Happy Blogoversary To Me…Birthday To You, Richard Armitage

A little internet birdie reminds me that it is my First Blogoversary, which happens to coincide with a Certain Birthday…and the initial catalyst to the start of this particular blog.

This blog may likely (possibly, certainly) metamorphose beyond the fandom that I embraced years ago. But since then I have found myself delving deeper into my own writing and professional life, and some long overdue changes – with the latter affecting this particular blog.

Here’s to another year, better still for us both, Richard.



Richard Armitage Admirer, The Arkenstone, Pays It Forward: A Spread the Love Connection Through Outlander

A good way to spend a Sunday morning

A very nice way to spend a Sunday morning

      I have become the recipient of several books that I had only recently come to know of upon hearing that Graham McTavish had been cast in the new Starz original series, “Outlander.” Naturally, I patiently await news and its premiere.

      Needless to say I was floored when I received these books – a set of seven of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander book series of eight.  This generous gift was received from a fellow Richard Armitage admirer and ravenous book reader, The Arkenstone – who is also lovingly known as Arkie.

     The thick paperback tomes are simplistic and minimal in their cover art, and their contents appear to be far richer.

Graham McTavish as Dougal MacKenzie in Outlander

Graham McTavish as Dougal MacKenzie in Starz original series, “Outlander”

      Shamefully, however, after receiving them (because I have many other books in my “queue” to read), I failed to notice a very special feature about these particular books.

      I had tucked them away to await their turn in my queue, but auspiciously, while I was moving the books a few days ago, Outlander fell open to reveal a unique concept of giving which is labeled and detailed on the inside cover.

outlander label

Outlander tracking label at www.BookCrossing.com

       These series of books have been entered in a program which is designed to encourage book sharing.  The books’ participation – all initiated and perpetuated by Arkie – have been labeled with custom-made sticker labels that each carry ID numbers for tracking and information on this share program.  Each book’s new owners are encouraged by the sticker to seek out the website www.BookCrossing.com, where the its specific travel history can be obtained and a new owner can continue on the tradition.

       Although The Arkenstone writes fan fiction herself, she also generously shares links to other’s fan fiction as well in her weekly wrap-ups.

       After being clued in to the fact that there was more “gift” beneath their covers, I spoke with Arkie about this program and her participation, where more was learned on her passion for reading, writing and sharing.


CC: I just adore my new books! Please tell me how BookCrossing.com came to your attention and when did you join the program?

TA: My husband gave me a Nook as a Mother’s Day gift in 2010, with the intention of ridding our house of the over-abundance of books. Let me step back for a second, not only did I have new books, but I also collect pre-1950 hardback books. Why pre-1950? Because there are less of them. My oldest is an 1853 Fifth Grade Primer. Think about it. 31 States. No Civil War, No Abraham Lincoln. Franklin Pierce was President. Potato Chips weren’t invented until August, 1853. There were also less words per page. Anyway, he knew I wouldn’t get rid of the old books. For the next few months, I gave several boxes to the local library, but they didn’t have the room for any more. I sent my paperback books to the Veterans Association or Wounded Warriors. One day I was searching the Internet for some books for my Nook and happened to see an advertisement for BookCrossing.com. The rest as they say is history.

dragonfly in amber2

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

CC: Aside from signing up, what is the process for participating in the program as you understand it?

TA: It’s really that easy. You don’t have to have books to share. You can look for books that are available and request them. It’s a sharing site to get people to read. It’s a chance to read an author you might have heard of and not read. I think there’s probably more books there that people have never heard of than you can imagine.


Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

CC: When did you first read the books/become a fan of Diane Gabaldon? What made you choose, or wish to share, these books in particular?

TA: I have always been a fan of science fiction and fantasy. When “Outlander” came out in 1991, I bought it. I read it in 3 days. I couldn’t put it down. I bought every one of the series as soon as it hit the stores. I didn’t wait for the paperback. I really thought I would keep them forever. Then when word got out that Starz was making a series, my first reaction was “Oh no. I have to cart those heavy tomes around, when I’m now using a Nook?” I decided since I was going to buy the ebook version, that I didn’t need to keep 12 pounds of books around. I first put them on BookCrossing.com in a controlled release, simply because there were so many copies of the Outlander series already listed. That way I could hold them and not feel obligated to set them out someplace. They were in pristine condition.

CC: Yes, the books are indeed in pristine condition, and I do plan to keep them that way until I put them back into circulation. So how many books would you say you read a year?

TA: Easier to ask me how many books I read in a week. If the book is good, I will read it in a day. I’ve been known to read a book a day. So on an average, I would say probably in the neighborhood of 200, more or less. I will read almost everything and almost anything.

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

CC: Shamefully I could never keep up with you as such a prolific reader. But I think we may mutually know of a certain someone who might come close to that when he’s not working, hm? So, when did Richard Armitage come into your own sightlines?

TA: Probably 2011. My husband was channel-surfing and we came across Robin Hood. As someone once said, “I rooted for the wrong side.” I didn’t really get into the whole “Armitage Army” until later, but I did look him up on the Internet and checked out a few of his fan websites. I was amazed at their dedication to him. That is until Gandalf opened the door to him at Bilbo’s house. Thorin Oakenshield pretty much turned my whole world upside down.

The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon

CC: So was it then that began reading fan fiction containing the characters portrayed by Richard Armitage, or does it go further back to other characters/fandoms?

TA: I didn’t read fan-fiction before I wrote fan-fiction. There are a couple of series I read now.

CC: How long have you been writing yourself? Is there a site that we can go to?

