Just Concluded The Crucible Family Night

Whew- busy week! I’ve been avoiding blogging for a week now, trying to be a responsible adult, catching up on dictating my charts at work, chasing documents for the accountant, arranging and rearranging my latest quilt on the design wall, sheltering from Oklahoma tornadoes, enduring power outages, and running the kids here, there and everywhere… but I thought I’d share a quick update on the Armitage-related doings.

Confirming what we all already knew, I did spend another small fortune in pursuit of my Richarding interests. After finding out that I couldn’t satisfactorily watch The Crucible on my large screen TV in any other way… even if I timed it well and did use the Samsung SmartTV DT app for my measly 48 hour window, unfortunately the quality of our wireless out here in the boondocks would not allow streaming to the TV without crap quality and ridiculous buffering… so I opted to invest in the laptop. Hubby didn’t ask the price, just asked that I not inquire about any new bass guitar that might appear in the near future.

As if I were the type to even notice a new bass guitar! He finally broke down and asked if I’d seen his new bass several weeks ago, the one he’d hinted about hiding in plain sight when I outed myself about the blog, and the answer was “Oh, you did buy that bass? Where is it?” (It was on the bass stand in the craft/music room we share, and I’d been in that room piecing my latest quilt for 2 weeks without ever catching on, even when he was in the room, practicing on the damn thing… my bad!)

So, yes… I’m the proud owner of a new MacBook Pro, and I have to say, I love it. It’s pretty nice to have access to my Richarding when the kids are monopolizing the desktop in pursuit of Minecraft on YouTube, or Hubby is browsing his mineral auctions or his political sites. I’m liking it a lot. I wrote my latest spoof from the comfort of the couch on my new laptop, and it’s a lot faster than the desktop. My one disappointment was figuring out that the Giffing Tool is not available on iOs. This means I’ll have to pursue my new Giffing habit at work or horn in on the desktop occasionally, but I suppose I’ll make do. I was able to install the DT desktop player and download The Crucible, though, and so we invited family over for ribs and theatre night this evening.

Hubby has been perfecting his smoking techniques lately, and has wanted to have the family over to try his amazing baby back ribs, and that was a big draw for the men. Don’t know that they were too interested in the theatre aspect of the evening, but most men will come for ribs. LOL. Even my brother was initially game, but he then opted out at the last minute, citing the need to study all weekend. Turns out his study partner is a girl, and he sheltered with her on Wednesday, when severe tornadic storms blew through, over at her place. All night. And now needs to study over at her place, all weekend. Right. So evidently even the lure of smoked ribs was not enough to overcome this newfound academic dedication. Lol.

Happily, the kids were shuffled off to the Gymnastics Play Night, a parent’s night out initiative at the local gymnastics academy, and we were free to watch The Crucible free of constant interruptions, disputes, requests, spills, and so on. The laptop-HDMI-TV method worked exactly as it should, and we enjoyed a wonderful evening.

OK, so the stepdad nodded off in Act 1 and missed its entirety. That’s his usual MO for any movie, so no disrespect to Richard. He did wake up and watch Act 2 when Mom loudly announced Richard was about to take his shirt off, and I endured a bit of ribbing from everyone, not to mention Hubby flashing his left nipple at me just when the shirtless John Proctor stretched out and I was enjoying that lovely side-view. Yes, he did. Luckily Mom was rather intently watching the onscreen nipple performance when Hubby did that. =)

I particularly enjoyed an interlude during the set change between Acts 3 and 4, when I checked to see if anyone was sleeping, but didn’t have a good view of Mom, whose face was obscured by a couch cushion.

“Is she sleeping?” I asked Hubby.

Mom sat up indignantly. “No, I’m not sleeping!”

“Well, it wouldn’t be the first time you slept during The Crucible…” I goaded her.

Hubby, adopting Judge Danforth’s strident tone, demanded, “DID you, or DID you NOT sleep on The Crucible Front Row? WHAT SAY YOU, Goody Brown?”

