Sunday, May 28, 2017

Animazing: Favorite Animated Movies Part 2

Animation isn't just for children, and thinking as such can be unfair to the industry. Besides, if you completely dismiss animated films because "they're for kids," you are missing out on some of the best stories the human race can offer, told in a gorgeous medium.

Continuing from my last post Animazing: Favorite Animated Movies Part 1, I've come up with a few more additions. As mentioned previously, I thought it would be a good idea to list a few of my favorites to bring some much needed attention to these sensational movies.

Studio Ghibli Animation
My Favorite: Howl’s Moving Castle

The music, the animation, the voice acting, the characters, the magic system, the themes, the fact that it was based off of a fantasy book...every little thing about this movie is excellent.

The music is grand, sweeping and has a firm grasp on your emotions. The animation, just like all Studio Ghibli films, is gorgeously detailed and realized. Everything is given the utmost attention, from the almost anthropomorphic magic system to even the background, which a lot of animators don’t bother too much with. The magic in this movie is alive and becomes a character of its own, and even blends well metaphorically with the themes of love conquering all and characters finding the strength to change and grow.

But above all, the characters are engrossing and colorful (both figuratively and literally). Calcifer can’t help but steal the spotlight, especially when he’s voiced by Billy Crystal, and Sophie is amazingly brave and feisty. But, gosh, is Howl a real character. Both Sophie and Howl’s character arcs are masterfully done. We see Sophie transform from a timid girl to a strong-willed young woman and see the same with Howl, who transitions from spoiled and vain to empathetic and considerate. He becomes a person who refuses to run away from his problems.

Howl: I feel terrible, like there's a weight on my chest.
Young Sophie: A heart's a heavy burden.

Gorgeous and heartfelt, Howl's Moving Castle is a must-see!

Honorary Mention: Spirited Away

My sister and I used to watch Spirited Away when I was a teenager. From the moment we saw the darn thing, we couldn't get enough. It was our third Studio Ghibli movie (Kiki’s Delivery Service being the first), and we embraced the beauty and world that it conjured. What’s truly fascinating is that this movie makes you want to share it with others. It ultimately brings people together. It also gives a Westerner like myself insight into Japanese traditions and customs, and this was perfect timing because it was right around the period when I truly started getting into manga and anime. I could understand not only the stories but the country they came from.

I also remember that my sister and I would mimic the part where No-Face tries to offer Chihiro gold (you know, the pieces he produces) and makes that “ah, ah” sound. We would go around and push our hands at each other, imitating his voice.

But this movie is more than laughs, it's heartfelt and emotionally complex.

Chihiro: For some reason, I can remember Haku... from a long time ago... but I thought I never met him before!
Zeniba: Oh, that's a wonderful place to start! Once you meet someone, you never really forget them.
This movie has it all, and every aspect should be appreciated.

Don Bluth Movies
My Favorite: Anastasia

I might have been six or seven when Anastasia first came out, but still, to this day, I can recite all the words to all the songs. Anya had all the spunk and strength that little girls needed to see. What was truly inspiring was that Anya never wanted fame or money, she just wanted a family, from start to finish. She was strong and knew what she wanted from life. Though Dimitri and Vladimir were at first just in it for the glory and money, they too gave up the con in the end. In fact, we see an epic character arc when it came to Dimitri.

Before and even after said character arc, the banter between Anya and Dimitri is downright entertaining.

Anastasia: Do you really think I'm royalty?
Dimitri: You know I do!
Anastasia: Then stop bossing me around!

Not only is the story great, but the animation is superb, the music is lovely, and the humor is on par. It was definitely made with love! Even better, Anastasia is coming to Broadway in July and that should give you some idea about the story's excellence.

(Side note: Bartok is awesome.)

Honorary Mention: Thumbelina

I can’t help but think of my mother belting “Tttthummmballinaaaaa” just like that chicken in the beginning. This movie covers it all: love, despair, adventure, but mostly hope.

Thumbelina: I wish I had wings.
Prince Cornelius: Maybe someday you will.

