Monthly Archives: August 2014

Where is Doctor Who when you need him? And in an RA-shaped form.

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The oddest mixture of melancholy, sentimentality and grief laced with a touch of whimsy has overwhelmed me the last few days. I’ve been thinking a lot about my parents, wishing I could see them, hug them, just sit and talk with them again.  If only there were such a thing as time travel . . . and a madman in a blue box (yes, I’m a bit of a Whovian).

 

My dad’s birthday arrives on Monday; he’d be  94. Twenty-four days later my own birthday will make an appearance; I will be 54.   I miss my dad (“Hello, Peanut . . .”); miss ruffling his salt-and-pepper laced hair (“Hey, now, you’ll mess up my curls!”), miss kissing those rather slavic cheekbones, his skin surprisingly soft and smooth after 80-odd years on earth.

After telling Daddy a joke, I miss hearing him say with an affectionate gleam in his blue-grey eyes: “I enjoy you.”

 

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I’ve been dreaming of my mother, alive and well again and roughly the same age I am now, while I, in those dreams, am about 2o years younger–in my early 30s. The age correlation is all wrong for the time-space continuum, but I suspect it has to do with my mourning my old life, the one I left behind when I developed FMS/CFS.  Thirty-three was, you might say, my last “good year.” The year before the chronic pain, insomnia, fatigue and general feeling my life was going to hell in the proverbial handbasket, settled in.

One recent afternoon while napping, I dreamed I was climbing a rope with footholds tied to it along its length, footholds made from small, colorful infinity scarves. My mother was on the ground cheering me on as enthusiastically as only a stalwart Tide fan at a U of A football game can do. I was so, so close to the top. Victory was within my grasp and I yelled exultantly, “I’m almost there, I’ve done it, I’ve–”

I woke up in the floor next to my bed, my wrist hurting where I’d fallen on it. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.  Or, in this case, de wrist. 😉 Remember Daddy’s motto, a little laughter in life.

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I feel not unlike an older house these days.

You know, one might say I have “character”and a certain charm you won’t necessarily find in a brand spanking new model in some cookie cutter subdivision. On the other hand, I have a number of things needing repair or replacement. I need tweaks and lots of updates.  I guess you could call me a fixer-upper.

Actually, looking at my insurance co-pays steadily piling up, maybe I am more of a money pit.  And judging from the likelihood surgical intervention will be required, the pit is beginning to feel like the Black Hole of Calcutta.

 

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The back door of the old farmhouse. Loads of character. Could use some sprucing up, just like its co-owner.

All photos above taken by yours truly.

 

I need to work as much as possible over the next months, yet, as I type these words, the %$#@# pain is stabbing me in the left wrist even with the brace in place.  If torn ligaments are surgically repaired, I will be out of commission for several weeks.

Right now, I really wish Doctor Who would show up. And no offense to Peter Capaldi as the new DW; I quite like the actor’s spin on the legendary character, but I’d really love for DW to arrive in the form of Richard Armitage. I wish DW would give me a disarming and slightly mysterious smile, hold out his hand and invite me on a adventure.

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I found these at bing.com, not sure who deserves the credit. If you know, please give a shout-out. Apparently there are other RA/DW fans out there with similar fantasies . . .

I’d go back in time, and meet the Butler County farm boy who shot marbles and snuck off to smoke woodbine cigarettes in the pines, an awkward young knight who stood up for the shy girl being bullied on the school bus. I’d see the preacher’s daughter who skated on frozen ponds during the cold winters in east central Tennessee, silky dark hair tousled in the wind, cheeks rosy and blue eyes shining . . .

And afterwards, Doctor Who and the TARDIS could take me around the world to meet all of you. Imagine that. What fun we could have!

And maybe I’d see if the good Doctor would zap my wrist with his Sonic Screwdriver. Couldn’t hurt!

I have to keep hold of my little dreams and fantasies.

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die,
Life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly
Hold fast to dreams, for when dreams go,
Life is a barren field
Frozen in snow . . .”

Langston Hughes

Some antebellum beauty. And a handsome gent to go with it.

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Y’all know I am the General Flunky for the video production business co-owned by Benny and Harry. I also do some freelance work for my old employer, a community newspaper that will celebrate its 150th birthday next year. I am not getting rich at either job, but I certainly enjoy what I get to do and the creative outlet it provides.

Today, after spending a tiring morning sitting in various parts of the local hospital’s clinic trying to sort out the Never-Ending Story of my Rotten Wrist (I don’t even want to go there right now), I was ready for some peace and natural beauty. So I was happy to take a trip with a local realtor, our publisher and ad manager/photographer to a historic house located in what happens to be the state’s smallest incorporated town (population 27 or thereabouts).  I went to soak up the ambience of this Greek Revival raised cottage (built circa 1840-46) and take notes in order to provide the written “color commentary” for a magazine piece in the paper’s quarterly publication.

 

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But I also took my trusty Olympus along to snap a few photos of my own.

There’s nothing terribly artsy here; I was shooting on auto with a regular lens and big flash to help me remember what I saw as I ambled around the 5,200 square feet of house spread over two stories (like the Tardis on “Doctor Who,” it’s bigger than it looks on the outside).

 

The home has soaring 14-foot ceilings and multiple mantle pieces ranging from the rustic to the ornate. Much of the original glass with its wavy charms is still intact, including a pane with the builder’s bride’s name etched in it with the diamond of her engagement ring.  There are polished hardwood floors throughout, wonderful broad doors with old-fashioned keys, and plenty of the character generally lacking in a contemporary “cookie cutter” house.

