Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Joss Is Boss: Best Episodes (Part Two)

Last week was Joss Whedon's birthday, and since then I've been inspired to create many posts about him and his body of work (but mostly Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly).

And, as you've probably guessed, I'm doing another one today.

Last Friday, I discussed my top ten favorite characters.

On Monday, I discussed the first half of my top ten Joss-penned episodes (#6-#10) and promised (or threatened or warned...) that today I would reveal my top five favorite episodes.

I intend to fulfill that promise. I know you're super psyched about this, so I won't delay any longer...



5. Objects In Space (Firefly, season one)

What Happens: A bounty hunter steals aboard the Serenity while the crew is asleep, looking to capture Simon and River Tam. It becomes up to River to save them.


Why It's On The List: One of the things I love most about Joss (besides, you know, everything) is how he's always writing unusual episodes that break the mold. This particular outing offers the viewer an inside look at River Tam's mind, and is done in a really beautiful and elegant way. And Joss still finds time to make us laugh.

Favorite Scene: Okay, so I couldn't find any complete scenes from this episode on YouTube, so I'm sharing this snippet that I did find. This is taken from the scene where the crew is discussing River, and what's to be done about her unpredictable behavior.




4. Becoming, Parts I and II (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season two)

What Happens: The season two finale, this is the episode where Buffy goes up against Angelus to stop him from sucking the world into hell. So, you know, it's like every day in Sunnydale, right?

Why It's On The List: This two-part episode has so much going on. Kendra! Buffy gets expelled! Joyce discovers Buffy's secret! Buffy and Spike form an alliance! Giles gets kidnapped! Willow's in a coma! The world's in peril! A truly amazing sword fight! Willow restoring Angel's soul! And (SPOILER ALERT!) Buffy freakin' kills Angel in order to save the freakin' world! Oh, and Buffy runs away at the end. And did I mention there were swords? I love how Joss isn't afraid to rip viewers' hearts out. He'll do the unexpected all in the name of story. This episode makes you laugh and cry, and I adore it. It also contains dialogue like this:

Angelus: No weapons...no friends...no hope. Take all that away, and what's left?
Buffy: Me.



Favorite Scene: All right, so I couldn't find a clip of the sword fight (apart from the above gif), so I'm using the scene where Joyce discovers Buffy's secret.




3. A Hole In The World (Angel, season five)

What Happens: After opening a compartment in an ancient sarcophagus, Fred is infected by an ancient disease that slowly begins to kill her. As the team rushes to find a cure, Wesley begins to realize that there may be no way to save Fred.


Why It's On The List: Another example of how Joss loves to rip viewers' hearts out and stomp on them right in front of your eyes. This episode starts off so well. Fred and Wesley are finally together, and are super happy! (Always a sign in a Joss Whedon show that something horrible is about to happen, I know), and Spike and Angel are debating over who would win in a fight—cavemen or astronauts, so you're smiling and happy and feeling good and thinking about that whole cavemen/astronaut battle, but by the end of the episode, you're sobbing into an ever-expanding lake of tears on your floor. I love the episodes that make me feel, and this episode does that and more.

Favorite Scene: I was hoping to find a scene of Spike and Angel fighting over the cavemen/astronaut debate, but there was'nt one to be found (YouTube, you're really letting me down today.), so instead I have selected Fred's death scene...(sorry about the less-than-stellar quality.)




2. Once More With Feeling (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, season six)

What Happens: The musical episode. A demon comes to town, and suddenly everyone is breaking into song and dance, and revealing their innermost secrets in the process.

Why It's On The List: Did I mention that it's a musical? Once again, Joss is pushing those boundaries and breaking those molds.

Favorite Scene: This episode is nothing but highlights for me, but I've decided to go with the musical number, Walk Through The Fire because it features everyone, is a little bit funny, and a little bit serious.






1. The Body (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, season five)

What Happens: Joyce dies.

Why It Makes The List: Holy hell, this episode is amazing. It's so amazing, that it beat out Once More With Feeling as my favorite Joss-penned episode. Which is really saying something because I love Once More With Feeling. It's so realistic (the brief vampire-slaying incident at the end notwithstanding) and goddamn heart breaking. I've said before that I have the greatest love for the episodes that make me feel, and this episode makes me teary-eyed just thinking about it.

Favorite Scene:



So, that concludes my top ten. If you're a Whedonite, which episodes would you include?

