Chosen One - purple

My Corner of Buffyverse Fandom and Welcome To It

* I have a Winged!Buffy kink. brutti_ma_buoni introduced me to the drug, and comlodge is my enabler . (And didn't she do a lovely job of it?) I am more than willing to share, because that's the kind of fangirl I am.

* If that's not your pleasure OTOH, my kink for Warrior-Mama FIERCE protective bitches (be still my heart) is also at the ready.

* I can't get LJ to format a post properly. Oh well - more points to you for endurance, Gentle Reader.

* My LJ is Hugs Central. (Mostly.) Appropriate and consensual ones, of course. Safety and fun are at a premium here, so play nice with each other. Leave the weapons at the door, wipe your feet on the mat, and help yourself to some tea and homemade cookies.

* Buffy is my Big Damn Hero - because she's flawed and human and real. Because she loves and fights, she grieve and endures, again and again. Because in watching her I identify with my own issues and strengths, and have a renewed appreciation for my mom as well. Because in talking about her with other fans, in telling my story through her, in voicing my truth, I discover that I'm not alone in my challenges, faults, and grief; that I don't have to be imprisoned by secrets and shame; and in sharing this, I can bring comfort to others. And because at the end of the day, Buffy gives me hope; and sometimes that's enough to make getting out of bed in the morning worthwhile. And because she is just so freakin' adorable, y'all.

* FYI: My No Dissing Buffy Rule also applies to Sarah Michelle Gellar. Joss wasn't the only "auteur"; he wrote Buffy but Sarah embodied her completely. I wasn't part of the fandom back in the day, didn't get embroiled in the hatefest, not interested now. Just sayin'.  Break the rules and I will take away the tea and cookies. Do not make me do this.

* I love intelligent discussion of , and appreciation for , the ladies of the verse and their complex interrelationships  at the core of the 'verse: mothers, sisters, mentors, students, friends, lovers, enemies, allies. The Buffyverse without it's women would be a cold, barren place:  ("that bright optimism that becomes a great, raw wound-red in The Body" - the_royal_anna ). They bear witness to one another, the hurt one another when they don't mean to, they love even when it's difficult and painful to do so.

* Yes, this includes Dawn. Who is courageous without an ounce of Slayer strength, sasses the Hellgod who is trying to kill her, and comes out on the other side of some  major identity and abandonment issues a hell of a lot better than Riley does.  Buffy and Dawn's prickly, contentious, yet ultimately loyal and loving relationbnship? That's my sister and I when we were kids, right there.

* And yes, this also includes Kennedy. No vitriol. No joke.  (Tara would not approve of the hate.) Entitled? Yes. Arrogant? Uh-huh - and also loyal, courageous, stubborn and gentle. Dig this: Early seasons btvs Cordy + Buffy + Faith = Kennedy. (Buffy brought the handcuffs. Faith brought the Jack D. Spike and Xander wanted to watch and Queen C told them where to go. The sex was tremendous. Then they tried a foursome with Illyria and Glory was the result. Oops.)

* The Buffy & Tara friendship/connection is one of the most underappreciated aspects of the 'verse IMO. This WILL be rectified. I don't ship Buffy/Tara, but if that's what it takes to get fandom talking about them? A fangirl's gotta do what a fangirl's gotta do.
* ETA: In fact, let's just say "No bashing female characters, period." There's plenty of other places to do that, if that's your thing. The show's failures in terms of the depictions of women, of female sexuality, the lack of mature female characters, the massive fail in terms of race and class? Always up for intelligent, civil discussion and examination.
* OTOH, I do reserve the right to bitch about call out their shit criticize objectively analyze and take issue with certain whiny, self-absorbed males on the series and their collective patronizing jackassery. Don't get me wrong, I can understand them, sympathize with them, and so forth. Xander trying to be a "better man" than his father? Even
when he gets it wrong? I heartily approve. (I'll still call him out on his shit, though.) It's simple math: Grow up, get real or go home. Also I welcome any and every
opportunity to make fun of Angel.  Particularly when penguins are involved.  As well they should be.

* I 'ship Buffy&Spike S7 so hard it hurts, in all the right ways.  I do. Love in action is the hardest, most painful and most worthwhile work we can ever do - and it PWNS  "true love" romantic bullshit every time. (What, me? Biased?) But he is not my central focus here. Nor are any of the men of the 'verse, except in terms of how they serve Buffy's story.  It turns out the protagonist of the "Buffyverse" is some gal named Buffy.  Weird, huh?

* Parting words: The Buffy& Faith dynamic and the Buffy&Spike dynamic are the SAME DAMN THING. Except without sex for B/F. This is TRUTH. (And to think we could have been spared the snoozefest of S3 Bangel? Fuck the networks and American conservative cultural mores.)
Chosen One - purple

Vote Now at Slayerstillness and Otherworldlyrics icontests!

otherworldlyric  has only nine entries this time around. (You'd think that would make the task of voting easier, right? WRONG.) Lovely entries as always -  the clarity and strength of the imagery is just astonishing to me. This batch is entirely female-centric which is always cause for celebration. And I confess that don't know who most of those characters are, to be honest - and I don't care and don't need to for voting purposes. If the icon speaks to me in some way, that's all I need. And these speak to me - there's no doubt in my mind that these icons capture interesting women who would be worth my while, in a variety of moods and aspects: angst, confusion, courage, determination etc.

In just nine icons. And that's what it's all about for me. There's a particular feeling about this set, as if all nine were made by the same person, or it was a collaborative effort. I had a helluva hard time voting because they look as though they all belong together.

FYI, their next challenge is Barry Manilow's "Mandy".  (Full disclosure- I LOVED that song as a kid. LOVED it. Had the Barry Manilow double-disk greatest hits on vinyl - got it for Christmas in 1979. "Mandy", "Weekend in New England" etc.) Which is a lovely bit of synchronicity because I heard that song on the radio last Saturday and I started jotting down icon ideas.  Hopefully I'll have time to do something for it this week; my sweetie and I are moving back into our renovated apartment this week so its gonna be crazytown in my little world.

The Love Song for A Vampire entries at slayerstillness also feel very much of a piece with each other, except this time there are 30 - count 'em, 30! - entries to chose from. I haven't voted yet. I've tried. I stared at them on Saturday and couldn't make up my mind. Looked at them today and still cannot make up my mind. Hopefully the rest of y'all are more decisive than I am, because voting ends tomorrow night! I think I know who I want to vote for...maybe. Possibly. Until I change my mind again. Oy vey.

I'm surprised that there aren't any Darla entries, and Dru is only shown with Spike, but I have the vampire ladies on the brain quite a bit lately. I think that's due to a wonderful batch of icons by spikesredqueen and two stunning Drusilla portraits by comlodge here and here.  Vampire Willow is well-represented in the icon entries though, along with Vamp Xander - and you may be shocked to know that I heartily approve. As much as I love the ladies, I have no problem admitting that Nicholas' performance as VX was wonderfully sexy (and I don't find NB sexy in general) and creepy and doesn't get nearly it's due.

And in other news - the identity of snowdropsandtigers, who rec'd my blog on tumblr, has been solved. It's the lovely and gracious tigerpetals - who I never would have guessed because we can't have interacted more than twice before this week, but I look forward to chatting with more often. If I don't, however, that's ok too. Knowing that people are reading this, even if I'm not aware of their existence is sobering and suprising and wonderful. When someone recs this site or stops by to say high, that's a huge deal for me knowing that they're enjoying this playspace I've carved out, and feel welcome.

I'm not sure how many of y'all have read gabrielleabelle's meta "On Lurkers" but if you haven't, please treat yourself and do so. It's one of my favorite fandom essays:

"Studies indicate that lurkers make up 90% of online groups. 90%. 90! Peeps, that means for every one person who comments on your fanwork, there's nine others who read/watched/looked at it but didn't say anything."

"I know the general attitude towards lurkers is that they don't matter because they don't contribute. I'd say that they matter because they're the reason we contribute. They don't cease to exist just because you can't see them. They're there. They're consuming. And they're being fans in their own way."

Chosen One - purple

Quick quick now!

1) The deadline is tomorrow, Friday the 20th at midnight for  both otherworldlyric challenge #166 , "Easy Way Out" by Gotye, and slayerstillness challenge 20 "Love Song for a Vampire. More entries are needed - and I'm sitting both of these out, so don't look at me. I'm just gonna sit back and enjoy the pretties this time around.

And just in case you're easily confusable - a.k.a. "moi" - OWL is the multifandom icontest where you have to use at least two consecutive words from the lyrics of the challenge song. SS is strictly Buffyverse (btvs/ats) and icons can have text or not.  Also, SS is the one that opens the entry and voting threads after the winners have been announced. Which can be fun...or kinda awkward, depending. I actually kind of like it, but wait until an icon I'm sure is gonna win loses big time. Then we'll see what pennywhistle I'm tooting with.)

2) A little bird in fandom (thank you little bird!) informed me that my blog has been rec'd by "snowdropsandtigers" on tumblr.

"On a relevant—yet off-topic—note, it occurs to me that I want to recommend a blogger to follow, in case that might help and you don’t know of her. She’s on LJ and she’s very much a Buffy fan first and Spuffy shipper second, and gives love to the other characters too:  I’m kind of terrible and lurk much more than talk, but I’ve been reading her meta—and the meta she links to—for a while and find it all really lovely."

And I'm just - what do I say except THANK YOU? I don't know who they - who you - are, but I'm really incredibly flattered by your kind words.  I would love to thank snowdropsandtigers (what a wonderful, evocative penname!) but I haven't a tumblr account so - THANK YOU SO MUCH, whoever you are.

And also, what they said about shipping is extremely relevant to my own thoughts of late:

"I’ve experienced that. Unfortunately, I’ve also experienced other fandoms being pretty much the same. The ones I’ve gotten into after getting into Buffy in 2005 do the same things frequently (ship wars; whitewashing characters, usually dudes; distorting characterization/valuing characters mainly for ships, especially with female characters; drama between the fans themselves.).....It burns one out."

That's pretty much the nutmeat of a meta I've been wanting to write on the subject so all I can say at the moment is - ME TOO. Or, WORD. (Is that even a "thing" anymore, that use of "word"? I don't know. You tell me.)
Chosen One - purple

Reaching Out & Holding In - My Icons for Otherworld Lyrics Challenge #165 (All 38 of Them)

I really can't say this enough: Thank you to everyone who voted for my entries in OWL's Challenge #165!

Congratulations to the other winners xclaire_delunex and kwritten - to be considered anywhere near the same distinguished company is amazing.
Thank you again to wickedbish (Ryan) for your time and opinions - and for being a better judge of my own work than I am. BETAS DO NOT GET ENOUGH LOVE. There needs to be a national "Hug A Beta!" holiday. (I'm just throwin' it out there, plantin' a seed....)

