December 2001 posts

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OT - 11th Poem for Christmas -- Brian, 04:36:23 12/19/01 Wed

Snowbound lover,
Her ice kisses are cosmic fire.
She summons the storm.
Heavy, tumbling flakes caress
Her shadow white face.
And with those dark laughing eyes,
She fills the quiet wood,
Becoming the midnight sun.
[> This is my favourite, so far Brian -- Wisewoman, 13:12:07 12/19/01 Wed

Seems quite pagan to me, and conjures up the Winter Solstice.

"The Body," revisited (Spoilers) -- Darby, 07:40:24 12/19/01 Wed

Thoughts after having watched The Body again…

It was powerful, that much I remembered from the first time. I especially liked Anya’s part, even moreso this time. It was, however, a very different experience now than it was then, and I realize now why: the first time through, I watched knowing that in the Buffyverse, dead isn’t necessarily dead. We were in the middle of an arc involving a "Key"; who knew if Dawn could undo Joyce’s death? (She could, sort of, but that was a non-Key tangent…)

It’s only now, in retrospect, that I can watch the episode and really grasp the weight of what’s happening. Joyce is not coming back, everyone’s life is going to be changed forever, some more than others (I hadn’t connected Willow’s change in wardrobe choices to a specific episode, but I suspect that this is it). The Body was real, in so many ways, but I didn’t appreciate how real at the time.

Anyone else having the same reaction?

PS with an observation from my wife - it had been a while since the Willow-Xander relationship was really featured, but the alternating "I'll lose it, you reel me back" scene reminded us how much we missed it. Xander really is the heart of the show, which currently has very little heart...
[> Re: "The Body," revisited (Spoilers) -- Shaglio, 08:53:00 12/19/01 Wed

I too forgot how awesome it was. It thought it was pretty cool how the FX 7:00 BtVS episode was IWMTLY, which was the episode that directly preceeded The Body so that the night had a sort of smoothe continuity for me.

I also forgot about my favorite Buffy scene ever (excerpt taken from Psyche's transcript):

XANDER: (looks around at the three of them) Things don't happen! (frowns) I mean ... they don't *just* happen. (Shot of Tara looking concerned) Somebody... (shot of Willow) I mean, somebody's got...
WILLOW: Okay. (puts up her fists) Let's go. Come on, you and me. Come on.

Xander stares at her, then sighs. He walks over to her, kisses her on the forehead. Tara watches sadly.

XANDER: You know I can't take you.
WILLOW: Damn straight.

That Willow is too damned cute and adorable! And I agree with you about the Willow/Xander relationship. I miss their friendly, playful interactions.
[> Re: "The Body," revisited (Spoilers) -- Cactus Watcher, 09:14:01 12/19/01 Wed

No doubt someone mentioned it last year before I found this board, but my favorite aspect of The Body is the way it shows a virtual catalog of things the living do; vomiting, going to the bathroom, laughing, shouting, bleeding, eating, crying, worrying, sympathizing, daydreaming, hoping, flirting, being confused, being embarassed, becoming angry, etc. None of these things was a part of Buffy's heaven. All of them must weigh heavily on her now.
[> [> Re: "The Body," revisited (Spoilers) -- DEN, 09:34:49 12/19/01 Wed

[> [> "The Heart"...spoilers from "WOTW","OMWF" and possibly the future... -- AurraSing, 10:06:35 12/19/01 Wed

I find your comments about BTVS having "little heart" lately an affirmation of something I have felt about the show since "Weight of the World",namely that it was in that episode that Buffy gave up,lost her spirit,lost her heart.(But not in the romantic sense of the word at all)Faced with what seemed like an unbeatable foe in the form of Glory,Buffy succumbed to her fear and gave up the will to battle on.And while she did go on to defeat the Bimbo goddess,it was a price probably far too high for even our heroine to ever bear.
I too think season 6 seems lacking.Not that I am really complaining,I am just pointing out that Buffy now appears to lack her driving spirit,her unquenchable attitude,the Slayer attitude that has carried her so far against so many forms of evil.Yeah,Buffy has lost her heart. And as Buffy goes,so goes the show,or at least that has always been the way I have perceived BTVS.
The burning question is,how does Buffy go about getting her heart back? I realise she still feels love for Dawn and the Scoobies but after facing mortal peril and paying with her life,what will it take to bring back some spark of the Buffy we all love??
I'm reluctant to go on the record as saying Buffy came back with no soul.I myself have a hard time defining the "soul" despite many years of Catholic school and I've seen enough evidence of humanity's injustice to itself to doubt such a thing really exists.I do feel however,that within every living creature there is a vital spark that makes that creature "alive" and when we lose it we lose our will to live,which is one of the reasons that Buffy feels herself "going through the motions" and yet not really feeling alive at all.Even animals will turn their faces to the wall and pine away if they lose that what worries me is that Buffy really needs to find her heart before that moment of turning away happens.
I don't offer a solution to what ails Buffy.I think Joss has a plan (doesn't he always?!) but the path to her heart looks rather rocky.I do think Buffy needs to find real love again before she can heal.What form that love will take is still up in the air-will it be Spike?? That would be the ultimate irony of ironies since their history has been so turbulant and he still is evil,or at least he claims to be to anyone who will listen.Obviously she came back from that meeting with Angel off-screen still lacking her "heart",so Angel is most likely out.What is a heart-sick Slayer to do?

Any ideas out there??
[> [> [> Love isn't enough. -- Traveler, 12:17:36 12/19/01 Wed

"I do think Buffy needs to find real love again before she can heal.What form that love will take is still up in the air-will it be Spike?"

Love certainly has helped Buffy come this far. Dawn prevented her from committing suicide on the tower, and Spike has shaken her up and at least gotten her to feel something. However, I think that ultimately Buffy will have to find happiness from within, not from some external source. Her friends, family, and lover(s) can help her on that path, but she is the one who ultimately must take it.
[> [> [> [> Perhaps self love?? -- AurraSing, 12:31:30 12/19/01 Wed

The way Buffy looks this season is radically different from past seasons-darker,unhappy.I think that when she looks into a mirror she does not see a lot that she likes-perhaps she needs to learn to love herself again? Is she cold with her friends and unpleasant to Spike because she hates herself and is trying to push them further away ?
[> [> [> [> [> Re: Perhaps self love?? -- Shaglio, 12:55:32 12/19/01 Wed

"The way Buffy looks this season is radically different from past seasons- darker,unhappy."

I couldn't agree more. In Tabula Rasa, when she uttered the line, "I don't know, but it was cooool!" I noticed she looked a lot younger with a smile on her face and a glint in her eyes. It wasn't until then that I realized how old and haggard she was starting to look. Buffy is supposed to be 20/21, but she was looking more like 40 lately (not gray hair and wrinkles, but in her facial expressions). Maybe it's her harrowing job as the slayer, her mother's death, or most likely her own death that has been "hardening" her internally and externally. She acts much more mature than I do and I'm 27! When I was her age I was still footloose and fancy free. I guess the Weight Of The World has been taking it's toll on her once youthful facade.

P.S. I hope I didn't offand any 40+ posters on the board.
[> [> [> [> [> [> Young or old? -- pagangodess, 16:54:55 12/19/01 Wed

I agree with you that Buffy has been looked really old, but only in the begining of the season. I noticed the girly braids, the childish comments ('maybe he doesn't eat them, maybe he just thinks they are... pretty'), and especially in 'Smashed', when she's at the museum jumping up and down trying to see over the crowd. I'm not sure exactly when this change took place or whether or not it will continue ( I think it was shortly after OMWF, but I can't be sure).

take it and run

[> [> [> [> [> I want the laughter back... -- Moose, 13:07:22 12/19/01 Wed

I miss the laughter as she mocks the pumped up, self-important evils that think they can destroy her and the world. Buffy looks them straight in the face and laughs at them. The killing's almost been secondary.

It reminds me of a quote from the Thomas Covenant series by Stephen Donaldson, where Foamfollower the Giant says something like, "Laugh, Covenant. You've told us the end of all things. Now laugh."

Laugh, Buffy. You've been to hell and heaven and back again. Now laugh...
[> [> [> [> [> Re: Perhaps self love?? -- Deeva, 13:15:39 12/19/01 Wed

I'm not sure that Buffy hates herself more than she doesn't know how to proceed with living after having been in "heaven". Being pulled back by her friends would probably make her wonder if she were to proceed living, would she still end up in heaven? Would it all still mean the same? Was this meant to happen? "I'm supposed to physically die, experience heaven and then come back?" Buffy can't comprehend why this happens. All the trivial things fall away. In Afterlife she really did mean it when she said that she could be alone with Spike. She didn't mean that he was "nobody", she meant that even though she was confiding in him, Buffy still feels all alone in this world. No one else can completely relate to her because of her experiences. She's not exactly pushing the Scobbies all away, she's just awkward around them.

Having common experiences often is the starting point to many friendships/relationships and drifting away when those experiences no longer apply is common. Spike's advice in OMwF, to just keep living cause life is just this, or something to that affect, is pretty much dead on. Buffy wants a "how, where, why, when"-type answer to dealing with her turmoil. Spike’s basically saying that it’s not that easy and the best thing you can do is just take the moments as they come.
[> [> [> [> [> [> How about a prescription for Prozac? -- Spike Lover, 17:52:31 12/21/01 Fri

Top 10 reasons Buffy needs Prozac:

10. One of her most recent memories is jumping off a scaffold to her death.

9. She has recently lost her mother.

8. Her dad is a deadbeat who has not even shown up since her mom died.

7. She has no job, no prospects for a job, and somehow she has to find a way to support herself and her sister.

6. She is somehow responsible for raising and providing for her sister who is turning out to be wild. She knows that if she can not get her sister to tow the line, Dawn could either be endangered or be taken away by the State.

5. She has a history of depression, specifically when she was battling the hellgod "Glory". She also feels burdened by having to "save" the world or her friends constantly.

4. Her Watcher, a very real source of support, has just moved away "for her own good".

3. Her friends are distant: X & A are engaged (which changes things, Angel is in LA, and Willow is out with her new friend "Amy" and doing magic.

2. The one solid guy she can count on for help or emotional support is pressuring her to "date" him when she may not be emotionally ready or even want to. (Okay, this one is weak.)

1. She has found that the great future that she had planned for herself earlier in life is completely not happening.

(I know #1 is supposed to be the best, so replace it with your own if you like.) By the way, any one of these is reason enough to be on prozac. So she really qualifies!
[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: How about a prescription for Prozac? -- Brian, 04:35:05 12/22/01 Sat

My #1:

Having been to Heaven, Life back on earth really sucks!
[> Re: "The Body," revisited (Spoilers) -- Smash, 11:16:06 12/19/01 Wed

Oy, Darby, I'm so glad you started this thread!

I swore that I'd not watch "The Body" last night because I feared it would be just too sad. The last three months have been hard for so many of us -- compounded by the death of my grandmother days before Thanksgiving and personal reluctance to celebrate anybody's holidays -- and frankly, I'm tired of being sad.

Somehow, I was unable to *not* watch last night. I kept thinking of one critic's comments after the original airing of "The Body." I apologize that I can't remember specifically who it was, but he harshly criticized Joss for what he said was exploiting his own mother's death in a weak attempt to get an Emmy. (The critic's mother had also died when he was younger, and he felt that Buffy's experience was not realistic.)

While watching, I kept waiting for resentful feelings similar to those of the critic to surface. They never did.

The episode was *more* poignant to me because of my real life experiences. Buffy's reaction -- from calling 911 right up to hugging Giles -- are right on. That critic was just a bitter slag who should know better than to write on a topic when it's too personal. Er, in my opinion.

Here's what I love about JW's style of direction: he's the master of understatement. I love the single- tear-streaming-down-the-cheek look of utter dispair, the absence of a soundtrack, and "Where'd she go?"

I loved the cinematography, if you can call it that in television. The shot of the EMT from Buffy's POV when he was explaining how Joyce died was brilliant. I loved that Joss wasn't afraid to give us silent long shots -- Tara's face looking sadly on as Willow freaks out; a pasty, sweaty, post-puke Buffy; Dawn staring at Joyce in the morgue; and, of course, Joyce. Joss used the camera to let us know as reality set in with each character one by one. The first long, silent, still shot being of Joyce's body because presumably she was the first to grasp the reality of her own death.

I hope that all of the other writers and directors can employ the same severe show-don't-tell style occassionally, especially as we learn how Buffy will deal with being back from the dead.
[> [> Re: "The Body," revisited (Spoilers) -- nay, 12:14:43 12/19/01 Wed

In addition to what you pointed out I loved the way JW showed each characters reaction to Joyce's death. They each exibited a different level of grief, anger, fustration, denial, confusion and acceptance. I loved that Dawn (a character who has been questioning her own reality) was the one who was in total denial until she could visualy see Joyce did it become real to her.

As an aside note I felt a character was missing. I would have been interested in seeing how Spike had handled her death. Especially since it always seemed like he had a kind of underlining sutle mother/son relationship with her. How would he have handled it?

~nay who cried just as much last night as I did the first time I viewed 'The Body'.
[> [> [> Something I forgot to include above. -- nay, 12:19:44 12/19/01 Wed

Another thing I loved was that JW showed that the world (life)around them was continuing on. I mean the kids were going to classes, the cop ticketed Xander's car, the EMT's were called to another emergancy and so on. To me this episode was real.

[> [> [> We found out Spike's reaction in "Forever." -- Rob, 12:31:09 12/19/01 Wed

[> [> [> Re: "The Body," revisited (Spoilers) -- Shaglio, 13:03:26 12/19/01 Wed

"I would have been interested in seeing how Spike had handled her death."

Agreed. Just 2 episodes earlier (Crush) Buffy came home to find him sitting on the counter in the kitchen with Joyce and Dawn talking about bills of lading and Joyce's art museum. And they certainly had a bonding moment when Joyce and Dawn had to hide in his crypt and he and Joyce started talking about Passions.
[> [> [> [> spike (spoilers, i think) -- Apophis, 13:40:29 12/19/01 Wed

The reason Spike wasn't shown was because it would have lessened the episode's realism. The Body was not about saving the world, it was about a group of people on the day a loved one died. Spike, being a 120 year old vampire with an inhibitor chip in his brain, was one of the show's more fantastic elements and therefore wasn't included.
Before anyone yells at me (this is my first post, btw), I know there was a vampire at the end. This vampire, however, was not a charismatic villain, dressed in stylish leather; he was naked, mindless, and quite obviously a walking corpse. He represented the fact that, no matter what was going on in her life, Buffy's paranormal responsibilities wouldn't let her rest.
[> [> [> Re: "The Body," revisited (Spoilers) -- anom, 21:59:25 12/19/01 Wed

"I would have been interested in seeing how Spike had handled her death."

Me too. We don't even get to see how he finds out. But Apophis and/or Shaglio (not gonna go back & check!) makes a good point--it would've undermined the reality of the episode. Besides, at that point (btwn. Crush & Intervention), Spike wasn't part of the core group & in fact had been firmly rejected by it. (But I'd still like to know.)
[> [> Re: "The Body," revisited (Spoilers) -- anom, 21:49:35 12/19/01 Wed

"I swore that I'd not watch "The Body" last night because I feared it would be just too sad. The last three months have been hard for so many of us -- compounded by the death of my grandmother days before Thanksgiving and personal reluctance to celebrate anybody's holidays -- and frankly, I'm tired of being sad."

God, Smash, I can identify way too much. My mother died a couple of weeks before Buffy's mother died in the show--after it looked like Joyce would be OK (which I half-resented because why couldn't my mom have been OK?). The circumstances were very different, but as Tara said, it's always sudden, even when it isn't.

I thought the episode was entirely realistic. As Tara also said, it's different for everyone. But the reactions, the not knowing what to do even though you're normally a capable person, the narrowing of focus so people (like the EMT) who are telling you important things become peripheral, the reflexive politeness as you go on autopilot (talk about "going through the motions"!), running through what you could have done/how it could have been different in your mind...and the sheer incomprehensibility of it all. Those were so real.

And, nay? Yeah, I cried too. Every time I've seen it. And even more at the end of Forever, when Buffy finally breaks down.
[> Re: "The Body," revisited (Spoilers) -- Traveler, 12:12:00 12/19/01 Wed

It was the same way for me. I enjoyed this episode even more the second time around than I did the first. "Remarkably well done" doesn't even begin to cover it.

Good observation about Willow's clothes; I hadn't made that connection.
[> Re: "The Body," revisited (Spoilers) -- Sophie, 13:43:36 12/19/01 Wed

Interesting that you mention Will's change in wardrobe. I watched both FX eps last night and then "The Body", and then re-watched "OMwF" on video tape, and Will's clothing change is dramatic and jumped out at me.

I had noticed that this season, Will's clothes are very mature (rather sexy), but I had not realized that the change had occurred since "The Body".
[> Re: "The Body," revisited (Spoilers) -- Sophie, 13:47:46 12/19/01 Wed

Interesting that you mention Will's change in wardrobe. I watched both FX eps last night and then "The Body", and then re-watched "OMwF" on video tape, and Will's clothing change is dramatic and jumped out at me.

I had noticed that this season, Will's clothes are very mature (rather sexy), but I had not realized that the change had occurred since "The Body".
[> Re: "The Body," revisited (Spoilers) -- JBone, 20:36:14 12/19/01 Wed

Xander really is the heart of the show, which currently has very little heart...

I suspect that Buffy's "resurrection", if/when it's complete, will be done because of many guffaws, and snot laughter. Something that Willow and Spike are not providing. Basically, I think that Xander or Dawn (and probably Anya) will have a lot to do with Buffy feeling like she belongs again. To me, it's a matter of balance. We've had some excellent funny with Tabula Rasa, but other than that, all the funny has come from the otherworldly nerdy threesome.

I'm probably going off into no man's land on this one (again), but I really believe that Buffy's earthly salvation will not come from Spike or Willow or whatever else. I see it coming from Xander. And in absence of Xander, Anya. Don't forget that bachelorette party comment. God, I hope they air "that" comedy. But last year (season 5), whenever Buffy had a heart to heart with someone, it was with either Giles or Xander. Not Spike or Willow. And I realize that Spike has been the only one that Buffy can connect with so far this year, but is she the better for it?

I don't expect to get the same ole Buff back, but hopefully, a Buffy who is happy to be Buffy. As for Tara, she'll have her priorities (and rightly so) with Willow.
[> Re: "The Body," revisited (Spoilers) -- Simon A., 03:59:04 12/20/01 Thu

As I watched it I was reminded again of the "Doll's Eyes" episode of the show Homicide, which was the saddest thing that I have ever seen on television. Both episodes really capture for me the sense of shock of people who are forced to cope with the physicality of death before they have a chance to confront the reality. Both show that in the hands of good actors and good directors, silence can be as effective as speech or crying. They do, however come down on different sides of the parking issue.

I liked the glimpse that one had into Dawn's life outside the house. I don't want to see more of it, but I think that they showed enough to extablish that she has a life that exists beyond hanging with the SG, even if that is what the show is about and therefore all that we see.
[> Re: "The Body," revisited (Spoilers) -- maddog, 09:53:30 12/20/01 Thu

I agree with your assessment of Anya, this was definitely one of her better episodes. She's just so human for the first time...finally getting frustrated enough to cry over not understanding how to react.
Firefly -- Sebastian, 12:09:19 12/19/01 Wed

I'm not sure if this info has been posted here, but Fox has given a 13-ep commitment to a new sci-fi drama series called Firefly from Joss.

The show is set about 500 years into the future amid the newly formed Union of Planets where a crew aboard a transport spaceship (Firefly class) who are basically renegades for hire. Firefly is the first show Fox has committed to for next fall.

Its been posted in the media trades so.....
[> Re: Firefly -- Rob, 12:30:05 12/19/01 Wed

Yes, I've just heard about it today...and I can't wait!


