Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wicca, Whedon, JLU, and Aaron Burr

So I guess my thoughts lately have been pretty scattered. I had trouble falling asleep last night, which almost never happens to me (even when I came back from Hawaii, with six hours of jet lag, I fell asleep on cue). It was a combination of three things: 1) I was worrying about spiders (hey, they do bite, and though I killed a spider that was the likely culprit of the bites I got the night before, there could always be others), 2) my air conditioning didn't seem to be working so well, and my room was too hot, and 3) I was totally stressed out on behalf of the various protagonists of the book I'm currently reading, George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones. Anyway, I'm just trying to make an excuse for this post, which will be composed of a few little thoughts I've had, rather than centered around one coherent idea (as if my usual posts were coherent).

IMDb WENN news had an article today with the catchy title "Gellar Blamed For Pagan Rise". It turned out the title wasn't an entirely accurate representation of the article, which cited a British study published in Women and Religion in the West that claimed the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show was responsible for 50,000 women abandoning Western religions for paganism. If this is the case, then it's probably more fairly blamed on Alyson Hannigan than Sarah Michelle Gellar, as she was the one who actually played a witch. I wonder, though, how many of those 50,000 were disappointed not to get all of Willow's powers. The article does point out that the show in general, with Buffy at the forefront, promotes female empowerment, which the study credits for the shift to Wicca (hmm, I suppose female empowerment isn't exactly high on the Western religion agenda). I don't know why, but this article struck me as pretty funny. And I don't mean anyone any offense in this amusement; I guess it's just the idea of a fantasy TV show causing a noticeable increase in religious conversion--it seems silly, but at the same time kind of makes sense. Of course, we can't give this study too much credit. After all, xkcd has shown that it is primarily Firefox downloads that is driving the increase in Wicca converts. Yes, folks, correlation does mean causation.

Speaking of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, ABC has announced that it has picked up new TV series Castle for a midseason premiere. Castle is a comedic procedural starring Nathan Fillion as a novelist who helps the NYPD solve homicide cases. Add that to my list of midseason shows I'm looking forward to (since we're on the general subject of Whedon, I'll give a shout-out to Dollhouse!). Sure, there are too many procedurals, and most of them are bad, but a comedic one with Nathan Fillion? Sign me up. More than any other show, I have a special interest in the subsequent projects of the stars of Firefly (Sarah Connor Chronicles, Chuck, Desperate Housewives... I mean, I even watched Standoff and Drive!). Maybe it's the simple fact that they have had more free time to pursue other projects than the actors from my other favorite TV shows. But I think there's something special about Firefly, not just in the lovablility of the characters (though they are just about the most lovable characters I can think of), but in the clear enthusiasm and passion of the players involved, their appreciation for the fan support, their eagerness to return to the story in the movie... Okay, I'm just gushing now--I'll stop.

Speaking of which, what TV show features the talents of Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin, and Amy Acker, and is not created by Joss Whedon? Justice League Unlimited! The first season of Justice League Unlimited (which I guess is the third and fourth season of the "Justice League" TV series that ran from 2001-2006) has a number of recognizable guest voice actors, including these members of team Whedon. Amy Acker does the voice of Huntress, Morena Baccarin does the voice of Black Canary, Gina Torres does Vixen, Nathan Fillion does Vigilante, and Adam Baldwin does a few different voices in a few different episodes. One episode features Vixen and Vigilante as two of a three person team, and I'm sure the episode wasn't quite as funny as I found it, because every time the two characters spoke to each other, I kept thinking of Zoe and Mal. This is not to discredit the show or the casting, since I found all of them appropriate for the parts. It was just a little added tee-hee for me. The reason I was watching this cartoon is that my brother, for reasons unbeknownst to me, came into possession of the Justice League Season Two and JLU Season One DVDs and lent them to me. I thought this was kind of odd at first, but I was surprised to find that JLU is really pretty awesome. And the preceding season was fun and helpful in understanding the setup. I gotta say, even though the JLU cartoon was supposed to be for kids and all, it had me stressed out a little, with some harrowing situations, complicated issues, and at times a serious serial drama thing going for it where I wasn't sure everything was going to turn out all right in the end. Well, here I am rambling again, and I wasn't even planning on writing about JLU at all when I started this post--I told you my thoughts are scattered today.

My last Thought of the Day is actually a little revelatory factoid that I learned last night watching Jeopardy. It was reruns of the Jeopardy College Tournament quarter-finals, but I hadn't seen it before. Double Jeopardy had a category called "Movie Directors", and since it was the College tournament they were all recent movies and I would have totally cleaned up that category had I been there (somehow none of the three contestants knew any of the five questions, and we're talking things like the director of Sicko, the director brothers of The Matrix and Speed Racer, Jason Reitman's sophomore film after Thank You for Smoking, and the director of the new King Kong; I guess most people have better things to do than keep up with movie news like me; Alex was actually somewhat impressed/relieved to see that there were college students not wasting their time with movies; this is becoming a long parenthetical). Anyway, the point of this is the fifth question, the $800 answer. And I'm guessing most people wouldn't think it was such a big deal. But I remember all too well this old got milk? commercial--which I would definitely put on my Top 10 Commercials list, if I were to put one together--where a historian sits in a room decked out with Aaron Burr vs. Alexander Hamilton art, books, and memorabilia, listening to the radio, spreading himself a peanut butter sandwich, when he is randomly called by the radio station to answer a question for $10,000: Who shot Alexander Hamilton? At this point, of course, his mouth is full of sticky peanut butter sandwich, and his attempts to say "Aaron Burr" around the mouthful are unsuccessful. He tries to pour a glass of milk to wash it all down, but finds the carton is empty, at which point he runs out of time to answer the question and the radio station hangs up. Cue dial tone and... got milk? Classic. Now, back to Jeopardy. This answer that had me laughing in disbelief was something to the effect of:
This director started out with the Aaron Burr got milk? commercial, and more recently directed the Transformers movie.
Seriously?! Michael "I-love-to-blow-things-up" Bay directed that classic commercial?! The contestants clearly weren't appreciating this bit of trivia, but I got a total kick out of it.

And now I've got to get back to Game of Thrones to see just how much deeper into trouble our heroes can get. And I'll get back to worrying about spiders in my bed. Why can't I get super powers from my spider bites? If strength of super powers scaled with the number of spider bites, I'd totally be kicking butt. Instead, all I got from these bites is the ability to walk around all day scratching butt.

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