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Coming Soon: The Third Sunndaydale Project, celebrating all things Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and you can join!)

We’re doing it again! Going to Sunnydale, that is, and celebrating all things Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And if you like Buffy, you can join us. During the week of October 27th through the 31st, we’re hosting our third Sunnydale Project. Who is we? Rachelia at Bookish Comforts and Teen Librarian Toolbox. 

Do you want to write a post and pontificate on all things Buffy and Joss Whedon related? This is your chance. Let us know by the end of September by leaving a comment below with contact information or emailing me directly at kjensenmls at yahoo dot com. You can talk about the show, the characters, the writing, or more. Share great programming and craft related ideas. Or create a list of YA lit titles that you think Buffy fans might want to read. You can post on your blog and we’ll cross post some of them here at TLT and some of them at Bookish Comforts, linking back to your blog as well, of course. If you don’t have a blog don’t worry, you can still participate – we’d be glad to share your post and give you a chance to share your Buffy thoughts.

Oh and look, if you sign up feel free to grab a button. We have buttons!

Here’s a look at some of the previous year’s events and posts from TLT:

10 Things I Learned from Buffy with Christie G X Marks the Spot: Family in the Buffyverse with Karen J Necromancing the Slayer: Hold Me Closer Necromancer (Lish McBride) will make Buffy fans happy with Karen J (Saturday Scavenger Hunt) Embrace the Slayer: Embrace (Jessica Shirvington) will make Buffy fans happy with Karen J (Saturday Scavenger Hunt) Who watches the Watchers? A guest post about librarians by Ilsa J. Bick and why Ashes is a great read for Buffy fans (Saturday Scavenger Hunt) Being the “Slayer” Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes with Karen J Down the Zombie Hole: Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
Sometimes the girl gets to be the hero, Buffy as a feminist hero by Molly Wetta
10 YA Books that Buffy Fans will want to Read Buffy on the page and on the screen, seasons 8 and 9 by Maria Selke Buffy and the Reversal of Halloween, a guest post by Nancy Holder

Previous posts from Bookish Comforts:

Slayer Saturday: Halloween Party, Buffy Style
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 10+ Years Later: The Joss Factor
Season 4 Episode “Hush” Picture Review
Watching Buffy as an Adult… and Loving It!
Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Feminism: An Analysis & Discussion, Part 2
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Feminism, Gender & Sexuality: An Analysis & Discussion, Part 1
Buffyisms: Season 3
My Favourite Buffy Episode: Smashed (6×09)
Trivia Tuesday: BtVS Season 2
“Everyone Forgets, Willow, Knowledge is the Ultimate Weapon”: Buffy & Academia
Buffyisms: Season 2
Trivia Tuesday: BtVS Season 1
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Companions: A Buying Guide
Slayer Saturday: Season 1
Fangirl Friday: Art
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Books & Covers
Buffyisms: Season 1
Trivia Tuesday: General Buffy the Vampire Slayer Facts
Review: Blood and Fog (BTVS, Season 6) by Nancy Holder
“Love Makes You Do the Wacky”: How Buffy Slayed My Heart
Welcome to the Hellmouth: The Sunnydale Project Schedule

The Buffy the Vampire Slayer Project Pinterest Board

This might even require a Buffy re-watch. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

Sunday Reflections: Watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Fresh Eyes

I am a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. So huge that we have had entire time periods here dedicated to it. So I was very excited when the Tween asked a couple of weeks ago if she could watch Buffy and I decided that yes, she was probably old enough for the first couple of seasons.

It has been interesting to watch it again for the first time through fresh eyes. When Buffy first came on I was in college. my high school days long past. But the Tween is just on the verge of teenagerdom, the high school years yet to come. Sometimes it has been awkward (“Mom, why are they always kissing?”, “Wait, did they just have sex?”), sometimes it has been funny, (“I like Xander, he says funny stuff.”) and sometimes it has led to some great and important dialogue – mainly about standing up for yourself, empowering messages that we don’t give to girls often enough I believe. Girls so often are taught to be demure, to shrink, to smile, to be nice, to be ladylike – with ladylike implying easy to get along with. But there are so many moments in life where standing up for yourself – and what is right – is so important. And I feel that Buffy is helping me show my daughter that she can be strong, powerful, confident, and believe in herself.

GIF Source Page Here

Yesterday we came to the end of season two and the beginning of season three. If you don’t know and don’t want to be spoiled, then stop reading because HERE BE SPOILERS aplenty.

For those of you who have seen the show or don’t mind being spoiled, here’s a recap: Angel is now Angelus and he is opening the gates of hell, the only way to stop it once it begins to open is by killing Angel. That’s how season 2 ends, with Buffy being forced to kill the man she loves in order to stop the destruction of the entire world. When we meet her again in season 3, it is in an episode called Anne where Buffy is trying to deal with emotional aftermath of what has happened; she has run away and is living on her own. As a side note, this theme is mirrored in ways in the Doctor Who episode The Snowmen when after suffering great emotional loss, the Doctor runs away, denies who he is, and must be reminded before he again decides to return to helping others.

But back to Buffy . . .

