Friday, December 24, 2010

We Have to Go Back!

I'm hoping many of you have been following Matt and Justin's excellent Lost rewatch blog, but in case you haven't, I just wanted to let you know I was a guest on this week's rewatch panel as we discuss the season 1 finale, "Exodus, Part 2." Come and check it out, and leave a comment on this week's post.

And in the meantime, have a very merry Christmas and happy holiday!! And as I said on Facebook, may your holiday be as happy as this one:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

You’ll Shoot Yer Eye Out!!

A couple of weeks ago I posted the following status update on my Facebook page: “Some people look forward to Christmas for the family get-togethers, or the turkey, or the egg nog, or the presents. I’m looking forward to the 24-hour marathon of ‘A Christmas Story.’”

A Christmas Story was released in movie theatres in 1983 to a poor reception. It’s only when it began showing on TVs at Christmas that it really picked up and became the holiday classic it is today. It’s relatively new in the greater scheme of things – It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas are decades older – but it’s like it’s always been around.

When I posted that status update, the response I got was immediate and enthusiastic, and it was only in reading some of the responses that it suddenly occurred to me just how important this movie is to me. It not only pervades every inch of Christmas for me, but much of everyday life.

• Every time I see FRAGILE written in large letters on something, I say, “Fra-gee-lay... must be Italian.”
• As a mom, almost every meal consists of me getting the kids’ plates filled up first, then ours, then jumping up to get something more for the kids, then filling drinks, then getting seconds for them, then remembering condiments... and I can’t help but think of that line, “My mom hadn’t had a hot meal in 15 years” from the movie. I laughed at the time, but now I laugh even harder.
• Getting my son to eat can be a negotiation. I’m always saying things like, “Here comes the choo-choo train!” or “Can you count to five with your fork by taking five bites?” and my husband always replies with, “Tell us how the piggies eat, Randy!”
• Whenever my kids are bundled in snowpants and coats and scarves and mittens and hats, my husband says they look like a tick about to pop.
• My brother and I are extremely close, and we’ll be in the middle of a discussion about someone who’s driving us particularly nuts and my brother will raise a fist in the air and yell, “Bumpuses!!”
• In our first apartment, someone in the adjacent building had dogs, and my husband and I always called them the Bumpus hounds.
• I bought one of those hospital lottery tickets one year, you know those ones for $100 and you can win a million bucks or a car or something, but even if you don’t win you know Sick Kids is getting the money? Anyway, I won a boombox... like, with a TAPE deck. This was three years ago. My husband and I, after our fits of laughter subsided, stared at it for a minute and I said, “You know, this is my major award!”
• When bathing the kids, I used to joke to my husband not to get the soap near their mouths, “You don’t want them coming to us when they’re 25 and blind and accuse us of ‘Soap... POISONING!’”
• Whenever my brother and I see one of those store Santas, we always do the evil, “HO... HO... HO!!” voice.
• My daughter loves the 1982 Annie movie, but when I’m looking for the DVD I can’t help but sing in the nasally radio voice from the movie, “Little orphan Annie!”
• I think I use the “You’ll shoot yer eye out” line on a weekly basis.
• Every time I think I have too many cords going into one power bar, I picture that absolute mess of cords in the wall behind the Christmas tree in the movie.
• There have been many, many occasions where a conversation between my husband and I goes something like this: “So I was out and I [insert line about doing something stupid here] and I said oh... fffffffuuuuuuudddgggge.” “Only you didn’t say fudge, did you? You said the queen mother of all swear words, didn’t you?”
• I’ve often wanted to put a bar of soap in my mouth to find out what it tastes like.
• My husband hates meatloaf and won’t let me make it, and so I call it “Meatloaf beetloaf,” just like Randy.
• We’ve walked by houses with weird lights in the window, and one of us will inevitably say it’s like electric sex gleaming in the window.
• I’ve been known to swear like the dad. “Bifflefarklefrakkingeffin...” (Though I’m more often known to swear like that guy in the movie Johnny Dangerously... my husband and I have been using the term “fargin icehole” for about 20 years now...)
• Whenever I see one of those word games where you’re supposed to decode something, I assume there will only be one answer. I waited for years for John Locke to uncover something on the island that promised all the answers, only for it to say, “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.” I think everyone in my family can do that scene by memory. “Be sure to... be sure to what???... Ovaltine? Son of a bitch.” But the closest Lost ever got to A Christmas Story was when Scut Farkus ended up as Jack’s best man at his wedding. I was thrilled to see him again!

It’s everywhere. This is probably one of my all-time favourite movies. Much of it was filmed right here in Toronto (when you see scenes with the streetcars, that’s us!) The actual house is in Cleveland, and my aunt and uncle went there in the summer and showed me a picture of it just the other day. Now I MUST get to Cleveland and tour the house... they had a picture of them standing next to the electric sex gleaming in the window. I wonder if there was a faint smell of ozone as they lit it up.

How about you? What’s your favourite holiday movie and why?

How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse... at Christmas!

Thanks to Corey for the link.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Lost Encyclopedia

I would love to be able to write a review dissing The Lost Encyclopedia by Tara Bennett and Paul Terry. I’d love to be able to tell you it’s absolutely no good, and instead you should just save your money and buy my Finding Lost series, or at least my Season 6 one, which analyzes and explains the finale in a 50-page section. (Well, actually, I WILL tell you that last part... if you just buy one Lost book, buy mine!.. or read on to find out how you can win a copy of the Lost Encyclopedia and then you can STILL buy mine!)

But I’m not going to tell you The Lost Encyclopedia is crap, because, quite frankly, it’s not. It’s a beautiful book that goes out of its way to service the diehard fans as well as the casual ones, offering up entries for the most obscure things on the show that may have been shown only once. It’s not perfect – more on that in a minute – but when I got my copy, I was immediately mesmerized and spent the next 20 minutes slowly flipping through the pages, not reading it, but just looking at it. Then I had to get back to work, and the minute I was done, my nose was buried in that book again.

I’ve worked in publishing for over 13 years. I don’t just write books, I edit them on all levels. I do substantive edits (that’s when you read through a book and decide if a character needs to go, or a chapter at the beginning should be moved to the end, or if the ending needs to be rewritten... big picture stuff), copy edits (looking at the copy and cleaning up the sentences, correcting grammar and typos, rewriting sections that are sloppy) and proofreads (that’s catching the final typos and mistakes that have slipped through the other parts of the process). I’ve overseen the design work and the typesetting, knowing the difficulty of fitting blocks of text on pages with several photos, and having to line up the text with the photos. I know what can fall through the cracks, such as when captions are misspelled because they were stuck in at the last minute, etc.

