Monday, March 31, 2008

Stupid Thing of the Week

You know how great it is in a movie or TV show when there's a character that rails against a certain kind of person, and then they do something and realise they've become what they most despise?

Well, yesterday, I was hanging out with Merrill, still trying to get him as excited about "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" as I've become. He mocked me for continuing to watch "Veronica Mars"--which I deserved--and explained that he hasn't really enjoyed the first few episodes of "Buffy"'s first season.

I told him how I didn't think they were all that special either, and that I never made it past the first disc when I lived in L.A., but that I've just discovered this past week that by episode six or seven, the show begins to fire on all cylinders and gets really good, I promise.

Somehow, though, we started talking about how I got into the show (oh, it was when he mocked me for starting Season Two of "Veronica Mars"), and how tyranist just pushed and pushed until I finally gave in and started watching "Buffy" (and VM) with him.*

I told Merrill that one of the things that contributed to me deciding to give "Buffy" one more try (which was actually try number three, as I've mentioned) was that we really got into this BBC/Sky One show called "Hex." "Hex" told the story of an astoundingly hot blonde (Christina Cole) in an English private school who finds out that she's inherited magickal ability and a destiny to fight against dark forces.

I told Merrill that I was lucky enough to see "Hex" before I saw "Buffy," so it didn't bother me that Cassie was pretty much "The Chosen One," and there was a dark, mysterious stranger who would show up from time to time, and that there's a really nasty bitch she goes to school with who eventually softens and joins the light side, or that her best friend is a lesbian who--

And Merrill said, "Wait, Willow is a lesbian? When did that happen?"

With that, I realised that I had become what I most despise. I tried to convince Merrill I was talking about Xander, but the damage was done.

As penance, I will go do actual work for, say, twelve minutes.

Rish "Self-loathing" Outfield

*I wish I had the same influence on tyranist to get him to do what I really want to do. But hey, there's gotta be losers in life to make you winners look all the better.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

And the Devil Laughed (Spring)

Something recently happened to me that was certainly a qualifier for Stupid Thing of the Week, but the more I thought about it, the more head-shaking it got. Thankfully, it's not nearly as Holocaust-level as MEET THE SPARTANS being a hit, but I'm going to cite it as my second post calling attention to the devil having a laugh.

I bid on things from time to time on eBay--as should any geek worth his salt--but I suppose I'm not always as detail-oriented as ought to be.* I'll try in the future not to let it happen again, but I placed my bid and went about my business.

A day or two later, I got the requisite email telling me I'd won the item, but when I checked the auction out, it sold for a heck of a lot more than I had intended on paying. I did the math in my head and figured my max bid had probably been $13.00, or maybe the extra-lucky $13.13, but there I was, the high bidder, at way over that.

So, I consulted my sneakie we-bid-so-you-don't-have-to site, and to my, well, displeasure, I saw that it had entered my maximum bid as . . . wait for it . . . $1313.00. Yeah, just about a thousand dollars over my max bid.

I think somebody told me what my options were in a situation like this, but it was hard to hear them over the Satanic laughter echoing off my walls.

Rish "Big Spender" Outfield

*Another example was a pretty-damn-close-to-fraudulent listing I bid on and won about a month ago. When the item arrived, I didn't even know what auction it had been from, but I figured it out soon enough. I had thought I was bidding on something other than what I received . . . but sure enough, in the item's description, they stated that the item wasn't the one in the accompanying photo, but was very much like it. Arrrgh.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Life's not a song (Buffy: The Musical)

"I died, many years ago.
But you can make me feel
Like it isn't so."

I lived in a two bedroom apartment in the westernmost part of Los Angeles (three more blocks and it was Santa Monica), sleeping on the floor, and waiting until my roommate fell asleep so I could download filth. We were right off of Olympic Boulevard, and there was a big billboard a block before you turned for our apartment.

One day, in mid-October, the billboard became an advertisement for an upcoming episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" entitled "Buffy: The Musical." I remember that billboard vividly, even though I wasn't a watcher of the show.

And now I've just spent twenty minutes trying to find it online. God, I miss L.A.. They had movie (and TV) billboards everywhere, and I never had a digital camera there.

Maybe someone out there has a picture of it and will send it to me.

And maybe I'll wake up tomorrow able to grow chest hair and be irresistible to every unmarried lass I meet.

Anyway, I remember that billboard, and I remember people being really interested in that episode.

At Comic-Con last year, they held a special screening of the musical the Whedonopolis president invited me to. I stood in line for a half an hour before being told it was sold out. But they had added a second showing. But it was sold out. So they had added a third showing. But I was tired, so I went home.

And later that summer, my cousin spent hours talking about BTVS, where he told me about it, proclaiming it "depressing." His little brother wondered how in the world a musical could be depressing.*

And a couple of weeks ago, when I was mad at tyranist (as usual, the man really is a git), I told him I was going to find the episode online and watch it without him. But he told me I would regret it, that he knew me well enough to know that if I watched it out of order, it would spoil things and I would be miserable.

So I waited. Even though I had the songs and listened to them all the time out of context, trying to imagine who, where, what, and why.

"Once More With Feeling" is the actual name of the episode, written and directed by Joss Whedon. Apparently, he spent an awful long time writing it and rehearsing it with his cast, and shot bits and pieces of it during the shooting of the episodes that preceded it.

It's not a standalone episode, and now that I think about it, none of them since episode seven or so are.

I don't know how to recap this one. It's so different than all the other episodes that . . . well, I'll have to give it a try.

The next morning has arrived, and everything is much more colourful and in a widescreen format (would that every episode afterward would be too, but hey, maybe they are).
Buffy goes patrolling and through the cemetery, and while she does, she sings a song about how she doesn't feel alive anymore and is just going through the motions.

The next day, the gang gathers at the Magic Box and talks about something strange that happened the night before: they all burst into song complete with backing orchestra or dancing. Speculating what might be behind it, they sing a song about their theories of what's behind it. Anya gets her own rocking verse about how evil bunnies "aren't just cute like everybody supposes."

Turns out it's not just them, but everyone in Sunnydale is similarly afflicted, singing their thoughts and feelings seemingly without their control. Dawn shows up and talks about people singing at school, then shoplifts an exotic-looking necklace.

Tara and Willow slip out and go to a park we've never seen before, where Tara--in a Snow Whitesque dress--gets checked out by a couple of dudes. She makes a joke that because the boys noticed her, suddenly she's cured of her gayity. It's not really a noteworthy part of the episode, but it was something that struck me (both when I saw it and afterward). I've talked ad nauseum about Willow turning gay on the show and how it's never really spelled out whether that was in her all along, waiting to get out, or if circumstances turned her to the fairer sex. But Tara has made a couple of comments before about such things, and her joke did thumb its nose at the whole theory (which I admit I have shared) that lesbians are just hetero girls who've been disappointed with men so they change sides.

Tangent, I know, but her use of the word "cured," also thumbs its nose at the segment of the population that sees homosexuality as some kind of unfortunate condition or delusion. But Tara is such a positive, hate-free character that there's no malice or ugliness to her character at all.

And reiterating this, she sings Willow a song that's all innocence and young love, expressing her feelings to Willow and also that she has changed since Willow put her under her spell. It's the kind of song that wouldn't be out of place in a Disney musical.

So imagine my surprise when oral copulation begins during Tara's "Under Your Spell" song. My god, I thought they were just friends!

But senuously, folks**, it is pretty unsubtle, especially for network TV. And especially for a show that didn't show Willow and Tara kissing until a year into the relationship (and even then, the network wanted it cut out). I'm not complaining (like Paul Reiser used to say, "I love lesbian sex. The thing is, I agree with both of them."), but it was a little startling.

After that, we get some time with Xander and Anya at their place, as they each sing about their delight at being together, but their secret annoyances and fears about their relationship, thing's they would never tell. It's really funny and super-choreographed, with dancing and big camera moves and felt the most like something they would've done back in the heyday of movie musicals.

So I suppose what we're seeing is the inner secrets of our characters coming out in songs (really brilliant songs all written by Joss, in differing styles). But it's not all flowers and cartoon birds--we witness a shadowy figure and at least one person dancing themselves into spontaneous combustion.

There's more than one death and everyone turns to Giles to solve it, but his thoughts are elsewhere, at how changed Buffy is, and how distant. Xander reminds Giles that she was stuck in hell/ademondimension for an untold amount of time, so she's just readjusting.

Speaking of Buffy, as soon as the sun sets, she heads to Spike's lair to do her weekly goth thing, asking if he knows anything. But Spike begins to sing a song about how he knows she comes to visit because he's not a person, just a dead man, and she thinks she can be herself with him, despite his feelings for her. The song turns more than a bit angry, with him telling her it hurts to be around her and that she should stay away and "stop visiting my grave." She gets the drift, and stomps away.

Tara is babysitting Dawn (see, I wish English had a word that meant "babysitting" but didn't have "baby" in it***) and Dawn tells her she's glad she and Willow got over their argument, since they're such a cute couple. Tara, however, has no memory of any argument, and remembers the flower she found in her bedroom the night before (or maybe it's two nights before, I can't really figure out the math).

She rushes out for a minute, leaving Dawn alone with her box full of stolen wares. Dawn starts to sing a lonely song, but it is interrupted by the appearance of a trio of puppet-like henchman, who grab her.

She is taken before a red-skinned demon (bright red-skinned, not "How, kemosabe" red-skinned) who was called Sweet on the soundtrack, who explains (through song) that he was summoned by her for a little entertainment, and that he has the power to make people sing and dance . . . dance until they burst into flame. Oh, he also mentions that Dawnie is going to have to go back to his dimension and be his bride. Nice.

But Dawn mentions that her sister is the Slayer, so Sweet sends his henchmen to find Buffy and bring her back, so he can watch her burn.

