Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Comic-Con pics 2

I've said it before, but basically, THIS, more than anything, encapsulates Comic-Con:

Walking around the floor and halls, there were some great fan costumes, such as this one, of my all-time favourite Transformer:

And this one of Gandalf, who stood at the VIP entrance shouting "You shall not pass!" until he was savagely beaten:

This bloke wanted to show people that it was a geek's paradise, but also that it was the Sabbath:

While this isn't TECHNICALLY a costume, it ought to look good on the big screen:

And lest you believe it was a sausage-fest, check out this babe:
But blowing them all away, was the girl who showed up as Cherry Darling from PLANET TERROR. Just look at this picture. Have you ever seen this kind of dedication to a fan costume before?
Alright, I'll admit it, she was there promoting GRINDHOUSE for the Weinstein Company. But you find me a single person at the convention who wasn't amazed to see an actual babe amputee standing there, and I'll show you somebody who . . . well, wasn't paying attention.

To be continued . . .

Comic Con report (July 26-29)

First off, my impression of every single question to a panel from an audience member: "Um, first of all, I think you guys are great, and love the work that you do, and my friends weren't fans at first and they said, 'That show looks stupid,' so they didn't watch it, but I was such a big fan that eventually they saw that I was still watching it so they watched it with me and they all became huge fans but not quite as big as me. Anyway, I had a question . . ."

We could get in thirty percent more questions per panel if people could just ask their questions. We know you're fans; that's why you're here.

Second of all, I went to Comic-Con again and I survived. But tyranist wouldn't have.

San Diego is more humid than L.A., and I ain't exactly rail-thin no more. Nobody can park right in front of the convention center, so there's walking of Richard Bachman-level proportions involved (you'll often see thin and attractive people offering bicycle-rickshaw rides at the intersections). Also, of course, there are always way more people jammed in than could possibly move around comfortably, and the fanboy's favourite pastime is to be walking in front of you, then stop abruptly.

There are also many many lines to stand in, lines for concessions, lines to get in the doors, lines for panels and presentations you may get into, lines for panels and presentations you've no chance of getting into, lines to cross the street, lines to buy exclusive merchandise, lines to stand in line to buy exclusive merchandise and then be told they're all gone, lines to get or show your badges, lines for autographs, lines for free giveaways, lines for the chance to blow LeVar Burton, and lines just to make your way through the halls and showfloors.

Ostensibly, I was there as a fanboy. But technically, I was there as a representative of the horror film press community (there really is such a thing), and for the first time ever, I was lined up to do interviews. I don't know how it happened, but I got an invitation to interview filmmakers, and when I accepted one, I started getting invitations up that wazoo. Because I'm still living in the 20th Century, I wasn't able to sign up for more interviews, and I really wanted to just hang around and sweat like everybody else (I mean, the press room was air conditioned, and there were plenty of chairs, and there was free water . . . who needs that, really?).

But I did get to do a couple of interviews, surrounded by real members of the press (people with cameras and sound guys and not just a little hand-held tape recorder that they found in a Barnes & Noble). Since that's for the Horror Film Compendium, I suppose I'll post that there. Hopefully, they will see print before those films come out.

The rest of the time, I was walking the floors, lugging around the free cloth Warner Bros. bags filled with worthless junk, and trekking back to feed the meter (I parked in a great spot, but it was only two hour parking).

So, what did I want to share with my blog about Comic-Con? I was thinking I'd stick some short stuff here and then tell, maybe, five stories about stuff I experienced in a second post. So, briefly, here goes:

Kevin Smith is one of the most entertaining people in existence. He's also completely and totally without a sense of propriety. He was talking about dog ejaculation, uncontrollable crapping, and of fellating Stan Lee to gain a tenth of the man's creative genius. Bless you, sir.

Kevin Smith talked about seeing TRANSFORMERS and feeling like he was just too old, that it was all too frenetic and empty for him, and it bummed him out that maybe he's no longer young enough to enjoy this kind of popcorn entertainment. But then he went and saw HARRY POTTER, he said, and was all of a sudden all googly-eyed with wonder about magic and Death-Eaters.

Edward Norton wrote THE INCREDIBLE HULK.

Also, I guess he'll be playing Hulk as well as Bruce Banner. We'll see how that goes.

The Warner Bros. booth had the best bags: these huge cloth "Smallville" and "Animated Superman" bags you could tote a mid-sized child around in.

That comment may come back to haunt me, but I really had no other place to put her.

"Doctor Who" is a lot more popular than I thought it was.

People can be giant A-holes. I'd still rather hang out with a comic book-loving A-hole than a pro wrestling-loving A-hole (or even a film-loving A-hole), but still . . .

Liv Tyler still speaks elvish.
That second NARNIA movie will probably be pretty good. And the guy who plays Prince Caspian is gonna be spleen-deep in 'tang by the time it comes out (if he isn't already).

A booth was selling McDonalds-related toys and paraphernalia. I came about eighteen centimeters from buying a Grimace doll for my long-dead friend Ian.

You know, convention-exclusive collectibles aren't worth the sweat and headache of getting them at the convention. Next time, just pay an extra twenty dollars for one off eBay.

Neil Marshall's new film DOOMSDAY should really have Snake Plissken in it.

People didn't smell quite as bad this year as last. I think it had something to do with no Saturday only tickets being sold.

I saw a lot of people in costumes walking around--I think I'll stick up some of those pictures tomorrow--and I remember how blown away I was by Darth Vader and Stormtrooper outfits I was a mere decade ago (I took pictures at the Special Edition premieres amazed that somebody actually had a Han Solo jacket). But today, that just doesn't cut it. I mean, nothing less than an IG-88, Tauntaun, or Fat Dancer (complete with extra bosoms) will impress nowadays.
George Romero is very humble, and less bitter than I'd be if I'd been screwed over as often as he's been.

Also, I think the poor man only owns one set of clothes.

Robert Downey Jr. is cooler in person than he is on TV.

I never understand how some people can bring little kids or infants to events like this. It's hot, loud, crowded, and uncomfortable (not to mention the excessive time devoted to standing around). Maybe it's just a cultural thing, but I wouldn't subject a child to that, and none of my friends would either.

Sarah Silverman is still funny. In person, too.

WALL-E will either sell more toys than TRANSFORMERS and HARRY POTTER 5 combined, or it will join RATATOUILLE, CARS, and FINDING NEMO as movies I was way offbase in my predictions about.

Seriously, the ones I think look awful turn out to be great and the ones I think will be their first failure at the box office make more money than their predecessors did.

Joss Whedon is a beloved man, and also very nice.

He told this story about how there was outcry when he first turned "Buffy" character Willow into a lesbian, and he issued a statement where he said, "I realise that with the character Willow, we have alienated many fans by having her represent an unpopular fringe group that makes folks uncomfortable, and really, represents only one in ten people out there, and it was a mistake we're going to rectify. So, starting now, Willow Rosenberg will no longer be Jewish."

I went to the IRON MAN panel, since I was just too tired and unmotivated to get out of my seat from the STRANGERS presentation on. They showed us some of it. I'm not a fan of Iron Man, nor was I ever looking forward to the movie . . . but I sure am now. Nice.

Stan is still The Man, and I love him almost as much as Kevin Smith does.

You know, I've seen Stan maybe a dozen times, and I never get over how much enthusiasm and vitality he has, despite being three years older than God. One of these days, he'll be gone, and a part of me will always regret not hugging him at that X-MEN 2 screening I saw him at.

I was just going to go right up to him, as the end credits started to roll, and say, "Thanks for this, Stan." But I chickened out. It just seemed a little stalker-y or crass, and when the time came, I left him alone. Every once in a while, a hug says it better than any words possible.

Worst case scenario: Stan tells his bodyguards to "Get this motherf**ker off of me!" and I wake up in an alley behind the theatre.

Milla Jovavich is just like everybody else. I know this because I ran into her at Wendy's. I'm not a fan of her movies, but anybody who eats at Wendy's is okay by me.

Looking around during the weekend, I found that there are actually people fatter, lazier, and less-attractive than me in the world.

