Cool Peripheral Character Arcs In “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”?


lily/anne and buffySo I was thinking about the “Anne” episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (the one where Buffy is hiding out in L.A. under an assumed name and winds up battling the labor exploitation demon — I’m vastly entertained by the fact that she wages this battle with a hammer and sickle). I was posting on this on Facebook and Twitter, and some of us got to talking about Chanterelle/ Lily/ Anne, and what a great character arc she had for someone who is very much a peripheral character on the show: she goes from being the gothy vampire wannabe, to the lost and aimless homeless teen, to the strong woman running the shelter for homeless teens.

And I started thinking: One of the things that I think makes “Buffy” such a rich show is that it isn’t just the main characters who get good, strong, interesting character arcs. Secondary characters, even peripheral characters, clearly have rich inner lives, and you get to see them mature over the arc of the show. Jonathan leaps immediately to mind, as does Harmony. The Buffyverse seems like it’s populated by actual people, any of whom could have a show written about them.

So since I’m going to be at the Carolinas Secular Conference in Charlotte this weekend, and won’t be on the blog much until I get back, I thought I’d start a thread about this: Who are some secondary or peripheral characters in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” that you think have particularly interesting character arcs? (I think I’m defining “secondary or peripheral” as “the actor never got a named credit in the opening credit sequence.”)

There are no wrong answers. Your time starts — now!

Replies to Phil Zuckerman and to Sam Harris’s Second Post — Coming Next Week

I’ve promised to write responses to Phil Zuckerman’s piece Are Men More Likely to Be Secular Than Women?, and to Sam Harris’s piece “I’m Not the Sexist Pig You’re Looking For” (which supposedly explained why his original comments on why he has more male readers than female ones weren’t sexist).

I’ll keep that promise, and in fact those responses are mostly written. But I’m speaking at the Carolinas Secular Conference this weekend (I leave Friday), and I won’t have the time or energy to deal with what I expect to be an exhausting load of comment moderation, Twitter blocking, and more. So I’m posting those pieces next week. To anyone who’s been waiting: Sorry for the delay. To anyone who wasn’t waiting and doesn’t care: Here is a cute picture of our tabbies. [Read more...]

How Humanism Helps With Depression — Except When It Doesn’t

This piece was originally published in The Humanist.

What is it like being a humanist with depression?

I’m going to preface this right off the bat by saying: I am not a doctor. I am not a therapist. I am not a mental health care professional, or indeed a health care professional of any kind. I’m just talking about myself here, and my own experiences. I freaking hate it when people give me unsolicited amateur medical advice about my mental health, so I’m very careful not to do that with other people. If you have depression — your mileage may vary from mine. Take what you need from this, and leave the rest. (And if you’re not already doing it, get professional help if you possibly can.)

So. Caveats are in order. What is it like for me to be a humanist with depression?

As regular readers may know, I’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression. My form of it is chronic and episodic: I’m not depressed all the time, I’m not even depressed most of the time, but I’ve had episodes of serious depression intermittently throughout my adult life. I had a very bad bout of it starting about a year and a half ago: I’m pulling out of it now, but my mental health is still somewhat fragile, I still have to be extra-careful with my self-care routines, and I still have relapses into fairly bad episodes now and then. And I’ve been thinking lately about what it means to be a humanist with depression, and how these experiences intertwine. [Read more...]

Greta Speaking This Weekend in Charlotte, NC! Plus Sacramento CA, Springfield MO, and Austin TX!

I’m speaking this weekend in Charlotte, NC, at the Carolinas Secular Conference! Other speakers include Bridgett Crutchfield, Mandisa Thomas, Steve Ahlquist, Harry Shaughnessy, Amy Monsky, Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, Fred Edwords, Marshall Brain, and Conor Robinson. Tickets are still available. Should be a barn-burner!

And I also have speaking gigs coming up in Sacramento CA, Springfield MO, and Austin TX. Details below. If you’re near any of these cities, I hope to see you there! [Read more...]

Some Clarifications on the Mythology Springing Up Around My Recent Twitter Exchange with Sam Harris

Some very strange mythology is springing up around the recent Twitter exchange I had with Sam Harris. I’m getting tired of repeating the same clarifications again and again, so I’m going to post them here and just link to them.

Two key points:

1: No, I don’t think Sam Harris is responsible for everything that all of his fans say or do. I don’t think any writer is responsible for everything that all of our fans say or do. I don’t think that, and I never said that. I do think that in general, writers should be aware of the effect we’re having, and if our fans are saying or doing bad things in our name, it’s certainly a good thing to speak out against it. But writers are not responsible for everything that all of our fans say or do. I don’t think they are, and I never said that they are.

2: No, I don’t think Sam Harris, or any writer, has a responsibility to speak out against absolutely every bad thing that ever happens. I understand that writers are busy — heck, I understand that people in general are busy — and I don’t expect everyone to speak about everything. And I understand that Sam Harris, in particular, is probably more busy than most of us. (However, if a writer is responding to a bad thing that happened, and they’re spending more time getting defensive and hostile towards the person who’s calling it to their attention than they are actually speaking out against the bad thing, that’s somewhat troubling.)

So. For anyone who cares, here’s how the exchange actually unfolded. [Read more...]

Four Reasons “God Made Evolution Happen” Makes No Sense

This piece was originally published in AlterNet.

“Of course I believe in evolution. And I believe in God, too. I believe that evolution is how God created life.”

You hear this a lot from progressive and moderate religious believers. They believe in some sort of creator god, but they heartily reject the extreme, fundamentalist, science-rejecting versions of their religions (as well they should). They want their beliefs to reflect reality — including the reality of the confirmed fact of evolution. So they try to reconcile the two by saying that that evolution is real, exactly as the scientists describe it — and that God made it happen. They insist that you don’t have to deny evolution to believe in God.

In the narrowest, most literal sense, of course this is true. It’s true that there are people who believe in God, and who also accept science in general and evolution in particular. This is an observably true fact: it would be absurd to deny it, and I don’t. I’m not saying these people don’t exist.

I’m saying that this position is untenable. I’m saying that the “God made evolution happen” position is rife with both internal contradictions and denial of the evidence. You don’t have to deny as much reality as young earth creationists do to take this position — but you still have to deny a fair amount. Here are four reasons that “God made evolution happen” makes no sense. [Read more...]

#mencallmethings: “NO chance of being raped “

Content note: misogynist harassment, rape

On Twitter:

Sam Harris on Twitter:

@GretaChristina You really think I should take a public position against threats of rape and murder? Does *anything* go without saying?

Asshole on Twitter:

@SamHarrisOrg @GSpellchecker @GretaChristina it’s ok Greta you’re NO chance of being raped #sithlord


I’m reminded once again of Lewis’s Law: “Comments on any article about feminism justify feminism.” [Read more...]

Sam Harris Responds to Misogynist Fan — Well, Sort Of – UPDATED

Me on Twitter:

#mencallmethings: “ugly dyke,” “irrelevant whore,” “just die.” (Note that this was in defense of @SamHarrisOrg .)

Sam Harris, in response:

@GretaChristina And you’re holding me responsible for that? (Meanwhile, look at what you said about me on your blog.)

Where did I say I hold Sam Harris responsible?

It would be nice, however, if he’d speak against it, and tell his readers not to do that. It’d be nice if atheist leaders answered misogyny in movement with concern for targets and censure for perpetrators — not with defensiveness. It’d be nice if atheist leaders told their misogynist fans, “Guys, don’t do that.”



UPDATE: [Read more...]

#mencallmethings: “ugly dyke,” “irrelevant whore,” “just die”

Content note: misogynist harassment, not-so-veiled threats

Commenter on my blog, in response to my recent post, Sam Harris is Just Factually Wrong — Globally, Atheism Has No Gender Split

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 11.23.18 AM

fuck you,you ugly dyke.sam will be of more relevant to humanity than you. you irrelevant whore.just die already.


I’m reminded once again of Lewis’s Law: “Comments on any article about feminism justify feminism.” [Read more...]