Tag Archives: Buffy

Friday Lolz

Just some random stuff I’ve found on the Internet over the years, mostly on Imgur. I don’t have sources for anything, except the last two, which are scenes from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Buffy, respectively.

sxy time

 

can be only one

 

or mistake

 

double roflmao

 

mothers against babies driving

 

not for kids

 

unbreakable!

 

boss plaque

Have the best weekend that you reasonably can. See you Monday Tuesday!

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Friday Links

First off, this wonderful bit of news:

John Kasich is in agony over his decision last year to support the eventual Republican nominee and the current reality that Donald Trump is his party’s presumptive standard-bearer.

“You know, it’s painful. It’s painful. You know, people even get divorces, you know? I mean, sometimes, things come out that, look, I’m sorry that this has happened,” the Ohio governor said in an interview aired Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “But we’ll see where it ends up. I’m not making any final decision yet, but at this point, I just can’t do it.

I love my governor more all the time. Disagree with him a lot, but still love ‘im.

On a different subject, here’s a short discussion about the reluctance of soldiers to kill:

The results were consistently the same: only 15 to 20 percent of the American riflemen in combat during World War II would fire at the enemy. … The question is why. … [The answer] is the simple and demonstrable fact that there is within most men an intense resistance to killing their fellow man. A resistance so strong that, in many circumstances, soldiers on the battlefield will die before they can overcome it.

More on this is available from the wonderful Delanceyplace.

Finally, here’s one for the Buffy fans among my readers (all three of you):

Have a measurably superior weekend!

Secret Project Revealed

Remember a month ago when I said I had a secret project that was super exciting for me, but would be a colossal disappointment to everyone else? Well, get ready.

Here’s the deal. I took an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – the fifth-season finale, “The Gift” – and rewrote it as a Shakespearean play. The entire episode. It’s a five-act tragedy I call Summers’ Fall. (There’s also a permanent link to the upper right, where it says Buffy Theatre.)

That’s right. I Shakespearized Buffy.

3 excellent questions

Actually, at the bottom of that page, under the text proper, there’s a Q&A section that answers all three of those questions – and many others, including “Why?!”

Enjoy.

No, But Seriously

da

Betsy has gotten really into Downton Abbey recently. She’s in the second-to-last season now. (I wanted to say “penultimate season” but I’m not wearing a monocle.) I haven’t been watching it like she has, but I’ve caught a number of scenes and the occasional full episode, so I’ve got some sense of what it’s like.

Now, fragments of a work are no basis for judging the whole thing, so I’m not making any pronouncements on the quality of the show overall. But I did notice early on that something about it bothered me, and I couldn’t figure out what.

The writing is excellent, and so is the acting. The costumes and sets are believable. The story seems tight, with good tension throughout. The directing feels good too, from what little I know about such things. It feels like it has all the elements of a near-perfect show. So what’s the problem?

I thought about it a while, and I think I know.

The problem is that the show takes itself seriously. Very, very seriously. Every scene, every line, is infused with such gravitas you’d think they were imparting the location of the Holy Grail whilst formulating a vaccine for death. After a while, you just want a breath of fresh air.

This got me thinking even more about the seriousness of stories and art in general.

At the risk of oversimplifying, I think a story can be either serious or lighthearted, and it can take itself either seriously or lightly. These options yield four possible combinations of content and tone, and I think it’s worth looking at each one separately.

1. Lighthearted content that takes itself lightly.

This is a good place to be. The story is fun, or silly, and knows it. Most comedies fall in this quadrant, at least to some degree. Monty Python – any episode or movie, take your pick – is absurd from start to finish and never pretends otherwise.

It doesn’t have to be comedy per se, though. Many action and adventure movies sit comfortably here too. The Indiana Jones films, despite their occasional serious moments, are mostly fun popcorn flicks, and they know it. A good time is had by all.

Except for that dude whose heart was ripped out of his chest. He had a really bad time.

2. Lighthearted content that takes itself seriously.

This is by far the worst, dumbest, least tolerable quadrant: silly stuff that thinks it’s serious.

