Slide Some Oil to Me

I suppose Oz must use fossil fuels to at least some extent. I mean, the Tin Woodman carries around an oilcan in order to lubricate his joints and keep them from rusting. L. Frank Baum’s father became rich through oil wells, and he worked for some time selling the family’s petroleum products, so I guess it’s not too surprising we’d see such products in his fairyland.

At the end of the McGraws’ The Forbidden Fountain of Oz, Toby Bridlecull’s Suggestion Box is given “a crystal flagon full of the best double-distilled, triple-refined oil in Oz,” so does that mean the fairyland has oil refineries? I just hope Ozma isn’t planning on running a pipeline through the Winkie Country against the inhabitants’ wishes. For the most part, we don’t really see what the power source is for the machines in the series. Tik-Tok runs on clockwork (possibly enhanced by magic, since a little girl can quickly provide enough force to wind him up), so there’s no need for him to burn coal or anything. In John R. Neill’s Wonder City, Professor Wogglebug is seen carrying a gallon can, and claims to be on his way “to a gas station to get this filled with midnight oil.” The midnight oil shows up in a later chapter, an expression that becomes literal, but it’s not clear what an Ozian gas station would be for. What’s interesting is that, in the very next book, Oz suddenly gets automobiles that seem to run on motor oil provided by birds known as peli-cans.

There’s also a substance called flabber-gas, presumably used in the manufacturing process, that makes the Scalawagons behave erratically.

They can regain their senses by being hit with a mallet that Tik-Tok carries.

There are two oil-themed communities in later Oz books. Gina Wickwar’s Toto includes a visit to Grease, an island in a lake in the Gillikin Country.

It’s a dirty, foul-smelling place surrounded by oily water, where nothing seems to grow except greasewood trees. The people live in a black marble city, with King Petrol having a royal derrick built on the acropolis.

The people wear tunics and participate in sporting events similar to those in ancient Greece. It also presumably uses money at the time of the story, as one of the king’s aides reads in the Oil Street Journal that “oil is now selling at fifty ozeroons a barrel.” There’s a mention of the Grease Pit, used for punishment, but the visitors manage to escape before they can be thrown into it. And in Margaret Berg’s Ozallooning, there’s a town called Oilville along the Yellow Brick Road in the Winkie Country, surrounded by oil derricks and inhabited by people with cans or oil drums for bodies.

Much of it is farmland where the Oilers grow sunflowers, corn, and soybeans. In the center is an asphalt lot surrounded by oil pumps, with an oil press throne in the middle.

The ruler is Queen Olivia Oil, whose consort is an old-fashioned gas pump called Prince Primegrade. The royal couple demands that everyone who comes to town owes taxes, or else they have their bodies pressed for oil. It figures that people with that much exposure to oil would have rather oily personalities.

Posted in Eloise Jarvis McGraw, Gina Wickwar, Humor, John R. Neill, L. Frank Baum, Oz, Oz Authors, Places, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Voices for the Brainless

I’ve been tempted to write something political recently, but I kind of feel that I’ve already said most of what I have to say, and it’s hard to keep up with current events in an administration where things change by the day. Take the travel ban, for instance. It’s obviously a stupid idea, because even if Donald Trump could make a case for the countries he singled out being dangerous, the ban largely affected people who wanted to get OUT of those countries. Sure, terrorists could potentially sneak in that way, but have there really been statistics proving that’s any more likely than any other way they manage to evade the authorities? From what I hear, vetting is already pretty extreme. But even beyond that, I’m just puzzled by how this went into effect immediately after Trump signed the executive order. Since when does the government move that quickly? Then, a couple days later, judges declared the ban illegal, but Trump then started fighting to get it reinstated, so I guess it’s still up in the air.

And I’d wanted to say a bit about the Dakota Access Pipeline, but it was discontinued before I got around to it. Now Trump wants to bring it back, because no bad idea is truly dead when people like him are involved.

