Tag Archives: romance

He’s downright balsamaceous, that boy: TAE Word for the Day


(And I’d like to hear him say that word, too.)

Balsamaceous: (adjective): Possessing healing or restorative properties.

The word derives from the Latin balsamum, “resin of the balm tree.” The substance is historically celebrated for its aroma and healing properties.

Dr. Track is a healer by profession, and with his steadfast dedication and delightful bedside manner, he certainly makes us feel better.

And whilst John Porter is a tough soldier by trade with kickass skills, his gentleness and compassion helped Katie through the trauma of her captivity even as he worked to free her. This balsamaceous hero is tops in our books.

Our Victorian hero, Mr. Thornton, restores our belief in foolish passion and sweet romance. Surely he’s been a balm to many a troubled spirit.

Dear Harry Kennedy. His sweet, sunny, nurturing nature–perhaps a reflection of his CReAtor’s own lovely character?–cannot fail to bring a smile to our faces and a warm tug on our hearts.

Just a few examples of Mr. A’s balsamaceous characters. But of course, the most balsamaceous of them all is the man himself.

Lovely, funny, brilliant, modest, insightful, endearing, charismatic . . . how you touch our hearts, minds and souls, Richard Armitage.

OT: Need a feel-good fantasy film? Catch “Stardust”


Are you looking for a feel-good movie that has wit, charm, humor, intelligence, a bit of swashbuckling derring-do and sweet romance? A film offering beautiful location scenery (Scotland, England and Iceland) and a talented cast of Brit and American actors giving memorable performances?

Then might I suggest 2007’s Stardust, a delightful fantasy film centered around the magical kingdom of Stormhold. There’s a race by scheming witches, fratricidal princes and a young man infatuated with the village beauty to capture a star which collided and bonded with a gem as it fell to earth. The witches want the star in order to reclaim their long-ago lost youth; the princes want the gem so they can become the next king of Stormhold and the young man, Tristan, wants to capture the star for the girl he fancies to prove his devotion to her.

The original theatrical poster for Stardust.

There’s a problem: Tristan (Charlie Cox) lives in the village of Wall, and he is never supposed to cross over the wall into Stormhold.  His father Dunstan (Nathaniel Parker) reveals that Tristan’s mother was from Stormhold, and she left a Babylon candle for her son, which will allow him to travel to any desired destination.

He lights it and is transported to the location of the star. Much to his surprise, it has a human form, that of a lovely young woman named Yvaine (Claire Danes).  Much to Yvaine’s dismay, Tristan takes her prisoner, intending to return to his sweetheart Victoria with Yvaine as her gift.

Of course, things do not go as the young man has planned, and a great adventure gets underway that involves a magical inn, a flying ship of pirates who capture lightning, led by Captain Shakespeare (Robert DeNiro) and more.

Yvainne (Claire Danes) and Tristan (Charlie Cox) are served by Captain Shakespeare (Robert De Niro) as they enjoy a meal upon his flying ship.

Danes is absolutely incandescent as Yvaine, even without the help of special effects (her bleached-out eyebrows do take some getting used to, I must admit). Cox is a sweet and likeable hero who undergoes an attractive physical transformation in the course of the film.

Michelle Pfeiffer has great fun as the eldest witch, Lamia, who uses what is left of the three witches’ last captured star to restore her beauty as she tries to chase down the celestial body.  Mark Strong is a villain to watch as Septimus, the prince who is pitted against the other remaining brother Primus (Jason Flemying)  in an effort to capture the throne. The other five brothers, including Rupert Everett and Julian Rhind-Tutt, are now ghosts (having done each other in) who look in as a sort of Greek chorus and provide amusing commentary on the proceedings.  And the narrator for the film is none other than Gandalf himself, Sir Ian McKellen.

Mark Strong as bad boy prince Septimus.

The film is based on a 1998 book of the same name by Neil Gamain. Gamain gave his approval to trim portions of the rather large novel to keep the film a reasonable length. The author said he also agreed to a larger dose of whimsy and humor in the film than is found in his book. The author said he preferred the filmmakers depart somewhat from the book and craft an enjoyable film, rather than attempting to slavishly follow the source material and ultimately fail.  I have not read the book but I can certainly attest to the creation of a very enjoyable movie.

The film is currently airing on Showtime in the U.S., and is available through Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. It is also available on DVD and Blu-ray at very reasonable prices through Amazon.

It’s something the whole family could enjoy together and it’s definitely not just a chick flick. I could easily see Mr. FL sitting down with me to watch Stardust.  This romantic fantasy-dramedy really has a magical quality all its own. Highly recommended.

Danes as Yvaine.

New video: “I Only Have Eyes for You”


I love the old standards in jazz and pop and “torch” songs. They are the type of songs that suit my own singing voice. This is a classic performed by an American cabaret singer who died much too soon, Nancy Lamott. I really love her unaffected, nuanced singing style and I hope you will, too. And, of course, there are lots of images of Mr. A.

An emotional thesaurus, courtesy of Thornton & his CReAtor


According to The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Bella Puglisi, up to 95 percent of all communication is non-verbal. Even in instances where we are trying not to show our feelings, we are still sending messages through body language. As a writer, I have to make sure my characters express their emotions in ways “that are both recognizable and compelling to read.”

These words made me think of Mr. Armitage, an actor who can speak volumes of dialogue about his characters’ thoughts, feelings, emotions without speaking a word. Think of the wonderful scene at the train station in North & South. As Thornton, he does not have a great deal of dialogue in that scene, and yet–we know so much about this character and what’s going on in his head and heart. A pensive Thornton arriving at the station, the lightening of his expression as he sees Margaret and presents her with the flowers from Helstone. We learn so much by watching his body language, his facial expressions, seeing his attentiveness to Margaret, the way he uses those eloquent and beautiful hands when cupping her face for that kiss

The look of desolation when it seems Margaret is leaving, the dawning recognition that we see in his eyes and smile when he realizes she is, indeed, coming home with him–we can relate to and respond to these emotions so easily.  (In no way do I intend to discount Daniela’s contributions here–their onscreen chemistry added immeasurably to the production and particularly to this scene–but the focus here is on RA’s perfomance.)

If good writing involves crafting characters that are both recognizable and compelling to read, then good acting surely means breathing life into characters that are also recognizable and compelling to watch as well as to listen to. Richard Armitage accomplishes that feat very, very well, I think.  He is very much a storyteller, and not just in those charming Cbeebies videos.

Love is risky. It makes us vulnerable, and that can be scary. Love can open us to the possibility of rejection, disappointment, loss, to heartache and heartbreak.
And yet, what is life without love? Love for our soul mates, family, friends, pets. Love enriches and inspires.  It liberates.  It teaches. Love makes us fully human. It can cost us everything. But without it, we are nothing.
Touched by An Angel
We, unaccustomed to courage, exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness until love leaves its high holy temple
 and comes into our sight to liberate us into life.
Love arrives and in its train come ecstasies,
old memories of pleasure, ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold, love strikes away the chains of fear from our souls.
We are weaned from our timidity,
In the flush of love’s light we dare be brave
And suddenly we see that love costs all we are and will ever be.
Yet it is only love which sets us free.
Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is only love which sets us free

A little romance courtesy of John & Margaret


Just some pretty images of Mr. Thornton & Margaret for Sunday (or late Saturday, depending on where you are, my international posse).  I’m not feeling my best–cranky knee, dermatitis flared up, bit of tummy trouble–so don’t know that I will be posting a lot tomorrow.  We’ll see. Hoping to get some more writing done and finish re-reading The Hobbit. Happy Sunday to everyone!

OT: A “Stranger” at “Midnight”–Two Woody Allen films


Is the past a better place to live than the present? Is it natural and expected for us to believe the grass is indeed greener on the other side?

Those are questions posed by two of writer-director Woody Allen’s films Midnight in Paris (2011) and 2010’s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger.

I have watched both films several times and there are certain parallels between the two projects, beyond the obvious ties to Allen.

Stranger features an American named Roy (Josh Brolin) living in London with his British wife and writing his latest novel; Midnight’s male lead is an American screenplay writer, Gil (Owen Wilson) who is visiting Paris with girlfriend Inez’s family while his prospective father-in-law deals with business matters abroad.

Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams on the bridge at Monet’s home and garden at Giverny in a scene from “Midnight in Paris.”

Roy’s first novel, we learn, was a success with critics and readers alike. Unfortunately, his next two efforts were not so well-received. Now he’s on the edge of desperation, hoping his latest work will be another bestseller—hoping to prove that early success was not a mere fluke.

Feeling her biological clock ticking away, Roy’s wife Sally (Naomi Watts) wants a child but the couple’s precarious financial situation tends to rule that out. Sally is weary of struggling to pay the bills while Roy awaits word on whether or not his novel is accepted. The couple has to depend on regular handouts from her dotty mother Helena (Gemma Jones) to keep the rent on their flat paid.

Sally gets a new job at a large and thriving art gallery and soon develops a crush on her handsome, charming boss (played by the handsome, charming Antonio Banderas).  Wouldn’t life be so much better with this rich and successful man than with the husband who was proving to be such a disappointment?