Thank you to dragonydreams for banners that makes my icon look better than it did before. (The careful color-matching you did for each of the banners? Gorgeous.) And for all the time, dedication and work of running otherworldlyric because I'm having way too much fun with it.  Sarah McLaughlin's "World on Fire" was a terrific choice for a song prompt; any fragment of the lyrics is applicable to BtVS in about a million directions. Coming up with ideas this time around wasn't the problem; the problem this time was having far too many ideas. Most of them never came to fruition but I want to return to those projects later.

And by "fun" I mean "a helluva lotta pain and angst and lady-love for both the Summers Sisters and oh Willow no come back to the light and OMG their faces! Their expressions! Their courage and love and effed-up-ness I can't even!" **sobs and makes 40+ icons** In other words, my kind of fun. If I can't "crack out an axe" (to steal a phrase from clockwork_hart1 ) in defense of my beloved characters, at least I can crack out some icons:

THE SUBMISSIONS: And now I will show off ALL my babies and TALK about them! A lot! You have been warned!

1)   2) 3)

1) I was really surprised when Ryan singled out #1 of the 40+ I sent him for consideration. This was the first time I almost argued with his choices; it's still not my favorite of this set by a long shot.  All I can see is the flaws. The image isn't sharp enough to my liking; the font is one I've done too many times before. It doesn't have the emotional punch for me personally that the other two entries do. I wanted the moment in Grave that got more of Dawn and Buffy equally in the frame, holding their swords back to back, but didn't have the right cap for it. Et cetera

That moment may be corny and make no sense but screw logic and sense; it's one of the (very) few moments in the last three episodes I remotely even liked. I freaking cheered when Dawn picked up the sword, not that her courage was any surprise whatsoever (Listening to Fear, The Gift, Bargaining...etc). Watching the late seasons I wanted to watch more of that, of those sisters and warriors fighting and growing up side by side, the same and yet very different people than they were in S5. I hoped that Season 7 would focus more on the two of them. I wanted more Summers sisters interaction as intensely as I wanted more mother-daughter interaction S1-5. And for a little while it seemed like S7 was going that way....and didn't; just as S5 delighted me with Joyce's increased presence...and then she was killed off. *le sigh*

2) I actually like the Dawn-Buffybot one to a terrible degree, even though it's the simplest and least "artistic". Dawn's face kills me - that moment is so sad and understandable and yet a bit creepy. Her mother and sister are dead, her "real" father is absent and her symbolic father figure is lost in his own grief? She has no one to cuddle up to but a freakin' robot? Break my heart NOW.  And maybe it's just my sick brain but there's almost something slightly incestuous about the image, if you don't know that's the Buffybot? Or is it just me?

4) 5)

In hindsight though I wish I'd submitted #4 above instead of #2: Dawn standing on Glory's tower in Bargaining, trying to prevent her sister from committing suicide (again). Season 6 ends with Xander "talking Willow down" and that moment gets all sorts of fandom love. But it starts with Dawn talking Buffy down and WHERE is the love for that moment? For the de facto orphan, a 15(16?) year old girl who  has NO "special powers", no training or experience, and is armed only with determination, courage and fierce love? Anything less than absolute RESPECT for this incredible girl in that flawless moment will not do here.

But as far as the icon itself goes, this time I wasn't happy with the placement of the text. I'm sorry I didn't make a version without text because the moment doesn't really need it.  #5 is completely "meh" by comparison. I feel nothing. I can't tell you why I just know it doesn't work.

3) My favorite of the three entries is Buffy on the stairs in After Life. I like the way the cropping, frame and the text work together to close in around her, echoing her gesture. She's out of that coffin physically but psychologically is another matter altogether. I think the red on her knuckles is just enough, not overplayed. I did an entire series of this scene and oddly enough her hand looks more realistic, like raw meat, in the sized-down icons than it did on the tv screen or the larger caps.

I have a crazy stupid amount of love for Bargaining/Afterlife, which I tend to think of as a single unit (just as I lump the last three eps of S6 together - except with loads of seething hate.) The expression of shame on her face - not guilt, there is a degree of difference - her awkward posture and gestures, her silence, her bloodied knuckles, everything about her in that moment wrenches my heart no matter how many times I see it. I can barely even look at her then. So of course I made multiple versions of it. (Below)

This moment, and the scene before it with Dawn tenderly cleaning and dressing her in the bathroom, calls back to pre-Sunnydale "bitty Buffy" in Passions. She's standing before a mirror, listening to her parents argue in another room with a similar expression of shame - shame for who or what she inherently is, as opposed to "guilt" for something she has done. That's an emotion I know only too well. Once it slithers inside of you, it becomes such a constant that half the time you don't even recognize it; or you try to fight it, to make it go away; you indulge in excesses, you take actions that you feel guilty about afterwards, and thus more ashamed, so you do something else you feel guilty and ashamed about until the two are insparably intertwined with one another.

What must she think, what can she be thinking, in Bargaining and After Life? She's lived one of her greatest fears for the second time in the series (Nightmares, S1), crawling out of her own grave like the demons she has to kill, in this war she was drafted into as the lone soldier.  Is she therefore unclean, monstrous? Was she rejected by Heaven, spat out from it because she was unworthy of it? Even after she knows the truth, might she ever wonder if the spell worked because Heaven let her go because she didn't deserve to be there after all?
6) 7) 8)
9) 10) 11) 12)

13) 14)

I wish I had more icon space in my userpics for one of these. I submitted #3 because Ryan picked out, but I could have submitted any other instead in a heartbeat, with the exception of the last two. #14 has the same problem as #5 - my ability to manipulate text within and around an object in Photobucket is extremely limited. Or maybe I'm just lousy at it and/or the concept sucked to begin with. Your thoughts, Gentle Reader?


But I really didn't go into this intending to do Buffy or Dawn icons. No, really, I swear to you. I wanted to stretch myself a bit and work with Willow. I had plans for images from Bargaining, Smashed, Anne, New Moon Rising and Wild at Heart; Willow by herself, with Tara and Oz...LOTSA ideas. Few came to fruition.

I really appreciate it when someone in fandom who doesn't particularly love Buffy nevertheless focuses on her in art or fic and gets her right, for all her wonderful and not-so-great qualities. (Likewise, I appreciate it when someone who considers themselves a "Bangel" or a "Spuffy" is nonetheless able to give the other guy and her relationship with them it's due, without feeling the need to deny or diminish one at the expense of the other.)

And I want to be able to do the same myself for other characters. Willow was the first character I identified with in the series, although I never felt in love with her the way I did with Buffy. That I identified more with Willow in the early seasons, when her self-esteem is lowest (barring S7) and more with Buffy in the late season when her self-confidence declines, probably says something about me I'm reluctant to fully contemplate. But I want to find that appreciation for Willow again. And there's a lot of folks on my flist who are Willow fans who help me remember the good and even great things about her character. But I didn't get excited by the images of Willow, even though I had the ideas, the way I did with Buffy and Dawn.

I really wish the Willow set had come out better. Maybe it's easier for me to work with a subject I have a lot of passion and emotional connection to. Give me time. kwritten captured exactly what I wanted and more with her entry #5. Check out her flawless post for her analysis of her Willow icon along with the rest of her icons for this challenge. (Then check out spikesredqueen's post with her entire set of beauties for this challenge including the second-place winner. So many choices and this is part of my pain, don'cha see?)

15) 16)       17)   18)        19) 20)   21)

I nearly submitted #15 or 16, and I still like them both quite a bit. The ironic contrast of "fire" with the water from the shower, a llteral and symbolic "waterhose" in this image from Smashed is more interesting than my original plan to use a cap from Willow in Rack's den. If Buffy "wants the fire back" then Willow, by contrast, tries to control a conflagration that threatens to burn her up from the inside.

#17 - 21 OTOH are "meh" for me. I kind of like the composition of #17 in theory but this is a very important "point of no return" in Willow's arc - and I focus on her bosom? What am I, a lezzie or something? (Oh. wait...)  19 & 20 are interesting mostly as bookends in terms of comparison with one another, with how much Willow has changed in three years, rather than interesting in and of themselves. The difference between Willow in Anne and Bargaining is enormous: the distance between "playacting" the role of a confident Slayer, putting on a "role" instead of a costume; and actually taking on the responsibility (and headaches) of leadership. The power is now "her's alone to wield"  but it's still an impossible position for any one person regardless of who wields it.

I had to give up on the Willow idea because it just wasn't working. I felt like I was "dissing" her in some way, and that wasn't what I wanted. What I wanted to depict was how hard she was trying, how much she was trying to bring to the fight with almost zero guidance, how she was bringing everything she had to bear "to the table". I absolutely believe that she thought she was doing the right thing when she resurrected Buffy; she had no reason to think Buffy wasn't in Hell, suffering endless centuries of torment the way Angel had after Buffy killed him. (I'm not arguing right or wrong here, and I don't deny other motivations but as much as I want to throttle Willow sometimes, I can't get into the Willow-hate any more than I can the Dawn/Buffy/Joyce/Kennedy/misc female character hate. But I can't get into the Glory-hate either, so take that as you will.)

And is it a surprise that it all goes awry, that her moral compass doesn't point true north? No. Look at her parents, at their benign neglect, at the way they encourage her intelligence and achievement but discourage her from asking too many questions: live up to your potential but don't go beyond it. And by "parents" I don't just mean Sheila and Ira Rosenberg. Rupert Giles had decades of history and experience with the demon world and magic (if we ignore the Witch in S1). He could have steered Willow to mentors to groom her, train her; he certainly could have payed more attention to her - to all the SG, for that matter. How much Xander might have blossomed from the encouragement of an interested adult male role model, which he so very desperately needed, we can only speculate.

In both Anne and Bargaining we see the one parental figure of the group - Giles - absorbed in his pain, his guilt and grief, and in both episodes the SG - young children from dysfunctional homes, every one of them - are more or less left to their own devices. He doesn't abandon Buffy and Dawn only in S6; he abandons all of his "children" - but then again he'd always been "blind" all along, perhaps willfully so. Willow's accusations in Something Blue and Grave are not without merit - and will be echoed by Spike in Touched.

Before you think I hate Giles (which I don't), I'm also aware of that his upbringing was perhaps not at all unlike Willow's, or Buffy and Dawn's for that matter. He came from an educated family that took care of his physical needs to the exclusion of his emotional ones.  They attempted to control him and raised him to be a Watcher as his father was, without regard for the boy's own needs or desires. We learn very little about his family but what we do hear from him, and his own personality, suggest a detachment or distance from his parents, as with Willow to her own. It's not the physical abuse we associate with the Harris or Maclay families but rather an emotional rather than physical "abandonment". (Let's set aside for a moment the fact that the show stereotypically assigns certain types of abuse or neglect to certain socio-economic strata.) And so the abandoned child abandons their own children who abandons their children in turn and so on...until someone finally breaks the cycle.

So it's also no suprise, IMO, that Willow is uttery unprepared for what she "unearths" when she resurrects Buffy; she is not prepared to play the part of "sire" to her "childe", who is left to her own defenses. And the cycle continues.....

