Something Strange in the Neighborhood

The new Ghostbusters movie was the subject of criticism long before it even came out, with some bottom-feeding Internet denizens being distraught over the idea that the new Ghostbusters were of the female persuasion. Some other complaints focused more on the idea that a beloved classic was being remade at all, but I tend to doubt they avoided all remakes. James Rolfe of Angry Video Game Nerd fame did a video about how he refused to watch it, even though he recently did a review of the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, also a revisit of something he enjoyed as a kid. I tend to think remakes are kind of lazy, but that doesn’t mean I never enjoy them. Still, with some of the hatred directed at this film, I was kind of afraid of what would happen if it really WAS bad, but any criticism of it was dismissed as MRA drivel. Fortunately, such was not the case. The four new Ghostbusters, played by Kristen Wiig (as Erin Gilbert), Melissa McCarthy (Abby Yates), Kate McKinnon (Jillian Holtzmann), and Leslie Jones (Patty Tolan), were all funny, likeable, and well-defined; and had good chemistry with each other. In a way, the back story made a little more sense than that in the original film, as it was kind of weird for a prestigious university to employ three paranormal researchers full-time. In the remake, Abby and Holtzmann start out working for a small, disreputable school (which ends up firing them anyway), and Erin is at Columbia but actively trying to downplay her interest in the paranormal. I’m not the only one who was relieved that they steered away from fat jokes; I haven’t seen any of McCarthy’s other movies, but the commercials for them tend to focus entirely on this sort of humor, and I was never sure whether I should be disappointed in her for taking such roles, the movie industry for not offering her anything else, or both. There were food jokes, but that isn’t quite the same. I do have to wonder if the recurring Chinese food gags were inspired by Gary Coleman’s Simpsons appearance. “Three shrimp are hardly a galaxy!” I do have to wonder if anyone found it problematic that both films made the only black Ghostbuster also the only non-scientist of the group. Along with giving women the hero roles, there was a reversal of normal gender-based stereotypes with the secretary Kevin as an attractive male ditz. It’s kind of interesting to me that they kept him absurdly useless throughout the film, as really stupid characters often get at least one chance to make good either through a hidden talent or sheer dumb luck.

In a way, it would be nice if I could evaluate this film totally on its own merits rather than constantly comparing and contrasting it with the 1984 one, but in fairness it pretty much expected viewers to be familiar with the original, much as the recent Star Trek film series has. Then again, there probably aren’t too many people who haven’t seen the original Ghostbusters, and even the ones who haven’t are likely familiar with Slimer and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man due simply to their cultural prevalence.

Most of the main actors from the original film had cameos, even the late Harold Ramis in the form of a bust. I believe there was some talk years ago of the film being a passing-the-torch kind of thing instead of a total remake, but maybe that was deemed impractical without Ramis being in it. I will say that the ghosts looked better twenty years ago, but that could be due more to when I grew up than anything else. Another thing I missed from the original was the sense of mythology. There was a little of it here, but nothing close to the back story about Gozer. Still, it was a lot of fun, and isn’t that the main thing you want from a comedy? Definitely recommended.

Pictures by Becca Whitaker

Posted in Humor, Prejudice, VoVat Goes to the Movies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Listen to Her Play, Has Something to Say

I’ve liked Nellie McKay for several years now, and I think she might actually live fairly locally, but I’d only ever seen her live once, five and a half years ago. I noticed somewhere online that she was doing a show at (Le) Poisson Rouge in Manhattan, and that was last Friday. While this venue has been standing room only for other shows Beth and I have attended, this time it had tables and chairs with open seating. The opener, Geechee Dan, sang along with backing music, sort of a karaoke thing.

Nellie played by herself, and constantly switched back and forth between piano and ukulele.

