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. . . 2001-10-02

In the nick of time, tireless indexer Juliet Clark sends the following:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Alternate Season Episode Guide, 2000-2001
Out of My Mind (aired October 17, 2000)

Riley and I are getting to be good friends. We're tracking a pair of lowlifes who have been terrorizing the UC Sunnydale campus with a series of dimly-lit illegal boxing matches and offscreen murders. We discover that the hoodlums are headquartered at an abandoned gas station on the outskirts of town. We follow them there and proceed to beat them up. Suddenly somebody asks, "Where's Buffy?" Cut to the set of a Coppertone commercial, where Buffy and another blonde model are lying on beach towels. Nothing happens. Then we return to the action at the gas station, where Riley and I have tied the bad guys to an abandoned car and are taunting them with witty but not overly cruel remarks.

Into the Woods (aired Dec. 19, 2000)

Buffy is gazing out her bedroom window at night. She has a sweeping view of Santa Barbara; the neon lights on the Mission are glowing in the distance, and the houses on the hillside twinkle cheerily. Actually they are Christmas lights attached to a piece of plywood painted black, but the effect is still charming and romantic. Buffy looks pensive, knitting her eyebrows slightly as she continues to stare out the window. One of the little white lights goes out. "Riley?" Buffy seems to be sniffing the air, searching for something. "Riley?"

Intervention (aired April 24, 2001)

Spike has succeeded in luring Buffy back to his home, a trailer in the middle of People's Park in Berkeley. He claims to have found Buffy's lost purse under a bush, although obviously he stole it himself the last time they went to the movies; anyway, he invites her to his house to pick it up. In the trailer, Spike once again declares his love for Buffy. Buffy decides maybe she would like to sleep with him after all. The next morning, Spike shows Buffy all the things he's bought for the trailer, anticipating domestic bliss with his beloved. He's got a complete set of wooden spoons and several pounds of butter. Buffy is confused, then incensed. "Vampires don't eat butter! Anyway, I just wanted to get you out of my system." She exits. "You were almost as good as that robot," Spike mutters to the swinging cardboard door of the trailer.

Fall Season Preview (aired May 22, 2001)

Of course, Buffy is not really dead. She's been adopted by a family of vampires. This is legal because the vampires are not quite dead either. Angel turns out to be Buffy's step-brother. Hilarity ensues.

Fall Season Preview, Part 2 (aired July 15, 2001)

The ultra-secret Sunnydale Villains' Convention is underway, and by coincidence, the Scooby Gang is also holding a meeting at the conference hotel. They begin to suspect that something is wrong when they pass by the ballroom and see crowds of people dressed entirely in black leather. What they don't know yet is that the newest member of the Gang (a blonde who looks like an even smaller Sarah Michelle Gellar) is actually a spy for the villains' union! But soon she reveals her allegiance: she springs up in the middle of the Scooby meeting and swings her chair around her head, sending off sparks that threaten to zap the principal cast members' brains. This was why the new girl brought her own chair to the meeting, instead of sitting in the plush pink hotel furniture. Buffy tries to disarm the demon, but her magic chair seems to be indestructible. Luckily, Spike happens to have dropped in on the meeting; together, through a monumental effort, he and Buffy reduce the chair to tiny chunks of pressboard. When the chair is finally defeated, Spike breaks a remnant of leg into two tiny pieces. He puts one in his mouth and offers the other to Buffy. Gazing into each other's eyes, they eat the chair together, like bread.

Pre-Season Summer Movie Tie-In: Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (aired August 24, 2001)

A couple of idiots hear there's a Buffy fan convention coming up. They go to the mall in their Chicago suburb to buy costumes with sequins and special beaded glasses. They don't have any money, so they have to forge a check. But they can't decide what name to sign. They know the last name is Rodriguez, but the first name might be Matt, or Scott, or Jeff. While the clerk looks on, they practice various signatures in the margins of the check. After a while the exasperated clerk says, "Chinese proverb: even the woman with only one leg still has stinky feet. Also, those who have just hanged themselves are usually crazy." The clerk is not Chinese.

The First Annual Buffy Awards Ceremony (aired August 30, 2001)

Everyone's invited, even me. I discover that in fact I'm a member of the cast: I play the Irrelevant Older Friend. Because I'm just a recurring character and not a regular, I don't get a prize, but all the major players walk away with awards. All except Sarah Michelle Gellar, who is enraged. She complains to a security guard at the airport on the way home: "I even know the guy who put on this show! The last time I saw him he was all patting me on the nose and stuff, like we're supposed to be friends!" Later I'm sitting on the floor with some of the other cast members, discussing the upcoming season. Although I am only the Irrelevant Older Friend and not a professional, the other actors seem to value my opinion. I express my concerns: "There was something foreboding about the way Giles handed Buffy that bottle of detergent a couple of shows ago. I don't know, but somehow I felt that the show as we knew it ended with that gesture." The others nod thoughtfully.

. . . 2001-10-05

What breed of idiots would voluntarily reduce government income at the start of a war? Beats me, but they bred enough of 'em to populate the executive and legislative branches and have some left over to publish newspapers: walking around yesterday I saw no less than five front pages that called new tax cuts an "Economic Boost" rather than "Suicide."

Do many people really believe that fear of taxes is what's killed the economy? Speaking as a representative consumer, I'm trying not to squander my meagre life savings because I'm worried about unemployment, health care costs, and retirement -- you know, all that social safety net stuff. Decreasing my "tax burden" isn't about to make me worry less.

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Have fetus, will travel

Those who aren't checking Ethel several times a day (the perfect cure for the blues!) might've missed confirmation of the prediction that some numb brains would soon be fumbling for a definition of "terrorism" that excluded birth control clinic bombings. Next prediction: Congress will end up having to specifically single out anti-abortion terrorists in an amendment as "the terrorists we're afraid of annoying," much as sexual orientation is explicitly called out of hate-crime bills on account of too powerful a political constituency wants to hate selected sexual orientations.

In somewhat related news, our spineless Congress (is that too harsh? mostly spineless, then) has once again decided that military personnel cannot be permitted to have an abortion in a base hospital. Way to make that Saudi Arabia tour of duty even more secure!

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"It would be great for two normal guys like us to get together and talk about world events, you know, in a normal sort of way"

Despite better intentions I remain unable to tear myself (and thus you, for the moments you read this) from pointless "political" chatter. Not to be confused, please, with political action.

Is the noise comforting somehow? I don't know; I would have to be able to envision an alternative to be sure. It certainly seems annoying... but when I try to engage more... directly with the events of September 11, I find myself stuck on a puerile fantasy of somehow bargaining my life for that of one of the victims... a more-or-less waking relative of the recurring childhood nightmares in which I helplessly watched my family slide into a volcano.... Insomnia and news aren't intelligence boosters.

For tomorrow: We try again! If we're still here!

And for today, let's all sing along with prince jubril usman (via Bifurcated Rivets):


. . . 2001-10-06

Philosophers often behave like little children, who first scribble random lines on a piece of paper with their pencils, and then ask an adult "What is that?"
-- Ludwig Wittgenstein's "Big Typescript"

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Movie Comment:
(for Earl Jackson, Jr.)
Another Day, Another Man shower lovers
dialog woman shoe gam
walk suitcase man moral

. . . 2001-10-08

Civilization vs. Savagery

"European human-rights legislation may prevent Britain from extraditing suspects in last month's terrorist attacks: Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights bars Britain and the other signatories from extraditing prisoners if they could face capital punishment."

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Randolph Bourne (via [sub]culture; re irony cf.):

"With how many of the acceptors of war has it been mostly a dread of intellectual suspense? It is a mistake to suppose that intellectuality necessarily makes for suspended judgments. The intellect craves certitude. It takes effort to keep it supple and pliable."

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"Senior Pastor Mitch McClure will speak on 'I'm Sick and Tired of Not Feeling God' during the service at 10:30 am.... Jailers Needed" (via Obscure Store)

. . . 2001-10-09

The Death Wish in American Publicity Material: Part 2 in an Occasional Series

Perennial Journal

Those who haven't triggered the proper marketing traps won't be familiar with Levenger -- a stationery store aimed at nouveaux riches -- and its catalog of "Tools for Serious Readers."

Even for yuppie junk mail, Levenger's copy is overripe, redolent of leather everything (including leather manila envelopes -- "rather like changing Eliza Doolittle from East End flower girl to Ascot lady... will burnish beautifully the more it's handled"), splattered with $90 ball point pens, and bedecked with sepia-toned celebrity portraits. Be as happy as Henry James! as suave as Robert Louis Stevenson! as elegant as Sir Isaac Newton!

And for the most part the photographed samples of what's achievable with a little intellectual leverage from Levenger are what you'd expect given such heady role models. On "the BMW of folios" someone's noted that "Each new product will be involved in a series of meetings from concept to final update"; "Monumental Letters with Pedestals" construct the message "ASPIRE"; the "lighthearted Innovation gel pen" has written "Discuss strategy with Internet group," "Confirm flight reservation" is written on "a delicious temptation of color and texture" (i.e., notepad), and "5 year plan - Goal?" is written with "Rotring's impeccable style"....

But in The Perennial Journal ("a luscious cream stock... with gilded edges for lasting beauty"), the target consumer's mask slipped:

"One less bell to answer. One less egg to fry. Isn't that how the song goes? Not that I fried eggs anyway. Too much fat and cholesteral. But I digress... I'm just trying to keep my mind busy with other thoughts, I suppose. I'm not meant to live alone, to have everything to myself. Some would say I am lucky now, but all I can do is cry." I am lucky

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Speaking of consumption, Beth Rust forwards the following list of shopping ideas from Amazon:  


See more by the authors

    all books by Chilled The Fresh  
    all books by Frozen Horse  
    all books by Ass Meat Research Group   

. . . 2001-10-10

Trina Robbins's organizational and historical work are admirable, but she always seemed like kind of a dope. And her interview (and frequent drowning out) of Alison Bechdel removes all doubts -- particularly this sentiment, which experts consider the number one warning sign of dopiness:

"I find you so fascinating, Alison, because we're so different and yet I really like you."
(emphasis via me, link via Eclogues)

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More Warning Signs

At the doctor's office yesterday (it's been a busy week here), I saw a poster with a dozen cute little cartoons of the Warning Signs of Diabetes. "Excessive Hunger" was a guy shoving a cake into his mouth, "Sexual Dysfunction" was an sad-faced man lying in bed with a sad-faced woman, and so on. But "Vaginal Infection" was a woman holding a sign in front of her torso that read "Vaginal Infection." That is to say that the warning sign of a vaginal infection is literally a "Vaginal Infection" warning sign.

Maybe this is only interesting if you're reading Wittgenstein....

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If I knew how to send email to misterpants, I would certainly call the Purity Supreme supermarket chain to his attention. The Purity Supreme in Nashua, New Hampshire, used to have special "Singles Nights" where Nashuan bachelors were supposed to cruise the aisles with their sporty shopping carts. I wonder if they still do that.

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Token Non-Trivial Item of the Day

Juliet Clark forwards her sighting of a very rare bird, actual reporting from a San Francisco newspaper!

"Tens of millions of Americans can no longer get medical treatment, a job, a home, a credit card or a host of goods and services without agreeing to resolve future disputes in confidential, unregulated proceedings riddled with conflicts of interest. They cannot claim injury, fraud or discrimination without paying filing fees that may reach thousands of dollars. They cannot rely on legal guarantees of due process and fair treatment. They cannot appeal, except in rare circumstances...."

. . . 2001-10-12

September Gurl    
Although a Berkeley resident, I don't feel much team spirit -- dope-smoking morons and obnoxious rich kids aren't really my crowd -- but it is kind of neat how the harmless blather of our little city has made it a scandalous by-word nationwide, like it was Scottsboro or something....

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There's nothing coherent enough to call a "Left" in American politics. However, if a "Left" were to exist, it would probably be hanging around the Bay Area and Seattle and Portland; and if we try for an empirically based definition of what we find there, we probably do end up with something like synthetic zero's:

"... in the case of the far left, our side is always wrong. The left becomes a mere critiquer of the faults of our own society, and leaves the problems inherent elsewhere to someone else to criticize."
The Objectivist Party, in other words. No wonder it's so unpopular!

As for s.z.'s main point, I'm all for cultural imperialism. The sooner quaint tribal customs like gay bashing and Creationist teachers are wiped out, the better for everyone. I even love the tools of cultural imperialism -- books, movies, pop music, the Peace Corps, TV -- though I guess a disproportionate amount of my financial support goes to the Peace Corps.

The problems are that, first, despite the interest it holds for scholars and tourists, cultural imperialism alone isn't particularly effective: like, "All in the Family" was broadcast for years to Braymer, Missouri, without local attitudes changing. And, second, that the effort put into cultural imperialism is teensy compared with the efforts put into economic and political imperialism. It's generally less important to the imperialized than as a self-righteousness aid within the community of the imperializer.

Reconstruction was slightly about attempting to bring a nonracist society to the former Confederate states, but as practiced was even more about seizing property and power. European-Americans talked of bringing Christian civilization to our Native American brethren and sistren, but mostly brought eviction papers. Why is Cuba a criminal state and China most favored? The policy pivot in banana republics is the banana, not the republic.

So when those good old liberal humanist culturally imperialist banners are hoisted (long may they wave!), it's sensible to look for what might be hiding beneath them. It usually isn't all that hidden.


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As Jean Teasdale has pointed out, "we should pursue the distractions that make our lives fulfilling and worthwhile, because life is not about getting angry over things you cannot control, but pleasing yourself."

It is thus my duty to report that the September 1959 issue of Coronet that supplied today's cover girl also contained many disturbing exploitive photographs of not-quite-sixteen Tuesday Weld: bookish, anguished, winning, odd, painting, and reading.

Tomorrow: More Wittgenstein!

. . . 2001-10-13

Dialog without argument

The need to tease things out in discussion rather than standing by a clear proclamation is one of the vices that makes me useless as an activist. As evidence, I agree with everything written in synthetic zero's response to my response:

"I suppose I can summarize this by saying that if we can't do the right thing for the right reasons, we can at least pressure our government to do the right thing even if they also have ulterior motives."
If I'd taken a little more care with the closing sentence of my little editorial ("So when those banners are hoisted, it's sensible to look for what might be hiding beneath them"), some labor could've been saved. (But it was such a nice round rhetorical close!) What I should have gone on to say is that the results of this inspection don't (necessarily) invalidate a call to action. Purity is unobtainable, even undefinable, and its lack doesn't (always) justify apathy. Domestically, what makes an inspection necessary is the effect of the sloppily hidden non-idealistic motives on our government's actual conduct; only after we know those motives can whatever slight political pressures available to us usefully be brought to bear on that conduct. Internationally, it's important to realize that other countries are unlikely to trust our purported motive no matter how sincerely we might purport it, and that their lack of trust is well justified. "Why Do They Hate Us?" seems a not very constructive diplomatic question compared to "Why Don't They Trust Us?"

One nit: I specifically spoke of Reconstruction rather than the Civil War or the ending of slavery. The Civil War wasn't fought to end slavery (although it was fought to defend slavery); the end of slavery was simply the Civil War's only positive side-effect. And I'm all for the purported motive of the Radical Reconstructionists. In fact, I think slaveholding Confederates should've been dumped en masse into the Atlantic and all their property handed over to the newly freed slaves. But, as it happened, no one asked for my opinion, and maybe that's just as well.

. . . before . . .. . . after . . .

Copyright to contributed work and quoted correspondence remains with the original authors.
All other material: Copyright 2001 Ray Davis.