That’s right – it’s my blogiversary….my SECOND blogiversary!!  

ribbons gif

Before I go any further I want to say THANK YOU to each and every person who has ever passed through here…even the spammers!   I am always mildly surprised to look at my stats…“Well look at that – there are people who come here…and then come back for more!”  🙂  It is a highlight of my day to see new people wander in and look around, and especially to “talk” with friends I’ve made in this virtual world.

Two years, and I feel like I have only scratched the surface of things to talk about…I have yet to finish my tour through the Olympian Gods (I’ve been kind of dabbling with Poseidon lately…I wonder if there’s a water hazard coming up on Pilgrimage?)  I was looking over the Roman Virtues yesterday and realized there’s plenty more of those to cover.  Of course, once I solve my download issues, I will finally tackle the Sophocles-Armitage connection vis-à-vis The Crucible.  Things have definitely slowed down here lately as I’ve been trying to adjust to my new career situation.  With massive budget cuts looming, I imagine there will be angst on that front for some time.  All the more reason to spend more time here….budget cuts I can’t do much about…Richard Armitage and the Classical Tradition?  I’m all over that!

So, how to mark the 2nd Blogiversary?  I was thinking about it yesterday, and of course I clicked right over to the “Anniversary Gifts by Year” website to investigate.  Anniversary two is traditionally marked by gifts of the COTTON variety.  Hmmm…what sort of cotton mementos could I come up with?

An appropriately blog themed T-shirt?

blogiversary shirt

Not a bad choice….could do it in a variety of fashion colors…

What else?  Linens maybe?

Hmmm -  tempting... Source

Hmmm – tempting…

I thought about it…for about a minute.   I already have a king sized pillow that my husband refers to as my “boyfriend” – he’s a pretty good sport, but I’m guessing this might be slightly OTT even for him.

However…with some modification…

Perfect! (Is there anything you can't customize on the internet?)

(Is there anything you can’t customize on the internet?)

I can see it now…my own line of Ancient Armitage cotton apparel and linens!


Bummer: 0 for 3 on The Crucible download…

Three tries, same laptop, different internet servers.  Best result:  97% complete…APP CRASH.

I KNOW - It's really pissing me off too!! Source

I KNOW – It’s really pissing me off too!!

I have had no problem streaming – apart from finding the requisite time, but I want that *bleep* download I paid for.  I guess I have to bite the bullet and contact Digital Theatre.  While I’m sure their technicials will be perfectly polite,



I find IT conversations perfectly excruciating…

But, at least it’s Friday right?!

Happy Weekend Armitageworld!

θηλή? papilla? It’s all nipple to me Richard Armitage

How does that Shakespeare quote go again? “What’s in a name…would a nipple by any other name still be…um…nipply?”

(Yeah, Yeah…most abject apologies to the bard and all…)

I was complaining to friends on Friday that I was beyond bored and Armitageworld was silent as a crypt with everyone occupied a la Crucible.  Then Saturday happened…Nipplegate Saturday (like Fat Tuesday and Black Friday!)  The resounding swell of spoofing does my satirical self good.  Far be it from me to let an opportunity pass me by, so I bring you a brief chronological survey of some ancient Greco-Roman nippleage?  Nipplage?

Late Bronze Age Nipples (2000-1200 BC)

"Prince of the Lilies" Archaeological Museum of Iraklion

“Prince of the Lilies”  (my circles)
Archaeological Museum of Iraklion

The painted plaster is damaged, but you can still make them out if you look closely…but then again, who notices nipples with that amazing hat?!  Too subtle?  This next image is one that I use in every survey class I teach:

Minoan "Snake Goddess" from Knossos, Crete

Minoan “Snake Goddess”
from Knossos, Crete

No class, it’s not her bared breasts or her nipples…it’s the SNAKES people – and maybe the bird perched on her head…and her pomegranate wreath fertility hat.  Nipples?  Totally mundane here.

Archaic Nipples (750-490 BC)

 (there are no Iron Age Nipples…I’ve looked everywhere, but since there is no figured art in Greece from 1100 – 800, alas, no nips)

Anavysos Kouros

Anavysos Kouros

Originally a grave marker, I have to admit that Kroisos is much more renowned for his thunderous thighs than his rather petite nipples.

My avatar dates to roughly this same period…lo and behold – Nipples!

Enthroned Zeus (fragement of ceramic cup) MMA Rogers Fund, 1911

Enthroned Zeus
(fragement of ceramic cup) MMA Rogers Fund, 1911


Kritios Boy Acropolis Museum - Athens

Kritios Boy
Acropolis Museum – Athens

Yep he has nipples, but he’s much more important because he is sculpted in a style that clearly marks the transition from the late Archaic to the Early Classical – or Severe Style.

High Classical Nipples (480-400 BC)

Centaur AND Lapith Nipples

Centaur AND Lapith Nipples

The sculptural program of the Athenian Parthenon is considered the epitome of the High Classical Style…yet nipples, human and semi human, abound!

Hellenistic Baroque Nipples (300-30 BC)

Farnese Hercules National Archaeological Museum, Naples

Farnese Hercules
National Archaeological Museum, Naples

Considering that this rendition of Hercules is well over life sized, those are some super huge Hellenistic hero nipples!

Even the Roman’s got into the Nipple Act Nipples

Prima Porta Augustus Vatican Museum

Prima Porta Augustus
Vatican Museum

In this, most likely posthumous, depiction of the Augustus, the divine emperor is shown in military garb with an elaborately detailed cuirass or breastplate.  The scene on it depicts the diplomatic high point of his long career – The Return of the Parthian Standards.  Right above that?  Fake nipples to go along with the fake navel which serve to model the natural male form on the cuirass. Here’s the thing.  They’re nipples.  All mammals have them, and occasionally they peek out of a costume through the deliberate design of the costume designer.

The smoking gun of Nipplegate. Source:  Thorinbaconshield

The smoking gun of Nipplegate. (psst…I’m pretty sure Richard Armitage knows his nip is showing…)
Source: Thorinbaconshield

No one will convince me that this particular hole placement was not deliberate and was not designed to produce a particular effect.  Frankly, human chests look a little odd without nipples…kind of like faces without eyebrows.  In this particular case, with this particular actor, people were intended to notice…intended to react, and it’s neither criminal nor a mark of depravity to do so. People have been noticing the nipples on classical sculpture for centuries, so I’m fairly certain that I have not degraded hundreds of years of classical scholarship by pertly pointing them out here.  I am equally certain that the reality of fans noticing, with appreciation, a nipple revealed by a costume gap, has by no means denigrated or desecrated their appreciation of the artist or the gravity of the work he produced. Class dismissed.

“A book is a dream you hold in your hand.”

-Neil Gaiman

I couldn’t agree more, which is one reason that I absolutely LOVE the SpReAd the Love Children’s Book Challenge.  Books have always been a big part of my life.  I’ve been an avid reader since childhood and I chose a profession that can be decidedly bookish in nature.  My bookshelves overfloweth!  Not surprisingly, my kids also have tons of books…the one thing that I almost never refuse to purchase when asked.  Each of them has a mini library ranging from childhood favorite picture books to age appropriate (and inappropriate – hard to find age appropriate books for a nine year old who reads at the high school level – MiniMe is currently reading Divergent) books of both the fiction and non-fiction variety.

In addition to being active readers, both of my kids are emergent writers with huge imaginations.  It’s no wonder that the thought of children without access to books is heartbreaking to me.  For kids whose real lives are full of far too many, far too adult realities, a book really can be a dream.  A paperback means to escape from that reality and immerse in imagination for awhile.  The SpReAd the Love Children’s Book Challenge helps make this possible.  My donations this year are a childhood favorite and a slightly sinister selection of award winners which I dropped off this week.

Here’s a really cool bonus that I stumbled on last year…a way to get “more bang” for your donated books:


From March 1-31, Half Price Books (which has locations in several US states) will match donations of children’s titles book for book.  The Half Pint Library Book Drive culminates in Giveaway Events held in the month of April where the books are given to schools and non-profit organizations.  It’s a great event that puts books into the hands of children who might not otherwise have them.  MiniMe had the day off of school on Monday (for some undetermined reason) so we (MiniMe, sleepover buddy and me) headed off to drop off our books.  My selections plus a few more that MiniMe and Showbiz parted with, added up to 20 books…which became 40 books when we placed them into the donation bin.  It’s a good feeling for sure!  The links will take you to more information about the drive.  If you are close to a Half Price Books location, it’s definitely worth taking a look.