To which Mom cried, equally dramatically, “I were JET-LAGGED, Mister! I were jet-lagged, but I am awake NOW!”

And so on… it was a fun evening, and good reviews all around, for both the smoked ribs and The Crucible. Hubby and stepdad broke into loud applause when it was over, which I suspect may have been precisely because it was over, so I made a point of complimenting Richard’s nipple just to get Hubby’s goat! Mom thought that was outrageous, and I almost told her then and there that there was a lot more to be said about that nipple, and it was to be found on my blog… SURPRISE!… but I decided at the last moment not to go there, mainly because we needed to be responsible and pick our children up from Gymnastics Play Night, and needed to get on the road if we weren’t to be *those parents*, the ones whose kids are very last to be picked up. (That happened to me once, at Girl Scout Camp… my folks had the pick-up date wrong and had to be called when every last kid except me was gone, and they didn’t show up. It was the most excruciating and embarrassing 3 hours of my childhood, waiting around with the camp councilors as Mom and Dad sped 200 miles across New Mexico to fetch me, knowing that they all probably had party plans but had to sit around babysitting The Lonesome Girl Scout instead.)

However, it’s back to the design wall at Mom’s quilting loft tomorrow, and I’m quite sure Mom will be there, ready to offer her two-cents on my design, and I may just tell her about the blog then.

We’ll see. =)

Nipplegate Spoof

Actor’s Left Nipple Breaks Records, Spawns Debate

Actor Richard Armitage found portions of his bared torso at the center of yet another fandom controversy this week with the much-anticipated release of the Digital Theatre production of his critically acclaimed performance as John Proctor in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, which was staged at The Old Vic in London’s West End and captured live on film in September 2014. The actor’s decision to remove his shirt to sold-out audiences throughout the run of The Crucible during the period referred to as “The Summer of Love”, recently came under fire when screencaps of a controversial scene in the opening of Act 2 went viral and caused an ogling epidemic in the fandom.  At the center of the latest debate, through ripped and thread-worn prison garb, peeks Richard Armitage’s Left Nipple.

With the release of the production in its entirety, many more GIFs and screencaps have emerged, several of which have allegedly interfered with viewers’ abilities to appreciate the somber subject matter as well as the talents and capabilities of Armitage as an actor. One vocal member of the fandom, a self-appointed delegate for SPOOFER (Spokespersons Policing Oglers Or Fans Exploiting Richard), who wished to remain anonymous, expressed disgust and disdain for the appalling “absence of maturity and decency, of understanding what this role, the play entails” and was deeply saddened when one screencap, obtained during the curtain call, drew undesirable attention to Armitage’s left nipple through a large rent in his costume over the pectoral area.

When the relatively small but vocal minority, SPOOFER, attempted to reign in and subdue the members of the fandom who were less than discreet in their appreciation for images of John Proctor’s left nipple, debate erupted in what is now being called the Tumblr Nipplegate Scandal. Many commenters argued that just because some fandom members had the audacity to celebrate the reappearance of the nipple in Act 4, it didn’t necessarily indicate incognizance on the part of the posters for the devastating themes of The Crucible, or the brilliance of Armitage’s portrayal in the leading role. “Proctor is supposed to be sexy, so what is wrong with acknowledging that, and throwing in some irreverent humor along the way? Puhleeze. Are the Puritans alive and well on Tumblr?”

Armitage is not the only celebrity to find himself embroiled in a so-called Nipplegate Scandal. Pop singer Janet Jackson, author of the original  Nipplegate Superbowl XXXVIII Halftime Scandal of 2004, could not be reached for comment. Jackson’s representatives, however, expressed confusion when they were told that the controversy surrounding Richard Armitage’s exposed nipple was directed not at the actor himself, but at certain factions within his fandom who drew attention to the nipple. “Where’s the outrage? When Ms. Jackson’s nipple was inadvertently revealed by a spontaneous wardrobe malfunction, Ms. Jackson herself was hounded and demonized! Where’s the pasty? At least Ms. Jackson’s exposed nipple was covered with a pasty onscreen and during the live performance!” Janet Jackson’s representatives do seem to have made a pertinent distinction between the 2004 and 2015 Nipplegate scandals: it is impossible to attribute Armitage’s visible left nipple to a wardrobe malfunction, when the nipple is reputed to have been exposed approximately 101 times during the run of The Crucible.