 

Magnolia Hall is also furnished with a plethora of antiques and collectibles that reflect its history and heritage and the owner’s love of period furniture. While I am not a particular fan of Victorian furnishings (could this be due to my youthful self having trouble staying put on the slippery horsehair of my music teacher’s settee?), I do love the “bones” of this house. I can’t help wondering, if those walls could talk, just what they would have to tell us, you know?

And I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the images I snapped and glimpse a bit of southern American history . . . although I could also imagine a certain handsome English mill owner in a cravat, sipping tea in the parlor–couldn’t you?  😉

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Care to join me in my purple bedchamber, Mr. Thornton?     *bats eyelashes*
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RA in black & white (with a smidgen of color) & more. Collages & Photo Edits.

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Just seeing that scan of the RA-as-Byronic-young-actor photo from LAMDA the school tweeted today reminded me (1) how much I love looking at images of Richard from throughout his career and (2) how much I love RA in classic black and white. So I did some editing and some plundering of my stash of old edits.

Of course, being me, I also had to play with that lovely black and white image of our handsome floppy-haired Richard and tweak it a bit. I simply could not resist. Call it theRApy of sorts.

And speaking of therapy, tomorrow I see the local orthopedic surgeon and have him take a look at me, my MRI and my EMG results to see what he recommends re the wrist.  In the afternoon I am traveling with the newspaper publisher to a neighboring county to tour one of their historic old homes and surrounding property. She’s shooting the photos and I will take notes to write the copy for the upcoming edition of the Camellia Magazine. I LOVE old homes, so although I know I will be tired afterwards, I am very much looking forward to it (and getting paid to write it).

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Oh, Richard. Thank you, LAMDA.

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We’ve seen this image before of RA, performing in a play during his days at the London Academy of Dramatic Arts. A fan snapped a pic of young Armitage that was displayed there at the school and kindly shared it with fellow fans. Even with the glare across the surface of the photo partially obscuring the image, the masculine beauty of young Armitage was breathtaking.

Today LAMDA itself tweeted the image.

*sigh*

I feel as if a young Sir Guy got his leathers dirty, gloves and all, and had to slip into a bathrobe while the minions cleaned them.

*double sigh*

On a morning where sleep eluded me again, I can only gaze upon this image and say, “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy . . .”

Thank you, LAMDA.

In spite of disappointment, illness and ill luck, a little laughter in life.

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Unfortunately, due to what has only thus far been described as “unforeseen circumstances,” Richard and his fellow actors weren’t able to perform “The Crucible” Monday night. I really feel for those who missed the performance; some may get another opportunity while others will not. It’s been raining heavily all day in Londontown, which can only have added to a certain feeling of gloom and doom over those who missed their opportunity to see RA perform on stage in this much-heralded production.  Of course, our Richard, class act that he is, popped over to apologize to fans and make their day a lot brighter than it otherwise would have been. When I say “bless RA’s heart,” it’s meant in a completely sincere, non-catty way by this southern girl.

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If it had been me who received such disappointing news, I’d have been shattered. Might have felt like throwing a right ol’ hissy fit, or just curling up in a corner and bawling my eyes out. I guess it brought back memories of a heartbreak I suffered a few summers ago, and I found myself shedding tears tonight for those who had their plans for the evening dashed.

There are friends and acquaintances out there right now around the world who are suffering pain and losses of various kinds, some who are struggling.  I wish I could do more materially for those for whom I care who are in need, whether it’s homeless animals half-starved and dependent on the kindness of strangers after abandonment, or my fellow humans who could truly use a lift.

My dad had a motto: “A little laughter in life.” His own life certainly wasn’t always easy, happy or carefree.  He had bouts of melancholy that sometimes deepened into depression. Still, he loved a good joke, a funny story. Finding laughter helped him through toughest times. As his only biological child, I’ve tried to embrace that motto, too. And I love being around people who know the value, the saving grace, one can find in laughter.

That’s one of the reasons I am so attracted to and intrigued by Richard Armitage.  Compassion, benevolence, a great, lively sense of humor that refrains from mean spiritedness, all the while embracing some much-needed silliness when needed.  I love hearing and seeing him laugh, those full-bodied, from-the-heart guffaws and rather silly giggles, so appealing and endearing.

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Here’s hoping the problems at the Old Vic are sorted out, the weather improves, and Proctor and Company can trod the boards once more.  In the meantime . . .
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Richard Armitage: Bamboozled by a Burly Man Beard

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We’ve grown so accustomed now, between the long shoot for The Hobbit films and now Richard’s summer-long run as the burly John Proctor in “The Crucible,” to seeing RA bearded or at the very least, heavily stubbled. Now I love him in any flavor: Bearded, Stubbled Light or Heavy, and Clean-Shaven. Still, there is something about a hirsute Mr. A . . .

I recall that first glimpse of him at the initial Hobbit press conference . . . in the Little Black Shirt, sporting those bodacious biceps and THE BEARD.

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Remember that deep, deep voice when he responded to the female journalist who was a bit too general in her questions? And those devilish grins he flashed? Oh, wow . . .  sexy Richard indeed!

But there’s his silly side, too–which I also love.   ‘Cause I married me a sexy, silly, funny man.

Richard Armitage tweeted this slightly startling and quite amusing image of himself purportedly attempting to disguise his Proctor beard (“too #ladyGaGa?”) for an upcoming Hobbit Movie photo shoot today. Richard, you ham, you!  Really getting into this whole Twitter thing, aren’t you, old boy?!

