The musings of an academic geek yogi
For anyone who knows me well, they will tell you that I love the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In times of stress, I re-binge this campy angsty girl power program and now that my daughter is a teen I have a partner in crime for this guilty pleasure. Hands down our favorite season is 3.
It is insane to me that not every list of top Buffy episodes is not littered with season 3 picks. Every person I know who watched season 3 was glued to the screen every week and completely invested. Over time what draws me back to season 3 is all the tension and twists. It was when the show deviated from its one theme that a tiny blonde girl can kill everything that goes bump in the night to being a drama about the complexities of coming of age. A topic that is so relevant as my daughter is quickly becoming a young woman before my eyes.
The Best Buffy episode of all time is:
Season 3, Episode 7 Revelations
From the first time I watched Revelations to when I watch it again today it echoes so many themes that would re-occur season after season. It has all the characters I love to hate and just love. But it had a trademark that made a show with an already strange premise great, it was an episode filled with misdirection for the audience.
The three reasons I love this episode are:
1. The dichotomy between Faith & Buffy
2. The Scoobies challenging Buffy to choose between them and Angel
3. Giles struggling with his choice to be more of a father than traditional watcher
First: Faith Versus Buffy
Buffy is the all American blonde valley girl archetype. She is a girlie girl that sleeps with a stuffed pig (Mr. Gordo), pouts when she does not get her way and is often costumed in soft colors to accentuate the perception of female fragility. In contrast, her slayer counterpart Faith is clade in red lipstick and black leather with her bra straps always showing and that lives in a pretty gross hotel room. The virgin/whore dichotomy seems personified by the two slayers who have nothing but their roles as chosen ones in common.
In the last season Faith jokingly asks if she is the good slayer now? But fans first asked this question four seasons prior when Buffy was lying to everyone and having a secret affair with Angel.
In this episode Faith has a new watcher arrive named Gwendolyn Post. Before this point the audience never sees anyone who is dedicated to mentoring Faith. As a fan meeting this new watcher helped me see Faith and her Spartan lifestyle as a badge of honor and question what it means to be the good slayer. 20 years ago I was sure the show was going to turn its attention to Faith and move towards Buffy as the villain but by the end of the episode I would learn I was completely wrong.
Forever after the episode aired I resented Buffy and her privilege. She got the watcher father figure. She had a mom who cleaned her room and washed blood out of her clothes and an absentee father that bought her any pair of shoes she desired. Faith had no one until the evil mayor would later adopt her and she would move further away from the idea of being a hero. This is the only episode, until the comics that Buffy seems like a brat who does what she wants while Faith makes hard ethical choices in the face of adversity.
Second: Friends vs. Angel
Buffy is a special slayer because instead of embracing her secret identity she has both a quasi-normal high school existence and slayer support network via her friends. But this episode is when everything goes to shit because her friends think she is bionking her previously-homicidal boyfriend.
Many fans, myself included were on Team Angel and drawn into the dysfunctional love story of an underage girl and her ex sadistic serial killing hundred year old boyfriend. This episode gave me some perspective that even in spite of the beautifully framed stolen moments that maybe Buffy and Angel finding their way back to one another was a bad idea.
In the episode, Xander comes across Buffy secretly kissing her vampire ex-boyfriend that hurt everyone only months before; until that moment all the Scoobies thought Angel dead. The next scene is a classic intervention where Cordelia, Willow, Oz, Xander, and Giles confront Buffy about her lies. Unlike normal quipy exchanges this was one of the first episodes where the Scoobies all turn on Buffy. Throughout the show run there is tension in the Scoobie ranks but this is the first time it is so pronounced and justifiably against Buffy.
Thirdly: Watcher versus Father
This episode was key to challenging Giles as a successful watcher. Yes I know a young watcher named Wesley would later come along and unsuccessfully try to usurp Giles but ended up mostly being comic relief
To the dismay of the stuffy ole British watchers council, Giles loves Buffy like a daughter. When a new watcher appears on the scene in this episode Giles seems genuinely threatened. And as a fan, I feel like Gwendolyn Post is a pretentious powerful British woman who reminded me a lot of M from James Bond. The female watcher successfully shows up Giles at every turn until we find out her evil intentions when she knocks Giles unconscious.