Roy, in the meantime, finds himself fantasizing about the new neighbor, a gorgeous “lady in red” played by Freida Pinto. What could he accomplish as a writer with a muse like that?

Freida Pinto and Josh Brolin in “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger.”

In Gil’s case, his screenplays have been proven crowd-pleasers and led to a lucrative career in Hollywood. Still, he longs to make it as a novelist—a novelist living and working in Paris, the city of his dreams.  He imagines fondly life in the Paris of the 1920s, the Jazz Age, the glory days of American expats Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, with Cole Porter playing in the background and Gertrude Stein discussing Pablo Picasso’s latest painting.

Girlfriend Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her parents, however, are singularly unimpressed with the City of Lights.   Inez wants a house on the beach in Malibu, not an apartment overlooking the Seine. Inez is less than pleased with Gil’s desire to move from the “sure thing” of his Hollywood success to life as a novelist.

“Who wants to read a book about some guy who owns a nostalgia shop that sells old Joan Crawford cut-outs?” Inez asks with no small amount of scorn. She is supported by her old college chum Paul, brilliantly played by Michael Sheen, an irritatingly smug and pedantic professor who dismisses Gil’s protagonist—and Gil himself—as someone suffering from “Golden Age Syndrome,” seeing the past as always being a happier, richer time than the present.

In Stranger, Sally’s father Alfie (Anthony Hopkins), who divorced Helena in a quest to reclaim his lost youth and have a son to replace the one they lost many years ago, more or less buys himself a young wife, Charmaine (Lucy Punch). Charmaine, an “actress” turned escort, is blonde, hot–and dumb as a box of rocks. Alfie was clearly reacting with something other than his brain when he married Charmaine.

Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) on a date with actress/escort Charmaine (Lucy Punch).

In the meantime, sweet, batty Helena, who is always seeking something (alcoholic) “to sip on,” regularly visits a medium in an effort to learn about her past lives in the hope of making sense of the present.

There are characters clearly unhappy with their present in both films, longing for life in a different time, a different place, with a different partner. Will any of them live “happily ever after?”

As one might expect from Allen, both films are comedies; however, Stranger falls into the comedy/drama category while Midnight is a romantic comedy/fantasy.

Marion Cotillard and Owen Wilson take a midnight stroll in Paris.

In Stranger, there are some unexpected twists and turns in the plot that provide a dark irony. In the end, perhaps, everyone gets exactly for they deserve, if not what they expected.

In Midnight, Gil not only dreams of Paris in the Roaring Twenties; thanks to a mysterious vintage car that stops to pick him up each night, he gets to go back in time. There he meets, among others, Hemingway and the Fitzgeralds, T.S. Eliot, Picasso, Man Ray and Gertrude Stein. In a hilarious turn, Adrian Brody makes an appearance as that perpetually self-promoting surrealist Salvador Dali. It’s a small but unforgettable role for Brody and one of my favorite bits of the film.

Gil also gets to meet a fetching young Frenchwoman, Adriana (Marion Cotillard), who has served as the muse to several noted artists. She hears the first few lines of Gil’s novel and is “hooked,” a very different reaction compared to Inez’s. Gil and Adriana are drawn to each other as kindred spirits, but there is a major obstacle to overcome. They live in two different centuries . . . at some point, won’t Gil  be forced to make tough decisions and return to the real world? Would Adriana choose to leave her time if she could?  What constitutes the perfect life?

Both films feature strong casts with solid performances; however, in the end, Midnight in Paris has the edge for me.

The cinematography is just lovely, opening with a picture postcard-like homage to Paris, the colors richly saturated, the beauty of the city prominently showcased throughout the film.

I love both cities, but I don’t get the same sense of place in terms of London in Stranger that I do with Paris in Midnight. Stranger could have almost just as easily been shot in New York and it would have made little difference to the story.

Both soundtracks are great—I do like Mr. Allen’s taste in music—but Midnight’s music is particularly wonderful for those of us who love Cole Porter and the old standards, with Orpheus in the Underworld thrown in for good measure.

It’s fun seeing the various literary and art luminaries depicted in Midnight, and Gil has a certain sweetness and guilelessness which appeals.

I suppose in the end, for me, the light-hearted fantasy and romance elements of Midnight in Paris won over the darker, more realistic elements in You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger.  Watch both—and judge for yourself.


It’s Guyday Friday, but Mr. Thornton is at the door


Remember, ladies, the North & South Global Watch starts today.  Timetable as provided by asilomar11 with expanded info in link below.

