You may have noticed that I’ve been kind of an absentee blogger of late. When blogs go silent, I always find myself wondering, “WHY?” Is everything OK? Has blogger X lost interest? Just really busy? Suffice it to say that the answer to the 2nd question is a resounding “NO” I’ve definitely not lost interest, nor run out of things to talk about, I’m just hovering between answers to the first and last questions. I’ve been in a personal funk the past couple of weeks…some of which is due the to loss of a very dear member of my church family.
Despite being 40 years my senior, and a itty bitty physical form, my dear friend Bev had a joie de vivre that made her seem far younger than her 85 years. “Fine as frog hair,” was a typical response to an inquiry about her mood. Not even cancer could fully quell her huge spirit. Last November her oncologist informed her that she had about 4 months left on earth, to which she replied, “I’ll take 8.” In true form, she lived every minute of the next eight months…despite battling through chemo and the toll it took on her already diminutive frame. She was able to settle her own final affairs and stay in her own home until the end…entering hospice care for only one week before she died, surrounded by her loving family. Upon hearing of her death my mother remarked, “She really lived until she died.”
By the time one reaches middle age, funerals are a part of life as the elder generation ages and passes on. This funeral was different though…it was a first funeral service my children attended where they really knew the deceased. Bev’s funeral was as much a celebration of her remarkable life as it was a mourning of her passing. A spirit like hers lives on I think…in a myriad of ways. I found this out first hand while preparing the food that would be served at the funeral luncheon.
As you may recall, I do a little catering on the side – particularly for church related peeps. A few years ago, I catered a luncheon for my mom’s ecumenical church ladies groups, and Bev was among the diners. She approached me after and asked me if I would cater her funeral dinner…using the same menu. I immediately said, “Yes” and put it to the back of my mind since Bev wasn’t going anywhere right? A couple of months ago, she came to me and confirmed that I would still do this quipping, “just watch the paper – when you see my obituary, you’ll know to get cookin’!” All I could do was nod and laugh a little (while swallowing back a tear because I knew that this time she was serious).
So, that is how I came to spend most of last week preparing a “lite luncheon” for 125. Bev’s spirit was clearly on hand the morning of her service. Several months before, as she was cleaning out her house, she gifted me with her well seasoned Kitchen-Aid stand mixer. Anyone who cooks is desirous of one of these…even if the OFF switch is a little quirky. “The switch doesn’t catch all the way, so you have to unplug it to turn it off,” she cautioned me as I gratefully accepted her gift. Apparently, I forgot that little fact as I was mixing up the chocolate buttercream cake frosting…I unplugged, lifted the mixing arm to scrape the bowl and then (forgetting to lower the mixing arm back into the bowl) I plugged it back in…chocolate frosting went flying all over the kitchen. One of the other women in the kitchen said, “Bev is laughing now!” We all laughed together as I scraped chocolate icing off the wall. :)
The luncheon was beautiful – we welcome a lot of non member funerals at our church and pride ourselves on hospitality – but everyone pulled out every stop for this event in honor of a most beloved friend…a most beloved friend who was a big fan of Americana and Pepsi!
I was very happy to be able to honor her memory by giving of one of my gifts, and her family seemed genuinely touched by all of the love that went in to the preparations, so it was well worth the week’s worth of job catch up I’ve been slogging through this week. My career is the other area contributing to my current funk. I’m at a bit of a crossroads. Since the beginning of the year, the Dean of my academic school has been planning for me to take on a larger administrative role withing the school, but this role is still not fully determined…despite the fact that it was supposed to have started officially on July 1. As of today, six weeks from the beginning of the fall semester, I do not really know if or how my job and/or my income will change. I do not function well under this level of uncertainty…especially when I am already fully booked for the fall semester AND will be in Greece for over two weeks at the start of it.
I honestly don’t know how people like Richard Armitage, who’s professional life is a matter of perennial fits and starts, handle that uncertaintly. The number of “what ifs” I currently have in the air is exhausting – primarily because I can’t seem to force my brain to stop from turning the various outcome scenarios over again and again. Then, just when I think that I might run stark raving mad, one thing will fall into place and I can re-center again. That hasn’t quite happened yet, but I’m hoping it is around the corner…
because I’d really like a more permanent version of the peace I felt when I looked up last night and saw this….calm after a stormy day…in the sky above my house last night. (I wish I’d had a better camera on hand – here for some other views)
The Latin word for today is INTELLIGERE, a third conjugation verb (in the infinitive form) meaning to understand or comprehend.
