Sunday 24 June 2012

Beam me up to New Zealand, Scotty!

I've always believed that I was so very lucky to have been born right here. I'm in the centre of Europe, in a country that offers it residence so much security and so many opportunities. We have warm summers (when we're lucky) and snowy winters (more snow every year, which I absolutely love, unless it's getting in the way of my travel plans). We are not plagued by any natural disasters and the financial crisis has not hit us as badly as it could have. So, I'm usually very grateful that I ended up exactly where I am. Usually... Today, not so much. Today, I would have wanted to be in New Zealand, the NZ Opera House to be exact. Why, you ask? Because that's where this man was and there are pictures to prove it!

A big THANK YOU to Catherine, who shared her pictures on tumblr

Richard Armitage and many other members of the cast of The Hobbit attended Sir Ian McKellen's one-man show to raise money for charity, to help re-build the Christchurch area which has recently been hit by a series of devastating earthquakes.

Could this be the end of Richard's period of hibernation? Is he slowly shedding the skin of Thorin Oakeshield and coming back to real life? OK, the look is still very much Thorin: the athletic body of the dwarven king is still in shape, the (now apparently slightly longer) hair probably makes it easier to add the long dwarven mane and I'm extremely happy to see that my beloved man is still rocking that beloved beard. If he's not stepping into a new role right after filming on The Hobbit wraps in July, I may even be lucky enough to see more pictures of him before he has to shave it off. Although I like my men silky smooth, there's no denying that, on the right man, a beard can look incredibly beautiful - and this one simply makes me want to reach out and touch his face!

The eyes are definitely Richard, not Thorin. He's not channeling the King Under the Mountain here, he's just himself. His beautiful, talented, humble, generous self, to be precise. I see before me, a man who is content, happy to be where he is and prepared for whatever the future holds for him. My crystal ball says the future may be absolute madness once the audiences of the world get acquainted with this talented Brit, but Richard will take things as they come, and he'll be happy to go back to relative obscurity once the world moves on to the next Twilight or Hunger Games. He'll make it through the storm unscathed and with his sanity firmly intact.

Richard Armitage channels Thorin Oakenshield, King Under The Mountain
Image source:

Oh, I almost forgot, there's video too. See what happens when Sir Ian invites the cast of The Hobbit on stage and then gets a whole bunch of audience members to come and play Shakespeare with them!

I can't wait to see this film!! Today is Sunday, 23 June, so that means 173 days until the film finally opens around the globe. [And only 59 days until Armitage Day!!] Now where did I park that time machine again?

For now, New Zealand remains on the bucket list. Some day...

Friday 8 June 2012

Random Thoughts: The King is back

Real Life seems to be getting in the way my blogging with actual substance, but I'm sure you will enjoy this Random Goodness just as much.

Anyone who knows what I mean when I talk about 'The Drought', knows that fans of Richard Armitage are getting desperate to see more of him. He's spent most of the last 2 years in New Zealand filming The Hobbit, and, unlike many of his co-stars, has not been in the public eye at all during that time. I say that with the greatest respect for his dedication to the job and his modest and humble personality. But The Army has had to go without their CiC for 2 years now - we are eagerly awaiting new orders :-)

On 6 June, Peter Jackson released his 7th The Hobbit production video blog. He takes us on a tour of the Stone Street studios in Wellington, where the 2 films (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again) are being shot back to back.
The average viewer may not even have noticed Richard in this 14minute vlog, but I can assure you it has been food for thought for many fans across the globe already. The main conclusion? He looks even better than we could ever have imagined - The King is back!!

If you've read J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, you know that Thorin Oakenshield, the rightful King Under The Mountain, is not the easiest person to deal with. He's a King: He looks, acts and speaks like royalty. And as Thorin is a fictional character of mythical proportions, he is also extremely brave, wise and fearless. Oh, and and breathtakingly beautiful! And we now have even more evidence to the fact that Richard is doing a wonderful job at portraying him.

Here are my favourite screencaps from the video blog, courtesy of

The barrel scene: An epic moment in the novel. It looks like Richard has managed to overcome his fear of water. Knowing him, he probably used it as a tool to make his performance even more convincing (that's our boy!)

This is the moment in the vlog where I thought he looked positively regal, even next to the wonderful Sir Ian McKellen.

