale as she serves his tea.

Greeting

Thornton greets Miss Hale at the dinner party.

I found myself transfixed at every minute twitch of his lips, every brief eyelid flicker when Mr. Thornton would gaze at Miss Hale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

hand language

Miss Hale refuses to shake John Thornton’s hand.

handshake

Miss Hale allows Thornton to shake her hand. And caress it ever so slightly…

Soon I began to develop a fascination for Thornton’s hand language. Not only are his hands beautiful to look at, but they’re eloquent. This has not abated. One of the reasons I’m not as into Thorin as many of the other chaRActers may have been that his hands were obscured…

 

 

 

 

 

Not the slightest wish

His passion for her is entirely over. Can’t you tell? =)

I understand you completely

I can’t think of another proposal scene that made my heart race as this one did.

Then there was the intensity of his smoldering. Not sure where I’ve ever seen the like. Armitage delivered barely suppressed, strong emotion in spades after Margaret rejected John’s proposal, and after John shielded Margaret from the inquest.

 

 

 

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Stride 1stride2
I guess since we’re listing all the things that made me instantly obsessed with Thornton, I’d have to include his stride. It wouldn’t have done for Thornton to mince along, or swagger western-style. No, he would move with purpose and determination everywhere he went, and I never tire of watching him in motion.

 

 

Mr. Hale Dead

Thornton learns of the death of his friend, Mr. Hale.

Grief

More eloquent hand language. John realizes that there is now nothing to keep Margaret in Milton.

The final episode was full of angst on Thornton’s part. When he learned of Mr. Hale’s death, and knew it meant Margaret would also depart Milton, his grief was palpable.

 

 

 

 

Look Back

Mr. Thornton stares in desolation as Miss Hale begins her journey back to London. She does not look back.

I am certain that no John Thornton tribute would be complete without a nod to the famous “Look back. Look back at me.” Everyone I’ve steered toward watching North and South has referenced this scene and those lines.

It broke my heart, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

empty mill

Thornton stands alone in the empty mill. He thinks of Margaret.

 

Yellow Rose

Not telling even his mother where he is going, John leaves Milton and travels to Helstone, where Margaret grew up. Was he looking for her, or simply seeking an emotional connection, a shared memory that would remain private in his heart?

As if the death of Mr. Hale and the subsequent separation from Margaret were not enough, Thornton was now devastated by financial crisis and foreclosure. Having lost almost everything that was important to him, aside from the abiding love of his mother, we were left with not a shattered man, but certainly a despondent and contemplative Thornton.

 

 

 

Train Station 1

Margaret Hale on the southbound train. John Thornton on the northbound train. My heart began to beat faster…

Train Station 2

The contrast here, this Thornton, with cravat off and a soft gaze… compared to the sinister and even violent man from the first episode: Is It Any Wonder I Was Captivated by this chaRActer, this actor?

Never having read Gaskell’s novel, I remember thinking at this point, with so little time left in the program, that this particular period drama must have no happy ending. I was prepared for heartbreak. Then, the train station…

 

 

 

 

Kiss 1Naturally, no post chock-full of celebration for Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North and South would be complete without remarking upon The Train Station Kiss. Excuse me while I ovulate.

The legendary kiss to end all kisses. Such lovely music. Such restrained reverence in his eyes and in his touch.

 

 

 

Kiss 2So tender, his lips. Such a captivating jaw line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kiss 3And don’t even get me started on the simple elegance of his hand.

 

 

 

 

And there you have it. Gorgeous, passionate, sinister, furious, smoldering, heartsick, tender, loving John Thornton. Is it any wonder that North and South is the proverbial “gateway drug” for so many in the fandom?

Revelation: Not Overly Preoccupied

Yeah, so I had an epiphany yesterday, which was my first full day back to normal life after a 4-day, 4-night stint at Children’s Hospital with my young love…. I am Not Really All That Preoccupied With Armitage at the moment. Kind of a welcome change after the past seven months.

I can’t say I never thought about Richard Armitage at all while we were there. That would be asking a little much. I did think about trying for a hospital room selfie watching North and South, but I just wasn’t feeling it. You’d think that N&S would be some kind of comforting tonic I could have used, but apparently not. Maybe I didn’t want to have any negative association with it? Hmmm. I saw a new Richard Selfie on Twitter, and mused about the reappearance of The Beard. Is he gearing up for that video game movie, maybe? I saw a couple of posts on Facebook involving cute manips of Armitage characters in cappuccino art, and then realized that there was some kind of controversy there. (Really, people? Kind of hard to care about fandom brouhahas when you’re concerned whether your child’s eye is going to develop a corneal HSV-1 lesion, you’ve listened to a Code Blue called over the paging system at a Children’s Hospital, and you’ve watched a toddler with chemotherapy hair ride past you in a wheel chair.)