TA: I wrote my first fan-fiction in June 2013. I post on a couple of sites, Wattpad and DreamerFiction. Wattpad is easy to register on. Dreamer Fiction you have to be invited to join. It’s a little more selective. [Note: Dreamer Fiction is a private chat forum site. Joining requires a referral from an existing member and is for those aged 18 and over.]

CC: Would you like to mention specific fan-fiction writers that you adore and/or recommend?

TA: There are some really good writers out there. My absolute favorite is Morrighan’s Muse. She wrote a serial called “A Willing Heart” that was my first fan-fiction story that I could not get enough of. She’s writing a serial now called “Every Fifth Living Thing”. It’s amazing. A publisher soon is going to notice her. Zeesmuse is another one. She wrote a story called “Manna From Heaven.” It was yummy.

A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon

A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon

CC: What are your favorite fan-fiction sites?

TA: There are several fan-fiction sites. I wouldn’t want to say which are better than any of the others, since they are all different in their own unique way. Some are more geared to teens and band fan-fiction. Some are geared to slash fiction. Some are soft porn or are fairly racy.

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon

CC: Anything else specific you want to share or say?

TA: Just a couple of things. One, share. Share your knowledge. I am amazed every day to hear that our children know so little about our country and the world. Ask your children some simple history questions. See what they are learning in school. Share your books. There are still people out there who cannot read because books are not available to them. There are soldiers and sailors serving our country who would be thrilled to have a paperback to read. They don’t even care what it is. Some of those same veterans are in hospitals recovering from injuries who wish they had something to read to pass the time.

Lastly, thanks for taking the time to listen to me ramble on.

Anytime, Arkie!

Where The Arkenstone can be found, amongst other treasures of course -

~ crystalchandlyre

I am not going to assume that things are always going to be…

I’d like to always feel…

…that there will always be something nice around.

 I want to take literal advantage of the benefits and freedoms that I have…

…without ever taking them for granted.

 But at the end of the day, I’d still always like to genuinely and truthfully say…

…that I’ve been good to myself, I’ve been good to others, I still have nice things…

…and that I still have the ability to love and be loved.

My words, not Richard’s.

~ crystalchandlyre


Where Richard Armitage Spelunked, Skied, or Soared

“I visited the Waitomo Caves and saw the glowworms. I skied down Mount Ruapehu. I skied at Queenstown and all of the ski locations there. I skied at Mount Hutt. I took a helicopter out to White Island. I took a helicopter to the Milford Sound.”  – Richard Armitage

glow worms

Waitomo Caves Glowworms, New Zealand – Photo: Ralph Roberts

large ruapehu

Mt. Ruapehu Skiing, New Zealand – photo: mtruapehu.com

Mount Hutt Ski Lift

Mt. Hutt and Chair Lift, New Zealand – photo: Creative Commons

Mt. Hutt Skiing

Mt. Hutt, New Zealand – photo: Simkin

white island

White Island, New Zealand – photo: www.whalesanddolphinwatch.co.nz


Queenstown ski lift, over looking the sound, New Zealand – photo: Destination Queenstown

New Zealand South Island Fiordland National Park Milford Sound

Flyingseeing over Milford Sound, New Zealand – photo: www.globalconnection.com.au

Taking Things For Granted

When things change, we are either prepared or were are not.  If we are not expecting it, chances are it is because we have assumed consistency. And when that happens, often there is shock, maybe some pain, and possibly even regret, involved.  This regret can stem from taking for granted that which was assumed would always be there, available, or expected to produce.
I have just learned that the Richard Armitage Fan Page, Richard Armitage Online, will discontinue her updates due to restrictions that exist in the program that houses the website.richardarmitageonline
Having only come into the Fandom a few years ago myself, I am not fully aware of the website’s origins, its creator(s), or its actual time of inception.  All I have really known, outside of the catalog of articles, news, and career chronology, is that the website is/was a source of Richard Armitage’s monthly-down-to-annually Messages or letters to his fans, which were posted faithfully and openly by the website and its webmistress, Annette.
Like Richard’s posted messages, I had assumed that they would always produce and be fruitful, offering pieces of insight into the mind, heart, and soul of the very actor that many of us have come to admire, as a result of viewing his work in some form.
And as with other websites that dedicate themselves to the celebration and archiving of Richard’s bio, career history, press, images, and all things related, Richard Armitage Online has consistently provided Richard’s fan with regularly updated, publicly made, actively available information – and all completely through the work of the websites creator(s)’ own generosity and expense. At least, as I understand it.
In interviews, I have heard Richard make mention of Annette and make reference to the fan sites in general.  I can only speculate as to what this kind of acknowledgement might mean to one who makes such an effort to produce and maintain a website, with only things like sincere admiration or even a desire to be of service, as payment. That and a maybe a desire for an outlet to create as well.
My own true regret is that I have assumed that Richard Armitage Online would always be there.  And that like most any professional looking site which may also be assumed to be commercially funded, I also took for granted that it would always be updated with the plethora of regularly available goods that circulate on the internet for fans like me to enjoy.
richards last letter
Although Annette has indicated in a message on the site that she is not taking it down, but merely discontinuing the site’s updates, it still brings a sadness that such a thing will occur.
From my heart, I simply wish to say to Annette, and to anyone else who may be currently contributing to the site, that I have fully enjoyed and appreciated all the lovely work contained on Richard Armitage Online, and that I now regret that I had not visited and communicated more often.

