Weekend Music, and Guess Who’s Hosting #SundayBlogShare?

I do not think I have posted a Led Zeppelin video since I started this blog, so let me just do that! Earls Court Sessions, from 1975. And what some beautiful hair!

We’re doing the A to Z Challenge here, I’ve joined the Blog Blitz team, #1000Speak is working fantastically, and #WeekendCoffeeShare is well under way.

Also, I am hosting the #SundayBlogShare. Which basically means I am doing massive retweets of blog links on Sunday and reporting spammers when they hit that hashtag. I encourage you to do the same 🙂

I usually just link to Suzie’s rules, but I am pasting them in today. This is how you run a hashtag, people!SBS

  1. #SundayBlogShare is a happy place. Racist, sexist and homophobic propaganda will not be tolerated, and if you disagree with the content of a post it should be done in a polite and respectful manner.
  2. Blog posts only. NO Amazon book promos, company promos, music promos, inspirational quotes, newspaper articles, random selfies of you drinking coffee, Justin Bieber fan promotion etc… you get the idea.
  3. No pornographic images are allowed.
  4. Do not use it as an opportunity to demand follows and retweets from others, but feel free to retweet posts that you like. Be generous with this – the more you retweet, the more likely you will get them in return!
  5. Don’t go overboard with the amount that you post… If the Twitter feed is just a list of your own posts, you’re doing it too much. Post a few, spend some time reading and retweeting others and then come back later to post again.
  6. Hashtag spamming is not allowed. For those of you who participated last week, you’ll be aware that because of the popularity of the hashtag, there was a high level of spam from people who used it as an opportunity to post hundreds of links within an hour, clearly using the hashtag to spam potential clients. I have contacted Twitter and Twubs, and hopefully the matter has been resolved, but if this sort of thing appears tomorrow I would really appreciate it if you would block and report them. Don’t engage with them, just block and report.
  7. It starts each Sunday morning and will end at midnight. I’m in the UK, so you will need to work out times for whichever country you live in. This may mean that some of you may be participating on Saturday, or going into Monday, but please use the same hashtag…

I am not in the U.K. I’m on U.S. Central Time, but I do plan to check in during the early part of the day in the U.K. (I Tweet on U.K. time a bit on the weekends, anyway.)

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Arrow: Season 3, Episode 11 – Midnight City

arrow-header-5There were so many things to love about this episode, starting with the new intro. In fact, I haven’t been this impatient to see the next instalment since…well, since episode 10!

It was great to have Ollie back this week, and he had a lot more screen time in Midnight City, including a rather clever dream sequence. It’s the first dream sequence that I can remember, but it made sense as a manifestation of his guilt. He’s recuperating after all, so his mind and body are working over-time. It was one of those dreams which start really well (for some fans exceptionally well), and then quickly turns to hell. Ollie replayed his last moments with Felicity, only this time he chose to stay. There was a sweet moment when they kissed, which ended with Ollie coughing blood – the contrast amped up the horror factor.

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Based on the timeline in this episode, it’s been a week since Maseo pulled Ollie back from the edge (or saved him from the ledge – one or the other!). Tatsu, having worked her magic, did make a reference to the cold (and snow) – contributing these to the brew of ambivalence (or was that penicillin). Seriously though, I know it’s a bit of a stretch, but she wasn’t wrong about Ollie’s incredible will to survive. Plus – we’re talking about Oliver here.

I enjoyed the mystery surrounding Tatsu and Maseo’s past. I know I was wrong about his reasons for joining the League, but if not his wife’s death, then I’m guessing it has something to do with their son. I really liked the glimpses of Maseo’s internal torment. He dominated the scenes in the cabin (where Ollie is holed up), and the connection between the two friends hinted at more to come from this storyline.

We learnt a little more from the flashback episodes. Ollie’s plan to track Maseo’s wife was almost redundant in the end, considering Maseo had his own plan – to trade her for the Alpha serum. This culminated in the pair fighting their way out of a nightclub (the meeting place for the exchange), and a revelation that Amanda had switched the vial, having anticipated Maseo’s actions. Perhaps the most vital piece of information was Maseo’s confession he would do anything for his family. He would even risk the lives of thousands of innocent people. It echoed Ollie’s own commitment to the people he loves.