Previously I mentioned an intervention scene in regards to Buffy and her poor dating choices. That scene ends when Giles abruptly stops the attacks on Buffy and sends her friends away. Like a good father, Giles was always the one who always stood up for Buffy. But when they leave and she thanks him, he curtly reminds her that Angel tortured me for hours, with pleasure. You have no respect for me or the job I perform. This was one of least fatherly moments of the show for me, in that moment Giles was all watcher and the look on the face of Buffy echoed my own shock as an at home viewer.
Good Slayer versus Bad Slayer
Friends versus Lover
Council Way versus Fatherly Way
This episode was not business as usual in Sunnydale. Revelations is the best episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer because it was the one that converted so many of people into lifelong fans and keeps even my 13 year old coming back to watch more Buffy with her mama. As my daughter Inara is coming of age during the Corona, I worry often what lasting impact it will have. But all that worry goes away in the stolen moments when we indulge in guilty pleasures like binging Buffy (preferably season 3).
Movies, video games, and television transport us back to many an era past. Like most eighties kids watching Guardians of the Galaxy made me yearn for a Walkman and briefly regret throwing out my awesome cassette collection.
Likewise, Antiques Road Show and American Pickers reminds us that sometimes-retaining objects can result in them increasing in value. Collectables are not always predictable or many of my loved ones beanie baby collections would have replaced their pensions. Instead, the monetary value of collectables is measured only in their ability to evoke meaning from a specific culture or era, a feeling people are willing to pay to recapture. Sometimes people see a be-be-gun or comic book and return to a time when they felt safe, loved, or innocent.
The Fabled Yellow Phone
When I helped my grandmother plan her 50th wedding anniversary celebration we sorted and scanned hundreds of family photos. In these photos my own likeness peered back through decades of my aunties, grandmothers, and cousins sitting together in my great-great-great-auntâs Formica kitchen table. In that kitchen, that forgot it was once a porch, existed an object that exuded for me a feeling of safety and love: my aunts yellow rotary phone. Even in black and white photos it is easy to spot my treasured yellow phone as a permanent fixture in the periphery. The kitchen where that phone hung no longer exists. As I wrote in a recent blog Honeyâs house on East California was bulldozed for commercial zoning.
The strip mall that has replaced where the modest house once stood still makes me sad. But I remind myself that bulldozers cannot take away traditions that remind us who we are.
The Precious Gift
A few years ago, when we could still celebrate indoors, together with my twin and our husbands at the sameice creamparlor we have frequented since our youth we shared our yearly ritual of ice cream gluttony. My aunt Honey, the owner of the legendary phone, left to be with Jesus almost ten years ago we still feel her presence when we celebrate our birthday the way we use to with her with a black and tan sundae. The day after our annual birthday meal, my mother came for an impromptu visit from out of town. I am not embarrassed to write that I ugly snot cried when I opened my gift and found my auntâs yellow phone inside. Unknown to me, before the construction crews started work on the house my mother drove down to Bakersfield and harvested windows, doorknobs, and one magical banana yellow rotary phone.
I do not have a landline to connect my vintage phone because as I described above it is not about being practical. To me this phone is a mystical object that has been cradled by generations of Cruz women. The same women who held babies, constructed tamales, and shared their lives through its receiver. I know it is only an old rotary phone but for me it represents joy.
The House on East California
I hope you have a magic place to ponder during this quarantine; a place that on thinking fills you with calm, nostalgia and makes you smile.
The Day the House Disappeared
Six years ago, in 2014 we celebrated my daughters 7th birthday at Rosemary’s Creamery. I remember the noise of her fidgety bare legs peeling away from the smurf blue stools as her heels clanked the white metal chair legs. I am remiss to think how many times I have ordered the ‘black and tan’ sundae, a mountain of hot fudge and caramel on toasted almond ice cream. Every birthday I feel like I am six years old again dueling spoons with my twin sister and scrapping globs from poorly designed glass boats that make the entire process sticky and fun.