 

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Of course, once you say goodbye (for however long it proves to be) to your beardy goodness, Rich, there are many who will mourn. May I suggest you look into obtaining this T-shirt?

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It could be just the ticket, right? 😉 See you on Twitter!

LAST WEEK for pet photos! And Tips on Getting Great Pet Pix (Part 1)

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My other “job” (doesn’t pay too well, but there are other rewards. <3)

Butler County Humane Society

This is the final week for you to submit your best pet photos for our annual pet calendar contest. Remember it’s not just photogenic felines and cute canines we love to feature in this gorgeous glossy publication each year. Got goats? Lambs? Lizards? Roosters? Hamsters, ferrets or gerbils? Bodacious bunnies? Yup, we’ll be glad to consider them for our publication, along with horses, donkeys, ponies . . .  well, you get the picture. 😀                                                                                  52cd4a72ae21cd802a6ee93e5023f4d9

5e898a55a09d173c5b6264db6b6ae3fb0d3f223804520760d908cf6854c922d1               And here are the first five in the top ten tips from photographer Darren Rowse for taking great pet photos!

1. Start with Your Pet’s Personality

Before you start photographing your pet ask yourself ‘what sets it apart from other animals?’ Think about what type of personality it has and then attempt to capture some of that in your shots. For example if everyone knows your pet as a sleepy, lazy or placid little thing set up your photo shoot…

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Happy Birthday, dearest Richard. You really ARE getting bettah and bettah.

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bvmrymnimamly4p_largeFrom Richard’s very own Twitter Account. The boy is getting braver and braver in his advancing years. 😉  I love this pic. For some reason, it reminds me of Paul McCartney back in his bearded days in the ’70s . . . Sir Paul was my first crush on a “grown up.” Something about those talented Brits that has appealed to me since I was a mere child of four or five. 

 

Dear Richard,

While you’ve been wowing all those audiences this summer at the Old Vic, I’ve been battling with an angry wrist I can’t seem to get sorted out.  And so I have to apologise–I don’t have a birthday video (or two) prepared for you this year. I do have something in the works, but it’s not finished yet, nor is it, strictly speaking, a birthday video.  I have several ideas, some more light-hearted and others, in a more serious vein, but it takes time, energy, a reasonable degree of comfort and clarity of mind for this old girl to get it together these days.

Actually, I feel like such a namby pamby even complaining about my situation. Look at YOU. Eight grueling shows a week, emoting your heart out, giving your best in every gut-wrenching performance, and yet–there you are, showing up time after time at the stage door, freshly showered, smiling, soft-spoken and sweet-tempered as always . . . I don’t know how you do it.  But bless you for doing it.

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You’ve made so many people very, very happy–not only those lucky few (in terms of the overall fandom) who are managing to make it to the Old Vic this summer, but all of us who have vicariously enjoyed these encounters through shared photos, tweets and blog entries. Hey, I even have my VERY OWN “Crucible” programme and poster, thanks to one of your kind and generous fans (thank you, Judit!).

 

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““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““

Can it be that all those highly anticipated appearances to sign autographs, have your photo snapped or accept gifts from your well-wishers help depressurize you after releasing all that raw intensity on stage? Is it a reminder for you of how “our little community” really, truly does admire, respect and adore you? A chance to put aside the gruff Proctor and let the easygoing Rich come out . . . long ago, did you dream of this day, at a well-regarded London theatrical venue, when a throng of fans would be waiting there for you? Ever have to pinch yourself, just a little?

 

Whatever the reasons, you continue to earn my admiration for being a truly kind, thoughtful and down-to-earth individual, the consummate professional who also happens to be blessed with brains, talent, charm and good looks in a most extraordinary way (sorry, I didn’t mean to make you blush. Or maybe I did. That flush coming to those excellent cheekbones is really quite endearing . . .)

 

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And that talent . . . oh, how THRILLED I have been by all the accolades I’ve read about your performance as Proctor. Not that I expected anything less than a fine performance from you; but not everyone is blessed with that Good Taste Gene.  And Benny and I had so much fun seeing you in “Into the Storm.” I think Porter is still his favorite ChaRActer, but he has a true appreciation for heroic assistant principals who smell like sheep, too, now. 😉

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Your skill in dealing with press junkets, red carpets and journalists offering varying degrees of knowledge and tact is ever evolving. Unflappable Armitage lives, and continues to entertain, inform and disarm us. And what a treat you look–stylish, a true star, and yet very comfortable in your own skin.
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There’s so much to look forward to in your 43rd year, Richard. We eagerly await the release of “Urban” (even if I have to wait on a DVD to see it); there’s the extended edition of the second Hobbit film and the accompanying promotion for that. And, of course, the last juggernaut for the final installment of PJ’s trilogy, offering the return of majestic Thorin, the world’s sexiest (and most angst-ridden) dwarf (now, quit rolling those baby blues at me. Thorin. is. sexy. Period. Or full stop as you lot say)

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I don’t know what else is on tap for you; maybe you’ll be sharing that soon in your conversation at the Old Vic? What I do know is I wish you more—more excellent acting roles in whatever venues you desire, more happiness, friendship and good health. More opportunities to learn and grow, to laugh and love. To live life to the fullest in the way you want to live it.

Happy Birthday, Rich.

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Because I certainly am. Ever so proud.

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Oh, and never stop talking with your hands. It’s an extra added value to the fangurling I dearly love.