One popular Armitage blogger, recently returned from her travels, was home just in time to weigh in on the nipple controversy, and recalls seeing the nipple many a time when she attended The Crucible live performances in London on more than one occasion. The blogger openly admitted to being sidetracked throughout Act 4 when she was seated in close proximity to the nipple. “That rip was so strategically placed… I remember consciously noticing it when I sat somewhere on the right-hand side of row 2 in the main auditorium. Boy, was I distracted. But well, my grateful thanks to the costume designer,” was her comment in response to another blogger’s edit designating the outer curve of Armitage’s pectoral muscle as one of the places deemed desirous to be kissed in a popular series titled “Places I would like to kiss Richard Armitage: Just South of the Nipple Edition.” Others commented, when the image appeared on a variety of social media platforms, that the screencap was impossible to view without the eyes being drawn repeatedly to the nipple.

Perhaps the most outrageous edit of the curtain call screencap depicts SpongeBob SquarePants actively laving Armitage’s left nipple, and caused an enormous uproar on Tumblr. We contacted the cheerful square-shaped sea sponge in hope of understanding his motivation for this unexpected and completely unanticipated appearance on the London stage. SpongeBob optimistically pointed out that it’s clearly clear from Armitage’s genuinely genuine, heartwarmingly heartwarming smile in the image, that both SpongeBob and Armitage had enjoyed the moment. “That moment, there in the finest theatre establishment ever established for theatre, was a moment I’ll never forget because it’s an unforgettable moment! There we were, in the midst of the most enthusiastic standing ovation where an audience ever stood and ovulated enthusiastically!”

SpongeBob’s PR representatives, employees of Nickelodeon, issued a warning that parental discretion was advised for the character’s appearance at The Old Vic, and hastened to apologize for SpongeBob’s use of the word “ovulation” in his statement. “Listen: everyone loves SpongeBob. He’s a loveable guy. We can all agree that SpongeBob SquarePants is a squeaky clean character, and sometimes that works to his disadvantage. In his naivety, we believe SpongeBob’s reference to ‘ovulation’ was intended to convey the concept of ‘applause’ and in no way did SpongeBob intend to imply that any audience members might have ovulated during the curtain call.”

Nickelodeon went on to explain that they believe that the screencap was taken out of context, showing only a brief and repetitive image that may appear to indicate undue attention was paid to the actor’s left nipple. “Furthermore, we would like to emphasize that there was no sexual impropriety on SpongeBob’s part. This unfortunate screencap, when viewed with a jaded eye, might appear to show SpongeBob’s ministrations in an amorous context, but we must reiterate that both Richard Armitage and SpongeBob had their pants on, and SpongeBob was merely performing much-needed ablutions for the actor following an extended incarceration of his character. The harvest and usage of sea sponges to perform cleansing rituals and exfoliation has been documented throughout history, and should have no innately vulgar associations.”

Whether vulgar associations are drawn from viewing Richard Armitage’s left nipple or not, no one can deny that its performance in The Crucible has enjoyed unprecedented success. Digital Theatre reports that the left nipple has been downloaded to over 1100 cities and has resulted in record numbers of sales and record-breaking traffic on their website since the production became available on Tuesday, March 17, 2015. Reports have surfaced of would-be nipple viewers waiting up to 34 hours for their HD files to download, and the usually rapid Digital Theatre support staff has been working overtime to troubleshoot issues preventing the throngs of Armitage Admirers from viewing his nipple’s performance on the London stage.

When contacted to ask whether any priority was given to more serious theatre enthusiasts and Armitage Admirers who appreciate the actor’s talent and recognize his investment of “heart and soul to this piece of art” over those who might only have been interested in drooling over the nipple, Digital Theatre stated: “It is surprisingly difficult to make such distinctions or differentiate between our customers in this fashion. We actually encountered no references to Armitage’s Left Nipple in the queries submitted by consumers. Customers were and are being assisted on a first-come-first-serve basis, and the positive responses, when their technical issues are eventually resolved, have been astonishing.”

Reviews from both the Armitage fandom and critics alike for Yael Farber’s production of The Crucible have been overwhelmingly positive. The piece, which received an unprecedented number of 5 star reviews, has been nominated for two prestigious Olivier Awards: Best Revival, and Best Actor. It is not known whether the controversy will have any impact on the results, but many wonder if it is fair to the other nominees to have to compete against Richard Armitage’s Left Nipple.

The Download Experience #TheCrucibleOnScreen

It’s been a bit of a doozy. But not really an unexpected doozy. I’d feared that the DT website would completely crash, but unlike some of my more sensible sisters, I still had to jump in and purchase The Crucible on day 1. In fact, even though it was announced that the long-awaited download would become available at 8AM in my time zone, I found myself *just checking* the DT website at 7am when I stepped out of the shower. It appeared to have the option to purchase, so I purchased it, there in my bathrobe, and started the download.

Now, I suspected that the HD download at home was going to take at least 24 hours, because Much Ado About Nothing over the weekend took 26 hours, and that was presumably not occurring during an Armitage Army Onslaught. The joys of rural country living! I had higher hopes for my download #2 out of 3 at work, since I have a much faster connection there in town, so I started it as soon as I booted up my computer and installed the desktop player at 8am yesterday. The work download kicked off pretty fast, and got up to over 50% after one hour, but I can only assume that the whole world soon came online and joined the queue, because it got really slow after that and was only at 72% by the time I left work. Got home and had a whopping 23% on the home computer. LOL. Way to go, Armitage Followers!

followers

Yes, John. Your Followers. Anyway, this morning the home computer was still slowly chugging at about 45% when I left for work, but the work computer was all finished and ready for me. I then downloaded the Conversation, and that took only about 20 minutes. I had a slow morning and ended up watching the Conversation after my surgical procedures were done, and at 11:45am, just as I was about to shut my office door and break early for lunch, the office manager arrived and said we had a walk-in. Actually, it was an elderly client who had a 2pm appointment but didn’t want to drive in the rain later, so she just decided to come on in and get her appointment done during the doc’s lunch. $#!+&@#*($!!

So, with a heavy heart, I went and did my two annual exams and the assorted “oh, by the way, can you do this and this and this as long as we’re here, and I have a question or two about the stray cat I feed” until it was 12:45pm and my lunch was basically over. The one good thing was I had nothing until the 2pm appointment, and that was now finished, so I went back to the office, grabbed my protein shake, closed the door, and sat down for Act 1.

The HD quality was fantastic- much better than the quality Hubby and I had streamed at the college a couple of weeks ago. I was just able to finish Act 1 and do a few of my Richarding rituals over at the forum, when afternoon appointments started up again, but I left work a bit early and came home just in time to see the home download was at 99%. I had an early dinner, the kids being on spring break and off fishing with Hubby and G-Pa, and by the time I finished eating, the download was finally finished, after a whopping 34 hours!

Interestingly, the HD quality was noticeably different at home. There were fractional glitches in the soundtrack and occasional hiccups in the visuals as well. Not at all as good as the work computer had been, and not even as good as the streaming at the college had been. Not sure why this should be the case, but I figure the DT support team is a bit overwhelmed at the moment, so I decided to let that slide for now. I soldiered on, a bit annoyed but still emotionally invested and just glad to have quiet time with John Proctor. Or, not always all that quiet, as John will shout from time to time. Amazing timing, as just as the lights went out on Elizabeth at the finale, I heard stomping feet on the front porch, and the children were home with their exuberance and exaggerated fish stories.

All in all, not a bad day. I’m planning to write about my views on Proctor’s decision in Act 4 at some point, but I think I’ll watch it at least once more before I try to compose my feelings.

