Friday, December 28, 2007

Angel Wednesday (23 December)

To catch up for the extra "Buffy"s we saw the other night, we had lots of "Angel" watching to do this past visit. In the end, we couldn't have picked three better episodes to watch, as they turned out to be a nice little trilogy.

First up was "The Trial," written by Doug Petrie and Tim Minear. Angel is still all obsessed with Darla and Cordelia and Wesley are worried about him. He claims to have his mind on other things, but Gunn shows up with info on Darla's location, and Angel takes off to find her.

Before Angel gets there, Evillawyerdude Lindsay McDonald finds Darla and takes her back to Wolfram & Hart. Darla wears a crucifix around her neck in this episode. Now I gotta wonder why that is. Has she undergone some kind of religious conversion? Is it like Indy Jones getting a tattoo of a cobra on his arm? Is it simply fashionable? Or maybe it's like a dog tag, a reminder of what she's been through, what she used to be. Hey, I don't know, I don't even work here.

She is taken to Holland Manners, who tells her the disease that was killing her in the Seventeenth Century (tyranist kept referring to it as "consumption," which I find amusing even if I'm too dumb to know why) has returned. She has a very limited time left as a human being.

Like I said last time, with all we saw in the Darla and Spike origin episodes, we're in need of no more flashbacks ever again.

So of course, we get two here.

We go back to the Seventeen-hundreds, when Angelus is newly envamped, traveling across Europe with Darla. It looks romantic, but they have been too fearless, it seems, and are on the run from outraged mobs and vampire hunters. They hide in a barn and talk for a moment, but soon the mob has the barn surrounded, and guess what, they've got something to burn it with.

Angelus talks big about going out with a glorious battle, the two of them side by side . . . but when he turns around, Darla has gotten astride a horse and breaks free, leaving him to fend for himself.

Angel and Gunn, in the present, continue to look for Darla, checking out her now-empty motel. He's sure something bad has happened to her.

The Darla in question goes to a bar alone and flirts with a really dim vampire. Try as she might, she can't get this guy to turn her into one, even though she practically throws herself at him. She does convince him to go out to the alley with her, but before he can bite her (if he ever would have), Angel appears and stakes the guy.

She blames him for being there, explaining that she is dying, and wouldn't be if he had just turned her when she first asked him to. Or the second time. Or the third.

Angel is suspicious that she has been lied to about her condition (after all, she still looks hotter than she ever did in the previous five seasons of "Buf-gel"), and takes her to Angel Investigations to hide out. Angel goes out into the night to find out the truth.

He first goes to Evillawyerdude Lindsay's place and is surprised when Lindsay invites him in. He too was suspicious and had a second, third, and fourth opinion brought in. They all declare her terminally ill, and he too asks Angel to reconsider turning her into a vampire again to spare her from suffering. Lindsay is a really complex character.

Angel takes Darla to the demon karaoke bar, and makes her sing a song. She's actually quite good, and that ticks me off, but what the hey. Lorne looks into her soul and confirms that she's dying. He says there is one way Angel could save her, though. He sends them both to a location with an empty swimming pool. Angel dives in and finds himself in some other realm where he is to be tested.

He has to pass three trials and if he does, Darla will be spared. She is allowed to watch the trials, which apparently, no one has ever survived.

First Angel has to take his shirt off and fight a big demon with a sword. Eventually, he manages to take the sword away and cut the demon in half with it, but it sticks itself together and comes at him again. In the end, he slices it in two and chains the halves up, preventing them from reuniting. Nice.

Angel's second task is to get out of a locked chamber where the
floor is covered with crosses. I didn't mention that aside from his shirt, he had to take his shoes and socks off as well. Angel has to cross the room, burning his feet with the crosses, and finds the key to escape in a big vat of holy water. He plunges his arm in and retrieves the key.

For the third test, Angel is manacled in a room with stakes all over the walls. He is told that the third trial is whether he will give his life for Darla. He seems willing, but the question is put forth: wouldn't the world be better with honourable Angel in it than a healed, amoral Darla? If he chooses, he can go free, and she will perish quickly and painlessly.

In the end, Angel offers to die for Darla, and zip bang zap!, he's back in the real world with Darla at his side. Of course, that was the trial, wasn't it?

He has passed all three.

Unfortunately, when the time comes for Darla to be healed, we find out she's already been supernaturally brought back from the dead once, and you only get one. Nothing more can be done for her.

Well, Angel has something of a fit, punching the walls and destroying things around him.* He really did get a raw deal (the guy's sore and burned and battered and seared, and his hair is a little bit mussed on the left side). They go back to Darla's place (can vampires get syphilis?), and in his despair, he offers to bite Darla and turn her back.

She adamantly refuses, having come to an understanding of what it is to be truly human (or to truly have a soul) and is content now that she knows how much Angel cares for her. She was supposed to have died this way centuries ago, and is willing to accept it as justice, as long as he's with her in the end. Quite nice, really.

But suddenly, a bunch of dudes burst into the room, zapping Angel with a taser, and in walks Lindsay. He is disgusted that Angel wouldn't save Darla, so he's brought someone with him: Drusilla. Crazy and evil, she walks over and bites Darla, then cuts herself so Darla can drink from her as well. The end.

I guess I should have expected it, but nicely, the episode did not begin with "And Juliet Landau as Drusilla" to spoil the surprise, as Buffy always does.

Yep, that's the second time I've proclaimed something about "Angel" better than "Buffy," but I promise I won't do it again. At least this year.

A great one, this was, in most ways. These episodic shows are designed to be unsatisfying, but this one really, really was. We quickly watched the next one, but I can't help but wonder what happened to Angelus when he was trapped by the vampire hunter and Darla abandoned him. I don't remember for sure, but Darla may even have knocked him unconscious before she left, so how he got out of that, I've no clue.

The next "Angel" episode did answer a lot of questions (though not that one). It was called "Reunion," and was written by Tim Minear and Shawn Ryan (Ryan being the guy who went on to create "The Shield").

It picks up not long after the last episode. Gunn brings Angel back to Angel Investigations, bruised and beaten. He tells them what happened and vows to stake Darla before she rises as a soulless bloodsucker.

Speaking of lawyers, Manners is having a big wine-tasting party at his home. Before then, though, he tells Drusilla to take Darla out and kill a bunch of people. You know, for old times' sake.

Angel figures Drusilla would've been traditional and bury Darla somewhere under the stars. I'm not exactly sure how Angel finds her, but she's been buried on a rooftop garden in the city. No stars are visible in the middle of L.A., but alright.

Angel is about to stake her when Drusilla attacks him with a shovel. While they're struggling, Darla comes out of the ground. She jumps off the building (seemingly confused), and Drusilla follows her. Angel gets his crew together and they all go to Wolfram & Hart to take the bad guys down.

Darla isn't as pleased as we'd guess about being a vampire again, and yells at Drusilla. Drusilla tries to explain why she did it, calling Darla "Grandmother" a few times. Eventually, Darla drinks a human's blood, and it puts her back to where she used to be. She and Drusilla decide to go shopping.

Cordelia has a vision, but Angel doesn't want to hear about it. He very nearly abandons the subject of her vision to torment and death, but reluctantly relents. He leaves the others attending to the rescued man, then speeds back after Darla by himself.

The two vampire women are around town, killing salespeople and (hopefully) meter maids, trying on clothes, and doing other girl things.

Angel storms into Wolfram & Hart and is immediately arrested. He tells Manners that Darla and Drusilla are going to kill people, but Manners tells him he doesn't care. When Angel gets loaded into the cop car, guess who is there?

No, not her, it's Policewomanofficer Kate Lockley. She is still abrupt, but seems to have thawed a couple of degrees toward Angel. She knows that she doesn't have a chance at stopping Drusilla & Darla, so she lets Angel go to do just that.

He goes to the crime scene and finds a survivor hiding in a dressing room. She tells him what she overheard the vampires saying, and where they were going next.

So, Holland Manners is throwing a nice old party in his wine cellar, when suddenly, Darla and Drusilla arrive. It seems Manners's wife invited them in, and paid for it with her life. Soon, all the party guests are going to join her.

Manners tries to convince Darla that they helped her out before, and are on her side. Friends, even. Darla tells him that she senses fear in them. In everybody there, except for Lindsay.

Angel gets to the door and finds Manners's wife dying on the floor. She invites Angel in too. Angel goes to the wine cellar and Manners and company are sure glad to see him there. Angel shrugs and backs away. Holland Manners pleads that Darla and Drusilla are going to kill them, but Angel tells him he doesn't care. He locks them in together and leaves. I believe that Manners and our story have parted ways permanently.

Back at Angel Investigations, Wesley, Cordelia, and Gunn seem less than pleased about this little turn of events. They tell Angel their concerns and he tells them they're fired. The end.

Not bad. Really, really dark, but not bad. I'm quite enjoying the show, even though it doesn't show in my blog. I'm just struggling with this post, which is now more than a week overdue.

You know what? I think I'll just leave it at this, and come back to the last "Angel" episode when I'm feeling winter fresh.

Or maybe spearmint.

Rish Eustice Outfield

*I once did something similar when my roommate John asked me to go Country Dancing with him.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays

"You don't have to say you love me,
I know that that's not true;
But 'Merry Christmas,' 'Merry Christmas' will do."

Material Issue

Stupid Thing of the Week

24 December 2007

I was at my friend Merrill's house last night and he had built a dollhouse for his daughter for Christmas (okay, his wife had actually built it, but she wears the pants). It was a gift from Santa, so they could only work on it at night.

While Merrill and I were watching HOT FUZZ, his wife was painting the dollhouse, then went to bed. But she set the alarm for six am so she could get up and move the now-dry dollhouse into the garage before the kids got up and discovered it. After the movie, I felt bad that Merrill's woman would have to get up so early (I'd rather not go to bed at all than have to get up at six), so I suggested the two of us move the dollhouse to the garage that night. After all, in an hour and a half, the paint was certainly dry.

