Book Review ~ ‘North and South’ by Elizabeth Gaskell [with special thanks to Richard Armitage]

Jane Austen in Vermont

North-and-South cover

I think I must be the only costume-drama-loving-female in all of America who did not see the 2004 (2005 USA) adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South – where my head was that year I do not know – and add to that a further confession of never having read the book! – I am ashamed of myself!  Can I have lived this long so in the dark?  Are my English degrees so worthless in the light of this omission? 

I have a good number of Gaskell’s books on my shelves, but there they sit awaiting that future day to begin my Gaskell immersion.  But all this endless chatter on the airwaves [as well as a few friends imploring me to see the movie – largely a Richard Armitage thing…],  I finally broke one of my cardinal rules – I saw the movie before reading the book.  There were advantages…

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Richard’s 46th Birthday, an his major milestone. His projects have been prolific and he seem to be everywhere. Pilgrimage is out, but no distributor in our area. I got the DVD “Pilgrimage , but not compatible with Region 1 devise. I am expecting Ocean’s Eight with Richard as the leader of a ragtag band of Lady Thieves to be a class unto itself [like North and South].The adventuresses would be excited to crack jokes and play on his propensities for beautiful Ladies. What would be their tools to accomplish the heist? Would RA, the brains [ I assume] of the operations be playing the the Ladies against each other to get maximum bang from the heist or he will play it straight like what the Lady Gang Leader did in the Italian Job? How will high heels, tight short outfits, lipsticks and hand bags fit into the game plan? Oceans Eleven had a more even clockwork. Mesh-ups are predictable, but how it will unfold with O’Eight would be the crux of the matter for everything this film will have worked for. I am looking forward to see how Richard will mold the diverse interests of his crew to pull the rabbit out of his ”top ” hat. Assuming these Ladies had a common denominator [Oceans 11 were WW 11 Vets], what would it be? This will be the first comedy I will see Richard getting involved where he is the puppet master. It will be a joy ride of the first kind. I believe Thornton and Claude will always be tops in my list, but I hope to be surprised. He did a bit of hamming in the play ”Love, Love, Love. However, I have one nagging question ” What were Richard and his coterie of Lady thieves after? The curtains are set to go, and I am in the centre of the Third row of the Loge.

Berlin Station

Its good to have the heads up, negative as it sounds, it tries you own estimation of the project. I admit my bias and i will let the story speak for itself. I have no hidden agenda, except to admire Richard’s work, every work I can lay my hands on. Perhaps . I will like him anyway, until they kill him off…it sours the story for me, but casualties are inevitable. Richard seems to welcome those dying scenes or the producers wish it so. He is not the kind to walk out of the set in a tantrum, he is very thoughtful before accepting the project, an inveterate improviser, and perfectionist as well, but humans are subject to errors, so I am prepared for any mishaps: admiration does not alter when alteration finds. It’s a misquote, but just trying to be joyful in every category allowed. I like his views /philosophy in life of  hard work, total immersion in the role and how he makes it easy to look at. I count myself fortunate to have seen North and South, a love story , I could have wished for myself, only wish , but not to materialize it, such boundaries as they are. Sleep nicely in your bed chamber , Sir, you need to recharge for tomorrows endeavors. We look forward to your work. I was sad my copy of UK amazon [hermitage] did not work, perhaps i have to wait for US amazon copy. Sign off time…

Accenting #RichardArmitage

sights and sounds the food of life:Where could we be without them?Nowhere in Particular.

Armitage Agonistes

I’ve always been interested, an often critical of hw RIchard Armitage manages different accents – especially his American accent. I’ve only skimmed this article so far ( have to get out early today), but I think it’s a fun and useful read for those of us who have the same interest. ALl about how dialect coaches work and the importance of naling the accent. I’ve given you the whole article in case you can’t get to the New York Times ( or don’t want to use up your 10 free articles!)

New York Times

Why should I trust you?” Dominic Cooper said to Samara Bay, his dialect coach. “Trustya,” she replied, crushing the words together. “Why should I trustya,” Cooper repeated. The actor and coach were standing in the driveway of an old stone mansion in New Orleans’s Garden District, on break from shooting a scene for the AMC series…

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Where Are We Now? (or ‘How Do You Solve A Problem Like Career?’) – part one

School days from High School to University to work are of a piece. Perhaps the experience is made particular by the chosen discipline and it curbs some inclinations and enhance others. Its pretty much about luck in the best of times. We are fortunate to have Richard in our time line.

The Actor's Advocate


tower house LAMDA at Tower House

I first moved to London in 1995, when I won a place on the Three-Year Acting course at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). During those next three years, I got to know West London pretty well. Earls Court, High Street Kensington, Hammersmith – my fellow students and I owned those mean streets. We strode down Chiswick High Road in our baggy dance trousers and character shoes, talking too loudly about David Mamet and Alexander Technique, confident in the belief that in just a couple of years, we would be far too famous to get around without security and a smoked-glass Range Rover.

But there was one place we got to know better than anywhere else. From our first audition to the very last performance, all the most significant events of our time at LAMDA took place at the MacOwan Theatre…

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Love books [some physics & math, English & Canadian Lit.]