US Prime time:

Friday June 1st

EDT:  8pm : ep 1          PDT: 6pm: ep 1

EDT:  9pm:  ep 2          PDT: 7pm: ep 2

EDT: 10pm : ep 3        PDT: 8pm: ep 3

EDT: 11pm : ep 4         PDT: 9pm: ep 4

Saturday June 2nd

EDT: 6pm: ep 1           PDT: 4pm: ep 1

EDT: 7pm: ep 2          PDT: 5pm: ep 2

EDT: 8pm: ep 3          PDT: 6pm: ep 3

EDT: 9pm: ep4           PDT: 7pm: ep 4

Sorry for the US-centric reply but there are more inclusive timetables on this blog: http://armitagewatch.blogspot.com/p/timetables.html



Don’t worry, Team Leather members, Guy’s here, too.



Sir Guy certainly does strut so well–and swagger, smoulder, smirk, sneer and snarl beautifully.


Beginners: a small film with a big heart–and a dog


Melanie Laurent and Ewan McGregor in a scene from “Beginners.”

Beginners, an indie film from 2011, won me over tonight. I’d heard good things about it, and I knew it starred Ewan McGregor, one of my absolute favorite actors. The actress who played my favorite character in Inglourious BasterdsMelanie Laurent,  is featured as his love interest.

But while there is love and humor and relationships, this is no rom-com. It’s 2003, and Oliver, a 38-year-old graphic artist, finds himself dealing with two very difficult bits of news from his father.  First, Oliver discovers his 75-year-old father Hal (Christopher Plummer) is gay and ready to come out of the closet. “I don’t just want to be theoretically gay. I want to do something about it,” Hal earnestly tells his son. After more than 40 years of marriage and living a lie with Oliver’s late mother ( who knew he was gay but said she could “fix” him), he doesn’t want to hide any longer.

Cristopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor star as father and son facing some hard realities as they search for love and friendship.

And so Hal gets involved with various gay pride groups, makes lots of new friends and even gets the sort of tender romantic relationship with a younger man ( that handsome gent Goran Visnjic, sporting an unfortunate John Porter Security Man Shag) he’s hoped to find. He’s suddenly discovered his joie de vivre. Oliver–who never saw real love between his parents, only a polite cordiality–looks on with interest.

Poor Oliver is an uptight guy–he’s sad, he’s lonely and he yearns for a lasting, loving relationship, something that has eluded him.  You don’t have to be told this; you can see in McGregor’s expressive eyes.

I said two difficult bits of news. Just when Hal is enjoying his new freedom of expression, he is diagnosed with lung cancer.

The movie is narrated by McGregor and features flashbacks to the childhood that helped mold into the adult he’s become. We follow Oliver’s relationship with his terminally ill father (his love for his dad is so touching), and later, his blossoming romance with a lovely French actress, who is as emotionally skittish as Oliver. There are a lot of serious moments, and at one point I was boo-hooing (keep the tissues handy).

But  there are lighter moments as well, and it’s never melodramatic; these seem like real people in real houses and offices, not actors emoting on some Hollywood soundstage.

It’s not for everyone; it moves at a leisurely pace and there isn’t a lot of action.  But as one reviewer said, it has an innate sweetness. Beginners offers plenty of humanity with a literate script ( based on the real-life story of the writer-director’s relationship with his late father) and wonderful performances by all involved.  Not to mention the cutest Jack Russell Terrier who “speaks” in subtitles to add a bit of lightness here and there (and it works. I fell in love with Arthur). Ultimately, it is a life-affirming film.

I have to say this is the kind of small indie gem I would love to see Richard appear in from time to time, in between big budget productions and any stage work he might pursue. I think he would find such a project a satisfying and rewarding one and we would enjoy seeing him engage with good actors and a good script in an intimate setting.

Arthur, the adorable Jack Russell who provides delightful comedy relief and a real “awwww” factor to the film.

A little romance for Monday courtesy of Claude, John and Harry


The fragrance always stays in the hand that brings the rose. ~ Hada Bejar




If ever two were one, than surely we.~ Anne Bradstreet



The most precious possession that ever comes to a man is a woman’s heart. ~ Josiah G. Holland


Where  love reigns, the impossible may be obtained.~ Indian Proverb


How much better than wine is your love.~ Song of Solomon 4:10



Guyday Friday: A versatile subject


One of the many things I appreciate about Sir Guy is the broad array of options I have when writing, vidding, or creating art about this character and Robin Hood. I can be angsty, I can wax poetic, I can get very, very steamy and I can be splendidly silly (come to think of it, I believe I was all of the above when I wrote Dangerous to Know . . . 😉 you’ve seen a little bit of everything in my Guyart today and I hope you have enjoyed it. Really, he’s such a wonderful subject with which to work.