December 21st, 2003



I am an underachiever about so many things, but when it comes to wasting time, I really go the distance. What have I done this weekend? Nooooooothing. There was some red wine and a bad chicken experiment and some Alias and that was about it.

I'm still liking Alias. I'm up to episode seven and am warming to the actress who plays Sydney more with every passing episode. I like the woman who plays her best friend too; for many reasons, but for one she has a tummy. They don't usually let actresses have soft and cuddly tummies on TV.

In random mode--just noting; me, random here--it occurred to me this morning that icons are like postage stamps. The enthusiasm they generate is all about the delicacy of fine art captured in a tiny little square. Ahhhh.

And I had some other thought. I did. What was it about. Hmmm. No. It's gone.

In a weather update on the inside of my head, I'm here to report: my fantasies have been getting ridiculous. I've recast Milla Jovovich as Spike and she's been parading around in strappy little black dresses, seducing all the men. It was when I sent her on a date with David Nabbit that I realized I'd reached my nadir as a fantasist. My mind went there--and then it snapped back, like a yo-yo speeding back up from its apogee, but let's stick with nadir, because really. Jesus. They were trying to have meaningful conversations about software design. How *sick* is that? Good thing I don't know anything about software design.

God. My brain is like bruised and deliquescing fruit. My back hurts. All parts of my body that are organized for labor--hands, fingers, arms, wrists--are striking. I've got to get moving. Get moving. Yes. Yes, I do. For god's sake, I haven't even eaten yet today and it's nearly two o'clock.

Here's another thought. Rewatching bits of the first two LotR movies on cable this weekend, I decided again that they were overrated. Pelt me with fruit if you must. Pelt me with chunks of my own brain! (Eww.) I think I'm too old to feel the childlike wonder. All they are to me is a celebration of masculine beauty--though Elijah of Arc is kind of femme-y, in the best possible way. Androgynous.

Read cesperanza's new Due South story this weekend, Passion. Reccing Ces's fiction is like touting the Bible to True Believers. They've already read it. Twice. So I don't know who reading this might need persuading, but hey. It's amazing. It made me cry. Three times. Maybe four. It sucked me right in and spit me out again 30,000 words later, damp and sated and happy. I love all Ces's stories--I mean that; I can't think of one that doesn't tickle me in some place or another--but this feels to me like the, um, apogee of her writing. Or the apex. (Definitely not the nadir.) It's got the farthest reach to date, is what it feels like to me. Especially in the first few sections, it reads like an evolutionary spurt, writing-wise; a new growth stretch. Mature and indefinably different than the stories that lie behind it. Indefinable only because I'm lazy, perhaps.

I should probably eat. I don't know quite what else to do with myself given that I seem to be avoiding all mental exertion and I think I'm starving my brain, so I need to. Um. Get the frell up off this couch. For crying out loud.


There's a movie on SciFi starring Shannen Doherty and Julian McMahon in some close relationship that requires them to clutch each other. Very mind bendy.

Ah, Julian. I worship your stubble.

And Jesus *fuck* is that man tall. Muh.

I need new music. I want to find someone who is to acoustic guitar what Stevie Ray Vaughn is electric guitar. Someone bluesy and masterful. Does this person exist? I also want some simple but sexy electronic dance music, like Dirty Vegas and...and I don't know what else. I don't know music except what I happen to stumble across, and I'm looking to buy CDs, so I'm conservative when it comes to taking chances. Have learned to be, anyway, because I own dozens and dozens of expensive CDs I bought on the strength of a single song only to discover that single song was the only thing worth listening to.

coffeeandink has a highly cool, smart post on depression and narrative, with looks at BtVS, AtS, and Farscape. It's the first thing in a long time that makes my scabby wounds itch to rewatch season six. (I liked season six on the first go, but now it's buried one layer down under the scars of season seven.) As I mentioned to Mely, I only read through the section on BtVS because I have yet to watch "Destiny," despite everyone's encouragement. anaxila has said that if I don't watch it by tomorrow she's going to spoil me for it, because she wants to talk about the episode, damn me! *eyeballs Amy warily* I may have to dodge her. Should be interesting. Me running around corners when I see her coming, dashing into supply closets, down flights of stairs, with her chasing after me calling, "And then Angel--with the bullwhip--and the poker--and the manacles--"

anniesj has been writing some tiny S/X baubles to hang on the tree. People need to heed her example. *stares at you all unblinkingly*


perilously approaching spam

I just watched the Alias episodes with John Hannah--love him. Also realized that the actor who played Sydney's murdered fiance played Atherton Wing on Firefly. Weirdness. (And of course there's the crossover casting of Gina Torres. Mmmm.)

Sometimes the musical montages of this show are awesome, sometimes they are just useless, and other times they are truly ludicrous. The one at the end of episode seven, over the Thanksgiving preparations, reminds me of that parody from Naked Gun with Priscilla Presley.

I suspect that Sydney's dad is a prick who will just turn pricklier over time, but so far I feel pretty sorry for him. Sydney is always ready to think the worst, isn't she? Oh I know; she has good reason to. But you can tell his life has become so bitter after all that's happened and she only adds to it whenever she goes on a tear.

And now I must go read my own spam from Accomplice K. Einstein.

unlikely pairing #5

For sue_donym.

Buffy/Giles: Another pairing that gives me the heebies if I think about it in terms of canon, because Giles reads so much like Buffy's father to me. There are some ironies in that; more willing to go there in fan-fiction, I'd still want it to have a canon feel. Also, Buffy and Giles *aren't* related, so why is it I'd find a romantic relationship between them harder to take than one between, say, Simon and River? I think it's maybe because B/G gives me no mixed signals; Giles seems genuinely paternal, and Buffy shows no sexual interest in him that I can see. Simon and River on the other hand give me some seriously weird vibes. I mean sure, I've been known to feed my own brother fruit, popping it between his surprised lips with my sticky fingers, and when I do he always gives me that sexy little look of delight, but it's not as if...uh, where was I.

Anyway. Like so many other proposed pairings, I tend to think that season four sets up the best prospects for Buffy and Giles. Anything set before that--before Buffy was of age, before she was out of the mentor/pupil relationship--would never fly on network TV. You could start building up to it earlier though; in fact, you'd need to do it from the beginning, step by tiny baby step, until it was possible to take things to a new level. The B/G dynamic would have to be shifted away from the father/daughter one. At first Buffy would try to fit him for that role, as her own father's influence in her life wanes, but Giles would tell her more than once, and in so many words, that he can't be a father to her. It's not what a watcher is there for. And this version of Giles would be more Ripper-y; harder, more sharply edged. You could make him more of a Michael to Buffy's Nikita. A handler. She thinks, from his behavior and candor, that he's scrupulously reliable and trustworthy. It turns out though that as the representative of the council of watchers he's in possession of many secrets, not all of which he can reveal--not at first anyway, until they start to move beyond the traditional watcher-slayer boundaries.

So he's a darker figure, and this is a darker universe; more morally ambiguous. A universe where the council looms over Buffy's life, its shadow extending all the way across the ocean to Sunnydale. It's more Masonic, a kind of Illuminati, and its agents are more active, prone to turning up in Sunnydale to carry out some new intrigue. And Giles isn't Buffy's only watcher; Wes is also there from the beginning, foil to Giles. During Buffy's high school years, Giles and Wes--a darker, less trustworthy version of Wes--are in charge of her training; Wes does most of the weapons stuff, Giles the research. They have very different ideas about her training; or at least, they start out on the same wavelength and present a unified front, but one of the big arcs of the first season or two is how Giles's feelings about his job, the council, and his assigned slayer change--classic stuff where he toes the party line at first, but comes to realize how limiting and cruel the council traditions are to slayers, how they use slayers and use them up. Plus, he comes to trust Buffy's instincts more than he does those of his fellow watchers. Her moral compass points true north. So Giles's views gradually diverge from Wes's. Wes holds strict, loyal council sentiments. They clash over how they should handle Buffy and there's all kinds of cool background stuff explored between them.

It would be complex to carry out over a period of three seasons, but I think a neat idea would be to have Buffy gradually fall for Wes, not Giles. At first, she's just got a kind of controlled crush; Wes has turned her advances down, probably sometime in season two, by quoting regulations. Yet he also equivocated about his own feelings, leading her to think he might return her interest, so she's biding her time and dating other guys, hoping to spur Wes's jealous affections. (This would be an Angel-less universe.) She and Wes become involved in her senior year of high school, much to Giles's harsh disapproval. Buffy sees Giles as the bad guy, and Wes, Iagolike in his machinations and not at all the concerned and loving watcher to Buffy that she thinks he is, is happy to play that up and foster tensions between her and Giles. For some reason Giles's hands are tied--he can't put a stop to the relationship and it will take him a while to oust Wes, but at the end of season three he manages to trick Wes into revealing his true colors to Buffy, who is deeply betrayed. Soulsick and angry, she rejects the council entirely, "firing" both of them. Giles takes his medicine, willing to be rejected if it means that Buffy is safe from Wes (and perhaps from whatever fate Wes had been planning to carry out for the council, which is now thwarted? hmm).

Blah blah summercakes, it's season four, and Willow and Xander commiserate with Buffy as she starts college. She's still wounded from realizing that the past several years have been a series of lies, layers of deceit designed to manipulate her. Giles is still around, because the council doesn't allow itself to be rejected by its slayer, but relations are cool, at least on Buffy's side. However, some plotty event soon happens that restores Buffy's faith in Giles and makes her realize he was always on her side. Their friendship restored, she allows herself to represent the council again. The romantic arc of season four is a subdued, ambiguous one (rather like Willow and Tara's is in canon) in which Giles's feelings for Buffy are revealed to us bit by bit; the point of view of the audience kind of parallels Buffy's own post-graduate maturity: we are finally allowed to see those feelings for what they really are, foreshadowing and hints from earlier seasons at last taking shape. Giles won't allow himself to show them to *Buffy* though, and won't let himself act on them, especially with Wes as a bitter object lesson, and because Buffy sees him as this old man, this father figure.

Giles suffers and tolerates Buffy's collegiate romances until the day comes when Buffy tearfully questions her own worth after some dating disaster; the repercussions of Wes's betrayal combine with other bad relationships and make her feel unlovable, fated to die an early death as slayer, alone, never knowing real love. Giles is driven to comfort her, trying to navigate between her needs and his own feelings, but he betrays himself with word or look. His heart is ripped out and displayed on his sleeve and Buffy, though she'd had no inkling, is not as shocked or horrified as he expected. She's open to him, ready to give herself over to someone like him, into the hands of someone she trusts. He's no longer like a father to her, not the stern parent; she's gotten past his defenses and knows that he has many sides to him, even a gentle one, and his age and principles and character are attractive. He's not like any of the boys she's been with, no callow youth; and his sophistication is more true than Wes's bright, glossy veneer. Giles has too much wearying experience to pretend or play nice; he's darker, rougher, more bitter. But she likes his edge, and accepts how he drinks a bit too much, and now she moves across the room, takes the glass of whiskey from his hand and sets it aside, moves into his arms while he tries to resist. But he can't and she's kissing him and it's all good at last.

Too bad the council assassins are going to shoot him next year!

alias observations

So I've watched 10 or 12 episodes--angst! cliffhangers! new heights of creative invention and absurdity! And there's much of interest I could talk about by this point, but what I'm noticing right now is that Sydney never sleeps with anyone on a mission. It's a trite old observation: the American willingness to scale new heights of violence while maintaining its Puritan aversion to sex. If I recall, Nikita was almost never required to sleep with anyone either. (Am I wrong?) But Sydney is more fascinating than Nikita in some ways because she *is* American, and this show makes her a particular kind of poster child for patriotism. She's the downright wholesome girl-next-door and she proves love of country in part by being tortured over and over again. But as the good girl, she can't whore herself for her country. So we get shots of her tied up and immersed in water and electrocuted, but we don't see her unwinding herself from sticky bedsheets after lulling some mark into pliancy.

I'm pretty okay with that. I'd probably have issues of a different sort if she *were* portrayed as Double Agent Slutchilde. It's just interesting.

You know, this show doesn't really hang together, either in terms of plot or psychology. But it doesn't really matter most of the time; it's good television.

Marshall just reached new heights of inappropriateness with his dithery plug of the monkey documentary. He slays me.

Sydney's connection with her father in Cuba and her girlish delight in his prowess was very endearing. Poor kid. I love how this show never lets her be happy for more than ten seconds, though. It's of course the very minute she's fondly reminiscing over the mission that she learns he's a KGB operative. (Of course he's probably not, but don't spoil me, 'kay?)

One of my favorite things so far is how Will's investigation of Daniel's death runs in tandem with Sydney's arc throughout the entire season. Very cool. It's also fun to see a show being so manipulative and clever--those cliffhangers and unrelenting twists to ensnare viewers right out of the gate, stringing them along even like hits of crack even as the show brings new viewers up to speed each time with the opening summary and previouslies.

Mmm. Crack.

ETA: Duuuuuude! I just got to the end of "The Confession." Her mother! Aiyeeee! They are shameless. SHAMELESS.