Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I'm a Radio Superstar

Yesterday, I appeared as a special guest on the WCBN environment-themed show "It's Hot in Here" as the "Style and Fashion and Celebrity Correspondent" to discuss celebrities and environmentalism in light of the de-greening of the Oscars on Sunday. You can listen to the episode here. Although the whole thing is interesting if you're down for an hour of eco-programming, you can skip to around the 13:00 mark to hear my segment. While you're there, post a comment about how you want me to make another appearance!

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I know this has been making the rounds, but if you haven't seen it yet, the following video is the greatest thing ever created by humanity and we should all give up trying to top it:

Best parts:

"I'm her mom!"
"No, she's not!"



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Introducing: Forty Days of Foliage

I think I'm going to go vegetarian for Lent (2/25-4/12) this year. I don't eat a lot of meat as it is, but I'd like to eat even less, as it's not great for the body and it's even worse for the environment. It's something I've been wanting to try for a while, and while I'm not particularly devout, Lent provides a useful not-too-long, yet not-too-short time span for me to try this out. Although I don't feel like I could ever go completely vegetarian, I think this could be a great opportunity for me to really expand my view of what food can be. Also, I came up with a neat title: Forty Days of Foliage! But here's what I need from you, dear readers:

1.) Should I include fish? My reasons for going veggie are environmental, so I don't feel a particular moral need to not eat fish. Although there are obviously still environmental impacts to fish harvesting, I feel like these are more easily mitigated by smart fish selection. But I also don't want to "cheat," and I think if I become too reliant on fish (which I hardly ever eat currently) I might miss out on the key "lessons" of all of this. Maybe I can only have fish once a week? Once a fortnight? SUGGEST.

2.) I don't like beans (pretty much none of them), so I need you to tell me what other things I can be using as a protein substitute. RECIPES PLEASE.

3.) I need encouragement. Tell me how great this is going to be and how much better I'll feel and how it's going to change my life. Because here's how I'm viewing it right now: The next two months will probably be the most stressful of my life (ack finishing grad school ack) and I'm giving up something that would otherwise comfort me in favor of adding another stressor. CONVINCE ME.

Assuming I go through with this, I'll be writing about my experiences on here every few days during Lent, partly as a document of the experiment and partly as a way of shaming myself if I fail. I hope you'll stick with me as I do this, because I am really going to miss bacon and I'm going to need your friendship to help me through it.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

I Love You Too, Huggykins

Although I find it an entirely inappropriate venue to do so, I've adjusted to the fact that people express their loves and huggles and kissies on Facebook and force me to see it on my news feed. I also knew to expect a great deal of this on Valentine's Day. However, these wall posts between a married couple still made me vom in my mouth a bit (and I don't feel bad sharing them here, since they clearly want the whole world to see):

I love you, honey!!!! Happy Valentines Day!!!! God has truly blessed me. I have the best husband and father to my children I could ever hope for...I love you more today than yesterday and more tomorrow than today :-)

I love you too, dear. I know you never believe me, but I really can't imagine a better wife and mother of my beautiful little girls. I have never been happier in my life.

Umm... DON'T YOU LIVE TOGETHER? Did she use the computer write this on his wall and then let him get on to read it and respond? God forbid they say such things in person. Ugh.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Five Worst Episodes of Buffy

Although my posts so far this week have been celebrating the heights of Buffy, today I'll be discussing my least favorites of the series. Although a number of episodes were less-than-enjoyable (as will happen with 144 episodes of anything), here are the five (plus one) I've singled out for shame, all of which seem to carry some sort of heavy-handed message:

Almost Bad Enough: The Pack (Season 1, Episode 6)
Xander and some mean kids get possessed by a pack of hyenas and proceed to eat the principal. A crazy zookeeper who hadn't really appeared at all in the episode turns out to be the villain. The only reason I'm not including this episode is that it was pretty early on in the series, they were still going through growing pains, etc. But this still sucks. MESSAGE: DON'T BE MEAN TO PEOPLE AND DON'T EAT YOUR PRINCIPAL.

5. Go Fish (Season 2, Episode 20)
The swim team is turning into fish because of some steroid their coach is giving them. But we do get that shot of them at the end, returning to the ocean, as they were meant to be (except wait, they're supposed to be teenage boys and now they're not.) Is that supposed to be touching? MESSAGE: DON'T DO STEROIDS THAT TURN YOU INTO A FISH.

4. Buffy v. Dracula (Season 5, Episode 1)
What a terrible idea this was. Why does Dracula have to be real in the Buffyverse? Why does he have to be so lame? Why was this the first episode of the season? What was the point? MESSAGE: DON'T DO DRACULA.

3. Hell's Bells (Season 6, Episode 16)
The main problem I have with this episode, aside from the fact that it split my beloved Anya/Xander pairing apart, is that Xander's actions just don't seem like something he would do, based on what we've known of him for the past 5 and a half seasons. It just doesn't fit with his persona; it was just Joss fucking with us because he knows he can. MESSAGE: DON'T FALL IN LOVE EVER OR YOU'LL SUFFER.

2. Wrecked (Season 6, Episode 10)
Lameness abounds in this episode, when Spike and Buffy's rough sex destroys a building and Rack suddenly becomes a really important character even though we don't know anything about him. This was the point where Willow's magic "addiction" really went over-the-top; she gets filled with "magic" by a creepy man, it makes her hallucinate, and then she desperately craves more, to the point where she endangers others. I know the show isn't particularly known for its subtlety, but come on. MESSAGE: DON'T GET ADDICTED TO MAGIC/HEROIN.

1. Beer Bad (Season 4, Episode 5)
In the worst ever episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, beer turns Buffy into a caveperson. This leads to her solving her problems by hitting the guy she had a one-night stand with in the head with a tree branch. Also, college students talk about philosophy or something. In short, this episode is a mess. I might watch it again if you paid me, but it's convoluted, preachy, and worst of all, entirely unentertaining. MESSAGE: DON'T WATCH THIS EPISODE. ALSO, HIT PEOPLE WHO ARE MEAN TO YOU WITH STICKS.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Top Buffy Episodes: #5-#1

It was tough to do, but I think these truly are my favorite episodes of Buffy. There aren't any real left-field picks out of these last five, although as you may have noticed from the earlier installments of this list, it continues to skew toward the latter seasons. Well, except for...

5. The Prom (Season 3, Episode 20)
I'll be honest - this is the first Buffy episode that made me almost cry. Jonathan's speech is wonderfully affecting, especially considering the events in "Episode" just a few weeks before, and Sarah Michelle Gellar seems genuinely moved. Sure, the monster was secondary this episode, but that occurs in some of the best. "The Prom" wrapped up Buffy's high school years with class. (Pun totally not intended.)

4. The Body (Season 5, Episode 16)
Although I list it as one of my favorites, I don't know if I'll ever be able to watch this episode again. It is one of the most difficult, painful hours of TV I've ever seen, and I'm not eager to relive it. Having said that, it is almost one of the best I've seen; every aspect is artfully done (with the choice to forgo incidental music being one of the best decisions Joss Whedon ever made.) It also has Anya's speech about death, which I consider to be the single greatest moment in the series.

3. Once More, With Feeling (Season 6, Episode 7)
The musical episode! SO FUN. Plus, Willow goes down on Tara in entirely unsubtle fashion. The songs are mostly great, and unlike most other series that would have a musical episode as a gimmick, they actually advance the story. We see Anya and Xander's growing dissatisfaction with each other, Tara learns that Willow has gone too far with the magic, and Buffy tells everyone that they yanked her out of heaven. Oops. My only real complaint is that there's no fight at the end, but eh, it's still pretty damn good.

2. The Gift (Season 5, Episode 22)
I had a really hard time picking between this and my number one spot. "The Gift" is the best fusion of the comedic, dramatic, and action elements of the series, and I'm sure there are many times I would favor it. There's just so much to love: Willow saves Tara, Joel Grey is ultracreepy, Giles is a total badass about killing Ben/Glory, Buffy repeatedly hits Glory with a giant hammer, and oh yeah, Buffy sacrifices herself to save the world and makes us all cry. And as corny as they were, Buffy's last words to Dawn get me every time. Although I enjoyed the last two seasons a great deal, this would've been an excellent closing to the series if things had worked out differently. (They still could have revived her for the comic books or whatever.)

1. Hush (Season 4, Episode 10)
I'm sure this will surprise absolutely nobody, but yeah. "Hush" is simply the most entertaining, engaging and interesting episode in all of Buffy. Again, the premise could be a gimmick on other shows, but Joss turns it into a musing on the way we communicate, down to the absolutely brilliant ending. It's also the most genuinely horror-filled episode of Buffy; the Gentlemen are by far the creepiest enemy Buffy faces throughout all seven seasons. And I could watch Giles give his overhead presentation about the Gentlemen to "Danse Macabre" over and over and over.

There it is! The conclusion of my favorite episodes of Buffy. I know I left off some of the early favorites ("Becoming, Parts 1 and 2," "Innocence," "Prophecy Girl"), but I realllly didn't like Angel, so those episodes are irrevocably tainted. Deal with it. Check back tomorrow for my least favorites!

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Top Buffy Episodes: #10-#6

In this installment: Finales! Anya! Alternate realities by the fistful!

10. Chosen (Season 7, Episode 22)
I initially had ranked this, the series finale of Buffy, a bit higher, but after a few day's distance, there was way too much of Angel and Principal Wood in this episode. Also, I know not every death needs to be a huge deal, but Anya was killed off rather unceremoniously; Xander didn't even really seem all that upset. Aside from that, though, this was a fitting way to end it all. Buffy achieves (relative) normality, Spike gets his hero moment, and Sunnydale eats it. I especially loved the montage that plays as women around the world achieve their Slayerdom. Maybe I was just more willing to suspend my disbelief since I knew it was the end, but I was pretty satisfied with the way it all wrapped up.

9. Tabula Rasa (Season 6, Episode 8)
"Tabula Rasa" is one of the rare Buffy episodes that achieves both hilarity and poignancy. The interplay between the amnesiac Scoobies is great fun (particularly everything that happens with Giles and Anya - she summons bunnies, he fights a skeleton, they kiss - fantastic!), but the moment when they regain their memories and Tara realizes what Willow has done is heartbreaking. And although Michelle Branch kinda sucks, "Goodbye to You" actually works quite well in this setting. This is perhaps the most well-rounded episode on this list.

8. The Wish (Season 3, Episode 9)
What would Sunnydale be like without Buffy? Pretty sucky, apparently. Even though you know it's not "reality," it's still pretty rough to watch just about every main character die. (Xander and Willow kill Cordelia, Xander kills Angel, Buffy kills Xander, Oz kills Willow, The Master kills Buffy... phew) But hooray, Giles gets to save the day! Also, we meet Anya, who would go on to be my all-time favorite character.

7. Selfless (Season 7, Episode 5)
Did I mention I love Anya? Here, we learn all about Anya's past, and it's AWESOME. My favorite part: Anya started the Russian Revolution of 1905. And we get another song! Also, Anya's fight with Buffy is one of the most satisfying in the entire series (and I was totally rooting for Anya.) It's disappointing that Anya's new-found development in this episode didn't really go anywhere; after this episode, Anya was mostly relegated to bit moments of comic relief. At least, until she got stabbed and no one really seemed to care. (Except me. I cared!)

6. Normal Again (Season 6, Episode 17)
I mentally refer to this as the Twilight Zone episode of Buffy. Although the whole "What if it's just in a dream/someone's imagination?" gimmick is fairly common, it's done so well here. It seems entirely plausible that crazy Buffy has invented an entire universe, and although we know what choice she's going to make at the end, it's a credit to Kristine Sutherland (the actress who plays Buffy's mom) that her failed attempt at regaining her daughter's sanity is so affecting and ultimately devastating. We shouldn't be rooting for her, but we are.

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Top Buffy Episodes: #15-#11

Over the weekend, I finished watching the entire series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and despite my initial misgivings, it turned out to be pretty darn good. Sure, there are rough moments, but overall, I was quite satisfied. So, in celebration of my completion of this journey, I'm declaring it Buffy Week here at Arsenic and Old Face. Over the next three days, watch for my top 15 episodes to be revealed, five at a time. (I know 15 seems like a lot, but hey, I have 144 to choose from.) That will be followed by my five least favorite, and then possibly a more general post about the show to conclude the week. (But I'm not making any promises on that.) Anyway, here are episodes #15-#11 on my list:

15. Witch (Season 1, Episode 3)
One of the only genuinely memorable Season 1 episodes for me, "Witch" introduces us to the character of Amy Madison, who recurs in interesting ways throughout the series. It also is the first "teenage-trouble-manifest-as-monster" episode; in this case, the archetypal overbearing mother who tries to force her daughter to follow in her footsteps as a cheerleader turns out to be a witch who sets other girls on fire. Which is really kind of awesome.

14. No Place Like Home (Season 5, Episode 5)
This episode makes the list for two major reasons. First is that the wtfery of Dawn's sudden appearance is explained, and while Dawn turns out to be pretty lame, at the time, the reveal is fairly devastating; Sarah Michelle Gellar does some of her best acting as she deals with the shock of a fake sister, fake memories, and an altered life without her consent. Second, we meet the best Big Bad (well, maybe second best after The Mayor) of them all: Glory. Now, I know from the Internets that some find Glory to be really obnoxious, but I. Love. Her. I love the way the actress devours the scenery each time she appears, and I love that in her first appearance, she breaks a heel, throws a tantrum, and causes an entire building to fall around her. That moment epitomizes everything I so enjoyed about Glory.

13. Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered (Season 2, Episode 16)
So Xander (especially high school Xander) is ADORABLE. That's why this episode made the list; it gives him plenty of opportunity to be all cute while he deflects overzealous lovers (including Joyce, which is amazing) from all around. Also, it ends with Cordelia finally losing her shame over dating Xander, creating my favorite coupling in the early seasons.

12. The Zeppo (Season 3, Episode 13)
Two Xander-centric episodes in a row! "The Zeppo" is fun not just because of Xander's awesomeness, but because of the way it plays with the structure of the show. What would normally be a B-plot or C-plot (Xander's mini-quest) becomes the focus, while we continually receive hints of a near-apocalypse being averted by the rest of the cast. And as a result, we get a more confident, more self-assured Xander.

11. Dirty Girls (Season 7, Episode 18)
This is where Season 7 really starts to pick up steam. Faith returns to Sunnydale, Caleb shows up (God, Nathan Fillion is so creepy in this), and Buffy makes her biggest error of perhaps the entire series, blindly leading the Potentials into battle. Also, it has two of the most unsettling Buffy scenes: Caleb's vicious stabbing of the Potential at the open of the episode, and the destruction of Xander's eye, which was waaaaay gross. From "Dirty Girls" on, Season 7 is gold.

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