As worker fond of science and literature, from SEA now domiciled in the West Coast, films and books have been my constant, keeps my sensitivities keen to understand the prime movers and the gentle events of finding friends as we forward in time. It goes without saying that the 20th, and now the 21st century had been more than interesting times. Two world wars, nuclear fission , trips to the moon and Russian and American satellites travelling to the edge of our stellar space, With the Chinese challenging such advancements, it is very disturbing that we get a leader as leaden as Trump. We are a peaceful people, but how long this peace will prevail is anybody’s guess. Its a good thing that the Russians under Putin [in world events, not necessarily domestically] had held an even hand and not prone to exhibitionism on stage as in the US. The Japanese is  strong and quietly influential and inventive in its own special way, a force to reckon with if it finds itself threatened by bullies. It is a river that runs silently and deep. A trait that the likes of US lords have forgotten, being as loud and boisterous as they are [shallow waters make lots of old adage] not inured in the American ruling classes since their victory in WW II, having forgotten their resounding defeat in Vietnam from men and women in black pajamas. Sadly, these loud and untutored minds seem to rule the world at the moment, As the Holy Book once said or is it an old adage: This too shall pass. Why the affection for literature eventually devolves to current politics?Its proximity is undeniable, being close to the vortex that might explode , its moorings invisible, perhaps none existent. But, it suffixes to know that there are more pleasant alternatives to the dire reality of life. In the evenings , when the lights are low, I cuddle a book, and get lost in beautiful ideas of love among peoples of excellent intelligence and concern for those less endowed, even only in their prayers. We live in interesting times, science , medicine, economics, literature, drastic changes in our folkways and mores over this century, the ability to reach millions at the flick on the keys on a tiny machine that conquers space-time itself, travelling faster than the speed of sound, but not of light yet. Looking back how Heisenberg and Bohr discovered uncertainty, quarreled for life how the discovery will be used by rising tied of fascism or not, a controversy , yet unsettled to this very moment. I must be moving in the wrong racket, because not too many of us remember these momentous events which could have led to our own destruction, a propensity so peculiar to human beings, although it is common knowledge that monkeys will over eat bananas when they are domesticated and offered to their hearts’ content. Their is a natural tendency in the wilds to save some for tomorrow.  In our abundance and poverty in half the sectors of the world over, one wonders if human beings are normally distributed in the measure for greed and avarice, for kindness and benevolence, for srlf sacrifice witnessed in battlefields or impoverished sections of worlds. It seems, I have lost tract of literature, the initial topic, but the current situation of the world demands attention, even cursorily and superficially. The root causes of human suffering and bounty are intertwined and few have tried to unravel it, to unweave the intricate relationships that bind societies in spite or its discordant noises . And here we are, pushing our relentless endeavour to reach the sea, like the mountain streams finding peace and respite in the vast expanse of the distant sea…like Thorin discovering the key to the fable Arken Stone, which drove him to the the madness of ultimate avarice and death. The pyre that the dwarfs built to send Thorin to Odin’s place, his lovely evelids closed, the smile on his battered face….the lost son to his father’s praise. Memories are made of these, thank heavens it was only a film and our hero lives in New York or Yorkshire or London, still working away with at most pleasure on his craft. My only hopeless wish, is he does do  a project with Daneila, just more time for the road to no where…as Hamlet says..”where no one ever returns to tell the tale”…sorry for addendum. Well, we retrun to the campfire every evening , have a mug or two with our confreres and sing the songs of Thorin, till the lights run low and all is quiet. Curtains are up….

Pilgrimage: I am looking forward to this film, but it seems Canadian West Cost never really gets attention from distributors, I guess we are too far for notice, too much land and fewer people . i have to wait for DVD or Blue ray which may take years. We went to NY 11/23/16 to see Love, Love, Love but Richard did not show up to visit with ”supporters”. I was amazed that at first glance, he looked like Ted Hughes, but had to concede, he was worth the trip. Perhaps , I will not try again, it is in the stars. Content to see very distant blue star, will read quantum physics instead for the real challenge. i will always have Margaret and John tucked in the recesses of my memory banks[Paris?]quantum sufficit.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year Richard Armitage…

The review of the classic myth is a taste not much in vogue, but when it surfaces, i get a kick out of it, almost like a private/public joke.

Ancient Armitage


No, no, no…not THAT  “wonderful time.”  It’s the wonderful time of the year when my Topics in Ancient History class gives their presentations on Pompeii and Herculaneum.  As always, the first topics snatched up were those relating to sexuality, brothels and prostitution.  I am currently on a countdown to when the famous Priapus fresco from Pompeii will make an appearance.   For those who have not met him, Priapus was a Roman deity associated with the harvest and fertility whose most marked attribute was his ithyphallic appearance.   The anticipation of running into Priapus and the subsequent student reaction to him is killing me! (my classroom pleasures on this level are few and far between…don’t judge me 😉  )

What makes it even better this term is that thanks to my RL Facebook feed, I can see that Priapus fresco and raise with this little gem…

Priapus de Rivery Priapus…

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