Seeing Richard Armitage – Part II, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Premiere LA


On my way to see Richard Armitage at the Los Angeles Premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – like the skies of erebor

(Read Part I – Seeing Richard Armitage, Against All Odds or Welcome to My ‘Hood, Richard )

Return to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Los Angeles Premiere

My drive to Hollywood was an auspicious one, being that one of the visions when approaching the event was the very beautiful image of the Gothic First Hollywood Methodist Church silhouetted by a sunset backdrop.  The sky looked as if on fire.
Because I was apprehensive about actually going at first, my very first reaction when I first arrived at the Premiere of The Hobbit:  The Desolation of Smaug  was surprise at the relative sparseness of fans in attendance.  I was actually both relieved and a little dismayed.
For my own sake, I was relieved because I do not do well with crowds.  For the sake of the filmmakers and planners of such an event, I was dismayed because crowds make a premiere appear more successful.  At the time I did not realize that LA people – like me – actually really do know how it works.  If you come too early, you wait around a lot.  If you come too late, you miss a good spot. Like most anything, timing is everything.  It was also a work/school day, so many were probably still commuting.  The fact that I got lucky in that respect was probably pure kismet, or just good timing.
But later, I would find that there were indeed more people than had met my eyes at that moment.
After securing a spot or two, with one retained in absentia by persuading some kind folk to look after a much-needed chair that I appropriated from another level – for a stranger who has had two knee surgeries and simply cannot stand for what might become hours – I then wandered the complex more to enjoy seeing the people, scenery and possibly find an even better vantage point.
bofur cosplay at the hobbit: the desolation of smaug los angeles premiere – the hollywood and highland
I walked toward the front entryway, and virtual proscenium, to the street where the Black Carpet actually makes a right-hand turn into the complex and towards the Oscar steps.  On my way I was pleasantly pleased to encounter a cosplay “Bofur”, who indicated that he was making his way to his own “Thorin” and in the direction I was headed.  We emerged out onto the Hollywood Boulevard section that was now transformed into the carpeted and dressed “Hollywood Hobbit Greeting” for fans, paparazzi and guest talent that were to walk the 8 foot wide ebony ribbon laid out before them.
dwarves and elves
cosplay at the hobbit: the desolation of smaug los angeles premiere – the hollywood and highland – elves and dwarves certainly can be friends – legolas, tauriel, thorin and bofur
Bofur and I were then greeted by his friends Tauriel, Legolas and, of course, Thorin, who were holding court at the barricades and on the Walk of Fame Stars beneath our feet.  Naturally, I begged permission to take photographs, which they graciously allowed.  Immediately thereafter, the now increasing crowds descended in such a way that let me know I had broken the ice enough to want ask and take pictures themselves.
I then walked up and down the elaborate setup that was just now filling with photographers  in mid-setup in preparation for the onslaught. Their onslaught.

The Real Hollywood

I would later hear what Benedict Cumberbatch would have to say about that very bank of paparazzi, which dismayed me.   I think Los Angeles press photographers are getting meaner and pushier with the years of living in this town, and I think it is beyond sad and embarrassing.  Nothing is more pathetic than saying to the world “You are welcome here as long as you do exactly what I want and I get what I want from you.”
screen cap – live stream, the hobbit: desolation of smaug los angeles premiere
As a kinder, gentler Angelina, for the most part, I would just like to say here to people visiting Los Angeles from other countries, that as rude as people can get here – or as shallow also as they might appear to be – on the whole we are really not all of us that bad. We can greet openly occasionally, share smiles and stories, and – thank goodness – even willingly save seats for strangers.   We like tourists and visitors and do not see them as a hindrance or bothersome.  We really do love our guests.
The is an unfortunate reality, however, there is just no room for them to stay permanently.  The town is more than full and over-flowing and that overcrowding is making people mean and bitter, especially in regards to auto traffic.  As nice as the weather is here, and as pretty as some of the people and specific places might be, it really is an ugly place.  We hide the ugly as much as possible, like one would sweep dust under the carpet or hastily stash away junk in the closet or beneath the bed.
hobbit black carpet3
the hobbit: desolation of smaug los angeles premiere black carpet – “Giant Eagle” eye view.
 The “real” Hollywood is actually not in Hollywood at all.  It is in Burbank, Century City, Culver City and a smattering of other outlying areas.  The traffic connecting those parts of Los Angeles, the even more cluttered downtown area, and the vast, outlying urban-suburban sprawl spanning miles outside Los Angeles proper, is beyond unnerving, unhealthy, and down-right often dangerous.
And there is truth in the fact that we never walk anywhere if we can help it and we may never get to actually know our neighbors after living next to them for years.  These truths probably seems odd to the rest of the world, and sometimes to me as well, but the reasons for it are not fear or – in the case of the latter – unfriendliness.   From my perspective, it has been that when a complete stranger approaches in most instances, my first thought is often that they want something from me or they want to sell me something.  Those are the pitfalls of living in a sprawling, stranglingly crowded, and fast city such as this one.  But there it is.
hollywood boulevard as viewed from the hollywood and highland – wikipedia image
This town taints and is tainted in ways beyond the effects of mere traffic frustration, and in ways that are just too numerous to fully describe. However, when I know there are tourists or folk who nearest me, and for an event such as the Premiere, with an almost unified purpose I have a tendency to force passed my shyness and push out the graciousness within me – both the “Virgo” willingness to be of service and the person proud to welcome someone who is possibly visiting for the first time.  I want visitors to have the best experience possible when here, especially when I hear they have saved all their lives and/or traveled thousands of miles just to come here.  It is then that want to show them what is actually beautiful, as well as what they would most like to see.  Of course, since I have not a vested financial interest in it, I could care less that they bring money or business.  They do.  But better still, they go home retaining the memories of a place that I call home, so I would only wish them the best experience.
Like that of Jed Brophy, I have a pride in my home town that I would want to share with a visitor.  But unlike Los Angeles, Jed’s home has far more breathing room and likely better air to do so.