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Signed,
an ardent Armitage admirer

aka fedoralady

The ramblings of an RA blogger; or, why I am still around.

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Sometimes I ask myself why I am still around, doing this blog. Goodness knows, there are plenty of RA-related blogs, websites, forums, etc., etc., etc. out there these days. I don’t even attempt to keep up with all of them, or to always be the first to post the latest news.  I appreciate those of you out there who do, even if I don’t say it enough.

My life has gotten busier with the growth of the video production company and my own little side projects. I am doing more writing and shooting for the newspaper, and still doing what I can to promote the humane society and its work. My hand/wrist issue continues to plague me. Last week I had two nerve tests and an MRI; tomorrow I go back to get the results of the latter. It seems as if it’s been going on forever. I feel drained, physically and emotionally.

So it’s not as if I don’t have enough going on in my life that I am still around blogging about RA.

 

I guess I chalk it up to the fact I really, truly like Richard Armitage–Armitage, the actor and the person I perceive him to be. He’s undeniably a likeable guy–generous, humble, a great sense of humor, thoughtful, kind, hard working.  He’s got a lot going for him, with all that talent, charisma and masculine beauty, yet it seemingly has never gone to his head.  People graced with far less have much bigger egos . . .

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And surely this is a wonderful time to celebrate Richard Armitage–the man who has conquered the London theatre scene this summer with his brilliant performance in “The Crucible;” the actor who brought us another Everyman hero we could root for (and a happy ending!) in “Into the Storm” and one who will once again grace the big screen in December as the majestic and conflicted King Under the Mountain, Thorin. There is still “Urban” to which we can look forward, and who knows what else may transpire? So proud of him and for him.

And he looks so good. I don’t just mean in terms of being tall, dark and handsome; we are accustomed to that with Mr. A. He seems to be in such a good place in his life: confident, at ease, comfortable in his own skin. Glowing. I think he’s happy and that makes this old fangirl happy.  I want the people whom I love and like and care for to be happy and fulfilled in their lives (even the ones who have no idea I actually exist!).

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There is so much positive to focus on, it seems, in terms of Richard Armitage and his career, and yet there are fans snipping and snarling and yapping and complaining, arguing amongst themselves and accusing RA of falsehoods about his life in a way that I find truly distressing. It’s taken some of the joy and fun out of being part of this fandom for me and, from what I am told, for others.

No matter what, I am solidly behind Richard Armitage, the friend I’ve never met. Jane expressed my feelings well with this quote:
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Love ya, Richie. You da man.

 

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Time to talk about putting pain aside and thinking pink, my darlings

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I was asked by my old employer, for whom I do some stringing, to cover the local community theater’s production of “Pinkalicious: The Musical” Friday night.  And boy, am I glad I did. It’s not so much for the money I make for providing a story and picture page for the paper, although a few extra bucks are always welcome.

Instead, it’s the wonderful boost my spirits received from watching 14 of our most talented youngsters and young adults sing, dance and act up a storm in this sweet, funny production, based on the popular children’s book by Elizabeth and Victoria Kann.  For a couple of precious hours, I was able to chuckle, giggle and snicker as I snapped away, forgetting about the pain in my wrist, back and various other assorted and sundry parts of my body.  That, boys and girls, was NICE.

 

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I’ve watched some of the kids in the cast for years now, performing with the Greenville Area Arts Council’s Ritz Players for the organization’s annual musical fundraisers, playing piano and dancing in local recitals and acting in their respective schools’ plays. The arts are dear to my heart and have been for most of my life. I love being able to attend the performances (and in some cases, videotape them). I really enjoy the opportunity to encourage the young performers as well as the chance to spotlight them in our local media and in social media.

And, honestly, some of them are like family to me. The young lady who performed the lead role of “Pinkalicious” is the niece of my best friend in high school, someone I used to hang out with in the school’s pep club, sometimes spending the night at her home near Greenville during football season. My old friend is the Spanish teacher at our alma mater now; it’s always a hug and a “Hola, amiga” when we see each other, as we did Friday night. And another niece, daughter of one of Old Friend’s older sisters, is the mom of two of the little boys appearing in the cast.

As for the talented Abbie,  I started taking her photo several years ago for the newspaper when she started performing with the Ritz Players. From the first time I saw her in rehearsals, I thought, this child has “it”–that elusive quality that makes a particular performer stand out. She also studies dance with Miss Sonya and aspires to a career on Broadway one day. I hope those dreams can come true for her.

 

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The show was simply delightful. Pinkalicious Pinkerton loves pink–and pink cupcakes–so much, she always wants just ONE more . . . she even dreams in pink. And lo and behold, one day she wakes up pink from head to toe! She’s come down with a serious case of Pinktitis, which can only be cured by avoiding pink and consuming lots of green foods . . . otherwise, she will end up (literally) seeing RED! Soon she’s being plagued by bees, birds and butterflies, who think she’s a flower, and fighting with her BFF Alison. What’s Pinkalicious to do?

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My Old Friend’s adorable grand-nephew as the world’s cutest bee.

Fortunately, with the help of her little brother Peter, Pinkalicious is able to return to normal and learns some valuable lessons–a little pink can go a long way, and green foods can actually be good–not just good for you! The whole family learns to celebrate pink–a color that emphasizes love, happiness and joy.  And yes, BOYS can love pink, too.

