Revising Rinkitink

Last year, there was a contest to write a new ending to Rinkitink in Oz, the goal being to come up with what L. Frank Baum might have written before revising the King Rinkitink manuscript as an Oz book. There’s some question as to whether he ever even finished the book prior to that, but it did spawn some clever ideas. I had kind of wanted to enter, but really couldn’t think of a possible ending. I guess I could have made it silly, as some contestants did, but Rinkitink was on the more serious side as far as Baum fantasies went. The 2016 Oziana collects all of the entries, including the winning one by Andrew Heller. His ending makes use of the How to Be Good scroll, and provides an origin for Bilbil that doesn’t require him to have been enchanted. I understand Joe Bongiorno has written, or is in the process of writing, a coda that restores him to human form, which isn’t impossible given Heller’s ending. Other endings vary between keeping Bilbil as a goat and revealing that he’s under enchantment. In the stories that use the latter, there are several different identities for the magician responsible. Interestingly, Robin Hess’s ending gives a different culprit than in his Toto and the Cats of Oz. A few different writers picked up on the idea that the King Rinkitink manuscript appears to date to before Ozma of Oz, and that the ornament guessing game might have originally been used there. Some stick to locations from the original book, while others move on to new locations and characters. Both Aaron and Baruch Adelman use the frame story of a new character trying to find out the truth of what happened, and Baruch’s parodies everything from James Bond to Harry Potter in giving different takes on the events.

While I haven’t written an alternate ending, I did come up with a follow-up some years ago detailing Prince Bobo’s return to Boboland. I’ve since revised it to go along with some of Randy Hoffman’s and David Hulan’s ideas about the place. Joe has said it would work well following Heller’s ending and his coda, and I don’t think I’d have to change it much if that’s what I end up doing. I still kind of think it’s best to stick with the ending that most readers know, however. I tend to include a lot of references to other fan-written Oz stories, but still try to keep them accessible to those who aren’t as well-versed in the apocrypha. I also have to wonder whether I should take the names of previously unnamed characters from the revised Rinkitink endings as official in my own mind. Dennis Anfuso calls Nikobob’s wife Daisa, and the man who wrote How to Be Good is called Professor Earnest Blabbergass by Heller and Tooshoos by Nicholas M. Campbell.

Also, in terms of following up on existing Oz books, I came up with my own take on what happened to the three other search parties in Lost Princess. I’d appreciate any thoughts you might have on it.

Posted in Book Reviews, Characters, Dennis Anfuso, Humor, L. Frank Baum, Names, Oz, Oz Authors | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Come on-a My Harryhausen

I just recently watched Clash of the Titans and Jason and the Argonauts, two movies released eighteen years apart, but that I see as a natural pairing. They’re both based on Greek mythology, and both have stop-motion special effects created by Ray Harryhausen. In fact, I think Clash was the last film he worked on.

I think I had seen most of Clash as a kid, and I remember being a little bothered by how loosely it played with Greek mythology. Don’t get me wrong; even back then I was well aware that there was no one official version of the myths, and details were totally different depending on the source material. Still, both Medusa and the Kraken are referred to as Titans, when the former is a Gorgon and the latter a monster from Scandinavian folklore (although I don’t think I knew that at the time). Despite the non-Greek name, the Kraken does play the same role as a monster from the Greek myths, Cetus, who was sent by Poseidon to destroy Joppa. His appearance in the movie isn’t much like either the traditional Kraken or depictions of Cetus that I’ve seen.

Another character, Thetis’ son Calibos, has no counterpart in mythology at all. Named after the half-human Caliban from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Calibos was originally supposed to marry Andromeda, but he committed several atrocities including killing all of Zeus‘s winged horses except for Pegasus. As punishment, Zeus turned him into a monster, sort of a satyr but with a long, thick tail.

With some help from the gods, Perseus manages to kill both Calibos and Medusa, and uses the Gorgon’s head to turn the Kraken to stone. For the most part Perseus is portrayed as a noble character, with the major exception being when he uses his invisibility helmet to sneak into Andromeda’s bedroom and watch her sleeping. Yes, this lets him see Calibos’ vulture capturing her, but still, nice job being a creep, hero!

In addition to the creatures I’ve already mentioned, Perseus also does battle with witches, scorpions, and a two-headed dog.

Another notable character is the mechanical owl Bubo, created by Hephaestus to aid Perseus in place of Athena‘s own pet.