At the end of season 2, in Becoming, Part 2, Angel and Buffy are fighting. Buffy appears in every way to be losing this fight. Then Angel comes at her with a sword and taunts, “No weapons, no friends, no hope. Take that all away and what’s left?” he asks. And she looks him right in the eye and says, “Me.” That’s it, one single word. But such a powerful message. Take everything else away, she has herself.

And when we meet her again in Anne, she seems to have forgotten this message. She is lost, using her middle name, denying her destiny, trying to handle life alone. She runs into a girl she knows from before who is now going by the name Lily. Lily is a lost girl who takes on the identity those around her wish her to take. She has no strong sense of self and, just wanting to find someone to love her and a place to belong, she is willing to become whatever she thinks she needs to become to fill that emptiness in her.

She is soon recruited into what seems at first a religious, self-help themed cult but because this is Buffy they are of course demons. But like cults and other groups of this sort, they gain their power by purposefully preying on the weak and the lost and here we find an amazing example of not only empowerment, but a stark reminder that people in power like to disenfranchise the “other” and strip them of their identity and hope to make them easier to control. These kids are lined up in sack cloth like garments and a demon comes to each one of them and asks, “Who are you?”  And each one in turn replies, “No one.” They give this answer in part out of fear, because they know it is the right answer to give to keep themselves alive. But they also give this answer because they have come through the courses of their life to believe it to be true.

But then the demon comes to Buffy/Anne and asks, “Who are you?” And she confidently and defiantly raises her head and says, “I’m Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Then she proceeds to kick some ass because that is what vampire slayers do.

GIF Source Page Here

And then, the head demon guy grabs Lilly and threatens to kill her – to kill them all – if they continue to fight back. There is a pause while everyone is forced to consider, what are we willing to sacrifice for true freedom? But then Lilly answers for herself by pushing the demon and signalling that the revolution must continue. She takes a stand in that moment for herself. She chooses to be brave. She chooses action over inaction, knowing that the costs could be high.

As I watched this with my daughter, I was glad that we got to see this moment of empowerment. And it clearly demonstrates that life – knowing yourself, standing up for yourself – isn’t always easy. Buffy gets lost several times along the way throughout the course of the show. She makes some bad decisions. The people in her life that love her often make bad decisions. But they keep regrouping, both personally and as a family unit. That too is an important message, forgiveness, both of self and others. You don’t have to stay stuck in a moment, you can choose to move forward.

Buffy is not a perfect show, and no show is. For example, Buffy is punished in the worst ways imaginable for deciding to be a sexual creature. And I would argue that in that moment the shows creators also make the mistake of conflating sex with love/happiness. And later in the series Xander is raped by Faith who is inhabiting Buffy’s body and if I am remembering correctly they never call it rape. And I have a really hard time watching episodes after the attempted rape by Spike.

But for its sometimes faults, it is so powerful to have this show which focuses on the life of a female superhero (and yes, she is a superhero) in such realistic and empowering ways. I love those moments on the show when she looked and basically said, no matter what I always have me.  And then the next episode came around and reinforced that message. I want my daughter – all daughters really – to know that no matter what, they always have themselves and that is worth everything. I want my daughter to be like Buffy, because when we fail our daughter’s we risk them becoming like the Lilly’s of the world and that puts them in great personal danger. Plus, when we teach our daughters to be Buffy, we might just help be saving the world. A lot.

The Sunnydale Project, a celebration of all things Buffy

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a whole bundle of awesome.  There are few other shows that have tapped into the zeitgeist so perfectly an explained with humor, pathos and vampires – yes, vampires – the suck that can sometimes be the teenage years.  Although the TV show has ended, the vision of Buffy lives on through books and even comic books.  Joss Whedon writes brilliant characters and television, and then a whole bundle of amazing writers have expanded the verse through books and comic books to keep us enlightened and entertained.  For the months of September and October, we will be exploring that verse and what it means to us personally as librarians, as readers and as fangirls.

The original post announcing the Sunnydale Project can be found here

In celebration of the awesomeness that is Buffy, 3 book bloggers have been working hard all summer to plan this 2 month event: Rachelia @ Bookish ComfortsPatricia @ Patricia’s Particularity, and Karen @ Teen Librarian’s Toolbox. During this event we will be reviewing Buffy books, comics, and episodes as well and sharing some fanfic, delving into some of the characters, and looking at some topics and issues within the Buffy world (such as feminism). We will also have some guest posts from other amazing Buffy fans, hearing their thought and obsession! And what would an event be without a giveaway or two?! There will be plenty of giveaways for you to enter!

Each hosting blog will have their own schedule, providing you with as many views as possible. So please be sure to check out their schedules: Rachelia @ Bookish Comforts & Patricia @ Patricia’s Particularity.

