Category Archives: Fanaticisms

My City, My Coffee

I have an overwhelming feeling of pure and complete contentment at the moment. Not to be mistaken for happiness, for I feel that implies a sense of giddyness and a certain spring in ones step accompanied by a most definite Cheshire Cat grin (or at least it does in my case). No, this is most definitely contentment. Calm, peaceful, inhale deeply, exhale slowly, contentment. Why? Because of my coffee.

This is quite ridiculous I know, even more so because I am not a big (or small) coffee drinker. However, this is different. This is no ordinary cup of coffee. This is the Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte. Oh yes. I have had people request their local Starbucks hold back some PSL mix for my visit so it would be there when I visited (yes, again, my people are amazing). This drink conjures up so many memories of thick socks, hands in pockets, and pulling your jacket that little bit tighter to keep in the warmth. I am almost willing to call this season ‘Fall’ even though I know it to be autumn.

I was introduced to this beverage three years ago on a cold autumn New York afternoon. My friend Bobby and I were having one of our walking and talking moments and he stopped on the corner of 35th and 7th. That I remember exactly which Starbucks, in a city where this is one on every corner, demonstrates how important a moment this was. We went inside, and rather than simply ordering me my first Pumpkin Spice Latte, Bobby managed to get the lady behind the counter to give us the drink for free. Something about not wanting me to have a whole one in case I didn’t like it, but she said she would have to make it anyway so we could just have it. This may actually be why I remember it so clearly, because it’s one of my favourite Bobby Moments, rather than the start of my love affair with the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Whatever the reason, it makes for a good story.

This drink was part of so many of my favourite moments, and now that Starbucks has brought it to London, I get to enjoy it whilst I walk the streets of my own city! I feel that I am now ready for autumn. Let the clocks go back, let the colder days come. I will hold my Pumpkin Spice Latte in my hand and fall in love with my city as the leaves turn golden and wish my NYers were with me to share these moments, but perfectly content because my LDNers are with me.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fanaticisms, Londontown, Passions

The Puppy

I thought that perhaps if you love something then you shouldn’t need to walk away from it, until a friend told me about the puppy. Imagine you love it so much that you squeeze and squeeze this little pup. Eventually you smother it and what do you have? A dead pup and one heck of a guilt trip. Okay, so she didn’t go that far but that’s where my mind went. Instead she said you have to give the puppy a chance to breathe and give your arms a rest. Sometimes it’s okay to let go for a while.

For some time now I’ve been thinking that there aren’t enough hours in the day. With everything I want to do the only place I can see myself making any cuts is in my sleeping hours, and I don’t get that many of those. On my lazy days I am sat reading some book or another to help me improve on all the other things I have going on. I no longer enjoy the bus ride home because I walk in order to get some exercise on the days I’m not training and because I might come across an image for my Project 365. In the morning, when I’m not falling asleep, my journey is spent writing e-mails arranging more things to fill my time. I have to keep every tab open until I’ve done what I needed to do because my mind is so easily distracted by another task I have to do. It feels like my mind doesn’t have an off switch. My life is so very full. But I am falling out of love with certain aspects of my life.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Fanaticisms, Passions, Writing

The Last Great Comic Book Store

I found out today that my comic book store, Avalon Comics, is closing. It’s been on the cards for a while now, with the big publishers supplying large chains like Forbidden Planet and raising the prices and the lack of new readers I feared this would happen. As much as movies based on comics are no longer the geekfest they were and it is actually “cool” to know who Peter Parker is there is still a divide between comic book readers and the masses – from both sides. I have had people turn their noses up when I’ve been sat on the tube reading my books with pictures in them. I in turn have rolled my eyes when I’ve been sat in a cinema and some guy who is trying to impress some girl who’s just there to ogle over the guy dressed in a spandex costume incorrectly reference some comiclore. People may list ‘Kick-Ass’ as one of their favourite movies of this year but ask most of those people if they’ve read the comic, or any comic, most would say no. The disconnect between movies and actually reading comics is a big part of the problem.

