Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Catching up with FanstRA

What a fabulous outpouring of creativity this man inspires! I have barely scratched the surface of reading all the posts that were planned for last week's celebration of Richard Armitage blogs.  But what I have seen so far was amazing!  Please forgive me if I haven't commented on your posts yet.  I had a problem with Gravatar which wouldn't allow me to post a comment to any Wordpress blogs.

As you may have read, I was on a holiday in Mexico for March Break last week.  I was staying with friends in a condo right on the beach at Nuevo Vallarta.  It was paradise, except for one thing... barely any Internet connectivity.  Yeah, I know... I shouldn't be on a computer when I'm on holiday.  I should be having fun in the sun!  Well, I did!  But... it's not fair to have this huge blockbuster blogfest without being able to participate!

When I saw that Bccmee was handing out medals to her blog commenters, I started to pout, as her blog (being on Wordpress) was one I tried and failed to comment on.  So I emailed her my sad story and she made me my very own medallion.  Awww! Thanks Bccmee! :)  Last year I missed out on the Gold Coins she awarded, because I was in Hawaii!  Here's hoping FanstRA#4 won't have to happen during my March Break.. Pretty please?

By the way, thanks to everyone who visited here last week.  It was great to see the comments from new visitors and also from my much appreciated regular commenters!  I still intend to reply to everyone individually.

I only had 8 replies to my poll asking about problems people were having posting here.  There were 3 people who had an occasional problem, and 2 people have given up trying!  One of you, I already know. For anyone else having problems, please send me an email and perhaps I may be able to help you.  I am still investigating the problem.  I believe it has something to do with "cookies".  Erasing the browser's cache was one suggestion I found.  I certainly know how frustrating it is not to be able to comment, especially after this recent episode with Gravatar.  But whether you like to comment or not, thanks for visiting!  I hope you will keep coming back for more! :)

If you missed any posts from FanstRAvaganza 3, please check out this great directory to all the posts made by CDoart.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

It's Phylly's 2nd Blogoversary!

It is Day 6 of the FanstRAvaganza! 
I hope you have been enjoying it so far.   In case you missed it, yesterday was Jazzbaby1's  turn to post over at Funky Blue Dandelion.  I hope you stopped in and left her a comment.  Say hello from me too, in case I haven't made it over there yet.  Right now I am spending my March Break in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where the internet access is intermittent at best!

Today please join me to celebrate this blog's 2nd Anniversary. The actual date of my first blog post was March 19th, 2010. At the time, it was right in the middle of the first FanstRAvaganza.  I didn't plan it that way, honest!  I didn't know anything about the first celebration of Armitagemania when I made my plans.  But it was March Break and I knew I wouldn't be going anywhere that year, so I had time to jump into blogging and see what might happen.

When I started thinking about creating a blog most my friends were using Blogger: Nat, Avalon, TeeTotallyNot, Ragtag, Maria Grazia, Charleybrown, Traxy, Ruth, Jane ;  Mulubinba was using Typepad, which was a lot less common and then Servetus came on board with Wordpress.  Frenz was next with Wordpress and since then, that seems to be the blog platform of choice.  I am completely out of my comfort zone with Tumblr, but that seems to be where it's at now!  Of course before I started reading RA blogs there was LiveJournal and perhaps some other type I've missed.

I've liked the ease of use of Blogger but there are some glitches that crop up now and then.  The biggest problem (according to what some of my readers have told me) is that it is sometimes difficult to make comments.  It has happened to me too, on some blogs and believe me -- after typing a long and thoughtful comment and then seeing it disappear into cyberspace -- I feel your pain!  I have started to copy the comment to notepad or some other word program before I press "send".  Then at least I can try again without all the rethinking and typing!  Please see the poll on the sidebar about this issue.

You can't hide here any more.  They're on to me!
In  January I hit the 100,000 views mark.  I know it doesn't sound like much to some and it took me almost 2 years to do it.  But this little blog gets barely 30 views a day so I'm like the Little Engine That Could which was the theme of my very first blog post!  Most people who are trolling around the net for RA photos and other tasty tidbits don't quite get what my blog is all about.  RA does show up, more than 90% of the time, but he is not always the subject of the post.  He's more like the punch line!  When I look at my stats I see most people visit to snaffle a picture of any number of things I may have been focusing on.  But hopefully, while they are here, they might catch a glimpse of Mr. Armitage and it will pique their interest.   For a long time, his name barely even showed up in the search terms people used to find this blog.  I was happy when his name got to 4th place and now I am almost ecstatic to report he has hit 3rd place!! Here is a screenshot of this blog's most popular search terms.