Speaking of:
22) 23)  

Another disappointing failure IMO. Ryan liked the first one more than I did; I think Willow looks like an elf - maybe a missing character from LoTR? Everyone has feelings about this scene in All The Way and it's aftermath, and so do I. One of which is that this arguement, like many others in this series, are so much more incredibly believable as actual arguements than what I've seen on most tv shows. And holy cheese on a cracker do I know arguements, inside and out: the sudden snap of rage, the irrationality, everything spiralling out of control and all parties bunkering down in their positions, everyone talking and nobody listening.

Two girls from abusive and/or controlling families who have never seen or experienced anything resembling a happy, healthy functional love relationship between partners (children learn what they are modeled); both with pedantic or conservative  streaks in them, by nature and nuture - it's no wonder things start to "fall apart" rather rapidily between them, not once but twice in the series. Especially when initial haze of infatuation and romance or, in S6, the "second honeymoon", wears off and the real power struggles begin. You cannot have two people occupying the same position of power within a relationship at all times or, if it's possible, I've yet to see it.

See, I can see all the things that go wrong in their relationship, and all that is wrong in Buffy and Spike's, in S6, I can see it all and not condone the worst of it - but I understand every bit of it. It's painful to watch it all play out and it should be. It was painful to watch as a child in my family, and painful to live it now. Because on some level I see myself, my mom and her husbands, and my own relationship with my partner* in all four of those characters and both those relationships although the dynamics differ in each case.  I honestly wish I didn't understand. So what, then, do I do with it? "Keep trying" is the only answer I've got.

(That said - Tara and WIllow are very different dynamics than Buffy and Spike. Please do not tell me they are exactly the same, or that Tara is somehow partly responsible for Willow's actions in S6. I have a lot of tolerance for diverse opinions but that's a line in the sand for me and I will take away the tea and cookies. So just don't go there, okay? Great. Thank you. Have a cookie?)

THE ALSO-RANS: Some of the other icons I almost submitted - I really like all of these, but again I have an emotional attachment so YMMV.

24)      25)     26) 27)

I don't even know what to say here, actually, especially about #24. Do I NEED to? (And at this point you are no doubt screaming "NO! STOP THE MADNESS!" Sorry, too late.) Basically, what I said above about the After Life set? All that. I'm especially pleased by the emotional impact of #24-25 as well as the final result. #25 is one of my favorite icons of any I've ever made. I even made a version of it without the text and it works just as well. I really bumped up the saturation brightness and toned down the saturation for a very different look from the original cap.  #26 OTOH I only had to manipulate slightly - I believe the scene is of the demons and a chained-up Buffybot from Buffy's distorted POV. I think if you squint hard enough you might still be able to see Buffybot just left of center.

Also what I said about Willow being unprepared to look after her "childe" applies here - and not that she possibly could be, given her upbringing and her distant parents! No one was prepared. Not even my beloved "perfect, saintly" Tara; the person who saw that Faith wasn't Buffy in Season 4 without having met either one of them, never notices that anything is amiss in S6 until she's all but smacked in the face with it, twice (OAFA, Dead Things.) But I hurt so much for Buffy anyway. Watching her scream and cry, then claw her way out of her own coffin - an experience she's already lived through once - is one of the most horrifying things I've ever seen in any tv show or movie, bar none.

28) 29)

Yes, I did a Spuffy icon. Permission to scoop your jaws off the floor granted. (Sexual or romantic "shipping" really isn't the primary lens by which I view this series, just one many.)  I hate that episode but oh god that scene - and again, her face! So raw, so painful...things can't possibly continue the way they have and she knows it; deep inside she knows. Another one I almost submitted, and am really happy with the result.

I enjoy manipulating photographs until they look like drawings, paintings, or perhaps book illustrations/covers from the first half of the 20th century. The best way to achieve that look in Photobucket, I find, is to continually push saturation, light and contrast to eliminate some of the fine details and focus on outlines. I didn't realize the framing device overlapped the bottom of  "we become" until after I finished them, but I'm not terribly bothered by it because it suits the idea of being diminished by one's own actions. (And oh god my heart is twisting again. Those beautiful, foolish children dragging themselves and one another to Hell. Ugh.)

FINALLY, THE "MEH" GROUP, aka "They were never contenders".

30) 31) 33)

Ryan said #30 didn't quite work. He was not wrong. Although my reasons for thinking that probably differ from his - thematically for him, aesthetically for me. Sarah looks gorgeous in the original screencap, from Flooded; her profile reminds me portrait paintings of Italian women from the 15th century, such as Domenico Ghirlandaio's Giovanna degli Albizzi Tornabuoni, c. 1488. When I sized it down her face just looked odd to me (esp around the mouth and cheeks) and the outline of her face is pixelated. Too bad.
32) 34) 35) 36)

#36 is Dawn leading Buffybot around at the school fair in Bargaining. In that episode I'm really struck by the fact that Buffybot essentially "extends" S5's theme of illness, incapacity, and how the burdens of caretaking in families fall disproportionately to women.  Earlier in the episode Willow has to prevent Buffybot from walking into a wall because her "circuitry" is damaged, which is a very interesting metaphor for someone who is mentally or neurologically incapacitated, such as someone suffering from Alzheimer's or brain damage - the role Tara took on in S5. This is obvious in the original cap but the meaning was lost when I cropped the image.

Also, #32? Just to be clear, I don't "ship" Buffy/Giles. (You know that, right?)  To me (and, um, a little thing called "canon") they are absolutely father-daughter....and speaking of, have you read il_mio_capitano's harsh, tender, stunning re-write of Tabula Rasa, "Holding On"? If not, you simply must. It's probably one of my all-time favorite BtVS fanfics.

37) 38)

Whenever I do an icon from Anne it's always a nod to norwie2010 - and this shot of Buffy in Anne has already been "done" a hundred times before. But I love it anyway - just as I love that entire episode; it's one of my favorites to play with image-wise. I brightened the cap quite a lot, bumped up saturation and the colors emerged beautifully, as did the light framing Buffy's hair and arm. The passivity implied by the lyrics, however, contradicts the action in the image.

And the Anne was is - "not my best work" is an understatement. But her expression of disbelief is fantastic, and she's a great "minor" character - what an arc! She starts out dependent on her boyfriend, constantly redefining her identity according to what other people want, and makes the transition to confident, powerful person in her own right in a way that poor Anya never does, IMO. Another idea to return to later. kwritten also did an Anne icon (not submitted to the challenge) that's a 1000 times better than this - But I want to return to the idea because she has an amazing arc, and the way she more than lives up to Buffy's confidence in her is a key moment in the series long theme of "sharing power".

And that's it, kids!  If you got this far, congratulate yourselves - I do! - have some more cookies and stretch your legs a bit, and join me again for the next episode of RedSatinDoll Blathers Incessantly. Stay tuned!

*Oh, one more thing: Just to be absolutely 100% clear: In terms of my sweetie and myself, there is NO physical violence or violation, nothing on the level of what happened to my mom or happens in Season 6. None whatsoever. It's a lot of arguements, harsh words and anger that we apologize for later; a dull grey haze of mutual mediocrity and power struggles some days, brightened and punctuated by moments of mutual love, respect and moments of deep love. Seesawing back and forth between resentment and affection in equal intensity.

Now that that's settled: Have some cake?
Chosen One - purple

Hypocrisy Thy Name is RedSatinDoll : Y'All Voted My Icon 3rd Place at Otherworldlyrics icontest 165!

So while I was bitching and moaning about how hard it is for me to vote in icontests because of all the great work I just can't decide and don't you feeeeeel myyyyyy paiiiiiiinnnn...

this happened:

I mean - REALLY? Are you sure there wasn't a miscount? Because I am happy as all get out but also perplexed because there were so many WONDERFUL entries to chose from.

I'm just - REALLY?

Thank you to everyone who voted for my icon!  I'm honored (and astonished and happy and giggly and perplexed) because there's some fantastic entries here. (Who did #5? I NEED TO KNOW THIS!)

But all the credit has to go to my Beta-Muse wickedbish who pretty much held my hand (as always) when I threw 41 icons at him because I couldn't chose. He picked this one partly because he thought it captured Buffy's overprotectiveness of Dawn. It wasn't my personal favorite and I probably - scratch that, I definitely wouldn't have submitted it without his advice.  And I came damn near ignoring his advice and sending other icons except

1) I remembered my own experiences as a beta for writer friends when they seek my advice and then don't take it when it doesn't; not that they have to take my advice, but when that turns into a pattern? Frustration sets in: "Ok, so why are you asking my advice if you're not gonna take it?" It felt awful disrespectful of what he offers and for free. And,

2) The last time, I won third place with an icon I wouldn't have submitted except for his advice.

So, this icon maker has learned her lesson: I'm an awful judge of my own stuff. This is why I go to Ryan. So, I need to stfu and TRUST that he knows his shit.

CONGRATULATIONS to the other winners spikesredqueen & xclaire_delunex!  Really lovely, simple, powerful icons this round.

BTW - my other submissions were #6 & #10. I'll share the other ones I made but didn't submit tomorrow ETA:i as soon as I can get the darn post finished.  t was a fun challenge!

And don't ask me what I voted for btw because I honestly DO NOT remember, I was so torn in so many directions. I will admit that I voted for #5 - I am CRAZY IN LOVE with that icon, whoever made it. I also especially liked 7, and 12-14, so I could have voted for any of them.
Chosen One - purple

Where are my manners? Pt 2: (Belated) Congrats to the Winners of Slayerstillness Challenge #19!

So yesterday I included slayerstillness in the title of my post with the intention of congratulating the winners of the last icontest - and completely FORGOT to mention them in the actual post. But someday - SOMEDAY! -

"At the age of 46 I mastered the secrets of time management, discipline and multiple orgasms - thanks to Cloudburst Laundry Detergent!"

Guilty as charged - no laundry detergent will help with multiple orgasms. Everyone knows that. (Although not laundering may be a decided disadvantage in that department, but never mind.) If anyone knows of one that'll do the job in the other areas though, let me know. *ahem*

So - [Belated] Congrats, hugs and puppies to iconsoleander, teragramm, moriwen1, tempertemper, rua1412, and spikesredqueen!  I meant to offer each winner a basket of kittens but they've already turned into cats.

As always, it was very hard to select "best" in any sense of the word.  What does that word even mean, when there is so much talent on display? I couldn't even decide things like "Best Crop" or "Best Coloring", let alone "Best [Everything Overall]". And please don't ask which I voted for because I honestly don't remember. It's becoming a thing with me and these contests: "I'll vote for A, D, and F - maybe C? No, F. *hit vote button* Oh, NOES! I didn't notice J before! Maybe I should've voted for J? No, B...maybe? Can I vote again?"

Then I wonder why I'm exhausted.

And congrats to everyone who entered this challenge "Rock Your Body" (whole-body images rather than close-up crops). I admit I wasn't inspired by the prompt itself, and too busy getting ready for NYC at any rate. But other people obviously were, and as with OWL's "Downtown" icontest I love seeing what people come up with in those challenges.