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The Young Love was super interested in the workings of this portable ophthalmology mega-scope!

This is not intended to be a downer post. And I’m fairly sure that I’ll be getting back into the swing of the Richarding Life soon. When I get caught up on laundry, housework, patients at work, and most of all, Sleep. (My own bed- how I do love thee. May need to burst forth in Limerick Mode with an Ode to my bed at home!)

I do want to say Thank You So Much, those of you who sent words of encouragement through comments, e-mail, Facebook posts, and forum messages. I had several very low moments, and these kindnesses were so encouraging to me. Chalk up several for the SpReAd the Love Campaign =). For those of you interested, the kiddo’s eye itself is fine- thanks to timely intervention with IV antivirals, it never developed a corneal viral lesion- and the eyelid lesions are now resolving very nicely. He now looks like a child with a scraped up eyelid and a nice shiner. Hopefully nobody seeing us out and about will conclude we punched his lights out. =)

tickets1

Looks like an IMAX Date Night on opening weekend for BOFA.

And, since I was glued to my kid’s hospital bed, my Hubby made a really sweet gesture as well… he stopped by the IMAX on his way home from the hospital last Friday, and messaged me this picture to boost the spirits. Not quite opening night, but close enough to suit me. He knows me well!

I wonder if there is a lot of catching up to do, Richardwise. It’s creeping in at the edges, that preoccupation, but it’s in the background at the moment, and I’m not averse to keeping it there for a while. Right now I’m counting my blessings and grateful to be off the constant BlisterWatch that’s been my obsession for the past 6 days. Life is good.

 

 

He Had Me at “Stephens!”

You could say I have Thornton on the brain today. It’s a welcome relief. Ever since London, I have had a massive John Proctor problem. I was so affected by The Crucible experience that until just a couple of weeks ago, I was unable to concentrate on any works of fiction, whether audiobook or written, no matter how much I wanted to. Some audible releases I’d been waiting months for came out, but I just couldn’t pay attention long enough to get into them. I had several unfinished novels on my Kindle, abandoned so I could read and re-read The Crucible, hearing each distinct character voice so clearly in my head. It wasn’t until The Armitage Authors Network came online, and Kelbel75 posted about her FanFic Gateway that I decided enough was enough, so I searched my Kindle cloud and found A Heart For Milton by Trudy Brasure, which I purchased months ago in the midst of my North and South preoccupation, but hadn’t read yet. (Does anyone else have a hopelessly long list of audiobook and digital book files in the cloud? I can’t imagine myself ever getting through my own library. Especially now that I’m so preoccupied all the time…)

So I’ve started A Heart For Milton and I’m only about 15% into the story, but I’ve been transported back to the beloved setting. I love how Trudy Brasure has captured the essence of John Thornton’s ways of speech, because my brain just fills in Richard’s gorgeous voice in every dialogue. This has really gotten me off the John Proctor fixation track, for which I am profoundly grateful. Much as I love him, I needed a break from Salem and from Proctor’s passionately hopeless heroics.

Thornton

The curious lovablility of this sequence! [Screencaps borrowed from Flixchatter and from Servetus]

Yesterday, Servetus posted a pic of the moment I like to think of as “my moment”- the moment when Richard Armitage first not only came onto my radar, but overwhelmed me with his singular combination of freakishly gorgeous appearance and magnetically compelling performance… that magical moment when he roared “Stephens! Put that pipe out!” It’s a bit of an odd moment to fall in love at first sight, but that’s pretty much exactly what occurred. Funny how I’m quite sure that had I been in Margaret Hale’s shoes at the moment, I would have been shocked and repelled by the violent outburst that follows. The men in my life, thank heavens, just don’t behave that way, and no matter how well he looked… all tall, dark and cravated… I would have been leery of becoming involved with him. Nonetheless, it was this very outburst of physicality, this shouting, chasing and pummeling, that captured my fascination with the character, and by association, the actor behind the performance. The moment he threw the horrified and indignant Margaret out of the mill, I knew it would be a love story to remember.

What would be the appeal of conquering Mr. Darcy without his initial hatefully rude condescension? Likewise, Mr. Thornton without his raw and unrefined brutality would not have been as riveting without this moment. Had the 2004 BBC production followed the Elizabeth Gaskell novel, with Margaret never once entering Marlborough Mills, thereby never setting Miss Hale and Mr. Thornton at such dramatic odds, I wonder if I would have fallen quite so hard, or become quite so fascinated, with Mr. Thornton… and later Richard.

Probably. After all, I just adore smoldering, angst, betrayal, hot male brooding and sexual tension in film and in fiction, so what followed as the plot unfolded was an inevitably escalating fascination with the character and storyline. I was amazed to discover a character, in Thornton, capable of out-Darcying Mr. Darcy himself.