For just one song, her cover of “Red Rubber Ball,” she played both uke and harmonica. The set included a lot of the covers from My Weekly Reader, as well as a few others that weren’t on the record. She played “Pennies from Heaven” on the piano, and a version of Country Joe and the Fish’s “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag” (the “one, two, three, what are we fighting for?” song) with updated lyrics about current wars. There were quite a few older songs in the set as well, mostly from her first two albums; I know she performed “Ding Dong,” “Toto Dies,” “I Wanna Get Married,” “Suitcase Song,” “Work Song,” “Cupcake,” and “Long and Lazy River” (this last one dedicated to the Democratic National Convention). For “Work Song,” she directed the audience to sing the harmony parts, which include the refrain “joo ming boo haa oo.” According to Nellie, this is Mandarin for “help, there is no exit.” It’s difficult to determine whether there’s any truth to that, especially as the lyrics in the album insert spell it out phonetically rather than in Pinyin, making online translators useless. For what it’s worth, Google Translate gives “Bāngzhù, méiyǒu chūkǒu” as the Romanized translation of this phrase into Chinese. I actually wasn’t in the part of the audience that sang that; my part was just “ah-ah-ah-ah-ah.” Nellie also paraphrased Tom Lehrer’s famous quotation about how Henry Kissinger winning the Nobel Peace Prize killed satire, which was pretty cool. One thing I’ve noted about Nellie, and I know I’m not the only one, is how her performance is able to bring together seemingly contradictory aspects. She’s twee but drops F-bombs, confident at performing while maintaining a cute awkwardness in her delivery, funny even with dealing with rather dark subjects, and old-fashioned in her musical style while working in modern references and influences, The encore consisted of “David,” “Sari,” and “The Dog Song.” I met her after the show, and she was really nice. When I told her my name, she once again sang a bit of the “Nathan Detroit” song from Guys and Dolls, which I told her she did when I met her years ago. When she said she didn’t know any other Nathan songs, I mentioned the Allan Sherman one that I referenced in my review of that show. I had considered commenting on a bit of stage banter about her cat and exfoliation, but I didn’t think of it at the time. I’m sorry for my views; I don’t know how to schmooze. I did get a picture, but since there was no one else to take it for me and I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of selfies, it didn’t come out that well.

Oh, well. As I guess you can tell and might have already known, she’s no longer sporting the blonde hair.

Posted in Concerts, Humor, Music, Nellie McKay | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

To the Victor Goes the Spoiled Music

The Lonely Phonograph of Oz, by Debbie BumsteadVictor Columbia Edison, the phonograph who was accidentally brought to life with the same powder as the Patchwork Girl, only appeared in The Patchwork Girl of Oz for some brief comic relief and musical criticism. Fans have taken to this character, however, with his making appearances in several unofficial Oz books. Perhaps most notably, Carrie Bailey’s Bungle gives him a partner in Dr. Pipt’s animated three-legged stool. He also shows up in Greg Gick’s Bungle and the Magic Lantern and Dennis Anfuso’s Astonishing Tale of the Gump. In this book, a girl named Lacey Moore travels to Oz in her great-grandmother’s chair, which turns out to be magical, with the specific intention of helping Victor. He’s been wandering around Oz for years, annoying various individuals and communities with his music, and then making it sound like they were nasty to him for no reason. It’s mostly episodic, with Victor and Lacey visiting characters whom the phonograph claimed were villains, only to find them actually quite kind. Meanwhile, a couple known as the Choc-chips find an old map that they think places Ozma’s palace on their land, and seek to take control of it. It’s a kind of ridiculous plot device that requires the Choc-chips to be rather clueless. It’s not one of my favorite recent Oz stories, but the characters and locations are fun and creative, and it’s nice to see a happy ending for poor Victor.

The Oz-Wonderland Chronicles: Prelude, by Ben Avery and Casey Herring – I thought I believe I’ve read all of the main series for this comic, as well as some of the spin-offs, but the numbering can be a little confusing. When I saw this one at the Oz Convention, I knew I hadn’t read it before. Published in 2013, it’s a prequel to the main story, featuring a girl named Sarah Helms who has inherited the ability to travel between worlds from her mother. She travels through Oz and Wonderland with a shape-shifting raven companion, later joining forces with the Frogman as well.

