Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The Twelfth Doctor

Back when I first joined the Geeks, I did a series of posts highlighting the First through Eleventh Doctors. When I finished with Eleven, we had just finished with the Twelfth Doctor--and forgotten much of the first two seasons. Now he’s been done for a couple years, but I’ve had the chance to rewatch the series. Now I can properly highlight Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. So after rewatching Series 8-10, here we go with Twelve.


Series 8

Top Story: Dark Water/Death in Heaven

First off, I hate that Danny Pink died. Why? We built it all up with him and Clara for a whole season (remember Orson Pink?) and then BAM! He walks into traffic. But Danny Pink is a rant for another day. Besides Danny’s death, I loved this story for bringing in so many Doctor Who characters in brilliant formation. We got UNIT returning with Kate and Osgood, Missy (as the regenerated Master), and even an appearance from the Brigadier (in Cyberman form). I love it when Doctor Who reinforces its continuity in episodes like these. We finally found out who Missy was and why she was meeting all these dead people from throughout the season. Unfortunately, she was killed off too soon…. Or was she?

Flop Story: Listen
When I first watched this episode, I thought it was great. Maybe even on par with “Blink”. However, upon rewatching it, it bugged me. If a creature is the perfect hider, why did it suddenly decide to “show” itself to the Doctor and tease its existence? And then in the end, it was just Clara to instill this fear in the Doctor? And what was that thing on Rupert’s bed? It’s a thrilling idea and a great episode in a way, but there are so many plot holes that upon rewatch it was unbearable.

Honorable Mention: Deep Breath
This was quite the regeneration story. To some extent, I don’t agree with how upset Clara was from the start--but once he started abandoning her, I felt like she was justified. However, by the end, the Doctor was himself again (well, his new self) and we even got a cameo from his past life. This was also our first introduction to Missy (we’d later find out who she really was) and we got an allusion back to the Tenth Doctor era and the Madame de Pompadour. I always love a good Easter egg. 

Series 9

Top Story: The Husbands of River Song
After such a dark season it was nice to get some comic relief during this Christmas special. Alex Kingston and Peter Capaldi working together was amazing. I wish we could have had more of these two together. Their dramatic and comedic timing was amazing. It was so sweet to see River realize that the Doctor cared for her as much as she did for him. And in the end we got to see River’s story come full circle, as she spent her last night with the Doctor before the Library.

Flop Story: The Girl Who Died/The Woman Who Lived
I didn’t like this story for one simple reason: I didn’t find Ashildr/Me intriguing. The story felt kind of bland compared to other Twelfth Doctor stories and I didn’t like that by the end of the second story Me was just left without closure. Oddly enough, I actually liked her character in “Face the Raven” and “Hell Bent”, but not in her introductory episodes.

Honorable Mention: Face the Raven/Heaven Sent/Hell Bent
These three episodes were separate enough stories that it was almost more like a trilogy of stories instead of a three-part story. Clara had a good send-off in “Face the Raven'', fitting for her character. The three-part finale gave us the return of Ashildr/Me (which I’ve already addressed above). Finally, it gave us the return of the Time Lords and Gallifrey for the first time since they were saved by the thirteen Doctors. I love that they brought back Rassilon (regenerated after the Master killed him in “The End of Time”) and the General from “The Day of the Doctor”. But of course the Doctor ended up running away, leaving the Time Lords for another day.

Series 10
Top Story: Extremis/Pyramid at the End of the World/Lie of the Land
Another trilogy of episodes that pulled me in. “Extremis” was mind-bending. Kind of left a chill like the audience had to wonder if they could be in a simulation and not know it. We never even knew that the Doctor wasn’t real until the very end. Then we go into “Pyramid”, racing against time (and they didn’t even realize it), leading directly into “Lie of the Land”. It was exciting and heart-warming. The solution is love—love is stronger than fear. A lesson we could all use as human beings… but then again, as the Doctor noted, we never learn from our mistakes—humans forget—a symptom of pride and the human experience.