 

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After the show, I snapped more photos and took the time to congratulate as many of the cast members as I could for a job well done. I saw Abbie with a group of young admirers quickly growing around her. Miss Congeniality at her school, Abbie was more than happy to sign autographs, pose for photos and even pucker up to press lip prints to the pink programs. It was really sweet and endearing to see the happy faces of those little girls.

 

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Hmmmm, sort of reminded me of someone else.
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Richard making our friend Valentina very happy. ❤

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In fact, I think Richard would be a great role model for young performers like Abbie–how to behave like a class act both on and off stage. ❤

What and who I want Richard Armitage to be.

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I want Richard Armitage to be fulfilled–in terms of his work, I want him to be cast in the kinds of roles he truly desires to play, to be able to dig into characters he finds intriguing, juicy, an exciting challenge that will flex his acting muscles.

 

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I want him to keep finding satisfaction in practicing his craft. If he chooses to go into directing, writing and producing at some point, I am all for that, too–although, selfishly, I hope he never chooses to leave acting behind altogether.  He’s much too good at it.

I also want him to be happy and satisfied in his personal life. He believes in nourishment and nurturing; I want Richard to have friends, family, lovers who give him the nourishing and nurturing he so richly deserves.  People with whom he feels truly at home, no matter where his career may take him, because they are always there in his heart.

I want Richard Armitage to know he has many, many admirers who appreciate him for all he has given us, and not just through his performances.  We appreciate all the stage door appearances, no matter what the weather, all those autographs signed, photos posed for and happy moments provided when fans get to look directly into those beautiful eyes and be on the receiving end of one of those stellar smiles.  He speaks so kindly of us in interviews and never seems to take his little community for granted.  I don’t want him to ever feel he owes his fandom a thing, except, perhaps, to bring his best to his roles–and he hasn’t failed me yet.

 

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Yes, I want Richard to be happy, satisfied, fulfilled in all facets of his life, to keep learning and growing and being the special human being that he is; to love and to be loved.

I want Richard to be himself. Bright, talented, funny, thoughtful, kind, generous, talented, versatile, and just a little mysterious.  To reveal what he choses to reveal, and to keep private that which he chooses to keep to himself. It’s his right and privilege as a fellow human being.

I consider myself most fortunate to have been his admirer for seven years, seven years of experiencing masculine beauty coupled with an amazing and always evolving talent, a delightful sense of humor and a gentle and humble spirit.

What he brings into my life is more than enough for me, and I regularly say, “Thank you, God, for creating such a wonder as Richard Armitage.”

 

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“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image.  Otherwise, we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.

~ Thomas Merton: No Man is an Island

 

In case you were wondering . . . the camera that would actually survive going ‘Into the Storm’ would be . . .

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None of those big expensive-looking video cameras used by Pete’s team or the one Donnie took on his ill-fated expedition to the old mill. They are very much like the cameras we use at Pecan Ridge Productions and, as Mr. Videographer says,  “All that water? Nope. Not a chance.”  (As we’ve also sadly discovered, extremes in heat and humidity without the actual water can also mean curtains for these Papa Bear cams . . .) But they do look so professional when you show up at an event carting one around, trust me.  Even though our little Lumix DSLM records video of just as high a quality . . . into-the-storm-max-deacon-and-kaitlyn-alycia-debnam-careyMax Deacon and Alicia Debnam Carey in a still from “Into the Storm.” Oh, Donnie, without waterproof housing, that camera is about to be toast, son.

On the other hand, that little ol’ camera mounted on the Drunken Good ol’ Boy’s head–that would be a GoPro, says Mr. Videographer–is the Camera Most Likely To Survive Even If The Wearer Does Not.  “Yep, those GoPros com are durable and they come with a sturdy waterproof housing,” says Mr. Videographer. “They’re used for filming underwater stuff, for example. You know, sharks.” Yikes!

 

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Jon Reep and Kyle Davis, aka Reevis and Donk,  who said they improvised most of their lines providing comedy relief in ITSNote the GoPro on that All-American helmet Reevis is wearing.  BTW, Jon went to school with a fellow RA fan, Catherine Windsor, a friend on FB. It’s a small world after all . . .

According to the GoPro website, all you have to do is:

“Dream it. Do it. And capture it with your GoPro. HERO3+ cameras make it easy to document and share your life’s most interesting experiences.”

I’d say being in the middle of this huge tornado and actually living to tell about it would definitely fit into that category, wouldn’t you? 😉

 

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Jon and Kyle strike a pose at the premiere. I know some people who would love to wear those tuxes to the prom. Just sayin’ . . .

And let us not depart today without sharing a nice image of Mr. A himself–

c7cd955115f6da891ee62138992c8c29Richard and Max at WonderCon. Such handsome gents!

Sometimes it all comes back to haunt you; or, getting on my last nerve

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Back in my college days, I decided to commute one summer session and just live at home (only 37 miles from campus) to save some money. Heading back to the farmhouse one day after classes I got caught in one of those sudden, heavy monsoon-like downpours we tend to get in the summer.

The next thing I knew, I was gradually coming to in the Buick, blood pouring down my face onto my pledge shirt, the windshield shattered, steam mixing with the slowing rain as it drummed against the crumpled hood.

 

I don’t remember the accident itself (the huge goose egg on my forehead indicated I’d taken a hard lick against the steering wheel. Apparently it joggled my brain enough to block out the crash).  The vehicle was now sitting crossways on the bridge, the front end crushed against the buttress. I thought someone might round that bend in the road and smack right into me, and had the presence of mind to stumble my way out of the vehicle.