Her story overlaps with that of Dorothy and Alice, as Sarah’s mother is in the same hospital as Uncle Henry. As with the rest of the series, the art is quite adept, largely based on John R. Neill and John Tenniel, but with a more modern look and a few nods to the movie versions. Also included in the volume are a prose story about what the Wizard of Oz had been doing after he and the other Americans left the fairyland, and an Oz-Wonderland Kids comic that I don’t believe had been published before. The latter greatly simplifies the crossover idea, having the White Rabbit stumble into Oz and bring Dorothy back to Wonderland, where she and Alice work to prevent a team-up between the Queen of Hearts and the Wicked Witch of the West.

The framing is rather curious, as the Wicked Witch is still alive, suggesting that Dorothy is still on her first visit to Oz.

It’s actually canonical that the Cowardly Lion doesn’t like tea.
It’s a funny story, with gags based on both fantasy worlds.

While intended as a stand-alone, there is a sequel hook. And that’s a pun I didn’t realize I’d made at first, as it ends with a cameo by a certain one-handed pirate. The art matches the light-hearted, comical style.

Sean Carlson, The Songs of L. Frank Baum’s Rinkitink in Oz – I’ve long thought someone should set the songs in the Oz books to music, and thought I might do it myself if I had even the slightest iota of musical knowledge or ability. Well, someone has done it, at least for the songs sung by King Rinkitink. Sean, son of OzCon co-chair Karyl Carlson, composed and played the music, using mostly midi instruments. I generally had a little bit of a tune in my head when I read the songs in the book, and while it was probably a combination of things, the one I had for “The Merry Maiden” and “Dead Red Head Ned” was quite reminiscent of the Lonely Goatherd song from The Sound of Music, although it was a while before I realized this. Carlson’s takes vary a bit in style from complexity, going from fairly straightforward melodies to rather intricate, jazzy ones. “Fizzy Fezzy Fuzzy” has a bit of a doo-wop sound, and “An Avus’ Aria” features midi upright bass and banjo. The appropriately martial “The Army of the King” adds a few amusing lyrics of Carlson’s own, and there are occasional nods to other musicians. Most notably, “Farewell Dear Isle of Pingaree” has a bit of “Over the Rainbow” towards the end.

Posted in Albums, Authors, Book Reviews, Characters, Comics, Dennis Anfuso, Humor, John R. Neill, L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll, Music, Oz, Oz Authors | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pearls of Conventional Wisdom

I attended a bunch of Oz Conventions back in the 1990s, and the Centennial Convention in Indiana in 2000, but haven’t been to any since then. The International Wizard of Oz Club used to do at least three per year, the Munchkin in the east, Winkie in the west, and Ozmapolitan in the center of the country. Most of the others I attended were Munchkin Conventions, the title of which is kind of confusing as people have asked me if it’s a gathering of little people. Due to sparse attendance, they’re generally down to two every year, and the Winkie one is largely run separately from the Club, and is now officially OzCon International (although it’s still informally the Winkie Convention). The other one, the National Convention, moves around the country. Anyway, the western one is still usually in California, but this year it was in Portland, Oregon. That’s not any closer for me, but I felt I might be able to make it work this time. I dragged Beth along with me, and while she’s not into Oz, she did enjoy at least some parts of it. I’ll include her own thoughts at the end of this post. It seems that conventions are a major thing nowadays, but while many of them are huge, crowded affairs, Oz ones tend to remain small and largely informal. That’s not to say there isn’t some serious and/or scholarly discussion, however.