After the past few days, the phrase non intelligere populo, the idiomatic Latin for “I do not understand people,” may become my new fandom mantra. I’ve been observing the dynamics of this fandom for about four years now, and it has become very clear that certain patterns of behavior are quite predictable, and they inevitably provoke the same response from me. This week, the predictable behaviors and my inevitable response have grown to the point of acute distraction, so I’m prompted to go on record in an attempt at some cathartic relief. Please note that while I am remarking on general trends in the fandom, my reactions to them are mine – you may agree, you may not. I am at no point saying that other fans do not have the right to feel the way they do, but their rights do not by definition negate mine or anyone else’s.
My current declaratory mood vis a vis fandom might also be influenced by the fact that I’ve been reading Locke and Voltaire with my Aesthetics class…The Englightenment and the Age of Revolutions (July 4th is just around the corner…) that followed seem to have left a mark, so following is my Declaration of Fandom Independence…
When in the Course of fandom events, *ahem*
One of my major personal issues with the notion of fandom is the sort of artificial hierarchy that exists within it. Obviously, as the expressed object of affection, Richard Armitage sits at the top of the hierarchical structure, and I acknowledge that in the sense that he is a remote figure of admiration for a lot of people to whom he is otherwise unconnected. The problem is how this relates to me (and all of us) as a fan, but more importantly, as an individual.
Among the things that have been bugging me this week, and many times in the past, is the notion maintained by some fellow fans, whether it is implied or explicitly stated, that Richard Armitage is somehow better than the rest of us and as such, above question or reproach. This is a notion that is central to my issues with hierarchy and I have fundamental problems with it and fan reactions that stem from it insofar as they often seek to discipline the reaction of other fans.
Obviously, Richard Armitage enjoys (?) a celebrity status that I am unlikely to ever attain. It’s a status he’s earned as a practitioner in a workplace that generates celebrities and it’s what drew me to him in the first place – he’s a talented, compelling actor. He also appears to be a genuinely decent human being in a celebrity landscape that is known for a fair amount of questionable behavior. These things make him stand out and are at the heart of why I have spent a whole lot of hours in the past four years offering accolades to his acting talent and admiring his humanitarian spirit. I don’t put that kind of time into people and things I don’t care about.
The thing is, in my universe, these qualities alone don’t serve to nominate him or anyone else to the seemingly infallible, quasi-divine status that some fellow fans insist he is owed. (BTW…I am not saying that he believes this to be true of himself, nor that he can control the reactions of his fans) While I can and do admire Richard Armitage, I don’t believe that celebrity, talent and basic decency make him better or more worthy as a human than me (or us). I know dozens of people who are talented in their careers and who are decent human beings, so those qualities alone are not indicative of perfection or divinity.
I’ve never considered myself to be brimming with self-confidence, but here is what I know for sure in terms of my equality with Richard Armitage…I am of a similar age, of a similar socio-economic upbringing, better educated, well traveled, successful in my career and actively engaged in charitable and humanitarian work. I suspect that I also share a fair amount of similarity with him in terms of social and political leanings. In that sense, I put him basically on the level of a peer. That is, while he is superior to me in wealth and celebrity, he is not in terms of age, education or human experience. As such, while I would never argue that I am “better” than him (seriously…apart from being unsupportable, that is just plain rude) I also reject the notion that I (we) am inferior.
This putative Armitage Superiority Syndrome (I wonder if there is a catch acronym there?) is also at the heart of the other issue that is really getting under my skin lately…that being the increasingly pervasive notion (especially in the Twitterverse) that no one should ever, EVER dare to question or disagree with anything Richard Armitage utters. Apart from being dangerously close to sycophancy of the first degree, this is neither realistic nor healthy within a community.
Since I’ve already established the reasons why I don’t consider myself (or any fan) to be inherently inferior to Richard Armitage, I’m puzzled as to why I (we) must not ever question or disagree with him. Healthy discourse must include both questioning and reasoned critique. I can’t imagine, that as an actor, Richard Armitage has never been on the receiving end of critical analysis of his performances from outsiders. Constructive criticism is key to growth in all manner of areas and is not inherently indicative of censure, disapproval, or disdain (or disrespect, “hating”, etc).
For instance, as a mother, I love my children unreservedly, but my unreserved and unconditional love for them does not mean that I abstain from telling them when they are being idiots. My children are bright, clever and accomplished, but they are far from perfect in their behavior, in fact perfection is a horrible burden to impose on anyone. I consider it my most important job in life to make sure that they understand that while I love them regardless, sometimes their behavior will draw my criticism. When that criticism is offered, it is not out of malice or disrespect, it is to teach them how to make a better decision the next time.