It fits his general method of favoring big business over anything, except when a business wants to discontinue his daughter’s clothing line. Then it’s personal. And really, maybe it’s just my paranoia, but I kind of get the impression that Trump is doing some of these things just to piss people off. Sure, the pipeline would be a boon to the oil companies, but it’s also a way for Trump to prove he doesn’t give a crap about public opinion, tribal sovereignty, or the environment. What’s odd is that the guy also seems to really want to be popular. Maybe he wants to be a worthy adversary, or someone who’s funny enough that they can get away with being insulting. Hey, I’ll admit that I often envy the latter. But it’s probably more likely that he’s just a hypocrite.

Speaking of hypocrites, there was a lot of backlash to Milo Yiannopoulos being a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher, to the point that Jeremy Scahill (who had been booked first, I believe) flat-out refused to appear in the same episode. I watched it, and it was a total softball interview, with Maher trying to find common ground with the guy. Now, I watch the show pretty often, and it generally seems to be the case that Maher will freely argue with and call out members of the panel, but takes it easier during his initial one-on-one interview, which was the position Yiannopoulos was in. I remember him being pretty friendly with Mike Huckabee, too. Maher is trying to turn the whole Yiannopoulos thing into a free speech issue, but since when does the First Amendment guarantee you a platform? It means people like Yiannopoulos can say hateful things and not get arrested, which he hasn’t been. But why book him for television shows and addresses at colleges? The main argument for it seems to be that people need to hear from those with differing viewpoints, and not just like-minded people. I agree, but only when the people with differing viewpoints have valid points to make. This “alt-right” thing is just a bunch of people saying the same long-discredited things about how white males deserve more power than anyone else. And people like Yiannopoulos don’t appear to have any real goal other than offending as many people as possible. Many great speakers are provocative, but that doesn’t make everyone provocative a great speaker. Some are just mean to be mean. We don’t need to give them national platforms on mainstream media any more than we do people who think the Earth is flat, although that at least would probably be more entertaining. Why would colleges want to book these jackasses in the first place? I guess I feel the protests against such speakers are pointless, because no one is making you go, and I doubt the hatemongers are going to recruit any college students to their cause. But at the same time, you can’t claim the protesters are trying to silence free speech by advocating THEIR right to free speech. I have heard that there were riots against Yiannopoulos, and that’s going too far, but I seriously doubt the people who rioted are at all reflective of left-wing college culture in general. I wonder if another reason the media are so eager to interview such dumbasses is that they seem to be so full of contradictions. I mean, Yiannopoulos is a non-American who apparently favors Trump’s America First rhetoric, a gay man who’s opposed to gay rights, and an anti-Semite with Jewish heritage. Even his Greek ancestry is probably too close to the Middle East for some white supremacists. Presumably interviewers think they’ll be able to make some kind of sense of this, but I doubt he’s thought this out in any rational way at all. Getting back to Maher, I know he’s also booked S.E. Cupp, who claims to be an atheist but says she thinks religious people are more moral. Sometimes a person’s positions just don’t make sense. Still, I was a bit puzzled by Yiannopoulos calling out Lena Dunham in particular, considering that she also seems to be someone who makes a lot of stupid, offensive off-the-cuff statements, although I don’t think she MEANS to be offensive. I really know next to nothing about Dunham. I have a largely negative attitude toward her after hearing about the baffling statement in the book she wrote (and that I’ve seen on multiple bestseller and recommendation lists) that she molested her baby sister. I’ll admit I don’t know the context, but is there ANY context in which that’s okay? Then there was her recent statement about wishing she’d had an abortion, although maybe she was just misquoting Female Trouble. But I know some people who like Dunham and hate Amanda Palmer, who’s also been known to make offensive comments that she might well not intend as offensive, and I’m kind of the opposite. I think a lot of it comes down to how you were first exposed to the person, as I loved Amanda’s music before I knew anything about her as a person, but I’ve never watched Girls. Also, as someone who puts my foot in my mouth pretty often, I can’t say it’s entirely fair to judge anyone based on a few offhand comments. At the same time, though, that’s often all we get with celebrities. I recently read in this article that Sarah Silverman defended a magazine that endorsed bigotry, but I know she’s been prone to making stupid offhand remarks. It’s actually one reason I identify with her.