grand hollywood and highlandEagle’s View

After I  left Bofur, Thorin and friends, I made my way back into the complex, taking elevators and escalators to the upper levels to scout, sight-see and people watch. Throughout my wandering, several people asked me to take pictures of them against the Hollywood sky line, such as the one above, of which I obliged gladly.  I was relieved to find that many people had gathered further and were littered throughout the upper levels of the complex.  Many preferred the birds-eye views that were afforded them, looking down into the sprawl below and taking in the glittering and sparkling scenery that culminated both the Hollywood strip, skyline, and Hobbit Premiere finery.
the hobbit: desolation of smaug los angeles premiere – black carpet inside the hollywood and highland
I was beyond elated.
To the folks who watched the online streaming, and to the actors and talent who walked the black carpet and “might” see this report, there was no way you would have know about the masses above you.  If you were on the carpet and looked up, you might have seen some faces from way above looking down, but that would not have given you a complete grasp of the volume of people there.
After doing my own sightseeing, I made my way back to my spots, where one was  thankfully still available.
I stood with a young woman of whom I thought was a photographer, but when asked she said “No, just a fan.” She had been getting eagle-eye zoom shots down from the upper level of the receiving line.  I asked who she had gotten pictures of and asked specifically about Richard.  She was not sure who was who in the initial arrivals, but said that a actor pulled up in an ostentatious yellow Lamborghini.  My instincts thought No, but I described Richard anyway.  From my description, she thought it might be him.  She further described what he wore,  that he was tall, and seemed to be very “all about himself” as she put it.  I just that couldn’t be.  So she showed me a picture, although slightly blurry, where it was confirmed that it indeed was not Richard.  But I knew who it was.  The who had emerged from the yellow Lamborghini was non-other than Manu Bennett.

Waiting for Romeo

My primary vantage point was that of a second level area to the right of the entrance way, or the right-most area as seen from the Live Streaming cameras. It was almost my very own “Juliet Tower” – a common, affectionate term for a small balcony for just such purpose in most theaters – and I settled there for a long time.
dean ogorman oscar steps
dean o’gorman – the hobbit: desolation of smaug los angeles premiere
 When things got busy down below, I had taken images that later I would discover were quite good, along with others of course that were, well, not so good.  I also discovered some that I had not realized I had indeed gotten – such as that of Dean O’Gorman and Aidan Turner, along with Stephen Fry and Orlando Bloom – the latter image being far to blurry to post, but in existence none-the-less.
When it occurred to me that my vantage point was truly not a good one, I moved as fast as I could and made my way through the thongs and towards the Oscar steps.
As luck would have it, I had positioned myself just in time to see the very person I had really come to see  – the one who could either make my night, or ruin it, if indeed I had missed even the slightest glimpse of him.  But I did indeed get to see him – Richard Armitage – and in a way that may not have been optimum, but still would turn out to be special, even if fleeting.
aidan turner – the hobbit: desolation of smaug los angeles premiere
Seeing Richard at the moment almost made time stop.  And it only came to be that when I had actually stopped fiddling with my #@%&ing evil contraption of a camera to observe and “be” there.  I watched him ascend the steps where possibly even he, at that moment, may have realized that others of whom he also admires have had actually walked.  He may have also realized that millions of fans have walked those steps with also just that very thought in mind.  He may have also said his own personal prayers of hope , as I did, that someday he would walk up the those very steps again, and to an awards show that would require him to descend down them while grasping that oh-so-familiar and coveted piece of gold, naked hunk of metal that means far more than its actual monetary value to the one who earns it.
I wish this for Richard more than anything.
While I reflect on these images, I recall what I thought at the time I first glimpsed his face.  To quote from my comment in a previous post:
“I had looked directly into his face at one point. No eye contact, but I saw “him” and that too is invaluable…Those of us who have now seen him probably have different takes.
I will say this…where I should have said before, he was both alike and yet different from how I have imagined. Bigger-than-life is difficult to describe about an actor’s persona and physicality when compared to their actual physical being. For instance, some images appear to me to make his head seem larger. His head is better proportioned in reality, at least from my perception.
He is slender, but because I know that images can put “weight” on people, he did not seem any slimmer than in recent images. He is still slimmer than that of North/Bateman, John Porter or Sir Guy, but not skinny.
…I don’t know where he gets that he has a mean face. I saw much boy, and a softness (not fleshy – soft.) And I can now easily see how one might not randomly recognize him on the street, as he has said in interviews. He has the everyman about him – in countenance and looks. This is the truth.”

richard premiere
richard armitage – the hobbit: the desolation of smaug los angeles premiere – live stream screen cap
In that moment I could only lament that the time was indeed so fleeting.  My own memory retention may not be the best – and often escapes me, and disappoints others almost as much as it disappoints me – but in this respect I can honestly say I am not embellishing or creating any new memories based on images seen in print, online, or on any screen – these memories are mine and they are unusually strong.  This is probably because I wish to hold onto them so desperately, and I am consciously working to be sure that none are added to by other input.
When he walked up the stairs, and I stopped my useless and wasteful fiddling, I watched him ascend and felt nothing but pride and admiration.  For someone who is a complete stranger really to me – as I to him – this is possibly viewed as an odd, almost disjointed reaction to someone reading my recollection from the outside.  Probably. Although I don’t care really, I am still aware, acutely, of how it must look to observe a stranger so intently.
I think I comforted to know, as he has relayed in interviews – even recently – that Richard may practiced  or experienced something like this himself, over someone he admires even now or has idolized in the past.
This thought gives me comfort really, even if there is a chance that it’s not true to the same extent in which I feel my admiration for him.