Again, the animation is stunning and the songs are catchy. We have a charming cast of characters that you can't help but appreciate. Besides all that, the theme of Thumbelina (staying steadfast to your dreams and knowing anything could happen) is threaded throughout. There are several times in the movie where you think, “huh, this wasn’t supposed to happen” and “gee, this keeps getting worse and worse” but yet, Thumbelina keeps on believing and pushing forward. What a great message. Never give up because "nothing is impossible".

Warner Brothers Studios
My Favorite: Quest for Camelot

I’ve always been a sucker for fantasy that surrounds the legend of King Arthur, so it’s no surprise that Quest for Camelot is one of my favorite animated movies. It has a strong female lead, fantastic songs, magic, a talking chicken/axe hybrid, dragons, and much more. Not to mention, it also has tons of references to Celtic mythology and culture in the movie, which is always welcome in my book.

King Arthur: You have reminded us that the strength of a kingdom is not based on the strength of the king, but on the strength of its people.

As in any quest, the dynamic between all characters is important. The quest isn't about the end result but the journey, and Quest for Camelot makes that known. The crew, at first, have their differences, but as they trudge on, they begin to understand each other and learn from one another. It’s absolutely heartwarming.

Honorary Mention: Cats Don’t Dance

I kind of want to say that Cats Don't Dance may tie with Quest for Camelot, but I've committed to naming one winner, so I chose the latter. It’s no secret that I adore Broadway. I’ve always had a thing for musicals. But this jazzy, colorful explosion of awesome is a movie about animals who just want a chance to not only dance but prove themselves. What’s interesting about this movie is that it’s set in Hollywood in the late 1930s, the golden age of films and musical exploration. So it’s no wonder that the music is rife with voice talent and complex musical scores. The picture is brilliantly colorful and the animation is masterfully drawn, so fluid and nicely done.

This movie is about the pursuit of dreams, the failure that accompanies them, and the drive to accomplish what you've set out to do. It's about the realization that dreams may not come easily and that sometimes you have to hold onto that dream and exhibit tenacity in the face of adversity and discrimination, to be truly successful.

T.W.: [frantically searching through fortunes] They can break your cookie, but... you'll always have your fortune.

There will never be a time that I won't watch animation. Whether you want to say that's childish or charming, it won't matter because I know that animated films will continue to draw me in, with their lovely attention to detail, their (usual) mastery of music, their artistic quality, and the messages they leave behind. Besides, what's wrong with keeping some childlike wonder?

Do you agree with my list? Let me know below.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Top 10 Creepiest Disney Songs

Everyone knows that Disney is the family-friendly, happy-go-lucky, songs-for-a-good-day company. Their parks are the happiest places on earth. Everything is fun, everything is sweet, everything is rainbows and empowerment and sass. That is, until it's not.

The Disney villains have really been falling down on the job recently. I mean, Tamatoa has possibly the best villain song ever--it's Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jemaine Clement... how could it not be? But he doesn't quite have that creeptastic villain feel that the puppy-murdering Cruella DeVil did, you know? But she's not even the worst of them. Or, at least, her song is nothing special as far as bone-chilling, decidedly-not-family-friendly songs go. But these songs... these songs still don't quite sit right with me, especially for being in movies meant for children.

10. Night on Bald Mountain

An amazing orchestral piece, "Night on Bald Mountain" is made incredibly creepy with flying skeleton ghosts and fire and bats and flashing dark colors and an evil, grinning, glowing-eyed... thing. Among other creepy things. If I had seen this as a child, I would have had nightmares for months.

9. The Walrus and the Carpenter
Alice in Wonderland

I hate the Disney cartoon version of Alice in Wonderland. It has always creeped me out, and it's nothing like Lewis Carroll's work of genius. But this song takes the cake out of all the creepy moments in this film. It's all light-hearted nonsense, except they're literally eating the oysters alive. The baby oysters with scared baby faces. It's sickening.