This convention has been honoring the centennial of a particular Oz book each year, and this time it was Rinkitink in Oz, the one that didn’t start out as an Oz book. Speaking of which, I usually pronounce the title of that book with sort of a schwa, like “rink-uh-tink.” Apparently it’s more common to pronounce it like “rinky-dink” but with a T, at least among convention attendees. There are a lot of names in the series like this. Panels based around this book included Eric Shanower discussing the mistakes in John R. Neill’s illustrations, Eric Gjovaag’s take on how the book influenced Baum’s other writing, Sean Carlson performing his interpretations of King Rinkitink’s songs, and a roundtable discussion of various issues in the story. There were also talks on Baum’s boy protagonists, the MGM film and Judy Garland, the odd directions on various maps of Oz, Dick Martin’s The Ozmapolitan of Oz, Peter and Inanna McGraw’s memories of their mother Eloise, and the books written by Gina Wickwar, Paul Dana, and Jared Davis. Inanna, formerly Lauren Lynn, is the last semi-official Royal Historian, but she’s said she does not have anything Oz-related in the works.

I asked about Eloise’s unfinished manuscript featuring the Flittermouse, a chapter of which was published in Oziana. It didn’t get very far, but apparently it was going to feature Ruggedo. I sat at the same table as Peter and Inanna for Saturday dinner, and remarked on how I’d sat with their mother at my very first Oz Convention in…1992, I think. I was also on my first panel, along with Paul, David Maxine, and Scott Cummings, at which we discussed Ozian geography and maps. Beth recorded at least part of it, but I haven’t watched it yet. I don’t mind public speaking, but I get embarrassed watching and listening to myself. Another event was the Ozprah Winkie Show, featuring L. Frank and Maud Baum and some of the actors from the original stage play. Okay, they were actually actors playing other actors.

The phrase “You get a Scalawagon, and you get a Scalawagon!” was not spoken, and Beth pointed out that they also didn’t do anything with Dorothy’s last name being the same as Oprah’s best friend’s first name (although I think she spells it with a Y). I did not wear a costume, even though I have several times in the past. I’m kind of hoping I can get something together for the Philadelphia convention in August, but I’m not counting on it. Fellow convention attendee Susan Higbee recorded the costume contest, which didn’t have that many participants, but the ones who were there were quite impressive. There was a skit of the disenchantment of Prince Bobo, featuring stuffed animals standing in for the mid-level transformations.

Events ran from morning until evening on Friday and Saturday, after which there were after-parties in David Maxine and Eric Shanower’s room. Eric created a cocktail called a Pink Pearl after the charm of protection in Rinkitink.

On Sunday, we took a sternwheeler cruise on the Columbia River. At first it looked like I wouldn’t have been able to go on that due to some miscommunication, but it worked out in the end.

It did mean I had to miss Robin Hess’s panel on the size of Oz, however. We carpooled to the boat with Peter Hanff and his friend Larry.

The only thing I ended up buying in the auction was a copy of The Hungry Tiger of Oz with no color plates or dust jacket or anything. It’s in much better shape than my old Del Rey edition, though, and I think it was cheaper than if I’d bought another paperback. Other purchases were two pins, a copy of Ruth Plumly Thompson’s The Comical Cruises of Captain Cooky, a few old Baum Bugle issues, Robin’s book L. Frank Baum and the Perfect Murder, a T-shirt, Sean Carlson’s CD of Rinkitink songs, the Shadow of Oz Tarot deck, and the prelude to The Oz/Wonderland Chronicles. I think I might have finished this entire series now, but the numbering is confusing. And for winning the master’s level quiz, I received a Wicked Witch keychain and a Dover paperback edition of Patchwork Girl.

I’ve never been much of a book collector; I’ll buy interesting things I can find and afford, but don’t look for first editions or anything. I get the impression that the Club started out focusing heavily on the collecting aspect of fandom, but doesn’t emphasize that quite as much these days. But then, Club membership is also dwindling, and I know some fairly significant fans take issue with the way it’s run. I’m really not privy to the internal politics, but there was some argument as to whether conventions should be held less often, and how they should be promoted. If there are too few attendees, they become way too expensive to run. That said, I would imagine MGM-related events tend to attract more of the general public, and while I certainly don’t mind some parts of the convention focusing on the movie (John Fricke’s stories are always entertaining, for instance), I like that the books tend to be the main theme.

