Celebrating Chanterelles and My One-Year Cruciversary

10989369_637463036385652_1969506007672215329_nA year ago on this date, I was privileged to attend the first of three performances of The Crucible at the Old Vic. What a night it was! Seated on the front row, in front of the celebrated wash basin, no less! Though seriously jet-lagged and moderately mortified by Mom’s continuous propensity to nod off, it was an experience I’ll never forget. Richard was magnificent, his physicality, performance and… okay, let’s just say it… his physique! Definitely worth celebrating today.

 

Chanterelle2And, I have a notion of just how to celebrate this evening. We returned from Colorado with some delicious mountain spoils… a hefty 2+ lb bag of chanterelles, and one lonely bolete. The wedding, you see, was on a mountaintop. And while we were there, my aunt (not the one getting married!) and I spied a little patch of orange. We had the wherewithal to refrain from disrupting the ceremony with such an announcement, but made plans to return to an area of slightly higher elevation the following day.

Chanterelle1We hit the motherload! And my Young Love was especially chuffed to be allowed the use of a paring knife to help collect the wild mushrooms. Though, he was definitely more interested in battling a bear with the knife, should such an unfortunate beast appear on our hike. Thankfully for the bear, none arrived to meet its death at the hands of the warrior.

Chanterelle3My aunt having had such a chanterelle season as to be tired of these delicacies, she gave us her portion, which I carried home earlier this week. Today’s the day we’re going to treat ourselves to a gourmet dinner, and Hubby has been dutifully washing wild mushrooms this morning, and texted me this pic, with the comment, “I should send you two to Colorado more often!”

 Looks like we’ll be eating well this evening!

 

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Blog Introspection Challenge 1- Blogging #RichardArmitage

 

blog-intro-challengeRecently, Guylty suggested we join her in a bout of blogging omphaloskepsis or navelgazing in her 15 Day Blog Introspection Challenge and I loved the idea. Several Armitage bloggers have started the challenge, and I can’t wait to hear the answers to some of these questions.

Very quickly, I may be somewhat MIA for a couple of days. I have my laptop, so who knows… but we’re currently ensconced at a large indoor water park. Between the water slides, the wave pool, the lazy river and the 101 other treasure hunts and similar kid activities, we’ll see how much Armitage-time I really have. Kids are passed out after a long day of travel and a long evening of swimming, so here goes:

Question 1: What Made Me Start Blogging?

Well, I’d been heavily interested in Richard Armitage for about 6 months when I started the PreoccupiedWithArmitage blog last September. Brief overview goes something like this:

Pride and Prejudice glom… if you like P&P, you might like North and South… watch North and South on Netflix… develop immediate gut reaction within seconds of “Stephens!!”… Google Richard Armitage… glom Richard Armitage on Netflix… start lurking on Richard Armitage websites and blogs… start watching Richard Armitage interviews on YouTube… start glomming Richard Armitage fanvids…. start amassing Richard Armitage images… join Richard Armitage Central Forum… order large number of DVDs and region-free DVD player… join Armitage Army Forum… schedule a trip to London to watch The Crucible… return home full of “stuff to say”…

find and joinI saw Richard Armitage performing live at The Old Vic Theatre toward the end of The Crucible run, and the idea of becoming a blogger wasn’t anywhere on my radar prior to that experience. It wasn’t until I returned from London that I began to consider starting my own blog. However, once I get an idea, I often act on it within a matter of days. All summer I’d been reading every account I could find, and when I returned from London, I wanted join the discussion about The Crucible… to share my perspective on a performance that affected me deeply, and tell about my exciting trips to The Stage Door. =)

Servetus and other bloggers had actually offered to publish such accounts as guest posts, but having been a lurker, I was too shy! I thought instead that I would just start my own blog, and perhaps nobody would find it or read it, but it would be out there, and with all the interest and buzz about The Crucible, there was potential that it would be discovered by those interested in the topic, and perhaps there might even be a few comments or discussions that followed.

So I went through the process of setting up the blog on WordPress within a few days of returning from London. On September 10, on my lunch hour, I wrote my inaugural post. I found that I would now have my own WordPress ID, and I decided that maybe I might start commenting on the blogs I’d been lurking on, so I decided to “follow” those blogs. I did have some idea that if I started commenting, it might draw attention to my own blog, but I thought that would be a gradual process. I didn’t realize yet that following those blogs would get me immediately noticed by the bloggers themselves… I thought I’d have to comment first. LOL. Anyway, I was in for a surprise.  I set up the blog, composed my first post, published it, followed several Armitage-related blogs, and then my lunch break was over, so I went off to see an appointment.