On this day, as we waited for the orders to arrive my grandmother showed me a photo of an empty dirt lot on the small pixelated screen of her flip phone. I had no idea what I was looking at until she remarked that she was upset that they "bulldozed the house." Only later would she realize that I was completely unaware that the house was gone. Until that moment, it was still where it had always been. On a busy street with commercial buildings, the yard eager for spring, the bougainvillea blooming early and obstructing the front doorway and the rose bushes softening the cold metal gate that surrounded the perimeter.
Growing Up Homeless
I lived so many places growing up I actually never felt like I had a “home.” I learned recently that I lived in Texas during parts of my infancy but not long enough to recall. When we returned to Bakersfield and left my grandparents house, we moved around. I could not tell you the address, or color or any details about those places. They were just places:
the spot with the teal laundry room
the room on Niles Street
the place across from the elementary school
the duplex on Belle Terrace
the other duplex on Belle Terrace
the house on Columbus
the one by the 58 Freeway
Over the years we also bunked up with friends but there was one place that I have always considered my sanctuary and that is the little house on East California. My generation knew this sacred soil as “Honey’s House.” Until recently, I thought it was only the beautiful women who lived within those walls that made it so special. But Honey passed away over a decade ago and for years I still drove out of my way to visit this place just to see the structure and feel renewed.
The Yellow Phone
If I could stop that bulldozer and save one artifact it would be the yellow rotary phone that lived on the kitchen wall. I once asked my aunt why we did not have a cordless phone and she aimed fierce ojitos at me as she recalled the audacity of a telephone company worker who had once made the offer to replace her “old” banana colored phone. She never said what happen to that idiot man and I came to realize her loyalty to our phone was founded. As a teen I spent hours lying on the green linoleum floor that slanted towards the kitchens backdoor talking on that phone. In the tiny makeshift kitchen that forgot it was once a porch. Even now, I can see my great-great-great aunt honey perched on her kitchen stool and chatting away.
I am the last and 5th generation that lived in that same little house with my great-great-great aunt Honey in 1998. My cousin Lisa and several of her fury friends lived there in the early 90’s. My grandmother Arlene and Great-Uncle Carl shared the home with their Grandparents and Aunt in the 50’s. My grandparents, Ted and Arlene Jiron were married in that house by Judge Noriega in 1961. The true history of the house on East California Avenue could span several novels. Too young to know everything I am old enough to understand how the foundation of this tiny building supported our enormous family as it grew.
Today, the tidy garden, creaky floor and the mint green bathtub exist only in my memories. The remnants of a family dwelling demolished to make room for a commercial strip mall. Google earth archived the place I still see in my mind, the place I go to when I need to find peace.
2020 EPIC Stanford Fellow Projects
This year I took part in the Stanford EPIC Community College Fellowship. It was humbling to interact with amazing educators across disciplines from all over the West Coast. Here is a 10 minutes overview of the Global Studies projects we developed:
COMMUNITY VOICES: By Chris Cruz-Boone
**First Published Bakersfield Californian May 11, 2020
Many college students were evicted from their college dorms when the pandemic hit. Left behind were freedoms, friends and formative experiences as they were forced to repopulate their childhood homes. It is understandable that some students spiraled, longing to recapture a semester and college experience that was gone. That loss is a real and we should not quickly dismiss the pain experienced by these young people that worked hard to move into secondary education.
Several months have passed, and in the United States, not a single higher education institution has gone back to business as usual. The conversations at Bakersfield College have never been about fear-mongering, but shifted quickly to innovative ways to make room for anyone and everyone, displaced ivy leaguers and first timers alike. BC has maintained our full catalog of classes but the way we teach has had to change.
Some classes, like the communication courses I teach, were not imagined as lessons to be experienced digitally. For students that are resisting the shift to online, I want to tell you that only a few months ago, many teachers would have stood alongside you in the refrain that they are, “NEVER GOING ONLINE.” Me, I am some teachers.