Now, here’s Beth’s take on the convention:

Even though I’ve read the first three Oz books, I am no kind of Oz fan. But Nathan wanted me to come to the convention with him anyway for some reason. As it drew closer, my feeling of dread increased, and I kept asking myself what I’d gotten into. I thought that maybe I’d see Nathan shriek with delight every few minutes, but that never even happened once. :( By the middle of the first day, Friday, I think I started to come around. I enjoyed seeing people recognize Nathan, and everyone was exceedingly friendly to both of us. It’s not that I thought they wouldn’t be friendly. MonsterMania is my frame of reference for every convention. The crowds are bigger, and even though I occasionally recognize someone, I never talk to anybody that I didn’t come there with. People are nice, but there’s no chatting for Nathan or me. Another difference for me is that we go to MonsterMania only on Saturday, and the events don’t start until maybe noon or one, and we leave at ten. So having events begin at 9am and end around 9:30pm (on Friday and Saturday) was a huge difference for me. I even went to bed before Nathan each night, which is really unlike me. Anyway, I’d say the whole thing was a positive experience for me. I like listening to people’s stories, so favorites of mine were John Fricke (especially when he teared up), because I love stories about television/broadcasting; and Peter McGraw because I found a really nice sense of Americana and charm in his stories about growing up. I also liked seeing Nathan ask questions and make comments at panels and participate in a panel. The river cruise on Sunday was also really nice, and I include the company on the ride to and from the ship in that, even if I ended up feeling really self-conscious about my South
Jersey accent. Even though I’m still not an Oz-fan, I left with a great appreciation for the convention. I should have expected as much, since I like when people love things. I like the enthusiasm that comes with fandom. I think I was less of a cynical creep when I left than I was when I arrived. I’m still probably a great big cynical creep, but I readjusted my ways in this one respect. So I think it was worth it.

Posted in Dick Martin, Eloise Jarvis McGraw, Eric Shanower, Gina Wickwar, Jared Davis, John R. Neill, L. Frank Baum, Magic Items, Oz, Oz Authors, Ruth Plumly Thompson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Samodiva Is the Female Version of a Varkolak

In Anne Nesbet’s A Box of Gargoyles, one of the effects of the strange magic affecting Paris is that some ordinary women turn into Samodivi, described as a sort of Bulgarian vampire. What I’ve found online suggests that, while they do have some of the traits of vampires, they’re generally classified as a kind of wood-nymph.

Picture by Alex Petrov
Like many fairies, they can be quite malicious, and aren’t that concerned about killing humans; but they can also be friendly and beneficial at times. Another name for the Samodiva is Samovila, revealing its connection to the beautiful Vila whom Harry Potter recently brought into the public consciousness. (J.K. Rowling spells it “veela,” but it looks like the more accepted English spelling is “vila.” Like the guy who used to host This Old House, although I don’t think he was known for his sex appeal.) The Samodivi appear as tall, thin, very attractive women, often with long, curly, blonde hair. This hair has magical properties, as do their clothes.

They’re said to wear loose gowns covered in feathers, and sometimes also have wings. When angry, they can turn into birds that fling fire. Like birds, they migrate for the winter, spending the time from fall through spring in Zmeykovo, the mythical Dragon Village at the edge of the world. Their eyes are usually either blue or green, and can be used to curse people. All men (and perhaps some women) fall in love with them immediately, and the Samodivi then drain their energy.

They also dance from midnight until dawn, and any human who sees this dance is forced to join in, which will often result in their death.

Samodivi are known to ride on deer, and use snakes as bowstrings.

Picture by Hordana

As with several other types of fairies, many of them able to transform into animals, a Samodiva will be totally under a human’s control if they steal the nymph’s clothing while she’s bathing.

