Cucumeri condiendi sunt Richard Armitage!

Cucumeri condiendi sunt is a Latin verb construction known as a passive periphrastic, which is made up a gerundive (a verbal adjective) used with “sum” (Latin for “to be”).  It functions to indicate obligation or necessity.  For instance…one might say:

Armitage amandus est

Armitage MUST be loved…

(maybe so, but that ensemble is another story)

When a Latin speaker was trying to communicate absolute necessity of something, the passive periphrastic construction was the strongest way to do it.

Cucumeri condiendi sunt

The cucumbers must be pickled


Indeed they must…cucumbers wait for no man, woman or media event.  When they are ready, they are ready.

pickles 2016 crop

All in all, I sealed over 40 jars of cucumbers pickled in one form or another (that doesn’t include the several gallons that are cooling in refrigerated versions of the same in various kitchens) over the last week or so.   Having put Picklepalooza 2016 behind me, I’m glad I decided to do it, despite dragging my feet on the front end.  Bluntly, the pickles were really pissing me off.  You see, everything about the pickles is on the pickles’ schedule.  The pickles don’t care if I have other things to do, Cucumeri condiendi sunt when they condiendi sunt.

As I bowed to the pickle pressure, I also reflected that perhaps this is in part what bugs me so much about Armitage press events…the sort of implicitly necessary nature of them, and the fact that everything about them is on someone else’s terms.  As a fan, in theory, I want to participate in things related to Richard Armitage, but barring a few notable exceptions (the original Hobbit premiere is one) I invariably find myself somewhere between repelled and resentful of the whole media blitz operation.

A big part of the issue for me is that I simply don’t have the option of being able to dedicate live time to events like the Epix TCA Event where images and commentary flow out across several hours from various venues and segments of the event – they always conflict with some other obligation.  Invariably, if I try to pick things up piecemeal, I’m always left with the impression that I’ve missed something, or worse, I get totally overwhelmed with the magnitude of both the material coming out and the swell of response to it.  Presto!  There I am, either resentful that I missed something, or repelled by hoop-la and the chatter.  This is something that I have struggled with intermittently in my own approach to fandom – which may or may not ring a bell with others.

I’ve come to a couple of conclusions on this front.  Like the pickles, I will always have very little control over the timing or magnitude of the event.  However, unlike the pickles, which will turn and rot if they are not attended to, thanks to the efforts of so many other fans, those images and interviews are captured and can be sampled at a time and at a pace that I set.  This is a really important aspect of my fandom, that is, that *I* get to define it…that there is no “right way” to be a fan, no fandom scorecard recording participation or whether I like a suit or not…that what works for others may not for me, and vice versa and that my definition of my fandom is an ever evolving thing.   You know what?

That is just fine.

Verbum Latinum Hodie: Non INTELLIGERE populo!

The Latin word for today is INTELLIGERE, a third conjugation verb (in the infinitive form) meaning to understand or comprehend.

wait what
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.

we're not worthy

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.


Richard Armitage cure-all?

This afternoon I found myself in need of a mood boost (it has been one of those days where pretty much everything that could go wrong or at least sideways, did.)  I skipped lunch because I was in the middle of something, so my first attempt (perhaps misguided) at a mood enhancement was culinary

Coconut cookies...cream cheese...

Coconut cookies…cream cheese…why is this picture so humongous??

Research…OK, comment consensus on Facebook supports that dipping cookies into frosting is not inherently wrong.  However…even my recently confirmed non-diabetic constitution can only take a small does of that (followed by an overwhelming urge to lock the door and take a nap!)

Seeking a less caloric means of attitude adjustment, I clicked over to Tumblr for a little visual lift…

Pardon my prurience, but it's been a really #$%@#$ day! Servetus ScreenCap

Pardon my prurience, but it’s been a really #$%@#$ day!
Servetus ScreenCap

Boom!  Yeah, that’s definitely a cure for what ailed me.  A panacea if you will...did you think you were getting away with out a classical connection?  Pshaw!  Panacea ( Πανάκεια)…the daughter of Asklepios (God of Medicine) and Epione (Goddess of Soothing),  was the Greek goddess of Universal health and she was rumored to have a single potion which she used to heal all varieties of ailments.  Well then, it’s often been cited that Richard Armitage also has a certain cuRAtive effect for a variety of ills….you might even say he’s a RAnacea!  (Sorry…not sorry.  I really have no control over it at this point…)  

On my way over here to tell you all about it, I dropped in at SpReAd the Love to see how the poster drawing pool was shaping up and what I saw really did blow away any traces of ill humor.  What I found were all kinds of new-to-me names reporting acts of kindness given and received…many of them demurring participation in the drawing, but wanting to share in the good will.

One of my very favorite things about this fandom is its capacity for kindness…in and among the admirers, analysts, admiring analysts and analyzing admirers of Richard Armitage, there are a lot of very real, very kind people just going about their business making their corner of the world a bit more pleasant everyday.  Being witness to it never ceases to make my day brighter.

It’s a downright RAnacea!


(Getty Images likes a nice reveal….click on “view image”) 


By the number of new posts in my reader (I turned off my email notifications because the buzzing was creating a numb spot on my leg) Richard Armitage and the fandom had a productive visit at San Diego Comic Con this weekend.  As always, I’m extremely grateful to all those who built an archive of the event by tweeting, posting, commenting, etc.

As for me, I find that I need to sit these massive media affairs out. (HeRAsy, I know…but keep in mind that I am a resident of Wisconsin who can easily pass by a cheese plate…I’m a rebel of long standing)   Basically, the rapidity and volume of information comes at me too fast and furious and I get completely overwhelmed.  It wasn’t always this way….I was all in for the 2012 Wellington Hobbit premiere…three different computers live streaming and live chatting during the event.  It was exhilarating.

Honestly, I’m not exactly sure what has changed…perhaps it is part of the evolution of my fandom, or maybe it’s just bad timing….that is, media events come up when I’m not able to free up the dedicated time.  (I have been anxiously watching the Greek debt talks, but after being spellbound by the new trailer, I did find some time to research how to download from my Hulu service so that I can access the series while traveling in August and maybe, just maybe do a solid for a good pal).

I marvel at those who are in the thick of it, but I’ve come to realize that it’s perfectly OK if the “highlights reel” of the event is more my speed…there’s no cut and dried way to be a fan…viva la variété!

I also learned that the latest Armitage/Hannibal news ran somewhat second to these bad boys today…no, I’m definitely not a vegetarian…

Hail to my dad who seems to have lost his knack for overlooking steak...mine was a perfect medium rare...its a wonder I'm sill alive!

Hail to my dad who seems to have lost his knack for overcooking steak…mine was a perfect medium rare…it’s a wonder I’m sill alive!

I imagine that I will get around to watching some footage here and there…or I won’t, and I’ll still be eagerly awaiting the big July 23rd debut and Armitageworld will keep on keepin’ on.  Armitageworld is awesome that way!!

inter alia…A Whirlwind Evening with Obscura

Hello again!  It’s been a crazy couple of days in Armitageworld, and I’ve been sidelined for much of it.  As you may have heard, Servetus and I had a bit of an adventure Sunday evening.    It all started out well enough…we met up at a local place that has great chicken wings and (used to have) great onion rings.  A charmingly tattooed bartender who was sucking up nicely, good company, a cold, if kind of pedestrian, seasonal brew from a favorite Wisconsin craft brewery – good times.  We had been chatting about this and that while we waited for the food to show up…I was laughing at the tavern’s method of alerting servers that food was up…namely bellowing said server’s name from the kitchen – classy!  Once our food arrived, I had eaten exactly three chicken wings when out of nowhere I noticed that although I wasn’t moving, the room seemed to be.  Hmm, that’s a bit odd I thought, closing my eyes with the thought that when I opened them, the room would be stationary again.  Not so much.  Then I started to perspire…not delicate lady like perspiring either…

John Porter (Richard Armitage)  Source:

John Porter (Richard Armitage)

No, it was more like a John Porter digging a mass grave in the Zimbabwean sun kind of sweating.  We kind of laughed about it because I had only just said that I like spicy food, but not so spicy that it makes me sweat.  Still dripping sweat, the room still slowly spinning, and me feeling increasingly ill, we eventually decided first that Servetus would drive me home, and then, maybe it would be better to go to the hospital.  I lurched out of the tavern…listing to starboard as I made my way to Servetus’ car.  Once inside, the cool blast from the A/C felt heavenly as we briefly discussed which hospital to go to.  I have a preferred one, but as the motion of the car combined with the motion in my head, it rapidly became clear that I might not make it that far.  We were about to get on the freeway…one peppered with bridges and overpasses…that is, no place to pull over for increasingly green around the gills passenger.  Despite feeling absolutely wretched, I had to laugh when Servetus handed me an empty paper coffee cup that she found, because I couldn’t help but think of that scene from Wayne’s World where Garth (Dana Carvey) holds out a Dixie cup and says to their extremely drunk friend:



Ultimately, I decided there was no way I was making it to the other hospital, so we went to the closest one and Servetus dropped me at the door of the ER while she went to park the car.  She made it in to join me before I was even able to register since the place was packed (one wonders what the heck goes on on summer Sundays that so many people are in the ER!)  I was holding myself up against the wall, fighting the urge to retch when Servetus asked if I wanted to sit since there was an empty wheelchair, but no available seats.  I declined until a man sitting with his adult daughter said, “You’d better sit, you look like you’re going to faint.”  OK then, I’ll sit.  (This kind of friendly advice from complete strangers is completely ordinary here.)  

It seemed like it took forever for the elderly woman in front of me to finish up with the clerk – it was probably only minutes, but I was working pretty hard not to make a complete spectacle by doing my imitation of Linda Blair in The Exorcist right there in the waiting room.  As it turned out…I only made a partial spectacle of myself since I held out through registration and until I had a basin before I did my Linda Blair impression.  I find that spewing in the waiting area generally fast tracks one to triage. (as does hyperventilating and snorting liquid acetaminophen out one’s nose, but that’s a story for another day.)   