Get That Woman Out Of Here

It’s a wonder my fellow bloggers didn’t say this after my Day 1 Identity Theft issues…. =)

When I came back to my desk, I experienced a shock that almost felt like a scare when there were already several followers and gracious comments of welcome. I had a little adrenaline rush. A little “OMG what have I done?” moment! Servetus had reblogged me! There were hundreds of views already. My fingers were shaking. And then as if that weren’t enough excitement, there was some kind of a glitch on my blog where all the commenters were called “jholland” and their avatars were all the avatar of Servetus! Guylty gently pointed out “Something is going wrong with your blog right now. All commentators are called jholland and except for my own avatar everyone else has Serv’s avatar. Unless my computer is experiencing some kind of incident” … oops! Here I didn’t think anyone would be anywhere near my blog yet, as I was still planning to gently ease into it by posting about The Crucible and commenting here and there. I had no idea why my blog was stealing identities and replacing avatars, and no idea how to fix it! (It was the WordPress theme I’d chosen… a brand new theme that I picked because I liked the look of it… but they had a few glitches to work out. Thankfully the theme developer was quick to respond with a fix for myself and other newbie bloggers who were baffled by our new blogs’ identity-thieving tendencies!)

So there you have it. I started blogging in order to cover The Crucible. I thought it was possible that my blog would end after I’d blurbed my impressions on that front, but knowing how much new material was coming, how much old material I had to catch up on, and how severe my PreoccupationWithArmitage really was, I hoped I’d eventually find some like-minded readers and carry on writing for however long it took to get Richard Armitage out of my system. That hasn’t happened yet, and doesn’t look like it’ll happen any time soon. =)

I Wonder What Enhanced Physicality Would Look Like, #RichardArmitage

physicality10 physicality9 physicality8 physicality7 physicality6 physicality5 physicality4 physicality3 physicality2 physicality1

“I can’t tell you what it is, but it will definitely have a much more physical base to it. One of the things I love about theatre is the limitless way that you can kind of use the body, so we’re gonna push the physicality of that kind of theatre a little bit more.” – Richard Armitage on his plans for future stage collaboration with Yaël Farber (Source).

Wow. Hold on to your hats, ladies. Sounds like whatever the project is, we might be in for a wild ride! I mean, I thought his physicality as John Proctor was something to behold. If that’s not physicality, then what is?

 

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.

berlinpremiere

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.

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.

Limerick: In Honor of #TheCrucibleOnScreen

It was 6:00 AM when the alarm clock sounded
I yawned, checked my phone, and was instantly astounded!
“The Old Vic’s The Crucible – coming soon”
Right there in my inbox, and I was over the moon!
The announcement we’ve longed for… I finally found it!

I’ve never jumped out of my bed quite so fast…
Or danced into the bathroom… Hubby aghast!
I simply must explode
Into limerick mode
To celebrate this news at long last!

It’s coming! It’s coming! On March Seventeen…
The Crucible! John Proctor! The wash basin scene!
Just kidding, #onlyjoking
(I know that’s provoking)
I’m just overwhelmed to soon see this onscreen!

The news is everywhere now, on social media galore
Facebook and Twitter; Forums, Blogs and more
Is Digital Theatre prepared
Will servers crash when it’s aired?
Has an entire Army ever downloaded before?

I’d like to thank Digital Theatre and The Old Vic
For making it possible, with simply a click
For thousands to experience
Yael and Richard’s brilliance
And for providing me with such a fine morning kick!

Richard Armitage as John Proctor is well worth the wait…
My pleasure is heartfelt, and will not abate.
What a Day! What a Friday! We’ve waited so long!
I feel like dancing, singing, and ringing a gong…
Even knowing, as I do, that this play… devastates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looks Like It’ll Be Date Night in Hubby’s Classroom

dtplus1

Looks like I’ll get to watch not only the 16 minute interview, but the entire production in the very near future! The perks of marrying an educator… =)

After seeing what Servetus has been up to, it occurred to me that my own, darling Hubby happens to be a faculty member at an educational institution… so I did a quick search of the college library resources online, and scored! Turns out Hubby does, in fact, have access to Digital Theatre Plus, and when I asked him to log into the system, I came to the glorious page shown here. Of course it can only be streamed on campus (I tested the veracity of this, and sure enough, it didn’t recognize our home IP address), so it looks like we’ll be taking a classroom field trip in the near future. Hubby said it would be no problem to use his teaching classroom on a Saturday, when no classes are to be held, and he can put it up on his large screen teaching projector for us to watch together!!!

Have I ever said how much I adore my Hubby?

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Rosie gazes wistfully out the window at the snow-covered rural Oklahoma landscape. Yes, the daughter named the new cat Rosie. Just like the Mantis Shrimp. =)

Unfortunately, campus is closed today due to the snowy weather, so it may have to wait until next weekend.  Here in Oklahoma, pretty much everything shuts down at the lightest snow flurry, and even I must admit it’s coming down pretty hard right now. Here’s my view from this morning, and it’s added about an inch since then.

Makes for such a pretty sight. And I think the kiddos are almost as excited about the forthcoming snow activities as Mommy is about her incredibly fortunate opportunity to revisit Richard Armitage and The Crucible much earlier than anticipated. =)