The Mind

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Richard Armitage is the epitome of tall, dark and handsome. Probably most reading this heartily agree, and some who have no clue about him would agree if they watched him. What did the interview referenced in my last FanstRA piece say?

He is tall (tick), dark (tick) and handsome (tick), with piercing blue eyes (double tick). Ladies, your swoons have not been wasted.

Oh, I know they’re well placed, but not for the obvious reasons. There are so many good looking actors to swoon over. Legions whose looks are worthy of the description above. Take a trip to Hollywood and you will literally see them everywhere you go. But they’re visual cotton candy. There is nothing that inspires beyond a few moments because beautiful as they are, they never get beyond the viscera of your thinking. Even many of the thoughtful actors rarely get much beyond it. Or maybe that’s just me. Maybe it’s just me who seldom repeatedly examines even an actor’s great performances beyond the event in order to mine something more profound. Sometimes I might examine the lighting or the body language or any number of practical aspects to determine what it was that was effective in conveying the message, and I might relive the performance repeatedly in my imagination in order to feel the thrill of it again. But to find the message enigmatic and compelling because of the actor’s portrayal and forcing me to go beyond the obvious to try to root out what is deeply embedded in my brain? To make me examine something about myself and why I was really so struck by it? No, that seldom happens with performances. Maybe with books, but usually with performances I know why I’m affected. I know immediately and can often verbalize it.

And then there’s the actor himself. Very few when interviewed or when speaking for any length of time really hold my interest. It’s almost always a let down. But enter Richard Armitage, who has made me question countless things with his portrayals, and I can’t stop doing it. The fact I’ve done this has puzzled me to no end. Yes, I’m still puzzled, but I love this. I love being puzzled, being in a continual state of curiosity, and the irony of him is that the more he speaks, the more I’m curious. Wow. I think of the artists who are generally considered enigmatic, and much of it was effected by the fact they weren’t talking. They only let their art do the talking, and probably wisely kept their mouths shut to maintain the mystique. But let this guy talk, and he becomes more interesting and makes me wonder what I’ve been missing. Case in point:

I have not been a fan of fantasy although I’ve read some science fiction and some classical fantasy novels. Mostly done to ensure my education was not lacking. But I am rethinking that interest and was rethinking it long before I knew Richard Armitage would be in ‘The Hobbit.’ It’s been coming to me for a long time now that I almost killed my imagination in the pursuit of control. I’m so sorry about that, but I’m not dead, so it’s not too late for me to regain what was such a rich part of my childhood. Richard Amitage has definitely been inspirational. I’ve also always loved words but was never encouraged to really play with them or learn how to shape things with them. My talents so obviously lay in another area, and that is where I was continually directed, but it never satisfied. Armitage gets credit for rekindling my interest in words to the degree that I’m now doing something about it! I mean how can I listen to something like this on the heels of listening to his audio books and not be inspired?

I said in one of my diary entries that a beautiful voice is not enough. The person must have something interesting to say. That’s where writers come in. But with Richard Armitage, he brings something to it I’ve rarely witnessed. He has a rich mind, keeps it well nourished and applies it to his craft. That is a great part of his ability to hold us all in thrall even if only using his voice. Much more than a pretty boy. He’s a thinker and we benefit from it.

And one of my favorite thinkers shares her reactions to his performances:

Servetus and I have had many discussions offline that have been such an enjoyment and encouragement to me. Although we bring our own observations and don’t always agree, we do have some things in common and have a mutual respect.

Photo courtesy of the Russian Richard Armitage Fan site. You can check out the rest by clicking on the photo.

Gotta Love Him

I adore this article. How could I not? Either RA is the smartest guy walking who knows how to work women or he’s smart and he really means all of this. Wow. Both possibilities are wonderful, but I hope it’s the latter — for his sake.

Richard Armitage: ‘I was a beanpole with a nose I hadn’t grown into’

By: Vicki Power. 30/05/2010

The sexy 39-year-old star of Spooks and Sky One’s Strike Back on growing into his looks/nose, why he’s more ‘new man’ than macho soldier, and looking for that perfect food-loving woman

You’re the go-to guy for brooding heroes. Do you like being seen as a sex symbol?
Richard Armitage: It’s quite funny – no, it’s hilarious to be considered a sex symbol. In school I was a beanpole with a nose I hadn’t grown into. Being thought of as sexy makes one employable, but it’s not going to last forever, so I try not to think about it. It’s like something that exists outside of me.

