#TopTenTuesday – Summer

I haven’t done a Top Ten Tuesday in a long time.  But, seeing as this is the last Tuesday of August and I’ve had a pretty wonderful summer,  I thought it time to share my favorite things of Summer 2016.  It started out where I was a little stressed, a little restless, and a lot sick of cold, but it’s turned out to be a summer where I’ve truly felt loved and blessed.  So here ya go.

Top 10 Favorite Things of Summer 2016:

1.  Fourth of July.  This is always my favorite holiday, spent with my crazy family at my aunt and uncle’s cottage.  This year’s theme for the boat parade was “Anything Goes,” and since my uncle is the Loon Ranger for their lake, this happened.  Oh, and one of the flags fell off the back when my aunt wasn’t paying attention, my cousin-in-law started playing “Taps” on his phone as it sank, and I jumped overboard to pluck it from the mucky bottom of the lake.  Pretty standard times.

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2.  This little girl entered our lives!  My parents used to raise Weimaraners when I was a kid, but we’d been without one in the family for far too long.  Ghost is probably going to be a bit spoiled as a result.

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3.  My bridal shower.  I hate being the center of attention, but that wasn’t a problem considering we had 19 kids staying.  My mom’s side of the family hadn’t all been together in like 3  years, so I was happy to be the excuse.

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4.  I’ve read a lot of amazing books from fellow authors.  I also beta read more than I usually do (meaning I read an advanced copy of a book an author is preparing to release into the world), which was a great opportunity.  You can see some of these books I’ve read here:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/16027170?sort=date_read&view=reviews

5.  I moved to a super cool apartment that is slowly but surely getting filled so it’s less echo-y in here.

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6.  The Fiance and I celebrating knowing each other for 2 years.  Honestly the first thing to remind us was Facebook.  He was training for an upcoming Ironman all day, I was working, I went to McDonald’s to get us dinner…  It was “special” but worth noting.

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7.  My bridal crew helped me pick out a wedding dress.  Now, I’ve had a deal with my mom since I was 7 years old that I would elope.  However, since the diva groom wants a wedding, that means I had to find a dress.  I didn’t cry when finding the dress, but it meant more to me that these people were there.  (Our little Dutch souls did cry at the great deal I got, though.)

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8.  Reviews from authors I respect.  I’ve been slacking on the whole “book promotions” thing, but it’s been wonderful to have occasional kind words come in about my books.  It especially means a lot to me when other authors whose work I LOVE have something nice to say.  Here’s one:

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9.  The Haymarsh Benefit Shoot.  For almost 2 decades, our family’s hunt club has hosted a benefit shoot for a local facility that helps families with their needs.  It’s always a time I use to catch up with my many adopted-uncle-types.  It’s also a time when my dad, my brother, and I frantically prep to get things ready.  This year was no different, and it’s nice some things never change.

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10.  I found a quiet peace of heaven.  Our apartment doesn’t have a balcony, but there’s this weird private courtyard down the hall that leads to open sun, open air, and astroturf.  It’s the quietest place you can imagine while living downtown, and it’s great for relaxing and unwinding…which means reading.

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#TopTenTuesday – Memes

Top 10 Favorite Memes:

1:    Okay, yeah,  I made this.  But it’s useful. 🙂80e71cf4f03a93d3ed2f2e377e7b7193

2.  For the Emo artistic soul in all of us.

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3.  I giggle at this every time.

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4.  It’s the expression on the face.

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5.  Because… Yes.

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6.  It’s coming…

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7.  Awesome.

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8.  I laugh at this way too hard regularly. 

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9.  Sophistication. 

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10: And…oh, well, here.  Words, Words Everywhere.

Anybody have their own list?   Comment below!

#TopTenTuesday – Author Resources

(This week is really only interesting to fellow writers & authors, but I thought it might be nice to share.  It can take a long time to figure out what ads/promos/how-to’s/sites are worth it vs. which ones make you want to eat your own hair.  Here’s a list of the cheap or free ones that have worked best for me with the least amount of effort required – i.e. living the dream.)  

Top 10 Favorite Author Resources:

1:   WordPress.  Okay, this seems kind of “duh,” but this is where I started to create any kind of “brand” or name for myself, and it’s very straightforward and intuitive to use.  Plus, with so many other writers on WordPress, you can just click their “follow” button and have instant access to a whole collection of blogs to read.
2:   Bitly.com.  It’s very, very handy to create shortlinks when posting everywhere.  It’s even better to be able to see which links people use and which they don’t.
3:   SocialOomph.com.  Yes, it seems like cheating to set up Tweets ahead of time.  But it’s a huge relief to know you’ve got SOMETHING posting every day without your having to take time to promote your work.  (Just, for the love of goodness, don’t auto-tweet promos 10x a day – no one wants to see that!)  I use this in conjunction with Bitly, and it’s pretty easy to keep track of what works.
4:   NovelRank.com.  Honestly, there are probably better systems out there that track the sales of your books.  But a friend in publishing asked me to try this because some of her authors wondered about it, and I’ve stuck with it because it works well enough for me.  Also, I like the app for my iPhone…not that I check my sales hourly, but it’s nice to have.
5:   Makerbook.net.  This is a good artsy resource to get to a lot of other artsy resources.  They have collections of places to get stock photography, fonts, audio, video, etc.  It’s just an easy site to find everything  you’d want at once.
6:   TheFussyLibrarian.com.  If you’re willing to pay (not a lot) to get on daily emails to subscribing readers, this is a pretty good place to start.  I’ve made my money back easily every time I’ve used them.  Plus they send out intelligent newsletters with helpful author info.
7:  ReadCheaply.com.  I tried this on a whim and saw the most downloads of my book that I’ve ever seen.  Definitely great if you have a free book that can lead to sales of another book.
8:  AwesomeGang.com.  They have a free promo option, and I’ve seen sales just from that.  It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s certainly worth what little time and effort are required.
9:   AskDavid.com.  This is another one of those “why not try it?” things that works pretty well.  It sets up a page for your book, plus tweets out about your book, PLUS you get a handful of tweets you can create yourself and they’ll send out whenever you want.
10: Alinka Rutkowska’s advice page.  I randomly found this (translation: I can’t remember how), and the links on this page are really helpful.  You tend to see the same advice over and over, and little of it tends to be useful.  BUT, this woman has a lot of new ideas  that made me go “Oh, I can do that,” and almost all of them are little tweaks you can make to your marketing approach for free.  You can grab her book on Amazon for free (I think) here.

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Anybody have their own list?   Comment below!

#TopTenTuesday – Fairy Tales

Top 10 Favorite Fairy Tales:

1:   Sapsorrow.  I’ve never liked the usual versions of Cinderella.  Even as a kid, I remember thinking, “Who wants a prince who can’t recognize you without the right shoes?”  But THIS version is from an old German folk tale, a version of Allerleirauh (yeah, I had to look that up), and is much darker and has characters that believably interact with each other.  Animal friends are still there.  Wicked stepsisters are still there.  A prince is still there – BUT, he has to learn some lessons before getting the girl who leaves a slipper behind after a ball.  I immediately became a fan when Jim Henson’s The Storyteller did this story for an episode.  If you haven’t seen it, look it up. (pictured below)
2:   Llewellyn And His Dog.  Okay, not a fairy tale per se, but it’s an old story with a poem.  My aunt shared this with us when we were little, and it’s still one of the saddest things I’ve ever read.  I did find the poem here.
3:   Sleeping Beauty.  There were early signs that my interests and creativity might run on the “dark side.”  My love of Maleficent in the Disney version was one such early indication.  I don’t remember giving a crap about Aurora.  I still liked the living-in-hiding-in-the-woods-and-singing parts of her story, but mostly I wanted to get back to the magic and awesome costume of the bad guy.  So, obviously I was really happy with Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent because it gave a whole new spin to the story.
4:   The Little Mermaid.  Bless my mother.  At mostly my prompting (my brother liked it too and could do a great Sebastian), we watched the Disney version of this probably every other day for a while there.  I’ve always loved the water and swimming, and having my own underwater fort where I could store thingamabobs was pretty much my dream.  I also *might* have tried to put on a performance with myself as Ariel, Christian as Sebastian, and my Aunt Sharon as Ursula.   
5:   The Light Princess.  This is by George MacDonald.  It’s kind of a Sleeping Beauty story, but the curse on the girl is that she has no gravity.  This means she floats in the air unless tethered down, and it means that she doesn’t take anything seriously and cannot cry.  But she loves water.  The relationship with the prince is much more fleshed out in this story than a good many “prince and princess” stories, and the sacrifices made for love are really lovely.
6:   Beauty and the Beast.  She’s a book nerd – of course I like this one.  In the Disney version (let’s face it, that’s what people of my generation think of first), I love the use of color and light to add to the beauty (no pun intended) of the story.  It’s always been about not judging a book by its cover – both for seemingly good guys and seemingly bad guys – and I really like that.
7:  Aladdin.  Yep, Disney version again.  This is such a great “boy’s movie” compared to the usual princess emphasis, and Jasmine is tomboy enough to be okay.  I liked the desert and Arabia almost as much as I liked the underwater world, so I liked the culture and look of this one.  And the story’s just packed full of adventure, which is fun.  And, of course, Robin William’s Genie stole this movie.
8:  Hansel and Gretel  The Brothers Grimm version.  It’s so dark.  I mean, it’s hard to have a story about a witch eating children NOT be dark, but there are a lot of versions which soften that part.  And I’ve never thought the dad should get off the hook so easily – being whipped is no excuse for sending your children into the woods to starve.  But I love the brother-sister teamwork.  And outsmarting pretty much every adult.
9:   Pinocchio.  There isn’t a romantic love story!  I like that.  This one’s all about family love and friendship.  And honesty.  There’s just a lot of goodness in this story.
10: Thumbelina.  I really wanted to be small when I was little.  Mostly so I could “ride” my Breyer horses.

Montres-et-merveilles--Belle-Chagrin--Sapsorrow--

Anybody have their own list?   Comment below!

#TopTenTuesday – Actors

Top 10 Favorite Actors:

1:   Johnny Depp.  Honestly, not so much with his work lately where Tim Burton keeps making him over-the-top for the sake of being over-the-top.  But as far as actors who are versatile and creative and somehow GOOD no matter what they’re doing, he’s my favorite. There’s no reason Jack Sparrow should have been so loveable except that Depp made him so.  And I laughed ridiculously hard at the simplest thing – trying to put on a glove – in Once Upon a Time in Mexico, which I wouldn’t recommend for any other reason.
2:   Michael Fassbender.  I love when an actor can make me root for a bad character. Young Magneto is of course on that list.  I’m looking forward to Fassbender as MacBeth.  In Shame he was impressive for…obvious reasons, but also the depth of internal conflict Fassbender was able to convey was amazing.  And he makes a very convincing robot who’s trying to look like Lawrence of Arabia, which made him the only forgivable thing for me about Prometheus.
3:   Bill Murray.  Be it crazy comedy or a more subdued role, Murray always makes me happy.  His delivery is always spot on.  Every time I see a sailboat, I think (or yell, let’s be honest), “I”m sailing!”  Also, if you haven’t seen St. Vincent, go see it now.
4:   Will Smith.  As a teen of the 90s, I watched a lot of Fresh Prince.  Then Independence Day happened, and I became a devoted fan.  It doesn’t hurt that he chooses to do a lot of Sci-Fi (my favorite genre of…any media form), but he always brings a bit of reality to his characters that I appreciate.
5:   Daniel Day-Lewis.  Is there anything he can’t do?  I mean, anything?  I feel like he’s the more serious version of Johnny Depp as far as versatility goes.
6:   Tom Hardy.  He’s been around for way longer than I was consciously aware of, but at some point I noticed a pattern:  Whenever I was impressed by an actor and asked, “Who is that guy?”, it kept being Hardy.  If you haven’t seen Warrior – OMG, watch it!  Yeah, I didn’t think I’d like a movie about UFC fighting either, but I might have sobbed.  A lot.  In a good way.
7:  Michael Caine.  Whenever I see he’s in a movie, I enter into it with a certain level of trust – at the very least, I know HE is going to be good.  And admit it, he’s kind of like the British grandpa we Americans all wish we had.
8:  Kevin Spacey  I can’t think of another actor who can equally seem like an everyday man and then also seem completely evil at the same time.  He can play these completely warped men, and there’s something that much scarier about them because he looks so normal.  Think Se7en and House of Cards.
9:   Gary Oldman.  I grin immediately whenever I see him in a movie.  I don’t even know why I like him so much, except that he’s always convincing…which I guess is the whole job of an actor, but hey.  Again, this guy has range.  Think about it – the same guy was in The Fifth Element and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
10: Robert Downey, Jr.  Wit and sarcastic humor will win me over every time.  I can’t picture anyone else as Tony Stark.  And his narration in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang will always be one of my favorite things in film.

(On any given day when my tastes are slightly different, switch up with Tom Hanks, Ralph Fiennes, Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Patrick Stewart, Paul Rudd, Bryan Cranston…)

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Anybody have their own list?   Comment below!

#TopTenTuesday

Top 10 Favorite TV Shows:

1:   Lost.  I know many people were super-fans and then hated the ending, but I thought the whole show was great.  It’s hard for me to stick with a show if it’s predictable, and Lost certainly never was that.  The best explanation I’ve heard to try to pacify fans who weren’t satisfied with all the unanswered questions is this:  If the island’s entire history was a TV series, it’s like Lost was a season of that series – we saw THIS part of the story.  (And if you try to argue that they were dead the whole time, I might have to stop talking to you.  Like permanently.)
2:   Arrested Development.  I quote this show probably more often than I do any other source.  The layers of cleverness are brilliant.  The cast fits perfectly.  It’s so bizarre it’s somehow believable a real family could act like this.  Not a huge fan of the Netflix season, but still. 
3:   Game of Thrones.  
If you’re into world-building as much as I am, that’s enough reason to love this show (or the books, for that matter).  It’s so complex and FULL that it feels like real history… except for, you know, dragons and magic.   The show lets us visualize everything in the books, and the “look” of the show is one of my favorite things.  And of course Tyrion.
4:   Breaking Bad.  I didn’t bother watching this for a long time because it didn’t seem like a storyline I would care about at all, and then I binge-watched the show over a single summer so that the only episode I ever watched live was the series finale (during which I *might* have made a visiting friend sit in another room because I refused to be interrupted).  I can’t think of a more perfect drama as far as character arch.
5:   The Walking Dead.  Character-driven stories are always going to be my favorite.  Since the rest of the world and most of its inhabitants are destroyed in this show, the focus is on these few people who struggle to survive.  And that’s the best part, to me – the struggle isn’t only against the walkers/zombies but also against other people, and often even themselves.  It’s wearing a bit thin, I think, but over the seasons its been thought-provoking again and again.
6:   Archer.  It doesn’t hurt that there’s some Arrested Development cast overlap.   This show should probably be my guilty pleasure because it’s characters border on being absolutely terrible people.  But they’re hilariously terrible, which somehow makes it all endearing.
7:  Will & Grace.  I quote this one a lot too.  And I definitely liked that Grace was a klutzy screw-up most of the time.  And I might have hero-worshipped Karen a little bit.  Really, the whole thing was hilariously written, but also with some very heartfelt moments.
8:  Justified  I really connected with the general concept of “you can’t go home again” in this show.  My family is from the sticks of Michigan, which in many ways is not far off from Kentucky.  I often sympathized with Raylan’s constant sarcasm and heavy sighs.  Along with that, the show was simple and complex at the same time as far as the relationships between the characters, and I’m always happy with a likable bad guy.
9:   Friends.  My brother is currently rewatching the whole series, and my fondness for this show is probably part nostalgia.  But there’s also a kind of timeless humor to a lot of the gags.
10: Star Trek: Next Generation.  I grew up on this one.  I’m absolutely positive my creative mind wouldn’t be what it is without it.  It hasn’t aged extraordinarily well, but these characters are always going to be what I think of first when I hear “Star Trek.”