Of course, Robert Downey Jr. begs to differ with me.
It took a lot out of me to do Comic-Con this trip. Certainly I need to lose some weight and participate in exercise that involves more than my right wrist, but that's a matter for another rant.

Rish SDCC Outfield

Monday, July 30, 2007

Comic-Con pics 1

So, I went to the San Diego Comic-Con again this weekend. I was trying out my new camera, and haven't quite got the hang of it, as evidenced by this picture of my favourite television creator:

I was really taking a lot of photos, though, trying to figure out what a digital camera can do (I didn't realise until after my interviews were done that it also records audio). I've only figured out about half of the features, and to be honest, I still fail half the time just trying to delete unwanted pictures. But I consider the weekend a crash course in digital photography.

For example, I wasn't quick enough on the draw to get a good photo of "Twin Peaks" (and now "Reaper") star Ray Wise on the escalator:

And I couldn't figure out the light setting while taking this one of the convention center:

And I zoomed in instead of out while taking this shot of Lou "The Incredible Hulk" Ferrigno chatting with David "Darth Vader" Prowse:

But the greatest lesson I learned, boys and girls, was to ALWAYS pack extra batteries. When it was time to do my interviews on Friday, my camera simply wouldn't work. Jeffrey Combs patiently stood by my side while my camera refused to take any more pictures, until finally, he had to move on. I ran over to Ralph's and picked up a four-pack of AAs, but it was too late by then, wasn't it? No, no photos of fake actress breasts here, folks.

I do hope these terrible pictures are entertaining to you. They show my learning curve in action. So, while this picture of the new Bruce Banner didn't work out . . .

. . . this one of Gale Anne Hurd perfectly captures her reaction to the new series, "The Sarah Conner Chronicles:"

And eventually, I was getting pretty good pictures, like this one of "Groo" creator and Mad Magazine artist, Sergio Aragones:

Unfortunately, everywhere I went, I kept seeing this strange-looking naked Asian kid.

I hope that's nothing to worry about.

To be continued . . .

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Buff-gel Wednesday (22 July 2007)

So, despite my being out of town for Comic-Con, and tyranist being out of town the next week for genital skingraft procedures, we managed to get one more Buffy night in before August. Sometimes I wish I weren't blogging about it, and we could just watch five or more episodes in a row, but one day, it will all be over, and I'll be sad that the only "Buffy" episodes left to me are in comic book form, or calling themselves "Hex."

The three episodes we saw were "Fear, Itself" and "Beer Bad," and the Angel episode "I Fall to Pieces."

Hey, before I continue, I gotta say something about the "Buffy" season four opening titles. I have complained, I believe, that I don't like the Nerf Herder song much. But it fits the show and has a great drumbeat. Anyway, the second shot of Willow, when they credit Allyson Hannigan . . . it may be the greatest thing television has ever brought to viewers. Tyr and I have watched five episodes with that shot in them, and we laugh EVERY time.

So, whoever chose that particular shot for the opening credits gets my thanks, and I hope they got a big raise.

So, "Fear Itself." With excitement and joy, tyranist and I saw Emma Caulfield's name in the credits for this episode as well. There has not been an episode with Anya in it that hasn't been great, and I pray to Cthulhu that I can say that six months from now.

The second season Halloween episode was probably the best show I'd seen up to that point, so I had high hopes for this one. In it, AllHallow's Eve is in the air, and even Giles has gotten into the holiday mood (apparently, real-life demons and monsters don't tend to come out on that night, as they consider all our festivating to be in bad taste).

Buffy is still bummed out over what happened with her and Parker (who tends to show up everywhere Buffy is, but always with a chick and a manly, guileless grin. The gang decides to go to a party at the local frathouse, and Anya wants to go too, so Xander tells her to meet him there, and to wear something scary.

At the frathouse, one of the guys copies a spooky-looking symbol from a book onto the floor, and it starts to bring things to life within the house (like a fake spider starts crawling around, grapes turn into eyeballs, a plastic skeleton is no longer plastic, Cordelia's chests turn real, etc.).

Buffy, Xander, Willow, and Oz go into the frathouse, and find things a lot scarier than they were intended . . . and there seems to be no way out of the building.

Anya does show up, wearing a huge, awkward rabbit suit. Later, when questioned about it, she says, simply, "Bunnies frighten me." When she is unable to get into the frathouse , she goes to Giles and tells him what's happening. I'll give you a dollar if she becomes a main character . . . not because I don't think it will happen, but because a dollar doesn't seem like a lot to pay for that happening.

Inside the house, each of our characters starts having their worst fears come true. Xander is unseen and ignored by everyone, Willow's magic attacks her, Oz finds himself wolfing out, and Buffy ends up doing a terrible movie called THE RETURN.

Giles uses a chainsaw to get into the house and finds the whole gang in the attic, where the evil symbol had been drawn. Turns out, it's a portal to produce a frightening-looking demon . . . who happens to be about eight centimetres tall. Buffy squishes him and they all go somewhere quiet to eat their Halloween candy. Fun stuff.

The next one was called "Beer Bad." I've heard people call this one of the weaker episodes, but I didn't much see it.

Buffy is, amazingly, still bummed out about Parker, and fantasises that she saves his life and he comes crawling back to her. Xander, in an attempt to stay relevant, gets a job as a bartender and . . . would an eighteen year old really be able to get a job in a bar, let alone as a bartender? I don't suppose it matters, as nobody I.D.s Buffy when she goes to the bar.

There are a bunch of pseudo-intellectual douchebags* there who belittle Xander and then hit on Buffy, who seems to hit it off with them. One of them is Kumar from HARMAR AND KUMOLD GO TO WHITE CASTLE. They all drink the same brand of beer, and enjoy themselves . . . though mysteriously, nobody paws Buffy. Do I need to rant about that?

Oh yeah, also, Oz seems oddly drawn to the singer of a band at the Bronze named Veruca, which vexes our Willow.

Well, the beer basically causes Buffy and her male friends to devolve into a caveman-type form, complete with grunting and hunching and simian behaviour associated with those who say Harry Potter is "just a book."

Turns out the owner of the bar is getting revenge on the college kids who taunted him all these years, the same way they taunted Xander. And probably you, if you're reading this.

Meanwhile, Willow encounters Parker the Ladykiller and confronts him for his behaviour with Buffy. He lays on the charm and explains his motivations to her in a way I (but not tyranist) found to be valid and believable. It appears that he'll be working his own brand of magic on Willow, but she sees through it.

At that point, the cavedudes burst in, inadvertently starting a fire, which threatens the life of everyone inside. Xander, Giles, and CaveBuffy manage to save Willow and Parker and the others, and before reverting to her normal self, Buffy gets to hear a grateful Parker tell her how wrong he was. And then she decks him.

Okay, this was a bit more didactic than the episodes we usually get, but it was fun, and that works for me.

"I Fall to Pieces" was the "Angel" episode we watched, and it's nice to see that I'm not the only one who names his stories after song titles.

Amazingly, this is only the fourth episode of "Angel, and it told of a young woman who is being stalked by a surgeon with the ability to mentally separate and control parts of his body, such as his floating eye or crawling hands.Angel takes the case, and it turns out to be their first paying customer. The surgeon did work on the woman, Melissa, and became obsessed with her. Now, she lives in constant fear of him, and the theme of the show is how she'll never be free as long as he holds that kind of power over her.

I thought the villain of the episode was actually pretty interesting, and it was neat that he tries to kill Angel and fails, not knowing that Angel is, well, already dead. We also get an appearance by Kate, the policewoman** from the second episode, and who knows, maybe she and Angel will have some kind of romance.

I'm not sure I want to say any more about the episode. Is it just me, or is the premise of this show severely limited? I don't know what it is, exactly, but the idea of a teenage girl and her friends doing battle with the forces of evil seems infinitely expandable, while that of a handsome, mysterious dude protecting young women from supernatural bad guys seems like a single season-type show to me.

Maybe I'm wrong, there was this one time in the past that I thought I had made a mistake. Turns out I was wrong on that one, though.