However, after spending more than 20-plus hours a week in video conferences with students for the last two months, I will begrudgingly admit: at Bakersfield College, online teaching is working. Do I miss teaching my board game lessons to a room full of students? Absolutely. But I am determined to find a way to effectively use board games in my online small group summer school course and to continue to find ways to connect with my students in this isolated world.
My “online” classes meet with me over video during our regular class times, and I dispense the same lectures, kahoots and listen to speeches like I would have done in a physical classroom. To be perfectly clear, it is not the same, and I am grateful that my students have extended much grace as I have tried many new tactics, not all of which have worked. And there are real life challenges that are new to students as well. This semester I have one student who completed my argumentation and debate class from the breakfast table with her toddler and only a smart phone. An older reentry student in my public speaking class warned me on the first day he “does not do computers,” hung in there when we moved online and is currently earning an “A.” My only ask from my students when we shifted fully online was to keep showing up, and they did, and exceeded all my expectations.
It is a strange moment in history, and I will proudly remember that I was working at Bakersfield College where we are training people for the workforce, to learn a new skill or get credits until they can move on to a university. If you do not know what to do next, I hope you will consider enrolling so we can help you keep moving forward.
Chris Cruz-Boone is a professor in the Department of Communication at Bakersfield College.
Wise men say only fools rush in
But I can't help falling in love with you
Shall I stay?
Would it be a sin
If I can't help falling in love with you?
Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be
Take my hand, take my whole life too
For I can't help falling in love with you
Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be
Take my hand, take my whole life too
For I can't help falling in love with you
For I can't help falling in love with you
Elvis, "Can't Help Falling in Love"
Arlene was working at an ice plant on Alemeda street and Ted's job for the county was only a few blocks away. Working only blocks apart, bowling dates turned into lunch dates. Ted spent every spare moment courting Arlene.
Tragedy struck as their courtship progressed and Arlene lost her job. She confessed to Ted that without work she would soon be moving back to Bakersfield. Ted realized he could not live another day without Arlene and immediately asked for her hand in marriage. Before Arlene officially said yes, she brought Ted to Bakersfield to meet the Cruz clan.
After a few whirlwind months, Ted sat across from her imposing father, Grandpa Carl at the family home in East Bakersfield and asked for Arlene's hand. On November 11th 1961 Judge Noriega married Ted Jiron and Arlene Cruz inside of her childhood home.
After almost six decades the Jiron family has grown beyond their 3 children Teddy Jiron, Gina Hertz and Joey Jiron; later Ted became "Papo" to 9 grandchildren (Genine, Chris, Tawny, Nick, Jake, Sydney, Joey, Annette, Molly) and 8 great grand children (Anjel, Inara, Nathan, Jett, Jax, Susie, River, Cali).
After they retired Ted and Arlene and their cockapoo Taffy moved to the Rio Bravo Country Club. They stayed busy with their grandchildren, church and playing golf. For many years together they coordinated Eucharistic ministers at St. Joseph's church.
With my grandmother by his side today my grandfather Ted Jiron took his last breathe. I went back and reread this story that they both helped me write almost 10 years ago. I am amazed that in a dark smoke filled bowling alley Ted Jiron saw my grandma and just knew. The certainty and degree to which he loved my grandma inspires me even on this dark day.
The Boone family describes what they recommend you play while social distancing for forced family fun during this Coronavirus quarantine. In this episode we describe our current COVID challenges, favorite board game memory & what campaign we suggest you play while under quarantine. The teenagers pick is Splendor and discussed playing games in NOLA at our favorite local bookstore Tubby and Coos. The boy chose Over Lords of Infamy, describes his love of Corgis and his first convention "Dragon and Meeple." Dr. CCB discusses their current family campaign of Clank Legacy, and her favorite gaming memories of Dungeons and Dragons and Banana-a-Gram. Mr. Boone talks about his favorite gaming experiences that mostly exclude his wife. He advocates for Chaos in the Old World, Seventh Continent and My Little Scythe. Chronicles of Crime, 7th Continent, Time Stories, Clank Legacy, Pandemic Legacy, Risk Legacy and Charterstone make the list for our recommended campaigns. The Bakersfield Boone recommend that you do not need more than one game you might just need game that scaffolds skills to get you through social distancing.