denny’s – the hobbit: the desolation of smaug promotional menu – link to theonering.net article
When everything was done, at least as far as I was concerned for myself, I headed east with the intention to get something to eat and maybe write.  Once I secured a location (I almost went to Denny’s but I decided I really just wanted to get out of Hollywood.)  So I settled on a place that I was more comfortable with, and closer to my own home, with the intention to have dinner and go home to write more.
I hardly ate a thing, just having a glass of wine and a partial bowl of soup, because I write the entire time I am there – essentially closing down the place because I was committed (obsessed?) to relaying as much as possible.  But still, I was forced to cut it short at least to the point where I had an ending and could post in a reasonable amount of time relative to the event, unlike this one.
leena and orlando and abbey
leena tailor (@leenaNZ & @koolkiwis), her friend abbey, and orlando bloom – the hobbit: the desolation of smaug after party – dolby theatre
If I had had both the tenacity and energy to stay, I might have eaten instead there at the Hollywood and Highland to wait out the premiere exit and sought the after party.
There’s always an after party.
This could have been in one of several places, with the more likely being The Highland, the Grand Ballroom that normally holds the Governor’s Ball/Oscar Post Party or another ballroom immediately adjacent to the theater.
But wherever the location, it was there that Twitter friend and Freelance Journalist, Leena Tailor of @koolkiwis, along with her friend Abbey, indeed ventured to seek out the premiere goers.  Although she indicated that she had seen Richard at one point, it was there that was able to connect with a Middle Earth Elf, rather than a Middle Earth Dwarf this time.
As with any post I do – and this is each and every time – I never know if anyone will ever even read it, much less find anything I have to say interesting.  But I go ahead post, looking forward to any comments that might come my way that might express pleasure in what I have written.
I was floored and overwhelmed at the response to my initial story.  The fact that I had more to say didn’t really occur to me until after I was prompted in comments by others, which was after a comment or two posted later that contained more of my reflections and memories.
So here it is in total.  There really is no more.  My hope, once again, is that what memories I was able to retain, and what few synaptic connections I still have been able, might afford any remaining interest in what I have to say still and nearly almost three days after the fact.
~ crystalchandlyre

Seeing Richard Armitage, Against All Odds or Welcome To My ‘Hood, Richard

dolby edit

dolby theatre corporate, Los Angeles – 12-2-13 – Photo crystalchandlyre

I did something I did not think I would do.  I actually went to the premiere.  And yes, I saw Richard Armitage.
The decision to do this was a last minute one.  It occurred to me that there would probably be no other opportunity for me available in my lifetime.  Really.  I am a realist.  I freelance and I am small time and I am late in the game in my chosen profession.  I do not have the connections under my belt to gain press access in a timely manner, and my own physical (mental?) restrictions prevent me from seeking out crowds.
I hate crowds.  Tonight reminded me as to just why, but to be honest, it really was not that bad.  That is probably not a good thing, as far as premieres go.  But I, personally, am grateful.
It was worth it.
I began my trek from the Pasadena area around 4:35 pm and made my way to Hollywood proper.  The freeways were mercifully clear, with a minor jam nearest my exit off of Gower St, spilling me off the 101 freeway at 5:00 pm.  At rush hour, this is exceptional good time.
black carpet edit
the hobbit: the desolation of smaug premiere, Los Angeles – 12-2-13 – Photo crystalchandlyre
I came in the back way to the Hollywood and Highland, from Franklin, passing by my once Hollywood apartment which was about 6 blocks from my “now” destination.  Pausing at the light, I look up to my left, and there is a new sign on what must be the corporate headquarters for the Dolby Theatre.  This all is new.  Well, new to me.  I then turn left from Franklin onto Highland in my very familiar old ‘hood, and headed just one block to enter directly into the 15 year old complex known as The Hollywood & Highland.
Parking ease was a good sign also.  However, this still required winding down 5 levels as I went straight to the bottom-most section of the structure, securing my usual spot which most folk have yet to grasp as to how easy it really is to find.  Ready and eager to go, I grabbed my gear and made my way up 5 sets of escalators, working towards the Dolby Theatre, which was located on the 2nd level of the complex.  By this time it is 5:15 pm.
Men in black suits littered the entryway of the Dolby open-air pre-foyer, screening those begging entrance to the Ticket Will Call.  I myself had hoped that I would have secured tickets through the Women’s Health Magazine contest, but it was no surprise really that I did not.  I don’t win contests.
above edit
the hobbit: the desolation of smaug premiere, Los Angeles – 12-2-13 – Photo crystalchandlyre
I quickly worked easily passed the roped and shallow barricaded black carpet that lead from the street front and up the famous red steps of Oscar fame – steps created for just that purpose.
It is about here, however, where I proceed to make what I think are good decisions, but are actually bad.
At this point, things are not too busy.  People are lined at the barricades, but they are only allowing single lines, so – good girl that I am – I heed this.
It’s 5:45 and I am told by a very nice Man in Black that “things” will start at 7:00.  Okay. I have time.
So, for the next hour or so I wander the area to scope out a spot.  I take pictures of the entire setup, and some of glittering landscape around, so that I can share it here.  I make my way to upper levels, getting “eagle” eye views and capturing those as well.  I do happen to know the complex very well, as I have taken many a set of relatives and friends from out of state on mini tours.  And when The Highland club opened, I organized and held my 20 year class reunion there.  I went to school just down the street.
This really is my ‘hood.
hobbit carpet press edit
the hobbit: the desolation of smaug premiere, Los Angeles – 12-2-13 – Photo crystalchandlyre
So finally, I settle on a position nearest the steps up to the Dolby and secure it.  It is on an upper level looking down and there is a convenient chair.  Expecting my zoom feature to provide decent images of my then vantage point, I keep the position, testing out my camera and what-not, so that when the time comes I am ready.
This was bad idea #1.
Of course, all of this activity has begun to wear down my battery.  But no fear, I have my power cord and I miraculously secure an outlet.  I hear screams from around the corner around this time, and because they come at 5 minute intervals, I vacillate between my secured area and the outlet to hover near my furiously charging camera, hoping that nothing “happens” while this is taking place.  But I get impatient often and I am constantly unplugging, checking and fiddling with the camera, and replugging in the camera over the course of a 45 minute time period.
This was bad idea #2.
As I write this I am thinking about how I am too old for this, but hey – Richard is my age-ish and he has put up with far more, so here is where I stop whining…somewhat.
the hobbit: the desolation of smaug premiere, Los Angeles – 12-2-13 – Photo crystalchandlyre
I hear screams from around the corner.  They die down, but fairly quickly down the carpet comes Production Designer, Dan Hennah.  And I have a feeling Richard Taylor, Creatures, Effects and “Orcrist” designer, went by as well, amongst a host of other fantastic crew folk too quick and too humble to work the crowds.
Again, I hear the screams, but this time is after a black SUV pulls to the front most area, and not with the other vehicles which are not in sight, but around the corner.  Out of the SUV comes Luke Evans, who goes straight and fast out of sight, which was to the last leg of the 50 yard press line-up.  He was still too far away for an image.
Then, 5 minutes later, there are screams.  Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee), and his family, move down the carpet far too fast for any pics, stopping maybe once or twice for autographs.
Then in another 5 minutes, Philippa Boyens makes her way down.  She does stop for autographs and I, of course, am not able to get decent images.  She is just lovely.
I then see a large group forming and I realize that my position really won’t do.  Suddenly a mass containing Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, and then someone yells “Peter.”  I take some pics, but I just know that this will not do.  So I move, and as quickly as I can, down the stairs and into the throngs below.
richard mine
richard armitage – the hobbit: the desolation of smaug premiere, Los Angeles – 12-2-13 – Photo crystalchandlyre
Men in Black try to keep the lineup at the barricades as “single” or as narrow as possible, and so we are constantly being moved – me and the throngs that are now getting frenzied.  I am moving closer to the stairs, I recall a vantage point that might be a good one.  I keep myself moving so that I don’t get told to move.
Then I hear it…several screams of “Richard!”
richard armitage - the hobbit: the desolation of smaug premiere, Los Angeles - 12-2-13 - Photo crystalchandlyre