Picture by Alexander Nanitchkov
Not surprisingly, even though she’ll be docile and subservient on the surface, she’ll constantly be looking for her clothes so she can escape. I can’t blame her, as she was forced into what’s essentially the fairy equivalent of a shotgun wedding. There have, however, been instances of successful human and Samodiva marriages, probably when the guy asks nicely instead of using blackmail. Their offspring then tend to have supernatural abilities. There are legends that the late fourteenth-century Serbian monarch Marko Mrnjavčević was raised by a Samodiva, and gained magical power from her milk. The nymphs also have knowledge of herbal healing, but will only occasionally share this information with humans, who are often stuck with eavesdropping on Samodiva gatherings in order to learn about life-saving cures.

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Taking Is Too Easy, But That’s the Way It Is

case/lang/veirs – This supergroup, inspired by the Traveling Wilburys, consists of Neko Case, k.d. lang, and Laura Veirs. I’m a fan of Neko’s, and she’s popular enough now that you’re probably aware of her powerful, distinctive voice. I’ve obviously heard of k.d. lang, although I don’t know much of her music. The unknown of this collaboration, Veirs, is a folk musician from Oregon who’s written a lot of songs. While she apparently took the brunt of the writing duties on the album, all three of them were involved; there aren’t any covers.

The harmonization between the three voices works really well. None of the songs have really stuck with me all that much so far, but “Honey and Smoke” might be my favorite. They’re mostly pretty quiet numbers with some folk and country influence. The opening of “Best Kept Secret” reminds me of that of the Young Fresh Fellows’ “Deep Down and In Between,” but even though Neko knows the Fellows, I don’t think it’s close enough to necessarily be intentional. Besides, the moods of those two songs are pretty much completely opposite. Interestingly, most of the negative Amazon reviews are from lang fans who think the other two are bringing her down. They’re entitled to their opinion, but dissing Neko is Not Cool. Beth and I have tickets to see the three perform together later this month.

In other musical news, today is the the twentieth anniversary of the release of the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe,” the song that introduced the phrase “zig-a-zig-ah” to the world. Remember, that isn’t want Mel B. actually wants to do, just what she wants to WANT TO do. And slamming your body down and winding it all around sounds rather painful. The video shows the quintet running around a hotel without bras on, kissing and dancing with what I think are nineteenth-century upper-crust English stereotypes.
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The group name is kind of odd considering spices are one thing Britain is very much NOT known for. Maybe they’re shills for the British East India Company. When the Girls were current, I largely ignored them. I’ve come to accept that they’re fun and cute, even if their lyrics aren’t all that thought-provoking. Hey, back then was when I was first getting into They Might Be Giants, who are also catchy but have an avant-garde style to their lyrics. Beth and I went to see the Spice Girls on their reunion tour some years back. I understand they’re planning another one, but Victoria and Mel C. don’t want to be involved. Come on, girls, don’t you want to make it last forever? Friendship never ends!

Posted in Albums, Music, Neko Case | 2 Comments

Hair Club for Warriors

I recently heard about both Bayonetta and Shantae being video game characters who fight with their hair. I don’t know much about these games, but from some brief research I found that Bayonetta doesn’t directly use it as a weapon (she wields swords and guns instead), but is a witch who draws her power from it.

It starts to wilt when she’s using a lot of energy. She can also use it to summon demons.

What’s more, her skin-tight outfit is made of her hair, but is apparently a lot more comfortable than the hair shirts ascetics used to wear to torture themselves. Shantae is a half-genie largely modeled on the titular character from I Dream of Jeannie, complete with scanty clothing. It’s strange how stereotypical Middle Eastern women are generally either totally covered or almost entirely uncovered. Shantae is a genuine belly dancer, being able to use dances to transform into animals.

Her main weapon, however, is her hair, which she uses as a whip.

The series, which started with a flop on the Game Boy Color (released AFTER the Game Boy Advance had been out for a while) and was later revived with two cross-system games and another one in the works, seems like the kind of thing I’d like in that the setting and plot have a fairy-tale feel. I’m pretty bad at platformers, though, which isn’t to say I don’t like them.