And on that note, you have officially made it to the end of of my Joss Whedon-themed posts...At least until next year, that is. (Unless I decide to do one on Friday, too. But I probably won't.) Thanks for your patience!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Joss Is Boss: Best Episodes (Part One)

Happy Monday, everyone!

Last Friday, I shared my Top Ten favorite Joss Whedon characters (an incredibly hard list to make, by the way.)

Today, I shall be continuing my ode to Joss Whedon by taking a look at my favorite Joss-penned episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly. (Spoiler alert: it's mostly a BtVS and Firefly list.)

Sorry, Dollhouse and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D...you didn't make the cut this time around. Better luck next time. But don't feel too bad. Even Angel only managed to get one episode in the Top Ten.

This particular subject will be broken up into two parts because it's a super long post with just a few listed here. If I put all them in one post, that would just be way too long. Part Two will be posted on Wednesday.

Ready to begin?



10. Family (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season five)

What Happens: The episode where Tara officially becomes one of the Scoobies, and that whole 'is Tara evil' thing is resolved.

Why It Makes The List: I don't know that this episode would appear on many lists of Buffy's best episodes, but it's always been one of mine. And when I settle in for a re-watch, I always make time to watch a certain scene toward the end of this episode.

Favorite Scene: The aforementioned favorite scene at the end of the episode:




9. Our Mrs. Reynolds (Firefly, season one)

What Happens: Mal finds himself married to Saffron, who turns out to be a con artist looking to steal the Serenity out from under the crew.

Why It Makes The List: It's really freaking funny.

Favorite Scenes: I couldn't find any good YouTube clips, so you get typed-out quotes instead. And a few of this episode's quotes were already used in my post on Friday, so I skipped using them a second time.

Shepherd Book: If you take sexual advantage of her, you're going to burn in a very special level of hell. A level they reserve for child molesters and people who talk at the theater.

Mal: How drunk was I last night?
Jayne: I don't know. I passed out.

Saffron: I've made myself ready for you.
Mal: Let's ride on past the past where you explain exactly what that means.

Mal: Oh, I'm goin' to the special hell.


8. Hush (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, season four)

What Happens: The Gentlemen (fairy tale monsters) come to town and steal the voices of everyone in Sunnydale. This is the episode for which Joss received an Emmy nomination, which is funny because critics always lauded Joss for his skill at writing dialogue, and as was previously mentioned, this is the episode where none of the characters can speak for the majority of the show.

Why It Makes The List: It's said that Joss wrote this episode as a challenge to himself. He wanted to see if he was a good enough writer to craft an episode largely lacking in dialogue. I love that. Plus, this episode is super creepy, and when I first watched it, I kind of forgot that I was still able to speak. I love that, too.

Favorite Scene:




7. The Message (Firefly, season one)

What Happens: In one of the unaired episodes, Mal and Zoe attempt to fulfill a dying request from an old army buddy. Also, Jayne's mother sends him a hat.

Why It's On The List: This is probably another one of those unusual choices, but this episode is funny and sad, and the end gets me every time. I really do love it. Plus, Joss makes a cameo appearance in this episode. Also, because of this episode, Jayne Cobb has an amazing hat. And so do I. (Translation: My mom made me a Jayne hat, even though she did not understand my obsession with it. I heart my mom.)

Favorite Scene: I know I just said that the ending gets me every time, but I'm going to share another scene from this episode. One that makes me laugh:





6. Restless (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season four)

What Happens: The gang, exhausted after defeating the season's Big Bad, decide to unwind with a movie night, but end up falling asleep. Each of them has wild and crazy and dark dreams as a unknown danger stalks them in the dream world.

Why It's On The List: This episode is just all kinds of crazy and creative. There's foreshadowing galore (Be back before dawn...) and Oz puts in his final Buffyverse appearance, and there's also just some random guy with the cheese walking around. Plus, Giles sings.

Favorite Scene: In which Giles sings...




All right, folks, that's all for me today. Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to tune in next time (Wednesday) when I reveal my Top Five Joss-penned episodes because I know you just can't wait to find out what they are...


Friday, June 24, 2016

Joss Is Boss: Top Ten Characters

Yesterday was Joss Whedon's birthday.

(Happy Birthday, Joss!)

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you will know that I worship at the altar of Joss Whedon, so his birthday is, like, a high holiday at my house.

As such, I have decided to create yet another Joss Whedon-themed post.

