What I have been doing with my fancy university library card

Scaring myself, mostly. This library has a lot of books inside of it, but it also has the scariest damn stacks I ever saw. They have these dark, narrow aisles, and the doors in the stairwells between levels swing open and shut with loud, prolonged, ominous squeaks. I always have the exact call numbers of the books I want before I go, because sitting down at one of the catalogue computers, with my back to the darkened stacks, does not inspire feelings of comfort and safety. The main aisles are lit, but you have to press a button to turn on the lights in the individual rows of books, and these lights are set to go off automatically after a certain amount of time. What that means is that when I am walking down the main aisles, the lights are going off around me. It is scary as hell. I swear I can hear David Tennant’s voice going “Stay out of the shadows.” (Every shadow? No. But any shadow.)

(If you think that’s the geekiest thing I’m going to say in this post, you just could not be more wrong.)

I have realized it is no good to research fairy tales right now. The books of Warner, Zipes, and Tatar, as well as the Mirror, Mirror on the Wall that y’all recommended to me, are at my public library at home. I paid a fortune for my damn library card to this terrifying university library, and I’m going to use it to read books I couldn’t get at home. I shall be researching South Indian temple dancers, devadasis, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. I read From Sacred Servant to Profane Prostitute on Saturday. This book, which was way too in love with its alliterative title, is an overview of the legal status of devadasis in this time period, mainly in Bombay and Madras. I am not as interested in their changing legal status (although that is interesting) as I am in their social status, but never mind, I learned lots of useful things. (I wrote down the names of a bunch of other books to track down after this.)

My most favorite thing that I learned from this book: When national and local laws removed the economic incentive for families to dedicate their daughters to deities, and finally outlawed the dedications altogether, a bunch of the devadasis went away and become stars of the stage and screen.

I also checked out a bunch of books about television. I read a book of articles about The West Wing and gained immense satisfaction from reading about its political bents, relation to truth, and implications of audience demographics. Then I read a book full of articles about Angel, which was better to the exact degree that I love Angel better than The West Wing (which is a degree that is quite considerable). It would be difficult to convey to you using only my words how much I enjoyed reading these articles about Angel. There was this one that talked about the musical themes used for the different characters, and the way the show uses them to convey the way the characters are changing – this is the kind of thing that fascinates me but I don’t tend to notice it when I’m watching a film or TV show. Another article explored the problematic racial dynamics in the show which, y’all, can get quite cringe-inducing (oh, God, that episode where Cordelia’s determined to save Gunn from himself makes me want to shrivel up and die).

Tale of woe: J. August Richards, the actor who plays Gunn on Angel, was a huge Star Wars fan when he was a kid, and he totally loved Han Solo. But whenever he and his friends would play Star Wars, they made him be Lando Calrissian because he was black.

I sometimes joke with my family that my calling in life is finding articles about things. I am constantly going on the internet to find informative and authoritative articles about whatever I am currently interested in sounding knowledgeable about. I am constantly reporting information that I have learned from reading random articles from MetaFilter, Arts and Letters Daily, The Browser, Salon, and Slate. I do not know that finding articles is actually my calling, but I certainly do enjoy it. When they are articles about topics that enthrall me, such as wonderful books or wonderful films or wonderful TV shows, I enjoy it even more. For an English major who passionately hated every history of criticism class I took at university, I am mad for actual criticism.

I have several other books full of scholarly articles about other beloved TV shows: Doctor Who, Buffy, Firefly, and The Wire. If the library had had books about other TV shows I love, you know I’d have checked them out too. I will be reading them in due course because I have adjudged this to be a worthwhile use of the money I have spent on this library card and the terror I experience every time I set foot in the library stacks. I may or may not have plans to curl up on my sofa tonight with cheesy fries and Investigating Firefly and Serenity.

(Don’t judge. Memory understands me. I think. (You do, don’t you, Memory?))

Part of this pop culture scholarship rampage is down to sadness that all my long-anticipated things have happened. Enchanted Glass came out, and The White Road came out. I read ARCs of Curse of the Werewolf Girl and Monsters of Men, and now Doctor Who is finished and over. It’s sad, dude, I’m sad about it, sad in my heart. Of course there is always The Guild, whose fourth season starts in a few weeks, and then a while after that there will be fall TV, which is fun to look forward to. So you can see how a girl would require some scholarly consideration of Wesley’s comedic timing.

Y’all, am I alone in this? Is my pleasure in close readings and feminist interrogations of my best-beloved books and shows indicative of serious mental disturbance? Tell me the truth. I can take it. Also, have you ever been in a scary library? Do you feel (as I slightly do) that the scariness is instilling you with a healthy respect and awe for knowledge?

Buffy’s eighth series

So I was mysteriously untempted by the Buffy Season Eight comics for a really long time, and then Fyrefly (inventor of the book blog search, hooray!) started getting all reviewy of them, and that reminded me that I love Buffy like a fat kid loves cake (or a skinny kid – any kid really), and today I went to Bongs & Noodles and (don’t tell) read all four volumes that they had, which was The Long Way Home and No Future for You and Wolves at the Gate and Time of Your Life, but there’s apparently another one after that.  But they didn’t have Fray.  So I wasn’t always sure what was going on with Fray.  Many will be the Buffy spoilers coming up, because, you know, I assume you’ve all already seen Buffy.  If not you should.  It is lovely.

Several years on from the end of the series, Buffy and Xander are at Slayer Central handling up on a large-scale slaying the bad guys operation.  Willow is off getting trained in some super-fancy magics by a v. sexy mermaid type character, and feeling the Tara guilt (I miss Tara – couldn’t we bring Tara back to life?).  Giles and Buffy are not speaking, and Anya, as you may recall, is dead.  And Dawn has turned into a giant, a situation whose causes are unclear and Dawn’s not saying (until she does).  The Big Bad for this season (will there be more seasons?) is a shady character called Twilight, who is leading something that looks a lot like the Initiative, in that it’s American military and doesn’t like Buffy and Riley (pfft) is part of it.

Riley.  Oh how I dislike him.  Remember that time when he was all, “Yeah, Buffy’s great, this and that, I’m so in love…But she doesn’t love me,” throwing poor Xander and THE ENTIRE AUDIENCE into agonizing uncomfortableness for the rest of Riley’s story arc?  Blech.  How glad was I when he finally left?

I’m so pleased I took the morning to read these Buffy comics.  It is just like Buffy as a TV show – insofar as the characters all still have their same voices and relationships, and it’s all old friends again.  I would still like to see it as a TV show, although with all the different locations and special effects and Christian Bale fantasies, that might be difficult to swing.  I would especially like to see Michelle Trachtenberg do the Dawn storyline – she has such a fun storyline, and Michelle Trachtenberg is so adorable… I miss Michelle Trachtenberg!  I am going to watch the end of series five – except that would be the hugest downer ever.  I am going to watch some part of Buffy that contains lil Dawnie!

I will say, I have seen the writers of the comic say that it’s great to have a limitless special effects budget, and – well – I don’t know that it’s good for them to have an unlimited special effects budget.  There are only a certain number of monsters and destruction my eyes can take in all at once, and then I get tired and start flipping pages that aren’t all green and screamy.

However, I was enchanted by the fact that Buffy was having a fantasy featuring Little Women Christian Bale and Reign of Fire Christian Bale.  Not because I like Christian Bale, because I don’t, pretentious mouth face, but because I SO FEEL IT.  When my sister and I are picking out our dream casts for films and books that we like, we make cast choices like Snarly Hugh Jackman, and Charlotte Gray Billy Crudup (mmmm).

I know that it has been suggested that Buffy is too angsty about it being lonely to be her, but I never stopped feeling sympathetic with Buffy.  Oo, except for in the seventh series when she was being totally mean to everyone.  I don’t care how mean she is to Spike, but she was totally mean to Xander, who by then was my favorite character because everyone else had been evil by then.  But mostly, poor little Buffy.  It would be a total bummer to be her, and I can see why Satsu would be an appealing prospect.  I am completely enjoying this season, and I hope they continue and do a ninth one.  Is that greedy?