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New birthday, new winds -- turn, turn, turn
Hello to friends!

   I've just begun a new livejournal under Willowy_Dawn & any interesting things that are on this page will be moved over.

   Life changing stuff this last week which I mentioned briefly in my last post . . . thanks to the many who've befriended me here. A new time needs a new journal & a new way -- see you at Willowy_Dawn where the journal title is "Spuffinista in Starlight" (after a famous poem by the 19th century poet George Meredith, "Lucifer in Starlight") . . .

   Peace & strength,

'Checkpoint' day
   A very big 'Checkpoint' day yesterday where a parent's possible terminal medical crisis involving my sisters (the older of whom is Glory-esque, I'm persuaded she maintains the appearance of sanity solely by draining brains) made me recognize, as I'd never realized previously, that I have the power in this balance -- something I've never wanted . . . but a huge responsibility had been placed on me & when I firmly insisted that the decision that would be taken in the crisis would be mine, no matter how much input I had, and that I'd bear whatever consequences came, the lid blew off & one sis simply instantly decided that I was intolerable, power-made & dangerous, and the other was only slightly less p.o.'d . . . but it was literally a life-and-death decision & it tipped the balance in favor of life when my siblings were prepared to see our mother go gentle into that good night. Some other collateral issues came along which brought home the same reality & and it was strange to be standing there in stylish-yet-affordable boots (well, not that stylish) coming to Buffy's 'Checkpoint' realization . . . and it was a bit alarming to see the all-too-typical response to death is submission rather than resistance, that it's more comfortable for people to cluster together in mutual helplessness before the inevitable rather than (shifting seasons & metaphors) heading back to the Vineyard to confront the scary villain (pain, suffering, inevitable defeat 'You can't win', etc.).  It also brought home why, vis-a-vis gab's post, why Buffy gets grief from fans -- it's all very pleasant when Buffy is slaying vamps & reversing certain bits of old stereotypes, but when the fundamental wisewoman-gathering-all-protectively-round-the-hearth stereotype is struck down, that's altogether dicier . . .   



William, Creature of the Dreadful Night: or When William Met Buffy (in fits and starts)
      She had been quite right. He needed a woman. Someone to hold him together at this moment. 

      Something had taken her, violently, who had been his shield against violence. Who had taken the terrible blows from his father when she withdrew him from the horrors of his public school. His mild, forceful, indominatable, wasted, drained, ravaged mother. His dead mother.

    "There are papers to sign. You are a very, very rich young man. And you have your position in society to uphold."

    "Society? What was society to us? To her? What but a . . . " Repelling the rage with beauty had never worked well. It was the unchannelable rage that he could not let his mother see. The rage for vengeance that had ruined his attempts to create something serene, to find the one who could turn it aside. Who could be as strong and as protecting as she had been for him in this dark world.

   "A what, M'lord? You of all people should be grateful for your place in it."

  "Place?" A sudden ripple, almost a convulsion, struck his midriff, and the rage came out as laughter. "Place? Yes. Yes, you might say that I have a . . . a PLACE . . . in . . . so, so, . . . " But now he was laughing, truly, and with tears and still an angry untransmittable fury underneath this sudden surging laughter.
   "Are you . . . quite yourself, milord?" 

   The joke, the awful, awful joke -- oh, what a joke, what a jest, what a lark! -- it was all his, the immense wealth, which he knew had been extorted, plundered from peasants in Ireland -- "Look at 'em lad, brutes, like animals . . . turn your back on 'em they'll as soon drink yer blood as wish ye good morrow! Keep them hungry, keep them landless, boy, or -- " Yes, he knew what place he now had in Society.  




The Unversed Doctor
   Tho' I like the pairing of Matt Smith & Karen Gillan, what's really lacking in this season/series is the poetry of the DT years -- the rather unnerving and often beautiful bits, like the vacuous crew-woman in the ep that introduced River Song (can't think of its name right now) who's devoured & there's only a feedback echo of her left -- deeply poignant moments that made the frenzy valuable -- things like DT's turn as John Smith & the dignity of the boys fighting the Family of Blood . . . There's a lot of busy-ness, normal manic-ness with Eleven, but the stories & the situations so far haven't had that touch of grace & power that instantly drew in viewers who weren't susceptible to previous Doctors.


Book Me

"1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 4-7 sentences on your LJ along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest (unless it's too troublesome to reach and is really heavy. Then go back to step 1)."

 The text begins on page 125 rather than 123 (after the introductions), so:

"Every useful thing, for example, iron, paper, etc, may be looked at from the two points of view of quality and quantity. Every useful thing is a whole composed of many propertiesl it can therefore be useful in various ways. The discovery of these ways and hence of the manifold uses of things is the work of history. So also is the invention of socially recognized standards of measurement for the quantities of these useful objects. The diversity of the measures for commodities arises in part from the diverse nature of the objects to be measured, and in part from convention."

