a very buffy boxing day

Vampjenluc_1Most folks are still recovering from the Christmas festivities, but for those of British persuasion, the holiday week continues this morning with… Boxing Day! Or, as it is known almost everywhere else in the world, in umpteen languages, "the day after Christmas." There seems to be some debate as to the origins of this traditional celebration. One theory is that during feudal times, all the serfs and their families would gather in the lord’s manor to receive annual stipends, or Christmas bonuses, in the form of a box full of goods: cloth, grains, and tools, usually. There was also a church tradition in which the donation box was opened and the money distributed to the poor on the day after Christmas. But according to The Golden Bough — that classic mythology text by Sir James George Frazer — Boxing Day was when the wren (supposedly the "king of birds") would be captured, put in a box, and taken around to various households in a given village. The village would ask the wren for a successful year and a good harvest — although why they thought the wren would be happy about this turn of events escapes me. In the same situation, I doubt I’d be in a giving mood.

Boxing Day is traditionally "a day for sporting activity," according to Wikipedia. In grander times, this meant fox hunting, but modern Brits mark the occasion with horse racing, "the footie," and, no doubt, drinking games involving pointy darts at the local pub. The Welsh called it Gwyl San Steffan (St. Stephen’s Day), for reasons known only to them, and their celebrations were a bit, um, sanguinary rather than sanguine. For instance, there was the traditional "holly-beating," in which young men and boys would slash the unprotected arms of female servants with holly branches until they bled — those mischievous young scamps! Still, the women fared better than the farm animals, who apparently endured an annual bloodletting believed to be beneficial to their health.

Here in the US, we typically celebrate the day after Christmas with massive sales events at retail stores across the nation. But this year, I’m celebrating something a bit different: a Very Buffy Boxing Day. December 26th is the official pub date of my new book, The Physics of the Buffyverse, now available for your purchasing pleasure. Considering the aforementioned bloodletting, it seems strangely a propos.

This calls for some specialty "theme" cocktails to mark the occasion, don’t you think? And we’re not talking about the obvious Bloody Marys. Please. Give us a little credit.  In honor of the Scoobies and "Team Angel," Jen-Luc Piquant and I wasted several hours scanning downright encyclopedic lists of cocktail recipes in search of colorfully-named drinks that relate in some way to the Buffyverse. We found a lot more than we’d expected. There’s a friggin’ cocktail for everything. Our favorites are listed in the sidebar (through January 1), but several others merit honorable mention. To wit:

Words cannot express how totally chuffed I was to discover there is a drink called a Spike. Just what any semi-reformed bleached-blond bloodsucker would order, I’m sure. It’s easy to mix, too. Just add 2 ounces of tequila to a glass filled with ice, and top off the glass with grapefruit juice. Stir, and garnish with lime. In honor of Spike’s disturbing cemetary tryst with the Buffybot (in Season 5), there’s a drink called Sex in the Graveyard. Combine the following in a shaker with ice: 1/2 ounce each of vodka, rum, bourbon, tequila and blackberry brandy, with a dash of sour mix for good measure — arguably enough strong spirits to make you not care very much about your surroundings during the Act Itself. Top off with cranberry juice, shake, and pour into glass. If you want to spice things up further, float 1/2 ounce of green chartreuse on top. (I guess it’s the mixologist’s equivalent of fur-lined handcuffs.)

There’s any number of cocktails with "Angel" in their names, including Angel Face, Angel Kiss, Angel Wing, Angel’s Lips, a Fallen Angel, and an Irish Angel. My personal favorite is the Fallen Angel Martini (which purists would rightly claim bears very little resemblance to the classic cocktail). Fill a shaker with ice and add one ounce each of vanilla vodka, irish cream, hazelnut liqueur, and chocolate liqueur, along with a dash of cream for good measure. Shake well, and strain into a chilled glass.

Even minor characters sometimes warrant a signature drink, such
as Doyle, Angel’s half-demon sidekick who was killed off midway through
Season 1 of Angel. In his honor, we give you Doyle’s Deliberation:
combine 1-1/2 ounces of vodka and 1/2 ounce of melon liqueur in a
mixing glass half filled with ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail
glass. Raise a glass to the monsters, if you like, with a Zombie, a Vampire, or a Green Demon — or perhaps this classic "floater" called Creature from the Black Lagoon: 1 ounce of Jagermeister on the bottom, with an ounce of Black Sambuca floating on top. To aid one’s recovery after a prolonged bout of demon-fighting, there’s always the Battered Bruised and Bleeding: a combination of 3/4 ounce grenadine (bottom layer), 3/4 ounce melon liqueur in the middle, topped with 3/4 ounce Blue Curacao.

Along more gruesome lines, try the Rigor Mortis: Combine 1-1/2 ounces of citrus vodka, 1 ounce amaretto in an ice-filled shaker, and top off with equal parts orange and pineapple juice. Shake well, strain into chilled glass, and serve. Not your thing? How about a Bloody Brain, which is little more than 1 ounce of strawberry liqueur and 1/2 ounce of Irish Cream spiced up with a dash of grenadine. Or you can tickle your taste buds with a Bat Bite: Pour 2 ounces of rum into a glass filled with ice and top off with cranberry juice, garnished with a wedge of lime. For a refreshing apertif, there’s the whimsically macabre Dancin’ Bones: In a mixing glass half-filled with ice, combine 1-1/2 ounces dry vermouth, 2 teaspoons of gin, and 2 teaspoons of cherry brandy. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.