We get a glimpse of the treasures hidden inside The Lonely Mountain. That beautiful blue coat is fit for a king!
 See the complete vlog here (from Youtube), featuring Orlando Bloom as 'The Cameraman' and a promise from PJ that another video blog will be released once filming has wrapped (in only a few weeks, can you believe it!)

Now let me take you back to the very beginning. Remember how Richard's amazing performance at the Powhiri welcoming ceremony filled our hearts with joy and pride for him? The ceremony was part of Peter Jackson's first ever video blog at the start of production. The video was released on 14 April 2011. Here's Richard's moment of glory (from Youtube):

Have fun reminiscing and I'll see you soon!

Friday 1 June 2012

Random Thoughts: The festival of tailor-made music

I know this is a few days after the facts, but I had to write about it.
Rock Werchter in Belgium has been celebrated as the best festival in the World for several years in a row. Its organisation, security and musical line-up are unparalleled and an example for other festivals. For 4 days in the first weekend of July, the festival welcomes visitors from around the globe to enjoy music from the best bands and the greatest new artists.
A few years ago, the organisers of this festival decided that it was time to branch out and give more and different audiences a chance to enjoy their favourite music at Werchter. They came up with 2 new concepts: TW Classic and Werchter Boutique.
TW Classic brings the greatest music of all time to the stage. Bryan Adams, Lenny Kravits, Simple Minds, The Black Eyed Peas, Depeche Mode, Moby, The Police, Elton John and Sting are just a few of the amazing artists that have graced the audience of TW Classic with their greatest hits.
And then there’s Werchter Boutique – the person who came up with this concept is an absolute genius! Werchter Boutique changes every year and the line-up is adapted to suit a specific audience.
In 2008, a dream came true for thousands of screaming young teenage girls and their families when Tokio Hotel was the headliner and Santana and Dutch band Doe Maar provided the necessary impulse for parents to want to accompany their sons and daughters to the festival.
In 2009, Madonna brought her Sticky & Sweet tour to the stage at Werchter and in 2010 Prince was the headliner, again bringing completely different audiences to this small town in Belgium.
Werchter Boutique then skipped a year, only to return with its greatest stunt to date. This year, Werchter Boutique catered to fans of metal music: the festival headliner was one of the greatest metal bands in the world: Metallica. And I was there.
Let me be extremely clear: I am not a metal fan. The music is too loud, the songs are usually just a blur of guitars and drums and people screaming into a microphone in ways that make me want to chop my ears off. But I have never seen a more amazing live act than Metallica. I must have seen them perform for five or six times by now, and I’m blown away every time.
We bought tickets to this festival months ago, when the only band confirmed to play was Metallica. In the months that followed, the following ‘supporting acts’ were announced: Ghost, Gojira, Channel Zero, Mastodon and Soundgarden. All great bands of the metal genre, but they were clearly no more than that: a way to pass the time before Metallica would take to the stage. I can’t really say very much about them: I didn’t like Ghost (to much like a fancy dress party), Gojira was simply too loud, I appreciate Channel Zero as they are a Belgian band and they used to be really good (used to be, that is, now…not so much), I skipped Mastodon and they were just background music to us while we were having dinner in the back of the festival grounds and I can see why Soundgarden was the second greatest grunge band after Nirvana… 20 years ago. I do still love their song Black Hole Sun, that was the only thing that got me up off the grass with my hands in the air.
At about 21:00, when the sun was setting behind the stage, it was finally time for Metallica to make this day worth the money. And by god did they ever deliver!
Metallica performed their legendary Black Album in its entirety, with The Unforgiven, Enter Sandman and Sad But True as my personal favourites. The band celebrated the 20th anniversary of this album that meant their worldwide breakthrough and made them the greatest metal band in the world, and they have not lost any of their enigmatic charisma. The lights and fireworks were perfectly in tune with the surprisingly beautiful melodies and clever lyrics of their legendary songs. I thoroughly enjoyed the concert, was screaming from beginning to end, trying to keep up with James Hetfield’s powerful vocals and incredible energy. If you’ve never seen this band, you should. I promise that you will not regret it!
I wonder what Werchter Boutique will come up with next year – it will take another stroke of genius to top this year’s overwhelming success!!