It’s been easy for everyone to bemoan how much 2016 sucked. I don’t need to rehash the more traumatizing parts of the news for you.
Instead I’m going to write a post of things that were good in 2016. For me, at least.
Of my novel-writing projects:
Immortal’s Spring was released in June, and wrapped up my Persephone-myth-based trilogy. By that time I had also finished writing The Goblins of Bellwater, about which you’ll hear more soon, and started writing (rewriting, actually) Boy in Eyeliner, a guy/guy love story in modern day with many a nod to '80s new wave music and fashion. I just finished a complete first draft of that and will be hitting up some beta readers to critique it in a couple of weeks here. I have been completely loving it, proving that immersing myself in a creative project I genuinely dig is the way to save my sanity.
The Monkees released a new album, and it was awesome. Yes, I was as surprised about that whole sentence as you are. Such a treat for us lifelong Monkees fans.
A few other groups I’ve discovered this year and adore (not to say they all have new albums this year, just new to me): Bleachers, Børns, Nicole Atkins, Julian Casablancas, Temples.
Grantchester has been a British-murder-mystery delight.
New Girl is appealingly funny so far.
Gilmore Girls ran their revival (discussed in an earlier post).
I’ve watched the first episode of Call the Midwife and am much inspired and will watch more.
New Sherlock underway, hurrah!
Of skin products:
My fussy, sensitive skin is actually liking the routine I give it now, with many of these products being ones I first tried in 2016. None of them cost ridiculous amounts, either, which is good because I’m also fussy about not spending too much on products:
Wash morning and night with CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser (and wash really well, but with fingertips only, no washcloth or other harsh scrubbing)
In morning: simple rosewater as toner (I like the food-grade Cortas brand; comes in cute glass drink bottle, and you can in fact put some in your drinks or cooking too if you want), and follow up with a little bit of Toulon Cellular Defense Face Moisturizer.
In evening: I usually don’t bother with toner, and put on some Oz Natural Super Youth Retinol Moisturizer.
Special treatment for the aging eyes: I like the movie-star trick of dabbing a tiny bit of petroleum jelly around my eyes, morning and night. Also, DON’T RUB YOUR EYES. Yeah, it feels good, but you drag the skin around and cause more wrinkling, bagginess, and discoloration over time. Crow’s feet from smiling, though: I embrace those.
Some tried in 2016 that I loved:
Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel: a “Dad’s aftershave” kind of scent, nice and cheap too, but especially fresh and bracing. Hint of powdery violet in the mix as well.
Agent Provocateur: also nice and cheap. Considering I usually only LIKE rose scents, not love them, I’m surprised how much this has grabbed me. Musky, elegant, reminiscent of red lipstick; reminds me of something Satine in Moulin Rouge might wear.
Gres Cabochard: yet another that’s inexpensive. Handy that way. A lot of similarity to Robert Piguet Bandit (which I also love), in that it’s a strange but captivating green-plus-leather blend. Bad-ass in an old-fashioned way.
Etat Libre d’Orange The Afternoon of a Faun: “vegetal” is a good word for this one. It almost smells like celery sometimes, but in a sweet and earthy way, thanks to the immortelle and other notes. It lingers and stays warm and alluring, and is decidedly unique.
Tauervillle Incense Flash: this is a big YES for those of us who like smoky incense scents. With a suggestion of campfire in this one. Beautiful.
Profumum Roma Audace: vetiver done smooth. Warm and green like an overgrown humid summer riverside.
Solstice Scents Sycamore Chai: warm slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream, drying down to a lovely and non-cloying marshmallow-vanilla.
Solstice Scents Maplewood Inn: sweet mug of chai with a fire burning in the hearth and freshly split pine logs next to it.
Papillon Salome: makes me think of Colette’s stories: a woman's apartment dedicated to shameless sensual luxury; cigarettes and long-slept-in bedsheets, but also fresh pretty flowers brought in daily, and the nicest of soaps in the bath.
...and I'll stop there. For now.