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But let’s leave Ollie there for the moment, because I haven’t even gotten to the things I loved about Team Arrow. Laurel, or Black Canary, was wonderful in this episode. Not because she excelled in her sister’s role, on the contrary she still has an awful lot to learn. It was the vulnerability that drew me in, the raw passion. Her uncanny improvisation skills helped – using her heel as a weapon was absolute class!

Roy too, really stepped up his game. He had a few memorable scenes; saving Laurel’s skin when she was cornered in an alley stood out. It was probably the first time he’d encountered Laurel’s Canary, so his line “I think we should talk” was perfectly timed. Later, when he was stitching up a minor injury to Laurel’s arm, he told her exactly what he thought of her heroics (“I’ve had training from Oliver and years on the streets. You have a law degree!”). Roy’s best moment though, was squaring off with Malcolm Merlyn. He was clearly picking up the slack by protecting Thea in Ollie’s absence, and it was really convincing. I have a new respect for his place within the team, especially when he donned the hood as Arsenal in this episode – he really had Laurel’s back.

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Felicity went through a transition this week too, which was the result of witnessing her friends in danger. It began with an explosive scene at city hall, and perhaps one of my favourite scenes of the episode. Ray and Felicity were invited to a meeting arranged by the mayor, a kind of ‘let’s pool our resources and get the crazy man off the streets’ kind of affair – clearly Danny Brickwell has been busy. Aside from Ray’s bumbling entrance, because my mind screamed Clark Kent, it was gripping stuff. Vinnie Jones has clearly settled into his role as Brick and revelled in playing a kingpin. He gate-crashed the party, snatched a few aldermans and ordered his goons to execute everyone else in the room. Ray held his own, which was a point in his favour. He did get a little banged up, though there was some lovely team work between (Captain) Lance, Ray, and Laurel.

The after effects of the violence brought Ray and Felicity closer together. When she was able to see beyond her grief she was almost like her old self again, though their banter was muted (it wouldn’t have worked otherwise). The highlight for me was her request to borrow Ray’s helicopter for a Team Arrow mission. It was wonderful to see Felicity back in the driver’s seat, coordinating the assault and being the knowledgeable voice in their ear.

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Black Canary had a few run-ins with Brick, which I enjoyed. I was hoping she’d get her own back for his “Lucky for you I don’t like hitting women” comment and, despite a few blunders, she did manage to have the last say. A fact I found extremely satisfying!

All in all, I like Brick as a villain. There was a point when I wanted to scream at the television ‘for god’s sake take him into custody’ (yes, I’m one of those people). He was pontificating in front of armed police officers at the time, with nothing but the fact he had hostages to save his bacon. I guess it wouldn’t be much of a reign of terror if he didn’t have a few tricks up his sleeve, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt!

Obviously with the appearance of Black Canary, Lance assumed Sara was back in town. It led to some difficult questions, especially given that the team couldn’t explain Ollie’s disappearance. Laurel’s decision to imitate Sara during a phone call to their father was heart-breaking. I wasn’t entirely sure about her (in the shadows) appearance later in the show, but maybe they’re moving towards a big reveal.

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That about covers the highlights. I did miss out the scenes with Thea and Merlyn. It wasn’t a surprise she refused to leave without hearing from Ollie. Her turnaround, however, made for an interesting twist in Thea’s story arc. She has decided to make a stand, to fight with her father against the threat posed by Ra’s al Ghul. I wasn’t going to mention the DJ, he wasn’t particularly memorable in the grand scheme of things. Having said that, the ending was a surprise. Discovering he’s spying on Malcolm for the League means there might just be hope for him yet!

So, with Felicity agreeing to help Ray complete the ATOM project, Team Arrow holding their own and banding together, it will make for an interesting reunion when Ollie makes it back. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait too much longer!


NB: Images used within this review are the copyright of The CW Network. All rights reserved.

We’re in for the Blogging A to Z April Challenge!

I started talking with friends and contributors about doing this year’s A to Z Challenge here back in the fall. We finalized the last few letters over the weekend and I stepped into the ring for us on Monday. We were the 96th blog to register, but we’d moved up to #94 when last I looked.

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Click to Register!

