Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tough love with the Scoobies

The other day I watched an episode of "Buffy" that's not a favorite, not by a long shot, but this episode has scenes that touch me deeply, and I found myself crying, again, at how well Josh, et al, could write about loss of love. And although you can get a lot about Buffy and Angel or how Buffy dealt with the death or her mother or Buffy's love for Dawn, some of the non-Buffy relationships touch me the most.

The episode I watched was "Tough Love" which is towards the end of Season 5. It's an episode that's mostly a set up for the season finale and gives us a glimpse into the next season. When I first was watching this episode, I couldn't remember if anything interesting happened, but wiki reminded me that the last ten minutes were the pay-off. A little background on the episode: the Big Bad this season is Glory, who is a god and therefore much harder to kill than your average demon. Oh, and she messes with people brains to stay strong (it's this weird thing where she turns them sort of insane and childlike.) At this point in the season, Glory is really just annoying. Other bits: Willow and Tara are together, and Willow is becoming more powerful as a witch.

In the first half of the episode, Tara and Willow get into a fight, which sets up Tara being alone when Glory finds her. Blah, blah with Glory, which ends with Glory doing the brain thing to Tara. When Willow finds her, the Tara Willow loves is basically gone. This, of course, leaves Willow heartbroken, and this is where I start crying. We've all been there: someone we love leaves us without warning, and all of the pleading in the world won't bring them back. When they are in the hospital, the doctor asks if Tara is her sister or... and Willow, holding Tara's hand, looking at her full of love and pain just says, "She's my everything." How could you not cry over that?

And after the heartbreak, the next thing is to get revenge on what caused so much hurt. Despite Buffy's warnings, Willow goes after Glory. It's pretty amazing. Willow, who was always mild-mannered and level-headed, runs completely on emotion and witchcraft. Glory sees her enter and just sort of laughs; after all, up until now, no one has been able to do much of anything to her. And Willow, chanting and floating, eyes black and intense, announces to Glory, "I owe you PAIN!" And, it works! Of course, Glory recovers, there's a short battle, but Buffy comes in and saves Willow (after all, there are still a handful of episodes left in the season.) But isn't that what you want to do after a heartbreak: lash out at the thing that caused it. You owe it pain!

Another heartbreaking story of love gone bad was when Xander left Anya at the alter during the dreadful Season 6. In the episode "Hell's Bells", Anya and Xander are about to get married, and Xander is confronted by an older man who claims to be the future version of Xander. This man shows Xander his future, which is, frankly, dreadful. The two have grown to hate each other, blaming each other for ruining each other's lives and destroying each other's dreams. It is later revealed that this man wasn't really the future Xander, but the current Xander doesn't care. He realizes that it could be his future, and he can't bear to put the two of them at risk for such awfulness. He leaves Anya, and she is absolutely heartbroken. So heartbroken, in fact, she goes back to being a vengeance demon.

By the time we get to "Selfless" in Season 7, Anya is a shell of herself, willing to inflict incredible pain on others, just because any heartbroken woman wishes for it. When she causes the (very bloody) deaths of an entire frat house, she realizes that she has gone too far, and wishes for her own death. Instead of her own death, she loses a friend as well as her demon status -- she's human again. It's not a major story, but it is interesting to watch her regain herself over the rest of the episodes in the season.

This is what would always draw me in with "Buffy"; the relationships in the series were all very real, multi-dimensional. See, you can write about kicking vampire butt and love!

Movie reviews of movies I haven't seen

Let's talk about the movie "Killers." If I see it, it's going to be one of those things where it's Saturday and I'm sick and there's not a "Law and Order" to be found but, hey! look what's on Lifetime! I'm sure it's harmless, but I'm not going to seek it out either. But I do have a couple of questions: first of all, Katherine Heigl as kooky? Really? Ashton Kutcher is the smart one in this relationship? And, if we really do want to see the kooky blond girl with the secret agent type, won't we just wait for Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise in "Knight and Day"?

"Sex and the City 2." We're over this, right? If you're going to this, it's because you have this weird sense of obligation to the series, not because you actually think it's going to be a good movie, right? Because I just don't get it. Do we like any of them anymore? This isn't a prude thing, but I just kind of find them gross. Maybe it's the different economy or something, but the shoes! the clothes! The fabulous adventures! -- Just kind of gross. Love you, John Corbett, but couldn't you have waited for the "Northern Exposure" movie?

Here's a head scratcher: "Kick Ass" is still at the local theatre.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ma Bell

It's hard to believe, but there used to be a time when it matter where people lived when you called. Do you remember when it mattered if a phone call was "long distance"? I was thinking about this the other day, how we so easily pick up out cell phones and make a call; it doesn't matter if the person is one mile away or across the country.

I remember having friends at other high schools, too far away for local calls. (We actually wrote each other letters! Remember those days? I still have a box of those letters that I pull out now and again, laughing at the silly bits, trying to remember certain names that were being discussed with such intensity.) A phone call was a rarity, maybe for a birthday, but they were to be short and to the point. And since it was a Big Deal, both of us would be awkward: "How are you?!" "How are you?!" "Good, good! What else?" "Um." (Thinking, thinking -- what can I say? I've only got five minutes. There must be something!) The casual feel of the usual chats weren't there. The minute you hung up, there was a flood of things I wished I had said. Once in high school, a couple of us snuck in to use a faculty phone so we could call a friend long distance. We spent half the call saying "Guess who this is!" and the other half just giggling about what we though we had pulled off. (Clearly, this was the crime of the decade!) We barely stayed on the phone for ten minutes, terrified that we would be caught.

I remember when we'd have family vacations or school trips, wondering if we'd pass close enough to make a local call. Could we stop for a few minutes, when it would only cost a quarter to call? Even if we didn't stop, there was a sort of thrill: we're in Columbus now, who could I call if I had the time? I'd have a mental map of my friends: Pacman lives here, Terri is the next town over, is this close enough to Donna's? I'd bring my address book, just in case.

Even now, just last week, I drove near Pittsburgh and thought of a couple of friends I could call as a local call, as if I didn't have my cell phone handy, as if it made a difference. I sort of laughed to myself, remembering when long distance was a Big Deal. And in some ways I miss it. I kind of miss it, that these calls are no longer a special occasion.