Back at the magic shop, Buffy is training with Giles, and again mentions how safe and comfortable she is with him around. Giles then sings a heartbreaking tune about how he'd love to play the part of the protective father, he's standing in the way of Buffy's development as an adult, and must go. Buffy doesn't hear this song, though, so I'm not sure how the singing works.

In the next room, Tara has discovered that the flower Willow used was called Lethe's Bramble, a memory charm. Tara reprises her song "Under Your Spell," but it's got a darker tint to it now, as she realises what Willow has crossed a line that can't be uncrossed, and that their relationship is done. At the same time, Giles reprises "Standing," both singing about having to leave, and though both Willow and Buffy are in the room, neither of them hear the words.

Spike comes in with one of Sweet's henchmen, who reveals that Dawn is being kept at the Bronze and that Buffy has to go there (this could easily have been a song, but it's amusing that he takes about four seconds to just say it). Everyone wants to go there with her, but Giles forbids it, telling Buffy she has to do this alone. Spike ignores Giles, but Buffy brushes him off and he hits the bricks, telling her he hopes she and her sister burn.

Buffy goes by herself, singing a song about walking through the fire without feeling its heat. The song continues, with Spike vacillating between "I'm free if that bitch dies" and "I'd better help her out." Giles sings about whether he was right to send Buffy off alone, and Sweet sings about the Slayer's death being inevitable. Buffy seems to feel it too and goes to embrace it. In the end, all the gang (Spike included) turn around and head toward the Bronze to stand by Buffy's side.

Buffy arrives and tells Sweet she'll go with him instead of her sister, unless he kills her first. Either way, it's the same thing. He chuckles at her fatalism, and asks her if she really feels that way. Buffy responds with a song despairing all the silly platitudes about life and how what she really needs is something to sing about. Buffy beats up Sweet's henchmen, but can't help dancing (which is Sweet's trick). Giles and company arrive, and in one of the funniest moments, he tells Tara and Anya to go back Buffy up, which they do as backup singers.

The song continues, and Buffy reveals that she was at peace, finally, in Heaven, but then her unthinking friends pulled her out and back here to Hell. Xander and especially Willow respond with horror at this statement, and then Buffy begins to dance uncontrollably, smoke rising from her body.

And Spike steps in, stopping her. "The pain that you feel," he sings, "Only can heal . . . by living." Dawn stands up and reminds Buffy of her own last words: "The hardest thing in this world is to live in it." Sweet's plan is foiled, but Dawn is still going to have to go with him for summoning him.

But then Xander reveals that he was the one who made the wish/incantation/summoning/something-offscreen-that-I-don't-quite-understand, in hopes that everything would turn out all singy-happy between him and Anya.

Whoops. Sweet seems to really be defeated now (though it seems like he could've claimed Xander as his bride; he does have a purty mouth), but mentions that everybody's secrets are out now and in a way, that's a victory. He disappears, leaving everyone else to wonder where they go from here. I can't help but despair watching Willow during this song, she looks like the tiny, pathetic girl we met in season one, knowing what she did to Buffy and that she's somehow alienated Tara as well. But everybody is forced to join hands and sing, until, that is, Spike sees the absurdity of the moment and slinks away to the back alleys that he fills so well.

While the others finish their song, Buffy joins him in the alley, and they reprise their "Walk Through the Fire" tune, with Buffy saying, "This isn't real, but I just want to feel," and kissing him. As they kiss, the curtain falls, and the episode comes to an end.

So there you go. I was blown away by this episode, maybe more so on the second viewing, and now when I hear the songs I've been listening to for months, I can finally put images and places to the sounds. Pretty cool.

Here I am, several days later, finishing up this post, and I still find myself singing, "She does pretty well with fiends from hell, but lately we can tell, that she's just going through the motions . . ." That's either a very good thing, or something very, very bad.

I looked for the billboard, and found one of those silly, pointless quizzes. This one was which song from the episode are you? Turns out I am "Going Through The Motions," even though my favourite song is actually "Under Your Spell/Standing (Reprise)." Interesting.****

Oh, and in looking up the lyrics to one of the songs, I made a shocking discovery: Anthony Stewart Head is the brother of Murray Head, who continues to get airplay with One Night In Bangkok!!!!!

Maybe you already knew that, but then, you also know what's going to happen in the next episode. And so far, I've been lucky enough not to (though dammit, I found out something else that happens in the next handful of shows just this week that I wish I hadn't. If it had only held back a few more days . . .), though I am anxious to continue the tale and be entertained, tickled, and moved.
Yeah, I cried. How could I not?

I really ought to cry more often.

Rish "Doctor Sunshine" Outfield

*Well, I just got home from seeing it, and I want to blow my brains out. So, yeah, Ryan, you were right.

**I saw a Brazilian bootleg of a Phil Collins album when I was in South America that was called "But Senuously..." and I've never quite gotten it out of my head.

***There isn't, so don't give me "tending" or "sitting."

****I'm almost tempted to go on there and make up my own quiz, something like "What Truly Awful Way To Die Are You?" What do you think?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Another Buffy/Angel marathon

March 22-25, 2008 

Recently, it has been brought to my attention that I'm really wasting my time with these "Buffy"/"Angel" blogs. There are many places on the internet where you can find better recaps, and my attempts at humour seem to be falling on deaf . . . well, eyes. 

Around 1989, I thought it would be a good idea to write in my journal every time I went to see a movie (which wasn't often, dependent on what money I had and a way to get there). I filled a page or two with my experiences of, say, seeing BATMAN that summer, and would tape my ticket stub in there at the end. It seemed like fun, and until recently, I was still writing about my movie experiences, although in a much more regimented way. 

But now, in 2008, while I'd rather clean elementary school erasers with my tongue than read through those old journal entries (honestly, was Alison Watkins really all that?), if I were to do so, I'd much rather read about who I saw BATMAN with and the specifics of what I thought about it than a synopsis of the story or a rundown of the cast. I know better than 1989 Rish who was in which movies, but what I don't know anymore was where I went and how I got there, and most importantly, what I felt about it all. 

So, I guess what I'm saying is, even though these Buffy Wednesday entries are indeed a waste of time, I'm going to continue to do them, and if anything, I'm going to put more personal observations and unfunny jokes in here than I did before. Consider yourself warned. 

And speaking of which, oh, tyranist and I caught more than our share of "Buf-gel"s this past weekend. We watched "Buffy" first, instead of "Angel" like I resolved to do this season, and the episode we started with was "Flooded," written by Jane Espenson and Doug Petrie. It begins with Buffy in the Summers' basement, when all the pipes seem to burst at the same time, pouring in water. Xander's plumber friend gives them an estimate for repairs, and the bill is near the gross national product of Columbia (minus the drug export, of course). Willow and Tara reveal that while Joyce did leave Buffy some money, her hospital bills ate most of it up. The house payments (before repairs) are quite extensive, and the Summers are pretty much broke.* 

This led tyranist and me to wonder if the Slayer shouldn't receive an income from the Watchers Council, the same as Giles does. It was my sickeningly plausible idea that there is indeed a paying contract with each new Slayer, but that the girl doesn't start getting a check until she has been slaying for two years. The mortality rate is so high, the Council almost never has to pay a dime.  Of course, there's no way the Watchers Council pays Buffy anything, and I'm still reeling from last season's revelation that the Watchers get a paycheck. So Buffy is in trouble. 

So, Buffy goes to the bank to see if she could get a home loan. Unfortunately, property values aren't real good in Sunnydale, and without a job, Buffy isn't in a position to get loaned an umbrella, let alone how many thousands of dollars she needs. They have also just turned down Peter Parker and his aunt, but that's a couple of desks over. And on the other side of the bank is a demon, who's there to rob the place. 

Buffy's wearing a nice, tight skirt, which she has to slice down the side to beat up the demon. She chases it away, but a) it still manages to steal a lot of money, and b) the bank still won't give her a loan. Buffy doesn't seem all that stressed about it, which is an aftereffect of her death, blissful rest, and unwanted resurrection. Willow tries to get a rise out of her by admitting her torrid affairs with both Riley and Angel, but that sounds about as believable to Buffy as Willow marrying Wesley Windham Price. 

Buffy gets a bit of joy back when Giles returns from England. He is invited to stay with them (sleeping on the couch), and Buffy immediately begins to defer her decisions to him. The gang discovers that the demon who robbed the bank wasn't acting of its own accord, but was serving someone else, someone very powerful. That someone is revealed to be three someones: Jonathan (the geek from several episodes past), Warren (the robot-maker), and someone named Andrew (who is referred to have set winged monkeys on a school play in the first season**), three geeky friends with aspirations to rule the world. The demon is unhappy about its encounter with the Slayer and Warren takes it aside and provides it with Buffy's address. 

At night, Giles takes Willow aside in Buffy's kitchen and, well, while I don't imagine Giles would approve of this phrase, he rips her a new one for daring to cast a resurrection spell on Buffy. She tells him how scary the spell was, and he calls her a very stupid girl. He warns her (belatedly) about the danger of such spells and how it might have gone wrong, and I can't help but wonder if the reason they performed the spell when they did wasn't because they'd been waiting for the Urn of Osiris but because Willow was waiting for Giles to be out of the picture. Giles really lays into Willow, but she gets all cold on him and says, basically, "If I'm powerful enough to bring someone back from the dead, then you better not piss me off." It was truly chilling, and darn, I wish I didn't know (the general direction of) where this is going. 

Buffy goes outside and Spike tosses a cigarette butt at her. Ahh, love. They talk a bit, and it's weird how she seems to have changed toward Spike. The demon bursts into the house while she's gone, however, and knocks out Giles. Buffy shows up and beats up the demon again, freaking out about the expensive damage it's doing. Spike helps her in the fight and they thrash the demon soundly. 

The trio of geeks decide to band together and take down the Slayer. Buffy, however, is still upset about her money woes and now-damaged home. Then she talks to Angel all the way over on the WB and agrees to meet him at a midway point (since the WB was Channel 5 and UPN was Channel 13, that should put them around Channel 9). The end. 

I enjoyed the episode, particularly a great Xander line about Spider-man, but was upset by the ending. I bemoaned the fact that we watched the shows out of order, missing Angel's discovery that Buffy is still alive/alive again. Tyranist argued that not only did it no longer matter what order we watch them in, but that I am a mongoloid. 

Our first "Angel" of the evening was "Carpe Noctem," written by someone named Scott Murphy (his first episode), and tells the story of Angel Investigations looking into a couple of muscular young men who, acting peculiar, drop dead of some sort of life-sucking spell. Angel wants to go see a Charlton Heston film festival at the New Art, and only Fred will go with him. She comes back thinking it was a date, and nursing something of a crush on him (on Angel, that is, not Chuck Heston . . . though both would be understandable). 

Back on the case, Angel and Cordelia go to a gym where two of the victims were members, and Angel sees an old man with binoculars across the street at the retirement home. He goes up to see the old man, Marcus (played by Clint Howard's father), and Marcus quickly casts a spell which exchanges his life force with Angel's. In other words, it's the body switch movies of the late Eighties, only with a vampire this time. 

Actually, the episode is much better than I'm making it sound. "Angel" gets driven home by Cordelia, and is surprised to find out that he's a private investigator. Cordelia tells "Angel" she should talk to Fred about them just being friends, and "Angel" thinks Wesley is Fred, setting up an amusing attempted break-up on his part. Meanwhile, Angel wakes up in the body of an old man, but has no confusion over what has happened. He calls Angel Investigations, and leaves a message for Cordelia (it's amazing that cellphones don't exist on "Buffy," and astounding that they don't exist on "Angel"), but Marcus intercepts it.

"Marcus" gets in trouble for using the phone, and he finds himself a veritable prisoner in the retirement home. "Angel," however, is delighted to find out that he's a vampire, and there's no danger of this host's lifeforce running out like the other men he switched places with did. "Angel" goes out on the town, enjoying his increased strength, and the perfect hair that has women throwing themselves at him. He also comes onto Fred (who he realises is a woman after all), and when evillawyerchick Lilah Morgan comes over to resolve Angel's property dispute, he promptly mounts her, then gets carried away and bites her. She flees, more angry than afraid, and I imagine their next meeting will be less than warm. 

"Marcus" tries to find a way to get out of the retirement home, and ends up with a heart attack. When "Angel" shows up there, having decided to keep this body and kill his old one, "Marcus" uses his knowledge of vampire weaknesses to defeat him, then promptly switches their bodies back. Now old and frail again, Marcus yells at Angel, but ends up having another heart attack. In the end, Cordelia gets a phone call from Willow, revealing that Buffy is alive. 

Hoping to see the historic meet-up with Buffy and Angel, I insisted we keep watching "Angel," namely the episode "Fredless," written by Mere Smith. It begins with Angel having left to meet Buffy, and Fred asking the others what the situation is between them. In a hilarious exchange, Cordelia pretends to be Buffy and Wesley pretend to be Angel, and they ruthlessly mock the starcrossed lovers until they realise Angel is standing right there. Unamused, he takes Fred out for ice cream, and they come back via the sewers, following a demon they encountered offscreen. Fred sees some pink crystals, which will become important later, and Angel sends her home alone so he can dispatch the demon. 

There are almost no spoilers left for me on "Buffy" (and it's starting on "Angel" as well) that I have yet to stumble across, but somehow I didn't know we wouldn't get a Buffy/Angel reunion scene. It still bothers me that it didn't happen (though I suppose I understand why it didn't). 

Back at the hotel, an older couple with Southern accents arrives, in search of their daughter Fred (who's been gone for five years). They hired another investigator to find her and he said she was living in the hotel. My Spider Sense was tingling off the charts with these two, but maybe I have parent issues. Wesley, Gunn, and Cordelia try to explain her absence without mentioning vampires, demons, and parallel dimensions, but the Burkles are suspicious. Fred enters while they're talking, and just as quickly sneaks away again. Angel bursts in, carrying the severed head of the demon he just killed, boasting about it. 

Cordelia quickly explains to the Burkles that Angel works on monster movies and the head is just a prop. He tells Fred's parents that their daughter is probably up in her room now, and they go up to see her. If you recall, Fred had covered her walls with gibberish, formulas and drawings and such, and her parents are more suspicious to see them. Angel and company aren't sure what to make of the parents, who are getting really pushy and suspicious themselves, and Angel wonders why she would run away from them and where she would go. The Burkles go with our heroes to the library where she disappeared, but of course, she's not there. Angel also goes down to the sewer location where he saw her last, but doesn't find her. Some mantis-like insect-creature watches him from the shadows. 

Fred has actually gone to Caritas, which makes sense, and convinces Lorne to let her in, even though the place is closed due to the damage inflicted two episodes back. Lorne is grouchy about it, but Fred is just so darn lovable that he listens to her plight. Angel and Company arrive a little while later, and Cordelia explains that Lorne works on monster movies with Angel, hence the elaborate makeup. Lorne reveals that Fred has gone to the bus station, planning to start a new life without any money or prospects in a new town. The gang (and Fred's parents) arrive and stop her from leaving. The reason she was fleeing her parents was because she didn't want to explain that she lived for years in a cave, hunted and abused like an animal, and talking about it would make it real. Her folks don't understand, exactly, but when the giant mantis monster from the sewer arrives, and Angel is forced to vamp out and fight it, well, that makes things more complicated. Fred also fights the creature, and Fred's mother ends up driving a bus into the mantis, squashing it. 

The Burkles are astounded that Fred lives in a world with monsters and vampires and demons and giant bugs and black people and fake breasts, but they're also impressed that she's a sort of hero, defender of goodness against the power of darkness. But Fred doesn't feel like a hero, or that she belongs with the others, and packs her things to leave town with her parents. She tells everyone goodbye, and I began to be sad that we were losing such a great character so soon after she'd been introduced. Fred had created some kind of contraption, which the gang thought was either a weapon or a toaster, and leaves it there in the lobby for her friends. The Burkles--all three of them--get in a cab and drive away. Fred looks at her jacket and sees more of the odd pink crystals attached to it. Gunn makes a funny comment about the severed demon head they still have in the lobby, and almost immediately after, Angel and the others are attacked by a half-dozen of the giant mantis critters. Angel was barely a match for one before, and is in trouble against many. But then Fred bursts in, and deploys her device, which fires a big axe-blade across the room and into the severed demon head. The head splits open, spilling out dozens of fat brown cockroach-bugs, which are the offspring of the mantis creatures. Reunited, the small bugs and the big ones leave in peace. 

Fred had realised that the pink crystals were the monster's eggs, and they were only after their sweet, deah babbies. She also realises that she was useful and a part of the team, and hell yeah she's a hero like the others. She and her parents part, and she and the others paint over all the scribblings crazy Fred had drawn on her bedroom wall. The end. 

This was good, good stuff. The addition of Fred is truly a welcome one, and the group dynamic between all the Angel Investigations is amusing and interesting. May I live to see it continue. 

So, then we got the "Buffy" episode "Life Serial," which I've actually watched twice, for some reason. It was written by David Fury and Jane Espenson, and it begins after the non-existent crossover with Angel where they talk. Buffy returns home, and would rather talk about her future plans than what happened with Angel on Channel 9. Tara and Willow convince her to come to college classes with them, so she heads off to school. 

Meanwhile, the Terrible Trio (Warren, Jonathan, and Andrew) have gotten themselves a van to be their mobile headquarters. Andrew paints a Death Star on the side, but the others make him take it off. These three are very similar, geek-wise, to my friends and me, just with a lot less profanity. Buffy goes to class with Willow, but everyone seems to be speaking in some kind of intellectual uberbrain-tongue (what I commonly refer to as "tyranist language"), and Buffy feels dumb. While heading to a class with Tara, Warren sticks a little device on her that I assumed was some kind of Spider-Tracer or hidden microphone. What it ends up being is some kind of time displacement inducer, and Buffy finds herself jumping forward in time, and then the opposite--standing still while everyone around her zooms by. Finally, she discovers the device, and Warren causes it to self-destruct. 

The other members of the Trio give Warren a score on how well he did in, I don't know, testing or annoying the Slayer. Then it's Andrew's turn. Buffy can't explain what happened to her, but flees the campus like . . . I don't know, a pretty girl confronted by me at a high school dance. Giles tells Buffy she can come work at the magic shop, but she doesn't want to do that. So Xander pulls some strings to get Buffy work at a construction site. The foreman is not impressed when he sees all seventy-five pounds of her, but she is able to carry heavy materials and work much faster than the others. 

The van pulls up to the site, and Andrew does his thing (which involves some sort of pan flute). Suddenly, a bunch of demons appear, terrorising the jobsite and causing all sorts of destruction. Buffy kills them, but their bodies turn into green goo then disappear after they die. For some reason, none of the other construction workers claim to have seen the demons, and the foreman thinks Buffy went psycho on him. Xander realises the repairs will be costly, and tells Buffy to go do research on what's happening to her. In other words, she's fired. 

So, Buffy goes to work at the Magic Box while the Terrible Trio watches from hidden cameras. Jonathan casts a spell and Buffy goes to help her first customer, a woman who wants to buy a magical mummy hand. Unfortunately, she is unable to satisfy the customer, and the encounter restarts, with the woman coming in again, asking about the mummy hand. Try as Buffy may to give the woman what she wants, she fails and the scenario repeats. Finally, Buffy tells the woman she can't give her that particular hand, but would be happy to special order one for her. The woman accepts, and Buffy breaks free of the time loop. 