So, we lifted it, carefully moving it through the house and out into the garage. It was so heavy that, unless Merrill's wife is stronger than me (which I admit is a possibility), I don't know how they'd have lugged it around together. When we sat it down in the garage, I discovered that some of the paint had indeed not dried, and that I'd gotten paint all over my hand, sleeve, shoe, and smudged some of the edges where Mrs. Merrill had carefully detailed.

Rish "The Anti-Santa" Outfield

Friday, December 21, 2007

Buffy Wednesday (19 December)

Tyranist and I had a sort of unusual week. Because of the holidays, we got together twice this week (probably won't get to next week) and had ourself a merry little "Buffy" marathon on Wednesday, and an "Angel" one on Thursday.

So, I can do my regular "Buffy/Angel" recap, in order of airdate, or blog them as we actually watched them. I'm not sure which to choose.

Regardless, first was had the "Angel" episode "The Shroud of Rahmon" to get through. It was written by Jim THE BOOGENS Kouf, and had that great technique of showing us the end first, with Wesley in a police station, being interrogated by two detectives, then flashing back to tell us how he got there. I like Anne Hathaway's breasts.

Cordelia has an awful new haircut (her hair is black now and she looks like Tiffany Amber Thiessen with slightly realler breasts), and Angel is out with Gunn.

They are meeting with Gunn's cousin, who's supposed to be the driver for a robbery involving a demon and a Vegas vampire called Jay-Don (or J-Dawn, I don't know). Gunn's cousin doesn't want to do it and Angel says he'll take care of it. Gunn says that he'll take care of it. The pissing contest seems to end with Angel the victor and a lot of wet pavement.

Angel goes back to his hotel room and finds Policewomanofficer Kate Lockley snooping around in there. She's looking for Darla and brandishes a cross. She really has become the most unpleasant character on the show. Angel tells her she needs to back off or wind up like her old man (actually he doesn't say this, but he does try to warn her off the Darla case), and the cross doesn't seem to bother him.

Angel heads to the bus station were Jay-Don has arrived. Angel kills him and takes his place, then meets with two demons (one of them is played by Tony "Candyman" Todd) and a security guard. The last member of their group to show up is the driver, who is no longer Gunn's cousin, but is Gunn. Luckily, it seems none of these guys know each other or have any pictures to identify them.

Turns out they're robbing the Natural History Museum of something called the Shroud of Rahmon, but instead of waiting a couple of days to steal it, their leader decides they should go immediately, preventing Angel (or Gunn) to warn Cordelia and Wesley where they're going.

Wesley discovers the Shroud's history and that it causes those around it to lose their minds. That sort of thing happens when they go inside the museum. They steal the box that holds the Shroud, but Angel starts vamping up, and Gunn gets surlier than ever. Eventually, everybody turns on everybody else, and the security guard loses his head (in the literal way this time rather than just wigging out about fingerprints and stuff)

Wesley and Cordelia also go there, but our one-armed evillawyerdude Lindsay McDonald tips Policewomanofficer Lockley onto the heist as well, and she goes too. Angel's eyes are all yellow and when Kate Lockley shows up and points a gun at him, he knocks it out of her hand and bites her.

We go to commercial and Kate is dead on the floor. Hmmm. Angel and the remaining thieves slip out, and when the rest of the cops arrive, they find Wesley standing over Kate's body.

Everybody starts fighting--and killing--each other over the Shroud. Gunn and Angel fight over it and Angel takes it away and burns it. Everyone is returned to normal (except the many who are dead).

So, now Wesley has told his story to the detectives (though we can't really know what he told him), they think he is the killer. But then, in walks Policewomanofficer Lockley, looking like hell, but alive. We flash back to see that Angel told her to pretend to die when he bit her, and actually didn't drink all her blood. That Angel, he's just such a showman. She clears Wesley, and he is allowed to go free. The end.

You know, this was quite a solid episode . . . at first. In the end, it didn't really go anywhere or pay off the way it looked like it would. I liked the reversal with Kate Lockley, but all in all, the show was less satisfying than the others this season.

Tyranist probably disagrees with me, as he's mentioned that he dislikes the episodes with Darla or internal Angel problems, and wishes they would just go back to the babe-in-trouble-hires-Angel-Investigations formula. I thought that formula grew tired in Season One, but wouldn't mind seeing a few like that every once in a while. What makes the show work for me is the interesting dynamic of the characters and the world Joss and Co. have created, not necessarily the premise (for example, Cordelia hardly ever gets visions anymore, only when someone realises it would be a nice plot device to push the story where they want it to go). But that's just my opinion.

Next, we saw a "Buffy" episode (the first of three). It was called "Listening To Fear" (though I don't remember that title at all), and was written by newcomer Rebecca Rand Kirshner, who wrote the episode tyranist blogged about . . . "Out of my Head," was it?

Buffy and Dawn are in the hospital with Joyce, and the doctor tells her they'll operate to remove her brain tumor in two days. She can't imagine being cooped up there with nothing but her thoughts, so Buffy volunteers to take her home and watch over her until it's time for her surgery. The doctor tells her it will be a lot of responsibility, and Joyce may say things she doesn't mean from time to time, but Buffy's saved the world; she's okay with the burden.
As they leave, a mental patient points at Dawn and rants about how she's empty inside and doesn't belong and ICE PRINCESS was a shitty movie. This distresses Dawn, but Buffy does what she can to comfort her too.

Giles and the others volunteer to patrol while Buffy is with her family. Riley goes off and has another vampire chick biting him (on the arm this time, in what really appears to be a heroin shoot-up).

Willow and Tara seem to be camping on a rooftop, watching the stars, when they see a meteorite crash down in the woods. Luckily, Peter Parker happens to be ten feet away when it happens, but they don't know that. They go get the others to investigate.

The mental patient from before is walking through the woods when some horrible THING attacks him. It goes to the hospital, where it attacks (and kills) all the crazies in the mental ward. But there's still at least one more crazy person in Sunnydale, and it heads toward the Summers house.

The gang converge on the site where the alien crashed down and they find the body of the crazy guy (and a really bad smell). Riley takes charge and sticks around while the others go to look stuff up in books or something. As soon as he's alone, Riley calls in the Initiative--or the military that used to be it--and they show up veryveryvery quickly. They say the creature has radioactive properties and can track it that way.

The creature from space is revoltinger than Anna Nicole Smith before her death, and seems to be a combination fetus and leech. Regardless, it is so scary that I curled into a ball chanting, "Kalima protects us, we are her children," while trying to control my bowels.*

The gang discover that they're not dealing with an alien, but a Queller Demon, which is traditionally summoned (from the heavens) to eliminate plagues of insanity.

At home, Buffy's mom wigs out a bit, calling Dawn a "thing," and also bashing ICE PRINCESS. Buffy tells her sister their mother doesn't mean those things, and they leave her alone in her bedroom. She continues to talk to herself and to the ceiling and they try to ignore her, not realising that something is indeed moving across her ceiling toward her. Buffy even goes as far as to turn on loud music to blot out the sound, and takes her opportunity to finally cry.

Dawn checks on her mother, who is being attacked by the Queller Demon. She grabs a coat rack and hits the creature with it. Dawn screams and Buffy runs upstairs to investigate. The creature tries to escape, just as Spike emerges from the basement (he apparently was there the whole time, stealing Buffy baby pictures or something equally unsettling). Spike helps Buffy catch the demon, and Buffy stabs it a score of times with a knife.

At that moment, Riley and his soldier friends burst through the front door. Too little, too late. Spike taunts him a little bit about that, taking more than his share of credit for stopping the demon.

Joyce recovers a bit of her sanity, and tells Buffy that she had what alcoholics refer to as a "moment of clarity." She knows that Dawn is not her real daughter. Buffy agrees, but Joyce loves her just the same and tells Buffy to take care of Dawn if she doesn't come out of the surgery okay.

The whole gang shows up at the hospital to see Joyce off, as she is wheeled in to have her procedure. It is revealed that the person who summoned the (Sarah Michelle) Queller Demon was none other than Ben, the handsome hospital intern. He tells Glory's little henchman that he's spent his whole life cleaning up after the Blond Beast, and surely we'll have more on that later. The end.

I don't know how audiences in 2000 could stand waiting a week to see what happened, 'cause tyranist and I certainly couldn't. We skipped "Angel" and went right on to "Into the Woods," which aired seven years ago that night. This one was written AND directed by Marti Noxon, a first, I'm sure.

The episode picks up immediately after, and Joyce's surgery has gone well. Riley praises Buffy for how strong she's been, since she didn't even cry. She tells him she did cry, and that vexes him. Xander and Anya volunteer to take Dawn for the night so Riley and Buffy can spend some quality time together.

As anyone who's not me can tell you, "quality time" is a euphemism for sex, and we get another one of those writhing-under-the-sheets scenes. We see Spike standing outside, torturing himself by watching. As soon as Buffy falls asleep, Riley gets up and sneaks out of the house. Spike follows him. Riley goes to what can only be described as a vampire crackhouse. Spike sees him giving his blood to a skinny vampire chick.

The last remaining Initiative buddy of Riley's is meeting with more military, and a guy I'll call The Major announces there's a big ole nest of demons breeding like Culkins in Belize. They're going to go down there and take 'em out, and Riley's name is suggested for a part of the team.

Joyce seems alright. She's got a shaved patch on her head, but apparently, everything went alright and the tumor is gone.

Spike wakes Buffy up and tells her he needs to show her something. She follows him to the vampire crackhouse, and finds Riley with a vampire chick on his lap, suckling from his arm. Riley is surprised to see Buffy there, but she doesn't stick around for him to explain. She's more than a little upset.

Riley goes home and finds the Major there. They give him the pitch: come to Belize and kill lots of demons, also, free balloons. The team is leaving tomorrow at midnight so be there or be square.

At the magic shop, Giles puts up an amusing holiday banner that I wish I could remember word for word, and Buffy comes in. She wants to know what she saw last night. Giles tells her it's an old setup where humans get a rush out of paying vampires to suck their blood. The vampires dig it 'cause, hey, free food, free money (unfortunately, no free balloons with this deal). Giles seems to think it's not really a concern of theirs, which I found odd, but Buffy goes there anyway, to stake the vampires. The building is empty, but she burns the place anyway. Even Anya can see she's upset.