I am also an educator, and a very large part of my job is offering constructive criticism on student performance. Thus, reasoned critique is a central part of both my personal and professional life – both giving and receiving. I don’t seek to humiliate or disrespect anyone, and I don’t think that I’m always right, but I do believe that we all have the right, and perhaps the responsibility to respond or disagree when something seems off to us. This includes when that something is something related to Richard Armitage, yet I have regularly witnessed certain groups of fellow fans who stridently insist that no one has the right to do this.
Here’s where the situation gets out of control for me…increasingly often, the very same fans who insist that Richard Armitage must be sacrosanct from any disagreement or criticism, often labeling even the most benign comments as abusive or bullying, have absolutely no problem with turning right around and launching abhorrent, ugly invective at fellow fans. The circularity of the logic is dizzying!
Here’s what it comes down to for me. Everyone has the right to state their opinions. That means everyone, me, you, Richard Armitage, everyone. However, the right to state an opinion does not negate the rights of others to disagree with that opinion. This applies to everyone as well. Disagreement is not the issue here. Disagreement and reasoned argument are central to healthy discussion. It is when differing opinion morphs into vitriol and attack that discussion dies…and this seems to be happening far too often in fandom these days.
At the end of the day, I can only control my own behavior. I know that there will always be a certain level of dispute within such a varied and diverse group as this fandom, but I might hope that we can all find a way to co-exist without intermittently beating each other up verbally over our varied expressions of regard for the same person.
It’s June in Wisconsin. The trees are green (finally) and the mailbox is full of graduation announcements.
This time of year in the US – this week especially in my environs – marks an important rite of passage toward adulthood…graduation from high school. Every June, thousands of 12th graders don the cap and gown and march (in alphabetical order) across a stage to receive their high school diplomas.
Showbiz was at the graduation ceremony for his school last night…as he was getting ready, hubs gives me a panicked look and says, “Is he graduating tonight?!?” No dear, that’s next year – honestly! Although not a graduate, he was attending since part of the
dog and pony show ceremony included performances by the Concert Choir, featuring the graduating senior members (I had an earful of how he had been stripped of his solo in The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond in favor of a less qualified senior. False modesty is not a problem for Showbiz.) When I dropped him off at call time, the parking lot was already jam packed and he later reported that the ceremony was 2.5 hours long…I cannot wait until next year! *shudder*
Commencement isn’t exactly a rare occurrence for me – my university celebrates one each and every May…I didn’t go this year but I heard it was one for the annals – held in a giant tent on the lawn with snow flurries outside and 90 minutes behind schedule inside. Sounds like my kind of event. Not. Frankly, usually I don’t pay much attention to high school graduation, but this year is a bit different since I just received the invitation for my high school reunion in the mail. It’s sort of a big one – Madonna’s Live to Tell was the number 1 song in the US the year I graduated.
Then I found this: there I am…honor cords, roses, newly short hair and a cast on my right hand from breaking two fingers playing softball for my school a few weeks before (but I made the all conference team U-RA-RA! *ahem*)…at the end of the “Ver’s”. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the tall blond kid behind me. I know the big guy behind him went on to play in the NFL and I can see the flaxen hair of one of my besties back in the “W’s”
Honestly, I don’t remember much about the ceremony. I remember there were two valedictorians – both 4.0 students when 4.0 was something remarkable. I remember being frosty because my class rank was two places below that of a friend because I took Calculus, Chemistry and Physics senior year while she took Band, Choir and Orchestra. I don’t remember the speeches, I don’t remember the songs, but I do remember being of two minds: Excited for the future, but already nostalgic for what I was leaving behind. I think the pomp and circumstance of commencement is designed to elicit exactly those feelings. And then it is gone. What seemed so important then is mere trivia now. Can you believe that not once in the succeeding decades has a single person asked me what my class rank was?! The nerve of every single body! :D
I look back on those days now definitely older, and hopefully wiser. I probably won’t go to my class reunion. I’ve been to a couple over the years, and I find them less than entertaining. I returned to live in the town where I grew up, but I’m not that girl anymore. Yet, when I’m around the assembled gaggle of my high school classmates, the decades seem to fall away and old hierarchies and insecurities return. I didn’t hate high school, but I don’t want to go back either, and that seems to be the general intention of the reunions I’ve attended. It’s a kind of strange dynamic to be in a group of people who seem to have peaked at 17 and are anxious to regain some of that past glory every 10 years over a chicken dinner. I think I’ll pass.
One of the things I’ve tried to impress upon my kids as they struggle through school age trials is that this time is only a bump on a road. That girl who teased MiniMe relentlessly in 5th grade or the teacher who was the bane of Showbiz’ 11th grade existence won’t be nearly so important as they experience more and more of the world. I think it is great to look back, but I definitely encourage them to go forward.