Little Oysters? Little Oysters? But answer there came none, which was scarcely odd because they'd been eaten, every one!

8. Jack's Lament
The Nightmare Before Christmas

Okay, okay, so this song isn't actually that creepy. It's actually one of my favorites from the entire movie, and, as such, I'm using it as a stand in for all the much creepier songs that make up that entire movie and deserve a list of their own. Danny Elfman's voice, though. That man is talented.

And since I am dead, I can take off my head and recite Shakespearean quotations.

7. Poor Unfortunate Souls
The Little Mermaid

A sea witch who writes up contracts that take what a person holds most dear? Gee, that's not terrifying. Ursula has honestly never seemed like that much of a creepy villain to me--I mean, Ariel just made really bad decisions. And then, you know, kept making them. But then I listened to this song a little more closely, watched the video a little more intensely. Those sniveling things? A few of her poor, unfortunate souls. And the worst part of it is that she doesn't think she's doing anything wrong. She thinks she's benevolent. You can't reason with people without a conscience, without a soul.

And do I help them? Yes, indeed.

6. The Army of the Dead
The Black Cauldron

This song doesn't have words, and it's not a traditional "Disney song," I know. But people don't talk about this movie enough. The Horned King, with his red, glowing eyes and skeleton frame? The literal army of the dead that even the rats are afraid of? And they can wield weapons? Seriously? This is a kids' movie??

5. Pink Elephants on Parade

This song has always terrified me. The soulless, eyeless, self-creating elephants? The creepy music? "Look out"??

I could stand the sight of worms and look at microscopic germs, but technicolor pachyderms is really too much for me.

4. The Mob Song
Beauty and the Beast

There's nothing like a little mob mentality to lighten up a movie about Stockholm Syndrome and bestiality... I mean, about learning to love people despite their differences. I actually do enjoy this film, but every time I reach the mob song, it takes me a little by surprise. It's so dark, so demented. And so possible, given human nature. He's not like us, so we'll kill him. That's probably the most terrifying thing about this song: it could totally happen. Has happened, many times.

If you're not with us, you're against us!

3. Heffalumps and Woozles

Now, I hate this song for multiple reasons. One, it's terrifying. As a child, I wouldn't watch it. As an adult, I still skip it when it comes on. Two, it's unnecessarily terrifying. What does this song really accomplish in a fun romp through the Hundred Acre Wood? And three, what a way to ruin one of my favorite books. A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh stories are possibly my favorite children's stories in existence. And Disney just had to go and add multicolored, nightmare-inducing elephants. As if "Pink Elephants on Parade" wasn't enough. Did you really need two of them, Disney? /rantover/

They're far, they're near, they're gone, they're here...

2. Savages

Ooooh, we're getting into racism and blind hatred here. Heavy stuff. We touched on it with the mob song, but it's just right up in your face here. I get that that's what happened in history (Disney-fied, of course), but did they really have to put it into song? It puts in front of children the idea that if strangers are different, we should kill them. It also puts in front of them the words, "dirty shrieking devils," so you know, yay Disney!

They're not like you and me, which means they must be evil.

1. Hellfire
The Hunchback of Notre Dame

This is by far my favorite Disney villain song ever. It's haunting. It's beautiful. It's terrifying. Basically Frollo likes a girl, but he's a priest. And also she's a gypsy. So, you know, he damns her to hell. Naturally. Kids' stuff.

Destroy Esmerelda and let her taste the fires of hell, or else let her be mine and mine alone.

What do you think? Did I mention the songs that scarred you as a child? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Tony Awards 2017: Best Revival of a Musical Nominees


The Tony Awards continue to draw nearer. We've already gone over the best musical nominees for this year, but what about revivals of musicals?

A revival is a musical that has been performed in the past and has been "revived" to be performed again. This year, there were only three Best Revival of a Musical nominees. Let's take a look.

