Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Family visiting!

Yes, a post that's not about Buffy!

Yesterday, I talked to all my siblings, all in the space of about 2 hours. Rather unusual that I would have talked to all three of them. Usually, I'm talking to Sister because we're less than a year apart. Or Brother One because he also lives in Atlanta. Brother Two I talk to the least because he's, well, the youngest, I'm the oldest, and possibly we have the least in common.

However, today Brother Two comes to visit from NYC. Brother One will pick him up and we'll all meet at my place and we'll go to dinner with Husband.

I've taken vacation for Thurs and Fri because Brother Two leaves Sunday back to NYC and I want to maximize time with him. Also, on Monday, Brother One is going back to Taiwan until November. He's having a hard time finding a job in Atlanta (like everyone else) and is going back to see what his options would be there. Our parents live there and we want one of us to be there as they age, and Brother One volunteered.

Even so, I have a fundraising dinner meeting tomorrow and I have to work on Saturday. Doing a panel and 2 workshops about women's leadership.

We have nothing really planned. As Brother Two said, he just wants to relax, being "irresponsible and/or inebriated." That can easily be arranged :)

Too bad Sister can't make it for the mini-reunion. But we will be convening at my place for Thanksgiving this year, and Brother One has a return ticket back to Atlanta for mid-November.

So I talked to Sister because Husband is organizing a pool for Project Runway and I asked Sister and Sister's Fiance to join. They will and now there's 10 participants in the pool. Makes for more fun.

Rules: Each participant chooses 3 designers. Each time one of your designers survives a show, you get one point. At the end the participant with the most points wins. So you want to hope that your 3 designers don't get eliminated early in the show. Ties are broken by rock/paper/scissors, best of three. Husband is so cute :)

My picks are: Christopher Straub who won the first challenge, Irina Shabayeva, and Shirin Askari.

Okay, one last Buffy note: This morning I just watched "I Was Made to Love You" (Yes, I've taken to watching an ep before work, so my hours are 10am to 6pm now.) Buffy comes home at the end to find her mother dead on the couch. The next episode is "The Body" where they all deal with her death. This is an episode that's always mentioned as one of the best, and obviously, one of the most heartbreaking. With family visiting, I don't know if now's the best time to watch that, but I don't want to skip it either. I want to watch them all in order. I'll have to find a time when I know everyone is out to watch it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Reflections from Season Five

Yes, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon continues. I'm up to Checkpoint, ep 12 of Season five, where Buffy confronts the power structure that is the Watcher's Council. This expands the Buffyverse even more and ratchets up the seriousness of the Buffyverse.

Things I like so far:
1. I like that with Dawn, Buffy was building a new, important relationship with someone who was not a love interest. Foreshadowing the Simon and River Tam relationship in Firefly.
2. Buffy becoming closer to her mom too. Which will make Joyce's death in the future really hard to watch.
2. Riley is gone. He never did anything for me. However, I understood where he was coming from and why he went to that vampire club. I also like that Xander called Buffy on how she basically pushed him away. The ending where Riley flies away but doesn't see Buffy does pull at the heart strings, no matter what I thought of the relationship.
3. Xander comes into his own. The episode the Replacement kicked it into gear with the new apt and promotion at work. His little speech to Anya at the end of Into the Woods where he declares his love for Anya I rewound and watched again. It wasn't flowery or anything but heartfelt and is what I think everyone wants to hear: that you are wonderful and loved just the way you are, even the little things, and being with you is a huge (but not creepy) need for the other person. Then in the Checkpoint, Buffy defends to the Watcher's Council how important he is to the group. Also, he's more adult. It's easier to watch an adult play an adult than an adult play a teen.
4. The Watcher's Council is taken to task. They set up these rules and are a patronizing patriarchal power structure (say that 3 times fast) that is put on notice. I believe they end up being dismantled and I look forward to seeing how that happens.
5. Another bringing-down-the-patriarchy episode: Family, where Tara's family comes to take her way before the demon in her comes out. Made me think of all the religious fundamentalists (regardless of what religion) who use the "women are inherently evil" argument to oppress women, and how the Scoobies support Tara in standing up to the patriarchy, literally her father.
6. Spike's back story and his development towards Buffy.
7. Still loving Anya, telling it like it is, and always being open and assertive in her pursuit and love of Xander. It may be because that's how I dated. I saw no need to play coy or hard to get. Why shouldn't I just go for who I want?

What I didn't like:
1. Barely any depiction of Willow and Tara's relationship. They barely touch or hold hands, they don't kiss, and yet are supposed to be lovers? At least on Tara's birthday they did slow dance at the Bronze. But please, hardly any comparison to all the bedroom scenes the hetero couples have. Which I fast forward through.
2. Underdeveloped Willow and Tara as people. They still seem really young, though I know they're supposed to be college sophomores. I'm hardly one to talk; I was still kind of a dork at that age. When I think now about what I wore then, I cringe. So I guess that's realistic. But come on! They're growing as witches but not as people?
3. Uneven production values. Some of the demons/creatures/special effects were really cheesy. But as Husband says, they can't all be gems.

Okay, so far, more likes than dislikes. That's good. Just ordered Buffy Seasons 6 and 7 and Dollhouse season 1. Going to Dragoncon in a few weeks and will either pick up the Buffy season 8 comics there or at a local comic book shop. Not as cheap as ordering from Amazon, but faster.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Benefits of all this Buffy watching

Started June 10, 2009, finished August 20, 2009.
12 balls of Wool of the Andes yarn from Knitpicks.
Size 8 (5mm) needles.
Very modified version of Hermia sweater from Knitty:
  • Added waist shaping via decreases and 1x1 ribbing at waist;
  • started lace pattern at waist and not at hips;
  • added purl and knit panels between the lace repeats to allow for flaring over the hips;
  • used seed stitch edging on all edges.
I still have another ball of the yarn and will pick up and knit on a lace ruffle, using the same lace pattern.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Moist and Delicious

Watched "Hush" from season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's the episode where The Gentlemen take everyone's voices.

For some reason, Spike the vampire is holed up at Xander's place. Xander's tied up Spike so Spike won't bite Xander the human as he sleeps:

Spike: Like I'd bite you anyway
Xander: Oh, you would.
S: Not bloody likely
X: I happen to be very biteable pal. I'm moist and delicious.
S: All right, yeah, fine. You're a nummy treat.
X: And don't you forget it.

For some reason, this has been running through my head all day and makes me giggle. Also, very slashy, especially if you've seen the scene in question, Xander crawling in bed.... Or, if you're not into reading a slashy hoyay subtext into everything, you won't see it. But where's the fun in that?

I also like the scene where Xander thinks Spike's bitten Anya. He leaps to beat up Spike and then shows such the happiness and relief when it turns out Spike hasn't fed on Anya. Pretty clear how he feels about her.

And as we all know, in the Whedonverse, no happy relationships can last... However, I still look forward to seeing how Xander/Anya unfolds.

Also, Riley not doing anything for me, despite all the shirtless scenes they keep doing. Maybe because there's no funny.

My favorite male characters are still Wash and Xander, because I love me some smart, sweet, witty funny. They're the ones who don't always advocate violence. In fact Wash is the one who asks for the non-killing options. They are the Joss Whedon avatars. Broad shoulders help too ;)

My favorite female characters are Willow and Zoe, women who are quite skilled and capable and understated about it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Buffy in college

I've started season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and have to say that I like this season better so far.

I think it's because I had a great time in college so just am more charitable towards it. Plus students at college have so much more freedom that it's a bit more believable (the demons and vampires aside) that Buffy et al could be student by day, demon-hunter by night.

Plus the relationship issues are more realistic. After all, college is where people start having the casual flings, like Parker. Or is that just me?

I like the Riley/Buffy parallel, if not the relationship. Riley working for the Initiative also calls to mind "Chuck vs. the Alma Mater" with the students working undercover for the CIA or who ever.

I'm looking forward to seeing how Xander/Anya unfolds. I like that she's like Cordelia -- straight forward, telling it like how she sees it. Like Luna Lovegood. Again with the Harry Potter comparisons, but that's a standard character trope.

Speaking of which, I've found a fun website, It analyzes books, movies, comics, and yes TV shows for the story telling tricks of the trade.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Buffy vs. Firefly vs. Harry Potter

So I have gotten through half of season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to the show "Doppelgangland" where VampWillow is brought into Sunnydale from the alternate universe shown in "The Wish."

In this episode the insecure, fuzzy sweatered Willow of our world is contrasted with confident sexy VampWillow and it highlighted for me the reason why I still prefer Firefly.

Firefly is set in an adult world and Buffy is set in high school, and I'm just not into high school shenanigans. BtVS is about high school and insecurity, with demons and vampires as metaphors for growing up. I'm already grown up and don't want to have to go through that again.

I'm not sure why that's an issue for me since I love the Harry Potter books, which is set in a school too. I think with HP, it's in a book form, which allows for more exposition about the big themes, like human rights and the rights of sentient beings not to be subjugated because they are the "wrong" caste or "wrong" species.

With Buffy, since it's an action adventure teen TV show, there's not the same amount of room or format for that kind of discussion.

What I like about the DVDs is that I can fast forward through the fight scenes, and there is a fight scene, every episode, and fast forward through the Buffy/Angel angst scenes. In this way, I can watch an episode in about 30 to 35 minutes instead of the 45 minute run time. Pretty efficient.

The Firefly verse seems more real to me. The issues are more salient for me. I identify so much with Zoe: I'm married to a great guy, we have a happy marriage, no angst unlike the love triangle/quadrangle/dodecahedrons going on in Buffy, I'm a strong sexy woman, heck, I'm a woman of color (leaving aside the fact that the Firefly verse is supposed to be a merge of Chinese and US cultures, yet none of the main characters are of Asian descent).

I identify with Mal: I have a disparate group of people I'm supposed to be leading and trying to keep flying. However, with much, much less violence, not that I'm not tempted now and again.

Still, I'm enjoying Buffy and the teen angst certainly didn't stop me from devouring all the Twilight books.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Zeppo

Just watched the famed Xander-centric episode The Zeppo. It's cemented my love for Xander. One of his first lines asks people if they find his spine to not step on it and by the end he shows his spine. Hey, I just made that connection!

Like everyone else who've written about it (a Google search brings up a lot of reviews), I love it because it shines the light on the goofy "useless" member of the gang and shows how brave, smart, and important s/he is. Talk about character development. He finds new strengths, drives a cool aqua-blue convertable, has sex for the first time, and saves the world without feeling the need to tell everyone, especially those who've been deliberately or off-handedly putting him down.

It takes the concept of "everyone's the hero in their own story" and really shows it.

Plus he gets shirtless. Always a plus in my book :)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Goodbye John Hughes

As a child of the 1980s, the movies of John Hughes were a cultural touchstone. Or maybe so it seems now with the reflections about the passing of Mr. Hughes.

No, his movies really were a big part of the pop culture. It was impossible to miss Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, and the rest of the Brat Pack. But it turns out that I only saw a few of his teen movies. I don't know that I want to see Breakfast Club or Ferris Bueller's Day off again. I kind of want to preserve those movies as they were in my memory. And I refuse to see Sixteen Candles because of offensive depiction of the Asian exchange student.

I have put Pretty in Pink at the top of my Netflix queue. Hughes may not have been good with race relations but he did address class issues in some of his movies and this was one. Plus it does have the love triangle thing going (which romance doesn't?) which I love. I don't know how PiP ends, who Ringwald's character chooses, so I'll be able to watch this movie fresh and try to assess it on it's own merits, without comparison to my teenage memories of it.

And lastly, here's a great post shared by someone who was a pen pal of his and gives a different perspective on his work. Very touching. Get the tissues ready.

Now with Sci Fi!

My friends on Facebook have been breathlessly following my ordeal waiting for the cable installer. Okay, so it wasn't an ordeal at all, since it meant staying at home Friday afternoon and watching the rest of Torchwood: Children of Earth, and more episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Anyway, the point is I now have HD satellite, including Sci Fi (yes, I know it's now called Sy Fy. Whatev.) and BBC America and Lifetime, in time for the start of the next season of Project Runway, and Drop Dead Diva with Margaret Cho.

Work continues, I still have a job, but we are doing the annual audit now, and I am freaking concerned about whether the grant proposals I have written will come through, allowing us to stay in business without laying people off. However, I think layoffs will be in the future.

So, I will escape in my offwork hours, into the worlds presented on TV and DVD.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Torchwood: Children of Earth

I took today off from work, as part of recuperating from the vacation. I probably could have gone to work, but I have so much vacation time accrued, I felt fine taking another day off.

So I spent it watching Days 1, 2, and 3 of Torchwood: C of E. That's all that was on the Netflix DVD. Great, great storytelling. At the end of the each episode, I couldn't wait to see the next one. It was a great idea to focus on just one story and stretch it over 5 days. Now I have to wait a few days for the next dvd to get here. What will I do in the mean time?

Oh, yes. I have Buffy, of which I also watched today. I only have the 2 episode season 2 closer. I'll save that for tomorrow. Because I think I watched enough TV today.

I'm thinking of doing National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo) this year, in November. Every once in a while I'll start a novel and then abandon it. Given that, and the fact that I've been getting into the stories of the Whedonverse and Gaimanverse, I figured I should stop with the procrastinating and just do it.

Now, if only I had a plot and not just characters and fragments of ideas....

Husband's family reunion

I'm now back from the annual family reunion with Husband's father's side. It was the usual: 4 days of drinking, eating, drinking, sleeping.

Husband's family's got a cottage on the shores of Lake Ontario, outside Buffalo. It used to be a temperance camp in a heavily wooded area, with about a dozen cottages, some nicer than others. This is the closest I get to camping. The cottage has indoor plumbing, but the walls aren't insulated and while I haven't seen any mice, I wouldn't be surprised if they were there.

So this year it was Uncle, Cousin One, Cousin Two, Husband, and Brother-in-law, all guys. Plus Cousin Two's girlfriend and me. Oh, and Girl Next Door and Cousin One's Friend, AKA Lounge Lizard. So that's 6 men, 3 women, all sharing one bathroom.

Husband, his cousins and his brother are about the same age, ranging from 41 to 37 years old. Girl Next Door is in her early 30s. She's a friend whose family owns the cottage next door and in the 30 or so summers when Husband's family has been going to the cottage, they've become good friends and she's like their little sister. We went to her wedding and I think she came to ours. I can't remember who all came to my wedding.

I shouldn't complain about the state of the cottage. That's the standard of living for many people all year round. I deal with it only 4 days a year.

It was really nice. There's a big porch that faces the lake and that's where people usually hang out. People have to walk past our cottage to get to the lake so we get to see everyone. A couple of other cottages are owned by Husband's extended family and they always stop by and chat.

We got in on Wednesday and had dinner in Buffalo at the Left Bank. Great food. then drove to the cottage.
Thursday we got up late, scrounged leftovers for brunch, then discussed what to do for dinner. Go down to the lake. Shop for dinner. Drink and talk. Play euchre (card game). Grill out dinner. Eat and Drink and talk. Go to neighbors' place for bonfire. Drink and talk. Go to bed late.
Friday: repeat of Thursday, except we went into Lockport for dinner at One Eye Jacks, then to a free summer concert: Queenscryche. Heavy metal. Husband's idea since he's a fan.
Saturday: repeat of Thursday without the bonfire, plus my famous sangria.
Sunday: get up, pack, everyone goes home. Brother-in-law to Wisconsin, Husband and I to Atlanta, everyone else to Buffalo.

Again, a great family reunion and I think I'll be okay not having any whiskey, scotch, or bourbon for a few weeks.

My sangria recipe:
1 can crushed pineapple in its own juice
2 bottles red wine
1 liter diet ginger ale
1 liter or half gallon bottle orange/pineapple/mango/peach juice
1 orange, sliced

Combine all in one pitcher, mix, serve over ice.