The first example that springs to mind is Keeping Up with the Kardashians. I can think of no other show that treats such minute trivia with such an air of epic tragedy. A problem as minor as not being invited to a party is presented like it’s a sequel to Oedipus Rex. A similar phenomenon happens with over-the-top, over-detailed analysis of the minutiae of presidential campaign politics.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy watching both Kardashians and obsessive news coverage from time to time. They’re a kind of meta-comedy, fun in their own way. But they’re not what you’d call, you know, “good.”

Of course, all these judgments are heavily subjective. I personally find NCIS insufferable because it feels to me like it’s in this quadrant, but I suspect most people would disagree.

3. Serious content that takes itself seriously.

This is Downton Abbey. It’s also The MatrixMoby-Dick, Breaking BadLord of the RingsRequiem for a DreamDune, and a million other stories. Virtually all the foundational religious texts – the Bible, the Quran, the Tao Te Ching, the Lotus Sutra, and so on – are squarely in this quadrant.

It’s a tricky place to be. It can work if it’s done well, but if it fails, it can fail hard. Why? Because you have to have a truly serious, profound subject matter the entire time. If at any point you fall short, you drift back into the second quadrant – something flimsy with pretensions to grandeur – and you get into trouble.

And everyone gets into trouble to some degree or another. The Matrix sometimes believes its own religious symbolism a little too much. Moby-Dick tries to pass off encyclopedia entries about marine biology as high art. Lord of the Rings, my all-time favorite novel, is ridiculously pompous on occasion. Dune thinks “Kwisatz Haderach” is something you can say without giggling. The Lotus Sutra is very – how can I put this? – stupid. (Sorry, Buddhists.) The list goes on.

Nobody’s perfect. But some offenders are worse than others. For me, Downton Abbey fails somewhat – not spectacularly, but enough that it bothers me. I find Grey’s Anatomy much worse in this regard. Every drama, every obstacle, is presented as the end of the world. Well, the world can only end so many times before you begin to suspect it’s not really an apocalypse.

But, again, this is all subjective. The broad popularity of both Downton and Grey’s is proof that many people find the content and tone to be a suitable match. And I’m sure a lot of those same viewers would say Star Wars takes itself too seriously, too. (Especially the prequels – yeesh.)

4. Serious content that takes itself lightly.

For me, this is the sweet spot, the golden quadrant, the highest bullseye you can aim for. Why? Because an audience is never more thrilled than when you under-promise and over-deliver. And because serious things are far more dramatic and beautiful when contrasted with levity, just as paintings are more beautiful when darkness is contrasted with light.

So many of my favorite stories are in this quadrant.

Babylon 5 manages this beautifully. Yes, the tone does get serious when appropriate – sometimes deadly serious – and it does occasionally overplay its hand (e.g. Ivanova’s “God sent me” speech). But for the most part, B5 understands that even its greatest tragedies – like all great tragedies – have an element of comedy.

One of the saddest scenes I’ve ever watched on television is near the end of B5, season 4. A woman is sobbing over a man who loved her, who she loved in return, but never told him – and never can, because he has just sacrificed himself to save her life. I don’t think I’ve ever watched it without crying myself. But at the end of the scene, the woman says to her friend: “…maybe I should’ve tried just one more time. I could’ve done that for him. Now I can’t. At least I should have just boffed him once.”

Crying works best when you’re laughing too.

I’m not the biggest fan of Shakespeare, but I give him credit – he mixes plenty of comedy into even a tragedy like Hamlet. More modern examples include The Lion King (fitting, since the plot is based on Hamlet); Avatar: The Last Airbender; some of the standup comedy of Louis C. K.; and even Galaxy Quest. I’d also say that a lot of Marvel superheroes, like Spider-Man and Iron Man, live in this territory (whereas a lot of DC superheroes, like Superman and Batman, tend toward quadrant 3).

But for me, the ultimate expression of the quadrant 4 ideal – and this will surprise nobody – is Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Few shows can match Buffy for sheer emotional depth. The way it handles themes like sacrifice and love, power and responsibility, is something you have to see to believe. The way it depicts clinical depression in season 6 is unmatched on television as far as I know. And the season 5 episode “The Body” is absolutely, without qualification, the most realistic and resonant and beautiful depiction of death I’ve ever seen in any episode of anything.

And yet it’s also just about the goofiest show you could ask for. Monsters in cheap costumes? Check. Cheesy music and bad CG? Check. Ridiculous jokes in almost every episode? Check. Best of all is the title. How can you take a show seriously when it’s called Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You can’t – at least not at first. The title is absurd by design. “There is no way you could hear the name Buffy and think, ‘This is an important person,'” explains show creator Joss Whedon. In effect, for better or worse, the silly packaging acts like a bouncer at a night club – if you take your own tastes too seriously, you won’t get in.

Lest I start taking my own tastes too seriously, I’d better wrap this up. This is already a much longer post than I ever planned, and I do have a few other things I’d like to do today. See you Wednesday, hypothetical reader!

Friday Link

This week on Reddit I did a post entitled “28 awful Buffy jokes. I’m not even sorry.” Title speaks for itself. Redditor comments include “I both hate and love you for this” and “Good God.” You’re welcome, Internet.

Hope your Halloween is full of corvids and gramarye!

Friday Links: Shrooms and Death Glare Edition

LOTS OF STUFF TODAY. ALSO I CAN’T FIND MY CAPS LOCK KEY oh nm there it is.

Ron Funches describes what it’s like to raise kids (image found here):

raising kids

This week I discovered the music video for Andy Grammer’s song “Honey, I’m Good.” It’s a catchy song, but even if you don’t care for the music, the video itself is wonderful and surprisingly touching.

If you’ve ever played the computer game Limbo (and, statistically speaking, you probably haven’t) then you know it’s a short, stark, beautiful experience, the kind of game you point to and say “This is what games are supposed to be like.” Well, Limbo developer Playdead has a new game in the works called Inside, and it looks amazing.

And finally, blog reader branks263 caught my attention yesterday with an insightful comment on Monday’s Transcendence post. Turns out, he has a nascent blog of his own, where he posts stuff like the Buffy death glare:

buffy death glare

Attention, Internet: this is why you exist.

Anyway, I’m off to be productive and/or watch that “Honey, I’m Good” video again. Have a cromulent weekend, and don’t let anyone tell you “cromulent” isn’t a word – not spellcheck, and especially not Merriam-Webster!

Transcendence: After Life

Each week, we’ll look at another example of what I call a “moment of transcendence” – a scene from a show, a passage from a book, or anything else, that I find soul-piercingly resonant: joyful, sad, awe-inspiring, terrifying, or whatever. These moments are highly subjective, so you may not feel the same way I do, but nevertheless I’ll try to convey why I find the fragment so powerful. I hope we can enjoy it together.


Warning: Major spoilers for Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

My favorite episode of Buffy is an odd one, an often-overlooked story without much action: “After Life,” season 6, episode 3.

Buffy died at the end of season 5, and Willow has just resurrected her, but not everything’s gone according to plan. Buffy is more hurt, more damaged, than anyone expected. But she’s alive. It’s really her.

My favorite scene in my favorite episode is when Spike sees her for the first time post-resurrection. Spike, you see, loves Buffy more than anything on earth, and he’s lost her, he’s resigned himself to having his heart ripped out. Same old story. But he walks into the house, unsuspecting, distracted, worried about something else entirely – and there, at the top of the stairs, there she is.

btvs3

For the next ten seconds or so, he doesn’t say a word. He just – looks at her.

btvs7

btvs8

btvs9

The why and the how and the what next all come later. In this moment, he’s just drinking in the miracle.

Anyone else read Roald Dahl’s Matilda as a kid? (Or as an adult, for that matter?) Reminds me of a scene, toward the end, when Matilda tells Miss Honey she has magic powers – telekinesis. Miss Honey doesn’t believe her, of course, but being a nice person, she humors Matilda, lets her demonstrate. And then Matilda actually does it. Dahl describes the woman’s reaction this way:

Miss Honey’s mouth dropped open and her eyes stretched so wide you could see the whites all round. She didn’t say a word. She couldn’t. . . . [She was] gazing at the child in absolute wonderment, as though she were The Creation, The Beginning Of The World, The First Morning.

It’s very common in books, in movies, on TV, to see someone’s heart ripped out. But every now and then – much more rarely – the heart comes back again.