You certainly look hot in the dark blue suit you’ve put on for this interview…
RA: Thank you. It’s Dolce & Gabbana and the shirt is Prada, but the truth is, nearly all my other clothes are Lucas’s from Spooks. I can’t bear shopping. I can choose clothes for my characters, but not for myself. I’ve got no dress sense. Or I’ve lost it.

What appealed about your character John Porter in the Sky series Chris Ryan’s Strike Back?
RA: I thought, here’s a chance to have a crack at a man who’s not a bog-standard war hero. Porter is what Lucas wishes he could be – SAS men get to go all over the world and operate in deep cover, while in Spooks we only get to walk up The Mall and go onto a few London rooftops. Lucas would love to be shooting out of an aircraft.

Could you have been a soldier?
RA: Not a chance! I can work hard and be disciplined like a soldier, but I could never reach their level of fitness. I have a whole new appreciation of soldiers. I saw myself on screen and thought, ‘That body is so not hard enough to be a soldier.’

What sort of training did you do?
RA: I did mega-training with ex-military men. I’d be in the gym for two hours after a 12-hour day on Spooks, and it was so hardcore I’d throw up. I stuffed myself with food and drank protein shakes to bulk up. I used to be a dancer, but I had to strap my weak ankles every day and strengthen my wrists so I could hold a machine gun. My body just wasn’t up to it.

So you’re not a macho man…
RA: I’m probably more of a new man. I’m not particularly alpha. ‘Nourish and nurture’ are my watchwords as opposed to ‘search and destroy’. I kept asking myself why on earth have they asked me to play this character, rather than someone who’s really hard. But I suppose it’s because I bring something softer to the character.

You were filming in South Africa for five months. What was that like?
RA: We had a great time, although it was so hot it felt like you were in an oven. We filmed in a poor black township outside Pretoria that everybody told us was dangerous, but we’d often play football with the kids. Once we didn’t have anywhere to change and one of the locals said, ‘Come to my house.’ It was a tin shack, but it was spotlessly clean. You can’t believe it’s somebody’s home. It was so humbling.

What did you miss most about home?
RA: I didn’t miss anything. I was so in the character, I’d dream about him at night. Even I thought, ‘This is crazy, I’m too involved.’ I found it hard to call or Skype friends – it was almost as though I couldn’t get out of the character. I screwed up my social life a bit.

Speaking of which, how’s your love life?
RA: Unfortunately, my love life is nil. I’m not in a relationship any longer – I’m working too much – but I would like to settle down at some point. That’s probably why I’m going to LA soon, when I’m not tied down. I feel like if you don’t try LA, then people will think you’ve failed.

Do you want a family?
RA: Yes, I’d like a wife and family. I spend so much time with my brother’s little boy, Abe, who’s coming up to five, and he’s so hilarious. Playing a father in Strike Back has really resonated with me, although I can’t believe I’m starting to get cast with teenage daughters! I’m quite relieved I don’t have that responsibility in real life, but I look around and my fellow actors are having babies and I’m envious. One day, one day.

But you’ll turn 40 next year. Isn’t about time you gave it some thought?
RA: Yes. That’s part of the problem, isn’t it, because I still feel like I’m 25 in my head. I always thought when I got to 40 it would be OK because I’d feel 40, but I don’t.

What type of girl would you go for?
RA: Someone a bit naughty. And who likes food – because I really do – and who doesn’t take life too seriously and has a sense of humour.
I could never go out with another actor, I’d find that hard – the stresses of the job, they just pull people in different directions.

(emphasis mine)

See what I mean about being smart, and he wants someone who likes food? WHAT?!!! Wait. wait. Maybe he really meant it about kissing Nigella Lawson. Nooo! Surely not. But he has talked about this more than once. Hmmm. All you single girls out there who like to cook AND eat, have you died and gone to heaven yet? But hey, you need to be able to laugh while you’re eating. No eating without laughing. Hey, most of us who like to eat only have to look in the mirror to start laughing. LOL! I used to be a tiny little thing, and I’m still not huge, but there’s more of me to love these days. SO says I’m voluptuous and he likes it! I’m going to assume this is the kind of gal RA is talking about. So all you single, voluptuous gals need to line up. At the very least, I’m sure you will have sweet dreams tonight. :D

Your fans call themselves Armitage’s Army. What are they like?
RA: Over the years they’ve sent me presents and turned up at film sets, but lately I’ve kind of left them alone. I got a bit too involved and there’s an expectation from them that goes along with that.

I don’t know about all of you, but I’m tired of reading about all of us. Man, that husband who came up with this moniker is getting his revenge. LOL!

Do you read about yourself on the internet?
RA: I decided this year not to read anything. It’s been very liberating. The problem with me is I read everything, but it’s only the bad stuff that stays with me. It’s weird, you only need to be told something once and it stays with you.

What are your hobbies?
RA: I only learned to ski five years ago, but I’m addicted to it. I went five times this season. I should have been a ski instructor instead of an actor. I also dragged my cello out of the loft a couple of weeks ago and went back to that, but I have to squeeze playing it into the hour and a half I get in the evening after work. God, I sound like such a boring workaholic.

I would love to talk about this part, but I would really give myself away. :D

To read the rest, go here.

Do I need a picture? I didn’t think so. Those answers are so good, the images in your head are better than anything I could post.

edit: and yes, I know he’s only 38. How could I call myself an RA fan and not know that! But the journalist was correct that he will be 40 next year. He just hasn’t turned 39 yet. This edit was also put here as a public service for all of you who are not quite up yet on your RA facts. ;-) Oh, heck the whole post is a public service for women who like to eat. LOL!

Let the Cogitation of John Porter Begin — SPOILERS

WARNING: Spoilers in this post especially including the video!

I would have said thoughts, but I have to use words like cogitation occasionally. Then I don’t feel guilty about how I’m using that expensive education my parents paid for (oops, another sentence ending in a preposition; good thing this blog’s anonymous).

So I’m watching Strike Back, and it gets to this scene (SPOILERS AHEAD!):

and I remember what I like about most action flicks. They have Alpha males! Oh, I know what you’re thinking. Alpha is the guy who smashes beer cans on his head and has little or no respect for women. No, no. You’re wrong. Alpha is not just the guy who needs a shag and likes to handle guns and is good at handling guns, and wants to do damage to someone with the guns. He’s also the guy who kicks the door in and saves the damsel, and the damsel loves him for it and thinks about following him to the ends of the earth. When John Porter says trust me, I do.

I’m so glad RA is getting to play an Alpha again. My first introduction to him was as an Alpha male — John Thornton. The character I’m most fond of is an Alpha male — Guy of Gisborne (when he’s not kissing the Sheriff’s ass). But Alpha isn’t enough, and those characters are not successful just being Alphas. What women want and most men have not figured out is that we want Beta too. John Thornton and Guy proved they had some Beta, and it only made them more attractive. Conversely, of RA’s characters who are primarily Betas, they are even more attractive when Alpha emerges: Harry Kennedy when he wants Geraldine to pay up on her “debt,” John Standring when he runs off Andrew, Paul Andrews when he’s manifesting Alpha in the most elemental way, Lucas North when he’s taking the rich guy down in the pool. Imagine how dull these Betas would be without Alpha.

I’m not so sure we’ve really seen John Porter’s Beta. Maybe just a little peek in the beginning when he’s interacting with his 10 year old daughter, and of course when he spares the Iraqi boy. But that’s not enough for an RA character. RA likes to balance these enough to make things really interesting. We don’t have enough of Porter’s Beta yet. We need a little more, but oh, don’t slack on the Alpha while you’re at it.

I stumbled on a blog that gets the importance of the Alpha/Beta mix. The blogger gets it so well that I had a fleeting thought it’s really a woman writing the blog. His name even sounds like a woman’s when you say it really fast (ducking in case he reads any of the links to his blog). He is so dead on that it’s scary. Oh, I don’t think he’s dead on about everything, but he’s got women figured out fairly well — at least what turns most of them on. Yes, it’s just my opinion. Feel free to disagree, and I know some women do. LOL!

