Box 761: Pop Culture Edition. Buffy, Vampires, and Bones

I’m a bit tired today. I stayed up watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 1. Well, only about half of it, but the damage has been done — I now have to watch all of the other seasons and have to find the time to do so.

This sort of thing requires some research, as well. I have to actually find the rest of the seasons (I only bought the first) AND I don’t want to spend a fortune. Thank god for the internet.

A bit of background. I have heard for years about this Buffy show, and never watched it. I

... and, she wears sensible shoes.

think I probably thought I wouldn’t like it, or that it was over-rated as a camp-tastic romp, etc. Then I just plain kind of forgot. But I continued searching for my Buffy-esque brain candy… I tried them all folks — The Dog Ghost Whisperer (which has its moments — I mean, not everyone can pull off that 5 inch heel and lacy bed-jacket vibe like J Lo-Hew, and nobody can rock the false eyelashes like she can).

But hey. I have some taste, and that show got seriously bad when she started playing out her real-life yummy mummy fantasies and they all of a sudden had an abnormally precocious (even by tv standards) 5-year old who was, like, an empath or something. Oh, and her second husband? He’s really her first husband’s soul in her second husband’s amnesiac body and looks to us like the first guy but when you see him in a mirror on the show he looks like some other guy (the amnesiac second guy)….

Too complicated? Yes. And not in a fun way. And they actually canceled it without a final show, but I had stopped watching it by then anyway. How many Friday nights can you spend counting the inappropriate outfits that Melinda wears? (Hey, my husband is in Afghanistan… nothing much else to do).

See? Just trying too damn hard...

I just bought the first season of Buffy, and now see that The Ghost Whisperer is a too-earnest, gawky step-sister to Buffy. Where Buffy is effortless and funny and satirical, TGW is too much a vehicle for Jennifer Love Hewitt’s hunger, too much a pale imitation, too freaking earnest).  The Ghost Whisperer, if it were a person, would be Ashlee Simpson to Buffy’s Jessica.  Ashlee might be more slick, and maybe even more “popular”, but Jessica was there first — an over-the-top Jessica Rabbit and an original. Jessica might be corny and campy and unwittingly sort of well, teetering in the liminal space of cool/uncool, but she got there on her own. Like Jessica, Buffy’s sartorial choices are hit-and-miss (Pantsuits. Really Buffy?). She has some great looks, but some (like Jessica’s mom jeans) really need to be banished down the Hellmouth along with the other evil things. It is this, though, that makes Buffy lovable, and J-Lo-Hew just kind of a  pose-hard derivative Ashlee.

The ghost that Jennifer/Melinda whispers to is Buffy, and I don’t think that Buffy is listening.

So. I’ve pretty much figured that I’m a Buffy fan, right? I have to say that I might also be a vampire fan, too. At first, I was going to deny it, but upon reflection, there have been numerous guilty-pleasure pop culture experiences in my life that are vampire-related.  I’m gonna admit it here, and just put it out there…. I read the Twilight books. Every single one of them. I even watched the hideously horrible movies made from them, and can with certitude say a few things here:

this photo is for my eldest daughter. She loves him.

I think Robert Pattinson looks like he needs a shower, but he’s kind of okay. On the other hand — while reading the books I was firmly in “Team Jacob’s” camp but upon seeing the movies I can now say that they have made Jacob, um, yucky. The casting is wrong, and this says it all (that link is genius).

The books are not high literature, but are a rollicking good read nonetheless. When I’m looking for  reads of the rollicking variety, I go for the big fat series’:  Outlander Series, Twilight, Harry Potter, Jack Reacher books, the Millennium series, Alex Ryder books, James Patterson’s Maximum Ride stuff, the Odd Thomas books… you know, they uh, rollick. They aren’t illiterate, they are internally consistent, story-driven and when you’re done, there’s almost always more.

At this point in time I’m going to put my inner teeny-bopper away for a moment and remind you all that I actually have a Master’s degree in English Literature, okay?

Good. Glad we got that out. And just so you know, it’s a bona fide degree too, not a fake one from the internet….

So where was I? Vampires. I’m going to give up on discussing the evolution of vampires in popular fiction (from Lestat downwards) and cut to the chase. Angel. I discovered that not only is he a vampire who loves Buffy, but he later gets his own series! Yay! (Don’t tell me what happens, okay?). I find myself intrigued with this guy. Not only because I want to know if the series jumps the shark and lets him and Buffy be a couple, but because I’m amazed at what the years have done to this guy. Wow, they haven’t been entirely kind to him.