I have one flippin' picture of Professor Snape and the world beats a path to my door! Also, I am very happy that "Richard Armitage" searches finally beat out the donkey from Shrek!

It has been such fun getting to know so many interesting people worldwide, from every walk of life who have one detail in common.  We are Armitagemaniacs!

Tomorrow is the last day of FanstRAvaganza.  
Please visit the following two blogs for your last taste of this year's celebration in the Fandom tag chain:
C.S. Winchester from her blog of the same name,
and Jazzbaby1 posts again!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My Grande Passion

Welcome to the first day of the 3rd Annual FanstRAvaganza! 
(Although This post was begun Sept. 21, 2011 I am relieved I have finally had the impetus to finish it!)

This year we have so much to talk about there are several chains of topics you can follow.  This blog is on the Fandom chain.  Also posting today in this chain is Didion from the Feminéma blog. Please click here to read her post.

As she usually somehow manages to do, Servetus (over at Me + Richard Armitage blog) has made me ponder my strange attachment to the actor known as Richard Armitage (RA for short).  I have sometimes called it an obsession (which sounds creepy) or an addiction (which sounds too needy).  But suddenly, in the middle of a comment I was writing on one of her always thought-provoking posts, the proper term leapt out at me. He is my grande passion! (said with an italian-ish accent).  I was going to put an "e" on the end of passion too, but when I googled it: grande passione came up as a wine tasting blog.  That works too! :P But let's not confuse the issue.  I am a very passionate person, and one can have several passions!  (My husband is grateful for this.)

You know you can't help it!
But an interest that takes up most of one's waking hours, (perhaps even some sleeping ones too?), and inspires one to endeavor to create artistic tributes in all sorts of media from pencil sketches to graphic and video renderings, from online comments and discussions to poetry and essays to fantasy fiction!  It is incredible how one admittedly humble (and talented -- not to mention gorgeous) man can create this type of a reaction in the women of all ages whom one might otherwise think lead completely sane and humdrum existences.

It has occurred to me that I have never told my readers how I came to be so enamoured of this shy,  charming and intensely talented actor. I have made comments all over the blogosphere and told the story several times on quite a few different blogs, but never on my own.

The first time I saw North and South was on a public television channel in Canada probably in the Fall of 2006. I enjoyed it immensely and wished I could watch it again, but it wasn’t available on DVD for awhile. I remember scanning catalogues to see if the DVD was out yet and when it finally was available, (about a year later) I hinted broadly to my husband that it would make a great Christmas present. For some reason, I did not think I should just buy it myself! I didn’t do much online ordering then and I didn’t own very many DVDs, so it didn’t really occur to me to buy it for myself. When my “hinting” didn’t work for 2 Christmases I was a bit miffed, so I left the catalogue out with the DVD circled in red marker and pronounced that the only thing I wanted for my birthday was this DVD! (Sounds bossy, I know – but I was desperate!)

My husband joked that he had no idea what to get me for my birthday – just to see me LOSE it! Well, when I finally received my birthday prezzie I was so happy and relieved (this was March 2009) that I posted a picture of the cover on Facebook with the caption: Best. Present. Ever!
Long story short – I watched the DVD right away and loved it again! But, I didn’t rewatch it over and over again, I wasn’t obsessed…yet! At the end of the summer I knew my daughter was going to England to finish her university studies and I wanted her to watch North and South with me because she was going to be near the same area as Manchester (where the story takes place). For some reason, when I watched it for the third time, I was suddenly overcome with the magnitude of Richard Armitage’s performance and I went to the computer almost immediately after watching to Google his name. The more I read about him the more I liked him, the more performances I saw, the more impressed I became!

Very soon I found Nat's blog, Richard Armitage Fan blog.  I was so happy and relieved to find someone else with a fascination for the same actor.  I had never felt quite this way before about a total stranger since perhaps David Cassidy of The Partridge Family back when I was a tween. All we had then were records and Fan magazines.  I never had any, they all belonged to my friend, so I couldn't have had it as bad as she obviously did.  Later on, as a newlywed I was smitten with Pierce Brosnan in Remington Steel.  I used to go over to an unmarried girlfriend's house to watch it with her.  But I never bought any magazines or videos about him.  At least not until lately, when I wondered if watching DVDs of my old crush could wean me off my new one.  But I never found out as I haven't even opened them yet!

