Book Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus, Vol. 3, Eric Powell et al. (2008)

Friday, April 11th, 2014

“Decapitation with a smile!”

four out of five stars

The third volume of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus features an even dozen stories, all of which are concurrent with Season 3 of the television series:

Wu-Tang Fang – The Scoobies dust the “Mickey Rourke of China,” a traveling vampire named San Sui who feeds on the blood of vanquished foes.

Halloween – The night before Halloween, Willow storms out of the house after an argument with the ‘rents, and swiftly falls into the clutches of a group of vamps.

Cold Turkey – Buffy brains a vamp with her frozen turkey when he tries to make a Thanksgiving meal out of her. The night shopping? Still more harrowing.

Dance With Me – When Buffy (repeatedly) turns Gary down at the dance, he decides to become a vampire so that she’ll have no choice but to pay attention to him.

White Christmas – Buffy takes a job selling popsicles at the mall, only to discover that her boss is summoning demons in the walk-in freezer. Choice quote: “I don’t wear clothes only to impress guys.”

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Book Review: Joss Whedon and Religion: Essays on an Angry Atheist’s Explorations of the Sacred, Anthony R. Mills, ed. (2013)

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

“Oh…my…Goddess!” (In which an “angry atheist” is pleasantly surprised by a religious journey through the Whedonverse.)

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program.)

As a Joss Whedon fan and a fellow self-described “angry atheist,” I approached Joss Whedon and Religion: Essays on an Angry Atheist’s Explorations of the Sacred with some trepidation. Specifically, I was worried that the authors who contributed to this anthology – many of them theologians – might be dismissive of or downright hostile to Whedon’s beliefs. Happily, this isn’t the case. After all, many (if not all) of them are fellow Whedon fans, even if they don’t share in his atheism. While some authors are critical of certain aspects of Whedon’s work, I suspect that this primarily comes from a place of love: it’s those you respect most who have the greatest potential to let you down.

As with any anthology, Joss Whedon and Religion is a bit of a mixed bag, with all of the pieces trending toward “adequate” to “excellent.” Some authors are heavier on the academic jargon than others; overall, I found most of the contributions to be fairly readable. (Some of the heavier stuff is tempered by more enjoyable, in-depth discussions of, say, Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Dollhouse. Warning: you will want to revisit your favorite shows by book’s end!) Occasionally, I had to take a breather to further research a specific topic, usually religious in nature; those who have a better background in religion (specifically Judeo-Christian) will no doubt have an easier time of it.

Due to the religious iconography prominently displayed on the cover (which is consistent with the Catholic imagery common to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel), I anticipated a largely Christian perspective. While I can’t comment on the authors’ personal religious convictions, I’m happy to report that they address a variety of religions and ethical systems, both mainstream and not: Wicca and witchcraft; ancient Greek and Roman gods and goddesses; the philosophies of Aristotle and Kant; even Ayn Rand gets a chapter (alongside Stan Lee, natch). A few essays don’t really seem to pay much mind to religion at all.

(In an especially amusing aside, Dean Kowalski gently pokes fun at K. Dale Koontz – who penned the forward – for reading too much religion into Whedon’s work, a criticism one could perhaps level at many of the contributors to this volume. See page 105.)

Of course, Christianity does receive the lion’s share of attention.

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Book Review: Fray, Joss Whedon et al. (2003)

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Girls & Monsters & Flying Cars

five out of five stars

In a world long without magicks and demons, what’s a Slayer to do?

If you’re 19-year-old Melaka Fray, you put your superhuman strength, dexterity, and resilience to use as a professional thief. Or “grabber,” in future slang. That it just so happens to frustrate your estranged big sister, who was recently promoted to sergeant in “the laws,” to no end? Icing on the cake!

Set in New York City hundreds of years in the future, Fray introduces us to a world (mostly) free of vampires. Locked away in another dimension by an unnamed 21st century Slayer, they’ve gradually and inexplicably been resurfacing in Mel’s neighborhood. Seemingly harmless and commonly mistaken for drug addicts or human mutants (which all too common given the regrettable state of the environment), few have paid these “lurkers” any mind. That is, until they begin to plot to open a gate to hell – and the next Slayer is called. Unfortunately, all the Watchers have since been bored into madness, and Mel’s hapless Watcher sets himself on fire at their first meeting. Standing in as Mel’s trainer and mentor is Urkonn, a goat-like demon with a mean punch and a shady agenda.

Though firmly rooted in the Buffyverse, Fray easily stands on its own. (One need not have prior experience with Buffy or Angel to enjoy Fray – though it’s highly recommended!) While the story is familiar – girl meets vampire, girl kills vampire – here it gets a futuristic makeover. Witty like a certain blonde we all know and love, Mel is nonetheless her own Slayer: brash, short-tempered, sticky-fingered, always willing to throw a punch for a friend or fellow “freak.” Juxtaposed with a dreary, dilapidated city landscape, Mel practically jumps off the page in her vivid blues, purples, and greens. The artwork contained within these pages is simply stunning.

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Book Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus, Vol. 2, Scott Allie, ed. (2007)

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Home is where the Hellmouth is!

four out of five stars

The second volume in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus is a bit of a mixed bag. Featuring diverse artwork from several distinctive artists, this a weird collection, chronologically speaking: we start out with two pre-season One stories, then it’s on to a few Spike and Dru tales; the next times we meet Buffy, it’s Seasons Two and Three, with Angel vacillating between good and evil. With all this jumping around, it can prove difficult at times to place the stories in the overall context of the show. That said, it’s still a (mostly) enjoyable collection.

My favorite piece by far is also the longest: “A Stake to the Heart,” which deals with the Summers’s divorce and Buffy, Dawn, and Joyce’s subsequent relocation to Sunnydale. In an effort to assume Buffy’s pain and self-doubt, Angel unwittingly unleashes malignancy demons on the Summers family. Aesthetically pleasing and unexpectedly touching, it alone is worth the price of admission. Also enjoyable is the short piece “Angels We Have Seen On High” – though there isn’t much by way of plot, the style is uncharacteristically “cartoony,” in editor Scott Allie’s words. Most likely you’ll love it or hate it. (Think: Puppet Angel.)

“Queen of Hearts,” “Paint the Town Red,” and “Ring of Fire” (the first two being Spike and Dru exclusives) are by Ryan Sook, “one of the most controversial artists to have worked on Buffy.” While I don’t mind his dark noir style, the characters are way off: Spike and Dru look a good fifty years older than the actors who play them. In the same vein, not all of the Scooby Gang is immediately recognizable in “The Dust Waltz”: Willow and Cordelia and nearly indistinguishable (Willow hair is a blah beige color!), and Xander has been transformed into quite the beefcake.

And then there’s the short piece “MacGuffins” – which might have been fun but for the artwork. Here we have a ridiculously (one might even say “comically” – hardee har har!) oversexualized Buffy, complete with larger-than-life breasts and legs spread wide for the male gaze in no less than three panels. At least “The Dust Waltz” compensated for Buffy’s exaggerated mammary glands by giving her oversized biceps to match.

As if one needs to improve upon Sarah Michelle Gellar. As if!

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

Book Review: Dollhouse Volume 1: Epitaphs, Andrew Chambliss et al. (2012)

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Dollhouse lives!

five out of five stars

Dollhouse is easily my favorite Joss Whedon project – and, because I watched it in real time, its premature cancellation crushed me all the more. (Knowing that Firefly only got 14 episodes going in made the end a tiny bit easier to bear.) When Amazon recommended Dollhouse Volume 1: Epitaphs, I nearly fell out of my seat with shock and excitement. As someone who doesn’t normally read comics, Dollhouse had slipped under my radar. Forever late to the party.

Epitaphs is a must for anyone who’s loved and lost Dollhouse. The five-issue series – reproduced here along with cover art and actor portraits – takes place in 2019, before “Epitaph One” but after “The Hollow Men.” (The opening panels show Mag, Zone, and Griff in their previous lives.) Rossum has just unleashed its “thoughtpocalypse” technology that wipes the minds of innocent people, turning them into “butchers” and “wielders” – mindless zombie killers and soldiers programmed to carry out directives: in this case, multiple their numbers and find and kill Echo, whose brain holds the key to creating a program to block the signal.

Caught in Los Angeles, Mag, Zone, and Griff band together to destroy the radio tower that Rossum’s using to further spread the signal. Meanwhile, Alpha, several Ivy imprints, Trevor, and Paul are converging on Rossum headquarters in Tucson to find and help Echo steal the technology she needs to develop an inoculant to imprinting.

With an engaging story line, – you could almost picture this as a live action episode – dialog that’s true to the characters (Alpha especially), and all your old favorites (Paul!), Dollhouse Volume 1: Epitaphs is quite enjoyable, even if you’re not a voracious reader of comic books. Granted, some of the art could use a little work; while the cover art is spot-on – Echo, Alpha, and Mag are immediately recognizable – I can’t always say the same for the interior art.

Even so, it’s a huge win in my book. More please!

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

Book Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus, Volume 1, Joss Whedon, et al. (2007)

Friday, December 28th, 2012

From one Buffy fan to another

four out of five stars

Having discovered Joss Whedon through Firefly (and then only after the show had been off the air for a year!), I recently watched – devoured – Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix. (I’m halfway through Angel now. No spoilers!) Missing the Scooby Gang something fierce, I decided to give the comics a try.

Much to my dismay, I’ve never really been able to get into comics or graphic novels. Though I love many of the stories and characters, the format just isn’t for me. Even so, I hoped I might enjoy Buffy, seeing as I already have a connection to the Buffyverse. The events in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus (also referred to as “Season 0”) are largely concurrent with those in the movie and series, in such a way that they help to flesh out the existing stories. (In contrast, the Season Eight comic book series picks up where “Chosen” left off.)

Volume 1 in the omnibus features five complete storylines: “All’s Fair,” which shows a slightly younger Dru and Spike terrorizing the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago; “Buffy: The Origin,” an adaptation of Whedon’s screenplay; “Viva Las Buffy,” in which Buffy and Pike run away to Las Vegas post-prom, only to unwittingly stumble upon a casino full of vamps; “Dawn & Hoopy The Bear,” wherein a magical teddy bear meant for Buffy finds its way instead to Dawn; and “Slayer, Interrupted,” which elaborates on the time Buffy spent in a (demon infested, natch) mental institution.

While I initially found myself struggling to stay engaged, by the end of “Buffy: The Origin” I was hooked. The story arc in “All’s Fair” is rather lackluster – frankly, I would’ve liked to have seen more panels on the Boxer Rebellion – but the stories get progressively better, culminating with “Slayer, Interrupted.” Especially enjoyable is seeing Giles at home in England, in the spring of his career and already butting heads with the Watcher’s Council – and Angel, in his early days of Buffy brooding.

As you can infer from the fourth title in the series, Dawn exists in some of these story lines. Your feelings on this are likely to correspond with your feelings toward Dawn herself. I’m not particularly outraged at her inclusion, though I think the comic book series would be better off without her. I’d prefer the “truth” of what happened, not everyone’s manufactured memories of the events. Plus I’ve kind of had my share of whiny younger siblings, being the oldest of four kids myself.

Overall, I’m inclined to give Volume 1 of the Omnibus 3/5 stars, though I’m upgrading to four stars in the interest of fairness. (Like, what’s a non-fan of comic books doing reviewing a comic book?!) I’ll definitely keep reading the Omnibus series, though it’s doubtful that I’ll plow through it as quickly as I did the tv show. Fellow Buffy fans in need of a fix – give it a try, you might be surprised!

(This review is also posted on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined.)

Book Review: Buffy and the Heroine’s Journey, Valerie Estelle Frankel (2012)

Friday, September 28th, 2012

(Full disclosure: I received a free advanced review copy of this book through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program.)

The Slayer Who Would Be Queen

four out of five stars

A newbie Buffy fan like myself, I was super-excited when copies of Valerie Estelle Frankel’s Buffy and the Heroine’s Journey: Vampire Slayer as Feminine Chosen One were offered up for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program. At the time I was just finishing up Season Seven of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and picking up Season One of the comics, so the timing was perfect – fresh as the material was in my head.

Frankel didn’t discover the show until long after the final episode had aired; but, once she did, she was quick to devour it all: BtVS, Angel, and the comics. As she watched, she also worked on an impromptu, 100-page draft comparing Buffy’s trials and tribulations to the classic hero’s journey, as described by mythologist Joseph Campbell. Eventually her thesis grew into Buffy and the Heroine’s Journey.

A “monomyth” that can be found in the great epics of every culture (see, e.g., Hercules, Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter), the Hero’s Journey takes a somewhat predictable path – beginning with the call to adventure and ending with the “freedom to live” – during the course of which the protagonist gains wisdom and self-knowledge and successfully grows into a fully integrated adult. Of course, many adventures are had along the way: the hero battles with (and triumphs over) a Dark Lord (his Shadow) who threatens the world; he meets his Princess, goddess of the forest and embodiment of the earth’s magic; and he battles monsters of all shapes and sizes. Perhaps he’s also accompanied by a trustworthy friend or two, who function as outward reflections of his inner self.

As articulated in a handy chart by Frankel, Campbell’s Hero’s Journey includes:

* World of Common Day
* Call to Adventure
* Refusal of The Call
* Supernatural Aid
* Crossing The First Threshold
* Belly of the Whale
* Road of Trials
* Meeting with The Goddess
* Woman as Temptress
* Atonement with The Father
* Apotheosis
* The Ultimate Boon
* The Refusal of the Return
* The Magic Flight
* Rescue from Within
* Return
* Master of Two Worlds
* Freedom to Live

In contrast, Frankel offers up a different – but oftentimes parallel – outline of The Heroine’s Journey:

* World of Common Day
* Call to Adventure: A Desire to Reconnect with the Feminine
* Refusal of The Call
* The Ruthless Mentor and the Bladeless Talisman
* Crossing the First Threshold: Opening One’s Senses
* Sidekicks, Trials, Adversaries
* Wedding the Animus
* Facing Bluebeard
* Sensitive Man as Completion
* Confronting the Powerless Father
* Descent into Darkness
* Atonement with the Mother
* Apotheosis through Accepting One’s Feminine Side
* Reward: Winning the Family
* Torn Desires
* The Magic Flight
* Reinstating the Family
* Power of Life and Death
* Ascension of the New Mother

As you can see, many of the points on these paths are quite similar, with nearly all of the differences hinging upon the hero’s gender. (Paging Captain Obvious!) For example, while the male hero has daddy issues (the mother being largely absent), the heroine is plagued with mommy problems – and a weak father (and/or father figure), to boot. Whereas the hero will be seduced by a woman (“Woman as Temptress”), the heroine must remain vigilant against intimate partner violence (“Facing Bluebeard”). The hero meets and falls in love with a mysterious princess/goddess who introduces him to the magic of nature, whereas the heroine must wed the animus – her dark, masculine Shadow Self.

Drawing upon the whole of Buffyverse canon – the 1992 film, seven seasons of Buffy, five seasons of Angel, and Seasons One and Eight of the comic – Frankel elucidates the ways in which Buffy’s journey functions as a “perfect example” (I’m paraphrasing) of The Heroine’s Journey. Xander (passionate, practical) and Willow (innocent, intelligent) can be read as aspects of Buffy’s self, manifested externally, which must be nurtured and protected at all costs. Giles is both a manly guardian of knowledge and a (physically) powerless father (figure; Buffy’s actual father is both powerless and largely absent from her life). Maggie Walsh and Glory are Terrible Mothers – destructive forces that Buffy must avoid succumbing to. Whereas Joyce vacillates between a Good Mother and a mother who is at best oblivious to her daughter’s needs, Tara acts as a surrogate Good Mother in the wake of Joyce’s death; after Tara is murdered, Buffy must integrate Tara’s goodness into her own psyche, so that she can care for her little sister/adopted daughter Dawn. As Buffy confronts and defeats increasingly disturbing and powerful opponents – absorbing their darkness into her Self – she matures. So do her weapons: from a common crossbow (which allows to her keep a relatively safe distance from vamps), to a masculine, army-issued rocket launcher, culminating in the ultra-powerful, ultra-ancient scythe, which helps to unleash the power of the feminine so that all women are potential slayers.

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Today is (Women) Read Comics in Public Day!

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

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In honor of the occasion, here I am reading Volume 1 of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus at the park! I recently finished watching the series on Netflix for the first time (Late to the party much? & also: SO MANY FEELINGS!) & couldn’t stand for it to end, so I decided to give the comics a try. As of this evening, I’m also three episodes into Angel. (Oz!)

Anyway, if you identify as a woman and would like to participate, the tumblr womenreadcomicsinpublicagain.tumblr.com is taking submissions all week! The event coincides with the annual Read Comics in Public Day event, and is “designed to show the scope and diversity of female comic readers.”

I’m kind of a newbie – other than Buffy, the only other series I’ve read is The Walking Dead – and not really the best person to hit up for recommendations. But I’ll take ’em if you’ve got ’em! Hint: strong women are a must. (Comic book creators, pay attention. If I find a series I love, I will buy all the things!)

This particular collection was a birthday gift from mom. Yay mom!

PS – Here I am!

fuck yeah winifred burkle

Monday, June 11th, 2012

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When this photoset came up on my tumblr dash, I immediately googled “Winifred Burkle,” since I didn’t recognize the character’s name. I’m familiar with Amy Acker, of course, but through her work with Joss Whedon in Dollhouse and The Cabin in the Woods; Angel, not so much. I just started watching Buffy last year, you see, and as of this writing am halfway through season seven. Angel is next up in the queue. Ditto: the BVTS comics. (No spoilers please! And yes, I am THE WORST for requesting this of a decade-old show! THE. WORST.)

Anyway, here’s what Wiki had to say about Winifred Burkle. Keep reading and you’ll see why I’m so gorram excited to meet this character!

Character history

Fred was born in San Antonio, Texas to Roger and Patricia “Trish” Burkle. When she finished college, she moved to Los Angeles for graduate school at UCLA. Originally majoring in history, Fred took a physics class with Professor Seidel, which inspired her to take another path. Around this time, she began working at Stewart Brunell Public Library. In 1996, while shelving a demon language book, a curious Fred recited the cryptic text out loud and was accidentally sucked into a dimensional portal to Pylea (her future friend Lorne was sucked into the same portal on his side and ended up in Los Angeles). It was later discovered that the portal was actually opened by Fred’s jealous college professor, Professor Seidel, who had sent every promising student to it, essentially sending them to their death. Fred was the only one of at least six to return (cf. “Supersymmetry”). […]

Angel Investigations

For five years, Fred spent an arduous life as a “cow,” the Pylean word for humans who are kept as slaves. The harsh life of solitude and serfdom took a serious toll on her social skills, as well as her mental health; when Angel meets Fred she is curled up in a cave, scribbling on the already-covered walls, having seemingly convinced herself that her previous life in L.A. had not been real.

It was revealed that Fred had once been forced to wear an explosive shock collar. However, Fred’s salvation comes when Angel and his crew arrive in Pylea to find Cordelia Chase, who had become trapped there. It is notable that when Angel’s demon came fully to the fore, it attacked just about everyone but Fred – including Gunn and Wesley. Despite this shocking display of violence, Angel never seemed to scare Fred, and even at his most demonic, he never attacked her. In fact, her presence seemed to have a calming effect on him.

When Pylea is liberated, Fred accompanies Angel and the rest of the gang back to Los Angeles and stays in the Hyperion Hotel to re-adjust to life on Earth and regain her mental stability. Despite several traumatic instances, such as being held hostage by Gunn’s old vampire-hunting crew, she adjusts quite well to “normal” life.

“I lived in a cave for five years in a world where they killed my kind like cattle.”

I AM GONNA HAVE SO MUCH TO WRITE ABOUT, Y’ALL!

"I got heathens aplenty right here!"* Merry CriFSMas from our crew to yours!

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

2011 FSMas Card MAIN

May your holiday be bright and shiny,
and your ‘verse, filled with shindigs and thrilling heroics.
– Kaylee and Jayne
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Happy holidays, y’all! As I said the other day, I’ve been dying to do some holiday cosplay with Kaylee and Jayne ever since we adopted them five years ago, and this year I finally got to it! I decorated the entire tree with pirates in their honor (The crew of Serenity? Space pirates! Totally relevant to Pastafarianism, since doctrine holds that the decline in pirates is correlated with global warming – and thus in order to avert the apocalypse, we have to bring back piracy. Check and mate.), which was no small feat seeing as I made most of the ornaments by hand over a two-month period. I also hired someone to custom-make Kaylee Frye and Jayne Cobb outfits way back in August. Oh, the planning that went into this holiday card!

Unfortunately, my seamstress totally flaked (Updated to add: full story here!), leaving me to cobble together costumes from off-the-rack pieces at the last minute. Instead of a green mechanic’s jumpsuit and floral blouse, Kaylee is wearing her shindig dress – that is, a Cotton Candy Dog Dress by East Side Collection. And while Jayne isn’t sporting a trademark brown Jayne Cobb ringer tee, she does look pretty badass in a green army jacket – really an Army Green Utility Jacket by Zack & Zoey.

Of course, the Jayne hat is the star of the ensemble; I actually had three custom-made for me by two different etsians: Sam’s Crochet (that would be the adorably floppy, Rasta-style hat Jayne and Peedee are wearing) and Whitaker Knits (the smaller hats with the orange tie, as seen on Ralphie and O-Ren, below). Rounding out Jayne’s look is a Browncoats logo pin I scored on Amazon. (It’s on her chest and not clearly visible in all the photos.) I also picked up some cute ID badges on eBay, but couldn’t find a place for them in the final outfits. Instead, they became ornaments for the tree.

Here’s a little character collage I put together for my family, who are not Firefly fans (THE HORRA!) and thus didn’t get the reference. Side-by-side comparison time! How do you think I did?

2011 FSMas Card - Kaylee-Jayne Comparison Collage

All’s shiny that ends shiny, I say.

Outtakes and extras after the jump!

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"Ha HA! Mine is an evil laugh!" (i.e., the shiny-yet-sacrilegious CriFSMas finery post)

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

This year I’d really hoped to do a “31 Days of CriFSMas” series. There was to be tutorials for making ornaments by hand, decorating tips, diy greeting card ideas, menu suggestions – even a list of festive viewing options. (Actually, I’ve planned on doing this for several years now, but veganmofo always leaves me exhausted and burnt out.) This year seemed an especially opportune time, seeing as I’ve been planning it since July and created many of the ornaments on the tree from scratch. But since time cannot be rewritten – that is, unless you are a Timelord or happen to know one – I’ll just have to cram it all into one ginormous megapost. Sound good?

The Pirate Tree

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What better place to start than the tree? Whereas in years past I’ve gone heavy on the pasta-themed ornaments, this year I decided to do a full-on pirate theme – with a special focus on Firefly. Space pirates are totally relevant when you’re a Pastafarian, yo! Also when you’re the guardian of two dogs who are named after characters on the show! I’ve been dying to do some holiday cosplay with Kaylee and Jayne ever since we adopted them five years ago, but this year I actually took the initiative and did it! (Hence the early planning.) I’ll post photos of the dogs later this week, but suffice to say that their costumes directly influenced the look of the tree. Since I’ve never done a pirate tree before, almost all of the ornaments and decorations are new this season.

The decorations are mix of re-purposed items (pirate toys from the Dollar Store; some cool and inexpensive pirate and nautical wood party favors from Jo-Anne Fabric; glass bottles that look as though they might hold messages from castaways, also from J-Anne Fabric; “gold” skull & crossbones metal charms found on eBay), Firefly merch (ID badges for Kaylee Frye and Jayne Cobb; a Serenity keychain), and diy ornaments made by gluing pirate stickers and photos onto bottle caps and card stock.

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It’s this last group that I wanted to make a tutorial for but really, it’s all very simple. Throughout the summer I saved up whatever bottle caps and lids I could (the flatter, the better) and when I had a pretty good collection going, I laid them all out on the floor of the barn (on top of a drop cloth, natch) and spray-painted them black. Since you’re likely to have collected lids made of variety of materials – plastic and metal, mostly – make sure you buy a spray paint that’s suitable for each.

Then hit the internets and gather up as many pirate-y pictures as you can: google Firefly/Serenity (the art produced by this fandom is both plentiful and delightful!), Pirates of the Caribbean, pirate Amy Pond, women pirates (girl power!), etc. (Though that last search term turns up some rather depressing results. To cut down on the number of sexy pirates, search for historical woman pirates. You won’t get many results, but the hits you do get will be awesome!) Next, resize ’em so that the portions of the photos that you’d like to use are similar in size to your caps and lids, then copy and paste them onto 4×6, 5×7, and/or 8×10 canvases (depending on the size, you’ll be able to fit between one and five images on each), and either print them up at home or order them online at Sam’s Club or similar.

The hardest part is cutting the images to fit snugly inside the lids. Cutting a circle freehand is pretty much impossible, as I quickly learned. Instead, try to find a circular item – a cup or bottle, for example, or even another, slightly smaller lid – and use it to trace a circle on the image. Though still difficult, the guide will help you to cut a much rounder circle. (Just go slowly!) When done, simply glue the photo into the lid. (A heavy-duty, acid-free glue stick works well for this.)

If you can find circular stickers – I happened to have some 1.5″ round skull & crossbones stickers left over from last year – these are a nice option too. While they don’t offer a whole lot of variety, they do come pre-cut. Score!

For hanging, you can either glue a jump ring (used in jewelry making and available at craft stores) to the back of the lid or, if it’s made of plastic and thick enough, drill a small hole into the “lip” of the lid. Either way, string some curling ribbon or a pipe cleaner through the ring or hole to make a loop that can then be used to hang the ornament from the tree. (Curling ribbon is much easier to work with, imho.) We stuck with black to match the tree’s color scheme (namely, black and gold).

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From animal liberator to animal hunter: Life and death in the Dollhouse.

Friday, April 10th, 2009

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Caution: Spoilers ahead! (More specifically, after the blockquote.)

Firstly, I’m extremely happy to report that, as promised by Ms. Dushku, Dollhouse has improved by leaps and bounds since last I blogged about it. Not only have we gotten to know Echo – our hero – a bit better, but more importantly, the show has addressed “the consent issue” head-on.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. For those who haven’t seen the show, here’s a brief summary via Wiki:

Eliza Dushku plays a young woman called Echo, a member of a group of people known as “Actives” or “Dolls”. The Dolls have had their personalities wiped clean so they can be imprinted with any number of new personas, including memory, muscle memory, skills, and language, for different assignments (referred to as engagements). The new persona is not an original creation, however, but an amalgam of different, existing personalities. The end result incorporates some of the flaws, not just the strengths, of the people used as templates. The Actives are then hired out for particular jobs – crimes, fantasies, and the occasional good deed. On engagements, Actives are monitored internally (and remotely) by Handlers. In between tasks, they are mind-wiped into a child-like state and live in a futuristic dormitory/laboratory, a hidden facility nicknamed “The Dollhouse”. The story follows Echo, who begins, in her mind-wiped state, to become self-aware.

As I noted before, the Dolls’ lack of agency in both their “wiped” and “programmed” states makes it impossible for them to give meaningful consent – for any of their actions, including sexual relations. When a doll “has sex,” she (or he) is actually being raped. Usually the rapist knows full well that he (or she) is “having sex” with a programmable “doll” – so it’s rape with intent. Occasionally, however, the “doll” is sent on a covert/undercover mission – for example, to seduce a certain FBI agent – and sex becomes a tool she (or he) uses to that end. Such cases still constitute rape, but…well, it’s hard to say who the rapist is when the “doll’s” partner believes that the encounter is consensual. The Rossum Corporation, perhaps?

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Hunting "Tail" on Dollhouse

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

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Caution: Major spoiler warning below the jump!

I’ve been a Joss Whedon fan since his Firefly days, so when I heard that he was working on a new project, Dollhouse, I immediately got all giddy like a schoolgirl. That is, until I hear that Eliza Dushku would be starring. Ugh.

Even before the hunting flap, I disliked Dushku. Perhaps it’s because she came off like an entitled snot in a very early episode of Punk’d; even before she was faux “arrested” for “shoplifting” in a local retail boutique, she copped a huge ‘tude over all the free swag she was obviously owed for being a celebrity. That, and Tru Calling looked absolutely dreadful. Well, and I’m also weird like that; Dushku isn’t the only celebrity I have an irrational, knee-jerk dislike for. Take Ben Affleck, for example: clearly, he’s a funny, charming, altruistic guy, but there’s just something about him that I want to hate. He’s smarmy, but not. Did I also mention that I have a crazy aversion to feet? So maybe it’s just me, after all.

Anyway, the aforementioned hunting flap gave me a reason to dislike her – a good one, actually. In an August appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Show, Dushku discussed her love of hunting – you know, that sadistic leisure activity which involves murdering innocent animals for “fun”:

Here’s the gist of the interview (via ecorazzi), in case you don’t want to sit through the whole video:

A couple night ago on Jimmy Kimmel Live Dushku revealed that she loves to hunt elk and deer. Not only did she brag about it, but she also showed off her bow and arrow skills and boasted about killing a deer in Oklahoma last Christmas. WTF, Eliza? Why are you such a jerk?

Even the studio audience turned on Dushku forcing her to joke, “My mother called me herself and said, ‘You’re a liberal from New England, what the ‘f’ are you doing in Oklahoma shooting things.” Backpeddling later she said, “When you’re in a relationship with somebody you have to, like, experience things that they do. A lot of people eat meat… and I eat what I kill.”

Dushku’s hunting isn’t so much the point, though, as it is a set-up for the rest of this post. Despite my ambivalence, I started watching Dollhouse on my DVR last week. It’s alright, certainly no Firefly, but also not the complete stinker I was afraid it’d be. The second episode, “The Target,” is of particular interest from an animal rights standpoint.

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