Actually, a whole slew of them, because I couldn't decide on just one topic. So, there will be another Joss-themed post on Monday. Maybe Wednesday, too. I haven't decided yet. But yeah, there will probably be three. Or four...

Today's post, however, was inspired by this particular tweet:




And I found I couldn't respond to it because I couldn't pick just one favorite Whedon character. And seriously, who could? So I decided to do what I love to do...create a top ten list of my favorite Whedon characters.

And before we begin, just know that all of these characters are Whedon originals, so as much as I love them, no Avengers will make an appearance on this list. But I'm still going to use this gif because I love it, and it's too good not to use:


Here we go...(Man, this is hard.)



10. Jayne Cobb

From: Firefly and The Big Damn Movie, Serenity

Favorite Quotes: 

"Shiny. Let's be bad guys."

"I'll be in my bunk."



9. Hoban Washburne

From: Firefly and The Big Damn Movie, Serenity

Favorite Quotes:

"Ah! Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!"

"I can be terse. Once, in flight school, I was laconic."

"I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar."



8. Kaylee Frye

From: Firefly and The Big Damn Movie, Serenity

Favorite Quotes:

"Yes, sir, Captain Tightpants."

"The hell with this—I'm gonna live!"



7. Winifred "Fred" Burkle/Illyria

From: Angel

Favorite Quotes:

"Can I say something about destiny? Screw destiny! If this evil thing comes, we'll fight it, and we'll keep fighting it until we whup it. 'Cause destiny's just another word for inevitable, and nothing's inevitable as long as you stand up, look it in the eye, and say, 'You're evitable!'"

"I am not the damsel in distress!"

"I am feeling grief for him. I can't seem to control it. I wish to do more violence."



6. Rupert Giles

From: Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Favorite Quotes:

"The earth is doomed!"

"I used to be a highly-respected watcher. Now I'm a wounded dwarf with the mystical powers of a doily."




5. Willow Rosenberg

From: Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Favorite Quotes:

"I'm a blood-sucking fiend! Look at my outfit!"

"I don't care if it is an orgy of death. There's still such a thing as a napkin."

"You two are the two who are the two. I'm the other one."

"Bored now."



4. Dr. Horrible

From: Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog

Favorite Quotes:

"The status is not quo. The world's a mess, and I just need to rule it."

"What a crazy random happenstance!"

"I'm Dr. Horrible! I have a PhD in horribleness!"



3. River Tam

From: Firefly and The Big Damn Movie, Serenity

Favorite Quotes:

"Also, I can kill you with my brain."

"I tore these out of your symbol, and they turned into paper."

"No power in the 'verse can stop me."



2. Captain Malcolm Reynolds

From: Firefly and The Big Damn Movie, Serenity

Favorite Quotes:

"I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, I will end you."

"Well, my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle."

"Someone ever tries to kill you, you try to kill 'em right back!"

"Oh, I'm gonna go to the special hell."

"The next time you decide to stab me in the back, have the guts to do it to my face."

"I aim to misbehave."



1. Buffy Anne Summers

From: Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Favorite Quotes:

"If the apocalypse comes, beep me."

"I'm the thing monsters have nightmares about."

"The hardest thing to do in this world is to live in it."


So that's my list...

Are you a fellow Whedonite? If so, which characters would make your list? Tune in on Monday when I discuss my favorite episodes penned and directed by the man, the myth, the legend, Joss Whedon.



Thanks for stopping by! Have a great weekend, everyone.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

One Question, With Annalisa Crawford

I am unforgivably late getting this post up today, and as such, I owe a HUGE apology to today's guest, author Annalisa Crawford, but please, now enjoy this very cool post on a very cool topic very close to my very cool heart...pens, and the stories we write with them.


You. I. Us. is a collection of vignettes, small scenes which hint at the story beneath.

Annalisa has taken that idea to another level, because she asked 15 bloggers to ask her one question each, creating small insights into her life and writing.

Here's mine:

Obviously, all of our manuscripts eventually end up typed, but what is your preferred writing method? Are you 'old-school' and like to use pen (or whatever writing utensil of your choice) and paper, or do you trend toward more modern methods of writing (i.e., Scrivener, voice dictation programs, or other things I can't think of because I like pen and paper)?

Hi M.J.