Yesterday, I read two articles I found on Twitter, one asking whether liberals are helping Trump (the answer is no, with perhaps a few exceptions, but that’s not what the writer thinks), and another on 4chan and its contribution to Trump’s popularity. The former is about how Trump supporters feel that they’re being marginalized by mean liberals, and that’s driving them more to Trump’s side. Highlights include a comparison of Trump voters to people coming out as gay in the 1950s, and a complaint that women won’t date guys who support Trump. Quite frankly, I’m not sure why anyone would WANT to date someone who finds their politics abhorrent (we can’t all be James Carville and Mary Matalin), but these guys are probably just looking for casual sex anyway. So you’re supporting a truly awful person who wants to take away people’s rights, and you’re upset because people are calling you out for it? As I’ve seen pointed out multiple times, these are the same people who think liberals are whiny and too obsessed with hurt feelings.

You can’t have it both ways, you know. I’m all for understanding and reasoning with opponents, but it’s not always possible. It’s like when people insisted that middle and working class people who voted for Trump will eventually realize he’s not on their side. I think some have, but it’s a rarity. Trump has been in the public eye for decades, and has constantly bragged about how much of a rich asshole he is. If you actually thought he’d be a champion for the working man, I’m not sure anything could convince you otherwise, because you’re already going against every shred of observable evidence. So no, if you voted for the guy who bragged about sexual assault, said Mexicans were rapists, and advocated a ban on all Muslims, I don’t think it matters much if your feelings are hurt. Betsy DeVos recently said people were making her life a living hell. You know that wouldn’t be the case anymore if you would resign, right?

As for the 4chan article, I’d heard of the site before, but really didn’t know much about it. What’s interesting is that I can understand these people a lot more than I can the Trump voters in the other article. You feel utterly powerless and out of place in society, and have hence retreated into fantasy and heavy Internet usage? I’m the same way! What I don’t get is the misogyny, because in my own experience, a lot of women are in the same basic position. In fact, they’re often MORE marginalized by society than men are.

I didn’t date until I was twenty-two, and I had a rather bizarre and confused attitude toward relationships. I was jealous of couples, but I don’t think it was so much that I wanted a girlfriend so much as that I just wanted people to pay attention to me, and that tended to be less common when everyone else was busy with their partners. But at the same time, I didn’t blame the people who paired up; I just felt lonely. When a woman was actually interested in me, I had no clue what to do, although I guess we eventually worked it out all right as we’re now married. But the real point I’m making is that I don’t understand why you’d use women in general as scapegoats. If no one will date you, maybe it’s you more than them. And maybe you should stop looking at women as potential partners and more as friends, and maybe then something could develop into a relationship. I’m no expert in this matter, but it makes sense to me. I’ve written about GamerGate before, but couldn’t make any sense of it whatsoever. I think the conclusion might be that it was never supposed to make sense; it was just misogynists saying whatever crap came to their minds. Why anyone wants their escapist entertainment tainted with the same patriarchal garbage we have to put up with in real life, I couldn’t say. I guess it’s a failing on my part that, while I don’t always think or behave rationally myself, I tend to expect other people to do so. If an appeal to logic doesn’t work, I get incredibly frustrated, but probably others have felt that way about me. I try to always respect reason even if I’m not always reasonable, but that isn’t to say I always succeed. Still, I feel I’ve too often become involved in a situation where I was at least trying to make rational points and the other person was just ignoring me and arguing based only on what they wanted to be true. With the Trump presidency, such people are now more prominent than ever. And it makes sense that people who just want, as Alfred Pennyworth said, to watch the world burn would vote for Trump. What I think they don’t get is that, as much as their lives might suck already, they can always get worse. You think society deserves to collapse because of how much it’s ostracized you? I understand, but I don’t think you’re going to fare too well in some kind of free-for-all post-apocalyptic world. For one thing, you probably won’t have Internet access anymore.

