They’re really out there…

An email that was in my masqthephlsphr inbox this morning. It’s bad enough this person seems to believe buffy and angel are real people. But why would s/he think they’d hang out at my website?

buffy u are a role model to me.
i look up tou in many different ways.
by the way i hopeur not going out with angel because hes cute!! if u no what i mean.
if u could tell him that and heres my email [removed]
will u and angel email , i would appreciate if u and angel could email , so please try to and i have to go so get back to ya
ur friend,

Regarding Henry

current snackfood: Tortilla chips for breakfast

I’ve been cleaning out the movie cabinet lately, trying to get rid of the large volume of video tapes I own. Making some tough decisions about what to keep and what must go. Some of the movies are easy–definite keepers. Others must be watched again before I reach a verdict.

Synoposis: Rich jerk gets a personality-dectomy from a handgun.

Analysis: The moral message of this movie (“don’t be a rich jerk”) is delivered with an anvil. Everybody loves nicer but mentally deficient Henry. And Harrison Ford, while one of my favorite actors, doesn’t do incompetent well. The mean, morally deficient Henry is a more convincing acting job. Harrison Ford should stick to earnest heroes, rogues, and bastard lawyers.

Verdict: I will keep this movie in my collection because I’m fascinated by the effect brain damage can have on the personality (any one else out there an Oliver Sacks fan?), and because I love seeing rich jerks taken down a peg.

PS: My Highlander Season 2 DVDs arrived today! I am one happy TV ho. My credit card, however, is being punished for it.

I need book recommendations!

So I’m headed off to the library tonight to return my books, but I forgot to include my list of books I want to check out in my back-pack (for some reason I was very distracted this morning as I got ready for work).

I have the last Tamora Pierce Lioness book on my list to check out, and I jotted down a note to look for Gaiman’s “American Gods” even though most likely all the copies will be completely checked out and I’ll have to reserve a copy.

Harry Potter vols 1-4 are on order with, and there aren’t any English language copies available at the libraray anyway (American or British).

So that leaves me with just one Pierce book to come home with. I would like to expand my reading list now that I’ve discovered The Place with the Free Books, but I’m drawing a blank about what to do next. My taste in books is generally: fiction, sci-fi/fantasy. The books I like should have at least some connection to the real world and/or the human race. In general, I am turned off by books that take place entirely on another planet/fantasy place with a completely alien race and no humans.

Exceptions to this are Star Wars, in which for some inexplicable reason the human-looking characters refer to themselves as “human” even though they live in a galaxy far, far away, and Lord of the Rings, even though I spent countless exacerbated hours trying to figure out exactly where “Middle Earth” was on Earth.

It’s not so much that I am conventional when it comes to my reading tastes, as I am looking for something very specific in my sci-fi/fantasy: the illusion that this could be real. If it’s happening to Earth-humans (say, like Star Trek, in the future), I can imagine that this could really be our future. If it’s happening on our Earth in the present day, I can imagine its real no matter how fantastic it actually is (BtVS and AtS are good examples of this, since they continue to cling to the idea that this is taking place on our Earth, and most people are ridiculously ignorant of the demons and magic around them).

So generally speaking, I don’t like alternate dimension stuff unless people cross over to our world from there or to there from our world. Same for complete alien society stuff (I don’t get much into the “this is metaphorically about the human race” stuff. I’m rather literal).

All those caveats aside, any suggestions? I need a good distraction……


So I was busily using this keen LJ feature called “Memories” to categorize and quick-link all my LJ entries on movies, TV shows, writing, books, etc, etc, when I realized I haven’t written much about books. It’s not that I haven’t been reading them, I have–what else is there to do while you’re walking down the sidewalk in San Francisco?

I did get to the library and checked out some books, as I mentioned previously, mostly out of the juvenile reading section. This may be part of my summer fluff-mode thing. I’m just not up for serious movies, or adult reading.

I’ve been writing journal entries about what I’ve read, I just haven’t been writing them in my LJ. I think it’s because every time I’m moved to write about what I’m reading, I’m somewhere like deep in the forest hiking or up 30,000 feet in a plane. And then I’m too lazy to transcribe what I’ve written long hand onto the computer. Books I read and wrote about elsewhere: “The Fancy Dancer” by Patricia Nell Warren and “Dive” by Stacey Donovan.

“The Fancy Dancer” is a book I’ve owned for 20 years and have read many times in that span, but I got something totally new out of reading it while I was in Guernville in May. It’s about a priest in Montana who has an affair with a half-breed mechanic. It explores some controversial issues around using sexual metaphors in religion (an example of such a metaphor would be “the bride of Christ”, but in this case the metaphor is homoerotic).

“Dive” I read on the plane heading down to Arizona. It was about a 15-year old girl who’s father is dying of a rare blood disease. It has the most beautiful use of similes I’ve ever read, used to get across this anxiety-laden, claustrophobic feeling of having a family member dying (and in case you’re wondering how that fits into my “fluff mode”, I checked it out because it was supposedly a teen lesbian romance. The love interest doesn’t even appear until 150 pages into the book!)

I more recently discovered a fun little teen book series by Tamora Pierce called The Song of the Lioness series, which tells the story of a young girl growing up in a mythical land not unlike Medieval Europe. She and her brother are each being sent off to school, her to learn magic and him to earn knighthood. But each wants to do what the other sibling is being sent to do, so they trade places. She pretends to be a boy and goes to the palace to learn how to be a knight. I’m not usually into historical fantasy, but with a spirited little cross-dressing tomboy, how could I resist?

I’ve decided that libraries are a Good Thing. However, bookstores are also a good thing. I ordered the four-volume set of the Harry Potter books from My friend Gloria was supposed to buy me “Philospher’s Stone” when she was in England. Then she comes home with two copies of “Order of the Phoenix”. I assumed one was for me, and then she gives me this weird look and says she bought the other copy for her ex-girlfriend.

Whatever. As soon as I get through the first four books, I’ll buy my own friggin’ copy of “Phoenix”. Who can resist a story about a cranky, morally ambiguous teen-aged boy?

Philosophically brunette

So, I rented “Legally Blonde” from netflix. That’s about the level of intelligence in movies I can deal with these days. Pretty brain-fried this summer. Movie-lite is the order of the day. Now, I realize every character in this movie is a caricature (hence why I won’t go into a rant about the stereotypical way they depicted gay men), but this Elle woman just puzzles the hell out of me.

I don’t get women like her. I mean, it’s one thing to be high-maintenance to the people around you, it’s another thing entirely to be high maintenance to yourself. When does she find time to study for her Harvard Law classes between shopping, doing her hair, nails, make-up, leg waxes, and every other thing she has to do to look the way she does?

I’ve never understood why some women spend so much time and money on that kind of stuff. I used to assume it was All About Attracting Men, and that they’d been brain-washed by our consumerist society into thinking they Had to do this, but that deep down in their heart of hearts, they didn’t want to. One reason I became a feminist in junior high school was so that I could rebel against this sort of slavery. I mean, I feel put out because, ever since I decided to grow my hair out long, I have to blow-dry my hair everyday. Some days, I just don’t wash my hair at all because I hate wasting 15 minutes with that damned blow-dryer.

Of course, as I grew older and wider in experience, I realized some women actually enjoy spending a sizeable chunk of their time getting facials and manicures and shopping for new shoes. And it really doesn’t have much to do with Getting A Guy, although apparently it doesn’t hurt in that regard, either. I think this lesson was really hit home for me when I started getting to know some drag queens. I mean, guys have it easy in the getting-ready-for-the-new-day department. Shit, shower and shave, throw on a pair of pants, and you’re out the door. This was always my ideal, except for the shaving part. Then I meet these men who seem to enjoy the whole business of getting trussed-up in complicated outfits and make-up and shoes.

People who actually wear high-heels by choice? I mean, it’s like voluntarily choosing foot-binding. “Gee, I want to make myself completely helpless if some deranged criminal started chasing me down the street.”

But, see, the truth is, I have always been one of those women born to wear sensible shoes, slacks that actually have back pockets (for pencils and billfolds), and just a smidge of mascara to bring out my eyes.

But back to Elle. I realize “Legally Blonde” isn’t a complete marshmallow movie. The idea here is “she can be [stereotyically] womanly and smart” (as if we all believed that was a contradiction in terms). And I know OnM and some of the other board guys were very Impressed by this movie and the actress who plays her. Different strokes.

For me, it’s fluff, because I need fluff, I can’t deal with too much seriousness this summer. So, bonus points to LB for keeping my head out of the murk.

But she loses mega-points for dissing Rachel Welch because she’s a brunette.

The Champion

One of my favorite TV shows of all time is “Highlander”. It’s about Duncan MacLeod, a champion. In fact, looking over the TV shows I like best–BtVS, Angel, DSN, and Highlander–they are all about champions. I don’t apologize for the use of that term anymore than the producers and writers of “Angel” do, even though they do overuse it.

A champion is a warrior who takes on the battles of people who can’t fight (physically) for themselves. I used to wonder why I was so into shows about warriors and fighters, given my own pacifist proclivities. Duncan Macleod helps illuminate this. He is a warrior. He’s killed lots of people and continues to. And yet, at the same time, he is a pacifist. There was a time when he wasn’t a pacifist, at least not consciously. He was raised a Scottish clan warrior. His responsibility was to protect his people from their enemies. He continued to be a professional soldier for years and years until he met Darius, who helped him recognized within himself a feeling he already had–that most killing is senseless slaughter, that the cycle of revenge is pointless. That the only reason to fight is to defend people against those who would slaughter senselessly.

The Duncan we meet in 1993 doesn’t go looking for fights, but if someone challenges him, he will fight if he is forced to. Often he tries to find ways to avoid a battle. But if he must fight, he does, and if he has to, he will kill.

As a warrior, Duncan can never stay far away from battles for very long. He tried to. He stayed on “holy ground” for years avoiding other immortals and their quest for “the prize”. He was an abolitionist during the Civil War. He lived with the Sioux during an era when American Indians were being mass slaughtered. He was a medic in World War I. He helped save refuges in the Viet Nam War. Always in the war zone. Always the champion.

Pacifism isn’t about believing that all war is bad. It’s about recognizing that all war is sad. Sometimes it is necessary for the greater good, but the pacifist warrior is someone who choses his battles carefully, who never seeks them out, who defends the innocent and recognizes that the value of people isn’t based on how strong they are.

Some of his pacifism probably isn’t always wise. He lives by a code of chivalry that won’t allow him to kill people who can’t engage him in a “fair fight”–he won’t kill women immortals, or child immortals. As Methos pointed out to him, there’s more than physical strength involved in a fight. The women and children have their own weapons. Duncan knows this, and he understands the “weapons” they use. But still he won’t kill them, and this may one day be his undoing.

Or maybe he will be the one. He will be the last immortal in the end. He will win “the prize”–all the strength and knowledge of the other immortals will go into him, making him the most powerful person on Earth. Jim Dawson hopes so. And when his clansman Connor forced Duncan to kill him so that they could defeat a powerful evil immortal, Duncan came that much closer to being “the one”, as far as story lines go.

We’ll probably never know if Duncan will be the last immortal, although, what’s the point of telling his story if he isn’t?

Babylon 5

Now I know why, given all the sci-fi shows I have on tape, I don’t have Babylon 5 on tape. The first season is so tedious, and I caught the rest of the show in bits and pieces. I think I have yet to see any of Season 5.

I’ve never been interested in shows that focus on “political intrigue”. If I wanted political intrigue, I’d watch the news or read a newspaper. Both things depress the hell out of me. I prefer shows that focus on personal relationships, like BtVS and Angel do.

That doesn’t explain why I adore Deep Space Nine, which also had political intrigue, but Star Trek never seemed nearly so in-your-face about political story lines. Deep Space Nine was always ultimately about the characters and their interpersonal relationships with each other, not how the Romulans hate the Klingons who hate the Cardassians who hate the Bajorans who hate the blah blah blah. That was part of it, yes, but I don’t remember it bothering me or boring me like it does with B5.

I know enough about Babylon 5 to know some interesting things arise when the races have to ban together against the Shadows. A lot like the DSN war against the Dominion. And I know there is a whole messiah story line involving Commander Sinclair as the Minbari prophet, Valen. It’s funny all the parallels between B5 and DSN, with the Sisko-as-Emissary storyline.

I’m going to watch all of B5 and give it a chance to impress me, through the magic of cable and rental DVDs. I think I’ve seen it all the way through at least once, but I don’t remember it moving me the way DSN did. We’ll see.

I already am a big Ivanova/Talia shipper. Sexual tension or what? And it’s good to know in advance it gets consummated, even if it was done too subtley.

Yet more results in my spiritual/ethical journey

Results not surprising to me. Again, the appeal of New-agey ideas like pantheism. Agnosticism towards the top. This gets at some of my discomfort with Secular Humanism. Buddhism, Zen, all that stuff in the middle. Atheism, Rand, and Relativism bite the dust!

#1 Scientific Pantheism
#2 Taoism
#3 Agnostic Church
#4 Pantheism
#5 Atheistic Paganism
#6 Secular Humanism
#7 Deism
#8 Theraveda Buddhism
#9 Rationalism
#10 Unitarian Universalism
#11 Zen Atheism
#12 Ethical Culture
#13 Transhumanism
#14 Atheism a la American Atheists
#15 Freethought, Church of
#16 Confucianism
#17 Randaism (Objectivism)
#18 Relativism, moral/cultural

I had to do this one

I’m in the middle of trying to define what exactly, if anything I believe. It’s difficult if you’re an agnostic. It’s part of that system that you consciously chose neither to believe nor not to believe things you have no empirical experience of. But that does leave a certain spiritual emptiness that I do have empirical experience of. Or perhaps the better term here is “subjective experience of”, meaning internal to my psyche rather than “experienced in the external world”.

The results are not surprising. Alternative points of view at the top, favoring secular humanism, which I’ve always had an uncomfortable alliance with. Buddhism towards the middle–I can never quite connect with Eastern Religions. Western Religious orthodoxies at the bottom. I think I’m interested in the root religious concepts behind paganism and New Age movements, although the actual practices and institutions and individuals in these movements make me uncomfortable as well. *sigh*

1.  Neo-Pagan (100%)
2.  New Age (94%)
3.  Liberal Quakers (75%)
4.  Unitarian Universalism (75%)
5.  Secular Humanism (66%)
6.  Orthodox Quaker (62%)
7.  Scientology (61%)
8.  Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (60%)
9.  Mainline – Liberal Christian Protestants (60%)
10.  Mahayana Buddhism (59%)
11.  Taoism (58%)
12.  New Thought (55%)
13.  Bahá’í Faith (50%)
14.  Theravada Buddhism (50%)
15.  Sikhism (48%)
16.  Reform Judaism (47%)
17.  Hinduism (43%)
18.  Non-theist (41%)
19.  Jainism (40%)
20.  Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (39%)
21.  Mainline – Conservative Christian Protestant (31%)
22.  Seventh Day Adventist (30%)
23.  Islam (28%)
24.  Orthodox Judaism (28%)
25.  Jehovah’s Witness (27%)
26.  Eastern Orthodox (24%)
27.  Roman Catholic (24%)

I’m a TV whore

According to many of my local friends (I am no longer calling them my “real life” friends. The internet is “real life”, too, isn’t it?), television is a vast wasteland of continuing stereotypes and gratuitous violence dumbed down to the level of a ten-year old. A ten-year old boy of course, because somehow in this sexist way of thinking, that’s worse than a ten-year old girl.

The only reason you’d want to watch television, according to this way of thinking, is if you want to ogle half-naked breasts. And *we*, sniff, do NOT want to do that (this is coming mostly from lesbians, and I really, really believe them when they say that. It’s a contextual thing. Ogling breasts is really only enjoyable/appropriate in a non-exploitative context. Otherwise it’s… also uncomfortable).

Of course, you CANNOT convince people like this that a show called “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” has any redeeming social value, no matter how many times you talk about Buffy’s butt-kicking or the number of academic papers on her feminist symbolism.

But, screw them. I find plenty to enjoy on television even if I agree that ogling breasts is really only appropriate in a non-exploitative context.

The whole point of this post is to say I got the rest of my goodies in the mail today–the Queer as Folk season 3 tapes and the Highlander Season 1 DVD set. Oh, this is such a dangerous thing. Not the free QAF tapes from a bud, but the pricey DVD sets from amazon. Scrollgirl can attest to this–the temptations of and a credit card. Oh, my wishlist overfloweth–I’ve got ST:TNG, ST:DSN, Highlander, and X-Files beckoning from my wish list.

At home, I have home-made VHS copies of all of the above, not to mention ST: TOS, Voyager, and Enterprise and Forever Knight and H: The Raven and Lois and Clark and Roswell and Space: Above and Beyond (sniff! It died too young!), and “Soap”.

I’ve got drug dealers… er, I mean friends, sending me Six Feet Under and Queer as Folk tapes. I am pre-ordered at amazon for All Things BtVS and Angel, because they’re BtVS and Angel. Plus, they’re cheaper than the aforementioned DVD stuff.

Through the magic that is netflix, I am catching up on Babylon 5, which I’ve only seen once through, Space 1999, which I haven’t seen in 25 years, Dark Shadows, which is impossible to keep up with on cable, La Femme Nikita, and Stargate SG-1.

And ooh! Did you know that Season 1 of “ER” is coming out on DVD soon? I had to stop watching that show after the first season because I just had too many viewing commitments at the time. I’d love to catch up in a more systematic way than the occasional cable rerun. Plus “Alias” is coming out on DVD in September. I haven’t seen it because of the previous conflict with Angel. Ditto on Smallville, whenever it comes out. It conflicted with some show or other I watched/taped back when it debuted.

And ooh! The new season of “The Dead Zone” started last night.

Do you see a trend here? Do you see how this is? I am a TV whore!