Below, my notes in order, jotted down as I watched. SPOILERS, obvsly.
( Read more... )
You get this impression not only in Harry Potter, but in Game of Thrones and other fandoms. We see, or at least hear of, armies and other groups made up of thousands or millions of people, and we know we're dealing with a world fairly vast and large, yet all the widely-strewn characters keep bumping into each other within it. And when you do need an army of millions, they aren't there and you end up with seven or eight familiar faces doing the heroic defending. (GoT does have people hiring entire armies, I know. But at the same time, they also frequently have people traveling hundreds of miles and randomly encountering someone they know. And you occasionally get the weird impression that some entire kingdoms have, like, fifty or sixty people living there.)
TV Tropes does have the "It's a Small World After All" trope and the "Contrived Coincidence" trope, which both overlap what I'm describing, but are not quite the same thing. Thoughts? Anyone else have the Not Enough People For This World impression in other material?
"On a scale of 1 to Once Upon a Time, how much does your retelling deviate from the original story/myth/legend?”
- a thing I often think when watching OUAT.
I've just started season 3, and actually I really enjoy it, but man do they mash up everything with zany, no-holds-barred glee. Red IS the wolf!, and Rumplestiltskin is the Beast!, and by the way Frankenstein apparently counts as a fairy tale or close enough! (hey, I'll give it to them), and so on. I thought I changed a lot about the Greek myths when writing my trilogy, but seriously, in comparison to how OUAT twists and smooshes together plots and characters, I was practically a devoted classics scholar.
Other random thoughts:
I love both Hook and Rumplestiltskin, so I kind of wish they'd get along, but their feud does make things more dramatic.
I laughed when they hauled up a mermaid and verified that, yes, on this show, even the females who live underwater have thick, flawless mascara. Really, the constantly perfect mascara on this show is over the top. Lovely to look at, but for some reason it strains credibility for me more than any of the crazy magic thrown around.
I kinnnnnd of? am warming up to Regina, but she's still murdering people a little too often and enjoying it a little too much, so...having problems there. I admit it might help if she had a Scottish accent too, since that surely softens me toward Rumple. Though really, the way he acts with Belle is probably what tips the scales toward "redeemable" for him. Dang they're cute together.
Also he got to say this, which made me laugh:
Charming: Not bad, Don Juan.
Rumplestiltskin: (dismissively) Don Juan was nothing before he made his deal with me.
My list goes to 12:
1. Quitting Facebook, or at least spending waaaaay less time on it
2. Finishing a trilogy!
3. Starting a new novel that is not going to be a trilogy and is way simpler and smaller in scope but still paranormal and romantic and quirky in my usual ways
4. Getting into the habit of daily meditation - I like the app Calm to help guide the practice, but there are lots and lots of others that do similar things and look good too
5. Stepping up my exercising. In addition to making sure I take walks on an almost-daily basis, I've started doing some high-intensity-ish exercises a few times a week. (Try this one if you dare. Calling it "beginner" may be a stretch! But it'll give you a workout for sure, and I'm getting better at it with practice.)
6. Also tai chi. I've been doing various YouTube sessions of that on occasion, and find it really does make my joints all feel happier.
7. Recognizing anxiety for what it is; i.e., my imagination working overtime; and redirecting that imagination into creativity, such as writing stories, or thinking up ways to improve my surroundings
8. Probiotics for all in the household. Or at least, definitely for me, in the form of things like kombucha, yogurt, kefir, and fermented pickles, and for my kids in the form of chewable probiotics when they won't eat those other things, which is usually. It has correlated to a notable decrease in number of viruses and other infections we've caught. I won't claim it has caused the decrease, but it has at least correlated, and I wouldn't be surprised if there's a cause and effect here.
9. Earlier bedtimes for kids, better enforced. More sleep for me too. The meditation and similar breathing exercises help relax insomnia's grip on me. And more sleep surely helps our health too.
10. Being a lot gentler in how I think of myself, and getting a lot better at not giving a damn what other people think of me. Self-care feels real good, and ends up making me more patient with everyone else, so hey, win-win.
