Category: TV/Movies


10 Reasons Why Arrow is Awesome

I’m about to turn into a total fangirl (and comic book dork) here, so bear with me.  Over the last week, I’ve become completely obsessed with the show Arrow on the CW network. It’s been on for more than a year, but I didn’t discover it until a chance encounter with the Season 1 DVD set. Oh my. If I only I knew then what I was getting myself into! In short, Arrow rocks.

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10 Reasons Why Arrow is Awesome

1. A somewhat lame comic book character has been re-imagined into something really cool.

Any comic book geek knows the original Green Arrow was kinda lame. He looked more like a dorky Robin Hood and never really rose to the heights of vigilante heroism like some of his other “colleagues.” However, I will give credit to his redesign in the 1970s, which made him a little more interesting. Arrow, the television series, further redefines the character into something edgy and dark with the just the right amount of cool and humor.

See the transformation for yourself:

The_Green_Arrow_By_Jack_Kirby-396x600  Lone Gunman

2. There is respect for comic book origins.

Despite rewriting the Green Arrow story, Arrow is careful not to discard everything. Nods to original comic book characters, places, and story lines are peppered throughout the series. Comic book nerds take their lore pretty seriously, so acknowledging tradition while paving new ground shows a lot of class and respect for the genre.

3. Strategic Storytelling

Comic books are known for stories that twist and turn with unexpected surprises. Writers are careful to drop little hints without revealing too much and tie things together in unexpected ways. Arrow carries on this tradition flawlessly. Almost every episode implements a dual storyline – One that works from the present and one from the past. Each plot development slowly burns into revelation and it is fascinating! For example, the show has only revealed the story behind three of Arrow’s scars and only dropped one hint about the origins of his tattoos, (which, of course, are all tied into a bigger picture plot line).

arrow

4. It’s not always a happy ending.

Let’s hear it for the cliché that the hero always catches the bad guy and saves the day. Arrow is good at what he does, but he doesn’t always win. Like everyone else, he travels through hills and valleys. His journey of successes and failures helps his character evolve in a much more realistic and believable way. In many respects, how he handles his flaws and mistakes are what make him a hero.

5. Great interactions between characters.

A hallmark of a great show is good chemistry between characters. It helps that the writing is sharp and witty, but it takes talented actors to make it all work. In particular I love the interactions between Arrow and his wingman Dig. Their interactions are intense, but also among the most entertaining. In addition, any scene with Felicity Smoak and Arrow is amazing. The banter between these two always keeps me guessing: friends or maybe something more someday.

6. Awesome fight sequences

The Green Arrow is known for his agility and acrobatic talents along with martial arts, but the show takes it a step further by fusing those gifts with sophisticated and diverse hand-to-hand combat. The result is adrenaline rush fight sequences that rival those seen on the silver screen.  Better still, the camera stays on the action. No shaky frames or quick cuts.

7. Weapon of choice is a bow and arrow.

Arrow doesn’t have super-human strength or a high powered gun. Instead, he has his trusty bow and arrow. And he is an incredible shot. I will never get tired of watching him shoot off one arrow after another and (almost) always hitting his mark.

ARROW

8. Nifty tech gadgets

There’s more to those arrows than a simple blade. Some arrows are fitted with recording devices, flash bombs, explosives, grappling hooks, and a bunch of other cool gadgets. Arrow isn’t just lean mean fighting machine –  He’s also pretty dang smart.

9. Kick-Ass Girls

Another cliché that shows up a lot in comic books is the damsel in distress. Ugh. Thankfully,  Arrow is full of strong women who know how to take care of themselves. One can even throw a heck of a punch and effectively aim and shoot a gun when bad guys come after her. There are even a few villain women that challenge Arrow just as much a muscle-bound psychopath. Granted, there is that part of me that likes to watch the hero save the girl, but it’s nice to see that story play in reverse as well.

10. Stephen Amell

Ummm, did you see the picture for Reason 3?  While great eye candy, he portrays Arrow with deep intensity and believability. He slips seamlessly between Arrow and his alter ego Oliver Queen, even though they are very different characters.  He essentially anchors the series with incredible charisma and charm.

Arrow-stephen-amell-34314986-1920-1200

Oh, and it’s really fun watching him do this:

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So, I geeked out a little bit for Favorite Thing Friday. Can you blame me?

p.s. I still have four episodes of Season 2 to watch. Please, no spoilers in the comments!

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2013

Tonight, I’m standing in line waiting to see the final installment of the Twilight Saga. Before spending untold hours in lines for every movie, I devoured the books with the ferocity of a teenage girl. It’s hard to explain why I am so taken with all things Twilight, but I own my guilty pleasure completely.

Breaking Dawn: Part 2 signals the end of an era. For the last four years, I’ve had a lot of fun watching the books play out on the big screen and hanging out with other Twihards. I’m going to miss it, but at the same time I’m looking forward to saying goodbye. Excuse the cliché, but all good things must come to an end. Otherwise, we’d never have room for all the new things waiting on the horizon. I’m ready to let go, but the Twilight Universe will always be something special to me.

In the midst of Twilight mania, I wrote my first novel and embarked on a second. The ideas were always there and so was my muse, but the inspiration of Stephanie Meyer’s journey of becoming a published author gave me the final push I needed to get writing, (along with my mother). I will always be thankful for that and I’m even more thankful that I got the opportunity to tell her how she inspired me, (see The Autograph Ninja).

As the series comes to a close, I am anxious to see what Stephanie Meyer and the cast will be up to next. Everyone involved is so talented and I wish them nothing but the best as they move on to new projects.

If I am a bit scarce throughout this weekend, it’s due to a Twilight hangover and multiple viewings. I’ll be back to normal soon enough!

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c.b.w. 2012

Memory Stubs

When I was a kid I saved ticket stubs from concerts, sporting events, fairs, festivals, and just about anything else that needed a ticket. I loved how one look at a date and time, seat number, or movie title instantly took me back to that moment in time. Memories that were normally invisible in the back of my mind came roaring to life as I thought back on who I was with, where I sat, and how much fun I had. Each ticket stub was my own personal time machine.

While searching for film negatives in box under the bed, I came across a stack of memories I thought were gone forever. When my home was burglarized eight years ago, all my so-called valuable possessions were taken, but what killed me the most was the loss of a lockbox that I used to protect keepsakes including tickets stubs.  In particular, I was sad to lose a set Star Wars 20th Anniversary stubs, (my step-dad and I saw those movies together and I’ve always treasured that time).  Imagine my surprise, when I flipped open a small box and found a stack of movie and concert ticket stubs I thought were in my stolen lockbox.

Movie Ticket Stubs circa 1993-2003

Unfortunately, the Star Wars tickets weren’t in the bunch, but I was still thrilled to find stubs for movies I saw almost twenty years ago when it only cost  $3.75 to see an afternoon movie and $6.50 for an evening show.  As I flipped through the stack, it was amazing to know all of my memories were still inside of me, waiting to be recalled.  I saw The Mirror Has Two Faces with my sister back in 1996. The film strip broke halfway through and we had to wait forever for them fix it so we could see the end.

Then, there are the ticket stubs from movies I saw with my first serious boyfriend, BraveheartBeevis and Butthead Do America, and Twister. My best friend from high school and I went and saw The Lion King and The Hunchback of Notre Dame together. We were the only “adults” without children in the entire theater, but we watched like we were kids.

These little memories are just a fraction of what these stubs hold for me.  They are priceless and I am so thankful to have found them again.

My weird habit of saving ticket stubs continues to this day. I keep all my movie stubs on a giant bulletin board in my classroom. It has over 250 stubs from movies between 1991 and 2012, including the ticket stubs from my first date with my husband and the most recent movie we saw together (last month). My friends and family are all over this board!

Movie Ticket Stubs circa 1991-2012

Some other tickets I’ve saved over the years come from sporting events and concerts.  My surprise under-the-bed stash yielded concerts I went to in high school with my sister and best friend. We were psycho country fans, which makes the Ryman Auditorium ticket stub one of my favorites.  My dad took my sister and I to that historic stage. I’ll never forget the fun we had or the patience and kindness of my dad for letting two obsessed teenagers go nuts over our favorite celebrities.

Concert and Museum Stubs

What history and art dork wouldn’t save her museum tickets? Van Gogh Alive and the Phoenix Art Museum are fairly recent, but I remember them as being absolutely beautiful days filled with beautiful things.

While in high school, I had a best friend that was kind enough to invite me to a few awesome basketball games.  I still have every stub and I love the memories they bring of us laughing and having a great time.

Basketball, Baseball, and Football . . . Oh my!

This collection also includes a ticket stub for a hockey game (Milwaukee Admirals) that was my first ever date. Sometimes, I wonder how that guy is doing.  He was nice and we had fun, but it didn’t work out!  My baseball stubs remind me of more time spent with my step dad and my husband. I love both major and minor league baseball even if it means getting a sunburn out on the lawn seats. If I can’t have my Star Wars tickets, I can at least have these. The San Francisco Giants ticket was in the stash I thought I’d lost.

Aside from my movie stubs, my favorite ticket stubs are from NASCAR races. I am a huge fan of fast cars and Jeff Gordon, but even more so of spending time with my Dad and stepmom. Every year for almost 10 years, I’ve gone out to Indiana to visit them and catch the Brickyard 400. Whenever I see those tickets I think of our race traditions, the noise of the cars, the smell of rubber, and the rivalry of Jeff Gordon fans (me) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans, (my dad). NASCAR something we do together and it means a lot to me.  I keep these tickets on the wall behind my desk at work, so I can I have a little piece of my dad and stepmom with me every day.

NASCAR Ticket Stubs

Between the newer stacks of tickets and re-discovered treasures, I’ve taken on the project of organizing my stubs into a small scrapbook.  Clearly, I’m not the only one who saves these little mementos as I found a fantastic little binder made just for saving ticket stubs!

A scrapbook just for ticket stubs!

Silly as it may be, my ticket stubs are precious collectibles. Not only do they get me into movies, concerts, museums, and stadiums, but they are souvenirs to some of my favorite memories.

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c.b.w. 2012

I haven’t always been huge on the holiday filled with red, pink (my least favorite color), teddy bears and large monkeys, but I do love love.  There is something magical about someone accepting and adoring you for who you are no matter what.  My husband is that man for me and I don’t need a holiday to appreciate all he does for me because I thank my lucky stars each and every day that he remains by my side.

Okay, I’m done being all mushy.  Being the fangirl I am (see The Authograph Ninja), I can’t help but have a little fun.  While real life love is the best thing out there, I am a sucker for TV couples from some of my favorite shows.  Here are my favorites:

Jim and Pam from The Office

Best TV Kiss Ever!

Sheldon and Amy from The Big Bang Theory

Most Awkward TV Kiss

Mary Margaret and David (or their alter egos Snow and Prince Charming) from Once Upon A Time

TVs Best Fairy Tale Kiss

And just for fun, a few from the movies:

Edward and Bella

Best. Couple. Ever

Ron and Hermione

Long Overdue, but Worth It!

Ariel and Prince Eric

Kiss the Girl!

Peter Parker and Mary Jane

Best Superhero Kiss

Of course, there are a slew more that I love, but these popped into my head first. Happy Valentine’s Day to my family, friends, and readers! May your day be filled with love and joy.

What are your favorite couples?

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c.b. 2012

The Autograph Ninja

In A Nice Surprise, I stated that I have a knack for getting autographs and it got me thinking about all the signatures I’ve collected over the years.  A friend recently called me a “ninja” and I think she might be right, especially after receiving the latest addition to my collection.

My collection includes a variety of autographs, but not all come from household names. Like everything else I collect (books, rocks, etc), every signature means something to me on one level or another. Gathering autographs is all about connecting to people who have inspired me or have had a positive influence in my life.  They are all attached to memories, beautiful moments, and sometimes life-altering experiences.

It wasn’t easy to find all my autographs, but I did manage to locate the vast majority.  Many autographs are personalized to me, so in order to safeguard my identity I’ve blotted out my real name.  Sorry about the fuzzy areas, but it had to be done!   To save space, a number of photos have been made into thumbnails, but one click will enlarge them to full size.

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This week, I hit what I consider to be the mother lode of autographs because I never thought I could get Stephanie Meyer to sign my books.  She is rather reclusive and her fame is a bit out of my league.  However, through a brilliant stroke of luck I found myself in contact with a link in a chain that lead directly to her.  I sent my Twilight series and The Host down the chain and hoped for the best.  In just a few days, my books came back to me signed!

  

 

Along with the books, I sent a letter to thank her for the pivotal, even if inadvertent, role she played in the completion of my novel.  After failing three times to get a first draft off the ground, I was ready to give up.  I needed a kick in the butt and my mother gave it to me through an aptly timed phone call.  After reading an article on Meyer in the local newspaper, she told me, “If Stephanie Meyer can do it, so can you.”  In a strange twist of fate, that phone call came just as I was about to leave to catch the Twilight movie on opening night.   The next day I started writing my novel (again) and didn’t stop until I finished it.  While I have a village of people to thank for supporting me during the writing process, my mother and Stephanie Meyer both helped to wake up my muse.  Needless to say, these autographs mean the world to me.

Keeping with Twilight, I’ve also stumbled upon a couple more signatures related to the series. Peter Facinelli (left) came to me through a set of collector’s cards for the first Twilight movie.  The autograph was included in a collector edition binder I got through amazon.com (before the craze went haywire).  As for Justin Chon (right), I met him at a Twilight event a week before Eclipse opened in theaters. Both were dumb luck!

 

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During a trip to China, I had the honor of meeting Yu Hua, an author who writes novels that deal with the Cultural Revolution and Chinese culture, (most notably To Live and Chronicles of a Blood Merchant).  His stories are intense journeys in to the human experience and explore complex emotions within families and friendships. In Beijing, I got the rare opportunity to hear him speak in a small group setting.  For two hours, he discussed his writing process, the challenges of writing in a country that censors everything with great scrutiny, and the power of words and creativity.  When I see his autograph, it reminds me how lucky I am to be a writer who has the freedom to write without penalty or restriction.  Despite the obstacles he often faces, he is a true example of how writing can set the soul free.

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Back in 2007, I attended The Office Convention in Scranton, PA.  The stars seemed to align during the whole weekend as I found myself almost constantly in the company of cast members, writers, and producers.  While a fan’s ultimate dream, the convention and the people I encountered had life-altering effects that still impact me today.  Throughout Seasons 3 and 4, I wrote a series of posts on The Office message boards that analyzed each episode and a friend of mine brought them to the attention of one of the producers.  He liked what I wrote so much, he personally presented me with a cast-signed Season 3 DVD set.   Furthermore, he invited me for a one-on-one encounter with the writers of the show.  For close to an hour, I got to rub elbows with some of the most creative and amazing writers in the industry.  During this event, the same producer introduced me as a writer.  It was the first time anyone had ever given me that distinction and it changed my life.  Every time I sit down to write, I try to live up to the title of “Writer.”

The Office is a big reason why I started writing after a very long dry spell, so these autographs serve as a monument not only to fandom, but also as a constant reminder that I must keep writing.  One day I hope to send a published copy of my novel to the producer who gave me such a wonderful gift.

1.Steve Carell 2.Leslie David Baker* 3.Mindy Kaling* 4.Rainn Wilson 5.Oscar Nunez* 6.Paul Lieberstein 7.Brian Baumgartner 8.John Krasinski 9.Angela Kinsey* 10.Jenna Fischer 11.Kate Flannery* 12.B.J. Novak* 13.Ed Helms* 14. Phyllis Smith* 15.Creed Bratton*

*I got a second personalized autograph from these cast members when I met them at the convention.

In addition, many of the writers, other producers, supporting actors, and even the creators of the show were kind enough to sign my autograph scrapbook.

   

Left to right: Gene Stupnitsky, Justin Spitzer and Mindy Kaling / Bobby Ray Shafer / Kent Zbornak / Andy Buckley

  

Left to Right: Craig Robinson / Michael Schur / Greg Daniels, Lester Lewis

When I got home from the convention, I had another little surprise waiting for me in the mailbox.  Jenna Fischer answered my letter and returned an item I asked her to autograph.

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There’s even more after the jump . . .

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