Huh. 15 years makes a big difference.

I like this guy (or did, until he started cheating on his wife in real life. Now I think he’s a jerk). He stars in one of the worst television-steals-from-books series there is: Bones (which is based loosely on Kathy Reichs’ clever and gripping Tempe Brennan series). Apparently these are done with the blessing of Reichs, but I can’t figure it out. In the books the protagonist, Tempe, is a smart, funny, flawed and really great character. In the show, she is some sort of high-functioning Asperger’s savant with (admittedly) great clothes. Ruined it, and have belabored the joke so long that it’s just not funny.

Don’t get it.

Why do I know all of this, you ask? Because I have a teenager living in the house, and  I consider watching tv with her slightly more “quality” a time than say, letting her sit in her room and text her friends all night while I read a good book somewhere else in the house. This way she can text in front of the television while I read in front of it, and we both watch it with half an eye/ear. See?

Quality time, people. That’s how you stay connected to your teen.

Okay, that and I love television. I love popular culture and I love television — the crappier the better. I love it all — reality shows, cooking shows, gossip/entertainment shows. I like drama, romance, comedy. All of it. I remember the jaw-dropping, stomach clenching but euphoric feeling it was to watch the very first I want to Marry a Millionaire. How much better can it get?

This is the stuff that will send our civilization careening down a slippery slope that we won’t be able to clamber back up. And I have a front row seat!

Garlic Scapes, I love you 761 ways….

How pretty are these things?

That little beauty to the left of the page is something called a “garlic scape”. I had managed to live 45 years on this planet without ever hearing about scapes. One day a few weeks ago, a facebook friend wrote rhapsodically about it being time for them, so I looked them up. Then I mentioned them to a friend of mine who always seems to know about these things, and she delivered a bag of them to me the very next day.

What I’ve discovered is that a scape is merely the stalk of the garlic that has been harvested before it gets stalky and firm. This apparently helps the bulb to develop, and gives us scapes — the less pungent forgotten sibling  of what we know of as garlic.

What other vegetables haven’t I heard of? I find this mildly concerning — that at my advanced age I discovered something new. I’m a bit humbled by it, but notice that many people have responded to my newly knowing comments about scapes with “…um, what?” Makes me feel better, somewhat.

Today I sat for a while, pondering the scapes. I put them in a vase to keep them orderly, and considered just keeping them that way — so pretty and funky and curly.

Then I made Pesto. I’ve never made scape pesto before, but looked around and found some recipes online, and then just ignored the recipes and made my own. Turned out nicely, too.  Here’s how you do it:

Lovely! I have learned, though, that eating a teaspoon of it right from the jar is not recommended...

2/3 cups roasted pine nuts and about 2 cups of roughly chopped garlic scapes (flower bits off).

Whiz in food processor, then drizzle about a 1/2 cup of olive oil in, add some salt and pepper. Throw it in a bowl and add about 1 cup of parmesan, put in a generous tbsp of roughly smooshed cumin seed.
Air tight container, lasts up to a week refrigerated.

Pasta, tossed with the garlic scape pesto:

photo of sunlight glimmering off the gorgeous green pesto tossed in pasta


It’s kind of a funny thing, making that pesto. I  made about 2 cups of it — that’s a lot of pesto. Usually, I have a few other people in the house with me to share. Right now, though,  Mr. Box 761 is in Kandahar working, my youngest daughter is working/staying at the Cadet camp (for 7 weeks!) and my oldest daughter is taking summer courses at university.

I’m alone with my pesto.

In a week, though, Mr. Box 761 will be here for a month of leave. Certainly there’ll be some left for him to try while he’s home. This is a man who wooed me with (amongst other things) garlic sandwiches… (don’t knock ’em — they were delicious).

Recently I’ve been watching a lot of ridiculous television and last night I watched several episodes of a show called “Millionaire Matchmaker”. Quickly, it’s a show about a yenta in Los Angeles who sets up millionaires (usually men) with women who want to date them. The matchmaker is quite a character, and it was her brassy boorishness that drew me to the show — she’s really oddly charming, and so completely invested in her character. Fascinating to watch. These shows seem to go on in marathons, so last night I watched three shows in a row. By the end of it I could have wept — the cavalcade of hard young women, eager “cougars”, lonely narcissistic “millionaires”…. oh, the humanity.

I’m so glad I met my husband the old-fashioned way: drunk, in a bar.