Posted in Celebrities, Corporations, Current Events, Gender, Introspection, Politics, Prejudice, Real Time with Bill Maher, Relationships, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Springfield, Springfield, It’s a Hell of a Town

YouTube recently recommended this series of Simpsons Mysteries videos, which are interesting to people like me who tend to over-analyze just about everything we enjoy. Obviously the show negates any real notion of continuity in time or place. Springfield can be wherever it needs to be for a particular story or joke, and it’s pretty much always set around when an episode airs, but with the characters either not aging or aging rather haphazardly. I wrote about the floating timeline before, and established that the characters staying the same age (and not realizing they’re staying the same age) is an integral part of the show, but it still sometimes bugs me when characters’ ages relative to each other are altered. I’d written it prior to the recent episode “Much Apu About Something,” in which Apu’s nephew Jamshed, who was a toddler in “Homer the Heretic,” had grown up, when of course the other kids have stayed the same age.

I also didn’t mention “Springfield Up,” an episode that suggested practically every significant adult character was the same age, even though Kent Brockman was already a newscaster and Clancy Wiggum working security at college when Homer was still a kid during the flashbacks in “Mother Simpson.”

And Ned Flanders was established as being sixty in “Viva Ned Flanders” despite being a child in a film from thirty years earlier in “Hurricane Neddy.” The age-changing doesn’t generally affect the stories much, but I find it adds verisimilitude to have the characters at different ages and from different backgrounds; they can’t ALL have grown up in Springfield, and some specifically say in other episodes that they didn’t. I don’t really mind Lenny, Carl, and Moe being established as childhood friends of Homer’s; it’s a bit of a retcon, but doesn’t specifically contradict anything.

Besides, Moe is at least usually portrayed as a bit older. But anyway, the video on the past has a good hypothesis on why “That 90s Show” was an overall unpopular episode. After it was decided to set “The Way We Was” in 1974, the next few flashback episodes established the year in which they took place, the Simpson telling the story gave some background information on it, and there were quite a few references. Even way back in the early days, this meant that the math didn’t quite add up. Bart was born in 1980 and Lisa in 1984, but they’re only two years apart, because the episodes telling these stories came out two years apart. Still, since each new one took place after the last, there was some level of consistency to the timeline. Okay, “And Maggie Makes Three” and “Lisa’s Sax” were out of order, but not by that much, and I don’t think the former specified a year. The latter takes place in 1990 even though it aired in 1997 and flashes back about five years, because it was one of a few holdovers made about two years earlier. I don’t think it even had that many references to the time, though, other than Homer watching Twin Peaks. Later episodes tended not to use the year thing at all, probably because it would just be too confusing. “The Way We Weren’t” makes a joke out of it, with Homer saying he was ten at some point between the fifties and seventies, although I think most of the references fit better with its taking place in the seventies. Then, when we get to “That 90s Show,” it once again has the scenes from the past occur in a specific decade, which makes sense if you use the old method of taking the characters’ ages and counting backwards, but becomes problematic when you realize it has to take place in between the flashbacks in “The Way We Was” and “I Married Marge.”

And episodes both before and after that one still have Homer and Marge as seniors in high school in 1974, which the video suggests must be the anchor point in the floating timeline.

But then, even some brief looks to before that year were affected by the sliding, as Homer was a teenager during the Moon landing and considerably younger at Woodstock, both of which took place in 1969.

Homer’s mother also left Abe in that same year, but since she recognizes Lenny and Carl in “My Mother the Carjacker” and Homer met them at camp during “The Way We Was,” it would presumably have to have been after that. So “That 90s Show” certainly didn’t START the confusion about the past, but it definitely exacerbated it, especially as it was an entire episode instead of just a gag.