Another part of the problem is that those who want to read comics have no idea where to begin. Four years ago when I wanted to start reading 52, if it hadn’t been for my best bud telling me about Avalon then I probably never would have read it. There is no way that I would have been bothered to go down to Forbidden Planet every month (or every week since it was a weekly title) to pick it up. I can name six comic book stores in London, there may be one or two more, and I have searched these out. I can probably name you just as many in New York and that is just from walking around and noticing them. You can pick up comics in Barnes & Noble, bookstores here are becoming a dying breed. Even the chains are dying off with only Waterstone’s the last bookstore presence on the high street. Of those stores that I do know, I say with complete unbias that Avalon is by far the best comic book store in London.

I have been to the other stores and there is perhaps only one other that I would have no reservations about. The way that comics are handled in some comic stores, and anyone who has been in the comic stores here know which one I’m referring to, astounds me. I don’t know how anyone who is serious about comics would ever buy from them despite the volumes they carry and the number of variant covers they have. I took a friend of mine into there when he was visiting and warned him that I didn’t like the store and he said as soon as he walked in he understood why. Another store I know keeps their comics in better condition but the guy behind the counter is the comic book guy from the Simpsons, no lie. And the others are so in need of a refurbishment and quite frankly, a clean, that you don’t really want to go in there. Avalon is well organised, the comics are treated and stored properly, and when you walk in there you don’t feel like you’re going to get told off every time you go to touch something. I would in fact, for anyone who likes comic books, make it a point to make sure they went to Avalon to show them exactly what a comic book store should be like.

I knew nothing about comics when I started to read them. From the beginning the guys at Avalon couldn’t have been more lovely. All I had to do was send them an e-mail explaining that I was new to comics but wanted to start reading 52 and they were more than happy to get me the back issues that I had already missed and to set up a standing order for the rest of the series. My order has grown considerably since then and that is mostly due to Mark and Bruce, but not because they push any titles on me that I don’t want – far from it. They know what it is I read, and they know what it is I like to read. Mark will often e-mail me to tell me about a new title that he thinks I’d be interested in and ask me if I want it added to my order, or if he knows that a title is going to spin-off or that there is an existing storyline that ties in then he’ll make sure I don’t miss it. I would have been completely lost without his expertise during all of Final Crisis and the Batman RIP storylines. I trust their opinions implicitly. There is not a single title that they have recommended that has turned out to be a mistake. I have no qualms about going in there or sending them an e-mail to ask their opinion on things. Numerous times they have helped me to decide what to get the Best Bud for his birthday and will order it in for me.

It is not only their comic book knowledge that sets them above every other comic book store I have been in. Mark and Bruce are simply two of the nicest guys you could ever meet. Mark has been working in the store since it opened in 1988 when he was just 15yrs old and he and Bruce have developed a relationship with every one of their customers. I have been into the store perhaps only a dozen times but from the very beginning they have always welcomed me in there with a smile and a, ‘Hi Gemma!’ That level of customer service is almost unheard of. They even send me a Christmas card every year!

A friend of mine said to me once that I was like the Batman of underfunded projects. I only wish I had a fraction of Bruce Wayne’s money because I have known for a long time that if I did, then one of the first things I would do is make sure that Avalon stayed open. Unless my financial situation changes in the next 6mths though it doesn’t look like that will happen. Hopefully they’ll be able to maintain a mail order service. I can’t imagine getting my comics from anywhere else, I wouldn’t want to.

Some of the best things I have read in recent years have been comics, many of them brought to my attention by Mark and Bruce. I have enjoyed every moment I have spent getting lost in the stories on those pages. Buffy moving from the tv screen onto comic book pages. Green Arrow finally getting married to Black Canary. Bruce Wayne “dying” and Dick Grayson winning the battle for the cowl. It breaks my heart to think that so many people won’t know these stories because Mark and Bruce won’t be there to recommend them. When those doors close for the last time on Lavendar Hill it is going to be a sad sad day for this comic book geek.

6 Comments

Filed under Fanaticisms, Geekfest, Londontown, Passions

Breaking my heart in more ways than one…

It feels like a lot of time has passed since I first wrote of my love for ‘Anyone But Me.’ This week, S2 finished and it left me and every other ABM fan around the world screaming probably two things: “OMG you can’t just end it there!” and of course, “When’s S3?!?!” I’m sure there were a lot of other things screamed too, mostly aimed at the devils incarnate (aka the writers) – Susan Miller and Tina Cesa Ward. Along with the screaming I am sure a few things were thrown and a few monitors destroyed. I’m a pro at this now, I know to remove all potentially dangerous objects from arm’s reach when watching ABM. I’ve taken to warning other people too. That such strong emotions can come from a show where most people’s only complaint (if you can call it that) is that the eps are too short only testifies to how outstandingly brilliant this show is. I find myself running out of superlatives to describe the show, its cast, and yes *groan* (because I still kind of hate them) its writers and director.

Everyone has an opinion on the S2 finale ‘Curtain’s Up‘. Some of us even took to voicing them when Susan Miller and Tina Cesa Ward very bravely decided to do a call-in show so soon after the finale had aired. If people had started to choose sides after Vivian’s faux-pas in ep8 the battle lines have very clearly been drawn now. Team Vivian. Team Aster. Or for those more hopeful that those two don’t stand in opposition to each other we have the Team VivSter supporters and yes as much as I shake my head as I write this, there are even Team Sophie and, even more disturbingly, Team Sophian supporters. This battle is going to be more epic than the whole Team Jolie/Team Aniston campaign of years gone by. T-shirts will be assigned accordingly.

As much as I love Vivian, and I do love her so very much, I am of course a Team VivSter supporter first and foremost, but if you asked me to pick a side I’m going to have to go Team Aster on this one. Vivian knows Aster, this season she has been making monumentally stupid mistakes with Aster in regard to anything Sophie related. I’m all for honesty, but Vivian needs to go away this summer and learn to think before she opens her mouth. Big time. As much as Aster acted completely irrationally in the finale this is what we’ve come to expect of Aster. If we know that she is impulsive and prone to strong emotions then Vivian for sure should know this. If you are by some horrible twist of fate caught in a kiss with your girlfriend stood watching you then you DO NOT, under ANY circumstances, linger in that kiss – especially when it’s with a girl you’ve admitted to having a crush on. You certainly do not put your arm around her and keep going! Vivian! No! No! No! I still can’t dwell on it too much for fear I might hurt some poor unsuspecting soul who happens to be in my vicinity.

Of course, the drama didn’t only come for my favourite duo. My other favourite ABM guy, Archibald, is also left at a bit of a loss. Mistaking the prescription drugs his lady-love, Elisabeth, is taking to be something more sinister he’s walked out and left her in total confusion. It took a lot – including still one of the most adorable scenes in which Elisabeth almost knocks herself out by walking into his locker door as well as an Aster-esque surprise trip to the city, for these two to get together. I can only hope that rather than write her off completely Archibald gives her the chance to explain exactly what’s going on. However, no one likes to be thought of a drugtaker so I’m sure that conversation isn’t going to go down very well for all parties involved.

This summer they promise not to leave us all hanging in ABM-limbo. I know that last year we got little titbits of info in the lead-up to S2 with many celebs, including Geek God Zachary Quinto, voicing what many fans already knew: ABM is an addiction that everyone should have. So I, along with everyone else, can only wait in eager anticipation for what that dastardly duo of Miller/Ward have in-store for us poor unsuspecting fans. I will, however, provide this warning – do not trust them to do anything but deliver absolute magnificence. By this I mean, they will deliberately try to bamboozle you into believing certain things are going to happen – remember the whole ‘Vivian gets to be happy‘ illusion, does she look happy in the picture to you? They will even go so far as to lie to your face without a blink of an eye. However, whatever it is they do, whatever trick it is they pull, whatever web of deceit they weave, it will ultimately be worth it. They can’t help themselves, they’re amazingly adept in breaking our hearts in a way that makes us come back begging for more. Like so many others, I no longer have the choice but to go on whatever ride they decide to take us and the characters and just hold on tightly and pray to God I survive!

There’ll be announcements made around S3 in the very near future I believe. For those of you who still need a regular fix of ABM then you can spend the summer re-watching the eps or even better, purchase the S1 DVD and watch it on the big screen. As much as they have broken my heart, I want to say thank you to Susan Miller and Tina Cesa Ward, as well as the complete cast and crew of ABM, for giving us all such a wonderful season. So much has happened for them – including Rachael Hip-Flores’ well deserved Streamy Award, and I can only imagine greater things in their future. I can honestly say, my life is all the better for having this show and these people in my life.

For the last time this season, here’s the Twitter-tary. Have at it…Ep 2.10 ‘Curtain’s Up

Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Critical Eye, Fanaticisms, Opinions Opinions, Passions

Big Emotions – BIG Love for ABM!

I’ve kinda had a soft spot for Liza Weil ever since she declared, ‘I want my ABM!‘ Seeing her this season as Aster’s therapist, Dr Glass, has only confirmed my belief that ‘Anyone But Me‘ has some serious talent involved in every part of it. I’ve never been a big believer in therapy, this coming from someone with a Psych degree, but Dr Glass is pretty damn cool in my books.

If the ABM love wasn’t enough she’s married to one of my current favourite TV doctors, Paul Adelstein – aka Coop in Private Practice, and he shares my addiction! I want my ABM all the time too. During the ABM hiatus I’m definitely going to have to search out what else Liza Weil’s been in. IMDB tells me her resume includes the ‘West Wing’ and, like ABM, I never need an excuse to watch that show.

I’m so glad she came back in the new ep and I’m really hoping she makes an appearance in S3. I’ve got a gut feeling that Aster’s going to need someone to talk her to her senses. As much as the season finale of S1 left me with the biggest grin I fear the writers won’t be so kind this time around. I would happily be wrong on this though if the ABM gods (Susan Miller/Tina Cesa Ward I’m talking to you) feel the same way.

Anyway, enough of me – have at it…Ep2. 9 – ‘Private Rooms and Public Spaces

***WRN SPOILERS ABOUND!!!***

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Critical Eye, Fanaticisms, Opinions Opinions, Passions, Uncategorized

Oh Vivian I can call you a few things right now!

I’m a BIG Tweeter. Really big tweeter. It’s probably a big part of why I love Anyone But Me so much. On any given day you can be sure I’ll tweet something either about ABM or to an ABMer. So I thought I’d marry my big love with my big compulsion and do my Twitter-tary of today’s ep of ABM. Those who’ve read my ABM blogs before are familiar with them, but those of you who haven’t I hope you enjoy. There will be a S1 Twitter-tary retrospective as soon as my schedule allows but most definitely before the end of S2 so keep an eye out.

Without any further ado… Ep2.8 – ‘Naming Things

***WRN: SPOILERS ABOUND!!!***

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Critical Eye, Fanaticisms, Opinions Opinions, Passions

Pick A Team

Some time this morning, or was it still last night? These past few weeks between Streamy Awards and 2am podcasts I lose track. Anyway, at some point in the last 24hrs Anyone But Me came back into my life, not like it ever really left but it officially came back. The last run of eps before what I’m sure will be a shout-at-your-screen-wake-up-everyone-in-the-house type season finale. If you want the short version then the Twitter-tary is as always at the bottom of the post, otherwise keep reading…

First thing’s first. I have to say a BIG BIG congrats to Rachael Hip-Flores on her Streamy Award for Best Actress in a Drama. I have nothing but love for this girl, and I have written several times on how talented I believe she is so when they called her name I was not surprised at all. Over the moon, yes. Jumping around like an idiot at 3am, yes. Waking everyone I know up with the news, yes. But certainly not surprised. Heartfelt congratulations to her, and also to Susan Miller and Tina Cesa Ward on their nominations. You guys will get them next year!

ABM's ladies - Susan Miller, Nicole Pacent, Rachael Hip-Flores, & Tina Cesa Ward

Anyway, onto ep7 – ‘Date Night‘. I don’t know why but that title struck fear into me the moment I heard it, possibly because it has connotations of drama. As much as I have loved seeing Vivian and Aster happy this season I have seen too much television to know that when your characters are most happy this is when you have to be most afraid. As Nicole Pacent said in her recent podcast, ‘The sh*t is going to hit the fan.’ Damn it!

It’s nice to see the other characters getting more screen time, especially Archibald. I admit that after Vivian and Aster he’s definitely my favourite character. What can I say? He rescued Vivian her first day in school and he loves comics. He’s a good friend to have in your corner. That’s a point actually, I miss Breck. I know we haven’t really been in NYC this season but it’d be nice for him to go and visit Viv in Westchester too. Anyway, I like seeing Archibald so hopefully he’ll be around some more for the rest of the season as he and Elizabeth finally seem to be on some good ground.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Critical Eye, Fanaticisms, Opinions Opinions