The Vampire Slayer Diaries: Preface



Package art to the Angel and Buffy boxed sets TM and © 2010 Twentieth Century Fox.

Of all the posts I couldn't publish this past week, the most time-sensitive one regards Nikki Stafford's imminent Great Buffy Rewatch.

I'd made the odd remark both here and on Nikki's blog, Nik at Nite, that when Lost wrapped up we should try to keep the gang there together through some dedicated event — because the community of commenters that built around that show on that website was sensational. A new favorite or favorites might pop up, sure, but Nikki, whose blog was an outgrowth of her popular Finding 'Lost' books, had earlier penned episode guides to Alias, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Buffy spinoff Angel, all of which seemed like ripe candidates for a comprehensive rewatch; as a bonus, Nikki would make some extra coin from those of us who didn't yet own the books. Almost as soon as I (and others) began suggesting it, I started twitching at the likely time commitment, but here we are with the project a reality and I can't wait to dive in.

Down for the Count


I could and probably should be spending my first lasting Internet connection ["Ha! Too late!" say the gods of cyberspace] in days on something important. Maybe I am. ["Maybe not!"] While I reload some open pages in the browser to catch up on various blogs during the next, inevitable connection fail ["Psyche!"], I also want to post something brief here because I know that folks get pretty sick of looking at Santa Claus once Christmas has gone.

So here are my contributions to this week's online Late Show with David Letterman Top Ten Contest, complete with sops as usual to the show's own running jokes, in the category...

Top Ten Things Overheard During New Year's Eve in Times Square

Nick of Time


A Drum for Tommy © 1921 Norman Rockwell.


I met Santa Claus last night.

Really, I did; I'll tell you about it. And the timing was perfect, as the lights have not been in my favor this season.

Stocking Stuff



Screencap © 2010 Worldwide Pants Inc.

Last night, Christmas arrived at The Late Show with David Letterman a day early. Dave's always preempted on Christmas Eve so that CBS can air Mass, but this time the fabled meatball was toppled from The Ed Sullivan Theater's Christmas tree — as was the pizza — on the night before the night before the Night before Christmas, when Dave rammed into the tree on a go-kart. He was trying out toys again with Shannon Eis (who always enters to the strains of "Ice Ice Baby").

clip of the joy ride is up now on the Late Show website, but I don't know how long it will last.

Infernal Devices




As faithful followers of this blog know, I've adopted Mark Evanier's "ancient Internet tradition" of using a Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup can to symbolize a break in new content.

I don't always owe a hiatus in posts to lack of time, however, except insofar as technological glitches make blogging more time-intensive than it's supposed to be. Sure, I'm a bit of a control freak, and I have a harder time writing than I used to, but once something's written the essential selling point of various blogging platforms is ease and simplicity of virtual publishing — Blogger most of all, which is why I went with Blogger, yet Blogger couldn't be more successful at frustrating me and driving me away if it had tried (which looking at the evidence you would nearly swear it did).

Screen Savor: Miscellany




I don't know what's more frustrating about my lack of ability to post — the fully written pieces that pile up, or the notes that get jotted down on of-the-moment material and never fleshed out because their moment has passed. This mélange covers some stuff I've been enjoying on TV, on disc, and even on the Interwebs when the connection allows (that is, rarely). I'm hoping to have some recent movie reviews up before the year is out, although I've hardly seen all the year's acclaimed films yet.

Because it's long and Blogger has been cooperating more than usual, I've again set up a jump break to the post's dedicated page, wherein you'll find thoughts on Saturday Night Live, Larry King, and The Sing-Off, with more to come... soonish; I'd originally written "tomorrow" but it's now past then and I'm taking another break from the headaches of technical impediments.

Oh, I Sleigh Me


Last week's Top Ten Contest at the Late Show with David Letterman website was even more inspiring than usual. You either know the drill by now or you can check out the first post in this category, so without further ado here are...