Now that I’ve addressed time, I’m also going to look at space. No, not at the episode “Deep Space Homer,” but at the geography of Springfield. We already know it’s variable and doesn’t entirely match anywhere in the United States, especially after the reference in “Half-Decent Proposal” that West Springfield is three times the size of Texas.

As far as internal geography goes, I’ve looked several times at this fan-made map of Springfield, which I believe was last updated in 2004. That means no Sprooklyn or Bart Boulevard, for instance. Still, it includes pretty much everything from up to that point, arranged in a way that makes as much sense as possible when you consider that the writers would sometimes do things like put the parking lot for the nuclear power plant behind the Simpsons’ house, move the entire town five miles over, or insist there’s only one way in or out of town for the sake of a joke. Atlas Obscura has a collection of maps and representations of Springfield, and while the map I mentioned is obviously unofficial, it does appear that someone on the staff took note of it. The map of the now-defunct (well, defunct as of the time of the episode, at least) subway in “Postcards from the Wedge” doesn’t match the fan map exactly, but it’s pretty close.

It even does the same workaround for the specific mention of 257th Street in “Bart Sells His Soul” without having to actually depict 257 streets. Not that it makes much sense to just randomly call a street 257th, but this IS the same town that built an escalator to nowhere (Second and Euclid Streets on the big map). That also means Bart didn’t run anywhere near as far as suggested in “Soul,” though. Maybe it’s part of the reality-warping nature of Springfield that extra streets sometimes appear just to provide a plot contrivance. We do see him cross 156th and 181st Streets, after all. We do see a working subway in “The Winter of His Content,” and it serves not only Springfield but Shelbyville and other surrounding areas as well.

Subway route maps like the one Bart looks at are never to scale, but it does provide relative locations for some places seen in earlier episodes, and the arrangement doesn’t seem to match up at all with the unofficial map. On the other hand, it has some good jokes, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

Posted in Cartoons, Humor, Maps, Television, The Simpsons | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Expanding Game Worlds

I’ve long had somewhat of an affinity for media based on video games, even though most of them aren’t really that good. I grew up on the Super Mario Bros. cartoons and Choose Your Own Adventure style books, and read the Valiant comic series occasionally. I also watched Captain N, and remember seeing a few episodes of the Hanna-Barbera Pac-Man and Ruby-Spears Mega Man cartoons, and most of the syndicated Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. Most of these were made in the early days of the game series, and the writers didn’t have much to work with. It’s not like they had to develop all that much; these were fairly cheap products made for children. Still, they had to give the characters some sort of personality, as well as a supporting cast, settings, and motivations. Then, when the game franchises were further developed, they often went in a totally different direction. I wrote earlier about how many of the elements of the Mario universe that were sort of canonical despite not appearing in the actual games were later contradicted. I like to point out certain details that appeared in cartoons and such before becoming gameplay mechanics, like how the SMB anime had a flying ship, Mario taking over Lakitu‘s cloud, and his grabbing Bowser by the tail and throwing him. These are fairly minor points, however. Luigi being rather cowardly is something that might have come into the games by way of television, but not necessarily. The Legend of Zelda cartoons that were shown as part of the Super Mario Bros. Super Show didn’t seem to have any impact on that series, although they did clearly influence the terrible CD-i Zelda games. I haven’t played any of them, but they certainly LOOK horrible. Link being cocky and constantly hitting on Zelda, the Princess herself being an adept fighter in her own right, and her father King Harkinian being a character all likely came from the show.

The games aren’t considered canonical, although it really wouldn’t impact much if they were, as they’re all at the end of what’s now the Downfall Timeline.

The Mario game for the CD-i, Hotel Mario, seems to take some cues from the cartoons in its cut scenes, but I don’t believe it contains any direct references.

The Pac-Man animated series is another case of games being influenced by a cartoon based on a game. The 1984 side-scroller Pac-Land takes place in the setting established on the show, and includes characters developed specifically for it.

I guess it more or less marks the cartoon as at least partially canonical, although when do you hear anyone talk about the Pac-Man canon?

Sonic is an interesting case, because apparently Sega encouraged America, Europe, and Japan to make up their own back stories, so that the character could be cool in every region. DiC developed Adventures of Sonic at the same time as a considerably less wacky Sonic cartoon on Saturday mornings. Both established Sonic and Tails as living on a planet called Mobius, which had some humans but mostly anthropomorphic animals. There had only been two Sonic games at this point, and many of the new characters in the cartoons were loosely based on friends and enemies from these games.

Adventures had the recurring bad guys Scratch, Grounder, and Coconuts, the latter two of which were also the names of similar enemies in Sonic 2, although the characters differed somewhat.

Scratch was probably based on the Clucker villains.

The Saturday morning show made Sonic part of a group of Freedom Fighters based on the animals Sonic rescues at the end of each level.

At least, a squirrel, a walrus, and a rabbit were all represented.

And some of these characters did later appear in games. Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, a retooling of the puzzle game Puyo Puyo with Sonic characters but not Sonic himself, featured Scratch, Grounder, Coconuts, and several other robots who made brief appearances on Adventures as opponents.

Characters you had to rescue in Sonic Spinball included Sally Acorn, Bunnie Rabbot, and Rotor Walrus from the Freedom Fighters; and Scratch was an enemy.

I understand there was even some talk of the Freedom Fighters taking part in a game in the main Sonic series, but it never came to pass, and the games would go on to introduce their own expansions to Sonic’s world, many of them based on the old Japanese back story rather than the American or European.

I believe the Archie Comics Sonic series includes elements from both cartoons AND all the games, but the only issues of that I’ve read so far were the crossovers with Mega Man.

The Archie Mega Man series does have some references to the Ruby-Spears cartoon, but I don’t think any characters or major concepts were taken directly from it. Captain N doesn’t seem to have affected any of the series it incorporated at all. I do think it’s interesting that Hyrule Warriors has a character named Lana, but I don’t think she has any relation to the Princess of Videoland.

And finally, we can’t forget the two games based on Street Fighter: The Movie, although we might like to. From what I’ve gathered, they’re basically just variations on Street Fighter II that used digitized versions of the actors from the film.

Posted in Captain N: The Game Master, Cartoons, Comics, Mario, Mega Man, Pac-Man, Sonic the Hedgehog, Street Fighter, Super Mario Bros. Super Show, Television, Video Games, Zelda | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Any Sport in a Storm

Does it give me some kind of nerd credit that I watched Star Trek IV instead of the Superbowl? Actually, I’m not sure nerd credit is something I really want, since it’s become obvious in recent years just how petty and belligerent some nerds can be. I think it’s also more of a thing these days for nerds to enjoy sports. I mean, what could be geekier than analyzing sports statistics? And yes, I can’t make much sense of football talk, but I’d be the same way if someone tried to talk to me about, say, engineering. And I’m keen on the fantasy genre, but never got into Game of Thrones, so that’s sort of the same. With sports, though, it’s just such a pervasive cultural thing that it can be a bit embarrassing to admit that you’re not into them. It’s perhaps more like admitting I’m an atheist; I’m not ashamed of it, but I don’t know how people will react. Religion and sports are both mainstream, and both can lead to anger and violence. But it’s not like I have a problem with people watching sports, although I DO wish they wouldn’t preempt television I want to watch. It’s just a part of our culture that I don’t really understand.

Even that isn’t entirely true; I get why sports are engaging for some people. I just don’t share that excitement.

But then, I do like board games, and I don’t think I’d want to sit through a broadcast of people playing one of them either. I’ve watched documentaries ABOUT Monopoly and Scrabble tournaments, but I don’t think just watching such a tournament would hold my interest for very long.

I DO tend to enjoy watching people play video games, and I sometimes get emotionally involved the same way people do with sports. I’m not entirely sure why that is. Maybe it’s because video games tend to have more variety. I might like football more if the terrain changed with each new quarter or something. As to whether athletes are overpaid, I’d say yes in the grand scheme of things. If you look at it another way, though, sports are a huge industry making a lot of people rich, so it’s only fair that the players are included in this. It’s not like we can make the NFL or whoever give the majority of their proceeds to the poor. And really, while individual athletes certainly annoy me at times, I’m much more concerned about business executives making too much money, as they obtain their money by stepping all over the working class.

Posted in Capitalism, Economics, Games, Introspection, Religion, Sports | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

There’s Klingons on the Starboard Bow, Starboard Bow, Jim

Continuing my Star Trek movie rewatch, here are my thoughts on the third and fourth ones. If you missed the first two, you can find them here.

The Search for Spock – I don’t think this one has a particularly good reputation, but I don’t think it’s a bad film so much as rather uneventful, more just an attempt to tie up loose ends from the last movie than anything else. The power of the Genesis Project has brought Spock back to life, but he’s aging rapidly, as is the planet itself. And there really isn’t that much searching for Spock, as David Marcus and Saavik come across him when they’re not even looking. Saavik is the Vulcan who was played by Kirstie Alley in the previous film, but now she’s Robin Curtis instead. I’m not sure her role here is significant enough that they really needed to do a recast, but it’s what they did anyway. It’s heavily implied that she has sex with the growing Spock, who’s going through pon farr.

A group of Klingons wants to learn about Genesis, citing its potential as a weapon. Their leader Commander Kruge is played by Christopher Lloyd, a somewhat odd casting choice to my mind. Another one of them is John Larroquette, which I totally didn’t notice while watching. Also, Kruge has a cool dog-monster-thing, which unfortunately dies during the course of the movie.

Meanwhile, Spock’s mind meld with Dr. McCoy is driving him crazy, so Kirk steals his old ship to return to Genesis and retrieve his comrade’s body. Not that this makes any particular sense, as McCoy had earlier said he wanted to go to Vulcan, and none of the crew yet knows that Spock’s body has regenerated. Or did the mind meld somehow let McCoy know this? There’s a scene in a bar where he tries to charter a flight to Genesis from an alien with big ears who talks like Yoda. While I don’t think he belongs to any established species, I have to wonder if his big ears and profit motive mark him as a sort of proto-Ferengi.

Anyway, Kruge’s men kill David, and Kirk sets the ship to self-destruct with some of the Klingons on board, then fights Kruge himself on Genesis. Kirk and the crew take over the Klingon ship, which they take back to Vulcan to have Spock restored. They still have to face charges for breaking Starfleet regulations, but that has to wait for the next film.

The Voyage Home – There’s a sort of similarity to the first movie here in that something from space is harming the Earth without intending to, and the solution relates to what was the present when the movie was made. It’s much better implemented here, though. A pod is searching for humpback whales, which went extinct in the twenty-first century (possibly during the Trump administration). Kirk and his crew find this out while returning to Earth in the Klingon ship, and Kirk just casually decides to go back in time. I guess it’s old hat by this point, as they’d apparently used the slingshot effect to visit the twentieth century in two episodes of the series. As such, it incorporates an environmental message about the dangers of hunting animals to extinction, as well as some fish-out-of-water humor with the crew trying to get along in San Francisco of 1986.

In addition to finding whales, the visitors from the future also have to construct a tank for them and retrieve some photons from an aircraft carrier. We get such entertaining scenes as Spock attempting to curse and nerve pinching an annoying punk with a boombox, and Chekov repeatedly asking about “nuclear wessels.” Russian doesn’t actually have a W sound, and I don’t think he pronounces his first name “Pawel,” but it’s still funny. It’s also made pretty clear that the Federation no longer uses money in the twenty-third century, even though there were a few mentions of cost or price in the earlier movies. I guess that doesn’t necessarily mean currency as we know it, though. Since the Klingon ship has a cloaking device, they’re at least able to keep it invisible while going on these errands. The whales turn out to be under the care of biologist Gillian Taylor, played by Catherine Hicks. She and Stephen Collins, who was in The Motion Picture, later portrayed a married couple on 7th Heaven, which is kind of a weird Trek connection. She ends up going to the twenty-third century with Kirk and the whales, arguing that she knew about them and could take care of them. I’m not sure how necessary this is when we know Vulcans can mind-meld with whales, but I can totally accept the desire to relocate to a space-faring future.