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(Game of Thrones + Arrested Development Quote Mashup)

Anybody have their own list?   Comment below!

#TopTenTuesday

Top 10 Favorite TV/Movie Cars:

1:   The Batmobile in Batman Begins.  This counts as a car, right?  I mean, who hasn’t wanted one of these when stuck in really bad traffic?  
2:   James Bond’s Aston Martin(s).  I can’t imagine a better car to be paired with the character of James Bond.  These cars are amazingly gorgeous anyway, and then you add Bond gadgets and the legal wishy-washy-ness of being able to drink in them, and I’m sold.
3:   Eleanor in Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000 version).  
With all the cars in that movie, this one is still my favorite.  I’ve always liked mustangs, and the silver/gray/metal look is perfectly sleek.  (Although, I have a horrific memory of clutching my seat belt while riding home with my dad after seeing that movie in the theater.)
4:   Mr. Frye’s Ferrari in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  It’s red and shiny and pretty.  Mostly, I like that they stole the car for a whole day, which I imagine is every teenager’s dream if their parents have a cool car… I never felt compelled to steal our Chevy Caprice.
5:   The Winchester’s Impala from Supernatural.  Okay, it doesn’t hurt who’s IN the car.  Or that I know what’s in the trunk.  But I love the growl of the car.  And you can’t go wrong with black.  Or the tape selection for the radio.
6:   The Volkswagen on Lost.  Yeah, the car itself – not the best.  But I remember how emotional and lovely the episode was when Hurley and the gang got the thing working, and all of these old buckets make me smile now.
7:  The Delorean in Back to the Future.  It’s a car that lets you time-travel.  That’s all I could ask for.
8:   The getaway MINIs in The Italian Job.  The getaway race/chase with a herd of these little guys looked fun, dangerous, and as adorable as a car chase can get.
9:   Richard’s classic Plymouth in Tommy Boy.  It’s not the car with this one so much as everything that happens TO the car.  Again, nostalgic reasons.
10: Jurassic Park’s Ford Explorer.   I remember as a kid liking the paint job before everything turned to chaos.  Since then, every time I’m in a vehicle with a sunroof, I imagine having to brace myself against it while something comes down to attack me.

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Anybody have their own list?   Comment below!

#TopTenTuesday

Top 10 Favorite Monsters:

1:   Vampires.  I refer here to more the Dracula version, not Twilight.  I’ve always been interested in immortality as a curse.  However… I read Rice’s Vampire Chronicles back-to-back-to-back and never left the house, at one point got hungry. and thought to myself, “I’m hungry.  I need blood.”  Too far.
2:   The Adipose.  Doctor Who monsters count, right?  Most adorable monsters ever.  But the tooth still makes them a little creeping – and, you know, the fact that they’re made in people’s fat.  (Sidenote: I have a stuffed Adipose on my desk that’s one of my favorite things I own.)
3:   Bigfoot/Sasquatch.  
Honestly, I don’t even care about Bigfoot that much.  But the frenzy with which conspiracy theorists pursue this legendary monster is hilarious to me, to the point that friends and I once made a spoof documentary called “I Dream of Sasquatch” where our characters hunted for Sasquatch out in the wilderness, failed miserably, and ended up paying a hobo with peanut butter cups to pretend to be a Sasquatch.
4:   Pale Man.  I was just “meh” about Pan’s Labyrinth overall.  But the one image of this guy holding his palms out with the eyeballs was haunting.
5:   Xenomorph Aliens.  I love that these things are just flat-out killer monsters.  There’s no reason to have sympathy with them.  Giger’s designs have a great mix of humanoid alien and bug-ness with something completely new thrown in, and I’ve always liked the look of their nests too.
6:   The Giant Squid.  Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea was one of my favorite adventure stories as a kid.  I find anything with multiple legs creepy (spiders are also a problem), and tentacles reaching up from the black depths of the sea is a nightmare every time.
7:   The Gentlemen.  As a teen of the 90s, of course something from Buffy has to make my list.  These smiling, hovering, voice-stealing monsters were and are still gents who make me go “Argh” (get it?  see what I did there?) every time I see a picture of them.  Something about the juxtaposition of a monster face paired with a nice suit is really effective.
8:   Jurassic Park Raptors.  Yes, the T-rex is terrifying.  But you can see it coming.  These “little” guys are stealthy and agile and could attack anywhere at any time.
9:   The Rancor.  It would be terrifying to be trapped in its cave/cage like Luke was, but I also kinda sympathize with the guy who lost his pet once Luke killed it.
10: Jaws shark.   I’m not sure if this fictional shark really counts as a monster, but it’s one of the things that gives me nightmares.  I love sharks.  I’d jump at the chance to swim with them in a supervised environment.  But a bloodthirsty shark who kills for fun, lurking down there in the unseen depths – that’s a monster that freaks me out a bit.

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Anybody have their own list?   Comment below!

#TopTenTuesday

(Oops, okay, so I’m a day late)

Top 10 Favorite Fictional Crushes:

1:   Dean Winchester.  I love this character.  Yeah, he’s pretty, whatever.  But the vulnerable HUMOR is what gets me every time.  And I too love pie.
2:   The 10th Doctor.  A lot of people like Matt Smith better, but Tennant’s Doctor will always be my favorite.  (Sidenote: My boyfriend last Halloween went as the 10th Doctor, and that was when I knew I loved him. ….I wish I was kidding more than I am.)
3:   Peter Wiggin. 
To clarify, not the teenage version in “Ender’s Game” where he’s a homicidal jerk.  But as the character develops in the Shadow-ing sequels, the complexity of his character is fascinating to me.  I honestly end up liking him more than Ender.
4:   Michael Fassbender’s Young Magneto.  I always liked Magneto and the sort of “moral flexibility” involved in the character, but the flashback to young Magneto totally sold me.  Plus, Fassbender is amazing anyway (talent, I don’t just drool over pretty).
5:   Madmartigan.  I started early with the whole bad-boys-with-comedic-timing thing, apparently.  I watched “Willow” probably once a week as a kid, not just because of Madmartigan, but he was definitely my favorite.  I also vaguely remember being jealous of his hair.
6:   Galcon.  Okay, so listing one of my own book characters is probably cheating, but still.  I created Galcon during a time when I’d pretty much given up on men, and it’s through him that I sorted out what I wanted.  (Tip:  When in doubt, create your perfect crush.)
7:   Henry Gondorff.  If you haven’t seen “The Sting,” go fix that right now.  This is my favorite Paul Newman role.  Who doesn’t love a smart-ass with a lot of heart?
8:   Sirius Black.  There’s a point at which he gets kind of whiny in the books (I can’t even remember which one), but before that I really liked his character’s nobility.
9:   Lagertha, from Vikings.  Girl crush? Hero-worship? I just want my hair like that some days?  I don’t know.  But it’s an awesome character.
10: Robin Hood, the Fox.   I have no real defense for this one.  He was my first childhood crush, however, and so has to be listed.
robin hood

Anybody have their own list?   Comment below!

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