Link to Apple Podcast:
April 16, 2020
John Boone, Chris Cruz-Boone, Inara Chris Cruz-Boone, Nathan Chris Cruz-BooneThe Boone family describes what they recommend you play while social distancing for forced family fun during this Coronavirus quarantine. The teenagers picks: Disney Villainous and Just One. The boy chose Quacks of Quedlinburg and Marvel Champions. Dr. CCB discusses their current family campaign of Clank Legacy and her two picks Firefly The Game and Lords of Waterdeep. Mr. Boone explains why people who like procedural shows should try out the game Chronicles of Crime and one his classroom favorites Space Base. We each defend our choices which have different price points and all of which can be played by someone just beginning the board game hobby.
PODCAST EPISODE TWO: Board Game in Place
Ode to My Flannel
In the whirlwind of the last 12 days of captivity and crisis teaching I could not recall if I shared the iCloud recordings of all my class session. As I sorted through each class & confirmed that each hyperlink found its intended recipient I noticed a disturbing trend that appeared in every single video: I had worn the same flannel shirt. I will be the first to admit that over the last few weeks I quickly digressed from jeans, to yoga pants and shift dresses. I love to work and teach in the early morning and after I make my morning tea, prop open the door for my pup & my eyes adjust to the blinding computer light I vaguely recall feeling a chill and reaching for something to cover my arms.
This is the only flannel shirt I own and I bought it a few months ago for a weekend backpacking trek planned for myself and my daughter this Spring. Unfortunately, like her choir trip to Disneyland & her uncle’s wedding, our backpacking trip has been postponed to an undetermined date. Somehow this one article of clothing triumphed and unlike its compatriots intended for Easter Sunday and upcoming school performance days that remain dangling on the felt hangers where they were so carefully placed, it has escaped closet purgatory.
This shirt is soft like a second season blanket and structured for a female body. When I wear this shirt I feel like a person and not a shut-in that threw on a pancho (no offense if you have been teaching in a pancho, I am sure it is lovely). Without realizing, this large plaid print of deep burgundy and dark navy has become my armor during the Covid-19 teaching battle; it has helped me feel less exposed as I teach with all the excitement and fervor I can muster to students who often give me a half-hearted reception while still laying in prone positions in their beds. I had set a clear expectation that students must show their faces in our digital meetings but I did not specify that they must leave their beds, brush their teeth or enter the virtual world with the same dignity as a face-to-face classroom; as a woman who has worn the same shirt for several weeks am I remiss to make such a request? This conundrum seems to exemplify the delicate dance of crisis teaching, of wanting to challenge my students and myself to be our best but realizing the best for today might just be showing up at all.
After watching morning mass from bed I decided to write this post on a lazy Sunday found an unexpected plea in my inbox from a Nursing professor at Mt Saint Antonio. She had been trying to plan a ConferZoom session in Canvas and accidently set-up the meeting for 1am instead of 1pm and she could not figure out how to fix it. She stumbled on to an instructional video I posted on YouTube and decided to reach out. At the end of her email she posted her cell number so I gave her a call, we had a great chat & I helped her fix her meeting. After our exchange I went to YouTube with a vague recollection of a tutorial I recorded in a rush before I departed for what I did not know then would be my last drive to Arvin this semester. The crowded white bloom of the almond trees and rows of bee boxes is so clear in my mind from that last drive. Recording that 5 minutes video was less clear & I decided to check YouTube and see what I wore for that video? The video now has more than 1k hits, more than anything I have every posted online, and it marks the first appearance of the now infamous flannel.
My shirt is a great uniform for that I recommend anyone wear while they: weep, grade, lecture, pet a dog, prepare meals, comfort kiddos that miss their friends, listen to falling rain, binge watch John Oliver/Tiger King/ Boss Baby, play board games, and record quick videos for YouTube.
Please listen, share and tag 3 friends to win a board game from the Boone family. Please follow our family while we play Boardgames in Bakersfield CA, while locked down due to Covid-19.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.