Riley finds Spike in his crypt and stakes him. But it turns out to be a plastic stake. They talk and Riley tells him he knows he's got the hots for Buffy, but Spike thinks Riley is jealous of him. What Buffy needs, he says, is a little monster in her man, and Riley ain't got that. Nevertheless, Spike says he's jealous of Riley, since he at least gets to touch her and make sweet love to her down by the fire. Somehow, the two bond over this, and pass a bottle back and forth.

Buffy takes out a bit more of her frustration on a punching bag. Riley walks in and insists on talking to her. He says some silly crap about going to the vampire chicks to feel how Buffy felt when Dracula bit her, but the crux of the situation is that those vampire whores NEEDED Riley in a way Buffy never has/does/will.

He can't get from Buffy what he really needs and accuses her of always keeping him at a distance, citing several examples from this season, such as not calling him when she found out about her mother. This only makes Buffy angrier. She's given him all that she has to give. Riley tells her about the job he was offered and says he's going to go unless she gives him a reason to stay.

Buffy storms out, furious, and finds herself surrounded by the whole clan of vampires she made homeless that day. Tyranist moaned, saying, "Now Riley will save her and we'll see that she actually does need him."

But surprisingly, she kills every single one of the vampires without losing a button. The last one left is the vampire chick that was using Riley as a baby bottle, and Buffy seems to take pity on her. As she's running away, Buffy stakes her too.

Xander appears out of nowhere like Rod Serling and tells her she's acting crazy. She wants to be left alone, but Xander follows her. He accuses her of never treating Riley like a serious love interest, but like a space filler or a rebound guy. Buffy accuses Xander right back of treating Anya like nothing more than an easy lay, but Xander doesn't even respond to it, he continues for about three and a half episodes about the greatness that is Riley Finn.

I can't really understand why this speech was given to Xander, 'cause it sounds so wrong coming out of his mouth, but who am I to question? He tells her that she basically drove Riley to the vampire whores. Am I wrong? Isn't that pretty much what he says? Buffy tells him about Riley's ultimatum and Xander tells her to go after him. Xander talks like he's got a man-crush on Marc Blucas himself. "How can you let this awesome guy go?" and such. He understands Riley so well, giving all Riley's reasoning for all that he's done. Buffy, it seems, does hear him, 'cause she asks what she should do, and he says, "Run."

So, it's almost midnight and Riley is standing beside the helicopter, waiting for Buffy to arrive or not to arrive, I guess. Midnight comes, and he gets onboard the vehicle. As it rises into the air, Buffy runs toward it, trying to get them to stop. Riley doesn't look back, never knowing that Buffy was there, and the helicopter disappears into the distance. Buffy trudges back home alone.

Xander goes to see Anya, and tells her that he loves her. He also tells her she makes him feel like a man. I suspect he does not tell her that he sometimes wishes she looks like Marc Blucas. They kiss. The end.

I wasn't entirely satisfied by this episode, but I could see what they were trying to do (and why), and hence can forgive most of the flaws.

Tyranist and I stopped the episode in the middle and each of us talked about our opinions of the situation. It was strange, but tyranist totally related to Buffy and I totally sympathised with Riley. He explained his point of view and I explained mine.* I think the writers went out of their way to make us understand Riley's position and not make him an irrational tool, as we saw the baby steps his character took to finally getting the hell out of Dodge. It would be hard to be Buffy's man, no matter how square your jaw is.

I think--and I can ask tyranist for his two cents on this--that my friend was able to forgive some of Riley's behaviour (though not his ultimatum), despite his hatred for the guy. I understand Buffy too, since hey, she did have a lot going on in her world, what with the Blond Bitch and her mother and protecting Dawn the Key and all. And Spike has been actively working to split Buffy and Riley apart, so there's that.

At least it wasn't the trite, unbelievable, artificial break-up I've seen in other WB shows, where Joey Potter or Lana Lang or that perky "Roswell" girl say things and act completely out of character just because drama is supposed to be had, to keep the fourteen year old girls watching the show interested.

I do hate it when Buffy gets all "How dare you tell me how I should feel," as she has, both with Angel and with Riley, but hey, she doesn't like people telling her how to feel.

My friend was pretty happy about the prospect of a Marc Blucas-free rest of Season Five. To satiate his curiosity, we started the next episode, "Triangle," just to see if he would be in the credits. Of course, once we started, there would be no stopping us from finishing. Sad.

Obviously, "Triangle" took place a while afterward. It was one of those where I didn't even have to look to know it aired weeks (maybe months) after "Into the Woods."*** It was written by Jane Espenson, and was a refreshingly light episode after the last few.

We start with Xander and Anya chatting about what's been going on in Buffy's world: Riley is gone, Buffy feels bad, Glory the Blond Beast is still out there, the WB is talking about not renewing the show for a sixth season, that sort of thing. Giles figures he'll go to England and talk to the Watchers' Council about what to do about Glory.

He leaves the magic shop in Anya and Willow's charge, but they seem to be not getting along, for some reason. I can't imagine someone not getting along with Willow, like I can't imagine Jane Seymour not being attractive. Willow starts gathering items for spells, and Anya accuses her of stealing. Tara notices how those two seem to be fighting about Xander and hits the road. Tyranist suggested, before I realised it, that the titular "Triangle" was between Anya, Willow, and Xander. And he was right.

Buffy is sad about the loss of Riley and wishes she had done things differently. Tyranist also wishes she had done things differently, like the handful of times she saved Riley's life.

Spike rehearses what he'll say to Buffy about driving Riley away, using that Buffy doll he keeps around (I smile every time I see it, just as I frown every time I see Harmony). If even the mannequin turned him down, he'd know how I live my life.

Willow starts casting a spell, but Anya interrupts it. While they argue, a big old Abraham Benrubi-looking troll appears, smashing everything in his path with a big old hammer. He goes out into the night to debauch, searching for wenches and mead.

Amazingly, it appears Buffy is in school again. She and Tara are in a class together and Tara tells her about all the bickering that's going on and how it's alienating Tara and Xander. Buffy breaks down at the possibility of the other couples breaking up, and I have to admit that I was more amused by it than moved. But again, I hated ELF.

Spike and Xander meet each other at the Bronze, where Spike is fond of these little onion things they make there. While playing pool, they seem to hit it off. Anya and Willow try to find the troll, tracking him to the Bronze, where he goes for ale and babies to eat (yeah, babies, but before you judge, they taste surprisingly good with a little honeymustard). Spike suggests he try the little onion things and they give him beer while waiting for Buffy to arrive.

She does, and it is revealed that the troll is an old boyfriend of Anya's. Centuries ago, after he cheated on her with Madonna (yes, she's that old), Anya turned him into a troll. It was what impressed what's-his-name enough to turn her into a vengeance demon. He is upset about seeing Anyanka again, and starts pounding things (and people) with his hammer. Spike, trying to impress Buffy, helps with the injured. She is not impressed.

Anya and Willow rush back to the magic shop to cast a counter-spell. They bicker more, since Willow thinks Anya will break Xander's heart, and Anya thinks Willow is trying to take Xander away from her. Anya says she'd never hurt Xander, and Willow
says, "Hello? Gay now." Olaf the troll comes back before they can cast their spell, and Xander is right behind him. When Olaf sees him trying to protect them, he beats Xander up and forces him to choose which of the girls will die. Xander refuses The Sadistic Choice and Anya volunteers to be the one who dies. Nice.

Buffy arrives (what, was she in a wheelchair this episode, or what?) and fights Olaf. She becomes especially violent when Olaf says Anya and Xander's relationship will fail, and pummels him until the spell can be cast. It sends Olaf into an alternate universe, but we don't know which one.

Giles returns and is unhappy about the condition of his shop. He says he learned nothing about Glory or the Key she's after (I hope he at least got some decent fish and chips and a pint or two while he was there). In the adjoining room, Dawn hears them talking about her, but how much she understands I don't know. The end.

I enjoyed this one. It was fun. And amusing. And sometimes, that's just what you need.

That brought our night to an end. Tyranist told me we might have made it through another whole episode if we hadn't talked for a half an hour through "Into the Woods." I got the impression he resented this, but I hope that's not the case, since I'd rather watch one episode and talk to him about it than watch two or even three episodes.

But I am extremely starved for human contact.

Rish Blucas Outfield

*Okay, that's maybe an exaggeration, but this thing was still scary as hell. It made the "Hush" baddies look like Natalie Portman with short hair in that MAGORIUM movie. In other words, still scary, just not terrifying.

**Though I have to admit that it was harder for me to explain why I understood Riley talking to her this way, going outside the relationship--'cause really, that's what it really was, wasn't it?--and not sound like a silly douche. Heck, maybe I did sound like one after my long attempt at an explanation was at an end, but the main point I wanted to stress was: The heart wants what the heart wants. Buffy isn't capable of giving herself in the way that he needed, and she certainly wasn't capable of being the weaker link in the relationship, allowing Buffy to comfort, protect, and save his arse, the way, say, Xander might be.

I was once extremely interested in a woman who absolutely didn't need anyone's help in any way. She was smart, she had confidence, beauty, a way with people, and looked at those who needed help (whether it was changing a flat tire, talking to a pushy salesman, or offering a gentle shoulder) with a bit of disdain. And it made me furious. Or maybe just useless. But I'm pretty sure I was that to begin with.

***For the record, it aired on January 9th, which was only three weeks later. Maybe it was just shot a long time after.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Films I Hate (That You Love)

19 December 2007

Today is December 19th. It was ten years ago today that TITANIC was released in theatres. I saw it that fateful night (Mr. James Cameron being one of my favourites--if not favourite--directors), with a group of friends and, oddly enough, one of my teachers.

He and I had both followed TITANIC's extremely troubled production and were curious about the film. I hoped it would do well, since so many had predicted it would fail (do you remember how much it had going against it, such as its length, its lack of stars, that it was supposed to be a chick flick, the fact it was opening against James Bond, that it was a period piece by an Action director, that people were talking about the budget a lot more than the story, etc.?), and the talk in the industry was that Cameron was a giant arse who deserved what was coming to him.

I did enjoy the film, more or less, but it wasn't the sweeping and/or overwhelming emotional experience for me it was for others.* I found the TITANIC phenomenon to be fascinating, though, as it made more and more money and gained more and more fans. And as it did those things, I saw an interesting thing happen: many, many people turned on TITANIC like a South American dog, deciding that it was a) overrated, b) poorly done, or c) Evil.

I can certainly accept people that think it's a), or even b), but the whole c) thing was just sad. Still is.

Tyranist never saw TITANIC. It was one of those that he gave the Klingon dishonour backturn to, and became one of its outspoken critics . . . or, more accurately, haters. He's done that with a number of films that he's happy to remind me of.

So, because TITANIC came out a decade ago, I thought about what movies I hate that you probably love. Strangely, I couldn't come up with a lot. I figured tyranist would be happy to send me his list, and in less than five minutes, there were five on their way back to me.

Tyranist's list:
1. Titanic
2. Forrest Gump
3. Schindler's List
4. Pulp Fiction
5. Apocalypse Now

My list, though, has been longer in coming. I hate a lot of films, sure, but usually they're movies you either also despise or were smart enough not to see. I could put last year's ERAGON on the list, but I haven't seen that one, and would probably only be citing it because I hated the book. I'm really trying here.

So far, I can come up with:

2. SHREK**

I'm finding myself stuck now. For a long time, I really resented THE MATRIX, and maybe went as far as hating it in late 1999/early 2000. But then the sequels came out, which were inferior (particularly the third one) that it sort of made me appreciate the original more than I had before. I no longer hate the film and can't list it here.

Tyranist's mention of SCHINDLER'S LIST is another good example of a movie I will never watch again, but I don't hate it. I think it's extremely well-made, but found it extraordinarily painful to sit through. Which was probably the point.

I don't hate BATMAN BEGINS, but I don't lavish it with accolytic praise and adulation like most people. Same with THE MATRIX. I feel about NAPOLEON DYNAMITE the way tyranist does about TITANIC GUMP, but I haven't seen it, so I can't very well list it. Seems like there's a Ridley Scott film I'm really not a fan of, but I can't think of it now (I hate LEGEND, but it's not a film everyone else loves). This is really difficult, you know?

4. ELF

I had listed FARGO as my number four, but when I thought of ELF, which I went to first-run on the glowing recommendation of people I respected, despite not having much cash at the time, it had to be on my list. I dislike FARGO, but I hate ELF.

I had listed BOOGIE NIGHTS as my number five, but it's one of those films that was quite possibly well-made, but just not made for me.*** I feel a shivery kind of loathing for all Paul Thomas Anderson's films, and might've listed MAGNOLIA too, but it's got those awesome Aimee Mann songs, so that has to disqualify that one.

Mentioning THE MATRIX a minute ago, though, reminds me of a flick I do hate: EQUILIBRIUM. It had something of a great premise, and had the awesome Sean Bean in it, but the unnecessarily tacked-on MATRIX fighting sequences really bothered me, and the brain-crampingly stupid ending made me long for films where it turns out it was all a dream. But what pushed it over the edge into hatred for me was when I heard people claim it was better than THE MATRIX. You don't usually hear people say BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS is better than STAR WARS, or ALLIGATOR is better than JAWS, or SPECIES is better than ALIEN, no matter how good those knock-offs were.


This is the hardest Top Five I've had to compile. I'm sure the next one (maybe movies I love that everyone else hates?) will be easier.

Rish "The Ebersisk" Outfield

*Particularly my sister, who did all but change her last name to DiCaprio after seeing it.

**But even SHREK I don't actually hate; I just resent the hell out of it.

***Plus, it's got Heather Graham naked in it, so it can't be that bad.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Mini Buffy Post

December 12th, 2007

This was a very short "Buffy" Wednesday, because we watched the delightful SATAN'S LITTLE HELPER beforehand, and well, I guess that was our only excuse.

"Shadow" was written by David Fury (I just keep seeing the same names over and over, which I think is great), and starts with Joyce going to the hospital for a CAT scan. Buffy tries to comfort Dawn, but is really nervous herself.

At Giles's shop, the gang is doing research on the Blond Beast, and Xander is upset that Riley blew up the vampires without him (somehow he knew he used a grenade too . . . guess that soldier thing still hasn't worn off). You know, I don't think I've ever mentioned that Giles's place of business is called The Magic Box. There was a girl at work, Kenya, whose nickname was that.

Meanwhile, Riley goes to Buffy's house, only to find Spike there, in her bedroom, sniffing one of her blouses. Spike claims that it's normal predator behaviour, and then delights in telling Riley about Buffy's mother, insinuating that Buffy didn't trust Riley with this information. Riley threatens Spike with sunlight, then heads to the hospital.

The Blond Beast has her own hideout, and her own sycophantic demon servant, played by Kevin Weisman from "Alias." Also, we are told that the BB has a name: Glory. Glory wants to cast a spell to locate the Key, and needs magic supplies to do it. She goes to Giles's shop, where the gang is still discussing her. They think she may be something too old to be mentioned in books, and that the Dagon Sphere (did I mention that before?) that Buffy found was supposed to be a talisman to keep her away.

While they are discussing this, Glory comes in and Giles helps her, never suspecting his customer is anything but an ordinary bitch. She leaves and they keep trying to figure her out.

Riley gets to the hospital and Buffy asks him to sit with Dawn while she sees her mother. Joyce tells her the doctors found a shadow on her CT scan, and they're going to operate to see how serious it is. In private, the doctor explains the shadow is a brain tumor and pesters Buffy with questions about power lines and other possible causes. Ben, the handsome nurse/doc/intern/paramedic guy, gets the doctor to leave her alone, and then has some comforting I'm-going-to-be-sleeping-with-this-girl-before-the-end-of-the-season words for her.

Riley is supposed to take Dawn to school, but they go to the park instead (a different park than the one we always see, it seems, since this one has a carousel). Dawn talks about having a birthday party there during Season One, and tells Riley he's a better boyfriend to Buffy than Angel was, since Buffy was always crying when she went out with Angel. With Riley, Buffy never gets that emotional. Riley takes this badly. The guy takes everything badly lately, don't he?

Buffy goes to the Magic Box (hee, hee) and asks Giles/Tara/Willow about casting a spell to heal her mother. They tell her a spell would probably only make things worse, which would infuriate me, and that she should trust the doctors know what they're doing. Over at the cash register, Anya sees the receipt for what Glory bought, and tells them someone, most likely the Blond Beast, is about to cast a (I had to look it up) Transmogrification Spell, where an animal changed into a scary computer-generated servant.

Buffy doesn't want to sit around, and heads to the zoo to see if she can find Glory. It's clear she is outgunned here, but it's understandable that Buffy would want to do something useful and/or fight something, rather than think about
her mother's condition.

Glory gets a cobra out of the reptile house and begins the spell along with her demon lackey (whose name is Dreg). Buffy arrives and interrupts it. While Glory wipes the walls up with Buffy's body, Dreg completes the spell and the cobra is transformed into a cobraman and takes off in search of the Key.

Riley drops Dawn off at the magic shop (at least I think he did) and Xander gives him a hard time about the night before, wondering if he has some kind of death wish. Riley hits the only bar in Sunnydale and while he's drinking, the same hot vampire chick from before comes onto him again. This time, he gives in, and lets her bite him in the back alley. Tyranist and I discussed this, guessing that he's doing it so he can superhuman strength and be more on Buffy's level (or also because Spike insinuated that Buffy likes her dudes with pointier teeth and no tans), but trying to remind the television that, according to Joss Whedon lore, when you become a vampire, a demon enters into you, and you're no longer the person you were before.*

Regardless of his motivations, Riley seems to have a change of heart, as he stakes the vampire chick midway through their embrace.

The cobraman is a fairly convincing animatronic most of the time, and a somewhat-convincing CGI creation the rest of the time. It tears through town, bursting into the magic shop and goes toward Dawn. She screams and it immediately turns tail and heads out into the night. Giles gets in his car and tries to catch the cobraman. He picks up Buffy and they manage to grab it just meters away from Glory's building.

Buffy, filled with understandable rage, beats the living shite out of the cobraman, pounding him with all her frustration and recent angst. To call it dead is an understatement.

Back at the hospital, Joyce tells Dawn about her brain tumor. Riley tries to comfort Buffy (yet again), but she doesn't want any. She's afraid that once she starts crying, she won't be able to stop, so she's going to stay strong. She leaves Riley standing there, thoroughly emasculated, and goes to her mother's side. The end.

I wish I didn't know where this Joyce subplot was going, but that's one of those elements of the show (such as the musical episode, Willow's lesbianism, and the network switch) that was simply a matter of public knowledge when it happened, whether you were a fan of the show or not.

It's nice that I hate Glory the Blond Beast and want her to die. I feel bad for Riley, but this all has been done well enough to not make Buffy look cold or blind or unsympathetic. If there's a major drop in quality now that there's two shows instead of just one, I haven't seen it. Maybe when there are three shows Joss is juggling?

Rish Outfield

*They may well have abandoned this aspect of the mythos, though. If you look at Harmony or post-vampire Darla, the demon thing doesn't appear to apply.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Top Five Trilogies

Today I saw the INDIANA JONES IV poster for the first time. It looks very TEMPLE OF DOOMish to me (which must bug all the haters out there, but makes me smile), by the great Drew Struzan. Two things bother me:
1) the awful title is right there in living orange, so it has to be official.
And, 2) what's my dad doing on there, dressed as Doctor Jones?

But seeing that the Indy Trilogy is about to become a . . . four-part series,* I thought about my favourite trilogies of all time. As is tradition, I asked my friends for theirs too.

So, what are they?

1. The Star Wars Trilogy
2. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
3. Indiana Jones Trilogy
4. Back to the Future Trilogy
5. Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy

The last two were hard. I thought about I wonder if it's even fair to list the STAR WARS films, since someone recently told me there were more than three. And will INDIANA JONES IV disqualify the Eighties trio in everybody's minds? Boy, I hate it when they do that. For example, I'd have liked to list the Die Hard Trilogy but couldn't, George Romero's zombie trilogy has a fourth installment (and a fifth and sixth installment on the way), and Kevin Smith's "New Jersey Trilogy" has, what, eleven films in it now?

