Widows on the Web

One of the ways I’ve connected to other Richard Armitage fans is through their fan fiction, and when I stumbled onto the GuyxMarian community at Livejournal in late 2008, a new addiction was born. :D I found a treasure trove of stories to keep me well occupied with the continuing saga of Guy and Marian, and the first Gisborne fiction I read was by Spikesbint (some of you may know her as Angelfish69 or the Admin of Armitage Daily or simply Angela). Little did I know how high she would set the bar with “Prisoners of Circumstance.” It is a tightly written story that resolves GxM in a way that left such a warm feeling when I first read it. Still feeling it after three plus years. LOL! But it was a story that became even more satisfying because it’s complete. Thank you, Angela.

Another one I read early on was “Fallout”*. Bookishy, the author, has done a great job capturing the Guy and Marian characters and potentially making them something else, and I would love to see how she develops them further, but the piece remains incomplete. It has not been updated since 2009. Maybe her imagination got distracted by something. I do give her credit for that possibly being the case. But dammit! I want the ending of that story, and I hope she’ll come back and take mercy on all of us and finish it. I’ve been waiting to say that for almost three years! :D

I wish “Fallout” were the only story left dangling or at least one of just a few fan fictions that remain unfinished, but there are many stories waiting for an ending. That frustrates me, and I’m not alone. A couple of years ago a friend of mine, who is also a fan fiction writer, posted her frustration about it on IMDb. I told her when I was starting this blog that I was going to save what she wrote and post it at some point. She was fine with that, and I’m not only posting it, but making it a permanent page on my blog. Not because I have an ax to grind with fan fiction authors. Not at all. I’ve loved witnessing people trying their hands at writing and have marveled at the imaginations and abilities of many of you. In fact, your efforts were part of the impetus for this blog. Which brings me to the real point of this piece.

I do not want my Diary of an RA Fan to be a widow on the web — something that starts but eventually goes nowhere. At one point in the life of this blog, I was thinking about scrapping my diary entries as they are not really conducive to publication and have to be heavily edited. I’ve pondered for a long time about finishing, and several of you have counseled me about that and several of you have sent me notes asking me for more entries. I thank all of you for your input. I started and I’m going to finish! But I need the fan fiction page to keep me focused.

As to fan fiction, I plan to say a lot more about it this year. In the meantime, some words of wisdom from broughps.

Graphic by Angela.

Following My Bliss

Spoilers for Robin Hood Series 2 & 3

Two days ago someone posted this video on Twitter:

Pompeii by E.S. Posthumus from their Unearthed CD.

I’ve talked about this one before as it’s been one of my favorites since I first saw it almost a year ago. From its finely done editing to its music, this is one of the best Strike Back videos and all around fan videos. There is nothing awkward in it. No moments when the music sounds incidental to the scenes. Just a tightly knit casting of John Porter’s life coming at you. But mostly what draws me is the feeling he has a much greater destiny than the machinations of an MI-6 agent. The sounds of a celestial choir no doubt contribute to this sense.

After I was done watching that one, I moved onto some others that for two to three years I’ve gone back to again and again. Most of them were set to background or theme music and most of them had a sense of the epic, which is what first drew me to fan videos and eventually led me to discovering Richard Armitage. I’ve had an affinity for this musical genre since I was a little kid and dreamed of writing movie scores for a living. One of my fondest childhood memories is spending hours and hours at the piano picking out expansive tunes and trying to perfect them. It’s still one of my favorite pastimes, and I can spend considerable time doing it.

For years after I was grown, I thought this was something entirely frivolous and hoped I would eventually snap out of it. And I did for a couple of years. But I’m coming to understand in a way I didn’t even come close to doing before that this sense of the epic is part of who I am and part of everyone else, and we are all part of it. We’re all part of something epic going on. We were formed to be eternal people with a destiny, and I find myself reveling in this more and more. Although at some points in my life I have considered the antithesis — that we’re a pale mosaic of organisms which has no purpose other than forming some random picture, but I’m not tempted by that any longer and haven’t been for many years. It’s unsatisfying and frankly, boring. Whenever I did feel myself beginning to take the yoke of that thinking, the cells in my body would go into rebellion, and when I examined what was so disturbing, I realized the random picture doesn’t square with the need to seek out my story, our stories, the story.