Falsettos: Originally Performed in 1992, Revived in 2016

First up is Falsettos. I'm not a fan of this show (I don't know much about it beyond what I've researched for this article), but the 2016 revival had some good talent like Christian Borle, Stephanie J. Block, and Andrew Rannells, all of whom were nominated for Tony Awards for their performances. Falsettos is the story of a man who leaves his wife for another man and attempts to make a family including all of them, a task that is beyond difficult. 

Hello, Dolly!: Originally Performed in 1964, Revived in 2017

Hello, Dolly! has actually been revived several times over the years, which is a testament to its enduring nature. Unfortunately, no show clips were to be found so I've included instead a compilation sort of video about the show and its current star, the uber talented theater legend Bette Midler, nominated for Best Actress in this role. Hello, Dolly! follows a widow and self-proclaimed meddler (or matchmaker) who's decided it's time to find a match for herself. 

Miss Saigon: Originally Performed in 1989, Revived in the US in 2017

Miss Saigon made its Broadway debut in 1991, but I felt it would be prudent to list its earlier London premiere, considering Lea Salonga won awards in both nations for her turn as Kim, a Vietnamese girl who's left with a son when her lover, an American soldier, is evacuated as the US leaves Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). Probably the most tragic musical on this list, Miss Saigon was created by the team who made Les Misérables a reality and still holds its place as the 13th longest running show on Broadway. Eva Noblezada was also nominated for Best Leading Actress for her portrayal of Kim.

Which show do you think will win this year's Best Revival of a Musical award?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

May the Fortieth Be With You: Celebrating 40 Years of a Galaxy Far, Far Away

On May 25, 1977, Star Wars released in theaters, effectively changing the sci-fi genre and Hollywood forever. Forty years later, Star Wars is beloved around the world for its adventure story, outer space action, and most importantly the plethora of characters that expand the story beyond the silver screen. In celebration of the 40th anniversary of this phenomenal franchise, we're sharing our favorite characters that inhabit the "galaxy far, far away."

H.A. Titus
When I sat down to write this, I knew I probably wouldn't win any points for originality or geeky cred for picking out an obscure character. But what can I say... ever since I first watched Star Wars when I was a kid, I've loved Han Solo.

True, there are times he's incredibly annoying. Every time I watch the "I love you," "I know" scene, I just want to smack him.

And let's not even start on my dislike of his and Leia's relationship in The Force Awakens. (We'll stick with saying it was pretty much the only disappointment in the entire movie.)

But even when he's around a bunch of Force users who clearly outgun him, he keeps a cocky grin on his face and is always ready for a smart-mouthy quip. His knowledge of the seedier side of the galaxy has saved his friends multiple times. And even though he talks tough, he's there when people need him, ready to do what he has to in order to make sure his friends survive.

It's no wonder that my favorite Star Wars EU novel is Scoundrels (and if you haven't read it, you need to! It's a fabulous science fiction heist starring Han, Chewie, and a whole host of their sticky-fingered friends. Plus the twist at the end is phenomenal), and that my most eagerly anticipated 2018 movie release is the Star Wars Story starring our favorite scruffy-looking nerfherder.

Andrea Weisner
I’ve been a fan of Star Wars as long as I can remember, and as I sit down to write this, I think back over all of the wonderful characters I’ve been introduced to. Many of them have taken turns as my favorite, and any of them would have been a good choice for this collaboration post.

But then I also think of the ones not everyone knows about from the Expanded Universe… many of which no longer are considered canon. And to be honest, even after a few years, it still breaks my heart to see them pushed aside after being fan favorites for over a decade. None moreso than the Solo children: the twins, Jaina and Jacen, and little Anakin. As much as I adore the boys and would love to write about them (someday!), I always find my heart going back to their big sister: the one affectionately known as “Jaya."

In the stories in which they were small, she was the leader and took such good care of them, despite her young age. You could always tell her number one priority was her family. Her brothers’ safety came above all else. But her heart wasn’t all that she inherited from her parents, though. She was an amazingly talented pilot, and the future of the Jedi Order lives on through her.

Being who she was, life was never easy for Jaina, but that never stopped her for long. And watching her grow up and face all that she had to… her story will always stick with me. The story of her and her brothers is one of those heartwarming, heart-wrenching, and so well-written ones, that it makes me want to improve my own writing. I’d say more, but dare not, for fear of ruining the books. You don’t have to read them, but I do ask you to at least consider giving them a chance. As interesting as I find Kylo Ren, these three, especially Jaina, are so much better.

Kristen Csuti
In any fandom, if there's a sentient robot, there's a really good chance it's going to be one of my favorite characters: Data from Star Trek, Marvin from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, C-3PO and R2-D2 from Star Wars. They're always the funniest, the smartest, the most socially clueless, and, to me, often the most relatable. It's almost as if writers don't believe that combination of sass, logic, and helpfulness can be present in a human being. It can, I promise.

No matter how often my favorite Star Wars character changes (sometimes it's Han Solo, sometimes Boba Fett, sometimes Poe Dameron… you get the idea), I'll always love C-3PO and R2-D2. Their camaraderie and surprisingly entertaining banter through all that they go through is evidence of one of my favorite friendships in the franchise, and the fact that they fight and always make up warms my little robotic heart.

R2 manages to be one of the sassiest and most loyal and dedicated characters in the films, even though he doesn't ever speak. (Well, he makes a lot of beeps and boops, which you could argue is a language, but he speaks no words that we understand.) C-3PO, too, is sassy and loyal, and his constant pessimistically optimistic worldview speaks to me on a deep level. He's always stating facts and missing societal cues and trying to make the best of any given situation, and it's always made me happy to know that someone can be that logical, that oblivious, and still be funny and polite and, more importantly, can have friends. Even if he is a robot.

Travis Craig
My first thought upon seeing FN-2199, whom you might know as TR-8R, was that he stood out. Most stormtroopers aren't worth the dirt they stand on. Their armor is useless and their aim is deplorable. The internet is rife with jokes about it.

But FN-2199....

He did something that most characters don't do.

Most characters in the Star Wars franchise are important because they are made so by their place in the plot. Obi-Wan is important because he is Luke's mentor. The Emperor is important because he’s threatening the galaxy. Several characters are noteworthy for one reason: we’re told they are.

But let me ask: what did Luke do to become so important? Nothing, really. He happened to have some interesting connections, but beyond that he was unremarkable. He’s important because we’re told he’s important. If it weren't for his incidental connections, what would have made him worth paying attention to?

Or, getting back to Episode 7, what made Rey a memorable character? She was in the right place at the right time. She found the one droid in the galaxy intimately connected to the plot. Beyond that, what makes her special?

But look at Han Solo. You know what made Han Solo cool? Everything. He comes into town with a badass attitude and an itchy trigger finger, itchy enough to shoot Greedo. Even if he weren't involved in the story at all, he would have stood out. He made himself important.

TR-8R stands out for the same reason. With a badass-dom rivaling Han’s, he stands up to Finn, unleashes his baton, and beats the daylights out of him. When he was finally struck down, I was heartbroken. Why kill off the coolest character in the movie? And he IS the coolest. He freaking earned it. He didn't need to have special connections or be in the right place at the right time. He isn’t interesting because we’re told he is; he’s interesting because he shows us he is. TR-8R did something. Something captivating. Despite having barely a minute of screen time--if that--he earned what most characters need to be given: intrigue.

I really hope he lives. I really hope he comes back for revenge. I really hope he still has that baton. And I really, really, hope that he gets the story he deserves. Because he earned it.

Tabitha Wells
I was six years old the first time I saw Star Wars. They had just released the limited edition VHS set containing hours upon hours of interviews, and my dad thought it would be the perfect movie to test our new surround sound system on. From the moment the opening credits rolled across the screen, I was hooked. I wanted to live and breathe Star Wars.

A few years later, my parents gave me my first Star Wars EU book—Young Jedi Knights: Lightsaber.

I must have read the book at least fifteen times during the first month; everything about the story and characters captivated me.

