back contents next February 28, 2000

The Avengers!

Mike and EileeneMike and I at the airport in the Philippines. We were surrounded by our balikbayan boxes and luggage. My sister took the photograph as we were waiting for my relatives to bring the truck to where we waited. There were 8 of us on the flight and we brought our maximum, 2 balikbayan boxes each. Each box weighs about seventy pounds, crammed with computers and soap and tshirts and gifts for our relatives. When we returned home, we had 5, I believe, mostly taken up by our clothing. Balik means "to return". Bayan means "country". So, a balikbayan is someone (or something) that is returning "home". Even though I have lived a majority of my life in the States (the term most Filipinos call America), when I go to the Philippines, I think of myself as a balikbayan. I'm returning to my "second home". When I say "home", I mean, my apartment that I share with Mike in Montclair. My immediate residence. When I say "second home", I no longer mean my parents' house in Nutley (which is what I call it now), I mean the Philippines. No matter how many years I live here, there is an affinity towards the country of my birth deep inside.

That's why I'm working on the Send Eileene Back! Matching Funds Project. I'm going to save up enough money to go to the Philippines with a modest amount of spending money (and gift money). I'm hoping that my father will help match my funds. I am also trying to look into universities and companies in the Philippines that would benefit from a lecture or discussion I could give about the industry of web development and design. It would be great to spend a week visiting people and a week lecturing/touring. I'm hoping for another January romp overseas. The weather is tolerable during that time of the year.


I've been perusing a wonderful Avenger's site recently, almost every day. It is The Avengers Forever website, run by David K. Smith. It is phenomenal and has extensive information about every episode, the cast, the guest actors, and, my favorite section, the numerous doppelgangers. It seems that many actors starred in the show more than once (Penelope Keith, from Good Neighbors/The Good Life and To The Manor Born fame, was in three episodes; Peter Cushing, best known as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars, was in two episodes). I find this trivial information absolutely fascinating.

Mike is sick of me chatting about it.

I can't seem to help myself, although it doesn't help to have reminders littered around the apartment. Two books on my nightstand. A book flung on the bed just before I dashed off this morning. A copy by my seat at the dining room table. The seven boxed DVD sets sitting in the living room with, sure enough, one Avengers' DVD in the machine.

I still don't know what makes me enjoy the series so much... and why I can't convince Mike of its merits.

Anyway, I recently watched an episode, Castle De'ath, and I remembered that on the Avengers Forever site, it listed the blooper that Steed's glass shook, while Emma Peel's glass (on the same table) did not shake. I wrote to David K. Smith telling him that I believe that the blooper is visually correct, but Emma Peel's glass rested on her placemat, while Steed's rested directly on the wood tabletop. It could be that the tablemat dampened the vibrations. I was nervous writing the email. I know I shouldn't be nervous since he is open to any and all criticisms, writing, etc. however this time, I was. He's got a gorgeous site that I practically worship. He's a "celebrity" in my eye. Feelings of apprehension shot through me.

"He'll think you're a kook, or a stalker or something."

"As if I could contribute something to such a well-done site, someone who has been into the Avengers for only a few weeks."

"I hope I don't come off as sounding like an idiot. A drooling fanboy, untidy and unwashed."

"That's how I feel, isn't it? A part of the unwashed masses, just crawling to shore, just beginning to appreciate and become a fan of this stuff. The stuff that this guy has obviously devoted the past several years being into. How can I compare to that? How can I point out anything that hasn't been pointed out before? You're being an idiot trying to point out something that has probably been gone over by hundreds of fans. You're spoiling a possibly positive relationship with a uber-cool fan of something you enjoy. Don't do it! Don't do it!"

Well, he wrote me a really nice letter back, thanking me for enjoying the site (which I raved about). I practically jumped from my seat when I noticed his message pop into my mailbox. He noted that he never noticed that Emma had a placemat. Hm.

This evening, I went right to my DVD collection and rewatched the scene. I was only half right. They all have placemats and Emma's glass is on the placemat while Steed's glass is on the wood. However, if you watch Steed's place, the glass and the bowl (which is clearly on Steed's placemat) are vibrating. The bowl on Emma's placemat is not. So, I was half correct. It's still a blooper, involving the bowl and not the glass which could be explained by the placemat.

Details only a fan could get into.


Grief is natural. Overcoming it is a matter of choice.

I read more of The Virgin Suicides. I think I will finish the book tomorrow, since I'm already on page 200 out of 250 pages. The story is so compelling and interesting that I pick it up every chance I have. There is a scene where the girls communicate to the narrators by playing songs back and forth on the telephone. I found it extremely romantic and made me recall the days when I would make tapes filled with love songs and send them to whomever was the object of my affections.

I also like it's honesty with perspective. The narrators give you an understanding of their psyche towards these five mysterious girls. They let you in their heads at the time, the heady drunkeness of teenage passion and obsession. I'm sure that when I'm older, I'll be like them when I reflect on my younger years: thinking about past lovers and how they impacted me as I grew up, even if I grew old without them. However, they don't romanticize everything. They are trying to write about their experiences objectively, the passage of time helping them see more plainly the events that occured in their youth. They recognize how their youthful minds were colored with their emotions. How a glance could be just a glance and not an invitation for more. I like that. I like the dual nature of the story. Being involved in the events and merely listening to the story are two different experiences and the book is excellent in helping the reader actually do both.

Amazing. Run and get this book.

The report maintained that as a result of Cecilia's suicide the surviving Lisbon girls suffered from Post Tramatic Stress Disorder. "It's not unusual," Dr. Hornicker wrote, "for the sibling of an A.L.S. [adolescent lost to suicide] to act out suicidal behavior in an attempt to come to grips with their grief. There is a high incidence of repetitive suicide in single families." Then, in a marginal aside, he dropped his medical manner and jotted: "Lemmings."

As it circulated in the next few months, this theory convinced may people because it simplified things. Already Cecilia's suicide had assumed in retrospect the stature of a long-prophesied event. Nobody thought it shocking anymore, and accepting it as First Cause removed any need for furhter explanation. As Mr. Hutch put it, "They made Cecilia out to be the bad guy." Her suicide, from this perspective, was seen as a kind of disease infecting those close at hand. In the bathtub, cooking in the broth of her own blood, Cecilia had released an airborne virus which the other girls, even in coming to save her, had contracted. No one cared how Cecilia had caught the virus in the first place. Transmission became explanation. The other girls, safe in their own rooms, had smelled something strange, sniffed the air, but ignored it. Black tendrils of smoke had crept up under their doors, rising up behind their studious backs to form the evil shapes smoke or shadow take on in cartoons: a black-hatted assassin brandishing a dagger; an anvil about to drop. Contagious suicide made it palpable. Spiky bacteria lodged in the agar of the girls' throats. In the morning, a soft oral thrush had sprouted over their tonsils. The girls felt sluggish. At the window the world's light seemed dimmed. They rubbed their eyes to no avail. They felt heavy, slow-witted. Household objects lost meaning. A bedside clock became a hunk of molded plasti, telling something called time, in a world marking its passage for some reason. When we thought of the girls along these lines, it was as feverish creatures, exhaling soupy breath, succumbing day by day in their isolated ward. We went outside with our hair wet in the hopes of catching flu ourselves so that we might share their delirium.
-- The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides


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Exerpts from The Virgin Suicides, © 1993 Jeffrey Eugenides
© Copyright 1999 Eileene Coscolluela