 

September

10 Things I Learned from Buffy with Christie G
X Marks the Spot: Family in the Buffyverse with Karen J
Necromancing the Slayer: Hold Me Closer Necromancer (Lish McBride) will make Buffy fans happy with Karen J (Saturday Scavenger Hunt)
Embrace the Slayer: Embrace (Jessica Shirvington) will make Buffy fans happy with Karen J (Saturday Scavenger Hunt)
Who watches the Watchers? A guest post about librarians by Ilsa J. Bick and why Ashes is a great read for Buffy fans (Saturday Scavenger Hunt)

October

Being the “Slayer” Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes with Karen J
Down the Zombie Hole: Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
Sometimes the girl gets to be the hero, Buffy as a feminist hero by Molly Wetta
10 YA Books that Buffy Fans will want to Read
Buffy on the page and on the screen, seasons 8 and 9 by Maria Selke
Buffy and the Reversal of Halloween, a guest post by Nancy Holder

 
This is our Sunnydale Project headquarters here at TLT.  Keep checking back for post updates and fun contests.  All posts will be linked to this page.  And be sure to keep checking all three blogs for a complete look at the awesomeness that is The Sunnydale Project.
 
Sunnydale Project Scavenger Hunt
 
Did you notice some words written in red in this post? If not, go back and take a look. You’ll want to, I can reassure you. Why? Because we are having a Buffy themed scavenger hunt! How fun is that? To find out how to participate, read the details below. And I know you’ll want to participate because we are working on getting some GREAT prizes lined up for the winners!
  • Each week on our Slayer Saturday posts look for the words highlighted. There will be 3 sets of words each weekend, so make sure to visit all three blogs (Bookish Comforts, Patricia’s Particularity and Teen Librarian Toolbox).
  • Write down the words each week (Sept. 8 – Oct. 20), putting them in an order that makes sense. All together these words create a quote from Buffy.
  • During the last week a form will be made available on all three blogs where you can turn in the quote that you have pieced together.
  • On the last weekend of The Sunnydale Project, Oct. 27, the quote will be revealed! We will then draw a winner from those who have correctly completed the quote.
Giles: Into each generation, a Slayer is born. One girl in all the world, a chosen one. One born with the…
Giles, Buffy: -the strength and skill to hunt the vampires…
Buffy: To stop the spread of their evil blah, blah, blah, I’ve heard it, okay?


It is my understanding that not all the words appeared as they were supposed to so if you send an email to me at kjensenmls@yahoo.com telling me what words appeared in Red here on TLT and in what posts, you will be entered to win.  We will be giving away a small collection of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Books of 4 to 5 titles.  Contest entries will be accepted through November 10th.

Buffy and the Reversal of Halloween, a guest post by Nancy Holder

Fangirl Moment of Introduction: You are probably aware that I am a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan.  I have read almost every book and one of the worst days of my professional life was when I had to finally discard the collection because it was quite literally falling apart.  The first book I ever reviewed for VOYA in 2001 was in fact a Nancy Holder book. So this is a truly amazing moment for me as she has so graciously agreed to write a guest blog post for our The Sunnydale Project.  Ladies and gentleman (squeeeee), Nancy Holder . . .

It’s a truism among horror writers that the hardest part of a horror story is the ending. Writers know that for readers and viewers, becoming involved in the scary is like doing the tango—you give yourself, you take yourself back—as you tangle with getting frightened. One way viewers and readers do this is to try to guess the ending. Next time you’re watching Buffy, see if I’m not right—Joss and the writers start laying in the clues about the what’s going to happen as soon as you see the first image on the screen. Then they lead you through a Halloween corn maze of twists and turns (when that’s done onscreen, it’s called “schmucking the bait”) until you reach the exit. I think this underlying, so-very-intentional structure is one of the (many) reasons Buffy endures as a show.

            When Chris Golden and I pitched ideas to write the first-ever original Buffy novel (as opposed to an episode novelization), we included a Halloween story. Like the rest of the world at the time, we assumed that Halloween night would be like the Super Bowl for the Slayer, and that’s how we wrote the story, and how it was published. We had yet to come to know (and love!) Joss’s penchant for reversals.

            A reversal is when you get the opposite of what you expect in a story. “The Gift of the Magi” is a sort of a reversal. The two halves of a loving couple sacrifice the one thing they cherish to buy each other a Christmas present: the husband sells his pocket watch to buy combs for his wife’s hair, which she, meanwhile, cuts and sells to purchase a chain for his pocket watch. The reversal is that they realize they’ve just given each other the best present ever—proof that they are committed and loyal, and their relationship is a precious Christmas miracle. Comedy also depends on reversals—the big laughs come when the joke or story takes an unexpected turn. What’s the most common thing people say when they’re telling a funny story? “Wait for it.” And we do, with an anticipatory grin.

            I think this love of the unexpected is one of the sources of the Joss quote that he didn’t/doesn’t give his fans what they want, but what they need. They need to be intrigued, entertained, to laugh, and to be frightened. So he gives them reversals.

            Thus it was with Halloween. Because Buffy first came on the air in March, she didn’t have a Halloween episode until seven months later, in her second season. But March is when Chris and I wrote Halloween Rain(in three and a half weeks!) and we weren’t thinking about reversals. So although our story was approved, it’s out of canon—because the Slayer and her quarry have mutually agreed to take Halloween off every year (unless you’re Ethan Rayne, and then as agreeable as you appear to be, you break the rules.)
 