I also really dig their mascot…what is that?  A bookworm?!

It’s D-Day Richard Armitage!

download poem

Errr..right, not quitting the day job.  Of course D-Day in these parts means the long awaited Worldwide Download of the Digital Theatre’s production of The Old Vic’s The Crucible.  

I was right there with everyone else…I had a great plan.  It’s Spring Break.  The campus – and more importantly, the web server – is virtually empty.  I hooked my computer to the web via a nice, sturdy Ethernet cable and away I went.  When I finally managed to enter my credit card info correctly (after three operator errors on my part) the purchase went smoothly.

crucible download

There it is…in my Digital Theatre Library – along with my purchase of the “Exclusive Interview” (we’ll pretend that the original audience wasn’t there…more exclusive that way really 😉  )  Since I’m not able to devote 3 hours 19 minutes today, I proceeded to the download.  The player and some Adobe utility downloaded rapidly and then came the main attraction – The Crucible. (At 6.5GB in HD, I made the right decision to NOT download the file to my iPad…I like you a lot Richard Armitage, but I’m not purging 99.5% of the apps on my 8GB free to me iPad for you.  Sorry.)  

Here’s where we run into a bit of a snag…I employed the stopwatch app on my phone shortly after the download started and didn’t move from 0% complete.  After 1:17:39, it was still only 3% complete (that’s .195GB if you’re keeping score).  Speedy…like dial up speedy!  Good thing I already knew I wasn’t going to be able to watch…

tearing hair crop

…or I might still be hoarse from ululating and half bald from tearing my hair in despair!  Unlike the ladies above (funeral mourners), I’ll live to download another day (my hair intact, thank you!), so I figured I might as well cancel out of the download and make room on the Digital Theatre server for someone else…You’re welcome!  😉

Best of luck to those still in the queque!

SpReAd the Love Children’s Book Challenge: “Death by Newbery”

Last year, when I was trying to convince my oldest to write up something for the children’s book challenge, I threw out a couple of titles…one of them being The Bridge to Terabithia, at which point he threw up his hands muttered something about it being a complete mind f#$k and then said clearly…”No way.  I’m not promoting ‘Death by Newbery‘”

OK…so I bit.

Me:  “Death by Newbery?  What is that?”

Him:  “The marked regularity that either a sibling, a virtuous best friend, a wise advisor or a beloved pet will meet an untimely death – for which the book wins a prestigious literary prize.”  (Yes, he actually talks like that.)

End of conversation – he refused to participate, I posted Everyone Poops on his behalf.


Fast forward one year, and here I am again, hovering around a familiar theme.  First, a bit of background excerpted from Wikipedia:

The John Newbery Medal is a literary award given by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of theAmerican Library Association (ALA). The award is given to the author of “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.”[1] Named for John Newbery, an 18th-century English publisher of juvenile books, the Newbery was proposed by Frederic G. Melcher in 1921, making it the first children’s book award in the world.[2]:1 The medal was designed by Rene Paul Chambellan and depicts an author giving his work (a book) to a boy and a girl to read.

(The British Carnegie Medal is similar and has a similar death toll evidently)

Dating back to 1922, the list of Newbery winners and honorees is a veritible Who’s Who in American juvenile literature, so I thought I’d scan through it and pick out some winners that I’d read and see how the “Death by Newbery” trope held up.

Spoiler alert…if you haven’t read these books…well, you know…

1953 – Charlotte’s Webb by E.B. White:   I was absolutely gutted when you know who died…and then was gutted again when I read this book to each of my children.  Wise advisor dies – reader gutted.  Check.

1970 – Sounder by William H. Armstrong.  Summed up beautifully by Wallace Wallace in No More Dead Dogs:

“The dog always dies. Go to the library and pick out a book with an award sticker and a dog on the cover. Trust me, that dog is going down.”


1978 – Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson:  C’mon!  Is this really a kid’s book?!

I was somewhat surprised to find that another of my childhood favorites…the book that started this whole conversation last year, Where the Red Fern Grows by Winston Rawls is not on the Newbery winner list…it certainly fits the bill.   It’s a coming of age story about a boy and his two beloved Redbone Coonhounds that culminates in one dog dying protecting the boy from a mountain lion and the other pining away and laying down to die on the grave of her dead companion. The boy buries his dogs and returns later to find a sacred red fern growing on their graves.  Reflecting back on it as an adult he says,

“I’m sure the red fern has grown and has completely covered the two little mounds. I know it is still there, hiding its secret beneath those long, red leaves, but it wouldn’t be hidden from me for part of my life is buried there too. Yes, I know it is still there, for in my heart I believe the legend of the sacred red fern.”

                                                                           Wilson Rawls, Where the Red Fern Grows

One book from read by 12 year old yours truly takes the cake though…The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell – Newbery Medal winner in 1961.

island-of-the-blue-dolphins Image

Based on a true story, this book tells the tale of a young Native American girl living on an island off the coast of northern California…she suffers crisis after crisis, loss after loss but remains resilient.  She endures the death of companions and is forced to live in complete isolation on an otherwise deserted island for over a decade.  Looking back on it now, I realize why the only thing I really remembered was the description of the special garment she made out of the shiny black feathers of the cormorants which were native to the island – it is JUST.  SO. GRIM.

So in sum…Where the Red Fern Grows, The Island of the Blue Dolphins and Steinbeck’s The Red Pony?  Sixth grade was a real literary horror show! (Is it any wonder I don’t find myself particularly bothered by Hannibal?)

All I can say now is:

Thank you Kate DiCamillo!

Read on Armitageworld

(a copy of each of these deadly Newbery Medal winners will be donated to an unsuspecting child 😉  )

SpReAd the Love Children’s Book Challenge: The Monster at the End of This Book

Many moons ago, I was a tow headed sprout among the ranks of the first generation of kids who grew up with the lovable, educational antics of Sesame Street. It was the best part if my morning when I was a very little girl. My mom broke the mold and went back to work when I was six months old, so I went to Mary’s house. Mary was a childhood friend of my mom’s. I remember a few things about those days. I remember being a bit afraid of Mary’s giant German Shepherd, and even more so of her grinch husband. I remember laying the foundation of a lifelong hatred of Cheerios. There are always some downsides to being placed in an “alien” environment I guess.

On the plus side though, I remember loving Mary fiercely. I loved her beautiful red hair, which my mom would style into a massive beehive updo that held for the week with the addition of a shellacking of hairspray. Most of all, daily dose of Cheerios choked down, I remember settling down in front of their “giant” TV (the actual screen was probably about the size of my computer monitor, but the console was huge) to watch Sesame Street.

Big Bird, Ernie and Bert, Kermit, Oscar the Grouch, and my personal fave…Grover. A furry little blue guy who was always well meaning, but often a bit neurotic and definitely a little spastic as he flew off the handle, skinny arms flailing over something or another. I thought Grover was hilarious, so I was delighted when my mom turned up at bedtime one night with this


My mom read the story of how Grover is frightened of monsters, and he how tries a variety of methods – tying pages together, nailing pages down, building a brick wall – to keep the reader from turning the pages and reaching the monster at the end.


All to no avail as the reader keeps turning pages despite Grover’s constructions and arm waving histrionics. I remember being a little leery the first time my mom read the book to me…why was Grover so afraid? Should we turn that last page?


As it turns out…


There was never anything to be scared of at all! I loved this story as a child, and I loved reading it to my own kids, their laughter at Grover’s antics was infectious. I was talking about donating this book with my mom and MiniMe the other day. My mom remembered it fondly…ours was a battle scarred Little Golden Books version. I asked MiniMe if she remembered it and she said, “Yes, and I read it to a little girl in the church nursery last week.”

Four generations of Grover love is a beautiful thing!

SpReAd the Love Children’s Book Challenge: Torenhoog en mijlen breed

A guest post for the SpReAd the Love Book Challenge by Ancient Armitage reader Emma:

What a lovely idea to share a favorite book and to donate one.

My favorite children’s book is one written by Tonke Dragt, a Dutch author. It is called ‘Torenhoog en mijlen breed’. Translated into English the title would be ‘Wide as England, tall as a spire’. This is a sentence from the poem Travel by R.L. Stevenson on which Tonke Dragt also based the motto of the book: Waar wouden zijn, als vuur zo heet, torenhoog en mijlen breed (Where are forests, hot as fire, wide as England, tall as a spire).

foto torenhoog en mijlenbreed

I have collected all her books and have read them often. Most of them are a bit worn from reading. I even wrote to her long ago and she sent a very lovely letter in reply.

One of her books ‘Een brief voor de koning’, has been translated into English, ‘A letter for the King’, a story about a boy who is to be knighted. The night before the ceremony he is asked for help by a stranger and this leads him into an adventurous journey.

Tonke Dragt’s work has often been described as fantasy. In a way it is, but her stories are set in times and worlds that are real (or could be). Her love of legends and myths shows in her work. One recurring theme in her books is the quest of the main character to find out who he or she is.  And often the characters act in a way they are not supposed to or allowed to but somehow these actions are necessary in order for them to grow and develop as people. What makes her work extra special is the fact that she makes her own illustrations and collages which add an extra layer to the stories.

‘Torenhoog en mijlenbreed’ was written in 1969. In a nutshell, it is the story of Edu, an astronaut who is sent to Venus, Afroi in the book. On Venus, the people from Earth live under a dome and they don’t enter the forest that surrounds that dome. Edu however is attracted to the forest and during one of his missions he lands there. He meets a creature from Venus, they call themselves Afroini. The Afroini are intelligent beings who can read minds.  Edu finds out that he is telepathic himself. This complicates his relationships with his girlfriend Petra and his colleagues. Eventually he has to return to Earth, but promises the Afroini he will come back to learn to control and deal with his mind reading abilities.

I read the book for the first time when I was 13 years old and have read it several times since then. The last time was many years ago and I was curious to see what my reaction would be reading it again for this SpReAd the Love challenge.  I’m glad time hasn’t changed my view of the book. It’s still a wonderful story about finding out who you are, a story I hope many children will read. It is still available in our local library, so I’m not donating them a copy. I will give one to my niece. She told me she has never read a book by Tonke Dragt so I think it’s time they met.


Many thanks to Emma for sharing a childhood favorite!  (If you’d like to join in, I’m very happy to host.)

SpReAd The Love Children’s Book Challenge: REMARKABLE by Lizzie K. Foley

SpReAd The Love

One of the things that I love about children’s books in general is that authors tend to be gleefully absurd, although it may say something about me that my sense of humor is still right around that of the average ten-year-old. Remarkable by Lizzie K. Foley charmed me the moment I saw the blurb on the front cover. I mean, could you resist this?

“Welcome to the Town of Remarkable where Every Day in this Remarkable place filled with Remarkable people is Positively Remarkable for absolutely Everyone*

*except Jane”

Poor Jane Doe. She’s a middle kid, sandwiched between her brilliant painter older brother and her equally brilliant mathematician little sister. She’s also the only student at the public school because her siblings, and all of the other kids in town, attend Remarkable’s School for the Remarkably Gifted. She’s kind of a loner (her own father has “Ask Jane about her…

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The first spReAd the love book challenge post is up! Will you review and donate?

Me + Richard Armitage

The first 2015 spReAd the love challenge for fans of Richard Armitage was made recently — to write about, and donate, one of your favorite children’s books! If you would like to join the challenge, please let me know and you can use my blog for a guest post.


spread the love

The first review is of The Little Witch (Die kleine Hexe), a favorite twentieth-century children’s book in Germany, which is less known outside the country nowadays, although it was translated into 55 languages in the 1950s and 1960s.

img_1629Learn about the little witch, and give her some love, here! (The post is in English and German and the author will reply to comments in either language.)

The post is by fellow Richard Armitage fan suzy, who blogs at silverbluelining. I enjoy her blog a lot — it includes commentary on popular German cultural events and bands…

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