My first draft is usually written using a fountain pen while I curl up on my sofa (watching Murdoch Mysteries). It was a present for my 21st birthday, and for years I didn’t use it because it was too special. When I started writing with it, I started to get published! There’s something special about using it in a blank notebook. It’s a great way to clear my head from the last project, and I find watching the flow of ink helps my inspiration. Also, by not having to turn on my laptop, I avoid all the normal Facebook/email/Twitter procrastination techniques.



Once the draft is down, I transfer to computer using that time to completely redraft and add a lot. I use Word to do that. Then I print it out and use loads of different colours to scribble all over it, therefore redrafting and adding to the story again.



Finally (and this is where you might look at me as though I’ve gone mad), I open a blank manuscript and rewrite from the current draft. I have both documents open side-by-side. And it’s amazing how many improvements you can make, and how many problems you spot when type it out from scratch. I’ve doubled the word count on the first half of my current WIP!

***

You. I. Us.
Publication date: June 10, 2016
Genre: Short Stories (Single Author)


In You. I. Us., Annalisa Crawford captures everyday people during  poignant defining moments in their lives: An artist puts his heart into his latest sketch, an elderly couple endures scrutiny by a fellow diner, an ex-student attempts to make amends with a girl she bullied at school, a teenager holds vigil at his friend’s hospital bedside, long distance lovers promise complete devotion, a broken-hearted widow stares into the sea from the edge of a cliff where her husband died, a grieving son contacts the only person he can rely on in a moment of crisis, a group of middle-aged friends inspire each other to live remarkable lives.

Day after day, we make the same choices. But after reading You. I. Us., you’ll ask yourself, “What if we didn’t?”

About the author

Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons, a dog and a cat. Annalisa writes dark contemporary, character-driven stories. She has been winning competitions and publishing short stories in small press journals for many years, and is the author of Cat & The Dreamer and Our Beautiful Child.

Find her online at: www.annalisacrawford.com

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Halfway Point

We're halfway through June, which means it's almost halfway through the year. (Fear that.)

Which means it's about that time where I like to check in on those goals I set way back in January (seriously, how is it June already?!?) to see how I'm doing, and how much further I have to go.

I've been in a bit of a funk lately, so I'm hoping that reviewing my goals will help me get back my focus and drive.

First up, the writing goals...

1. Publish Second Nature

So, I honestly don't know how this goal is going. I mean, I'm working on it, but I'm about three months behind where I had hoped to be at this time. I did a lot of editing—a lot of editing—and the book is in the hands of my beta readers. They're still reading, but no one's emailed me yet saying that this is the worst book they've ever encountered, so that's good, right?

I don't know how my editing delays at the start of the year will end up affecting the timeline, but I continue to move forward. And some days, I even feel kind of okay about it.

2. Complete first draft of Full Circle


Sample note page
Full Circle is the third intended title of my fantasy series, and with its predecessor making a slow march toward the finish line, this book is poised to become my main writing focus, which means my main obsession. As I said in January, I had no plan for it because certain unplanned events in Second Nature destroyed that plan. So since Second Nature went off to the betas, I've been working on developing a new plan. It's been marginally successful. As you may have seen on various social media sites yesterday, I'm up to thirty-fives pages of notes. It's far from a complete plan and contains far too many uses of the phrase "so this happens somehow; I don't know how yet, but it happens" but it's a start. I even wrote a possible ending that left me doing this:



I have absolutely no illusions that I stand a chance at actually completing this goal this year, but I'd settle for having a plan that works.

The Reading/Blogging Goals


1. Read 50 books this year

As of this post, I have read 23 of 50 books. Not bad. A little behind where I wanted to be, but that's how you know it's my goal, right?

2. Be better about reviewing the books I read

I don't think I'm really achieving this goal yet. I will do better in the back half of the year. Probably.

3. Be better about updating My Pet Blog

I really dropped the blogging ball last year, so the intent behind this goal was to become a more consistent blogger. I wanted to post on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays consistently throughout the year. And though I missed a few days here and there, I thought I was doing all right with this goal. Until the end of May when the funk began, and I ended up taking an extended and unplanned blogging break.

The Fitness Goals


How I look when I run.
Only not as cool.
1. Walk, run, or bike at least 750 miles

I got off to a slow start, but I've currently logged 292 miles. I remain optimistic that I will crush those remaining miles. With gusto, even.

2. Eat healthier

Well, considering I ate four pop-tarts and two pudding cups while writing this post, there's probably still some work that could be done here. Perhaps later I shall eat an apple.