Pierce Brosnan
David Cassidy
Doesn't he seem like a composite of the other two?
Nat's blog served as a stepping stone to the wonders of Armitagemania.  From it I discovered there were wonderful web pages devoted to him with huge picture galleries.  I discovered Youtube had fanvids of him in all kinds of roles to all kinds of music!  I discovered her list of other bloggers which were just like us.  It was August 2009 and I was immersed in the fandom world.  I lurked for a couple of months and then finally, with great trepidation I posted my first comment.  There was no going back after that!  I started collecting pictures, attempting to make graphics, and putting the pictures into a slideshow, set to music.  By the time 2010 rolled around I was seriously considering starting my own blog.  But what to blog about?  (I mean besides the obvious!)  I didn't want to copy anyone else's style.  I also wanted to blog about other interests as I could see that if I ever stopped needing an Armitage fix, I didn't want to have to start over again with a new blog.  So I decided to focus on my own favourite things (of which RA is top of the list - not that he's a "thing", but I definitely have a "thing" for him!) 

Thornton being comforted by his mother
One of the things I have been trying to work out, is what is it about Richard Armitage that so attracts me to him?  Yes, I know he is very talented, very attractive and charming, very intense and committed to his work. But perhaps it is also something in me which started off this Armitagemania?  I have read many comments from fans crediting Richard Armitage (or one of his various characters - usually John Thornton from North and South or possibly Guy of Gisborne from Robin Hood) for almost rescuing them from some difficult stage in their lives.  I wondered if we all had some kind of "trigger event" (as Servetus has called it) that lead us to be somehow more susceptible open to his attRActions.  Was my trigger event caused by my worry over my only daughter and oldest child's impending move to the UK?  I was very worried about her being so far away from anyone and everyone she knew, and in a different country with a different culture and traditions. (At least the language was relatively the same!)   She had already left home many times for University far away in southern Ontario.  We only got to see her once during the school year (at Christmas) as it was very expensive and/or time consuming to visit more often.  So I was used to her being away.  But when she was at University in Canada, she was in a city where we knew people, and had some relatives nearby.  So I knew that if she really needed us, we could be there for her.  But across an ocean, with no one but strangers all around, perhaps even terrorists?  Yes, you bet I was worried!  So perhaps, when we settled down to watch North and South together, as I experienced it for the third time, I was seeing it with new eyes.  I was able to catch nuances perhaps I hadn't quite picked up on before.  I am not sure.  All I know is that almost immediately upon turning off the dvd player I was on the computer Googling Richard Armitage.  

Did he take my mind off my troubles? Yes, he did.  He certainly was a distraction that's for sure! So, while an addiction to Richard Armitage will not solve world problems, it may definitely make you feel a bit better about life in general.  And don't we all like to feel better?

So, I will share with you this little slideshow / video (still made with Windows Moviemaker - sorry I haven't progressed much beyond that program yet).  Many of us are intrigued with the mention that Mr. Armitage enjoys Do-It-Yourself projects.  Also many are very attracted to his long-fingered, very masculine and capable looking hands.  Since James Taylor's Handyman has always been one of my favourite '70s tunes, I couldn't resist combining all these elements together to illustrate how RA manages somehow to give us a little emotional DIY.

More about my blog later this week when I celebrate my 2nd Blogoversary! I hope you will join me for the celebration!

This post is on the Fandom tag team.  For more articles on this theme today, please visit Didion (who is a professor and RL friend of Servetus) at her blog Feminéma. I have enjoyed reading her movie reviews and am looking forward to hear more about her experience in the RA fandom!

Tomorrow March 13, there will be two bloggers posting on the Fandom chain:  Fabo at White Rose: and Simple Thoughts and Gratiana Lovelace at Something About Love.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's International Women's Day!

Here are two songs from my childhood which helped me through some difficult situations and gave me the confidence to keep going.  I still love them and sing them from time to time.  The lyrics are now a part of who I am.

The first (non-children's) record albums I ever owned were Helen Reddy's Greatest Hits and an Anne Murray album.  I became a bit embarrassed of this next song in my later teens and even gave it away to my mother.  But the song is still relevant today, and now I can appreciate it again for what it was in its time and for what it still means today.

I Am Woman (1972) / Helen Reddy

This next song comes to mind quite a bit when I need a confidence boost.  If you read this blog regularly you will know that I have always been a big fan of Julie Andrews.  While this song may not be about any feminist ideals, it is certainly about being a strong person and getting on with things despite difficulties, which is what the women's movement has always had to do.

I Have Confidence / Julie Andrews

Just a reminder of one of those strong women who never gave up. 

