Category Archives: Writing

Happy Anniversary, Buffy!

It was 20 years ago today, as the old song goes, that the first episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer was televised on the long-gone and much-missed WB network. The show, based on a moderately successful but mediocre movie, survived an uneven first season (i.e. some of the first season episodes are really, really pathetic) to become one of the great pre-Golden Age television programs.

Or maybe, as Lucy Mangan wrote in The Guardian today,

The Sopranos is generally held up as the inflection point for television-as-art – the moment the medium matured and had to start being taken seriously. But Buffy was there first and doing extraordinary things before the conflicted Mafiosi hit the screen…”

—from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer at 20: the thrilling, brilliant birth of TV as art”*

The Scooby Gang, and friends.  And foes.

A personal story.

Back in 2002, I became seriously ill with what’s now called COPD. I went to my doctor on the morning of 12 November, and she immediately sent me to the ER at Washington Hospital Center. I didn’t get a room until a few minutes after 8 PM, but there was a silver lining, because once I had access to a TV set, I was able to catch most of that night’s episode of Buffy.**

I was hospitalized for three weeks, and instructed to recuperate at home for more than six weeks after that. During the entire time, my wonderful mother–who had turned 80 on the day I was admitted to the hospital–called me at least twice a day, just to make sure I was all right. The only time that was off-limits for phone calls was Tuesday night, between 8 and 9 PM, when Buffy was on TV.

So, yeah. I guess you could say I’ve always been a fan.


Bonus Feature

In this fan re-mix, Buffy takes on the most horrible vampire of all, with predictable results.


Another Bonus Feature

Here’s the original, never-aired pilot episode for Buffy, with a different Willow and a much sillier tone.


*The entire article, and the related stories on The Guardian site, are worth reading.
**It was a great episode, too! “Conversations with Dead People”.

A Series of Unfortunate Events — New Trailer

No, that title is not simply a description of the horrendous things that have happened in the last 11 months. Instead, it’s a hopeful sign that 2017 might not be as foul and depressing as much of 2016 has been.

But this trailer leaves me a bit uneasy. For me, the world of A Series of Unfortunate Events has always been a mix of gothic and high Victorian. While there’s some of that in the trailer, the look here owes a lot to Pushing Daisies, a series I loved, but, for me at least, not the best template for the gloomy atmosphere that haunts the works of Lemony Snicket. And the humour in the teaser lacks the wonderful subtlety of the books. It all looks too bright and too simple.

Will I still watch it? Of course I will! But my expectations have been diminished.

The eight episodes of A Series of Unfortunate Events will be available on Netflix on Friday, the thirteenth of January 2017.

A Series of Unfortunate Events — First Teaser

Netflix has just released the first teaser for its highly anticipated adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.

We’re introduced to the sinister Count Olaf, played by an unrecognizable Neil Patrick Harris, and looking much scarier than he does at Halloween.

I loved the first few books of the series, despite repeated pleas from the books’ mysterious narrator to stop reading, because things were only going to get much worse.  He recommended switching to something like The Littlest Elf.

All eight episodes of A Series of Unfortunate Events will premiere on Netflix on 13 January 2017. That is, naturally, Friday the Thirteenth, because of course it is.

“Boats Against the Current, Borne Back Ceaselessly into the Past”

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born 120 years ago today. He and his wife, Zelda, are buried in a little cemetery next to St. Mary’s Church, in Rockville, Maryland, about a 10 minute walk from the Rockville metro station.

I go there sometimes.

The slab on top of the grave quotes the famous last sentence of The Great Gatsby:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Now Streaming Online

Teaser for A Midsummer Night’s Dream


As part of the big commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the BBC and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre streamed the final performance of the Globe’s highly-praised new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream last Sunday.   With a warning—or a promise— from the Globe to “expect naughtiness of a sexual nature,” the show was streamed live and worldwide, and it’s a real romp.

The whole thing is now online, and it’s going to stay there for the next six months.  It’s free, with no password or login or anything like that.  You can watch it here.

And of course, view it full screen.  The sound and picture quality are first rate.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream always gives the costumers and set designers an invitation to go over the top, and this production is no exception.  The show also takes certain liberties—actually, a lot of liberties—with the script, but the result, I think, is that this version probably captures the spirit and excitement of watching the original production four centuries ago.


Some pictures from the show, found on the Net