There was one character in particular who laid claim to my heart and my imagination—Jaina Solo. Although her twin brother, Jacen, was easily my second favourite, there was something about Jaina that drew me to her.  The most obvious reason was her resemblance in personality and characteristics to her mother, Princess Leia. Leia was the first to become a hero in my mind, so it was only natural the same things leading her to that position for me would also draw me to her daughter.

Jaina was everything I ever wanted to be, combining charm, good looks, wit, cunning, and intelligence into a powerful adversary and Jedi. Loyal, protective, and determined, she laid out the kind of woman I wanted to model my own life after.

Perhaps one of the most powerful connections to this character has been that I essentially grew up with her. Though I was a few years younger than Jaina, she grew as I grew—the books released as she battled her teens and entered into young adulthood coincided with my own timeline.

There was a depth to Jaina I didn’t see in many of the other characters in the EU. While each character certainly was deep and well-rounded, few faced the kinds of struggles and battles Jaina did. Her turmoil and suffering only ever fueled her to become stronger, wiser, and more capable.

More than anything, my obsession, passion, and love for Jaina are what triggered my goal to one day join the ranks of authors responsible for the EU. And, if there is anything she has taught me, it’s that with the right amount of determination, you create your own destiny.

So on this Star Wars anniversary, I raise a glass to the character who lit the literary fire in my heart.

Jaime Heller
When it comes to Star Wars, I have a lot of favorite characters. Just when I think I've narrowed down my list, I'm reminded of another character I adore. If I have to pick just one, I will always say Darth Vader. But since we discussed favorite villains last year for Revenge of the Sith, I'm going to discuss my second favorite character, who is my favorite character of the prequel trilogy: Obi-Wan Kenobi.

It's fitting that Obi-Wan and Darth Vader are my two favorite characters of the Star Wars Universe since their stories are heavily intertwined. That's part of what I love about both of them. Their stories connect and come full circle: Obi-Wan trained Anakin, was betrayed by Anakin, and trained Luke to restore their broken relationship. Obi-Wan puts up with a lot of garbage (no, not just the Millennium Falcon and its pilot) over the course of the Star Wars saga. He's betrayed and abandoned; he loses a lot and sacrifices a lot. But he sticks to his ideals, and he keeps going even after everything. He's dedicated to helping people because he believes in people. He trains Anakin, and then Luke, despite what other people tell him (I'm looking at you, Yoda) because he can see the best in people.

*ugly sobbing* (source)

Obi-Wan is also cool. His lightsaber skills are awesome, and he's actually one of the most powerful Jedi to grace the silver screen. He defeated a Sith while he was still in training, fought Count Dooku twice, destroyed General Grievous, fought his best friend, and more. Plus, there's the sass.

Get 'em, Obi! (source)

Obi-Wan is one of the sassiest characters in Star Wars, if not in pop culture. He likes to make jokes and add a dramatic flair to everything he does. (I mean, come on, who else dramatically dies in front of his ex-best friend in order to turn into a Force ghost to help out his ex-best friend's son become a Jedi?)

#dramaqueen (source)

Obi-Wan is a memorable character for both his wisdom and skills as a Jedi. He's chock-full of humor and has a huge ego. All these traits, and more, make him one of my favorite characters from the Star Wars saga and definitely the best character from the prequel films.

#sassmaster (source)

Sky Destrian
There are a lot of characters I adore in the Star Wars universe--Obi-Wan, Poe, Rey, Finn, and even Anakin--but the one I come back to time and time again is Leia Organa: general, politician, princess, sister, hero.

I often wish I had appreciated Leia more while I was growing up--it’s a longstanding fandom regret of mine. I was exposed first to the prequels, so I often latched onto Padme as my first choice for a female hero to emulate. For whatever reason, I preferred her over her daughter. (Apparently liking both never crossed my mind.)

However, looking back, I remember moments where I still saw Leia as a hero. I loved her in the Battle of Endor especially. I saw her as a strong, competent leader who was able to fight back. When she killed Jabba the Hutt, it taught me that women could have power over their abusers and that we didn’t need to let them hurt us--in a world where I was very afraid of people who might hurt me, that meant a great deal to me.

As I got older, I started seeing how impactful Leia was as a character, both to myself and others. By the time I got to see Leia, I was incredibly lucky to have seen a bunch of kick-ass female role models already. But when Star Wars first came out, that was absolutely not commonplace. Leia was the first of her time, and once I got old enough to realize that, I was absolutely in awe of this amazing space princess.

When Carrie Fisher passed away, it absolutely broke my heart. I still can’t think or talk about it without choking up. Not only was Leia incredible, but so was her actress. Carrie Fisher imbued everything she had into life. She was an advocate for mental illness and a strong, conquering force. She was hilarious, she was witty, she was lovely. She will be greatly missed.

Her legacy as Leia was incredibly powerful for young fans around the world, especially girls who needed a role model to look up to. It was incredibly powerful for me. I will never forget Carrie Fisher, and I will never forget Leia. I will always love that strong, sassy space princess who wasn’t taken in by the wiles of a scruffy Nerfherder (well, not at first) and who grew into a general who commanded an entire Resistance.

Which character from Star Wars means the most to you? Share with us in the comments! And May the Force Be With You!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Wisdom of Douglas Adams

Tomorrow, May 25, is Towel Day, the day that Douglas Adams fans everywhere will carry around a towel in a show of solidarity and appreciation. Of course, if you know anything about hitchhiking the galaxy, you know that one should always have a towel on hand because it can be used for many things, including but not limited to: keeping you warm, sailing down a river, hand-to-hand combat, a distress signal, and, if it still seems clean enough, drying yourself off.

But that's not the only wise thing Douglas Adams wrote. The man was a brilliant fount of inspiration and advice, if you know how to look for it. So, in honor of Towel Day, I've collected some of my favorite bits of Douglas Adams's wisdom for your reading pleasure. Enjoy.

"A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that."
The Salmon of Doubt

"Let's think the unthinkable, let's do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all."
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools."
Mostly Harmless

"Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws."
Mostly Harmless

"There are some people you like immediately, some whom you think you might learn to like in the fullness of time, and some that you simply want to push away from you with a sharp stick."
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

"He attacked everything in life with a mix of extraordinary genius and naive incompetence, and it was often difficult to tell which was which."
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

"Don't you understand that we need to be childish in order to understand? Only a child sees things with perfect clarity, because it hasn't developed all those filters which prevent us from seeing things that we don't expect to see."
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

"There is no point in using the word 'impossible' to describe something that has clearly happened."
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

"There's always a moment when you start to fall out of love, whether it's with a person or an idea or a cause, even if it's one you only narrate to yourself years after the event: a tiny thing, a wrong word, a false note, which means that things can never be quite the same again."
The Salmon of Doubt

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."
Last Chance to See

"If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands."
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

"The quality of any advice anybody has to offer has to be judged against the quality of life they actually lead."
Mostly Harmless

"Well, I mean, yes idealism, yes the dignity of pure research, yes the pursuit of truth in all its forms, but there comes a point I'm afraid where you begin to suspect that the entire multidimensional infinity of the Universe is almost certainly being run by a bunch of maniacs. And if it comes to a choice between spending yet another ten million years finding that out, and on the other hand just taking the money and running, then I for one could do with the exercise."
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

"He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher... or, as his wife would have it, an idiot."
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

"Protect me from knowing what I don't need to know. Protect me from even knowing that there are things to know that I don't know. Protect me from knowing that I decided not to know about the things that I decided not to know about. Amen.