After a quick EKG and a longish trip to a distant bathroom, with Servetus at the helm of the wheelchair,  before my one woman sideshow became even more humiliating, I was finally taken back to a room.  In the interim, Serv managed to get a hold of my husband, tell him the situtation, ask him to bring a change of clothes (since diaphoresis results in soaking wet shorts), and talk to a nurse who brought me a stylish hospital gown to wear for my stay.  I don’t remember a whole lot of what went on in the exam room before my husband got there…probably a whole lot of me laying on the bed in abject relief to just be horizontal since that position seemed to alleviate the spinning and overwhelming nausea.  One thing I do remember is a very nice nurse…from Alabama…who started the IV in my arm.  I mentioned that I had kind of difficult veins, but she found one with no problem and slipped the line in almost painlessly – no matter, the result is always the same with me:

One blown vein for each needle stick.  I suppose I should wear sleeves for awhile...

One blown vein for each needle stick. I suppose I should wear sleeves for awhile…

Servetus kindly hung around until my husband arrived and even though I was completely terrible company, I really appreciated her calm and collected presence…my husband, by contrast, is a pacer.

As to the diagnosis:

From my RL Facebook feed...

From my RL Facebook feed…

Nothing terribly serious.  It’s mostly passed already, but I’m totally bummed that I won’t be able to make it to Chicago for Operation Into the Storm this weekend!  I’m really hoping I can make it through the movie at all…what with all the spinning that’s been going on in my head!  We’ve heard a lot recently about the real and deep friendships that have developed between many of us who met via our shared fandom of Richard Armitage.  I can’t agree enough with this sentiment.  It is a true friend who swabs the sweat off your brow while you retch up your dinner into a cotton candy pink plastic bucket!!

Now that I’m on the mend, I’ll fill you in on the latest installment of the Life of a Stage Mom, my personal experience with disaster relief for SpReAd the Love, and plenty of continued blathering about the Classical tradition and this guy:


The “cult” of Richard Armitage?

As an archaeologist, I have wondered more than once how I would assess the fandom of Richard Armitage if it were presented to me as an artifact, separated from its context.  What do I have?

  • People from all over the world who dedicate an enormous amount of time and energy to the appreciation, in some cases the adulation, of a remote source of inspiration.
  • The source of inspiration is a person who most never have nor ever will meet in person.
  • He speaks they (we) listen (or read).
  • Writings and images are dedicated to him.
  • Offerings are made in his name.

If I were looking at the sum of these activities without any other context, it has all the trappings of what scholars of the ancient world define as ritual or cult practice and you know who is playing the starring role.  I think that many people may well be troubled by any connection of cult with fandom – and I understand the sentiment. This is a concept that often causes new students of the ancient world confusion too, but it all boils down to word usage.

The word cult acquired a bad rap in the late 20th century.  Groups like the People’s Temple (Jim Jones), The Manson Family (Charles Manson), and the Branch Davidians (David Koresh), to name only a few, led many to utilize cult to describe the concept of charismatic leaders who inspire slavish devotion in their followers leading to bizarre behaviors up to and including mass murder and/or mass suicide.  This contemporary co-option of the word has very little to do with its actual meaning over centuries of usage.

In fact, the origin of the word lies in the Latin word cultus which is connected to the tending and care (by extension honor and cherishing) of the land…think culitvate.   There is nothing inherently sinister or negative about the word in its origin or usage over time.  It is only very recently that it has taken on meanings 6-8 below, which are largely antithetical to the basic meaning of the word. etymology for "cult" etymology for “cult” definition of "cult" definition of “cult”

Looking at the original meaning of the cult, it seems quite applicable to fan activity in a number of ways.  It is a really thought provoking concept.  I am definitely not arguing that most fans “worship” Richard Armitage as a god, although I suppose it is possible that some do.   An important point to make clear is that the references to “religion” in the definition of cult almost exclusively refer to pagan religion.  Even when Christian writers use cultus (writing in Latin) they are almost always talking about classical myths, NOT referring to Judaeo-Christian practice.  Since practitioners of classical paganism, with all of its “rites and ceremonies” are few and far between these days, I think we can look past notion of  “religion” and focus on the more general definitions.  In that sense, the most common (2.-4.) definitions of cult don’t seem particularly problematic to me in the context of Armitage World, or any other fandom.

Let’s see,  a body of admirers who venerate or hold a certain person in great respect?  Check.  A group bound together by admiration and veneration of said person?  Yep.  These are the definitions that have corresponded to the word cult for centuries.  I’m very happy to have found such a caring and nurturing cult of people who celebrate and appreciate this remarkable man, and also (maybe more importantly) do the same for each other.  I think it is a very good thing for all the best reasons.  Not the least of which is this awesome “cult statue“! (Thanks to JasRangoon for the artwork 🙂 ).