And finally, for any errant Browncoats reading this, there’s the eternally classic Firefly: Pour 2 ounces of vodka and 4 ounces of grapefruit juice into a highball glass almost filled with ice cubes. Drop 1 teaspoon of grenadine into the center.

If your tastes run more to good beer than hard liquor, the Buffyverse book’s illustrator, cartoonist Paul Dlugokencky, is eagerly awaiting final approval on a business license for his fledgling Blind as a Bat Brewery. (You can also support this very talented artist by purchasing mugs, t-shirts, mouse pads and the like, featuring some of Paul’s marvelous illustrations from the book, here.)2bhush

There’ll be little over-indulgence in beer or fine spirits or college keggers for me over the next three months, I’m afraid: got to keep my wits about me. I’ll be bopping around the country, attending various scientific conferences and making the odd Buffyverse-centric appearance:


Saturday, January 6th, at 7:30 PM. Elliott Bay Book Company, 101 South Main Street.


Saturday, January 20th, at 1:00 PM. Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Avenue NW.


This will be a combined talk and martial arts demo on "The Physics of the Fight: Isaac Newton in the Buffyverse." It’s happening at CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue (at 34th Street), on Thursday, February 1. There will be two "shows" at 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM respectively, followed by a book signing. Admission is free but it helps to pre-register, which holds your seat until 15 minutes before curtain time. (Call 212-817-8215 to pre-register, or you can do so via email.)


Tuesday, February 20th, at 12:30 PM, Stacey’s Bookstore, 581 Market Street.


Sunday, March 11th, at 2 PM. Caltech, courtesy of the Skeptic’s Society. See their Website for specific location.


Thursday, March 15th, at 7:30 PM, at Women and Children First bookstore, 5233 North Clark Street. The event is co-sponsored by Project Exploration, one of the coolest science education/outreach efforts I’ve yet encountered. Among other things, they arrange for students to tag along on bona fide dinosaur digs.

If you’re in any of the above cities on the dates in question, stop by and say hello. And now I really must get back to the Boxing Day festivities (a.k.a., "shopping"). Cheers!

8 thoughts on “a very buffy boxing day”

  1. Good luck with the book release and the trips. Give a heads up if
    you make it to the Great White North (aka Minneapolis). Though we’ve had only 1/5 inches of snow so far, and temps are expected in the 40’s tomorrow (so I say “Go Global Warming!).

  2. That is, 1 and 1/2 inches of snow (the 1.5 didn’t come through – serves me right for not using the perfectly good PREVIEW button, just sitting there, waiting to be clicked!).

  3. Maybe you can enjoy the AAS/AAPT meeting while in Seattle. Feb 20 at Stacey’s San Francisco is a possibility, that is right after the AAAS Meeting. Should I spread publicity there about your appearance?

  4. Congrats on the book! I want a much better inscription this time. LOL
    You’re kidding me…you don’t know why the Welsh (and pretty much everyone else that does the Saint thing) calls the 26th St. Stephen’s Day?? Well, then, this Jewish pagan shall instruct you. 😉
    St. Stephen was the first martyr. At Yeshua ben Yosef’s trial, he kept insisting that the guy was a Savior and the Son of God and, more damningly, the Messiah. His insistence so enraged the crowd that immediately after the sentencing, Stephen was dragged outside the court and stoned to death.
    In Ireland and Wales this particularly gruesome death is inflicted on harmless birds, to wit, the wren. (Hence you standing in my front room, while we sang songs about dead wrens all those many years ago for Twelfth Night. I don’t expect you to remember.) LOL Traditionally, a dead wren is carried around in a box and the boys who committed the crime gleefully go about on St. Stephen’s Day begging money with the following:
    The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
    On St. Stephen’s Day was caught in the furze,
    Although he is little, his family is great,
    I pray you, good lady (or lord), give us a treat.
    Followed by any number of verses until they are paid to go away.
    This lesson in Saint’s Days brought to you by Ar nDraiocht Fein, Grove of the Other Gods. (http://www.othergods.org/)
    Cheers and a Happy New Year to ya!

  5. Since I am a theoretical physics grad student and my gf is a psycologist with a women’s studies style obsession with buffy (i think we’ve watched the musical 8 times, and there’s no telling how many times she watched it before she met me) i have decided that yr new book could be a real milestone in our relationship. A merger of two previously disparate worlds and what not.
    I just have to make sure she reads it.
    We’ll be at yr event in Chicago in march, provided we are in town, but being in NYC inspired me to seek out a personalized copy that much sooner. Can they be ordered? I need a great inscription to inspire her on the physics. Spike has too many great quotes, and he’s really more of a lover than a thinker, so maybe willow is a better mouthpiece for science. Early nerd willow of course. I’ll see what I can find 🙂
    either way, congratulations on the new book; i can’t wait to read it. May i suggest a sequel; perhaps The Physics of Joss Whedon? Firefly might be a harder nut to crack, but surely interesting, and i’m sure there is great physics in alien and toy story, though those books may have already been written.

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