Rish Outfield

*Quite literally, I assure you; I believe Giles recognises the smell the vinegar at one point during the show.

**Sorry if I'm not allowed to say "policewoman" anymore.

Non-Stupid Thing of the Week

A bit of a departure on this one.

The other day, I was playing a card game with my most loyal friend and his family. The game is complicated, but the basic point of it is to thwart the other players, using occasionally cruel means. After a particularly nasty attack on his brother (by his own father), my friend's seven year old son sat up and proclaimed, "MAGNETO WAS RIGHT!"

It was one of the most sickeningly hilarious comments I've ever heard from a child, since he didn't know the context of that statement (just that I have a sticker on my car that says it), but it was totally appropriate to the moment.

I'm sure that it . . .

Hmmm. Maybe it didn't translate well as an anecdote. Sorry.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harry Potter report

Hey, I gotta blog briefly about "Harry Potter" 7.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" was probably the most anticipated book in my lifetime, and I was excited about getting it on the 20th at midnight, like everybody else was. I thought I ought to take my niece to at least see the festivities, since she and I are close (in the way I can never be with people once they turn eleven or so) and I remember how great it was a couple of years ago after coming out of HULK and seeing a Harry Potter party at the Borders down the block.

So, there's a Borders not far away, and I took my niece (I almost called her my sister there, another sure sign of old age), finding a tremendous crowd, rock concert-sized. Not a heck of a lot of nubile young things were wandering around, and ironically, the girl playing The Fat Lady (complete with picture frame) was not really fat. It was fun, there was face painting, a costume contest, ringtosses, a sorting hat, a jellybean-tasting contest, and a mask-making table. We each made a mask, and here's the photo:

They gave away glow sticks at the door, and candy at a couple of booths. There were stickers and buttons proclaiming your support or condemnation of Snape (I believe I'm wearing mine in the picture I stuck on here), and I believe that I will be Snape come this Halloween, if I'm still around.

Even though it was late, my niece has inherited a lot of my qualities, such as being a night owl, the enjoyment of all things scary and twisted, mimicry, and the inability to grow a proper beard. There were a couple of guys dressed as (I'm guessing here) dementors, and I pretended I didn't see them, enjoying my niece's frustration at my confusion when she pointed them out to me. I will miss her soon when she outgrows me.

It was super crowded, as I said, and it was nigh unto impossible to get a book. But there was no shoving, bickering, farting, or audible complaining. A good crowd; I don't know that I could completely despise somebody who loved the Harry Potter books.

At quarter-to-twelve, they announced that whoever hadn't preordered the book should leave the store so that the winners in life could partake. I left, figuring I could, since I am in Land Of A Thousand Wal-marts, just go to the nearest one of those and pick my book up with no fuss and no wait. And no teeth, if you follow the stereotype.

But Wal-mart, if you can believe it, was worse off than Borders. The line looped through the food department, crossing through Women's Apparel, Diapers, Electronics, Toys, Home Furnishings, Home Dentistry, School Supplies, Books and Magazines, Greeting Cards, Automotive, Marital Aids, Garden, and back around to Children's Wear. I exaggerate not when I say there were at least a thousand people in line there. So I left, giving up. As I crossed the parking lot to my car, we were heckled by a foursome of college-aged morons out on the balcony of their apartment. One of the stoners shouted, "Dudes, it's just a book!"

That should have bothered me, especially since those idiots represent the future of our once-great country. But fuck them, the fact that this many people are this excited about a BOOK (instead of Nascar, or a football game, or killing people of another colour, or even a TV show) makes me think, more than anything in recent memory, that there's actually hope for society.

I took my niece back so she could sleep, and resigned myself to not buying a copy in the middle of the night. But then tyranist called me, on his way to getting his own book, and I believe he recommended I go to the local grocery store to get one. Grocery stores tend to be open twenty-four hours, and I got back in my car and headed over, still chatting with my friend. Turns out, I was only in line for four or five minutes, and then I had the book (I got mine before tyr got his, even). I went home and made it through the first couple chapters before passing out.

Terrified of the kind of spoilers that plagued me with the last book,* I avoided most contact with the outside world, stayed away from the internet, and dug in hard to read the book through that weekend. It was difficult, though, since, as with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," I'd much prefer to ration it out, still reading the darn thing come mid-August.

Tyranist finished the book on that Sunday, and try as I might, I couldn't quite make it. He wanted to talk about it, and many of the people at work too wanted to discuss what they were reading, what they had heard, or what they "just had a feeling" was going to happen at the end of the book. I read when I could on Monday, and promised tyranist I'd finish it before we went to a soccer game Tuesday night. Finally, I just had to call in sick on Tuesday to finish it (I only ended up missing about a quarter of my day, though).

And it was a great book. I suppose that goes without saying--why would I be writing this if I hated it?--but it was an experience just following Harry James Potter from a baby at the beginning of the first book to where he ends up at the end.

And I had no idea I could be so moved by a novel. I cried multiple times, and was not alone; I had a friend start crying just recounting his favourite part of the book to me. This is my PEARL HARBOR experience, but I doubt I'll have as many scoffers when I talk about this one.**

There were so many threads tied together and picked up on from previous novels that I
probably missed a dozen of them (one of the characters I thought was new was not only in the previous books, but was in the movies as well), and every time I picked up on one, I got the satisfying, happy feeling that I was being rewarded for having followed along this closely for so long***.

The book was fantastic. I don't read as much as tyranist does--but then, only people confined to a hospital bed read as much as he does--but this is the best ending to a book series I've ever read.

I'm not really one of those people that only likes something as long as nobody else appreciates it, so I'm happy J.K. Rowling has become so successful. If one out of ten readers experiences the joy, frustration, fear, love, pain, laughter, excitement, and satisfaction that I did, she totally deserves her fame and fortune. I'll pick up whatever she writes next, and if it's a third as good as the second-worst "Harry Potter" book, it'll still be twice as good as the best thing I could manage.

Thanks, Jo.

R. Rowling Outfield

*I limited my reading of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" to a chapter a day, and one of my coworkers who knew I was reading it came up to my desk and gave away the ending. I never figured out why he'd do that . . . I guess I didn't give him a chance, as I beat him to death with a fireplace poker, then set fire to his house.
And here's the best part: they laid the blame on this big shot banker who got tossed into the Shank for life.

**Someday, I would like to talk about why PEARL HARBOR was such a moving movie experience for me. I doubt it would justify why I liked it so much in anybody's eyes, but I'd still like to explain. Only not today.

***"Buffy" does that too; there are jokes in nearly every episode that are only funny if you know what event in an older episode they're referring to.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Buffy/Angel Wednesday (18 July 2007)

Alright. We saw two "Buffy"s and an "Angel" on this Buffy Wednesday, and that might be it for a while. Next week, I'm going to San Diego to once again represent the Horror Film Compendium at Comic-Con. Looks like I'm going to be able to do a couple of interviews there, and I'm halfway excited, halfway terrified of the prospect.

The first ep was called "Living Conditions," and in it, Buffy has just about had it with Kathy, her squeaky control freak roommate. I've had some interesting roommates, but Kathy is sort of a combination of the worst traits of all of them, even going as far as to wear Buffy's clothes, interrupt Buffy's patrolling, hanging out with Buffy's friends, and worse . . . flossing.

Now, tyranist was wanting Kathy dead almost from the beginning (perhaps before the beginning), but I was thinking, "No, I like this dynamic. This character could be just what the show needs now that Cordelia is off walking the streets of L.A." But yes, by the middle of that same episode, I too wanted Kathy dead.

Buffy goes over to Giles's to hang out with him, and he points out that she's never shown any interest in him before this episode. She's been having a creepy recurring dream where some demons are sort of molesting her, but people focus on this rather than her problems with Kathy.

Buffy also meets this studly suave college guy named Parker, and it looks like they may be hitting it off (if Kathy doesn't steal him away and/or ruin it for her before then).

Each of the roommates gets more and more on each other's nerves, and Buffy starts to convince herself that Kathy is not only obnoxious . . . but evil. I laughed when she played the same awful Cher song over and over again (can you believe tyranist actually liked that song back in the day?*), and shrieked with laughter when she started putting her name on everything that was hers-and-not-Buffy's, including each individual egg in the refrigerator.

Because Willow has to study, Oz goes on patrol with Buffy, and sees that she's getting a bit violent and shrill now. Buffy has decided that Kathy is a demon (based on her toenails) and decides she has to kill her.

Our gang discusses it and comes to the conclusion that Buffy has become possessed by her dreams and they catch her and tie her up. Buffy escapes and goes back to her dorm to confront Kathy.

They fight.

Turns out, egg on my face, that Kathy IS a demon, and Buffy had something of a point all along. She's on the run from her kind, in human form, so she could go to college, and as her kind don't have souls, she's been stealing some of Buffy's soul at night to confuse the demons looking for her.

Giles realises this as well, and casts a spell that returns Buffy's soul to her. Just in time, you see, 'cause Kathy's demon family arrive and take her back to her dimension. College life is fun.

And this was a fun episode. I usually mention when Marti Noxon writes one . . . but I won't do that this time.

We got, in the next two episodes, our first-ever crossover with "Angel." The "BTVS" episode was called "Harsh Light of Day" and the "Angel" was called "In The Dark." I don't know if that means something, but tyranist would beat me if I didn't bring it up.

"The Harsh Light of Day" we actually started watching before "Living Conditions." For some reason, they changed the listing order of the episodes on the DVD in season 4, and it caused confusion. Damn you, Fox Home Video.

So, now Buffy and Willow are roommates . . . as they bloody well should've been all along. Buffy and dreamboat Parker are really hitting it off, and he confides in her about the loss of his father, showing that he's a sensitive sweetheart.

Willow runs into Harmony, who I thought had died at their high school graduation, and yeah, well, she's a vampire. She bites Willow, but is chased off by Oz and I was freaking out until I remembered that vampire bites aren't a big deal on "BTVS."

Poor Xander is still living with his parents and working for Giles. Just when it can't get any worse . . . Anya shows up, wanting closure on their non-existent relationship.

And she's not the only recurring character who turns up; Spike is in Sunnydale, looking for the vampire equivalent of the holy grail . . . the Gem of Alupach.** It gives vampires the power to hang out in the sunlight, like they do every episode of "Angel," and be impervious to stakes and crosses and vampire AIDS. Even worse, he is sleeping with Harmony, who is more annoying than Buffy's roommate Kathy, Robot Ted, Principal Snyder, and Emo Phillips combined. Not sure what he sees in her, but then if you couldn't tell, I'm not a fan.

Romance is in the air, as there's an interesting montage where Spike and Harmony, Anya and Xander, and Buffy and studly Parker all have sex. And I guess that's good, right?

The morning after, Anya is all business, seeming completely over Xander and yet, he remarks, she's still more romantic than Faith was. Parker is all sweet with Buffy, telling her he'll call her later, and understandably,the Buffster is in a good mood. Giles tells her about the Gem of Amarra, and we see that Spike has managed to find it (it's a ring) and put it on.

He goes out in the daylight to confront the Slayer. But Buffy has issues of her own: Parker never called, and when she went to see him, he is putting the exact same moves on a new girl that landed Buffy in bed with him before. Boy, Buffy and sexual intercourse go together like . . . well, the opposite of peas and carrots, I guess.***

Spike shows up--right in the light of day and in front of . . . well, absolutely no one for some reason--and they fight, but he makes the mistake of taunting her about her relationships, and well, she reaches back like a pimp and she slaps the ho . . . oh, and slips the ring off his finger, causing him to flee to the sewers.

Wow, Spike is truly ineffectual in this episode, belittled by everyone around him, and yet I still like him a hundred times better than Angel.

And speaking of whom, Buffy decides to send the Gem of Amarra to Angel in Los Angeles, where Oz's band is playing in a couple of days. The end.

This was an interesting episode. Once again, Buffy meets a guy who is Prince Charming up until he gets her into bed, and then he becomes Prince Humperdinck. That really should bother me, because I've been hearing that men are pigs and should be turned into sausages nearly all my life (I think it first started when I found out--through song--what little boys are made of as opposed to what little girls are made of), but I just like this show and its characters so much that I refuse to be bothered.

Speaking of which, I gotta say, Anya was awesome in this show.

Wait, I'll take it a step further. Anya has been awesome in every single show she's appeared in. I may actually be in love with Anya.

And from love to hate, I think we're supposed to feel sorry for Harmony, but that just ain't gonna happen as far as I'm concerned. Hitler I can feel a little sympathetic toward, but not Harmony.

Next was the "Angel" show "In The Dark." In it, Spike comes to L.A., knowing that the Gem of Amarra is on its way there too. I delighted to his mockery of Angel in the first scene, but I find his character to be generally delightful.

Cordelia is some kind of receptionist/bookkeeper for Angel Investigations, and she bemoans the fact that Angel refuses to charge for his services. She and Doyle try and convince him of the error of his ways, when Oz arrives with the Gem of Amarra ring. Angel doesn't put it on, but instead hides it in the passage in the sewers under his building.

Spike confronts Angel in a parking garage, spacking him with a 2x4 before Angel begins dusting car windshields with his body. Spike retreats, but Angel tells Doyle to hide Cordelia at his apartment.

Spike later manages to capture Angel and takes him to a warehouse where he's got a great new friend, a balding, eyeglass-wearing vampire torturer with a fondness for children (whatever you interpret that as). This dude's name is Marcus, and he's quite the villain, sticking hot pokers in Angel and pulling them out, all the while asking Angel what he truly wants. Angel ain't talking, but I'd guess it's a show that goes five seasons.

Meanwhile, Cordelia and Dusty or Dustin or Donovan . . . what's his name? Oh yeah, Doyle, go looking for the ring themselves ("It is precious to him") and Doyle finds it. They plan on trading it to Spike for Angel's life, who is still being tortured. I think, in the end, he tells Marcus that what he truly wants is forgiveness, and that's cool, I suppose.

They try to do a trade-off, but it doesn't exactly work, and Torturer Marcus gets the Gem of Amarra. Unaffected by daylight, he goes to the beach to snatch himself some children, and our heroes track him down, shooting him with a crossbow, hitting him with a van, knocking him into the water, beating, and ultimately impaling him. When the ring is pulled from his finger, well, he doesn't stay invulnerable, and turns to dust. Angel puts the ring on and is safely able to walk around on the boardwalk, looking only slightly paler than Oz, who could be an extra in a Romero zombie pic.

Angel decides not to keep the ring, convincing himself (but not really me) that he's the guardian of the night and can do more good for more people that way. In the end, he destroys the Gem of Amarra, after enjoying his first sunset in a couple hundred years.

Well, both tyranist and I really enjoyed the "Angel" episode, though I have to admit that it was the Spike character I reacted to rather than the "Angel"-centric cast. Having four "Buffy" regulars made it feel more like a "Buffy" episode, perhaps.

And that brings me to the end of my blog. Man, these are getting unwieldy. I try to keep the recaps short, since there are more detailed and better ones out there floating around, but hey, when I get passionate about something, I tend to ramble.

And cry a lot more than I dare admit.

Rish Outfield

*And just between you and me, I think he still likes it.

**Okay, it's really the Gem of Amarra. I just couldn't remember it, so I spelled "chalupa" backward.

***Do vegetables have opposites? Fruits, maybe?

Stupid Thing of the Week

Back in my home town, there was one mechanic everybody brought their lawnmowers or toasters or VCRs to for repair. His name was Blair and he was blind. I never could get my head around the fact that he couldn't see, let alone that he could fix mechanical devices.

So, I saw my dad the other day, who still lives in that little town and asked him if Blair Herbert was still alive. He said he was. And then I said, "Is he still blind?"

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Angel post

I am a collector. Tyranist is a librarian. I buy stuff I might want to watch, read, or share. He buys stuff so he can know he has it.

So, when I mentioned we might want to rent the first disc of "Angel," just to give it a try, he went out and bought it.

We're going to try and watch "Angel" as part of every Buffy Wednesday, but if it starts to suck, we'll probably give it up. My quandry is: should I blog about the "Angel" episodes the way I do the "Buffy" ones?

I'm tempted to just say no. It's a different show and it's hard enough for me to keep up on my Buffy posts (and don't get me started on Horror Film Compendium reviews, I still haven't reviewed THEM!, which I saw in 2005, I think).

But I have to make my decision now. I can't hold off on reviewing Angels until later, or my list will be incomplete (like my "Buffy" reviews are, but there's nothing I can do about that; it wasn't until I had something to say about a "Buffy" episode that I thought to blog about it).

But I guess I could blog a little about it now and stop doing it in the future. Yeah, I think that's what I'll do.

So, "Angel" is about a vampire with a soul who opens up a detective agency in L.A., along with aspiring actress Cordelia and Irish half-demon Doyle. Angel rules the night, looking for people in need, doing battle with the forces of darkness, and putting right what once went wrong, hoping each time will be the leap home.

In the first episode, "City Of," it sets up the universe, that Angel lives in the basement of a Los Angeles building, feeling sorry for himself by day, and saving attractive young women (usually blonde) from creatures of the night (and hopefully, the occasional pimp, mugger, or serial killer). We meet Doyle, who has painful visions of people in need, and knows everything there is to know about Angel. We also find out that L.A. has quite a thriving vampire population, in positions of affluence and power (many of them are on the Fox Network board of directors). Angel wants to help a young woman named Tina, who's fallen in with a shady element. Her death leads him to Cordelia, who is in L.A. pursuing an acting career. She hasn't been doing so well, but when she almost becomes Vampire Chow, she hooks up with Angel and his investigations agency.

There is a somewhat Malcolm Reynoldsian moment when Angel interrupts a board meeting and kicks a vampire out of a highrise window, where he bursts into flames on the way down. That was cool.

I noticed, on three different occasions in the pilot, Angel standing in or near direct sunlight, and I won't lie to you, it bugged the crap out of me. It may just be me, though, 'cause tyranist didn't seem to have a problem with it.

I understand that the vampire mythos is different in every story or universe, but from the very first episode of "Buffy," we were shown that sunlight is fatal to the bloodsuckers, and that they are (understandably) afraid of it. But not Angel, I suppose. Maybe he's old enough that it doesn't bother him anymore (despite a couple of prior episodes that fly in the face of that), but if I were Gasoline Man, and fire was deadly to me, I wouldn't hang around stoves or candleabras . . . and I certainly wouldn't smoke.

That's all I'm sayin.*

There's not the most positive portrayal of Los Angeles in this episode. But it's probably not untrue. Each and every day, I wish I were back there, but people are always telling me, "Aren't you glad you're away from there?" I've not had a single item stolen from me (save a Cherry Coke once) since I left L.A., and haven't spied a single cockroach.

I find it hard to believe that someone who looks like Cordelia would be living in squallor, but I think they were trying to humanise her, since she has been more than a little bitchy on the "Buffy" show.

Still . . . there are so many people in L.A. who will pay you for being attractive, whether it's to be on their arm, to be on their next project, or to be on their d**k. It's . . .

But I digress.

The second episode of the series was about a parasitic organism that hops from human host to host, feeding on sexual contact, but fatally draining each host in the process. We've all seen variations on that theme, but it was still pretty cool. The episode was called "Lonely Hearts," and it wasn't bad. In it, Angel meets a blonde chick--a cop this time--who ends up suspecting that he is the killer. In the end, they each save the other's life, and form a tentative friendship.

There was a great moment where the creature, its host body already beginning to fall apart, tries desperately to score at a nightclub, eliciting the kind of reaction I got when singing Elton John to that Tiffany girl I liked.

And that's the first two episodes and the show as I see it. The theme song is a good one (I like it a lot more than I like "Buffy"'s, but then, I've never really liked that one . . . though it's a lot better than the "Somebody saaaaaaaave me!" theme I suffered through on "Smallville").

I'm sure those behind the show were going for something more mature and sexy than "BTVS," but I guess what I most liked on "Buffy" were the characters and the humour rather than the horror elements and handsome dudes.** And I fear that the Angel character will become really tiresome after a while, and Cordelia . . . well, she's Cordelia. Since tyranist has made the investment and bought the set, we will continue to watch it, at least for a few weeks. It may get really great, or get worse, or it could be that my own prejudices will prevent me from ever enjoying it. But we'll see.

Rish "Angel in the" Outfield

*Okay, I've seen a couple more "Angel" episodes, and while I still cringe every time he walks into a sunlit room, they have pretty much established that sunlight is to vampires what radiation or Christian Rock is to humans: a little bit is uncomfortable, but not fatal. Prolonged exposure, however . . .

**I was telling tyranist that we could do an "Angel" drinking game where you ONLY take a drink when 1) Angel takes his shirt off, or 2) Angel is in a sunlit area, and you'd end up hammered every single week.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Buffy Season Four Begins

Season Three ended a whole week ago, and I'm already tired of Season Four.

Well, that may not be true, but I am tired of blogging about it.

Thankfully, I only have one episode to write about. I'll try and muster some energy to get it done.

This one episode, written and directed by Mr. Joss Whedon, was called "The Freshman."
I just realised that I've never talked about the "Buffy" theme song or opening titles. I'll have to do that sometime.

So, the summer after high school has passed, and I sure would've enjoyed seeing what went on then. Willow's got an awful new haircut, and college is starting. Oz also goes there, and knows his way around. Buffy finds herself totally lost, and feeling confused, alone, and in over her head.

Buffy goes to a class where the teacher is a giant tool and throws her out. She makes one friend . . . and the poor guy is "disappeared" by vampires, who leave a phony goodbye note.

Our villains this episode are a really modern cadre of vampires, including a stoner, a fat girl, and a sarcastic blonde chick (their leader). Wow, I'm not sure if I've ever met a "Buffy" villain I've more wanted to see turn into dust.

Buffy is living in a dorm, with a Celine Dion-loving hearts-and-posies girl, which is amusing. Oh, and Buffy meets a handsome T.A. of her Psychology class, taught by a bear of an instructor, played by Lindsay Crouse. If I look him up, I can tell you the name of the handsome boy. But I won't.*

We find out that Giles is living the bachelor's lifestyle (complete with bedmate) and has retired from Watchering. Xander was going to travel the country, but his car broke down and he has to come crawling back (sounding once again, like a certain Rish Tobias Outfield I know). But hey, due to the stresses in her life, Buffy is happy to see him (score 1 for Xander, zero for Mr. Outfield).

So, Buffy runs into the vampires and is completely and totally humiliated by them. Their evil blonde leader taunts our girl and breaks/dislocates her arm. Like I said, grrr.

I wondered how she could possibly be stronger than Angel (who has to be the toughest vampire we've seen) or The Master or Faith, buttyranist's theory was that Buffy has lost her mojo (or was it her groove?), and is fighting well below her game. Alright, I can accept that.

Buffy goes back to her dorm and finds all of her belongings gone (including her slaying weapons) and a fake goodbye note. It was personal before, but now . . . well, it's personal.

Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Oz track down the baddies at their abandoned frathouse lair (Buffy gets in through their skylight . . . which probably should've been boarded up, but hey, they're slackers), and they fight.

Their leader makes the mistake of smashing the umbrella Buffy received in "The Prom" . . . and well, she gets hers. I was so pleased when she staked that bitch (sorry about the language,Granmama) that I may have applauded. Maybe Buffy's gonna be okay in college.

At the very end, one of the vampires escapes, but is captured by some mysterious organisation.

So, we've started Season Four, and you know, this wasn't the greatest of episodes. I don't want to make any snap judgments, since I've only seen this one (and two "Angel"s), but it may be that by splitting the "Buffy" staff for two shows, the quality had to drop at least somewhat. Maybe it will continue, maybe not (after all, Joss wrote and directed both first episodes of this season, so when others are writing and directing them, they may have more time to really finesse things). And
don't get me wrong, there were still laughs, and still surprises, and I still love the characters (and "The Freshman" was easily up there with the very best first season episodes), so I'm in it for the long haul.

Time will tell whether that'll be uphill or down.

Rish "The Glass Is Half" Outfield

*Okay, his name is Finn Riley. What an annoyingly cute made-up name. I'm wishing I had left well enough alone.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

15 July 2007

So, I got a digital camera for Harrison Ford's birthday. It's my first. I've taken a couple photos with it, like the one below:

Boy, these are neat. If I had had one of these in Los Angeles, I'd have a lot more visual evidence to back up my "Gimli the Dwarf told me not to look at his dick" stories. And being an extra, wow, my blog would've been so much better. And I would've been fired ever so much earlier too, I'm sure.

Here's to a lot of cool pictures in the days to come.

Rish "Randy Warhol" Outfield

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the Indy IV

13 July 2007

Today is Harrison Ford's birthday, a day I celebrate each and every year with cake and the occasional present (I do the same thing for Patrick Stewart's birthday, but to a lesser extent).

This started out as a short post and became a long, sprawling rant, spiraling down into incoherent babbling. I'm nowhere near finished with it, and could probably meander away at this essay for the rest of my life. But on this honourable day, I will call it quits.

The time has come to talk about INDIANA JONES IV.

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK is my favourite movie. It came out at the perfect time for me, when I was just old enough to appreciate what I was seeing (though, if it had come out when I was a young teenager, it might have affected me even more), opening my eyes to entertainment unlike any I'd seen before. My family lived fourteen miles away from the nearest cinema, and it was rare that we'd go out and see a film, but RAIDERS had been popular enough that my parents wanted to see it, and deemed me old enough to come along.

TEMPLE OF DOOM came out three years later. Though I was still arguably not old enough to see it, I begged, cajoled, and prayed they'd take me. My parents, in a rare example of real parenting in this day and age, went to see it without me, to judge for themselves if it was appropriate or not. I still remember hearing them pull up and jumping out of bed to greet them at the door and find out what the verdict was. Happy news, my father gave the thumbs up, and my Mom took me and my friends to the same theatre I saw RAIDERS at.

In that film, there was someone to relate to. I wanted to be Short Round.

Five years passed, and when INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE came out (in 1989), my mom simply dropped me and my friend (and his brother) at that self-same cinema to see it on opening night.

Which brings us to the 1990s. Rumours began bubbling that Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg were considering INDY III NOT the "last" crusade. I was excited, since they were making a new STAR WARS Trilogy, and that couldn't go wrong, could it?

Years passed, and by the year 2000, I began to realise that INDY 4 was never going to get made. Yet every other Harrison Ford interview mentioned it ("we're working on a script," "someday soon we'll make it," "No, I'm not too old"), and people still held out, still talked and speculated. A couple of years back, I bet somebody somewhere $20.00 that INDY 4 would never happen. It was money I knew I'd never have to pay. But now . . .

INDIANA JONES IV is coming out next summer. It's shooting right now (originally this sentence was "They say it'll start shooting in a handful of months).

I still feel strange about this new Indiana Jones movie. First it was Cate Blanchett, now it's John Hurt, who they announced would be playing a part in the movie, and on "Saturday Night Live" the other night, young Shia Lebouf was talking about his casting in the flick. It looks like the film is actually going to get made.

And I'm not sure what to think about it. Sure, the last STAR WARS prequel was better-received than the two before it, but I thought it was just as bad, and maybe worse, since I couldn't even fool myself (as I had the first two times) that it was worth the expectations ("...better than RETURN OF THE JEDI," my taint). And INDY IV?

This could be a whole 'nother rant.

I've become a more sarcastic version of Eyore from "Winnie the Bloody Pooh" over the last few years. I've been disappointed so many times that my attitude is a big old "Why bother?" I look forward to the new "Star Trek" movie. But I doubt it will be great. So much can go wrong with something backed by a lot of hype. You're best bet is to get something fresh and out-of-nowhere, with little expectation behind it. Then you can be happily surprised.

Unfortunately, very little nowadays is fresh and out-of-nowhere. The studios are less and less willing to take a chance on a new STAR WARS or MATRIX or TITANIC, but will eagerly pump millions into a STAR WARS 7 or MATRIX 5 or TITANIC 2. Everything's sequels or remakes or adaptations of books or video games or comics or rides or celebrity tattoos. And that makes things difficult.

Also, no Sean Connery. The great icon of the silver screen, who immortalised the words, "Bond, James Bond," "Just like a wop to bring a knife to a gunfight," "I should've mailed it to the Marx Brothers," and "I don't believe it's wrong to strike a woman," went on record that he's staying retired, despite invitation to appear in INDY IV.

What would be neat is if he really did appear in it, maybe shooting his scenes first, so that when he shows up on screen, the audience really shits a brick.

But alas.

I don't know how a new Indy film could not disappoint. Film tastes have changed, the target teen demographic wasn't even born when Indy was popular and they're not going to put up with non-wirework stunts and non-computer generated setpieces. Are they?

I don't know, maybe they'll surprise me (the teen audiences, I mean), and somehow my hope for film and mankind will be redeemed a year from now. I do look at the last James Bond film, CASINO ROYALE, and how awesome it was. An enormous step back from the silly, stupid, heartless, artificial antics of DIE ANOTHER DAY, we had an action film where the dialogue, feeling, pace, and human interaction was just as important as explosions and car chases.

And CASINO ROYALE had some amazing, Indy Jones-level stuntwork with real people, not just pixels, participating. So there's that.

And recently, pictures started showing up online, like the one to the left. I honestly used to wish that my dad would turn into Indiana Jones, but now look: the opposite has become true.

And another pic with Harrison Ford and Shia LeBouf surfaced, almost amusing in its absurdity. But somehow, it just might work, in the nostalgic, silly way LAST CRUSADE worked (stuff like the stamping librarian, the plane in the tunnel, and the seagulls).

There's no denying that the movie is filming, and that it's gonna happen no matter how much I scream. So I might as well accept it. Grudgingly.

But that brings us up to the present. Not long ago, I saw the first clip (just of behind-the-scenes footage) and suddenly, I felt excited about the movie. I don't know what it was--it's not that I saw Indy cracking his whip or a great stunt or even heard the awesome John Williams theme . . . I just felt excited that we were getting to see Indy one last time.

So, my anticipation of the film has gone from a zero a few months ago to a three today. I hope they don't disappoint me.

Rish "It's Not The Years, It's The Mileage" Outfield

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Stupid Thing of the Week

A few days ago, I was going to create a weekly column called "The Stupidest Thing I Did This Week," but then I thought I might have trouble narrowing it down. So this is just called my "Stupid Thing of the Week," where I mention just one thing I did or said.

My little sister got married on Saturday. I'm a few steps closer to death. But that wasn't the stupid thing.

So, there was a wedding singer at my sister's reception. I thought I'd duck out of the line and join her in some kind of sappy love ballad. No, that's not the stupid part yet. My uncles made fun of me and started putting money in a tip jar.

I thought I could do one on my own. The singer popped in "The Dance," by Garth Brooks, a song I haven't heard in years. The music started up and I was looking around for the lyrics and there were none. "You said you knew this song," she whispered.

Well, I didn't.

I think it's fair to say that if it doesn't work out between my sister and Dave, her new husband . . . well, you know who's to blame.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Robot Talk

6 July 2007

The other day, I had a big disagreement with my friend Merrill about the Will Smith I, Robot film. I don't know why I'm blogging about it now, but I wrote about it the other day and I thought I'd say a few words about Transformers: The Movie 1.2, so I'm sticking it in here.

I remember when I was living in L.A. and saw that trailer in the theatre, and wincing, just knowing that the movie was going to be the kind of soulless big-budget shitfest that every Will Smith movie from Wild Wild West to . . . hell, I, Robot had been. You know, the kind of movie where Will Smith plays Will Smith and they've altered the script so he can say stuff like, "Oh, HELL no!" and "I gotsta get me one of these!" But when it got to the second-run cinemas, my friend and I went to it, just for laughs (like we did for a lot of movies, including Catwoman). And I thought, "Well, this isn't so bad." It had a story behind it, there was some thought and a little emotion in there, and I must've liked it a little, 'cause I bought the short story collection, which I read during a night shoot for Flags of Our Fathers on the Universal lot.

So the other night, I went to Merrill's house, and he and his wife were watching I, Robot . . . and I was absolutely floored. What a big brown undulating turd, folks. All stupid lowbrow special effects pushing any thought, depth, or sentiment right out the window. Will Smith's dialogue had been lifted from every other movie he'd made, which had gotten their dialogue from a Brooklyn pick up basketball game. I don't know how I could've been so wrong.

But Merrill felt the complete opposite, and actually said, and I quote, "They could have taken Asimov's stories and made a big stupid explosion-fest out of them, but instead, they took the heart of those stories and made a good movie out of them."

I don't know, everybody's entitled to their opinion, and people often tell me my head is exploring my own body cavity, but wow, man, that just makes me sad. I Robot may be worse than I ever thought it was. Worse than Batman & Robin. Almost as bad as The Avengers.

But then, I may have just had a bad day.

So, speaking of big budget movies with robots and soul-free trailers . . . in an entry not too long ago, I talked about The Transformers and the dumb guys who said it was the upcoming flick they were most excited about. I wondered how it could possibly be a good movie, with everything I saw stacked against it.

But the film came out this week, and people are saying it's THE movie of the summer* (I've also heard people say it's the best summer movie in years, but most people who talk like that can't remember anything prior to April 2005). Judging from the buzz and the reviews, I thought I might be wrong on this.

Even tyranist went and saw it. He wrote, in his review, "I enjoyed it. Some of the dialogue was a bit cheesy, but the action was top notch and the robots truly impressive. Asian children have green blood. The plot moved nicely and made sense. Megan Fox is stunning. I hate all people with dark skin. I thought it was A LOT of fun and a pretty well put together movie. And I'm trying not to be TOO superlative. It was BETTER than my expectation." (emphasis and racist comments added)

Well, I can't be left out, I guess I'd better go see it. I don't want to be the guy who's left behind on this, the way I am on so many other things. But what if I was wrong before? What if Transformers is great? Do I dare risk that? Seriously. I'm almost tempted NEVER to see it just to not be proved wrong.

We'll see.

Rish "Mr. Roboto" Outfield

*I believe Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone said the film will be looked back on as the benchmark work of art of the 21st Century.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The End of Buffy Season 3

5 July 2007

Part of me hopes this is a very short entry, but part of me hopes I have a lot to say.

So, this week, prior to our Buff-a-thon, we watched the last episode of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." As far as swan songs go, it was fairly good, tying up several loose ends and saying goodbye as poignantly and briefly as possible. I do feel the show went downhill this year, and when it came back from its extended hiatus, it was much less entertaining and much more bogged down in seriousness than before. But they knew they were canceled, right? So I forgive some of them for being dour.

I also have to be honest and admit that one of the episodes we watched recently was pretty nearly unwatchable. A nasty voice in the back of my mind whispered, "THIS is why the show got canceled." Still, I hope I can remember the show at its best rather than focus on its flaws or the many people who hated it. And though I wasn't a fan of "Sports Night" or "The West Wing," I do plan on watching whatever show Aaron Sorkin tries next, based on my experience with "Studio 60."

So, on to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." There were three shows left in the season, "The Prom," and "Graduation Day" parts 1 and 2. I'll not refer to tyranist as "The Captain" in this entry. If anything, he let me drive, and gave me the option of only watching "The Prom" and leaving the other two for another night.

"The Prom" was another Marti Noxon episode. Damn, this was good. I believe, and tyr may correct me on this, that this was the first episode that I cried during.

So, the Senior Prom is coming up, and everybody is pairing off in preparation for it. Willow and Oz are a given, but Angel seems uncomfortable whenever Buffy talks about it. Giles and Wesley are both chaperoning that night, and it would seem that either no one has asked Cordelia, or more likely, she has turned everyone down who has asked her. Oh, and Anya asks Xander to go with her, since she is stuck in teenage human form and she's noticed him looking at her chests. Dang, is she an amusing character! I hope to see a lot more of her in the future.

Buffy and Angel seem pretty cozy now, though there was a groanworthy moment when Buffy wakes up after sleeping in his arms and opens the drapes to see what time it is, letting in a skyload of white sunlight. Some of that I'm able to write off to the foibles of youth and that they're just so darn in love that . . . but dude, Angel's lived as a vampire for a long time. He should know better.

Hey, it's quite possible that's intentional. That he's so into this girl that he's getting sloppy. And so is she.

And that leads us to a surprise visit from Joyce, Buffy's mother, who comes to see Angel alone and have The Talk with him. Obviously this is just a show and nobody knows what a real two hundred year old vampire would be like, but it's interesting that she talks to him like a peer (ie an adult) and not like a child, yet she still takes the superior position of the protective mother. She tells him it can never work between her daughter and him and that he ought to do the honourable thing and leave to do his own series. I think she used those exact words . . . but I could be wrong.

So, the next night, Bufanda and Angel are down in the sewers, monster-hunting, and as she's babbling on about the prom, he springs the "We have to talk" on her. Essentially, he breaks up with her, and she gets super defensive about it, and her heart is broken.

Our other plot is a teenage boy who has been training feral demons (I believe they were hellhounds) to attack anyone dressed in formal wear, forcing them to watch movies like Prom Night IV, Pretty in Pink, and Pump Up the Volume. As if the mayor's upcoming ascension isn't enough, he's going to have his hairy servants crash the prom and kill people at will.

There comes some time after the breakup where Buffy is very, very sad and an interesting thing happened: I found myself feeling very sad for her. Or with her. Or from her. I asked tyranist, "Why is this getting to me? I hate Angel?" I guess the point is that she doesn't.

Gathering her inner strength, Buffy decides to be selfless and go out and fight monsters so her schoolmates can have a perfect Senior Prom.

Xander also discovers that Cordelia and her family are broke, and that she's working in the town dress shop to be able to buy a prom dress. He doesn't tell anyone about this, and instead pays for her dress when she's not looking. Odd.

That night, Buffy single-handedly takes down the anti-prom kid and his hellhounds, and enters the prom by herself, a little late. Tyranist and I were both sure that Giles would dance with her, but we were wrong. Wesley does dance with Cordelia, though, and Anya seems to be really enjoying her time with Xander. They start giving out awards, and Jonathan the Geek gets up and reads a statement praising Buffy Summers for saving their lives over and over again. He presents her with a golden umbrella as Class Protector and mentions that their graduating class has the lowest mortality rate in years. She gets to go up and receive the recognition she deserves.

And I was BAWLING. Sorry, Dad, maybe you were right about me.

The fact that she was appreciated by her peers for all that she does . . . well, that was just a moment of true happiness right there.

Then, girls, as if her night wasn't good enough, Angel shows up, dressed in a penguin suit, and gives her the prom night she wanted, as a sort of goodbye gift to her. The end.

I'll not bore you with how good this one was, 'cause I say that every week (and hopefully will continue to do so), but this episode was a little different. Tyranist commented on this afterward, so it must've surprised him as much as it did me, but it took us two hours to watch "The Prom." We kept pausing it to analyse, argue, and interpret the scenes, and then halfway through, I went off on a lengthy diatribe about women and children, both of which tyranist has more experience with than I do. He talked too, and it was a good conversation, which probably would've ended--or at least tested--any other friendship I know of.

According to the calendar, I am getting very old. But I still have a heck of a lot to learn.

As I said when I first started this thing, tyranist gave me the option of quitting while I was ahead. We didn't have to go to work the next morning, and I wanted to keep going, so we watched "Graduation Day" parts one and two. Because they didn't air the season finale for months, this is almost like a season ending cliffhanger.

Graduation is right around the corner, and everyone is excited about it, but our gang is also worried about the Mayor becoming a demon through his "ascension." It seems the Mayor himself will be giving the graduation speech, and is pretty sure he's going to triumph. A geology professor in town has discovered something interesting underneath a Hawaiian volcano, and the Mayor dispatches Faith to kill him.

Anya has some feelings for Xander, and she freaks out when he mentions the Ascension to her. Turns out she witnessed one centuries before and that the situation is all but hopeless.

So, the world may well end, and Oz and Willow hit the sack together. I'm reminded of the girl in AIRPLANE! who goes from aisle to aisle saying, "This may sound forward, but it looks like we may not live through this. And I don't want to die a virgin."

The stuff with Anya was unbelievably funny. When she tries to woo Xander into running away with her and he refuses and she bounces between being attracted to him and wishing for him to die . . . I haven't laughed that hard since tyranist's parents' funeral.

There was a somewhat throwaway episode of the Mayor and Faith hanging out in his office and I tried to figure out why it was there. My big regret with these two episodes was that I started to think that the Mayor's affection for Faith wasn't real, and that he would betray her at his ascension, and she'd be forced to be good again. This couldn't have been farther from the truth, and the big climax was a lot better without those incorrect theories in my head.

Buffy and Angel run into each other, and things are awkward . . . until Faith shows up. She shoots Angel with an arrow, but it doesn't kill him . . . it's coated with a slow-working poison. Tyr and I commented on this: had Faith killed Angel, Buffy would've been enraged and fought all the stronger, but with him dying slowly, she's distracted and off-centre, and therefore less likely to interfere in the Mayor's Ascension.

Buffy is desperate to save Angel's life and they ask the Watcher's Council for advice. Wesley tells us that the Council refuses to help because Angel is a vampire, so Buffy quits the Council, effectively firing him.

From another of those great books in the library (honestly, this show should do more to promote reading than J.K. Rowling), it is revealed that Angel can only be saved by drinking the blood of a Slayer. So Buffy heads over to Faith's to provide that cure.

We also discover that the dead professor found the remains of an Ascended demon, and that the Mayor will indeed be killable (by fire) after he's taken demon form.

A minor complaint: at one point, Buffy refers to Angel as her lover. That word just stopped me in my tracks. A) why had they chosen that particular word, since it's so archaic, and so unnatural to a teenager, who would probably refer to him as "my boyfriend" or "my friend," or best of all, "the man I love?" and B) it reminded me of that sickening Saturday Night Live sketch where Rachel Dratch and Will Ferrell would refer to each other as "luvah." So there's the ick factor there.

Anyway, Faith and Buffy have their confrontation. Faith doesn't think Buffy has it in her to take her down, and it's possible she's right. Of course, it's also possible that I'm a vicious, amoral bastard, so I can't understand what Buffy's going through.

In the fight, Buffy stabs Faith in the stomach with her own knife. This is surprising to her, and she falls onto the back of a passing truck, leaving Buffy without the means to heal her beau. And that's our cliffhanger ending.

Now, you probably know this (especially since I already mentioned it), but if you were an original fan of the show, you wouldn't have been able to see the second half until July, due to the outcry surrounding the Columbine High School shootings.

My good friend Matthew went to school in Littleton, Colorado, and he spoke of Columbine often. According to him (and I believe him), there was something of a parent/teacher/politician witchhunt around this time, very similar to what happened in the episode "Gingerbread." He talked about the people who were shaken by the event, the counselors who came to his school, the freedoms that instantly went away, and the few people who used the tragedy to their own ends. It was quite fascinating, and I hope people ask me someday what it was like to experience the Berlin Wall falling down, or the September 11th terrorist attacks, or when Palpatine declared himself Emperor.

Regardless, due to nationwide controversy and perceived insensitivity, the WB Network didn't show the "Buffy" season finale, and even I remember people being upset about that. I wish I'd been among them.

In "Graduation Day Part Two," the Mayor is quite upset at losing Faith and sends his minions to find her. Buffy returns to Angel's side and tells him he should drink her blood. He doesn't want to, but she forces him to. The animal side takes over and he just starts chugging away. When he comes back to himself, healed, he takes Buffy to the hospital.

As luck would have it, Faith is comatose in the next room, the Mayor worrying over her. When Angel goes out to call the gang, the Mayor discovers who is in the next room, but Angel stops him from doing her in.

Buffy has a dream with Faith in it, and somehow that puts the bad feelings aside. When she gets up, she goes over to Faith's bedside and kisses her. I'm sure Faith will show up again someday, and I do wonder how they're going to explain the last few episodes away. I certainly couldn't do it.

So, Buffy has a plan for defeating the Mayor, and while we're not privy to it, she says that Xander's role is the most important part. Other students from earlier in the series are brought in on the plan, and we're told that part of it is blowing the Mayor up with explosives.

During the planning, Cordelia and Wesley finally make out . . . and realise it's not really to their liking. Ah, TV.

The graduation ceremony begins. Partway through, there is a total eclipse and the vampires come out of their hiding places to prevent any students from escaping (see, the Mayor will be hungry after he ascends).

He transforms into a big computer-generated snake-creature and eats Principal Snyder. But the students don't flee in terror. Instead, he throw back their robes and produce weapons, attacking the demon and the vampires.

Xander gives orders, Cordelia kills a vampire, and Wesley is stomped like a narc at a biker rally. Buffy taunts the Mayordemon with the knowledge that she skewered his darling Faith and he goes after her. She runs into the school with him close behind, and sure enough, there are a great deal of explosives set up in the library, which go off after Buffy has jumped out a window to safety. The Mayor is blown to kingdom come. Which I assume would be bad for a demon-linked politician.

The school lies in ruins. Most of the students survived, and Giles gives Buffy her diploma. She looks over and sees Angel standing across the street. Without words, they make their farewells . . . and then he is gone. The end.

And there you are. The episode was a good one, and doesn't seem at all insensitive or bothersome in 2007. I have to admit, the final confrontation with the Mayor would've been a bit better if the demon hadn't been so irritatingly CG, but I don't suppose you could get a rubber monster to do what he was doing. Still, it would've been interesting.*

So, that was Season Three. I guess I should sit down and think about it. Was it better than Season Two? I don't know. It was good stuff . . . I might have to look at a list of the episodes from both years and do a mathematical comparison to determine the victor.

Season One's best show was probably "Prophesy Girl" or "The Pack." But every Season Two and Three show was better than that one. But were the Mayor, Mr. Trick, and Faith better villains than Bad Angel, Spike, and Druscilla? Was Wesley a better . . . okay, I can't think up any more comparisons.

I also ought to name the best episode of the season. Dang, that might be hard. But I can do it. I'll go back and add the best Season Two episode to that post as well. Looking over a list, "The Wish" and "The Zeppo" were my favourites, though there were several excellent runner-ups. I'd also say that "The Wish" was the scariest episode (tonally), and the scariest villain/monster was The First Evil from "Amends."

When this whole darn series is said and done, I figure I'll do my personal top ten list of episodes. And maybe I can coax tyranist into doing one too.

Rish "This Post Is Only A Week Overdue" Outfield

*That reminds me, I caught about five minutes of MANSQUITO the other night on the Sci-Fi Channel, and as lame as it may be, the fact that the titular monster was actually there, interacting with its victims, impressed me. Sure, prosthetics can be limiting, but they at least have soul. The Creature From the Black Lagoon will never look more dated than it did around 1960 or so, when the black & white film stock and wardrobe went out of style. And MANSQUITO may suck (or it may not, I don't know), but it will never be more dated than it was when I saw it last week.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Stupid Thing of the Week

No, this isn't a weekly rant against something I hate (though I surely could do a post like that . . . I could do an entire blog called "Stuff I Hate"), it's more of a short Rish-bashing post that I will probably be too lazy to keep up with.

Though I'll certainly have enough material to do it every week.

So, this week's Stupid Thing . . . I've not been at this job long, and I find it harder to make friends than a leper at a Germaphobics Anonymous meeting. But I figured I'd try.

I saw the woman who sits in the cubicle across from me, scowling at her computer monitor, and I thought I'd try to say something as I walked past. She and I aren't the best of pals, and nobody here (or anywhere) is appreciated enough for what they do, so I said, "You do good work, Sheila."

Which is a nice compliment, right? Until I realised her name was Sonja. Yeah.