Bubo sounds a lot like R2-D2, which was likely intentional, although Harryhausen claimed otherwise. Laurence Olivier appears as Zeus, Maggie Smith as Thetis, and Burgess Meredith as the blind poet Ammon.

Jason mostly follows the myth of the Argonauts, but again with some changes made to better show off the effects. Instead of having a dove fly through the Clashing Rocks, a giant Triton holds them apart so the ship can pass through.

The figurehead of the Argo sometimes speaks with the voice of Hera, moving its eyes in a way that reminds me of those old dolls with the weights in their heads.

Talos appears earlier in the story as an enormous bronze statue, although the bit about having to release the ichor out of his foot remains the same.

And the dragon guarding the Golden Fleece is replaced by the many-headed Hydra, which Jason fights directly by stabbing it through the heart instead of having Orpheus put it to sleep.

In fact, Orpheus isn’t even in the movie, nor are the Boreads. Hylas does appear, but he’s crushed by Talos instead of being captured by a nymph.

John William Waterhouse had a real knack for painting attractive mythical women.
When I first heard Hylas’ name, I confused him with Iolaus, Hercules‘ nephew who accompanied him on several of his adventures. One of the most notable scenes is that of the skeletal warriors, which took four months to create.

Having become accustomed to more modern effects, these stop-motion creatures come across as kind of campy nowadays, but no less impressive for that. I found it interesting that the Golden Fleece had healing powers as it does in Rick Riordan’s The Sea of Monsters, but apparently that idea has been around for a while despite not appearing in the earliest known versions of the myth. Also, Hera’s hairstyle from this film needs to make a comeback.

One thing I probably wouldn’t have thought of if I’d watched these movies when I was younger was that pretty much everybody was white, which is to be expected of a product of its time. Still, Colchis was in modern-day Georgia (the Asian one) and Joppa near Tel Aviv, although its rulers were said in the myth to be Ethiopian. I understand the actress who played Andromeda in the 2008 remake was of Jewish ancestry, at least. I don’t have any particular desire to watch that version, but I might end up doing so someday.

Posted in Authors, Greek Mythology, Monsters, Mythology, Percy Jackson, Rick Riordan, VoVat Goes to the Movies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

OzCon in a Nutshell, or Perhaps a Peach Pit

I’m back from OzCon International 2017 (sometimes still called the Winkie Convention) in Portland, Oregon. The main theme was The Lost Princess of Oz, and the location because Ozma was Ore-gone. No, I’m actually not sure why that location was chosen, but it’s the same as it was last year. Next year’s convention will be held in Pomona, California. But anyway, I flew in on Thursday, checked into my room, and helped to stuff the gift bags for attendees. Beth had gone with me last year, but wasn’t able to this time. The bags included a program with some essays, a little bendy frog, a tiny pink bear, and some gummy bears.

The official start of the convention was on Friday morning, and I had trouble sleeping despite having been on the plane for so many hours. It was kind of like Christmas as a kid, honestly, and it’s not a feeling I have very often. Normally being able to sleep for long periods of time IS the exciting part. The first panel I attended was about the Emerald City television show, which I never watched, but that was the only one at the time. Much of the time there were two tracks of programming running at the same time, which I generally prefer, but it does occasionally mean missing something interesting. Jared Davis then gave a talk on Ted Eshbaugh, who made the first animated short based on Oz.

We watched that and a few of his other cartoons, at least once they got the audiovisual equipment working. It would have been nice if we’d had access to the Lavender Bear’s magic wand, but I guess that didn’t have sound capability.

Convention chairman Lee Speth led a talk on Ozma that brought up some points I hadn’t considered before, including how the Nome King’s ornament rooms were likely inspired by ancient Egyptian tombs. I bought Robin Hess’s newest Oz book, The Spelling Bee of Oz; and then attended an Oz version of the BBC radio game show Just a Minute hosted by Eric Gjovaag.

Paul Dana had recommended I participate in it, but I ended up not doing so because I really didn’t have any idea what I’d be in for. You’re supposed to speak on a topic for a minute without hesitation, repetition, or deviation. I tend to hesitate a lot even when at my most confident. That evening, the program consisted of Peter Hanff giving an overview of Lost Princess, Colin Ayres discussing various Oz cartoons, and Doug Aberle’s reminiscence on animating the Nomes in Return to Oz.

