From Buffy to Echo: Joss Whedon’s weird obsession with supergirls

Echo and the gang of The Dollhouse
Echo and the gang of The Dollhouse

Joss Whedon, most famous for creating and helming Buffy the Vampire Slayer thru several seasons of high-school angst and vampire slaying, has gone on to write and produce several other movies and television shows. But there remains a silver thread running thru them that has begun to seem… unseemly. Joss Whedon likes girls. A lot. With super powers.

Whedon likes his girls young, pretty, filled with secrets, possessed of awesome powers of destruction, and—if possible—programmable. Is it feminism or a pathology? You decide.
Continue reading From Buffy to Echo: Joss Whedon’s weird obsession with supergirls

Further refinements

I’ve continued to refine the site and make it look and work more like the old site, with the help of some plug-ins and add-in code. I’ve also started converting more articles, which I am giving publishing dates that match the original date of publishing, creating a sort of retroactive archive. I will probably have all the old files redirect to the new page, so visitors see the WordPress version and can take advantage of the commenting functionality and so on.

Speaking of which, one of the enhancements I’ve added is a commenting plug-in that allows readers to edit their comments for a time (it’s set to 8 minutes right now). I’ve also added author avatars, which personalizes the articles a bit. Another thing I’ve done is change the original teasers, which were the article ledes, into summaries (via excerpts). However, I’m starting to think that they sound bad in comparison. I’m generally pretty good at writing interesting ledes.

New Tysto goes live

The conversion of the site is pretty much complete. All the building blocks are in place. So far, I’ve converted only one actual article, but more will come. The old site and all the old pages are still available at their old location except for the category pages, which have been moved to an archive folder.

Any links directly to articles in this site will still be valid for the foreseeable future. I hate it when a website makes changes that invalidate some of its content pages. If you can’t plan ahead so that your content is available for years at a time, then you’re not making a serious effort at publishing content in the first place.

I’ve added a link to the old site in the Archived Pages section on the front page in the sidebar on the right.

Why a national health care system is a good idea

[audio:healthcare.mp3] Right-click to download the audio version of this article.

Medical stuff
Medical stuff

Back in the late 1600s, people noticed that houses sometimes caught on fire and burned down. This sometimes even spread to nearby houses and destroyed a great deal of property and killed or injured a number of people. At the time, the best defense was forming a little community bucket brigade to pass water from one person to the next and throw it on the fire. But then someone had a great idea: form a permanent organization whose job it would be to put out fires. How do you pay for such a thing? Private fire insurance. How well did that work? Well, like an HMO, it was better than nothing.
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Horror of Dracula

Horror of DraculaNetflix IMDb
Saruman dons the cape and fangs for his first turn as the granddaddy of all vampires, Count Dracula, in Hammer’s second big horror venture. Grand Moff Tarkin dons pimp gear to take him on as Doctor Van Helsing. Alfred the butler comes along for the ride as Arthur Holmwood. Somehow I remember to mention that Michael Gough played Alfred the butler in the Batman movies but forget to mention that Christopher Lee was in The Lord of the Rings and Peter Cushing was in Star Wars. Pretty girls Middle-aged women fall victim to the charms of the vampire in the dark curiously well-lit night in diaphanous Baptist-approved nightgowns. I try to keep the characters straight and explain how their names were changed from novel to movie. And I discuss anachronisms like blood transfusion and teddy bears. That’s right! You never thought you’d get a lesson in the history of teddy bears in a vampire movie, did you?!

Start the film at the Warner Brothers logo when I give the cue. (41 MB)

Curse of Frankenstein

Netflix IMDb
The puppy is alive! Alive! Peter Cushing takes up the role of the madman Victor Frankenstein, desperately trying to pursue his life’s work of discovering the secret of life while constantly being nagged by his mentor, his fiancee, and his housemaid. Christopher Lee takes up the role of the mute, murderous monster with the greatest brain in Europe. I compare this first big Hammer horror classic extensively with Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein and with the original novel. I speculate on the doctor’s youth, or lack thereof, and his disinclination to redecorate for 15 years. And I wax poetic about beaver hats, cravats, and nightgowns with built-in underwire bras.

Start the film at the Warner Brothers logo when I give the cue. (41 MB)

Handsome strangers

Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his prime and in his governorship
Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his prime and in his governorship

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been featured in nearly forty movies over the years. Curiously, few film makers have bothered to explain why their beefy hero has a thick Austrian accent or even changed the name of the character to one that sounds like it might be worn on the name tag of a guy with a thick Austrian accent. Let’s examine the major roles.
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The Bride of Frankenstein

The Bride of FrankensteinNetflix IMDb
She’s alive! Alive! The inferior-yet-still-classic sequel to Frankenstein is given the full Tysto treatment. I compare this film to the 1931 original and to Young Frankenstein. I complain bitterly about Una “Jar-Jar Binks” O’Connor. I welcome Valerie Hobston’s cleavage as the replacement Elizabeth and welcome back Dwight Frye as the assistant-who-is-definitely-not-the-dead-hunchback-Fritz. I complain a bit about the presence of Doctor Pretorius and compare him to Doctor Waldman of the first film. And I finally get around to mentioning Jack Pierce, the legendary make-up effects artist.

Start the film at the Universal logo when I give the cue. (37 MB)

Frankenstein (1931)

Netflix IMDb
It’s alive! It’s alive! It’s the horror super-classic that introduced the world to Frankenstein’s monster as we know it today. I compare it (sort of) to the novel and (sort of) to Young Frankenstein, as well as to Dracula, which I’ve also done a commentary for.

I give a lot of background and talk about the economy of story-telling that lasts until the film slows to a crawl with talky drawing room scenes. I sympathize with Fritz and then blame him for the whole tragedy. I sympathize with the monster and explain that I want my misunderstood monsters to act with criminal negligence. I point out plot holes, such as how a brain in a jar could be better than the brain of a fresh corpse with a broken neck and how Maria’s father knew she was murdered. I mistakenly say that Mary Shelley doesn’t mention grave-robbing, but she does, briefly. I pan James Whale and praise Karloff as one of the greatest of all cinema heavies and one of the nicest men you’d ever hope to meet.

Bonus: The entire novel, searchable and browsable.

Start the film at the stage introduction when I give the cue. This commentary features the first use of my EchoSync technology, to make it easier to syncronize the movie with the commentary. (36 MB)

Running commentaries that you listen to while you watch the movie.