My Top Ten Little-Known Facts about Santa Claus 

10. Born Seymour Klausmann, Brooklyn, 1926

9. Will get you on the "nice" list for twenty bucks and/or a bottle of Jim Beam

8. Goes down more than just the chimney, ladies

7. Eleven months out of the year, crash diets and works as Dumbledore at the Harry Potter theme park in Orlando

6. Holly Jolly Christmas: To you, it's the name of a Burl Ives classic; to Santa, it's the name of the gal who takes care of him in the VIP suite at North Pole Dancers

Braids of Glory



Cover © 2010 Barry Deutsch. 

My niece E and her cousin L, both 8 years old, each received Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword for Chanukah — but not before Uncle Brian read it... twice.

The graphic novel — about, to quote the cover copy, "Yet Another Troll-Fighting 11-Year-Old Orthodox Jewish Girl" — is a fun, touching yarn no matter your age, gender, or heritage. Author Barry Deutsch, who produced Hereville as a webcomic (and self-published a paper version as well) before Abrams released a handsome hardcover edition [$15.95 US; ISBN 978-0-8109-8422-6] through its Amulet Books imprint, is after all no more writing about or exclusively for himself than most authors of children's and young-adult fiction, nor is the best of such fiction restricted to that nominal target audience.

E Pluribus Unum




The motto of the United States of America translates from Latin as "out of many, one". It fits NBC's The Sing-Off perfectly — not because the limited-run series is a competition, but because the aim of a cappella vocal groups is for their parts to form a unifying whole. You could say the same for any artistic endeavor, I admit; we're not talking about a blend of script and cinematography or even different musical instruments here, though, but about a blend of human voices in the purest form of harmony.

The Body Eclectic


I'd stack Mike Mignola's body of work up against any other in the comics medium. And while that wasn't an intentional pun, as it turns out this post exists to sing the praises of one of the Hellboy creator's oddest and most beloved compositions, a delightful fugue called The Amazing Screw-On Head. It began life several years ago as a single-issue comic book; now, finally, the titular tale has been reissued with like material by Dark Horse in a $17.99 hardcover [ISBN 978-1-59582-501-8].


The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects © 2002, 2009, 2010 Mike Mignola.


For a long time, I despaired of ever seeing such a collection or, indeed, much "like material" at all — despite the (very) occasional Mignola efforts along similar lines, in terms of tone if not detail.

Deception


'Following / a film by Christopher Nolan' / poster showing Bill against gray background above title, then in crowd scene below it
the Following poster

When exploring its twists and inspirations online after its release, I was quickly disabused of the notion that Inception that was Christopher Nolan's sixth feature. His career, early shorts aside, did not begin with Memento. It launched with the 70-minute, "no-budget" 1999 film Following.

I'm happy to report that Netflix has Following available in both streaming and DVD options. And while the film doesn't, to me, provide any of the clues to Inception's interpretation that certain sly comments about it suggested, it's definitely worth a look if you're a Nolan admirer. You can view it in the context of his oeuvre's ruminations on the nature of identity, unreliable narrators/narratives, and often idiosyncratic approaches to storytelling. Or you can just watch it as the work of a talented fledgling filmmaker making the most of his limited resources, a decade before The Dark Knight would become an international, big-budget franchise smash. Either way, the thing itself is compelling enough that it's hardly time wasted.

Holiday Meaning




The setup of the blog's new home has been awfully slow going, while blogposts-to-be are piling up and getting stale, so I'm going to give publishing here another try for a limited run. Perhaps the spirit of the season will pervade even the grinchitude of Blogger's grinding gears... And of course there's no better way to kick things off than with a batch of word-verification definitions, collected and explained for the curious at that link.

apersedn. [ah pur sed] "&" with a cold.

brquan. [burr kwah] Ice water.

cesinema — n. [see zin eh muh] The niche film genre concerning movies made about the alkali element Cesium. (It's rare but it tends to get really big reactions.)