Lord, lord, lord. Protect me from the consequences of the above prayer."
Mostly Harmless

"Yes, it is true that sometimes unusually intelligent and sensitive children can appear to be stupid. But stupid children can sometimes appear to be stupid as well. I think that's something you might have to consider."
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

"Having not said anything the first time, it was somehow even more difficult to broach the subject the second time around."
So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

"Rather than arriving five hours late and flustered, it would be better all around if he were to arrive five hours and a few extra minutes late, but triumphantly in command."
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

"It is a rare mind indeed that can render the hitherto non-existent blindingly obvious. The cry 'I could have thought of that' is a very popular and misleading one, for the fact is that they didn't, and a very significant and revealing fact it is too."
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

And of course,

What's your favorite Douglas Adams quote? Tell us in the comments!
Happy Towel Day!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Arrow Reaction: "Missing" (5x22)

Warning: Arrow is rated TV-14 for mature content. Spoilers included below.

Oliver is forced to make an unlikely alliance with Malcolm Merlyn after Chase's allies, including Black Siren, kidnap Team Arrow and take them to Lian Yu.

"When did you become all zen like and well adjusted? We should celebrate that tonight, not your birthday." -Thea

What I Liked
Oliver's birthday party
The episode started out great with the surprise birthday party for Oliver. It was hilarious that Oliver was so paranoid he accidentally attacked Curtis. But the party itself with the Green Arrow themed cake and Team Arrow giving Felicity and Olive "alone time" was amazing. (Also, Curtis not taking the hint and Diggle dragging him away was hilarious, and Curtis fangirling over Oliver and Felicity was perfect.) The writers are definitely trying to pull Oliver and Felicity back in a relationship, and somehow, it's working.

Same, Ollie. Same. (source)

At first, I wasn't impressed with the flashback because Kovar is annoying and we've seen Oliver being tortured before. But then the torture ended up being very different this time, and it was actually devastating to watch Oliver fall so hard. But gosh, thank goodness hallucination Laurel convinced him not to kill himself but to escape instead. That hurt a lot. It was good.

Although Adrian Chase is crazy and super creepy, I have to admire his fortitude. He really did come up with a fantastic plan to mess with Oliver. I mean, of course they'd end up back on Lian Yu. How could it not lead there? His cocky smirk just amplifies how he thinks he will win, and I cannot wait to see him fall.

I love his resilience, not just in this episode but throughout this past season. He doesn't give in to Chase, no matter whose life is on the line: Felicity, Thea, William. He won't kill Chase because he's choosing to believe he is better than what Chase is claiming, he's choosing to be something else. And I love it. This is the Oliver Queen I've been waiting for the past five years.

Arrow Assemble
I love that Oliver is teaming up with Merlyn and Nyssa to find his friends. That was completely unexpected, but he needs them. And Merlyn actually makes good points in his reasoning, and I can't wait to see Nyssa go up against her sister. It's going to be good. But the end scene absolutely blew me away. Not only is he teaming up with Merlyn and Nyssa... but he's recruiting Slade freaking Wilson. And boy, this crap just got real. I can't even handle myself. I need the next episode now.

Oh, buddy! This is going to be good. (source)

What I Didn't Like
Girl Gang
I don't understand why Black Siren, Talia, or Evelyn are willing to help Chase. Are they really just doing it for revenge against Oliver? Because it seems a bit far. I can't justify that Evelyn, who is opposed to so much violence in the first place, would go that far for justice against Green Arrow. And Talia doesn't need Chase to exact revenge; she has a whole legion of mercenaries at her disposal, so why submit to Chase? And Black Siren? There is no solid reasoning. It's just garbage.

Team Arrow
The sequence of Team Arrow members being kidnapped and injured was devastating. I am genuinely concerned for their safety, and I'm worried someone isn't going to make it off Lian Yu alive. I felt like Diggle and Felicity didn't even try to get away, but whatever. And I want to know where Dinah and Rene are if they're not on Lian Yu. Curtis, however, still sassed Chase and it was great. Come on, Team Arrow, pull through this.

While there were a few things I didn't like about this episode, overall, it was riveting. The build-up to Team Arrow being kidnapped and Chase getting his way was fantastic. But the best moments came when Oliver recruited his new team to help save his friends. The season finale looks promising, and I'm stoked to find out how this arc pans out!

Gosh, this pun was both the best and the worst. #dadjokes (source)

What did you think of "Missing"?