I’d seen several of the cartoons before, but not all of them. Aberle’s panel largely consisted of a video he made about his experiences, and I grew up in the era when Claymation was at its height, so that was fascinating. He mentioned having worked on A Claymation Christmas, another Will Vinton production. I’d seen Return before reading any of the Oz books, and I was a bit surprised by how different L. Frank Baum and John R. Neill’s Nomes were from the Claymation ones.

Ozma of Oz does suggest that Nomes look like part of the rock and can phase through it, but later books with Nomes tended to veer away from that and instead just make them rock-colored humanoids. Sherwood Smith did do a bit of a nod to the moving through rock by making it a special power of Rikiki’s that took some effort on his part. The after party featured a drink called Ozma’s Enchantment that included peach and rum.

Saturday’s program started with the quizzes, and there were four of them: one based only on Lost Princess, one on the fourteen Baum books, one on the MGM movie (new this year), and one on all forty books in the main series. I wrote the last one, but don’t recall being told that I needed to provide a prize, so I guess I still owe Susan Hall something for winning. I’ve been informed my quizzes tend to be hard, and I did include a few obscure questions, but for the most part I can’t tell because I don’t know what other people remember. I have a mind for details from books and such, but sometimes someone else will bring up a detail I didn’t recall. Eric Shanower gave a talk on Nomes that I think was pretty much the same one he gave some years ago in Delaware.

The International Wizard of Oz Club auction went on for most of the day, and I did manage to obtain some fairly cheap copies of Ruth Plumly Thompson Oz books.

Not great-quality copies, but still hardback, and some with the color plates.

David Maxine talked about the publication of Eloise Jarvis McGraw’s last Oz book, Rundelstone, and her daughter Inanna was on hand to sign copies of the books she co-wrote with her mother. I had Merry Go Round signed, but I wish I could get another copy of Forbidden Fountain, as mine is in poor shape. The Club actually reissued it in standard size a few years ago, but didn’t print that many copies. I also picked up the version of The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus illustrated by Eric Shanower, and while I have some things to say about his illustrations, I might wait until it’s more seasonally appropriate. The costume contest had some excellent entries, including a group reenactment of Lost Princess to follow up on the one of Bilbil’s disenchantment in Rinkitink from last year.

Other costumes included Jinjur, Polychrome, another Frogman, a Lollipop Guild member (the only child entry, and he nailed the song), and Mrs. Sew-and-Sew from the Munchkin Sewing Guild.

This last was an original character; the name was used in Grampa for the Queen of Ragbad (well, I guess it was technically a nickname, but we never learn her given one), but the cosplayer hadn’t yet read that book.

The banquet followed, and then an evening program that was largely taken up by a recreation of the Jell-O Oz radio show from the 1930s.

The episodes we heard were from the adaptation of Dorothy and the Wizard that brought the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion along on the journey. The play’s version of Jim the Cab-Horse had a habit of mispronouncing words, allegedly because he wasn’t used to talking. It was very entertaining, and most of the actors switched back and forth between characters. The guy who played Jim was also the Braided Man, revealing hair braided with colorful ribbons that he’d previously kept under his cap.

The Tin Woodman and Lion had voices partially inspired by their MGM portrayals, and of course the movie hadn’t come out when these plays were performed on the radio, but it still worked. Actually, the Tin Man voice came across as reminiscent of Scott Thompson from the Kids in the Hall. I find it kind of interesting that Jell-O sponsored this show when Ruth Plumly Thompson wrote a fantasy poem for Royal Gelatin. John Fricke informed us that, after the Oz program was canceled, Jell-O switched their sponsorship to Jack Benny.

Sunday was pretty low-key, with a lot of people going on the Columbia River cruise. I had gone last year, but didn’t this time. There was an interesting discussion on Baum’s last four Oz books and how they differed from the others.

I didn’t read the books in order, but I was mostly aware of the order, and I can tell you that on my first readings I found most of these not as much pure fun as the earlier ones, but very clever and inventive. I noted that the amount of verses, puns, and rapid-fire jokes decreased considerably, likely because Baum was no longer writing with an eye for the stage, but perhaps also signs of a somewhat darker outlook on his part. After the convention ended, I had a lot of time to kill, and took the Max into town to go to Powell’s City of Books. There’s so much stuff there that it’s overwhelming, but I did pick up a new Del Rey Lost King, a copy of a book that included L. Sprague de Camp’s Harold Shea/Oz crossover, and Robert Rankin’s The Da-da-de-da-da Code (no relation to Oz with that one, at least as far as I know).