Nellie McClung : A Heritage Minute

Monday, March 5, 2012

Between a diamond and a hard place

Richard Armitage (John Porter) examines a diamond
I don't agree with Marilyn Monroe as she sings "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend", but I will admit to being very fond of diamonds.  My husband is my best friend, and he did give me a diamond (I gave him one too), but it's not really a substitute for a true best friend.

One of my older sisters had this recording of Gary Lewis and the Playboys` big hit of 1965 This Diamond Ring.
I used to play it (without permission, as I wasn't old enough to be trusted with the record player) when no one was around, if I couldn`t beg someone else to play it for me.  I felt so sorry for the jilted lover but his words gave me some hope.
This diamond ring doesn`t shine for me anymore,
But if you find someone whose love is true,
Let it shine for you.  

Years later, I discovered my father had been a jilted lover.  He had been sweet on a girl he met while training for the RCAF during WWII.  She had just broken up with her fiance because he had gone off to war.  My father kept in touch with her during his years in England and when the war was over he sought her out in Toronto intending to propose to her. (He had already purchased the engagement ring!)  When he showed up at her apartment he must have been heartbroken to learn that her previous fiance had gotten to her first and they were already married!  Who broke the news to him?  The girl's roommate - who became my mother! 

What follows is collection of my favourite songs which make reference to diamonds.  This first one is by a Canadian singer/songwriter that I have posted tunes from previously.  This is one of his lesser known songs.  If you click on the song title, the link will take you to the lyrics and also some comments about the song by the writer.

All the Diamonds  (1973) / Bruce Cockburn

I have certainly featured the following artist on this blog many times.  This song really speaks to me as I like Denver's positive outlook on life.

Some Days are Diamonds (1981) / John Denver

Although I am an admirer of this next band and I had heard this song before, I must admit I didn't know the background to this song until I started researching this post. It is a tribute to Syd Barrett, one of the original founding members of Pink Floyd.  He was an amazingly talented guitarist and songwriter but his experimentation with drugs led to some bizarre behaviour on and off stage.  After the band replaced him, he became a recluse and rarely appeared in public.  That is, until he showed up in the studio one day, his appearance so changed that no one at first recognized him.  The year was 1975 and Pink Floyd just happened to be recording this particular song on their album Wish You Were Here.  

Shine On You Crazy Diamond (1975) / Pink Floyd

Music lovers can have a field day trying to explain the lyrics of this song!  According to some stories Paul Simon once dated a diamond merchant's daughter. Whatever the origin of the song it is certainly unique and memorable! It appears on Simon's Graceland album (one of my all-time fave albums).

Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes (1986) / Paul Simon & Joseph Shabalala

I hope this sound clip works!:
That was Richard Armitage's voice speaking as Sylvester in Georgette Heyer's audio book of the same name.  He could have been speaking of Queen Elizabeth II who is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee this year.  She is only the second monarch to have ruled so long - the other being Queen Victoria.  Interesting that both were female... but then we females know we are much tougher than men!

Queen Elizabeth II in 2012
Queen Elizabeth II in 1952

She certainly glitters with all that bling.  I hope I'm not being too cheeky to dedicate this song to her.

This next song could be a theme for Guy of Gisborne and Lady Marian's relationship in the BBC's Robin Hood. See the lyrics here.

Diamond Mine (1989) / Blue Rodeo

Here is Sir Guy of Gisborne being humiliated by Robin Hood, and cruelly cast aside by the Sheriff of Nottingham, but then surprisingly, being rescued by Lady Marian.

Robin Hood BBC / Black Diamonds

Here is a men's wedding ring made with damascus steel and black diamonds. 
Wouldn't this have been perfect for Guy?

Andrew Nyce Designs
Screencap courtesy of RichardArmitageNet.com

Diamonds weren't always the engagement ring of choice.  Here is an interesting history of diamonds as engagement rings entitled "Have Diamonds Always Meant Forever?"


Of course we mustn't forget the James Bond theme song from the movie of the same name.

Diamonds are Forever (1971) / Shirley Bassey

I thought this picture was a bit surreal when I first saw it.  It is taken from the last part of Richard Armitage's role as Ian Macalwain in Ultimate Force (2003).  I am not sure if this background poster was supposed to have any extra meaning, or it was just a strange set decoration.  I suppose it is actually ironic as poor Ian is out of the picture soon after this shot.  Perhaps it emphasizes that although a rock might be "forever", human beings are definitely not immortal.

But as long as I live and breathe I will be watching you shine, Mr. Armitage!