Actually, the first time I heard of a game in which the hero uses hair as a weapon, it wasn’t a sexy woman doing so, but a dude. Back when I had a subscription to Nintendo Power, they were hyping up a game called Kabuki Quantum Fighter, which had a rather innovative story, but apparently actually plays as a fairly dull side-scroller. The plot has it that aliens have launched a computer virus to take over a supercomputer that controls the country’s nuclear arsenal. Now, I don’t know how nuclear weapons are controlled in real life, but I tend to doubt there’s one computer that can give a hacker access to all of them. A colonel volunteers to be digitized and go inside the computer to fight the bad guys. Basically, it’s the plots of 1980s movies about computers sewn together, except with the weird Japanese twist that, when Colonel Scott O’Connor goes inside the computer world, he turns into a Kabuki dancer. Apparently one of his ancestors worked in the Kabuki theater, so that affects him somehow. I’m not sure that takes precedent over what any of his other ancestors did. Could the computer have decided that, if he had a great-grandfather who was a shoemaker, he would have to fight monsters with a shoe hammer, pliers, and an awl? Well, instead, he fights with his hair, I guess just because some male kabuki actors wore long wigs.

For a significant part of history, the theater was an all-male endeavor, so that meant men playing female parts.

I haven’t seen any indication that using hair as a weapon was part of kabuki theater.

The story was actually changed from the original Japanese release, in which the protagonist isn’t a military officer but a fifteen-year-old descendant of a samurai character from a movie. The page where I got that information says that there’s a scene in the movie where the samurai wears a kabuki outfit and whips his hair around, presumably the inspiration for the attack, even though the film character didn’t fight anyone with it. Based on the gameplay footage I found on YouTube, the digital world is quite industrial-looking.

What I’ve read about other stages indicates that there are also some old castles, and the setting is quite reminiscent of Ninja Gaiden.

This TV Tropes page lists these games among other media in which characters have powerful hair that they can control. The Marvel Comics character Medusa, Queen of the Inhumans, doesn’t have snakey hair like her namesake, but rather incredibly strong hair that she can manipulate like appendages.

She can use it as a weapon or a bunch of ropes, or to lift objects.

Much older than this comic book character is the Japanese demoness known as the Futakuchi-Onna, or “two-mouthed woman,” who fittingly has one mouth in the front of her head and one in the back, hidden by hair.

A common story involving this creature has a miser marry a woman he assumes eats very little, but it turns out her hidden second mouth is ravenous, possibly with a mind of its own. In order to feed this mouth, the surrounding hair functions like hands.

The Futakuchi is sometimes a shape-shifting monster that takes the form of a woman, and at other times an actual human woman cursed for not feeding a child enough. The TVT page also mentions the White-Haired Witch Lian Nichang from the Chinese martial arts novel Baifa Monü Zhuan, who as far as I know isn’t able to use her hair to fight. It just turns white when she’s spurned by her lover (not that that isn’t pretty magical in and of itself). There have been numerous films adapted from or inspired by the book, however, and I understand some of them DO show the character using her hair as a whip.

I don’t know of any indication that Rapunzel from the fairy tale is able to move her hair by itself, but it can be used as a ladder, which means it must be really strong.

Disney’s version of the character in Tangled adapts it to many other purposes as well.

In fact, it put me in mind of the character Baron Belfaygor of Bourne from Ruth Plumly Thompson’s Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz, whose Chief Mesmerizer accidentally gives him a beard that won’t stop growing. The protagonists in the book use it to help in several situations, including crossing a chasm, helping others into a tower, and retrieving a magic flagon from a fountain of fire.

Again, Belfaygor has no control over the beard, but can use its magic to his advantage.

Posted in Cartoons, Characters, Comics, Fairy Tales, Japanese, Magic, Monsters, Mythology, Oz, Oz Authors, Ruth Plumly Thompson, Video Games | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment