I’ve been wondering…

In addition to my home life, my regular teaching gig, my volunteer work (I’m looking at you VBS!) and of course, intensive devotion to Richard Armitage studies, I have another little hobby.  Every so often I design and lead tour groups to Greece.   We visit remnants of a storied past….

Acropolis of Athens

Acropolis of Athens

Charming mountain towns…


Dimitsana, Arcadia

A plethora of seaside tavernas…for fun in the sun, or in the shade 🙂

greece beach taverna

Greece is one of my favorite places in the world, and I love bringing people there and showing them paths less traveled.  My last trip was in 2011, and I think I’ve been missing Greece since I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.  Then a thought occurred…what if I combined my two favorite hobbies – travel to Greece and Richard Armitage fandom? 

Actually, Guylty and I were giggling about this topic via email a while back and I started to think about it again this week.  So,  I’ve been wondering if anyone out there in Armitageworld would have an interest in a fun filled vacation with plenty of inspiRAtion for conversation.  (**I’m not in league with any travel agent or tour company and stand  to gain nothing  but the pleasure of your company 🙂  )    I’d think about late spring or early fall of 2014 or even 2015… Am I crazy?    Wait, don’t answer that   : )

OT: Inappropriate dinner conversation round 2…

Sometimes I sit at the dinner table with my kids and wonder, “Who’s responsible for these kids?!”  Oh right, that would be me!  Allow me to set the scene.  Sunday afternoons in the summer often find me at my parents’ house.  My kids love to hang out with their grandparents, and especially love Grandma and Grandpa’s pool in the summer.   Our house was the neighborhood hangout when my sister and I were kids.  We lived outside of town, and why trek over hill and dale to the community human stew – er, I mean pool, when we could swim in the back yard.  No brainer for us and all of the neighborhood kids.  There has been a pool at my parents” house for 35 years now – every so often my dad rumbles about getting rid of it, but I think that he secretly likes having people take him up on the open invitation to “come out and swim.”

If I play my cards right, an afternoon of swimming often turns into dinner…my dad also loves to cook, and doesn’t know how to cook for less than a battalion.  There’s always enough for everyone, especially if my daughter has been dropping “subtle” hints since church about what she wants for supper.  So, like many other Sunday’s, we sit down to eat.  Here’s the typical arrangement:

The relative size of Mini Me's space reflects the fact that even though she's the smallest, she demands the most space!

The relative size of Mini Me’s space reflects the fact that even though she’s the smallest, she demands the most space!

So far so good, the meal proceeds without incident apart from the resident space invader constantly bleeding across into my area to alert me that she needs something cut or passed to her.  We are finishing up, Dad and Mini Me have left the table and #1 Son has begun taking dishes to the sink when I hear my sister start wheezing and look over to see her shoulders shaking as she gasps for breath saying, ” ‘Nice phallic meal‘  he says.”  Evidently #1 Son made an in sotte voce editorial comment about the menu of corn on the cob and bratwurst as he passed by her on his way to the sink.

So he's not wrong, but c'mon!!

So he’s not wrong, but c’mon!!

Do other peoples’ kids talk like this?  Is it normal that a soon to be 15 year old high school freshman even knows the word phallic, much less uses it in the proper, albeit questionably appropriate, context?  It’s probably my fault for talking about ancient culture too much!  I will own that we have pretty open dialogue policy in our house…not much is out of bounds topically, although I do try to keep conversations to an age appropriate level around Mini Me….however, since she seems to be a 26 year old woman living in an 8 year old girl, I’m constantly challenged.

Part of the problem, I think, is that my kids seem to have inherited some irresistible impulse to instigate mayhem.  They know what acceptable boundaries are, but they are constantly inspired to cross them and see what happens…ask me about the time Mini Me dropped the F-bomb on Christmas Eve…they know better, they just go ahead and do it anyway.  One thing is certain, even when dinner conversation is more tame – this past Sunday included monkeys and their disposable thumbs and the average weight of adult giraffes (1600-1800 lbs) – life is rarely boring chez moi!

ὅ παῖς καλός – Richard Armitage: Curls, glorious curls!

*Humming the tune from Oliver…*

Curls glorious curls

Oh please can I touch them?  Everybody now…curls, glorious curls!

The Armitageworld blogosphere has been buzzing since the release of images from the red carpet for the Wellington Premeire of World’s End revealed Richard Armitage sporting slightly longer hair with delicious curls, especially at his nape.

Richard Armitage walks the red carpet in Wellington July 13, 2013 Source:  www.richardarmitagenet.com

Richard Armitage walks the red carpet in Wellington July 13, 2013
Source: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com

Perry of Armitage Agonistes threw down the gauntlet here for me to connect those winsome waves to examples from the classical tradition – challenge accepted!  (I didn’t want to do laundry today anyway 🙂 )

References to curls are fairly uncommon in the literary tradition, but I did find a doozy!  In Book XVII of the Iliad, the action centers around the battle for the body of Patroklos, the cousin of Achilles who had been killed by the Trojan prince Hektor.  In the process of the battle, another Trojan hero, Euphorbos is killed.  Homer describes the fallen as folllows:

homer curls

For those not familiar with myrtle blossoms (I had to look them up) they do have a certain curl along the edge of each flower, and do resemble cropped curls when in bunches.  Myrtle blossoms had multiple uses in Greek ritual practice, so Homer’s metaphor would have been quite vivid to his original audience.

myrtle blossom

I found one depiction of the fight for Euphorbos’ body, but unfortunately, his notably curly hair is hidden under his helmet.

Curls obscured...Fight for the body of Euphorbos Source:  Wikimedia

Curls obscured…Fight for the body of Euphorbos
Source: Wikimedia

Greek art is littered with images of curly haired men.  Close cropped curls, long spiral curls, loose wavy curls, curls, curls, curls.  For me though, the most iconic head of hair in the classical tradition is that of Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ Μέγας – Alexander the Great.  Alexander conquered much of the known world by the age of 30 and was not known for his modesty.  Portraits of him abound, and one thing is always striking – his gorgeous wavy hair.  The faces of the portraits vary to a degree, but Alexanders are almost instantly recognizable as long as the hair is intact.

Portrait Bust of Alexander - British Museum Source:  Wikimedia Commons

Portrait Bust of Alexander – British Museum
Source: Wikimedia Commons

"Alexander Mosaic" from Pompeii Even his horse has flowing wavy locks... Source:  Wikimedia

“Alexander Mosaic” from Pompeii
Even his horse (his name was Bucephalos) has flowing wavy locks…
Source: Wikimedia

Macedonia coin of Alexander as Ammon *note the nape curls everyone! Source:  Wikimedia

Macedonia coin of Alexander as Ammon
*note the nape curls everyone!
Source: Wikimedia

Let’s come in a little closer on captivating curls of Richard Armitage shall we?

Exhibit C...for curls obviously! Source:  www.richardarmitagenet.com (my zoom/crop)

Exhibit C…for curls obviously!
Source: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com (my zoom/crop)

Pardon the pixelation, but I submit that if someone were to get his or her fingers in there and tousle up those neatly combed waves… any volunteers?  I thought so…get in line!  My blog, I get to go first 🙂 ….  Sorry, my point was that if we ran our fingers through his hair a bit he’d come out the other side with a vertibly Alexandrine ‘do.  I have to go and compose myself now…ὅ παῖς καλός!!

Sing to me, O Muse! : Richard Armitage and InspiRAtion

For those who don’t know, I live in Wisconsin.  In addition to a reputation for cheese and beer, Wisconsin is a state prone to wild swings in weather.  Subzero temperatures and snow falling by the foot in the winter, extreme heat and humidity in the summer.

This never seems to get old to me...

This never seems to get old to me…

Today is one of those “dog days of summer” that makes me remember the icy winds of January fondly – there’s no pleasing some people is there?  To make things even better, the A/C is out in my car, and now the passenger window had decided not to open.  Suffice it to say that today’s fifty minute commute in 90+ degree heat left me feeling more than a little wilted.  I arrived at my office in need of some serious inspiration!

I walked into the office and this is what I see:

Making special note of circled area...

Magnetic wall in my office:  make special note of circled area…

Ahhh,  I’m feeling better already!  I love the 1st birthday cake pic of my daughter and the collage of Greece, but Richard Armitage seems to act as some sort of balm for me from time to time.  Suddenly, I was feeling inspired, so I mapped out another section of Recovery.

When it comes to inspiRAtion for me (and a whole lot of others in the fandom from the looks of it) Richard Armitage certainly functions as a personal Muse.  The Greek Muses were a collection of goddesses who functioned as the personification and “patron” divinities of arts, literature and science.  The earliest references name three, but by the classical period their number was firmly set at nine.  They are most often identified as the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (the personification of memory).  The Greeks believed that The Muses epitomized the arts and inspired creativity through their own artistic and literary works.  By the later Hellenistic period, each Muse became associated with a particular genre of creativity and could be identified visually by an emblem or attribute.

muses table

Even earlier than this it became customary for writers to call upon the Muses for inspiration at the beginning of a literary work.  Below are the first lines of three famous poems:

muse quotes

Homer is “writing” very early in the Greek literary tradition, so it is in no way surprising that he does not refer to a particular Muse by name (in this case Calliope, since The Iliad and The Odyssey are epic poems), but simply refers to her as “Goddess” or “Muse”.  The Latin poet Vergil, writing in the 1st century BC, would have been well aware that Calliope was the Muse specific to epic poetry, but rather than name her, he also simply invokes the “Muse”.  This is almost certainly a deliberate homage to Homer.  Regardless, this tradition of calling upon a Muse for inspiration was one started by the Greeks that is still in use today.

I think it might be rather difficult to associate Richard Armitage with a specific area of inspiration…he seems to inspire many different people in a variety of different ways.  Some are inspired to create original artworks based on him or one of the characters he brought to life, others write stories or poems while still others create fan vids or write and record original songs.  Everytime I think I’ve seen it all, something new emerges.

One thing though seems to be timeless… “Sing to me O Muse, a song of…..SQUEEEE!!”

Look...even the interviewer is doing it!!  Source:  www.richardarmitagenet.com

Look…even the interviewer is doing it!!
Source: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com

Given his immense and, seemingly, effortless ability to inspire, perhaps we really should inaugurate a new Muse:

Armitage bumps out Sappho as the 10th Muse... Source:  Wikimedia with a little help from richardarmitagenet.com

Armitage bumps out Sappho as the 10th Muse…
Source: Wikimedia with a little help from richardarmitagenet.com

John Standring and Orpheus: “Haunted” Lovers

I’ve yet to touch on Richard Armitage’s portrayal of John Standring in Sparkhouse, the BBC’s 2002 take on Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.  A question from Guylty (Hi Guylty!) about stories of haunted lovers in the classical tradition started the wheels cranking, and here we are.

What the modern mind would call  “love stories” are rare in the classical tradition.  Romantic love does not seem to have been viewed with much favor in the ancient world.  In a period where marriages were social and economic contracts between families, love had no place in the equation.  The notion that a couple would marry for reasons of emotional attachment was ludicrous – perhaps such an attachment might grow over time, but it was certainly not grounds for making such an important connection.  Usually, classical “love stories” have less than happy endings.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of stories of infatuation and lust in the classical tradition…stories like Achilles and Penthesilea, Apollo and Daphne, and many others touch on these themes, but rarely is there the boy and girl fall in love beyond place and time variety.  More often than not, someone ends up dead (usually the woman/nymph) and the other party (usually the man/god/hero) recovers nicely, largely unfazed by his brush with love.

One myth that breaks the mold a bit on this pattern is the story of Orpheus and Eurydice.  As with many mythological figures, there are a variety of stories of his birth, life and death, but all of the authors agree that Orpheus was the greatest of all the Greek musicians.  His skill as a singer and lyre player were so great that it was said that he could calm wild animals with his songs.

Orpheus soothes the wild beasts from  Museo archeologico regionale di Palermo Source: Wikimedia Commons

Orpheus soothes the wild beasts Roman Mosaic in Museo archeologico regionale di Palermo
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The love of Orpheus’ life was a woman named Eurydice, but their love was short lived.  On their wedding day, while dancing through a meadow to Orpheus’ song, Eurydice was bitten by a snake and died. Orpheus was so devastated by her death that he traveled to the Underworld to bring her back.  This is usually a big no-go for the Greeks…heroes go to the Underworld, but only to converse, never to reverse.  However, Orpheus’ song was so beautiful that it charmed the King and Queen of the Dead (Hades and Persephone) into releasing Eurydice, and lulled the three headed hound Cerberus to sleep so that the reunited couple could sneak by him on their way out.  There was one condition of Eurydice’s release though…Orpheus was not allowed to look back to make sure she was still following him….

orpheus and eurydice

Orpheus and Eurydice – figure on far left is Hermes Psychopompos (leader of souls) preparing to take Eurydice back to the Underworld …
Source: Wheat Ridge, Colorado. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc42461/.

You guessed it, Orpheus couldn’t resist temptation and was compelled to look back to assure himself Eurydice was there.  That was a deal breaker and Eurydice was returned permanently to the Underworld.  Orpheus was so distraught that he removed himself to the remotest reaches of the wilderness, turning away from humankind and playing his sad, sad song to the animals.  That is until the day he ran afoul of some maenads…

Death of Orpheus Source: Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum

Death of Orpheus
Source: Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum

It never ends well for Greek men who meet up with a group of maenads…suffice it to say the Orpheus was killed in heinous fashion (some later art focuses on only his head, if you get my drift)  Not exactly a fairy tale ending, but it is a love story where the hero is moved to action by love.  It’s the whole fate thing that trips him up – for the Greeks, there is no avoiding fate.

(Interestingly, Plato, in the Symposium criticizes Orpheus as a coward for trying to bring his love back to the living rather than simply joining her in death – once again, the connection between love and death.)

John Standring...who wouldn't love him? Source:  www.richardarmitagenet.com

John Standring…who wouldn’t love him?
Source: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com

How does sweet John Standring fit into this mess?  Well, he’s not a great musician, but he does exude a remarkable kindness, a sweetness, that is very compelling to Carol…she is attracted to it, even against her better judgement that she will inevitably hurt him.  John is willing to go above and beyond for Carol in virtually everyway, but fate had another plan…

"Don't be afraid to tell me things..." *sigh* Source:  www.richardarmitagenet.com

“Don’t be afraid to tell me things…” *sigh*
Source: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com

Carol wants to stay with him, she knows he’s good for her, but something is pulling her back…

John helps Carol out of the ruins... Source:  www.richardarmitagenet.com

John helps Carol out of the ruins…
Source: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com

In this scenario, Carol’s destructive passion for Andrew is the Underworld – it exerts an inexorable pull on her…one that she, like Eurydice, cannot resist, one which leads her away from life, from John.  The closing frames of Sparkhouse show John, with Lisa’s help, leading Carol away from the ruins of her doomed desire for Andrew…although the film leaves it to the viewer to decide their ultimate fate, I can’t help but think that their future is not much brighter than that of Orpheus…lingering in the remnants of haunted love.

et alia: So you want to write RAcy fanfiction? Caveat Scriptor: Learn how to password protect files


I have long since given up any expectation of privacy in my house. I have a husband, two children and two cats…suffice it to say, I am rarely alone and when I am, it is a transitory state. Case in point: One day this week, I was in the bathroom (ah, not taking a bath) when my daughter bursts in carrying my iPad. The conversation goes something like this…

Me: “Can I help you?”

Mini Me: “I wanna show you something!”

Me: “Can it wait until I have pants on?”

Mini Me (as if she didn’t hear me): “Look at this kitten…it’s a mini Oreo (one of our cats)”

Me: “Yes, it does look like him, but…”

Mini Me: “Look at this one…it’s a mini Cinnamon (the other cat)”

Me: “Yes honey, can you please get out? Now!”

She looks at me again, perplexed as to why I’m not more enthusiastic about the kitten pictures she’s recently discovered on Craigslist (I’d like to take a moment to thank my sister for turning her on to this!) before she shrugs and heads out, leaving the door wide open. *SIGH* It is a day in the life around my house.

My son is a bit more cautious since becoming a teenager, but it doesn’t stop him from barging into my room to ask a question and then shrieking about whatever state of undress he found me in…UM, the door was closed dude – ever heard of knocking?

The lack of physical privacy has become so routine that I hardly notice it anymore. Maybe I never did since I grew up in a household that didn’t place much of a prohibition on family nudity. Shocking, I know, since I’m American, and moreover from the Midwest. My East Coast husband is much more uptight about it….maybe it’s because he’s a Catholic and I’m a prostitute – I mean a Protestant – I’m not sure 🙂

I will admit that despite my slightly hippie upbringing in the nudity department, I was completely at a loss the first time I went to the beach in Greece with my Scandinavian digmates…I didn’t know where to look as bikini tops went flying and the guys were swimming in white cotton boxer shorts…that’s a lot of information!

Anyhow, physical privacy aside, I’ve found out recently, that I need to take more care to protect my digital privacy – not from hackers or identity thieves, but from a much more pernicious threat – my family. Despite the fact that there are personal personal computers in the house for each of us, in addition to the smart phones and tablets, everyone, at one point or another everyone ends up on my laptop. I’ve thought about password protecting the whole thing, but that just gets to be a hassle everytime Mini Me wants to watch I, Carly in the kitchen or Obsurus needs to check his bank balance and his laptop is taking too long to boot (I warned him about Vista!). Sooner or later they will end up where I’d rather they not be…in my fan fics.

I’ve talked here about the *dangers* of allowing one’s spouse to read one’s RAcy writing. A whole second danger is the voracious early reader. My fourteen year old son is completely skeeved by any and all notions of parental sexuality, so he avoids any evidence of it like the plague. My soon to be eight year old daughter hasn’t gotten to that point yet. She is an avid and inquistive reader, and anything she happens across is fair game. So far it’s only been Christmas lists and other “secret” missives, but I would really rather not have to explain the contents of some of the files on my hard drive to her just yet. So, if you don’t want unauthorized readers of your RAcy fanfics, Caveat Scriptor: just say yes to password protect!

Here is the process in MSOffice - Mac users, you're on your own...

Here is the process in MSOffice – Mac users, you’re on your own…


Hair’s to you Richard Armitage! (I’m sorry – I had to do it!)

**WARNING** :  There may be an excessive number of alliterative hair descriptions below…

This week’s  “oof” installment, with it’s discussion of Thorin’s luscious locks started me thinking about hair.  Maybe it’s a holdover of my hard rock days, but I have a soft spot for long haired men – in theory at least.  There is just something wild and untamed about a man with a magnificent mane…something powerful perhaps.  There is ample indication from a variety of cultures of the significance placed on unshorn hair.  It had a variety of meanings to different people…To the Nazirites of the Hebrew Bible (most famously Samson) unshorn hair was a source of power and strength.  To the Gaelic Irish, long hair was a symbol of allegiance to Ireland as it was infiltrated by colonial forces.  To the Sikhs it represents the strength and vitality of the whole religious community.   For many cultures hair can be a  “crowning glory” or when shorn, an indication of abject humiliation and scorn.

Although long hair seems to have been common for men in earlier periods of Greek history, after the 6th century BC there are clear indications that shorter hair became much more customary. (the Spartans being the exception to the rule.)  It’s not surprising that the increasingly militaristic nature of Greek culture in the 6th and 5th centuries BC would produce a trend toward shorter male hair…long hair must have been a decided disadvantage on the battlefield.  I’ve always been intrigued by some of the characterizations of the Persians as being overly coiffured and perfumed…for the 5th century Greeks this effeminate characterization of a feared and hated enemy was empowering.   While there are some Greeks who are represented as long haired in this period, the character who most regularly sports long, luxurious tresses is the god Dionysus.  This is doubly interesting to me since Dionysus is one of the gods in the Greek pantheon whose origins are not exactly clear.  There are several conflicting birth stories, and a lot of other stories that suggest at least some degree of connection between this deity and the exotic  East. (the Persians fall into that category as well…the Greeks were at once intrigued and repulsed by various elements of eastern cultures)

Dionysus and a satyr Source: http://www.theoi.com/Gallery/K12.3.html

Dionysus and a satyr
Source: http://www.theoi.com/Gallery/K12.3.html

Dionysus by Kleophrades Painter Source?  pantherfile.uwm.edu

Dionysus by Kleophrades Painter
Source: http://www.pantherfile.uwm.edu

A relative latecomer into the pantheon, Dionysus was established as the youngest of the Olympian gods.  He is associated with the theater, but particularly with wine and reveling.  The vase paintings above show us the typical look of Dionysus.  He is most often depicted wearing elaborate Eastern Greek style robes and is often found in the company of satyrs and maenads.  One other main attribute of Dionysus is his elaborately styled curls and beard.   “Back in the day”  I used to pay big money and sit in the stylist’s chair for hours to achieve the kind of spiral curls that Dionysus wears.  Take a close look at his beard and you will see that some artistry has been applied there as well, to articulate the edges into individual curls.  Dionysus’ whole look is something that would have been a bit suspect to the average Greek, who after the Persian Wars, was inherently suspicious of things with an eastern tang.  The cult of Dionysus was at once a mainstream part of Greek polytheism, and also on the fringe.  There were ecstatic and orgiastic qualities of the cult practice that made more than a few Greeks uneasy…one only needs to read Euripides’ The Bachhae to witness what the cult of Dionysus might get up to.   For Dionysus, long curling locks represented an exotic, mysterious nature.

Love it or hate it, it seems that long hair on men is here to stay (My son is currently sporting a look that is somewhere between Dionysus and Shaggy -*sigh*  there are much bigger battles to be won!)  I love Richard Armitage and his most common close cropped style, but I have to say, the man can certainly rock the wigs and hair extensions…

Whether it is as Sir Guy of Greasy Locks….boozy and tormented in Robin Hood S3 Episode 1…

Sir Greasy...*ahem* I mean Sir Guy Source:  www.richardarmitagenet.com

Sir Greasy…*ahem* I mean Sir Guy
Source: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com

Or a gloriously coiffured Sir Guy returned and ready for action after a trip to Price John’s personal stylist in S3 Epidsode 5…

Sir Guy of Gorgeous... Source:  www.richardarmitagenet.com

Sir Guy of Gorgeous…
Source: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com

Or Thorin in the moonlight remembering a painful past…

Remembering past battles... Source:  www.richardarmitagenet.com

Remembering past battles…
Source: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com

Or Thorin preparing for yet another fight….

Thorin bracing for a threat... Source:  www.richardarmitagenet.com

Thorin bracing for a threat…
Source: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com

Or Thorin…who am I kidding?!  There are just way too many examples of Thorin’s uncrowned glory – and with two films still to come – the mind boggles!  Suffice it to say that Richard Armitage can hair act with the best of them!!