 

            It didn’t take Chris and me long to figure out that reversals were part and parcel of life in Sunnydale. Angel, Buffy’s first true love, is a vampire. Jonathan does not confess to taking fish-monster steroids, but to peeing in the pool.  As soon as Buffy gives her heart to Scott Hope, he breaks up with her. The morning after Tara and Willow reunite, Tara dies. And of course, the ending of the series (on TV) features the biggest reversal of all—the Chosen One, “she and she alone,” is not only not alone, but she shares her power with all the Potentials.

            The night that Buffy went off the air, I couldn’t make myself watch the episode. I had signed a non-disclosure agreement in return for receiving a “beat sheet” that told the story in brisk, narrative form. I knew what was going to happen, and I knew that Buffy was going to get her happy ending. But I approached that last episode as I would the death of a loved one—I mourned. I didn’t think I would ever have such a wonderful gig again as writing about Buffy. I had been there from the beginning of the show to the end, and I really did think it was the end. (Karen just cried reading this part)

            But I’ve had my own reversal. Fifteen years after I started writing Halloween Rain, I’m still writing about Buffy. I have a brand new Buffy book coming out in December titled Buffy: The Making of a Slayer, from 47 North. I wrote the text and helped the book’s producers find images from many of the original staff members such as John Vulich (special makeup effects); Todd McIntosh (makeup); Carey Meyer and Steve Hardie (production designers); and Cynthia Bergstrom (costume designer.) I was also able to talk about Buffywith Amber Benson, Jane Espenson, David Fury, and some of the original moves and shakers in Buffy fandom.
 

            The book was greenlighted by Joss himself, whose original mission statement was to create a character who would find her way as an icon into the zeitgeist of our times.  There was no reversal there—I meet new fans who come to Buffy after discovering Dr. Horrible or Firefly. Buffy continues to be a beloved figure in the ongoing canonical comic book series from Dark Horse Comics. Despite all the prophesies assuring the Slayer an early death, Buffy continues.

            And I’m willing to bet there’ll be a Slayer or two at my door on my very busy Halloween night.      

BIO: New York Timesbestselling author Nancy Holder has written more non-show material about Buffy the Vampire Slayer than any other writer in this dimension. She has received five Bram Stoker Awards for her supernatural fiction, and has been nominated for two more, including for The Angel Chronicles, Volume 1. BtVS: The Watcher’s Guide, Volume 1, appeared on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list. She is a member of the Whedon Studies Association and a Browncoat. Find her at @nancyholder and https://www.facebook.com/holder.nancy. She has a website at www.nancyholder.comShe lives in San Diego with her daughter, Belle the Vampire Slayer, two dogs, three cats, and a leopard gecko.
 
Nancy Holder is now also writing for the Teen Wolf series.  You can check out her book On Fire at Goodreads or on Nancy Holder’s webpage. Buffy: The Making of a Slayer is scheduled for publication on December 11th, 2012.  You can find out more about it at Goodreads.
 

Necromancing the Slayer (The Sunnydale Project)

“Most people felt lost after high school. Sometimes I felt like I’d never really been found in the first place.”  – Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

The first book I ever reviewed for VOYA was a Buffy the Vampire Slayer book by Nancy Holder.  I have read almost all of them, and for a while they took up about two shelves of my YA collection.  And then one day came the sad news that they were being discontinued.  Since that time, I have been on my own personal slayer quest: to find Buffy readalikes.  I have throughout the years found a few, but my favorite has hands down been the book Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride.

Synopsis:
“Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak.

Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else.

With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin?” (from Goodreads) (Henry Holt &Co., 2010 ISBN 9780805090987)


Sam thinks he is your average, unambitious dude working dead end jobs and crushing after girls but it turns out, “dead” means something much more to him.  You see, Sam is not your average guy but is in fact a Necromancer.  He just doesn’t really know it at the beginning of our book.  So imagine his surprise when a talking head shows up in a box on his doorstep.  Not just any talking head, but someone he knows that has quite an attitude.  Turns out she kind of liked being attached to her body.  Oops.

Suddenly Sam finds out that much like Sunnydale, there is an unseen part of Seattle that involves councils, power plays, and a whole bunch of evil voodoo mojo out there.  Sam kinda prefers not knowing to be honest because now, well, one of the most powerful necromancers has Sam on his radar and he does not appreciate the competition.  Not that Sam knows he is competition.

Am I the only one who things that psychopathic killers should have imposing names like Vlad the Impaler, Genghis Kham or Vigo the Carpathian? As a name, Douglas was a letdown.
Sounds like Buffy, right?  Douglas is our powerful Necromancer.  For the record, once you figure out what Douglas means, it makes more sense.


Like Buffy, every good slacker hero needs some trusty sidekicks.  It is usually helpful if one is more than just a head in a box, but ghosts work well.  As do smart aleck friends.  And, well . . . maybe a werewolf would be nice.  He may also have to make some deals with some other magical creatures.