Then I ate at the pizza place across the street, Sizzle Pie, which Jared had recommended. Now I’m back home after an overnight flight, and my schedule is all messed up. As far as future Oz content, I’ll probably be finished Spelling Bee and the 2016 Oziana pretty soon, so expect reviews of those. There were a few other topics discussed at the convention which might also serve as jumping-off points, but I’ve probably already written about most of them. I was rather pleasantly surprised that some people actually wanted to talk about Oz outside the panels, although that certainly wasn’t the only thing that came up.

Posted in Cartoons, Characters, Eloise Jarvis McGraw, Eric Shanower, Humor, Jared Davis, John R. Neill, L. Frank Baum, Magic Items, Oz, Oz Authors, Plays, Ruth Plumly Thompson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Finding the Lost Princess Again

The theme of the upcoming OzCon International is The Lost Princess of Oz, so I thought it might be a good idea to reread it. It’s actually been a while since I’ve done a reread of one of the original Oz books; I’ve read them all so many times in the past that I find it generally unnecessary. And I did remember the majority of the story here, although there were a few interesting bits I hadn’t thought about recently. I also reread the comments from when it was the Book of Current Focus. I didn’t leave any comments that time, and I can’t remember why not. It touches upon many of the elements I did and didn’t like about the book. Overall, I’d say it’s a pretty successful installment, very inventive and fun, with a more serious problem to solve than in some other titles. J.L. Bell discussed how, while it has elements of detective stories, it really doesn’t work as a mystery. It is possible to discern from the Little Pink Bear’s clues what happened to Ozma, or at least have more idea about it than the characters do; but otherwise they mostly just stumble upon everything.

That’s common for L. Frank Baum, and while it doesn’t make for strong plotting, it usually doesn’t bother me that much. I did find it kind of bizarre that Dorothy’s search party, which is ultimately the successful one, has so many more members than any of the others. We are told that it was originally supposed to have just six before others decide to tag along, but that’s still more than any of the other parties. Speaking of which, has anyone written about what happened to the three other parties? We know they were unsuccessful in finding Ozma, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t have had other adventures.

I’ve been brainstorming some ideas, but a lot of my ideas never make it into story form.

From earlier author’s notes, it seems that Baum’s original idea with Lost Princess was to focus on the adventures of Dorothy, Betsy Bobbin, and Trot; but he ended up not giving the latter two much to do, even though they were there throughout. It suffers a bit from too many characters, although I had forgotten some clever lines from the Cowardly Lion, who doesn’t feature a whole lot in the plot but still comes off well. This is the book where Toto is at his most talkative, after not speaking at all until the end of Tik-Tok, and it seems like readers preferred when he didn’t say anything.

The lost growl provides a reason for why the dog is so vocal, but he complains about it WAY too much when everyone else is worried about Ozma. It’s sort of a loose end, too; we never find out whether Toto’s loss was only in his head or Ugu actually DID steal it, the latter presumably being possible in a fairyland, and perhaps an ingredient in some form of magic. And like some others, I was struck by how rude Dorothy and her friends are about the Little Pink Bear. I guess Button-Bright, Scraps, and even Dorothy have been established as making careless remarks to others at times; but it still kind of seems like Baum was so intent on misleading his readers as to make their objections kind of ridiculous considering what else they’ve seen. In response to the Lavender Bear’s suggestion that Button-Bright could be Ozma, Dorothy replies, “Ozma is a girl, and Button-Bright is a boy.” How does she forget a significant portion of her best friend’s life so quickly? But then, when the Wizard jumps to the conclusion that Ugu is probably the magician who kidnapped Ozma, he turns out to be right. And I’ve written before about the contradictions involving the Magic Belt.

It’s interesting that Scraps, who frequently burst out into verse in Patchwork Girl, doesn’t do so at all here. Indeed, Baum indulges in rhymes much less frequently in his later books. King Rinkitink sings a lot of songs in his book, but most of them had probably already been written before it was adapted into an Oz story. Scraps does write a poem for Ozma’s birthday in Magic, but that’s all I can remember. Ruth Plumly Thompson has Scraps make up rhymes pretty much every time she appears, and even Jack Snow gives her a verse in Magical Mimics.

As for the new characters, I liked the Frogman, who’s sort of a mix between the Wogglebug (pompous, well-dressed, and overly proud of his own knowledge) and the Wizard as he originally appeared (deceiving others in order to remain powerful and respected), but with enough of his own personality to keep him interesting. I appreciate that he still maintains his general manner even after being forced to always tell the truth. I did always find it weird that one of the first things he says is that he isn’t even as wise as Cayke; while he obviously exaggerates his wisdom (and gets worse when the Winkies don’t immediately respect him), he’s still fairly smart, and I don’t recall Cayke ever saying anything particularly wise.

Eric Shanower’s story “The Final Fate of the Frogman” has him taking his devotion to truth to extremes in an ultimately tragic way, but despite the downer ending, I don’t think it’s totally impossible that someone managed to save him from his sorry state. The Lavender Bear, while a bit underused, has the interesting trait of trying to remain dignified despite being a stuffed toy with a squeaker inside him. He’s also sympathetic in that his companions tend to ignore him except when they want to use the Little Pink Bear, then insist that the Pink Bear is wrong.

We get a peek inside Ugu‘s head when we learned how he accomplished his crime, but once the searchers reach his castle he mostly just taunts them.

I do like the various traps he sets up and how the Wizard and company manage to overcome them. I do wonder where that peacock came from, and what happened to him after Ugu was defeated.

Posted in Book Reviews, Characters, Eric Shanower, Jack Snow, L. Frank Baum, Magic, Magic Items, Oz, Oz Authors, Poetry, Ruth Plumly Thompson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Warrior Women at Work

The Dark Prophecy, by Rick Riordan – The follow-up to The Hidden Oracle continues the adventures of Apollo in a mortal body, with only occasional access to his godly powers when he least expects them. The previous volume established the conspiracy of resurrected Roman Emperors, and this time it’s Commodus who’s the most significant villain. Ruling towards the end of the second century, Commodus was said to have been very handsome, and considered himself the reincarnation of Hercules. In this story, he has a base in Indianapolis, which he plans to rename after himself, and a lot of folksy and not-too-bright blemmyae under his command. Apollo turns out to have been a former lover of his, and also responsible for his assassination. And yes, there are quite a few “commode” jokes about him. (As far as I know, there isn’t really a direct connection between the Emperor and the toilet. His name means “convenient,” and that came to be used as a French term for a chest of drawers, then later encompassed other furniture as well.) In order to stop the Emperor, Apollo teams up with characters both familiar and new, starting with Leo Valdez and Calypso, whose relationship is explored in more detail. They come across Hemithea, a former Hunter of Artemis whom Apollo had made immortal, but who retired and gave up eternal life to settle down with her wife Josephine. The god turned human is forced to rescue some griffins from the zoo (in case you’re wondering, their favorite food seems to be gold-painted Tater Tots) and confront his son Trophonius in addition to battling Commodus with help from the Hunters. Perhaps even worse to his mind, he has to scrub toilets and chop carrots. We see the deity develop as a character, which is saying something considering that he’s thousands of years old. Each chapter is introduced with a haiku, and as usual it’s quite humorous while still exploring some dark themes.

Wonder Woman: A Celebration of 75 Years – I guess I’m jumping on the bandwagon by checking out the comics after seeing the movie, but I had actually read a collection of early Wonder Woman stories before. I’d read the seventy-fifth anniversary collection of Superman stories and enjoyed that, but unfortunately this book seemed more haphazard. That isn’t to say there weren’t good comics in it, just that it isn’t really a good overview. Even with the short essays on the character’s history, it’s difficult to keep up with all the changes between stories. Too many of them are part of arcs and don’t do so well on their own. Maybe there just weren’t that many good stand-alone Wonder Woman stories, but somehow I doubt that. And while most comic characters are retconned from time to time, they went in some really weird directions with Diana. In the late sixties, DC decided it would be a good idea to take away her Amazon powers completely, and instead have her learn martial arts from a stereotypical Chinese guy. There were also a few largely similar but somewhat incongruous origin stories for her, and while obviously the first one had to be included, I’m not sure the others were necessary.

Posted in Authors, Book Reviews, Comics, Etymology, Greek Mythology, Humor, Language, Mythology, Poetry, Rick Riordan, Roman, Trials of Apollo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sitting in the Corneria

Video games nowadays tend to flesh out their characters and worlds a lot more than they did back in my youth. Still, there was some definite appeal to trying to piece together what little background the early games did give us. With the original Final Fantasy, for instance, we’re given brief glimpses of the world’s history through the game itself, and the Nintendo Power Strategy Guide added some more.

We learn that the Lufaine (called the Lefienish in the English translation at that point) had an advanced civilization, complete with airships and a floating sky castle, until the Fiend of the Wind destroyed it 400 years previously. The town of Lufenia survived, but never regained its previous technological level. Five Sky Warriors left in the last remaining airship to try to track down the Fiend’s master, leaving the ship in the Ryukahn Desert and somehow making it to the Chaos Shrine, where they were transformed into bats. 200 years later, the Fiend of Water sank the Sea Shrine of Onrac, home to the mermaids. The Earth Fiend was beginning to flex his muscles (despite the fact that he was a skeleton) around the beginning of the game, and while the Fire Fiend isn’t due to wake up for another 200 years, she awakens early after the Earth Fiend is killed during the game. Garland, a good knight of Cornelia, is corrupted and joins with the Fiends to create a 2000-year time loop, hence making himself eternal. It’s a confusing story, and I guess it means the Fiends existed for at least 1600 years before the first one started wreaking havoc. Or maybe they had done something before that, but were temporarily defeated. You control the four Light Warriors, who have no lines, no hints of personality, and no origin story.

They just show up in Cornelia with some magical orbs.
A long journey from WHERE? And how?
Since I’ve read 8-Bit Theater, a jokey retelling of the game’s story, I often tend to think of its versions of the characters.

Their names were simply their classes, and they each had character traits and back stories. Most were either self-centered jerks or totally oblivious, if not both. The origin most relevant to the plot was that of Thief, who turns out to be the son of the cursed King of the Elves, presumably because his in-game sprite looks kind of elvish.

Story wasn’t quite as important to games back then, largely because of a lack of ability to hold that much information, and possibly also so the player use their own imaginations to fill in the gaps. In the first Dragon Warrior, you know your hero is a descendant of the great hero Erdrick, whose tale would later be told in DW3, but not where he comes from.

This lets you discover the game world with him, but it raises the question of how he got there. I believe every other main game in the Dragon Quest series at least indicates where your character lives or lived. It’s particularly confusing as we’re told at the end of DW3 that Erdrick leaves the country and nobody knows what happened to him (or her; you can play a female hero in the game, but that doesn’t stop everybody in 1 and 2 from referring to Erdrick as male). There’s a manga, Emblem of Roto, that takes place in between the two games, and most but not all of it has been translated into English. According to this, two of the descendants of Erdrick/Roto/Loto somehow returned to the upper world from which the hero originated and founded their own kingdoms on the sites of the former castles of Baramos and the Dragon Queen. As far as I know, there’s no translation of the succeeding series, one of which has the characters visiting Alefgard (yes, I spelled it wrong in that old post) and finding the Sword of Roto, and possibly linking more closely to the first game. A few sources, including this Wikipedia page, refer to the character Asteea as the descendant of Roto’s third child Flora, who was thought to be stillborn but actually hidden away. Does this mean the hero had exactly three children, or were there possibly more after Flora? There’s another possible hint of the character’s fate in FF1, where a grave in Elfland says, “Here lies Erdrick, 837-866, R.I.P.”

This is only in the English NES and PlayStation versions, however; otherwise it’s Link’s grave, although we don’t know which Link.

And to complicate things further, Loto’s grave can be found in Saria Town in the Japanese version of The Adventure of Link.

Maybe this is a different Loto, or there’s some argument over where he’s buried. Dragon Quest III starts on Erdrick/Loto’s sixteenth birthday, and he’s apparently twenty-eight or twenty-nine when he dies. I’m not sure what to make of the dates, which I understand were added in by the translator. If those are years for the FF1 world, maybe it means Erdrick died 866 years after the beginning of the time loop, although that’s just a guess.

I haven’t played any of the Dissidia Final Fantasy games, and from their look I probably wouldn’t be good at them. Still, they’re interesting to me, as they expand upon the world of FF1. We’re told that Cid of the Lufaine, the one who originally built the airships, was also the creator of Chaos. At least one hero from each of the then-existing FF main series titles showed up in the game, with the representative from FF1 being the Warrior of Light, sort of a combination of the Light Warriors who doesn’t know where he comes from and has a quite stoic and single-minded personality.

He’s eventually revealed to be a creation of Cid implanted with the scientist’s own memories. His story ends with his walking toward Castle Cornelia in a scene reminiscent of the beginning of FF1.

