Sunday, June 22, 2008

Signing Off for Now!

As you may know, I maintain this blog for Whedon purposes - here's where I post regarding classes, conferences, and so on. The next class is in the fall and SLAYAGE has concluded, so I won't be posting here for the remainder of the summer. I will, however, be posting over at my other, more general, blog. You can reach that here. Visit me there and decide which of these is my secret identity!

To keep you in the mood, my first post over there since returning from Arkadelphia sort of straddles the line - I went to the Charlotte "Can't Stop the Serenity" event last night (got home early this morning) and I'll be writing about that. Good times, great cause!

See you soon - and watch the "Dollhouse" trailer! Interesting times are ahead . . .

Monday, June 9, 2008

Arkansas, Day 3

The conference has wound down - which is always an occasion for melancholy. Conferences like this (not all of them, I can assure you) result in some very strong bonds between attendees that last far beyond the span of the conference itself. I will not attempt to recap every session I attended - it would make for a very long post, although if you're interested in particular papers and responses, I'd be happy to assist. Keep in mind that I was only able to attend a fraction of the sessions, since three or four sessions ran simultaneously.

However, mention has to be made of Janine Basinger's keynote address yesterday morning. Prof. Basinger teaches film at Wesleyan University in Connecticut and has been both a mentor and friend to Joss Whedon for 20+ years. She shared a number of insights and stories with a rapt audience and I'll admit to being a touch star-struck. She's sharp as a blade, yet quite approachable. You get the distinct feeling she not only does not suffer fools gladly, but is quite willing to have them eviscerated. And one of Whedon's great ongoing regrets is that he was unable to take her "The Four Directors" class - a sore point he apparently continues to bring up in discussions with her.

Stacey Abbott and Janet Halfyard both gave astonishingly strong presentations and no, it wasn't just because they had clips! Scholarship plus enthusiasm - that's the secret! Further, the "Mr. Pointy" award for best paper given at this conference was justly awarded to Cynthea Masson who presented on the oft-misunderstood episode "The Girl in Question." It's now on my "must rewatch" list. (By the way, the "Mr. Pointy" award is one of those rare academic awards that is not a plaque. Indeed, Cynthea may have a difficult time should she unwisely attempt to put it in her carry-on luggage!)

It's been a great time - my own paper on Doyle (presented in conjunction with musicologist Janet Halfyard's wonderful paper on the Orpheus myth and how Buffy manages to be both Orpheus and Eurydice; savior and saved; hero and heroine) was very well received, although questions were scant. It was the final day - people are a bit tired by then. The "Buffy Bookers" session was lovely and (for me) wonderfully circular. Two years ago, I was in the audience puzzling over how these people managed to get published. Now I was at the front of the room, wondering just which of those eager, bright-eyed folks out there was me two years back.

The circle not only continues, children, it becomes wider.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Arkansas, Day 2

Just a few observations from the second day of SLAYAGE here at Henderson State University, as it's late and I need to review my paper one more time before I turn in. I'm always a touch nervous about running too long in my presentations, so I need to look it over again and fret a little.

1. I love it here! These are truly wonderfully generous, intelligent, passionate people. Put us all together and you can't help but both have fun and get at least some glimmers of inspiration.
2. Rhonda Wilcox just sees things differently. She took an episode that I enjoy and have often thought is brilliant in its structure ("Conversations with Dead People" from Season 7, if you're interested) and shows you patterns and links that you never saw before. She does this so effortlessly that you want to throw yourself under a train. But then she's so generous towards the work of other people that you decide to stick around - besides, if you threw yourself under a train, it'd make quite a mess and she'd probably insist on cleaning it up.
3. Chinese fortune cookies that contain gems like this one that I got in my lunch today: "You will be the mast of all you survey." Not "master," but "mast." I still don't know what that one means. Smooth sailing, perhaps?
4. Matthew Pateman gets major points for (1) having Buffy and Angel cutouts in his office, (2) having his picture taken with said cutouts, and (3) presenting one of the most articulate answers to the question, "You study what?" that I've heard to date. And it's not just the English accent - his arguments are well thought out, humorous, and dead-on accurate.
5. It's great to be here. At most conferences, once the sessions are over for the day, attendees break off and head out to dinner, then maybe hit a club or just disappear into their rooms. I came home from dinner tonight (Arkansas BBQ - let us not speak of it. I grew up in mighty fine Carolina pig country and admit to being biased.) to find most attendees gathered around the lobby television. Yep, watching Buffy. Together.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Arkansas, Day 1

I'm at the third biennial SLAYAGE conference, which is three days devoted to the academic discussion of all things Joss Whedon. While many people - both in and out of academia - have a hard time taking this field of study seriously, news of the conference did get picked up on both the Associated Press and CNN. Maybe as a bit of a "fluff freak show" sort of story, but any publicity is good publicity, right?

As Buffy would say, "Whatever." We're doing good work and, being a fan of the concept that the truth is where you find it, I say our job is just to keep on crying in the wilderness.

Actually, my job is to do a bit more than that. I'm a "superchair" at this conference, which basically means that I go around to various sessions and make sure all the speakers have arrived and that the room is suitable for the discussion that's about to take place. So far, so good. It's quite a change for me - I missed the first SLAYAGE conference and, at the last one two years ago, I was a shy, wallflower academic who was too introverted to even present a paper. Now my book's on the shelf in the college bookstore, I've seen more than a couple of people with copies tucked under their arms, and I'm not only presenting, I'm helping smooth the way for others to do so.

I'll get into specifics about what I've seen and heard here tomorrow - it's late and the whole show starts again early tomorrow.