Speaking of not being inspired, Challenge 20 is "Love Song For A Vampire" which is pretty self-explanatory. This is another prompt that I admit, I'm not inspired by it - I know the world seems to love vampire characters. And goodness I appreciate Drusilla, Spike, Darla, etc, but not deeply moved to enter this prompt because it's not the same level of love or even emotion of any sort for me, and that has to be there in order to be inspired.  Which means that I can sit this round out for the folks who aremoved and inspired by the vamps of the Buffyverse, and see what lovely things they come up with. And agonize over voting all over again.

Then I'll wonder why I'm exhausted.
Chosen One - purple

Slayerstillness & Otherworldlyrics - Please Tell Me I'm not the ONLY person who confuses the two?**

Aka, How is A Busy and Easily Confusable Fan Supposed to Keep Up?

1) Where are my manners? I forgot to congratulate the winners of otherworldlyric icontest #164 kwritten and xclaire_delunex!  The prompt lyrics for this challenge was the song "Downtown" - the 1960's classic recorded by Petulia Clark. I admit I was too busy to enter and frankly my memories of the song got too much in the way, so I wasn't inspired this time. But oh my goodness, what a lovely batch of entries - when it came time to vote, I completely forgot what the song was bcause these artists were able to divorce the song from it's original context and just create lovely things in keeping with the buffyverse. And such lovelies these were! Incredible work all 'round.

BTW - am I the only person who looked at kwritten's entry and for a moment was confused if it was Dawn or Tara? And I mean that as a compliment - there's sort of a "family resemblance" that bleeds into this delicate, dreamy image. (And y'all know my feelings about my One True Family. If not, I will gladly explain the matter in great detail.)

2) Speaking of OWL, VOTING IS UP for Challenge 165 (yes, I'm away from home again.) This prompt was Sarah McLachlan's "World on Fire" and oh my was this song a natural fit for the buffverse. (yes I submitted three entries.) Coming up with ideas was not the problem this time being able to stop myself was.  (I sent my wonderful beta Ryan wickedbish 41 choices to contemplate - after I'd pared down from 75 'twas well nigh ridiculous of me.)

And picking ones to vote for was no problem - except that I could hardly bear to limit myself to three.

So goest thou and vote!
Chosen One - purple

The Lady Wore Black Velvet and a Necklace of Diamonds, then Wrapped Herself in Silver-Grey Gauze

Friday night we were walking east down 39th street towards 2nd Avenue (my sweetie fancied a craftbrew at 7pm) and saw this over our shoulders. There was the lightest imaginable mist of rain - not heavy enough to even wet my eyeglasses, but enough to create a lovely haze around the lit-up, bejeweled tower.

Me: "Look at that, honey, isn't it beatiful?"
Her: "Which buildng is that?"
Me: "The Empire State Building....I think. Unless it's the Chrystler Building. No, I think the Empire State...maybe. Which one did King Kong climb up again?"

But at least I can now cross "NYC Tour Guide" off my list of potential careers.
Chosen One - purple

Voting is apparently still open at the Willowy Goodness Awards!

Because I finally did exactly that - voted, that is. (It's 4:30-ish PM EST in my part of the world.) I hope to have redeemed myself in the eyes of my Willow-loving flisties.

(*bows low before velvetwhip in gratitude for her mercies*)

Do you people have ANY idea - ANY IDEA - how hard it is to "pick just one" when 1) there are SO many great authors and stories to choose from? As in, a superb overall level of quality? FEEEL MYYYY PAAAIIINNNNN.......

Speaking of Willow: spikesredqueen posted a gorgeous banner of Willow/Oz in Wild at Heart just a few days ago. I haven't rewatched that episode since the first (one) time I saw it, and this reminds me why that's probably so. Her banner captures what made that episode hurt so damn much, the tears on Willow's face, the betrayal, everything. Which also reminds me that I probably haven't said "Why the hell didn't Aly ever win an Emmy for her performance in the series?" (Besides the usual stupid genre prejudices - not just horror, high school and fantasy, but also the perception that BtVS was a "soap opera" and therefore "girly", perhaps?)

Between Sarah and Aly, they just took my heart and broke and wrung it out and stomped on it between the two of them.  Do it again, pretty please.
Chosen One - purple

Vote now at the otherworldlyric icontest!

I didn't enter this round because of general busy-ness-ness the last week (and being in NY and et cetera) but I just voted - so please do go vote for your favorite entries in this round because there are so fantastically lovely entries. I love the delicacy of this set overall.

Did I mention I'm back from NYC, btw? I'm baaaaaaaaacccccccckkkkkk.......

There will be fluffy stories this week, m'dears.

And if I get my act together, a Buffy & Joyce meta inspired by comlodge's beautiful School Hard/Chosen banner:

(You know I'm not at my home computer when I'm reduced to typing out the  addys.)

Chosen One - purple


Tomorrow my sweetie and I are going to NYC - she wants to see the 100th Armory Show on the Westside; stay two nights at the Pod 39 Hotel; then we'll hopefully go to Chinatown, and then Friday spend the day at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. including the Elizabeth Sackler Gallery of Feminist Art on the 4th floor featuring Judy Chicago's installation The Dinner Party (1982) which I've always wanted to see. (Never mind the concept of a separate gallery for "feminist" art as opposed to the presumably "regular" art. Baby steps, baby steps, bitty blah.)  I wll have many things to report, hopefully.

Then when I come back we are packing and (supposedly) moving back into the old apartment; the renovation is nearly done!  We saw it the other day - my sweetie's bedroom has been totally redone, new walls, flooring, windows, new moldings everywhere, paint and light fixtures, etc. they even took up two layers of ugly old linoleum and black glue in the kitchen to expose the original wood flooring. Beautiful job.

Which also means we'll finally be getting away from the people below us in the apartment we're in now and its worth anything just for that because SWEET MOTHER OF MOSES THESE PEOPLE DO NOT SHUT UP EVER. *ugh*

Ergo, if I don't get back to you anytime immediately or post a lot the next couple of weeks, you know why. I'll try to keep up with the macros, icons and suchlike - that shouldn't be hard, I've got 600 or so buffyverse icons sitting in my Photobucket. No lie.

In the meantime, eilowyn said not long ago that she loved "fluffy stories" about my sweetie and I; which of course meant I stopped telling them. ("But - we're not fluffy people, we argue a lot!" my brain protested.) Just like when someone paid for me to have a free account and velvetwhip said she looked forward to a "tsunami of polls" and I said "Me too!"  And then have done maybe two since then. Or when my mom asked "What do you want for Christmas?" and I said "I don't know." EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I absolutely shut down. (My sweetie gets the same damn answer to the same question btw. My brain hasn't changed in 40-plus years.)

But last week we were in one of those big-box retail stores, the kind we drag ourselves into because we really need something and even then only upon pain of death, and I told her I felt a little light-headed. I think y'all know I have epilepsy and it's pretty well controlled on medication but those sorts of stores are not good for me: too brightly light, buzzing light fixtures, too much noise, too much sensory overload, etc.

So I said to my sweetie "Keep talking."

"Oh NO, don't you go letting your mind wander off!" (Having a seizure feels at first like you're going into a spell or trance, like a daydream.)

"That's why I need you to keep talking, because it helps ground me and keep focused on where I am. We talk, you annoy the hell out of me, I want to strangle you, it keeps me grounded. See how that works?"

She laughed.

And all I could think right was how much I love this woman, and how lucky was (am) to have her in my life after all these years.

Which is a good thing, because an hour or so later we wanted to strangle each other again.

Love isn't ribbons and bows, kids.
Chosen One - purple

I WON AN AWARD AT THE OTHERWORLDLYRIC iCONTEST! (??) Icons, thinky-thoughts and my usual blather...

And this is where I pretend I'm such a mature, blase adult about such things - oh, screw that. I won third place in otherworldlyric icontest #163!

(But also, I won? Like, SRSLY??)

Thank you to everyone who voted! And congratulations to the other winners in this challenge, chic_c and spikesredqueen!

I had a hard time voting this round (as per usual) because there were so many lovely things to pick from. Two of the ones I voted for are in fandoms I'm not familiar with, so I had no idea who the characters were, I just thought they were wonderful icons. And I even voted for a Spike icon - I'm as shocked as you are!  Then immediately after I hit the submit vote button I thought "Oh, no wait, but there's that other one too....Can I vote again?"

You know me. Given my druthers, I don't wanna enumerate them. I just wanna enjoy. *sigh*

Of course, a thousand THANK YOUS go to my agent, my manager, my stylist beta wickedbish (Ryan); he specifically mentioned that Fading Away Fast icon as one of his favorites and I don't think I would have submitted it otherwise. I liked the icon very much - I loved the concept of it when I thought it up - but I wasn't entirely happy with the execution. (I wanted the effect of a more gradual fade on the colors on each word in the text.)  I knew right away that I wanted to submit #11 and #15 (below) but I wasn't sure about a third choice.

ETA: OH DEAR, I forgot to thank comlodge for her very kind encouragments to me re: talking about the process of making these and the stories behind them; in essence, she's "given me permission" to open Pandora's box. (Thank you sweetie - I hope you don't regret it later!)

Here are my three entries, numbered according to the challenge number assignments:

1) 11) 15)

These represent two of my favorite episodes in the entire series; I made the Prophecy Girl icons first.  #15 is probably one of my favorites of all the ones I've ever made. I really wanted the double-image of Buffy in front of the mirror as well as her reflection and was really happy with what I got. And I love that the font looks like graffiti scrawled it on the glass. This time around I was consciously trying to experiment with fonts I hadn't used before.

Have I mentioned before that PG is the first masterpiece YOU MUST WATCH THIS episode of the series? (Although I will ALWAYS argue that one needs to watch the season in it's entirety as well. Especially Nightmares and Angel.) That Sarah never fails to bring me to tears when I watch it? And Tony as Giles, standing in the library utterly useless despite all his efforts and intentions, just as Buffy accuses him of being...ugh. Heartbreaking.

 #11 is a farther distance than usual for me (I tend towards close-up shots) but something about that distance visually emphasized Buffy's isolation in that moment, the lonely struggle with and against her own mind. I also loved the diagonal light and shadow lines on the wall; diagonals and asymmetrical compostions have alwayts appealed to me in art nouveau and Japanese woodcuts. The shadow offered a perfect canvas for the lettering and, again, the effect of graffiti on the wall.

Here's the remaining icons I made for that challenge, vaguely-sorta-kinda-not-exactly in the order I made them. Or something like that:

2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7)

Please. Explain to me again why Sarah NEVER won an Emmy or any major award for playing Buffy, aside from that "Performances in _______ (fill in the blank) genre programs aren't deserving of serious awards love" b.s.