 
“You want waffles?” I tried to keep the skepticism from my voice. “No firstborn or a pot of gold?”
“I’m not a leprechaun, Sam. And what would I do with a baby?” Her eyebrow shot back up, and she crossed her arms. “I want waffles. Take it or leave it.”
I glanced at Brid, who was staring at Ashley shrewdly.
“Let’s talk numbers,” she said. “Are we talking, like, twenty waffles all at once? Or a waffle a week for six months? What?”
“Every day for two years,” Ashley said.
“That’s outrageous,” Brid sputtered.”
  – Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
 
You know what else we need?  A twisty potential romantic love interest.  How about, let’s say, a wereperson.  Better yet, how about a wereperson with some serious attitude and the name Brid.
What happens when Sam is thrown into a cage with Brid?
 
“On top of all that, you’re naked. And while I’m going to hate myself for this later, could you put on some clothes? At least just for a little while, so I can think. Then you can go right back to being naked. All the time. With my full blessing.”  – Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
 
As you can clearly see, Lish McBride gets the wit and snark perfectly right.  Like the Whedon universe, McBride’s characters come face to face with unknown terrors and dangers and give them a sarcastic kick in the pants.  In addition to the tone, McBride also builds for Sam that Whedon version of “family” with some fun, colorful sidekicks that include both the paranormal and completely average every man.  And like in Buffy, the magical underworld is both organized and constantly vying for powerplays.  Sam’s troubles begin with Douglas not because he is a necromancer, but because he is a necromancer in Douglas’s territory.  Oops again.  Guess Sam’s parents were hoping it skipped a generation.
 
And like Whedon, the talented McBride gets in some fun pop culture quips.  In fact, every chapter title is in fact a reference to song lyrics.  Part of the fun of starting each chapter is remembering the songs that the chapter titles come from.
 
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is a laugh out loud fun read, perfect for Buffy fans.  And thankfully, there is going to be a sequel.  Necromancing the Stone comes out in September from Henry Holt & Co. (ISBN 9780805090994).  It looks like this time we’ll be doing movie titles and I can’t wait.
 
“Begin at the beginning,” I said, “and go on till you come to the end. Then stop.” 
 
What are your favorite Buffy readalikes? Tell us in the comments.
 
Slayer Scavenger Hunt
 
 
Did you notice some words written in red in this post? If not, go back and take a look. You’ll want to, I can reassure you. Why? Because we are having a Buffy themed scavenger hunt! How fun is that? To find out how to participate, read the details below. And I know you’ll want to participate because we are working on getting some GREAT prizes lined up for the winners!
  • Each week on our Slayer Saturday posts look for the words highlighted. There will be 3 sets of words each weekend, so make sure to visit all three blogs (Bookish Comforts, Patricia’s Particularity and Teen Librarian Toolbox).
  • Write down the words each week (Sept. 8 – Oct. 20), putting them in an order that makes sense. All together these words create a quote from Buffy.
  • During the last week a form will be made available on all three blogs where you can turn in the quote that you have pieced together.
  • On the last weekend of The Sunnydale Project, Oct. 27, the quote will be revealed! We will then draw a winner from those who have correctly completed the quote.
We really hope you have fun with this! We’re still finalizing the prize, but it’ll be worth participating for! An announcement will be made when all details have been finalized.

Top 10 Things I Learned From Buffy The Vampire Slayer by Christie G



10.  Librarians are freaking awesome.

Well, I knew this anyway, but Giles was the epitome of what I actually wanted a high school librarian to be.  A wealth of knowledge, a touchstone when you needed someone to listen, a father figure in your darkest hours, and he could definitely kick demon and vampire butt.  The fact that he knew magic and didn’t practice because he was scared of his own powers didn’t hinder, either.

9.  Hold on to love when you find it
One big thing that you can learn from Buffy (movie or TV series or graphic novels) is to treasure love when you find it.  The most gripping episode that hammers this home to me was Seeing Red in Season Six.  After all the twists and turns and ups and downs in their relationship, Willow and Tara finally get back together, things are wonderful, and then Tara is *killed*, a side-casualty.  True love, gone in an instant, by accident.  Proof that you need to take all the love you can, when you can, because you never know what’s going to happen.
8.  Bad things can come in unsuspecting packages
Buffy is fun because it loves to dress up “the bad” in different ways- and they’re not obvious.  This is wonderful, because in real life, bad things are NOT obvious.  They don’t wander around with big signs over their heads saying, HEY, I’M AWFUL, STAY AWAY FROM ME, I’M AN EMOTIONAL VAMPIRE AND GOING TO SUCK THE LIFE OUT OF YOU!  We learn this in Buffy through a variety of ways:  Faith, who starts good, then goes bad (then good again- see number 4); Drusilla, who is always bad; evil packaged as innocent looking children or beautiful humans; The Initiative; the list goes on and on.
7.  Be flexible, and use your imagination
No matter what villain they faced, or evil they fought down, Buffy and her gang were always creative in the way they went about it.  It wasn’t always the most direct approach, it wasn’t the easiest, but it was the way that it got done.  And it *got done*.  It may not have been pretty, but it was done.  You had demons that made the entire adult population regress to their teenage years, ones that made everyone believe that they were their Halloween costumes, and my personal favorite, one that had everyone *SINGING* their personal business.  And how did they defeat them?  Quick thinking and creative solutions which, by the way, are hallmarks of what makes excellent employees in today’s workplace.  That flexibility and creative thinking goes a long way in real life- thinking outside the box is cliché, but it’s cliché for a reason.