P.S. It is called "Firefly" because of the way the spaceship's posterior lights up when they go to warp speed.
[> [> Re: Firefly -- Dedalus, 13:41:48 12/19/01 Wed

I just heard about this!

I have long wondered what Joss has in store for us in a post-Buffy sense, and here we go. I love the idea about the guy being like a Confederate who fought on the side that lost and now hates everyone. I'm sure it will be like no sci-fi show we have ever seen.

It's all over the place - at Cinescape, Yahoo, and AICN.
[> [> [> Re: Firefly -- Rattletrap, 14:41:07 12/19/01 Wed

Good news indeed.
The way you describe it, Ded, it sounds like a sci-fi version of The Outlaw Josey Wales or something, is that about right?
[> [> [> [> Re: Firefly -- Andy, 18:59:45 12/19/01 Wed

That's an interesting way of looking at it, actually, and since I love The Outlaw Josey Wales I can only hope it turns out something like that :) Joss also said that it would be a sci-fi series without any aliens in it, just humans, and would be an "anti-Star Trek". That last part kind of reminds me of Farscape.

I'm looking forward to seeing the show but I have to admit that Joss will have to work hard to get me as a viewer since I have trouble maintaining interest in that genre (as impressive as Farscape is it still falls just shy of being mandatory tv for me).

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Firefly -- anom, 21:03:51 12/19/01 Wed

"Joss also said that it would be a sci-fi series without any aliens in it, just humans,..."

I kinda like that. For one thing, it looks like the chances of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe are much lower than had been thought before. For another, the limitations of TV w/live actors, even w/computer imaging, severely restrict how aliens can be portrayed (& I would bet that if there are other intelligent species out there, they're not humanoid & may not resemble any form of life we're familiar with). A few shows, like Babylon 5, have done some very good things within those limitations, but still. For yet another thing, intelligent life that evolved elsewhere would probably have mindsets mutually incomprehensible w/ours, making communication at more than the most basic level nearly impossible. ("Universal translators"? Please.)

An sf show w/no aliens would also avoid the whole Star Trek problem of 1 civilization per planet--or if there are 2, they're at war. But everybody in each population is basically the same, because, you know, that's what those people--er, beings--are like.
[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Firefly -- grifter, 01:30:53 12/20/01 Thu

I usually can´t stand TV-scifi (except for Babylon 5), but since Joss is doing it...hey, it´s gotta be cool ;)

Anyone know where one could obtain information about it?
[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Humanoid Life (OT) -- Darby, 12:38:11 12/20/01 Thu

You might be surprised at how likely humanoid life is...

Given life developing in some sort of water environment (not absolutely necessary, but it's hard to get the chemistry to work in the atmosphere of a gas giant, and other possible liquids don't dissolve things well enough). You also need lots of energy input for high-level biological organization, probably sunlight on an Earth-like planet...

Given that movable life forms - animals - that have a preferred direction evolve a front end with most of the senses and processors there, and a bilaterally symmetrical form behind it (animals that don't do this shouldn't develop the central processors necessary for intelligence), you've got a head and matched limbs...

Given that living in water is unlikely to lead to what we consider intelligence in a science fiction universe - technology, manipulation of tools. You could make a case for cephalopods (octopus, etc.), but there probably are limitations to what sort of advanced technology could be derived in a salt- water environment. Electricity as we know it is right out. Look at whales - we want them to be intelligent, but they barely qualify as science-fiction "sentient life" (and there are better explanations for their brain size than smarts). So we need land animals, and they need...

Given that our land animals need legs. How many legs? It seems like more legs could bear more weight, but what you actually see in history is a reduction in leg numbers in groups like insects and spiders (whose construction limits their size and, unless you're going for a hive-mind, their intelligence levels too). Is four a good number? That's the most unpredictable aspect - our fishy ancestors had four, pretty much across the board, but I don't know why that would be a functional preference rather than luck-of-the-draw. Eventually, our intelligent types need to get at least one set of legs free of weight-bearing responsibility - this leads to the manipulation abilities that, in humans, led to vast development of our brain abilities after birth (being carried reduced sensory and coordination needs in infants), as well as our being able to carry tools around, which put a premium on design efficiency and durability, as well as communication - although our communication probably had more social underpinnings than technological ones (social organization, though, seems like another "must have" in our evolving thinkers). Our likely candidates would have internal skeletons (greater size possible) and jointed legs, a trait which shows up in wildly different groups as a natural answer to the challenge of moving quickly around on land. You could make a guess about joint number and limb placement that would probably get you something similar to what you find around us.

What's on a land animal's head? The pertinent senses from way back are sight, preferentially in a flat facial plane to facilitate depth perception; hearing, with binocular detectors well separated to localize sound (that could be located someplace other than the head, though), taste somewhere near the mouth, which would be on the head, and probably smell (a powerful component of taste) in the vicinity. Neither of these last two is too well served with bilateral structures, so something central is likely. The really complex level of communication skill you'd need would probably be at least somewhat sound-based, although visual (as in squid skin-pattern shifting) is possible, and you could go with telepathic although it's hard to support it from a physics standpoint (sort of - you can support pretty much anything if you dig far enough into quantum mechanics, though).

What do we get? Something at least partly upright, with jointed limbs matched right-to-left, some sort of grasping/manipulating hands and a head probably moved more above than in front. A couple of eyes (single lens, which is a better system than multiple if you've got the room), a mouth, some sort of nose, possibly ears. Humanoid? Maybe. If velociraptors had had a chance to keep evolving, would intelligent descendants be humanoid? Depends on how you define it.

Should intelligent, technological aliens be "Star Trek" humanoid? Not without some religious implications, I would think. Could they be humanoid within a modern TV budget? Definitely.

Whew! That was more than a bit off-topic, wasn't it? I don't get to flex my evolutionary biology training very often, and it's obviously not a great idea to get me started...
[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: That was quite interesting Darby :-) -- Dedalus, 18:27:39 12/20/01 Thu

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Humanoid Life (OT) -- anom, 00:00:24 12/21/01 Fri

"I don't get to flex my evolutionary biology training very often, and it's obviously not a great idea to get me started..."

On the contrary, Darby, I'm glad I opened my big mouth (or whatever the keyboard equivalent is) & got educated. Still, I notice a lot of qualifiers in that explanation...there may be alternative arrangements that aren't often thought of.

"Could they be humanoid within a modern TV budget? Definitely."

Oh, of course. I was saying the opposite: it'd be harder/cost more to portray nonhumanoids credibly. Within the usual suspension of disbelief, that is.
[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Humanoid Life (OT) - Background -- Darby, 07:36:18 12/21/01 Fri

You're right, LOTS of qualifiers.

What really got me thinking about it was the widespread portrayal of aliens - in fiction and in the "fact" of UFO mythology - as shaped like us. My first reaction was, "That's ridiculous - why would a totally alien evolutionary track produce anything CLOSE to us??"

It might not, of course, since evolution is a crap shoot, but there are certain broad requirements for high-level intelligence and for technological potential (don't get me started on mineral conditions of the planet) that don't inevitably lead to humanoid shapes, but increase the odds immensely.

I still don't believe that humanoid space aliens are kidnapping people from the hills of Kentucky and using them for bizarre sexual experiments, but it's not that far-fetched that such creatures might be superficially similar to us, like a shark / tuna / dolphin / ichthyosaur are similar due to the constraints of their spots in their ecosystems.

I think that I agree with you - I like my aliens really ALIEN. One problem you run into with VISUAL presentation, though, is the tendency to look "fake" no matter how well it's done - if there's no frame of reference, it won't seem real. On top of that, although I've enjoyed the Discovery Channel's "Walking With" series (although the "stories" often make no sense from an adaptive standpoint), and was on the "hated Jar Jar" bandwagon, the technology to make them look REAL isn't quite there yet...
[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Humanoid Life (OT) - Background -- anom, 15:48:11 12/23/01 Sun

"...(don't get me started on mineral conditions of the planet)...."

Well, I kinda gave you the opening already, in a very general way, with the comment that a lot fewer planets were likely to be able to support life than previously thought. But you don't hafta get started- -Scientific American has covered it in its December 2001 issue. The cover story, billed on the cover as "Beyond the Zone" but titled "Refuges for Life in a Hostile Universe," is about evidence that only a narrow band of space within each galaxy is a "habitable zone," w/stars that can have planets that can support life. And one of the major reasons is the amount of minerals available to be incorporated into planets. Unfortunately, this article isn't on the website. But, to go slightly O/T, there is one--I guess it's actually a column--claiming that "Any sufficiently advanced extraterrestrial intelligence is indistinguishable from God."...if anyone's interested.

Now that could start a whole other discussion....
[> In addition to that (BtVS info),,,,, -- Sebastian, 12:31:58 12/19/01 Wed

btvs was nominated for an american film institute award as best drama.

afi's will air on cbs 1/5/02.
[> [> No doubt... -- GreatRewards, 13:28:54 12/19/01 Wed

West Wing will win the award, in light of the surge of patriotism following the Sept. 11th tragedy.
[> Yeah, but is Joss overextended? -- darrenK, 08:03:05 12/20/01 Thu

The show sounds great and I'm always interested in a new Joss show, but this is going to be Joss' fifth show.

This is an especially worrisome fact considering that 2, maybe 3, of these 5 shows are set to premier in 2002-2003.

Firefly is going to take a lot of time and effort since it's a whole new world with no set characters or pool of writers who know this world.

It's also the first show produced under Joss' new deal with Fox, which means that there will be a lot of pressure for it to succeed right away.

This means that much less of his time will be spent on Buffy, either writing, directing, or even rewriting.

If you read the transcript of Jane Espensen talking about Earshot (posted 2 weeks ago), then you probably know how important Joss' rewriting can be.

It's especially troublesome since Joss' Buffy episodes are not only the best episodes, but also important season linchpins.

As Buffy hits season 7, when it's contract with UPN runs up and SMG's contract runs up, it would be terrible for it suddenly be without Joss' guiding hand.

I thought he was overextended before Firefly, now I don't know what to think.
[> [> Agreed, dK ... -- squireboy, 13:23:57 12/20/01 Thu

My feeling is also that Joss is already overextended, from my selfish perspective of wanting BtVS being as rich and coherent as possible. Joss seems to be withdrawing gradually from BtVS, with all his other irons in the fire, and I guess if one has serious Mogul ambitions, one has to follow opportunities as they present. The other side of that coin is that as the Creator and driving force of a project like Buffy, one only has one chance to do it as well as possible. I've read about enough regrets from creative folks around the obstacles to getting the vision on the screen without being their own obstacle, but hey, it's his call, I'm just a nobody sitting in an office, typing about Joss' creation.

One other thing intrigued me that you said: everyone I talk to seems to assume that BtVS will be over at the end of next season as the possibility of getting SMG under contract again will probably bear a striking resemblance to zero. You implied that there might be a future beyond S7. Care to elaborate? (he said hopefully ...)

[> [> [> Just my opinion... -- darrenK, 15:52:08 12/20/01 Thu

Yeah, the fact that SMG's and UPN's contracts are both up at the end of next year is not encouraging for those of us who want the show to continue.

But, SMG seems to be damn shrewd when it comes to her career. And she knows that Buffy fans are her fans. Does she want to be the reason that the show is cancelled? I doubt it.

She knows that by leaving the show before the writers and Joss want to end it, she'd alienate the fans, her fans.

And more importantly, Buffy gives her far more exposure than she'd probably get if she was just doing movies. We've seen the parts she gets and Scooby Doo and Cruel Intentions are not going to put her on the cover of Entertainment Weekly or Rolling Stone. Buffy does. Buffy also gives her a hipness factor that she's going to lose completely if she's just the Queen of Teen film. Paging Neve Campbell?Has anyone seen Neve Campbell?

Then there's the FOX factor. Buffy is a cash cow. Its audience might be small in the US compared to Friends, but Buffy is rapidly becoming a worldwide phenomenon. And it generates huge revenue through syndication and merchandising.

And the show seems to be getting more popular and getting even more critical acclaim. It's clearly a show still on the rise. Is Fox going to let this cash cow die just because SMG might want a B movie career? No, they're going to do everything necessary to encourage Joss to keep making it.

Now there's the UPN factor. The UPN is still a netlet with growing pains. It had NO shows that appealed to women and no Tuesday night whatsoever. Suddenly they've bought a strong Tuesday lead-in that gets them huge top 20 level press in major publications and a rabid built-in fan base that will love the UPN for supporting the show that they love and hate the UPN if they don't renew the Buffy contract. I think the UPN will beg to buy 2 years of Buffy after the current contract.

And if they don't? Well, then Fox might just do the cost-effective thing and move it to their own network, which could use a show that generates huge press and loyal fans.

And ,of course, there's Marti and the other writers. Joss has spent years cultivating them, getting them to a point where the "Buffy writers" aren't just a bunch of freelancers desperate to be writing on the Simpsons. But instead, a group of committed creators whose work is as well known as his own. He's there. We debate the work of Jane Espenson or David Fury or Doug Petrie, not like they're Hollywood professionals who's agent managed to score them a gig on the flavor of the week, but almost like a special priesthood of Buffy, who seem to be as committed to as we are. I think they are.

Now that he's got them, is he just going to let them go? I doubt it. And Marti is now the showrunner. She's 6 months into it and this is a huge career step for her. Is she really going to want Buffy and her big opportunity to end?

Then there's Joss. Buffy is his flagship. It made his reputation. No matter how busy he is, or how many opportunities appear, he can't just let it fade away. It has to end HUGELY, with triumph. I think his ego will insist on 9 or 10 seasons.

Then, there's the plot. The most important thing. They haven't been setting up an end to the series, they've been gathering elements for it's continuation. When they killed off Joyce, they killed off Buffy's girlhood. And they made Buffy a responsible adult with a girl shaped KEY to look after.

All that set-up to make Buffy a weighed down adult, then skip the weighed down adult part? I doubt it.

Finally, I think they're going to telegraph the fact that the show is ending at least a year in advance just to prepare the aforementioned rabid audience.

You have to. You wouldn't want us to start hurling rotten tomatoes? Or tearing down UPN affiliates with our bare hands, right?

[> [> [> [> Good points all -- squireboy, 22:29:44 12/20/01 Thu

I hope you are right, sincerely. I'd like to think that SMG could see the sense in the business/career advice you proffered, but actors are funny and sometimes their advisors are giving them different, not so good advice. More movies = less work, similar money, *if* the parts are out there, and as you point out, the show gives her both prominence, and limits her availability, thereby generating an appetite for roles for her.

Still, I will cultivate a little spark of hope for seasons beyond S7 where previously there was none. :)

OT: Go see The Fellowship of the Ring -- verdantheart, 13:47:14 12/19/01 Wed

[> Re: OT: Okay. -- GreatRewards, 14:49:30 12/19/01 Wed

[> Agreed! NT -- Annie, 15:58:57 12/19/01 Wed

No text here. Go see the movie!
[> Just got back -- Traveler, 16:46:07 12/19/01 Wed

[> Why are you still sittingthere?! Go see Lord of the Rings NOW!!! -- vampire hunter D, 21:39:45 12/19/01 Wed

[> I will on Friday...patience is a virtue after all... -- grifter, 01:26:29 12/20/01 Thu

...and it's driving me nuts I didn't order my tickets earlier...;(
How would Willow be at Quidditch? -- Dedalus, 13:51:10 12/19/01 Wed

I tried to post this a few days ago, but the board refused to cooperate.

Several things crossed my mind as I became a newly-made Potterhead. One was that the Sorcerer's Stone certainly was the Star Wars of this generation. Which is kinda cool. For one, they went out and found their own myth, and for another, they're reading very long books. But it really is SW. Harry is Luke, the supernaturally gifted youngster who thinks he's something other than what he is. Ron is Han Solo, all pluck and luck. Hermoine is a perfect Leia, who is so haughty but manages to be adorable nonetheless. Hagrid is big and wooly and loyal, kinda like Chewbacca. Dumbledore is your wise old man Obi-Wan archetype. Voldermort is a hybrid between Vader and the Emperor. The Dursley's were like Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru (It would have been funny if ANH started with Luke locked up in a cellar on Tatooine). Wizard's Chess was like the holographic chess R2 and Chewie played on the Falcon. Devil's Snare was like the garbage compactor. I swear during the movie I could hear Bill Moyers exclaiming "That's the belly of the whale Joe Campbell always talked about!" Diagon Alley was kinda like the cantina. And of course Quidditch was like pod racing.

Which brings us back to Buffy. The other thing I was thinking was wondering how Willow would be at Quidditch, and Tara, too, of course. Will would probably get addicted to flying broomsticks or something at this stage of the game, and she didn't do too well driving under the influence in Wrecked, but I could see her doing half-way decent. Tara doesn't seem to physical, and I see her falling off her broomstick a lot. Actually, Buffy would probably be the best. She is the most physical, and her Slayer power is magical in origin. Thus, she's not just another Muggle.

Any other thoughts on this? Quidditch, Scooby-style?
[> Re: How would Willow be at Quidditch? -- maddog, 09:46:48 12/20/01 Thu

I'd have to say they'd both do very well in an environment like Hogwart's. Willow always did thrive in an academic environment. And I'd even go so far as to say that with a controled environment like that she probably wouldn't have had the addiction...well, ok, maybe she would have, but I see the friendly and teaching environment like Hogwarts as something that would keep her grounded. As for Quidditch, she's a very quick learner...maybe even someone at Harry's pace. So I'll bet she'd be real good.
[> [> Re: Good thoughts all the way around :-) -- Dedalus, 18:24:11 12/20/01 Thu

Does "heaven" represent childhood? -- Jenq, 14:04:25 12/19/01 Wed

You may have discussed or poo-poo'ed this idea already, but here goes:

Since JW has said that the theme of this season is "Grow up," is it possible that Buffy's stay in heaven (where it was warm and she felt loved and complete) could represent childhood? Barring a trauma-filled childhood, I think that the idea of "warm, loved and complete" could easily convey that sense of being protected, nourished, and secure that can come from early childhood. No thought about tomorrow or yesterday. No responsibilities. You just know that everything and everyone will be okay. ( I know that this isn't everyone's experience with childhood, but I think it makes sense here).

The trip through adolescence, then, is when the world seems bright and harsh. You've got too many things to think about--responsibilities, other people, the world. How to find your place and what you believe? It's easier to just shut down most of the time. Apathetic rebellion. Lots of anger, especially at those closest to you.

Just a thought. Forgive me it I've brought up something lame.
[> Re: Does "heaven" represent childhood? -- Copper, 14:26:18 12/19/01 Wed

Or what we are seeing is the birth process. Heaven was the womb and Buffy was "reborn". Birth is probably a traumatic experience for most babies born in a hospital environment: bright lights, noise, too harsh.
[> [> Re: Does "heaven" represent childhood? -- SugarTherapy, 15:50:54 12/19/01 Wed

OK, I suddenly wanna have my future children at home... Think how horrible that would be? Have you ever walked into really bright sunlight? Y'know how disorienting it is? Wouldn't birth be bad enough without all that and all the people and the noise... yuck.

[> I had the same thought. -- Traveler, 18:31:05 12/19/01 Wed

[> From Afterlife....... -- Rufus, 22:40:03 12/19/01 Wed

I don't see that your analogy of childhood to heaven in regards to Buffy are too far off....from Psyche....

SPIKE: (walks back to her) Buffy, if you're in ... if you're in pain ... or if you need anything... or if I can do anything for you...
BUFFY: (looks down at her lap) You can't.
SPIKE: Well, I haven't been to a hell dimension just of late, but I do know a thing or two about torment.

He sits beside her.

BUFFY: (still looking down) I was happy.

Spike looks at her in confusion.

BUFFY: Wherever I ... was ... I was happy. At peace.

Spike stares, shocked.