What was your “moment”?

The N&S Proposal Scene, Read by Richard Armitage

Thanks to Lauren Oakenshield for taking the time to combine the audio of my favorite narrator reading an excerpt from the beautiful proposal scene in Elizabeth Gaskell’s classic novel, with the visual of my favorite actor in character! Love it =)

I read North and South only after watching the BBC production, and personally I liked both the proposal scene and the final scene in the film better than the book. I don’t think anything could improve upon the 2004 BBC adaptation in my heart and mind. It was my gateway drug into Armitage Affliction. That being said, the original text is romantic and beautiful in its own way, and listening to an Armitage narration is never a waste of time. I only wish he’d narrate the novel in its entirety. And every other book I might ever like to listen to.

Limerick: The Armitage Affliction

Preoccupied with Armitage, but how does that happen?
Neck deep in a fandom, I’d never imagined
I was never the type
To follow the hype
But my Richard problem has yet to slacken.

On facebook and forums, blogs and webpages
Are countless admirers of all cultures and ages
Since few are harsh critics
I composed more RA limericks
To explain my Affliction in stages!

Six months ago, I was a normal wife
I’d not yet discovered the Richarding life
My downfall was fast
I fear it will last
But the pleasures it’s brought me are rife.

It began with an extended Pride and Prejudice kick
With Colin, and Matthew, and LB Diaries clicks
When I finished all these
I googled “If you liked P&P”
And saw a BBC drama that might do the trick.

With the Netflix app on my little phone screen
I was soon comfortably watching, my interest keen
Period drama from the BBC
On par with Persuasion or Downton Abbey
That was before Thornton’s first scene.

Then Margaret marched into Marlborough Mill
I laid eyes on John Thornton, and felt the first chill
With one shout at Stephens
My heart rate was uneven
From then on, it’s all been downhill!

Entranced with that smolder and each eyelid flicker
Lapping up that deep voice, like a fine aged liquor
Flutters and goosebumps when John proposed
And need I mention that long gorgeous nose?
Never has a man in cravat cut such a fine figure!

The train station scene probably sealed my fate
His tender hand such an elegant trait
How many times did I replay that kiss?
I’ve lost count, but I do know this
Its effect has yet to abate!

So off to IMDB I immediately sped
And was shocked to the core the moment I read
I’d spent 6 hours or more
Watching RA as a dwarf
But his allure went right over my head!

The next thing I did, after several replays
Was check Wikipedia without delay
Is Armitage married, who is his girlfriend?
Found out he was single, but there details end
And I discovered much more that day.

Pretty soon I was over at Richard Armitage Central
All the time wondering if I had gone mental
I stumbled onto his letters
Which hooked me forever
With charm and humility so gentle.

On Netflix I watched Harry, Lucas and Guy
Bought a new DVD player and a stack pretty high
Of just about everything RA ever did
All the while watching hot YouTube vids
Bemused to find myself so damn mesmerized!

I lurked for 2 months, and knew I wasn’t alone
Though among real life acquaintances, RA was not known
Before long I joined two separate forums
Where constant RA discussion is normal decorum
And I quickly found myself feeling right at home.

Heard about The Crucible, and I began to conspire
Just a quick trip to London before my one chance expired
How could I resist such artistry in action?
On stage, in the flesh, with no shirt- what distRAction!
So I approached the husband, which made me perspire…

Right about then, Hubby knew it was bad
Had his sensible wife gone stark-raving mad?
Yes, he’d watched Thorin, Thornton and Porter
But when did his wife become this fanatical supporter?
He neither wanted to go, nor wanted me sad.

So with Hubby’s blessing, the planning commenced
And Mom jumped on board, so easily convinced
That a trip to see Richard perform in a play
Should be marked on her calendar without delay
But any more than three viewings, she was strongly against!

Meanwhile, Richard Armitage got a wild hair
He up and joined Twitter and soon I, too, was there!
Even prior to joining
I spent each night enjoying
Pics and tweets from the Stage Door affair.

I never imagined, at the start of the summer
He’d do Stage Door ‘til the end, which was a bit of a bummer.
To my growing delight
He showed up each night
His endurance an ongoing wonder!

As for The Crucible at The Old Vic
John Proctor’s performance made me heartsick
What more can be said?
My soul John did shred…
Then minutes later we posed for a pic!

When I returned home from London, a blog I did start
As my Armitage Affliction is still off the charts
Before long I might make my own YouTube vids
In between doctoring animals, and raising the kids
As I wonder if and when Richard will relinquish my heart.

P.S. If you’ve read to the end, and enjoyed these rhymes
May I suggest the RAC forum for more good times
The limericks there are not to be missed
They cover each RA character, right down the list
And are one more addiction of mine!