 
6.  Friends can be your family
I’m the first to admit that I have a Buffy addiction, as well as a Disney one.  And what do they have in common?  A distinct lack of parents.  Buffy’s dad is AWOL from the beginning, then her mom dies in season 5 (one of the episodes that has been described as one of the best television episodes ever broadcast, BTW (Kaveney, Roz (ed.) (2004). Reading the Vampire Slayer: The New, Updated, Unofficial Guide to Buffy and Angel, Tauris Parke Paperbacks. ISBN 1-4175-2192-9).  So who is Buffy’s support network?  HER FRIENDS.  If it weren’t for Willow and Xander, who are there from the beginning, Buffy wouldn’t have survived emotionallythroughout her struggles, let alone physically.  I have a wonderful family, but I’m lucky in that I have wonderful friends that have supported me as well, no matter what I’m doing or what I believe in.  Having moved four states away from any family right after being married, I know the importance of my friend-family in my life:  if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to face a lot of things that life has thrown my way.
5.  You can survive the big bad
Buffy has a lot in common with YA literature, in that it shows that no matter what happens, you can survive it.  Buffy, Willow and Xander go through the death of parents, of friends, of lovers, even Buffy (twice).  They fight werewolves, vampires, demons, curses, ghosts, possession, spells.  They fall in love and out of love, sometimes with each other, sometimes with others in their close group, sometimes with the enemy.  They lose themselves numerous times along the way.  However, at the end, they win out, and it shows that you can survive the big bad.  It’s an important message that needs to be given, and I don’t think that it’s being given enough.
4.  The geeks shall rule the Earth
If Joss Whedon isn’t geeky enough for you, and the fact that he created Buffy, Firefly, Dollhouse, directed the Avengers, and has a cult following that numbers in the billions world-wide, then consider this:  the characters that were the “geeks” in Buffy are the ones that have gone on to major stardom and continuing success.  Alyson Hannigan, who stars as Willow, has gone on to star in the blockbuster American Pie movie series, which just recently released American Reunion, and plays Lily Aldrin on How I Met Your Mother.  Nicholas Brendon, who played Xander, has made a career on the small screen, landing roles on Private Practice and Criminal Minds.  And Seth Green, who played Oz, went through the stratosphere, as Dr. Evil’s son in the Austin Powers movies, lending his voice in Family Guy and the video game series Mass Effect, and directing/producing and voice talent in the ongoing Robot Chicken TV series.  He’s so good he gives Sarah Michelle Geller jobs.  It’s good to be the geek, huh?
3.  Girls kick butt
If I had three wishes, the first one would be for Joss Whedon to have his own television station and film studio where he could make all the shows and movies his heart desires.  He consistently creates female characters who are intelligent, witty, and can kick ass with the guys- all of which should be considered normal in our society and isn’t.  There’s a wonderful quote from years ago where he was interviewed:

When asked in an interview years ago why he writes these strong female characters, he simply responded, “Because you’re still asking me that question.”

Girls still need these strong female characters, in television, in film, and in books, because right now a lot of them are lost and no one is sure why.  It’s blamed on our instant culture, on television, on music videos, on rap, on the current fad of the moment, but no one really knows.  I feel that if they had more positive role models to look at, instead of shows that encourage them to fall down drunk every night and act stupid to attract attention, that it could not be a bad thing.
2.  Love knows no boundaries
Buffy shows us that it’s OK to love whomever we want, and that there shouldn’t be any judgment with it.  Buffy herself loved Angel (vampire with a soul), Rylie (military cyborg), and Spike (vampire first without a soul then with a soul).  Xander loved Willow, then Cordelia, then finally Anya (vengeance demon).  Willowcrushed on Xander, then Oz (werewolf), then Tara (female witch).  And you know what?  THERE WAS NOTHING WRONG WITH THEIR RELATIONSHIPS.  NOTHING.  And there were no judgment from their friends.  Which is the way it should be.  So love who you love because love is precious (see #9).
Finally, the best thing about Buffy is that anyone can be the hero of the story.  If that’s proven anywhere, with any character, it’s with Spike.  He goes from being evil vampire, to chipped with an anti-violent impulse device, to a rapist, to a vampire with a soul, to the sacrificial savior of Sunnydale and the world through seven seasons, all with peroxide blonde hair, a leather duster, and a wonderful British accent.  Would you have seen that coming?  He’s the most extreme case, but anyone can be the hero of their own story, they just need to believe that they can be.

Check out these awesome website for more of The Sunnydale Project
Bookish Comforts
Patricia’s Particularity

The Sunnydale Project is a look back on all things Buffy by fans.  Buffy and all that it entails is owned by Joss Whedon, who is awesome.
 
Slayer Scavenger Hunt
on Slayer Saturdays!

Did you notice some words written in red in this post? If not, go back and take a look. You’ll want to, I can reassure you. Why? Because we are having a Buffy themed scavenger hunt! How fun is that? To find out how to participate, read the details below. And I know you’ll want to participate because we are working on getting some GREAT prizes lined up for the winners!