Today’s word is an adjective…the comparative form of brevis…meaning “shorter”or “smaller”.
Way back when, in the early months of Ancient Armitage, I frequently found myself comparing elements of Richard Armitage characterizations to those of the male Olympian deities….Ares, Hades, Poseidon, Hermes, Dionysus, Apollo, Apollo, Apollo…as well as a few heroes and demigods along the way. There are a couple though, who are absent from the list. (I was surprised to realize that I haven’t ever talked directly about Zeus vis a vis the Armitage oeuvre…a rather obvious comparison sprang to mind immediately…note to self.)
The Greek god Hephaestus has been a rather difficult one to nail down…hehehe…Hephaestus, nail. Sorry – got ahead of myself with the mythology pun there. Hephaestus was the Greek god of fire and the forge along with craftsmanship. Metalworkers, stonemasons, architects and sculptors all benefited from his patronage. Like many of the younger generation of Greek deities, Hephaestus’ birth story is varied. Some sources record him as an offspring (along with Ares, Hebe, Eilethyia and Eris) of Zeus and Hera, but others tell a different story. One of the most interesting birth myths for Hephaestus comes from the Theogony of Hesiod. Here Hesiod recounts that Hera had been angered by the fact that Zeus had by himself ushered in “bright-eyed Athena” without a mother, so she decided to try a solo act and produced Hephaestus with no help from Zeus.
Greek mythology is a weird and wacky universe, but what happens next is tragic in an all too modern way. All of the birth myths of Hephaestus record that shortly after his birth, his mother Hera cast him aside because he was born “lame” with a misshapen foot. In fact, she threw him off Mt. Olympos…
“But my son Hephaistos whom I bare was weakly among all the blessed gods and shrivelled of foot, a shame and a disgrace to me in heaven, whom I myself took in my hands and cast out so that he fell in the great sea. But silver-shod Thetis the daughter of Nereus took and cared for him with her sisters: would that she had done other service to the blessed gods!’”
– Homeric Hymn to Apollo
With a mother like that, who needs a wicked stepmother? Even so, as often happens with children and mothers, Hephaestus evidently forgave her, which only set him up for more agony – both physical and emotional. In another prominent myth, he was back on Olympos and attempted to help Hera escape a punishment from Zeus. His reward for this was to once again be flung off the sacred mountain – this time by Zeus himself. All of these rocky landings left physical marks on Hephaestus. He is the only one of the Greek deities who is consistently referred to as less than physically perfect and divinely beautifu – in fact, common epithets of his are Ἀμφιγύεις (the lame one) and Κυλλοποδίων (halting one) in reference to his damaged legs.
Even though he is the butt of more than one godly joke – including those about his constantly cheating wife Aphrodite – when the Greek deities want top quality workmanship, they turn to Hephaestus again and again – Hephaestus Χαλκεύς (coppersmith) or Κλυτοτέχνης (renowned craftsman). From forging chains strong enough to contain Prometheus for his daily liver extraction to the delicate craftsmanship of the Armor of Achilles, Hephaestus was the god for the job.
I can’t recall what I was thinking about last week when it occurred to me that there was perhaps a similar figure in the Armitage repertoire of characters. A character who was born imperfect, abused, neglected and ridiculed…like Hephaestus, at the hands of a powerful maternal figure. A character bearing scars, both physical and emotional that would follow him into adulthood.
Hannibal’s Francis Dolarhyde, born with a cleft palate and victimized by an abusive grandmother, is clearly still impacted by the shame and ridicule of his childhood when we see him in the company lunchroom…buttoned up to the wrists and neck. Circumspect. Self-conscious. Solitary.
Yet there is another side to this broken creature…a side that the people around him don’t see. (and not the murdery side…)
Leaving aside the grisly nature of the product that he’s working on, here is Francis Dolarhyde, skilled craftsman – complete in ancient Greek craftsmanship wardrobe – mostly naked!
Despite the increasing horror and madness of the man, there is no denying that there is also an enormous amount of skill and “craftsmanship” that goes into the planning and execution of all he does. He couldn’t remain undetected so long, then successfully fake his own death and nearly succeed in toppling Hannibal himself without being a master “craftsman” of sorts.
Eureka Francis Dolarhyde!
DUBIUM – today’s Latin word is a 2nd declension neuter noun that means DOUBT.
For instance…in light of Richard Armitage’s latest tweet about the loan of a Gibson Les Paul model guitar,
one might conjecture that perhaps there is a pending biopic of an iconic Les Paul favoring guitarist….
However, talented as he is, I have DUBIUM that Richard Armitage will be playing Slash😀
No DUBIUM a little G-n-R is in order…
Rock on Armitageworld!