11. Leasing my soul, for a time anyway, to the Merlin (BBC) fandom, and in particular the Merthur ship. Yay, slash daydreams and fanfics! I've missed your siren song.
(It's pretty much canon, anyway.)
Also, maybe I just haven't dug deep enough yet, but so far the Merlin fandom is one of the sweetest-natured I've ever encountered. Everyone has been wonderfully nice.
12. Trying doing things in new ways, or doing new things. I'm starting small, no bungee jumping yet, but practicing flexibility in daily life is like yoga for the brain.
So my resolutions for 2016 are pretty much to keep all of those up, and do even better at them. Happy New Year, everyone!
1. TV: Why yes, I AM watching Once Upon A Time and it IS easing me off my Merlin melancholy, thank you for wondering. So far I'm only nine episodes into season 1, but I am already enamored of Emma's hair and her slightly-more-badass-Lorelai-Gilmore attitude. And I'm really liking looking at Jamie Dornan--oh. Well, I was enjoying looking at him. From the sympathetic glimpse into hitherto-slimy Rumpelstiltskin's past, I'm sensing this is one of those cool shows where everyone is deeper than they look at first, and some villains may become more heroic than we expected, and that's good, because I've always liked Robert Carlyle. Regina, though--I am still fully in "she's horrible" territory. (And I really don't like that mauve shade of lipstick they keep slathering on her. < /catty>) But I look forward to letting that opinion be changed too. (Not sure you'll convince me on the lipstick, though.)
2. Writing: I'm done with the ARC-level (advance reading copy) edits for Immortal's Spring. Whew! Back to newer projects I can go. Writing a series, like giving birth, was the kind of uber-complicated marathon that I'm in no hurry to do again. But, also like giving birth, at the same time it's something I'm immensely proud of having accomplished. Also, how beautiful is our cover art?
We had a solitary mysterious woman on the covers of Persephone's Orchard and Underworld's Daughter, but moved to a couple for the final book of the trilogy, because reunions and reconciliations and balance are the kind of themes you present at the end of a trilogy. But also because this photo was so gosh-darn lovely and we had to have it. (Photographer: the fabulously talented Felicia Simion.)
3. Reading: I just started Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and totally love it so far. Introvert girl at college who'd rather stay in her room writing fanfiction (slash, no less) than go to parties: ha, yes, okay, that is totally me. (I mean, I'm not at college anymore, but it does sound a lot like me in my freshman year. Except I had no internet following at that time. Because I had no internet. Because it was 1992.)
How about you guys? Viewing/reading recommendations?
I was lately remarking to various people in comments that, by the end of Merlin, Arthur and Merlin "out-Frodo-and-Sam Frodo and Sam." But maybe it's a tie, to be fair. Now my mind won't rest until I've delineated all the items on the bromance checklist that both pairs seem to be using as their guidebook. Let's go!
Master and servant situation: check!
Save each other's lives a whole bunch of times (bonus points if you get soaked): check!
Also make verbal promises about continuing to save each other's lives: check!
Wear armor together even if that isn't usually your thing: check!
Play with ropes together: check!
Occasionally fall under evil magic influence and try to kill your bro: check!
Carry each other in case of unconsciousness: check!
Come around to seeing servant's mighty worth even if you took him for granted at first: check!
Hold your bro tenderly at the end and make us all cry: check!
Tearfully see him off on a boat headed for magical lands: check!
Yeah. I guess it's a tie.
I will go down with these ships. Bromances. Things.
Btw, despite the lyrics, I have in fact started watching Once Upon a Time and I do actually like it so far and will keep watching, in hopes that it will ease me off this angst.
It's been seven hours and fifteen days
Since "The Diamond of the Day"
I read fic every night and weep all day
Since "The Diamond of the Day"
Now that it's done I can watch whatever I want
Fill my queue with whatever I choose
I can binge on shows that all my friends are on
But nothing, I said nothing can take away these blues
'Cause nothing compares, nothing compares to you
It's been so lonely without my knights
No more fun in Camelot
Nothing can stop these fangirl tears from flowing
Tell me, Arthur, how is Avalon?
Nothing compares, nothing compares to you
I can Google everything Colin Morgan's done
But it'd only remind me of you
I went onto Facebook and guess what they told me
Guess what they told me
They said girl you better try Once Upon A Time or Robin Hood
But that's no good
'Cause nothing compares, nothing compares to you
All the laughter over donkey ears
From the old days
All died with that final show
I know that hiding magic, Merlin, was sometimes hard
But we're willing to let all the plot holes slide
Nothing compares, nothing compares to you
Emotional exhaustion and late-blooming fangirling!
What a frustrating show. In a charming way. It became quite addictive, despite the problems, such as the ridiculous silly plots, and the big magic reveal coming waaay too late, as everyone says (come on, Merlin, you know you could have sat Arthur down and talked him onto your side; you even could have used MAGIC for it; it would hardly be the most underhanded thing you've ever done). And most frustrating of all, we didn't really get our prophecied great future where Arthur was the best king anyone ever saw and magic was no longer outlawed and Merlin got to be court sorcerer. I get that Arthur will rise again, so that's still in the future, I suppose, and from the modern-day last ten seconds of the series are we honestly to understand it still hasn't happened by the 21st century, and Merlin is STILL waiting? Gah. Between that and Rory on Doctor Who, I have to conclude the BBC has a fetish for making devoted friends wait millennia for each other.
Like Buffy, this series went through an erratic range of moods. I mean, seasons 1 to 4 were mostly all:
Genuine angst and sorrow happened here and there, but still, fluff was the order of the day. Good thing they had their fun while they could, because then season 5 was largely like:
It pretty much became Les Misérables. The series finale is not unlike the barricade scene meshed with the Grey Havens. Pain! But that's in keeping with the tragic nature of (most of) the Arthur legends, and in fact as a tragedy it turned out to be very well crafted. The rifts ran too deep to fix easily; the villains frequently were human enough that I felt sorry for them (Mordred! and of course the fabulous Anthony Stewart Head as Uther). I see why Merlin fans everywhere are saying, even three years after the series ended, that they'll never be over it.
At least half the reason it's so heartbreaking, though, is Colin Morgan alone, who throws tremendous talent into his role. He's one of those wonderful actors who, like Sarah Michelle Gellar on Buffy, doesn't care if they're being handed a somewhat formulaic script and are going to have cheesy special effects painted onto them. They're going to live this part and treat this like it's the Royal damn Shakespeare Company, and they'll win you over forever. Actually, all the Merlin actors turn in lovely and often amazing performances--as another example that comes to mind, Bradley James and Angel Coulby seriously impressed me with their powerful Arthur/Gwen showdown over Lancelot. But Colin is the standout of the series. Which is why he won all the awards and stuff, I suppose.
And what of the shipping, you ask? The Merthur? Slash, yes/no?
Well, yes. By the end of season 5, if you have any slash neurons at all, it's kind of impossible not to ship Merthur. Unlike some ensemble-cast shows that spread the stories around more among the characters, in this one probably 75% of screen time involved either Arthur or Merlin, and frequently both. They spent an awful lot of time in each other's company. Plus, in practically every episode, Merlin performs an "I'd die for him" courtly-love gesture or declaration without any irony, and sometimes Arthur even does it back. I fully believed in their other and more canonical relationships--Arthur/Gwen made me squee, Gwen/Lancelot was done with surprising good taste and romance, that one single episode of Merlin/Freya-the-doomed-magic-girl was beautiful. But even the cast and creators say without missing a beat that the "bromance" was the most important relationship of the series.
"Even the dragon ships it," as the fans say. (Prophetic!Dragon is always telling Merlin that Arthur and Merlin are two halves of the same whole and are each other's destiny and similar shippable statements.)
So yeah. Count me among the heartbrokenly thrilled Merthur people. Devastated it's over, but thank goodness there's those earlier seasons to rewatch, and also there's fanfiction! In fact there's so much fanfiction I could be reading it the rest of my life and never run out of material, if I chose, so that's...good?
Postscript: I'd also like to thank Eoin Macken (Sir Gwaine) for his cheeky attitude and gorgeous hair.
Also if someone could send me every dress Morgana ever wore, tailored to fit me, that'd be super. Thanks.
Short version: I've broken up with Facebook.
Long version, in the form of a mental conversation held with myself many, many times over the last couple of years:
Me: I need to cut back on all the ways I waste time.
Mind: Such as Facebook?
Me: Maybe, but, you know, other stuff too. All the activities that are mostly just adding to my stress instead of helping me.
Mind: So, Facebook.
Me: Haha, but it's handy to have a login there, in case people need to tag me.
Mind: So that you can come to the site and wind up wasting tons of time on Facebook.
Me: I guess, but also, I mean, the news, I should avoid the news. That's just an endless stream of upsetting stuff.
Mind: So is Facebook. Which also is half advertising and news stories these days.
Me: Well...I could just try avoiding Facebook but going to it sometimes...
Mind: We've tried that. You suck at it. You end up spending as much time there as ever. Pull the plug.
Me: But I have to keep my author page. Marketing says I have to.
Mind: So keep that. Pull the plug on the main one, though. You know it felt good that one time you did it before.
Me: Well...true...but people might forget about me.
Mind: People you've never met, or hardly ever see? You were just complaining about how you wanted more time to yourself, and more time for the people you know in real life.
Me: Hm. Then. Okay. Yes.
Also, I was tired of having snark lobbed at me on my page when I don’t do that on other people’s pages. Tired of people forgetting there are human beings on the other end of the internet. Tired of keeping track of everyone else’s drama. And tired of the clickbait, and the ads, and the hiding of posts, and everything else FB does wrong. I’m sure I do have “issues” to work out (look up "generalized anxiety disorder" and "highly sensitive person" to name two of the major ones), but I would submit that so do lots and lots of my friends list, and they may not even realize how much worse FB is making those issues.
Today in the wake of clicking the "delete" button, I feel drained and still tired, but lighter. Freer. Once I unhook the Pavlovian reaching for social media from my brain ("An interesting thought! I should post it on Facebook!"), I will probably be freer still. Of course, I did come back here, to social media, to discuss it, but LJ has always been better at being a solid and fairly sedate record of life, rather than a snark-comment badminton-match like Facebook. (And lately, like, almost no one is around on LJ anyway.)
Stuff I'm doing and enjoying instead: Amazon Prime's music library is pretty sweet. That has supplied me with a delightful soundtrack of all kinds of stuff the last few days. And I've been watching "Merlin" on Netflix, and am now in the early episodes of season 4. Adorable Arthuriana angst and sparkly magic and all-too-easy slash potential! Yay! And of course, loads more time for reading and writing. (The reading lately is book 2 of Cinda Williams Chima's Seven Realms series - fun mostly-teen high fantasy with a refreshing Native-American-like slant to some of the tribes.)
This weekend I plan to spend more time outdoors, sitting under leafy trees, gazing at Puget Sound, picking flowers, that kind of thing. May you be fortunate enough to do similar. Cheers!
Two medieval monks invent maps.
MONK #1: wait remind me of what Asia looks like when you put it all together at once
MONK #2: a big horse with wings that’s about to eat Europe
MONK #1: right right thanks
MONK #2: no problem
Similarly, Western Art History: 500 Years of Women Ignoring Men.
A Benedict Cumberbatch coloring book that just got released on Amazon. "This colouring in activity book celebrates Mr Cumberbatch with a series of black and white drawings for you to colour in. All you need is some colour pencils, felt tip pens, good old crayons… or would watercolours suit this posh poster boy better?"
We're almost through season 3 of "Sherlock" (finally, belatedly), so, good timing.
The guy whose video went deservedly viral; the one in which he lip-synched to Celine Dion's "All By Myself" when stuck overnight in the Las Vegas airport.
Flight of the Conchords, the HBO show that ran for two seasons, featuring two lovable, silly, highly parody-talented musicians from New Zealand. I adore pretty much all of it that I've seen so far. Available to stream free on Amazon Prime if you have that.
Why I mention this:
This Greek myth series has been giving me a writing experience I've rarely had: that of handling a large cast, over a sprawling amount of time, with lots of subplots and embedded smaller stories. (Thus "The Chrysomelia Stories" instead of "The Chrysomelia Series.")
You know that feeling when you're watching a TV series and thinking, "What ever happened to Person X, or that development we haven't heard anything about since the beginning of the season? What's going on with those?" Well, I now understand how the writers are probably answering, "We're BUSY, okay? There's all this other stuff to deal with!" So I shall try not to drop any threads or subplots utterly, but it's a complicated matter, and I have new respect for the writers and editors who organize such things into a coherent whole.
Second, there's now a book trailer for it:
And third, to return to fandom concerns, I've begun watching "Game of Thrones," some six or seven years after reading the first four books (I still haven't read A Dance with Dragons but I know some spoilers). It's an addictive TV series and does a good job with the exposition--or sexposition as it usually happens--such that I don't end up too confused about the complex plot lines. My Facebook updates on the topic:
May 24: So I'm finally watching the first episode of Game of Thrones, and well gosh, who's cuter: Jon Snow or direwolf puppies? How can a person be expected to decide?
May 25: two whole episodes in now:
Viserys has quite the Lestat vibe/look going on. He may actually be MORE evil than Lestat. He'd be hot if not for the evil.
I wouldn't want to play Joffrey. People must constantly be walking up to him and punching him. How could they resist?
Cool to see That Guy play Ser Jorah with so much kindness when he played Sir Richard (on Downton Abbey) with so much despicableness.
We'll see if I can take the cruelty, knowing as I do that there's lots more of it coming. In the meantime, we have interesting faces to look at. As in the Lord of the Rings films, this series makes good use of faces: charismatic actors, interesting expressions, lingering camera work on them.
It's not escaping my notice that Kit Harington (Jon Snow) would also fit a Hades role really well, at least as I've written him. Dark eyes, dark curly hair, looks good but still youthful with facial hair, good at the brooding thing--check, check, check, and check. Hmm.
May 29: s1 ep3:
I'm already feeling sad about Ned. Oh, Ned.
I'm amused Littlefinger looks like Edward Norton, because that's who I pictured when reading the books.
Tyrion is made of awesome, but we can say that every episode, I wager.
I already like Jaime despite him not being into totally likable territory yet.
Problem with Jon Snow being at the Wall: way too many layers of clothing required. At least he's not covering up his lovely hair. Even though he probably should, given the temperatures.
I like Syrio Forel too. He looks like a cross between Robert Downey Jr and Bob Ross. Happy trees. Happy swords.
June 7: season 1, episode 5: I squeaked out loud in acrophobia when Tyrion looked over the edge of his cell in the Eyrie. And I looked away a lot because there were more stabbings and blood-spurting events this episode. (No, not Jory! We liked Jory! He was just looking at boobs a second ago!) They were also a bit heavy on the sexpositional dialogue this episode, but I don't mind that as much.
I see how this show inspired the coining of the term "sexposition." Here, Theon will explain about his home islands and his father's rebellion...while naked and messing with a whore's boobs! And Loras will discuss who's in line for the throne next...while erotically shaving Renly! Hee. Hey, far better that than the stabbings and beheadings.
My friend Kate commented: And you forgot the scene with Viserys and Doreah in the bath. That was a bit much.
Molly: Hahah--oh yes, "Tell me about the dragons, and also your family history, MMMM yeah." Any show crushes so far? I'm still pretty soft on Jon, but Jaime is highly charismatic too. And Tyrion just for sheer awesomeness.
Kate: I saw photos of the actor who plays Jon Snow beforehand, and I was like, whatevs. But now watching it? Is it all the fur? Completely, meltingly hot. *shakes head*
Molly: Hah, same here. And now, it's like, "No, Molly, you really should not kiss the photo on the DVD case; it'll start getting greasy with lip balm." I've heard theories that his hair possesses the magic of the North. I think there is something to this. Also the rare but adorable laugh. It was so nice of them to give us that shirtless haircut scene in the first episode, as compensation for burying him in Watch uniform layers later. Though yeah, even the fur works.
Here. Enjoy the most adorable ever GIF of Kit Harington as Jon Snow:
I'll stop now. Till I have more episode chatter to preserve for posterity.
We discovered many a fine moment previous to that, of course. For example, I must make mention of "The Ember Island Players" episode. HAH!! It's like the condensed parody version of the whole series till now. Love. Fake-Zuko's rippling Revlon hair might've been my favorite, though Chinese-dragon Appa was cool. Also appreciated the remark, "Your Zuko costume's pretty good, but your scar's on the wrong side."
As for coolest moment, the episode with Zuko and Aang meeting the dragons was way up there. Gorgeous.
And most heart-wrenching, going back a bit, was Appa being lost for a while. It's gentle compared to the heart-wrenching moments of LOTR or Buffy, but still, so sad, as anyone who's ever had a pet can attest. However, everything turns out okay, and that's a major piece of what I love about this series. It doesn't put your emotions *too* deeply through any wringers, nor destroy any part of your soul.
Also, the kids loved it--it began affecting them at fundamental levels. The 7-year-old now happily has jasmine tea with me at breakfast. (He says, "Mmm, jasmine tea" in an Uncle Iroh voice.) And in the bath, of course, they waterbend at each other. "Look out, it's Prince Zuko!" *SPLASH*
By far the most compelling character arc is, of course, Zuko's. I have so many warm fuzzies for his relationship with Uncle Iroh alone, but his awkward bonding with the rest of the cast was a total delight too.
(Oh yeah, on the best-of list, possibly the funniest bit of dialogue all series:
Sokka: My first girlfriend turned into the moon.
Zuko: That's rough, buddy.)
...But anyway, Zuko's arc, like Spike's on Buffy & Angel, or even Snape's in Harry Potter (kind of), is interesting because it's the most dramatic change; the most redemptive. But none of those guys are the technical heroes of the stories. Aang, Buffy, and Harry Potter all start out as pretty good people, and despite some dark moments, they never go *too* dark, and therefore their arc is only from "younger and more innocent to older and braver," without the dramatic change that the aforementioned former enemies go through.
So this makes me wonder: can a hero ever be quite as interesting as those secondary characters who go from villain to ally over the course of the epic? Just throwing that out there as something to think about.
I've also caught up now to all available episodes of Downton Abbey and Sherlock, so we can talk spoilers for those if you want. Carson, more tea, please.
Jan. 30: Avatar episode with the singing nomad hippies, and the cave of love, and Sokka improvising a badger-mole song: funniest episode ever, so far.
Feb. 3: For those with whom I've talked about the Zuko/Katara ship--I saw this online.
Hee. Cute. (Poor Aang.) My compliments to the artist.
Feb. 10: Saw the "Tales of Ba Sing Se" episode of Avatar tonight. Cannot decide what was funnier: Sokka getting involved in a haiku battle, or Zuko's date with Jin. Iroh's story was delightful and awesome, ending on a note of so so sad. Meanwhile, Zuko firebending the lamps into lighted-ness on his date was a surprisingly romantic gesture.
Feb. 12: I was going to say, "Someone should make a T-shirt that says 'Jasmine Dragon Tea Shop, Ba Sing Se,'" but of course someone already did. Sweet. (Scroll down about a third of the way. They also have a "Fly Sky Bison" shirt.)
In other news, I'm embarking on a re-read of Goblet of Fire now, so I can finally parody it. Oh yeah. It has the Quidditch World Cup along with the Goblet of Fire competition. Okay, so maybe this will go in the parody:
ROWLING: Funny story! So, my editors were like, "People are getting a bit tired of Quidditch," and I was like, "How could anyone ever get tired of Quidditch?!" And they were like, "Let's just try some other big competition instead," and I was like, "OR, we could do BOTH." Which is how we ended up with a 734-page-long novel.
Priya: Listen, Rajesh, Leonard and I have decided to see each other again, and you don’t get to tell me who I can and can’t have a relationship with.
Sheldon: Actually, he can. The Hindu Code of Manu is very clear in these matters. If a woman's father is not around, the duty of controlling her base desires falls to the closest male member of her family; in this case, Raj. The code also states that if she disobeys, she will be reborn in the womb of a jackal and tormented by diseases. If true, that seems like an awfully large gamble given that the prize is Leonard.
Raj: There it is, Priya. We're Indian. We believe this stuff.
Priya: I think it also says that if you eat beef, you need to live with cows for three months and drink their urine.
Raj: Some of it makes sense, some of it's crazy. My point is, you can't go out with Leonard.
"Some of it makes sense, some of it's crazy" is basically the response I got recently when (with great foolishness) I ventured to say on an online forum that it isn't wise to cite the Bible as a defense for being anti-gay, since you could also use the Bible to be pro-slavery and pro-stoning-women-to-death-for-adultery, not to mention anti-shellfish and a number of other "crazy" attitudes. It was coolly suggested that I don't really understand the Bible if I propose such parallels. Okay, some truth to that; I am not in fact a religious studies scholar. Nonetheless, it *is* almost indisputable that some of the Bible makes sense and some of it's crazy. And the parts that now seem crazy are usually due to out-of-date cultural standards (or maybe mistranslations). So, when are we ready to admit that gayness being an abomination to God is just as culturally out of date as slavery being A-OK with God?
The Big Bang Theory is comedy. They know Raj is actually objecting to his friend dating his sister because of a basic annoyance and disgust factor, not really because of religion. Religion is just a handy excuse. So, yeah. Parallel, much?
He was my first crush in the band, and a crush at that age sticks with you as part of what makes up your fabric. I'll always be fond of Davy, even if, had we all been the same age and not born tragically thirty years apart, I would have broken up with him eventually and tried for Mike (or "Nez" as the true fans say)--perhaps after a two-week summer fling with Micky. But I don't know; Davy's English accent might have kept me around a while.
Now, obviously he was cute, ready-made to be the TV heartthrob of 14-year-old girls in the '60s...
On the goofy, weird TV show invented to advertise the band, whenever they needed one of the boys to fall instantly in love with some girl and snog her on screen, Davy got the job nine times out of ten. Girls screamed and cried and had seizures for him in real life, nearly to the same degree as any Beatle ever enjoyed. Not bad for a bloke who stood 5'3" (in boots, he clarified with a grin once--and we know how high boot heels could be in the sixties).
Some of the songs they gave him to sing were the absolute sappiest, so gloppy and sticky-sweet you wanted to pour them over your pancakes. (Witness "The Day We Fall in Love," "I'll Be True to You (Yes I Will)" or "I Want to Be Free.") However, he was fully capable at singing, dancing, and acting--he was stage-trained and was nominated for a Tony in his youth--and clearly had fun at it. I highly recommend you have a look at this Rolling Stone tribute, as it gives several great, amusing examples of Davy Moments from the Monkees era.
Another great link from right here in Seattle: the excellent radio station KEXP serves up Monkees songs in their original state, and as covered by others; as well as vice-versa sometimes.
And a beautiful blog entry, complete with videos, from a fan about my age who clearly gets it.
I feel almost as sad as if one of my own uncles or cousins had died. But the somber news today has at least revived the good times I had listening to this band, watching them on cable TV, and playing air guitar to their songs with my little sister on our front porch.
Should you care, these are from my own journal archives:
A brief list of my favorite Monkees songs, split into categories like "cute and catchy Davy songs" and "psychedelia."
A short and very silly piece of fanfic in which Davy meets Legolas, which I totally forgot I had written, until today.