  8) 9) 10) 12) 13) 14)

#10 was the other one Ryan suggested for my third choice, and I love how the "deer in headlights" effect emphasizes Buffy's struggle ("traps for your mind"). But I almost submitted #5 as my third choice. I LOVE that one, perhaps for similar reasons that I love the PG one. I used the same font, but with small caps, for a graffiti effect that came out much better than I'd expected; it looks like Buffy has childishly, desperately, scribbled the words on the wall and then dropped the crayon in frustration or resignation.  But I also almost went with #7 (or 8 or 9) because OH GOD HER EXPRESSION THAT FACE I HAVE NO WORDS FOR THIS MOMENT just total incoherence.
16) 17)

#16 - 17 OTOH are "meh" in comparison although I swear I did try my best. I do like the look of a vintage book illustration in #16; as with #11 it's a more distant shot than I often use but I think I got the mood of the moment. I actually am pleased with the way I caught Faith's expression in #17, from Touched, thanks to lots of adjustments in brightness and contrast (the source screencap is so dark). You can almost hear her panting here. I even like the detail of her fist in the lower corner, sort of a visual punctuation mark. There's something almost stupidly mechanical in this mano-a-mano confrontation between Spike and Faith in Touched, this power struggle that didn't have to happen. And I absolutely adore that entire scene and this moment especially, fighting over Buffy and about her (they're both warriors, it's what they both do best) when it is so obvious that they both care about her very deeply: "Where is she?" / "I don't know!"

Those crazy kids - god help me, I love them.

Speaking of love - I really wanted to make one with Joyce in Normal Again, but ran out of time and energy: "Your father and I have all the faith in the world in you."

Oh dear. Buffy has to go into a hallucinatory state to find the emotional comfort and support she needs in that moment - and the person who provides it is her mother. Of course it is. How can anyone watch this episode, never mind the entire series, and think that Joyce isn't the most important person in Buffy's life? Of course it's Joyce - not Giles or Hank, nor any of her friends or lovers. Not even Dawn can get through to her this time the way she did in Bargaining/After Life. Just as in season 7's Bring on the Night, the First appears to Buffy wearing Joyce's face, because no one could unsettle Buffy so deeply. It HAD to be Joyce.

LIkewise, it had to be Joyce in CWDP; Dawn fights as a warrior and magician with everything she's got, and is cut to ribbons far worse than Xander was in Grave, in order to save and protect her mother. Summers Blood is truly the blood of champions.

And whether NormalAgain!Joyce is a "bloody figment" hardly matters in this moment. Is this what the real Joyce would have said in the situation, or what Buffy would have wanted her to say? A bit of both I suspect.

Now I have a bit of a personal confession, so feel free to skip this if you're not so much into the person stuff:

I suspect that part of the reason I'm drawn to Normal Again is because when I was a teenager I was certain I was going to become mentally ill and locked away at some point in my life - is that a teenage angst thing or a "me" thing? And as an adult dealing with depression I've discovered that, yes, it is something you do battle with. Sometimes it IS a war, and you have to fight to stay alive.  And sometimes it's just a friggin' slog.  So, I identify.

I have no idea why I had this fear years before before my mother revealed a secret to me: that my father had taken his own life when I was about three years old and my brothers even younger,  not an accident as she'd always claimed. (In the interest of our protection, I know. How do you explain that to three small children?  My mother was in her early 20's when that happened; I was 3, one of my brothers 2 and the other a toddler. How do you explain that, ever?)

And it was at least another five years in addition to that before I learned that his brother had also taken his life, leaving behind a wife and two young daughters I never even knew about. My grandfather came for a rare visit after a trip from Alaska, and said my cousin had seen my picture in his wallet and asked Who was that pretty girl? My response:

"I have a cousin in Alaska?"

And another one in the midwest, as it turned out - both with spouses/partners and growing children of their own. Somehow I knew that my dad had a brother, but in the absence of information assumed he died in a war or something years ago. Like John Kennedy's older brother in the biography I'd read as a kid. Apparently that's what a child's mind will do - fill the vacuum with whatever bits they can find lying around. Perhaps not unlike the way Buffy assumes that her parents' divorce is a result of her father's disappointment in her; her brain fills the vacuum of polite silence and careful phrases that she wants to believe but can't entirely.

And here's a thought that just popped in my head: That there IS a reason why the theme of well-meaning adults hiding or keeping information from their children "for their own good" in the series resonates so deeply with me. *ponders this*

Families - you can't live with them....
Chosen One - purple

A Tsunami of Polls -'tis a quickie!

Poll #1958930
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 19

Should I replace the links in my Welcome post that are f'locked with links that can be seen by everyone?

View Answers
Yes! F'locked links aren't very "welcoming"
11 (57.9%)
No! Who the heck cares, really?
2 (10.5%)
Maybe? I can go either way on that
2 (10.5%)
You have a Welcome post?
4 (21.1%)
Chosen One - purple

Vote at Otherworldlyrics Icon Challenge 163!

I just voted at the latest otherworldlyric challenge - and yes, I did submit three but I had no trouble whatsoever picking other ones to vote for that I like a LOT better than my own. Not "fancy" with effects but goodness some gorgeous, subtle, atmosphere work in this round. (And most of my picks actually had male characters - I'm as shocked as you are!)

Of course right after I voted, I thought, "Oh, but there's this other one...maybe I should have picked that. Why couldn't I have voted for 4 icons instead of three?"

And of course the refrain you'll hear from me over and over when it comes to contests: "WHYYYYYYY do I have to chose? I just want to enjoy the pretties!"

Until I get an award of my own, of course - and bounce around like a giddy child on a sugar high.

Thanks again to my friend wickedbish for his beta advice on my submissions - you are AWESOME, sir!  BTW - he shared with me the phrase " ichallenge" for "icon challenge" which is kind of cute, actually. Do we use that in this fandom and I just didn't notice?

Speaking of icons - I checked out spikesredqueen Buffy and Willow icons today and - ME WANT.

I WON AN AWARD AT SLAYERSTILLNESS! (And, I have things to say about Buffy and Faith - buckle up)

Thank you to the moderators at slayerstillness for giving me my very first award for an icon in Challenge #18 "Faith Lehane" ! Kudos to all the winners in this round : iconsoleander, spikesredqueen and delta_dawn_rose - but all the submissions were creative and wonderful, so please go check them out if you haven't had the chance already.

And to make it even sweeter, comlodge made the gorgeous banners:

Mods Choice: "I love the idea of this one – very creatively done. And I love how the lighting draws your focus right to her face."

The irony is that that had nothing to do with me; the shot was already beautiful. My favorite icons of those I've made, like this one, are generally the simplest. All I had to do was carefully bump up brightness, contrast and saturation; pick the right font, and add the frame. There's the irony of course in that it's the one submission I sent in which we're actually looking at Faith in Buffy's body, so the face we see is Sarah's, not Eliza's - but it's still the character of Faith, in what may be the turning point of her entire arc.  (And is one of the most superb performances I've ever seen on television - can we take a moment to celebrate Sarah's intensity in that episode?)

Here are all five of my entries; the numbers beside them are the numbers assigned in the challenge voting (not in numerical order).

26) 13)  19)

25)     8)
As per usual for me lately, I began this batch making icons that were fun, risque. or innocuous, (#8, 25) and then moved into darker territory. If I were to do it again I'd leave off 8 & 25, although 25 amuses me.

I think #26 was the best of the five I submitted, especially in terms of lighting and composition.  Photobucket's "Covered by Your Grace" font has a somewhat "handwritten" look to it and often works well when the overall mood is one of intimacy, introspection, melancholy, sadness, etc. For the same reasons I like the "torn paper frame" of 26 & 13; it emphasizes for me a sense of things "bleeding in (or bleeding out)" of each other, of something incomplete,unstable, fissuring or merging; of things damaged but not entirely broken, and the strange beauty of imperfection.

Which is what the episodes "This Years Girl" and "Who are You" are about.

I've been fascinated by the parallels between Buffy, Faith and Buffy, Spike ever since I first saw bradcpu's classic fan video on the subject, "Creep" (See the bottom of this post for more links.)

Ten years ago the_royal_anna called Buffy and Spike in S6 "the most mesmerizing illustration" of the concept of "identity hiijack", but This Years Girl / Who are You essentially "foreshadow" nearly the entirety of S6 in two episodes. It's the definitive moment when Faith "hands off" her role as Buffy's primary dark mirror to Spike, so that she can move to AtS and continue her arc away from BtVS. There's the twin images of Faith and Buffy digging themselves out of their own graves, the sense of "victimization" each must overcome; mental instability and the damage that being "a killer" does to the soul; the direction of Buffy and Spike's relationship and the dark, tormented sexuality, so different from the light-hearted satirical version of Something Blue; the lie behind the dichotomies of "good/bad, dark/light" enforced by those in power (as represented by the WC).

Even the key role Tara plays in both as the outsider, as "the heart"  and "the one who sees" (literally and figuratively as a "seer" and as one who bears witness) is highlighted in both WAY and DT and deserves a separate essay of it's own.

It's also an episode that calls both backwards and forwards: to Faith's words "If you kill me, you become me - and you're not ready for that" in S3's "Enemies", and forward to Spike's "I know you felt me...when I was inside you."  When Faith steals Buffy's body she literally "gets inside" Buffy in ways even Spike can't begin to imagine. (No one else comes close except when Willow goes inside Buffy's head in The Weight of the World".)

I tried using a portion of the line from Enemies; "You become me" works beautifully when talking about Who are You; but I don't think it really comes across the way I'd intended it to visually.

1) 2) 3)  4 ) 5)  6) 7)

The sentence from Seeing Red actually works much better and is more powerful; but I used it with trepidation. I worried that using it would be too traumatic for some folks - looking up the actual dialogue on the Buffyworld transcript was hard enough for me as it was, but I got the wording wrong on my first effort, #14 below (I've watched that episode once and one time only, thank you very much.) Cutting the sentence in half, rather than using the entire line in a single icon, seemed to help "abstract" it slightly, remove it just enough from it's original context that it was easier for me to work with it here.

9) 10) 11) 12)   14)

The relationships are steeped in violence, misunderstanding, dysfunction and self-hatred - and yet, unbelievably, they manage to rise above it all and come to a state of grace with each other in Season 7. Buffy handing the Scythe to Faith in Chosen isn't as romantic, dramatic or as celebrated as her spiritual handfasting with Spike; but in the context of their history it represent a sea change in their relationship: a level of genuine forgiveness, trust and faith (pun intended) exists between them that never has before. Getting to that point was a long, hard-fought road:

15) 16)  17)

The other line of Spike's dialogue I borrowed is from "The Gift": "I made a promise to a lady."  He's talking to Doc on top of Glory's tower about his promise to Buffy to protect Dawn "until the end of the world"; I often associate that line with Buffy's own promise to Joyce in Listening to Fear. But here I applied it to another "promise", albeit unspoken: Faith's wordless response to Buffy's "Don't - be afraid to lead them" in Empty Places. I was inspired by blackfrancine's 2010 comment on the nature Buffy and Faith's expressions of love:

I think Buffy's way of nurturing (ie of loving) is to protect. To play mama bear to the helpless cubs of Sunnydale. So of course the Slayer's primary love language is to perform acts of service. Her whole life (and death) is about service. And it makes sense that it becomes her main way of understanding and expressing love (or maybe service always IS her love language--even before she is called. I could see this being a feature that binds Slayers--that they understand love through service. Because I'd argue that this is how Faith expresses love as well). So, through her slaying duties, Buffy (and maybe all slayers) expresses her love for their fellow man. [emphasis mine]

In S3, Faith is bound to the Mayor, her surrogate father-figure, by her assignments for him. When Buffy reluctantly advises Faith to lead the Potentials, it's entirely clear to me from Faith's demeanor that she listens and accepts her (symbolic) "grandsire's" words with all due seriousness. Handing off leadership to Faith is mostly an act of necessity and seems like a small thing, but in the context of their relationship it's absolutely seismic. Faith doesn't say a word but her intention is clear in her demeanor, her silence, in the fact that she is truly listening - something the two of them stopped doing with one another years ago. She made a "promise to a lady" and it's one she'll keep to the best of her ability.