I forget where I saw it, but I think it’s been suggested that he’s either one of the original Light Warriors or he somehow divided into them.

Back when I first started using the Internet, when Final Fantasy VII was still in the works and there had only been three previous games released in North America, there were theories about the FF games all taking place on the same world. Final Fantasy Tactics lent some credence to these by including places from all of them.

Later, however, it was confirmed that they’re all separate worlds, although the Tactics games and FFXII do take place on the same one. There are some hints of connections between them, but that could be because the Interdimensional Rift allows some travel between them. That would, for instance, presumably be how Kain Highwind in FFIV could be the son of Ricard Highwind from FFII.

The DQ series turned out much the same way; while the first three games were directly connected, the next three were only somewhat so, and beyond that I don’t think there are any recurring locations. Still, the worlds in the different games are similar enough that there are presumably ways to get from one to the others. Indeed, in more recent installments and remakes, characters from other games frequently make cameo appearances. There’s also an almost certainly unintentional connection between FF1 and a totally unrelated game series, Star Fox. The first kingdom visited in FF1 is called Coneria in the original translation, and Cornelia in later ones.

And in the SF games, the homeworld of many of the main characters is the planet Corneria in the Lylat System.

This had led to some confusion among fans. In 8-Bit Theater, the FF location is called Corneria, explained as being named after its main export, corn.

What I’m wondering is whether there’s any reason why the SF Corneria, described as an Earth-like temperate planet, couldn’t be the same as the FF1 world.

Yes, it’s inhabited by anthropomorphic animals, but who knows how many centuries passed in between the two? And even though FF1 doesn’t have any talking animal characters other than the dragons, some other FF games do.

Posted in Comics, Conspiracy Theories, Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, Monsters, Video Games, Zelda | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Freelancing Isn’t Free

This thread on Twitter says a lot of what I’ve been thinking in terms of the gig economy. I don’t have a lot to add, but when has that stopped me before? I’ve seen a few links to this podcast on Uber, which is run by a super-sleazy guy who does everything he can to undermine the competition and screw over his own employees. Except he technically doesn’t see them as employees, but as independent contractors, so he doesn’t have to provide them with benefits or anything. He’s even trying to use that to get out of responsibility for sexual harassment from drivers.

Well, hey, their name technically just means “over” or “above,” but it’s hard not to be reminded of Nietzsche’s Übermensch.

But even if the company were operating entirely on the up and up, the idea still bugs me. I suppose there’s nothing theoretically wrong with freelance work to earn extra money, especially if you were going to be driving anyway. But in a society where it’s difficult for people to find work that pays a living wage, the money isn’t really extra for many participants. I’ve always been wary of jobs that pay commission, or that are allowed to pay less than minimum wage because you get tips, even though tips are voluntary. Having to always be on the lookout for work might be even worse. Sure, there are people who have gotten rich working on commission, but there’s very little security on the way there. There’s a reason why a lot of people who do gig-style work have to have day jobs. So it kind of scares me that this kind of thing is becoming more common even outside sales and creative professions.

And I’ve never been that keen on riding in a stranger’s car either, although it’s not that I’m afraid so much as that it just seems wrong. I generally still believe in public transportation, despite all its flaws. There’s also the factor described in this New Yorker article, highlighting businesses that celebrate unhealthy working practices despite the fact that they have the resources to fight against them. Does anybody really think it’s a good idea to be working when you’re in labor? I’d understand if Lyft swept that kind of thing under the rug, but instead they hold it up as an ideal. I’ve seen Fiverr ads on the subway (the work of someone trying to please their boss, I’m sure), and they’re creepy as all get-out.

Remember when George W. Bush told someone working three jobs in order to support her family was doing a fantastic, uniquely American thing?

First of all, I’m pretty sure there are other countries where people are forced to work multiple jobs. But more importantly, he didn’t even seem to realize that this was a problem, that people don’t usually WANT to work three jobs, that they do so because they don’t have a choice. The upper classes have gotten rich from exploiting others for much of history, but did lords tell serfs that what they were doing was fantastic? Well, maybe they did; I don’t know. Unless you really love your job, I don’t feel anyone should be living to work; you work so you can live. It seems obvious to me that, in this uncertain age, people need more job security, not less. It’s worth noting that advocacy for self-care appears to be on the rise, but it’s pretty hard to care for yourself when uncertainty over work gets in the way.

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