Flop Story: Smile
This episode was possibly the creepiest of the season, even more than the monks. It should have been my favorite episode, but instead of finding any sort of meaningful resolution in the story, the Doctor just reset the Vardi and told the humans to figure it out. Felt anticlimactic. The concept reminded me of “Happiness Patrol” where it was illegal to be anything but happy. It’s ok to have emotions; it’s human. If we didn’t have emotions, we’d be Cybermen. The Vardi treated grief as a virus, but it’s part of our humanity. “Granting all your wishes is not a good idea.”

Honorable Mention: World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls
The return of the Mondasian Cybermen. Bill’s tragic end. Return of the Master. It was a wonderful amalgamation of Doctor Who continuity. It was an interesting writing choice to “kill” Bill early on and turn her into a Cyberman. I really liked Bill! Why’d they have to kill her? At least she got a happy ending in her own way--same with Nardole. I loved seeing Missy show that she’d truly changed and come to the Doctor’s side… even if he never saw it. Goes to show what can happen when someone believes in you. And finally the ending… the Doctor… the original.

Special Story: Twice Upon a Time
It’s been decades since we had a multi-Doctor story for a non-anniversary episode. This episode featured the return of David Bradley, who had previously portrayed William Hartnell in "An Adventure in Space and Time". I loved the callbacks to the First Doctor’s regeneration story. We also had the introduction of the Brigadier’s grandfather and the return of Rusty. In the end, it was a nice send-off for the Twelfth Doctor. He was already fatally injured fighting the Cybermen, so his regeneration was inevitable. So instead of having some mystery big bad for the episode, we found out the “big bad” wasn’t so bad. 

COMPANIONS:

Clara (11th Doctor) - Hell Bent
Nardole Extremis (flashback) - The Doctor Falls
Bill The Pilot - The Doctor Falls

Favorite Companion: I was pleasantly surprised with Bill’s character. I wrote my first impressions in a post after “The Pilot” but she got even better as the season went on. I liked her optimism. She’d been through a lot in her life, but she kept her positive attitude regardless of what hit her. Even after it seemed like the Doctor abandoned her in “Lie of the Land”. The world could use more people like Bill.

Least Favorite Companion: I loved Clara as a companion of the Eleventh Doctor and even through her tenure with Twelve. However, during my rewatch, I got annoyed with how awfully she treated Danny, lying to him and sneaking behind his back. And then after his death (which I’m still mad about) she got so reckless; it would have been much nicer if she’d said goodbye to the Doctor during “Last Christmas”.

Which was your favorite Peter Capaldi story? Would you want to see the Twelfth Doctor return for a 60th anniversary special in 2023?

Monday, September 27, 2021

This Is For The Grandmas Who Don't Like To Bake Cookies

Pixar's newest Sparkshort, Nona, is so relatable it hurts! I'm not a wrestling fan, but I relate to everything else in this short, from the routine of making sure that my "me time" is uninterrupted, to putting some extra sweetener in my drink. And yes, to having kids interrupt my plans. 

And then to finally giving in and realizing what's most important in life: elbow drops off the ropes of a wrestling ring!

Like all Pixar productions (this one made entirely at peoples' homes during quarantine), Nona knows exactly how to tug at the heartstrings and still stay real. It balances sentiment with truth. It tells a compelling and fresh story without being cloying or preachy. In less than 5 minutes, we meet a grandmother who has lost her husband, but finds great joy in watching campy wrestling. Her granddaughter, full of kitty charm and sparkly stickers, interrupts her routine, and Nona is faced with choosing family over comfort. They find a compromise where the two wrestle in a crazycool fantasy sequence, complete with a high five to a durag-outfitted moon. 

Nona feels a little bit like one of those LDS ads encouraging families to spend more time together. But in a good way! There's something about the moment when Nona's television gets knocked over. She turns in anger and frustration to this cutie pie terror who has ruined her plans, but then suddenly melts in sadness. And we instantly know that Nona isn't just crying about her ruined plans or outdated television. She's mourning the loss of her dear husband. The audience is left to fill in the blanks, imagining the countless hours she and her husband spent fangirling over Jaz-Mean and Miss-Terry duking it out in the ring. 