BUFFY: I knew that everyone I cared about was all right. I knew it. Time ... didn't mean anything ... nothing had form ... but I was still me, you know? (glances at him, then away) And I was warm ... and I was loved ... and I was finished. Complete. I don't understand about theology or dimensions, or ... any of it, really ... but I think I was in heaven.

Spike continues to stare at her in dismay.

BUFFY: And now I'm not. (almost tearful) I was torn out of there. Pulled out ... by my friends. (Spike continues staring, listening) Everything here is ... hard, and bright, and violent. Everything I feel, everything I touch ... this is Hell. Just getting through the next moment, and the one after that ... (softly) knowing what I've lost...

She looks up, realizes Spike is still there. She looks uncomfortable, gets up.

She walks just to the line where the shadows become sunlight, and pauses, but doesn't turn back to face Spike.

BUFFY: They can never know. Never.

She still doesn't look back at him, just continues walking into the sunlight.


Even though I miss Giles I can see that his leaving was a way of shocking Buffy back into this world instead of wandering around like a depressed Buffybot. Nothing makes one miss childhood more than being an adult. Taxes, bills, relationships, responsibility.....all combine to make everyone, even if for only brief moments miss the security, warmth, and simplicity of childhood. Buffy remaining like a child in her inability to reconnect with Dawn or get on with life is like wanting to stay in a state as close to heaven as she can get. Too bad that her parental figures are gone or dead and her friends are getting on with their lives.
[> [> maybe halfway... -- anom, 19:47:14 12/25/01 Tue

Childhood? Happy, yes, ideally. Peaceful...I dunno. I'm not sure it's even a concept at that age. Just too much excitement going on, which doesn't exactly match Buffy's description. Warm & loved, sure. But finished, complete? I don't think so. Even if children don't understand they're just starting out, I doubt they have a feeling of being finished. (I certainly didn't!)

And no form? Huh-uh. Definitely not part of the childhood picture! Besides, if Buffy's 1st death represented the end of her childhood (kinda late if you ask me) & this time it was the end of adolescence...does anyone look back on their adolescence as heaven? Even if we didn't have the responsibilities of adulthood yet, who thinks of that time as one of peace? completeness? happiness? warmth? A lot of teenagers don't even feel sure they're loved. And again, formlessness...not part of the picture.

So while there may be something to it, I'd say this particular metaphor can only be carried so far.
[> Re: Does "heaven" represent childhood? -- drc, 15:43:13 12/20/01 Thu

I've been lurking on this great board for a couple of months now. In fact, it was due to several posts I found here that I've been able to figure out how the show works (the basics of the concept, the 'Buffyverse' :-))).

So, I'd like to take this opportunity to send huge thanks especially and first and foremost to Age whose ideas about the show's premise and concept he posted a couple of months ago have been real eye-openers for me!!! (And I thorougly agree with what you said in one of your recent posts about the brilliance of Joss and the writers!!!)

I've often been tempted to post but you guys are so eloquent and know so much about philosophies, religions and stuff that somehow I never had the courage. Also, I'm not a native speaker so please forgive me any bad spelling/grammar etc.
And another point: not being a philosopher, my approach to the show/episodes is a rather simple, more direct one (trying to establish a relation to what we call 'Real Life').

I posted several of my ideas on another board but never got much feedback. So, when I saw this thread I thought I should finally give it a try and repost my "analysis of Buffy's heaven" here (posted before Smashed aired):

"Well, here is my theory on Buffy's heaven:

First, an excerpt of the relevant part in the script:

I was happy.


I don't ...

Wherever I ... was ... I was happy. At peace. I knew that everyone I cared about was all right. I knew it. Time didn't mean anything, nothing had form... but I was still me, you know? And I was warm and I was loved... and I was finished. Complete. I don't understand about dimensions or theology or any of ... but I think I was in heaven.

Spike stares, takes it in. She looks at him.

And now I'm not.


I was torn out of there. My friends pulled me out. And everything here is bright and hard and violent... Everything I feel, everything I touch... this is Hell. Just getting through the next moment, and the one after that... knowing what I've lost ...

I watched this scene a couple of times, and then it hit me: wouldn't this be the way we remember our childhood/youth? When there was always someone (parents, family in general) around to take care of things, to give comfort, to lean on ("I was warm and I was loved")? The 'funny' thing is we mostly come to realise this only later when we learn what life in the adult world really means. As children/teens we think life couldn't get any harder. Not to be allowed to see *that* particular guy feels like the end of the world. First love--what about the sex? *He* seems to want it, so what should "I" do? Is this the right moment, the right guy? Should I "act on want"? And "What if I never feel this way again?" (quotes from Surprise, S2)

Everything feels and looks so huge, school, friends, guys(girls), trouble everywhere (so many demons to slay :-)).
But we are sure once this awfully difficult time is over everything will be just 'peachy', very easy, we'll know all the answers, will have solved all our problems, know how to deal with life in general. Being an adult must be the easiest thing in the world.
And here's where Tara's words from Restless (repeated by Dracula in Buffy vs. Dracula) fit in:
"You think you know. What's to come, what you are -- You haven't even begun." (Buffy in After Life: "I was finished. Complete.")

Now, that Buffy has to deal with the new hardships of life as an adult she looks back and sees those past years in a whole different light. Suddenly, all those problems are nothing compared to what she has to face now. And she is terribly scared (Bargaining) and has still not figured out what to do, where to go.
(This whole situation could also be compared to Xander saving her in Prophecy Girl, thus helping her to cross the line between childhood and adolescence, and then Buffy being so bad in When She Was Bad and also needing some time to adjust and come to her senses again).

Which would lead to an interesting question: Buffy is blaming her friends for pulling her out of that *heaven*. Actually, she made Willow feel guilty for having done this (in OMWF)--so who is *bad* right now? IMO, Willow didn't do anything wrong when bringing Buffy back. (Her addiction has started before and is--despite the mistakes she makes--not necessarily making her a really bad person IMO.)"


[> [> I should add... (spoilers for all seasons, also in post above) -- drc, 16:36:09 12/20/01 Thu

... here that I don't see the 'slayer' as some sort of supernatural being or creature but as a girl (as confirmed i.a. in the teaser of The Gift

But... you're just a girl ...

That's what I keep saying.)

who has to fight the hardships of life (slay demons), first as an adolescent, now in the adult world.

[> [> Re: Does "heaven" represent childhood? Spoilers to Present. -- Age, 21:57:23 12/21/01 Fri

You are welcome.

It's good to know that ones postings are helpful. I had been lurking, posting only a few replies here and there, until I read some threads about whether the big bads were good enough or not. In posting, I wanted to highlight the metaphorical aspect of the series, including that of the big bads, because this is one of the elements that sets the series apart from others.

I agree with your interpretation of heaven. Buffy has now died twice: her childhood and adolescence have both gone. She is facing adult life, with her view of adolescence changed. The transition to adulthood is marred by the death of her mother, and is making it that much harder. The use of death and heaven, and as others have suggested, womb imagery, also points perhaps to the theme of the re-invention of the character and to the coming back to life of someone in mourning.

I really enjoyed the first half of this season, and am looking forward to the second. This is a wonderful series, made all the better for the opportunity to read and post analysis of it.

[> [> [> Big Bads......why do they have to be so big? -- Rufus, 03:17:01 12/22/01 Sat

I remember reading posts that griped about Glory being a lousy Big Bad and they never felt threatened by her cause she was a bit of a loon. I don't think it's the size of the big bad as much as the situation the big bad is around that makes the difference. The Mayor was a great big bad and wasn't physically big til the season finale, but even with his attention to details (clean finger nails) he had a sugar-coated menace to him that was evident when you paid attention to more than what he said. He may have been offering milk and cookies but he was evil, worse in that he had a control over the population of the city. It was when he took the visage of the giant snake that he was brought down to a level that he could easily be killed. As a man with a deal with the dark powers he was invincible. I liked him plus, bonus, he cleaned up after himself....;)

With Glory, she was a god in a human prison. She was also going insane from the influence of the human emotions she made fun of. In the finale you had to wonder who was more evil, Glory who was just doing what she could to get home and get revenge, or Ben who was willing to destroy the world to live? Sure Glory didn't seem much like a Big Bad but she was more powerful than Buffy and the situation she put Buffy in caused the Slayers death. So, I wonder, what purpose does the big bad have this season?
Alias -- Copper, 14:34:00 12/19/01 Wed

My adult son and I think Alias is the best new show on TV. I think Buffy is still the overall best show because of its depth and the great writing, but I also really, really like Alias, probably because Sydney is another kick-ass female: tough and smart.

What do the rest of you think?
[> Re: Alias -- verdantheart, 14:58:09 12/19/01 Wed

Really like the role of her father. The actor does an excellent job of showing pain through a buttoned- up exterior.
[> [> I watch but I seethe while I watch..... -- AurraSing, 15:15:15 12/19/01 Wed

Sid and her dad are great,but some of the peripheral characters drive me crazy...particularily her newspaper-writer friend.Argh!!
However,I will admit Sid can kick ass with the best of them.Plus she does do conflicted pretty well,the writers just don't let us get enough screen time of her trying to work out her problems because of course we just have to get to the baddie of the week.(grumble)
Plus hey,rumours are going around that Sloane is her real dad.How nasty is that??(heh heh heh..)
[> Re: Alias -- maddog, 09:14:37 12/20/01 Thu

It is a great show, probably the best new show of the season(though 24 is a great one too). What I like about it is the suspense combined with the plot twists...whenever you think you know what happened they changed it. Pretty cool that way.
[> Re: Alias -- Tanker, 20:17:59 12/20/01 Thu

I love the spy stuff, I hate the "Felicity" stuff (with her roommate and that idiot newspaper guy who can't get killed soon enough for me).
[> [> Re: Alias -- Andy, 10:25:50 12/21/01 Fri

I pretty much agree. The SD-6 guys are cool. Older, experienced actors whose faces have a lot of character to them. But all of her civilian friends, and the CIA stud, drove me crazy. I thought her annoying fiance getting killed in the premiere was a sign that the show would be to my liking but since they haven't killed any of the others, who are actually worse than the fiance, I had to stop watching the show.

[> I haven't seen "Alias" yet so I'm very excited about the upcoming marathon... -- Rob, 11:43:47 12/21/01 Fri

...on the ABC Family Network. They're going to be rerunning EVERY SINGLE already-aired episode from 12 noon to 10 pm, in order, on New Year's Day!!

So I'm very eager to catch up, and then if I like it, watch the show regularly. I love this chance, which is rare. Usually when a new show starts and I miss the first episode, I just end up not watching it.

I've heard only great things about "Alias," and I love those types of shows, so I really can't wait. I'll give you my opinion once I see it.

TV to DVD - slightly off the subject -- diagnoztix, 17:49:56 12/19/01 Wed

I was just wondering if any1 out there could give me some advice on the best way connect up a DVD player (with a choice of terminals) to an oldish TV with just a SCART out and a R/F out!? I am a DVD-ignorant buffy fan and want to collect the series on DVD cus I'm fed up with VCRs chewing my precious tapes!
[> Re: TV to DVD - slightly off the subject -- OnM, 20:35:26 12/19/01 Wed

Do you mean hookup to play a DVD on your older TV, or are you trying to record a DVD from your old TV?

I would normally assume the former, but in either case:

Older TV's that only have an RF input connector (for cable TV or antenna connection) can be hooked to a DVD player by first passing the DVD output signals through a standard stereo VCR so that the modulator in the VCR can put the audio/video on an RF carrier (channel 3 or 4, typically).

Hook the VCR to the TV in the usual fashion:

Cable feed --> VCR ANTENNA IN --> VCR 'TO TV OUT' --> to TV ANTENNA IN connector.

Now you will need one video cable (75 ohm w/RCA plugs at both ends) and a standard RCA style stereo audio patch cord. Connect as follows:

DVD video output to VCR video input. DVD stereo audio output (sometimes labeled '2-ch downmix') to VCR stereo audio input. ('LINE 1' or LINE 2' jacks, typ. red, white and yellow for audio-right, audio-left and video respectively).

Turn the TV to channel 3 or 4 (whatver your VCR outputs an RF signal on). Set your VCR to it's line 1 or line 2 input, which ever ones you connected the cables from the DVD to.

The VCR will place the audio/video signals on an RF carrier (channel 3 or 4) and so feed it into your TV's tuner.

Sorry I can't provide a drawing, this is really ludicrously easy to do, it's just hard to describe in a few words.

If you are going the other way, connect your VCR's audio and video outputs to the inputs of your DVD recorder. Tune the VCR to the channel you want to record. The VCR's tuner will provide an audio and video output for the recorder.

Not sure it's worth wasting a DVD-R on a typical cable or antenna signal, BTW, but as I said, I wasn't sure what direction you were trying to go in.

Hope this helps!
Rock n Roll High School (BtVS fiction continued) -- matching mole, 20:56:52 12/19/01 Wed

Here's the next installment.

Shadows on the Bottom of the Sea
Part Two: Rock 'n' Roll High School.

I was sitting in the Brooklyn Diner early on Monday morning. Normally I eat breakfast at home before going to the site but Anya had stayed late at the magic shop the night before. She was still fast asleep when I got up so I decided to slip out without waking her. If she's late for work she'll be a bit miffed but what difference will it make? She's the boss and no one's coming in to buy a potion before 10 AM on Monday.
But I digress. I was in the Brooklyn Diner. I've never been to Brooklyn but I'll go out on a limb and say that this is the kind of diner they have there. Lots of chrome and other shiny things. Bright colors on the non-metal parts. The owner's probably been to Brooklyn lots of times and why would he lie to me?
Anyway I was sitting there poking my bacon and eggs and trying to work up the energy to finish them off but not really wanting to because then I'd have to get up and go off to work. Then this song came on. An oldie but not a diner oldie, y'know. A diner oldie would be something by Elvis or some fifties vocal group that I've never heard of. This is one with a bunch of nifty piano work and a line about not liking Mondays. That's probably the name: I Don't Like Mondays. It came out long ago I'm sure, but not as long ago as Elvis. Probably after Elvis died I'm thinkin'.
The song was kind of distracting because it was so appropriate. It was 6:15 on a Monday morning and I wasn't happy about it. I had a magazine with me that I was trying to read. It was about military ordinance, what was new in the firepower department. At least what was new and declassified. I like to keep up on stuff like that. Military stuff seems to be my specialty in the Scoobies, ever since that business with the Judge. Of course lately it seems like all I do is worry about Buffy and then worry about Willow. That's the Scooby worrying. On my own time I worry about getting married. Which is kind of reassuring. Twenty year old guys should be worried about getting married. It seems like a normal kind of worry. Not a having-my-memory-erased-by-my- magic-addicted-best-friend worry.
So eating my breakfast was proving to be quite a complex operation. I was hungry and I had to get to the site by 6:45 so I wanted to eat. On the other hand I really didn't want to get up and leave so I was dragging it out. And simultaneously I was reading up on all the trendy new hand grenades and listening to this Monday song.
Then this tentacle tapped me on the elbow. As you might imagine this kind of caught me off guard. Even after five years as a Scooby you don't expect that kind of thing before eight on a Monday morning. It was a 1950s horror movie kind of tentacle - a bit stiff and quivering rather than your more sophisticated writhing action.
"So how's your day looking?" the owner of the tentacle asked me. It had somehow managed to slide into the booth across from me unnoticed. Kind of a neat trick for a mound of crinoids attached to a tree trunk with a starfish on top. I'll bet you think that I don't know what a crinoid is. Well you'd be wrong. They're this underwater thing, kind of like a thin-armed starfish on a stalk. I saw a display in a museum once. Smart me.
"Did you like the tentacle? I stiffened it up a little to give it that period flavour. Subtlety, that's what that is."
"Yeah, I guess so." Not the snappiest comeback in the world but you find yourself sitting across from a talking piece of Marineland and see how you do. I was just proud that I didn't run screaming out of the joint. Though as it turns out I wasn't quite as bold as I thought.
"Of course the music doesn't really fit in with the ambience." The song was ending, with the singer declaring that he wanted to 'shoot the whole day down'. Fine with me. "I really have to admire your contemporary music from a philosophical angle. I mean hair styles, cheekbones, breasts, midriffs, costumes, choreography. It's got it all. You've created music in which the sound is almost completely irrelevant. But when I came in the door and sat down at the bar the tunes just didn't do it for me. So I changed them."
"O.K. hold it right there buster. I've got two questions for you." I don't know what came over me. Normally I'm not all chatty and argumentative with monsters. But it was Monday morning. "One, where do you get off bad mouthing our music? It's not all boy bands and teen sex pots. Go down to the Bronze some night and check out the real stuff. Two, you came in and sat at the bar? Did they serve you?"
"No, the Slayer was right. They all ran away. Quite predictable really. You were the only one who stayed."
"And then you did some sort of magic thing to change all the music to retro?" A new song had started up now. 'I just wanna meet some chicks. I just wanna get some kicks.' I remember when life was that simple.
"No I took their tape out and put one of mine in." Two or three tentacles were keeping time with the Ramones. The more I looked at this thing the weirder it seemed. The size and shape seemed all wrong somehow, like all of its parts couldn't possibly fit together the way they did. And it looked at least fifteen feet tall and fit quite nicely into the booth. "And I thought that you would do just fine."
"Fine for what?" All sorts of unpleasant possibilities crossed my mind but for some reason I wasn't that concerned.
"Being interviewed. Life on the Hellmouth and all that."
"Ask away." It did sound intriguing.
"What are you eating?" One of the starfish arms swiveled around and took a look at my plate.
"Bacon and eggs. The food of hellmouth champions." I jammed a bit in my mouth. Then it dawned on me. "You know Buffy?"
"Is that talking pig bacon or regular pig bacon? Talking pig is supposed to taste a lot better. Of course not nearly as good as dog. I met her last night."
"Yuck. If I may say so. I'm afraid to ask what you had for breakfast."
"Necromancer. Actually more of a midnight snack."
"Necromancer meaning?"
"Sorcerer who raises the dead to do his bidding. The standard definition."
A sudden dread came over me. "You didn't eat Buffy did you? She's O.K., right?"
"As far as I know. Not completely omniscient."
"Tell you what. Not really hungry any more." I stood up and pushed the plate towards the thing. "You can finish it. I've got to get to work." I bolted out the door looking back. About a block later I slowed down. The what-ever-it-was must have done something to me. Inside the diner I had been all calm and collected, trading witty remarks with one mother of all hell beasts. Once I put some distance between us I was trembling like crazy.
Now the sensible thing to do would have been to go looking for Buffy or Willow. But I was getting late for work and I didn't want to wake them up so early in the morning. Doesn't make much sense does it? Hindsight is just great, especially when the magic's had time to wear off completely. So I went to work and didn't really think too much more about it. Things like that don't really happen to me every day but this is still Sunnydale home of the Hellmouth. It was kind of a cold day with a little rain and everything kept going wrong. Cables came loose, concrete spilled, bricks fell off the scaffolding. Made it tough to think about anything other than the job for very long.
We quit early on account of the weather and I headed straight to the magic shop. It was beginning to dawn on me that I had been a bit remiss in not reporting my monster encounter. I kept looking down alleys and across parking lots for any sign the thing. No luck.
The rain was pretty heavy by the time I got out of the car. I dashed down the street and threw the door open to get out of the wet. Anya was at the register. Sometimes I think she's attached to it with some sort of invisible chain.
"Hi honey. There's a ghoul in the back room."
"Baby have I ever told you how much I love your cheerful greetings. Makes my whole day. And what the hell did you just say?"
"There's a ghoul in the back. You know. Eater of the dead. Rubbery flesh, coarse features. Through that door in the room behind this one."
"Not a pleasant image, An. What's it doing there?"
"Buffy brought it. Last night before I came home."
"And you didn't tell me, why?"
"You were all grumpy about me working late and how weird Buffy and Willow have been acting even though it isn't really any of our business that I didn't want to upset you any further."
"Never mind. What is Buffy planning to do with this ghoul thing?"
"She didn't say. Keep it is a pet, maybe. Ghouls make pretty good pets. As long as you're alive they probably won't eat you. And it's really cute to see one batting a skull across the floor."
"I doubt she got it as a pet. Did she say anything else?"
"She and Spike had been out with it looking for some sort of monster. They tried to find it in the books but no luck. A sort of starfish thingy."
"A thing with a starfish head and crinoids all over the rest of it?" Things were beginning to make sense. If the thing had seen Buffy last night then she had probably seen it. Not exactly an inconspicuous critter. And, unlike me, she had decided to do something about it right way. That's why she's the slayer and I'm the loyal but often bumbling sidekick.
"Could be. I wasn't paying all that much attention. All the talismans had to be re-inventoried. Why don't you ask Howard?"
"And Howard would be?"
"The ghoul. In the back room?" Anya gave me this look like I was the world's biggest idiot which I'm pretty sure was unjustified. Not sure enough to call her on it though.
[> Rock n Roll High School (2) -- matching mole, 21:00:01 12/19/01 Wed

"The ghoul is called Howard?" This seemed unlikely enough to justify further clarification.
"I believe I just said that. Anyway he's right back there if you want some more info."
I started for the back door and something occurred to me. "This ghoul. Howard, if you will. Is he safe? Not likely to eat me?"
"Probably not. You're alive you see. Ghouls almost never eat anybody alive." She turned away from the register and reached under the counter. "If you want to be on the safe side you can take this in with you." She pulled out a bone, a femur or a humerus or something. Looked like it might be human. "He might be getting kind of hungry by now."
"Thanks, An. I don't want to ask why you have this in the shop or where you got it but I'd like to say that I am greatly honoured that you took it off the shelf to keep me safe."
"No big deal. I'm going to charge Howard for it."
"Charge the ghoul? You might not be able to do that."
"Why not? He's already getting free accommodation here."
"He might not have any money."
"Oh." Her face sank for a moment and then she smiled again. "Then I'll just charge Buffy."
I considered responding to that but then thought better of it. Instead I opened the door and came face to face with Howard. He was pale and kind of loose skinned and soft-looking with big feet, big hands, big ears, and a big flat nose. The remains of his suit looked like it had been kind of old- fashioned.
"Good afternoon," he said. Then he pulled out a pocket watch and checked it.
"Hey," I said. Then nothing. Of the two monsters I'd encountered that day, Howard was definitely the less talkative. I heard the front door bell ring, indicating someone entering or leaving the shop.
"Is that bone for me?" he said eventually.
"Yeah, I guess. If I get something in return." I thought I'd watched enough cop shows to pull this off.
"Something in return?"
"Info. About a certain starfish headed critter that I met in a diner this morning."
"Oh the Old One. It was in a diner?"
"Yeah. Playing retro music and going on about talking pigs when I was eating bacon. So what's the deal with this Old One?"
"The deal?"
"You know. Where did it come from? Why's it here? How do you kill it? The standard stuff."
If that were possible I'd swear that Howard went even paler at that point.
"Kill an Old One! That is impossible. They existed long before the dawn of life on this world and will be here after our sun is extinguished. To them we are less than insects. Less than microbes crawling through the soil."
"Not exactly helpful information. You got anything more?"
"You are a foolish mortal and you know not of what you speak." Howard was beginning to look pretty nervous.
"Well it's a start." I stepped back through the doorway and called to Anya.
"You know anything about Old Ones? Have we got any books on them?" That's one advantage of having an ex-demon girlfriend. Can save a bunch of time on research.
"Old Ones. Spoken of in hushed whispers if at all? Those Old Ones? They're servants of the Elder Gods. Scariest thing next to socialism."
"And the Elder Gods are what? Rulers of some hell dimension like Glory?"
"No they're much older. Oldest things there are. Hence the name. The Elder Gods wouldn't even bother to speak to an upstart deity like Glory. Even their servants would snub her."
"So these Old Ones are snobs. What else?"
"I don't know. We demons kept our heads down and hoped not to run into them. Mostly we didn't even like to think of them."
"Why not?"
Anya frowned. I think that frowning might be one of the cutest things she does. "I'm not really sure. I knew this primordial Sap Demon once who kept going on about blissful ignorance and shattering preconceptions about the nature of the universe but it never made much sense to me. Come to think of it, he always did seem kind of paranoid."
"Well how about books? Any books that might help us out?"
"There aren't very many books on the Old Ones or the Elder Gods out there. People who try and write them often go insane and miss deadlines. Even the books that are in existence aren't big sellers. People who own them are prone to mysterious disappearances, rapid aging, that sort of thing. Tends to put the reading public off."
It was at this point that I felt something tugging on the bone I was holding. Howard had followed me into the shop and was starting to gnaw on it. I guess that was pretty reasonable from his perspective. I had reneged on my deal with him. He just wanted what was coming to him: his skeleton sandwich. However I wasn't really expecting this and was trying to pull the bone loose when a voice came out of the shelves at the very front of the store.
"I met one of the Old Ones today." I turned around and moved over to try and hide Howard. A blonde woman stepped out from behind a shelf and headed our way. The first instant I saw her I thought she was really hot but as she got closer I saw that she was pretty old, older than Giles, older even than my parents. Still pretty hot though. Don't tell Anya.
"I learned about them years ago. Didn't give them much thought. One of the nasty realities of existence that you can't do anything about like global warming or income tax." She was British with a kind of posh accent like Giles. But her voice had this real raspy edge to it like she'd been drinking too much for a long time. She sounded like a really sophisticated, sexy wino. "And there one was. Here in Sunnydale, California."
I glared at Anya and she glared right back at me. Both of us had forgotten that someone else had come into the shop.
"I'm Petula by the way. Petula Snodd. I just came in here to get some more herbal tea but I see I've stumbled on to something much more interesting. I guess the rumours about the hellmouth are true."
It suddenly dawned on me. "You're a watcher!"
She laughed. "Not hardly. I turned my back on that old boys club before you were born."
"Did Giles send you?" I could hear the 'I'm not going to stand for this' in Anya's tone loud and clear. "Does he think I'm not running the shop properly? It's not fair. There's a recession."
"Rupert? Yes I heard he was the watcher here. I haven't seen him since that spot of difficulty in the seventies."
"Well he's gone now. Back to England. Leaving the shop in my capable hands." Anya was not taking well to our new visitor.
"Don't worry dear. I'm not going to take over this establishment. Charming as it may be." Petula looked around as she was talking. I could have listened to her for hours. "Oh, I see you have a ghoul. How very quaint. Adds immeasurably to the atmosphere. And I hear they do wonders at keeping down the cockroaches."
"Cockroaches! This is a pest free establishment. Except for the customers of course." Noting a lack of reaction, Anya shrugged, "Retail humour."
I decided to change the subject. When I'm around Anya that happens about once every five minutes. "He's not our ghoul. His name's Howard but he doesn't belong to us. Our friend Buffy..."
"Ah yes, the Slayer."
"What do you know about the Slayer?" I guess if she was a one-time watcher it wasn't so surprising that she knew about the Buffster. Didn't sit well all the same. I guess we're used to keeping things secret.
"Oh nothing unusual. Buffy Anne Summers. Arrived in Sunnydale in 1997. Killed the Master. Turned Angel into Angelus and then sent him to hell. Saved the world on several other occasions. Dropped out of college. Was brought back from the dead. Likes Ice Capades, whatever they might be."
I think my jaw must dropped to the floor because I found myself unable to speak for a minute. Howard chipped in to fill the conversational void. "Very nice to meet you Miss Snod." He stared at one of his oversize feet. I don't know if all ghouls are as polite as Howard but if they are I'm going out on a limb and say that they are a misunderstood group of demons. Not so easy on the eyes but I've seen worse. And not making smart remarks and acting all cool like vampires.
"Charmed." She gave the rubbery guy a smile. Made me feel all warm and fuzzy just from the collateral damage. Howard started cleaning his claws. "Don't look so shocked. I just hang out with the right crowd and keep my eyes and ears open. Anyone on the west coast with half a brain should be able to find all that out with a few phone calls and a couple of hours on the internet. Except for the Ice Capades thing. Quite proud of that. Nifty bit of sleuthing."
"Well Ms. Snod. If that is your real name. Assuming you're not a Watcher. And you're not some sort of very attractive demon. Which I'm not saying you're not. Very attractive that is. Or a demon. Ow! But assuming that you're not, who the hell are you?"
I should explain at this point that my cry of pain was due to Anya.
"Oh, I'm just a tourist. Enjoying California's endless sunshine and demons. Then I saw the Old One. The Slayer's probably out of her depth on this I thought. Hell I'm out of my depth. Could have knocked me down with a pin when I realized that. Quite exhilarating."
"I tried to warn her. The Old Ones have power vaster than any dream. They span the vastness of time and space as we would cross this room." Howard had shuffled out from behind my back. The rain had stopped and he squinted at the sunlight streaming in through the windows. "It is vain to stand against them. But I fear that the madness that has drawn her to the vampire has clouded her judgment."
It was at this point that I felt the need to slow down and get off. I'm not sure what we were on but I had to get off it. So I said, "I think I speak for all of us here when I say, huh? What are you talking about?"
"She and the vampire. The one who speaks and dresses like the lowest sort of ruffian. I saw them together. I could smell them."
At this point I really wasn't ready for any more revelations or surprises. Or anybody new coming in through the front door. I felt like I needed a week to process. And deal. But that was just too bad because right then Buffy and some other girl came flying in through the window and started rolling around on the floor punching each other. Now back when I was in high school I would have thought that was pretty cool. Hell it would have made my week. But right then it was the last thing I needed.
"Who's going to pay for that?" That's my girl. At least there's one thing in life I can count on.

End of Part II
[> [> amazing, mm! -- anom, 22:50:32 12/19/01 Wed

Great 1st-person-ing! I think you've got a real grasp of Xander's POV.

BTW, I appreciate the incorporation of the 1st names of some great writers of stuff of this ilk...but I'm not picking up on "Petula"....

(*button*Cthulhu Express: when it absolutely, positively has to be turned into an eldritch crawling horror in eons*/button*)
[> [> [> petula -- matching mole, 05:56:13 12/20/01 Thu

thanks. Petula's name came about simply because I heard a Petula Clark song on the radio the other day. She's not based on any teller of weird tales.
[> [> hehehehe.....I love this! Please keep going. -- LadyStarlight, 05:55:38 12/20/01 Thu

[> [> I'm lovin' every minute, mole! ;o) -- WW, 19:20:30 12/20/01 Thu

Can't wait for the next installment!
She came back wrong (speculation) -- TMZ, 22:58:52 12/19/01 Wed

Or rather, she didn't come back at all.

Buffy 2.0 is a corpse reanimated by magic, that has the memories of Buffy, and operates under the control of another entity. Like a vampire, except where the demon takes control of the form creating a hybrid, this time the entity is the "Slayer."

BuffyDeux is about as much Buffy as Spike is William.

The question this season seems to ask "how much does a soul make a person?"

S6 of BTVS is becoming increasingly fascinating, Buffy-Spike dynamic included, not because of a ship thing, but rather, because of what it represents to the formerly black-and-white set of Sunnydale. I see S6 beginning to take on the grey of Angel's universe.

So if NewBuffy is more Spike-like, then is there hope for her regaining her humanity? Taking Spike's journey through the seasons, I tend to believe so.

From "School Hard":

Angel: Things change.
Spike: Not us! Not demons!

To "The Gift":
SPIKE: I know that I'm a monster. But you treat me like a man. And that's...

And then "Smashed":
Spike: A man can change.

Spike has moved from identifying himself as a "demon" to a "man." It's an interesting shift in self perception.

Because if Spike really, truly does love Buffy in the real sense and is not just reflecting some simulacrum of his former humanity - Darla's love for her unborn child seems to vaguely suggest at it, but is it because of the child's soul she carries inside of her, or perhaps as Dru avers in Crush, "We can love quite well. If not wisely." Too bad she died before we are given any further illumination.

The Slayer's tryst with Spike opens up the proverbial morass of ethical worms. And for some reason I find this morbidly fascinating.

It felt good. But it was with a monster. Therefore it must be wrong.

Because once she starts thinking of Spike as a man instead of a "thing", it no longer becomes such a simple issue.

This, I believe, is the crux of the Buff's conflict. If she can keep "us" on one side and "them" on the other, she can keep on believing that what she's doing is for the good without question, and without attacks of uncomfortable conscience towards the enemy. It's no longer about killing evil nasties and saving the world from the plural of apocalypse, firmly entrenched on the side of right.

Would the "Real" Buffy have had sex with Spike? Hard to say, but it's doubtful. "Real" Buffy was human, thus on the "other side" of the divide.

Buffy 2.0 is beginning to realize that she may be as much of a "thing" as Spike.

"You can act as high and mighty as you like ... but I know where you live now, Slayer. "


I believe that is why Joss brought back Buffy "wrong" - to have her experience the alienation of not-being-quite there. She's being uncomfortably close into the other side's Doc Martens and because of that, it not only affords her the experience of straddling the uncomfortable ethical divide, but it also bring a big question of her role as a Slayer as well.

For B, this is sort of her Ats Season 2 arc - the tearing down of old preconceived notions and rebuilding, healing herself with perhaps a better insight into her nature as the Chosen One.

In all the previous seasons of BTVS, there has always been a clear line between "us" and "them," the eternal struggle between light and dark. Characters were defined within simple parameters, and it was either good or bad. The Master was bad. Angelus was bad. As were the Mayor, Adam and Glory.

Now, almost halfway through the season, there doesn't seem to be some big target with a sign saying "hey, I'm the bad guy," anywhere in sight. Instead, it's turned inwards, asking all sorts of uncomfortable questions about the nature of evil - and instead of querying "who/what is the bad thing," it ponders the idea of what if "them" is "us."

[> There are a lot of ways she could be "wrong," but I think she's still Buffy. -- bookworm, 07:02:01 12/20/01 Thu

I think this is a very believable portrait of the real-deal, human Buffy, who has been wrenched from the bliss of heaven. I don't think a magically reanimated corpse with Buffy's memories would be capable of the kind of torment that Buffy is experiencing. Such a person -- a person without Buffy's soul and only her memories of humanity -- would be ONLY the Slayer, nothing more than a down to business dispatcher of demons. This is Depressed!Buffy. Buffy complains to Spike about how she feels like she's just going through the motions, how she doesn't feel anything and how, paradoxically, the "hard, bright" world is Hell. When she does let herself feel something, it's nothing but bad. To survive the pain, she's shut herself down, protected herself by feeling nothing or by grabbing on to Giles or "Daddy," who will make everything better. She's describing classic symptoms of depression. When you're that depressed, you feel like your emotions are muffled through layers of cotton wool or shrouded in mist. Everything is blunted. It's so maddening after awhile that you wish you could feel anything, even pain. Or, to use another analogy, it's like her leg has fallen to sleep and now it's starting to come back to life with stabs and prickles of pain. Spike's comment in "Wrecked" -- "You FELT something" -- takes on new meaning in that context. I think what he did, or started to do, was pummel the physical and emotional numbness out of her. "I think it's right to stop, no matter how good it feels," she tells Willow at the end of "Wrecked." Is that the first time this season she's admitted, even indirectly, to anything feeling good? I think there are a lot of possibilities for her being "wrong."
1. The most plausible explanation to me is that Spike can hit her because he doesn't intend to really hurt or kill her. He said it in "Wrecked": "I wasn't going to hurt you ... much." He was far more interested in demonstrating to her that he had his "rocks back" and was therefore now a worthy candidate to be her lover than he was in administering a real beat down. He had sex on his brain, not killing. She isn't "wrong" at all. Another possibility for me is that Buffy's body is actually not her body, but a magically created copy of the first one. Is it remotely possible that Willow deliberately or inadvertently called on some of Dawn's essence to remake Buffy's body, since the monks used Buffy to fashion Dawn's blood and bones? Maybe some of Dawn's "Key" essence is now part of Buffy as well. I think it's possible that Dawn in her true form is probably some type of God herself, maybe even a younger sister of Glorificus. Spike has never tried to hit or to hurt Dawn. It might be interesting to see if he could. I bet the chip wouldn't work on her either. Maybe neither of the Summers women are strictly human now. They're gods. Maybe they'd also be immortal, though as capable of being hurt or killed as any other demon species.

3. The third possibility is that Buffy is part angel or an angel-like creature and was returned to earth to complete a mission for the Powers that Be. She retains some element of heaven.

4. Maybe she was never intended to stay in heaven permanently, but to live another life on earth. In some faiths, Heaven is a resting place for souls to wait until they are born again and continue the struggle on earth. Only, Willow pulled Buffy's soul into her previous body, something that was not supposed to happen. Her karma is majorly screwed up. She'd already learned the lessons she was supposed to learn in her incarnation as Buffy. It is not time for her to live her next life, but here she is. She's a true wild card. Maybe natural law isn't sure what to do with her or what lessons she is supposed to learn here, and that is why Spike is able to hit her. She no longer has a fate in this life. She is human and Buffy, but her existence is outside the natural law.
[> [> Re: There are a lot of ways she could be "wrong," but I think she's still Buffy. -- Sophie, 07:49:32 12/20/01 Thu

I was wondering if Buffy is now a god. In OMwF, she discovers that the fire is cold and doesn't burn her. Demons and vamps burn. What doesn't burn? Would Glory have burned? Just musings...
[> [> [> I haven't seen OmwF yet, but that's an intriguing possibility. -- bookworm, 09:26:16 12/20/01 Thu

I read somewhere that Joss Wheden said she wouldn't come back with any increased powers. Was it demonic fire? An illusion? If anything, I'd say Buffy is just getting in touch with her darker side. She's discovering the "other" meaning of "You are filled with love" and "Death is your gift." Buffy seems strongest when strong emotions, specifically sex/love, are involved. In one of the fifth season episodes, she feels angry and sexually betrayed and compensates by demolishing the vamps Riley has been feeding on within seconds. Zander seems to find this unusual. In the episode where Anya's ex-boyfriend the troll comes back, Buffy is losing the fight until Olaf mentions that Anya and Zander will never stay together. Then, angry and threatened by the thought of someone destroying a "beautiful love," she demolishes him. In "Smashed," Spike deliberately pissed her off and roused her sexually. She seemed so strong he could barely keep up with her. She throws Spike off her and into a wall with just one hand. In the early episodes, I don't remember seeing her quite that strong.
[> [> Re: There are a lot of ways she could be "wrong," but I think she's still Buffy. -- TMZ, 07:53:45 12/20/01 Thu

:: I don't think a magically reanimated corpse with Buffy's memories would be capable of the kind of torment that Buffy is experiencing.::

Ah, you gave me an opening ;). Let's take a quote from Afterlife:

SPIKE: Well, I haven't been to a hell dimension just of late, but I do know a thing or two about torment.

Whether it's his torment or another's isn't clear, but in this case, Spike being a reanimated corpse of sorts shouldn't have been able to feel the kind of grief over Buffy dying in the Gift.

:: Such a person -- a person without Buffy's soul and only her memories of humanity -- would be ONLY the Slayer, nothing more than a down to business dispatcher of demons. ::

That's exactly how she was when she first came back - confused, frightened, angry, yes, but when it came down to nuts, she was the slayer. It took Dawn nearly taking another dive off the tower to bring her back - the connection with humanity appears to be the key.

Plus we don't know what the slayer is. Supernatural for sure, but the specifics aren't clear, much like the vagueness of the vampire's demon.

Because if the case of ghost in the shell is to be argued, why isn't Spike or Dalton more Master or Kakistos-like? Spike is, after all, merely a reanimated corpse with a demon driver. Yet, as the Judge says, he reeks of humanity. And I doubt it's just the chip forcing him to not hunt that does it. It's his constant contact and interaction with others, whether it's Drusilla, Buffy or the Scooby Gang that humanizes him.

I believe that's what makes a fundamental difference between him and the other true demons. Even Angel seems to understand this at some level. Early Angelus reflects a lot on early Spike - the Master berates him for interacting with humans in "Darla."

Master: "We stalk the surface to feed and grow our ranks. We do not live amongst the human pestilence!"

Isolation, it appears, cultivates the demon, as well as the dissociating yourself from your prey, ie, seeing people as walking Happy Meals.

Hmm... guess that would make the slayer a Happy Meal with a shotgun.

And again, it asks the question - how much of William is in Spike? The way Spike's past comes full circle in Fool for Love via the "You're beneath me" statements from Cecily and Buffy seems to suggest despite the turning and his need to build a 'Big Bad' identity to shut away his disgust at the limp-wristed fop he sees his human self as, there is still quite a bit of his former self in his shell.

Tabula Rasa seems to imply that without preconceived notions of who we are and that quite a bit of a person's inherent personality can exist without a soul.

Spike doesn't know that he's a demon. Even when Buf points it out to him he still doesn't think he's a bad guy.

Just as the demon had to come from somewhere, so does the Slayer. It could be very well be the slayer that's grumpy about being pulled from her heavenly rest.

I haven't ruled out the idea of depression or PTSD, but somehow it seems a little too...literal for a show that prides itself on using metaphors for everything.

[> [> [> What Buffy and Spike mean by "torment" might be very different. -- bookworm, 08:54:59 12/20/01 Thu

Spike knows what it means to be physically and emotionally tortured. He certainly knows what pain is. Glory beat him to a pulp; Drusilla stomped all over his heart when she went to Angel and to the fungus demon. He's visited hell dimensions a time or two. The show has demonstrated very well that he -- and other vampires -- feel love and hate and grief. But he doesn't understand the torment that a human being would feel when wrenched from a perfect world into an IMPERFECT one or from Eden into the fallen world. When he was speaking to Buffy, I think he meant that she must have been tormented not to be in "this world," the world that Spike loves so much. Spike's never visited heaven. How would the reanimated magic corpse/Slayer Buffy know what heaven felt like if she hadn't been there and come back? The show may pride itself on making everything a metaphor, but not to the extent that it ignores reality. If Buffy says Heaven exists, then some sort of Heaven probably exists in reality, not as just a metaphor for childhood, though it it that too. If Buffy acts depressed or hot for Spike, then she's probably depressed and hot for Spike, even if her actions are supposed to be a heavy-handed metaphor for addiction or a foil for Willow's addiction. I'm not saying that Buffy is a normal human being, but I do think she is wholly the Buffy who has always been on the show. The question of the nature of the Slayer is an interesting one. Maybe we have never KNOWN the real Buffy Summers, because she has always been the "Slayer." I don't think that any of the Slayers are entirely human. My best guess is that each Slayer undergoes a kind of possession when she is "Chosen," by demon or goddess or ghost or whatever the hell kind of atavistic thing it is and that their humanity lives in symbiosis with what is possessing them. It may be very much like what happens with vampires. It would make sense if the Slayer and vampires were like two sides of a coin. In both, there are physical changes, emotional changes, mental changes, when the human undergoes the metamorphosis to vampire or Slayer. Buffy must not have had super strength or special healing powers before she was 15, so something in the person she was was irrevocably changed at the moment the previous Slayer died. There must be something in the physical makeup of each potential "Chosen One" that makes her ideal for possession by the spirit. In the movie, potential Chosen Ones were identified by being born with a mole. I'd argue that part of Buffy is, in some sense at least, the same person as the Slayers that Spike killed but wanted to shag. She's always lived in symbiosis with the ghost of the Slayer, but she has been fighting it back and pretending that she IS just a human with super powers, not something other than human. Of course, Buffy had already died once and another Slayer was called. Maybe the ghost of the Slayer inhabited Buffy and Kendra and then Faith at the same time, existed in two different places, which would explain Buffy's strange relationship with Faith. Part of them was the same at their core.
[> [> [> [> Although the Slayer may never have been fully human... -- Rob, 10:33:25 12/20/01 Thu is clear that she was HUMAN before. Why? Spike could not harm her before, with the chip in place. Whatever supernatural powers she had, she was, on the whole, a human being first and foremost. Now it seems that she is not...

[> [> [> [> [> Not necessarily. It may have something to do with Spike's intent. -- bookworm, 16:54:15 12/20/01 Thu

Before, he hit her with the intention of harming her. If he didn't really intend to hurt her when he hit her in "Smashed," the chip might not have reacted. She may not be "wrong" at all. Slayers are probably both human and supernatural, but I'd agree that they're mainly human.
[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Not necessarily. It may have something to do with Spike's intent. -- Rufus, 22:36:18 12/20/01 Thu

First, Buffy has died...that alone can't be ignored....not the few minutes dead from season one, but 3 months dead. Her experience of the afterlife was that of peace and contentment, only to be forced back into the harsh light of mortality. She was returned to things as they were except for the fact that she is now permanently different, just by her experience of her sacrifice. I don't think that she is less than human, she is different than human as what category does a slayer that was a rotting corpse but now is reborn, fit? As for Spike finding her less than human because of the chip, we can only wait til that one is explained. Is she lacking a soul? Is she a modern St. Joan? Or is she a demon? Buffy has known the ultimate sacrifice, she has known what happens when she ultimately dies..I think getting used to the sensations of this reality just may take some getting used to. Unless Willows spell went drastically wrong she is human, she just isn't used to it yet.
[> Re: She came back wrong (speculation) -- maddog, 08:53:44 12/20/01 Thu

I can't completely agree that this isn't the Buffy we all know and love...while I can see what you're saying what I also see is her trying to protect her friends' feelings as much as possible, caring for friends when she can, and handling the Dawn rescueing...I wonder if it were really JUST the Slayer would she still do these things. Or would she be more self oriented...I mean, Spike did say that the reason she was still around, not dead in the line of duty, was because of her ties to the you think "the slayer" would really care about her ties? I'm inclined to think not...but this Buffy I'd have to disagree with you, at least in part, there.

I think it's about time we hit the grey areas Angel's been dealing with...Angel was supposed to be the more adult oriented show anyway...and while many teens still watch Buffy, the characters are halfway through college...the storylines should become more mature.

I do like your comments on the "us" and "them" thing...because Buffy's not the only one who's faultering on that line...Spike's coming in from the other side...and Willow's having her own issues with it. So that could very well be a theme for much of this season. And lastly I see no big signs of a "big bad" but I wouldn't count out our new favorite magic dealer, Rack.
[> Re: Did "Tabula Rasa" give a clue? (Spoiler) + BIG QUESTION... -- Darby, 10:54:05 12/20/01 Thu

My semester's over and I have too much time on my hands...

There has been a fair amount made here from TR about Spike / William - how the amnesia spell seems to have extracted more of human William than the demon merged into Spike. Didn't the same thing happen to Buffy? What remained was a very human Buffy, not all that different from the early-season Buffy (except sisterly). It seems that, notwithstanding the "soul," whatever that fuzzy-logic concept is, the human remains in the vampire and the human definitely remains in our Slayer.

This begs another QUESTION - which would you rather have as an afterlife - an amorphous floating existence, happy but detached, or a continuity of your personality subjugated to a great extent by some demon entity? I like the idea of a lot of "me" on the next level, I think of the 2 choices I'd take the vampire life...
[> [> I'll take a vampiric existence -- vampire hunter D, 17:49:48 12/20/01 Thu

Any vamps out there who can turn me?
[> No, she came back right and she came back Restless -- darrenK, 12:06:49 12/20/01 Thu

I've been meaning to make a bunch of my own speculation into a thread, so I'll keep this short and sadly incomplete.

But, I think that we're being duped. It's Spike's opinion that she came back "wrong." And only Spike's opinion.

She's come back unsure. And, interestingly enough she's come back restless, literally so. But then again, that's only appropriate, right?

Buffy has died twice and nearly died once (at the end of season 3 when she was "drained" by Angel). After each of these events, she's come back STRONGER. Why?

Last season, the first Slayer told her that "death is her gift," and, that "the slayer forges strength from pain." But what about strength from death?

Even without death, Buffy is a most unusual Slayer, a slayer who's successor (and successor's successor) has already been called.

And, she's OLD FOR A SLAYER! Does the Slayer essence become stronger with time? Or with damage to the human body?

We were told in Restless that Buffy doesn't know what she is, or what is to come.

Maybe she'll be the first slayer to become pure Slayer, like the first slayer...
[> [> Re: No, she came back right and she came back Restless -- TMZ, 13:19:31 12/20/01 Thu

Are you suggesting that there is no "Buffy soul" per se, but rather what makes Buffy is the combination of the Slayer soul and human experience? If that's what you mean, it's a VERY interesting thought.

It would suggest that growing up with the human experience would formulate and in essence "taint" the pure slayer aspect of her. This could also apply to Spike and his "tainted" demon as well.

In other words, Buffy = Slayer soul + vessel + human interaction ?

It would help explain the degree and variety vampires as well - Spike = demon + vessel + human interaction

Whereas the newly reanimated Buffy undergoes the same experience as a turned vampire - in death the "taint" is stripped away, and thus when soul or demon occupies (or in Buffy's case reoccupies) the vessel, they lose a great deal of their humanity with only what the body remembers as its template.

If that's not what you meant, then maybe I'm just on crack.

[> [> [> Re: No, she came back right and she came back Restless -- darrenK, 16:19:13 12/20/01 Thu

It's close to what I mean. Truthfully, I hadn't let that part of my theory get so developed, but what you've said dovetails fairly closely with what I'm thinking.

And that is that we have every reason to believe Buffy isn't precisely human. That the Slayer is something wild, supernatural and feral.

That's what we saw in Restless.

And the Slayer, who starts off as a fairly human girl, becomes possessed by whatever the Slayer is when she is "called." I often thought that "called" was a strange euphemism anyway. Does the a Slayer really get called? By who? How? Does someone flip a switch?

Or does a young girl with the right characteristics get chosen as the perfect vessel for the whatever the Slayer is? Wouldn't this explain how the Slayers share memories?

If that's so, then perhaps the human recedes over time, or is burned through?

I do know that there have been plenty of teasing hints about what the Slayer is. In Restless, when the first Slayer tells Buffy that she doesn't know what she is, or what's to come? Then in Buffy vs. Dracula, Dracula tells Buffy that her power is rooted in darkness.

So, for Buffy to have come back "wrong," and for whatever that means to be different from whatever the story is with the origins of the Slayer, would be confusing and inprobable.

I think these questions lead down the same path. dK
[> Different Theory -- Spike Lover, 14:50:22 12/24/01 Mon

Okay, I think to a certain degree you are quibbling about word choice.

Buffy is not a vampire. But is she a zombie? No, she does not limp. I prefer a simplier explanation. If the definition of a human a biped mammal that is ruled by a set of laws, than Buffy's resurrection has broken those laws.

What I mean is if I saw someone I knew had died 3-4 months ago, was embalmed, buried, etc., (not cyro-frozen for future doctors to thaw out and cure, etc.), the first thing I would do is scream. No way in my mind would I believe that they were human, no matter what they said or how they acted or how anyone else explained it, simply because that person would have "broken" the laws of nature that all humans live by.

It would be the same for a vampire. According to the mythologies, vampires have certain characteristics and certain limitations. If a vampire is suddenly able to have other characteristics or is no longer limited by certain traditional laws or criteria, then by definition, it is not a vampire.

Thus, because Buffy has broken the laws of death that govern humans, the definition of "human" no longer really applies. If Spike's chip is somehow capable of distinguishing "humans", then it is going to register the difference. Does that mean that Buffy came back "wrong". Well, I would say "different". He was trying to make a point when he said it.
Speculations on Watchers -- NazgulsBane, 23:50:23 12/19/01 Wed

Hello -- this is my first post to this forum, so please be gentle. There is a mildly spoilery reference to the events of season 6 (seen several episodes ago in the US) contained in the first question.

Presumably Giles kept a Watcher's Diary up until the death of Buffy last spring, and presumably that diary is now part of the Watchers' Council archives, available to future watchers to help their Slayers.

1) Do you think that Giles started a new diary (or added to the existing one) when Buffy was brought back? If so, by returning to England this season, has he shirked his duty to the Council and future Slayers (and possibly thereby endangered said future Slayers) by leaving Buffy's postmortem adventures un-chronicled?

2) Each slayer appears to have an active watcher, who trains the Slayer as well as watches (and records). Do you think there are passive watchers who only watch and record? I'm thinking of something like the watch apparently placed upon Faith while she was in her coma.

3) Do you think Buffy could currently be under surveillance by the Watcher's Council from such a passive watcher? There is no doubt that having died twice has hardly slowed her down. She is still fighting the good fight. That alone makes her experiences worthy of record, and as she observed, the Watchers' Council these days is "pretty much just watching Masterpiece Theatre" otherwise.

4) If there are passive watchers, would they be on-site people, or would the Watcher’s Council perhaps leave a hidden camera? In the magic Shop? In Spike’s crypt? After all, Spike was the topic of one Watchers’ thesis, and is the only known vampire unable to hunt humans, and who appears to be choosing atypical goals for himself because of that.

Tthe Watchers' Council has made itself redundant, at least for the nonce, if it regards its primary purpose as controlling the Slayer. It seems to me that at least part of its job is to keep those Watchers' Diaries, because they may help future Slayers.
On the other hand, maybe a good part of their job (the part they don't tell the Slayers) is that what they are watching for is a Slayer who turns her not inconsiderable powers away from demon-slaying and towards a power-play against humans (a la Faith -- she can't have been the first Slayer to realize that her extraordinary powers can be used for more than slaying vampires).

Just some random thoughts and questions,
[> Re: Speculations on Watchers -- Monster Blues, 02:34:03 12/20/01 Thu

Personally I have always felt we really don't know much about the Watchers except the handful members we have seen, and those have been too lopsided toward being a-holes except Giles. I just don't agree the whole council would be full of people like that. I've always envisioned them to being similar to the Watchers from Highlander--recording everything they could about slayers, demons, magick, etc. The slayer would only be one part (an important one of course) of an immense effort to keep evil at bay.

Also I tend to think there is a mystical connection between Watchers like Giles and their slayers. After re-watching the ep with Buffy going to the desert Giles said he had to transfer his guardianship to the guide that Buffy needed to talk to. I think this relationship is part of what Giles referred to in an earlier season about Watchers being in pain when their slayer is killed.

Anyway, of course any ancient group like that would have divisions between members (Millennium's Roosters & Owls comes to mind) that would lead to group shifts now and then, but I don't think slayers in the long run would fare well without them. Though some like Quentin Travers think they should dominate the slayer I really think its a 2 way street, both need each other if the world is to be safe.

So yeah, though we probably won't see it I wouldn't doubt for a second that Buffy (Faith too) is being watched by someone.
[> Re: Speculations on Watchers -- maddog, 08:33:38 12/20/01 Thu

I don't think Faith had a watcher for when she was in her coma...technically Wesley was her watcher, but he gave up after being such a little wimp at the end of season 3. I think that nurse was just an employee of the WC and her only duty was to report to them if/when she woke up. I don't think "passive" is a word you'd use for watchers. Giles was about as passive as you get for one and that's because of the relationship that had formed between him and Buffy. He often let her run the show. But I still can agree that there's possibly someone out there keeping an eye on Buffy. Making sure there are no more Glory type incidents. It's not like they can do anything for Faith unless they want to break her out of jail.
[> [> Re: Speculations on Watchers -- yabyumpan, 09:56:05 12/20/01 Thu

"It's not like they can do anything for Faith unless they want to break her out of jail." I wonder why they are keeping her in jail, esp as, during the summer at least, there was no active Slayer. In Checkpoint, it was made pretty clear that their powers extend into the realms of government/officialdom; they could have had Giles's green card taken away and had him thrown out of the country.
from Psyche's site.
BUFFY: Can they really do the stuff they threatened? Kick you out the country?
GILES: In a heartbeat. (Takes off his glasses, takes out a handkerchief and begins cleaning his glasses) See, the rough stuff, they're all right out there, a bit ham-handed, but they get it done, but, uh ... this stuff, the, uh, bureaucracy, the pulling of political strings, they're the best in the world. They can kill you with the stroke of a pen. Poncy sods.
By Faith giving herself up in Ats "Sanctuary", she has shown that she wants to reform, I'm sure the WC council could get her out if they wanted to, I wonder why they chose to leave the world without an active Slayer.
Intervention Query for the Detail-Obsessed -- MRFH, 06:33:18 12/20/01 Thu

After watching Intervention last night, I noticed that Kelly Donovan is listed in the end credits. For those who do not know, KD is the twin brother of Nicholas Brendan (Xander) and guest-starred as "Suave Xander" in The Replacement. So, do any of you know what KD was doing in Intervention? Is it possible that ND had to take a day off and let his brother stand in for him? If so, that makes me wish *I* had a twin, so I could send her to work for me.

If you have any info about this, I'd love to hear it.
[> Re: Intervention answer for the Detail-Obsessed -- vampire hunter D, 08:57:17 12/20/01 Thu

Kelly did play "Double Xander" in "Intervention". Why they needed a double is beyond me. Kelly Donovan is also a set director on Buffy. Or so says the Internet Movie Database when I looked him up to answer this.

I now have to go back and watch that ep again. I missed it last night because I was out watching the Lord of the Rings. And you should have been too. Go see it! NOW!
[> [> Re: Intervention answer for the Detail-Obsessed -- MRFH, 09:59:35 12/20/01 Thu

I do promise, as so many others before me, to go to see the Lord of the Rings. Perhaps the board will be able to discuss this during Buffy reruns!
[> [> The reason Kelly played Xander's "replacement" was.. -- Rob, 10:18:27 12/20/01 Thu make the shots with both Xanders in it at the same time, seem less artificial than with blue screen. Nick has made it clear, though, that in the scenes in which there is only one Xander, no matter which one, he, Nick, is playing Xander. I would assume, then, they only needed Kelly for the final scene and maybe for a few where Xander A was hiding while Xander B was kissing Anya, or something like that...

[> [> [> Re: The reason Kelly played Xander's "replacement" was.. -- MRFH, 11:46:13 12/20/01 Thu

Thanks, Rob. I understand why they did that with The Replacement. I was wondering why Kelly Donovan is listed in the credits of Intervention (i.e. The One Where Buffy Goes to the Desert, and The One With the Buffybot, and The One Where Spike Doesn't Tell Glory and Gets a Kiss for His Trouble...).
[> [> [> [> Re: The reason Kelly played Xander's "replacement" was.. -- nay, 13:48:09 12/20/01 Thu

Could they have used Kelly during the fighting scene with Glory's minons? I wonder because it didn't quite look like Xander. It could have been a stunt double, but then again maybe not.


Just so you know my whole family and a few friends are going to see 'Lord of the Rings' Sat. We'll take up the first 2 rows. :)
[> [> [> Re: The reason Kelly played Xander's "replacement" was.. -- anom, 17:52:47 12/20/01 Thu

"I would assume, then, they only needed Kelly for the final scene and maybe for a few where Xander A was hiding while Xander B was kissing Anya, or something like that..."

...& when Smooth Xander walked by when Hapless Xander was on the phone, & when they fought outside Xander's new apt., & during the confrontation (remember, w/the gun & all?) at the apt....yeah, just a few. @>)
[> [> [> Re: The reason Kelly played Xander's "replacement" was.. -- anom, 17:54:48 12/20/01 Thu

"I would assume, then, they only needed Kelly for the final scene and maybe for a few where Xander A was hiding while Xander B was kissing Anya, or something like that..."

...& when Smooth Xander walked by when Hapless Xander was on the phone, & when they fought outside Xander's new apt., & during the confrontation (remember, w/the gun & all?) at the apt....yeah, just a few. @>)
[> [> [> [> Re: The reason Kelly played Xander's "replacement" was.. -- Rob, 18:38:51 12/20/01 Thu

Well, actually they used Nick for all the dialogue and close-ups. Kelly was only used for moments when both Xanders had to be in frame. He did very little if any acting.