 

God bless the good Samaritan who found me slowly limping down the side of the road, looking like something from a John Carpenter movie, and the proprietress of the nearest country store, who took me in, cleaned my face of all that blood and gave me a blouse to wear before her husband drove me to the farm,”’cause your mama would have a pure and tee heart attack if she saw you like this, honey.”

 

My parents’ car was, as it turned out, totaled; my poor dad crawled around and tried to find all my Add-a-Bead cloisonné and gold beads from my broken necklace.

 

Eventually my gold chain was soldered and reassembled with the remaining intact beads; the raw red scars on my forehead slowly faded and my knee, which had taken out the under-dash tape player and sent it into the back seat, stopped aching so much (alas, we didn’t realize just how much damage my kneecap had sustained until more than a decade later). I recovered, but I was never quite the same.

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One of the last pics taken of me pre the accident. Note the Add-a-Beads and the absence of facial scars.

 

For years, I’ve endured debilitating headaches that affected my neck and left shoulder along with TMJ issues in my jaw. They go back to my early 20s, years before my FMS diagnosis. I thought the sinus surgery in ’84 might cure them; it certainly helped in other ways, but the head/neck/shoulder pain continued intermittently.  I tried hot and cold therapy, PT exercises, pain pills, muscle relaxers, therapeutic massage, chiropractic treatments, trigger point injections–some were more effective than others in giving me a degree of relief, but nothing “fixed” me.

 

Then three years ago this November I unexpectedly went off-roading on the Crown Victoria and apparently cracked my tailbone. I say “apparently” because I was unemployed, uninsured and simply could not afford to go to the doctor. I suffered–and not in silence–for months afterward. It’s never been the same either.

And now there’s the new trouble in my left wrist and hand.

It appears I have cervical radiculopathy . . .

cervical radiculopathy: disease of the cervical nerve roots, often manifesting as neck or shoulder pain.
Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. © 2009, Elsevier

cervical radiculopathy:Irritation of nerve roots of the neck due to a herniation or prolapse of a intervertebral disk from its normal position, which impinge on nearby nerves resulting in pain and neurologic Sx. medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/cervical+disk+syndrome”>Cervical disk syndrome, Prolapsed disk

 

Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. I go to see a neurologist to have a Nerve Conductivity Velocity test (to determine how quickly electrical impulses move down a peripheral pathway) and a needle electromyography (to test the health of the muscles and nerves that control the muscles) done on my neck and left arm, returning to Pirofsky for the results on Friday. From there–well, we shall see. Possibly injections, possibly surgery.

Here’s hoping for answers and not too much pain and discomfort from the tests on Wednesday.

But most of all, I hope for answers. I will keep you posted.

He said, She said (Part 2): A Couple’s Take on ‘Into the Storm’

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And we’re back with more about seeing “Into the Storm!” Pardon me if I sort of dart around here, my mind is going in a lot of different directions–but I want to write this while it is fresh in my mind. I did not read any professional critics’ reviews, or really any reviews by fans/bloggers of this film before seeing it this afternoon. I wanted to make up my own mind for myself.

 

 

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The cinematic experience starts off really well for us during our Sunday matinée (WARNING: SHAMELESS PLUG FOR FAMILY BUSINESS COMING UP) when the newest commercial for the local Chevy dealership created by Pecan Ridge Productions, shot and edited by Benny, appears on the screen–with the tagline voice-over done by yours truly.  We hear someone behind us say, “Awww,” at the sight of those cute local kids playing ball and eating hot dogs. A win! 😉

 

Then comes the preview for THTBOFA. There’s Thorin, larger than life and looking very majestic and more than a little crazed. I give spouse the teeniest dig in the ribs. He grunts and gives me a small lop-sided smile.  He’s humoring me. That’s OK.

Once the film starts and the video cameras appear on-screen,  I see spouse’s antennae perking up.  NOW we’re talkin’ . . . No one is sitting very close to us, so we can talk in low tones without being a nuisance.

Me: What kind of cameras are they using?

Him: (squints) Hmmmm, not sure. (suddenly grins like a kid at Christmas and wags his finger at the screen) But hey, that bracket holding the camera on the outside of the vehicle? It’s just like the one I got and put on the Jeep!

I think to myself, Well, he’s already enjoying it more than the Hobbit films. This is good.

[I take note that Richard as Gary looks very much the part of a single dad of teens and assistant principal at a small town high school in the Midwest. The close-cropped hair, wire-rimmed reading glasses, the conservative (and, apparently, cheap) suit and tie for the school’s graduation. That look in his eyes.

Gary has a lot on his mind. You feel as if this big, strapping man carries a burden on his shoulders just from the way he moves at times. A physically strong man, but, perhaps, a soul-weary one?  School duties, the principal riding him, a lack of communication with his two sons . . .  an ordinary (if very attractive) kind of guy living an ordinary life. And if he doesn’t sound exactly like Oklahoma or thereabouts, he sounds–generically American. Especially when I hear his voice and don’t see him. I think it’s a good start for a guy who doesn’t have a lot of experience doing American accents.]

 

Spouse Loves “Jack-Ass” Style Comedy Relief

When the group of good ol’ boys appears on-screen, videoing their own lame-brained drunken exploits, Benny chuckles. We know some folks like these guys–dumb as a box of rocks, but basically harmless and, you know, kind of likeable.  You’re just glad you aren’t actually related to them . . . BTW, did anyone else notice the cameo by Todd Garner in that scene with the swimming pool?