I wanted to send #16 above because it was the only icon I'd made that had a close-up of Eliza's face, but I felt that it didn't "tell the story" in this context as well as image of Faith and Buffy together on the porch (15, 19).

This award is a particular honor for me because the quality of the icons submitted to past slayerstillness challenges, technically and aesthetically, is consistently very high and represents some of the best examples of icons as works of art currently in this fandom. The editing suite I have in Photobucket is very simple and limited so I can't do the gorgeous effects and layering I see there. I wasn't as pleased as I was with the batch I made for the last otherworldlyric icon challenge. I focused on Buffy and Faith rather than Faith exclusively. Plus I made these so last minute I didn't have time to ask wickedbish for his advice as a beta. I honestly didn't think I had a shot at winning anything - and you'd be surprised how that takes the edge of anticipation off!

You know the cliche that if you want something you're supposed to visualize having or achieving it first in order to "manifest it in your life"? Well sometimes there is something to be said for thinking the opposite, or trying to practice "non-attachment" one way or the other, then being completely surprised and delighted when it does happen to come your way.
(Maybe I need to look into Buddism as a practice? *ponders*)

Here's the remaining icons from that set that I didn't submit, in no particular order of anything whatsoever. As always, snag 'em if you love 'em but please give proper credit to the artist. 'tis the polite thing to do.

18) 20) 21) 22)

23) 24)27) 28)
And here are some links to some of my favorite Buffy and Faith, or Fuffy, fanfics and fanvids for your enjoyment - just the tip of the proverbial iceberg:
"Creep" by bradcpu (downloadable zipped Xvid and WMV formats) is THE classic Buffy, Faith, Spike meta-video.
"Your Power is Rooted in Darkness" by Afterthebattle (YouTube) focuses on the Buffy & Faith parallels with Spike as a supporting player.
"We Must Be Killers" by jess9191 (YouTube) The first great fanvid of the year? It's already on my list for next January's Buffyverse Top 5.
"Who Are You, Really?: Episodic" by xxIrisHalox  (YouTube) My favorite fanvid take on "Who Are You?" pairs brilliantly with my favorite WAY fanfic:

"Who Am I? (The Warm Champagne Remix)" (DW) by snowpuppies. (Buffy, Faith, Spike; Faith/Spike, implied Buffy/Faith) Superb, as always. Put this on your list for the next round of fanfic awards, please.
"Zen and the Art of Stake Maintenance" and "Of History" (AO3) by m_phoenix. Delicately haunting Season 7 AU and post-series Fuffy angst, respectively, both Buffy-POV. "Zen" fits canon astonishingly well; "Of History" is a masterclass in how to write in 2nd-person POV, as well as how to tackle adult sexuality and consent issues sensitively. (Thanks to oni_9's rec on the most recent edition of the su_herald.)

Finally, after all that angst, some fun and adventure are in order: try "The Girls In Question" fic series on AO3 by the wife-wife team of TigerDragon. The post-series installments "Reentry", "Investigations" and "Women, Fire, And Other Dangerous Things" read like a genuine "Season 8" - funny, exciting, a little angsty  - if it had been written as female-centric Fuffy, with Dawn, Willow, fascinating OC multi-ethnic Slayers, and female villains who are a VERY dark mirror of Buffy and Faith, for the ride.
Chosen One - purple

WHILE I CONTINUE TO PROCRASTINATE: Reminders, Gloating, and Anne Icons for Norwie2010

I may be a slacker, but Buffy isn't:

1) I was reading an elegant post-series btvs ensemble drabble by my friend Ray kerkevik_2014 & he informed me that he couldn't access my journal from the library computer where he is (Scotland) because my site had been "censored". Me? Little ol' white bread good girl me? Censored?


2) fttstar07 posted part 3 of her Getting To the Truth series re: Buffy's feelings for Spike in S7. Fun. (Granted, she posted a month ago but better late than never, right?)

3) An additional reminder, don't forget to vote for your favorite Faith icons at the slayerstillness Challenge 18. I encourage y'all to not wait until the last minute *cough* because apparently LiveJournal is going to be out of commission for some updates around, say, 6pm EST in the US. (Hopefully, maybe, they'll get that little "failure to send notifications" problem fixed? Pretty please?)

4) And finally: norwie2010's birthday was the other day, which gives me the perfect excuse to post some icons for his favorite episode, "Anne", which is also my favorite season opener alongside Bargaining. "I'm Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. And you are?" just might be the most sublime Buffy moment in the entire series.

As always, snag 'em if you want 'em just give proper credit.

1) 2)  3)  4) 5)  6) 7) 8)
Chosen One - purple

Voting NOW OPEN for Icon Challenge 18 at Slayerstillness!

Round 18  has 32 fantastic icon entries devoted to the one-and-only Faith Lehane but HURRY, because the voting deadline is Monday the 24the - aka TOMORROW, kids. Full rule for voting are provided by the mods. So goest thou and vote!

*Full disclosure: I submitted some entries to this round that I did quite literally spur-of-the-moment and last-minute. I don't have an illusions about actually winning, but I really enjoyed the project anyway; it was a lot of fun.*

Chosen One - purple


Firstly: Thank you everyone who sent me the wonderful birthday wishes last week in the form of messages or as gifts in your journal. It really meant a lot to me, and made turning 46 a lot more fun than I'd anticipated. It was a lovely, low-key day: my sweetie took me out to the new Thai restaurant in the area we'd recently heard about; and she bought me a tin of one of my favorite teas from Harney and Sons, "Bankok" (green tea with lemongrass, ginger, vanilla and coconut flavors.) A cup of that before bed is now my nightly ritual.

If you posted birthday wishes or a gift on your journal and I have not thanked you yet, it means one thing: LJ is SCREWING UP notifications and I don't know about it. (I've gotten a grand total of one notification in the last 30 days.) I thought it was just me until I just happened to see that velvetwhip posted a complaint about it on her LJ, just happened to find a lovely birthday message and graphic that she posted for me; and then just happened to see comlodge make a remark about having trouble posting a gift banner (which is utterly gorgeous) she'd made for me, and I'm thinking, "What? What is this gift we speak of?" Then today I just happened to see kikimay's birthday graphic for me with a cap of Buffy receiving her umbrella in The Prom which gives me so many feelings, as well as several other times she name-checked me, and that's not counting the times other folks like eilowyn or kwritten have name-checked me, etc.

Folks, I'm all for "happenstance" and "serendipity" - but not on a social networking site. Not when people are making me gifts and wishing me happy birthday, or giving me free PR by referencing my posts. I want to know about this stuff because to NOT stop by and say "THANK YOU" is just plain damn rude, IMO. That said, I know that children are starving in Africa - starving all over the world in fact - and I'm sitting her whining like a priviledged American white gal. (Which I happen to be, but nevermind.)

If kerkevik_2014 hadn't PM'd me about a completely charming and sexy Tara/Faith drabble he wrote for me, I never would have known about it. Sweet, sexy, taking-command Tara is pure catnip to me - and being the gentle guide for a suddenly-shy and insecure Faith? OH YES PLEASE.  It's easy to forget that Tara possessed a core of strength and confidence even if we rarely saw it before S6. Remember, she is the one who pursued Willow - NOT the other way around. I was a just-out lesbian in the '90's, just before the show came on tv and I know how much courage that would have taken at that time (and probably still does.)

SO - if you've mentioned me or have made a prezzie for me, or just something you think I might like to see, please don't be shy about PM'ing me until this notification nonsense gets straightened out.

SECONDLY: comlodge told me that the aforementioned Buffy tribute banner she made for my birthday was inspired by my recent "happy birthday Buffy" post and that in itself is the best present. If I can make someone else see Buffy and her world through my eyes even a little, not by shouting or arguing or arm-twisting, but simply by loving her and sharing what she means to me, then that makes me incredibly happy. comlodge's banner reflects what so much of what I love about Buffy - the girl, the woman, the warrior; daughter, sister, friend and lover. Her's is an incredible journey.

Speaking of incredible journeys: kwritten posted an insanely gorgeous Buffy, Anya, Willow, Dawn/Faith fic, "Oh, You're Here Too?" set immediately post-Chosen. Anya offers Buffy friendship and solace after the battle. Not AU. She wrote it for a prompt from kikimay but it reflects so much about how I see Buffy in that immediate period about 1000X better than I could hope to. It's a short story but it takes the reader on a complete journey that feels novelistic, in a series of short scenes: from Buffy's trauma and dissociation, the fatigue and inability to process everything after the battle in the Hellmouth, to a place that feels "warm, (un)finished, (in)complete" as Buffy contemplates the "the unknown future" before her, in the company of beloved friends and family.
Chosen One - purple

Today's post brought to you by the need to throw SOMETHING on this journal no matter how silly...

And also, to remind everyone to vote in the otherworldlyric icon challenge contest #162.
ETA: dragonydreams just let me know that voting is closed and winners have been announced. Congratulations to winners spikesredqueen and chic_c !
(While I'm here I might as well send more kudos to wickedbish for being such an awesome icon beta.)

Now go get some sleep - tomorrow's a long day, sweetie.
Chosen One - purple

Voting Now Open for Icon Challenge 162 at Otherworldlyric

What it says on the tin - vote now for your favorite entries in the challenge contest (link above because I'm away from home and this PC hates me *grrr*). And then check out challenge 163 now up. I may have to enter that one as well because I'm having way too much fun with this; and the song lyrics the mods choose have endless possible uses.

I'm eager to see which icon win - and in fact I don't care if I win because I'm genuinely pleased with the icon sets I did for this challenge and I can't wait to share them with y'all.

In other news - a friend told me this morning that Ellen Page, self-proclaimed "little Canadian", just came out of the closet. Which, no surprise to me (my dyke detector was off the charts when I saw her in Juno) but I'm still tickled lavender because it's still a risky thing to do, even if more states in the US and more countries around the world have gay marriage laws. (Spain? Uruguay? SRSLY?) Things really are getting better but in terms of discrimination and prejudice we're not all the way there by a long shot.

Kudos to eilowyn btw for turning me on to Ellen's fierce feminist politics and humor a few months back.
Chosen One - purple

The Things I Get Myself Into.....

ETA 2/13 : wickedbish provided me with a wonderful, super-helpful, concise, right-on concrit this morning THANK YOU!  The man definitely has an "eye". But I already knew that from his photographic art so no surprise there (which, if you folks haven't checked out, you might want to do so. "Alien Avian", a heron in a pool of intensely-green water, is my favorite.)

So I can submit 3 icons for the otherworldlyric icon challenge by Friday.

I've made 45 since yesterday. I can't decide which ones to submit. And I can't show them publicly on my LJ.

I may be incorrigble. I am DEFINITELY indecisive. And certainly addicted.

Is there a local chapter of Iconographers Anonymous?

 An icon beta (Muse) would be of the good....but whoever accepts the mission CANNOT vote in the icon challenge or reveal the submissions in any way.


Chosen One - purple


Due to lack of entries, Challenge #162 in otherworldlyric  has been extended to February 14th. I've just become acquainted with the site, which calls for icons using at least two consecutive words in the lyrics of a particular song each challenge. (In this instance the song is "King of Everything" by Sara Bareilles; lyrics are provided on each challenge post.) So check out otherworldlyric's Challenge 162 before the deadline

Lately I've become very interested in adding text to icons, partly because the Photobucket editing software is kindergarden-level limited; and partly because I'm fascinated by the "mini-meta" possibilities that icons with text offers. I've been i nspired by the wealth of gifsets on tumblr that use images and text to "write" a meta that's much more immediate than long paragrahs of text; this one by petpluto, taking on Anya's comments in Empty Places, is one of my favorites, although it's different from most tumblr gifs in that there is some textual analysis below the gifs.  In other words, pure catnip for yours truly, Madame Ambassador of Meta.

But I've also been inspired by "old school" icons like beer_good_foamy 's "Fuffy", awmp's "I'm A Bitch", maharet83's "Mary Sue", etc that can be meta, politically or emotionally expressive, or just plain damn fun. (I don't know who the creators of the Giles or Chosen icons below are but if anyone does please let me know.)

teragramm kindly customized two of her own icons for me with text, including her award-winning Dawn in Lessons icon, at her own offer.  The text for "Not Ok" popped into my head almost immediately and works on any number of levels ("this situation is not acceptable" or "I'm feeling horrible right now"). "Thinky Thoughts" was her own addition to the Dawn icon. If you ask her she'll be glad to add any text you like to one of her gorgeous icons. (I can't say "DO NOT snag these" but I will say "Pretty please don't?")

I've tried my hand a a few of my own here's a small sample, all snaggable; just please met me know and give proper credit:

1) 3)  4) 5)  6) 7) 8)
9) 10) 11) 12)
*** Big tip o' the stylus to my friend Ray kerkevik_2014 from whom I stole borrowed the phrase "icon(ic) thinky thoughts".
Chosen One - purple

Tsunami of Polls #1 : Any interest in a comm devoted to Buffy and the women of the Buffyverse?

#1 - Thank you to whomever gifted me with a temporary paid account last month. Now I can create polls! Oh wonderful Anonymous Benefactor, you have no idea what you have unleashed upon this fandom.
#2 - Thanks also the the lovely velvetwhip for coming up with the insanely awesome title/tag phrase "tsunami of polls" and allowing me to snag it.


The other day I was having a conversation with wickedbish in which I may have mentioned that most fandoms and fandom activity, in my experience, are focused primarily on the male characters. I assumed this was common knowledge. Except that he didn't know that. Because, you see, Ryan's favorite character is Willow (see #2 in his list of "13 Witches I Fucking Love"); he still mourns Tara (as do I; shared grief is comforting) and Buffy is one of his heros. The Gift has convinced him to not commit suicide "so many times". He's all about the ladies, bless.

You know what they say about "assuming".


 Then clockwork_hart1 (Lucy) popped into the conversation and in her brilliant, enthusiastic way suggested the idea of a comm dedicated to Buffy, the other women in the 'verse and their interrelationships - complete with a name (Summers Blood) and a banner (she's working on it - is there no end to the young woman's talents?) and three-part harmony. What that might actually look like or what interest there would actually be in such a thing was a matter of conjecture. So I'm channeling my inner Willow (Research Gal) for my very first poll.

What say you, Gentle Reader? Based just on the title of this post, you probably know who you are and how you stand.

(And as this is my first poll, please let me know if it functions ok. And I apologize for the wonky formatting. The LJ instructions for poll-making are vague and confusing at best. So says I.)

Poll #1955410
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 37

Would you be interested in a comm dedicated to the women of the Buffyverse?

View Answers
HELL YES! I am all over that. Sign me up!
30 (83.3%)
HELL NO! GIrls are icky. (And stupid)
0 (0.0%)
Nah, not really. I'm all about the guys.
0 (0.0%)
Neutral - I'm the Switzerland of fandom.
2 (5.6%)
I'm paralyzed by not caring AT ALL.
0 (0.0%)
What are you people, lezzies or something?
0 (0.0%)
There are women in the Buffyverse? I hadn't noticed.
0 (0.0%)
What the heck is this "Buffyverse"?
0 (0.0%)
Buffy who?
0 (0.0%)
All of the above. Whatever you want, I'm good.
4 (11.1%)
None of the above. I'm just trying to make my boss think I'm working.
0 (0.0%)
None of the above. Allow me to explicate in the comments
0 (0.0%)

How would you want to participate? (Check all that apply)

View Answers
Writing, posting, being a mod, etc
11 (18.6%)
Talking in convo threads
18 (30.5%)
More of a silent supporter ; I might not talk much but I'd check it out
15 (25.4%)
Not sure, I'd have to see the goods first.
13 (22.0%)
What part of "not caring at all" do you not comprehend?
0 (0.0%)
Get behind me Satan! *Brandishes cross and holy water*
0 (0.0%)
How should I know? I'm trying to make my boss thinking I'm working.
1 (1.7%)
I have - other thoughts. I will explain.
1 (1.7%)

What types of posts would you like to see or contribute? (Check all that apply)

View Answers
Artwork - icons, banners, etc
19 (10.1%)
"Meta" posts - in-story analysis
23 (12.2%)
"Meta" posts - out-of-story analysis
19 (10.1%)
Sharing personal stories: "How Buffy (Willow/Tara/Dawn/fandom) saved my life" etc
13 (6.9%)
Real-world politics in the Buffyverse (race, class, etc)
17 (9.0%)
Vids and vidding!
12 (6.3%)
Episode rewatches
18 (9.5%)
Stuff about fandom itself (being a writer, fandom history etc)
20 (10.6%)
Plain old-fashioned LOVE AND SQUEE!!
21 (11.1%)
Aren't you forgetting something? FANFIC
22 (11.6%)
You HAVE forgotten something. Follow me to the convo thread
0 (0.0%)
Not really sure - can I think about this and get back to you later?
4 (2.1%)
WHY do you continue to plague me with these questions?
1 (0.5%)

Which characters would you be most interested in reading/writing/talking about?

View Answers
Buffy Summers
21 (6.8%)
Dawn Summers
22 (7.1%)
Joyce Summers
16 (5.2%)
Willow Rosenberg
14 (4.5%)
Anya Jenkins
18 (5.8%)
Tara Maclay
17 (5.5%)
Cordelia Chase
14 (4.5%)
15 (4.9%)
10 (3.2%)
Jenny Calender (Janna Kalderesh)
7 (2.3%)
14 (4.5%)
15 (4.9%)
Fred Burkle
9 (2.9%)
Maggie Walsh
7 (2.3%)
Lilah Morgan
9 (2.9%)
9 (2.9%)
Buffybot (I cried at her death; she totes counts)
11 (3.6%)
Harmony Kendall
11 (3.6%)
Xin Rong (the Chinese Slayer in FFL)
6 (1.9%)
Nikki Wood
10 (3.2%)
9 (2.9%)
Kate Lockley
7 (2.3%)
5 (1.6%)
The Potentials - Amanda, Vi, Kennedy, Rona etc
9 (2.9%)
5 (1.6%)
ALL OF THE ABOVE - Buffyverse women FTW!
19 (6.1%)
None of the above - why am I here, even?
0 (0.0%)
You HAVE forgotten someone. I shall corrrect that in the comments
0 (0.0%)

And lastly: Your favorite female character in the Buffyverse? Force yourself to pick just one:

View Answers
17 (45.9%)
2 (5.4%)
0 (0.0%)
6 (16.2%)
1 (2.7%)
0 (0.0%)
0 (0.0%)
2 (5.4%)
0 (0.0%)
0 (0.0%)
0 (0.0%)
1 (2.7%)
2 (5.4%)
0 (0.0%)
0 (0.0%)
0 (0.0%)
0 (0.0%)
Harmony Kendall
1 (2.7%)
Xing Rong
0 (0.0%)
0 (0.0%)
0 (0.0%)
0 (0.0%)
0 (0.0%)
0 (0.0%)
0 (0.0%)
0 (0.0%)
0 (0.0%)
0 (0.0%)
I honestly can't pick just one!
3 (8.1%)
All of the above
0 (0.0%)
None of the above. I still think girls are icky
0 (0.0%)
Someone you have yet again failed to mention. *sigh*
2 (5.4%)
Chosen One - purple


A bit of (free) advice for the belated birthday girl:

Dear Buffy,

If THIS is your lesbian best friend's idea of a vibrator...then it's probably time to get yourself some more lesbian friends.

For that matter, it's probably time your lesbian friend got herself some more lesbian friends.

And they say I'm off my game...what the hell am I supposed to do with this on patrol, massage the demons to death?

My friend wickedbish and the folks at the Sunnydale Herald reminded me that Sunday the 19th (more or less) was Buffy Summer's 33rd birthday.
(The really-real Buffy, of course. Accept no substitutes.)

I like to think that where ever in the world Buffy might be, she'd be enjoying herself right now, doing what she does best: dancing, fighting, fucking; treating herself to a spa day with Dawn in Rome; watching the sun rise to greet yet another day she'd never thought she live long enough to see.

Falling a little in love with the light every where she goes in the world. Visiting Paris because her mother had longed to as a young woman, before babies and her husband's career got in the way - and steadfastly avoiding the Eiffel Tower. (There's facing your fears, Buffy decides, and then there's masochism. Buffy isn't a masochist anymore.)

Wondering what tomorrow will bring and marveling that she can conceptualize "tomorrow". Leading an army into battle, or counseling a single girl in the privacy of her office. (She doesn't spend a lot of time in her office, but she likes knowing it's there. And that it has a great view of the Thames, a sturdy lock on the door; and a dent in the wall next to the file cabinet that a certain someone made when the two of them were...hence the lock on the door.)

Still saving, and changing, the world - with a little help from her friends.

She's saved my life this year - a lot: helped me process and deal with immediate traumas and distant ghosts; offered me a safe space to laugh, to grieve, and sometimes a haven from "real world" cares for a little bit. I've found support, encouragement, and connection, even if I've had to bite my tongue or wanted to tear my hair out at times. (Admit it : we've all been there.) She opened the door to this little corner of the universe called "buffyverse fandom" that is comforting, confounding and glorious, much like Buffy herself.
Chosen One - purple

Spreading the Fandom Love: My Cup Runneth Over - and I Don't Mind the Stain on the Rug

The last two weeks I've received a sudden and unexpected influx of gifts and blessings here on LJ, and just gotten quite a lot of pleasure out of my participation in this fandom. I've been wanting to acknowledge all the love coming my way and spread it out, but it's hard to put into words. Or rather, words I have by the ton; coherence not so much. So I'm going to try to return and spread the love out all this week, because it's too much for one little post.

1) Buffyverse Top 5 was just a tremendous amount of fun to participate in. yourlibrarian and petzipellepingo deserve a huge round of applause for being such wonderful hosts, as always; and kudos to everyone who participated with rec lists of their own and/or comments. It was a great party! I remember enjoying myself last year but not to the same degree as this time but I was very new to fandom, didn't know as many people; and was focused on the goal of rec'ing meta because nearly all the other rec lists were focused on fanfic, with emphasis on shippiness.

Thank you velvetwhip, snogged, shapinglight, debris4spike, sparrow2000, lusciousxander, punch_kicker15, beer_good_foamy, rebcake, dragonyphoenix, endeni for all your lists; and thanks to the artists who keep bringing all of us what you love in any format....

This time around I had a lot of things I wanted to rec in every genre - fic, meta, art, vids - and only had time for a fraction of what I wanted to do. But other folks had the same idea: picspams, podcasts, videos, meta, some folks mixed things up in all forms; a lot of very new to me authors and stories that covered a wide range of the Buffyverse in terms of 'ships, gen, female-centric, etc - something for everyone. All of it very high quality on every level of craft (technique) and art. There's enough there to keep me busy neglecting housework chores for some months to come. And it continued a trend that I've noticed of late: that my fandom circle of aquaintance, friendships, reading habits and tastes have been widening. It keeps things more interesting and fun, and reminds me just how large this fandom really is, and how much variety of people and interests within it.

The "bad news" is that this round is over until the next "Classic Round" starting October 30th. The good news is that gives me plenty of time to procrastinate until the last minute prepare my lists in advance.

(And I hope y'all will forgive me an indulgence: I already mentioned in my last post that petzipellepingo surprised me by including one of my own posts from last June in their Top 5 picspam list. What I forgot to mention because it hadn't sunk in quite yet, was that I was keeping company alongside snowpuppies and comlodge, two of the most amazingly talented artists in this fandom. Are you kidding? I'm still dancing with joy.)

2) While I'm celebrating communities here, I want to give a shout-out to the wonderful editors of the Sunnydale Herald: rahirahsecondalto, oni_9, lynnylou, gillo, audela & menomegirl  continue to prove at least 2-4 times a week that the activity and creativity in this fandom is truly an embarrassment of riches with your . At least 2-3 of the meta I rec'd on Buffyverse Top 5 I found on their lists, not to mention all the meta I wanted to rec but didn't have the time to. (Barb explained to me once how they manage to run and organize it and I still can't wrap my head around the work they do.)

And they've been providing something invaluable: free marketing and PR. Readers I wouldn't have been able to draw on my own, even if it's one person, and I didn't have to lift a finger. I didn't even have to tell anyone I'd written it; it's just there. I've watched my sweetie try to build her art blog and an audience out of whole cloth, without the support of a community or ready-made audience and it is damn hard and frustrating work. So every time I see one of my posts linked there it's another gift just falling into my lap, and I don't think there's any way I can adequately express my gratitude for that except to say "thank you".  (Can I get an "amen", somebody?)
Chosen One - purple

More rec lists on Buffyverse Top 5 - but time is running out, alas!

I'd been promising myself I'd do a rec list of Top 5 stories by clockwork_hart1 - and ended up doing two (here and here). Some fics were easy choices because they are so dear to my heart, to how I approach the Buffyverse and feel about the characters; or aren't anything like I normally read but are wonderfully sexy, or disturbing. Which meant some hard choices still had to be made. *sniffle*

Last week I'd hoped that more people would post lists and y'all have done so, in a big way: in all genres and media (fic, video, meta, artwork), and from all "niches" of this fandom. This round has been wonderfully diverse and really taken the idea of "celebrating the love" to it's fullest extent I think. There's so much love there and so much to love. And why not? Isn't the Buffyverse, at it's core, about love in all it's aspects?

There's only one drawback: it ends on Sunday, January 19th, at 6pm EST (US/North America.) Not a lot of time left. (Don't say I didn't warn you, ok?) I have at least two, maybe three (?) meta rec lists I want to put up, and I'm away from the computer on weekends. Which means I have to get it all done TOMORROW.

I don't suppose, dearest mods *flutters eyelashes winsomely in yourlibrarian's direction* that I could request an extension this round? Because, goodness, it's going so beautifully don't you think?
(What bribery would you accept here: cookies? Soft words and flattering phrases? Kittens?)


petzipellepingo for included one of my own posts from last year, "Our Mother/Her Mother/Our Self (Buffy, Joyce, Dawn)" in their list of Top 5 Picspam Collections on Tuesday. I was not expecting that at all. It never would have occured to me that post would make a Top 5 list, especially considering all the wonderful, sophisticated picspam art there is out there to chose from. I'm very happy that it communicated my love for the women in the 'verse in a way that strikes a chord with others.You've honored me more than you know.

And thank you so much to the wonderful folks on my flist, to everyone for your feedback and gifts, especially these past two weeks.
My cup literally overfloweth, and I don't know how to begin to show my appreciation. But I'll do my level best to do so next week.
(Hint:There will be icons!)
Chosen One - purple


For the lovely velvetwhip

Now that a very kind anonymous friend has gifted me with a paid account, I'd thought about taking advantage of the v-gift feature and get you one,
Gabrielle, but none of them really suited, somehow. I'm better with words anyhow and if I get a little extravagent here,
it's no less than you deserve and probably inadequate anyway. So:

Lo these many years ago (or maybe just one year, but who's counting?) I'd gotten myself into a minor "kerfuffle" and wanted, needed to talk to someone about it. But I didn't know many people here, being a newbie in the neighborhood and all. My instincts finally told me to go to you. Sometimes my instincts get it right. You were calm, reassuring, non-judgemental, and thoroughly sensible, and that was exactly what I needed. And what you gave me then is what you continue to give: solid support. You're one of the best ambassadors this fandom has to offer: actively involved in multiple fandom awards, welcoming to any and all newbies like myself, semi-weekly fic rec lists,
not to mention your own astonishing, prolific output as an author.

You said something very simple to me in that conversation a year ago. "I like you". I was flattered but had no idea then just how big a deal that is. Because it is. You don't lack for friends or things to do in a day by any means; but you make time anyway to read my posts and comment on a regular basis. Kindness, thoughtfulness, enthusiasm and pure class seem to roll of your fingertips; if you have a mean bone in your entire body I haven't seen it. (And how in the world do you stay so organized?)

I don't know how you do it, but I'm so glad that you do, and that I can count you as a friend.
Happy birthday.
Chosen One - purple


Yesterday I received a v-gift of a red rose from an anonymous donor and thought:

"Who is this from?"
That's sweet."
"Is someone trying to woo me? Because I'm spoken for - but extremely flattered."
"No one has given me a rose in ages. Even if it's a virtual one."
"Is this going to be accompanied by a dead body?"

Just now I've noticed that someone has given me a paid account - with spaces for 32 icons (oh my!) I have PLANS for those empty slots. And who knows what other goodies?
(I've got daily visitor stats! Whoo!) ETA: velvetwhip says I can do polls. I have wanted to do polls since I got this account. I HAVE IDEAS.

WHOEVER GAVE ME THIS GIFT: THANK YOU. You paid you own hard-earned money to give ME a free account?
I'm grateful and flabbergasted and as close to speechless as I get.

And I'm not going to ask how it's even possible for someone else to upgrade my account. Wouldn't someone need my password? Nope, shutting off the suspicious & paranoid lobe of my brain. Shutting it off RIGHT NOW. Really.

I have NO IDEA who it might be. NONE whatsoever. Which is a good thing, in a way: I have NO idea who did this because I've made an astonishing number of friends in this fandom since I started this journal 1-1/2 years ago, who have provided me with encouragement, conversation, friendship and solid support, wise and sensible counsel when I needed it, spaces to rant and squee, to laugh and weep and think.

Any single one of them - one of you, dears - might be my benefactor.  I'm astonished anyone thinks I'm worth it and pleased if you feel I am. I hope I can give back at least a fraction of what I've received since joining this fandom.

Now excuse me, I have something wet in my eyes.
Chosen One - purple

I FINALLY finished my Top Five Buffy & Tara fics rec list at Buffyverse Top 5! (Whew!)

ETA: According to yourlibrarian the Buffyverse Top 5 ends at 6pm EST in the US on Jan. 19th.

Took me three or four days to write this post celebrating my favorite friendship and non-canon OTF(amily). Not, mind you, three to four days sitting 8 hours straight at the computer, of course (more like, sit down, get up to do something, write a little more, go run errands in town, add another link, suddenly realize I'm hungry, come back and realize I'd added 6 stories, agonize over the descriptions, cook dinner, hit post. You know how it is...right?)

"Tara, did you check out these stories?"
"I told you there are people in fandom who love us just for ourselves, sweetie."

Every time I got on the computer to continue writing I'd peek nervously at the BT5 home page in case someone else did a post on the subject before I finished or rec'd the stories I planned to; because in this instance I literallly had five and only five stories on my list. Buffy and Tara friendship (or even B/T ship fics) are one of THE hardest things to find in this fandom. And the only reason I even had five on my list was because punch_kicker15 rec'd new-to-me author elviswhataguy and literally saved my biscuits.

So, no one in swooped in before me, thank goodness; nor has anyone else done a "5 female-centric fics by clockwork_hart1" rec list. SHE'S MINE AND YOU CAN'T HAVE HER, PEOPLE. (I am, however, willing to share her on alternate Tuesdays.) No one else has done another meta list or an art list or...anything, actually, since rebcake posted her AO3 list on Sunday...three days ago.

Not that I'm trying to be a nag or anything, folks but....oh who the hell am I kidding? Ask my sweetie, she'll tell you: I AM an old-school nag and yes, I am nagging you right here and now. (A gal's gotta play to her strengths.)

DON'T LET BT5 DIE OUT! I need recs, lots of recs! Art, icons, fics, vids, essays! Show me stuff I haven't seen before, introduce me to people and to corners of fandom I didn't know existed. Show me that buffyverse fandom is about more than just "shipping" (romance, porn, whathaveyou.) Remind me of the richness of this verse as well as the unrealized posssibilities. Tell me something I don't know. Surprise me. Celebrate your favorite people and things - pimpage (aka "love") is what makes the fandom go 'round.

How else do you think I'm going to fill my empty hours and hone my talent for endless procrastination this year?

And if you won't do it for me, then, um....think of the children?