[> [> Re: Intervention answer for the Detail-Obsessed -- SugarTherapy, 16:05:13 12/20/01 Thu

IMDB also says that Daphne Rubin-Vega is 21. She's 31. It's well-known that she's not 21 - if she was, she'd have been in RENT when she was 16. Before that actually, because she was in the workshop version. Not that any of you know who she is.... but anyway my point is that they take pretty much any submitted info. Not very reliable.

[> Re: Intervention Query for the Detail-Obsessed -- Zus, 15:59:14 12/20/01 Thu

I read somewhere, right after the show aired, (at I think) that Nick was ill during the shooting of that one on the day they did the fight scene at Glory's and that Kelly filled in for him on that day.
Random effulgenceness.....I hope. -- LadyStarlight, 06:41:47 12/20/01 Thu

(My attempt at actually organizing my thoughts, practice for my big "What do the Opening Credits really mean?" post.)

One of my first posts on this board was a diatribe about Spike's behavior in Crush, ie, in that episode he was unconciously working from old patterns of behavior.

That said, vampires (and all the other demons) do seem to have an 'underground' society. They drink, they fight, they go to 7-11, and presumably, somewhere, there are baby demons being told about the Slayer so they will clean their slime pits up and eat their kittens. (Sorry, Rufus, couldn't resist.)

Vampires, werewolves, and perhaps shape-shifting demons can infiltrate human society to an extent. To be effective hunters, know your prey. (Not discounting the advantage of jumping out of an alley and going "Boo!" of course)

However, infiltrating a society and being part of that society are two different things. Perhaps the best way to describe Spike (you just knew I was leading up to this, right?) is not "a serial killer in prison", but, "deep cover".

"Deep cover" as gleaned from the many cop movies I've desperately tried not to watch, usually refers to a cop infiltrating some crime organization to get the goods on the bad guys. The Mafia, urban gangs, and probably drug organizations are all favorite topics.

Now, I know that Spike (probably!) isn't going to pull another Season 4 and turn out to be working for the Ultimate Bad Guy, but bear with me. When a cop is in deep cover, he/she must set aside the law and order part and become the part they're playing. Which means, actually doing the drugs they're selling, casual violence, etc. All going against their nature (sounding familiar yet?)

Sometimes, though, (and this is usually supposed to provide The Big Unveiling, wherein Our Hero must get out of Dodge) for whatever reason, they cannot. Under stress, or the right stimulus, their 'normal' patterns of behavior surface.

Which brings me back to Our Anti-Hero. We saw a bit of this in Crush, and I believe that Smashed also showed this (FFL and Drusilla, anyone? At least in Smashed there wasn't a puddle of Slayer blood, that I saw). He has been living under deep cover for an awfully long time, now. Is it so surprising that his 'normal' patterns of behavior surface every now and then? Now, I'm not saying that it's excusable, just understandable.

Pretty much done, now. If anyone else wants to chime in, feel free. Comments/questions always welcome.
[> Re: Random effulgenceness.....I hope. -- maddog, 07:54:38 12/20/01 Thu

What's funny is there really is a movie from the early 90's called Deep Cover with Jeff Goldblum and Laurence Fishburne...

The only plothole I can see in your theory is his actions at the end of last season and the begining of this season lead me to believe that he would have gotten out once Buffy had died(assuming that she was what he was after in his under cover mission). He stuck around though...makes you wonder if he's decided to be there for at the very least Dawn for the long haul.
[> [> What I really meant to say.... ;) -- LadyStarlight, 10:24:46 12/20/01 Thu

...was not so much that Spike is an undercover agent, but that he's been forced to adopt a persona to survive. And sometimes that persona slips.

(I've probably not-watched the movie you mentioned. But the one that was uppermost in my mind was one with Omar Epps and L.L. Cool J. - and I have no idea what the title is.)
[> [> [> Re: What I really meant to say.... ;) -- maddog, 07:21:02 12/21/01 Fri

yeah, I can see your point. oh, and you're talking about In Too Deep(just looked it up). :)
[> [> [> Re: What I really meant to say.... ;) -- Anthora, 16:38:37 12/21/01 Fri

Well,another problem with going undercover seems to be that you forget the line between reality and pretense and start taking on characteristics of your 'role'. So...would that be Spike becoming 'good' out of habit? ;)
Joss Whedon's Evil Twin (slightly OT) -- Solitude1056, 08:54:34 12/20/01 Thu

Well, I dunnit. I went yesterday to the second showing of Lord of the Rings - sold out show at 2:45, btw, just like all the rest of the showings - and was utterly, completely, totally blown away.

Okay, so there were a few things that made me or my housemate squirm - it's hard to look at Elrond & not hear a voice saying, "misterrrr anddddersonnn." The housemate thought Sean Astin was all wrong as Samwise, while he was exactly as I'd always visualized Samwise. The master/servant dynamics between Frodo and Samwise have shifted subtly (most likely due to the fact that our society, 50 years later, isn't as strictly class-bound as Britain was during Tolkein's day). And we both noted with surprise that this movie had more quiet crying than any all-male-buddy movie I think I've ever seen - not outloud sobbing, just the kind of grief that can't be expressed any other way... Gimli, Sam, Aragorn, Boromir, Frodo, Bilbo - sheesh, every character at some point or another. And it's not a tear-jerker movie by any accounts.

So all that said, what got me thinking that Peter Jackson and Joss Whedon are distant evil mind- sharers? I can't articulate it quite yet, so I'm going to ramble here & see if the rest of you can help figure it out with me.

For starters, I came home and dug out my old copy of Fellowship of the Rings, to see what was cut and what was left out. (Meanwhile, my housemate's quoting - in Elvish - the phrase Sauron was using while Frodo was wearing the ring. He pointed out that Sauron only spoke the first three lines of the poem, and not the fourth. I'd no clue what the Big Bad was saying, and somehow was not surprised that after [censored] number of years since my housemate last spoke/wrote Elvish, he could still quote it and speak it fluently. Grrrrr.)

I was struck, while rereading parts, by Tolkein's stilted language and excessive use of exclamation points. (I feel like a heretic, suddenly.) And oh, how Tolkein does go on, and on, and on - with liberal sprinklings of poems, songs, and stories at random parts of the story. None of that is in the movie - hell, Legolas has practically no lines at all. And certain character aspects (such as the dwarf/elf animosity, or the master/servant relationship between Frodo and Samwise) are barely hinted at, if mentioned at all. Tolkein, I think, was a storymaker and only adequate as a storyteller - and it's his good posthumous luck that Peter Jackson has revealed himself as a far better storyteller than storymaker.

So what's this to do with Joss? Well, I was thinking about the fact that Joss has a whole crew of people writing for and with him. He's a storymaker, too - but requires the actors, in his preferred scope, to tell the story for him. There's a reason Joss isn't writing novels, after all. He makes the story, but someone else tells it. Maybe that's something to do with the visual element of cinema, that you can have someone creating the story but telling it needs to be in someone else's hands, because of the team-aspect of cinema. I dunno. Maybe OnM can put that into better words than me.

But the Joss/Peter connection's in the fact that it's marvelous to me that even in this day of Hollywood Corporate, we've still got dreamers who will go their own way independent of any focus groups or insistent producers. Both of them have the scope and power, inside their heads, to visualize a whole world and play it out for the rest of us. BtVS, and AtS, are dark - way darker than any 'focus group' would respond to, when I think of it. And if LotR had been shown during editing, I'm sure we would've had more exposition, more funniness, less brooding darkness and menace and despair. But each story requires that menace, that despair - Buffy's sacrifice at the end of Season 5 wouldn't have been so complete had she not go spiraling down into complete self-loss, nearly madness. If she hadn't lost Riley, her mother, her sister, her Self, then re-finding it and losing it all wouldn't have mattered quite as much. If Glory weren't a God, with all the cards and power, the triumph wouldn't have been so bittersweet. It's the same with Tolkein - every single card is stacked against this small band of travellers, and as the books progress the chances of victory get smaller and smaller, until all chances (despite victories elsewhere) are reduced, really, to Frodo and Sam making it to Mordor and destroying the Ring. And at the very end, Frodo nearly can't do it. So this first chapter of the LotR trilogy wasn't going end happily - as a matter of fact, it just sort of ends, on a "well, here we go" note.

Anyone used to the popular scheme of movies is going to be a little thrown - in fact, the ending reminded me of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in that sense: it ends, and you're left saying, "hey! wait! what happens next?" Because you know the story's still going, even if the screen is dark. There's no riding off into the sunset and they all lived happily ever after - the story keeps going and you're left using your imagination to fill in the blanks and hoping that when you get to see the next chapter, the storymaker/teller will have done your imaginings justice.

Joss does the same thing to us, as the season ends. He doesn't pick up right there, but jumps the summer and begins the story three months later. He forces us to do something that Hollywood Corporate doesn't like to do: he forces us to trust in the story. Peter Jackson's obviously on the same wavelength. Peter didn't thunk me over the head during LotR with anything but a single image, repeated ad infinitum: the ring in Frodo's hand. Over and over. Okay, I got it - but then I realized, this is for the benefit of those who don't have the novel in their hands to know that this ring is becoming the sole element of Frodo's existence, the one thing that keeps him going and yet holds him back. At the same time, other subtle moments came and went without over-acting or too much "hey look at this" reaction from the actors. Elrond didn't break character or ham it up at the hobbits' jump into the Council; Aragorn didn't break character at Pippin's plaintive complaint about missing second breakfast (or elevenese, or lunch, or tea, or dinner, or supper!). I see the same thing in Joss' moves as a director. We get thunked over the head with Willow's drug metaphor, but it's almost understated, the momentary pause from Spike, and his glance towards Willow and then to Buffy. Perhaps a quiet clenching of the jaw, a tightness around the eyes, that communicated his expectation of Buffy's next move, to go to Willow. You don't see that the first time around, hell, you may not even see it the second time around. But it's there. The director can visualize the completeness of a story and recognize that while one thing is going on, the other characters aren't frozen in place, waiting for their next line. They're reacting, considering, plotting, recoiling, or whispering amongst themselves.

In other words, I'll be going back to see LotR as soon as I can. ;-)
[> Re: Joss Whedon's Evil Twin (slightly OT, with spoilers from LOTR) -- maddog, 09:39:15 12/20/01 Thu

That was a very well written post. The similarities are uncanny. And as someone who saw the first showing locally(11am yesterday) I found the movie amazing. What was left out for the most part was a good thing. Any of those characters reciting the damn poems would have made me cringe. Liv Tyler's character was much smaller than I'd originally thought(thank God) cause she really wasn't that big a part of the first book. And I'd heard that LOTR loyalists would hate it because of her overuse, but it really didn't seem so bad. A few things were missing though that I would have like to see (such as the animosity between the elf and the dwarf, as well as their adventure with Tom Bombadil). But overall such a well done movie...from keeping along with the storyline to the incredible sets to the equally impressive cgi...a definite must see(and I'll end up there at least once more).
[> [> How can you have spoilers in a story that folks have been reading for three generations? - - Solitude1056, 10:52:26 12/20/01 Thu

As we were leaving the theater, there were already folks waiting to get good seats for the 6pm showing. Several friends had accompanied us to the showing, and one of them ended up next to me in the crush to get out. She's Chinese, and was a bit mystified by why people were waiting already - and appeared to had been waiting for a bit - to get into the theater. The story had intrigued her, confused her, and the special effects (and scenery) had wowed her. But all this fuss missed her, a bit. I explained that this was a story that people had been waiting over thirty years to see done properly, and well, on the big screen. The gray-haired guy in front of us must've heard me, since he turned around and told both of us, "I've been waiting longer."

When you think about it, though, there's got to be things that change and shift - we're fifty years down the road since Tolkein first published any part of LotR - and nearly eighty since he first started writing it or even dreaming it, if I recall correctly.

One of the long discussions we had last night was that I'd always read the Sam/Frodo relationship as one with hints of homoeroticism in it, in the way Sam clearly adores and worships even the very ground Frodo walks on, and stumbles over his shyness about this clear adoration. In turn, Frodo seems to bear this adoration as if he does better by just ignoring it. That really didn't make sense to me when I first read it, in the late 70's. My housemate, on the other hand, grew up in a diplomatic household overseas. A number of his childhood pictures are of him with his Amah (nanny/maid) or Cook, or the family driver. The cook's name, he told me, was always simply "Cook," and same for the Amah. Their names were their titles were their identities. It was a stratified class structure, where one person was clearly the master, and another clearly the servant, and the twain didn't meet except when one was serving the other. For my housemate, reading LotR for the first time in the mid-60's, this servant/master relationship made perfect sense: Sam worships and adores Frodo, "taking care of the young master" as CP put it, because that's what he does. That's Sam's role, pure and simple: to take care of, and work for, and serve, Frodo. He has no ambitions other than that, in the book. In the movie, however, this demarcation is not as clear, and their dynamic is shifted more into an ambiguous role for Sam, but he goes along because of his promise to Gandalf, as he clarifies near the end of the movie. While it's still a task that has been laid upon him (but no longer because of his class in the society), it does shift their relationship more towards equality. In the past fifty years, that type of dynamic is something we're more comfortable with, but it's not the way Tolkein wrote it. Peter Jackson was clearly going for the spirit of the law, if not the letter, much as he did with the female roles.

Given that this minor but crucial element to the story (more crucial in the third book than the first, true) had to be shifted since 90% of us readers didn't grow up with live-in servants... it makes me wonder. What if Joss were writing BtVS as a long and elaborate series of books, detailing one person's trip from inconsequential nobody to savior of the entire world? Let's pretend that Joss wrote three books, of which two we've read already: one for high school, one for college, and one for beyond that.

In fifty years, if another Peter Jackson were to come along and try to put Joss' byzantine (I love that word) complexity onto the big screen, with a cap of about three hours per episode... what would get cut? Who would be reduced to only a few lines, with gestures and expressions doing the majority of the work? How could someone possibly visualize the entirety of the Buffyverse, cull what's extraneous, and still be true to the timbre of Joss' storymaking vision? I imagine side trips, like The Witch, or The Wish/Doppelgangerland might be reduced, if not removed. Willow's obsession with a "boyfriend" in I Robot might be culled and merely intuited by dialogue; Joyce's near-fatal run-in with another robot might be implied and not spelled out. The Master might be a momentary Big Bad, quickly and easily supplanted by the Angelus/Angel fiasco.

But that's the best comparison I could think of, when a friend commented via email that there are so many things not-okay with the way Jackson changed things. Legolas speaks so little, while in the book he and Gimli rival each other in chattiness. Boromir is much more prideful, and his rivalry with Aragorn is explicit instead of implicit. The scope and flavor of Tolkein's work is so grand, so broad, that no one's going to be pleased, and perhaps realizing that we're lucky to have visual artists (such as Joss) - as opposed to literary artists (such as Tolkein) - who can create these images for us, over a period of 22 hours a year, for seven years...

Or perhaps, in fifty years, BtVS might head in the opposite direction, with an equally gifted writer turning each script into a book? Hmm.
[> [> [> believe it or not, some people still haven't read it... -- anom, 17:36:05 12/20/01 Thu

...& yes, I'm one of 'em. Sf/fantasy fan though I am, I haven't delved into Tolkien (maybe because it seemed "delving" would be what was required).

So whaddya think--would the movie be as good for someone who hasn't read the books?
[> [> [> [> Re: believe it or not, some people still haven't read it... -- Dedalus, 18:46:27 12/20/01 Thu

As someone who has tried to read the bloody books three damn times, I have very mixed feelings about seeing the movie. Cutting large chunks of Tolkein's rambling, pointless exposition about the life cycles of hobbits or whatever would help, but I simply can't stand the source material. I have heard so much good about this film, but it just doesn't get me going. Even the trailers don't excite me, and I am a trailer fanatic.

I might check it out, but I am so glad I finally got into Harry Potter. Two hundred pages into FOTR, and I still couldn't care less. Two pages into Sorcerer's Stone, and Rowling totally had me. Her style is so ... open. Inviting. It invites you to visit her world. Tolkein doesn't do that. Like I've said before, it's not like you're hearing someone tell you a story - someone is telling you a story about a story about a story.

Tolkein had been hyped up so much that, to me, the books just fell flat in a major way. I can't see how the film could possibly be that great.

However, fabulous post Sol.
[> [> [> [> [> Oh, and I've not read the books in *ahem* twenty years... -- Solitude1056, 19:31:09 12/20/01 Thu

True... Tolkein's style is definitely archaic. Hell, so are the Brontes, Dickens, and Alcott - it happens even to the best authors, and (heretic though I may be branded) Tolkein wasn't a "best" author - he's a historian & linguist. I've only met three people in my lifetime who could struggle through Silmarillion or whatever-it-is, and I myself fell asleep halfway through the first chapter of The Hobbit. I don't know why LotR captured me - perhaps it was simply just the right time for me to read it, back in 4th grade. ;-)

No, this is not Dune, where you're going to be handed a glossary prior to the film and still end up mystified - even if you did read the books. Jackson is a clear and concise storyteller, and he distills Tolkein's complexity into an understandable format and presentation... without pandering to the common denominator. No offense to the Potterheads amongst us, Potter is for kids - this movie is for adults who understand that sometimes the going gets dark, and that this is part of the hero's cycle.

Tolkein does get hyped a great deal by his readers - you either hate him, or love him, thanks to his archaic and telling-heavy way of writing. That's what I meant by storytelling versus storymaking - the story is fabulous, grand in scope, all-encompassing, and universal. It's just that Tolkein couldn't really story-tell his way out of a paper bag, IMO. He needed an editor, someone who saw the bones and the glory and the majesty and the mystery and the menace and understood the story can remain true even if minor details shift - we're talking about the spirit of the law, if not the letter, as I said in an earlier post.

I'd recommend seeing the movie anyway, even if you weren't crazy about Tolkein. You don't have to even know the story beforehand - I went to see it with four people who hadn't even known Tolkein existed prior to my invitation, and they enjoyed themselves (even if they were confused as to all the big whoopdedoo from the audience waiting excitedly in line). Unlike Tolkein, Jackson shows, and doesn't tell - so it'll be the second or third showing (I'm guessing) before you start getting all the nuances.

Just think to yourself: this is the big-screen version of someone else's Buffyverse, and you'll start to see why the rest of us are in love with it.
[> [> [> [> [> [> Now you know four -- Slayrunt, 21:57:34 12/22/01 Sat

I tried to read the Silmarillion or whatever it's called then it got eaten by a tank (yes, a tank, big steel thing with a big gun). It was just as well, cause it was ruff reading.

I did get another copy and I did get though it. The second time I actually understood the story and it was pretty cool. Please don't ask me about it, cause I don't remember much.

While reading LotR, I must admit I skipped a lot of the poems etc. I can understand people's complaints but my philosophy I took from Python's Holy Grail...Skip a bit brother.
[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Or five -- matching mole, 08:59:29 12/23/01 Sun

I read the Silmarillion when it was first published (have a first edition that has never encountered a tank - if it was LOTR I'd be a rich man!). Didn't like it much then but have since reread it and appreciated it more. It exactly illustrates Sol's point - as a piece of fiction it's a disaster but as an imagined world it's quite magnificent. Also much more morally complex than LOTR.
[> [> [> [> [> hating and loving LOTR -- matching mole, 20:10:58 12/20/01 Thu

I haven't seen the film yet, I'd rather wait and see it in an uncrowded theatre. So if it is still a topic of conversation right after Christmas I'll chip in then.

I first read LOTR as a wee lad almost exactly thirty years ago. I would still count that initial reading as one of the most pleasurable 'artistic' experiences of my life. Based on everything I've heard I'm sure I'll like the film a lot but I'm also sure that it will not be a film of 'my' FOTR/LOTR. That's fine with me.

What I find interesting is that quite a few people, many of them lovers of fantasy dislike the books for the very reasons that I find them so appealing (Dedalus is apparently one of them). FOTR is my favourite of the three. I just love its old fashioned, leisurely, whimsical, British meanderings through the plot. The profusion of incident. All the ancilliary material that showed just how much Tolkien loved his world. The Old Forest/Tom Bombadil/Barrow Wight sequence absolutely captured my imagination. I gather that it, unsurprisingly, is not in the film. Maybe it was just because I was ten years old. Had I read it the first time at 25 I might have felt differently.

As an adult I can see lots of short-comings in the books. The almost complete absence of women. The paucity of moral complexity. Stylistic short comings. But I still find them compulsively readable. Or at least I did in 1987 when I read them last.

LOTR was published in the middle of the last century. It is a unique book in that it incorporates dominant elements of both early and late 20th century fantasy. A lot of early 20th C. fantasy that I've read (and I don't claim to be an expert) has a highly romanticized view of the otherness of the supernatural. In particular I'm thinking of Lord Dunsany but this would also apply to people like Arthur Machen, William Hope Hodgson and to the 'weird' fiction of Lovecraft and Smith. The supernatural is clearly seen as being something apart from humans, something mysterious and seductive but never something that is seen clearly.

Late 20th C fantasy tends to emphasize the creation of detailed imaginary worlds in which epic struggles occur. The supernatural is an inherent part of those worlds. Magic is not something apart, not the other. It is something to be used, a metaphor for technology or personal growth.

Tolkien's genius was in fusing these two disparate forms. He is often referred to as the father of modern fantasy because of the immense influence of LOTR on almost all fantasy novels since. His detailed creation of Middle Earth and the staging of an epic battle between good and evil have certainly been copied many, many times. However consider these aspects of LOTR. There are a large number of creatures and incidents that are never really explained (Old Man Willow, Tom Bombadil and Goldberry, the creature in the pool at the entrance to Moria, Redhorn Gap, the Balrog). The events of the novel are resolutely viewed through the eyes of the down to earth and non-magical hobbits. Magic is available to the hobbits in the form of the ring but it is made clear that using that magic will dehumanize them. Most of the magical figures in the book appear sparingly if at all (Saruman, Sauron, the Nazgul). Very little magic is actually shown being performed.

The main magical character is Gandalf and as he is revealed to be more powerful he becomes increasingly remote. Even in his case power is hinted at more than actually used.

I think it is this combination of a detailed imaginary world in which magic is allowed to be, if you will, magical that makes the books for me. I've read a lot of modern fantasy and enjoyed quite a bit of it. But a lot of the time I feel like I'm reading about modern people in a medeival landscape. And the magic seems like paranormal weaponry rather than something beyond our ken.

This diatribe probably serves primarily to reveal me as hopelessly old fashioned. Oh well. I'm not unhappy about it and self knowledge is generally thought of as a good thing.
[> [> [> [> [> [> oh, I very much agree -- Solitude1056, 20:35:11 12/20/01 Thu

Tolkein had a major issue with industrialization, a message which went completely over my head when I read it. But watching the movie, Jackson pulled that detail out and it's there, if you look for it - the horrors of industrialization, the damage to the planet, the dehumanization. Jackson doesn't thwack you over the head with it, but it's there. Magic, however, is independent and distinct, but cannot exist side-by-side with industrialization - the two negate each other. The hobbits, however, occupy a mid-ground (a Xander ground, if you will) between ultimate group power (industrialization) and ultimate personal power (magic). Strangely, it's not humans that save or rule the day in Tolkein's world - they're tools of ambition, be it for magic or industry. It's hobbits, grounded in the earth and lacking any significant ambition other than for seven solid meals a day and a peaceful world, that will save things.

At the same time, Jackson captures a quiet note in Tolkein that so many people seem to miss: the sorrow, the aching sadness, and the willingness to set that aside and participate in something that may save the world, but dooms oneself. Whedon mirrors this in many of his secondary plot lines in each season, as particular characters (like Giles, this season) recognize that they have to help things end in order to let something new begin, even if it signals a change and an end to something they very much love and don't want to lose. The elves recognize that assisting Frodo in his quest, and acknowledging Sauron's growing strength, are the roadsigns of their own demise and withdrawal from the world. The hobbits may not realize it til the third book, but their participation also marks an ending to their way of life as the humans take center stage. Each race bands together to defeat the evil, knowing that doing so is clear acknowledgement and acceptance of the end of their status quo.

Many authors have deduced various Xtian elements in Tolkein (despite his insistence to keep religion out of his writings), but I think the real undercurrent is World War II - as the bombs rained down on Britain, the country was forced to combine strengths with former enemies (oh, such as France - now there's a long-running enmity) and distant, tenuous allies, in order to defeat the new threat. It was definitely the end of an era, and the way we fight wars has never been the same since (although the end of that reaches back to WWI, really). Britain's isolation as an island had pretty much come to an end, as it was revealed to be inherently susceptible to attack because of its position and exposure. There's a sorrow, and quiet grieving, throughout Tolkein's LotR, and I've always suspected the events around him may have attributed to it.

Whedon writes his scripts from a similar, if bit later, perspective - various events in our world (gee, anyone name a recent date) where combining our disparate strengths means an end to our naive and insulated/isolated perspectives. Those naive perspectives are comfortable - much as it would be more comfortable to be Tabula Rasa and not know of loss, defeat, pain, loneliness, heartbreak, or deprivation. But each person must set aside the fear of loss and join together to defeat the new threat (or assimilate it, if we're talking world economy as metaphor).

Rambling, but essentially agreeing with you with additional points about the two writers/creators. No, I don't think Tolkein was the most skillful of writers, but he was a skillfull storymaker/mythmaker... because he could take a metaphor of our existence and wrap it up into something that could become universal. Whedon writes a metaphor of a person growing up, while Tolkein writes of societies growing up... and both require the maturity to set aside one's comfortable world and fight, knowing that there's no going back - one's prior world is lost even if one wins.
[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Early morning response -- matching mole, 04:52:39 12/21/01 Fri

so I'm not quite awake.

Good points. I certainly didn't get the WWII context at age 10 but I picked it up in ancilliary writing later. Actually one thing I didn't put in my last post is that I think the often archaic language and concepts Tolkien uses actually add to the otherworldliness of Middle Earth (like Frodo and Sam's relationship) for some and detract from others.

Tolkien was concerned with the wider world as you said. In her introduction to the Norton Encyclopedia of SF Ursula LeGuin states that this is a core difference between science fiction/fantasy and contemporary mainstream literature - an assertion that the external world is important (as opposed to the inner landscape). She mentions LOTR as a quiet challenge to the main trend of modern literature - a work that is often reviled but can't be ignored. I don't know if I would paint things in quite so contrasting colors but it's something to think about.

BtVS is much more in line my the mainstream being about personal development and all.

A minor side point. Tolkien's prose seems streamlined and accessible in comparison to the authors of early fantasy I mentioned earlier - a highly verbose and adjective friendly group. An interesting contrast to Tolkien and someone who might be interesting to discuss in a Buffy context is Mervyn Peake (the 'Ghormenghast' books). He has a much more modern sensibility than Tolkien but his prose is even more archaic and cumbersome!

Off to the big city. Back in a couple of days.
[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: It's just strange to me -- Dedalus, 16:01:54 12/21/01 Fri

As anyone who has read my essays knows, I do not sit down to write or read something like I'm trying to rob a bank and need to get in and out as fast as possible.

I have no problem with lame exposition in books and movies. No problem. Call me kooky, but sometimes I actually *like* lame exposition. I like the whimsical bits authors put in that maybe only four or five readers will get. I have no problem with leisurely tales leisurely told. I have no problem with complexity.

I really liked the first Dune book. I've read Gone with the Wind twice. I like long, grand tales that go on and on in exotic locales. And I'm from the South, so I don't exactly have a problem with old- fashioned type stuff. Obviously, if I read GWTW twice. And if I can read and semi-comprehend Ulysses ... surely I can handle Tolkein.

The thing is I should I should like Tolkein. It contains a lot of stuff I like. So many people are so in love with Middle Earth there must be Something There that I am missing. It is slightly weird, to tell you the truth. I should like LOTR, I just don't.

I hear The Chronicles of Narnia are being optioned, and I do look foward to that. They may produce "children's books," but to me personally CS Lewis and Rowling are infinitely better storytellers than Tolkein. They involve me emotionally, and that's really all I care about. Not to mention, they do have hidden depths that a lot of adult books never even begin to reach. I just don't like listening to someone telling you a story several times removed. If Tolkein wanted to write history books, he should have been a historian.

Ah, well. May I just say the writing on this board, though, is still great.
[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> thing is, it's all about complexity & ambiguity -- Solitude1056, 16:30:49 12/21/01 Fri

I read a review today that took marks off Jackson's LotR for not doing the exposition to give us character's motivations. Frankly, the lack of exposition is a positive thing, IMO... since Tolkein, for all his good parts, had a world-view that was intrinsically black & white. Audiences these days seem to embrace moral ambiguity and complexity a great deal easier, and even those novels you mentioned contain characters that aren't all-good or all-bad. Even the "best" characters aren't exactly the most sympathetic on a regular basis throughout the story.

Tolkein, on the other hand, has characters who state their motivation as they enter the story, and their motivation remains pretty much solid throughout the story (with the possible exception of Frodo, whose perspective changes as he's corrupted by the Ring). Even there, it's pretty clear: the Ring is bad, destroying it is good, Sauron is bad, getting rid of him is good. When Saruman goes over to the bad side o' things, he's bad, and that's that. This is one thing that I prefer about Jackson's revision (as it is definitely such, in many ways), the same way it's something I adore about Whedon's creations.

I mean, one would be walking a tightrope doing an adaptation of a black-and-white perspective like Tolkein's, since giving the characters any ambiguity is a sure-fire way IMO to destroy the inherent clarity of Tolkein's vision of a black-and-white world. So instead, Jackson chose the next best thing: he doesn't reveal the character's motivations, and thusly allows the audience to read their behavior and determine the motivation for themselves. Tolkein was great at telling, not showing, and in the visual world, it's showing that really does the work. Hell, even Whedon uses this trick (if such it be) at times - without dialogue to expain a character's intentions or motivations, one is reduced to deducing it from their behavior... this additional step required on the audience's part introduces a complexity that may not actually be there in the script. Saves work on the dialogue part, too.

As for CS Lewis, I dunno. I always read him as just as black-and-white as Tolkein, in some ways - same generation, but with a definite Xtian slant, including sins incarnate. Now if Joss were to stretch himself a little further and do a live-action version of CS Lewis' stuff, I'd way sign up to see that one. (Although I suspect the only one that Joss might be curious about doing would probably be the Screwtape Letters, but hey, I'd take what I could get.)
[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> The Inklings -- Rahael, 08:31:17 12/22/01 Sat

C.S. Lewis and Tolkein were famous for being good friends, and I can see definite connections between the two mental worlds they created.

I read Tolkein when I was much younger, (15) enjoyed the books because they were meaty, substantial and allowed me to get lost in a different world. However, I have never been tempted to reread them. I'm fond of Lewis but many parts of the novels make me cringe. The defining moment came for me when I was about eight, and rereading one of the books when I realised - hey..'Calormen' - those are the people who look like me! Friends have tried to persuade me that its just a classic retelling of the Crusades but it hasn't helped me because any history I have done that has gone back that far (I'm strictly an early modern kind of girl) hasn't blinded me with Europe's honourable and saintly reasons for the Crusades. They seem to be pretty messy and dishonourable. So why were they even necessary for the allegory in the Narnia books? Personally, I don't mind the heavy moral overtones, but appreciate why Pullman hates him.

While I liked Tolkein, and read everything my local library had of him, I won't be rushing to see the film, but will probably go and see it eventually. I remember reading War and Peace at much the same time, and there was just no comparison to LoTR. From the very first sentence to the last, Tolstoy gave me a whole world, both ordinary and extraordinary, full of profound moral insights and delicate human emotion. Tolstoy's Russia was just as fantastical to me as Tolkein's Middle Earth and Lewis' Narnia, but it seems to have become part of my own mental landscape. It probably appealed to the social historian in me...the effect of 'high' politics on the lives of ordinary people.

(Peake's Gormenghast novels, which I read several years later left me similarly unmoved, though briefly entertained)
[> [> [> [> [> [> [> magic vs. industrialization--reminds me of larry niven -- anom, 21:47:03 12/25/01 Tue

"Magic, however, is independent and distinct, but cannot exist side-by-side with industrialization - the two negate each other....something that may save the world, but dooms oneself....knowing that there's no going back - one's prior world is lost even if one wins."

Anyone read "The Magic Goes Away"? Complete w/an environmental angle...damn stupid swordsmen....
[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: loving LOTR -- squireboy, 22:18:04 12/20/01 Thu

I think I was probably 11 or 12 when I first discovered the books. I've probably read them more than 20 times over the years, plus all the ancillary, critical, biographical stuff I could get my hands on. Tolkien writes attentively with an ear for poetry and language, not surprisingly. It is amazing how the work sounds when read aloud, as one might expect for a scholar of languages. I too, love the meandering ramblings and attention to detail. We'll never see his like again, as scholar or writer. No one of his stature will ever contain so much knowledge spanning so many cultures and languages -- modern scholarship and society rewards specialization, not breadth of study.

I saw the film tonight. It isn't Tolkien's vision or even mine (damned close at times). But it is *worthy* of his vision, and for that I am grateful.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: believe it or not, some people still haven't read it... -- Cactus Watcher, 06:13:29 12/21/01 Fri

I did read the books way back when, but I have to agree with Dedalus, they were a tad tedious (and more that a bit silly in places) for my taste. I enjoyed the books, but not as much as I'd been led to believe I would by what other people were saying about them. I will see the movie eventually, but I'm in no rush.

Of course, when it comes to unreadable fantasy, my candidate would have to be the Ghormenghast (sp?) trilogy. I read about ten pages of the first book four times over two or three years, then threw the whole set out. I refused to watch the recent PBS broadcast of the TV adaptation as well.
[> Thanks, Sol, and welcome back! -- Wisewoman, 10:12:28 12/20/01 Thu

I was looking forward to seeing LotR over the Christmas I can't wait!

[> [> Don't wait - go now! -- Solitude1056, 11:13:11 12/20/01 Thu

I bought tickets ahead of time through, I think it was. You print out the ticket and pay beforehand (visa or mastercard) and then you don't have to do any of that waiting in line or risking a sold-out show. Woo, and may I add, hoo. That way you can go now, and then go again after it's sunk in a bit... ;-)
[> [> [> I must agree with Sol on this one ... -- Liq, 11:42:15 12/20/01 Thu

I got our tickets from Fandango. We walked right in to a sold-out show.

I can't add to what Sol has said other than to mention it is one of the most incredible and best films I have ever seen. The casting, sets, effects, everything are perfection!
[> [> [> [> Re: I must agree with Sol on this one ... -- Rufus, 12:01:55 12/20/01 Thu

We are waiting for the Christmas rush to be over so we can slip into an afternoon showing when the kids are back at school. Neither of us has read the books(I have them but have had no time to read them). Unless it's a computer book my husband will never open it. But I think he will enjoy the movie.
[> [> [> [> [> Re: I must agree with Sol on this one ... -- Liq, 12:30:07 12/20/01 Thu

You can be a complete LoTR virgin and love this one. The story is clearly told.
[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: I must agree with Sol on this one ... -- Shaglio, 12:37:37 12/20/01 Thu

"The story is clearly told."

I've never read the LOTR trilogy and I had no problem following the story except that I though Frodo and Sam were friends. I didn't get the master/servent connection at all and I kept wondering why Sam refered to Frodo as "Mr. Frodo." I don't remember them saying in the movie that Sam was the Baggin's family servent.
[> [> [> [> [> [> [> another subtle shift for our generation -- Solitude1056, 13:13:15 12/20/01 Thu

Throughout the book, Sam refers to Frodo as Master Frodo, not Mister Frodo. That title would probably seem archaic to many of the audience now, but I suspect it might've clarified the master/servant context a bit better, since those are its connotations. (Unless, of course, it turns out that Peter has his reasons for fluxing the story so they're friends - now my new slogan is, "trust in peter and joss!")
[> [> [> [> [> [> [> A 60-second analysis! (my first, woohoo!) -- GreatRewards, 14:31:30 12/20/01 Thu

I'll admit it's been 20 years since I've read the book(s) and I'd forgotten all about the Master/Servant relationship. I, too, did not get ANY indication of this relationship from the movie.

Looking back on it with 20/20 hindsight, I recall the scene where Gandalf catches Sam "eavesdropping" on his and Frodo's conversation. Sam tries lamely to explain his "proximity" by saying he was "just cutting the grass under the window".

Not realizing the position Samwise held in the Baggins' household at the time, I thought nothing of the "interrogation" that ensued, but in light of this reminder, the dialog takes on more significance.

(please forgive my recollection of the exact dialog. I was watching a movie, not analyzing it. The following can only be described as "extreme paraphrasing")

Gandalf questions Sam's being there.

Sam: "I was just cutting the grass under the window"

Gandalf immediately brings up the point that it is NIGHT out.

Now, claiming to be "cutting the grass" seems like just about the lamest alibi anyone could concoct. In fact, it was one with so many holes as to make swiss cheese jealous. Why would he be cutting the grass outside of Frodo's window, instead of his own house? Did the grass have some medicinal value and he was stealing it? Why would he be cutting the grass at night?

Honestly, the first two of those questions popped into my head immediately. However, it is significant to note that the latter of those questions immediately popped into Gandalf's head. Gandalf obviously understood the master/servant relationship, and therefore had no reason to question the "where" of Sam's alibi -- only the "when."

Obviously this scene was not intended to introduce the master/servant relationship to the virgin LoTR watcher, but merely to (very) subtly acknowledge the understanding of the relationship for veteran LoTR followers.

In my opinion, The story does not suffer at all by the viewer not understanding this master/servant relationship. I, myself, missed that throughout the movie, believing Frodo and Sam to be more "friends" than anything. However, the few times that Sam referred to Frodo as "Mr. Frodo" led me to believe that Frodo was much older than Sam and, therefore, deserving of such displays of respect from the younger, and somewhat awed (and odd), Samwise. Again, believing this did not detract one iota from the story.
[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Clarification (even if it's not wanted ;)) -- LadyStarlight, 14:35:00 12/20/01 Thu

Sam wasn't the Baggins' family servant. He was the son of Bilbo's gardener, and later was Frodo's gardener. Gandalf grabbed him while he was eavesdropping and basically charged him with looking after 'Master' Frodo while on the quest.
[> [> [> [> [> [> My husband had a LOTR's question last night....... -- Rufus, 14:17:08 12/20/01 Thu

He asked......"which old guy wrote those books...Kipling?"
[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: My husband had a LOTR's question last night....... -- DEN, 17:45:50 12/20/01 Thu

it might help make sense of the Frodo/Sam relationship in the books to note that Tolkien spent his career in an Oxford environment extremely detached from external exents, was himself so detached that he found Shakespeare too modern for his tastes, and consciously modeled his Hobbitt society on a "Merrie England" that was always more myth than reality.
The kind of master/servant relationship Tolkien gives us died out as an archetype during World War I at the latest. It hung on in popular literature written by or for the "better classes." Bunter, the butler/factotum to Lord Peter Wimsey, is a Sam. I'm sure our Brit posters can think of others. I must say as well that the homoerotic subtext mentioned above never occurred to me! In the master/servant relationship as constructed, acting on it would be seen as an unconscionable abuse of trust, power, and privilege by the "superior" party even if the attraction was mutual.
[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> a nearly classless society changes the perspective -- Solitude1056, 19:38:59 12/20/01 Thu

Of this reader, at least. My housemate was surprised that I saw a homoerotic context in the story, since he never had. But like I also explained, he grew up with servants, and I didn't - so the idea of someone worshipping and adoring a "superior" was an alien concept to me. I simply didn't have any frame of reference for it. It's true that now, seeing the movie, and having been exposed to historical dramas where the master/servant dynamic is a significant aspect, means that I might get this interaciton without misinterpreting it... but I'm also considerably *cough* older now than when I read the books.

And fact is, my interpretation in fourth grade was not that there was sex involved - "homoerotic" is the only word that even remotely fits for the way I interpreted it. Being a naive and unworldly child (expect via what I read in books), I discarded what I didn't understand of the Frodo/Samwise dynamic... and was comforted by and empathized with Samwise' clear adoration of and love for Frodo. It was, it seemed to me, a love that went beyond anything I understood or could comprehend, but this may have improved the story rather than detracted from it, for me. Much like I do while watching BtVS or AtS now, I gathered what I could and set aside what I couldn't, knowing that the story would only improve as I matured and could grasp more of the subtleties.
[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> The Fast Show's Bill and Ted -- Rahael, 08:05:52 12/22/01 Sat

Completely agree DEN, specially about Bunter/Whimsy. On their honeymoon Whimsy's new wife is careful to check that Bunter's feelings are not hurt (!).

The British comedy sketch show 'The Fast Show' does a hilarious spoof of a servant/master relationship with strong romantic overtones, which is in turn partly based on Forster's 'Maurice'.

As for the adoration by the servant of the master with no sexual overtones, as Sol has described, I believe that there are huge cultural differences between class in Britain, and caste in the Indian sub- continent. I too was brought up by a succession of nannies, ammah's and aachi's. There was a strong sense of devotion and loyalty, and a dynastic sense in which they too were part of the household. But I think adoration might be putting it a bit too strongly.

Certainly there was a care and responsibility on both sides which pointed to a far more complex relationship than simply having a cook or a cleaner. But at the end of the day, one person had the power, the wealth, the authority, and the other didn't. Its unrealistic to think that there could not be resentment involved here. And when you add in the unpleasantness involved in the divisions of caste, where the untouchables are 'polluted' by the function they were born to in society, and the deep injustice with which they are treated, I think that the adoration is a fond imagining of the ruling class.
[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> arrhgh - That should be Ralph and Ted, LOL -- Rahael, 10:45:57 12/22/01 Sat

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> consider the culture, though -- Solitude1056, 11:57:28 12/22/01 Sat

Getting back to Whedon's stuff, if we were to view BtVS through the lens of traditional Hindu society... whew. It certainly wouldn't be representative of morality in the same way it's viewed in western society, I'd guess. On the other hand, the strict caste system isn't culturally Tolkein's background - he was coming from a mid-century British perspective, and one of his major influences was the idea of an idyllic past buried somewhere in the early Medieval years in the British Isles. So looking to the cultural and societal phenomenom of rural master/servant relationships in the late 1700's through the early 1900's - the basis for much of the British perception - might be a better handle than the more rigorously structured Hindu concepts. At the same time, it's also a matter of the relationship itself. My housemate's interpretation, growing up with amahs, was that there was definitely an affection and care, since the amah was a surrogate mother on some level. The same might not exist between a valet and his master, which is how I had interpreted Sam and Frodo.

However, my housemate just pointed out that when he read the books, his interpretation was that Sam was much older than Frodo, and had partially taken on that nurturing role of the amah/nanny. As the story progresses, I reminded him (especially in the last book), the reader sees more and more of Sam's side of things, and less of Frodo's. Both of us agree that like specific lighting in photography, this is a skillful manipulation of the point-of-view. As the reader empathizes more and more with Samwise's appropriation of the majority of the load - physical, and emotional - the silence from Frodo underlines Frodo's distancing and isolation from everything except his task. It's subtle, but it's there. At the beginning, there's so much Frodo talking in a chapter, and so little Sam, but by the end it's the opposite.

And that returns me to Joss' storytelling, in that now I see he's doing the same skillful manipulation each time he's gotten us to see Spike's point-of-view, and empathize with him. And since Buffy's return, her minimal screen time (in comparison with earlier seasons, perhaps) may be a way to indicate, by distancing the audience from her inner turmoil, that she herself is distanced. Again, it's a way to introduce complexity without a lot of exposition or yammering about - we simply pick up the cues on an unconcious level.

Which, I know, doesn't really answer your issues about the master/servant relationship in any society (including the corporate master/servant relationship between, say, higher-up execs and their secretaries or personal assistants)... but it did prompt me to take a second look at Tolkein's storytelling style and notice something I hadn't before. ;-)
[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: consider the culture, though -- DEN, 15:09:10 12/22/01 Sat

This is for Sol and Rachel especially. I was checking another topic and found this story. On July 1, 1916, a British soldier made seven trips into 'no man's land" looking for his platoon commander, who had been hit earlier. He was a farm laborer on an estate in Ulster; the officer was the estate owner's son. They had joined the army at the same time in 1914.

There does not seem to have been a particular bond between these two men, but Sam could have done no more for "Mr. Frodo," or bunter for Lord peter. It's not sexual; it's more than class deference; it's more too than that "love surpassing the love of women" war sometimes generates among comrades. And it has no real counterpart in America.

To complete the story, the man never found his lieutenant, but he brought in seven other wounded, one on each trip. He won the Victoria Cross and survived the war.
[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: consider the culture, though -- Rahael, 06:50:11 12/23/01 Sun

The master-servant relationship is quite complex - there are many different cultural models for Tolkein to draw upon there.

If Tolkein was going for a medieval model, he would almost certainly be going for the courtly/chivalric notion of vassal-lord relationship. This very different from servant-master. For example, the vassal himself could be of elevated birth (but below the lord), with vassals of his own. They would both have their place in the 'feudal' structure (to use the popular term). Their relationship would encompass ideas of patronage, service, honour and love. Yes, love too. So its not homoerotic as such (that would be an anachronistic term to use anyway) but there would be a perfectly acceptable rhetoric to show the vassal's loyalty and honour for his lord.

This model long outlasted the medieval age, being deeply influential all through early modern England. One only has to read Pepys' diaries to see the early modern version of lordly patronage at work. There was service, but also respect and affection involved.

That is quite different from the lowly position of the servant in a well born household. The middling sorts and upper classes viewed these people with suspicion. They were always liable to steal, or run away or make unsuitable marriages. When they were not usefully employed, they melted back into the 'mob' - a dark and dangerous spectre that haunted the collective minds of the political nation. Henry Fielding, Smollett and Sterne provide sparkling and humourous examples of class relationships in England.

As for the ammah in Indian/sub-continental society. Yes, the women who looked after me did love me - their care and affection was genuine. But they went home to their children who didn't have enough to eat always, or didn't have the advantages I had. I have no idea how they managed to encompass this with the generosity of heart they did.

DEN - thanks for that moving story. THe interesting thing was of course that Bunter and Whimsy were in the army together, and this was the source of their camaraderie and friendship. I think that armies in general are interesting phenomenons, especially if they are volunteer ones. My specialist subject was the New Model Army, and the experience of an army of volunteers fighting together for an identifiable cause changed the entire course of English history. It was a spirit of fellowship and loyalty forged under abnormal conditions. Also, if you look at the British army during the second world war, it is almost certain that the Labour victory in 1945 was in large part caused by a certain spirit in the Army. A fascinating subject (well, for me anyway lol).
[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> hobbits as anarchists -- matching mole, 09:28:41 12/23/01 Sun

It just struck me, after reading all these posts that the Shire is sort of a cultural and temporal anomaly compared to the rest of Middle Earth which may partly explain the confusion surrounding the Frodo/Sam relationship. I should begin by stating that I am no historian and would be delighted to be corrected by the more knowledgeable. Most of middle earth seems to be a rather romantic medieval society with lots of monarchs and aristocrats running things and hacking away at stuff with swords. No mention of means of production (what are they eating?).

In contrast the Shire seems atmospherically much more modern, a sort of idealized 19th or early 20th century rural England. The hobbits are mostly farmers and apparently relatively egalitarian ones. Almost no one has any sort of title and the few that do (the Thane and the Mayor) seem to be largely ceremonial. There is certainly nothing like the aristocracy and their country houses that actually existed in England in this time period. In fact the Shire strikes me as being a successful anarchist society with little regulation other than social custom. However Sam is clearly of a different class than Frodo although no other examples of this class structure among the hobbits are seen in the books.

As a side note - careful reading of the appendices will yield the ages of many of the LOTR characters (I did this years ago). Frodo is 50 (probably mid-30s in human terms) at the time of the quest. Sam and Merry are considerably younger, in their late 30s, and Pippin is younger still. I always interpreted the shift in POV from Frodo to Sam as you did Sol. Frodo becomes completely preoccupied with his internal struggle with the ring and Sam has to bear the burden for both of them.

Also a comment from the sub-thread above (because I'm too lazy to post twice). I read the Narnia books prior to Tolkien and liked them OK. I didn't really get the Christian aspect of them at the time but I did think that always having Aslan come in and save the day was pretty boring and predictable. And I would have to whole-heartedly agree with Rahael in that I see very little difference in reading about a vividly imagined world set on Middle Earth or elsewhere and one set in our own 'realverse' The London of Charles Dickens or the Ontario of Robertson Davies evoke the same feeling in me as Tolkien.
[> Re: Joss Whedon's Evil Twin (slightly OT) -- Andy, 16:36:14 12/20/01 Thu

I think the Jackson/Joss comparison is fun because I've often felt that in a way, Jackson's last movie before starting on LOTR, The Frighteners, is basically a Buffy episode that doesn't have any of the Buffy characters in it. That is, it features supernatural/horror subject matter and the tone of the film nimbly moves between ironic humor and earnest emotion much like Buffy does. Very underrated film, IMO.


Loved LOTR, btw. Going back to see it again tomorrow :)
[> Re: Joss Whedon's Evil Twin (slightly OT) -- Humanitas, 19:41:03 12/20/01 Thu

In 1977, my life changed. I was six. "But wait," I hear you say, "if you were only six, how much change could you experience? You hadn't had enough time to establish anything to change from!" Perhaps. But in that year, I encountered not one, but two bits of mythic entertainment, that not only sparked a lifelong interest in a particular genre of literature, but also formed the basis for how I look at myself and the world. The first of these was Star Wars, and the second was The Hobbit.

I had no idea at the time, of course, that these two seeming bits of fluff would have such a profound effect on me. All I knew was that they were really cool. I started reading and watching every bit of science fiction and fantasy I could get my hands on, much to the dismay of my father, who was (and still is, for that matter) firmly grounded in reality. Eventually, my interests turned to the study of History, and I ended up with a degree from Cornell University in that subject. I might add that my father was un-reassured by his turn of events, as even History was insufficiently practical for his taste. Add in my ever-increasing interest in theater, and I fear I must have driven the poor man to the brink of despair.

My literary and academic interests, however, are not the most important results of that fateful summer. That honor is reserved for the formation of my entire method of approaching life. You see, both stories are about people who have been told their entire lives that there are no adventures to be had, or if there are, they are for other people. Nevertheless, both figures end up going on great adventures, and doing some pretty heroic things along the way. Ever since I was six, that's what I have wanted to do. And to some degree, I have.

Now, I make no pretense that my own adventures are in any way as grand as those of Luke Skywalker or Bilbo Baggins. I have never rescued a princess or played riddles in the dark with my life at stake, much less faced down a dragon. But every time I've been told that I can't do something, that I am not the kind of person who can do whatever-it-is-that-I-want-to-do-at-the-moment, I have defied the odds and gone and done it anyway. I have spent my life refusing to play by the rules set down for me, and I have been successful, in that I have always achieved the goal I set out to achieve. True, I haven't made much money, but I've always had a fun and fulfilling life, and that's the only treasure worth having.

And finally, much later in life, I have found something new that gives me that same feeling of excitement, that transports me back to childhood for an hour or so every week: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Joss and Tolkien seem similar because they are not just story-makers, but myth-makers. I saw LOTR in a special sneak on Tuesday night, my official reward for performing in a promo this weekend at the theater. I walked out of the theater, wishing I had a six-year-old to take to see this film.
[> [> Age limits & what changes your life -- Solitude1056, 20:15:28 12/20/01 Thu

At the risk of giving a whole bio, I agree with you - I never would've read any other fantasy or even science fiction had it not been for Tolkein. Prior to reading LotR, I'd focused mostly on kid's fiction, and classics (Water Babies, Oliver Twist, Captains Corageous) since there wasn't much else on my grandparent's shelves during my summer visits. Tolkein was several steps above - and it's thanks to Tolkein that reading Shogun wasn't intimidating (I read it immediately after finishing LotR, as justification for getting to stay up past my bedtime to see the miniseries). Even Star Wars didn't capture me like Tolkein - and I think that's due to the literary insight into Frodo, a limited but determined little fellow.

I don't know, though, whether I'd take a six yr old to LotR, despite the marvelous trailers. I mean, Jackson pulls no punches - he's real clear that there's one chance Sauron could be stopped, and that one chance is pretty freakin' small - and the odds against success are almost insurmountable. That might be a bit much for anyone who's still young enough to need reassurance that "things turn out all right" - the director & cast sure aren't going to give you that reassurance. In fact, they do everything but post it in five-foot high letters that Frodo's chances of making it are getting slimmer by the second, and Frodo himself isn't sure he can do it, either... the only saving grace is that he's willing to give it a shot - and the importance of that lesson might be better saved for someone in their early teens - starting at 11 or 12, earliest - I'd think. Anything younger, it may just be the stuff of nightmares.

I agree about the Tolkein/Whedon connection in myth-making - very well said. At the same time, I doubt I'd expose a six-year old (or anyone under 11, for that matter, to pick an arbitrary early-teen point) to Season 5 of BtVS... especially the second half of that season. It was hard for me to keep faith that it'd turn out alright, and I'm well past the age of 11, here. I was willing to trust that Joss would remain true to the story, but I also know that Joss is aware that the story just isn't always a happy one. And losing everything one values is rough enough when you're a child (and life is uncertain beyond one's borders, anyway). The lesson starts to pound home - in BtVS, in LotR - when you're old enough to start exploring past your own yard, and beginning to realize that when the stove's hot, there's not always someone there to bandage the blister. Things get hurt, lost, and confusing - it's myths like these that remind us that we're each, in our own ways, superheros. But we also have to have our hearts and minds open to hearing that story, and I think that happens best in the early teens, when we need to be scared (and to know there's a price that will be paid, for everything), and yet also need to know that somehow, a person can still prevail.
[> [> [> Re: Age limits & what changes your life -- Humanitas, 13:57:43 12/25/01 Tue

You have an excellent point about age limits. My first exposure was to The Hobbit which is a vastly lighter tale.

As to why I'm posting this on Christmas day, it's cause this is the only time I have to finish my paper for the Quarterly, and I stopped here on the way to the ES site to check on the submission guidelines! ;)
[> Re: Joss Whedon's Evil Twin (slightly OT) -- purplegrrl, 10:33:51 12/21/01 Fri

I saw LOTR yesterday afternoon. As I was watching the end credits I knew it was a movie I needed to see *at least* once more in the theatre (before I'm forced to watch it on video on my little TV). Too bad there aren't any 70mm screens around here to show it on.

While Jackson may have left out a few story elements (the Barrow Wraithe, et al. -- although I'd forgotten about them), he kept the spirit of Tolkien's work. I thought the actors were well cast and the attention to detail was amazing (check out the hand-thrown pottery the Hobbits use). Certain visuals remind me very much of the Hildebrandt Brothers' paintings -- particularily Christopher Lee's Sarumon.

Only two things disappointed me:
1) The stopover in Lothlorien seemed glossed over, nor was there any explanation for the leaf brooches Frodo and company are sporting afterwards.

2) I wanted to see the Hall of Sphinxes in the Mines of Moria (or am I remembering that part wrong and it is later in the trilogy??).

Seeing the movie has made me want to find my Tolkien books and re-read them -- something I haven't done since college when I was a big fan (and I painted the entrance to the Mines of Moria on my dorm room door and my password for the main frame was Galadriel!!).

I recommend the movie to everyone, especially anyone interested in fantasy, myth, the hero's journey, etc.
[> [> Re: Joss Whedon's Evil Twin (slightly OT) -- Solitude1056, 11:03:30 12/21/01 Fri

Yeah, your complaint about Lothlorien was the same that my housemate had - and after discussion (and review of the book) we determined that Jackson handled it as best as it could've been managed. It's sort of a last-stop before everything *really* starts to go downhill, and even in the book it's not described that much, nor dwelled on. The characters afterwards seem to consider it a last peaceful dream-lull before their trip to hell. In that sense, the dreamy few-details aspect in the movie fit perfectly, but you're right about no explanation of the cloak clasps.

On the other hand, it wasn't until I reviewed the pattern of Tolkein's story (and Jackson's subsequent edition) that I realized that Whedon does pretty much the same thing through the course of a season arc. We get the lighthearted beginning, then a swoop downwards, then a hopeful resolution (mid-season, relating to Rivendell) that turns out to not be a resolution at all, then things get iffy... and there's always a last episode or two before the finale that's a breather in some way, but isn't necessarily a resolution of its own. I'd put WotW in that category, since it was a definite step-to- the-side in the story arc. Curious how the patterns of our favorite stories seem to have such similarities; makes me wonder whether we could look at Gilgamesh and Beowulf and see this pattern stretching far back into the shadowed days of fireside oral tradition.
[> [> [> story patterns -- purplegrrl, 11:31:20 12/21/01 Fri

Yeah, wouldn't surprise me at all that Gilgamesh and Beowulf followed a similar pattern -- imagine sitting around a fire or in a fire-lit hall, the storyteller with the ringing voice starts to tell his tale. You settle in comfortably as it begins, then lean forward as the danger to the hero and his companions increases. You're allowed to catch your breath with the hero just before he takes that last step from which there is no return. As the evening deepens you are plunged into "the other world" with the hero's company. Finally, after many trials and losses, the hero returns, altered but satisfied he has done the right thing. Everyone lets out a collective sigh of relief and applauds the storyteller.

Except for BtVS, they just don't tell stories like that any more!
[> [> [> [> Re: story patterns -- Solitude1056, 13:32:56 12/21/01 Fri

Actually, I meant not the way the story is told, but the patterns in the story. The adventure starts after suitable introductions and back-history on all characters, gets a bit scary, then there's a lull interrupted by new characters who aren't what they seem at first... then the story flattens out but just as everything seems under control, scary moment, then scarier moment and everyone flees for safety. Then big breather point in the story, bit o' regrouping, and the adventure begins. Starts out okay, then slowly gets scarier and harder and more dangerous. Maybe one or even two characters die, everyone pulls back (or flees/retreats) or makes a mad dash for freedom. Then there's a last breather in a safe haven, just long enough for the characters to catch their breath and they're in the midst of biggest scary of all, when perhaps another one or two (or more) characters may die or leave the story altogether. See what I mean, in terms of the pattern?

(It'd probably make more sense if I could figure out a way to draw a bumpy line in the post to clarify the rising/falling aspects of the storytelling.)
[> [> [> [> [> Re: Just for the record, I love Gilgamesh and Beowulf! -- Dedalus, 16:11:23 12/21/01 Fri

[> [> [> [> [> [> I am *so* not surprised! ;-) -- Solitude1056, 16:32:08 12/21/01 Fri

[> Re: Favorite lines (spoilers) -- mundusmundi, 12:30:11 12/22/01 Sat

There were big laughs to be had at what the audience evidently took for thinly-veiled marijuana references -- Gandalf complimenting Bilbo's "fine weed," and then later when Saruman tells him, "The half-ling's leaf has clouded your judgment!" And, of course, my pick for the year's funniest line: "No one tosses a dwarf!" bellowed as only John Rhys-Davies can bellow.

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