Him: Yeah, these guys are OK. (He clearly hopes to see more of them and, of course, his wish is granted.)

Me: Next thing you know, they’ll be saying, “Hey y’all, look at this!!” Which usually ends badly . . . [talk about dumb luck. Donk and Reevis actually survive!]

And then the storm hits.  Gary starts giving orders to the school kids and trying to maintain calm, all the while anxious to locate his own errant oldest son, Donnie (played with a shy, endearing awkwardness by Max Deacon. I predict we will see more of  handsome, talented Max in future films and TV projects. I like Nathan Kress as Trey, too, but Max really managed to tug at my heartstrings).

 

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Gary on the Way to Save the Day–Hooray!

Soon Gary jumps into the fray and keeps Allison (Sarah Wayne Callies) the pretty meteorologist, from blowing away as they hang on to the vehicle for dear life.

I must say from a purely prurient POV, I approve of soaking wet Gary in action (the thighs! the buns!) although I do not announce this to Benny. I do try to remind myself wet Gary smells like a sheep (according to Sarah).

And I can certainly see why Sarah said this wasn’t a “comfortable” film to make, too. An actor’s life definitely isn’t all red carpets and wrap parties.

Him: (smirks) It’s certainly a good thing this guy’s an SAS soldier.

[Porter is his favorite RA character. He’s seen Thorin, Heinz, Ian from “Ultimate Force” and  some of “The Golden Hour.” So far, nobody beats out the sergeant.]

We both agree the visuals are pretty darned impressive. I’ve seen enough actual footage of tornadoes, not to mention my own experiences and the accounts of friends and family, to say it all looked frighteningly real–both the twisters themselves and the aftermath. And the noise, all that roaring, and the popping of the transformers blowing . . . yep, it worked for me. Kudos to the seven different special effects houses (we always sit through the credits) who worked to finish the film when the original SFX house went bankrupt.

NOT Quite Buying That . . .

What didn’t seem so believable?

Him: Really convenient they had this big airport with all these big planes next to this little town with like, eight people in the graduating class . . . it’s like McKenzie (a tiny town in southern end of county) being located next to the Atlanta Airport!

Me: Uh . . . maybe it’s a regional airport?

Him: (gives me a look that says, “Yeah-RIGHHHT.”)

Me: (shrugs) OK, so maybe not so realistic. What else bothered you?

Him: (drily) Oh, the way the storm was nice enough to pause and take breaks and like, knit a sweater and give them a chance to get all those kids on buses and out of harm’s way, and then to get the manhole cover open and get into the storm drain, and for the guy to get the storm vehicle and hold the grate in place . . . (grins) of course, if it had all happened in real-time, the movie would have been over in 15 minutes!

 

 

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Me: (Nods) Yep, gotta take some dramatic license here and there. What did you think of Richard’s accent?

Him: Well–he didn’t really sound like Oklahoma to me–but I’ve heard a lot worse. Definitely.

Me: I thought the performances all around were good.  I enjoyed it.

Him: I have to say–it was better than pretty much anything I’ve ever seen on the SyFy Channel (spouse is a devotee of said channel).

Me: I suspect it had a slightly higher budget than anything on SyFy.

Him: Better actors, too.

Me: We agree we didn’t miss it not being in 3D?

Him: Oh, yeah, we’ve seen–what? Five or six 3-D films now, big budget ones, and none of them have made us go, Wow, because of the effects? I think I must really be a 2-D kind of guy.

Me: (sighs) It was so–nice—to see Richard in a movie in which his character LIVES! He gets a happy ending for a change! And he’s a hero!

Him: Maybe they can make a sequel. He gets married to Allison and they become storm chasers. Or it’s 25 years in the future, the kids are storm chasers . . .

Me: And HE’S really old . . . and goes off and gets into trouble and the boys go to save him but he saves THEM.

Hey, it could happen.

 Thoughts:

So, I am not quite sure why this movie is getting such negative reviews. Is it perfect? No. Are there some clichés and stereotypes? Yes. Do I see it as “weather porn,” as one critic termed it? No, I don’t. Mother Nature can be one fierce creature, and she seems to be getting more and more so with each passing year. I am glad the film made reference to the numerous extreme meteorological events we’ve seen in recent years just in our own country alone, never mind the world. What exactly were critics expecting from this found footage disaster film–and why?

I very much like that this movie did not have a single superhero endowed with special powers. Although I also enjoy those types of films, I think we need to see “regular people” get their inner hero on, too.

Gary was the ordinary guy forced by extraordinary circumstances to step up and lead in a crisis, to not give up on his students or his sons. Call me a sentimental old sap–I will not argue the point with you–but it was so good to see post-storm Gary standing there smiling, his arms around those two boys. Rebuilding–houses or relationships–is never an easy task, but you feel as if the Morris family and their community have what it takes to make it happen.

And I have seen that happen in my own county, after natural disasters, neighbors helping neighbors, and also local citizens reaching out to refugees from Katrina and other storms, offering them shelter, food, clothing, even jobs and homes. There is still goodness in people.

So yes, we give Into the Storm two thumbs up–it’s entertaining, humorous and even touching in spots, and ultimately, really uplifting. The resilience of the human spirit shines . . . and yes, Serv, you were right. I walked out of that theatre into the sunshine–and smiled.