richard armitage – the hobbit: the desolation of smaug premiere, Los Angeles – 12-2-13 – Photo crystalchandlyre

I turn around to find and struggle to secure as close a spot as possible.  Then suddenly, he is there…right there.  I aim my camera in panic and press.  Nothing.  I press again, and snap.  No flash. I do this several times not knowing if anything is happening I just keep pressing and snapping.  Then within seconds he is already up the steps, and rather quickly.  I realize that I must just stop pressing the camera button because if I don’t I will not get to see much of him.  So, at this point, for about 4 seconds, I just watch him walk up the “Oscar” steps.  He looked good.  Sharp and slender in his grey suit.  But he did look like a man whose eyes  had just been assaulted by camera flash for what was probably hour.
So I watched that familiar rear view, and one I have to acknowledge that I have never seen that close, from approximately 5 – 8 feet away, until he receded into the awaiting reception of the above open-air foyer to the Dolby.  I then realized that I was staring and motionless and people were crazed around me.
stairsrichard armitage, an exiting view – the hobbit: the desolation of smaug premiere, Los Angeles – 12-2-13 – Photo crystalchandlyre
Then it occurred why.  I could hear the screams of “Aidan!”, “Dean!”, and “Orlando!”.
They traveled in a pack, I swear!  This made it very difficult to actually do much of anything, but try I did.
Aidan was the best, frequently turning around while heading up the steps.  But even then,  I – and my camera – were not fast enough really.  But he really is so very charming.
It was at this point I realized I was done.
This was probably the final bad idea of the night, since there were still many others to follow.  No Martin and no Benedict – I missed them both.  Live & learn.
I still feel good about this.  As miserable as I felt the moment I checked my images to find that I had not shot off much at all, it occurred to me that – at the time I write this – Richard, his cast mates and the filmmakers are all in a dark theater, about 12 miles away from where I am now, enjoying a movie I will also enjoy in about 10 days, and in a place I grew up in and have watched metamorphose into what it is now – a re-imagined, premiere-worthy Hollywood.
So I now realize that I indeed accomplished something I did not even think I would try.
I saw Richard Armitage tonight.

~ crystalchandlyre


Dame Maggie Smith Becomes A Companion of Honour!

Originally posted on The Anglophile Channel:

She’s already a Dame but Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey’s incomparable Dowager Countess of Grantham,  has received an even bigger honor from The Queen. At an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle earlier today, Dame Maggie was honored with the Insignia of a Companion of Honour in recognition of her impressive six-decade career! Dame Maggie was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1990.


Dame Maggie Smith becomes a Companion of Honour

Companion of Honour is one of Britain’s highest awards and one of its most elite groups. According to The British Monarchy website, The Order consists of the Sovereign and 65 ordinary members.

Dame Maggie joins fellow Thespians, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellen and other Companions including Professor Stephen Hawking.

It carries no title but recipients may add a “CH” after their name.


The Order of the Companions of Honour was instituted in 1917 by

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Two works of Art


What a clever creation of happenstance.

Originally posted on Wormwood Scrubs:

RA e Torso

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Of Shifting Sands and Undertows…


This is the best description I have seen that accurately describes what randomly happens in Depression – an often nebulously treatable disease.

It is a good example of what to say to those consistent in the “glass-half-full” within the population of this planet who can’t seem to grasp “why” or “how” one could possibly feel so randomly low, without a reason, retorting often with the likes of “just snap out of it”, “smile and it will all be better”, or “think positive.” But this is only because they lack what to truthfully say. They are not lacking sensitivity (at least not always), but often simply lacking a full understanding.

Originally posted on Richard Armitage US:


You know that singular feeling of standing on the beach as the waves come in, just enough to cover your feet? As the wave goes back out to sea, it creates a sensation of the earth literally shifting beneath your feet. While it can be disconcerting, depending on the pull of the wave, it’s not unpleasant.

Then there’s another kind of wave entirely. The kind of wave looks normal, but when you step into it, it sucks at your feet like death, jerking them out from under you pulling you under with sudden and terrifying power. An undertow is treacherous, unexpected and all too often undetectable… until it has you. As you become more familiar with the shore, the pattern of the waves and the weather, you can sometimes sense an undertow, but that doesn’t mean you can avoid it.

tricky tide Depression is my undertow. Like many Americans – 0ne of…

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Into the Storm: A Review, Not-For-The-Armitage-Squeamish, In Two Parts


Part I – Stormy Weather or Once The Sun Comes Out, It Can Be Beautiful


The Into The Storm poster at a bus stop, as seen by Yours Truly while traveling up N. Lake Street in Pasadena, CA – 7-15-14

One of the most delicate things about reviewing a movie that you want to love is considering all the reasons for which drive you to see it in the first place and making a decision as to whether you were satisfied with the film for those reasons.

For me the main, or initial, drive to see Into the Storm was, of course, Richard Armitage. The second was the trailers and my deep-seated admiration for the Visual Effects faction of the film industry, as we have it, and appreciation for such works.

I like big movies and I loved to be moved by them, both physically and emotionally.

The good news: there is movement. The bad news: that there is bad news, but not so overwhelming as to be a complete deterrent from seeing the film. Unless you really hate disaster movies, tornadoes, or teen audience driven films in general, you might want to tough this one out if the reasons for which you are seeing it win out, and the good out-weighs the bad.


A closer (better) view of the Into The Storm poster at a bus stop, as seen by Yours Truly – N. Lake Street, Pasadena, CA – 7-15-14

I avoided reading other reviews because I wished to go in fresh. Having seen a few other film of this ilk – one recently being a television disaster film so bad that it’s great – that I can honestly say this one out does them all ten-fold.

You will go into the storm quite literally.

The bad: I am easily irritated by the Hallmark-like brand TV movie, especially when it is a touch reflective of the 70’s/80’s melodrama and teen TV dramas (and comedies) that were so prevalent. I missed out on a lot of television for about a decade because I found it so vapid. So I have little patience for something that even touches in that area, which I’m afraid Into The Storm does.

Unfortunately, I do have to acknowledge here that clearly I do not fit into the demographics targeted for such a film. But a family with teen children might feel right at home with the first 30 minutes or so, and beyond.  I simply found those initial minutes excruciating.

Also, what is apparently to be the comic relief of the film, becomes just a pandering to to those who enjoy the drivel found on You Tube that features thrill-seeking idiots who come dangerously close to winning Darwin Awards. (I did a face palm several times, and not because the storm effects were too frightening to watch either.)

The wrap up at the end seems forced and contrived, the mortality rate unrealistically low (although I am grateful of), and the survival of certain pieces of technology (key to the plot movement and documentary look) seems beyond implausible considering all the wet – which varies from light precipitation to the fully immersed. (IE: Even television news camera crews cover their gear with plastic.)


Even closer still – Into The Storm poster at a bus stop, as seen by Yours Truly N. Lake Street in Pasadena, CA – 7-15-14

The good: The visual effects, special effects, and some really great low-level, stylish vehicle camera work will take you to see the real star of the film – the massive storm. And the sound and sound editing. In the theater I was in you could feel the storm rumble through the seats.

They weren’t kidding when they packaged this film to sell in the trailers. The only true and proper direction given that I can see here was in this area. If you love an action-packed, white-knuckler, thrill ride, THIS is what will be the most satisfactory part of the experience.

That, and there’s a few other mentionable performances. Sarah Wayne Callies is extremely watchable and a class act all the way. She was well cast, but the character is really not much of a personality departure from that if Lori Grimes (The Walking Dead.) I also really enjoyed Matt Walsh as Pete, who walks that fine line well of just likeable enough and reproachable. The two yahoos Reevis and Donk, played by Jon Reep and Kyle Davis, were indeed fun to watch, but I really am getting tired of the “stupid rednecks with beers and cameras” jokes (I won’t tell you if they win the Darwin Award or not.)

As for Richard Armitage, I think if he had had the benefit of direction (and writing) from someone, let’s say, such as of Frank Darabont’s caliber (The Walking Dead, of course, The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption) he might have had a chance at becoming the struggling and slightly cantankerous (read: “loss-pained”) hero-dad-everyman that we could so want to rally with, and maybe follow to the ends of the earth for. But sadly, he was not given such direction. Nor was he given such a script. His character was very thinly sculpted. But then again, so was mostly everyone elses.