But Anya notices she didn't charge the woman for the delivery of the item, and Buffy leaves in a disgusted huff. She goes off to visit Spike, and they drown their sorrows in alcohol (Buffy is at her cutest every time she takes a drink and shudders at the awfulness of it all), then go off to talk to Spike's underworld contacts about who might be messing with her. They go to a poker game with a trio of demons (all of whom appear to be cheating), who are playing for kittens, because, well, they're delicious. 

Inside their van, the trio of baddies congratulate themselves on . . . annoying the Slayer, I suppose. But when Buffy and Spike come out of the bar, she recognises the vehicle and stomps toward it. Jonathan casts a spell to make himself look like a big red-skinned demon, and Buffy takes him down with one kick (luckily, she's very drunk, or she probably would've taken his head off). He pretends to die, then makes it to the van, where they drive away. They have tested Buffy's abilities and it's given them the knowledge they need for whatever else they've got planned. 

Buffy goes home to be sick. When she comes out of the bathroom, Giles is there to comfort her. He has written her a check, which she should be able to use to get on top of things again, and she seems to revert to a childlike state, glad that Giles is there to make everything alright. The end. 

This has to be the lightest episode of the season, and it's quite welcome after some of the pain, doubt, and misery we've experienced thusfar. Though it was now time to switch over to "Angel" again, I was not piloting the DVD player, and tyranist put on the next "Buffy" episode, entitled, "All the Way." 

This was another Halloween show, and was written by Steven S. DeKnight. Halloween is apparently a very busy day for the magic shop, and virtually everyone is working there to help out. It's very funny stuff, as Willow sneers at the people dressed as warty stereotypical witches and Anya is dressed as an Angel (as in "Charlie's," complete with Farrah hair and a pair of shorts the size of of a handkerchief). At the end of the business day, Xander (dressed as a pirate) decides it's time to announce his engagement to Anya. 

Everyone goes to Buffy's house for a Halloween/engagement party. Willow casts a spell to decorate the house, when it could've been done physically with little problem. Tara notices this too, so it's not just Giles and me now. I also find myself getting a little nervous seeing how controlling and obsessed with her upcoming wedding Anya becomes, even at this early stage. It's become obvious that I'm not going to see a happy ending here, either in my own life or those of the "Buffy" universe. 

Dawn tells Buffy she's going to spend the night at her friend Amber Tamblyn's house to spend the night, and meets Amber Tamblyn, who has told her parents she's staying at Dawn's house. I'm sure Dawn steals at some point in this episode too.*** The girls hook up with two older-looking boys who are apparently in their high school, and quickly pair off. Justin is the name of Dawn's date, and he's a handsome lad, seemingly harmless, but when the two boys are alone, they talk about going all the way with the girls later. 

At the beginning of the episode, we are introduced to a creepy old man who hums Pop Goes the Weasel to himself, and looks more than a little villainous. Well, it turns out that, for a thrill, the four teenagers head to his house for some mischief. Only Dawn is brave enough to go up and grab his pumpkin (which sounds a lot dirtier than it is), but when he steps out and invites them in, all four go inside. The old man appears to be harmless, but has something special cooking for them in the kitchen. He invites Amber Tamblyn's date to go with him and help, and you can just connect the dots from there what happens. Except you'd be wrong. Turns out that the man was just baking cookies, and the two boys are vampires. The old man is killed and the four teens leave, with the boys trying to decide whether they'll kill their dates, or "go all the way" and convert them to the undead. 

Buffy slips away to patrol, even though it's understood that vampires and demons always take Halloween off, you know, to keep its true meaning in their hearts. Once she's gone, Amber Tamblyn's mother calls the Summers house. She asks to speak to her daughter, revealing the girls' lie to Giles and the others. Xander and Anya stay there, but the others go out looking for Dawn. Eventually Buffy discovers a vampire's victim and knows there's trouble a'brewin'. Giles finds Spike and tells him what's what, then Buffy finds Spike and they go out looking for her sister together. Giles saves Amber Tamblyn from being eaten/envamped by her date. In a rare ass-kicking moment, Giles tussles with the vampire and ends up triumphant. 

Dawn and Justin are in his car, sharing a romantic moment. They kiss, and he seems to be moved when he realises it was her first kiss. They continue the making out, and in a scene reminiscent of Season One, he vamps out. Willow and Tara go to the Bronze, but it's really crowded. Willow suggests she cast a spell to momentarily send everyone there who isn't Dawn into another dimension. Tara balks at this idea and while they argue, Willow casts a spell to make everyone else in the Bronze go silent so they can talk. This only cements Tara's argument further, that Willow has gone overboard with the magic, and seems almost to be addicted to casting spells. It's interesting that they live in a world with thousands of demons, yet almost no cellphones. 

Justin catches up to Dawn and tells her she shouldn't be afraid, that she's special, and she seems willing to let him bite her. Giles, however, appears, to stop him. Unfortunately, a whole gaggle of vampires arrives at that moment, surrounding Giles. But then Spike and Buffy arrive. Ignoring all the vampires, Buffy yells at Dawn for her behaviour, and Dawn gives the old "Oh, so it's okay when you fall for a vampire, but not me," argument we've all used at one time or another. Then the fight begins. Spike dusts a couple (mostly he's upset that the other vampires didn't respect the holiday), Giles dusts more than his share, and Buffy kills about eight hundred and twenty six vampires, one using a car door. But Justin catches up to Dawn and mounts her on the leaf-covered ground. He tells her he likes her and she tells him she likes him back, then jabs him with the stake in her hand. It's really kind of sweet, and I wish I had had a moment even remotely as romantic as that when I was fifteen. 

Everyone goes home, and Tara is especially distant from Willow. Buffy is about to talk to Dawn about her behaviour, but as soon as she sees Giles, she tells him to do it for her and retreats to her room. Giles does talk to Dawn, but it's a shame we don't get to hear their conversation. If I had children, I'd wish I could be the kind of father Giles is, complete with lovely singing voice and proper diction. Willow can't understand why Tara is so upset with her, but rather than go to bed angry, she gets a flower and casts a spell on it. When she gets into bed, her spell makes Tara forget they ever had a disagreement. The end.

Dang, this was good stuff. The Halloween episodes are always special, but I'm starting to believe that every episode of "Buffy" is special. The other day, my cousin came over and we watched a couple early episodes. When my uncle asked what we were watching, my cousin said, "Only the greatest TV show of all time." And I realised that I didn't disagree with him.**** 

So, back at tyranist's place, with our Buffy/Angel marathon behind us, tyranist and I talked for a moment about the many character arcs set in motion. Since he would be out of town next week, I was glad we'd gotten so many episodes in. I went to the bathroom to, you know, "declutter the icechest," and when I came back, the TV was black. "I guess you're going to kick me out now," I said. Tyranist told me that the best vengeance for the years of torturing him with my presence would be to make me wait, like, a month to see "Once More With Feeling." I told him that really was the best plan. It would give me time to write my blogs and we could spend some weeks watching "Twin Peaks," and catching up on the "Angel" episodes we'd gotten behind on by-- 

And he pushed Play. I guess he had started the episode while I was out, and paused it on the black before the title began. It was a pretty clever trick, really. So, then began my most anticipated episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." 

Rish "Anticlimax" Outfield 

*I wonder if they could somehow modify Dawn's stealing hobby to a more positive, income-producing habit. But that's a discussion for another time. 

**Never happened, but in "The Prom," it was his brother who had them hellhounds trained to go after promgoers. 

***Tyranist and I were pretty damn sure she had somehow snagged Anya's engagement ring, but when the episode ended and nobody mentioned it, we decided we were wrong. Later, Dawn does brag to Justin about her penchant for thievery, though. Yet I continue to like her. What is wrong with me? Other than the obvious, that is. 

****A year ago, I would've said "Firefly" fit that description, but I've now seen BTVS episodes that have eclipsed even "Firefly"'s greatness, and my love for these characters have long overshadowed my love for Mal and Company. It makes me a bit sad to say it, but with more episodes to get to know and care about the characters, my affection for Giles, Spike, Xander, Buffy, Dawn, Willow, Anya, and Tara can't help but grow.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Stupid Thing addendum

Remember how I felt guilty for showing "South Park" to my seven year old niece the other day? So, my uncle had his daughter for Easter weekend, but he needed to go to court to, I don't know, get some skinhead cannibal drug dealers off the streets, and he had me watch his five year old kid while he was gone.

To keep her occupied, he left his device, a Video IPod, I think, loaded up with movies she could watch during that time.

So, I was wandering around, cleaning, putting things in envelopes, and I listened to what she was watching, trying to identify what it was by the dialogue or music. But I didn't recognise it. There was classical, John Williams-esque score, but I couldn't think of an animated film J.W. had ever done. "What are you watching?" I asked. "Is it RATATOUILLE?"

"No," the child said.

I looked across the room and saw what appeared to be black and white images on her screen. "Is it INCREDIBLES?"I asked, even though that's not in B&W, but I thought maybe the flashback scenes were or something.

"No," she said again.

"What is it?" I finally asked, I listened for a moment more, hearing what I thought was Liam Neeson's voice. Ah, must be LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE. "Is it NARNIA?" I asked, thinking that was pretty heady stuff for an especially slow five year old.

"No," she said again.

"Okay, what is it?" I asked, giving up. There are a lot of mediocre children's flicks out there, so I figured it must be one I haven't seen.

"I don't know," she said.

So I walked over and looked at it for a moment. Yes, it was in black and white, and yes, it was Liam Neeson's voice.

Sure enough, my uncle's five year old Down's Syndrome daughter was watching SCHINDLER'S LIST.

Thanks for playing.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Easter, boys and girls!

That's all the time we have for today's show. Thanks for joining us!

Veronicangel Wednesday

19 March 2008

Tyranist and I spent most of our Buffy Wednesday finishing Season One of "Veronica Mars," which, for some reason, I've begun to refuse to mention by name, as though it's the Scottish play or something. All I know is that it pisses tyranist off, so of course I'm onboard.

I honestly didn't know who had killed Laura Pal--er, Lily Kane, but in just joking around, I guess I stumbled onto the answer. Tyranist told me he was about to pause it and ask how I figured it out, but instead said nothing, so that when the killer was actually revealed, I was fully surprised. Good on him, really.

The show was good, maybe not without its flaws (one of the episodes we watched tonight I didn't like at all, and its plot was so easy to figure out that I started second-guessing it to try and figure out what the twist would be), but kept my interest and my enjoyment from our first sitting to tonight. Mostly I just like the clever dialogue, interesting character dynamics, and a father who is not painted as a jackass or total moron.

Tyranist would've been fine to start watching Season Two tonight, but I'd rather give it a break for a while and maybe watch one of my DVDs for a change.

The one "Angel" episode we watched was called "That Old Gang of Mine," by Tim Minear.

The episode begins at Caritas, the demon karaoke bar, and all the gang has gathered around Merl, the snitch, who has been mistreated by pretty much everyone. I didn't mention it, but he was in the season opener, and has appeared in several episodes, some of which un-notably. But in this one, he is being apologised to by Angel, reading a prepared statement from Cordelia.

Tyranist mentioned that Cordelia looked and acted better in this episode than he ever remembered her before. Surely the visions have matured her . . . but I'm sure she'll backslide to self-centered gold-digging in no time.

Angel, being a man's man, tells Merl he can hit him if he wants to. Merl tries, but is zapped by the spell on the bar that prevents demons from harming demons. Merl is upset and he goes home. Once there, he is attacked and murdered.

There are mixed feelings concerning Merl's death. Wesley seems saddened by it, but Gunn wonders why it's a big deal, since Merl was a demon, and demons are bad. In fact, he's so unconcerned about Wesley's investigation that he goes back to his old hangout and has a reunion with his old (titular) gang. There's a new guy, Geo, there from Florida, who gives Gunn a bottle and a half of 'tude, and there's lots of testosterone and really convoluted black slang (which tyranist usually complains about, since it sounds like the middle-aged Jewish guys writing "Luke Cage" in the Seventies). To make a lengthy bunch of scenes short, Geo is a loudmouthed bag of douche, and he thinks Gunn has gone soft, or worse, is now a vampire-lovin' Uncle Tom.

The gang, now that Gunn is no longer leading them, has been tracking down perfectly-harmless demonfolk and killing them, simply because of their gooey, non-human heritage. Gunn has to make a decision as to which side he's on, and goes as far as to hide evidence to keep Angel Investigations from coming after his old gang.

Cordelia decides to take Fred out on the town, and Wesley, Gunn, Cordelia, and Fred go to Caritas, but that turns out to be the same night Geo is leading the gang there, to kill everybody inside. The gang shoots the place up, kills a few of the demons, and harasses everybody else. Gunn does what he can to protect Lorne, but he and Geo argue about what is right and wrong.

Finally, Geo tells Cordelia she is free to go, as long as she brings Angel back there. She tells Angel what's happening, and he charges her with convincing the trio of Furies who cast the "no demon violence" spell to lift it. They are three hot chicks who talk in succession, and want to make the beast with four backs with Angel.

Angel arrives and Geo tells Gunn to prove his loyalty to humanity by killing Angel. He won't do it, even though Geo taunts him about his sister turning into a vampire back in Season One. Finally, the spell is broken, and one of the timid demons cowering in the corner leaps up and bites Geo's head off. Nice.

Outside, Wesley tells Gunn he'll be fired if he ever hampers an investigation again, and Gunn tells Angel that he hopes he has proven his loyalty by not killing him in there. Angel says Gunn will prove his loyalty when he has to kill Angel and he does. You know, I hate statements like that.* The end.

It wasn't all that good an episode, really, but hey, even the worst "Angel"s have a lot to recommended them. And it's the only one we got in for the week. Unless some kind of miracle happens.

Rish Outfield

*I can't help but be reminded of my pal Matthew, who used to say, "If you're really my friend, you'll kill me if I ever order a fish sandwich at Burger King again." Then he had the temerity to report me to the authorities when I tried.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Stupid Thing . . . or not

17 March 2008

So, I went to a convention the other day and they had a--

No, that's not the Stupid Thing. Jeez, give me a chance here.

They had a panel for the NBC series "Heroes," just like they did last year. In 2007, there was a lot of interesting discussion about the show (which was a hit new show at the time) that I was able to spread around to all those I pretend are my friends.

This year, however, because of the writers' strike, they had absolutely nothing to talk about. It was shocking, really, how little content was placed before the rather large assemblage of fans. They were excited to get back to work on the show (which is coming back in September with a "healthy dose of episodes"), but the panel just wouldn't answer any questions about "Heroes" storylines or plans or changes or ideas or anything of any relevance.

They didn't have any clips or any real news to share. So, there ended up being time at the end there wouldn't have been with a normal panel. They just opened it up to the audience for questions.

Milo Ventimiglia, who plays Peter Petrelli, was on the panel (and have you ever noticed that he is always referred to as "Peter Petrelli," never just as "Peter" or "Pete?"), and he seemed like a really nice guy, talking about how there's always an a-hole on every set, and since he couldn't think of anyone in the production who fit that bill, it was probably him.

I didn't take a lot of pictures, and the few I got turned out really dark, like a Tim Burton film festival during a power outage.

Beta Ray Charles went to the panel with me, and at one point suggested a question for me to ask Milo. It was wholly inappropriate, and while I laughed, I wasn't about to actually ask it.*

But again, it's really disappointing that there was so little to talk about at the panel, at least not without hearing, "I hate to say it again, but we're not able to talk about that." Even the questions from the audience trickled into nothing but coughs, whispers, and cellphones going off.

The moderator said, "Are there any more questions for Milo Ventimiglia?"

Beta Ray nudged me, but I just couldn't ask it. I chickened out . . . or you could say that good taste won out in the end. But afterward, I wondered what the response might have been, and if it might not have produced, at the very least, an amusing story to tell.

So, the panel ended and we went our separate ways, and I never got to ask Milo, "Yeah, I've got a question: what's it like to nail the cheerleader?"

Rish Mister Self-Restraint Outfield

*Which reminds me of another story, where something similar happened to me, quite hilariously. I'm not going to relate it here, I was just reminded of it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Buff-gel Wednesday continued

BTVS episode "Bargaining Part Two" starts up immediately after (though on the DVD and its original presentation, it was just after the commercial break), with the Buffybot being menaced by many bikers and Anya and Tara catching up to Xander and Willow. Willow is heartbroken that their one shot at bringing back Buffy failed. They split up again, promising to meet back at the magic shop with Dawn and Spike. I guess they figure the Buffybot is a lost cause, and if she ain't, she'll make it back eventually.

HumanBuffy, now buried alive, punches a fist through the lid of her coffin and begins the arduous task of clawing her way out.

Sunnydale is being besieged by bikers, cars are being battered, buildings are being burned, fire hydrants are being raped. Spike and Dawn are still at the Summers' house, hoping they don't get picked next. Spike decides to take Dawn and flee. He knocks one of the bikers off his motorcycle and he and Dawn ride away on it. I haven't mentioned it, but it's pretty cool the way he protects Dawn and she trusts him so much, despite the one episode last season where she inexplicably hated him.

Anya and Tara make it back to the shop alright. Tara summons a ball of blue light to find Willow and lead her back to the Magic Box. In the woods, Xander starts questioning the resurrection spell and the snake that came out of Willow's mouth, and the cuts that are no longer on her arms (okay, I was the one who questioned that part), and she "gets all avoidy" on him. Tara's messenger light arrives, saving Willow the indignity of explaining herself.

Buffy emerges from her grave, dressed in nice funereal attire (tyranist pointed out that her dress was split in the back, which was either a mistake or particularly clever). She is confused, lost, skittish like an animal, reminding us a bit of Angel when he came back from the dead. She stumbles back into town, seeing flames and demons all around.

Following the blue ball of light, Xander and Willow make it to the others and they talk about their options, now that Willow is weakened, and Giles, Spike, and the Buffybot are not around.

Speaking of the Buffybot, in the center of town, the demon bikers have brought the android as a sort of trophy, and chaining its/her arms and legs, they draw and quarter the poor thing.

The flesh-and-blood Buffy witnesses this, and the bikers go after her. She runs.
Later, Spike and Dawn find the Buffybot and she tells Dawn there is another Buffy. Dawn somehow knows what this means, and runs off on her own looking for her sister.

Meanwhile, Willow takes charge of the group, and they all arm themselves and go out looking for Dawn. Anya tells Xander they should tell everyone about their engagement, but Xander still doesn't think it's the right time. Tara tells Willow that maybe all the destruction around town is due to them meddling with powers they don't understand. I guess it's a valid concern, but Willow doesn't really consider it.

Suddenly, Buffy appears before them. They assume it's the Buffybot, but Willow knows better. They see Buffy's condition and her scratched up hands and realise that the spell worked, but she came back to life six feet under ground.

Before they can get through to her, though, the demons show up. The gang tries to talk tough, but the demon leader has a plan to do some pretty horrible stuff to the women and . . . well, rather than talking about it, let's just say that Buffy comes to her senses long enough to royally thrash on the bastard.

All the other demons join the fray, hitting Buffy with baseball bats and chains and stuff, but she's having none of it. She takes them all out while the others alternate between fighting and looking on in awe. When all have fallen, Buffy runs off.

Unfortunately, the demon biker leader is not dead, and he pops back up once she's gone. Everyone fights him, and finally, Tara kills him with an axe. If anything earns her the right to be in the opening titles, this should've been it. But ah well.

Buffy sees the tower Glory's minions built at the end of last season, and remembers how she died there. Dawn too sees the tower and heads toward it. They meet at the top, where they were parted. Buffy seems to contemplate walking off the top again and Dawn begs her to stay.* Buffy asks, "Is this hell?" and yeah, everything she's seen might lend itself to that interpretation, wouldn't it?

The tower begins to sway, and it starts falling apart. Buffy springs into action, saving Dawn, and getting them to safety before the whole thing collapses. Dawn embraces her, happy that she's back, but Buffy just stares, a blank, unreadable look on her face. The end.

I enjoyed these episodes, partly because I just enjoy the characters so much, but also because a couple of new questions are raised, and a thread or two has already been laid to unravel later in the season. I promise to only say this, let me see, SEVEN more times, but I'm really jealous of those who got to see these episodes new. I know more than I wish I did about what's going to happen in the weeks to come, and a lot of that's my own fault.

You know, now is probably a good time to mention that a lot of people have said that they don't like Season Six. That it's too dark, too melancholy, too uneven, too depressing, or too ignored by Joss to measure up to what came before. I absolutely adore melancholy, though, and unless I'm given reason not to, I fully expect to love Season Six.

Grr, arggh, I can't believe I'm only halfway through this damn blog post. But I made my bed . . .

Angel's next episode was called "That Vision Thing," written by Jeffrey Bell, who I don't know. Turns out this was his first episode of this show, and won't be the last. He also wrote for "The X-Files" and "Alias."

So, the evil accounting lawyer from Wolfram & Hart (which I know is a bit redundant) that told Angel they were going to kick him out of the hotel comes around, and even though he plays Jin on "Lost," I wanted Gunn to shoot him or Angel to stomp on his neck. He goes back to W&H and we find he's working with (or around) Evillawyerchick Lilah Morgan, who I think has appeared in enough episodes by now to just be referred to as Lilah Morgan.

Cordelia gets a particularly painful vision about a coin and a demon (or demons) with claws. Wesley, Angel, and Gunn go after it, but we discover that Cordelia has clawmarks on her from the vision.

Our heroes find the coin in a shop run by and old man and his wife, who turn out to be demons. They are easily defeated and the coin is retrieved.

But no sooner does that happen than Cordie gets a new vision, this one of a mystical key, and this time, the vision gives her really revolting sores on her face. She's really suffering, and everybody wonders why Ye Olde Powers That Be would do this to her.

I wondered if they had abandoned the whole Wesley-is-in-charge-of-Angel-Investigations subplot, but had my answer when Wesley sends Angel out to retrieve the key and heads over to ask Lorne about Cordelia's situation.

Back at Wolfram & Hart, Lilah Morgan is in her office. She looks very different than last season, so much so that I irritated tyranist by pointing it out every time she was on screen. Lilah has employed an Indian dude who looks remarkably like Kumar in the HAROLD AND KUMAR flicks, who wears a fez. Under the fez, he's got an oversized, exposed brain. He uses this brain to send Cordelia's new visions, and he does so for our amusement.

This vision is of a fiery place and, sure enough, Cordelia ends up with burns on her arms and face. The poor girl is in agony, and I gotta hand it to Charisma Carpenter, she really sold it. Even her voice was all hoarse, and she looks absolutely awful (which is impressive for someone who was hired for her attractiveness). Lorne is there to witness the latest vision, and announces that these aren't legitimate visions, but have been special deliveried by Wolfram & Hart.

Angel appears magically in Lilah Morgan's office, but before he can do much threatening (really, would it be unP.C. for him to sock her once in the jaw or stomach?), she tells him he needs to use the retrieved key and coin to rescue a prisoner from one of those demon dimensions that seem to be so prevalent on the show. If he refuses, well, Cordelia isn't likely to survive.

Wesley has done a little research on the items and discovered that the coin and key are light magic items, and their protectors also good. Whoever this prisoner is, he is likely to be very bad. But Angel doesn't really have a choice, and puts the key in the coin and opens a portal to the other dimension. He had armed himself for combat, but the weapons don't go with him.

He is in a big dark room with a burning cage in the middle of it. Inside the cage is the form of a man, apparently suffering as I will for quite some time after my death in the not-too-distant future. There is also a guard, a big, black warrior-type, who looks very formidable, until he introduces himself as Skip and seems like a pretty friendly bloke. He tells Angel that they are not enemies, but should be on the same side. Regardless, Angel has to fight Skip, and knocks him out pretty quickly.

Back in the good old U.S.ofA., Angel loads the freed prisoner into his convertible and drives to the big drainage ditches outside L.A. where Schwarzenegger drove his motorcycle in T2. Lilah and her goons are waiting, with Kumar sitting safe in the back of a limo.

Angel turns the prisoner (who we don't really see) over to Lilah and Lilah has Kumar reverse the damage to Cordelia. As soon as he gets word that she's okay, Angel tells Lilah that Cordelia is off limits to her from now on. As a coda to their little transaction, Angel grabs a piece of rebar and javelins it into the back of the limo and into Kumar's brain. I think (hope) it's safe to say that he is dead. The prisoner, whoever he was, is still alive, though, and something tells me he'll be trouble before too long.

Still down in Honduras, Darla the extremely pregnant vampire ends the show with her meeting with the holy man. He performs a little ritual using her blood and determines that she's gonna have to carry this baby to term. She resolves, unhappily, to go up to L.A. town to visit the baby's father. The end.

This was good stuff. I know I say that a lot, but it really was. There has been talk that "Buffy" and "Angel" suffered in the eight months or so that Joss was working on "Firefly," but I haven't seen evidence of it yet. Be nice if I never do.

The last episode we watched that night (now a long time in the past, it seems), was the "Buffy" episode "Afterlife," by Jane Espenson.

It picks up only a few minutes later, as the gang goes to Buffy's house and finds her and Dawn there. Buffy is confused and
tries to get used to the changes, such as Willow and Tara sleeping in her mom's bedroom, and Michelle Trachtenberg being seven feet tall, and Giles having gone away, and being alive again.

Spike arrives, furious that Dawn slipped away from him. However, he goes quiet when he sees Buffy. He sees the blood on her hands and realises how she got it, since he climbed out of a grave once too. He tells Buffy that it's been 147 days (which, as bad as my math is, seems like a lot longer than three months) since she died, and she tells him it was longer where she was.

The gang throws many questions at Buffy, but she can only tell them that she's okay, she just needs to sleep. Spike slinks away while the others talk, and Dawn plays a sort of mother role, protecting Buffy and dismissing the questions. Willow says that the important thing is that they got Buffy out of Hell.

Spike grabs Xander as he leaves, questioning why he was left out of the loop. Xander doesn't have an answer, but Spike does: Willow knew there was a chance that what they brought back wouldn't BE Buffy, but someone or something else, and they'd have to destroy it. Xander can't believe Willow would've ever . . . but it makes a sort of chilling sense.

Spike says there is always consequences with magic. I really wanted to get to a point that tyranist brought up later, and I guess now is a good time. The sky was particularly starry and the moon was a fingernail, and I made some kind of remark about Willow thinking she had more control over magic (or maybe being more tempted by magic) than most people, but she was so guilty over the thought of Buffy burning in Hell that she was willing to do anything. But tyranist said that Willow knew DAMN well what she was doing, and just wanted Buffy back, regardless of the cost. It was a disturbing thing to hear my friend say (especially since he loves Willow--and who doesn't?), but it was something that was actually kind of plausible.

Anyway, Willow tells Tara she talked to Giles and he's coming back from England, then they talk about things. Is Buffy alright? Why wasn't she grateful they brought her back from the dead? Will things go back to normal?

In Buffy's room, she walks around like she's in a stupor, and glancing at a bunch of photographs on her wall, the faces all become skulls.** A little while later, Willow and Tara are awakened by Buffy, her eyes white, yelling about them being children. "Did you cut its throat? Did you pat its head?" she demands, and throws a glass against the wall.

Then she is gone. The glass is gone and Buffy is sleeping peacefully in her own bed. Tara is confused, and Willow says she doesn't know what the apparition meant. They also see some kind of computer-generated shape moving across the wall.

Willow calls Xander (who isn't Giles, so I don't know how he could help), and tells him what happened. While they're talking, Anya comes into the room, with dead white eyes and cutting her face with a knife . . . and I shrieked like the little girl I am inside. This time it really was Anya (which I don't quite get), but she goes back to normal almost instantly.

The next day, everyone decides that Buffy must've brought a demon with her from Hell/demon dimension, and that they need to kill it. They decide to do research and find out what they're dealing with an how to destroy it. Buffy tries to help, but ends up sitting in silence most of the time. She goes off to patrol, leaving everyone else to continue their discussion. Oh, and Dawn appears to be possessed now.

Buffy walks through the cemetery by herself. Having spent the majority of my life now in differing degrees of misery, I can understand what Buffy's going through. However, I have not been brought back to life as she has, nor am I a Slayer, or a blonde chick, or . . . wait, I had a point, what was it? Oh, I can sympathise with Buffy, walking alone with her thoughts.***

Back at the magic shop, "Evil Dead" Dawn calls the others stupid children with blood on their hands. She breathes fire and collapses.

Buffy goes to visit Spike in his crypt, where he has been moping. She doesn't say anything, really, but he talks, telling her he wishes he had protected Dawn so she didn't have to kill herself, and that he saves her every night in his mind, though it, of course means nothing. She just sits there.

Willow finds in one of the books the answer: they created this demon as a sort of byproduct of the resurrection spell. It doesn't have a physical form and will eventually disappear unless it kills the subject of the original spell. Unfortunately, it hears her say this, and takes off to go kill Buffy.

When it finds her, she's defenceless against it, since it has no physical form. It gives her this big speech about how she's the one who doesn't belong, and beats her up. But back at the Magic Box, Willow and Tara cast a spell to give the demon physical form. Willow's eyes go black again at the end of the spell, and the demon becomes a white skinned devilcrone.

And Buffy cuts its head off.

The next day, everything seems back to normal. Dawn goes off to school and Buffy somewhat resumed as Dawn heads to school the next day and Buffy sees her off. Dawn says that all anybody wants is to see Buffy happy. So Buffy goes to see the others, and thanks them for bringing her out of Hell.****

But Buffy's already-phony smile fades as soon as she goes out into the alley. It's day, but Spike is hanging out there, having fled when the tenderness began inside. For some reason ("A whisper in a dead man's ear, that doesn't make it real"), she opens up to him, and talks about how much at peace she was when she died, how she was in a good place where she felt safe and happy. She thinks she was in Heaven, but her friends took her away from all that, and now she's here. Here, in Hell. The end.

I asked tyranist if he knew where Buffy had been, and he said he did. I too knew, mostly from my cousin telling me last summer, but also from the song. Yes, I have listened to the musical episode soundtrack so many times I know half the lyrics by heart, even if I don't know their context, or even how far off that particular show is.

So, that brings us to the end of this lengthy "Buffy" blog. Sadly, I am writing this on June 22nd, 2011, so it did take longer than I intended. Still, I am anxious to continue with the show and can't wait for the singing to take place.

I love this show. I love the characters, the universe, the dialogue, the emotion and caring that the writers, actors, and boom operator brings to it. I even went on YouTube and watched the poor-quality original pilot shot so long ago the characters might actually have been in high school at the time.

Folks, I've wanted to be a professional writer for nearly as long as I've been a loser. My friends and I used to kick around ideas for a TV series and all the many things we'd do on it. I suppose I can imagine people loving a show I created as much as we love Joss's . . . but then, my imagination is a hell of a lot stronger than yours.

"Rishy The Vampire Viewer" Outfield

*It was difficult not to notice how much taller Dawn is than Buffy in these scenes, especially when they flash back to last season . . . and she wasn't.

**Alarming as it might seem, this is actually how I see the world, if I rise before ten a.m..

***I am reminded of a teenaged time when I had lots of friends, and they were all pairing off and finding happiness, and I was constantly overcome with the need to take lonely walks and stew in my unhappiness, which was all the more vivid amid all the joy and young love my friends were experiencing. Of course, in later years, I would find more excuses to feel sorry for myself, once my friends were all gone. Ahh, youth.

****Oh, and Willow has apparently slain a muppet (it might have been Elmo) and is wearing the creature's pelt. Tyranist pointed this out to me, but it was frighteningly apparent in the scene.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Angel/Buffy Wednesday (12 March 2008)

Wow, we really did what we could to make up for lost time. Tyranist and I watched a pair of "Angel"s and a trio of "Buffy"s, and I was actually disappointed we didn't get in a fourth one.

And speaking of lost time, I have no idea how I can recap these episodes in the time I have free this week. I'll give it the ole community college try, and we'll see how far I get.

I insisted we watch "Angel" first this time, because it seems that show started broadcasting more than a week before "Buffy" returned. I believe it also moved to Mondays, whereas "Buffy" stayed on Tuesdays, though I could be wrong.

So, first off is "Heartthrob," written and directed by David Greenwalt.

Angel has gone off to Tibet or India or someplace to be alone in his grief. And beat up a bunch of demonic monk ninjas. Me, I'd have probably hit the bottle for those three months, but then Angel has a soul.

Fred has been living at the hotel and has apparently not come out of her room. Gunn, Wesley, and Cordelia have been running Angel Investigations in Angel's absence. When he comes back, he seems to have made peace with losing Buffy, and has brought them all souvenirs.

Angel goes up to see Fred, and finds that she's written numbers and formulas all over her walls, like she had in the cave back in Pylea. She still seems pretty loopy, but it's a cute, harmless crazy, not at all like River Tam or your own mother-in-law. She is now in the opening titles as a regular (or rather, Amy Acker is, though ain't they the same thing?).

Cordelia has a powerful, excruciating vision, and we find out that they've been increasing in potency of late. This vision is of a bunch of vampires who, big surprise, are up to no good. The vampires have caught a couple of young people and their leader, a cold blond chick, is making the human male do ye olde sadistic choice between the life of the girl he professes to love, and his own life. This was actually kind of an interesting plot point, and I really thought it was going to go somewhere, but as soon as he picks his life over his girlfriend's, Angel shows up and stakes her. Before she becomes dust, she gasps in recognition and says, "Angelus?"

Turns out her name was Elizabeth, and she used to hang out with Angel and Darla back in his flashback days. We see them hanging out in France in the eighteenth century. She has a lover named James, who is poetic and romantic, stealing her a locket to profess his love, while Angelus and Darla are more self-centered and deviant.

This event happened sometime after the last flashback (in late season two), which showed Angelus and Darla on the run from a famous vampire hunter named Holtz who had trapped them in a barn, only to lose one of them as Darla abandoned Angelus to save her own (admittedly shapely) arse. We still don't know how Angelus got out of that one, but I'd bet your right nut it will be revealed in the near-future.*

Back in 2001, we see James, still alive and still in love with Elizabeth, furious at what has happened. He has a contact who is a doctor and demands that the doc give him "the cure," despite warnings about inevitable consequences. Revenge is just too important.

James goes to Angel Investigations, and attacks Angel. Cordelia distracts James long enough for Angel to stake him . . . but nothing happens. My guess was that he had his heart removed, and then I wondered why vampires don't always wear something--like sheet metal or kevlar--over their heart at all times, but I guess you could just behead them then. Angel grabs Cordelia and makes a run for it into the sewers.** He tries to trick James into following a bum trail, and they make their way to the subway.

I forgot to mention that Wesley and Gunn were trying to find out what James was up to, but let me just simplify things by saying that James had some kind of procedure done that makes him temporarily invincible, but only for six ______. Angel doesn't hear whether it's minutes or hours or days.

On the subway, James tracks them down, and they fight again. James thinks that Angel could never understand how he feels about losing Elizabeth, but Angel stops fighting and tells him he does, having just lost Buffy. This calms James down, and he tells Angel that if he really loved that person so much, he would join them in death. With that, James's cure wears off, and he turns into dust, leaving Angel to ponder his words. Cordelia tells Angel that he honours Buffy's memory by continuing to fight evil and helping people the way she would've done, and he finds comfort in that.

And speaking of comfort, in a bar down in Nicaragua, Darla is meeting someone with information about a holy man who can help her. After she gets what she's after, she murders her contact and stands up, revealing a grotesquely swollen pregnant belly. The end.

With that, season three is upon us. I/we had the choice of going on to the first "Buffy" of the season, or another "Angel." While we chose the latter, I think maybe I should talk about "Buffy" now, since it feels like a more natural follow-up to this episode.

The "Buffy" season opener, debuting on the UPN network rather than the WB, was called "Bargaining." It was, it would seem, two separate episodes combined into one two hour event, but written by different people (Marti Noxon did "Part One" and David Fury did "Part Two"). I've been kicking around the idea of splitting it up into two different blog posts, since it's taking forever to get this one done.

So, three months have passed since Buffy died, and the gang has continued to patrol and fight evil without her. Spike seems to be a valued and respected member of the group, and Willow has telepathically linked herself to everyone, giving orders like, "Heads up, the vampire's circling back towards you," and "Come to me, my X-men!" Despite the headstone at the end of season five, the people of Sunnydale don't know that the Slayer is dead. The underworld and authorities can never know Buffy is dead, so the Buffybot has taken her place. I really like the Buffybot, and sort of wish I had one.

The title sequence starts up, with far fewer images from the first five years (though the song is the same). Giles is no longer in the titles, as he goes off to England to do his still-as-of-yet-unproduced "Ripper" spinoff. Filling his shoes, Alyson Hannigan now gets an "And Alyson Hannigan as Willow" credit.

So, Willow and Tara have moved in with Dawn, and the Buffybot tries to act and sound like a normal human, but can't quite make it work. Most entertaining, I would say, is when the Buffybot goes to parents' night at Dawn's school. She(it) makes inane statements, but the people around her think she's making pointed criticism and agree with her.

Giles has packed and is readying to return to England, but seems to be inventing excuses to stay. He has promised Anya can take over the magic shop when he's gone, and she just wants him to leave already, so she can be in charge of all that sweet, sweet money (and the heavy repair bills that must come monthly by now).The Buffybot saves a hot chick from the world's dorkiest vampire. I mean, this would be the guy I'd sit next to on the bus everyday (until he realised I was crashing his vibe and keeping the babes away), complete with bad skin, geeky hair and a Hanson t-shirt. But the dork-pire hits her in the head and causes her to malfunction. Surprised, he runs away . . . with the knowledge that the Slayer has been replaced by an android.

The gang--sans Spike, Dawn, and Giles--meets to talk about their secret plan. Anya has tracked down the very last existing Urn of Osiris (she found it on eBay), which they've been searching for. Now they can bring Buffy back from the dead. Xander wonders if that sort of magic is too much for Willow, but she's sure that because of the way Buffy died, the spell will work.

Still, there are moral ramifications here, and it's strange that it has to be Xander who asks about them. What if Buffy returns, and she's not Buffy anymore? What if she's evil? What if she is a flesh-eating zombie? What if she has really really short hair? Willow says a lot, but the important thing is, she doesn't want Buffy stuck in Hell, or some effed-up demon dimension, for eternity. She deserves better than that, especially after all she's done for them. That convinces Xander, and hey, it would've convinced me.

Willow goes home and finds that the Buffybot is malfunctioning and needs to be repaired. It/she has reverted to her original programming and says something loving to Spike, who can't deal with that and heads for the door. The Buffybot is sad that Spike can't look at her anymore. Good stuff, folks.

Dawn tries to find comfort in the Buffybot, and comes up short. Giles tries to teach the Buffbot about controlling her breathing and can't impart any knowledge in her. She/it makes a comment that his work is done, and with that, Giles decides it's time to go back to England.***

So, the dork vampire goes to the set of LAKE DEAD, gets around a bunch of demon bikers and brags about taking out the Slayer and finding out she's just a robot. The bikers realise that Sunnydale is ripe for the plucking and, after killing the dork-pire, they mount up their cycles and hit the road.

Next we get a scene that was so great, they cut it out in syndication: Willow is in a meadow, casting a spell that brings a baby deer to her. She greets the fawn, strokes it, and slashes its throat, collecting its blood for her big resurrection spell. When she meets the others, she lies about where she got the final ingredient.

Giles has made a quiet exit, leaving a short note that he is going, but the group heads to the airport to see him off. In a touching scene, Xander, Willow, Tara, Dawn, and Anya show up and say their goodbyes to Giles. It was good stuff, and I really didn't want him to go, and as he hugged Dawn, I thought, "Isn't he her father the way he was Buffy's? Isn't she the Key anymore? Should he really go away?" But these are fleeting thoughts, eclipsed by the disturbing realisation that Sunnydale is supposed to have an airport.

They are sad, but have a spell to cast at midnight, so they ditch Dawn into Spike's care, and head to the cemetery.**** They kneel in a circle, with candles, and Willow wipes the deer's blood on her face and begins chanting. She gets some kind of strange side-effect where cuts magically appear on her arms and a rattlesnake emerges from her mouth, but that's part of the spell.

The demon bikers, meanwhile, have arrived in town, and are terrorising everything, breaking stuff, burning things, and probably breaking a lot of noise ordinance laws. The Buffybot shows up and kicks two of them in the nuts (I know because I did something for this blog post I've never done before: I watched the episode again), beating several of them up. Their leader is a huge noseless dude with razors on his fist, and he slashes the Buffybot with them, causing her to seek out Willow for repairs.

Unfortunately, that leads the bikers right to Buffy's graveside, just as Willow is completing the spell. They ride their bikes all over, smashing the Urn of Osiris, and snatching Anya. Willow loses consciousness and Xander carries her away, and Tara uses her magic to save Anya. Willow comes to and asks Xander if the spell worked. He says, "I'm sorry," and she passes out again.

Under the ground, Buffy Summers is a mouldering, dessecated corpse. But magical energies surround her and rejuvinate her body. Buffy awakens in the dark, in her coffin. The end.

So, that was that, though the episode continues from there . . . in another blog post.

Rish "Cliffhanger" Outfield

*Then again, it's been years since Angel mysteriously came back from Hell, and that has yet to be explained.

**My initial impression was that he just left Fred to fend for herself, but then I remembered that Angel couldn't come into her hotel room without being invited, so James wouldn't have been able to either. Right?

***I just realised that, unless the Watcher is killed himself, they all end up like Giles, since all Slayers are inevitably killed, no matter how good they are. Or maybe Spike was right: at some point, the Slayers just get tired of it all and allow themselves to die.

****But is it the cemetery? I asked tyranist to pause it at this point and said, "Hey, if the town and teachers and stuff aren't supposed to know Buffy is dead, what's with the grave and headstone?" He didn't really have an answer for me, but I was willing to accept that maybe the grave is actually in the woods somewhere, someplace secret that only our characters know about, and the scene isn't in the cemetery at all.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Stupid Thing of the Week

9 March

So, I had my sister's kid over this past weekend. We hung out a little bit, and on Saturday, she had her heart set on watching "Saturday Night Live" with me. She's only a couple of years younger than I was when I'd watch it with my uncle John, so I thought, "What the heck." We watched it together, all snuggled on the couch, like I would with my own kid, I can reasonably imagine.

We watched it all the way through, past the second lousy song, and even the really bad sketch they save for right before the goodnights. But the kid wouldn't go to sleep when it was over, so we switched over the channels and "South Park" was on.

For some reason--maybe because it's one of my all-time favourites, and remains surprisingly brilliant--I didn't turn it off, and we sat watching it together, enjoying ourselves. We were nearly through the episode, and I hadn't batted an eyelash. When one character said, "If I could call Chris Hansen an 'asshole-licking dickfart' to his face, I would be SO happy," I laughed quite loud, then realised just what I was showing her. I felt embarrassed and like a bad uncle.

You could've told me that's what I was many years ago, but it still sucks to be reminded of that fact.

Unca Rish Outfield

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Bottom Five Animated Disneys

I was at Merrill's place the other night, and as he is very passionate about animated films, we talked about the successes and failures Disney had over the years with their feature animations. During the conversation, THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE and--shudder--HOME ON THE RANGE were mentioned. Followed by a bit of profanity.

Then his wife joined the conversation and mentioned that she hates THE LION KING (or at least that it's terribly overrated). That prompted me to write a few folks (including a couple who've never contributed to one of these before) asking what their Bottom Five (in other words, five least-favorite) Disney Animated Films were.

I was going to define them (wondering if, for example, PETE'S DRAGON and THE THREE CABALLEROS count), but then I thought I'd just leave people to pick whatever they wanted, as long as they chose traditionally animated films, not computer-generated ones. In other words, even MARY POPPINS counts (though no one would ever list that), but not CHICKEN LITTLE.

Almost immediately after, Jeff the Sex Chemist sent back his list, filled with even more profanity (and some nice vulgarity) than Merrill and I had used. Gor bless 'em.

5) Home on range. Roseanne Barr. 'nuf said. - never saw it.
4) Brother Bear. A PC homage to our native american people. I saw this. Not actually horrible, just very annoying.
3) Atlantis. Not quite annoying, but I just couldn't care.
2) Fantasia 2000. Never saw it,but just looked annoying. Partly because o my #1 choice:
1) Fantasia. I've never done acid, but this movie strikes me like what a bad trip would be like. Visually interesting, but irritating in many scenes (dancing hippoes, anyone?) And wizard mickey, while a cool scene and neat idea, was just an annoying idiot. "dude, where's my broom"

Tyranist gave me his list next. It shocked me to see his number four, but he's been complaining about that movie for as long as I've known him.

1. Home on the Range
2. Oliver & Company
3. Dumbo
4. The Little Mermaid
5. Bambi

Merrill sent in his list with absolutely zero commentary. I'm not sure why.

1. Atlantis
2. Treasure Planet
3. The Black Cauldron
4. Brother Bear
5. Fox And The Hound

Prison Guard Johnny kept with the amusing numbering system from the last Bottom Five list, and gave me:

312. Home on the Range
311. Fantasia 2000
310. Brother Bear
309. The Fox and the Hound
308. The Hunchback of Notre Dame

So, before I got too bogged down by all the negativity, I had to make my own list.

1. HOME ON THE RANGE (not only the worst Disney animated film ever, but right up there with those turds the no-name studios would churn out to rip off whatever big Disney animated film was about to come out with)
2. FANTASIA (God bless Mickey Mouse, I know the song, but man, this is the dullest cartoon ever)
4. THE RETURN OF JAFAR (I don't know if this counts, and I'll probably be the only one to list it, but hey, I'm fine with that)
5. I'd put down TARZAN, but I really liked a couple of the Phil Collins songs. And I'd list LILO & STITCH, but I know there's a more worthy candidate. I guess I'm going to put down ALICE IN WONDERLAND. Mostly 'cause I'm not a big proponent of heavy drug use (moderate is okay, but this . . .).

Brenda (who is a Disney animated character herself), had these picks:
1. Fantasia (sorry, I am probably disappointing some gay people out there somewhere...not saying you're gay)
2. The Aristiocats. I just couldn't stay awake.
3. Robin Hood.
4. Hunchback of Notre Dame. I cried and cried in the one made for TV around 1982.
5. Oliver and Company.

My cousin Ryan sent this list (which gives me pause):
1. Mary Poppins
2. Lady and the Tramp
3. Aristocats
4. Oliver & Company
5. 101 Dalmatians

Katie Who Sees Ghosts was kind enough to reply. Her list:

1. Pete's Dragon
2. Atlantis
3. Treasure Planet
4. Rescuers
5. Goofy Movies 1&'s a tie, they are both totally stupid

I waited a long while for Beta Ray Charles to get back to me on this one. Turns out my request went to his "Spam" folder. Makes me feel all warm inside.

5. Aristocats
4. Fantasia
3. Dumbo
2. Brother Bear
1. Pocahontas

So, the "winners this go-round are:
1. FANTASIA (especially if you factor in votes for FANTASIA 2000)
2. HOME ON THE RANGE (actually a tie, if 2000 doesn't count)
5. FANTASIA 2000 (if you count it as an independent movie from FANTASIA)

I'm sure Uncle Walt would be happy to read this one if they thawed him out today. Well, that would be after he asked where the rest of his body went.

Rish "Traditionally Animated" Outfield

Friday, March 07, 2008

Stupid Thing of the Week

6 March 2008

Here at the Rosenschweig Institute for the Almost-Laughably Insane, they encourage us to stay busy with fingerpainting, crosswords, ping pong, bug-collecting, Solitaire, hair-braiding, blogging (which I have taken advantage of), cutting obituaries out of the newspaper and making collages from them, daytime soaps, Jenga, coloring books, Hanna Barbara-themed puzzles, sleep, shredding phone book pages, birdwatching, connecting straws to make one long straw, outdoor defecation, and various other arts and crafts. With clay, I had been trying to create something appropriate for a geek, yet easy enough for a novice to sculpt.

I thought maybe I'd make a Sentinel head, but decided a Sarlaac Pit from RETURN OF THE JEDI would be easier. Here is how it stands right now:
Ah, vagina dentata," Doctor Pruett said, while I was making it, patting me on the head before walking away. I was at least relieved he didn't say va-jay-jay. And I continued working on it.

But my uncle came the other day, and he saw it and said, "Hey, this is one of those monsters from THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK movies." I was flattered that he recognised it, but thought it was very strange to refer to a STAR WARS creature as an ESB creature. I just don't remember anybody ever doing it before.

Wait, actually, that was a pretty unstupid thing. I like it quite a bit, really. In fact, I'm going to start referring to STAR WARS as THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK series/saga.

Never mind.

Rish "Holiday Special" Outfield