Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!


I will be posting more later tonight, but I just wanted to share the simple joy of the festivities:

Happy All Hallows Eve!

(Thanks, Harley!)

We’re sensitive to wrong touching

Xander is a lucky boy. In this, the introductory season of this truly amazing show, he gets two episodes dedicated to showing what makes him tick. Three, if you count Nightmares, which sets groundwork for letting us know what makes all our characters tick.

As should be obvious by now, Xander is a teenage boy, which carries with it a lot of, erm, urges and embarrassments. A lot of embarrassments. For example, this shirt:

Teacher’s Pet deals a lot with Xander’s insecurities, of which there are a metric fuckton. This episode, however, deals with his insecurities regarding his masculinity or in his mind, the lack thereof.
A lot of it can be seen in his little reverie at the beginning of the episode.

Xander wants to be cool.

Xander wants to be smooth.

Xander wants Buffy.

And  most telling of all, Xander wants to save Buffy.

Bad news, Xand: Buffy can take care of herself. And what’s more, she’s more equipped to do so than you.

Exit Cool Xander; Enter Drool Xander.

It all adds up to a pretty frustrated Xander, especially when he’s challenged by not one, but two guys in the course of the episode. Blayne (a guy we never see again, by the way) and Angel are both men who seemingly have way more bro cred than Xander.

Teacher’s Pet doubles as a “beware sexual predators disguised as teachers” episode, and it serves that purpose well. If not for the psychosexual double standards regarding what makes men men and women women, sexual predators like Madame Bug would have a harder time of catching prey. Xander’s vulnerable because his expectations make him vulnerable. Well, not just his expectations, but also the failure of his expectations to match up to reality, and his desperate need to make them do so.

Xander “falls” for Miss French because he needs to prove something. To himself and to Buffy. It’s good that it doesn’t work out—not that he almost gets his head eaten, I mean, just that his expectations ultimately never match up—because Xander? You don’t need to prove a damn thing.

Stop trying to make it be.

Stray observations:
  • Even in his fantasy, Xander has no idea where the heart is. That’s really funny, if you think about it (and have seen the rest of the series).
  • Dr. Gregory—the same biology/chemistry teacher from The Witch—is a great teacher. The first (and last?) that doesn’t underestimate Buffy or her intelligence.
  • Hey, Angel’s back! He’s only good for vamp news… I wonder why that is?
  • Er… How would the mechanics of mantis/teenage boy sex actually work?
  • Forget about that cliffhanger ending. Nothing ever happens with those eggs. Not one. Damn. Thing.
  • That Dr. Horrible gif? Comes from here. Yes, I spent hours there. We’re not talking about it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

So mommy dearest is really… Mommy Dearest?


Moms. They always expect things from us, don’t they? Even scary moms expect things.

The Witch is a tale of two moms. And Buffy’s never-ending quest for normalcy, but that’s actually the less interesting part of the story, to be perfectly honest. Although Joyce only appears a couple of times in the episode, she’s as much a part of its narrative as Catherine Madison, the psycho-loon seen here:

In case it was a little too hard to grasp, the contrast between Joyce and Catherine is that while Joyce expects things from Buffy (namely, the not being a juvenile delinquent thing) and wishes she were more of a model student, Catherine just bypasses the whole normal “expectation” job requirement and just… takes over.

Where Buffy and Joyce have this kind of bullfighter/bull relationship, Catherine and Amy have more of a virus/host relationship. Which is a pretty accurate way of depicting those moms who try to recapture their youth through their daughters. That is a level of scary that I would really rather not contemplate.

Buffy and Joyce don’t exactly have the healthiest of parent/child relationships (for one, Joyce is disturbingly clueless and often vacillates between “distant” and “smothering”), but when compared to Miss I Will Own Your Soul up there, hell… it’s hard not to breathe a huge sigh of relief when Joyce would rather be confused about the parenting gig than relive her glorious Yearbook Committee days through Buffy.

Sure, there are elements of correcting mistakes through your kids in every parent/child relationship, but with Buffy and Joyce, it stays at a satisfyingly non-creepy level.

Whew, Buff. Dodged that bullet.


Stray observations:

  • Sunnydale, where even cheerleading is an extreme sport—also, walking and breathing.
  • Ah, unrequited crushes. Willow’s like one of the guys, while Xander’s totally and completely one of the girls.
  • “Oh, this just in: I’m not you!” Whereas Amy’s mom is Amy.
  • Okay, am I only the one that giggled when Xander told Willow not to drive Buffy’s obliviousness to his crush through his head like a railroad spike?
  • I love all things Cordy this episode. Even her shiny, oh, so 90’s green shirt.
  • Chemistry and Biology are in the same class?
  • Catherine totally Force chokes Xander.
  • And in this episode, ladies and gentlemen, Giles begins his “being knocked out” tradition!
  • You know, it’s funny that Joyce wouldn’t want to be 16 again, ‘cause…

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A bit of an unpleasant interlude


I actually wasn’t planning on taking mini-breaks from Buffy just yet, but life, she is a real bitch.

It turns out that I had to be there for my boyfriend during a difficult time, and I thought I’d take a page out of my friend Noel’s book and explain why putting a pet down sucks.

1. They trust you. A lot.

Pets are some of purest souls (for lack of a better word) that I’ve ever met. They don’t hate irrationally, they don’t kill for sport, they don’t judge, and when they love, they love completely. They think you’ve hung the moon and every single star in the heavens. I’m assuming, of course, that you’re a good pet owner and not one of those asshole scum of the earth types that think dog-fighting is a capital idea. Even then, I find, pets can be surprisingly loyal. You’re their god. They may not understand all the shit you do, but they trust you know exactly what you’re doing and that you’ll never steer them wrong. So, yeah, having to put your pet down pretty much gives you the guilt of the ages. It doesn’t matter if they’re in pain, and it’s pretty inevitable—you’re gonna feel like you’re betraying the little guy. And that sucks.

2. They’re family.

I don’t care how you feel about animals in general, you have to at least admit that the people who own pets love them as if they were family. Because they are. Most times, they’ve been around for a long time, as much a fixture as Grandpa X or Aunt Y. More so, actually, since you may not see Grandpa or Auntie every day, but you do see your dog or cat every day. So losing them is like losing a part of you, and knowing you’re the one that gave the okay to get them lost is even worse.

3. People assume you can get over it by just getting another.

It’s funny, but a lot of people don’t get the “they’re family” part and just assume that you can always just get another pet to replace the one you’ve lost. And by “funny,” I mean “douchey.” What kind of sick fuck would tell someone that just lost a family member to just pop by the store and get another one? No one? Well, mention that your family member is a dog. Suddenly it’s fine. But it’s not. It’s not cute.

4. You have to say goodbye knowing they have no idea what’s going on.

I mean, I guess you can just not say goodbye, but really? What part of “they’re family” are we not getting here. If you don’t say goodbye, then you’ll feel guilty when they’re gone, and if you do, you get to see their sad little eyes look at you with adoration and trust. Fuck, does that hurt.

This one’s kind of a special case for friends of the family:

5. You feel all of the hurt, but also the awkwardness, too.

As I said, I was there when my boyfriend said goodbye, and it broke my heart. Granted, I didn’t have nearly as much time with his dog as he did, but I loved the little guy. So I was pretty close to bawling my eyes out. But then there was the awkwardness; my mind trying to figure out what it was okay to do. Do I pet the dog? Do I hold my boyfriend’s hand? Am I allowed to cry? May I ask questions? Is it okay if I pet other dogs in front of my boyfriend? Where do I stand? It’s just really an uncomfortable situation.

Depending on what kind of pets we have, chances are we’re gonna outlive them. No matter how they go, it’s gonna suck beyond the telling of it. And if you’re like me, you have a #6:

6. Once they’re gone, it’s forever.

I don’t believe in heaven. I don’t believe we’re watched or guided by a higher being. I think dead’s dead and the rest is silence. And that works fine most of the time, but when someone you love dies, it gets tricky. I’d love for there to be someplace where we go to see everyone we’ve loved (people and animal) again, even if just for a few minutes before winking out of existence. But I know my wishing doesn’t make it so.

One thing I do fervently believe is this: If by any chance there is a heaven, then pets are the only ones truly worthy of it. And if there’s a fair deity anywhere in this universe, then that’s where my boyfriend’s dog will be. Because that little guy? He didn’t suck.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

We’re having a talk with vampires in it


… And speaking of said vampires, they seem pretty ritualistic and traditional, don’t they? Vaguely… churchy? When you get that and Giles’ amusing speech about this world not being exactly the way you’ve been told, well… You realize this means we don’t truck with that religious thing here.

Now, I’m not saying Buffy as a show is hostile to religion, more… well. Let’s just say this isn’t a show about preserving the status quo. This status has ceased to quo, is what I’m saying.

The genius about these villains, and The Master in particular, is that they’re in at least one way, human. They have rites, they have scriptures, they have a… culture, and some of them are even funny. Sure, there are some cartoony elements, but the only truly flat characters are the minions. And they’re always flat, so who gives a shit, right?

The good news is that The Master is the flattest of these not-flat villains (with one exception, but we’ll get to that). So you hopefully won’t be so put off by the flaws that The Master does have that you won’t get to the real good ones later on.

Oops, almost forgot to talk about Jesse. You wouldn’t think so, but Jesse is an interesting specimen. Now, if you were paying attention there near the end, you notice Giles tell Xander that Vampire Jesse is not Jesse, but the thing that killed him. Giles is right… sort of. Just don’t believe everything you hear, and try to pay attention with the things people do (also good life advice. One good deed for the day: check!). There will be more on this later, when the series gets a whole lot more specific re:the fundamental difference between humans and vampires.

It’s all about establishing identity. These two episodes are brimming with questions of identity—emphasis on becoming ( Winking smile), and on “ripening.” Hence, the title. It doesn’t only talk about the vampire smörgåsbord dealt with in this episode. It kinda also has to deal with Buffy (and not to be so exclusive, everyone else, too).

As we’ve already established, Buffy’s a young woman. A teenager, actually, right on the cusp of womanhood. Commonly referred to as blossoming or ripening, which is what things do before they’re harvested, traditionally. Notice that Luke’s not able to “harvest” Buffy—either time. She’s not ready. But she will be. Bad news for Luke. Sorry, Luke.

Like Giles said in Welcome to the Hellmouth, Buffy has so much she doesn’t know about her powers: Slayer and womanly. But with these two episodes she sets out to hopefully learn all she can. And along the way, maybe she can teach Giles just as surely as he’s teaching her (implied by how quickly she identified the vamp at the Bronze without honing). So… let’s get ripening.


Stray observations:

  • On why Buffy and Giles don’t call the cops: “They’d only come with guns.” Guns on this show? Mostly useless.
  • Much as I love Principal Flutie, he broke the law. Padlocking a point of egress while school’s in session? Tsk.
  • Angel as a character is pretty depth-less for S1, but he has a pretty amazing moment of melancholy when Buffy asks about friends.
  • Haha, fools rush in where Angel fears to tread…. I make my own fun.
  • Poor Cordy ends up as a victim, but thank all the demons in Sunnydale she survives. Some people are just too awesome to die.
  • And actually, Giles, roughly translated, it’s “mouth of hell,” but who’s being pedantic?
  • Can someone please tell Xander where the heart is?
  • Buffy’s hope chest is one of the best visual representations of the duality in Buffy’s character: soft and girly on top, tough and weapon-y below.
  • “Nothing’s ever gonna be the same.” Cut to—everything’s the same.
  • “The Earth is doomed.”

We don’t have a whole lot of town here


Welcome to the Hellmouth tells you most of what you need to know about Buffy. Not just because it’s necessarily expositional as a pilot episode, but because all the ground work, mythology, character quirks are dealt with in not just an expedient way, but in a (I think) deft way.

First of all, it’s written by the Head Ginger in Charge himself, Joss Whedon, and no matter what you think about the man (he’s a cockbag. Just FYI), he does have talent. The asshole. WttH is not his best opener, but it’s a pretty good one.

First off, the opening of the episode itself starts stereotypically. If you’re familiar with Whedon’s statement of purpose regarding the creation of this character (and by extension, this show), then you know why. However, by the time you see our friend Darla vamp out and snack on Mr. Rebel Without A Future, you know we ain’t in Kansas any-fucking-more.


If you don’t fast forward through the theme song, you see the same pattern. We get the spooky “oooooh” intro, then go right into the rock. Because Buffy will rock you. Like a hurricane.

One thing that always kind of tickles me about this episode is that the first image we see of our heroine, this fierce bitch right heah:


…she’s in a vulnerable state. She’s asleep, in an all-white bed. And hey, I don’t need a Lit course to tell you that shit means something. Right away, we’re told that this girl, while extraordinarily strong and more than a little badassy, is still a young girl. She’s innocent and pure, she probably bakes cookies and shit, and hey, she can still be hurt.

Of course, that’s not the only thing this scene is telling us, though, because while she’s being all vulnerable and stuff, she’s dreaming. And she’s dreaming of blood, darkness, monsters. Clearly, she’s not just vulnerability and light. This bitch? She got them layers.

These dreams, by the way? Are also prophetic. Assuming you stick with this show despite its oddly charming campiness and clearance-priced first season production values, you’ll see that every thing that Buffy dreams comes true.

After meeting Buffy, we’re off to school, where we meet Xander, Willow, and Giles, who will all be a big part of why Buffy (1) becomes who she is and (2) why she survives so long. More on them and that later.

We also meet Cordelia Chase, who is such a great character. Not just because of her general awesomeness, but also as a mirror for Buffy herself. Cordy’s what Buffy used to be in her old school in L.A. Queen Bee, deceptively shallow (you’ll soon realize; neither Cordy or Buffy are shallow at all)—basically, all a beautiful, rich teenage girl in California would probably turn out to be, stereotypically speaking.

Behold fantasticness:

Cordelia initially takes to Buffy when she meets her (complete with coolness mini-quiz!), which suggests she sees qualities in Buffy that apply to herself. However, it rapidly becomes obvious that Buffy’s just not in that place anymore (the effect of growing up?), and rejects Cordelia’s world for one of her own making with Xander and Willow.  Jesse, unfortunately, won’t figure in that, and you’ll see why. Don’t worry, you’ll forget about him soon anyway.

While the latter episodes of this season, and most of the High School Seasons (Seasons 1-3, for those not in the know. You should be ashamed) deal with the overarching theme of “High School is Hell,” this episode and the one immediately following mostly deal with Buffy herself, and her settling in to what will be her life for the foreseeable future. Sure, there may be little “new kid at school” metaphors or, um, “phors,” since they’re not exactly hidden, but mostly this is mythology-establishing shit: What it means to be a Slayer, what do we mean when we say “vampires,” what a Watcher does—you know, the basics. But the good thing about this is that interspersed with the How the Hellmouth Works primer are valuable clues about Buffy herself, and to a lesser extent, the rest of the gang.

Buffy’s balancing act between her calling and her “normal life,” for example, comes up constantly. From her initial rejection of Slayerdom to little things like still carrying stakes and investigating deaths on campus, we know that while Buffy strongly wants to follow her desires, she still has a strong sense of duty and purpose. She barely even needs the nudging that Giles and Angel (hubba) give her.

Even this early, we know that Buffy’s Slayer side is just as much a part of her as her bouncy, bouncy hair. Now we get to see her slowly realize that. Fun, right?


Stray observations:

  • Sunnydale High School is actually Torrance High School, former home of the original Beverly Hills, 90210.
  • Buffy’s “colorful transcripts” (LOVE Principal Flutie, btw) are a reference to the 1992 Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, where Buffy had to slay… asbestos… in a gym.
  • I don’t know about you, but I’d be more willing to listen to a mentor with an English accent.
  • Don’t worry, the California-speak doesn’t last. “Neg-ly,” really?
  • Why the hell does 16-year old Buffy have an all-vinyl outfit?!
  • The Master’s name is Heinrich Joseph Nest, but his name is never used in the series. He’s all S&M-y and German, isn’t he?


Stay tuned for The Harvest!

Monday, October 17, 2011

We’re talking violence, strong language, adult content…


I usually have trouble starting things. I analyze things way too much and get obsessed with making everything perfect. You don’t even wanna know how long it took me to pick a background for this thing.

Anyway, I’m planning to just skip the perfect and just jump right in. The Buffy marathon starts today or tomorrow.

In the meantime, please enjoy some mindless entertainment.

…Sorry that you’re not gonna finish that thing now.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Welcome to the New World


So. Here we are. You, waiting silently for me to be witty and interesting, and me, thinking just how badly I have to pee. Okay, let’s make this quick and painless:

Welcome to my brand-new, shiny-packaged, fresh off-the-shelf blog! This, as you’ve guessed by now, is the “introduction,” where I tell you just what you’re gonna get out of me on this thing.

Well, I’ll tell ya: you’re getting Buffy. You’re getting lots of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 144 episodes’ worth, maybe more. And, of course, you’re getting me. Daily snippets of my pretty uneventful life, my thoughts on shit I find important, and probably lots of squealing over shoes. In short, this is half project blog (á la Julie/Julia), half personal blog.

The project part is easy. I’ll be watching all of Buffy, and posting my reviews/analyses for you. I want to attract a whole gamut of fans and hey, maybe even get some of you as addicted as I am. Ideally, I want you watching with me. Even rookies. I’d love fresh perspectives. But really? I’m also cool just watching a show I love and dissecting it every which way. You reading this is pretty much a bonus. Yes. You’re a bonus. Congratulations.

The personal stuff? That gets trickier. I’ll try to be interesting and not say “fuck” too much. Well… I won’t say it in every sentence. And I’ll never say “shitcock.” Fuck, I just said it, didn’t I? Damn. I’ll try not to say it anymore.

So give me (and Buffy) a shot. If I disappoint, you can always mock me with your monkey pants.*

…. *Yeah, you’re not getting that unless you watch Buffy. So watch it, for fuck’s sake.