Although the whales successfully communicate with the probe, I don’t suppose they’ll last much longer as a species with only two individuals. Yes, the female is pregnant, but the offspring wouldn’t have a non-relative to mate with. Does cloning exist in the Trek universe? The crew is cleared of most of the charges against them, but Kirk is demoted back to captain. It’s not really a punishment for him, however, as he gets back command of a ship, the Enterprise-A. So essentially, these two films brought back Spock and restored Kirk to captain of the Enterprise, mostly restoring the status quo.

Posted in Humor, Star Trek, Technology, VoVat Goes to the Movies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love in Reverse

We all know about Cupid, especially at this time of year. His name means “desire,” and his Greek counterpart, Eros, is where we get the word “erotic.” Less familiar is his brother Anteros, intended as a companion for his lonely brother.

Picture by Kitsune64
As his name indicates, he’s sort of the opposite of Eros, which suggests that he represents hatred. Not really, though. The love that Eros stands for and inspires involves a loss of control and is often unrequited. He can be quite hostile, making it not surprising that he was sometimes viewed as the son of Ares. He sometimes makes people fall in love as a form of punishment, as he did with Apollo and Daphne. The Greeks, as you may know, had several different terms for love, four according to Wikipedia and six according to this magazine article. These include philia (brotherly love) and agape (selfless love for everybody, a term that is very popular among Christians). Anteros doesn’t symbolize anti-love so much as counter-love, or love returned. This means he’s a supporter of the mutual instead of the one-sided.

That doesn’t mean he can’t also be capricious at times, but it’s generally on a lover’s behalf. The most famous story about him appears to be that of Timagoras and Meles. The former was a foreigner in Athens who fell in love with the citizen Meles. Meles, not returning his love, sarcastically told Timagoras to jump off a rock. He did, and Meles was wracked with such guilt that he jumped off the rock as well. Anteros is said to have inspired this act on Meles’ part, and resident aliens in Athens dedicated an altar to him in honor of it. I’m not sure whether the moral is to always return love or just to let unrequited lovers down gently. There’s a statue of Anteros in Piccadilly Circus in London, a memorial of the Earl of Shaftesbury’s selfless love for the poor. It’s often mistakenly thought to be Eros himself, but you’ll notice he has butterfly wings instead of bird-like ones, perhaps the main physical difference between the two.

I think Anteros also tends to have longer hair, and sometimes carries a golden club in addition to the bow and arrows. Anteros’ arrows are said to be of lead, although Eros sometimes has lead arrows as well.

Eros and Anteros were both part of a band of winged deities known as the Erotes, who are part of Aphrodite‘s retinue.

Seven others have specific identities: Hedylogos, god of flattery; Hermaphroditos, patron of hermaphrodites and effeminate men; Himeros, who caused unrequited sexual desire; Hymenaios, deity of marriage and weddings; and Pothos, who symbolizes yearning. Himeros and Pothos are both brothers of Eros and Anteros, although Pothos at least is sometimes seen as an aspect of Eros.

There’s apparently no extant literature about Hedylogos, but he’s depicted on pottery.

Hymenaios was generally thought to be the son of Aphrodite and Dionysus, which made him the full brother of Priapus, the god with a permanent erection. He was also sometimes said to be the offspring of Apollo and one of the Muses, or a mortal man in Athens who disguised himself as a woman in order to infiltrate one of the Eleusinian Mysteries. All of the participants were captured by pirates, but managed to overthrow them and return to Athens. He was later killed by a nymph. Anyway, this Valentine’s Day season, remember that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.

Posted in Greek Mythology, Mythology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments