Man Your Battle Stations: One Crazy Night With The Best Fans On The Fence

Hello Apollo…where shall I begin?

At around 2:45 PM, Saturday, Mary, Joe and I hopped in to my mom’s GMC Acadia, with Mary at wheel. We drove for somehwere between two and a half and three hours, and arrived at The Showboat Atlantic City Hotel and Casino. We checked in to our hotel room, I changed clothes (a gesture later deemed almost completely futile), had a glass of wine and we walked across the casino floor to the House of Blues music hall and stood in line.

We were in line for Coheed and Cambria, who, as I’ve said several times, are my favorite band. My sister and Joe give Coheed an enormous amount of credit for their relationship. Their love of the band was one of the things that they bonded over when they first met when they were 18. It’s immensely adorable to watch them get geared up for a show.

Actually, it’s just immensely adorable to watch them…

This show was extra special for all of us, because the opener for the show was The Dear Hunter, another one of Mary’s favorite bands.

Well, they were the second opener. The doors opened at 8 and we made out way to the pit. The first opener, a band called 3 quickly won over the crowd when they went on at 8:45. By 10:30, when Dear Hunter finished, we were all psyched for everything to start, Mike had joined us, and I had had two Miller Lites and peed three times. Then the show started.

There’s an old Irish saying, sometimes attributed to William Butler Yeats, “There are no strangers here, only friends we haven’t met yet.” I feel that way at most concerts but it comes through even more with cultish bands like Coheed. Coheed fans are so deeply passionate about this music. We pushed and pulled in the pit and after three songs I was soaked through with sweat and completely out of breath. However, 3 songs in the pit is a personal best for me, and moshing has never been something that I loved anyway. (Moshing is made much more pleasant by the presence of my six foot five ex defensive lineman brother making sure that no one roughs me up too bad.) I was determined to break out of my comfort zone on this one though and I did just that.

Mike made it a few more songs, but in the end he and I wound up hanging out by the bar, dancing, singing along and me drinking more Miller Lite. (He’d been in the casino, so already had a decent buzz going.) We made friends, danced with them, sang along with them, and we all walked out at 12:30 AM this morning, saying it was the best Coheed show we’d ever been to.

This isn’t a small claim to make. I’ve been to 4 Coheed shows, this was Mary’s eighth, Joe’s seventh, and Mike’s fifth or sixth. Mike also saw them open for Brand New when they were just starting out.

Mike has a lot of emo kid street cred for a preppy jock.

Mary was even at the legendary 10th Anniversary Neverender show. We’ve seen line up changes, (the departure of epic drummer Chris Pennie, now replaced with the lower key but extremely talented Josh Eppard. And last time Joe, Mary and I saw them bassist Mic Todd had just been arrested for armed robbery. He’s not in the band anymore.) We’ve loved all of those shows, but this one was simply impossible to explain. The energy of the room was unstoppable, Claudio was in rare form. I love seeing people enjoy what they’re doing, particularly when what they’re doing is something immensely cool, like playing in a rock band or being a professional athlete. And  last night, Claudio was having fun. He was wailing on both his guitar and vocally, telling goofy stories and laughing.

We spent the rest of the night, drinking gambling and laughing. We didn’t get to bed until 5:30 AM.

I love my family. I love this band. I love that when we found out this was happening it was a complete no brainer for us. This was going to happen. We were going to go. We were going to have an amazing time. And we did.

The Afterman Part 1: Ascension comes out on October 9. You’ll be hearing more about Coheed and Cambria from me in the mean time as bits and pieces leak out.

10 Days!

How Does Reading Stand a Chance?

Last night, while sitting around a table drinking home brewed beer, my brother, my friend Mark and my friend Joe started talking about this week’s Sons of Anarchy. 

SPOILER ALERT:

Opie Winston, Jax’s best friend gets beaten to death by  prison guards while Jax and two of the other Sons (Chibs and Tig) watch. It was a heart breaking scene, given that Jax had come clean to Opie about a number of secrets he had been keeping. Opie was blown away, but still hugely angry with Jax.

All three of us had different reactions to what happened, I was heartbroken. I had watched the episode on Wednesday morning, and sat by myself crying. Opie was a great character and I loved the relationship between him and Jax. Mike felt about the same, and Mark was annoyed that there was no discussion of Opie’s now orphaned children. (His wife was killed by the Sons in Season 1)

Joe, who is an English teacher, started laughing. We looked at him and he just said, “Do you think people sat around talking like this about Dickens? You know, how they only printed like one chapter a month?”

Then we all laughed and I said, “Probably, you know like, ‘Did you read Great Expectations this week?'”

Joe: Oh man, yeah! That Miss Haversham is such a bitch! And Joe was my favorite character.

Me: Yeah, totally, that was messed up!

Joe: I give up, man, I just give up. I’m not reading next month. Screw Dickens, he’s gotten completely out of control! I miss the early stuff, you know like Oliver Twist? Dickens was good back then, this new stuff is crap!

Joe and I agreed that this is probably the kind of conversations that fanboys and girls of yore had. But then Joe sighed kind of wistfully and said, “But seriously, what kind of a chance does reading have, when TV is so full of crazy twisted, awesome stories, that are so easy to access?”

He has a good point. I love good TV, I love long form TV, and I’ve even argued that the good stuff is going to become the canon in the next 100 years. (I have a concentration in Shakespeare, I like to think my descendants will get one in Whedon or Abrams.) But there is something sad about how literature seems to have stopped being a major part of the collective consciousness. There are some exceptions, like Harry Potter, but generally books don’t spark those kinds of conversations anymore.

There’s definitely something sad about that, but I’ve always thought it was an interesting evolution in entertainment. Shows like Sons of Anarchy are smart, and engaging and deeply captivating. It psychs me up that it’s so omnipresent in popular entertainment. But there is something to be said for how sad it is that it isn’t reading that does that anymore.

Have a Little Faith

Buffy The Vampire Slayer The Rewatch: Week 3 Part 2

I’ve been lax in my Buffy watching the week. Which is strange, because season 3 has always been my favorite. But TV season is starting, so I’ve been catching up, watching things on DVR and on demand.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten, no, not at all.

So let’s talk about Faith.

Super Cool

I love Eliza Dushku, and always have. I’ve talked about my cheerleading daysBring It On was like, my guidebook to life. (In that way a teen comedy about competitive cheerleading can be to a 13 year old girl) She also puts in a sick performance as “Chrissy” in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. (When one takes part in the Askewniverse, one earns my undying affection) and of course Dollhouse.

But there’s nothing quite like Faith. Buffy’s foil, friend, compatriot, enemy,and  rival. If the first 3 seasons deal with the idea of metaphor and “high school is hell” and all of that, Faith and Buffy have the kind of contentious “frienemy” relationship that marks the high school experience of most girls. (It’s unfortunate, I’m not saying it’s a good thing, I’m just saying that it’s relate-able.)

Of course most frienemy relationships end in tears and maybe some mild boyfriend stealing, but Faith and Buffy, being slayers have to take it to the next level, since their relationship ends in literally trying to kill each other, and well…eventually body switching boyfriend stealing.

Hey, got to keep it real right? That’s what Faith would say.

Secret Identities And Why They’re Kind of Stupid

I’ve been thinking about superheroes and secret identities. I mean, I think about supeheroes a lot. Clearly. But lately, secret identities have been hitting me kind of hard, and how they don’t really matter that much.  The Avengers came out on DVD yesterday, and none of those guys really use ’em, and things seem to be just swell for them. Captain Steven Rogers is a war hero, and basically took down the Nazis single handed, Thor is a thunder god and doesn’t live here, and Tony Stark is Tony Stark. Bruce Banner is really the only one who needs to hide and that’s because The Hulk is a completely different kind of thing.

The only logical secret identity ever!

A few months back, Chrissy and I had a conversation, where she wondered why women who date superheroes don’t also have secret identities. I think we were talking about Batman and Catwoman, but then we got in to Mary Jane. Basically, Chrissy was wondering why, upon realizing that she was in love with Spider-Man, though not yet realizing that Spider-Man was Peter Parker, did Mary Jane Watson not don her own secret identity and then pursue him that way. This way the two could have a relationship, without all of the “I need to hide who I am to protect the people I love,” nonsense. We decided that it’s because Mary Jane sucks and moved on with our lives.

This is the face of someone terrible

Though Chrissy still maintains that this is a viable option for ladies that love superheroes. I agree with her.

Which leads me to John Blake, Christopher Nolan’s big broken promise. Nolan stated that we would never see Robin in his films. I’m glad he broke that promise, because Blake is awesome, but still, promise was broken. Anyway, John Blake is important because he’s one of the first characters in mainstream superhero-dom, to break the functionally retarded haze and just flat out figure out that Bruce Wayne is Batman.

“So, you know how you’re Batman? I could be Batman…”

This is not a difficult jump to make. Bruce Wayne disappeared for years in Batman Begins. Then, he came back, and shortly after, a guy of roughly his height and build begins beating up thugs. He does this with the aid of technology that only the city’s billionaire industrialist could possibly have access too. At least Jim Gordon is willfully forcing himself to ignore these things, so that he doesn’t have to arrest Bruce Wayne. But really, I mean, it’s so obvious that he’s Bruce Wayne!

At least Gotham City’s citizenry is slightly less mentally deficient that the good people of Metropolis, who are fooled by a pair of glasses. I mean, Batman wears a mask, and only operates at night, he isn’t a public figure so much as a name whispered in the shadows, etc so they can be excused. But Superman is the opposite of all of those things, and he and Clark Kent, who is a fairly high profile journalist, have the same face.

IT’S EXACTLY THE SAME!

Lois Lane claims to be in love with Superman, and has the investigative journalism chops to expose Lex Luthor’s many shady operations, but can’t for whatever reason figure out that the guy she shares a desk a with is that same guy. And Luthor himself is supposed to be a genius and can’t seem to put together the fact that the nosy and annoying reporter (who is oddly jacked) is also the guy who foils his every plan, just wearing glasses. There’s an old SNL sketch from when Terry Hatcher hosted, back in her Lois And Clark days, where the entire cast parades past her wearing glasses and she can’t recognize them.

That’s why I understand secret identities in theory, but in practice secret identities are pretty stupid.

Let Bartlett Be Bartlett

When I wrote about The Princess Bride I talked about how there are certain benchmarks of geekiness. There are certain things that I mark as sort tangible things that I chose, or was exposed to, that made me realize that I wasn’t going to ever be like the girls who I thought I was supposed to be like. (I later learned no one is exactly like those girls.)

A big one of those was watching The West Wing. I watched it because of my parents, mostly my mother. I was a middle school student. It didn’t take long for me to choose this show. Other girls my age were watching Dawson’s Creek (I wasn’t allowed to, I discovered it later and was obsessed) and crushing on impossible teen idols, and I was wondering if Leo’s alcoholism being exposed was going to lead to political fall out and crushing on Sam Seaborn.

What sixth grade girl doesn’t want a dorky socially inept speech writer who looks Rob Lowe?

Now that we’re in the last push of presidential elections, I spend a lot of time wishing that we lived in the world of The West Wing in real life. I wish we lived in a world where intelligent men of integrity were running our country and making epic speeches about the dignity of human beings and our limitless potential.

Even me, a die hard conservative, was kind of hoping for a Bartlett-esque four years from Obama. These were passionate, younger people, who wanted change. Instead, everything slowed down. Oh, we got change, in that the idealistic charismatic leader that had been elected changed in to a wishy washy shadow of every other politician.

But if this was the world of The West Wing, President Santos maybe would have been reelected, and he’d be winding down his second term. Secretary of State Arnold Vinnick would have clearly negotiated peace in the middle east. Josh Lyman and my husband Sam Seaborn would have created a legislative agenda that defended freedom and helped every one, and Sam would be gearing up his own campaign for the white house. I would be preparing for my duties as first lady by resigning from my position of running my own television network. (This is my West Wing fantasy and I can be married to Sam if I want.)

There are a lot of reasons why I hate the way politics are handled in our country. But a lot of it, I blame on Aaron Sorkin. As a teenager he led me to believe that the world of professional politics was like The West Wing.

The Descendant

 Buffy The Vampire Slayer The Rewatch: Week 3 Part 1

This post isn’t strictly about Buffy. But it is totally related.

I was thinking as the new TV season gets geared up, how much of TV has been shaped by Buffy. I’ve traced the Lost trail before which of course goes by way of Alias.

I watched the first two seasons of Alias. I loved it. Then I missed a few episodes, and since this was before DVRs, or TV on demand or me really understanding what long form TV was about, I got lost and basically stopped watching. I’ve never finished it. I’ve always meant to.

Then there were The WB “cousin” shows, as I’ll call them, Roswell, Charmed, Smallville and the somehow still going Supernatural. 

But I’m using the next couple of days to catch up on Once Upon A Time. I watched it sporadically last season, (both my uncle and my sister were obsessed), and really liked it, but didn’t get in to it, mostly because of time. Now I have plenty of time, and I’m totally in to it. (Stayed up until 3 AM to watch.)

Storybrooke and Sunnydale have a lot in common. There’s magic everywhere, but no one knows it, there are two planes of existance to navigate (Storybrooke and Fairytale Land) and of course, they have a plucky blonde savior just itching to get her work done and move the heck on.

Remember when she cheated on her husband with Ted Mosby?

While some of the other shows I’ve mentioned are definitely descendants of Buffy, Emma Swann is a descendant of Buffy.

Emma is Snow White’s daughter and was sent to our world to avert a curse put down by the Evil Queen. Emma grew up being bounced from foster home to foster home and had a baby when she was 18, who she gave up for adoption. Henry, the boy, shows up at her apartment and drags her to Storybrooke, a small town in Maine, which he believes isn’t a real town at all, but a kind of holding cell for all of the fairytale characters, who have been cursed by the Evil Queen, who happens to be the woman who adopted Henry. The Queen took their “happily ever afters,” and their memories and now it’s up to Henry and Emma to beat the curse.

This show is amazing. The characters are well drawn and the concept is rock solid. And because the show is produced by the Disney owned ABC, we get to see many of the characters, who themselves are public domain, in “grown up” versions that feel deeply familiar, because they can use the House of Mouse’s details.

What does it have to do with Buffy? Everything. It has everything to do with Buffy. I have a deep respect for the way that Joss Whedon changed the game for TV with Buffy and Angel. So many of the shows I love wouldn’t exist.