Could I list STAR TREK II, III, and IV? That's sort of a Trilogy.

Beta Ray Charles listed:
1. Star Wars
2. Lord of the Rings
3. Back to the Future
4. Indiana Jones
5. Spider-Man (so far)

Tyranist offered up this list:
1. Lord of the Rings
2. Indiana Jones
3. Star Wars
4. Rodriguez's Mexico trilogy
5. Jason Bourne

My cousin Ryan listed:
2. Original SW Trilogy
3. X-Men
4. Pirates of the Caribbean
5. Matrix/Spiderman

My insane buddy Jeff gave me:
1. Lord of the Rings
2. Starwars, Ep 4, 5& 6
3. Spiderman
4. X-Men
5. Evil Dead
(even bought the series for my step dad. Things get tough after that. Many trilogies had 2 good flix, and the last one stank: Alien(s), Terminator, Spidey even fits this category, Matrix - Well the first was great and the last TWO stank, mostly Pirates of Caribbean - same as Matrix)

I guess, if you average out our answers, the list goes like this:
1. Lord of the Rings
2. Star Wars
3. Indiana Jones
4. Back to the Future/X-men/Spider-man
5. Care Bears

And I do wonder, if THE HOBBIT ever gets made, will people consider that a part of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy? Or is it possible that people will keep it separate in their minds, the way SCORPION KING is separate from THE MUMMY, and SUPERMAN RETURNS is sort of separate from the Christopher Reeve Supermans. Heck, maybe people will look at INDIANA JONES IV that way too.

I hope so. But you know what would be better? If they didn't have to.

Rish "The Mediocre Second Sequel" Outfield

*"Quadrology/Quadrilogy" are such silly, made-up words, I can't bring myself to use them. "Quintology," however, is a good one.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Buff-gel Wednesday (but on a Sunday this time)

10-13 December 2007

I was pretty unhappy with tyranist after the fifth attempt to make me watch "Veronica Mars," so when he started up "Buffy" against his will and began the episode not at the beginning, but where we left it off, I pitched a fit. So much so that he, I believe, was sorely tempted to just forget the whole thing and ask me to get the fuck out.

But no, we watched "Fool For Love" from the beginning again, and I was surprised to see that I had missed approximately one minute of show. Whoops.

Doug Petrie wrote this episode, and oddly, he also wrote the last one. Impressive, most impressive.

In the cemet'ry, Buffy is fighting a vampiric member of the Ramones, and she suddenly loses the upper hand. The vampire sticks her in the belly with her own stake, and she is rescued by Riley, who manages to drive the creature off. He patches her up, asking her about this amazing menace that nearly killed the Slayer. She is chilled to admit that the vampire was nothing special, yet he almost won anyway.

Buffy goes to Giles and asks him what he knows about the deaths of previous Slayers. He says that almost nothing is known about their last battles, and he imagines most Watchers are too distraught (or probably dead, huh?) to write about it. At this point, I told tyranist, "Hey, didn't Spike claim to have killed two Slayers?" He asked if I wanted to watch "Veronica Mars," and I quickly shut my mouth.

Sure enough, though, Buffy tracks down Spike and takes him to the Bronze, offering him a shload of cash if he'll tell her how those Slayers died. Spike plays pool and tells his tale.

We flash back to London, circa 1880. Spike is still human and still known as William, and he is a prim, brown-haired and bespectacled, awkward dreamer, writing poetry about some plain rich girl named Cecily. He is trying to socialise at a party, where the other young people laugh at him behind his back, calling him "William the Bloody" because his love poems are, well, bloody awful. Cecily asks him if he's writing about her, and he proclaims his devotion to her. She stomps on his heart, not only uninterested, but proclaiming he is beneath her.

William cries and tears up his poems, and runs out into the night. He bumps into a trio of revelers, one of which is Drusilla, who follows him. She tells him she can see how wonderful a man he is and seems almost to read his mind. She offers him a magnificent future, and when she vamps out, he doesn't seem afraid, and allows her to bite him.*

Buffy has sent Riley and Company (who, this episode, comprise of Xander, Willow, and Anya) to find the nest of vampires where Undead Joey Ramone hangs out. Many vampires are gathered in a handy crypt, listening to UJR recount his battle with the Slayer, and Riley tells the others there's too many, but that they can return during the day and stake them then. As soon as the others depart, Riley goes to the crypt on his own, bursting in and interrupting UJR's story with a pointy stick. Then he tosses a hand grenade in among the others, and saunters away as they explode. Not bad.

Spike's flashback continues. Apparently, he was listening when his "friends" said he preferred a spike through the head to William's poetry, 'cause now he calls himself Spike. He has completely changed his persona, becoming a thrill-seeker, a rebel, a swaggering troublemaker who seems to butt heads with Angelus, due to his refusal to skulk around and be secretive. The four vampires: Darla, Angel, Drusilla, and Spike are hiding from angry mobs, and Angelus seems more than willing to kill Spike himself. He tells him that his recklessness will get him killed, especially if he encounters the Slayer. After that, Spike becomes interested in taking out a Slayer (both because he loves a challenge and, I suspect, to prove Angelus wrong).

Twenty years later, he gets his chance. The four vampires are in China during the Boxer Rebellion (I'm pretty sure a comic book tyranist showed me depicted this event, 'cause it sure seemed familiar to me), and amid the chaos and flames, Spike fights the Slayer there. She is Chinese and does all sorts of acrobatics, and even manages to slice him across the eyebrow** with her sword, but, as he points out to Buffy, she has to reach for her weapon, whereas he always has his weapons (his teeth) on him. He drinks her blood and shares some with Drusilla, who becomes aroused by it (I gotta say, I don't know if Drusilla's even viler now than she was in Season Two, but she sure is vile). Spike is very happy, proclaiming it the best night of his life, and Angelus seems disgusted by this. Darla just stands there, but at least she looks good.

Buffy, back in the Bronze, is not thrilled by Spike's revelation. In fact, she seems disgusted by it. But she lets him take her outside and tell her about his second Slayer kill: on a New York subway in 1977. This Slayer is a blacksploitation heroine, where our man Spike seems like the second-place winner in a Billy Idol lookalike contest. He is fun-loving as ever, if you interpret fun as hand-to-hand combat and violence-bred sexual arousal. He gets the best of this Slayer, and when it looks like he might kiss her, he snaps her neck instead. She was wearing the leather jacket he now wears all the time.

Spike tells Buffy that the thing with Slayers is, they all have a death wish deep down. Because of the life they lead, they get tired of killing, and maybe even tired of living. He leans in and tells her that it doesn't matter how many of them she kills, there's always more vampires, and once day, one will get lucky.

And then . . . he leans in again, to kiss her. She pushes him away, and he
tells her he knows that she wants to dance (though I have to admit I don't know exactly what "dance" refers to here). She tells him that maybe she does, but not with him. Never him, because he's beneath her. She tosses him his wad of money and leaves him alone in the alley. He weeps, gathering up the money in the most pathetic display I've seen since the last bathroom mirror I walked by.

I mean it, what a pitiful moment, not just the crying, but the shameless collecting of dollar bills. It's a glimpse of egoless despair and it's all-too-human. Brilliant.

Well, he doesn't wallow for long. He stomps back to his crypt and ignores Harmony as he gets a shotgun out of a box. He tells her he's going to kill the Slayer once and for all, chip in his head be damned, and heads to the Summers house.

We get one more flashback, and I'm not sure this one is so necessary. But it's South America, right after Season Two. Drusilla has left Spike for that fungus demon he referred to in "Lovers Walk," and it's because his defeats at the hands of the Slayer have left him a shell of his former self. She also says something which can be interpreted as her sensing he has a romantic interest in Buffy, and that the two of them are done.***

At Buffy's house, she sees that her mother is packing a suitcase. Joyce is going to the hospital for a CAT scan, since it's clear she's not getting better, and she's going to be admitted for observation. Buffy runs out to the back porch and sits there crying. It's at this moment that Spike appears, shotgun in hand. He wilts, however, when he sees her tears, and sits down beside her. He asks what's wrong and if he can do anything to help, then he puts his arm around her. She doesn't shake it off. The end.

Wow. This was even better than the Dawn show. I thought this was the best show of the season, but hey, I really like that Spike bloke.

Immediately after, we watched the "Darla" episode of "Angel," written and directed by Mr. Tim Minear.

Angel is still obsessed with Darla, and Wesley tries broaching the subject with him, only to be brushed off.

Darla, meanwhile, is struggling with her newly-acquired soul, and flashes back to her origin. She was a prostitute on her deathbed back in 1609 (in the Virgina Colonies), unwilling to receive the last rites from a priest . . . when she gets a hooded, strange visitor. To my surprise, it is The Master (from "Buffy" season one fame), who tells her he can take away her pain and turn her into something wondrous. He bites her and, I assume, her social diseases go away. A hundred years of Joss-knows-what occur, and she brings Angelus to meet The Master in 1760.

Angelus is disruptive and dismissive of The Master's skulking-around lifestyle (living underground, inspiring fear as an ugly creature of the night ), and is downright insulting. Essentially her father, The Master tells Darla to make her choice: him or Angelus. She chooses to leave, wandering Europe as we have seen previously.

As we have also seen previously (one hour previous), in 1880, William the bloody bad poet bumps into Angelus and company on the London streets, and Drusilla decides to turn him into the fourth member of their group/family.

Back in the present, Lindsay the evillawyerdude tries to comfort Darla, and kisses her at one point. He seems genuinely to care about her, but it's sometimes hard to read these characters. It is also revealed that "Darla" is not actually her name, but the name (meaning "dear one") The Master gave her upon her rebirth, and that's she's forgotten what she used to be called. My guess is Eunice, but like I said, these things are hard to read.