And that’s why I was able to look through The Lost Encyclopedia with an immense appreciation of the EXTRAORDINARY amount of work that’s gone into it. There are SO many photos, and gorgeous ones at that. The numbers are everywhere (on pages 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42, the pages are devoted to the actual number of the page, with various uses of the numbers in and outside of the show written all over the page). The books referenced on the show are all mentioned in one way or the other. There’s a FANTASTIC two-page photo spread of a bookshelf containing all of the major works that have been listed on the show. I gasped audibly when I came to that page and saw the bookshelf. What an amazing photo.

Characters who appear in one episode with one line of spoken dialogue seem to get their own entries, with a complete plot description of who they were and why they turned out to be significant (I’m not talking about background extras or the person who sells Desmond his coffee, but someone who turns out to be important... as well as the woman who sells Hurley his “I ♥ Shih Tzus” shirt). There is very little in the way of analysis (don’t come to this book looking to get into the heart of a character or find deeper meaning from a particular object or come away with a richer understanding of the finale) but it’s an encyclopedia – they’re supposed to offer up a lot of information without analysis. That’s what encyclopedias do. There’s been a lot of talk about the problems with the book, but I think many of the nitpickers are missing the forest because a few pesky trees are in the way.

Yes, it’s riddled with mistakes. Not necessarily important mistakes – they don’t attribute things to one character when another did it – but I did find a few errors. One that a friend of mine pointed out, actually, was that they say Vincent comes to Jack in the finale and lies down beside him, just as he did in the pilot. But in the pilot Vincent ran up to Jack, sniffed him, and then ran off to the beach and Jack followed him. Very minor indeed, but those little mistakes are throughout.

What bothered me the most (and that’s probably because I’m an editor, so my job is to read pages and find this very sort of thing) were the editing inconsistencies. Now, I’m going to talk about them from the point of view of someone who’s worked behind the scenes and could therefore see through the mistakes and how they probably got there, so this may get a little technical. But hey, it’s what I do from 9 to 5, and now I get to apply it to Lost!

This is a HUGE book, with tons of text and little photos throughout. The show ended on May 23, and the book was originally skedded to come out August 24 to meet the DVD release (for various reasons that went unexplained – but I assume were just because the timeline was basically impossible – the book actually came out in mid-October). A book generally takes about 4 or 5 weeks at the printer. Then if it has a drop-dead street publication date, you need to have the book in your warehouse about a month ahead of that. So, an August 24 pub date means the book has to be in the warehouse by, say, August 1. Which means it has to go to the printer on July 1. Which means it has to have finished all of the editing by about a week ahead of that date. And if the show ended May 23, and the authors needed another month to incorporate all of the material from the finale... well, you’re now starting to see the timing issue (and why my life becomes so difficult when I’m editing – and writing – several books for the TV season that have to be on shelves on September 1). So you give the author a June 1 date and say sorry, but you’ll just have to send us all additions by that date. That still only gives you three weeks to do all of the edits, all of the final captions, and the entire final layout. A book like this one is a giant task layout-wise, and I could see the constraints they were under on every page.

So, when you’re editing a book like this, how do you work within that schedule? You divide it up amongst a team of editors and proofreaders. “Here, you take A-G, you take H-M”, etc. What becomes evident, unfortunately, is that all of the editors were not working with the same style sheets. Some of them were using serial commas (i.e. “he bought a hat, coat, and mittens”) while others didn’t (“he bought a hat, coat and mittens”). And often, I found both on the same page, which means that perhaps a copy editor on that section was adding them, and the proofreader wasn’t looking for them to make sure they were consistent throughout. Words are spelled differently on the same page, sentences have words missing from them. Captions are wrong, or repeated on more than one page, or have words misspelled (the one I remember is that the Millennium Falcon is spelled “Millenium”). I didn’t put sticky notes on the pages where I found mistakes, because, I hate to say it, I would have had them on every other page.

The biggest mistake I found was in Kate’s entry, in a weird sidebar called “Equine/Human Relationship” (sometimes these sidebars just felt like padding, and in a book this enormous, I have no idea why they’d be attempting to pad it). Anyway, clearly the first line of the sidebar wasn’t very good, and the editor decided to rewrite it, and then edited the second sentence to either remove or add in a serial comma. Problem? He or she left the original two sentences in there, so now it appears twice. The second time is rewritten. Here it is:

The horse was an important image for humans even before they were domesticated several thousand years BCE. Since then, horses symbolized many consistent attributes across cultures, including: strength, freedom, grace, beauty, and power. The importance of equines dates as far back as the third millennium BC with ancient Elam slates reflecting their form. Since then, horses symbolized many consistent attributes across cultures, including: Strength, freedom, grace, beauty and power.

OK, so here’s the editing lesson: Look at the first and third sentences. Same sentence, written differently (i.e., an editor said, let’s change “third millennium BC” to “several thousand years BCE”). Second and fourth sentences are identical, except the first one used a serial comma (beauty, and power) and the fourth one didn’t.

So yes, there are some sloppy moments. But thankfully, those sorts of glaring errors are not throughout the book, and speaking as an editor who’s made more than her fair share of mistakes when under the wire and on extremely tight timelines, I understand how they happen. But I work at a medium-sized press with 10 people, and before a book goes to the printer there’s at least one person, sometimes more, who does one final flip through the book looking for inconsistencies, checking captions and sidebars and table of contents page numbers, etc. So I feel like a larger press like DK should have had more of those things in place. That said, The Lost Encyclopedia is massive and has so many various elements that even the editor in me is willing to give it a pass.

The writing is good; it’s definitely written by fans who know the show inside and out, which is important (too many of these sorts of books are written by pens for hire), but the writing was also at times a little cumbersome and technical. But once again, I’m going to stick up for the writers here and say it’s an encyclopedia; it’s meant to be a little more objective and impersonal.

This is not a good book when you’re trying to look something up – things are out of alphabetical order (NOT good for an encyclopedia) because this entry fit better on the next page, so instead they just put a little note that says, “in case you’re looking for this word, it’s three pages from now” sort of stuff. After I found the picture of the bookshelf, I couldn’t find it again to show my husband. I looked under B… nope. L for literature? No. Um… S for shelf? Ah… no, it’s after Sawyer’s entry. Because, um… because he reads a lot of the books? Yeah, that didn’t work for me, either. So I think this book works better if you simply sit down and read it like a book. Flip around if you want and read the S entries followed by the B ones, but don’t try to look something up (and many of the things aren’t indexed… so don’t look there, either).

And sometimes the term they’ve put it under is wonky. The sidebars, as mentioned, seemed to have been added in just for padding; my favourite was under “White Rabbit” (perfect example of what I was just saying… just now I looked it up under “Rabbit” and couldn’t find it and had to flip around until I found it under W for white) which begins, “Rabbits are small mammals found in many places all over the world.” LOL! I wish the John Locke one began, “John Locke is a man, which is of the homo sapiens variety with an X and Y chromosome, hence, male.” But it’s that sort of thing that was unnecessary in a book this big.

Some people have complained about the way the characters’ entries were alphabetized, which is generally by first name. My husband said they should be under last names only. I said, “Really? What’s Charlie’s last name?” He just stood there for a second and said, “Well… that’s what an index is for.” And I said if you’re looking for “Charlie,” you’d have to look it up in the index under Pace, and if you don’t know that’s his last name, you won’t find it. The authors instead have cleverly put it under C for Charlie, and that makes sense to me. Jack is under J, James Ford is under S because we know him as Sawyer. John Locke is under L. Inconsistent? No… because we all call him Locke. That just makes sense. So I thought the alphabetization of the names was great.

There were a lot of two-page spread pics that didn’t make sense. There’s this one that’s a chart of animals, ending in the smoke monster on the far right, and they’re on a grid that shows them from tiniest to largest. And yet… they have the Hurley bird being shown as being bigger than the horse. Um… I don’t think so. But it’s still a cool picture.

But enough nitpicking... I’d rather talk about the good stuff. Under each character you get their backstory, each part of their flashback, and the key moments of their character’s arc. For the biggest ones you get sidebar charts of what other characters they were associated with off-island and what the on-island connections are, and then you can use those lists to cross-check the other names. It’s a great resource for keeping track of everything if you’ve forgotten some aspect of that character’s story.

Like I said, the photos are amazing. Many of the artefacts used on the show are featured in photos that were obviously taken at the Lost auction in the summer; the photo of the horrific squirrel baby, for example, isn’t the squirrel baby at all, but an earlier version of the thing that they built to show the designers how they REALLY wanted the thing to be built. I remember that causing some controversy at the Lost auction because they were billing it as the actual thing that appeared in the episode, and when fans pointed out that wasn’t it at all (it’s a much less scary-looking version) then the description changed on the auction site. Unfortunately, the less scary version appears in the encyclopedia because they just grabbed the photo of the one at the auction. Or… maybe that’s a fortunate thing, actually. I don’t think I want that thing pictured in a book on my shelf.

Some fans have pointed out that Lostpedia is the better thing to have, because you can cross-reference things, look anything up, it’s constantly updated and isn’t filled with spelling errors. Lostpedia might be the more useful tool if you’re a Lost scholar, but for the fan who wants a thing of beauty to commemorate all those years on the island, the Lost Encyclopedia is a wonderful addition to their collection. It’s gorgeous, it’s hefty, and it was written with a lot of love. How many other official books could boast something this unbelievably dense and rich, and filled with minutiae that even a diehard fan would appreciate? Most official books just gloss over the series and give you some purty little thing that’s about as substantial as the Nikki and Paulo subplot from season 3, but this book is great.

I remember being a little worried when I saw this book coming out around the same time as mine, but now that I’ve read it I realize our books aren’t rivals; they perfectly complement each other. This one gives you the background and plot summary of the series, and mine analyzes all of that. It’s the beauty, mine is the brains. And that’s not me dissing it at all; I think this book is essential to every Lost fan’s collection.

But, of course, if you just have money to buy one Lost book, then yeah. Buy mine.

NOW. I have one copy of the Lost Encyclopedia to give away (and that’s for people who’ve read down this far!) I was trying to figure out some sort of contest, so I’ll go with the one I had last year. Send me a photo of you with your Season 6 Finding Lost book (or your complete series) for me to post on the site, and the winner of the best photo will win a copy of The Lost Encyclopedia! Email your entries to me at nikki_stafford@yahoo.com. I look forward to them!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

10 Last-Minute Holiday Gift Ideas!

OK, it's time for my completely self-indulgent guide to holiday gifts for the shopper who's left things for the last minute. And... it's mostly going to be completely selfish suggestions from me here. ;) But hey, I've spent the year entertaining you here for my own fun and pleasure, and because I turn down all ad opportunities (much to my husband's chagrin), the only way I can make money off this blog is if you click those little buttons on the side. So here we go!


Suggestion #1:

Finding Lost: Season 6
So far I've gotten 13 great reviews on Amazon.com and I'm so proud of them and grateful to everyone who's left one there! (And if you've recently ordered something from Amazon and have read my book and enjoyed it, please go and leave a comment there. Thank you!!) It's the biggest of the books, with the exception of the first one (which covered two seasons, so it's understandably bigger) and it not only covers all of season 6 and puts it all into perspective for you, but I go back and show the threads that stretch back from this season to the earlier ones. So it was a LOT of work covering all of that, going back to previous books mentioned on the show (hey, check out the reference to Slaughterhouse-Five in season 6 that was also made explicit in season 4 and here's how it ties in!). As I've said ad nauseum (because I'm just so damn proud of it!) my chapter on the finale, with a complete explanation and analysis of it that is sure to give you a different understanding of it, is over 50 pages long. It also includes chapters on Paradise Lost and The Stand, and shows how these two books were huge inspirations for the series. How do God, Lucifer, Adam and Eve, Trashcan Man, and a worldwide plague all come together on Lost? Find out in this book! It includes great behind-the-scenes photos of how they built the sets throughout season 6, as they were building them. It's a great price at Amazon, so I suggest grabbing it there. :) The Kindle is available here.


Suggestion #2:

Finding Lost: Season 5
Oh come on, you didn't think I'd recommend a different book, did you? Go back to this book after seeing season 6 to rediscover the path of John Locke and how he became the Man in Black, where Jacob factors in, the early questions about Richard Alpert that led to the man we finally met in season 6. It contains complete explanations of the time travel and how Miles's wonky explanation actually made sense, and looks at seminal works of fiction mentioned on the show (many of which, as I was analyzing them, I was actually coming close to what ultimately happened in the finale in season 6!) It's also available on Kindle here.


Suggestion #3:

The Complete Buffy Collection
OK, I'll move away from Lost for a second (but not for long) and suggest that if you're going to be joining us for the Great Buffy Rewatch of 2011 (beginning on January 4th!!) you have to pick up a copy of this DVD set. I'm watching season 1 right now and loving it as much as I did the first time around. No, actually... more. Much more. You all know how much I love Lost. Well... I think Buffy is still #1 in my heart. Find out why. And please join us for the Buffy rewatch. It's going to be awesome.


Suggestion #4:

Finding Lost: Season 4
What? Yes, of course. Season 4... this is the season that had The Constant, The Shape of Things to Come... amazing, amazing season. And this book contains my analysis of Slaughterhouse-Five, one of the two books I believe are essential to read outside of the series to gain a full understanding of what was really going on. I almost wish I could go back and rewrite these books all in light of the finale, but alas, I cannot. Instead they are meant to be read as you watch, but when I went back recently to flip through them and look at what I'd written based on our discussions here, I was surprised to see how far we were getting in actually figuring things out early on. That's because we rock. For some reason, I think this is my favourite of all of the Finding Lost books. I really enjoyed writing this one; it was also the only one written off-schedule so it ended up coming out in mid-season 5... and as a result I don't think it sold as well as the others. But it's still my favourite one of the bunch. Kindle is here.


Suggestion #5:

The Lost Encyclopedia
Yep, everyone's asking for my review of this one, and it's coming tomorrow (for sure... it's already been pre-posted to go live tomorrow as this week's Lost-Anon) and I think it's fantastic. Yes, it's got its problems, and I'll address those, but I don't think you should let those problems overshadow the awesomeness of this book. And... I have one to give away. I'm just trying to figure out some sort of contest. But I'll add that to the bottom of tomorrow's post.


Suggestion #6

Finding Lost: Season 3
What?? How'd THAT get in there. (Yeah, you're not buying my mock humility, are you?) Typically the least favourite of seasons for Lost fans (that or season 2), I thought season 3 rocked, especially if you watched it back-to-back on DVD. I remember writing this one and once again really enjoying it. The books that went with season 3 were great, and this is the season that contained the already classic The Man Behind the Curtain. And probably the saddest death scene of the series. Well... tied with the death scene in season 6 that I can't even mention by name. Sniff... I'm pretty proud of this book, even if it's my least favourite of the covers (I prefer conceptual ones). Kindle is here.


Suggestion #7

Breaking Bad: Season 1
If you haven't watched this show, watch it. I've spent the holiday parties and get-togethers trying to convince people to check out this show, and I've been faced with a lot of blank stares. "Let me get this straight... chemistry teacher finds out he has cancer... and he doesn't have enough money so he begins cooking meth to build up money to leave his family when he dies... and you say it's FUNNY?" Yes, it is. It's SO funny. Watch this show. I adore it.


Suggestion #8

The Three Fates of Henrik Nordmark
I haven't talked about this book on here at all, but this is a novel that I acquired and edited, and I loved it (and the author, Christopher Meades). If you're looking to take a chance on a quirky, edgy, funny little novel, this is the one. When Henrik Nordmark, a 42-year-old security guard, almost gets hit by a car one day, he realizes he won't be remembered after he dies because he's never done a single unique thing in his life. So... he sets out to become unique. If only those three elderly assassins from the local nursing home hadn't accidentally fingered him as the superspy they've been hired to kill. Surreal, funny, and insane. Please check it out... you won't be disappointed. Kindle is here.


Suggestion #9

Room by Emma Donaghue
You thought I was going to say my first Finding Lost book, didn't you? Room was haunting... I'd read other books by Emma Donaghue but her other books didn't even hint at the heights she achieved in this one. There's a scene in this book that will make you hold your breath until it's done... I was so on the edge of my seat that my husband wandered into the room to ask me something and I just screeched, "NOTNOWGOAWAYINEEDTOFINISHTHISSCENEGOAWAY!!!" and my palms were literally sweating while I was reading it (and my heart was beating inordinately fast). Since then, other friends have read it and the moment they get to that scene they send me emails saying, "OH MY GOD I know EXACTLY what scene you meant! I thought I was going to faint." This is the story told from the point of view of Jack, a 5-year-old who has lived his entire life in an 11-square-foot shed in the backyard of the man who kidnapped his mother years earlier and has been repeatedly raping her. It's the story of what a mother will do to keep the horrible world from her child, as she plays games with him day after day and loves him and shelters him from the horrors of what happens at night. I loved it so much I've bought it for several people for Christmas. It's amazing... and if you're worried that, as a parent, you wouldn't be able to stomach it, I can tell you that because it's told from the boy's point of view -- a boy who thinks his life is perfectly normal and happy, thank you very much -- it distances you from the pain the mother feels and makes it more palatable. And... she lives in my hometown! Even better.


Suggestion #10

Finding Lost: Seasons 1 & 2
Like I was going to leave off this one. This is obviously the one that started the series, and if you have a friend you've convinced to watch the show from the beginning for the first time, get them this book! Or get it yourself if you haven't. This contains the analysis for the OTHER book from the series that I think is essential outside reading -- The Third Policeman. It also looks at the character development throughout the first season and how it changed in the second. It focuses on how Lost was a character-driven show in the first couple of seasons and its strengths and weaknesses, and going back to it now you can see where all of the seeds for everything in the later seasons can be found. There's nothing spoilery in any of my books... if you're watching for the first time, you can read that episode guide and it won't spoil you for later seasons. Kindle is here.

And that's that! Amazon can ship you things the next day, so if you're looking for suggestions that will allow you to avoid the malls, look no further. Buy the complete Lost set (or many sets!) for a friend or yourself, and check out some of my other suggestions. Because hey, I'm here to help. ;)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

You Know...

Some families go for the warm and fuzzy for their Christmas cards. A roaring fire, big warm red Christmas sweaters, mistletoe. Some families just send out cute pictures of their children laughing to express the holiday spirit.


And then there are the Kardashians...





... who embrace the icy cold side of Christmas with all its white and silver and GOTH. If this were the promo pic for this season of The Vampire Diaries, it would be awesome. But the family Christmas card? Really?

Well, at least none of it was photoshopped in any way. *cough*

Monday, December 13, 2010

20 Things I Learned from Tonight's "The Sing-Off"

1. There is a show called "The Sing-Off."
2. Ben Folds hasn't been touring lately because he's a freakin' JUDGE on "The Sing-Off"!
3. The dude from Boyz II Men is a big fan of Radiohead. And later talked about buying albums by The Police. Who knew?
4. Radiohead's "Creep" can be totally AWESOME when it's done a capella.
5. It is possible to make David Bowie's "Changes" suck. I don't care what the judges said about it being innovative. It sucked.
6. In a show where the bands first had to do a rock song, followed by a guilty pleasure, Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me" fell into the rock song category. ???
7. Every singing talent show has to have a Paula Abdul on the panel. Nicole Scherzinger might think that guys wish their girlfriends were hot like her, but I think those guys are happy that their girlfriends have two IQ points to rub together... unlike Nicole Scherzinger.
8. The lead singer of the Commodores-type band keeps staring at Ben Folds strangely, as if he's thinking, "Who are you? Aren't you that IT guy who works upstairs?"
9. No matter how much I cross my fingers and pray, absolutely no one is singing "F*** the Pain Away." Dammit. (I mean, come on, if The Muppets did it, why can't The Sing-Off?)
10. The fourth band is called Groove for Thought, and not Grouper Thighs, which is what I originally thought Nick Lachey said.
11. Oh yeah... Nick Lachey is on this show. And... um... yeah.
12. OK, still watching, and the dude from Boyz II Men knows a LOT about music.
13. Ben Folds is the king of the backhanded compliment. "You know, you guys totally slipped there at the end and the tempo was wrong and you hit a key I didn't know existed, but great job guys, great job." Sits back slowly, grinning, two thumbs up.
14. My husband has seen more bands in the "guilty pleasure" category than in the rock category. Hall & Oates: "I loved them! Saw them in 88." Mr. Mister: "I saw them in 87."
15. People still sing "Every Breath You Take" like it's a love song. Sigh.
16. Nick Lachey is still reminding people he was in 98 Degrees. WHY?!
17. When Lachey is reading the results, the music in the background is a "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" version of Iggy and the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog."
18. When you make David Bowie's "Changes" suck, you go home.
19. Each group gets to choose their swan song ahead of time, and sadly, this week's band didn't choose Cee Lo Green's "F*** You."
20. This show is AWESOME fun. I'm totally watching next week.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Slayage, Eh?

I just found out that Slayage 2012 – the biennial academic on the Whedonverses – is going to be held in Vancouver. For the first time, it’s coming to Canada!!! So, as one of the Canucks who has attended the conference in the past, I thought I’d pass on some Canadian wisdom to the many Slayage peeps who might not be aware of some of our traditions. (And I would have photoshopped a stake in that Canadian heart above if I actually knew how to photoshop...)

Slayage will be held in June. In Canada, there’s not a lot of snow left in June, but we do tend to have the flash blizzards at that time. Especially in British Columbia, where it snows year-round. So, be sure to pack very heavy clothing.

To get into the country, you need to answer a few trivia questions, which will be given to you in a small cabin on the border by a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Here are some answers to the obvious ones:

Q: In what year did Canada become a country?
A: 1987.

Q: Who was the first Prime Minister of Canada? (And yes, we have prime ministers here... they’re like presidents only with more argyle sweaters.)
A: Bryan Adams.

Q: How did the first settlers come to Canada?
A: On the Titanic, with Celine Dion.

Q: Why is Canada's national symbol a beaver?
A: It was switched to a beaver from the previous animal, a black squirrel, after Naked Gun became a big hit (and we were very proud of our homegrown Leslie Nielsen)! By the time Parliament realized what he actually meant by "Nice beaver," it was too late... the rodent was already on our money.

Speaking of money, our paper money is very colourful, unlike the American greenbacks. This is because during the Vietnam War, in which we were a major participant, our economy slumped, and to keep it going, our government allowed people to use Monopoly money instead. Until then, our money was all brown.

The dollar coin is a piece of pure gold, and it’s called a loonie. We call it that because when we originally moved from paper money to coinage, they inserted lead into the money so it would literally burn holes in your pocket, and people began going mad. Our two-dollar coin has a piece of pure gold in the middle, with platinum around the edges. It’s called a two-nie. I have no idea why.


Also, you MUST speak French if you come here... everyone is completely bilingual, and while we speak English amongst ourselves inside our homes, in public you must speak French. So here are some key phrases you will need while you are here:

Je suis un salle de bain.
Translation: Where is the washroom?

Tu es un stylo.
Translation: May I borrow your pen?

Ou es le parking?
Where is the parking lot?
(Actually, this one is real... I like to think of Canadian French as Franglais. Don’t bring your fancy Parisien-learned French here and try to get by... you’ll be thrown out of a fa-nay-tra!)

Voulez-vous couchez avec moi?
Translation: Does anyone still listen to Christina Aguilera?


All men must wear their hair like Justin Bieber, and all the women... have to wear their hair like Justin Bieber, too.


And finally, we sing our national anthem all the time. It’s necessary in this country, because there is a very, very wealthy Canadian billionaire named George Stroumboulopoulos who donates money into our nation’s health care system every time we sing it. It’s why we have free health care! (The only catch is, when you go to the doctor’s office you have to spell his last name three times very quickly.) We sing the anthem when we wake up in the morning, before every meal, and every time we enter or exit a building. So, you’re going to have to learn it.

And hey, I’m here to help! So here are the words to our national anthem. Learn them before Slayage, because you’re going to need them!! And in the meantime, welcome to our country!

O Canada, our gnome and M├ętis land
True patriots bow at moon and sun’s command
With glowy hearts see E.T. rise
The true Norse strong and free
From car to slide
O Canada
We stand on guard for Lee!!!!

Got to keep our land
Glory house and flee
O Canada
We stand on guard for Lee....
O CAN-a-da
We stand on guard... for.... LEE!!!!

(I’m thinking it’s the General Lee we’re standing on guard for, but I don’t have confirmation of that.)

UPDATE: As many have pointed out to me, the Lee in our anthem stands for Geddy Lee, of course. Sheesh, you'd think that after working at the company who's been putting out Neil Peart's books for the last decade that I would have known that...

Thirty Years Ago Today...

...John Lennon was murdered in front of his apartment building. I was in Grade 2, but I still remember my dad sitting in front of the TV in silence as if he'd lost a friend. My uncle told me he was driving along a highway when the news came on the radio and they began playing "So This Is Christmas." He had to pull the car off the highway and began crying.

Many people will be posting Imagine today, I'm sure, but I'm going to instead post my favourite Beatles song, one that I listened to so many times my dad finally got me my own copy of Sgt Pepper's.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Lostaholics Anonymous: The Finale, Part 2

Hello everyone! First of all, my deepest apologies for being so lax in our Lost discussions... I’ve been busy trying to put the Buffy Rewatch together, and I’ve also been trying to catch up on TV. I don’t intend to drop Lost when the Buffy thing begins in the new year... but perhaps it won’t be every week. It’s not me attempting to let it go and move on. I wouldn’t still be talking about Lost if I thought that (and you know me, there is probably never going to be a point in my life where I DON’T talk about Lost... we’re seven years after the finale of Buffy and I’m still nattering on about that, so...) But I think the postings probably won’t be on any regular schedule.

Before we get on to tonight’s post, I just wanted to remind everyone that... my season 6 Lost book is out! I know, I know, you had NO IDEA and really wish I would have mentioned it before now! (Har. Har.) But there’s still time... time to stock up with a dozen or so copies for Christmas presents. Buy one for yourself! Buy one for your boss (that is, if you want a RAISE)! Buy one for your parents to get them watching. Buy one for your favourite Lostie. Buy one for people who loved the finale... buy one for people who hated it.

Wait... what's that you say? You already bought it? And read it? Have you posted something over on Amazon about it? Please do! :)

I received a letter from someone this week telling me that he was already obsessed with Lost to the point where he was starting to wonder if anyone around him really understood where he was coming from, and after reading my season 6 book, it actually made him love Lost more. He was writing to thank me for offering up the perspectives I did. I’m not mentioning that to brag or to use it to make you buy the book, actually... I just always find it so touching that people take the time out of their days to write me to say things like that. Usually people only contact you to say that you made a mistake somewhere in the book or you suck, but I’ve had more people say nice things than bad, and that’s really saying something about the Lost community in general, I think. That letter completely made my day. Thank you to everyone who has contacted me in some way with your thoughts on the book. It was the toughest one I had to write, so I can't begin to tell you what it means to me that you liked it.

My main reason for starting Lostaholics Anonymous was to actually get around to discussing the finale. As I mentioned in my previous Lost-Anon post, many people stayed quiet immediately following the finale because they didn’t want to bring down the tone of discussion. So I figured I’d let the topic lay low for a while, ease us in with other discussions about the characters, and then finally move back to the finale. It was easily my favourite comments board of the Lost-Anon series so far. I was away from my computer for most of the weekend, but I still remember driving back to the city on Sunday night with my phone, sitting and scrolling through the first 20 or so messages on the board and I was just so thrilled by your response.

After six months, those who didn’t like it have finally been able to come out and say they didn’t. And they weren’t mocked or ridiculed by anyone (which is what I would have expected on here... I would have been shocked if they had been) and instead there was just an outpouring of feelings and memories and emotions, both good and bad, with people listening to each other’s points and either commenting on those or offering up their own reasons.

I’ve gone through the first half of the comments and pulled out one line from each of them, and I’m posting them below. These are nowhere near the long explanations so many people give, both for and against, the finale, but it’ll give you a sense of where the discussion was going and how many different feelings were out there. For the next Lost-Anon post I’ll continue doing this, but I encourage you to keep leaving your thoughts, and feel free to debate things. No one will be rude or take you to task for anything.

Thank you for being the best group of people to discuss Lost with. I’m looking forward to continuing the discussion for a very long time with you!

Convergence:
I very much liked the final episode as a stand-alone episode. It was quite beautiful considered in isolation… But I was very much disappointed in it, and in the final season, as any kind of wrap-up of what came before. So is it fair to say I both loved and hated the final episode? Because, I did.

Dusk:
I liked the finale. I don't personally identify as outright Christian but I do believe people that have died do still watch over us.
One thing I also like to think is that Sun and Penny bonded breifly on her boat. Sun left custody of Ji Yeon to Penny.

From Nikki: (This is an amazing idea, and I thank you for putting some doubt in my head that the poor child was left to the Paiks.)

AEC:
I'm not religious at all- I'd classify myself as agnostic if I needed to pick a label, but the religious overtones of the episode didn't bother me at all. That was a theme of the show, and I'm okay with it…
At first I didn't fully understand the finale. I liked it, but was a little bit confused. However, after spending hours the night of the finale reading about other's opinions on the episode, I began to understand it more. Once I did, I loved it. The last few scenes are some of my favorite of the show…

Lisa (until further notice):
I loved the finale…I'm ok with not having all the answers to the burning questions. Too many answers would have led to disappointment. Maybe it is because Darlton didn't really have all the answers. I'm alright with that.

Marebabe:
From Nikki: (Her response was spread over 2 comments and was very thought-provoking, so I urge you to go and read it):
I must admit that, even when reading Fishbiscuit’s post on “The End” (the ultimate disgusted, angry rant!) I found myself nodding in agreement at times, thinking, “You’ve got a point.” How I wish that were not the case! I still love LOST, and I love this amazing community of LOST fans, but I feel let down by the finale.

QuestionMark:
I think that, in the grand scheme of things, LOST's finale affected people in so many different ways because the concept of afterlife, faith, and a celestial way station will obviously differ from person to person. Death is a personal thing for everyone, and it's totally understandable that people would disagree with how Darlton chose to portray it.

Fred:
in the end, the finale wasn't bad, at least. It contained a certain emotional power that most of the audeience felt deeply, but it suffered more from a poor Season with lackluster episodes that preceded it (perhaps too much was expected of the finale).

Lt McDi:
Something I noticed during all the criticism was a real lack of clear workable ideas on how Lost might have ended better. I've read stuff that revolves around plot points but an end is more than just a bunch of resolved plot points.

AliBags:
I think my disappointment was due to my own tastes and beliefs. I don't like religious sentimentality, I have no belief in an afterlife whatsoever. This shouldn't have bothered me though, because as a teacher of literature I know how to suspend my disbelief! I think I was just didn't like what the Sideways world turned out to be and as I've Nikki mentioned in her book, the fact the one of final scenes was set in a church was a real turn-off…
I watched it again last week for the first time, and this time felt a little more of the emotion. Watching the special features on the DVDs has really helped me too. I have fallen back in love with Darlton. I've just tonight watched the pilot with the commentary again and it truly was a remarkable piece of TV. The Finale was never going to be good as the Pilot but I admit, it isn't as bad as I originally thought.

Quarks:
I absolutely loved the finale… As for why they are in a church at the end, I think that is more for Jack than for anything else. As I mentioned in a earlier comment, Jack was essentially their leader, and he needed to be able to move on before they could all move on together. While it is never explicitly said that Jack is a Christian, he was going to have his father's funeral in a church, and I think this event, of laying his father to rest and finally being able to let go of him, was what caused them to be in the church at the end, not because of what it is, but because of what was going to happen there. Christian Shepherd was who turned Jack into who he was, the man who saved so many lives and the Island, and it was him who needed to guide Jack to the afterlife. And where better for him to do that than where Jack could finally let go of him.

Susan:
Nikki I appreciate your comments about the people who didn't like the finale. I am one of them… I've been told that I "didn't get it" or "wanted everything answered." But the reasons for disliking season 6 have nothing to do with these reasons. If you take away the whole FS, season 6 fits in well with the other 5. But the FS don't fit in, and Lost becomes something different from what I thought it was... In my opinion, they wasted too much of the season on something that wasn't real… To me the FS, which comprise about half of season 6, were just an excuse for D&C to bring back some much-missed dead characters.

Lee:
My feelings about the "Lost" series finale have not changed one iota since it originally aired. I loved it then, I still love it now, and thought it was the perfect ending to the show.

Jen:
I have never been so overwhelmed by emotion as I was by this finale - I LOVED it… As for those who didn't like it, I get it. If it was about the answers, then this episode didn't deliver. But I think that the whole of LOST was a critique of this way of thinking - A critique of the modernist quest to master the unknown. Jack went from a character who needed to master the unknown - to understand everything rationally - to one who realized that the deepest truths of being human cannot be understood with our reason - they are to be understood by understand what story we are a part of (for Jack, the story of the Island) and embracing our place in it. The meaning LOST was in the realm of the non-rational, (not to be confused with the irrational), the spiritual.

Rick Rische:
Count me in the group that loved the finale. As an atheist, I wasn't put off by the climactic scene in the church… And those last 10 minutes are brutally emotional, raw in some places. The scene where Jack and Christian embrace in one of the most powerful scenes I've ever seen on television.

Pamalamb:
If Lost were just any ordinary show I think the details of it all would have been much more important to me. Lost was so much more than an ordinary show; it was a show about so much of what makes life important, and in the end I think it was true to that.

LittleMo:
It’s quite a shame for me really to be left with what for me is an illogical and unsatisfactory ending where only minor changes to those last few minutes and what Christian said could have (in my eyes) 'fixed it' - or at least made it more logical and consistent… I love all the rest of lost - its just the last 10 minutes that don't work for me.

lostinyoureyes:
I am religious (well, I try, anyway), but for a period in my life was fairly agnostic. So I felt very comfortable with the religious overtones in the show in general, but do sympathize with those for whom the finale was a turnoff because of that.

Joan Crawford:
I both loved and was disappointed by the ending. These two halves exist simultaneously and fiercely independent of each other inside my body. In the head area.
From Nikki: (Joanie, never change!)

Efthymia:
The church thing, it didn't bother me at all, and I'm an atheist. They didn't label the "moving on" as Paradise -as far as I'm concerned, they may as well have moved on into inexistence- and I believe they were very careful not to favour any religion. Like you said, it was just a convenient place where all these people could meet. Plus, it wasn't any old church, it was a church we were familiar with, a DHARMA station, so its symbolism might not have been religious at all.
Therefore, any problems I have with LOST (lack of answers, faith's prevalence), I have with the show in its entirety; the issues that bother me are issues that should have been taken care of before the finale. So, yes, I liked it.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Lost Poster

I apologize that I haven't posted a new Lost-Anon post, but I'm working on a followup to the finale post from a couple of weeks ago, and I'm hoping to have it up tomorrow night. Until then, enjoy this poster. Thanks to SenexMacDonald for sending it to me!

The Lost Doctor Who Cold Open

I love this so much I want to marry it. And for everyone who's asked me, yes, I am still watching Doctor Who, but I'm still in season 1 because I'm trying to catch up on so many other shows at the same time! But I'll be back on it soon. Until then, enjoy! I would love to see what colour the sky is in Craig Ferguson's head. ;)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Buffy Rewatch: The Contributors

I know many of you are already planning to join us on our Buffy rewatch, but to entice you further, I wanted to introduce the people who are on board to watch along with you, some of the best Buffy scholars and writers that I know. Many of the contributors are people I've gotten to know through Slayage, and I'll tell you more about them individually when it's their week to talk about the show. On some weeks you're going to get just me, but because of the enthusiastic response from the people below, that will only happen about five or six of the weeks (every other week I'll post a brief comment before turning over the mike to the others). In certain weeks, you'll be hearing from more than one of the contributors, as there were a few episodes that proved so popular more than one person signed up for it. And they're promising to bring you their commentary through different methods and formats, so each week should be a lot of fun. In no particular order, here they are... and I've only mentioned one book for each of them, but many of them are featured in or have written several.

Cynthea Masson: If I ever get around to telling you about some of the things I did this past summer (but was too busy writing a book to blog about it) I'll be including some pictures of Cynthea and myself after we took a white water ride at Universal Studios that left us soaked to the skin. Cynthea is a professor from British Columbia who I first met at Slayage, and one of her many papers, entitled, “‘It’s a Thing We Do’: Crying with Buffy and Angel” is featured in the collection, On the Verge of Tears: Why the Movies, Television, Music, and Literature Make Us Cry.

Ian Klein: One of my favourite people, I met him on the shuttle ride from the airport at the third Slayage and we've been buddies ever since. He's a dramaturgy student in New York. He wrote a brilliant paper that I mentioned in my Slayage report that was published in the new book, Inside Joss' Dollhouse.

Alyson Buckman: Another Slayage peep! (Hm... that probably goes for the next dozen.) She's written many, many papers, and always writes things that make me laugh. Her most recent paper was published in Sexual Rhetoric in the Works of Joss Whedon.

David Kociemba and Kristen Romanelli: I first met David at the third Slayage, where he delivered a paper that I've probably applied to more of my blogging than anything else I've heard, which asked the question: if you're teaching a course on Buffy, and half the class has never watched it, do you spoil the series by talking about certain themes? Are those who have already watched some of it in a superior position? It was very thought-provoking (and one of the reasons why I'm doing the split in our rewatch for the first-timers and the Buffy veterans). At the fourth Slayage this past June, he brought along his girlfriend Kristen Romanelli, and proposed to her there. (All together now... Awwwwwww!!) Together they run the Watcher Junior site, which is a Buffy studies page for undergrads.

Elizabeth Rambo: Beth was a keynote speaker who did an excellent talk at the third Slayage, and I had the pleasure of staying at the same B&B as her and getting to know her over the four days we were there. Her brilliantly titled book, Buffy Goes Dark, focuses on the final two seasons of the show, which, without spoiling the series, has a double-meaning.

David Lavery: The man who started it all, David is one of the co-organizers of the Slayage conference. I first met him when I interviewed him for a chapter in my Angel book, and then we worked together on a book he wrote on Heroes called Saving the World. He's the co-editor of the first Buffy studies book that I read, Fighting the Forces. I like to think of him as the father of Buffy studies.

Rhonda Wilcox: And if he's the father, then Rhonda is the mother. Rhonda is the other organizer of Slayage, and co-editor of the Slayage website that features all of the academic papers done on the show. Her book, Why Buffy Matters, is a brilliant piece of scholarship and writing.

Cynthia Burkhead: Cynthia is a Buffy fan, and a huge Lost fan. I also met her at the third Slayage, and at the fourth one she gave me a Namaste bracelet she'd made for me, which I treasure. She is the co-editor of the upcoming book, Joss Whedon: Conversations, a collection of the many interviews that Joss has done.

Dale Guffey and Ensley Guffey: These two are one of the funniest comedy teams on Facebook. OK, more seriously, I first met Dale at the third Slayage, where she welcomed me with her gorgeous southern accent and presented an amazing paper (she was Dale Koontz then) and then I was thrilled to see her again at the fourth Slayage, and to meet her new husband, also a Buffy scholar. Talk about a match made in heaven. She's the author of Faith and Choice in the Works of Joss Whedon, and because their back-and-forth banter on Facebook is one of the most entertaining things about being on the site, I've asked them to tackle one of the weeks together, and they agreed (on top of the weeks they'll be covering separately). And because I've probably sent this link to everyone I know, you have to see the cutest and funniest wedding announcement EVER.

Jennifer K. Stuller: I met Jennifer at the most recent Slayage, and sadly I missed her paper when I had to go and practise my own, but by all accounts it was lively and fun. She and I met up a few times and chatted, and it was amazing to get to know her. She's the author of the awesomely titled Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors.

Matthew Pateman: I have no idea who this person is.

Stacey Abbott: I think Slayage people come up with the best titles for books, seriously. Stacey's the editor of several essay collections focusing on Whedon's work, and my favourite is probably Reading Angel: The TV Spin-off with a Soul. I met her at the third and fourth Slayages, and could never quite place her accent until I realized she was a Canadian who lived in the U.S. for a while before moving to England. She and David Lavery are completing a manuscript for a book of essays on Supernatural that I'll be editing and will be coming out next fall.

Tanya Cochran: I met Tanya at both Slayages, and at the second one she presented the paper that talked a lot about me that both surprised and thrilled me. She is the co-editor of Investigating Firefly and Serenity, which I would highly, highly recommend to any Browncoats out there.

Dr Janet K. Halfyard: Janet is another scholar I met at Slayage, and this past year she gave a wonderful paper on the use of music in Buffy. So I was thrilled when she enthusiastically agreed to come and be a part of this rewatch as our music commentator, where she'll inject some musical commentary into various weeks as she sees fit. She is Director of Undergraduate Studies at Birmingham Conservatoire, UK. Her publications include Danny Elfman’s Batman: a film score guide (Scarecrow Press, 2004) and an edited collections of essays on Music, Sound and Silence in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Ashgate, 2010), as well as numerous essays in collections and journals on film and television music. She is also a performer, who appears under the name "Steve Halfyard" (which is a tad confusing... I used to think Janet and Steve were husband and wife!) Now if I can just convince her to watch Lost, she'll find a show that REALLY outdid itself when it came to music!

Robert Thompson: The first non-Slayage person! Robert is a golf writer with several Canadian and American publications, and the author of several books, most recently Going for the Green: On the Links with Canada's Political and Business Elite. If you're wondering why I have a golf writer on here, it's because many of his ideas about TV shows have informed my own on this blog for a while and I wanted him to finally share them with you directly. Oh, and he's also my husband. So you could say he slept his way onto this list.

Christopher Lockett: I've probably known Chris longer than anyone else on here, save one person. He and I met at university when we were both doing our Masters in English, and one day out in the hallway waiting for a prof who was always late, I said something and he responded with a Simpsons quote. To which I retorted with another, and he with another, and a strong bond of geekdom was instantly formed. He's now a professor at Memorial University in Newfoundland, so I don't get to see him nearly as often as I like, but he blogs here about his experiences being out there.

Suzie Gardner: Suzie is one of the cutest TV companion guide writers you will ever meet. She wrote Don't Stop Believin': The Unofficial Guide to Glee, which I edited, and is a great writer and commentator on all things TV. I was thrilled to discover she was also a huge Buffy fan.

Jennifer Knoch: Jen is a book blogger who's become the go-to person for book reviews and blogging on the latest book happenings in Canada. And... she works with me! We have exactly the same taste in books, something we discovered early on when we were naming our favourite books to each other while the other kept chiming in, "Me too!!" She originally watched Buffy up to season 4 and quit. Last year I convinced her to try again, and she did, and loved it all the way to the end. Her blog is the Keepin' It Real Book Club.

Becca Wilcott: Becca is someone I've known for a while, and earlier this year she published Truly, Madly, Deadly: The Unofficial Companion to True Blood, which I edited. (I'm sensing a pattern here!) When the manuscript came in, it was one of my favourite books to work on, because it was written very tongue-in-cheek, and many of her observations made me laugh out loud. Great writer, awesome book, and a big Buffy fan!

Crissy Calhoun: I think many of you have heard me talk about the Calhouner on here, someone I've worked with for eons and who is most recently the author of Love You to Death: The Unofficial Companion to The Vampire Diaries. She's one of the most insightful TV bloggers (and maker of iron-ons for geeky t-shirts) I know.

Stacey May Fowles: She's one of the few "friend of friends" on here, but many of my friends said I should include her, and I'm thrilled to have her here. Stacey works at The Walrus, and is the former editor of Shameless magazine, which was a feminist mag for teenage girls. She's the author of several books, most recently She's Shameless: Women Write about Growing Up, Rocking Out, and Fighting Back. (That title alone makes me delighted to have her here!)

Robert Wiersema: I mentioned Rob a few weeks ago when he wrote a piece for the National Post about rewatching Buffy with his son, Xander (who he says is not named after the character... I have a daughter named Sydney who I insist was not based on Alias, but maybe we're both kidding ourselves). I've been reading his terrific writing for years, so I'm very happy to have him with us for this. His most recent novel is Bedtime Story, which just came out a couple of weeks ago.

Dani Couture: Dani is a very fine poet in Canada and the partner of a dear friend of mine, so again I'm so happy to have her on board. She's another big Buffy fan, and the author of Sweet. We've got a poet on here!! And unlike William, she's a bloody good one.

Graham F. Scott: Graham is the editor of This Magazine, a political magazine based out of Toronto. A friend of mine used to be the editor of it a few years ago, so when Evan suggested I contact Graham and that he was a big Buffy fan, I jumped at the chance. Graham told me he discovered Buffy in 2009, when he watched the entire series on DVD, and has been obsessed ever since. You can follow him on Twitter at @gfscott.

Bryan Curry: Bryan contacted me when I first posted that I was going to be doing this. He runs the Hellmouth Podcast, which is a rewatch of Buffy where he podcasts after every episode. He's just finishing S3 now, and will be adding Angel onto his watch when he begins S4.

Michael Holland: Michael was a regular contributor on here to our Lost discussions, and I was surprised when he emailed me one day to say he was a post-production supervisor on Dollhouse and enjoyed my posts on that show. In 2006 he cowWrote and produced Backstage Pass with William Katt and that same year was the invited speaker for Digital Cinema at The Jackson Hole Film Festival. For the past fifteen years he's worked in post-production, most recently as D.I. Producer for Twilight and as Post Production Supervisor for Dollhouse and Glee. He blogs at hollandimaginarium.blogspot.com.

Evan Munday: Finally, Evan. I wanted him to be a part of this but wasn't sure he was a Buffy fan. So I emailed him, and was so excited to find out he was, and watched it live when it first aired. Yay! Our kind are SO FEW. Evan is an illustrator and a publicist at Coach House Press, and he illustrated the novel/graphic novel that my publisher put out, called Stripmalling. But the real reason I wanted him on here is because he's so damn funny, and when Jennifer Knoch (see above) was putting together submissions for her Keep Toronto Reading venture (I contributed when I recommended Geektastic), Evan's submission is one of the most ingenious things I've seen. So he's promised to use a similar approach in the week he covers for us. (See, I'm holding you to it, Evan.)

And that's our cast! I have a few more surprises up my sleeve, but I'll wait until the weeks where they appear before I reveal who they are. I hope you're as excited to read everyone's thoughts as I am!