This Has Been: February Edition

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How quickly this month has gone!  It seems wrong for time to have gone so quickly even though I wasn’t doing much.  Seriously, what did I do for the past month?  The past two months even?  I spent so much time pondering that question that I created a straight up list of things done to share with ya’ll today.

This month I:

  • became a better climber and a stronger yogini
  • kept up with the blog
  • made my first vlog
  • Mythbusters exhibit
  • created a journaling and quiet time habit
  • written some fanfic
  • started a list of possible LA contacts
  • mom and me road trip
  • saw 2 performances from my old high school
  • made a dent in Dollhouse, Leverage, and Luther
  • checked out 10 new web series
  • drank LOTS of tea
  • curated my wardrobe
  • plenty of knitting
  • joined zipcar
  • babysat a newborn
  • saw Warm Bodies with a friend
  • watched the Ocsar Nominated live action and animated films
  • nearly finished the Up series with my mom
  • Girl with the Pearl Earring exhibit

Looking back on this month includes mostly memories of TV watching and internet derping.  I don’t even know what happened half the time, but looking at the list reminds me of some good that came from it.

It should also be noted that I did not move to Cambodia, I did not file to transfer to Eurythmy school, and I did not run away and hide on friends couches all over the globe.  In that sense I consider this extended break to be a massive success, because these are all things I have considered at least once since Christmas.

There are a few things that I would have liked to do and wasn’t able to get to, so it wasn’t a total win, but what I didn’t get to this time around can be saved and better planned for next round.  I hope that I do get to have a friends road trip sometime soon, and I am still looking to connect with other writers (but I suppose that’s what school is for).

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Angel the Series: Death

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As I did with Buffy last summer, I’m taking some time to analyse it’s sibling, Angel.  Angel is a completely separate beast to Buffy (in more ways than one).  It is oft-times darker and more sinister, but also arguably more diverse in a multitude of ways.  My adoration for the Buffy-verse starts here, with my Buffy series last summer and continues with Angel.  Other topics covered on Angel: Beginning; The Team, The Villains  and The In-Betweens.

Deaths on Buffy were always real.  Surprising.  Painful and needing to be dealt with.  Deaths on Angel are gritty.  Sudden and necessary.  I was always surprised.  I shouldn’t have been, because honestly.  We managed to put together a whole series of Eulogies for Whedon-verse characters.  I knew going into this that many would die.  Yet here we are.

Starting out I had a general idea of who was going to die and around when it was going to happen, but my heart sank every time anyway.  I was disappointed with Doyle’s death (“Hero”).  Saddened that we couldn’t have seen his character through.

Darla’s death (“Lullaby”) was bittersweet.  Undead, dead, alive and well, to return to undead and remain dead again.  Darla could show up at any moment, but her final moments of the series reminded me of all the good that she had done.  Conversely, Lilah’s death (“Calvary”) seemed unnecessary, but turned to sting in a new way after the smoke cleared.

I have mixed feelings on Cordelia’s death (technically “You’re Welcome”).  I feel like her character died before the season five episode when she returned for a final farewell.  In all the ways I dislike her actions before the coma, I adore her in “You’re Welcome”, her final showing in the series.

Cordy started her slow decline since coming back from the higher plane in “The House Always Wins”.  When she gets her memory back in “Spin the Bottle” she also gets a piece of her demise.  While I understand that her actions from then on (especially in episodes “Apocalypse, Nowish”, “Calvary”, “Salvage”, and “Orpheus”) are not her own, it’s still painful to watch.  The horror of these episodes made me long for the kick ass woman that Cordy was in “Birthday”, when she consciously chooses to continue having the visions and become part demon; something the Buffy-era Cordelia would never have done.

Fred dies and doesn’t (“A Hole in the World”).  When she turns to Illyria (“Shells”), the shift is first stunning.  When we settle in to this new character we begin to see her part in the series.  I only wish that we could have seen Illyria accepted by the team to be a one of them as she was sure to be.  The pain of missing Fred will never really go away, but it dulls when it’s realized that she is still a part of the character.

A part of me cannot now speak of Lindsey’s death (“Not Fade Away”) without remembering Christian Kane’s performance in the final episode of Leverage (“The Long Good-Bye Job”).  Without yet having read the comics, it’s hard for me to tell if the death was warranted, but the scene plays out as the end of Lorne’s character as well, showing how this final plan is breaking the team one by one, letting the final scene of the show be one of almost certain doom.

If Fred’s death is upsetting, Wesley’s is flat out depressing (“Not Fade Away”).  His death is sudden and sharp, a reminder of all the things that can go wrong in complicated plans.  While painful, it drives the others to carry on to a questionable end.

*

It’s odd to me even now to realize that the final scenes of Angel are so hopeless, because the show as a whole was so focused on finding redemption and hope… but more on that next week.

Which of the Angel deaths hit you the hardest?  Did you know it was going to happen ahead of time?

The Edge of This Space

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Almost two months later, I am here, in Los Angeles, on the ragged edge of this space.  Settling into another new place, returning to an old role with fresh perspective.  Eagerly looking ahead to see what’s going to happen next.  I am here with a whole list of things that got done, and another of things that didn’t.

New places that I’ve seen and ones I haven’t.  A rented room, a classroom I haven’t found yet, a neighborhood I’ve only barely begun to explore.  Not to mention the stores, parks, gyms, studios, and friends homes I’m going to be frequenting in a manner of days, weeks, and months.  Streets that are foreign to me will soon become familiar, and I can’t wait for that newness to be explored.

I am excited and nervous to finally head back to school.  Finally something to do that will take more than an hour!  Something to give my time structure!  But as my excitement grows, my worries take over.  I’ve been gone a long time.  And not only that, but I am diving into what is said to be a challenging course load.  I would know more of what it looks like if they would tell us anything about it!  A schedule?   A syllabus?  I only just today got the proper send-mail-here address of where I’m going.  0 to 60 at 9 a.m. next Monday?  Well, it is what I signed up for.

This morpheus, questionable thing I’ve signed up for?  It’s a plan I know only in hypothetical.  Only from second hand tellings of the verse.

Even as I beat myself up for things undone, I see the value of this time.  I’ve spent this space in time learning ways that I amn’t quite able to work.  Small should of’s and would of’s sitting lying in the sun as reminders of the can’s and will’s of the next time around.  When will that be?  Sooner?  Or later?

The only thing I know is that the next time this space comes around I hope that I can take advantage of it as I have this time to set habits, and re-calibrate my thoughts and prayers for myself and my surroundings.

Writing About Writitng (week of February 18)

Monday: journal (1)
blog – WAW
Tuesday: journal (1)
Wednesday: journal (1)
fanfiction – Lizzie Bennet Diaries
Thursday: journal (3)
Writing challenge
Friday: journal (1)
Saturday: journal (3)
blog – my alternative life
blog – this has been
fanfic – (master list)
Sunday: journal (1)
blog – this post

Last week was rather uneventful, as much of this break has been.  Most of my writing was journaling, and wasn’t exactly ground breaking, however I was able to break out of a little bit of a rut by writing some fanfiction* and doing a writing challenge put on by terrible minds.  I didn’t post it, but I am glad to be writing something new.

The writing challenge also sparked me to write up my own set of challenges for fanfiction.  I call it a master list, and I haven’t written one up in ages.  It’s sort of a choose your own adventure FF challenge creator.  In one column is a list of characters, pairings, or friendships that I am interested in writing, and in a second column is prompt list, usually one word or phrase to spark something.  These usually turn into a whole host of one shots and nothing much more, but it’s a good way to get my pen moving.

Next week is going to be busy with settling in to a new normal of living in LA.  Mom and I are driving down there today and are moving all my things in.  I’m excited to be getting started on this semester.  Finally.

Writing-wise I’m hoping to do lots of journaling and get down some preliminary ideas for my projects this semester.  I am going through the assigned reading and am taking a few notes of what I hope we’ll stalk about and things I want to incorporate into my writing practice.  I’m trying to think of writing as a habit.  One that if I get into, I will be able to keep up even if I don’t have a specific deadline to aim for.

*On occasion I write fanfiction.  I don’t know where this falls in the category or professional or personal writing (probably somewhere along “other”), but it gets me writing and I’m happy for that if nothing else.

Travel Lessons Learned

I’ve done my fair share of traveling (read the latest here and here), and while I had a great time on all my recent trips, there were a few things that I wish I had thought of earlier.

The kind of thing you understand much better have being informed that the next available ticket to see the Sistine Chapel is two days after your departure, or when your camera battery dies two pictures into the Museum of Fine Art.  Whoops.  Learn from my mistakes.

  1. Set Expectations.  This is important weather you are traveling with a group or solo.  In a group: be sure that others are aware of your habits and limitations.  If you need a caffeine fix at 3pm each day, it’s better for them to know that before you actually need the fix, like now.  Solo: figure out what you want from this trip and how you’re going to make it happen.
  2. Make Some Plans.  Even if your host will likely show you around the city/area, it’s good to do a little research ahead of time to have one or two things you’d like to do in mind.  Especially if there is something that you need to get tickets for ahead of time.
  3. Electronics Check.  Everyone has their own list of cannot-live-without gadgets, but whatever plan you have, make sure that everything is in working order before you go.  Check for any software updates, be sure you have the right number of chargers and/or converters of every. stinking. device.  You’ll thank yourself later.  If you don’t have the power for it, don’t even bring it.

Admittedly, while some of this is very simple, it often takes personal experience to truly learn these lessons.  So don’t beat yourself up if one of these happen to you.  I just hope that this is helpful to at least one person.  If it is, I’ll have been glad to be of service.

What do you think is the most important travel lesson?  Is there anything I’ve missed?

Angel the Series: The Team, The Villains, and The In-Betweens

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As I did with Buffy last summer, I’m taking some time to analyse it’s sibling, Angel.  Angel is a completely separate beast to Buffy (in more ways than one).  It is oft-times darker and more sinister, but also arguably more diverse in a multitude of ways.  My adoration for the Buffy-verse starts here, with my Buffy series last summer and continues with Angel.  Other topics covered on Angel: Beginning.

The general cast of characters on Angel changed drastically over the course of the series.  From the pilot (“City of”) to the final battle (“Not Fade Away” and beyond), literally the only character who is “consistent” is Angel.  And even our vampric hero sways from good to evil from time to time.

The Team

A rotating cast of characters composes the team of Angel Investigations.  Brains or brawn, the team is full of fantastic complexities.  Weather it be an individual’s own questions or the interpersonal relationships of the group causing problems, the focus of the monster of the week is only one part of this show.

The Villains

Unlike Buffy’s Big Bad’s, Angel was much more episodic with larger story archs tending more towards characters and relationships than evil villains.  When a season neared it’s end was the time when a version of a big bad would appear.  Perhaps we had seem him or her before, perhaps not.  Sometimes the end of season villain was born of the character and relational problems that had arched through the season.  In one case quite literally.

The only arguable, consistent big bad of the show was Wolfram and Hart.  And in the final season even that was up for consideration.  The evil law firm had multiple agents working for them, but many of those agents fit better into a category I call…

The In-Betweens

An in-between is a character who either works or has worked both for an against Angel Investigations.  Some of these are characters who we recognize from the larger Buffy-verse.  Spike, Harmony, Darla and Drusilla, all of whom play large roles in various seasons or plot lines.  Character’s whose allegiance we know or don’t know, but is perhaps ever changing.

Others are more ambiguous.  Lindsey, Lilah, Conner, and Illyria all fall into this category.  They’re evil, but they’ll play on our team when it suits them.  Or, they should be loyal, but are having trouble figuring out which side to believe in.  Or when they don’t know where else to turn.  Wesley circa season three and four also falls into this category, though more for being shut out than for his own indecision.

*

These are some of my favorite themes in the show.  These characters are such examples of the gray areas in life.  They are uncertain of where to go, who to trust, just as we often are.  As the viewer we can see what they “should” do.  The “right thing”, but their choices, as ours are in real life, are so much harder for them.

What is your favorite character from Angel?  What category do they fall into?

Christianity as Oppression: You’re Doing It Wrong

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Picture unrelated.

It came up most recently in a conversation over original shows a classmate and I were working on.  What do I believe?  Well, that’s a fun question, isn’t it?  I am always hesitant to answer this for fear of ridicule, when rarely have I ever run into the adverse reactions I’m expecting.  So here goes again.

I believe that humans want, at their core, to be good, but are incapable of perfection.  I believe that Jesus came to save us from out imperfection and there will come a day when we are either accepted in heaven through his name, or sent to hell for denying Him.  Harsh?  A little.

But there’s a little more to it and the next part is super important.  God could have forced us to believe in Him, but he didn’t.  He wants us to come to believe in Him on our own terms.  He doesn’t want you to change or stop doing something before you come to Him.  The idea that we much radically change ourselves in order to come to Christ is radically wrong.

The change we see and hear of in Christians occurs first in their hearts after God enters their lives.  This change in heart fuels other changes.  Changes that Christians want because of their changed perspective.  Faith changes lives, but only with the consent of the life being changed.

Writing About Writing (week of February 11)

Monday: journal (2)
blog – Angel series
blog – Buffy series editing
emails
Tuesday: journal (3)
Wednesday: journal (2)
emails
Thursday: journal (1)
Friday: journal (2)
Saturday: journal (4)
Sunday: journal (2)

Another week of a lot of journaling and not much else.  I came in wanting to define a project and get something done on in, but that didn’t really happen.  I did sort of choose a project, but I can’t find my old notes on it anywhere which is quite frustrating.  I can either re-build it from the ground up or try to come up with something else entirely.

Then I come up with the problem that I’ve had with this entire break: It’s long enough to make me bored out of my mind, but still too short to do anything substantial.  I’m afraid that as soon as I get something new started, I’ll have to put it on the back burner because I’ll be busy with school.

This week I want to do some writing exercises.  I found some online that I’m interested in, and may even post my results as an extra post this week.  I know I’ll keep up journaling, it seems to have become a habit now, one that I’m so glad to take part in.   Also, I should probably watch less TV than I did last week.

Angel the Series: Beginnings

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Here we go again.  And so begins another long form examination of a series that some of you are only mildly aware exists.  Angel the Series was a spin off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer starting in 1999.  Wow, just typing that makes my childhood feel very, very far away.

There is sometimes a question in the Buffy-verse fandom of how best to watch and understand Angel.  From what I understand the best way to do it is to watch them side by side once Angel spins off into his own series.  I, of course, didn’t do that.  I waited until finishing Buffy (around June of last year) before starting to tackle Angel.

Angel is a completely separate beast to Buffy (in more ways than one).  It is oft-times darker and more sinister, but also arguably more diverse in a multitude of ways.  In Angel, as there was in Buffy, there is the good, the bad and the ugly.  But to start off, let’s focus on the awesome.  Here are some of my favorite moments, characters, and relationships of the series.

Character crossover — The reappearance and the back and forth between the shows that I understand much more now.  Darla and Drusilla in the current timeline and in flashbacks.  Andrew’s reappearance on Angel in Season 5.

The Hotel — Especially once Lorn moves in.  I love the set itself almost as much as I love the idea of the hotel.  There can be episodes like “The Price” which takes place nearly entirely within the hotel in locations we’ve never seen before.

Angel/Cordy — Angel and Cordelia right before they failed to become a couple is one of the most heartbreakingly awesome things ever.  They were so close, and I was so enjoying the ride right up to “Tomorrow”.

Character Growth — Cordy’s character growth from a vapid, wannabe actress to a fantastically flawed character who wants things that aren’t reasonable, but you’re rooting for anyway.  Not to mention how much Westley changes, and getting to see Harmony come back (and giving Mercades McNab title billing at the end of the final season).

In Jokes — If a caveman and an astronaut get in a fight who would win?  This question is going on my list of first date questions.  It’s currently the only one on the list.  Even if he doesn’t get the reference it makes for a good conversation.

Randomness — “Smile Time”.  Dude’s got a thing for evil puppets (“The Puppet Show” on Buffy)

Phantom Dennis — The fact that he exists is practically my favorite.  Also, the shots of Angel and Wesley dancing in a later episode absolutely made my day.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Angel the Series, similar to how I posted about Buffy (series starts here).  I can’t wait to hear what you guys have to say about it. Tell me, have you ever seen Angel?  What are your favorite parts of it?  Leave it in the comments.