And how interesting that stories are so important to most of us, and quite a few reading this blog are especially attuned to them. It’s what holds us together as people and more specifically what holds many of us together in our fascination with Richard Armitage. There are plenty of very good looking actors. Plenty of tall actors. Plenty with a wonderful timbre to their voices. Plenty with pleasing personalities. What sets him apart is his determination to get at the story. Of course just like most of us, he’s done things to ensure he didn’t starve, but it seems he’s trying to get at the story as much possible. Or perhaps I’m putting my own views on all of you and should say that I’m fascinated with dear ol’ Richard chiefly because of his infatuation with the story, and certainly by what it is that motivates him so much to get at it and in a way that’s true. I’ll talk more about this later. For now this will have to continue as one of those loose ends along with the others laying around this blog.

So I’ve spent a couple of days rewatching videos that have a sense of the epic, and of all the videographers I’ve watched, none does a better job of putting a finger on the pulse of the story and bringing it to life for others than Angela (aka Spikesbint or Angelfish69).

One of the first that comes to mind:

“Ashielf Pi” by E.S. Posthumus from Cartographer

One of the first I saw of hers:

“Intro” by Caliban from Small Boy and a Grey Heaven

One that does not involve Richard Armitage:

“Central Park” by James Newton Howard from King Kong Soundtrack

One of her birthday tributes to Richard. Be sure to check out her others, and I hope she does one this year. This one made me cry the first several times I saw it:

“Generations” by Immediate from Trailerhead and “The Loss of Yours” by Adrian Johnston from Becoming Jane Soundtrack

And a masterpiece, which I can wax on and on and on about:

“End Music from Atonement” by X Ray Dog from The Vision

Here are some others who have done a superb job of capturing the story with epic music, but I’m only posting one video from each of them in the interest of not having this post go on and on.


“The Wolsey Commits Suicide / Finale” by Trevor Morris on The Tudors Soundtrack

One of the first North and South videos that was my favorite, and I still love it. By PoleStar00:

“Lake Constance” by Mike Oldfield from Millennium Bell

One by PhoenixLupin, who has some wonderful Richard Armitage videos, but this happens to be about “The Fall”:

“Summoning of the Muse” by the Dead Can Dance from Within the Realm Of A Dying Sun

I’ve labeled all of the videos with their musical pieces, but unfortunately, not all of that music is easily available to the public. That is slowly changing. Some other theme composers who are used by quite a few videographers are Craig Armstrong, Dario Marianelli, Howard Shore of LOTR fame, Ennio Morricone, Jerry Goldsmith, Martin Phipps and Andy Price. There are also artists who frequently can sound epic but do not technically fall into the background or theme music genre. Some of those are Within Temptation, Secret Garden, Tarja, Linkin Park, Muse, and Coldplay.

Oh, and I swear James Newton Howard and Thomas Newman are the same guy, or is it just me who thinks they sound exactly alike? :D

And my mood is expectant as I’m listening to “Unbreakable” by James Newton Howard from the Unbreakable Soundtrack.

And She’s Back

Angela (aka Spikesbint) broke her hiatus from vidding to come back and make one for RA, and so I have to break my hiatus from this blog, which I honestly thought would last me at least another 24 hours. I can’t help but post Angela’s video even though I swore to myself I wasn’t going to do anything else about RA’s Birthday. There’s been plenty done already elsewhere and much better than my piddly effort. I hope you will check out Nat’s blog if you haven’t already as well as Phylly’s, and frankly, you could probably click on every link in the ‘Addict List’ or ‘Places to Get a Fix’ and see some really creative stuff. I’ve spent at least an hour or more today reading and watching what I’ve found there. But I’m going to highlight this video because Angela is one of my favorite vidders.


