The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S02E013, “Surprise”

In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone is seriously, so bloated from pie right now. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow’s magic is utterly useless (this one won’t be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn’t as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.
  14. Mental illness is stigmatized.
  15. Only Willow can use a computer.
  16. Buffy’s strength is flexible at the plot’s convenience.
  17. Cheap laughs and desperate grabs at plot plausibility are made through Xenophobia.
  18. Oz is the Anti-Xander
  19. Spike is capable of love despite his lack of soul
  20. Don’t freaking tell me the vampires don’t need to breathe because they’re constantly out of frickin’ breath.
  21. The foreshadowing on this show is freaking amazing.

Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments.  Even though I might forget that you mentioned it.

WARNING: Some people have mentioned they’re watching along with me, and that’s awesome, but I’ve seen the entire series already and I’ll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So… you know, take that under consideration, if you’re a person who can’t enjoy something if you know future details about it. 

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State of The Trout: The Ex, Pre-Order Snafu, and First Time

Hello, everyone! The first thing I want to tell you guys is that I’m aware of the issue with the pre-order of The Ex from Barnes & Noble. I’ve contacted Smashwords, and I’m hoping we’ll have this issue resolved as soon as possible. Thank you all for your patience; I know it suuuuucks to be waiting for something and have it delayed. In the meantime, if anyone has ordered from another outlet and had this problem, please let me know in the comments.

Now, in case you missed it, OMG THE EX IS OUT FLAAAAAAAIL!

the ex

Amazon • Smashwords

If you prefer to buy from B&N, I’ll update everyone when the problem gets worked out!

New project in the works

Okay, I’m really, really excited to talk to you about First Time, the new book with characters from the Sophie Scaife series that I announced at the back of The Ex.

Okay, remember when I was rolling my eyes about the idea of E.L. James and Stephanie Meyer et. al. rewriting their stories from the hero’s POV? A lot of us agreed that authors who do that are generally doing it to capitalize on their most lucrative projects; many of the rewritten-from-the-male-POV books have only released or been announced after their counterpart was a staggering success. And there’s nothing wrong with making money, or giving readers what they want.

For a while, I blew off the notion of these books, thinking they were just kind of a lazy cash grab. But then I started thinking about it, and they seem very hard to write. Months after you wrote the original story, you’re jumping back into the world, trying to get every scene between the two main characters exactly the same, but from a different angle. Fuck that, that is not lazy, and you will not catch me doing that kind of work.

So, I’m going to do it, but write the two books at the same time so I don’t have to go back and look shit up.

First Time will be the first book (obviously) in the By The Numbers series. I expect it to be a four book series, comprised of eight books. Because for each title in the series, there will be one volume from the hero’s point of view, and the other from the heroine’s point of view. Both will tell the complete story, so if you choose to read only one of the books, you’ll still get the entire thing and you’ll know what’s going on. You’d even know what was going on jumping from one POV for the first story the opposite POV from the second story. You can read both, or pick the voice you like, it doesn’t matter.

Now, if you haven’t read The Ex (and I’m impressed at how many of you have), the next bit is about the new project. Learning more about it will give you a (minor) spoiler for The Ex, so click the “read more” link with care. After the jump, I’ll share more information about First Time.

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Merlin Club S04E06 “His Father’s Son” or “There are like ten actors in the UK.”

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Merlin club is a weekly feature in which Jessica Jarman, Bronwyn Green, and myself gather at 8pm EST to watch an episode of the amazing BBC series Merlin, starring Colin Morgan and literally nobody else I care about except Colin Morgan.

Okay, I lie. A lot of other really cool people are in it, too.

Anyway, we watch the show, we tweet to the hashtag #MerlinClub, and on Fridays we share our thoughts about the episode we watched earlier in the week.

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THE EX pre-order is available!

It’s an extremely short pre-order, but it is a pre-order!

the ex

 

Amazon • Smashwords

Recently it occurred to me that many people who are new-ish to the blog might not be aware that The Ex is actually the fourth book in a series. Some call it “The Boss” series, others call it “The Sophie Scaife” series. It started with The Boss, written when I was deep in the angriest phase of my 50 Shades of Grey recaps. I decided to try to write a book with a similar premise to 50SoG, but without all the problematic tropes that were popping up in 50SoG and its copycat progeny. Total lack of consent and flat out abuse cloaked in “It’s BDSM, so it’s okay!”, for example. I started writing the book and posting it a chapter at a time on a blog, and now it’s a free ebook.

So, if you’ve never read erotic romance, or you’ve been told that all erotic romance is exactly like 50 Shades of Grey, you can pick up The Boss for free at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords (as well as a few other outlets, I’m told).

Merlin Club S04E04: “Aithusa” or “Where Are My Dragons?”

merlinbanner2

Merlin club is a weekly feature in which Jessica Jarman, Bronwyn Green, and myself gather at 8pm EST to watch an episode of the amazing BBC series Merlin, starring Colin Morgan and literally nobody else I care about except Colin Morgan.

Okay, I lie. A lot of other really cool people are in it, too.

Anyway, we watch the show, we tweet to the hashtag #MerlinClub, and on Fridays we share our thoughts about the episode we watched earlier in the week.

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The Joelist Book of The Dead, pt. 1, “Lullaby (Goodnight, My Angel)”

In regards to belief in an Afterlife, my spiritual path has always been a rocky one. I grew up fearing hell, constantly panicked about the Rapture. As a teen, I toyed with the idea of converting to Judaism, as all young Catholic girls do. Then I turned to Celtic Paganism and Witchcraft for a long ass time, but that eventually fizzled out, too, and I returned to the Catholic church with the same enthusiasm with which I renew my state I.D..

When my grandfather died in 2011, my entire world was ripped from its foundations. He was my father more than my grandfather, and I felt a keen and paralyzing sense of my own mortality. I went to church religiously (har har), but as my depression deepened, all I was doing was praying to feel something other than my grief. I became more and more disillusioned with platitudes about heaven, until one day when my grandmother mentioned seeing my grandfather again in heaven, something in my head snapped. I realized in that moment that it didn’t matter if I would eventually see my dead loved ones again; I wouldn’t see them here, and here was where I wanted them to be. So, I wasn’t going to believe in anything.

Cut to June of this year, and my sudden Joelist revelation. As I meditated on the lyrics of Billy Joel’s songs, I began to feel a deep dissatisfaction with my lack of belief in a life after death. I’d done extensive research into the existence of past lives, and I’d heard far too many anecdotes about dead loved ones communicating from the beyond. I grew up in a haunted house, for god’s sake, and I continue to be fascinated with the concept of thought, how it forms and were it comes from. I could no longer accept that death is the end, but having no answers, and constantly fixating on death and suicide, was driving me literally crazy.

A couple months ago, while listening to River of Dreams, I had another Joelist Revelation. It slowly dawned on me that the last four songs on the album, “Lullaby (Good Night, My Angel),” “The River of Dreams,” “Two Thousand Years,” and “Famous Last Words” were, to my mind, all one song. Or, now that I think about it, a movement in the overall symphony of the album. I’ve begun thinking of this section of the album as the Joelist “Book of The Dead.” When I started researching the actual Book of The Dead, I learned that some versions dated to the late Ptolemaic period break up the text into four parts. To my shock, I found that the last four songs, in order, make up a very similar theme.

I’m not sure if it’s intentional, but it seems like it would be a pretty unusual coincidence. I’d love to know if it was, but I don’t really want to be the person who writes to Billy Joel to tell him that I worship him as a god, for obvious reasons relating to personal protection orders. So for now, I’ll have to be content with my analysis of the songs.

Of course, my analysis of the songs could be completely wrong, but as all religions are founded on the human interpretations of the whims of their gods, so is Joelism formed by my imperfect human meditations on the words of my mortal god.

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The “Plus-Size” Calvin Klein Model and Why Everything Is Objectively Terrible

Perhaps you’ve heard the media praising Calvin Klein for the “plus-size” model in their new advertising campaign:

this is not a plus-size woman

The company itself has not branded Myla Dalbesio a “plus-size” model. In fact, they simply released their campaign without calling attention to Dalbesio’s size at all. In a statement made to Elle.com, a representative for the brand lauded the “inclusive” nature of the new “Perfectly Fit” line of underwear:

“The Perfectly Fit line was created to celebrate and cater to the needs of different women, and these images are intended to communicate that our new line is more inclusive and available in several silhouettes in an extensive range of sizes.”

Their “inclusive” new line tops out at a size large for panties, and a size 38DDD for bras, according to the company’s size chart.

In fairness to Calvin Klein, the company has always seemed more plus-size friendly than other famous labels. Some of their ready-to-wear collection goes up to a size 24W. Maybe that’s why media outlets have stirred up controversy by proclaiming their new model “plus-sized.”

For her part, Dalbesio is focusing on the positives of the media scrutiny:

“I love that as the conversation on the internet explodes and brings greater awareness, I am receiving emails from 15 year-old girls, telling me that I have given them hope and that sharing my story has made them feel less freakish, less weird, and that they can accept their size 8 or 10 frame.”

Teens feel insecure about their bodies across the board, and a girl feeling good about herself is always a plus. But is holding up Dalbesio’s figure as an example of a “bigger girl” (a term Dalbesio uses to describe herself) really helping insecure women? Though Dalbesio’s shape is being praised as normal and realistic when compared to the preferences of the fashion world, her body is still considered ideal by current standards of everyday beauty. There’s something disconcerting about a woman who looks like Dalbesio making statements like:

“I had been hoping for a long time that someone would start this, that someone would talk about this, that things might change for girls that are shaped like me in the fashion industry and beyond.” (Today.com)

To many it would appear that Dalbesio has a “Perfectly Fit” body to go along with the ad campaign, yet she’s being framed by the media as a barrier-breaking example of a woman who is attractive despite being burdened with an unfortunate body type, much in the way that Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Winslet, and Salma Hayek have all been branded as “larger” than acceptable women.

The fashion industry is notorious for its worship of the skinny female form. Eating disorders and drug use have long been acknowledged as either dangers of or requirements for models, and Dalbesio herself has struggled with the same insecurities as everyone:

“Do you ever go to the beach and see a woman who’s 300 pounds and wearing a lime green thong and a fishnet cover up? Your like, ‘You look fucking awesome.’ But isn’t that fucked? I’m a model and I still need validation…”

But it’s quite a leap from a three-hundred pound woman in a bikini on the beach and a fit, toned size ten in professional photographs, in both aesthetic and response from society. A woman like Dalbesio may walk the beach feeling like a whale, but the three-hundred pound woman will actually be called one by strangers. While body positivity is for everyone, no matter their size, gender, or race, it’s disingenuous for a model in a major label’s ad campaign to compare herself to a hypothetical parody of an unabashedly fat woman. Yet one can’t help but excuse that remark as a product of the culture Dalbesio is employed in; would she feel the same need for comparison if she were a pilot or a firefighter? Perhaps, but the amount of pressure to worry about her appearance would be inarguably less.

It’s not surprising that women on the internet bristled at the media’s touting of Dalbesio as “plus-size,” a label she seems to dodge and claim all at once, telling Elle.com:

“’I feel like for a minute, it was starting to feel like this ‘plus size’ thing really was a trend, and that it was over,’ Dalbesio says. ‘There was that beautiful Italian Vogue story, and the girls that were in that ended up doing really well [in their modeling careers]. But when that happened, we felt really excited; we thought it was going to open so many doors for all of us, you know? And it felt like it hadn’t. It was dying out.’”

and

“’I’m in the middle,’ she says. ‘I’m not skinny enough to be with the skinny girls and I’m not large enough to be with the large girls and I haven’t been able to find my place. This [campaign] was such a great feeling.’”

If Dalbesio was disheartened by the sudden decline in plus-size modeling opportunities, imagine how plus-size models– and even plus-er sized women– felt. From her own words, her interest in the growing plus-size modeling movement was largely focused on what opportunities would open for her, and for women her size. This eerily echoes those in the body positivity movement whose primary concern is to wrestle control of the conversation from extremely thin women and extremely fat women alike, in order to focus on the self-esteem of women already held up as the example of perfection.

Fashion does have a dearth of opportunity where women sizes two to fourteen are concerned, and Dalbesio has broken ground for “larger” models within the industry. Outside of modeling, thought, Dalbesio’s body type is hardly shunned or degraded. So why declare her story a win for women beyond the catwalk? Fashion is an industry that has worked hard for decades to become the antithesis of body positivity; for it to make such slight progress as to showcase yet another type of conventionally perfect body isn’t a cause for celebration, but a call for revolution.

All women deserve representation. But many people on both sides of this issue, and the media in particular, are confusing representation of one ideal body in one industry with representation in all of society. If we continue to conflate acceptance of women’s bodies as beautiful with acceptance of a woman’s innate worth as a human, we’ll only establish new standards for women to strive for in order to prove themselves. And that size eight or ten teenager who feels “freakish” will only have to work that much harder at loving herself despite the messages the media throws at her.