Here’s what he says about Alpha/Beta mix:

I generally disagree with the entire Alpha = good, Beta = bad mindset. You really need to have both Alpha Traits and Beta Traits in a marriage to really hit the sweet spot of happiness and sex. The blog is still new, but believe me I’m going to sound like a broken record on this point as the years play out.

If you’re a decent Beta, the solution is to add Alpha traits, not reduce Beta Traits and add Alpha. It’s not a zero-sum game where you can be either Alpha or Beta, but not both. You can and must be both. You still hold a job down, play with the kids, listen to how your wife spent her day, do housework etc. That’s all vital comfort building goodness. She likes and needs that to feel comfortable, like you’re invested in the relationship and family. These things are not “turn ons”, but lacking them makes them “turn offs”.

Read the rest here.

(emphasis mine)

Preach it, Athol!

I sometimes hear that Alpha females do not want Alpha males:

The alpha girl doesn’t need Mr Alpha to sweep her off her feet and buy her a condo in town; she has enough money to do that herself. She is successful, confident and she wants a caring man who can pick up some of the domestic slack.

Read the rest here.

Oh, a caring Beta is great, and I may not need an Alpha to sweep me off my feet, but I WANT ONE! and SO delivers. He flexes his Alpha enough that I know it’s not eclipsed by his wonderful Beta. I have several little SOs running around to prove that.

Speaking of SO, I think he’s going to love this show. Especially if it doesn’t make Alphas look like morons. Actually, to SO there is no such thing as Alpha/Beta. He thinks all of that is crap. To him it just means being a man who has the usual wants and needs of a man and of course the usual responsibilities. Okay, maybe there is no Alpha, but it’s fun to think about it, and certainly fun to watch it!

P.S. If Porter and Layla are not going to have some Alpha fun at some point, then I wasn’t watching the right show. Can’t wait to see how that plays out.

It’s Even Changing the Way I Speak

I knew I was changing, but it was obvious when I said the “word” phwoar. I didn’t even know it was a word until a couple of years ago. The first time I said it, someone in the family made a point to turn his head towards me and stare at me as if to say, “Do I know you?” To which I mentally replied, “Yeah, you know me, but maybe I don’t know myself anymore.”

What all of you don’t know is that I don’t use much onomatopoeia when I speak much less when I write (does anyone except comic book writers?), and certainly don’t use it to describe something that is extremely appealing. But maybe I ought to because it felt good to say phwoar, which is properly said PHWOAR!

A few years ago I took a self-defense class for women. If you have never taken something like that, I highly recommend it. I was prompted by a friend to do it and went only because of the prodding. I figured the instructors would just remind me of things I already knew but probably needed to hear again. Wrong. It was taught by a husband and wife who had been military and were now police. Both had black belts in some martial art, and when they told us that, I thought, “Oh yeah, great. Like you two are living in the real word where people like me can’t do squat.” But again, I was wrong. They taught me a technique of imagining myself in a bad situation and then mentally using the practical things they had taught. Part of this was to practice yelling STOP! They said studies had shown that women had a hard time raising their voices to strangers even someone who scares or surprises them. It’s part of our genteel gene I guess. Aren’t we special? Thankfully they stayed on us about yelling STOP! Half of one class was spent just doing that. Man, that was some easy money for them. Well, I haven’t been attacked, but I have been threatened, and when the time came I was able to yell STOP! and the very suspicious person fled.

That day I yelled STOP! and really needed to was a kind of epiphany that forever altered my world. It gave me power I really wasn’t sure I possessed until the moment of crisis. Saying PHWOAR! had the same effect on me. It was the passionate me, my inner PHWOAR, which I had buried for so long, rushing to the surface. My SO, who was the only one around at the time and the object of my PHWOAR!, said, “What was that? I like it.”

I hope you can do a little PHWOAR! today. At least get in touch with your inner PHWOAR! See how good I am to all of you; continuing to be of public service. ;)

Of course that’s far from the only word I’ve learned and now love. I’ve started a list, RA Lexicon, and you can add your own. Enjoy!

Oh, oh, oh, I can’t believe I almost forgot to put up the image that made me PHWOAR! (at least in my head) the first time. Actually I was watching the scene it’s in, and thought PHWOAR! when he turned around.

Screencap courtesy of RobinHood2006.com