Flashing back to 1898, Angelus has just been cursed with a soul. Darla goes to the Gypsy camp and pleads with him to remove the curse. He seems unwilling, so she promises to spare his family's life if he will lift Angelus's curse. At that moment, Spike pokes his head out of the Gypsy tent, having eaten the whole family. He belches, and Darla has no choice but to kill the Gypsy now.

During the Boxer Rebellion (only two years later), Angel goes to Darla, and tells her they can still be together, in spite of his soul. He has been living on vermin and is quite filthy, yet still handsomer than me and tyranist put together. Is that fair? Darla gives Angel another chance, and while Spike is off kung fu fighting, Angel discovers a young missionary couple with an infant and protects them from the violence. Darla is about to discover them, but Angel leads her away, being less than thrilled with Spike's boastings about killing the Chinese Slayer.

Manners, Lindsay's boss at Wolfram & Hart, is not pleased with Darla's recent turn, and seems to go back and forth between saying this is all according to plan and shaking his head in disappointment. Lindsay tells him he can get through to her, but Manners takes him off the case. Darla calls Angel, telling him she needs him. A security guard comes to take her away and there's some kind of struggle with his gun, which goes off and kills him. This seems to be the last straw, and Manners plans to have Darla eliminated.

Back in their Chinese hideout, Darla and Angel are very happy together. But, it seems, she's aware of what he did for the missionaries, and went out afterward and killed them anyway. But she brought their infant back, so that Angel can kill it, proving where his loyalties lie. He seems to struggle for just a second, then he scoops up the baby and jumps through a window to escape.

Like I said last week, I thought every bit of Angel backstory had been filled in, but we had a hell of a lot of flashbacks here that proved me wrong. But I can't imagine what else they need to tell us now about his past (we can just assume that he never saw Darla again until 1997, right?) that would necessitate another flashback, as much as I love them.

In the present, Lindsay sees the security guard Darla accidentally killed walking around, talking to Manners, and I guess that's bad. He goes into the parking garage and Angel appears to strangle him. He tells Angel that Darla's in danger and appears to be on the side of the . . .

He appears to be one of the good guys again. Angel tracks down Darla, who insists he bite her and turn her into a vampire once again. I have to admit that I hoped he would, as it would make things a hell of a lot easier, but he doesn't give in. Maybe because it would make things a hell of a lot easier, I don't know. The end.

I really enjoyed this episode. Tyranist complained that the point of these two shows was to make Spike and Darla sympathetic. I think it worked, though I already loved Spike and it only made me like him more. As far as Darla goes, I don't know that I'll ever LIKE her, exactly, but we start to understand her here, and that's something.

Oh, and at some point I'm going to have to mention that "Buffy" episodes are now scored by someone named Thomas Wanker.

Rish Thomas Outfield

*Tyranist said he remembered Drusilla siring Spike, but I thought Angel had, for some reason. Guess it doesn't matter, really. All the matters is how good this episode was.

**When I was at Comic-Con this past summer, I hung out for a little while with a couple of women who were super huge Joss Whedon fans. I told them that I was just getting into the show, and one of them told me that James Marsters actually has a scar on his temple from a bar fight, and when they first designed the vampire prosthetic for him, he pointed it out and the makeup guys altered it so you could always see the scar there. I don't believe I had ever noticed this scar before then, but after hearing the story, I can't not look at it. Just like this guy I went to Junior High with, Ryan "Tri-cheek" Bird, who had three buttocks. Until somebody pointed it out and laughed (several people, in fact), I had never seen anything abnormal there. I don't recall what I thought his nickname had meant before then, though.

***I am glad the filmmakers resisted the urge to have Drusilla too say Spike's beneath her, if that nasty temptation had beckoned them.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I will never watch Veronica Mars


9 December 2007

Tyranist and I go back a long way, and there's little we can't talk to one another about*. But like all relationships, there are certain lines that have been drawn in the sand that we know not to cross. I will never ask him to watch FORREST GUMP and he will never (again) make me watch David Lynch's DUNE with him.

But with "Veronica Mars," he just won't quit. Since before I moved away from Los Angeles, he's been on me to watch this show with him, either in first run, TiVo-ed, or on the many DVD sets in his possession. Always my answer is the same: "Die."

I've stuck by my answer time and time again, not because I have anything against "Veronica Mars," per se, or even against its lead, Kristen Bell (who was in the turd-smelling PULSE remake last year). It's not even that I did it to piss my friend off, though that seemed mildly successful. The damn show just didn't appeal to me. I don't like the WB/UPN teen dramas (with the exception of "Smallville" back in the day, and the very embarrassing exception of "Dawson's Creek" rather recently). They always make me feel old, unpopular, worthless, and very, very ugly, when they're not filling me with the uncontrollable urge to kill.

And tyranist tends to like everything, I kid you not, including stuff so bad it makes my nut hair grow back in. Plus, the show just looked like one that I wouldn't like. So there.

I went over to tyranist's house on Sunday, and as usual, he mentioned "Veronica Mars," and as usual, I told him to sit and spin. But when he was done, he brought it up again. And again. And again.

He wasn't being subtle about his determination to watch the show that night, and refused to take "Get bent" for an answer. At one point, he just got up and put the DVD in the player, like a child testing the boundaries a babysitter has placed on him, or a particularly horny dude after the school dance. I thought about getting up and leaving, figuring, "Ha! I'll go out in the snow and spend the evening all by myself, like I always do. That'll show him!"

But, for some reason, I just let him push the PLAY button, and sat in surly silence as the show began. The opening title sequence played, and with each face that appeared, I hated tyranist a little more. With every pop song, I could hear the disembodied voice of the announcer saying, "This fresh episode of 'Gilmore Girls' featured music from Maroon 5 and Raccoon Boy, available at the WB dot com," something I hate like my uncle hates women who ask for money afterwards, or you hate mandatory drug screenings. I do have to admit it was sort of cute when Veronica's father came onscreen and he said, "Come on, I know you love Enrico Colantoni." I didn't know who that was or who he played, but it is a cool name.

As the episode went on, I found a couple things to sneer at, and a couple of things to smile at, but it didn't push me either way. The show's characters were semi-interesting, and I had to admit I was intrigued by the mystery premise, but I was still sending the mental finger across the couch at the purveyor of this "entertainment."

Then it ended. Abruptly. And I had questions. He asked what I wanted to watch next, and instead of porn, "Buffy," Hammer Horror, or homeless people fighting, I said he could go ahead and put in the second episode.

This one had Paris Hilton in it. And she was playing herself. So that should've been the straw that sent the camel to Cedars Sinai. But the things that bothered me in the first episode didn't bother me so much in the second one, and the damn mystery still wasn't resolved, so we went on to the third episode. I had no complaints about that one.

Or the fourth. We watched the whole damn disc, and would've kept watching had tyranist not kicked me out. And I'm the guy who will never watch "Veronica Mars."

So, I'm listing this as my Stupid Thing of the Week. Not because the show was stupid, or because I was stupid enough into letting my friend con me into watching three hours of "Veronica Mars," but because I really enjoyed it, once more feeding tyranist's Louie Anderson-sized ego. Dammit.

Rish "Victoria Uranus" Outfield

*Does this look infected to you? Should it hang to the side like that? Is the smell normal?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Rank the Pixars

I was over at tyranist's house not long ago, and he was watchin' RATATOUILLE for the first time. Instead of going in his library and rolling on the ground in fetal position (like I usually do in such situations), I sat down and watched the last three quarters of it again. I liked it a lot more the second time, but still found it down there a ways, especially for Pixar.
Most everyone I spoke to or read, however, were enchanted by RATATOUILLE, and I can't really say what it is that made me like it less than everyone else. Afterward, Tyranist did agree with me that it was weaker than most Pixar releases, so I felt a bit vindicated.

He did think WALL-E looked awful, however, so we may not have the world in common.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to ask a couple friends to rank the Pixar films, and see what other people said. I recognise that, again, this is not a Top Five list, but I'm classifying it that anyway.

My list goes like this:

Tyranist's list:
1. The Incredibles
2. Finding Nemo
3. Monsters Inc.
4. Toy Story 2
5. Cars
6. Toy Story
7. Ratatouille
8. A Bug's Life

I asked my lawyer pal Ian for his ranking, and he gave me:
1. Incredibles
2. Toy Story
3. Toy Story 2
4. A Bug's Life
5. Monsters Inc
6. Finding Nemo
7. Cars
8. Ratatouille

Prison Guard John gave me this list:
1. Toy Story
2. The Incredibles
3. Monsters Inc.
4. Toy Story 2
5. Cars
6. Finding Nemo
7. A Bug's Life
8. Rattatouille

Beta Ray Charles's list:
1. Finding Nemo
2. Toy Story
3. Toy Story 2
4. Monsters Inc.
5. The Incredibles
6. Ratatouille
7. Cars
8. A Bug's Life

My friend Merrill is a huge Pixar fan. He has even vowed, on the life of his firstborn, that he will never buy a computer-animated film that's made my one of their competitors. This was Merrill's list:
1. Finding Nemo
2. Toy Story
3. Monsters Inc.
4. The Incredibles
5. Cars
6. A Bug's Life
7. Ratatouille
8. Toy Story 2

Jeff the Sex Doctor's list:
1) Incredibles
2) Monsters Inc
3) Toy Story
4) Toy Story 2
5) Finding Nemo
6) A Bug's Life
7) Cars
(I never bothered with "Ratatouille" so can't rate it)

And my cousin Ryan gave me this list:
1. Toy Story
2. The Incredibles
3. Toy Story 2
4. Finding Nemo
5. Monster's Inc
6. Bug's Life
7. Cars
8. Ratatatotuille is by far my least favorite. It was okay, but I didn't enjoy it anywhere near the others.

So, judging from all the results, it looks like the averaged ranking is thus:
1. The Incredibles
2./3. Toy Story/Finding Nemo (tie)
4. Monsters Inc.
5. Toy Story 2
6. A Bug's Life
7. Cars
8 Ratatouille


Next up: rating the porno Pixar parodies (SEX TOY STORY, THE SIN-CREDIBLES, A FUGG's LIFE, RATA-SCREWY, GRINDING REAM-HO, etc.)!

Rish CGI Outfield

Friday, December 07, 2007

Buffy/Angel Wednesday (5 Deciembre 2007)

I've got four episodes to blog about today. It had only been two weeks, but it felt like a long time since we'd watched BTVS or "Angel." I guess that's a testament to how good they are, huh?

The first "Buffy" was called "No Place Like Home," and it was a good 'un. It was written by Doug Petrie, and dealt with Buffy discovering a mysterious glowing orb while patrolling. A friendly night watchman gives it to her, thinking it's something she's taking to a rave, and she takes it to Giles, who is having his big opening at the magic shop. I was pretty sure it would be a bust, but on the first day, the place is swarming with customers. Anya is very interested in money, and uses her demonic experience to such persistent (and annoying) effect that Giles offers her a job. Nice.

On the unpleasant front, there's a new baddie in town: a blonde in a red dress with enormous power and more than a little quirky insanity. She is referred to as The Beast, and she seems to have the ability to suck peoples' life force out with her fingertips. Turns out that the glowing ball belonged to a monk who was using it as protection from evil, and said evil is the Blond Beast. Tyranist absolutely loathed her right off, which is lately quite typical, but still distressing.

On the unpleasanter (and more distressing) front, Buffy's mother continues to not feel well, having little energy and constant headaches. Buffy goes to the hospital to get her a prescription and meets a handsome, shaggy-haired male nurse, who I only mention because he also showed up in the next episode. When Buffy runs into the now-hysterical security guard there, he tells her she's in danger, and that it'll go through her family to get her.

Buffy tells her friends about this, and because Tara isn't in this episode for some reason*, Anya tells her about a spell she can cast where she can see any magic being performed around her. Buffy goes home and Riley, who's still feeling unnecessary in Buffy's life, tries to help, but ends up being told she wants to do this on her own. Dawn too tries to interrupt, and Buffy banishes her to her room.

Buffy performs the ritual and goes to check on her mother, who is just going out. To her surprise, Joyce Summers has no spells or curses on her. But the family pictures in the living room alternate between having three and two people in them. Buffy goes upstairs to see Dawn, and is able to see Dawn's room as it is and as it is supposed to be, without Dawn in it. "You're not my sister," Buffy hisses at Dawn, and shoves her against the wall. She threatens Dawn to leave her mother alone, and goes out into the night.

She finds Spike loitering around her house and is immediately suspicious. We know that Spike is there because he's got all sorts of piney feelings for Bufanda**, but Buffy threatens him too, sure he's up to no good. He takes off, pouting, and she sees (from his mountain of cigarette butts) he's been there all night.

Joyce comes back home, and Dawn, quite ominously, offers to make her some tea. Despite having tyranist explain to me several months ago what the deal with Dawn was, I was quite suspicious that maybe she was some kind of creature in human form (though without evil intentions).

Buffy goes to the warehouse where she found the orb and finds the Blond Beast there, torturing the monk for the location of a key. Buffy confronts the Beast, and it turns out she is maybe stronger than anyone Buffy's faced before. She thrashes Buffy soundly, punching things so hard that the ceiling begins to fall in on top of her. Buffy manages to get the monk out, but he is mortally wounded. He tells her that the key the Beast sought has taken human form, and that he gave her to Buffy for protection. The key is Dawn, and the memories everyone has of her were fabricated so no enemies would be able to find her. He tells her, then dies, that Dawn doesn't know who she really is, and is just a human girl who needs her sister.

Buffy goes home and, swallowing her pride, goes to see Dawn, who is understandably skittish around her. For the second time on this damn show, I found myself crying as Buffy apologised to her for her behaviour and suggested they both deal with the fact that their mother is sick. Back at the warehouse, the Blond Beast pops up again like the horror movie villain she is. The end.

Good, good stuff. Like I said, I didn't know where the Dawn thing was going, and I imagine millions of "Buffy" watchers sighing in relief at finally finding out who this sister was. But it does open up new questions: what is this key to and can Dawn open it without knowing what she is? And what happens to her if she finds out she's a key or does what keys do? And how did she first find out her sister was the Slayer, and how will Buffy's attitude toward her change now? If this were a show by J.J. Abrams, I'd be pretty sure we'd never find out.

The next "Angel" episode was called "Dear Boy," and was written and directed by co-show runner David Greenwalt. It featured more flashbacks to Angel's past, and
shows how Darla and Angelus roamed Europe feeding and terrorising until they found Drusilla, a young woman with second sight. Angelus thinks it would be amusing to make her into a vampire. This was the first time we had seen Drusilla since "Buffy" Season Two, and she gives me the heebie jeebies just as much as before. With this flashback, I thought we had pretty much gotten all the pieces of Angel's past we needed. We'll see, huh?

Meanwhile, in the present, Angel sees Darla walking around, and becomes quite obsessed with her, to the point where Wesley and Cordelia think he might be losing his mind. Angel encounters Darla at a hotel and when he grabs her, she appears frightened and confused, claiming her name isn't Darla and she doesn't know who he is. Angel has Cordelia find out where this woman lives and goes to spy on her that night. He sees her and her husband having dinner, as normal people do. During all this, evil lawyer Lindsay has contacted policewomanoffer Kate Lockley (who we hadn't seen this season) to tell her what Angel is up to. In case you hadn't been keeping score, Kate now despises Angel and blames him for the death of her father, for her bunions, for the Iraq war, and for the failure of EVAN ALMIGHTY at the box office.

Turns out that Darla's husband is just an actor, pretending to be her spouse, and that they're living there under the guise of the murdered occupants of the house. Knowing Angel is on the premises, Darla makes a terrified phone call to the police while a vampire in Wolfram & Hart's employ attacks and kills her "husband." Sure enough, the cops arrive and blame Angel for the murder, who flees. Darla puts on a convincing performance for Kate that implicates Angel, playing right into her newly-acquired prejudice.*** When she turns her back, Angel appears and grabs Darla, whisking her away.

Back at A.I., new regular cast member Gunn talks to Cordelia and Wesley, and they fill him in on Angel's past with Darla. They also tell him what happens with a moment of pure happiness, etc., and Gunn isn't too pleased with this information.

Angel takes Darla to this big underground demon-worshiping place that looked absolutely enormous. Almost immediately, she drops the act and the old Darla returns. They begin kissing passionately and she begins seducing him.

Policewomanofficer Kate Lockley goes to Angel's hotel and threatens the three employees with arrest, particularly Gunn, who is something of a criminal anyway. Wesley tries to explain that Darla is a vampire and that Angel has been framed, but she's got to hunt her whale. That is, until Wesley presents three pieces of evidence: one, that Angel couldn't have entered without being invited, two, that the woman Darla claims to be is dead, and three, in book on vampire lore is a hundred year old photograph of Darla, the same chick Kate was talking to that evening. I think that gets Angel off the hook for now.

Back with the kissing, Darla tells Angel she made him happy once, and that she can do it again. Coldly, he tells her she never made him happy, not even that one time when she put on the Japanese schoolgirl outfit with the lollypop. Or maybe I imagined that part. Regardless, he tells her that she's human now, and that means she has a soul. Pretty soon, she's going to feel remorse for all the crap she pulled in the old days, and that she's in for a world of hurt. Darla keeps some of her dignity as she retreats out into the morning light, emerging where Angel dares not walk, and tells him she'll get to him before too long. The end.

You know, this episode was pretty darn cool too. I thought Tyranist said it was the best "Angel" of the season, but he was actually referring to the one that followed. I'm really enjoying this Darla stuff, and I have to admit I have no idea where it's going. I've complained a lot about Julie Benz's role on both shows, but she's either gotten a lot better, or I've simply grown fond of her with time. Regardless, she way hot in these episodes. Oh, and the title, "Dear Boy," is Darla's pet name for Angel/us, which is spoken a couple times in this episode.

Next we got "Family," a BTVS episode written and directed by "Angel"'s other show runner, Joss Whedon. It began with Buffy confiding in Giles what she had found out about her sister. I was glad to see it. Giles suggests they keep it a secret, and that will keep Dawn safer than if everyone knew she was not what she seems. Buffy chooses to move back into her mother's house (when had she moved out again?) to be closer to her family, and the gang helps her move. Willow tells everyone that it's Tara's birthday and plans a nice party for her.

Though Xander and friends like Tara, they don't know what to get her. Giles suggests they pick her up something from the magic shop, and when they go there, this farmboy-type comes in, looking for Tara. Turns out he is her brother, in town with my father--er, her father, and her cousin, played by Amy Adams, currently starring in ENCHANTED. At first glance, you can tell what sort of people you are, and it speaks volumes that Tara's stutter returns around them, maybe worse than ever. When Tara goes home, she finds her father in her dorm room, looking disgustedly at her magic paraphernalia.

Turns out that Tara fled her father's grasp a year before, having a mother who used magic and, I gather, came to a bad end. It ain't right that the menfolk gotta cook and clean for themselves, with Tara so selfishly off in the big city doin' a mess o' book-learnin'. It is also revealed that Tara is part demon, a part that manifests itself upon her nineteenth birthday. Her father insists she return home before that happens, since her friends will collectively spit on her when they find out, and that she pack up her stuff.

Elsewhere, the Blond Beast is hunting around, and finds a demon who tells her about the Slayer. She commissions the demon and its posse to find her and kill her.

Buffy tells the others about said Blond Beast and tells Riley not to go patrolling with her. He goes to Sunnydale's only bar and gets hit on by a hot chick who turns out to be a vampire. He just feels inferior and unneeded by Buffy, and I can't really blame him, though he could go through a woodchipper and still be more attractive than me.

Willow suggests, to find the Blond Beast, that they cast that spell that "didn't work" last season, the one that finds demons. Our heads spun in astonishment as tyranist and I realised that we were finally being shown why Tara botched that spell way back in "Goodbye Iowa."**** Afraid of being found out, Tara casts a spell of her own, that Buffy and Company won't be able to see demonic manifestations.

Harmony (ick) and Spike are together again, if I haven't mentioned it, and while putting the boots to her, Spike finds himself thinking of doing battle with Buffy. Nice. Harmony tells him about the group of demons who are going to kill the Slayer, and he rushes off, as he puts it, to get a good seat.

At the magic shop, the gang is attacked by the demons, which none are able to see. Giles tries to protect Dawn as the demons start thrashing them, trying to get to Buffy. Spike arrives and does battle against the demons. Tara arrives and realises her mistake. She counteracts the spell and the demons are easily dispatched.

Everyone is shocked that Tara would've put a spell on them, especially since it could've gotten them killed. Tara tells them why she did it, ashamed of her demonic secret. Willow seems the most hurt that Tara didn't confide in her, and wonders if their love has also been a lie. Cue my dad and Tara's cousin and brother to enter, there to toss Tara in the back of a pickup truck where she belongs. Buffy tells Tara's dad (not mine, after all, I just get them so confused) he'll have to go through her to get Tara. And Dawn. And Giles. And Xander. Pretty much everyone but Spike, who doesn't much care either way.

Tara's father tells them she's part demon, and Anya asks him what kind. He doesn't think that matters, prompting a suspicious Spike to go up to Tara and punch her in the face. I'm sure he could've found a more subtle way of doing it, but the punch causes him intense pain, which means she ain't no demon. It would seem that the whole demon story was an invention by the males in the family to keep the womenfolk from gettin' too uppity. One Hillary Rodham Clinton is more than enough for all of them.

Tara doesn't go with my dad, her brother and her cousin, because she's found a new family now. They go to the Bronze for her birthday party, where Riley arrives and makes up (and out) with Buffy. Willow and Tara have a nice romantic dance while the music plays, and we are shown that they're floating a foot above the floor. The end.

Boy oh boy, this was a good episode. I'm getting sick of my own voice in general, but especially of saying, "This was a real good episode." I'd like to thank my father for showing up and being disdainful of Tara for a change. Still, every time he spoke, I could hear him telling me how ashamed my family was in me.

But hey, I may have daddy issues, I don't know.

We enjoy "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," so tyranist and I decided to go ahead and sneak one more episode in, even though I have vowed (many a time) not to skip any "Angel" episodes again, just in case there's a reference or a crossover and we shoot ourselves in the foot that way. So, as "Fool For Love" started up, and the first name that appeared in the guest cast was David Boreanaz, we "arrrrghh"ed and stopped the film, switching over to "Angel," as we should have all along.

This episode was called "Guise Will Be Guise," a pun worthy of my most shameful exercises, written by Ms. Jane Espenson. Angel is still really hung up on Darla's return, and he goes to the karaoke bar to ask for advice. Meanwhile, a dude comes to Angel Investigations, looking for Angel, but quickly leave when Wesley offers his services in Angel's absence.

On the suggestion of the host demon, Angel drives off into the mountains to meet with a sort of guru/life coach, played by the ever-reliable Art LaFleur. The guru tries to get Angel centered, asking him questions about his life and his car and his hair.

Back at the hotel, thugs threaten Cordelia at gunpoint, demanding to see Angel. Wesley puts on Angel's big leather jacket and pretends that he is Angel. He is taken to a mansion where zillionare businessman Mr. Bryce apologises for the way he was brought there (this seems to happen a lot on TV, don't it?), and asks him to protect his daughter, who has been getting all sorts of threats of late. Everyone believes Wesley is Angel, and knows that he's a vampire. Despite Wesley nearly botching it again and again, he meets Virginia,***** the daughter. She's spunky and likable, and Wesley agrees to be her bodyguard. He realises she's been cooped up by her overprotective, nutball father her whole life. He takes her shopping for her dad's fiftieth birthday party, and Wesley narrowly prevents her from being kidnapped again.

This adventure brings them closer, and Wesley and Virginia kiss, romance in the air. Back at her place, she is afraid of sleeping with Wesley, in case he becomes Bad Wesley again, but he tells her that's not a problem (you know, for all they know about Angel and his life, nobody knows what he looks like?). The beast with two backs is made.

Cordelia gets ahold of Gunn and tells him to head to the hills to bring back Angel. Angel is still being counseled by the guru, who tells him that he doesn't like himself, has lots of weaknesses due to regrets and fear of who he used to be, and that he ought to nail a blonde who looks like Darla, to make himself feel better.

The guru gets a phone call, and it is revealed that this guy is just pretending to be the great and powerful swami, and is there to keep Angel out of the way so Virginia can be eliminated. But then, who is it that's protecting her back in L.A.?

Mr. Bryce realises that he's been had, and declares Wesley and impostor. This hurts Virginia, who has been lied to quite a lot. Turns out that's true more than she knows, as it is revealed that Mr. Bryce was hiding Virginia away all this time only so he could sacrifice his virginal daughter to a demon on his fiftieth birthday. In return, he'll get buttloads of power (Bryce's enemies knew this and that's why they were trying to steal Virginia away).

Gunn tracks Angel down, and is attacked by the fake guru. Angel takes him out with a fishing pole, and heads back to civilisation. That night, at Mr. Bryce's birthday party, everybody but Virginia appears to be in on it, and he begins the ritual. Angel and Company arrive at the party, but it's too late: Bryce has summoned the demon (a rotund Edie McClurg type) to accept his sacrifice. She rejects Virginia on account of her hymen deficiency, and Mr. Bryce's chance at limitless power is ruined. Virginia is furious, and tells her father she hasn't been a virgin for years (in fact, she's had more men on her than a golf course). Somehow, the papers find out about Wesley's exaggerated exploits, and there's lots of free advertising for Wyndam-Price Investigations. The end.

I am quite happy watching "Angel" alongside "Buffy." They say it gets better as it goes on, but it's pretty damned good right now, so we'll see.

Afterward, I hoped tyranist would put in the "Buffy" episode we had started. Usually on nights like these, he wants to go on and on, and I'm the one who says, "We'd better slow down, man, you might get pregnant." But this time, I was dead-set on on watching one more "Buffy." After all, we'd already watched four minutes of it.

But sterner heads prevailed, and tyranist gave me his traditional, "Well, I'm going to kick you out now," and then did. But I'd get the last laugh: I set a rake in his driveway right where he'd be backing out the next morning.

Rish "True Friend" Outfield

*You know, that's something that I don't really understand about the way a TV show works. The folks in the opening credits get paid whether they appear in the episode or not, right, hence Angel's token appearances in Season Three and several Spike near-cameos lately. But the supporting cast just show up when there's need for it, right, when they've been written into the script. But are they so costly that sometimes they omit them in certain episodes, for example the episode of "Angel" this season when all evil lawyerdude Lindsay's lines were given to evil lawyerlady Lilah? Was that what was going on in this one, or was the actress who plays Tara simply unavailable, like the "Star Trek" episodes where George Takei wasn't around, so all Sulu's lines were given to Chekov?

**Bet you hoped I'd never use that awful nickname again, didn't you?

***Oh, for the record, tyranist now hates Kate Lockley as well. It's funny how he has now eclipsed me in the hatred department. After living in Los Angeles, I thought it would never happen.

****Tyranist's theory then had been that Tara didn't want Willow to know how proficient she was in magic, so as not to alienate her. My theory had been, "Uh . . ."

*****It literally took all my strength not to insert a Train reference here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Star Trek Movies

I'm not sure how you do a Top Five list with ten movies, but tyranist and I decided to compare how we'd rank the STAR TREK movies.

Here's how I list them:

1. Wrath of Khan
2. First Contact
3. Voyage Home
4. Generations
5. Undiscovered Country
6. Search For Spock
7. Insurrection
8. Final Frontier
9. The Motion Picture
10. Nemesis

And here's tyranist's list:

1. Insurrection
2. First Contact
3. Wrath of Khan
4. Generations
5. The Motion Picture
6. Nemesis
7. Voyage Home
8. Search for Spock
9. Undiscovered Country
10. Final Frontier

I ought to talk about how we're so alike most of the time yet have such different lists, but I won't. Instead, I'll ask him for another one.

Rish "The Undiscovered" Outfield

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Winter Wunderland

1 December 2007

It was the first day of December today, so naturally, we got half a foot of snow.

Snow is cold, sure, but when it first falls, it's rather lovely and invigorating. It's clean and white and pure and new . . . it's only afterward, as it piles up and freezes and turns grey or brown that it becomes an ugly, unpleasant thing.

That's my opinion, of course, I'm sure you adore brown snow.

My sister's kid was coming over (we were gonna see ENCHANTED, but she didn't mention that she saw it last week), and I got the bright idea of going outside and building a snowman with her. She's six years old and I got a coat on her and some gloves and we went to work making a snowman. The snow was fresh, having just fallen during the night and morning before I woke up, so it was easy to pack and I'd basically make a ball, then have her roll it around until it was too big for her to push, and I'd take over.

We did that twice and were just starting on the snowball that would be the head when she started complaining about the cold. I told her it wasn't so bad and that we were almost done, and went as fast as I could. We stuck the head on and she wanted to go inside. I told her we weren't done, that all we had to do was get some rocks and branches and make arms and a face. She didn't seem to want to, but I gathered up the rocks, broke two branches off the tree, and made her stick them on.

"Now can we go in?" she asked, nearly in tears now. I told her we needed to take a couple of pictures to show her mother (and my mother too, I guess), so I went in and got my camera. When I came out again, my niece was full on crying. She was cold and it wasn't fun anymore.

"Smile, damn you!" I basically shouted and took a couple of pictures. Then we went inside and she just started bawling. I guess it's been too long since I was a kid or I'm genuinely a bad guy, 'cause I didn't get why she was making such a fuss. Turns out her hands were so frozen she couldn't get her shoes untied and her pantlegs were soaked through from the wet snow. I helped her get her shoes off . . . and she wasn't wearing any socks underneath. I had just assumed when I told her to get her shoes on, she would've gotten socks on too, and I'd think she would've . . .

Ah well.

Anyhow, I filled a big mixing bowl with hot water and put it down for her to stick her feet in it, and instead of warming her up, she began shrieking, then giving out state secrets and enemy troop encampment locations.

I don't know if this Stupid Thing is truly deserved, because I didn't mean to torture my sister's kid, but I certainly felt stupid typing it up.

Rish "Luckily Childless" Outfield