It’s About the Story

One of the commenters on my Top Ten Fanvids indirectly highlighted what I look for in the fan videos and to a larger degree why I’m a fan of Richard Armitage. I only have one montage video of RA, and that one is listed because of its comic brilliance. Mostly I’m drawn to the videos that are about the characters he portrays and more importantly, their part in telling their stories rather than the videos that are just RA eye candy. The fact RA can portray so many different characters so well does make me curious about him, but initially and ultimately, it’s about his characters and their stories. The videos enhance that, and it’s nice indeed that the videos can redeem a poorly written script or a script I just don’t like. LOL! But I would be lying if I said I don’t watch some of the eye candy montages.

What it always boils down to for me is curiosity about someone who is very adept at portraying characters whether by writing them or dramatizing them. I want to know their story and how exactly they came to understand someone else’s story. So it’s impossible for me to refrain from examining RA the person as well as his characters. But I’d rather hear from him about his approach to characters and stories instead of watching montage videos. As much as they are fun to watch, they don’t usually highlight anything further about a character’s story or about RA. Again, that doesn’t mean I don’t watch some eye candy montages. Far from it. If you remember, I did say the 4 minutes video inspired this blog. Oh, yeah, I’ve watched it a time or two, and Sexy Back and some others, and yes, yes, his ass looks good when he walks. LOL!

But back to the story. One of the earliest North and South videos I watched and still consider a great favorite was posted by a commenter on that same blog entry. This one:

PoleStar00 is a great vidder, and I adore the music. I already liked Mike Oldfield, but this piece is one of my favorites. Too bad I didn’t buy it several years ago when it wasn’t considered collector’s item. The piece has all the elements that we find in North and South — contemplative introduction, a plaintiff tone, a slow building to the crescendo to the point it almost hurts physically, and finally a soothing coda. Now that I’m thinking about this, I wonder how much Martin Phipps may have been influenced by Mike Oldfield. No, I’m not going to chase that rabbit, but I do wonder.

I have several more North and South videos I love. Some I’ve put below, and the others I’m saving for a future post or two. These can border on the prosaic, but hey, I’m a prosaic kind of gal:

These last two are kind of quirky and aren’t for everyone, but I love ’em! See if you can spot an interesting manipulation in one of them.

Unfortunately, my all-time favorite North and South video is no longer on YouTube nor is it anywhere else I’m aware of. Dang it! It was a video to the Coldplay tune X & Y. That song is far from prosaic. I’m not sure much of what Coldplay has done could ever be considered prosaic. Chris Martin is a poet, and his background definitely shows in his writing. Yep, count me as another one who loves Coldplay! By the way, if anyone remembers who did that video, I would love to know. Maybe they’ll put up a download link if asked. ;-) Oh, and if I were ever to make a fanvid, I would definitely do it to a Coldplay song, and there is one in particular I would do. May have to break down and do that sometime soon.

Top Ten Fanvids

Okay, I should say these are MY top ten fanvids.

For anyone who’s been following this blog, you already know I lamented the difficulty of making this post and mainly because there are so many RA videos out there. But I had such a good time trying to watch as many as I could to be fair. These things are almost like my children. I didn’t realize I had it in me to love so many. All the more to make it difficult to highlight only ten. But what a great problem to have! And I scrapped my in-depth criteria. The post would have been too long, and it may be already! Quite simply the ones selected are the videos I find myself going back to again and again.

I put them in an order, but hey, this order could change tomorrow or maybe later today. LOL!

I’ve embedded all of them below which shouldn’t be a problem, but if enough people experience problems, I may change how I’ve configured this post.

#10 — the ethereal quality of the song and the editing make me accept this AU (Alternate Universe) story as canon! Very soothing on a lot of levels. LOL!