The A to Z blog suggested last week that bloggers use their announcements to offer advice to folks who are doing the challenge for the first time. Last year was my first year, so my wisdom is limited. But I almost did not make it through, and I know why. Here are three things I did and did not do last year before April 1 that almost cost me the survivor badge.

  1. Did not get all the posts written. I planned to do them over Spring Break, but I had an awful March and couldn’t find the time. Not waiting until the last minute this year.
  2. Did not schedule the posts (because they weren’t written). If you can’t get the whole month’s worth written in advance and scheduled, at least have the first 14 ready to go and that leaves you 13 to write during the first three weeks of the challenge.
  3. Built a page to curate links to the blogs I visited. This seemed like a good idea, and I enjoyed it. But it added more work to an already intense month of blogging, and it is not required. I won’t be doing it this year.

    My personal survivor badge.

    My personal survivor badge.

Now a couple of things that didn’t necessarily put the challenge in jeopardy, but kept me from getting as much out of it as I could have.

  1. I revealed my theme too early and published my reflection too late, so I missed the opportunity to link those up with other A to Z bloggers.
  2. I did not discover until well into the challenge that I could get art for every day from the A to Z blog and eliminate the need to go scouring the Internet for shareable images. This cost me a lot of time in putting the posts together.

And a little free advice about the A to Z posts themselves.

A to Z is not just a posting challenge. It is a social event too. Its value is in its potential for discovery. So it’s important to play honest with the visits and to comment when you do. Otherwise, the bloggers you’re visiting aren’t going to know you were there nor have a comment link that they can follow and find you.

With this in mind, be sensitive to the fact that the primary audience you are writing for, aside from your regular readers, is A to Z bloggers who are also trying to post every day and visit/comment on five blogs. No matter what other characteristics your target audience might have, your A to Z visitors will have two things in common.

  • Most will be first-time visitors, and
  • they will all be extremely busy.
Just a photo of me to break up all this text.

Just a photo of me to break up all this text.

Posts should be short, catchy, and not include more than a couple of links. 350-500 words is the most A to Z readers are going to have time for, and lots of them going to scan that. The next day, they’re on to another five blogs. If you want them to come back again on a Sunday during the challenge, or try out your blog again in May, best be memorable and not ask too much.

It’s also important to answer your comments and visit some of your commenters. You will get comments. Just from my own experience with blogging over the last year, answering a first comment makes it much more likely that a reader is going to come back. This is another reason to get the post written early and not add any extra work for yourself beyond the bare requirements. Being active on your own threads is essential if you want to benefit from the challenge beyond April.

Most bloggers neither post every day nor visit five blogs per day. Many of your visitors will be doing the challenge just to see if they can. A lot will be hoping to find new readers and make friends. It’s hard to make friends through a blog if you don’t comment, and it’s best to do straightforward, ultra-reader-friendly posts for this.

Here is a list of the bloggers you’ll see here during April if all goes well between now and then. Links go to their blogs and their byline archives. For the sake of convenience, I’ve organized the list by author in order of first appearance. Here’s the alphabetical version with posting dates. Topics will be published on reveal day. (Contributors, if I have double-booked or crossed up any days here, just let me know and we’ll iron it out.)

David and Holly of Comparative Geeks— A, F, G, M, Q, U

Jeremy DeFatta — B, K, S

Gene’O of Just Gene’O — C, E, L, T

William Hohmeister — D

Diana of Part Time Monster — H, P, Z

Luther M. Siler of Infinite Free Time — I, R, W

Hannah Givens of Things Matter — J

Melissa Barker-Simpson (her blog is eponymous) — N

Rebecca Bradley of Rebecca Bradley Crime — O

Natacha Guyot of Science Fiction, Transmedia, and Fandom — X and Y

A Mystery Blogger — V

Arrr, mateys!

Arrr, mateys!

Thanks to all you contributors, and to our friends who have encouraged us as we worked to get this done. I’ll have communciation for you about loading drafts in the next week or two.

I’m following A to Z on both Twitter and Facebook, so if we’re connected on the other social media, you’ll be seeing a lot of A-to-Z sharing from me once we get into March. If you are a friend or reader here and you decide to take the plunge, you want to drop me a line so I can add you to lists and such.

Several of our friends are also registered already. I’ll have links to some of them in my announcement at Just Gene’O in the next week or so.