However, the American accent survives (it plays well, as it does with Max Deacon’s Donnie) and what we are left with is his inherent performance traits that – for those of us who have watched every performance he has ever done – are so excessively familiar that it is difficult to see any significant departure from his norm.

In all honestly, Richard Armitage can do so much better. We’ve seen it.

But, if you are like me and your reasons for wanting to see the film mirror that of mine, you will want to see this film. You might even want to see it again, especially when awards season comes around for Visual Effects.

Part II – Visual Effects: It Takes A Village

These days, it literally takes a village to build on the one. So often there is a variety of VFX houses that provide a plethora of individual and specialized visual effects, either based on their past experience or what their often custom made software can provide.

The “pipeline”: The pipeline is essentially a highway of communication and software compatibilities, which governs how well, or how seamless, the merging of these effects will be. Consistency is key.

I am not necessarily a Disaster Film junkie, but as I said – I like special effects and visual effects driven movies, so the stars here really are the companies for which this film can be largely attributed to.

And I wasn’t a big fan of Twister, but I did love the little homage to it contained within.  Lovers of Twister will snicker. Lovers of Sharknado will see what “real” tornado effects look like, and revel.

The filmmakers, and the crews largely responsible for the post-production (and production) technological aspects of this film, clearly were and there love of the genre showed.

VFX Production Supervisor - Tracy L. Kettler (VFX Production Supervisor Men in Black 3, Secretariat)

The key to it all working. The Visual Effects Production Supervisor andor Producer is at the heart of a production and are required to manage all aspects of production and post-production, as I understand it. They do everything from breakdown of the visual effects needed (and likely specials effects as well), bid, plan, schedule facilities, manage the visual effects team, and monitor the work during the post-production process. This job is hard.

The following is a listing of the visual effects teams, their leadership, and the kind of work that they might have brought to Into the Storm:

Rhythm and Hues ( Xmen, Hunger Games, Moneyball, Prometheus, and the Golden Compass [whose massive VFX have been hugely underrated])

At this point, I think many are aware that in the midst of working on Into The Storm, Rhythm and Hues went bankrupt after completing Life of Pi, which held up ITS’ completion. It is not clear where in the pipeline the film was during this unfortunate event, but the list of companies following either stepped in, or were already part of the existing line-up of VFX houses responsible for various parts of the film featuring their specialized arts.

Specialties – (applicable)  clouds, smoke, cosmetic morphing, and crowd mass.

(I don’t know if Mr. Gionis worked on ITS, but his reel is the best on YouTube)


Digital Domain (VFX Supervisor : Jay Barton; Tron Legacy, X-men first Class)
Studio – Xmen: Days or Future Passed, Maleficent, Iron Man 3, Titanic

Digital Domain is James Cameron’s brain child visual effects company, beginning with Titanic, and is a big player in the VFX business. Working in the belly of the “whale” (literally the name of the  , an educated guess is they specialized in detailed, close up plane fuselage work and vehicle construction. Possibly atmospheric, working to mesh together VFX work from other houses with overlapping weather effects (wind, rain, fire and flying debris.)


Prime Focus World (VFX Supervisor : Randy Goux; Non-Stop, A Good Day to Diehard)
Studio – Edge of Tomorrow, Maleficent, Noah, The Amazing Spiderman 3, Tron Legacy, and The Great Gatsby

Specialties – based on their work on Non-Stop, it’s an educated guess that this Vancouver company is likely responsible for the visually mind blowing airplanes tossed through the sky like autumn leaves.


MPC (VFX Supervisor : Guillaume Rocheron; Godzilla, Man of Steel, Life of Pi)

Studio – Godzilla, Man of Steel, World War Z, Life of Pi, and Prometheus.
An educated guess would be that they handled the massive amounts of debris, additional wind effects (free flowing items like clothing, etc.) and possibly the conical fire storms.

Specialties – Atmospheric – Crowds, clouds, debris, and fire


Cinesite (VFX Supervisor : Simon Stanley-Clamp; Iron Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: on stranger Tides, Moon – a personal favorite)

Studio – Skyfall, Edge of Tomorrow, Xmen III, World War Z, and 300

Specialties – Post-apocalyptic destruction and landscapes mostly. Massive insertion of teaming crowds and moving and flying vehicles.


Hydraulx (Avatar, Captain America, and Avengers)

Specialties – They provide anything from simple cosmetic (facial/body) to landscape and architecture modifications. Crushing, rolling and flying cars and structure collapse appears to be a specialty.


Method Studios (VFX Supervisor : Nordin Rahhali & Bruce Woloshyn; Robocop, Divergent, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Pt 1)
Studio – Divergent, Robocop, and Ironman 3.

Specialties – Futuristic cityscapes and post-apocalyptic landscapes, explosions, molten and fire.


Scanline VFX (VFX Supervisor : Chad Wiebe; Divergent, Man of Steel, Thor )

Studio – Marvel’s The Avengers, Immortals, Iron Man, and 300.

Specialties – Fire, wind, water, atmospheric, architecture construction, modification, and structure collapse. These folks can be doing any number of things, but my guess is that they were pegged for the tornadoes themselves.


The Third Floor (Pre-vis Supervisor : Shawn Hull; Edge of Tomorrow, Maleficent, Black Sails)

Studio – Thor 2, Avengers, Skyfall and Flight.

Specialties – Previsualization (Pre-Vis) pretty much exclusively.

And educated guess was they did the pre-vis on much of the film, but likely specifically just for the airplane toss, and vehicle and debris scatter.


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