  • Each week on our Slayer Saturday posts look for the words highlighted. There will be 3 sets of words each weekend, so make sure to visit all three blogs (Bookish Comforts, Patricia’s Particularity and Teen Librarian Toolbox).
  • Write down the words each week (Sept. 8 – Oct. 20), putting them in an order that makes sense. All together these words create a quote from Buffy.
  • During the last week a form will be made available on all three blogs where you can turn in the quote that you have pieced together.
  • On the last weekend of The Sunnydale Project, Oct. 27, the quote will be revealed! We will then draw a winner from those who have correctly completed the quote.
We really hope you have fun with this! We’re still finalizing the prize, but it’ll be worth participating for! An announcement will be made when all details have been finalized.

X Marks the Spot: Family in the Whedonverse (The Sunnydale Project)

One dark night I drove down an unknown road to watch the X-files with a friend. A big X in the window let me know that I had come to the right house. That night, a friendship was forged that opened my heart and changed my life. Two amazing souls walked into my heart and taught me more than I could ever hope to know about thinking and feeling and being . . . and about family.  It was here, while watching the X-files, Buffy and Angel, that I learned that we were doing the very thing that Joss Whedon wrote about in his shows: making a family.

And because life is fluid, and celebrities are vain, David Duchovny walked out of my life and Buffy the Vampire Slayer walked in. And in this ‘verse I learned a wonderful truth: family is not just those you were born into, but those you chose to love and share yourself with.

I was born into a family (and I love them), but over the years divorce and jobs had taken me all over the place. By the time I graduated with my Master’s in Library Science I had been to 5 elementary schools, 2 junior highs, 2 high schools and 4 colleges. My soul was weary and I just needed some roots. I wanted to have one friend in my life that I could sit around in old age and share those stories that start out, “remember that time . . .” I was tired of being a tumble weed, I wanted to be a tree.

I met “M” of the X fame at my very first library job; she was my mentor.  My friend M is an amazing librarian. I have spent much time talking with her about LIBRARIANSHIP and all that it entails. Sometimes we even disagree (there is an eyeball involved in this story). When I have a question, I call and ask her. When I have a complaint, I call her. When I write a blog post that I am wicked in love with, I e-mail it to her. Somewhere along the line I started calling her “mom”, mostly as a joke because she really never wanted to have kids. Then I had kids and they started calling her “grandma”. They love her like a grandma; to them she is without a doubt or hesitation their grandma. They are just blessed to have this wicked smart lady as an additional – a bonus – grandma if you will.  Joss Whedon would approve (and then he would probably kill her off in an amazing episode like The Body but we’ll just skip that part).

What does all of this have to do with Buffy the Vampire Slayer? It was while watching Buffy that I learned that my family building was not unique to me. You see, one of the main themes of the Joss Whedon universe is that you build a family with the people in your life that you choose to love. I’m not making it up, someone even wrote a book about it (I recommend the book, it is interesting).



Print ISBN: 978-0-7864-2172-5
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-7864-8306-8

Buffy came from a broken home; but she built for herself an amazing family with her Watcher Giles, friends Xander and Willow, and some of the others that came in and out of their lives. Then when Angel went to L.A., he too build a family with Gunn, Cordelia, and eventually Fred, Wesley and Lorne. The gang on Firefly? Yep, they become a family. And like all families, there are issues, but what matters is how our merry band of world savers handle the issues. Somehow, they keep coming back together. They eventually talk, they forgive, and above all – they choose to love (or at least tolerate).  Whether you were a slayer or a vampire with a soul, a witch, a vengeance demon, gay or straight – you could find love in this “family”.

As someone who has worked with teens for so long, I think this is an important message. You see, many of our teens are hurting and looking for a family. The ones they have are sometimes so very broken. And that is the message of Joss Whedon: Hope. You may have some brokenness around the edges, but you can build for yourself a life – and a family – and find a way to thrive.  You too can save the world, or at least your world – a lot – if you allow yourself to continue to be open and receive help from those around you.

This is a really important message not only of the Whedonverse, but of the Potterverse.  Time and time again Buffy needs the various skills of her “family” to help discover what is happening and help rid Sunnydale of the season’s big bad.  And Harry Potter succeeded not on his own, but with the help of Ron and Hermione, Hagrid, Dumbledore and others.  In fact, Harry, the orphan boy in the cupboard under the stairs, also built for himself a family.  And maybe that is the real message of it all, when you allow yourself to be open to others – real magic can happen.

For 13 years now, M has been my Watcher, although we have only slayed metaphorical demons.  And I know that many of us that work with teens in the library, we have been one (often more) of those teen’s watchers.  It’s all good, Giles is a good librarian to emulate, except for the part where he is taking his teenage students out at night for life risking missions.  You’ll probably want to avoid that part.

I write more about Blood Relations and the chosen family in my review of How To Save a Life by Sara Zarr.

Here’s another paper on the topic called Friends are Family We Choose for Ourselves

Book Review: How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

When most people think of Joss Whedon, they tend to think of the guy who writes kick-ass girls.  Which he does.  But when I think of Joss Whedon I think of this: you are born into a family, but you also build a family and in many ways, that family is so much stronger because those are the people you have fallen in love with along the way.  Buffy came from a broken home, but she built the strongest of families with Xander and Willow and Giles and in the end, even Spike.  When Angel left he too built his own family in LA, with Cordelia and Wesley and Fred and Lorne.  And in Firefly, the rag tag gang of outlaws became a family that gathered together to protect the weakest among them, River (even if Jayne did occasionally stumble).

McFarland & Company (June 23, 2005) 978-0786421725

What, you may ask, does this have to do with How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr?  Why, I’m glad you asked.

“I’m still going to love you, always. And in the rock-paper-scissors of life, love is rock. fear, anger, everything else…no contest.”

You see, I have been working with teens for 19 years now and one of the most common things I see among them is a certain brokenness.  Yes, it is normal and natural to go through that difficult transitional phase of separating from parents and becoming your own person.  But to be quite frankly honest, a lot of my teens haven’t really had parents to go through that separation phase with.  No, they were struggling more than anything to find someone – anyone – to connect with.  My teens were being raised by grandparents, single mothers, and far too often – themselves really.  I have sat in a room with 70 teens and felt the need to belong to someone, anyone, buzzing in the air with such a ferocious electric energy that it seemed like we would all soon spontaneously combusts as if hit by a lightning bolt.  These teens were the dry, parched trees in a desert just ripe for burning when that electric need coursed through the air – there was nothing they could do but burst into flames with their parched desperation.

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (October 18, 2011) 978-0316036061

Enter Mandy Kalinowski.  Mandy is a pregnant teen from a very broken home.  She is the teen whose mother tells her to sell her soul to a man to be taken care of financially, not to be loved, not to feel that sense of connection; no, to Mandy’s mom sex and abuse and making sure you stay pretty are the price you pay to make sure that there is a roof over your head and food on your table.  Love, happiness and self-fulfilment aren’t even possibilities.

Enter Jill MacSweeney.  Jill is a senior in high school that had a grounded life until her father passed away and she is left reeling without her anchor.  To muddy the waters even more, Jilly’s mother has decided to adopt a baby to honor a promise her and her deceased husband made years ago.  It is this adoption that causes the two teens paths to cross, and it is not a pretty crossing.  Sara Zarr does not do pretty crossings you know, she gets to the down and dirty reality of life before taking us to a point where we think that we can even begin to see hope.

“Try a little tenderness …”

To break it down for you, it goes like this: Mandy comes to live with Jill and her mom while they wait for the baby to be born and adopt it.  Jill is not at all on board with this plan.  Mandy looks at everything that Jill has and thinks, hmmm – this is kinda awesome.  Mandy also wrestles with the emotions of whether or not she can give her child up for adoption.  Jill wrestles with the emotions of losing her dad and having pushed everyone in her life away out of grief.  Jill and her mom try to find a way to deal with everything that being Jill and her mom entails.  And then there is the most awesome resolution that I didn’t even know was possible but looked up and it sure enough is true.  I can’t tell you what it is because I don’t want to spoil the book for you.  Insert pouty face here because I would love to discuss the merits of this.

So I will get back to talking about the book.  Mandy and Jill are both whiny, annoying characters at times who do a lot of self-sabotaging behaviors and make it really hard for you to care about them.  In other words, Mandy and Jill are totally typical teenagers.  But somehow you do care about them.  Although true confession, I really cared about Jill and although I completely understood the where and why of Mandy, it was so much harder for me to get invested in her character.  That may be more a me issue than a character issue, reading is so very subjective.

I really liked that even though Sara Zarr employed the whole dead parent card, here it was not a device but a part of the story that added emotional resonance and clearly illustrated that before the dead parent Jill was in fact part of a happy, healthy, functioning family.  And her mom was clearly doing her best to be there for her, even in the midst of her own grief.  So I am giving points for parental involvement.

I really wrestled throughout the book with the adoption storyline because (keep in mind I am in no way a lawyer) the way they go about it seems completely illegal and unsafe, emotionally that is.  Mandy makes it clear that there can be no lawyers, no contracts, nada, zilch, nothing.  Here Jill’s mom is depicted as being an intelligent community woman and yet she doesn’t seem to understand the tremendous ramifications of the situation.  It kind of didn’t mesh with the character, but I think she was trying to explain that away given the emotionally vulnerable state she was in, which I kind of understood but still gritted my teeth.  But then finally, there is a moment where a doctor says, um but what about and AHA! – there is that very necessary jolt of reality.

In the end I found this to be an uplifting story and there are teens out there that need to read it.  There are those Mandy’s in this world who need to know that in the end, they may just find a family that they can be a part of.  For that reason alone I recommend that libraries add this book to their collections.  If you agree with Joss Whedon, you are doing something right in my book.  4 out of 5 stars because there are a few hiccups along the way, but Sara Zarr does authentic teen voice well.

Love is rock. This review is dedicated to my own adopted “mom” and librarian mentor, who is definitely 5 stars and my favorite Joss Whedon fan.