 

 

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He said, She said: A Couple’s Take on ‘Into the Storm’ (Part 1)

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This afternoon Mr. Videographer and General Flunky (AKA Benny and I) headed into town to catch the matinee showing of “Into the Storm” at the local multiplex, The Edge. We settled into the comfy rocking chair seats with a scattering of fellow audience members, and prepared to see Richard Armitage and some CGI tornadic activity unlike anything we’ve ever seen before–and hopefully, will never see in real life.

 

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First, a little background on our own real-life atmospheric experiences.

Been There, Done That.

Benny and I have been through quite a variety of scary weather systems in our half-century plus here on earth–a huge blizzard with white-out conditions in South Dakota, not to mention hailstones large enough to break windows and kill outside animals; dangerous ice storms in various parts of the Midwest, more hurricanes than I care to think about right here in south Alabama (don’t believe in climate change? Let me show you where a barn and many trees used to stand on my parents’ farm, two-and-a-half hours inland, where hurricanes once left us with nothing more than some heavy rain and a few fallen tree branches. Oh yeah, boys and girls, it’s real).

As a young child, I remember the family driving to a neighboring county that had been hit hard by a tornado. There were houses missing roofs and outer walls, yet in some rooms, the furniture remained perfectly intact. I saw bicycles, twisted and tossed on the tops of some of the buildings left standing, cars flipped and folded and yes, flimsy blades of straw driven into the trunks of ancient oaks. One home might be a complete shambles, nothing left but a mass of rubble, while a house 20 yards away was completely untouched.

I think, other than normal human curiosity, our parents wanted us to see all that destruction in person as a lesson. tornadoes were nothing to fool around with. You had to move fast and be smart. Even then, there were no guarantees . . .

Looking at all the devastation, you felt awful for the people who went through all this. And at the same time, you couldn’t resist breathing a sigh of relief it hadn’t happened to you and your loved ones.

Traditionally, tornadoes have tended to follow similar paths over the years. Our stompin’ grounds have, thankfully, never been in one of those paths, while some communities have been hit multiple times (But who’s to say new paths won’t develop? Mother Nature can be both cruel and fickle).

Too Close for Comfort

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Yes, we got a pretty good snow while I lived in Talladega, too. Some of the students got to experience it for the first time. Helen Keller, who visited the school’s fragrance garden in her later years, is celebrated with this statue of young Helen at the water pump.

I had my “up close and personal” moment with a tornado thirty years ago.  I was teaching arts & crafts and creative and performing arts classes at the Alabama School for the Blind in Talladega. One rather grey morning, I got a call from the school’s main office during my planning period.

“Angie, you and Mr. W, get to the main building–NOW. A tornado is coming.”

I grabbed my hooded rain slicker from my office in the converted dormitory building and hurried as fast as I could down the stairs, out the front door and across the sidewalk. Fat raindrops thumped against us as the sky darkened ominously. Mr. W (the shop teacher) and I got into ASB’s front hall only moments before the storm hit. The winds picked up tremendous speed and a roar, not unlike a freight train coming right down South Street.

Talk about the nick of time . . .

I remember glancing up and out through a window and see things flying by–what they were, I couldn’t say. It was all one gigantic blur. The students, crouching in the approved position, were quite calm. It was some of the sighted teachers who were verging on nervous wrecks. As for me, I was praying silently that no one would get hurt, and that my second floor apartment in an old Victorian just two blocks down the street would still be there when all this passed over.

There were, thank goodness, no serious injuries. A small portion  of the School for the Deaf’s main building’s roof was partially blown off, with majestic old shade trees completely uprooted, sidewalks buckled, and some homes and vehicles badly damaged in parts of this town of 20,000.  And my quaint little apartment? Still intact, albeit lacking power for several days after a main transformer blew close to the house’s backyard.

It lasted only a short time, and yet it seemed to last forever, that storm. It was bad enough, but it could have been so much worse. And I decided then and there I never wanted to be that close to another tornado again.  Storm chasing? Phooey. Storm avoiding is the life for me.

And then I find out Richard Armitage, my favorite actor, is making a film about tornado chasers . . . wasn’t too sure how I felt about it all at first. As a viewer, I worried that “found footage” might translate into lots of shaky hand-held camera shots that would just irritate me and give me a headache.  As a devoted fan, I worried that RA, whose characters’ recent track records for survival fell into the lackluster category might end up playing another doomed hero *sniff*

As a person who knows what survivor’s grief is all about, I was concerned that seeing this unfold on film would bring back too many painful memories of Tuscaloosa and Enterprise and Joplin, of the tornado in my sisters’ former hometown of Huntsville, where her co-worker died from injuries sustained when a tornado struck her apartment building.  Of the Birmingham tornadoes that so narrowly missed my oldest sister and her boy. Memories of all those who didn’t make it.

And, frankly, as a wife whose husband has sat through two long Tolkien films featuring Armitage only to please his spouse and not because he particularly enjoyed the genre, I didn’t want to sit through a movie worrying about how bored said spouse was.

 

 

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An image from Tuscaloosa after the city was struck by a tornado. In one of the ITS interviews, Sarah Wayne Callies recalls driving through the town on her way back to Georgia to shoot more of The Walking Dead. I found myself very depressed in the days and weeks that followed, and often broke into tears watching the images on TV/reading about it.  And all those from our area who traveled to Tuscaloosa to help with the cleanup said it was much worse in person–as if a nuclear bomb had gone off.

 

 

But you know what? I shouldn’t have worried.  “Into the Storm” gets the Mr. Videographer and Fedoralady’s Seal of Approval! More on our thoughts about and reactions to the film in our next installment (yes, the mister will have his say).