We all have different ways of dealing with death, and mourning those we have lost. We all do what we need to get by. And who am I to say that one way of mourning is better than another? But for me, I have found that pouring my efforts into spending time with the living is the best way for me to honor the dead. For me, nothing beats quality time with family. Family: isn't it about ... time? Nona learns this, as she wrestles with her granddaughter and ends up having an even better day than she planned. 

Even if it includes mindlessly watching the brain-numbing Kitty Kitty Dance Party.



Friday, September 24, 2021

So you want to bring your kids to Comic Con...

(Guest Post by Ken)

Among geeks there are few rites of passage as big as attending a Comic Con (or “Fan Expo,” or other similar name that means the same thing). And yet, until last weekend I had never actually been to one myself. I’ve always been on the fence about going, but have finally given it a try… well, sort of. You see, I brought my kids with me. 

I attended Friday and Saturday of the Dallas Fax Expo last weekend. There were big names there like William Shatner, George Takei, Zachary Levi, Stephen Amell, Adam Savage, and more. (Sadly, a reunion visit from Frodo, Sam, Pippin, and Merry in a commemorative 20th anniversary Lord of the Rings panel was canceled last minute). I saw some of these people in person and was impressed to see their friendliness with fans. But I didn’t attend any panels or meet-and-greets because on Friday I had my 6-year-old son and on Saturday I had my 4-year-old daughter in tow and kids aren’t really keen to stand in long lines to see some old people who to them bear no significance. 

Taking each of my two older children on a “daddy date” with me was a nice way of being able to get out and do something social with the friend who invited me while also getting some great time in with my kids, but it will definitely alter your conference experience. Of course, as a first-time attendee, I can’t quite comment on what I was supposedly “missing out on,” but I can give you the pros and cons of taking your kids to a Con, at least through the lens of my experience at the Dallas Fax Expo.

Kid Specific Programming

There was a room, somewhat distanced from the main events and large crowds, specifically designated as the “Family Zone.” They had a number of craft activities and play areas for kids, though some of the play areas were lacking (one was literally just all the cardboard boxes used for supplies shipped in to set up the expo so the kids could stack them in towers; clever, but it seemed very last minute and didn’t hold my kids’ interest). 

Arts and crafts time at Dallas Fan Expo!

This area also hosted a number of events geared towards children. One event my children were both interested in, and which was thankfully held both days, was the Harry Potter Sorting Ceremony, as we’ve been reading the Harry Potter books together this year (we’re three quarters through Prisoner of Azkaban right now). This was a genuinely nice event and my son really enjoyed getting sorted (into Gryffindor, no less!). My daughter loved the idea, but when her turn came, she became like the kid who waits in the line to see Santa only to panic and scream at the finish line. She was so scared she might get sorted into Slytherin that she would not get in the chair. The team in charge kindly let her get a Gryffindor pin afterwards that she’s been wearing ever since. 

My son got sorted into Gryffindor!

The sorting ceremony was genuinely entertaining, featuring the commentary of the presenting “wizards” and an actual talking hat who responded in real time to specific conversations with each recipient. Only one thing irritated me about this event (and it was a bigger problem on Saturday than Friday): the number of adults who quickly dominated the front of the line of an event specifically marked for children and made the intended audience of sometimes attention-deficit children wait in a very long line. I don’t mind adults wanting to play Harry Potter games at a con, but at an event for children they should at least let all the kids go first and if there is extra time they can then do adults. The line ended up having a cutoff on Saturday and some kids got turned away while more than half of those who actually got to be sorted were adults without kids. And while my own daughter ultimately panicked at the finish line, she was so excited just to be there that if she’d been told “No” while a bunch of grown ups got sorted instead, she’d have been truly devastated. Incidentally, my daughter had a less panicky experience later with the Jedi Padowan training event where she got to learn lightsaber skills, and this event did a much better job of being truly kids-only. 