#9 — considering it’s Thornton’s longing we mostly see in North and South, I love this take on Margaret pining.

edit: this video is no longer on YouTube, so the creator of the video, ATFrancis, has given me permission to upload here, and if you would like your own copy, you can download at FoolishPassion, one of Elvira’s sites.

#8 — this was one of my first Guy videos, and it captures his angst over Marian perfectly. At one point it disappeared from YouTube, but then it came back. Yea! I’ve never gotten tired of watching it. I love the editing, and it was my introduction to Shinedown.

#7 — too much to write about why I love this one; maybe it should move up. No, I’ve got to stop somewhere. Thank you, DB for editing MJ’s song. It was way too long. Your timing is perfect.

#6 — this is a masterpiece and probably should be #1. It’s the shortest video on the list, but the impact of it is enormous. I’ll stop there or this post will be so long it won’t load.

#5 — the quality of this video is stunning. Please, please, please if you like it, download it in the 1080 format. It’s RA like you’ve never seen him. Oh, and it’s Shinedown again. Love it!

#4 — whatever “it” is, Nat has it. I’ll sum up this video in a word: brilliant. Also, great thanks to Heather for her wonderful inspiration!

#3 — this is one slick video. DB just gets better and better and she’s already great. Oh, I would love to go back and completely rewrite the post I did on this one!

#2 — it’s scary how many times I’ve watched this and not just at the normal speed but slowed down as well. I notice something new every time, so I can’t seem to stop analyzing it. The video is a feast.

#1 This video may be a 10.

Most of these are available for download. Check their YouTube descriptions to find out how.

Puddle of Goo or Don’t Tell Me the Moon is Shining…

Wow, so many fan videos and not enough time. I would say that chocolate has been replaced, but I’m not a chocolate lover. Maybe now I know what all of you chocolate lovers get out of it. I know I get a bit of a high watching these things. Is that how it works with chocolate? If so, then I’m sorry I missed out all these years.

Getting inebriated does reduce me to a puddle of goo — inside. On the outside no one would ever know. I’ve managed to keep the addiction tamped down enough that no one knows except all of you. :D

But onto more lofty matters. Why does it reduce me to a puddle of goo? That’s the question I haven’t wanted to answer but have been desperate to answer. I am normally very, very sane. I can give you sane 6 days a week and a double dose on Sunday. Many people who know me actually depend on me being the most sane one in the room. So is it sanity to like fan videos this much? And in particular RA’s fan videos?

Initial rationalization:

The videos appeal to the artist in me. I love all things aesthetic. Truly. So I adore the artistry of the “vidders.” Well, they’re not all equal vidders; some are more equal than others. But even the ones that have the strict norms of aspect ratio fouled up (SNARFU), I love as well. I get it. I get their intent, and even if it’s not their intent, there’s enough there for me to perceive my own. Isn’t that what art is about? Perceiving intent and/or imbuing it with our own? Whatever the case, the intent comes through clear and loud (if no one else is at home with me). I can suspend my normally hyper-sensitive eyes to appreciate that “Guy” or “Lucas” or “John” is on the job — swaggering for my edification. Oh, wait, this was supposed to be a rationalization.

I really do appreciate the artistry of those vidders who have an eye for detail. Chief among those in my mind is someone named Angela. If you have not been around the RA Fandom for very long, you might not know who she is. Hang around for a bit and you’ll find out and will be better for it.

She is an artist. Bold as that statement is, I mean it. I’ve wondered many times what she does for a living. If it’s not something to do with art, what a shame. Some of her attention to detail is stunning, and I appreciate it no matter who is in the video. That’s when I knew she was an artist — I could disregard that RA was the object. That’s saying something since it’s obviously very hard for me to disregard RA as the object. LOL! But seriously, she does show the glint on the glass.

I didn’t intend this post as a paean to Angela’s ability, but I’m running with it and she deserves it. So maybe I’m not rationalizing?

And since I’m talking about her work, here’s one of her little masterpieces (SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN Robin Hood Season 3):