  Honestly, the nearest book was Volume 1 of "Capital" in the Penguin edition.

And now, the Proust questionnaire
   Since the tv meme put me in the narcissistic mind-frame, the Proust Questionnaire:

What is your most marked characteristic?

Loquacity; or, negatively, talkativeness

What is the quality you most like in a man?


What is the quality you most like in a woman?


What do you most value in your friends?

The ability to assess people & events with clarity, depth & nuance

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Incapacity for completion

What is your favorite occupation?

Writing with  pen on paper

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Pale skin, dark hair, coupled to unhesitating & inerrant taste

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

To be misplaced in time, language, country

In which country would you like to live?

The Loire Valley

Who are your favorite writers?

Henry James, Amélie Nothomb, Françoise Mallet-Joris

Who are your favorite poets?

William Blake, Marina Tsvestaeva

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

Frodo Baggins

Who is your favorite heroine of fiction?

Dorothea Brooke of "Middlemarch"

Who are your favorite composers?

Schumann, Shostakovich, Wagner

Who are your favorite painters?

Cézanne, Corot, Philippe de Champaigne

What are your favorite names?

Jocelyn, Marcel, Isabelle

What is it that you most dislike?


Which talent would you most like to have?

To sing lieder & opera

How would you like to die?

With the window open on cool, sunny May afternoon

What is your current state of mind?

Surprised & pleased

What is your motto?

I not only follow you, I precede you (Oscar Wilde)


(no subject)

Day 16: Your guilty pleasure show --

  LAW & ORDER: SVU - It's a cactus wholly bristling with fraud & manipulation, pretending to be something it's not -- I know what it is, and I go to it all the same

Day 17: Favorite mini series -

JOHN ADAMS - Laura Linney is Abigail Adams, and with Paul Giamatti, she brought the viewer entirely into that marriage and into the end of the 18th century -- likewise the actor who played Thomas Jefferson

Day 19: Best TV show cast -

PARENTHOOD - See above

Day 18: Favorite title sequence -

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER in all its seasons

Day 20: Favorite kiss -


Day 21: Favorite ship

BUFFY & SPIKE - which could have been turned around in all sorts of interesting ways if, if, if --

Day 22: Favorite series finale --

From current TV, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA - I love the fact that the ship just finally breaks down -- Sam Anders' death - the abrupt turnaround when Kara isn't there - and the cut to  "150,000 years later" as we pan over Central Park, the 'Baltar/Caprica' conversation, "You *know* he doesn't like to be called that" and the playing of Hendrix's version of "All Along the Watchtower" over the montage, leaving it open, 'what exactly are we going to do as our artificial creatures gain parity with us?' --

Day 23: Most annoying character

Sorry OZ - but you held Willow back for two-plus years

Day 24: Best quote

RESTLESS - But what else could I expect from a bunch of low rent, no account
hoodlums like you -- hoodlums! Yes. I mean you and your friends, your whole sex, throw 'em all in the sea for all I care, throw 'em in and wait for the bubbles. Men, with your groping and spitting all groin no brain three billion of ya passin' around the same worn out urge. Men . . . with your… sales.

Day 25: A show you plan on watching (old or new)

NO ORDINARY FAMILY - Julie Benz and Michael Chiklis in a complete ripoff of FF? SO there!

Day 26:  OMG!WTF?? Season Finale -

 DEXTER Season Four

Day 27: Best pilot episode -

STAR TREK "The Cage" - Spock looks more devilish, Captain Pike is much more broody than Kirk, the real, original Number One has the more Vulcan temperament & a great part (yes, the network told GR that no one would accept an emotionally self-possessed intellectual woman as First Officer on a starship) & the aliens' treatment humans as potential breeding stock, except they're too uncivilized, still makes me smile

Day 28: First TV show obsession


Day 29: Current TV show obsession -


Day 30: Saddest character death -

ANGEL at the end of BtVS2 - The Sanctum Sanctorum of Buffyverse, intimate, tender, a sudden & complete reversal of all the terror & brutality of Angelus -- Angel's perplexity as the spell works, Buffy's horror as it's too late -- stands in a class all by itself in tv history

TV Meme-eographed in a night

   Swiping from shadowkat who swiped it from elsewhere ;) . . . 

 Day 01 - A show that never should have been cancelled :

    LOU GRANT - This newsroom show was really & truly about journalism in the age when journalism really really mattered and it set a pattern for ensemble workplace shows. It was axed over the title actor's visible activism opposed to the Reagan admin's involvement in El Salvador. It was the first show to present Vietnam vets & their difficulties in a true light; it's drama was always spiced with wry humor. And it remains un-DVD'd to this day, like "Sisters" and "Judging Amy".

   Day 02 - A show you wish more people were watching

   PARENTHOOD - Sadly scheduled up against "The Good Wife" -- with favorites Lauren "Gilmore Girls" Graham and Peter "Six Feet Under" Krause, Craig T. Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia,  writing which is intelligent & warm, positive without being sappy -- renewed (happily) & always renewing -- a show with a generous spirit 

   Day 03 - Your favorite new show (aired this TV season):

   See above

  Day 04 - Your favorite show ever :

  Ought to be BtVS, but it's edged out by Gilmore Girls which out-culture-references BtVS by a country mile, averaged 20-25 pages MORE of script than the standard hour show, whose cast never, ever missed a beat in 7 seasons & which has one, maybe only two eps which disappointed me. How many comedies would be able to feature a face-off between rival Poe impersonators whose duel is capture in a rapidly-printed t-shirt reading "Faux Poes Foes"? or would have an ep entitled, "Norman Mailer, I'm Pregnant!"? or "Nag Hammadi Is Where They Found the Gnostic Gospel"? or would have Kirk (Sean Gunn, for whom Gunn in "Angel" was named) and Paris Gellar (where is she now??) and . . . well, the list goes on.

   Day 05 - A show you hate :

    Too many candidates, tho' 24 stands unsurpassed in my repugnant range -- 

Day 06 - Favorite episode of your favorite TV show :

   Finale of S4 of, in which the long-awaited first kiss of the main couple is interrupted by . . . no, it has to be watched to be believed --

Day 07 - Least favorite episode of your favorite TV show

   Second to last ep of the series, which seemed (as no other did) padded to fill the time

Day 08 - A show everyone should watch : 

   Burn Notice - The best spy couple (well, ex-spy and ex-gunrunner) show since the original "Avengers" and "I Spy", with Bruce "I'll Never Do TV Again" Campbell and Sharon Gless as the most formidable backfield imaginable --

Day 09 - Best scene ever : 

   Hawkeye's recovery of memory in the series finale of M*A*S*H -- in hospital for a mental breakdown, Dr. Friedman helps him recall what caused the break -- a Korean woman smothering her own baby to prevent its cries from reaching the passing soldiers --

Day 10 - A show you thought you wouldn't like but ended up loving 

   Buffy the Vampire Slayer - An older friend recommended it during its third season & I thought he had gone round the bend -- so I didn't catch it until I saw an ep from earlier season during S7's run (but I had no tv from '98-'02, so . . . )

Day 11 - A show that disappointed you

   Raising the Bar - Steven Bochco returns and he's got J. August Richards with him as a real rather than supernaturally brain-boosted lawyer this time -- beeluddy orful

  but also: 

  Voyager - Having escape the Blandlands with DS9, they went straight back, and Kate Mulgrew was horribly wasted

Day 12 - An episode you've watched more than 5 times --

   "All Good Things", the finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation -- a show which overcame major major problems (Gene Roddenberry and Wesley Crusher, to name them) to give a classic time-paradox finish giving all the characters nice grace notes --

Day 13 - Favorite childhood show : 

 The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle - Foundation of a lifetime of snark & I've no doubt that the true origin of BtVS is in "Fractured Fairytales"

Day 14 - Favorite male character  

   Spock-prime from the Original ('not DOCTOR Spock, you moron!' -- sorry, flashback) -- yes, Zachary Quinto did a decent  job of channelling the sense of danger-sex-ambiguity-intelligence 

Day 15 - Favorite female character :

    Way too many to choose from, especially from earlier decades, so, staying with recent material, all these are contenders: Willow Rosenberg (duh) and Alice Pieszecki (The L-Word) and Rory Gilmore (and kudos to Alexis Bledel who, in her first role, had to be the straight man for 7 years to just about the entire cast) and Maxine Gray (Judging Amy) and  Fiona Glenanne ("Burn Notice," yes I know the problems, but "Let that be a lesson to you, Michael: C4 is meant to be used, not stored") and Kara Thrace -- but have to go with 

  And have to suspend the rest till tomorrow . . .



How racists advance
    The ploy that racists have used in the last decade or more is that we Americans are "beyond" racism. This was the thesis of one reactionary author's book & undergirds the support given to Arizona's utterly racist "illegal immigration" law, which is in actuality a law designed to give the appearance of legality to the disfranchisement & harassment of the latino community. The same white racist legislature has also classified a latino studies law as ITSELF racist . . . and this is in keeping with their strategy of trying to de-legitimate all ethnic or gender studies courses at all levels of education.

    We see reactionary laws and parties succeeding in the US and globally because they employ the old tactic of divide and conquer, which worked so well following the Napoleonic wars & America's Civil War. The coalition that made a struggle for the Union in the US into a struggle against slavery was driven apart in the aftermath by the internal battle that developed between the advocates of women's suffrage & advocates for ex-slaves' suffrage, and into the breach, once Reconstruction was ended, the defeated Confederate states managed to create Jim Crow laws & extend their influence beyond what could have been suspected after the success in destroying the CSA which had enshrined slavery in its constitution.

   In the same way, the right-wing in 1972 and in 1980 & subsequent elections has exploited differences within the large movement for civil rights in the '60s, creating falsely 'independent' groups (like the Orwellian 'Independent Women's Forum' or The Log Cabin Republicans) while trying to exacerbate divisions between the various camps which stand FOR the advancement of long-disfranchised communities still struggling to achieve equality. 

    Existing racial tensions within the women's movement expanded to frankly crippling divisions over distribution between white-european-derived women & women of color. Many women who were happy to take the advancement of perosnal prosperity as proof of feminism also turned on others to demonstrate that they could be relied on to preserve class structures intact as well.

    Part of the ineffectiveness of left politics in recent generations has been the absence of a critical tool which can assist in distinguishing the difference between those who genuinely seek equality though being raised & educated & placed in the groups which previously held power, and those who oppose equality. My family & I were, like so many, born on the fault lines in society, and it took my older sister & I a good deal of energy & effort to deal with those divisions within ourselves individual. But those divisions exist everywhere, and actually seeking & creating the sort of commonality which recognizes the divisions without at the same time exploiting & exaggerating them is no easy work, but the real minority & reactionary powers in society have & will take advantage, as Chirac & Sarkozy took advantage of the divisions in the left in France, as the Tories did in the UK, as the anti-reproductive freedom groups have in the US -- and those of us who work mainly in the imaginative field & try to bring out its full social & political realities to the fore are, whether we want to be or not, in the frontlines of this struggle. When someone IS in fact plainly on our side -- and for all the feminist objections to parts of his work, Joss Whedon IS absolutely & reasolutely on the side of the angels, NOT on the side of racists & homophobes & misogynists, and when I'm engaged in criticism, I feel it's necessary for me to clarify & affirm this. Those who are anti-feminist, anti-gay, anti-racial equality will find no support or friend in Jossverse, even when they try to claim parts of his work.

Joss Whedon's Poetics of Space
    Joss' commentary for "Objects in Space", the concluding ep of "Firefly", offers a much more convincing case for the impossibility of carrying Buffy into two dimensions than any of the elaborate arguments against canonicity have done.

   He talks, first, of his own sort of epiphany concern the way objects exist in themselves without any relation to consciousness, that they exist whether we wish them to or not, without meaning, while watching "Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Director's Cut" as a 16-year-old in London. Those who experienced the movie in those pre-cineplex days will recall the impact that the mother-ship's descent had, and I wonder whether his realization came before or during those late sequences in the film. He realized that he had no belief in a divine or universal intelligence giving things, objects, meaning -- and a friend gave him a copy of Sartre's "Nausea", which helped him key on his understanding. His commentary for this ep -- after he says he doesn't want to be considered an intellectual -- is a fascinating meditation on emotions, on the way we impart meaning to things, and on the difference between the way River experiences objects & is distanced from their common meaning, and the way that Early, in his opposite way, does so. 

   He als offers an anecdote about how he spent a Saturday actually in the Serenity, passing through it, in order to get the key to the character of Early -- and all this truly lit up the importance, for Joss as a writer & dreamer, of working with actual sets. The relation of so many of his other shows, and the importance of the sets of the library, the Summer house, of the Factory, of Spike's crypt & the Magic Box, the Hyperion, of Serenity & the Dollhouse, appeared in a very new light. Joss' imaginative life was truly born during that experience in the theatre, -- he suddenly had access to all the questions about life & death that he'd previously taken for granted or simply not himself thought about -- 

   Whatever can be achieved or not in graphic form, Joss really made it clear, by his intensity & by his emotion, especially in light of other commentaries (like his explanation of how Xander actually moves through the standing sets of Buffy in his dream in "Restless" or his commentary on "Hush") what activates his creative vision, his feeling for the world and for his characters . . . and even if he's a comics fan, the source for inspiration isn't there. The whole conceit of using comics-style superpowers & references in comic-book form doesn't hook properly into the way he works, the way he works with actors, the way he works with set designers, and then the way he works with a camera. The power outage, the strange sloppy lack of principle in the comics, comes simply from someone who has revealed for anyone who cares to listen his own processes, motivations, even his imaginative birth, in the commentaries to his filmed work.

   If Joss never does television (or film work) again, he won't really ever create again.