Overall, the family-centric offerings at Dallas Fan Expo managed to just clear the “acceptable” bar. The Harry Potter and Star Wars events were genuinely fun, but other “events” turned out to be a lot of nothing, and lots of times there wasn’t much specifically offered to kids and families other than the meager craft table. But my kids did enjoy the activities that were aimed at them and that made it easier for them to spend some time looking at other areas of the con in-between that were aimed more at adults. I wasn’t wowed by the family offerings, and hope that maybe in a further post-COVID world they may up their game a bit in that regard.

My daughter learning to be a Jedi!

The Booths (AKA, The Minefield)

Much of the real estate space of the conference center rented for the event was devoted to various booths, primarily for vendors selling art, comic books (the historical origin of these events), collectibles, anything even vaguely geek-connected, and even a few random things that aren’t geek-specific at all (one guy tried to sell me solar panels and another was pedaling water filtration systems). This is the zone that wants your money. I admit that it is a fascinating place to walk around. I’m not a huge collector myself, so it wasn’t particularly tempting, but it was still fun to see especially the homemade and handcrafted wares, or the vast collections some people acquired over decades. 

Of course, when you bring kids who realize that this is a shopping experience and not a museum, you start to see the widening of their eyes in this cornucopia of toys and colorful oddities. The subtle questioning of whether we could buy something started early with my son. Ultimately, each child was allowed to buy an old throwback comic book from the $2 boxes. My son found a 1964 gem where Lex Luthor appears to turn Superman into a purple dragon, while my daughter picked the 1980 Avengers titled that first introduced Yellowjacket as a villain. Allowing them to get SOMETHING helped placate and tame the requests for all the other fun things, such as toys that are insanely expensive because they are some throwback collectible pre-dating the Carter administration but just look like a regular toy to a 6-year-old. 

Comic books selected by my children

The “I-Want-That!” trap was tempered by the other big downside of this area: its sheer claustrophobia. Perhaps I’m still adjusting to crowds after 18 months of pandemic, but this part of the con had narrow walkways and lots of people and I felt genuinely uncomfortable spending too much time there. Thankfully, my daughter especially felt the same way and so her desire to see and ask for cool things was countered by her distaste for the teeming crowds. 

Other Stuff

A quick note on food: The food court offerings were modest. I expected more vendors given the crowd size, but the lines moved pleasantly fast. The prices were about what I expected: a little more than you’d pay normally, but not the highest. In my head I have a continuum of food pricing from low to high that goes:

Regular fast food/food truck < Mall Food Court < Airport < Theme Park

The same item will cost more as you move to the right along the continuum. The food offering here were priced squarely in the “Mall Food Court” zone. And I gotta add that the personal pizzas we got were… surprisingly good! My kids approved as well, though they were disappointed that Hawaiian was not an option.

Eating surprisingly not bad pizza

Cosplay was fun for the kids to observe. While a few of the costumes were scary or edgy, for the most part the kids delighted just in seeing all the fun characters. My daughter adored that my friend Spencer was dressed as Nick Wilde from Zootopia, and she saw a Flynn Ryder from Tangled who she instantly recognized and pretty much melted over. My son, upon hearing that people would wear costumes, actually got into the fun himself as a few minutes before we left home he grabbed his strap on butterfly wings that he has thoroughly worn out over the last few years. Some may find it a bit odd to see a boy wearing monarch wings, but he loves all things science and had a bug-obsession phase a couple years ago. I love that nobody looked at him strange for wearing his beloved wings, and in fact he got lots of compliments. 

The wandering droids were a hit with the kids

Of course, as mentioned earlier, there are many experiences you’ll have to forego if you bring kids. I didn’t even attempt to go to any panels, screenings, Q&A’s, or meet and greets, because I know my kids would have been bored out of their minds. Some of the panels looked really interesting, and someday I may try a con again either sans kids or with older kids who may want to see some of those things. But there were a lot of things I didn’t do, so I can’t quite give my full review of the con experience. Of course, I knew that going into it, so I wasn’t disappointed for missing what I planned to skip when I decided to bring my kids. 