Digital Theatre Woes

 

Well, my level of frustration with Digital Theatre hasn’t reached such an epic level as Zee’s, but I will say this… it’s pretty likely that the service is not all that I’d hoped it would be. Let me explain.

Today I decided to do a bit of a trial run. We’d had a very modest TV for almost a decade, and we’ve never been the type to buy something (such as a “SmartTV”) simply because it exists and we have to have the latest technology. I didn’t have a smart phone, much less a smartTV, until just last year, and that was only because I needed a smart phone as part of the new security system I installed at the vet clinic when we purchased the practice. No, we’ve made do with a pay-as-you-go cheapo cell phone for years, and the only reason I got a cheapo cell phone was because I was previously employed at a vet hospital where the doctors rotated being on call 24/7. Prior to that I didn’t feel I needed that newfangled technology, the cell phone. LOL. We don’t have a gaming system, we have one older computer in the house, and up until recently, our TV was a modest 20-something-inch TV with no HD.

So it was really quite a deviation from the norm for us when we decided we could finally afford a nicer, bigger television… and I campaigned for a Samsung SmartTV because ever since September, I’ve been plotting how I’d watch The Crucible on my own TV, and I knew that there was such a thing as a DT-App for this type of TV. Our Christmas gift to each other was therefore a really nice, much larger, much smarter Samsung Smart TV, and I don’t regret it at all… it’s wonderful to be able to watch our favorite shows in HD.

But then today, Hubby and I worked out how to download the Digital Theatre Samsung SmartTV App (the TV is smarter than us… took a damn long time to even find the app store on this insanely complex TV!) I went ahead and made a practice purchase from  DT… David Tennant in Much Ado About Nothing came highly recommended by Perry, and I’ve been mildly preoccupied with Tennant anyway after glomming Broadchurch and several other Tennant television shows over the past few weeks. When I got down to the nitty-gritty, I found out that after purchasing my Download of MAAN, it gives you a “redemption code” which is then entered into the Samsung Smart TV DT App. Then you have 30 days to watch it, and if I understand correctly, once you start watching, you have 48 hours to complete it.

Then what? Well, apparently you have the one redemption code for the TV per download purchase. Not rental… purchase. That’s right. Apparently I’ll be able to stream it to my computer whenever I please once it’s in my library, but not to my TV. I hope I’m not disseminating mis-information. To make sure, I sent the following e-mail to DT Support, and we’ll see what they have to say:

I just want to make sure I have this right. I’m intending to purchase The Crucible and decided to do a practice run by purchasing Much Ado About Nothing. I have my Samsung Smart TV app, and I’ve entered the TV redemption code. Am I to understand that even though I’ve purchased this download, I’ll only ever have ONE opportunity to watch it on my large screen TV? I can’t watch it as many times as I please? I do understand that I can watch on my computer screen by streaming whenever I want, but if I can’t watch The Crucible over and over on my TV screen, I’m going to be extremely disappointed. If I’m misunderstanding, please explain how I can watch it on my TV whenever I want. And if I’m not misunderstanding, then may I suggest you get a new price tier for some kind of download with unlimited TV viewings? Because expecting hard-core Richard Armitage fans to limit themselves to one viewing is pretty far-fetched. Thanks- JHolland

If Zee’s experience is anything to go by, I’ll probably never hear back. But I sure hope I’m wrong. One and done on The Crucible is just NOT going to work for me, and while, unlike Zee, I’ll probably settle for the computer streaming to get my fix, it’s going to be a HUGE let-down, after campaigning for months for this TV in anticipation of The Crucible being available eventually.

Sorry for the rant. If any of you know of some way around this… am I going to have to get a freaking laptop and some kind of cable? That sounds pretty complex for a techno-phobe like myself, though I’m sure the long-suffering Hubby would be willing to help me.

Sigh.

 

First Impressions- The Crucible On Screen with Hubby

THE CRUCIBLE

Richard Armitage as John Proctor. How I’ve missed this character.

Despite yesterday’s exhilarating announcement that Digital Theatre would be making The Crucible available for worldwide download in little over a week, my PreoccupationWithArmitage did not allow me to sensibly cancel today’s afternoon date plans with Hubby. No, the Hubby had dutifully made the effort to troubleshoot the streaming of the Digital Theatre Plus academic/educational opportunity available to us through his faculty status at the college, and we had childcare arrangements in place long before. I did offer him an “out” when he enquired about the remarkable nature of my deviation from the normal morning routine yesterday, as I’d leapt out of bed like a kid on Christmas and happy-danced my way across the bedroom… I did not conceal the source of my joy, no, I did not. To his credit, he knows me well enough to have proceeded to make his arrangements yesterday at the college, projecting that the announcement would dim my enthusiasm for the planned classroom date not at all! (Love him!!)

classroomdate

Hubby getting us set up in the classroom. =)

So this afternoon, we took ourselves off to the classroom, and we watched together. I gave him a bit of background on my experience of the live production, mentioning the aspects that I predicted could not be experienced in the DT film, such as the incense, the ominous low reverberations of sound, the way that the theatre had been draped to conceal the ornate décor… but I didn’t give him my impressions of the characters, the theme, or the actors. Obviously he knew I was heavily invested in the program, but I left it at that. Being a bass player, Hubby was naturally most interested in my description of the low-end sound resonance, postulating that the notes may have been, in bass player’s parlance, somewhere in the 30 Hz, low B (bodyshaker) frequency. Trust an engineering prof to be concerned with these details! Lol

SD3

Inserted simply because it’s gorgeous. I took the pic on the right at the stage door, and I’m rather attached to it.

I’d seen it three times in London, and I have to say, I thought the screen version was extraordinarily well-done. I can’t say that I had exactly the same level of exhilaration while watching it onscreen that I experienced when I was just a few feet from the action, in the presence of the most charismatic performer I’ve ever had the pleasure of observing, but I did feel the same level of awe at the performances by the entire ensemble, and felt the same physiological reactions (goosebumps, chills, tachycardia, light-headedness, and tears) at various points in the performance, which says a lot. It was powerful, and just as devastating as I’d remembered. My initial impressions remained the same, with the stand-outs in the cast of characters (aside from John Proctor) being the roles of Rebecca Nurse, Reverend Hale, Abigail Williams, Mary Warren, and Elizabeth Proctor. I guess I’m still processing it, and may have more to say after a few more viewings.

greekRA

Yeah, I can see where Hubby is coming from. In that Act 4 costume, and given the intensity on his face, I could see the a bit of the Greek tragic hero, as well…

As for Hubby, he didn’t have a lot to add. He said he thought it was really good. He especially complimented Natalie Gavin’s performance as Mary Warren, loving how her eyes would bulge and her face would turn red. At one point, in Act 4, as John Proctor gives Elizabeth his fierce stare, and tells her to “Give them no tear! Tears pleasure them!” Hubby commented that he thought Richard Armitage would make a good Greek. (This is in reference to the speculation that Armitage might collaborate with Yael in some sort of Greek Tragedy in the future, which I’ve floated past him before!) This was the only time during the entire viewing that he made a comment. Afterward, he said he enjoyed it, went so far as to recommend it to a colleague as we exited the building, and thanked me for spending the afternoon with him! He thought the entire ensemble was strong, reassured me that he was never bored, that he thought it was powerful, and I noticed he was pensive afterward. After a quiet few miles on the drive home, we did discuss the context in which the play was written by Miller, the House Un-American Activities Committee, and how that kind of absolute authority paired with general paranoia and hysteria was deeply disturbing. It turns out that Hubby hadn’t really known where the play was going. He didn’t remember if he’d ever been required to read it, and said that if so, it hadn’t made much of an impression on him. When I asked if it had made an impression on him now, he said, “Oh yeah.”

posterboys

My idea of a perfect afternoon…

I can’t wait to read the impressions of the many who will see it for the first time in the weeks to come. I loved it. I was entirely immersed, once again. What a way to spend the afternoon… my favorite actor for over three hours, with my favorite person. I’m deeply content tonight.