In conclusion, here’s my biggest takeaways for bringing your kids to a Comic Con:

  1. Don’t expect to do the same things you’d do without them. If you want to spend time with your kids by bringing them, you need to alter your plans and expectations to what they will enjoy.
  2. Don’t plan to stay all day. The attention span for littler kids just isn’t there for that.
  3. Make sure the con you are attending has some kid-friendly activities. If you don’t see much programming geared towards them, you might be better off not bringing them.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The Merch at Pop Con

A 95,155% markup.
Not bad for a bounty hunter!

There are so many fun things to check out at Comic Con: the panels, the cosplay, the celebrities, the workshops... But sometimes the most interesting thing to check out is the merchandise! I went to the Four State Comic Con in Harrisburg, PA, also known as Pop Con. What a well-executed local convention! There was lots to do, as always. But the thing that struck me most was all the merch. Kitschy and cool and quirky and rare and  campy and sooooo unique to comic con merch! So below is a sampling of some of my favorites...

By far my favorite thing for sale at comic con: A Deadpool Chia Pet! Yes, I now have this sitting proudly on a windowsill in my classroom where my 6th grade students can ashamedly shake their heads at me, but secretly want to be me.

Alf trading cards! I just want to know if the stale gum tastes like cats. 

The only game better than Beatles Flip Your Wig is Pretty Pretty Princess. Which I rock at.

Not technically merch since it was being raffled instead of sold... but how cool is this "Initiative Gauntlet"? Complete with 6 D&D dice, with a D20 cube as the mind stone, natch. I'm not even a D&D player, but I want this.

It's Yoda. It's Lego. It's a clock. I love it. I mean, they could have chosen regular Yoda for this clock. But they chose Lego Yoda. Just because they can.

A pterodactyl glider. Really flies! Holds passenger! I mean, I wouldn't trust this in a mission years. But I love the bravado! I mean, if you've been in the Land of the Lost for any amount of time, you ought to know by now that not everything here is logical.

So. Many. Lego. Figures!

Easily my second favorite item for sale at the comic con: The Necronomnomnom! It's a cookbook (really, it is!) based on the Necronominom. Because, why not?

Monday, September 20, 2021

Comic Con on a Budget


If you're like me with a budding career, a small family, and always bills to pay, you don't exactly have the money to buy great extravagant souvenirs at a convention. If you're like me, you might just feel lucky to get through the door. So if your budget is limited, but you still want to enjoy your next Con, here's what I learned about the experience at Fan Expo Dallas this year.

Merchandise

If you have a few bucks to spare, there are always great collectables and memorabilia. Be smart with it though. Cross-reference your purchases at the booths with prices you could expect with Ebay or Amazon. I remember finding a Digimon plush at FanX (and I love any Digimon merch), but Amazon had it for $10 cheaper. Pro tip: sometimes vendors will reduce their prices on the last day of the Con so they have less to transport out of the convention center afterwards. Bottom line: If you're going to buy merch at a Con, make it something you can't get cheaper elsewhere or something rare enough that the higher price is worth it.

Artist Alley

I have to pull myself away from Artist Alley sometimes because I love the artwork so much. I want to buy all of it but it'll be years before I have a man cave to display it all. That doesn't mean I can't enjoy it though. Until I have the space and money for that artwork, I've taken to following my favorite artists on social media so that I can keep tabs on their work. Let's me know if there's some art I want to buy and it feels my social media feed with something more joyful than whatever tragedy is happening today. Here are just a few of the artists I started following this weekend: Greg Horn, Dominic Glover, Brittany Ann, Judy Blu, and Brett Mitchell.

Celebrities

Meeting a celebrity is fun and exhilarating, but so very expensive. If you have some money to meet a celebrity, I would suggest seeing if they do photos at their autograph booths, instead of a professional photo--you get more time with them that way. You can also usually have multiple people in the photo op, so you can split the cost with a friend to make it more affordable--that's the only way I was able to meet David Tennant or Matt Smith. However if you're like me at Fan Expo Dallas this year and have zero dollar bills to spare for celebrities, your best bet for an interaction with them is asking a question at their panel. Sure, you're sharing the experience with hundreds of other people, but asking them a question gives you a moment of interaction with them for free. I still have my video of asking Jason David Frank about being a Power Ranger.

Panels

Speaking of panels, if you don't have any money for merchandise or artwork, you might enjoy spending your time at Q&A panels. Whether it's a celebrity panel or a fan panel, it can be a fun way to get to know others' perspectives with your fandom. Also, if you have been window shopping (which I often will spend hours doing), panels are also the perfect opportunity to rest your feet. Seriously, the only time I get more steps than a Con is at Disney Parks.

Cosplay

If you enjoy dressing up, cosplay can be another fun way to enjoy the convention. Budget can make this one hard, but I've written two blog posts about making it work on a budget (read part one here and part two here). If you're not comfortable dressing up but still enjoy the costumes, that's okay too. People-watching is one of my favorite activities at a Con. It's very affirming to have a stranger compliment your costume or to have someone ask for your picture. You can even turn this people-watching into a game. Last month I wrote about doing a Comic Con Bingo card. If you don't want something as strict as a bingo card, you can play your own game. For example, someone I met at Fan Expo Dallas was playing "Avengers Bingo". Basically he was trying to get a picture as many Avengers characters as possible (which worked out well because I was dressed as Captain America).

So take these tips into account when you're at your next Con and make the most of your time. It's a blast to be with friends old and new.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Friday Creature Feature - Bulbasaur


In case you missed it, this year is the 25th anniversary of the Pokemon franchise. For those of us in North America, it’s more like the 23th anniversary, as the anime and the Gameboy games Red and Blue came to the Western Hemisphere in September 1998. So while we were a couple years behind Japan, it’s appropriate for us to celebrate Pokemon this year here too. So in honor of Pokemon’s anniversary, I wanted to spotlight the first Pokemon in the Pokedex: Bulbasaur.

Bulbasaur is the butt of many jokes, as Charmander and Squirtle are largely popular starter Pokemon--probably helps that the game in North America featured Charizard and Blastoise on the cover. But to be honest, Bulbasaur was always my go-to as a kid. He was the obvious choice to take on Brock and Misty with ease when playing Blue. Evolving into Ivysaur at level 16 and Venusaur at level 32, he was also the easiest to get to his highest form.


Based on video game Pokedex entries, Bulbasaur seems to be able to photosynthesize their own energy, able to go days at a time without eating solid food. As they do this, their bulbs are supposed to grow (presumably transforming into the flowers that Ivysaur and Venusaur have). Additionally, in the anime, Ash’s Pokedex claims their strongest attack is Solar Beam. Granted, that was before Frenzy Plant was a thing. 

In the video games, Bulbasaur can be obtained as your starter Pokemon in Red/Blue and Fire Red/Leaf Green or from a kind-hearted girl in Cerulean City in Yellow. These would be the last times you could receive a Bulbasaur without cheats or trades until Professor Oak gives you the opportunity to take one in Heart Gold/Soul Silver after defeating Red. Similarly, in X/Y Professor Sycamore gives you one of the Kanto starters in Lumiose City along with its Mega Stone. In Let's Go Pikachu/Eevee, they can also appear in rare spawns in Viridian Forest (as well as given as a gift in Cerulean City again).


Along with other Kanto starters, Bulbasaur also got a spot on Ash’s original Pokemon team in the Indigo League. Found in a hidden forest Pokemon village, Bulbasaur was initially distrustful of Ash and all trainers. However, after Ash saved the village from Team Rocket, Bulbasaur was willing to be caught by Ash. He ended up staying with Ash through the rest of the Indigo League (refusing to evolve into an Ivysaur along the way), throughout the voyage through the Orange Islands, and well into the journey into the Johto Region. He only left Ash’s side when Professor Oak needed him back at the lab to act as peacemaker.

While Ash’s Bulbasaur was helping Professor Oak, Ash’s new friend May also got the opportunity to catch a Bulbasaur in the Hoenn Region. After May helped Bulbasaur save the Forbidden Forest, she went with her and became part of her contest team. Still a bit aloof at times, May’s Bulbasaur helped her through her contests and the Grand Festival before going to the Kanto Region. She’d end up staying with Professor Oak while May traveled through Kanto and Johto, eventually evolving into a Venusaur before Ash saw her again in the Sinnoh Region.


While any individual of any species (even Pokemon species) is going to have its own personality, both of our main Bulbasaurs had strong wills and tons of confidence. Even when seemingly outmatched by Team Rocket, both of them were brave and resilient, never wanting to give up taking care of their trainers or their fellow Pokemon. So you may not love Bulbasaur the way he deserves, but that’s okay. Bulbasaur doesn’t need your love to be confident. Oh to be confident like Bulbasaur.

So if you love Bulbasaur, share this post and show our frog/plant friend some love!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Is "Let it Go" a Good Song?


I'm going to say it. "Let it Go" really isn't a good song. That is, it isn't all good. There is some bad.

Hold on, before you freak out and get upset, I want you to read what I'm saying closely. I'm probably not saying what you think I'm saying.

I know, I know, it's a super popular ballad. Plenty of people like it. I mean, I love it -- or most of it, anyway. I love the tune and I'm an evergreen fan of Idina Menzel. I mean, those pipes, wow.

But let's be honest, not everything in that song is good. Take these few lines, for instance:

"No right, no wrong, no rules for me. I'm free."

Right and wrong are real. They are absolutes. Doing wrong actually enslaves us, rather than frees us. Those lines of the song are clearly teaching wrong principles - at least taken at face value.

Plenty of the lyrics are good, especially considering the context of the song and what had happened immediately prior. It is good to be honest about what one is feeling. It isn't good to hide from others and keep everything in. It is good to care more about making the right choice, even if it puts you out in the cold, so to speak, rejected by others. As for most of the parts of the song that aren't so great, the movie itself shows by the end that Elsa doesn't really believe that all she was singing was right and good. She doesn't really want to abandon friends and family. She wants to be open about things she was keeping secret and still be loved.

So really, when I said "it isn't a good song", I was allowing the one bad piece to hide the rest of the good. Really, it isn't that the song is bad, but that songs (and media in general) teach both good and bad things. For example, one of my favorite musicals is South Pacific, but there's plenty in that musical that isn't good but that the songs of the musical seem to glorify.

Social media is a big example of the nature of media - there is good and bad mixed all around in it. I don't think it is right to reject social media as a whole, and all the good that it brings, just because there are bad things being said and taught.

I'm not saying that people should abandon their love of "Let it Go". I am saying it is vital to be fully awake and aware of all lessons - good and bad - in media. That is, seeking "out of the best books, words of wisdom, ... even by study and also by faith."

Monday, September 13, 2021

Disney Dungeons and Dragons 2: The Villains


It's time for the bad guys to have a turn. 

There's something about putting characters (and people) into defined categories. Whether it be Hogwarts houses, Pokemon types and teams, or in this case, Dungeons and Dragons classes. So here are a few classifications for our favorite Disney villains, should you ever want to roll one up in a game. Don't forget to check out the classes for Disney heroes as well.

Please note: Not all villains have classes, since some of them are scary through the sheer force of their will on others and not the power they wield. Looking at you Lady Tremaine


Artificer - Syndrome
I wanted to put Bowler Hat Guy from Meet the Robinsons here but I figured that might be too obscure for most people to get so we'll put the techno-crazed villain of the Incredibles here. He has no powers of his own but instead builds tech to mimic the power of Supers. His ultimate goal is to eliminate the need for Supers by making everyone exactly alike with his gadgets. If only he figured out how to make a tear-away cape...


Bard - Ernesto De La Cruz
The evil crooner from Coco, this character killed his partner and stole his brilliant songs, making him the most popular musician in the afterlife. He can charm anyone into doing what he wants, and keeps the entire world in his palm long after his death. Only a master bard could pull off the Performance check to accomplish that. 


Barbarian - Ratigan
There's no written rule that a barbarian has to be an idiot, just like there's no rule that says a bard has to be a sex maniac. Ratigan of The Great Mouse Detective drips with intelligence and charisma, mostly thanks to the brilliant voice work by the legendary Vincent Price. However during the climax of the film Ratigan shows his true rat-like colors as he fights Basil in Big Ben, his fury on full display. 


Cleric - Judge Frollo
A priest in the original novel, the villain of The Hunchback of Notre Dame follows a shadowy and twisted version of Christianity, one that allows him to wield power over anyone he deems unworthy of God's love. He legitimately thinks he is doing God's will by burning Esmeralda because he judges her to be a witch and all gypsies to be wicked. Whether he's wrong or not he's still devoted to his religion, and if he had more combat experience he would be a paladin instead. 


Druid - Maleficent
So this one's a slight stretch but hear me out: 
1: She's a fairy which are usually either sorcerers or druids. 
2: She makes thorns grow up all around Aurora to protect the curse, which is total Druid
3: She turns into a dragon, which has got to be some Wild Shape mastery. 
Tell me I'm wrong. 
Also it makes Sleeping Beauty even more fun. 


Fighter - Clayton
The villain from Tarzan wants to be a ranger. Everyone thinks he's a ranger. In reality, he's just a hunter who gets lucky. A ranger wouldn't need a half naked man to show him where a herd of 600 pound monsters were living. He is a fighter though because despite anything else he at least knows how to fight. 


Monk - Namaari
Probably the newest character on this list, Namaari is the antagonist from Raya and the Last Dragon, Princess of Fang, she is trained in a combination of martial arts and duel swords that she uses like Prince Zuko from Avatar the Last Airbender. Less fire-bending but still quite effective and a joy to watch. 


Paladin - Gantu
Gantu is like the Javert of Lilo and Stitch. He goes after Stitch with such a fervor it could almost be called zealotry. Weather he's right or wrong is shady at best, but his goal is to protect the universe from Experiment 626 by any means necessary, even if it means kidnapping a child to do it. He's the perfect example that while paladins may undertake a holy mission, that doesn't mean they're always good. 


Ranger - Gaston
McLeach from The Rescuers: Down Under was a close second to this spot but like Clayton he needed someone else's help to find his prey. Gaston from Beauty and the Beast though is an established hunter and tracker. He may be a completely detestable human being otherwise but when hunting Beast in the castle he's shown to have significant skills on his own. Gaston is the hero of the village because he keeps them safe from wild beasts, his only problem is that his own prejudice and vanity keeps him from seeing that he's become the real danger the village should fear. 


Rogue - Mother Gothel
In the course of Tangled Mother Gothel keeps a magic flower hidden, steals a child from a well guarded castle, stays on the lamb less than a day's travel from said castle for some 18 years, follows Rapunzel without her knowing, and stabs Eugene in the back with a critical hit. If she isn't a rogue I don't know what one is. 


Sorcerer - Jafar and Ursula
A two way tie between the villains of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, these two are both inborn sorcerers that channel their power through their arcane focuses, that being a snake staff for Jafar and a conch shell necklace for Ursula. While in the film itself we don't get origins for either of their powers, since neither seem to have a patron required by a warlock, require a spellbook like a wizard, or have any religious affiliation like a cleric, it's safe to assume that they're both high powered sorcerers using their magic to devastate others. 


Wizard - Evil Queen
Snow White's Evil Queen needs a spellbook for every one of her horrid spells and potions. She rarely uses magic, indicating a limited number of uses, so we're going to go with full wizard on this one. 


Warlock - Dr. Facilier
The villain from The Princess and the Frog has multiple songs specifically attributing his powers to his "Friends on the Other Side", probably meaning the Loa of Voodoo tradition. He's made deals, or pacts, with the Loa to gain his power and if he doesn't keep up his end of the bargain his soul is theirs. It's a harsh relationship but nobody said that a warlock/patron pact was healthy. 

-JOE

Followers